Monthly Archives: January 2015

Step Out of the Comfort Zone

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As I mentioned last week, I recently participated in Round 1 of the NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge. Going in, I was ComfortZoneconcerned because you don’t know in advance what your parameters will be and there is not a whole lot of time to plot, if that’s your thing.

I got dealt the hand of a ghost story and thought okay, I’ve written paranormal, that’s not a big stretch. Then the subject of agoraphobia. I had to do some research but figured I could handle it.  Then the character was a divorce attorney. Well…I don’t typically write adult stories.  That’s not to say I didn’t think I could, but it was definitely out of my “teen love and awkward phases of self discovery” kind of realm.

The time limit, 8 days for the first round, was a little daunting as well. I don’t typically do a lot of plotting but I knew I couldn’t totally wing it because I’d never make it to the end of the story without knowing where it was going. Add in the 2,500 word word count meant that I couldn’t over develop ideas or themes because it could slow down the pace.

Writing it was definitely a challenge for me, but one that I thoroughly enjoyed.  It’s good to flex your under used muscles and branch out of the comfort zone. You might be surprised at what you create.  It could tell you that you can write outside of your genre or typical age group. It could tell you that perhaps where you are is best for your talents, but if you don’t try to spread your wings, you’ll never know if you can fly beyond your home “town”.

Find a writing contest and give it a try. Join writing.com and pick up some of their daily writing prompts to try. We should be constantly growing as writers whether it’s polishing what we already do or by learning new techniques, forming new ideas or dipping a toe into different genres. As a writer most, if not all, of us are avid readers as well and a good story can prompt us to make changes in our own styles as well. We should be constantly evolving and becoming masters of our craft otherwise the writing could get stale and predictable. Step outside your comfort zone and take the chance. It certainly can’t hurt.

What do you do to push yourself outside of your writing comfort zone?

NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge

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nyc midnight

Oh my! I almost forgot a blog post for today. Sorry to be short, my lovelies, but I’m busy crunching keys on a Saturday deadline (although Thursday is self imposed for my so I can read to my writing group). I am participating in the first heat of the NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge.

I have a week to write a 2,500 word short that must follow the following guidelines:

Genre: Ghost Story

Subject: Agoraphobia

Character: Divorce Attorney

It’s coming along. I’m loving the vocabulary but I’m not sure there’s enough tension. We shall see.

When the round ends, would people be interested in reading it? I have yet to come up with a title, so I’ve got to work on that as well!

Anyone else participating or working on any other contest pieces?

Heavyweight News!

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Ocean Co. Library Main Branch, Toms River

Ocean Co. Library
Main Branch, Toms River

If you follow my Facebook, Twitter or Tsu, you may have already read about my good news, but I wanted to make sure I posted about it here as well. Heavyweight  is coming to libraries in NJ soon! This has me excited beyond belief.

Every writer loves to sell books; the thought that someone is interested enough to buy a copy makes any author happy. Some may think that having their work in a library means less sales because people will be able to read for free (the library does buy their copy but then obviously anyone with a library card can take it out), but for me, to know that it will be in libraries where people who wouldn’t have access to it otherwise can get a copy, makes me more than ecstatic.

LGBTQ literature is greatly under represented everywhere, but especially in libraries.  I think having stories with LGBTQ main characters easily accessible could save a teen who feels alone or that no one understands them. They need the escape just as much as anyone else and it’s easier for them to place themselves in the story if a character has the same thoughts, concerns, feelings, desires as the main characters. I think it’s also a good opportunity to learn about the culture through stories and if someone hasn’t come out yet, it’s possible to read the books and not have people question what they’re reading (of course that will depend on the cover images and occasionally the title).

I have already contacted libraries in other counties in the hopes that they will bring in Heavyweight or other stories from my publisher’s, Harmony Ink, catalog. While it will be great to see my books on the shelves of libraries, I would really love to see a larger selection of books in the YA/NA section over all.

If you agree, don’t hesitate to contact the YA librarian in your local libraries.  They can look into bringing in books they don’t already carry and it’s good for them to know what’s out there.

Have you ever requested that your library try to get a specific book that they don’t carry in their system?

Authors Beware: Book Tour Disappointment

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I really didn’t want to have to write this post, but I think it’s important to let other authors know about my experience with Orangeberry Book Tours.

Firstly, I didn’t spend a whole lot of money on the tour (it was less than $100 bucks) and it would run from March until August. I was due ten reviews along with the book blog posts that I had prepared for them.

The owner who runs everything was always great about answering questions and getting back to me in a very timely manner. It seemed very professional and another author who has been quite successful was affiliated with them, so I thought they were a great choice for a tour.

Things started out great. Posts were up on time and while I can’t swear it helped sales (since my publisher was also promoting and getting reviews at that time) it seemed as if it was helping to generate buzz and traffic.  After the first couple of months, HeartBleed happened. Posts weren’t going up on time and some never got up at all. I understand that was out of Orangeberry’s control and I certainly didn’t blame them for it.  They graciously offered additional posts or reviews to make up for it. I opted to take ten more reviews because I know how important reviews are for things like Amazon algorithms.

I started to notice that the sites my articles, interviews and teasers were being posted to didn’t seem…legit. They seemed like sites set up exclusively for Orangeberry to post to.  There was nothing but tour related posts. No actual interaction type posts from whoever was supposed to be running the sites. They were full of ads and articles that had no comments. It seemed…sketchy to me.

By that time, sales had slowed down a bit and there were still no reviews. According to the tour schedule, most (if not all) reviews would be coming from a UK book club and they wouldn’t post until the tour was over because everyone had to read the book and discuss it with their groups first.  That’s fine, but it’s been ten months now and no reviews.

I contacted the owner who quickly got back to me and asked me to give her a couple weeks and that the reviews would be up. I agreed.  The blog didn’t end in August like it was supposed to and carried on into September, I’m guessing to make up for the missed posts due to HeartBleed.  That was cool so I figured waiting a couple of weeks until everything was official done would be okay.

Last post came and went and still no reviews. I finally contacted the owner again and she responded that she had just gotten a medical diagnosis that she was trying to deal with.  She apologized and we left it at that. I like to think the best of people, which may be a little naive of me, but I didn’t want to think she would lie about such a thing.  I was sorry to hear what she was going through but a business is a business and if she couldn’t uphold her end of the bargain, what I had paid for, then there should have been a statement issued, monies returned or something like that.

I won’t pursue it any further and I can’t positively say I got no sales due to the tour, but I definitely didn’t get what I paid for and what was promised to me. I hope others have had a good experience with them but I definitely wouldn’t recommend them to any other author looking to do their own blog tour.