Back to Blogging

Hey everyone, I want to apologize for the unannounced hiatus on my site. I had some issues with the website, the holidays happened and suddenly it was mid-January of the new year. Where did the time go? I’ll try to announce any breaks in the future, but for now I’ll be updating content weekly.

So what have I been up to?

I’ve sent Sacrifice to literary agents, I’m working on a short story for an anthology, and a few other projects. I’ve seriously been debating a way to distribute a horror fantasy story for free. I’m still working on the details, but considering releasing the story by chapters on a weekly schedule. I’ll announce more on that when I have a set plan. I’m also selling some of my art to try to cover the self-publishing costs for The Alliance: Bloodlines sequel. I’m trying to be hopeful for a December release, but I still have a lot of saving to do.

I recently tried out the Dragon NaturallySpeaking Home 13.0 software, and I’ll be blogging my opinions on that in the next few days. If you have any other blog suggestions, please feel free to comment below.

Writing Tips for Beginners

There’s one question that I get asked more than any other.

“What are some tips for new writers?”

I decided to share a handful of tips that I’ve dished out to friends who are interested in writing. I feel like most of these tips are important regardless of what you’re writing, but some are just my suggestions and not mandatory for success.

Don’t stop writing. Sounds simple enough, right? Writing is a craft made better through practice. I keep all of my writing projects filed away whether I finish them or not. If I need a boost of confidence that shows me that I’m improving, I’ll flip through an old manuscript and marvel at how I’ve improved.

Never stop learning. The web is filled with information that can help you improve your craft, so take advantage of online resources. You can join writer critique groups or attend writer’s workshops.

Read as much as you write. I analyze everything I read whether I’m reading a comic book or a novel. You’ll learn new words, new ways to get inspired or tell a story, or just something that pushes you want to write more.

Build an outline. Outlines aren’t used by every writer, but I personally work best when I make a basic outline. Outlines can be modified throughout the drafting stages. I start with just the basic plot points, and then I work off of that building block. If my story evolves and goes in a different direction, I simply adjust my outline and keep writing.

Don’t edit until the first draft is finished. This is one tip I always give new writers. You can fix anything in the revision process, so don’t slow yourself down during your first draft. To attempt editing before you even finish the complete story would have you running in circles, and would be a complete detriment to your progress.

Read On Writing by Stephen King. I don’t care if you purchase the book, borrow it from a friend, or go to the library—just read it! This book offers invaluable information for writers to improve their craft. I also find the book very motivating, despite King’s no bullshit approach to explaining. This is a book that I always keep on hand, and I read whenever I feel like I need a swift kick to get back on track.

Write what you love. This tip sounds like a no brainer, but it’s easy to forget what’s important. Don’t write a story that you aren’t interested in just because you think the topic would please someone else.  What’s the point in writing any fiction if you can’t write with passion? Write the stories that you want to tell, and stories that you would want to read.

Hope you found these tips to be informative. You can subscribe if you don’t want to miss future writing tips, and don’t forget to keep reading and writing!

Why I Write: The Tale of a Young Geek’s Inspiration

My mother was the one who always encouraged me to read a lot as a kid, but there were select books and shows that fueled my desire to tell stories. I’ve always been a daydreamer. My mind creates stories whether I like it or not, and there were several influences from my childhood.

As a kid I enjoyed comic books filled with heroics, but I also loved horror, sci-fi and fantasy. The books that most influenced me were R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series and pretty much anything written by Stephen King. I have an entire bookshelf filled with King’s books, and people always ask what my favorite King novel is. As much as I love his popular classics, my favorite would have to be the Dark Tower series as a whole.

I loved dark twisted stories that would make your heart pound with every page turn, but television also greatly inspired my creativity.

There was a show on Nickelodeon when I was young called Are You Afraid of the Dark where a group of kids would sneak out and tell spooky campfire stories. I was always fascinated by the idea of telling haunting tales by a campfire, but sadly this is still something that I’ve never done.

I can’t remember how old I was when I saw the Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie on TV, but I thought it was the coolest idea I’d ever seen. The movie was not nearly the same caliber as the TV show that later followed, so why was the movie so important to me? Almost every book I read had a male protagonist, and if my memory serves me correct, this was a point where I said, “Wow this girl is a hero!” I don’t think I even stopped to question why all my books had male protagonist. I’d seen some females in comics, but this was different somehow. It was empowering to see Buffy kick ass as she went from cheerleader to vampire slayer.  I later rejoiced when the TV series was announced for the WB, and I have faithfully followed Joss Whedon ever since.

I read every book I could get my hands on and always daydreamed about my own stories. I tried to write a few novels in high school, but never stuck with the writing. What inspired me to try again? That would be Joss Whedon. My love of Buffy and all things Whedon inspired me to try again, and I finished the draft of The Alliance: Bloodlines.

I’ve since lost my love of horror, and i’m not even sure why. Maybe it’s because everything seems less scary now? Or the new generation of horror movies seem stale? My current inspiration comes from writers/creators: Whedon, Felicia Day, Brian K Vaughan, and Jane Espenson. When Joss Whedon first announced that he would be writing The Astonishing X-men, I decided that I would also try my hand at writing comics. I adapted Bloodlines into a limited series comic book which I pitched to publishers. I didn’t give up even when that project failed, but instead I kept practicing and have worked on scripts for several other projects.

So I guess if I could say anything to potential writers or even current authors, I would say take risks, be bold, write lovable characters, create breath taking worlds and send positive messages through stories.

The stories we write now could hugely impact the next generation of writers.

Honorable mentions from my childhood must include: Star Wars, Indiana Jones, TMNT, Alice in Wonderland, Superman movies and Batman movies, X-men comics, and more.

Taking a New Approach to Self Publishing

In my previous post I discussed the mistakes I’ve made in my adventures of self-publishing. Today I just want to talk about ways that I am trying to learn from my mistakes, and attempt a different approach to making a new WIP more successful than The Alliance: Bloodlines. Now Bloodlines has received some amazing five star reviews, but that means nothing to readers if the cover, description, or editing isn’t strong enough.

 So what happens now? If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!

Now that I know I can’t skimp on a cover design or editing, I must find a way to provide those things. Unfortunately I don’t have the money for pay for the hefty costs of professional editing or design. Editing costs can really break the bank depending on the length of the book or different types of editing. I’ve seen recommended professional editors quote as much as $2,000-3,000 for editing one book.

So in order to offer these necessities for my new novel, I will be turning to Kickstarter to try crowd funding enough money to pay for some of the harsh expenses.  Now crowd funding is not easy feat, but with the right planning it can be successful.  You still need to build your audience first (another mistake I mentioned in my previous post) because you shouldn’t assume that enough people will magically stumble upon and back your project. A lot of your backers will come from friends, family, and word of mouth.

I’ll be doing a lot of research and planning before I release my project in May. I would recommend checking out some of the successful Kickstarter projects to get some great examples. I’ll probably do a more detailed blog about Kickstarter once I’ve had more experience with creating a project on the site.

I’ve read a lot of opinions about using Kickstarter for a novel, and I noticed several people have their doubts. If you build enough interest and plan to use the self-publishing route anyway, why not give your book as a backer reward? If the project is successful then you have just put your novel in the hands of many, and that can equal book reviews for you! My goal is simply to get my book into the hands of as many people as possible, and Kickstarter feels like a great outlet for that.

Regardless of what path you take, you should never give up on your passion. If your novel isn’t successful that isn’t your warning sign to quit, but instead evaluate the whole package and determine how to improve.

I’m posting the announcement that I made on my Facebook page for anyone who don’t follow or might have missed it. This gives a very brief explanation of my project. I’ll be providing more details and art as time passes, but for now I just want you all to know why this project is important to me. Please read on if you haven’t caught up with my Facebook page!

 

“I’ve decided on my Kickstarter project! After much consideration, I chose my latest WIP that is currently titled Sacrifice. This title may not stick, but right now that’s what i’m calling it. The story centers on a gay protagonist who also happens to be a meta-human. I’ve gotten great feedback from beta readers, and I really feel like this is a story that needs to be told. There needs to be more quality LGBT friendly novels. I’m sick of seeing a small selection, and most of them don’t even look professionally done. I will work my ass off to make Sacrifice a well written story that positively represents the LGBT community and can be enjoyed by anyone.

I’m planning to launch this at the first part of May and more details will come soon. I have a strong well-thought out game plan, but I also need to build an army to make this successful. I have a great group of friends that have offered their time to help me create art, beta read, edit and much more. I am very grateful to have such awesome people supporting me. I’ll need more help spreading the word, and if you have a blog or know someone with a blog/site that might be interested in an author interview/Q&A or whatever, i’ll be looking for every opportunity possible. Stay tuned, and stay awesome.”

Mistakes I Made in the Adventures of Self-Publishing

Prior to self-publishing my first novel, The Alliance: Bloodlines, I did research on my options for publishing. I read countless blogs and other resources that explained the “Do’s and Don’ts” of self-publishing. I listened to some of the advice, but disregarded the huge chunks of info that would require me to spend more on my novel than I could afford.

Publishing your novel is a hugely gratifying experience. Hell you should pat yourself on the back right now if you’ve finished writing a novel—regardless whether or not you’ve published yet. Completing a novel is no small feat, but when you put your heart and soul into a story it seems only right to give your story the best chance at success. You want the world to read your story, right?

I think I speak for most writers when I say that we don’t do this for the money. If you’re a writer simply trying to make a buck, then you’re probably going to be awfully disappointed. A writer of fiction simply wants to give readers the same experience that they receive themselves when reading their favorite books. A writer wants to make the readers drift off into their fantastically crafted worlds and forget reality. They want their readers to have a great experience and grow with the characters, or simply fall in love with them.

So what care should indie authors take in order to give their self-published book a fighting chance?

Professional editing is a MUST. I did not listen when this rule came up in several blogs and articles. Professional editing can be a costly venture, but you can significantly diminish your chances of success by skimping on the editing of your novel. No matter how much you think you can edit yourself, trust me when I say it’s just never good enough. Professional editors get paid to catch errors with a trained eye, and it’s best to let them work their magic. Do your research and pick an editor that is qualified to work on your novel. I made the mistake of hastily hiring someone to work on Bloodlines, and paid almost $800 for a nightmare of edits that ended up being tossed out. I had several friends help me re-edit Bloodlines after several more revisions, but we did not catch all the mistakes.

A professional cover is also important. The saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” can be thrown out the window. You should take time to plan out your cover ideas, and don’t forget to consider covers for sequels if the book will be a part of a series. It never occurred to me at the time of self-publishing that I needed to have a plan for my covers, but you want them to have some kind of cohesion. I love the cover that was made for me, and my designer gave me exactly what I asked for, but it wasn’t well thought out on my part. I should have made something more enticing than the playing cards. Unless the person scrolling through Amazon just can’t resist a good game of cards, I am probably not luring anyone in with my cover.

Build a fan base. I read in so many places that I needed to build a fan base first and then release the product once I generated enough interest. This applies whether it’s a novel, comic, or whatever. I was hasty and didn’t wait, with my Facebook page only having a handful of fans and no one really knowing what Bloodlines was all about. Some people might stumble upon your novel on Amazon, and they might buy it without knowing anything about it, but you have way more chance of success if your interest is already there. If you have time and patience, I believe this approach could be valuable to you.

Now these are some of the biggest mistakes that I’ve made, and I would love to hear from other authors that have learned from their own self-publishing woes. In my next blog I will discuss how I am taking a different approach with my latest WIP. Just remember not to get too discouraged! Mistakes are simply a way of learning.