Category Archives: Uncategorized

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?

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.

The Possibilities of Transformation

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You have probably heard of a lot of  books being transformed into movies, which is a great thing, but it’s not the only possible transformation your stories can take. There are several great series out there that are also being turned into gorgeous graphic novels. The stories are the same but you get to see your favorite characters turned into visual works of art.

MMMA good friend of mine, writer and artist, Sasha Raught is in the process of doing just this, changing one of his great short stories into a graphic novel series and needs the help of Kickstarter (and you!) to get it going.

You may have recognized his name from the acknowledgement page in Heavyweight.  I met Sasha years ago at a a NaNoWriMo write in I set up when I moved back to Jersey.  He came to every write in and we clicked as writing partners and decided to continue to meet after NaNo was over.  He introduced me to the writing group I’ve belonged to for the past several years and he’s always around to offer opinions, advice and encouragement. Sasha is not only an amazingly creative and entertaining author, but a fantastic artist whose work deserves to be out there more than it already is.

While his Kickstarter video will tell you, it’s not his first time in the sandbox, it is his first time to be working for himself (so to speak) rather than doing the work others are asking of him.  He has free reign for concept, design, story, etc. but he needs YOUR help to get this amazing story out there to the masses.

Here’s some info on the project.  If it strikes your interest, please stop by Sasha’s Kickstarter page (click HERE!) and consider donating to the help this great piece of graphic literature  get out into the world.

“Aurturio Benerzini and the Three Impossible Tasks is a 120 to 130 page B&W and half tone illustrated graphic novel. It is the adaptation of a short novel that I wrote a number of years ago. The story itself is a faerie tale type story, much in the tradition of Sinbad and Aladdin. It takes place in ancient Arabia and is written in a style similar to the Arabian Nights, but with more startling and surprising twists.”

 

Don’t Beat Yourself Up

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keep-calm-and-don-t-beat-yourself-upAs last stated, life has gotten very crazy lately: a move, family issues, being sick, etc.  The writing has come to a complete standstill.  I haven’t attended my writing group in the past couple of weeks for several reasons, not all of them good. Sales have slowed a little and all these things together were starting to weigh me down.

I had to take a step back and look at all that’s been going on.  It really has been a lot and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not worth it to beat myself up over it.  I may have consciously chosen to not write at times, but unpacking boxes or unwinding with the boy and watching TV has its place too, to keep me sane and get me to a healthier place.

Just because you take a break doesn’t mean you’re never going to get back to it.  Because writing isn’t what pays my bills, I don’t have to feel guilty about not putting more time into it at the moment.  I’ve got tons of stories to finish and more ideas brewing, so it’s not like I’m going to abandon writing, but I’ve sternly told myself that a break is okay and there’s no need to compare myself to others who are churning out several books a year and constantly writing, writing, writing.  I am myself and no one else. I have other needs that have to be taken care of in order to be able to focus on writing again.

Don’t feel like taking a break is giving up.  It’s just recharging your batteries and clearing your mind.  It’s letting the ideas churn and grow before those voices in your head are so loud you have no choice but to get back to it. It’s taking care of yourself.  It’s not a bad thing and it’s not failure.

What’s Going On?

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As some of you may have noticed, blog posts have not been as consistent as they should be lately. I apologize for that and will work on getting back to normal, but life has been and is going to continue to be crazy and stressful and emotional for the next couple of months. I’d rather not go into detail at this time about all that’s going on, but I hope you guys can stick with me through it until things settle down and I can get back to more regular posting.

I appreciate your patience and feel free to use the blog or other social media means to contact me. It might take me a little longer to respond but I will get back to you!