First Friday Event @ Beyond Barcodes Bookstore

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This evening, I’ll be hosting a booth at Beyond Barcodes Bookstore as part of First Friday’s in beautiful Downtown Kokomo. This will be my first local author event in like . . . six months. I’m waaaay overdue.

This month’s theme is local artists. Fitting, considering I’m a local author.

From roughly 6:30 pm to 9 pm, I’ll be meeting with potential new readers and selling copies of The Quest for the Holy Something or Other and The Wizard’s GambitI’ll also be sponsoring my local group, The Writer’s Cafe. In hopes of attracting new members, I’ll provide a notebook for a “shared write” activity. It should be a lot of fun.

If you’re in or around Downtown Kokomo tonight, come say hi. If not, chat with me on Twitter and/or Facebook.

Happy Friday!

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My Favorite Writerly Things

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Fingers on keyboard and judgement from kittens
Bright neon notebooks where words will be written
Brown cups of coffee turned lighter with cream
These are a few of my favorite writerly things

And here are a few more:

Writerly Weather

I’ve seen a lot of writers comment that rainy days are ideal for them to write. Not for me. Rainy days are lazy days. The most I can hope to accomplish (besides staying awake) is reading a chapter or two from my favorite book. For me, sunny days are the best days for writing. The sun lights my writing space and keeps me in a positive, productive mood.

Novelty Pens

The pen is mightier than the sword, especially when it has a bobble on top. Whether it’s neon colored, topped with a feather, or odd-shaped, a novelty pen inspires me to write. My favorite pens right now are my Inside Out pens which allow me to write in colors that express my current mood. (Current mood is yellow).

Coffee, Coffee, Coffee!

Or just caffeine in general. Though, in all honesty, my favorite caffeinated drink is coffee. My favorite roast is the House Blend Roast from Starbucks. I just grounded a fresh batch so we’re all set for the weekend. Star Wars coffee creamers make it even better.

Cats

Where would a writer be without their feline companion. Critic more like. Cats have a tendency to sit near the computer screen, narrow their eyes at the screen, and cast judgement. I know my cats do. They also like to sit on the keyboard, inserting strange gibberish into my writing. But I don’t know where I’d be without them.

My Computer

I used to draft all of my novels on notebooks, but my hand started cramping too much. Plus, my desire to go back and scratch out everything I just wrote became too great. Now I do all of my work on the computer. It’s my notebook, my radio, and my social outlet. If it died today my world would just end.

Notebooks

Even though I do all of my writing on the computer, I still like to complete my outlines in notebooks, especially cute ones with pictures of cats or Disney characters on the front. Neon ones are also fun. There’s something about that binder in hand and the immediate connection between the mind and the paper that makes thoughts come easier. Don’t you think?

Movie Soundtracks

Most of the time I write in silence . . . unless my nephew is up and about. LOL. In that case, I try to drown out the sound of Legos crashing and action figures smashing with music. Movie soundtracks are my favorite, especially instrumental numbers. Hans Zimmer, Howard Shore, and Yo Yo Ma are some of my favorite composers.

Books

For good measure, I like to keep a pile of books nearby . . . for no apparent reason other than looking like an author. LOL. Actually, I like to keep references near at hand just in case. I hate getting up out of my seat.

Useless Geegaw

I like to keep my desk cluttered with useless geegaw. Whether it’s a Funko Pop Vinyl figure or a Lucky Cat figurine, if it’s in my way it’s making my day!

Motivational Quotes

I have a tack-board just above my desk covered in photos, business cards, and motivational quotes to keep me inspired.

Well, that’s about it for me. What are your favorite writerly things? Feel free to share in the comments below. And as always have a wonderful weekend!

Social Networking Advice for the Antisocial

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Writing is a solitary endeavor, but does it have to be a lonely one? Absolutely not. In fact, it’s beneficial for writers to interact with other authors in order to exchange information, market their work, and build their readership. It literally pays for authors to be social.

While attending the weekly Business Professionals Meeting at Ivy Tech in Peru, I learned some advice on social networking that I thought applied to writers, not just business owners. And I’m going to share it with you!

Use Social Media to Connect with Authors, Editors, Agents, & Readers

Social networking doesn’t just happen in the “real world.” It happens wherever people interact. One of the most popular places people go to hangout is online. You already use Facebook and Twitter to stay connected with family and friends, so why not use these social media sites to meet other authors and new readers? There are hundreds, if not thousands, of them online. You can interact with others via private message or by replying to their posts. Sharing other people’s content is another great way to interact. Once you build a positive rapport, they will be more receptive to your marketing messages or requests for help.

Attend as Many “Real World” Events as Possible

Writers conferences, book fairs, local readings, book launches, and library events are great opportunities to network with authors and readers. Plus, they’re educational. Just keep in mind, it’s not about selling; it’s about making friends, and building a readership.

Bring Marketing Material

I always take a stack of business cards and/or bookmarks with me to events. In fact, I keep a stack of each in my car just in case I run into a new friend. That way, they have links to my social media sites and a reminder that we met. Let’s face it, no matter how cool you are, people get busy and might forget you. A bookmark is a great reminder.

Follow up

Meeting someone at a networking event or following someone online is just the first step in beginning a relationship. Take those business cards home and send an email, connect on Twitter, or send an invite for coffee or lunch. Main point: stay in touch. And be patient. I once knew a prospective reader one year before they finally bought a copy of my book. It only took 3 touches. They say a sale can take 7, so that’s pretty good.

Give a Little More than You Take

I am reminded of a really corny song from Dreamwork’s animated feature Joseph, King of Dreams. Whereas the song had nothing to do with the events in the movie, it applies greatly to networking. The most successful authors are the ones who give advice and promote others. Why? Because helping others encourages them to help you.

Give it Time

Take your time and grow your network organically. No fertilizer. Don’t be tempted to buy followers in order to reach your goal overnight. The most successful authors get to know their contacts one person at a time via small events and private chat. Remember, it’s quality over quantity.

I hope you found this advice as helpful as I did. Please feel free to share your own advice in the comments below. Have a great week!

Random Confessions of a Modern Reader

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Happy Presidents’ Day and/or belated Valentine’s Day, whatever floats your boat. Personally, neither holiday inspired me to blog so, instead, I’m going to share with you some random confessions of mine as a reader.

Forgive me followers for I have sinned . . .

Confession #1: I’ve read Secret Sacrament by Sherryl Jordan at least 10 times

Secret Sacrament is a fantasy novel that centers around Gabriel, a boy with a haunting past who wants to become a healer. His adventures–or misadventures more appropriately–lead him to the wild Shinali people on the outskirts of the city-state. As sinister forces take control of the empire and threaten the peaceful Shinali, Gabriel’s destiny is revealed. From the synopsis, it sounds like a typical YA fantasy read, but it’s anything but. The main character is vulnerable and intelligent. He’s relatable to me on so many levels. Not only does he have a close relationship with his brother (like I do with my sister) but he also has a tender heart. The way he emotionally invests in every patient he heals reminds me of the way I am with my clients. Not only that, but he’s a coward. I too struggle with my own cowardice. Fear is a huge barrier for me. Reading Gabriel’s story and seeing him overcome his past, his fears, and his circumstances, inspired me to do the same. I think it’s a book I’ll be revisiting soon.

Confession #2: I like to read in my underwear

I’m not trying to be shocking or scandalous; I seriously think it’s really enjoyable to read a book in nothing but my Fruit of the Looms. (I’m actually more of a Haynes Her Way kind of girl). Sitting on the couch or sprawled in bed with a good book is an intimate experience. Why ruin it with clothes?

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Everything is better without pants

Confession #3: I prefer to read paperbacks over hardcover copies or ebooks

As an Indie author, the majority of my sales are ebooks unless I’m at an event, then the paperback copies move like hot cakes. And I do buy a lot of books for my Kindle device because they’re affordable, but I prefer a physical book in hand, more specifically a paperback one. I don’t like the weight of hardcover books. Paperbacks bend easy and fit just right between the palms of my hands. And the pages smell good. Nothing beats a paperback book.

Confession #4: I’ve never read Harry Potter . . . and don’t plan to

Hear me out before you burn me as a heretic. The books came out when I was entering high school, and personally I thought the story sounded juvenile. At the time, I was exploring the adult fantasy section of my local bookstore because my school library couldn’t carry books containing adult content. I was mature for my age and curious about the darker elements of life, which those books were not shy to share. Young Harry’s adventures at Hogwarts just didn’t interest me. If homicidal maniacs weren’t sleeping with their sisters and destroying entire cities I didn’t care to read it.

As an adult, the YA genre certainly appeals to me more, though I am still hesitant to pick up that series. Why? Mainly because of the villain. I can’t stomach dark lords, and I don’t care what people say, dark lords don’t make a series dark. Wizard schools are neat and magic is always fun, but dark lords are dreadfully tired. And before you even call me out, I know the LOTR series features a dark lord. He’s not my favorite villain either and the only reason I forgive it is because of when the novel was written. Post WWI and WWII, stories often featured villainous villains and centered around a battle of good versus evil. War inspires such things. But modern storytelling cannot rely on tired tropes and lazy writing.

While some of the major supporting characters tempt me to pick the series up, I’m still doubtful I will ever dive into the realm of Harry Potter.

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Dark lord, eh? No thanks

Confession #5: I prefer The Lord of the Rings film adaptations to the books

I know. Burn me at the stake. I deserve it. But as much as I enjoy Tolkien’s unique author’s voice and his beautiful descriptions of landscapes, I actually prefer Peter Jackson’s film adaptations of the original trilogy. Why? Because of the characters. Peter Jackson focuses on the characters in the films, blowing up their personalities and making them absoltly lovable. Look at Gollum! Peter Jackson was so distant from them and focused on where and what they were doing, that I never got a good sense about who they were and what they were feeling, which is very important for me. I’m not saying the films are better; I’m just sharing my personal preference.

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You shall not pass judgment!

Confession #6: I only read for one hour a day

I like to think of myself as an avid reader since I read every day, but with mom’s illness, taking care of my nephew, working out,and writing my own novel, I don’t have more than one hour–if that–to devote to reading a day. When I was in high school it was nothing for me to read 5 or 6 hours straight, but now that I’m an adult with a full-time job and lots of responsibilities reading is just not something I can binge on anymore. Though that one hour or so I have to read is perhaps one of the best hours of my day.

Confession #7: I prefer traditionally published authors over indie authors . . . for the moment

I know as an indie author I should be ashamed, but so far I’ve been more satisfied by the traditional authors that I follow. Not to say there aren’t several indie authors I follow with excited anticipation, but they were hard-found in all the self-published sludge. Don’t get me wrong, I support indie authors–I am one–but I am constantly dissatisfied with the quality of their writing, writing that I know would excel that of the traditional authors if only they’d taken the proper steps in editing their works. With beta readers, content editors, and copy editors online, there’s no excuse for a poorly written story with redundant scenes and inconsistent characters. It’s the lack of serious editing that holds indie authors back.

Confession #8: I’d rather write than read

Don’t get me wrong; I love to read, but when I’m reading, I often become frustrated when the story doesn’t go my way. I’m not saying I could have written it better, but it’s nice to write the story you’d love to read and know it’s going to turn out just the way you wanted it to.

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I’d rather be writing

Confession #9: I only review a book when I hate it or love it

I’m like most readers; I only write a review when I’m inspired, or asked nicely to. It takes energy to construct a thorough review, and nothing inspires the words to flow like love or rage. When I love a book, I have to share it with the world! And when I hate a book, I feel compelled to warn others. Sometimes I don’t like books based on taste. This does not warrant a bad review. Only when I feel like the author didn’t try to put forth the proper effort do I dare a negative review. If there was any love or effort detected in the writing, I won’t write a flame review. I rarely write bad reviews. I have to really really hate a book to do that. Most of the time I write rave reviews, not to boost an author’s stats, but their self-esteem and encourage them to keep at it.

Confession #10: I never download free books, EVER!

As an indie author, I can’t support the giving away of free books when an author can profit on their hard work. I know I spend countless hours each week writing and editing my work. Not to mention the countless dollars I’ve spent for professional cover design and editing services. I loathe to imagine myself paying these off for years to come, so I make a point to purchase books at full price. Helping authors is what authors do best.

And those are my confessions. Boy, do I feel a heavy burden removed from my chest. Hopefully, I didn’t hurt anyone’s feelings, but I just wanted to be perfectly honest. The blogosphere is like a confession box, but for readers, so hopefully you can forgive me for my reader sins. For fun, share with me some of your reading sins.

Have a good Monday, everyone, celebrating whatever holiday you prefer!

Time + Work = Novel: A Pep Talk by Stephanie Perkins

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“Novels aren’t written by muses who come down through the ceiling and shoot magic through your fingers and out onto your laptop’s keyboard… They’re written with one simple equation:

Time + Work = Novel.”

Stephanie Perkins.

I thought this was a rather inspiring quote, going into the second week of NaNoWriMo 2015. I’m sure we could all use a pep talk, even those of us who aren’t participating in NaNoWriMo this year. Well, considering I’m waaaay behind on my word count right now, I’m not the one to offer a pep talk, but Stephanie Perkins can. Read the rest of it here.

Best of luck!

Kokomo-Con 2015 – Official Convention Haul (Tons of Comics and a Book by Yours Truly)

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It’s been two days since Kokomo-Con 2015, and I’m still exhausted. I don’t even have the strength to write a post about the event. Instead, I decided to share with you a video by Original Firejet, or the Comic Critic, who shares his goodies from the event, including a book by yours truly. I have to say I’m a little choked up by what he had to say about me and the book. I hope you enjoy it, too.d

Thanks for watching. I tell you, it’s moments like these that make being a writer worthwhile!

Happy Monday, everyone!

You Should Know This is the Strangest Thing I’ve Ever Done! A Recap on Friday’s … Unusual Author Event

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As a new author, I’ve only attended several actual book signings, including a local author book fair and a book signing at Cook McDoogals. For the most part, these events were pretty standard. Friday’s venue  was probably the most … unusual.

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It’s jolly good!

Every first Friday of the month, downtown Kokomo sponsors a community event geared towards promoting local businesses, artists, etc. The goal is to build a stronger sense of community and promote the growing downtown area. Last Friday, I hosted a booth outside of Pepperwhistle Bakery and Cafe. Meanwhile a historical group reenacted medieval swordplay in the restaurant’s parking lot–ironic, considering my book centers around knights, sword fights, and quests. LOL. More ironic was that this was not planned; it just sort of happened that we scheduled on the same day.

So was the event successful? I’d say so. I only sold like five books, and one of them was to someone I already knew, but fifty bucks is fifty bucks, and I got my face out there, which is important. I also handed out a good number of business cards and bookmarks containing my information so there’s always the possibility of making a future sale. **Crosses fingers** as I log onto the Kindle Direct Publishing page.

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Huzzah!

More importantly, the event was a lot of fun. Being next to a medieval acting group made the event worthwhile. I got to learn some new information about weapons and armor and witness some fabulous swordplay. The pictures turned out great! And they invited me to their upcoming Renaissance fair right here in Kokomo Indiana! I know my nephew will want to go … he was trying to get free sword lessons during their demonstration. Might have to enroll him in their school one day … but for now, I think we’ll just stick with dance class;)

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Book signings are a great way to gain exposure and meet potential readers!

For those of you who have not hosted a book signing, I strongly encourage you to, despite the meager sales. Nothing beats the feeling of being an author or the thrill of meeting potential new readers. It definitely was a satisfying experience.

Well, that’s all for now. I’m off to Judith Barrow‘s blog to share my experience along with some hilarious pictures!

Happy Monday!