⭐20 Questions⭐for Author Casey L. Bond

 

dramatic sky with dark clouds at sunset

Today, I have the honor of interviewing Casey L. Bond, author of the bestselling “Frenzy” series. I’ve known Casey for about 2 years, and she’s become one of my favorite indie author friends. Always enthusiastic and optimistic, her motivation to succeed in the indie world is truly inspiring, and she’s always there to lend a hand, or offer advice when you need it. ❤

If you haven’t checked out Casey’s books yet, spanning an array of various romance sub-genres, I highly recommend you do so >HERE< after you read the interview. 🙂

Let us begin!

 

  1. Casey, what’s your writing process like?

Fast and furious! LOL! I don’t get to write every day, so when I get a free hour or a few of them, I write as fast as possible. Typos and rewrites can be done later in the process. The first draft usually takes me 6-8 weeks and then there are revisions, edits, formats, etc. before I hit the publish button.

On the days I don’t write, I’m plotting what is coming next. I usually make a rough plot based on an 8-point story arc and follow it, but that leaves a lot of details that need filled in.

  1. Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Slightly both. A hybrid? I plot major points and then pants most of the in-between.

  1. How many genres do you currently write in? Do you have any pen names?

I write romance and in sub-genres such as dystopian, fantasy, horror and contemporary. My adult works are published under C.L. Bond and my YA is published under Casey L. Bond. I felt the need to separate the two slightly so that teens don’t pick up the adult books. But, I did want people to be able to search Bond and find me.

  1. If you could have one super power or special ability, what would it be?

I would love to fly! As crazy as it sounds, it seems exhilarating and peaceful at the same time.

  1. If you were stranded somewhere with no other way to write, would you rather use your skin as paper, or your blood as ink?

I’d use my skin. Blood (as weird as that sounds considering I write vampires) skeeves me out. (Especially my own).

  1. If you could only choose one, would you rather read or write for the rest of your life?

Write. As much as I love reading, I love writing even more and my mind is full of stories. There are so many and new ideas popping in all the time. Most will never be written.

  1. If you could be one Disney princess, which would you be, and why?

Hmmm. I love Merida from Brave and Tiana from The Princess and the Frog. Both are strong women who aren’t afraid to fight and work hard for what they want. 🙂

  1. What’s your favorite thing about being an indie author?

The control. (I’m not a control freak.) I love being able to see my sales each day, to control pricing and keep it affordable for readers. I was traditionally published at first and had no say in anything with regard to pricing. My e-book was priced at $9.99, which is insane for a brand-new author that no one had ever heard of.  I only saw sales on a quarterly statement and was left in the dark most of the time. So I like knowing how my business is doing on a daily basis. I enjoy the interaction with readers and fans and look forward to continuing down the indie road. Would I consider an agent and traditional publisher now? Yes. I’d love a publishing deal, but it would have to be right and with a large press for me to consider it at this point in my career.

  1. When did you first start writing? When did you write your first full-length novel?

I’ve always written to some degree, but seriously began writing around five or six years ago. That’s when my first book was written. Winter Shadows taught me a lot about writing, the publishing industry and the book community as a whole. It was the first stepping stone and I’m incredibly grateful for all of the local and online support I received with publishing it.

  1. Would you rather be the sky, or the ocean? Why?

The ocean. I’m part fish! LOL! I love water. I love the smell of the salty air and the waves slapping the shore.

  1. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I have several projects planned for the next five years, each more elaborate and intense than the last. Several will break boundaries for me and I’m excited about the potential. I will query a few of these projects in search of an agent who might be interested in representing them and potentially negotiating publishing rights, audio book rights and foreign rights as those arise.

  1. Where do you get most of your story inspiration?

I would say several sources inspire me: daily life, the news, dreams, music. There are a lot of what-if’s and my imagination runs wild with possibilities.

  1. What genre do you wish you could write, but probably never will?

I really wish I could write a crime novel and considering that I majored in Criminal Justice, one would think that would have been the first thing that I was pulled to, but I’m a lover at heart. I love the possibilities of life and love in desperate situations. I love building worlds even more than setting stories in our own.

  1. If you could live in any of your story worlds, which would you choose, and what character would you be?

Of those I can disclose….I’d say Frenzy and I would be Porschia Grant. This story and character have almost taken me over. I love Porschia’s strength through adversity. She’s tenacious, determined to preserve who she once was and I respect her for that.

  1. If you could have any two of your own characters over for dinner, who would you invite?

Seriously? Gray and Tage. Gray is from The Harvest Saga and Tage is from the Frenzy Series. Need I explain more? They’re book boyfriends but sweet and funny. The conversation would be hilarious.

 

  1. Name your top 5 favorite books of all time.

Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

East of Eden, John Steinbeck

Night, Elie Wiesel

The Premonition Series, Amy Bartol

The Fate Series, Heather Lyons

 

  1. Do you prefer paperbacks or ebooks?

I prefer to keep paperbacks of my favorites, but read on a Kindle. I can easily read at night that way and won’t mess up my pages. 🙂

  1. Where’s your favorite place to read? Favorite place to write?

I read while chillaxing in my recliner after the kids go to sleep. I write at my desk, though we’ve been moving and I’m sort of displaced right now.

  1. What items must you have on your desk at all times while working?

Paper, pen, a drink, post-it notes, computer, phone and earbuds. Those are the essentials! I love my music.

  1. How do you deal with distractions when you’re trying to work? Do you limit your social media time, etc.?

I can easily tune out the world while working. I love to listen to music, softly. When I write, I need “brain-breaks.” I’ll write until I need to stop and process for a minute, so I’ll check in on social media, etc and then go back to it when I clear my mind.

 

Thanks so much, Casey, what a fun interview! You and I have a lot of things in common, and I can’t wait to see what you come up with next!

And for you, person reading this interview, here’s the link again to Casey’s Amazon page. Go check out her books!

Thanks for reading! And happy writing. ❤

xoxo

Christina

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/

The Path to Becoming an Author Isn’t Straight- Guest Blog by Sarah Noffke

article pic for Sarah N.

The other day during a routine office visit, my doctor asked me what I was doing these days.

“Writing YA sci fi fantasy novels,” I told her.

I could tell by the blank expression on her face that this was not the answer she was expecting. I was supposed to say, “Working in the accounting department at XYZ” or “Managing a few accounts for XYZ.” Fessing up to being a writer makes people pause I’ve noticed.

My doctor then asked, “So did you study journalism in college?”

“Management,” I informed her.

Another pause. She actually furrowed her brow at me. “How does that happen?” she asked.

The short answer is I got bored. Bored of spreadsheets and meetings about meetings. I loved the people. The mission. The product. But the day-to-day was draining my creative vault more and more each year. I wanted to do something that was creative. Something that gave to our society in a different way. So I took down my diplomas and replaced them with a bulletin board which I quickly filled up with notes and ideas.

However, I still have a real job. One that makes me sound normal. I’m a college professor. Often I have students tell me they have no idea what they want to do with their lives. They’re in college, taking classes towards a degree, and one day they’re going to have to use it…but for what? Some of the college students aren’t young either. They have returned to school after raising kids or retiring from the job they never really liked.

These students must think that because I’m qualified to teach them how to write, that I might know something about advising them on the future. Or maybe like all those searching for answers, they’re just asking anyone who might have an answer.

These lost students of mine are thoroughly afraid that they’re going to earn a degree in something and then not like it. They’re even more afraid that they’ll end up getting a degree in one thing and do something totally different. “That would be a total waste,” they tell me.

A waste? Or is it the path to get you to where you want to be, even if it’s not where you were headed? The thing is that if you’re true to yourself then you’re going to grow up to be “you.” No matter what path you choose, it will take you there. I have a Masters in Management. Without that degree I would never have gotten to that crucial place in my life where I became unbelievably and painfully bored out of my mind. Maybe if I’d gotten my graduate degree in psychology (as I intended) then I would have been content in that profession and never become a writer. Maybe. Hard to know for certain.

So what advice do I actually give to my students when they ask me how to figure out what to do with their life? “Pick a path. Recognize you might not end up where you expected. And until you arrive, enjoy the ride.”  If they don’t like this advice then I follow it up with saying, “Do something that makes people pause.”

Sarah Noffke writes YA and NA sci-fi fantasy and is the author of the Lucidites, Reverians, Ren and Vagabond Circus series. She holds a Masters of Management and teaches college business courses. Most of her students have no idea that she toils away her hours crafting fictional characters. Noffke’s books are top rated and best-sellers on Kindle. Currently, she has eleven novels published. Her books are available in paperback, audio and have been translated into Spanish and Italian. Learn more about Sarah Noffke here: www.sarahnoffke.com

‿➹⁀How to Sell More Books on Facebook‿➹⁀

computer-snoopingSo. You’ve spent the last four hours spamming twelve thousand FB groups that inhabit only others doing exactly the same thing. How’s that working for ya?

Have you ever bothered to go back into one of these promo-only groups and check the response?

Chances are, you just wasted four hours of your life you’ll never get back. No likes, no comments, and I guarantee no sales, for the most part. In fact, I’d say all you got from this ordeal was an achy click-finger, bug-eyes, chair-ass, and a sour mood.

Never fear. I’m here to help.

*Hangs top hat and cane on wall rack, straightens suspenders*

*clears throat*

Imagine for a moment that this is real life. And let’s say your book is a beautiful, rare, only-found-in-the-shark-inhabited-waters-of-Fiji fish called … Le Bookuri. So, there 8sassoondock croppedyou are in a crowded marketplace, telling everyone how great your Le Bookuri is and that they should buy it, but the problem is, they also have this rare, precious Le Bookuri. Why would they need any of yours? And why are you trying to sell it to them in the first place?

So what do you do? You go to where the hungry people with no Le Bookuri are. You must hunt these people down. They do not generally travel in packs, no … that would be too easy. They are rogue, traveling the vast plains of Facebookland, hungry for their next Le Bookuri … Will it be yours? Chances are, if you’ve taken care of the following items, your Le Bookuri will be exactly what they need to wet their whistle and whet their appetite.

Make your Le Bookuri stand out from the rest.

Everyone has it. You have to do something different. Shine its scales, season it, remove the bones, fry it up and serve it with some tar-tar, but whatever you do, don’t expect a hungry person to jump at some flopping, wiggly thing that’s still half-alive. Make sure it’s finished, prepped, and served up proper. Spend time on this—don’t rush. Seriously. If it takes a year or longer, then that’s what it takes. Just because the lady in the next stand over can whip up five at a time twice a week and sell them at half-price to the street beggars, doesn’t mean that’s what you should do. Create an exquisite dining experience that you can be proud of. As long as it takes.

Make connections.

You can’t expect to be hand-picked out of the crowd of Le Bookuri fisherman unless you have made connections. Those hungry folks are going to feed you in return, yes, so it’s important that you sell your Le Bookuri to them, of course. But make them remember you. Give them a free Le Bookuri, even. Because if they like it and they like you—because you were generous enough to give without expecting in return—then they’ll be more apt to go tell their friends and family about this wonderful Le Bookuri experience they had, and they will send more hungry folks your way.

Quitcherbellyachin’.

Nobody wants to hear your sob story about how you didn’t sell any Le Bookuri last week. It’s annoying. They have enough problems of their own. They have a sick kid or bills they can’t pay. Their igloo is about to get repo’d or their sled has a rusty runner. They can’t figure out how to get that stupid childproof lid off their meds and they have a bunion. And the like. You never know what’s going on in other people’s lives, and I guaran-flippin-tee-ya your lack of Le Bookuri sales is not a burden others want to shoulder as they navigate the icy slopes of Facebookland. (I’m not sure when it started snowing, either, but just go with it people—focus.)

Nextly and lastly,

Don’t be an asshat.

Nobody wants to be around somebody who obviously thinks their Le Bookuri is the crème de la crème and is not afraid to display an array of snobbery to prove their position as high above the rest in the Le Bookuri marketplace. Unless you are one of the few big guys who can easily sell their Le Bookuri to other, lesser Le Bookuri fisherman, quit being a jerk and be nice to people, even other Le Bookuri fishermen. They may take a liking to you and share some of their customers with you, and they may even be nice enough to point out that squiggly black hair protruding from the half-baked mess on tarnished silver resting in your lap, there. Get back to work. Get humble. Say thank you. And for goodness sake, put your hair up.

So in short: quit wasting time with the spam-bot promo posts, and instead, spend that time polishing up the most amazing Le Bookuri you can, and make genuine connections with other humans. It works. I’ve experienced this magic myself over the last year since I first published.

What about you? Do you have any experiences on this topic you’d like to share? Spit it out in the comments below, if you dare. 😉

And until next time, fellow Le Bookurians,

Write on ❤

★★★If you’d like to check out my mature YA Dystopian Scifi Horror bestseller, “The Treemakers,” click the cover.  “The Soultakers,” (book 2) releases 12/3. You can check out some early reviews on Goodreads for now by clicking on the cover.

UPDATED EBOOK COVER WITH TAGLINES smaller

TST EBOOK at 50 percent

 

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

violin3

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