Introducing: The Twisted Book Curmudgeon Indie Review Group

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Today I’d like to welcome a very special group of people. The Twisted Book Curmudgeon has done spectacular deeds for the indie community in the past year, in the form of a multitude of well thought-out, honest reviews, and they do so gracefully, skillfully, (insert more adverbs) for their one love of the indie community.

Joining us as the Cranky spokesperson, and an indie author herself, is the lovely and talented Neeny Boucher. She’ll be answering a few questions, then you’ll be able to find out more about them in the bio following the interview.

Why do you do what you do? What led you to organize this amazing group of reviewers?

Reviews are really important for all authors, but especially for new and indies. They’re a way to increase visibility.

We started this group because we’re in the indie community. Authors were always seeking reviews and sometimes, found it hard to get them. We thought we could help.

Sooooo, we sought out people who loved reading and encouraged them to review for our crew. Our reviewers are really good. We’re lucky to have them and I know people are surprised at the size of our group.

I think one of the reasons we work well is that we all have different genre preferences and come from different backgrounds, but we function on the basis that this is fun. Fun – is a good thing.

How many reviewers do you have currently? How many did you have when you first started?

Currently, we have twelve reviewers. When we first started out we had about four, but the team has grown and keeps on expanding, which is great.

Are there any genres you won’t review?

We review all genres. Our reviewers are a great mix and are diverse in their book tastes. Someone is always going to prefer one genre over another, which makes our team work really well together. What one doesn’t like, someone else will love.

What are some qualifications of reviewers you bring on board with your team of Cranky reviewers? Must they be “cranky”?

The main qualification is that someone is a book lover. We check out their reviews on Amazon and Goodreads to see if they will fit in with us.

In saying that, experience is not essential. We are more than willing to help someone structure their reviews until they’re confident. I think reliability and enthusiasm are what we look at.

Cranky people… they are definitely our tribe, but we’re not mean people. To be honest, the group is filled with lovely people – kind and generous and extremely helpful.

Where did the name come from?

Logan Keys and I came up with it. We liked the word “curmudgeon” and the image it invokes. It conjures up grumpy librarians and battle-ax grandmas.

How many books would you say you review per week, on average?

I’d say on average, our crew reviews about seven books a week. I’ve discovered that there are peaks and troughs. Sometimes, we’re inundated. Other times, there are less books to review. We try to spread them out and post a maximum of two books a day on our page.

We also try to manage how many books our reviewers get. Most of our group consists of working women with jobs and families and responsibilities. They do this in their spare time and out of the goodness of their own hearts.

What is it, exactly, that you love about the indie community, and about reviewing in general?

I like the people. I’ve met some great people in the indie community. I’m a bit of a rebel and an outsider. I admire people who give things a go and step outside mainstream avenues to achieve their goals.

What’s your favorite thing about being a Cranky reviewer?

My favourite part is our review crew and also, knowing we’re helping people in some way. I’ve discovered wonderful people and books through this experience.

I’ve made great book friends and I buy a lot of books on the basis of Cranky reviews now.

What are your future plans for The Twisted Book Curmudgeon? Where would you like to see it in, say, five years?

We’ve made great strides in the year we’ve been going.  At the moment, we have achievable goals – increasing our ranking and visibility, become a preferred reviewer in the field.  I know people enjoy our reviews and we love the feedback we get from authors and readers.

We keep growing and changing. We meet new people and other bloggers, readers, and groups. We’ll continue to make connections in the community and be a work in progress.

I think when you stop evolving and reaching for something – the fun ends.  We started this group on the basis it would be fun and we aim to keep that promise.

The Twisted Book Curmudgeon

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“I’m not Cranky!”

We’re a group of twisted sisters from all over the world who love to review books. Our crew includes people from the US, UK, Europe, and New Zealand.

We formed because of the need for reviews in the indie community, but we read traditional and indie books. We know it’s tough to get reviews, so we sought out people we knew who loved to read and review. They then brought friends.

At first, it was slow, but steadily, review requests climbed. We just posted our 300th review on Amazon and we’ve only been going a year.

We read all genres and are open to authors who are established or just starting out. We’ll give you a chance – no matter what. If you are interested in submitting a review request, all our details are in the banner above.

We are always open to people who are interested in reviewing for us. At the moment, we’re looking for a reviewer who reads YA, fantasy, paranormal, and dystopian. If anyone is interested, please send us a personal message on Facebook.

Get in touch to request a review, or to apply to be a reviewer by messaging these Cranky ladies on Facebook >HERE<

11 Things All Readers Should Stop Doing Right Now- Guest Blog by Kyle Perkins

Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome Author Kyle Perkins to the stage…

 

This article is collection of my observations in the indie community. While some of these opinions are my own, many are just complaints I have heard from various authors. So readers, please don’t bite my head off. 😀

11. Criticizing authors.

Do we want your feedback? YES. Do we want you to personally message us to shit all over our work in a thinly veiled attack, disguised as constructive criticism? No. Whether you know this or not, bad reviews and negative feedback does hurt our feelings, no matter how tough of a face we put on. Authors are never supposed to react negatively to reviews, so most act like bad reviews don’t bother them in an attempt to either save face, or prevent fans from calling them crybabies that can’t handle criticism. For most of us, this has been a life dream, and this makes our work, our life’s work. We want reviews, and honest ones, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be constructive. Tell us what you didn’t like, but offer what you did like. A “This book was fucking garbage” doesn’t really help anyone, and it’s a poor reflection of you. Negative reviews are fine as long as they are constructive and not just personal attacks. We just ask you to have a little tact when dealing with authors, because after all, we’re people too. You’re not writing a Yelp review about a McDonald’s down the street, you’re reviewing an author’s life work, so be conscious of that when contacting the author. We don’t come to the park and say, “Man, your kid is really good at monkey bars, too bad he’s ugly as shit.”

10. Returning E-Books.

This behavior is so disgusting. You’re not sticking it to the man and ripping off a Walmart to fight the system, you are robbing an indie author that is likely struggling as it is. This is incredibly selfish. Sometimes it takes an author months of hard work to get a book out, reallythe least you could do is keep it. What’s worse is, I have met people with the audacity to try to justify their returns. I’m sorry, but if you have to go back and spend your precious time on refunding a 99 cent book, you should not be buying books. I have never met ANYONE in a position where they couldn’t afford 99 cents, so you are STEALING their work. Now, there is an exception. If you accidentally hit the one click button on a book and bought it by mistake, by all means return it. If you are abusing the system however just to get free books, you are a horrible human being.

9. Rating a book on the genre, and not the quality of work.

Look, we all have different preferences in books right? Cool! That’s totally fine. Giving a five star book a three star rating because it’s not your typical read is not cool however.  This behavior is nothing short of insanity. I don’t go to an Italian restaurant and rate it based on how Chinese the food was. “The food was delicious, service great, but I usually eat at Chinese restaurants, so two stars.” I mean, come on. If you rate a book, rate it on the characters, the story telling, or how engaged you were. Your personal preferences are irrelevant. Cool, you like westerns, what does that have to do with the dystopian book you’re rating?

8. Using your network to bully authors.

So, some of you have a small network of readers, and pals that come to any event you invite them to, which is AWESOME for authors. Your pull in the community helps authors tremendously, and we love you for it. However, a few of you abuse this and get a big head. I have seen these small networks bully authors out of gift cards, prizes, and so on with the threat of pulling their friends from events at the last second. Even worse, some authors cave to the bullying and give these people what they want, reinforcing their behavior. That part is on us. Never use your pull to threaten an author, it’s a scenario where everyone involved gets hurt.

7. Demanding an author’s attention, and harassing them.

No surprise, authors are busy, right? Not only are we constantly writing books and building our market, but we need time to ourselves to create these worlds you like to spend a few hours in. I think a lot of readers think because they see an author online all day, that we aren’t working. Truth is, if we are online, chances are we are working. So please, don’t make us feel like horrible people for not responding to your messages in what you personally consider to be a timely fashion. We already feel guilty when we don’t have enough time to interact with fans, please don’t make us feel worse. Always feel free to message us, tag us, or interact with us any way you’d like, but don’t get salty if we can’t respond back.

6. Don’t trash our genre!

People have this idea of what “real writing” is and cling to it like it’s the last Furby on Black Friday. Dystopian may be your thing, and that’s great, but that doesn’t mean erotica books are somehow “less” of a book or genre. It takes the exact same amount of work, foresight and planning. Seriously, I have heard of people being put down, or blacklisted because they write in a genre that some people don’t feel is “good enough” or “true writing.” Of course, this is absolutely ridiculous. It’s like saying because you like football, baseball players aren’t real athletes.

5. Not leaving reviews.cmon

Okay, so you read our book. You either loved it or you hated it, but either way, give us a
well thought out review. At the very least on Amazon, but if you can, do so on Goodreads and anywhere else you can think of. Especially if you received the book for free. We sometimes, like I have said before, spend months of our time on these books. How much is a month of your time and work worth? I bet it’s a lot more than we get paid, so you’d be pretty upset if you wrote a 60k word book and don’t even get a “Neat book” out of it.

4. Asking for free paperbacks.

Ask most authors, and if you really want their book or to sample their work before making purchases, they will send you a free e-book. Most authors give out free books all the time! Asking authors for free paperbacks though is a bit much. Not only does it cost us money to pleasehave them printed, but then we pay for the shipping to us, then to you. If you live in another country, it’s another whole ordeal. As I have previously stated, most indie authors are flat broke. We love to share our stories with you, and let you venture into our minds, but asking us to venture into our already depleted bank accounts puts us in a pretty awkward situation. Would we love to send you all hard copies of our books? Of course! Maybe someday we will as a thank you, but as an indie author, we don’t have the resources. So please, don’t make us feel terrible about this.

3. Posting spoilers in your reviews.

You have likely been on Earth long enough to know that spoilers are universally hated. It’s right up there with smallpox and drowning puppies. So please, don’t spoil our books in the review section! This hurts our sales and may stop readers from even picking up the book. This doesn’t just bother the author; it bothers other readers. If you are one of the people doing this, you are doing the same thing as people live tweeting the newest episode of GOT.

2. Putting pressure on us to write sequels.

We are really happy that you are excited about our books and want more of them, however, giving us unnecessary pressure isn’t needed. Trust me, we of all people put the most pressure on ourselves to get a sequel out and while your reminders may seem friendly enough, it just causes us much unneeded stress. Some books may not even have a sequel, and as bad as you want us to make one, that was never part of our artistic vision for the characters. Any good show knows when to drop the curtains.

1. Sending penis pictures.

To be fair, this one doesn’t happen to me often (but totally has happened). I have heard of female authors from all genres getting unwarranted dick pics. Fellas, we get that you’re proud of your junk and want to show it off, but there are laws in place to prevent this verypenis pics thing. If someone wants to see it, they will ask. Considering you’re sending random dick pics at all would suggest it doesn’t happen often for you, but be patient. Your number will get called. The last thing any author wants to wake up to is a random picture of your penis. Whatever happened to flowers?

 

Now, with all that said….

We as authors adore and love each of our fans. Your support means the world to us, and you are the very reason we write. Sure, a lot of professional athletes say that, but they get paid millions. We don’t make a ton of money, so rest assured, everything we do, we do for you. This wasn’t meant to be an article taking shots at readers, but instead a guideline to break some nasty habits that cause us harm.  Please, if we do anything that bothers you, let us know directly, or in the comment section below. This is a two-way street. =)

 

About the author: It was only recently that Kyle Perkins discovered his love of putting his imaginative daydreams in writing for others to enjoy. He founded and managed some of the largest text-based roleplaying groups on Facebook, which sparked his passion for storytelling and helped him sharpen his skills as an author. Since the January 2016 release of his debut dystopian novel, Reddened Wasteland, Kyle has published three other works with plans to release several more in the upcoming months, including the second installment of the Reddened Wasteland series. He’s a dog person, an Aquarius, and he lives in Florida, though he’ll tell you he lives on the internet.

Website: https://kyleperkinsauthor.wordpress.com/

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Kyle-Perkins/e/B01BO9SYUI/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14924560.Kyle_Perkins

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KylePAuthor

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KylePerkinsAuthor/

It Began in NaNoWriMo: One Writer’s Debut Journey

As we approach the frothing mouth of the great NaNoWriMo, many of you are gearing up to spew those sexy words like machine gun wielding cheerleaders. Hell yes, game on! Sure, the peanut gallery is across the field bitching about how NaNoWriMo is a waste of time because you’ll have to rewrite everything anyway if you want it to be worth a damn, but get your game on anyway and plug cotton in your ears. Don’t listen to the naysayers. We’ve all got to learn what works best for us, and we can’t spend our lives letting others decide what we should or shouldn’t do. The truth is, YES, you will probably do some rewriting. But that doesn’t mean National Novel Writing Month is a waste of time. My self-publishing journey began in NaNo, and I’m happy to say I now have a novel I’m proud of that bounces around on the Amazon bestseller’s list from time to time, and currently sports 84 reviews and a 4.7 star average. Did I rewrite? Yep. Was NaNo a waste of time? Absolutely not.

I had a blast! I learned who my characters were and what I wanted my story to be, and I also learned a ton about myself as a writer. I learned that there is this frigging amazing community of writers out there, whom I have grown to love and adore tremendously.  But perhaps most important was learning that I can write every day, no matter what, despite the excuses I had let hold me back in the past. NaNoWriMo gave me my very first taste of being a word-slinging BADASS, and I spread my tattered Dystopian Scifi wings and soared into action. NaNo jump-started me there.

If you’d like to watch my journey, you can here:

If you’d like to check out reviews or purchase my NaNoWriMo-spawned debut novel, “The Treemakers,” (Mature YA Dystopian Scifi Horror) you can by clicking on the cover. 
UPDATED EBOOK COVER WITH TAGLINES

So, happy writing NaNoWriMos!! You can do it!! And here’s a nifty little calendar I found for making sure you hit that daily goal. Good luck!!

2015_nano_calendar___tardis_by_margie22-d98fgll

And as always,

Write on ❤

Play Your Violin Amidst the Madness

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Well it’s that time again. 2014 has come to a close, another year has passed us by. How was it for you? Horrible? Fantastic? Just kinda meh? Best year ever?

For me, it was mostly fabulous, with sprinkles of meh, and a few jiggers of heartache.

I did an amazing thing this year. I wrote and self-published a novel while single-handedly raising four children. That, alone, is cause for celebration, right? So, why the meh and heartache?

On top of all of the loss, death, and devastation present in everyday life around us, which makes it difficult to focus on life’s beauty sometimes, I have struggled with the disenchantment of my love of writing.

This masterpiece of mine (“The Treemakers”), which has garnished such fabulous (though few) reviews, hasn’t brought my children and I out of the poorhouse (yet!), and I have been dealing with some grim realities of my existence as an indie author.

Sure, there are things I love about being an indie author, but I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t sell out to the first big publisher with a five or six-figure advance. Because struggling sucks. Right? I know we all struggle with different things. A lot of you can relate to mine, I’m sure. Skimping on the groceries toward the end of the month because you’re almost out of foodstamps . . . . Having to go without things so your kids don’t have to . . . . We could sit here all day and whine about how much it sucks to be poor. And bitch about why it is that people say they care about us, want the best for us, totally support us, but then won’t/don’t even buy/read our books/art/etc… Or, they read it and don’t review it/recommend it to others… (why? Do they not realize that this is the bread n’ butter of our existence as an indie author/creative person?) But none of that wallowing and complaining and whining would do us any good. It won’t make us rich, and would only be counterproductive. It would irritate those around us, and bring more negative results into our lives.

But still, I wonder about those people. A little birdie pointed out to me that some of them are perhaps just quiet souls who honestly aren’t of the reviewing/recommending-variety. And some of them are just lazy. But then . . . there are those of the hater variety. Even people you may share blood or long-term friendships with. They see you shine and it reminds them of how dull they feel, so instead of lifting you up and adding to your brightness, they shoot you down, or try to ignore you altogether. They secretly want you to fail. Your greatness makes them realize how un-great they secretly think they are.

So. What now? What to do in the dim light of the people who want us to fail? Who want our children to go without? Who secretly want us to crash and burn because they are so flipping self-centered that they can hardly see the world around them for what it truly is? Shall we lie down and die so the poor haters may feel better about their wittle selves?

HA. WE THINK NOT.

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I’m not a millionaire yet. I’m not even a thousandaire. Hell, I’m not even a hundredaire. But I’m not dead yet, either, and neither are you. I sure as heck don’t plan on making things any easier for me or those around me who can’t handle the light, do you? Put on some sunglasses, haters, because we’re just getting started. And hey, those who may be in need of that permission to shine, will look at us and find the strength to do so. Our strength will make them feel stronger, too.

I’ll tell you what I did once I saw “The Treemakers” plateau at a level of un-greatness (for me). . . I cried.

I cried good and hard. I died inside for a short time. I gave up writing (for a few hours) and imagined what life would be like without it (horrible). I cursed the day I ever decided to do this for the long-haul, and I wallowed in my morass of self-pity until I was so drenched in the muck that only two choices remained: give up and “die,” or take a nice hot shower, put on some fresh clothes, and do what I do best.

Stick my two middle fingers in the air . . .

and then get back to writing.

A friend and I were discussing how difficult it is to be heard in the chaos of social media land. When you have a book out, especially when you’re new, she said it can be much like standing on a runway filled with jetplanes and screaming to be heard. I thought about this for a long while. It didn’t sound like anything I wanted to do. How pointless. I thought, “why not do something that would make the pilots stop the planes and get out alongside the passengers and watch?”

This is what happened next (in my head)[you may have to skip a stupid ad first]:

No matter what life brings us, no matter what elements lie before us, we have to “play our violin” amidst the madness . . . or the calm, or the heartache, or the bliss, or the riots in our minds, or the joy, or the sorrows . . . we let our light shine on, and don’t give up.

What is that thing you do that makes you stand out, like in a good way? That’s your violin–Do that. Writing is my sweet violin, and I know if I just keep playing it, eventually, someone will hear me. They’ll see me, feel the music pouring from my soul into theirs . . . the pilots, passengers, and all the people inside the airport will gather ’round to listen when it’s my time to shine.

Same as you.

It may not be our time to shine for everyone all the time. Sometimes we may stand alone on an empty runway with no one around for miles. It’s at those times we must practice practice practice, preparing for when it’s our turn. When the world and time stop and wait, and listen. For us. It will happen if we believe, plan, practice, prepare, and continue to play our violins amidst the madness.

Believe it will happen, and make the best out of this miracle before you. Another year awaits to unfold before our eyes.

Happy New Year to you, my friends.

And no matter what, always . . .

Play on

To check out reviews or purchase “The Treemakers,” follow the links below. Thanks!
Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00P49KVKG
Amazon.co.uk: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00P49KVKG/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22036603-the-treemakers

Don’t Water Yourself Down

It’s the home-stretch for publication of “The Treemakers,” my YA Dystopian/Sci-fi, and I’ve been super squirrelly. This is a special kind of limbo. Admittedly, yes, it is a fabulous problem to have, a complex, beautiful conglomeration of fears, hopes, and worst-case-scenarios, replaying in my mind continually. Yes, most of these fears are irrational, but being new at all of this, it’s easy to run with them, not yet having seen the actual outcome of publication. Here are a few:

What if everyone hates it?

What if I’m delusional and it’s not really as good as I think it is?

What if people are just being nice to me when they say [fill in blank]?

How will I handle bad reviews?

What happens when friends, family, and others read this story and it doesn’t meet their expectations?

What if I let everyone down?

What if I am not successful?

There are likely hundreds, if not thousands more fears writers share when faced with putting their work in the hands of the masses. For me, I’m thinking, “I labored over this for a year, scrapped 103K words and started over from scratch. I put my heart and soul, both the dark and light of me, all into this, and if it falls flat, maybe I’ll fall flat, too….”

Truth be told, there are a ton of themes/events in “The Treemakers” that can–and will, probably–make certain people uncomfortable. I’ve doubted myself over the past few days, afraid that people, particularly, ones I know personally, might raise an eyebrow and wonder WTH I was thinking. Also, it has been quite nerve-wracking waiting for word back from my advanced reader/reviewers that may never come. They may hate it. They may not even finish reading it.

BUT.

I saw this meme yesterday and it gave me an “AHA!” moment.

Don't water yourself Down

How on Earth could I ever please EVERYONE? It’s not possible. I told the story that was in me to tell, leaving out nothing, and that’s the best I could ever do. Be true to myself.

Coming from a bleak past into the light where I am today has given me a unique viewpoint from which to tell a story. This is why I enjoy writing and reading fiction that shines a light in the dark, is fearless, honest, makes me feel, provokes thought, and pushes the limits. I pull very few punches, because I believe the punches are where the magic’s at.

It’s when we are faced with life’s toughest trials that we are given the opportunity to rise above and shine brighter, and brighter, and brighter still. Yes, at times things get dark in my fictional worlds—as in reality—but there is always that inherent hope and light, urging, yearning, pushing onward.

So, no. I will not be watering myself down because others can’t handle me. I’ve seen some sh*t, have had experiences in my life others could never imagine, or have only seen in movies. I have been near-death and seen death. I’ve been dangerously close to permanently losing my children, have struggled with psychological malfunction, and addictions of all sorts. And I have overcome. (With help, of course. 😉 )

Though those themes aren’t blatant in “The Treemakers,” the quest for love, strength, freedom from bondage, the yearning to rise above and fly up from the rubble–it’s all there. I can’t help but write that, it’s what I know. It’s me. And I can’t water down or sugar coat me or my fiction out of fear that there are people out there who won’t like it.

The fact is, my life is a miracle. I should not be sitting here writing this to you right now with children watching Sunday morning cartoons in the background, and a toddler continuing to bring me random items from around the house because mommy’s at the computer and that means it’s time to bug her now. 🙂

Most people who experience the bleak past I came from lose their children, end up in prison, or dead. The number of people who actually make it out, heal, grow, get their children back, and THEN go on to be any sort of successful, is so small, it’s super sad.

That being said, of course there will be themes in my fiction that make people uncomfortable. But the gift I have to offer is that on the other side of that there will be hope, discoveries, redemption, justice, and magic. Because on the other side of even the darkest night, there is always the precious, living dawn.

So, as I wait patiently these next ten days, in hopes that my fictional baby will do well, I also have to let go and have faith. And move on to the next project. Letting go is difficult, but it has to be done. I’ve done my part.

I hope that you will not water yourself down, either. If we worry too much about what is “right” or “acceptable,” or what everyone else is doing, we are selling ourselves short. This is why I believe so many writers are unhappy in their craft. Maybe they’re afraid to dig too deep, unearthing the story inherent in their soul that begs to be told. It can be scary. It can be very uncomfortable. It can dredge up all sorts of emotional baggage. But it’s so cathartic, and extremely fulfilling, like scratching an itch that has pleaded for relief, once it is written, it is seen, heard, validated.

Be true to yourselves and your stories. Tell the story that begs to be told. Don’t worry so much about what everyone else will think or what everyone else is doing. Do your own thing. Your readership will find you, and they will love you for this. These are the things I will continue to remind myself over the next few days, as those fears try to creep in and cast shadows on this glorious moment. Because this is no easy feat. Writing and self-publishing a novel that you’ve worked on for a year is something to be proud of and excited about.

So, let’s do that. Focus on the positive.

To thine own self be true.

Until next time,

Write on! ❤

***UPDATE 11/13/15*** The Treemakers is now an Amazon Bestseller! And you can one-click it right here for currently only .99: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B015DC4Q5E/

Book 2, “The Soultakers,” will release 12/3/15, and you can check out early reviews on Goodreads here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26206748-the-soultakers

The Treemakers Trilogy Teaser Gallery

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11 Fear-Based Writer Beliefs, and How to Quell Them

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Let’s be honest. We all have fears. As humans, as writers . . . . I don’t care if you are Stephen Effing King . . . wait a minute, even he is scared of something. Supposedly, he sleeps with the light on because he is scared of the dark (wouldn’t you be if you were him??)

So, in this post, we’re going to get down and dirty on some of these fears as they pertain to writing, specifically. I know I’ve been through my share of turbulence, finding my own equilibrium in this giant spinning world of words, where it sometimes feels like it’s everyone for themselves…. It can be maddening. It can be discouraging and lonely. But just remember, you are not alone.

Following are eleven bogus beliefs that many writers share, and how you can look at them differently. Maybe this will help you to release their vice grip on your writing life (and life in general), which can arrest your growth as a writer (and a human being.)

 

#11“I‘m going to fail.”

Yes. Yes you are. And you are going to do it beautifully, and it is going to hurt like hellfire, but you are going to rise from that fire like one great Phoenix with mighty, fiery wings spread wide, and you are going to soar through the heavens and set them ablaze with your glorious redemption…. phoenix2

“Failure” is Just Success in Disguise

It’s true. Just take that word out of your vocabulary because if you’re looking at it right, there is no such thing as failure. Edison made a few thousand light bulbs before he finally discovered the right cocktail of ingredients to make them in a way in which they worked right and could be provided to consumers at a reasonable cost. “Thomas Edison was interviewed by a young reporter who boldly asked Mr. Edison if he felt like a failure and if he thought he should just give up by now. Perplexed, Edison replied, “Young man, why would I feel like a failure? And why would I ever give up? I now know definitively over 9,000 ways that an electric light bulb will not work. Success is almost in my grasp.” And shortly after that, and over 10,000 attempts, Edison invented the light bulb.” (Link)

So, no failure. Only figuring out what works for you and your writing life and what doesn’t.

 

#10. I’m being selfish.”

Well, maybe you are. But there is good selfish and there is bad selfish. Good selfish is doing the things for you that make you feel good about you. They are the things that bring out that inner glow, that bring you bliss. Bad selfish is when you might take that shit and run to the moon with it. I’ve been there, oh man. And it was not pretty. It’s like, “eff you and your needs! I’m writing important crap here!” Right? Yeah, that would be tipping the scale to the “NO” zone.

Figure A

As with everything in life, there has to be balance. I have four kids, and I guaran-damn-tee ya I don’t write nearly as much as I’d like to. Of course they time all of their needs for when I sit down at my computer. Of course. I have to bite my tongue and sometimes hum a sweet churchy hymnal and splash holy water about my face in order to refrain from hanging them by their toenails from the living room ceiling fan. Four kids, four blades, hmmm . . . . But they’re kids. It’s not their fault I’m a single mom. Gotta roll with it. But that doesn’t mean giving up writing. They are VERY aware VERY VERY aware of what happens when mommy doesn’t get her writing time in.  Observe figure A:

So, what it boils down to is communication and compromise, the lovely miracle balm for every healthy relationship. I want my kids to be happy and they want me to be happy. So, let’s sit down (for like, the 100th time) and remember how we can do that for each other so we have a happy, relatively peaceful home. As peaceful as it can be with three school-aged children, a toddler, a puppy, and a writer, anyway. 😉 Once we come to an understanding of each other’s needs, we can then compromise to meet in the middle. Whatever you do, don’t sacrifice your “thing” (writing, art, music, sports, working out, hiking, etc.) because you think you don’t “deserve” it, or whatever silly excuses you come up with. Seriously. No one wants to be around a miserable soul, and that’s what happens to people who stifle their bliss-cultivators. They become miserable, depressed, negative, and cold.

Don’t do that.

 

#9. I’m too different from other authors.”

Standing_out_from_the_Crowd

Oh jeez… where are you? Get your ass out here so we can get something new for a change, sheesh! Different is good! Just because you don’t fit in a nice little package with “the norm” (whatever that is) doesn’t mean you aren’t flipping amazing. There are readers out there waiting for you and your words. There are readers for every type of writer, and you never know, you could be a trendsetter! Sometimes, in writing, it’s okay to break the rules. Rules are made to be broken, and in writing, sometimes, obliterated. Of course, it’s important to have an editor and an array of open-minded beta readers make sure that what you’re doing is being done in the best way possible. But you don’t have to take every bit of advice that comes your way. Don’t be too stubborn, be open to suggestion, but ultimately, if it feels right, I say just do your thing. Shine on like the rebellious little soul that you are.

 

#8.  I‘m not different enough.”

sunset-poppy-field_00449586

Hey, we can’t all be the next big new and different thing. And honestly, the world needs more [fill in blank with favorite badass authors] for real! There’s no such thing as too many great writers. Just because you are similar in style or voice to someone else, doesn’t mean don’t write. It means, hell, you already know where you belong! Congrats! But rest assured, no two writers are exactly alike (save for plagiarism), so as long as you go deep within yourself to write the best story you can, working closely with an editor and beta readers and/or other close writer friends, you will carve your own groove. It may be similar to another’s, but it is still your own.

 

#7. I‘m not good enough.”

You might be right. But the only way to get better at anything is by putting in the time and actually doing it. If you use this excuse before you’ve even put a few good years into seriously developing your craft, then you are just making excuses and you’re going to self-fulfill your own prophecy.

Or, maybe your self-esteem just sucks for whatever reason(s). Quit with the negative self-talk already. Get a couple of positive people in your corner who will be honest with you while also encouraging you to push onward. Be careful not to seek validation though. Feeling good about what you’re writing because it’s your story to write is where that feeling of worth and significance and value and fulfillment will come from. If you’re constantly seeking permission from others to be “good enough,” you’ll seem needy and annoying and be a total  bummer to those around you. Hold fast to the belief that if you do your best, stay open for suggestion, and remain willing to grow as a person and a writer, that you won’t ever become good enough… because you already are.

 

#6. If I write what is really in me to write, people will hate it or think I’m insane…” 

There are very few things in my own personal category of “things no one should EVER write about.” Very few things. Some of those things caused Amazon to shut DOWN for a while a few months back. There are some sickos out there who maybe need extensive electroshock therapy and should be brainwashed of all knowledge of the English language. Or any other language for that matter. But for everyone else, write on, I tell you. One day, I’ll be blogging on the topic of “taboo” subjects, especially for the YA category (because that is a whole ‘nother subject), but for now, let’s talk about your story. Are you holding back certain things because they touch on some dark part of you that you are maybe afraid to visit? Go there, it’s cathartic. This is how we as writers sort things out in ourselves and begin to heal and make better sense of things. Are you afraid if you put that whatever-it-is in there that people will judge you? How do I say F&$# them in a nice way? Don’t let outsiders write your story for you. People can be shallow, close-minded, and ignorant when they start telling you what the hell you should–and should not–write about.

Or. Maybe it’s your own voice telling you not to go there. Sometimes, the timing might not be right for certain things. I have a 20K word start to a work of fiction inspired by my past (titled, “The Dead Girl’s Lighthouse”) which I started last year and haven’t visited since. I fully intend on going back and finishing it, but I had to step away. The wounds were still too fresh to not be very emotionally affected by what I was writing. But I am so looking forward to going back when the time is right and tackling that one by the horns, because I lived it, and I know it’s going to make a great story. It will make tons of people super uncomfortable, of that I have no doubt. But you know what? Good. Because that’s life in the lives of many, and maybe they need to–or don’t realize they need to–see it. To get some depth and perspective on life. To be grateful for what they have. But who I’m really writing it for is that person who is on the verge of life, who is searching for that beacon . . . that spark in the dark. I’m writing it to show them a way out. I’m not writing it for anyone else.

Lighthouse

 

#5“…people will hate it or think I’m insane… and I’ll get bad reviews.”

For the love of all that is fluffy and smothered in caramel, PLEASE don’t write for reviews. If you throw that sex scene in there–those twenty sex scenes in there–to sell copies, well . . . that makes me want to say mean things to you and be a total asshat.

On the flipside, if you leave something out because you think people will give you a bad review, you must first ask yourself this question: “Do I know my characters and my world well enough yet? From personal experience, I struggled with a few scenes in “The Treemakers” because they are somewhat “taboo” subjects for the YA audience. Without spoiling anything, I’ll just say that I had to have a heart-to-heart with my characters. It turned out that I did know them well enough to know how the story would’ve really happened, what they would’ve said and done without any censorship.

So, the second thing you must ask yourself is, “Am I being true to my characters and my story by keeping or removing this scene/event/theme/etc.?” For me, it would’ve been artificial to remove those things from the story. I can’t help that that’s how it happened. Over the year of writing it, that’s what the story grew into, and no amount of coercion or persuasive argument from myself or anyone to make it different would work for me. If I removed those things for fear of bad reviews or making people uncomfortable, the end result would be half of a story. And I definitely don’t want to serve up half of a story. What I can do, though, is work with my editor on making sure these events are presented in an appropriate way for my target audience.

What I write isn’t for everyone. No one writes stuff that everyone loves. There will always be someone who hates your book, my book. So what. Sure a bad review stings, but it’s obvious that person was not your audience, and when you tell the story that’s in you to write, you’ll have a hell of a lot more people that love your book than people that don’t.

Keep it real. Stay Authentic. 

be true

 

#4. Change is scary.”

So, maybe what you’ve been doing hasn’t been working for you…. Time to do something different. I’ve seen too many writers get stuck in one mental construct of what writerdom is, and will always be for them. They write the same stuff over and over that gets poor reviews and doesn’t sell. If you’re one of those people who don’t give a damn if people read and like what you write, then I’m probably not talking to you. Because I do care. To say I did not would be a lie. If I’m spending all of this time writing it, it isn’t complete until it is read and enjoyed by many. But that’s just me. I don’t just write for me. I write to share a story, to shine a light in the dark, to tell the truth, to make people experience and feel and go on an inner adventure… and if I’m not achieving that, something’s missing. Sure, it’s scary moving out of our comfort zone into unfamiliar territory, but it’s worth it in the end.

To figure out which direction to go, go deep inside yourself, to whatever your mushy core holds intensely, like a precious gem. Mine was surviving years of bondage by addiction, losing custody of my children, fifteen years of suicidal depression, and the overcoming of all of that and getting my kids back. My redemption and overcoming. The wisdom that could only come from so much pain, a lot of which was self-imposed and afflicted. That was the core from which “The Treemakers” was born.

What’s at your core? 

INNER_BEAUTY-INNER

 

#3. I can’t be a successful or happy writer if I don’t have an agent or big publisher and a fat advance.”

I’m one of those people that once believed this was true. I no longer believe this. It took me hitting rock bottom with my 100 rejected ms submissions before I decided that’s not how I wanted to be. I was tired of feeling like I wasn’t good enough, just because I didn’t get that “yes.” What happened when I made the decision to go indie is that I took my writing life into my own hands and took control of my future. And damn, did it feel good. I’d call that a huge success, and I’m happy as hell, even though I’m a single mom living off of food stamps. But I’m doing what I love to do, and I’m in control of the process, which makes me feel like a superhero. My kids are happy, and they believe in me. Everyone I know, in fact, believes in me. And wow, after the past I’ve had, what a great feeling that is. I count my blessings every day that I have parents who believe in me enough to help me out financially so I can follow my dream.

If I can be happy as an indie author, so can you. Even if you have to fit time to write in a work schedule–trust me, it’s not easy fitting it into four kids, homework, toddler chaos, cheerleading, girl scouts, PTA, this club, that club, etc, etc, but it’s possible to make the time.

Yes, you can be happy and successful as an indie author. It’s definitely a fantastic possibility. As with all things worthwhile, it takes hard work and sacrifice. I’ll let you know how the book sales go after I publish next month. I guess that’ll be the real proof in the pudding, right? 🙂

 

#2. Indie author’s are not successful and don’t produce quality work.”

This can be very true. But it can also be very untrue. I’ve worked my arse off on this book. With an editor, even! I’ve rewritten almost entirely from scratch and have almost a completely different end-product than I did when I began this thing. There’s no way I’m putting junk out there. No flippin’ way. And I know TONS of other indie authors who are with me on that. There are also TONS of indie authors who have become super successful doing this. If you put in the blood, sweat, time, tears, and money, it is more than possible to be a successful indie author. It’s probable. Believe.

 

#1. I don’t have the strength, patience, or willingness to rewrite.”

Come here, let’s cry together. I feel your pain, I really do. I was supposed to publish “The Treemakers” this July. (Follow this link for more info about my project specifically.) To make it short, a rewrite became apparent. I cried and panicked and threw in the writing towel for two whole days. And then, I bucked up and rewrote. Three months later, I have a 90 % entirely new story I am so stinking proud of.

So don’t shut out the possibility. Maybe you won’t need to rewrite the whole thing like I did, but if things are pointing in that direction, go for it. Don’t hold back. Don’t cling to the old. Let go and rewrite. It’ll be way awesomer than it was, I promise. Stay willing and you will keep growing, as a writer, and as a human being. ❤

Come and visit/follow my new Fansite http://christinalrozelle.com/ And I will love you forever. <3

Come and visit/follow my new Fansite http://christinalrozelle.com/ And I will love you forever. ❤