Weekly Ramble #121

I think sometimes its as simple as being committed and dedicated in order to get results over time as a social media author. While there are so many technical inputs and outputs, if you spend time trying to figure it all out, eventually good things are going to happen and even then perspective is everything. Just a few more likes, sales, follows or interactions than yesterday is progress. Take this whole deal seriously and serious results will happen.

We roll everything up into a snowball of expectations when really that work which is being laid down now might not pay off instantly, it could take years. Social media is a constantly moving conveyor belt where something you shared before might not be seen by those who you are visible to now. The work will eventually be worthwhile for those who do keep going and spend that time figuring out how to reach an audience and believe me, I know it’s hard but if you really want this, then you’ll get it, if you work hard.

Through all the algorithms blocking links and keywords to folks just not seeing your posts, there are so many things thrown in front of our attempts to hamper our progress online. The platforms have an agenda also but we just don’t know what it is. Write a book and share the link to your social media following, instant sales – I don’t think so ‘Marketing Experts’ of 2010. More like spend as much time as you can reminding folks you create stuff that is worth reading while exploring every possible way to trick the algorithms that you are not trying to sell something. The experienced veterans of social media don’t even spend much of their time pushing sales, they push themselves in front of an audience using conversation which drives visibility. Supporting others genuinely, that helps too. Be like them and you’ll succeed because I do, every day. Social first, media second will always win the day.

How about, just be kind…

You never know how far those words of yours could go.

Someone could be sitting in a break room with their bag of Doritos trying to have a rest from the shit they have been shovelled and then they come across your words while scrolling for an escape. Your message of kindness could resonate with them to the point they forget where they are just for a moment. Then after finishing the Doritos and that break they face whatever crap they have to face with a smile, with hope and with a power you have passed on to them all because of kindness. They take on whatever shit comes their way with a spring in their step and that smile, that undefeated powerful smile and for the next fours hours or how ever long, they get through. All from kindness and being nice, that stuff can resonate trust me.

That Tweet you put out to support others or just to be positive gives perhaps one other person a power to carry on. Even if you never intended for it to be loved and liked a thousand times, the message within matters more because maybe it was something they needed to hear today. Maybe whoever you reach will go home armed with that smile and fire up their own laptop and be inspired to write down half a chapter or a paragraph or something positive all because of the good you said. A passing moment where you just wanted to spread a little nice, and trust me when I say nice wins and nice goes a long way.

Through all of the things we want to be in our social media presence, how about, just be kind.

Weekly Ramble #119

Last week saw my Twitter hit the 13k follower mark and I was so busy with content that I had no time to take a moment and let it sink in. Of course we are already moving towards 14k and things just seem to be going from clay to stone on the platform for me.

I seem to have figured things out over on the Tweet machine and just this year it has become an exceptionally powerful tool for my author blogger endeavours, Not only do I regularly sell books on there but I also bring that following over here to read the various articles and guides I write. Now I have even managed to leverage that awesome following over onto Patreon. Over the weekend I secured my first Patron – a fellow author who will get their own feature on here soon and that is just one of the many incentives you’ll get if you join. Others include a free book and social media shout outs to that 13k following.

This week my first fictional Patreon post will premiere in the form of a western sci fi horror I am currently querying. The first part will be Free to read and then Patrons will have exclusive access to the further instalments planned this month and next. Of course this new venture has started slowly but I am hopeful it will eventually be a success not only for me but for other authors who decide to support me. As I said there will be rewards, incentives and plenty of guides coming so watch this space like a hawk!

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

Weekly Ramble #117

I’ve been sitting on this post for a while and now I feel ready to let it out because over the years of being a published author, on my own back, I have come to realise there is nothing worse than gate keeping. As my profile has grown on social media a certain portion of folks in the same industry as me have very obviously not appreciated that growth or successthere aren’t that many of them because the mute button is a wonderful thing but as a reader of tenure and a writer who knows dialogue, I can tell through those words and interactions you have on social media that your stance is of old bullshit gatekeeping. Old words as I call them and I call myself New words. This isn’t an age thing but more of a ‘I’ve been around longer than you so I am entitled’ type of deal.

Anyone who works hard and keeps going deserves success that should not be governed by anything other than that work and yes that may sound naïve to an extent but that is how I have got to this point along with wonderful support on here and across social media. I’m loud and proud about all the good things I have achieved because there have been more crap days than good. I have always tried to embrace the good and block out the bad with my ‘carry on regardless attitude’ and for it I have reached that success.

When I do share that success with an aim to help or at least inspire, there are normally two reactions.

‘That’s awesome, thanks for sharing, I’m glad to see someone doing better than they were yesterday’

Or and looking at me down their nose ‘How did you do that? I tried all the things you do and get nowhere near the success you’ve had.’

That’s because you’re an asshole and I’m not. Sometimes on here I will just lay it out plainly. This is my patch and I’ll treat it that way. My core philosophy is to support and help others on their writing journey while trying to carve my own path to some success. More importantly I am open to anyone being successful in writing regardless of who they are as long as they work hard and have manners. It sometimes isn’t what you do or say it is how you do or say it – execution.

In the arts and in many other places, gatekeeping is unfortunately rife. For some weird reason it has always been who you are that defines your success and not what you produce – something I will always try to fight. In the literary world particularly I near enough every day see some snooty literary wannabe type looking down their nose at those who might not appear to fit within their ‘standards’ or the ‘standards’ that have been around since the dinosaurs ruled the earth. Art is supposed to be interpreted by the individual so let that interpretation happen.

You can tell by my tone that this is quite an emotionally charged subject but it hasn’t been motivated by anything in particular I just see quite often folks appear to look down on me or have to question things – whether it is jealousy or the fact I am more successful than them without a single literary qualification, although I have nothing against anyone who has studied in the field of English/Literature or anyone who has been around longer than me. Perhaps it just ruffles their feathers but you cannot beat a good attitude and hard work over time – that will always always win. I don’t sit within any group or clique in particular, I’m a lone wolf just doing my own thing just comparing myself to yesterday’s version of me. You’ll find me supporting books and art that gatekeepers try to shoot down because if I can find something in that art which I enjoy, then that is enough. Those that do follow me on here and around the socials are mostly decent and none of this is aimed at you. I write one spicy ramble a year and this is that one.

I long for a day where the art and the art alone will do the talking. Being ‘someone’ should not be the sole reason why an artist has success.

Don’t take this personally but I probably won’t be approving any comments on this post, as I said, my patch.

Weekly Ramble #116

Since 2018 I have read and reviewed 120 independently published books. The pillar that holds my authoring and blogging brand together is reviewing other authors books and to begin with it drew some very favourable results – blog follows, new readers, author friends and even sales for my own works. Those things drove me initially because they are good things for me but then I realised slowly that I wasn’t just doing this for me.

While I would never ever consider myself some kind of hero for reviewing books, I now do it for greater reasons than just personal gain because in all walks of writing it’s the ‘everything else’ after that makes this whole thing worthwhile. Some of these things can come unexpectedly and that might be the true power of writing. Over those years and books reviewed I’ve forged a level of trust from you and from a wider social media following all driven by a desire to make authoring and writing better. As independents in this social media age we are representing future generations of wordsmiths who will enter this arena someday, an arena where gatekeeping is slowing diminishing, it will probably never go away fully but we can at least improve things. Amazon have given anyone a platform to publish, but it is our responsibility to make sure it is represented well. These days you don’t have to be ‘someone’ to get any type of acclaim in writing. While agents and big publishers look to hold on to how things were, times are changing for the better. Anyone who has written something can now be successful instead of someone else deciding that.

Authors reviewing fellow authors books makes the indie scene better for everyone. I have said time and time again that reviewing others’ works will also help you but don’t expect a direct return, don’t feel entitled because you reviewed a book and want something back because ultimately what you’ve done will benefit us all – you’ve made this journey better for everyone.

Weekly Ramble #114

Sometimes we don’t give ourselves enough credit as authors and bloggers. This fast-paced world of constant content demand has always got us chasing the next result without really stopping to think that perhaps that one sale or handful of views is actually a great achievement.

Even now and after many years of having my writing in the public domain I still feel weird when compliments come my way through reviews and social media interactions. For a creator who started at zero to receive any type of positive feedback is something I’m still adjusting to. The fact my words can make a difference in just one person’s life or journey is both amazing and something worth giving my self credit for. There is something to be said about valuing yourself and what you contribute. Social media does tend to default to celebration of one’s self but what about one’s work that has maybe only reached one other but might have contributed positively to their life. There is power in that, and not the type of power that most strive for but just seeing just another author take something from my self help book gives me chills – the good type of chills – the type where it makes me feel like this was all worthwhile. For all the struggle and constant grind, sometimes, just sometimes a little glimmer of light appears through the murk, illuminated by someone who has appreciated what I wrote.

It takes time and it takes work but being a creative in the social media age will eventually work out well if you just keep going. Standing out – that’s the key, but how? Keep going and eventually hard workers with the right attitude will rise above most but not in a competitive way because the only competition I have is the me of yesterday.

Don’t Be Ashamed Of Your Dreams

Hello friends, today I would like to share a wonderful post about chasing your dreams by a fellow author and blogger. More below…

Nicola Lowe

If you’d asked me a year ago if my writing was going well… Let’s be honest here, you wouldn’t have asked me, because I’d never told anyone it was what I wanted to do.

As I’ve previously discussed, it was only due to being in a low place that I actually began to write, and then I kept it secret. It was only as I realised I had the basics of a book, that I told my best friend. She kindly read it for me after I made her promise a hundred times not to laugh, to tell me the truth if she hated it, and not to let anyone else see.

At this point we were still only allowed to meet one person outside so we walked around the park in the cold while she told me how much she’d loved the book – it didn’t even have a…

View original post 484 more words

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.

Netflix Review: ‘Sweet Tooth’

A boy with innocent determination can be a dangerous thing in a volatile post-apocalyptic world…

The post apocalyptic world is a popular concept in story-telling right now and some of the themes in Netflix’s ‘Sweet Tooth’ are a little close to home perhaps, but many of us find a strange type of comfort in realism with me included. It wasn’t that long ago when the world seemingly faced the potential brink of collapse but only very briefly – this show capitalises on that concept and takes things a step further after a deadly contagion sweeps across the world. At the same time something extraordinary happens, children are being born partly crossed with animals – fear begins to spread about these ‘hybrids’ being the cause. A totalitarian army rises and we have all the makings of that dystopia . If you can allow your imagination to bend to that initially weird hybrid idea then you’ll probably be immersed by this show after just one episode like me.

And that first episode sets the bar for a strong story told by a strong diverse cast led by child actor Christian Convery who plays ‘Gus’ a half-human half-deer. Whisked away from the apocalyptic clutches as a baby and raised by his father in the woods, he is somewhat protected from what is unfolding. It isn’t until he realises there is a bigger world out beyond those tress that the story begins and our young hero finds out first-hand how dangerous it can be. He meets ‘Big Man’ Tommy Jepperd portrayed perfectly by Nonso Anozie as the rugged and tough drifter who takes the boy under his wing – their chemistry develops as the show unfolds. There are second and third story arcs which all come together by the final episode which I’ll admit choked me up just a little.

Netfilx continue to lead the charge with television binge-a-bility and Sweet Tooth was a show I consumed in less than a week. The themes throughout range from political to scientific and even to just fitting in, this show carries an iceberg of powerful messages and references to humanity; for that I highly recommend it, but all in all, the story is entertaining and original.