2017- The year of Writing Dangerously.

This gallery contains 1 photo.

2017- The year of Writing Dangerously.  I took the jump and decided to go all in as an indie author.  It takes huge amounts of promotion and dedication to go down this road, and I put this decision off for years … Continue reading

Gallery | 24 Comments

Starting Your Novel with Backstory? Don’t.

Starting Your Novel with Backstory? Don’t.

I’ve gotten some great free eBooks by being involved in the Kindle Scout program. You nominate a book, it gets selected for publication, and you get a free book. You get a free book that’s been vetted by the Kindle editors, so you can expect a certain amount of expertise from the book. Awesome, right?

20170418_150915

Just as this early spring has been awesome.

It is, except when it isn’t. Not all of the books are worth reading. Sure, you aren’t going to find a million typos or anything majorly wrong, but a few of the books I’ve gotten have not been good.

Take today. I’m not going to mention the title or author, I’m not trying to shame anyone here. My first few novel length stories had major issues. (I didn’t try to publish them though.) I finished a book yesterday that was pretty good. I enjoyed it. I tried to start a new one today, and I didn’t make it very far.

I read the first page. I flipped through the next few pages. I closed it and opened another book.

The author lost me on the first page.

It doesn’t matter how good your book is as it goes along. If your opening isn’t strong, many readers are not going to stick with it until it gets good. In fact, with that “look inside” feature on Amazon, many folks aren’t going to buy it at all.

20170415_171217

If you don’t hook your reader right away, they won’t make it to the good stuff.

Let’s call this book a post-apocalyptic tale. It’s not, but remember I’m not trying to shame anyone. Just because this book has a weak opening, it doesn’t mean future books by this author won’t rock my socks. Imagine, if you will, a post-apocalyptic tale that begins with a newspaper article that dryly recounts everything that happened to cause the apocalypse and where everything stands today. Imagine this “article” goes on for pages and pages.

Boring. I’m talking about mind-numbingly dull. Thus my disappointed closing of that book and switch to another before I read two pages.

What was the writer thinking?

I imagine the author thought, “Hey, if I make the backstory and world building into a newspaper article, it’s a clever way to introduce the world of the book that fits the story!”

What really happened:

The writer wrote a ton of backstory and world building and info dumped it into the beginning of the book under a thinly-veiled disguise that did nothing to make it more interesting or readable.

20170412_145827

You could use some clever tactic to call this an oak, but it looks like a sycamore to me.  Extra points to Yogi Bear fans.

Consider Arthur Dent and the big, big world of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Where does this story start? Does it start with a ton of backstory and world building that tells us all about this giant new galaxy of a setting?

It starts with Arthur Dent brushing his teeth. He brushes his teeth, he remembers something important, craziness ensues, and by the end of the first chapter, the reader has learned quite a lot about this man and the world he lives in. It’s all done in an engaging way without an info dump in sight. As the books go forward, the reader learns more and more, all in interesting, bite-sized chunks, all while the plot of the tale moves forward.

Don’t start your book with an info dump. Don’t do it. More readers will turn away than will suffer through it. It is, by far, the least interesting way you can show the fabulous world of your book to your readers. Let them jump into your world and explore it with your gentle guidance. Think of the world of your story as a treasure that you will lead them to, not an annoyance you want to get out of the way as soon as possible.

One way is effective, one way is not.

So, I closed that book and opened another. I was distrustful and disgruntled, expecting the worst from this new book because of my recent, ennui-inducing experience.

20170412_152635

Lead your reader through your story.  Don’t set up a bunch of hurdles they have to jump before they get to the good stuff.

Here’s what I found:

“The real problem with dynamite? It doesn’t work too good when it’s wet.”

Sucked me right in. What does this tale start with? A train robbery! And not one that’s going according to plan, either. By the end of the first chapter, while exciting things are happening, I know a lot about this world and a great deal about the main character. I like him already, and I’m anxious to finish this blog post and get back to the book.

The book is Ace Lone Wolf and the Lost Temple of Totec by Eric T. Knight. I’m recommending it to you right now based on the first chapter alone. Westerns aren’t my favorite genre, but I like them, and a good story is a good story. This has all the makings of a very good, very well-written story.

I gotta go now. I gotta book to finish.

Teatime News:  Teatime of the Living Dead was not selected by Kindle Scout, but it will have a big release day on May 9th!

Posted in Kindle Scout, reading, writing, Writing Advice | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Spring Wildflowers- Picture Post

I love early spring wildflowers in Indiana.  It’s living proof that the winter is behind us and warm days are on the way.  I think winter is nice for about a week, then I’m done with it, and the long wait for spring begins.

Today I wen tromping around the woods at Sodalis Nature Park and took oodles of pictures.

20170411_142515

Sweet Williams

20170411_143531     20170411_145425

Trillium and Dutchman’s breeches.

20170411_144916

20170411_142729

Cool little shelf mushrooms

20170411_145702   20170411_151930

My best guess for the one on the left is Scillia, which is an invasive species.  On the right is Bloodroot, which is not flowering yet.

20170411_152115

May apples have recently sprung up and aren’t blooming yet.

20170411_153024

Spring Beauties are a particular favorite of mine.

20170411_143315   20170411_145215

20170411_142634

Blue violets and yellow ones were all over.

IMG_4490    IMG_4487

Jack in the Pulpit on the left and American Mint on the right.

Do yourself a favor; get out in the woods and shake off the winter blues.

Teatime promo 5

There’s only a few days left to nominate my horror/ farce, Teatime of the Living Dead!  Click the picture above to check it out!

Posted in Kindle Scout, photography, writing | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Crown Hill Cemetery

Picture post!  I had a big fun day with my family today.  First there was the dropping off of an old mattress and box-springs as well as an old dishwasher at my town’s free heavy trash drop off.  Okay, maybe not fun, but very satisfying to get that stuff out of the shed.  Then there was unexpected sushi lunch at my favorite sushi place.  Then we went out to Crown Hill Cemetery to show my brother some of the sites.

20170408_165621

Gothic Chapel behind part of the military section of the cemetery.

Crown Hill in Indianapolis was first established in 1863 when 236 acres of land were purchased from three local farmers.  Other lands were purchased as time went on, and now the cemetery is 374 acres.

28crownhill8_16  20170408_160854

The Gothic Chapel was built in 1875, and restored in 1972.  It’s lovely, and certainly worth a visit.

34jameswhitcombriley29_16   33jameswhitcombriley9_16

Indiana poet, James Whitcomb Riley, was the first person buried at the Crown.  After Riley’s death, local children began leaving coins on his grave-site to pay for his memorial.  He was beloved by all, but especially the children.  Coins are still left here, and the donations are given to the poet’s namesake- Riley Children’s Hospital.

20170408_162654

Not only is Riley’s monument worth seeing, but there’s a wonderful view from the crown of the hill.  You can see downtown Indianapolis lurking in the background of this picture.

20170408_171000

American depression era gangster, John Dillinger, is also buried here.  He has a plain marker in a less fancy section of the cemetery.  Today, his headstone was decorated with change and a dark tulip.

20170408_165317

Dr. Richard J. Gatling, inventor of the Gatling Gun, is buried here with his family and a very nice monument.

23crownhill8_16_benjamineharrison   20160802_175030

23rd United States President Benjamin Harrison is buried here with both of his wives.  I like that.  I think it’s lovely that both his wives got to be part of the family plot instead of picking one over the other.  His first wife, Caroline, died of tuberculosis when she was sixty.

20170408_171332

29crownhill8_16   30crownhill8_16

But the people of note are not the biggest reason I love visiting Crown Hill.  It’s a gorgeous place.  There are giant trees here, and beautiful flowers here and there.  There are many monuments, some of which have stained glass windows inside.

11crownhill8_16_persephone   20170304_163507

There are statues and other sculptures throughout the grounds, and many of the monuments themselves are also works of art.

20160802_173740

20160802_173631  20160802_173716  20170408_161252

If you look sharp, you might see some deer as well.

20160922_174927  20crownhill8_16

If you are ever in the Indianapolis area, a visit to Crown Hill is a wonderful way to spend a few hours.

20170408_161034

20170408_171403

Buddha, Brother Joe, Sweetie Brian, and Mom.

Teatimepromo1

If you have a spare moment and an Amazon account, please visit my Kindle Scout campaign and nominate Teatime of the Living Dead.

 

Posted in Crown Hill Cemetery, Indianapolis, photography, writing | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Top 7 Newbie Writer Mistakes

We all start out somewhere. None of us are awesome novel writers right off the bat. That’s to be expected. No one goes straight from “I think I might write a book” to Stephen King, writing superstar, just as no one goes from pre-med undergraduate school straight to doing brain surgery.

A writer has to get some practice, get some feedback, and grow their writing voice and style before they are going to write a great book. Unless, of course, one is a prodigy. Let’s face it, most of us are not prodigies, and that’s okay. Mr. King wasn’t a prodigy either.

“So, what are some of the most common newbie writer mistakes?” you seem to ask.
Never fear, awesome reader, I am going to make a list.

IMG_20170309_151929

Some of the first spring daffodils I enjoyed this year.

1- Beginning a Book Too Early

It’s lovely that your MC is a happy person, with a happy family, and a happy life. We don’t want to read all about that. We don’t want to read all about how they went to work at the florist today, and everything about how to be a florist, and what kind of person this florist is, and nothing very interesting happens.

But that’s world building and character building!

Yes, it is, and it’s the most boring way to do it. Your book should begin with something happening. It doesn’t have to be a life or death situation, but it should not be world building or character study. It also should not be back story. Sure, your character may have grown up as a foster kid on a wombat ranch, but you can mention that later, if it makes sense to.

I am working on a book where the MC is a guy who is always in the right place at the right time to save someone’s life. Where do I start the story? Do I talk about the city he lives in? Do I give a dissertation on what kind of guy he is? Do I show him in a typical day at his work?

Hell, no. I open the story with him saving somebody. As we go along, you find out things about my MC, where he works, and where he lives, in bits and pieces as it’s relevant to the story I’m telling right now. Remember it’s okay to have a bit of mystery going in and if your book is engaging, the reader will gather those bits and pieces as the story goes along.

Start your story at the part where it gets interesting. Fit the other bits in later.

2- Boring Sentence Structure

No reader wants to read sentences that are all the same type, sentence after sentence, blah blah blah. You have to learn to mix it up a bit. Let me give you an example. The biggest mistake I see in green writers is every sentence starting with the subject first.

I see the boy’s lap belt lift and rise like a snake in slow motion. The coaster hits the third hill. The boy begins to rise out of his seat. I stare in horrified fascination.

-vs-

Beside me, the boy’s lap belt lifts and writhes like a snake in slow motion. The coaster hits the third hill. As I stare in horrified fascination, the young boy begins to rise out of his seat.

Even in that short example, there’s a crazy big difference. Which one do you want to read?

20170304_163507

Statue at Crown Hill Cemetery

3- Muddled Point of View

This is a bugaboo that really hurts a ton of newbie writers. I did a post on narrative point of view here. Read it. Know the different types of point of view, study them, and pick one of them. Then write your book. No cheating. No jumping from one type to another in the same book. If you write in omniscient, then have that Godlike narrator telling the story. Do not just jump from character to character willy-nilly as the mood suits you. Even better when you are starting out, write in first person, or limited third, until you get some writing under your belt. It will keep you from head-hopping. Don’t know what limited third is? Well, you better find out before you write another word. Do read that post on narrative point of view. It will help.

4- Giant Word Counts

If your first book is between 200k and 300k words, chances are it needs some serious editing. Even if you are writing Science Fiction, Historical Romance, or High Fantasy, anything over 150k words is suspicious. Yes, it’s possible you have a trilogy on your hands, but what’s most likely is that you don’t know how to edit effectively. I knew a writer that had a behemoth at 250k words, and after a good content editor got hold of it, ended up with 90k. And the writer was stunned to admit that the book was better for the cuts. Huge chunks of writing that were not necessary to the plot were hacked out, and the book was better off without them.

If you have a book so giant that places like Createspace can’t even print you a proof, then you have trouble. It might not be as simple as cutting the book into smaller pieces. In a trilogy, there’s an ongoing story arc, but each book in the trilogy must have a beginning, middle, and end. Cutting one story into three pieces doesn’t cut it. Consider doing some major pruning or work with a professional content editor to find out where to prune.

5- Word Count Too Short

The opposite of #4 is that writer who writes 7k words and thinks they have a novel. Nope. That’s a short story. Here’s a rule of thumb rundown:

Under 7.5 words + Short Story
7.5 – 17,499 Novelette
17,500 – 39,999 Novella
40,000 and up Novel

Now, keep in mind that if you write novelettes or novellas, you might want to bundle several together if you want to publish. Shorts stories would need a herd to publish. Also note that 40k is very short for a novel. If you publish a Novel that’s between 40 and 60k, then you should describe it as a “fast read” in your description. Readers will be angry, as well they should, if they pay money for a book and then discover that’s it’s a really short book.

20150522_134355

Weinermobile!

6- Describing Too Much

Julianne Q Johnson, second child to the awesome Gene Johnson, sat at her Cyberpower PC typing away at her black ergonomic split keyboard in fits and starts. She wore comfy clothes, some black stretch jeans that had seen better days and a faded Disney t-shirt that had Mickey Mouse, Pluto, Goofy, and Donald on it. The t-shirt was a steel grey with an artfully faded silkscreen on the front. The keyboard and mouse were set up on her old, brown-stained, wooden roll-top desk, and Supernatural was playing on her second screen attached to the wall under the bookshelf that she had painstakingly put up herself. Julianne was a bit out of sorts because she wanted to finish the awesome and sparkly blog post for her writing blog on WordPress, but she had a migraine that was making her grumpy as hell. Her fiancé, Brian–who was wearing khaki shorts and a tie dyed t-shirt–distracted her by picking up both adorable ferrets and being all cute with them. Frankie was a big Champaign hob and Millie was a tiny white jill.

-vs-

Julianne typed her blog post in fits and starts due to an annoying migraine.

Some description is interesting and needed to further the plot. Describing every damn thing is ponderous and boring.

7- Rushing

Rushing is the opposite of describing too much. It is when the writer rushes from plot point to plot point without any description or character thoughts and feelings.

Julianne typed.

Equally as boring as over-describing.

IMG_20170328_210520

A puddle of Millie

Honorable Mentions:

The following are also common things to look for in your writing, and there are tons of articles in internet-land that describes them. Keep in mind that any advice that tells you “Never do this…” is a bit ridiculous. There’s a time and place for everything, folks get into trouble when they do something too much.

Telling instead of showing
Word overuse (using the same word or phrase too many times or too close together.)
An extreme overuse of -ly adverbs (I believe in using all the words, but not to excess.)
Willy-nilly use of unique dialog tags
Using participle phrases incorrectly
Overuse of filtering words- look, saw, heard, etc
Boring verb choices (Ran instead of dashed, rushed, hurried, sprinted)

That’s all for today. Keep being awesome!

Teatimepromo3

My Kindle Scout campaign for Teatime of the Living Dead is live!

What is it?

Kindle Scout is an awesome program where people nominate books they would like to see published. Nominations won’t guarantee success, the editors have final say in who gets published by Kindle Press and who doesn’t. However, nominations can help get their attention.

What can you do?

Head to my campaign page here, and nominate Teatime of the Living Dead. Make sure you check out the excerpt for a sneak peek of the book! Anyone with an Amazon account can nominate. Each person gets three nominations at a time, but you can only nominate each book once. If you want to help further, share this post to help spread the word!

What’s in it for you?

Anytime you nominate a book on Kindle Scout, and it gets selected for publication, you get a free advance copy of the book. I’ve gotten 19 so far! Because the books are vetted and edited by Kindle Press, you can expect a certain level of quality. All of the books I’ve read so far have been worth reading, and some have been amazingly good.

A little about Teatime:

Andrew Hamilton believes in friendship, good theatre, and that Twizzlers are an underrated member of the candy family. He does not believe in magic. His current play is going great, until the actors playing the zombie horde turn homicidal. Zombie madness spreads through the city and the creepers have one thing in common: they all want to kill Andrew. Magic not only exists, it has rules and deadlines. If he can keep ahead of his stumbling and drooling fan club until teatime, he might survive.
They’re coming for you, Andrew.

Posted in Fiction, Habits in writing, Kindle Scout, Teatime of the Living Dead, writing, Writing Advice | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Year of Writing Dangerously- Writing News

The Year of Writing Dangerously- Writing News

Today is mostly going to be writing news, and all the things I’ve been up to lately. I’ve been a busy bee, both with writing and also with a ton of campaigning and promotion chores.

I did a couple of Instafreebie promotions, and now my sparkly new newsletter is going on 200 subscribers. Not bad for it not being out long.

whbannersized

Wyrd House is on sale!

My paranormal mystery with a bit of romance, Wyrd House, is on sale from now until the 15th. During this time you can pick up an EBook for $.99. This is part of a mystery promo, and on April 9th and 10th you can check out the other books on sale at davidnethbooks.com/promo.

Wyrd House is a haven for anyone with magical gifts living in a mundane world and Myra fits right in. All she needs now is a job. A man offers her a dream position, but she is wary. Myra senses Carter’s dark magic and sees its effect on his weak and ailing employees. Investigating further in an effort to aid them, she draws Carter’s attention, and then his retaliation. With the help of the handsome man next door, she will persevere. If Carter wants a fight, he’s chosen the wrong witch.

Click here to check out Wyrd House’s Amazon Page.

crocus

Unrelated note: It’s spring!

Instafreebie Promos

Instafreebie is a great way to find free things to read, and I’m taking part in two IF promos right now. If you are looking for more free books, check them out!

Science Fiction and Fantasy- April 10th through the 19th

The Prolific Reader has an ongoing page with Instafreebie book listings and they add new books all the time.

Teatimepromo1

Teatime of the Living Dead News

Teatime continues its Kindle Scout Campaign. I have reached the boggy middle bit, so I can use all the nominations I can get! If you don’t know about the Kindle Scout program, it’s a great way to get free advance copies of Kindle Press published books. You go to the Scout page, nominate anything that looks interesting, and if it gets selected you get a free eBook. It’s free to nominate, but you do need an Amazon account.

Click here to nominate Teatime of the Living Dead!

I also have a Headtalker campaign running until April 10th. Headtalker is a fancy way to share things on social media, and it’s free. You can support through Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and LinkedIn. If you want to help me spread the word about Teatime, please consider checking out my Headtalker Campaign.

Click here to support on Headtalker!

NofTkindlecover

Nick of Time News

My current work in progress, Nick of Time, is almost done! Nick has one chapter and an epilogue to go, and I fully intend to finish it this week. I’m planning on this book being my next Scout campaign. I really love this book, and I’m very excited to have it almost finished.

Subscribers to my newsletter just got a one chapter sneak peek of Nick of Time. If you want to get free stories and sneak peeks, make sure to sign up for my newsletter. Just click the shiny red button at the top right of the page.

That’s all for now. Happy writing and reading!

daff2

I love spring!

Posted in Kindle Scout, Newsletter, Teatime of the Living Dead, writing, Writing News- Plots and Plans, Wyrd House | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Obedience Training Can Save Your Dog’s Life

I just spent 30 minutes trying to catch a dog, and another 30 posting its picture all over the internet. It’s a big baby. Not frightened or unfriendly, but so intent on chasing other animals that I could do nothing with it. It didn’t want food. It didn’t want pets. It wanted to jump over a fence and tried over and over. I even tried grabbing its collar–a risky thing to do with a strange dog of any size or breed–but it was far too strong for me to control it.

I’m pretty sure it’s going to get hit by a car or hurt jumping a fence. It is so focused on chasing other animals, it has no sense.

20170402_112303

It’s not cute that your dog doesn’t follow commands.

Any dog, regardless of size, age, or breed, needs to know and follow basic obedience commands. I have seen small dogs bite people because they had no training. I’ve known a large dog that injured an elderly person because its owners couldn’t stop it jumping on people. These things can be avoided.

Besides, if your dog gets out, and it won’t follow basic instructions, no one can help you get it back. If it won’t listen to you, it’s not going to listen to anyone else either.

If you are having trouble training your dog, get both you and the dog into a class. If you can’t afford a class, then you can’t afford a dog. Period. There are too many stories about dogs being put down because they bit someone. Too many stories about dogs running loose and getting hurt because they won’t listen. Too many stories about dogs hurting or killing other people’s pets because proper precautions were not taken. Your dog needs manners, both for the safety of others and for its own safety.

20170402_112309

It’s not funny that your dog chases other animals.

Not only is this not safe for other animals, it’s not safe for your dog. Dogs are like children, they are too easily distracted. A dog that is not taught not to chase is a dog that might get away from you on a walk. It’s a dog that might run in front of a car because it saw a cat or squirrel. It’s a dog that might hurt or kill your neighbor’s pet.

The dog I saw today wasn’t a hunting dog. It had no reason to chase and frighten our feral cat family. It was so intent on getting to one of the cats that ran to a neighbor’s yard, that it tried over and over to jump the fence. it was single minded. If it had managed to scramble over the fence, it could have easily hurt itself. When it ran away from me, it was heading for a very busy road.

Maybe this dog will be caught and returned home safely. It had multiple tags on its collar, I’m sure one had a phone number. If the dog had been properly trained, I could have gotten it inside safely and alerted the owner. Unfortunately, that was not possible. It doesn’t do your lost dog any good to have tags if it has no obedience training.

20170330_163249

It’s a great big world out there.  Far too distracting to our fur babies that get out.

Teach your dog like you would teach your child.

I remain hopeful that there’s a happy ending for this dog. I’m sure its family loves it, and would miss it if anything happened to it. Unfortunately, its lack of basic training will make it difficult to catch. We’ve all seen the lost pet posts that end up with “Rainbow Bridge” printed across them. Don’t assume your pet will never get out–things happen. Give it the training it needs so it can be safely returned. A tag and a microchip isn’t enough. Teach your fur children as if their lives depended on it, because they do.

This dog was seen in a small town on the west side of Indy. All the local groups have been notified. If you think this is your dog, you can check Indy Pet Alerts for more information. I am keeping this dog in my happy thoughts, and hoping for a happy ending.

Teatime promo 5

My Kindle Scout campaign for Teatime of the Living Dead is live!

What is it?

Kindle Scout is an awesome program where people nominate books they would like to see published. Nominations won’t guarantee success, the editors have final say in who gets published by Kindle Press and who doesn’t. However, nominations can help get their attention.

What can you do?

Head to my campaign page here, and nominate Teatime of the Living Dead. Make sure you check out the excerpt for a sneak peek of the book! Anyone with an Amazon account can nominate. Each person gets three nominations at a time, but you can only nominate each book once. If you want to help further, share this post to help spread the word!

What’s in it for you?

Anytime you nominate a book on Kindle Scout, and it gets selected for publication, you get a free advance copy of the book. I’ve gotten 19 so far! Because the books are vetted and edited by Kindle Press, you can expect a certain level of quality. All of the books I’ve read so far have been worth reading, and some have been amazingly good.

A little about Teatime:

Andrew Hamilton believes in friendship, good theatre, and that Twizzlers are an underrated member of the candy family. He does not believe in magic. His current play is going great, until the actors playing the zombie horde turn homicidal. Zombie madness spreads through the city and the creepers have one thing in common: they all want to kill Andrew. Magic not only exists, it has rules and deadlines. If he can keep ahead of his stumbling and drooling fan club until teatime, he might survive.
They’re coming for you, Andrew.

Posted in Dogs, Lost pets | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Book Cover Blues- Part Two

Book Cover Blues- Part Two

I’m still working on the new cover for my next book, Nick of Time. Folks like the new art in both new covers, but I’m still fine tuning the fonts, and I have yet to make a final decision.

The book is about a guy named Nick who, through strange coincidence, finds himself in the right place at the right time to save people’s lives. It happens every day and, while he never hesitates to save a life, it’s wearing him down. He can’t keep a normal job or a steady girlfriend. Nick jokingly calls the phenomenon a curse, but he’s fallen afoul of an old Irish legend.

It’s suspense with a speculative element.

So, what are my worries?

NofTkindlecover

I like the art on this one, but I’m afraid it reads too superhero. While I consider Nick a hero, he has no special powers. He’s just a guy.

NofTkindlecover2      NofTkindlecover2b
I like the art on this one too, and I think the lights give it a speculative touch, but I’m worried it reads too mundane mystery.

I also can’t decide on the fonts for any of them, lol.

If you have a preference, do leave a comment and let me know!

Teatime promo 5

My Kindle Scout campaign for Teatime of the Living Dead is live!

What is it?

Kindle Scout is an awesome program where people nominate books they would like to see published. Nominations won’t guarantee success, the editors have final say in who gets published by Kindle Press and who doesn’t. However, nominations can help get their attention.

What can you do?

Head to my campaign page here, and nominate Teatime of the Living Dead. Make sure you check out the excerpt for a sneak peek of the book! Anyone with an Amazon account can nominate. Each person gets three nominations at a time, but you can only nominate each book once. If you want to help further, share this post to help spread the word!

What’s in it for you?

Anytime you nominate a book on Kindle Scout, and it gets selected for publication, you get a free advance copy of the book. I’ve gotten 19 so far! Because the books are vetted and edited by Kindle Press, you can expect a certain level of quality. All of the books I’ve read so far have been worth reading, and some have been amazingly good.

A little about Teatime:

Andrew Hamilton believes in friendship, good theatre, and that Twizzlers are an underrated member of the candy family. He does not believe in magic. His current play is going great, until the actors playing the zombie horde turn homicidal. Zombie madness spreads through the city and the creepers have one thing in common: they all want to kill Andrew. Magic not only exists, it has rules and deadlines. If he can keep ahead of his stumbling and drooling fan club until teatime, he might survive.
They’re coming for you, Andrew.

Posted in Book Covers, Kindle Scout, writing | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Making a Cover Blues

Making a Cover Blues

I’ve spoken about the trials and tribulations of an author making their own book covers before, and now I’m back again.

There are good reasons that it’s smart to hire a professional. Book cover designers know about what the current trends in a specific genre are and they know the psychology behind what draws people to books. Professionals know their typography and how to make those words shine.

I don’t know any of that. What I do know is that I cannot afford a professional cover at this stage in the game. Hell, I still have to use free pictures or use my own.

I have an upcoming book that needs a cover. It’s suspense with a touch of speculative fiction thrown in, about a guy in the here and now that has fallen afoul of an old legend. The book, Nick of Time, was my NaNoWriMo project last year. I did a mock up cover for NaNo, and I was fairly pleased with it.

Nickkindlecover1a

Pretty, but just not good enough.

No one liked it but me. The most common comment was that it didn’t reflect the genre, and looked too literary. They are right. I might think it’s pretty, but it isn’t what’s needed. Folks suggested I look at some covers for the bestsellers in suspense. I did, and that confused me further. Those covers are all over the place style and design-wise with no clear markers for what makes a good suspense cover.

Nevertheless, I tried a couple more covers and the truth is that I like them both better than my original one, but now I can’t decide which one is best, or if either is good enough.

Image1NofTnewcover2     NoTnewcoverroof

I’d love to have some opinions. Let me know in the comments if either strikes your fancy, or it you think neither of them rocks.

 

Teatimepromo1

My Kindle Scout campaign for Teatime of the Living Dead is live!

What is it?

Kindle Scout is an awesome program where people nominate books they would like to see published. Nominations won’t guarantee success, the editors have final say in who gets published by Kindle Press and who doesn’t. However, nominations can help get their attention.

What can you do?

Head to my campaign page here, and nominate Teatime of the Living Dead. Make sure you check out the excerpt for a sneak peek of the book! Anyone with an Amazon account can nominate. Each person gets three nominations at a time, but you can only nominate each book once. If you want to help further, share this post to help spread the word!

What’s in it for you?

Anytime you nominate a book on Kindle Scout, and it gets selected for publication, you get a free advance copy of the book. I’ve gotten 19 so far! Because the books are vetted and edited by Kindle Press, you can expect a certain level of quality. All of the books I’ve read so far have been worth reading, and some have been amazingly good.

A little about Teatime:

Andrew Hamilton believes in friendship, good theatre, and that Twizzlers are an underrated member of the candy family. He does not believe in magic. His current play is going great, until the actors playing the zombie horde turn homicidal. Zombie madness spreads through the city and the creepers have one thing in common: they all want to kill Andrew. Magic not only exists, it has rules and deadlines. If he can keep ahead of his stumbling and drooling fan club until teatime, he might survive.
They’re coming for you, Andrew.

Posted in Book Covers, Ebooks, Kindle Scout, Self Publishing, writing | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

Other People Shouldn’t Suffer for Your Art

It’s clear to all artists that to make your art, you have to be willing to make some sacrifices. No artist makes enough money to make a living right off the bat, and most artists never make enough money to quit their day job. It’s nice to dream about making a living as an artist, but these days it’s a long shot. Even if you get there and can finally quit your day job, it takes time to get there.

Actor’s find whatever work they can between acting gigs. It’s so normal that we talk about actor’s waiting tables like it’s a joke. Moms and Dads wait until dinner is over and the kids are asleep to spend what time they can on their writing. Painters go without food so they can buy paints. Everyone gives up a certain amount of free time, luxuries,  and social activities so that they can create. It’s expected.

When an artist believes that they are somehow owed the time and space to create–you know, because they’re all fancy and shit–that is when the trouble starts.

The phrase is “starving artist,” it’s not “starving artist’s family.”

lonelyduck

This duck is young and doesn’t have a family, so if he wants to starve for his art that’s nobody’s business but his own.

Enter Bob. (Stunt name of course.) Bob had a nice writing gig that paid the bills, but he lost his job a few years ago. He has looked for another job, but he has issues, and troubles, and a sore left toe, and there are just so many lame reasons he can’t get work. Besides, he can’t find another writing job and non-writing jobs are beneath him. He’s an artist, you know, so he shouldn’t have to work some other sort of job. He should be free to create, and his family and friends should respect that. They should support him in his decision.

Support is a fine thing. We all should have supportive people in our lives. However, the minute we expect that support to go from moral to financial, we are being a douche. If we choose to suffer for our art that’s fine, but if we expect others to suffer for it, that makes us a selfish dick.

I feel sorry for Bob’s wife. Her husband has decided for her that she should support him so he doesn’t have to get some crappy non-artistic job. The trouble is that Bob’s wife doesn’t make enough money to support them. Bob’s been off work for a couple of years now, they’ve lost all their savings and Bob has even cashed out his retirement plan. They are running on fumes and the fumes themselves are almost exhausted.

river1

If your dream is to swim this river, then train, and work, and do it.  Don’t expect other people to leap in the water and tow you across.

Bob is very angry at his wife’s family. They call her often, encouraging her to leave Bob. Bob won’t work and he and his wife are out of money. Her family’s phone calls leave her crying, and Bob blames both her and her family. He thinks his wife’s family should do more to support him. He seems to think they should hand him money instead of telling him to get a job. He thinks his wife should tell them to bugger off and stop making his wife cry.

Bob has no idea that she’s crying because of him. She’s crying because he has put her in an impossible situation, and isn’t doing a thing to help her.

My opinion is that Bob’s wife should leave him. She should move in with her caring and supportive family and let Bob wallow in his pride and laziness. Because his wife’s family is being supportive, they’re just supporting their daughter, and that’s the way it should be. Bob himself has pretty much resigned from the family with his selfish attitude. He doesn’t want to be a partner, he wants someone to take care of him so he can wallow in his art. That’s not his wife’s job, and it certainly is not her family’s job.

Bob should swallow his pride and go out and get any damn job he can. Instead of whining about the money running out and refusing to admit it’s his fault, he should stop looking for jobs that don’t exist and get a job anywhere. Amazon is always looking for people, as are all the other warehouses.

riverbelle5

He could go work on a riverboat.  I’ve mostly been a costumer, but I’ve worked all kinds of jobs between gigs.  Not a riverboat, at least, not yet.

The real problem is not Bob’s wife or her family. The real problem is Bob. He’s using the fact that there are no jobs in his field as an excuse not to work anywhere. And he types away on his books as his life falls down around him, and then blames everyone else for not being supportive of his art.

Bob should try being supportive of his wife for a change.

Bob’s story is not the first I’ve found of this nature. I have little sympathy for people like Bob. They seem to think all the people who read their tale of woe will rally around them and bad-mouth all those non-supportive people in their lives, and they get confused when other artists tell them to get a job. Most of them have jobs outside their art, after all.

Now, I also know families who have decided together that they will make sacrifices so the artist in the family has time for their art. That is perfectly awesome. If the family can make it work, then the artist is very lucky to be able to do that. I know a woman whose husband makes a good enough living that she can stay home and create, as long as they don’t get too lavish with their lifestyle. My fiancé and I moved into my parent’s house. I’m my mother’s caretaker, I take care of the house and the meals and the shopping, and my sweetie works. I know that this situation may not last forever, but it’s working for now. When I need to, I will totally go get a job at Amazon or the nearest whopperburger if that’s what I need to do.

Families and spouses may chose to make a certain level of sacrifice in order to support a loved one’s dream, but the minute that an artist feels entitled to that, regardless of the feelings of their family or the ability to pay the rent, then the artist is a selfish douche. If the family cannot get by at a reasonable level of comfort without the artist working, then the artist needs to work. Just because one is creative, one is not entitled to a living.

Starve for your art if you must, but don’t expect others to starve with you. That’s no way to treat your loved ones.

Teatimepromo1

My Kindle Scout campaign for Teatime of the Living Dead is live!

What is it?

Kindle Scout is an awesome program where people nominate books they would like to see published. Nominations won’t guarantee success, the editors have final say in who gets published by Kindle Press and who doesn’t. However, nominations can help get their attention.

What can you do?

Head to my campaign page here, and nominate Teatime of the Living Dead. Make sure you check out the excerpt for a sneak peek of the book! Anyone with an Amazon account can nominate. Each person gets three nominations at a time, but you can only nominate each book once. If you want to help further, share this post to help spread the word!

What’s in it for you?

Anytime you nominate a book on Kindle Scout, and it gets selected for publication, you get a free advance copy of the book. I’ve gotten 19 so far! Because the books are vetted and edited by Kindle Press, you can expect a certain level of quality. All of the books I’ve read so far have been worth reading, and some have been amazingly good.

A little about Teatime:

Andrew Hamilton believes in friendship, good theatre, and that Twizzlers are an underrated member of the candy family. He does not believe in magic. His current play is going great, until the actors playing the zombie horde turn homicidal. Zombie madness spreads through the city and the creepers have one thing in common: they all want to kill Andrew. Magic not only exists, it has rules and deadlines. If he can keep ahead of his stumbling and drooling fan club until teatime, he might survive.
They’re coming for you, Andrew.

Posted in Kindle Scout, writing | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Motivation is a Cop Out

“I’m a greater believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.”
– Thomas Jefferson

I’ve written about this before and I’ll no doubt write about it again. It’s a subject that is near and dear to my heart, as well as one that I think many people need to rethink. I hear the same thing everywhere. I hear it from writers, folks looking to lose weight, athletes, artists, butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers.

“How can I stay motivated?”

“I just can’t seem to stay motivated, I haven’t done anything in weeks.”

“I’ve tried everything and I can’t stay motivated.”

Why? Because motivation is crap.

IMG_20161231_175113

If I waited to cook dinner until I was motivated, I’d eat this every night.

The pure truth is no one is going to be able to stay motivated all the time. How could you? You can take hours out of the day to read thousands of affirmations and you still won’t be motivated every day. Don’t get me wrong, motivation feels awesome when you have it, but the idea that you can’t work without it ridiculous. It’s as if we are all motivation junkies and instead of buckling down and doing the work, we’re wasting time waiting around for our next fix.

We get sick. We have to work overtime. We take care of our homes, family, pets, gardens, and everything else under the sun. We get mentally weary or emotionally overset, and it is so much easier to wait for motivation.

It’s the opposite of what we should be doing. Certainly there are going to be brutally busy or difficult days when we simply cannot find time to work on our dreams, but what about those days when you had the time but didn’t feel motivated so you did nothing?

If motivation doesn’t work, or at least doesn’t work consistently, what does work?

Build Good Habits.

Bob wants to get more fit, for example, so he decides he’s going to exercise every day. Nothing crazy, just a good walk after work. He starts out as we all do, with oodles of motivation and wonders why he didn’t do this sooner. A few days go by, he has a tough time at work, and he loses steam and quits walking.

Bad boy, Bob. A few days aren’t enough to build good habits. If Bob had stuck it out for a couple weeks, he’d find he has become so used to that after work walk he misses it if he can’t take it for some reason.

Want to get stuff done? Make a habit out of it. Do it every single day, whether you want to or not. After some time has passed, you’ll find that it is easier and easier to accomplish. Certainly there will be the odd day when you cannot do it, but the habit will make it easier to get back to.

IMG_20151011_135913

It doesn’t take much time of effort to cook something like this, you just have to do it.

Find a Time That Works for You.

Let’s say Bob works at a warehouse and he discovers he is simply too tired after work to take that walk. It’s impossible, so he gives up altogether.

Don’t give up, Bob! The problem here is the timing. After work isn’t working, but if Bob got up a half hour earlier, he could do it before work. He could also take a walk during his lunch break, or decide to take extra long walks on the weekends. Find the time of day that works best for you.

IMG_20150818_195709

I wouldn’t plan this for a busy work week, for example.

Set Short-Term Goals.

Let’s say Bob is walking because he wants to lose weight and has sixty pounds to lose. He builds a great walking habit before work, and at the end of a month he’s lost five pounds. He’s been trying his best to keep his eyes on the prize of sixty pounds gone, and is so disappointed he’s still got 55 to go, he stops walking, gains ten pounds, and is worse off than where he started.

Bob sounds silly, but people do this sort of thing all the time. They are so focused on long term goals that they don’t enjoy the journey itself. Instead of worrying about how far I have to go if I want to write a 100k word book, I could concentrate on a daily goal of a smaller amount of words. I could write no more than 1,000 words a day and write three of those 100k books a year. But only if I stick to it.

IMG_20150607_134614

My short term goal might be to have delicious smoked ribs for dinner.

Be Stubborn.

Say Bob is a stubborn fellow. If he sets his mind to taking that daily walk no matter what, then he’s going to do it every day he possibly can.

Forget motivation, get good and stubborn. Set those short term goals and stubbornly bull your way through them. Maybe it won’t be as easy as those times when you are at the height of motivation and the goals are easily achieved, but I’ll trust stubbornness over motivation every time.

Build a habit, find a time of day that’s right for you, set some short term goals, and get stubborn about achieving those goals. It’s your dream. If you don’t buckle down and do the work, it’s never going to happen. Just do it.

Teatimepromo1

My Kindle Scout campaign for Teatime of the Living Dead is live!

What is it?

Kindle Scout is an awesome program where people nominate books they would like to see published. Nominations won’t guarantee success; the editors have final say in who gets published by Kindle Press and who doesn’t. However, nominations can help get their attention.

What can you do?

Head to my campaign page here, and nominate Teatime of the Living Dead. Make sure you check out the excerpt for a sneak peek of the book! Anyone with an Amazon account can nominate. Each person gets three nominations at a time, but you can only nominate each book once. If you want to help further, share this post to help spread the word!

What’s in it for you?

Anytime you nominate a book on Kindle Scout, and it gets selected for publication, you get a free advance copy of the book. I’ve gotten 19 so far! Because the books are vetted and edited by Kindle Press, you can expect a certain level of quality. All of the books I’ve read so far have been worth reading, and some have been amazingly good.

A little about Teatime:

Andrew Hamilton believes in friendship, good theatre, and that Twizzlers are an underrated member of the candy family. He does not believe in magic. His current play is going great, until the actors playing the zombie horde turn homicidal. Zombie madness spreads through the city and the creepers have one thing in common: they all want to kill Andrew. Magic not only exists, it has rules and deadlines. If he can keep ahead of his stumbling and drooling fan club until teatime, he might survive.
They’re coming for you, Andrew.

Posted in Kindle Scout, writing | Tagged , , | Leave a comment