Weekly Ramble #118

I’m warming to the idea of starting a Patreon for my writing and self help social media guides. My overall ambition is to make writing my primary occupation and this year has proven that I can take strides from this being a hobby to something much more serious. From having 10,000 people download one of my books in a single day to exceeding that same number in follows over on Twitter, maybe it is time to monetise my content.

Of course the concept of monetising isn’t just about me. I intend to very much make it worthwhile for my patrons by rewarding them not just with content but hopefully other stuff like social media shout-outs, guidance, and even author spotlight stuff on here – a place where I know book folks and good readers are. And this won’t be monetising all content all the time – there is value in our words and with the right following it can be perceived that way.

Something seems to have aligned quite well with the content I create and the readers who appreciate it. You can see for yourself the plethora of social media, blogging and author guides I’ve put together over on the resources page to back that up. Not only do I have content, but a following who appreciates it and this is only ever going to be a career option if I take strides towards setting it up for that. By no means is this a cash grab because as I said there will be incentives for supporters that I will work for so to me, this is merely an opportunity for my words to support themselves and seeing that I have the infrastructure, perhaps Patreon is the way forward.

Already I have a content plan – much of the stuff you have become used to seeing on here will remain on here but will most probably premiere on my Patreon first. I’m committed to creating content that helps others and so the idea would be to make my Patreon an intimate way of passing on knowledge not just through posts but with perhaps one on one coaching – this will all depend on the level of membership available. I am also envisioning to release exclusive fiction stuff to patrons as a further reward for their support. Watch this space.

Guest Post: ‘A Teen Assassin with a Heart of Gold’ by Dan McKeon

Introducing author Dan McKeon who shares the story behind his writing journey and book ‘Wonder Rush’

“I think we figure out who we are based on our life experiences and the different people that impact us. People who come in and out of our lives shape who we are, even if we don’t realize it.”

This quote from my debut novel, Wonder Rush, sums up Wendy Lockheart’s struggle. She is a seventeen-year-old girl fighting to discover who she truly is and the adult she desires to become. Wonder Rush is a coming-of-age tale under the most extreme circumstances. A story about a girl with no identity of her own. A girl fighting for not only a stable home, but for survival.

Abducted at birth, Wendy was raised by an agency of assassins. She was never given a name of her own, but was bounced around from one foster family to the next, assuming a new identity each time. She was brainwashed, tortured, psychologically manipulated, all to carry out the will of “the agency”—a group of assassins that communicates with its teen operatives using randomly flavored, encoded sticks of Wonder Rush Happy Funtime Bubblegum.
After carrying out a hit on an alleged drunk driver, Wendy suspects corruption within the agency. Her ultimate betrayal makes her the agency’s next mark. As Wendy uncovers the agency’s twisted intentions, she realizes she must destroy the organization that shaped her in order to discover the person she truly wants to be—that is, if they don’t kill her first.
I began writing Wonder Rush with a seed of an idea—what if the unassuming new girl in school was secretly an assassin? What a perfect cover. Who would ever suspect a sweet, innocent girl? As the concept took shape, I was inspired by my own teenage sons and their individual journeys into adulthood. I recalled the struggle of personal growth I experienced at that age, and I wondered how much different that road to self-discovery would look if a person never had an identity of her own to begin with. It was that underlying universal theme of identity that got me excited about this story. It is what elevates it from a high-octane thriller to something deeper and more meaningful.
I did not write Wonder Rush with a target age group in mind, and I think some of the best stories transcend age. Upon completion of the novel, I understood it fit best under the young adult category, given the age of my main character and the coming-of-age theme. However, what has made me happiest about the release of this book is the overwhelming connection it has made with teenagers, young adults, and mature adults alike. I think we all remember that internal conflict we felt when we balanced the thin line between childhood and adulthood. We may not relate to a teenage girl killing people in various and sometimes gruesome ways, but we can all relate to that child fighting to do better, to be better, and to grow into an adult that she can take pride in.
My initial spark of interest in creative writing came during a film analysis class I took while I was an undergraduate at Villanova University. It was the first time I realized that film was more than just entertainment. It was a literary and visual art. I learned all I could about screenwriting. I read books, attended seminars and workshops. I ultimately enrolled in a Professional Screenwriting course at UCLA. I complete four screenplays over the years, but I always wanted to write a novel.
I found the rigid structure of screenwriting to be beneficial in novel writing. Additionally, the visual storytelling nature of writing for the screen was beneficial when painting mental images and developing characters in Wonder Rush. I enjoy the more flexible nature of novel writing, but I will always appreciate my screenwriting roots.
Through my journey to publish Wonder Rush, I discovered the great difficulty in getting books into the hands of readers. There are literally millions of books published each year worldwide. Even though the reaction to Wonder Rush has been overwhelmingly positive, it is still a herculean task to deliver it to a wide audience. I am so grateful for bloggers and indie author advocates like Lee Hall for giving new writers an avenue to reach the readers these books deserve. There are some amazing stories out there, we just need to find them. I hope you all find Wonder Rush, and I hope you have as much fun reading it as I had writing it.

You can read more about ‘Wonder Rush’ here and Dan McKeon can be found over on Twitter

‘Fear Farm No Trespassers’ by S.J. Krandall – Review

Immersive page-turning horror stories full of thrills and chills…

S.J. Krandall delivers a delightfully chilling collection of page turning, fast-paced horror stories that will keep readers on the edge. All of them are linked and have that similar theme of something lurking in the shadows or the feeling of being followed. That sensory type of immersion is what I enjoyed the most – this is the stuff that will keep you up at night or if you are inclined to a good scare, perhaps the opposite.

Good horror takes a lot of work and imagination to balance and you’ll find it here paired with a style of writing that feeds the imagination.

While our imagination is given room to breathe these stories all start out with a slower pace which quickens as they unfold. This tempo makes for a dramatic thrill ride where the stakes unfold each time for different people who all seemingly succumb to similar gruesome ends. Based in countryside that is equal parts beauty and full of mystery that’s lurking for the next victim. Highly enjoyable and recommended for anyone who does enjoy horror with pace and a little blood.

5 Stars – Thank you to the author who provided a free copy in exchange for a review.

Guest Post: Excerpt of ‘Killer Coffee Beans’ by Shaun Young

Author Shaun Young shares an excerpt of his soon to be released book ‘Killer Coffee Beans’

Via Shaun Young’s Twiiter

Guatemala Countryside – 6:09 P.M. (7:09 P.M. Kansas City)

Sabi followed Vane through the front door of the house, out to the porch. She placed herself in the rocker then watched him. Vane cradled the gun in her lap then crossed her hands over it as though she was trying to hide it. Sabi leaned against the post next to the steps facing her.

“Go ahead. Who is Sabi and why does he need to hide at my house?” She asked while lazily rocking in the chair.

“Okay. I’m not sure where to start.”

“Why don’t you start by telling me why a guy that drifts in and out of British accent. Sometimes sounding European and sometimes sounding American is in Guatemala? And why that guy is lugging around all this computer equipment?”

“If I answer questions for you will you answer questions for me too?”

“We’ll see. Get started,” she said as a light breeze blew her hair moving it gently.

“Okay. I was staying at a resort on the coast.”

“I knew that.”

Sabi shot her a look, telling her not to interrupt him with his eyes before he continued. “I’d only been there a few days. Before that, I was in Bolivia, before that, Sierra Leone and before that, Togo.”

“Togo? You’re making that up.”

“No, it’s a real country. Look it up. It’s in Africa on the west coast, very small. Nice on the coast, but when you get inland a little, there’s not much and it’s a lot warmer. Anyway, you are starting to get the picture. I’m always moving. I’ve been home three times in the last two years. I go from one hotel to the next.”

“Why?” She asked. She had stopped rocking and scooted forward in the rocker.

He held up a finger, “I’m trying to explain. I’ve never told anyone this story. I have one friend that knows parts of what I do and other than that, it’s my boss and Momma.” Sabi stopped talking, moving from the post he was leaning against to the opposite side of the steps. He sat down leaning back against the other post. “I was educated in England then went to university in America. America is where I received my degree in international finance. My dad was a big wig in the Ministry of Finance at home.”

“Where’s home?”

“Oh. Turkmenistan. So I get home, dad gets me a good job at the biggest bank in our country. In less than two years, dad is convicted by the government for a bunch of crap. Basically dad was on the take. The trial is like the first one ever in our country to be televised. Within a week of his conviction, I’m fired.”

“I guess I can understand that, but it doesn’t seem right.”

“I knew it was coming. There was a lot of talk at work during the televised trial. Not much I could do about it. So I’m out of work. The government took everything from my Momma and dad. Momma moves in with me and I’m now the man of the house with no way to support her. Two weeks later, I’m down to next to nothing in money. A guy shows up in front of me on the street, asking if I want a job in international banking. “Sure,” I say. He tells me to be in front of my building the next morning at nine and someone will pick me up. I’m out there a little early, waiting and right on time, this limo pulls up in front of me and this man tells me to get in. I get in, there’s another guy in there. I’m thinking he’s interviewing too when the first guy hands me a hood and tells me to put it over my head.”

“You get into a limo and they want you to put a hood over your head?” She says not really asking a question.

Sabi nodded his head. “Yeah. So, I have to wear this hood the whole time. And it wasn’t really an interview. Basically, the guy tells me that he was friends,” Sabi used his hands to make air quotes as he says friends, “With my dad. He says he will give me a job and he’ll make things easier on my dad. He says Momma will be taken care of. And he will even make sure my two brothers are able to stay in school, one in England, one in America. I have to do what he says.”

“Shit. I thought I got dealt a bad hand. Go ahead.”

“So it turns out, this guy is a big-time opium smuggler. He needs to be able to launder his money now that the government threw all his contacts in jail. I spent about three months, traveling all over the world to conferences. I learned how to catch money launderers. Then I came up with a system to use, to beat their system of catching people like me. One of the things involves me moving all the time. Hence, I’m in your country.”

“Okay, that explains why you’re in Guatemala, but not why you’re at my house.”

“You don’t think I’m a bad person after hearing that, do you? I did what I could to help my mom, dad and brothers. I never planned to be involved in something like this.”

“No, I don’t think you’re bad. You’re not doing good things, but…” Vane shrugged her shoulders.

“I know. Sometimes I’m not happy with myself. I don’t like what I’m doing now, but I don’t know another way out. Momma. My brothers and dad. I didn’t want to steal the money, but I don’t know any other way to get out and save my family.” Sabi hung his head down between his knees.

He started sobbing quietly and turned away from her. Vane moved from the chair and knelt behind, him placing her hand on his back. She rubbed his back in a circular motion, “Sabi, you’re not a bad person.”

“You don’t understand.” He said between sobs, his shoulders heaving up and down. “I haven’t had anyone to talk to in so long. Always being careful what I say. Looking over my shoulder. This is the first time I’ve been able to let my guard down with anyone in-” He trailed off, trying to remember the last time he openly talked to someone.

“You want to take a break for a little bit? I could tell you my hard luck story if you’re interested…

This is an excerpt of ‘Killer Coffee Beans’ by Shaun Young which will be released on August 1st. You can find more information via Shaun’s Twitter.

Guest Post: ‘All Things Writing’ by Myron The Dreamer’s Spirit

We all have expectations!

We’re all excited and waiting for something eagerly to happen. Some of us, especially artists, writers, and avid dreamers can even see our expectations fully realized within our heart imagination. We can taste it, smell it, maybe even feel it like a new set of clothes against our skin. We even dance in celebration! There’s real joy in knowing we already have what we’ve sought out for despite not having it in our hand.

However, on who or what do we rest our expectations on? A person? A place? A government? A time in the future? (Personally I wouldn’t choose any of these). Be mindful on whom or where you set your expectations on. It’s important to dream and to plan for the future, regardless of how far or near it may seem, but be careful with the choice of your foundation, the thing that you rest your expectations on. If you want your hopes and dreams to be fully realized beyond your wildest imagination then rest them on something sure and solid (such things do exist), something that won’t change like the weather or your mood. Your dreams, your life are very real and very important. Shouldn’t they be rooted and planted in and on something that will always be there for you? The future is unclear, in fact it doesn’t even exist. There’s only the present. Be wise and check your foundation. Choose a foundation you trust to rest your life on and expect the best while in a state of rest because the fruit of your labours is coming. Like someone who sows seed in good soil, the crop has no choice but to come and it will come quickly.

So what are you resting your expectations on?

Thank you for stopping by!

By Myron, aka the Dreamer’s Spirit who you can find on Twitter.

If you have an article or a book review and want to be a guest writer then the Hall of Information wants you! Reach out via the submit a book review/article section.

Weekly Ramble #113

There’s nothing I respect more than a creative who keeps going through the adversities and struggles they face to market, sell and ultimately improve their craft while creating. To forge any level of progress from zero and to keep forging takes a strength of character I admire and ultimately find inspiring. The desire to improve from yesterday can be a grind but to gain a few more followers, get a few more sales than a previous release or even just the satisfaction of continuing a journey is enough to tell me that creative is on the right path.

We don’t give ourselves enough credit for what we have achieved sometimes in art because the journey and the yearning to get more than yesterday can cloud our judgement but the next time you find yourself down about things take a look back, see the path you’ve trodden to get to now. The chances are you’ve achieved incredible things to get here especially if you compare it to where you started. This has always been an eye of the beholder type of deal and if you can satisfy your own eye then everything else will feel easier.

I’m proud of the journey I’ve taken to get here. The sales might not be world dominating, or the reviews might not be through the roof but the work I have done has made a difference to fellow authors in recent times and to help writing in general is better for my writing.

‘King of the Wicked’ by T.R. Hamby – Review

An immersive imaginative take on Angels, humanity and immortality…

T.R. Hamby has constructed an original immersive and imaginative take on Angels and how their world interacts with the human one. We meet ‘Nora’ who is a struggling performer when she encounters ‘Mel’ who at first seems like a threat until he reveals who he truly is. What follows is a journey that will keep readers turning pages as the twists and turns present themselves. Its well written and even logical in places – especially when it comes to how these Angel types operate and have operated over time. We get a glimpse at the history of ‘Mel’, his world, and of course ‘Michael’ who plays an instrumental and pivotal role in the wider story which plays out.

With morality being a key theme throughout, these Angels and their motive is to put an end to bad people doing bad things which adds some high stakes as they must track them down before more bad happens. This concept is then woven into ‘Nora’s’ story which continually evolves. Romance and selflessness sits at the very centre of a real world fantasy story that will leave you wanting more.

5 Stars – Reviews left on Amazon and Goodreads.

Let’s talk about… Book Marketing

Do you feel slightly dirty whenever you spam the link to your book on social media? People who see it feel the same too because nothing is worse than seeing an author constantly spamming their own social media platforms with their own stuff…

I thought it would be best I put together some other methods to get folks to buy and more importantly read your books. Marketing is the most overlooked part of being a writer and the excuses range from ‘I’m an introvert’ to ‘I’m not a salesman’. Well the truth is you need to be neither to get reads and sales. While selling stuff is subjective I can happily admit I’ve sold a few books in most corners of the civilised world so this is my talk about book marketing…

What you need to do above all is to set out a realistic and achievable goal. Before you even start, ask yourself what I do want to get out of this book I have bestowed upon the world?

What do you want and what do you need to do in order to get it?

Sales and money ? – in this age of everyone self publishing (which is good and sometimes very bad…) I wish you all the luck in the world. Unless it’s about a real current thing that’s gone crazily popular or even a masterpiece you’ve written, don’t expect instant bucks, just don’t. Breaking even is a dirty word around here… and so I can’t help with this one…

sales

People reading and reviewing your work – now this is a very achievable goal and the chances are of it happening will grow as you release more stuff – that is if you intend to write more than one book like a real writer… There are many a different factors that govern whether or not people will see you work, pick it up and then review it. I can’t list them all but here’s a mini breakdown.

  1. Reasonable Price
  2. Decent Blurb
  3. Decent pro cover art
  4. Catchy title that matches genre and cover
  5.  A social media presence of some kind

That’s great and all but HOW can I get people to read my work?

Well if you have the 5 factors above ticked then all you have to do is let the world know about it. And no don’t just go spamming the link every 5 minutes. Do these things instead:

  1. Reach out to book bloggers for a review – offer a free copy in exchange. We don’t bite…
  2. Friends and relatives are a great starting point for reads/reviews. Ask them to help.
  3. Give your E-book away for free and pay for advertising through many book promo sites – check this post out for more info on that 
  4. Read and review other authors works – many writers will repay you because that’s just manners (don’t expect this though).
  5. Write another book and then another – writers with a back catalogue will most likely have returning readers if they liked one of your titles. Immediately after reading my first Crichton novel, I pursued his whole catalogue…
  6. Start a blog like this and talk about the laments of being a writer. Share your woes, book sales results and give back to the community.

Some writers who stubbornly say they wont give their work away for free will not get very far. Unless you are already famous or some kind of popular figure it’s highly likely you are starting this from zero. Sometimes setting the price to zero will attract readers who might buy at full price next time.. this then leads into…

Use social media properly – The word ‘properly’ is just my humble opinion but I cannot stress enough how important it is to be active on social media and to engage with others both respectfully and genuinely.

Don’t just share your book link, don’t, I see you’re about to do it, just don’t!

Instead comment on other authors posts, be encouraging, friendly, follow back and retweet stuff. Trust me this will turn more heads than anything else on social media and of course Twitter. Be genuine.

If you want my top tip have a real profile picture. This is a very simple and effective way to be genuine. People who don’t have an actual person as a profile picture have an incomplete stance on social media, plus it’s kinda creepy that you would wish to remain anonymous. Honestly show your pretty face, it can’t be that bad…

Be patient – okay this one might be a cop out, but good things like having sales and reads take time, commitment and books. Write more, dive into the words and don’t dwell on people who haven’t discovered your work.

Many many more things – there are a stack of more things that come into play with book marketing, perhaps for another post sometime. But don’t forget luck, the time of year, what’s happening in the world and many many more things need to be taken into account in book marketing…

The biggest challenge any author faces is not the writing but what comes after. Informing the world you exist is that challenge. Embrace it, go after it and more importantly don’t give up on it. Giving literature to the world is a gift trust me…

And if you enjoyed this post head on over to my resources section for more book promotion and marketing things!

And and before you go, let me tell you about my recently released self-help book that is packed full of information and guides on selling books all the way to social media. All you need for success is Consistent Creative Content.

 

Weekly Ramble #111

Slowly I’m coming out of thunder dome. That’s the phrase I use to describe what has been the most intense three month period I’ve ever known as an indie author. From having my book thrust into the hands of 10,000 readers in one day to the arduous road of just releasing another one. Between that I travelled an immense but taxing journey to reach 10,000 tweet machine followers. All of this has taken a mental and physical toll but as I said I’m on my way out of that place. Pressure valves have been released and a quieter time has appeared. I’m now going to do what I have needed to do for a while; I’m going to live in the real world.

For everything awesome I have achieved recently, I feel like an immense amount of pressure has been lifted internally. The fight for the attention of others on social media is something that has diminished, no longer do I have to struggle because now I have an audience who are loyal and are there for me. While having an amazing audience is great, that doesn’t mean that I’ll take it for granted, I just don’t need to perform miracles to please everyone anymore. Yes, the pressure is off but the responsibility remains, these shoulders have taken on a lot recently and they will continue to carry anything else that may present itself. Just now, it is on my terms and my terms alone. My audience have made me and I’ll be doing everything I can to repay that.

My motivation to support others remains and is the strongest pillar that holds everything else up. While I will be backing off for a short time, you can still expect this machine to keep turning but now I’m heading back into the real world!

To those who have supported my recent book release, thank you. You have made it what I hope will be my most successful release ever with just a few more sales!

Guest Post: My Personal Journey as a Writer by Danielle Larsen

Introducing Danielle Larsen who shares an insight into her journey as a writer.

I never really thought of myself as a writer. Even now, with a published book, it’s still something I struggle with. I think it’s because I’ve always had this image in my head of what a writer is “supposed to be.” I picture Charles Dickens or Jane Austen sitting by candlelight hunched over pages and pages of handwritten stories. I see Jo March from Little Women feverishly writing into the night until her hand cramps up. I never thought that simply writing about myself was enough to consider me a writer.

Looking back, writing has always been part of my life, but it probably wasn’t in the way that most of my peers came to it. I was the teenager with endless journals and diaries, pouring my heart and thoughts into pages but struggled with writing assignments in school. If there was an opportunity for an alternate assignment that didn’t involve writing a paper, that’s what I was going to do.

When I was in college, my school had a habit of “personal reflection essays.” At the end of each semester, you had to write a paper for almost every single class reflecting on your journey and time in that class. Writing these small essays got me into the habit of looking inward and really putting my thoughts into something coherent. I fully believe this is what eventually led to my current blog, The Mindful Fight, which has been up and running for about a year and a half now.

But writing a memoir, even though people had told me that I should, wasn’t really anything that I thought I’d ever be able to accomplish. While writing any kind of book is a never-ending process of revisions, edits, and late-night writing sessions, when it comes to memoir writing you have to look so deep within yourself that the process itself is extremely exhausting. I knew that writing about my own story, which involves domestic abuse, would be something that would take a lot of strength and courage.

Even as I started writing, though, I doubted myself. The stories and words were pouring out of me, but diving into things that I’d long since buried was extremely difficult. I was finding that if a story was in my head ready to be written that I had to get it down or I wouldn’t be able to sleep. I spent many nights writing until the crack of dawn because of this. The process of tapping into these memories was exhausting enough, and I was burning the candle at both ends.

It’s been 6 months since my book came out and, if I knew then what I know now, I would have taken my time. I would have paced myself instead of subjecting myself to a constant flow of difficult memories. I had friends telling me to, but I simply couldn’t stop writing. This sounds like a good thing, but in hindsight it actually made the process harder. I would write a difficult story and then jump right into the next one. Then I would go back a few days later to reread it and it was like a severe form of immersion therapy: being constantly throw into the deep end hoping that I would swim.

Writing a memoir, no matter the subject, is something extremely personal and unless you’ve done it, it’s hard to explain how difficult it really is. Many people see memoir writing as self-indulgent and I simply don’t think that’s fair. It’s a weird thing to say, “Hey, this book is about me,” and hope that people will read it, but we wouldn’t tell our stories if we didn’t think they were worth telling. My story isn’t unique at all, but many abuse survivors never find their voice. I was able to find the strength to tell my story and my hope is that it can help others in similar situations find theirs. That’s why I called my book From Voiceless To Vocal because I went from being silenced to speaking out in the ultimate way.

As I sit here, with my book on a shelf over my head, it’s still hard to think of myself as a writer. Most of my peers are fiction writers and a lot of the time I feel as though I’m on the outside looking in within the writing community. It’s hard to consider yourself a writer when those around you are promoting their multi-book series and you have a 140 page book about your own life. But at the end of the day, I am a writer. I’m a published author regardless of what exists between those pages and even if I never sell another copy, I’ll always have that.

My advice to anyone struggling with their identity as a writer is to not compare yourself to your peers. Trust me, I know how difficult that is, but we’re all struggling with the same things. Even if you never publish a book or you have 20 by the time you’re finished, simply writing things and committing yourself to the page, regardless of whether others see it or not, makes you a writer.

Maybe some will disagree with that, but that’s part of being a writer too. Not everyone is going to love everything you have to say… but say it anyway. If you have a story you want to tell, tell it. Write the stories that you want to write because you love them and don’t worry about what might happen down the line. It might live in your computer forever or maybe you’ll become a bestseller, but you’ll know that you put those words down and that alone should make you proud.

Danielle’s inspirational memoir ‘From Voiceless to Vocal’ is available now and you can find out more information here.

Click on the book below to see my recent review and be sure to check out her website The Mindful Fight here.