RIP My Dearest Friend

RIP my dearest friend. There’s a special bond created with a pet, and a dog truly is a human’s best friend. Draco wasn’t just a dog. Or a pet. He was my oldest and dearest friend. My most loyal homie. He was cuddled beside me for every novel i’ve ever written.  For every good moment and bad.

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Getting Draco in 2004 was the best decision I’d ever made, but twelve years just doesn’t seem long enough. One of my friends explained it best the other day. This is one of life’s cruelest ways…to create and give the most loyal and perfect companion with too short a life to live.

If I’ve learned anything over these last 12 years, it’s that people can be cruel, selfish and just plain gross. A human bond whether by blood or by friendship is one that can be broken. A human can walk away at any time, but you know your furry companion will never abuse you, judge you, or leave you. An unconditional bond of love. And with that bond you always have the perfect companion, so even while the rest of the world is busy and moving, you are never alone.

Artists and writers can often find themselves in solitude. While the world sleeps, we create. Being an artist and writer often proves to be lonely, but an animal companion counters that feeling.

I’ve had other pets and met many other dogs throughout my life, but Draco was special in many ways.

When I was told his birthday was August 22nd, I knew he was meant to be my special little guy. My birthday is the 23rd, and we celebrated both days together every year.

His name was supposed Gryffindor, but he was a tiny lil black puffball with a solid white goatee. The tips of his paws were also white and a stripe down his belly. The white patches made me think of the Malfoys with their dark robes and white hair, so I switched his name. Draco is also latin for dragon, and he has his own constellation. So, a powerful name to counter the fact that Draco Malfoy was actually a cowardly jerk in HP.

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I called him my Little Pumpkin because I got him shortly before Halloween of ’04 and stuffed him in a pumpkin costume like three sizes too big. Adorable. I hope I can find the pictures. 😦

Draco didn’t lick anyone. Ever. Maybe he would if you had Dorito cheese or peanut butter on your finger, but the act was rare. He never licked anyone just to lick. Instead he would get close and give “sniff” kisses.

He never jumped. He’d paw at my shoe and let out one lil growl or “ruff” if he wanted to cuddle and watch tv. I’d scoop him up at bedtime, and since 2004 I never had to sleep alone. His little legs just never really made it far off the ground.

I probably had one of the only dogs who didn’t lick or like bowls. He was scared of bowls and would only drink out of certain ones. His food was served on a placemat of his preference. His last food mat was Star Wars because Draco was a geek like me.

Draco loved music. If I turned on music to clean or brainstorm, he would dance around and smack his paws on the floor until I grabbed a toy to play. He was a rocker dog and perked up most for Papa Roach and Disturbed. He also had a soft spot for Glee soundtrack mashups and I won’t let you judge him for that.

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Plushies were his favorite toy, and he loved to play fetch and a mild game of tug.

Even as a pup, Draco was well behaved and chill. He always knew which toys were his and which were not. You could leave anything in the floor and he wouldn’t touch it. Shoes, phones, or whatever. I’ve sat drinks next to me while sitting on the floor and walked away, but Draco never touched them. Most dogs I know would run over and start drinking.

I’ve never met such a well behaved dog, and I’m not saying that because I’m biased. I’ve loved other pets before, but none were as chill and well behaved. The only bad thing he ever did was pee on my bed once as a puppy, and who can really be mad at that?

He truly was the best in every way. He was the most loving lil guy with a big heart—apparently too big for his tiny body.

RIP lil man ❤ If there is an otherside, I hope to see you there. Twelve years could never be enough. If I discover a TARDIS, I’ll go back and we’ll become Time Lord and Companion.

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Real Talk, Growing As A Writer

Okay, real talk here.

After reading over my first draft of the Alliance #3, I went back to book one to fact check a few things for consistency. I cringed when I read parts of Bloodlines. I won’t say it’s terrible, but it’s my first book and will never be my best. I’m still proud. And, hey, the reviews are strong so people are still enjoying the story despite the imperfections!

When I decided to get serious about writing the Alliance, I was straight out of high school with little understanding of sentence structure. Sad and surprising, I know. I had an imagination and could be descriptive, but I never really learned or retained all the rules of writing. I pretty much struggled throughout high school. I scraped by with low grades, and honestly, I copied off a friend’s paper when I got too behind. I cheated myself out of learning because I felt I couldn’t catch up. I absolutely didn’t learn well in classroom environments.

I slowly improved my writing with the help of some grammar savvy friends. Plus, I read a lot and just paid closer attention to the way other authors wrote. I did my research and got critiques were I could. I kept learning. I’m still learning. I think that’s an important thing to remember regardless of what you’re trying to achieve in life. Never stop learning.

Almost every author I’ve ever loved and followed has said that the first book you write will be crap, so I already knew I couldn’t expect Bloodlines to be perfect. Regardless, I was still shocked at weak description and poor structure.

I’ve learned so much since writing my first novel. My structure has improved and my descriptions are stronger. Drakon is much improved, and I think book three will surpass them all. Hell, the first draft of book three is stronger than the final draft of Bloodlines.

It’s amazing what you can achieve if you don’t give up.

If you read Bloodlines I hope you enjoyed and will give Drakon a chance. The Alliance sequels may surprise you. Click here to see what readers are saying about The Alliance: Bloodlines on Amazon.

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The Music that Fueled the Alliance Part 2

Last week’s blog post listed the songs which helped me write The Alliance: Bloodlines. This week, I go into more depth with my playlist selection for Drakon. You’ll find lots of similarities here—it’s completely obvious rock music fuels my soul—and you’ll even notice some repeats from the previous list.

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For Drakon, I kept some of the fast and heavy songs which I like to play while visualizing a fight scene or action sequence. “Down with the Sickness” and “Bodies” are two of my top contenders for fight scenes.

“End of the World” is a song I always imagined being a perfect theme song if the Alliance had a TV adaptation. I think the song packs an emotionally fitting punch for the series as a whole.

“Hero” is a song that I find really suiting for Bailey and Jameson. I imagine their inner voices singing this.

“Get Out Alive” and “Animal I Have Become” are for Jameson’s story. “40 Miles from the Sun” is also one for Jameson’s flashbacks—specifically the demon dimension of Drakon.

I can’t help but to think of classics when I write scenes for Star. Jess is a fan of metal and classic rock so I feel he would approve of most of the full playlist below.

If you’ve read the series, i’d would love to know which songs you’d pick for a theme song or specific characters.

 

The Drakon playlist:

 

“End of the World” by Cold

“Hurt” Johnny Cash’s NIN cover

“Break on Through (to the Other Side)” by The Doors

“Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” by Guns N’ Roses

“Come as You Are” by Nirvana

“45” by Shinedown

“Never Too Late” by Three Days Grace

“Animal I Have Become” by Three Days Grace

“Get Out Alive” by Three Days Grace

“40 Miles from the Sun” by Bush

“You Should’ve Killed Me When You Had a Chance” by A Day To Remember

“Hero” by Skillet

“Monster” by Skillet

“Awake and Alive” by Skillet

“Take Me” by Papa Roach

“Scars” by Papa Roach

“Change or Die” by Papa Roach

“So Far Away” by Staind

“Fade” by Staind

“Down with the Sickness” by Disturbed

“Stricken” by Disturbed

“Land of Confusion” by Disturbed

“Indestructible” by Disturbed

“Bodies” by Drowning Pool

“37 Stitches” by Drowning Pool

“Nightmare” by Avenged Sevenfold

“Numb” by Linkin Park

“What I’ve Done” by Linkin Park

“So Cold” by Breaking Benjamin

“I Will Not Bow” by Breaking Benjamin

“6th Avenue Heartache” By The Wallflowers

 

 

 

The Music That Fueled The Alliance Part 1

Some writers prefer quiet and solitude while they write, but I enjoy music for added inspiration. I turn on a playlist at various stages of the writing process. For the brainstorming and early drafts, I do enjoy songs I’ve collected which fit the mood of my current WIP. So, as I continue to hammer out the first draft of the third Alliance novel, I thought I would share the music which played while writing the first two novels. Kicking things off with The Alliance: Bloodlines inspirational music, I’m listening to this playlist as I write this post with all the nostalgic feels.

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The Alliance: Bloodlines playlist:

“End of the World” by Cold

“My Letter” by Flaw

“Strong” by Flaw

“I Hate Everything About You” by Three Days Grace

“Never Too Late” by Three Days Grace

“Animal I Have Become” by Three Days Grace

“Hero” by Skillet

“Monster” by Skillet

“Awake and Alive” by Skillet

“Take Me” by Papa Roach

“Scars” by Papa Roach

“Black Clouds” by Papa Roach

“So Far Away” by Staind

“Fade” by Staind

“Forget to Remember” by Mudvanye

“Becoming the Bull” by Atreyu

“Down with the Sickness” by Disturbed

“Bodies” by Drowning Pool

“Somewhere I Belong” by Linkin Park

“Numb” by Linkin Park

“So Cold” by Breaking Benjamin

 

There were probably more songs than what shows on this list, but these tracks are what remains of the original Alliance playlist. The rest of the songs are for the Drakon playlist which i’ll post next week.

 

 

Indie Author Marketing Tips

As writers, we have to understand the phrase, “If you build it, they will come,” does not apply to us or our books. If we want sales, we have to work harder than we worked to write the damn books.

So, how do we do that?

Buckle up and I’ll explain!

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You won’t find one exact formula for success. Try different options and combinations for marketing your novel until you find one that works for your books.

There are two important things you must remember:

First, make sure your quality is there. If it’s not, go back and splurge for professional editing, formatting and, cover design. Trust me, I saw a bump in sales by releasing second edition of my first novel with professional quality. The sales bump wasn’t anything huge, but it was much needed progress. If you need help with how to generate the extra income for this, please check out my guide to self-publishing on a budget.)

Second, keep writing. Nothing sells book one better than book two or three. People are more likely to invest in a new title when they discover the book is part of a series. They won’t have to wait for the next book. They can binge read all the titles you have available. Many authors state they didn’t see significant sales until they were four or five books into a series, so don’t get discouraged with book one, two, or three.

Okay, still with me?

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Now we’ll talk about how to promote your current publications.

Know your keywords

You need to be savvy with keywords when publishing on Amazon/Createspace or anywhere else. Here are some helpful links to finding your appropriate keywords. Here is a guide I found for Kindle keywords to help you out.

Update your Amazon author profile

If you’re on Amazon, make sure your author profile is update. You can find tips for making the most of your profile here.

Update your social media accounts

I would assume that anyone trying to be an indie author would be social media savvy. Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest…whatever. Make sure those accounts are updated with your current bio, book info and such. Also, make sure you’re not being spammy with your promotional posts.

Send out ARCs

Advanced Reader’s Copy or Advanced Review Copy is a tool for generating a buzz and getting early reviews to entice readers at launch. Reach out to book bloggers and offer ARCs, but make sure you’re offering a polished manuscript. Don’t send a draft!

Find marketing sites

Research popular book marketing sites such as Bookbub and check their requirements for advertising. Some sites require a minimum number of views, some are free, and some are paid ads.

Perma-free first book

Some authors found success making the first book in a series perma-free. Readers who find value in a free book will generally buy the next one to keep reading the series.

Pre-orders

I haven’t tried this myself, but I’ve read many success stories involving pre-orders. I plan to offer pre-orders with this year’s holiday release.

Press Release

Creating a press release can be an easy way to have your book information ready to hand over to any bloggers or sites willing to promote for you. Initially, I found press kits to be overwhelming because I had no idea what I was doing. I found this helpful guide here and maybe it will help you too.

Make use of giveaways on sites like Amazon and Goodreads

They are pros and cons to each one, so try them all or see which ones best fit your budget. I like Amazon’s Giveaway options because they do all the work for you! Unfortunately, you pay full price for your book plus shipping costs, and with Goodreads you can buy books at your cost and ship yourself. So, part of your decision might boil down to whether you prefer to save a little time or a little money.

You also want to consider that the people who could win your Amazon Giveaway might not be a bookworm, but assuming if someone enters the giveaway on Goodreads, chances are very high that they are a reader likely to review.

 

I hope you find this information helpful. As you try combinations of these options, try to gauge how well your book sells with each. Measure which price points and promotions work best, so you’ll have a better strategy for the next book release. Remember, lack of success isn’t losing, it’s a game of learning. So, make marketing your novel a game you aim to win at.

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