Happy Birthday Sway!

I’m sorry it’s been so long. About two months back I decided I was Wonder Woman and I could do everything. I quickly discovered I was wrong and that I’d overwhelmed myself. So, that’s the excuse for my absence. On to happier matters…

HAPPY BIRTHDAY SWAY! Sway’s Demise was originally a dream that had just about nothing to do with the book which emerged. There were robots, humans, aliens, and some post-apocalyptic stuff going on, but that’s about all they had in common.
If you’ve read any of my previous posts, or The Mill, you know I love a good, strong heroine (not the spoon kind). Sway was everything badass about every female sci-fi character I’d ever met, digitally or paperbackly, with a splash of her own failings and imperfections.
In a world torn apart by intergalactic war, Sway and her community of a few thousand survive off the land, with very little technology. She joins up with her local militia to protect her loved ones from whatever might bring harm, only to find herself faced with an enemy she could hardly fathom. With so little time, and nearly no resources, she and her people struggle to persevere in a fight beyond their means.
That about sums it up. If you find yourself interested in a read, Sway’s Demise is about 200 pages, and you can rip through it in about 2.5 hours. Check out some reviews up on Amazon, and try it for free if you have Kindle Unlimited!

Like Free Stuff? Giveaways are awesome!

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Goodreads Book Giveaway

Sway's Demise by Jess D. Harpley

Sway’s Demise

by Jess D. Harpley

Giveaway ends April 30, 2016.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Firstly, check out that shit up there… Get yo’self a free book.

Secondly, giveaways are a fantastic marketing tool. I already give away crap tons of digital copies of my books, it costs me nothing but the hours of labor and the $$ spent on art/editing. I highly recommend you give that shit away for free, often.
When it comes to physical copies, it starts getting more expensive to ship them to you, and then to the customer (unless you’re not going to sign them, then it’s a bit cheaper). I still recommend you use some of your budget to do this. Especially seek out giveaways run by other blogs with nice followings, you’ll reach a (typically) engaged and dedicated audience.

I don’t really have much else to say about that. I always add a personal note to the books I sign for giveaways, thanking the reader for taking the time and having an interest. That will usually net you a review in one of five different places.

Anyway, good luck to everyone entering ^_^ night kiddies.

New Novella – Sway’s Demise!

Artwork by Jeremy Aaron Moore
After making peace with the desolate and stranded alien race, the Priyon, civilization limped on. Humanity occupies but a fraction of the globe at a stagnant abridgement of technology from the Priyon warning: Don’t rebuild, or the darkness that destroyed their world will come to Earth.
Now eight young men and women from a small community will be the only barrier between the enemy of old, and the survival of the human race. Can they persevere, or will it be their demise?
I felt like she deserved a “Large” size image rather than my standard “Medium”. Check that shit out! Thanks to Jeremy Aaron Moore for a killer hand-painted look for the cover.
Sway is probably one of my favorite characters to write for so far, other than one special guy in my short story Thief (which may end up turning into its own robust series of awesomeness) and Hopper–dear, sweet, positive, plucky, potty-mouthed Hopper. Her book is coming along nicely as well, 7k words and counting.
Anyway, this is about Sway! Back to it ^_^
Enter Sarah Way, an upbeat, inquisitive, defiant, and protective teen. Though considered an adult in her community, she still manages to find plenty of time for play, that is, between Beacon training sessions.
Follow along as she and her seven squadmates tromp through the forests of Kamloops, British Columbia, fire weapons with precision, curse like sailors, spread and shed blood alike, all in defense of the human race.

Excerpt from Chapter 1:

Sojin lurched forward, hand poised for a grab, and Sway twisted her shoulders to avoid it. Instead, Sojin went in for a smack, landing it solidly against her diaphragm. Ripples of pain shuddered through her ribs as she held in the need to gasp. Gripping Sojin’s antennae-like ears, Sway’s knee careened toward her, but was met with both of her hands.
She pulled on Sway’s lifted thigh, flipping her. In a move of acrobatics even Sway didn’t know she was capable of, she curled her back, released Sojin’s head, and sprung onto her palms, cartwheeling away into a fighter’s stance.
Sojin’s vocal modulator cracked with laughter, “You have been practicing.”
Sway panted, heart thumping wildly from adrenaline. Fluffy clouds parted as the sun reflected off Sojin’s well-oiled humanesque frame, causing Sway to squint. Her shine wasn’t completely worn away, after all.
Eli whispered under his breath, “Get her,” causing Sway to ball her shaking hands into fists, exhaling a long puff of fogged saliva into the morning light. She took another calming breath through her nose and swallowed to wet her hot, dry throat.
With the speed of a dozen humans, Sojin kicked at the dirty pavement. Gravel splashed onto Sway’s face and into her mouth. She dropped into a quick, desperate squat, unable to see. Her forearms met with Sojin’s shin as she kicked towards her side. Blinking away the painful, grainy distraction, Sway stood with an uppercut. Her fist twanged against Sojin’s steely abdomen, the vibration sending needles of agony up her arm.
Before Sway had a chance to recover, Sojin had a deadlock on her wrist, twisting as she sidestepped. Sway’s eyes watered as the sharp throb worked its way from her shoulder to her neck, begging her to relent.
Her mechanical voice was hushed, but held a well of pleasure, “Surrender.”
Sway contemplated, grunting as she struggled against Sojin’s hold. She could pop her shoulder out of socket, kick in Sojin’s knee and back off. Maybe she would have enough time to pop it back in before Sojin would come at her again. Would it be worth it? Sway wouldn’t win in the end, how could she? Then, she would lose weeks of training from injury repair, maybe even miss her chance at Beacon initiation.
Her voice hissed through clenched teeth, “I surrender.”

I hope that was as enjoyable for you to read as it was for me to write. This one has been a long time coming, and I’m so excited to be launching it on Friday, May 13th. You can preorder here: Sway’s Demise
Have a good one kiddies ^_^

Anthology – What is it and why should you care?

If you’ve never heard the word, anthology is a published collection of poems, short stories, and other written works. Anthologies are a killer way for indie authors to get themselves a bit of limelight! Not only that, but having your name next to other, award winning authors is great for your reputation.
So, here’s a few pointers for finding, writing, and breaking into an anthology.

Where do I even look?

The internet is a vast and amazing place. I was not so great at finding anthologies when I started off, but I’ve found a few choice sites that I check regularly.
For Horror and all things scary, come here. They also have info on poems and art!

Frequently has opportunities for indie authors as well as minorities. Genre net is wide and far, shows just about everything.
Has a lot of openings for poems, it’s kind of their focus, but will have stuff for magazines and anthologies as well!

She’s just a lone writer/reader/reviewer, but she posts these really consistently every month. It’s not just erotica either =P
Also, check your local authors groups. I’m currently a member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, and they do a very big anthology almost every year. It’s always loaded with award winning authors, amazing stories, and fantastic art. I’ll probably pee my pants if my story gets accepted this year.
If you don’t know about any of your writers groups in your area/state, probably use the internet and figure that out =) It’s usually $100 a year, and so totally worth it.

I’ve found one I want to write for, now what?

First off, I’d say, check the guidelines. There could be some really specific stuff hidden deep in the description. Make sure you know exactly what it is they’re looking for.
Second, research who’s asking for it a bit.
  • Have they published anything before?
  • Are they known, anywhere?
  • Is anyone else tweeting/posting/commenting about this anthology?

You need to answer these questions to know whether or not it’s even worth your time to write for it. If they’re too small, or needing crowdfunding to get off the ground, you probably don’t want to write something very specific for this one anthology. They might not even make it.

Lastly, I’d say what’s most important, write something you love. You can always take a broad story and make it a bit more defined for a specific anthology. You cannot take a story you’ve already made for a niche audience and make it more broad to fit a different anthology if you get rejected, without a ton more work. Write something that inspires you, that makes you love your own mind, and marvel at your brilliance =)

I wrote the thing… how do I help ensure my acceptance?

Just the same as my advice to get Reviewers on your side, do the same thing for these anthology reviewers. Learn about them, learn about the company doing the work, figure out their style, engage them with niceties in the email submission (if possible).
Write a confident, yet humble, 3rd person bio. Typically no more than 2 paragraphs. Giving them a bit of info about who you are may help them connect to you as a human, and be more invested in your story.
Make sure your thing really does follow the guidelines, both stylistically and formatting. If your formatting is off, that’s likely a straight up no. Style might be a bit harder to pin down, but if they say something like, “This should be a hot romance mystery”, you should probably get an erection (or cliterection) when you write it.
GIVE IT TO AN EDITOR FOR COPY EDITING!!!!!! I know most anthologies say it will go through one or two rounds of editing, but you do not want to hand over a pile of blah with a spelling error on the first page, trust me… I’ve done it =(

I got rejected… I fail at life.

No, you don’t. Try as you may to please the anthology gods, you might not have hit the exact style they wanted. You might not have had enough action, adventure, sex appeal, gore, aliens, valley girls, etc. There are a billion things that could have been out of your control which led your story to being rejected.
When you’re rejected, go ahead and ask why. “Hey, thanks for letting me know. Just curious, was there anything I could have done with the story to improve it, or improve my chances of breaking into a different market with it?” Be really humble, very gracious, and calm. Yes, they just said “You’re not good enough,” but there may be a totally valid reason outside of “The story sucked a butt.”

Don’t give up, and save everything!

When your story is rejected (yep, when…) save that sucka for later! Collect your feedback from the rejecter, collect feedback from your friends/family, post chunks of it to your blog/facebook/twitter, find an online or RL writers group to review it at. MAKE IT BETTER! We can rebuild it, we can make it more descriptive, and engaging! Then save it for another anthology, which is why you should write a little more broad than narrow. Add the details you need to make it fit the theme rather than writing a story specifically for a theme.
Ok kiddies, I hope you liked this post. I’m going to go enjoy some vidja games on my snow day off!

Review – Blackstar by Joshua Viola

I’d like to preface this with Josh Viola is a pretty amazing guy. He’s built and currently runs two companies, Hex Publishing and Frontiere Natural Meats, worked as an artist at Leviathan Games, has released award winning books, his debut being The Bane of Yoto (can’t wait to read it, it’s just farther back on my TBR), and on top of that, makes time to talk to a lowly little peon like myself. AND brought me the free copy of Blackstar which I am reviewing today!

Not lying, I’m lazy as hell… pulled this from my review on Amazon. 4/5 Blackstars… ^_^

I’m a pretty big sci-fi/cyber punk/time travel fan, and so the read was right up my alley and enjoyable. I did find some formatting/grammar/syntax problems, but I’ve found far worse in some “critically acclaimed pop sensation” books; they did not detract from the enjoyment of the read.
Pacing was well done. I feel like there was plenty of action and suspense interspersed throughout the novel, and the dialog was well worked. It was very descriptive, but didn’t suffer from purpley-prose.
There were only two style choices that I wasn’t offended by, but others may be. It’s told from 3rd person omniscient most of the time, but will then sometimes dive down into the person’s head, give their thoughts/feelings/senses, which is then 3rd person limited. It’s also told in past tense, but includes present tense words like “this”, “now”, and “here”.
Rezin, our leading man, was left a bit blank, and I feel this is unfortunate. He could have inspired a lot more feeling from me, but there were some missed opportunities to link me to him.
The only thing that irked me a bit was some of the references to Celldweller/Scandroid music. A few would have been alright, but within the first 50 pages, there’s nearly 12 references to different songs/song elements. It gets to a point where it feels very forced, and they don’t mesh together as well as I was hoping.
Battle descriptions were fantastic. I always felt very in the moment when it came to combat.
Josh pulled out all the stoppers on his vocabulary. Embarrassingly enough, I had to look up a few words through my read. All the more to add to my own mental dictionary, though! I enjoy variety in my reading. Seeing the same words over and over gets pretty exhausting.

~~~~~~~~~~SPOILERS AHEAD~~~~~~~~~~

The main issue I took with the novel was a few plot holes.

#1 The solution to all of their problems could have been solved in the one retro of Rezin saving Kaine years ago. He could have gone back in and just stopped himself from saving Kaine, Vray, and Bastion. Novel over. This could have happened about halfway through.

#2 The Outlanders respond to Elara’s (excuse me for saying but) short/weak rallying speech, when previously some of the Outlanders spoke candidly of raping and killing her. She was not developed as a leader of her people, and it didn’t seem to fit that the Outlanders responded to her call at the end of the novel.

#3, and this one is TOTALLY unimportant, just an observation of the end of the book. A tangent universe was created and sustained independently where Kaine was killed and reborn with Solaris’ powers, yet the universe where Kaine was destroyed at 20 years old did not result in a universe where Elara and Venus were born, though they may already exist… and then, when Kaine was killed in the past before he melded with Solaris, the future him from the main branch universe held together, possibly by the existence of Elara and Venus themselves, disappeared from existence, but they didn’t?
Time travel creates an interesting layer of complexity, but some of the events when held side by side don’t match identical behaviors of time travel paradoxes. If future Kaine in the universe that Elara and Venus came from winked out of existence along with the entire city he created, as the Kaine of the past died, then so should have Elara and Venus been winked out unless they already existed (or all of the elements to make them exist were set in stone) at the time past Kaine died, but since they didn’t, there would be a future for them unlike Venus said…
Unless they were protected by the powers of Icarus/Rezin, but then when Rezin relinquished his powers, Elara should have disappeared. X_X Time travel, especially when you have SOOOO much time travel/universe travel, is complex and intricate. I praise Josh Viola for getting it all to meld as masterfully as it did.

~~~~~~~~~~SPOILERS COMPLETE~~~~~~~~~~

If you’re a fan of time travel cyber punks, I’d definitely recommend. Thanks again to Josh Viola for the free book, and many awesome conversations, and several connections that have done me much good on my own journey.
Life update: I’ve been traveling a lot recently, and I’m working on selling my house!!! So I’m sorry I’ve not been very active here. Review of The Stainless Steel Rat trilogy coming soon… and by soon I probably mean like 3 weeks.

It’s been a while – What I’ve been up to

Hey kiddies, sorry I haven’t been around. Lots of life has been happening, and it’s hard to find time for my backwater, low traffic site =P

So, what have I been doing?

I finished the next novella, Sway’s Demise. Had to change artists, and downsize the project due to limited funds.
I’ve been writing boatloads of short stories for anthologies, aaaaand getting rejected. That’s ok! Just means that I have a backlog of stories to throw an new anthologies every month.
Lastly, related to books, I’ve been reading more. I should already be reading a ton, but it’s been a crazy couple of months with less time than optimal for extra curricular, hence the abandonment of this site. But yes! I read the written word, lots. I’ll be doing stuff I don’t typically do here… write reviews >_>

What’s happening next?

Coming up here shortly I’ll be writing a review for The Stainless Steel Rat trilogy: The Stainless Steel Rat, The Stainless Steel Rat’s Revenge, and The Stainless Steel Rat Saves the World. I wish Harry Harrison was still alive… I want to kiss that man.
Nextly will be a post of more writer learnings: Point of View. 1st person, 2nd person, 3rd limited, and 3rd omniscient. I cover my opinion of all, and what I prefer to use.
Last but not least, I’ll be posting excerpts from Sway’s Demise, perhaps even writing some more poetry. I promise I’ll be around more for you guys… I didn’t mean to abandon you, things just got crazy. They’re settling down now, and we can be together again.
O_o that’s not how I meant it. Ignore any of the weirdness you’re detecting, it’s because I’m sick. The bacteria took over my face and are making the decisions now. Ok, later kiddies.

The words that subtly ruin your writing

We all know when we read something terrible. The less literarily inclined will likely not understand what it is about the thing they’re reading which is making it bad, they just know it is. Even some who read often, or have written books, will not understand what it is that’s subtly making the work they’re reading, or writing, horrid.

It feels strange for my work to continue making leaps and bounds. Every time I feel like I’ve gotten to an acceptable level, I’ll write something new, then look back, and realize how awful the last work was. It’s confusing. How could I think something is good, then three months later realize how bad it is?

I digress, for a bit of a purpose. I’ve recently realized I use many words in my writing which slows down the read, makes it clunky, and all around… bleh. We’ll start with the number one offender.

THAT

If you can imagine, I scanned for the word “that” just before I typed the headline. I, in fact, stopped dead in the last paragraph as I typed out “tha” in place of the word “which”. Then I hit “cmnd+f” and searched for it. I’ve become hyper aware of THAT.
I didn’t know, but it’s so completely unnecessary. Let me give an example.
There are things that you don’t know about me, Detective Jones.
How did that read. Alright-ish, yeah? It’s fine, whatever. But now, read this:
There are things you don’t know about me, Detective Jones.
So much better, is it not?
Not convinced? It’s OK. I’ll work harder.
The grey house that was at the end of the street had always had a strange look about it, like there was a cloud that hung over it, casting shadows in frightening ways.
Writing the above took me a considerable amount of time. It’s easy in the heat of the moment to craft a terrible sentence, but when on the spot, I couldn’t conjure the words. OK. The sentence is truly bad. Here’s the fix for “that”.
The grey house at the end of the street had always had a strange look about it, like there was a cloud which hung over it, casting shadows in frightening ways.
OR
like there was a cloud hanging over it, casting shadows in frightening ways.
Take the word “that” away, and if it reads alright, you didn’t need it in the first place. If you take “that” out and it doesn’t make sense, sub in “which” for inanimate (non-sentient) objects, and “who” when it’s a sentient object. For example, if the cloud was our main character, with feeling we’d say: like there was a demon cloud who hung over it, casting shadows in frightening ways.
I don’t know why it was a demon cloud, but when it’s a demon cloud, it’s a “who”, but if it was a demonic cloud, back to “which”. 
Or maybe you do a bit of rewording magic and remove the need for either/any.
Next offender.

HAD

Let’s just take the last sentence, and write the better version of it, sans “had”.
The grey house at the end of the street always had a strange look about it, like there was a cloud which hung over it, casting shadows in frightening ways.
The first “had” is totally unneeded. If you want to take it a step further (not farther, even though we’re stepping… it’s a metaphorical step…) we’ll remove them both.
The grey house at the end of the street always looked strange, like there was a cloud which hung over it, casting shadows in frightening ways.
Bleh, it’s used improperly so often.

SO

So, this post is getting too long for my liking… much too long. Not sure if you noticed after reading that headline, but I’ve used “so” several times throughout this posting.
“So completely unnecessary”
“So much better”
“So often”
None of those “so’s” do anything for the sentence other than emphasize it. If you want to emphasize something, don’t use “so”, use a different word.
“Utterly unnecessary”
“Infinitely better”
“In multiplicity”
Alright. There’s more words, but this post is, as said, drawing on. Night kiddies. Don’t get into these pitfalls of words.

Nightmares Unhinged – A Review

So… I finished reading Nightmares Unhinged a bit ago, but sort of dallied around writing the review. I should have written it sooner so they were all freshly on my mind, but I quick scan through the pages and I was back in with them easily.

From the clutches of Hex Publishers, edited by Josh Viola (my author idol – fangirl barf withheld for your ease of reading), I’m please to present my loose opinions on all of the works therein. I would suggest that everyone at least borrow the book from someone they know, if not buy it outright themselves. I’m super lucky to have a signed copy by many of the authors and the lone wolf artist, Aaron Lovett.

You can find the book here: http://www.amazon.com/Nightmares-Unhinged-Twenty-Tales-Terror-ebook/dp/B013JAPZVQ

Without further ado:

The Brollachan – Steve Rasnic Tem: 3.8/5
The story was devoid of gore or sexual situations. It was engaging, though it did drag at some points. The reveal was a bit hollow, because the conclusion was obvious several pages before then. Writing style was easy to get into, and flowed well. I enjoyed the concept, and the “old wives tale” come to life sort of feel in the story.

Fangs – J.V. Kyle: 4.6/5
I really liked this story. Also devoid of sexual situations and gore. It had a very fun, even playful, concept. It plays a bit on addiction, which is a very welcome addition to the story. The only reason it didn’t earn a 5/5 was that I saw it coming a few pages in. The writing style was on par with what you’d expect for a horror short: snappy, and quick paced.

Be Seated – Keith Ferrell: 4.2/5
Very odd story. Again, no gore or sexual situations, but something… cultish… about it. You never really discovered much about what it was going on in that chair, in that house, by that hearth, but I think that made it all the more intriguing. I think the mystery was a lot of what the story had going on for it. The blank space used to talk about the narrator’s subject matter, “Mr. A____”, was a bit jarring to read so many times, and so I felt the flow suffered a bit because of it.

The Man Who Killed Texas – Stephen Graham Jones: 3.8/5
This story was only a tiny bit gory, but no sexual situations. It was a fun read, and very near to how I think the actual situation (post viral outbreak) would go down. It was a bit longer than necessary to convey the story at hand, but was still effective and interesting, not to mention sad. The style was easy to read.

Scarecrows – Josh Viola: 4.2/5
No gore or sexual situations, but triggers if bullying gets you. The story was touching, and vengeful. The writing was easy to read, and flowed well.

Zou Gou – Mario Acevedo: 4.6/5
I’m a sucker for sci-fi, so my rating might be a little biased. Both gore and sexual situations present in this one, but it didn’t detract or distract from the story. I cringed about twice, the first time so far for Nightmares Unhinged. It was interesting and odd, deserved much more than a few pages. I’ve heard there is a full length novel to follow, which I’m drooling for in anticipation if it meets the quality of this short.

Needles – Josh Viola & Dean Wyant: 4.8/5
Sexual situations, and rape triggers, and a splash of gore at the end. I cringed unendingly at this story. I get a bit eeeeeeeee about rape, so that had me crossing my legs. It was creepy as hell, flowed great, but could have been paced better (probably the reason for falling short of 5). Another story with heavy addiction mentions.

The Projectionist – Jason Heller: 4.4/5
Did I just do drugs? Like… all the drugs? This is possibly the goriest story of the lot, and contains not only sexual situations, but… I think incest. I’m not sure how else to feel about this other than it was extremely interesting, but also confusing. I was left with a lot of questions, much like “Be Seated”. I cringed at this one quite a bit, but the pacing and writing were both excellent.

The Wolf’s Paw – Jeanne C. Stein: 2.6/5
I suppose my assessment of this is not completely fair, since I know this short was pulled from a longer work. However, it is not a very good standalone. The story was not well told in the few pages it was given, and I did not enjoy the writing style. The entire thing was quick, snappy, and there was no pause. I’m assuming the entire work was not written this way, and this was just one very quick, intense part of an otherwise well paced story. I’m not able to tell, since I did not read the full work.

Danniker’s Coffin – Keith Ferrell: 3.6/5
No gore or sexual situations for this one. It was not scary, or cringe worthy, yet quite sad. So, so realistically sad. It was a bit drawn out, but I think that lent to the depressing nature of it. The story was slow and long, as said, but flowed well.

Deep Woods – Aaron Michael Ritchey: 4/5
Gore present, but no sex. I liked this take on the “monster in the woods” kind of story. I was pleased with the way it ended. The pacing was great, and the narration easy to read.

Diamond Widow – Dustin Carpenter: 3/5
No sex, not really gore either. I wanted to like this story, but from the title and first two paragraphs, I knew the whole story. That’s pretty depressing… =( I don’t like being able to predict what’s going to happen, it takes all the fun out. It was well written and paced, and a fun play on a damsel in distress.

The Camera – Josh Viola: 3.8/5
Some sexual content, not much gore. This story made me seeth a bit. It’s narrated by a female whose fiance is a douche turd. I wanted to punch him in his douchy face. Fortunately, that wasn’t necessary. There were some unpredictable elements, which was nice after Diamond Widow, but I did foresee the end. It was well paced and written.

Lost Balls – Sean Eads: 3.6/5
Here’s another one I’m biased on, simply because I disdain golf, and it played a decent roll in the story. Please don’t tell my grandfather, but it’s the most useless, boring “sport” on the planet. The pacing was a bit slow, but when it picked up, it really picked up. I did get a chill, and I could see the environment around the bridge, so that was all very well done. Damn it, why’d it have to be lame golf >.<? No sexual content or gore.

Bathroom Break – J. V. Kyle: 4/5
Sexual content abound, but no gore. This story… upset me. The lead character went against one of my strongest, highest held morals, for the duration of the story, in detail. I understand what it was trying to convey, but couldn’t depart from my own feelings of hatred towards the lead throughout. When it looked like he was about to get a happy ending, I almost put it down. Hmm… I suppose I should adjust my rating. If it was able to elicit such levels of emotion, it probably deserves more than what I’ve given it. Rating adjusted.

Marginal Ha’nts – Edward Bryant: 3.8/5
No gore or sexual content. I was very amused by this story. I would love to believe that I could react the way that the narrator does. It was a tad slow, but well written. There was a very fun and playful air about the story, almost bored, even.

Delicioso – Warren Hammond: 3.8/5
Some sexual content, but that’s it. I was able to predict how this was going to go pretty early in. I should probably stop reading so much =( or maybe turn my brain off so it’s not constantly trying to figure out the ending. It was well written and paced, devilishly dark and devious, downright dirty to the depths of its demented soul. Ok, I took that one a bit far, but wanted to have fun with it. Delicioso was another damsel in distress story flipped on its head. I enjoy those, but needed a bit more to keep me wondering how it would end.

The Librarian – Josh Viola: 4.2/5
A nice follow to Delicioso, which I figured out quite quickly, this one I could not. I even put it down for a bit and tried to think of what it could be. I did have a decent guess part of the way through, but then an even cooler, new secret was revealed. I was a bit disappointed in the reaction of the narrator at the reveal, as I would have been more surprised, but it was amusing to read her indifference to the situation. Well paced, fun to read. No sexual content or gore.

Gurgle. Gurgle. – Mario Acevedo: 3.6/5
This was hilarious. I laughed many times, and therefore, it’s not really horror to me. Once I start laughing… the horror is dead. It was a fun story though, with a great moral surprisingly. Pacing was alright, just a little slow, but the writing was easy to read. No sexual content, but a bit of gore.

Taking The Dare – Gary Jonas: 3.8/5
There was a lot of emotion to this story, like several others. I was hoping it would have ended differently, but I was satisfied. Because of the nature of short stories, it was a bit predictable, but not so much. Pacing was good, there were two main peaks of tension.

Overall, enjoyable works of fiction.

All the edits, and so little time – Pick your battles and hills to die on

Since my edits came in for The Mill before I’d officially started blogging, I decided to not write on it at that time. But now, edits for Sway’s Demise are in, and by god, they’re good.
Also, hello, long time no see. I’m sorry I’ve been so absent. I promise to do better and write to you more =)

Step one in receiving edits – Don’t get mad, bro

You just paid someone to read your work and tell you what they think, not tell you what you want to hear. If you want to pay someone to tell you what you want to hear, you should buy a hooker. Hmmm that was a bit dark. Anyway.
Do not get upset when you’re reading the feedback from your editor(s). You have paid them (maybe) to help you, and that is what they’re trying their damndest to do. They don’t want to purposefully hurt your feelings after you’ve given them money (or trusted them to give them a free copy instead of payment):
A) It’s bad for them. If you think they’re just going to take a dump on you every time, you will likely find someone else to edit your works, unless you’re a sadist… but that’s another topic for another time.
B) It’s exhausting to write feedback. They’re not going to go through all of that out of spite. They’re doing it to provide you with some kind of valuable takeaways, so you’ll want to use them in the future.

This, of course, isn’t to say once you start reading through the feedback you can’t feel hurt for a bit. I do because there’s ALWAYS something that needs to change. I mostly laugh at my misspellings/grammar errors, as I feel like such a derp (but very grateful they were found). It’s the story components getting ripped up as “a useless trope” or “unimaginative cliche” which really stings.

Step two – You’re in control

Just because you paid this person (or didn’t) to read your work and provide feedback, doesn’t mean you have to follow all of it, or most of it… hell, or any of it. If you truly believe at your core their suggestion is not valid, do not follow it.
At the end of the day you must figure out what feedback, no matter how bad it hurts to consider, is something you feel your target audience might think as well. If your target audience doesn’t get it, doesn’t like it, wants to read something else… maybe reconsider your target audience, but also consider making some changes.
I’ve included some pretty realistic militia and post apocalyptic situations for Sway’s Demise, but found out through one of my editors, that she wasn’t getting it (and she’s mostly within my target audience range). This is super valuable, and super sad. I’d spend a considerable amount of time crafting some of these situations to be real, but the only ones who will recognize it or care will be the very few females that are into survivalist and military stuff. I’m guessing that the number of women aged 15-25 interested in sci-fi/action books and also have working knowledge of militia makeup/behavior will be… hmm… one. And that one is me. Wait. I’m 27. Sh*t… Zero.

TL;DR It’s your choice what feedback you accept. Always keep that in mind and you’ll be a much happier writer.

Step three – Bring it all together

If you have multiple editors, wait to make story altering changes until all edits are in. Yeah… that’s all I have to say on that. I think I could go into more detail as to why, but I’m pretty sure you can figure the reason our for yourself. Just like you wouldn’t submit a report on life altering diseases without all the research coming in, don’t do that with your story. You could make grave errors.

Step four – Resubmit

Not all editors are going to be thrilled at the idea of re-reading your story and going through round two of edits, but it’s crucial. Make sure when you’re engaging with the editor that a “round two” or even three is covered in your payment (or agreement). It’s vital for the editor to see the changes made, and be able to give additional feedback on it. Sometimes 3 rounds are necessary, but if you let them know the suggestions you’ve declined in round 2, it will probably be the last one you’ll need.

I’m currently on step three. Man… one of the bits of feedback is to change the voice of the story. That is a massive undertaking and so I’ll do a trial chapter to see if it works out. I didn’t get that feedback directly from the other editor, but I asked about it. We’ll see if it’s something I need to do. But then again, at the end of the day, I’m in control. It’s my choice to not change to 3rd limited, but I have to truly believe in my gut that changing won’t improve the story in a drastic way.

Blerg… night kiddies.

Launch party complete – It’s been a while

Heeeeeeeey Kiddies. It’s been a bit. I’m super sorry. Life has been busy as f***, but now it’s better! Sway’s Demise is “feature complete”, and now we just need to go through the “bug fix” phase. Oh no, my producer self is bleeding into my author self.

OK, back on topic. The launch party!!

So, I put postcard flyers out everywhere, and what did it net me? Nothing. Not a damn thing. Also, the table tents I purchased for the location were thrown out by one of the staff, because they were “unaware”. I did confirm with the head staff member about 94 times that the event was taking place, but still… an “unaware” staff member threw out $30 of my launch. Scratch that, $28. We found ONE of the table tents shoved in a corner, so I took it home at the end of the night (Thanks Gunther!)

So, what the F*** did I learn.

Nothing else matters

No one picks up physical things anymore. Not a single person.
People are flakey as hell, and don’t read.
If you can’t capture your audience in less than 15 words, you lose.
Wow, that was a lot of lessons in one.

Buy them… buy them all

Advertising to get your face in front of people works. If you have disposable income, do it. If not… I hope you have disposable time, because you need to get your face in front of people. Bring yourself, and your work, to the places where you think they’ll love you. Then shake every hand (no matter what’s on it, that’s what Purell is for) and smile at everyone. Tell them how much you love your work, even if (secretly) you really don’t. Just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean it’s not good. I personally dislike my first work (not so secretly anymore) because I know how much better it could have been if I had just… done something else. F***, I don’t know what it is but something.
I’m hoping at this point you’ve recognized that I’m not with all of my senses. No I’m not. I’m celebrating god F***ing damn it. Sway’s Demise (my new love) is finished, and I’m celebrating the fact that I’m in love with it. While I write to you about how stuff didn’t go as awesome as I’d planned for launch, but found out I have many friends that love me dearly.
TL;DR To summarize this point, if you can’t spend copious amounts of facetime with potential readers, spend copious amounts of money acquiring them. If you do neither, you better have 5,000 friends to share your sh*t, or you’re f***ed.
Not sure why I’m bleeping my curse words, I forewarn everyone that this is an adult-ish blog…. F*** it.

Eye contact and smiles

It may feel scary, and strange, but when at the booth/event, make eye contact with everyone, and smile kindly. Don’t stretch the smile… that’s Joker status. Just smile a little bit, look into their soul, and drag them into your hell.
Eye contact is uncomfortable for most, but when you smile genuinely, it’s attractive. I, myself, have been drawn into booths by both males and females taking the time to look at me and smile. It means you care. It means you give f**ks about that human, to take the time to look at them. They’ll feel like you can see them.

Make all the smalltalk

I know it feels like you don’t have time to communicate to every human that came to see you, but you’re there for however the F*** long it takes to sell out, right? So you have time. I know you want to make sure that everyone else gets in and out in a timely manner, so identify those people, sign their sh*t, and get them the F*** out. They’re not here to talk to you anyway, so GTFO.

Sell yourself

You make your first sales. I mean that like you make your first sales. People aren’t going to be interested in your work, they’re interested in you. Same reason why when you have a booth (if you’re a dude, or not between the ages of 18-25) buy girls between the ages of 18-25 to sell your stuff. I have in good confidence from someone waaaaaaaay more successful than me that if you have young, attractive females run your booth/event, you’ll have double or triple sales.
Trust the well respected author who knows way more, and has sold way more books than me.

Bars aren’t really the place

The “bar” I selected (a tap house and brewery) was filled with my demographic… and not. I was targeting: Female, 16-28, interested in horror & fantasy. But the other 9/10ths of the bar was either men (3/4ths) or women outside of the demographic (1/6th) WOOO I CAN MATHS! There were a few other reasons that it didn’t go fantastic for me.

What did go fantastic for me?

My friends and family love me. Apparently, I’m doing something right, because at least 35 people I knew showed up to support me. ❤
I’ve gotta say, I’ve never been so honored in my life. Unbelievable feeling to know that people I know, even people who hardly read, were coming and buying my book.
Also, beer is yummy, so I had a pretty good time having drinks bought for me.
Well… That’s about all I have to teach kiddies. Did I make any points? I’m not sure now. I could proofread, buuuuut I’m not going to. Yep…. night kiddies! ^_^
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