Maintaining good relationships with Reviewers

Hmmm… this one seems as if it’s a multi-purposed post. For not just the writing in your life, but other things like your day job, maybe even casual friendships. I’d like to talk about how to maintain a good relationship with people, so when the time comes, there’s no question in their mind about helping you out, or vice versa.
I know, that sounds really selfish. But as I dive in, you’ll see it’s not quite as bad as you think. Let’s be honest, first off. Most things that you do in life are to benefit yourself in some way. If you think about it, it’s true. Why find a lover/partner? To not be lonely. Why do the dishes for that partner? To make them happy so when you ask something of them, they’ll return the favor. Etc, etc, etc.

Anyway, on with the post. Step 1…

Sharing is caring

It may take some time, but through a few casual emails, you can get your reviewer to open up to you by sharing tiny bits of yourself. They’ll see that you really are a human on the other side of the text, and start to connect with you.
You have to want this. You have to. If you do not truly want to connect with this human on a personal level, you will stop giving a shit, and you will let the relationship fall by the wayside, and they will recognize that emails coming from you only mean you have a new piece out that you want to thrust at them.

Be diligent

Remember the important details of your reviewers, or the details they feel are important. Where they live, brothers & sisters, a new job they’re applying for, what degree they’re attempting to obtain in school, a book they’re working on, new house, etc. Follow up on these items with them through email to show that you were paying attention, and you do care if they got the job, got the house, finished school, saw their family for the first time in years.
Remembering details of many people can be difficult, so fortunately you have email history to look at, and you’re never, or rarely ever, put on the spot to remember it without being able to reference said emails. I do this sort of thing for a living at my job, so it’s become second nature to remember a ton of details about what’s going on with 20-30 different people at a time… which reminds me, I need to follow up on something when I get in the office tomorrow morning ^_^

Actually care

I know it’s a strange thing to say, and it’s a hard mentality to develop, but learn to actually care. My boss taught me this. It’s not enough that you asked, and remembered, and follow up later, then acted excited for their success, or downtrodden for their failure… You must actually give fucks about them and their life.
You’ll notice if they’re interested in you, and connecting, they will do the same. If, after many attempts, you notice they’re not interested, gauge your desire to have them on your side. Ah, I say on your side… but truly that’s what it is. When it comes down to it, and you have a new work that you’d like to share with them, and they have a very busy schedule, they’ll be on your side and find the time to make it happen.
Anyway, gauge the importance of this potential relationship. Do they enjoy your work, or was it just so-so to them? Is their review/writing style on par with how you like to communicate to your audience? Do they have a wide reach, or a large audience? After answering yes to all three of those, I would say continue to pursue them, gently… don’t be overbearing and email twice a week, or overshare. Perhaps, even come right out and ask them, “Are you interested in maintaining a relationship with me outside of the author/reviewer relationship we have? Because I am.” Maybe they’ll go, “Hey, shit, I didn’t realize that’s what you were trying to do… totally, I’d love to!” or… maybe it’ll be like, “Yeah I don’t have time to email you about personal stuff.” and if that’s the case, just be like, “Totes cool. In the future, if I have stuff for reading, would you like me to contact you?” And then all that awkward courtship stuff is over and you can move on to fostering the relationships that really matter.
Welp… I better get my chunky butt off the couch and go for a run or something >_> have a good Sunday kiddies!

Writer’s block – *sigh*

We all get it from time to time, the dreaded inability to formulate sentences, lead one action into the next. A lot of people say “DRIVE ON!” Just keep writing, force it out, write something terrible, doesn’t matter. I find it pretty difficult to do this.

I’m not sure how to help you… I can’t even help myself… But here’s what I’ve been trying or thinking of trying.

Read other writings

You’ve been staring at your own work for days, or longer, with no idea how to keep going. It’s time to start looking at other things. Even if it doesn’t help get your creativity flowing, at least you read something other than what you’ve been rereading forever, right?

Try to critique other stuff

Movies, poetry, presidential speeches, whatever, just start critiquing. What’s well thought out, what’s needing more work, what do you like/hate/want to burning a fire. Figuring out what you like and don’t like about something else may help you remember how to write the stuff you like.

Revisit a previous work – or look at a new one

If you’re like me, you have three to five writing projects at different stages of development at one time. I’m not saying it’s optimal… but it’s what I’ve got. Writing a fresh story, or getting a new take on one you’ve completed may “unbind” you from the current one. Though I do really dislike task switching unless it’s writing for one and editing for another, I’ve been thinking about doing this.

Maybe you really just need a break…

So take one. How long is up to you, but I advise setting a strict “break” start and stop date so you don’t blow way past the writers block end and waste a bunch of time sitting on your butt playing video games.

Maybe you really just need to power through…

The thing I didn’t want to think about. Maybe I should just suck it up and write something horrible so I can get back to writing. Ugh. Even this blog post sucks. Maybe this was the horrible thing I needed to get out.
Whatever you decide to do, remember to stay positive. Writer’s block isn’t forever. Night kiddies ^_^

Mile High Horror Film Festival – A Critique

Critique… The English language is an enigma man… I would spell that word criteek, but f*ck me, whatever.

You can tell its late, because I’m starting this post out bashing the language I use to tell stories. On with what I came here to talk about.
Even Lambs have Teeth – 7/10
I’ll give it points for all the gore and some decent acting, but goodness it was predictable… Down to how every kill was going to happen, I knew it.
The opening scene is a bit disorienting, and confusing. I didn’t think it meshed well with the overall story arch. From that opening, one of the main characters behaves completely contrary to how she had behaved, 4 minutes ago. So, write off the opening scene, ignore how predictable it is, or if you can, shut your brain off. It’ll make the movie more enjoyable.
I had the pleasure of meeting one of the main characters after the show. She was very cute, and dainty in person, but was able to own the naughty girl thing on camera…
Series of shorts – all over the place
The ones that stick out the most were the best, and worst… Or rather weirdest. Actually, I remember the name of everything except the very first one and it was a music video. Very cool and enjoyable, don’t remember what it’s called.
Vicious – 8/10
Lots of jumps, told a complete story in under 8 minutes, well acted. I really liked this one.
Invaders – 6/10
It was kinda funny. Acting was meh. Story had little depth.
Zone 2 – 7/10
Fairly decent, well acted on both parts, told a nice complete story in about 7 minutes. No jumps or scares.
Scumbag – 4/10
Story was meh, cheating husband gets what he deserved… Meh acting. Mehmehmeh, you can tell its late now.
Peripheral – 7.5/10
This one’s concept was good, but fell short of an 8 because of subpar acting (actress got her line wrong… And they kept it…) and the CGI for the alien/monster/thing was pretty cruddy, or their design was cruddy. It was just not frightening. A darkened sillohett would have been way scarier, and less cheezeballz.
I can’t remember the name of the last one but it gets 3/10. Did not like, couldn’t tell a story, monster did weird stuff and looked cheesy, acting was OK but very little of it.
He Never Died – 10/10
I’ll start by saying Henry Rollins is my fuckin hero, I love that guy. Movie was well paced, very unexpected but welcome comedy, he stayed fully in character so well, all the acting was phenomenal, story was pretty good. I guess it deserves a 9.5/10 because the bad guy motivation reveal was kinda lamesauce, but matching with the story… So back to 10.
Not a horror by far, but couldn’t recommend more. So good, going to buy it when it’s out.
And now, I pass out. Night kiddies!

Receiving Criticism – How to improve instead of surrendering

The Mill’s first 1 star review, it finally happened! But I’m not sad. You can never please everyone, it’s just not possible. I’m very glad that this was not my first review of The Mill – that may have been a little soul crushing – but all the same, her opinions and views are valid and potentially helpful to other readers.

I respect Evelyn all the more for her honesty, she truly hated my novella! And that’s fine, because she does not hate me as a writer/human being (I hope >_>).

Most reviewers are not interested in attacking you personally – and if they are, you know who not to talk to anymore. Evelyn was pretty brutal with her assessment, but only because she wants to see the work improve. Who wants to read a shitty book? No one! While it makes me nervous now that everyone will feel this way about my work, I’m not disheartened. This is an exemplary learning opportunity.

Step one to Learning

Identify if the criticism is coming from your target audience. If the answer is no, probably take it with a grain of salt, but still investigate. If the answer is yes, write down all of the points in the criticism that the reviewer mentioned as unpleasurable to them.

Next up

As unbiasedly as humanly possible, take all of the points and reread your work. Write down where you notice what the reviewer mentioned, then postulate on how to fix the issues.

Keep a running list of complaints

If your work is being called out for a few specific things, again and again, it’s likely time to take a hard visit on that matter.

Request pointers directly from the reviewer

If you have a decent relationship with the reviewer, it would be a good idea to really pick their brain on the matter. Get what they really wanted from the book out into the open. However, changing your work based on one person’s feedback is something I would not advise. Simply keep it in mind for the future.

And now, for the best piece of advice I’ve ever given…

Listen, learn, deploy a plan of action, and then release any feelings that you had on the matter whatsoever. It’s not worth allowing your personal life/sleep/eating habits to suffer from stuff like this. It hurts, I know… but one cannot dwell on the past.
That’s all for tonight kiddies ^_^ have a wonderful evening.
If you’re interested in seeing what Evelyn had to say, here is her review: https://bookswithchemistry.wordpress.com/2015/09/29/review-the-mill/

Naming a work of Fiction – Guest post and the next Novella Teaser!

Hey guys!

Sorry I haven’t been super active, life and stuff. Here’s a link to the guest post I did for Amber Gregg on her site Judging more than just the cover!

Here’s a bit of what I’ve been doing recently:

Walking through the sand was grueling, and we all began to pant. Our packs were each at least twenty five kilograms, and the resistance of the riverbed made it that much worse.
“Contact south.” Delilah River whispered, crouching with her weapon raised.
We all stiffened, scouting our designated directions. “What is it River?” Xander crept towards her.
She shook her head, “I’m not sure, it was small, and quick. Too quick for a human. Maybe a dog, or a fox.”
“River, Reese, Sway, Eli, investigate.” Xander ordered and we formed up into our smaller diamond, moving with conviction.
Slinging my M4, I pulled my sidearm from the holster, placing a hand on Eli as I walked backwards. I turned from side to side, watching as the other half of our cell disappeared between the trees.
River whispered, “Target in sight.”

Reviews of The Mill – Book to the Future & Have you heard my Book Review!

Hey guys, just in for a quicky. I’ve recently had the pleasure of being in contact with Melanie Adkins of Have you heard my Book Review, and “Ste J” of Book to the Future. Both fantastically wonderful human beings. Ste J and I have carried on many conversations, late into both of our nights (pretty convinced he’s a robot at this point).

Please check out their reviews of The Mill below!

Book to the Future / Bookmust.wordpress.com – Steven Johnson

Have you heard my Book Review – Melanie Adkins

When sh*t hits the fan: How to adapt to less than stellar situations

As the title states… sometimes the proverbial poop will hit the fan. Or sometimes, the actual poop will hit an actual fan. I’ve never seen it myself, but I assume it’s both terrifying and amusing.

So far on this journey, I haven’t had anything go absolutely wrong, but I’ve had several things take a dump on my day. I’ll list them each, and how I went about handling it.

Stay on Target

The number one ingredient in overcoming a crappy situation is to stay on target. I know, yes, I’m adding lots of pictures and such.

What do I mean to stay on target? Zoom the f*ck out and remember the end goal. Whatever just happened may be for the best anyway, you’ll have no idea unless you zoom out and check what’s going on. So. What happened to me.

I was just bumping along, being me and doing me things, when suddenly my madre in law was like “Oh hey, that book that you’re about to publish, yeah there’s like a blaringly obvious error in it.”

FFFFFFFFFFFFFF….. That was the face I made. Just imagine someone saying “FFFFFFF” really loud and that was my face.
Exhibit C.

Anyway. I’d already ordered a copy and sent it off to a reviewer in the U.K. Much to my embarrassment, I had to inform said reviewer of the error and ask them to ignore it… Yeah, that’s pretty damn lamesauce and just doesn’t speak to me being any kind of decent writer that I allowed something to be printed with an issue as big as this. We will not discuss what said issue was.
Anyway, how to handle that sh*t.

  1. Calm down, it’s not the end of the world.
    Take a few deep breaths, pet your kitty, or dog, drink a glass of water. Do anything except take immediate action. You just discovered this after who knows how long it was out there, an extra 45 seconds is not going to make or break the bank.
  2. If you can, recall issues that have not yet been printed.
    I was lucky in the fact that the 5 issues I ordered for giveaways and sending to places for review had not yet been sent through the printer, and so I contacted CreateSpace and got them cancelled. Unfortunately, the order for the reviewer in the U.K. could not be recalled since it was rush ordered.
  3. If you’re book is already live, and people have bought copies, offer some kind of giveaway.Let your audience know that you’re human, and you made a mistake. Tell them the first person to find said mistake will get: an amazon gift card, a copy of your new work, an ice cream with sprinkles, etc. This will increase user engagement for one, and for two, let the people who admire you and your work know that you’re not some untouchable god high on a perch (no matter how often you pretend with your cat tower). You become like J-Law, the girl who could be your best friend if she just knew you existed. (Jennifer if you ever read this, please acknowledge my existence. I love you.)
So, situation #1 covered. Poopy mistake in my debut launch. Zoom out, take a breath, formulate a plan, take action. Never, never, get angry at yourself or anyone else. It will do you absolutely no good.
Poop #2. I paid quite a little sum of money for a magazine placement, and a web banner on their website. They will remain nameless for their protection… but my goodness. My rep said her team worked on the ad over the weekend because they were so slammed.
It looks like she worked on my banner ad in MS paint for 2 minutes. Like, dear lord in heaven, WHAT HAPPENED?! (interrobang!)
“Ok, how about a kind of fall-ish background, with some orange and green leaf looking things… yeah… then we’ll slap the book over on there, add two different type faces, neither of which match the font used on the book cover. Good, good. Ok now what..? Yeah let’s have the text super close to the edge, and to the image. And OOOH! Let’s make it pinkish red with a WHITE OUTER GLOW! That, is f*ckin snazzy. I’m so tits at this.”
I’m so sorry magazine rep, if you read this, but I am an art student, and this is just not acceptable. Though I could have fixed it myself, I decided to go to my artist for help. So here’s how we handle situation #2

Again, don’t get mad. Anger does nobody any good.
It’s totally possible they were so completely slammed that my rep had to do it themselves, and this was the best they could do. I didn’t get angry and let them know how unacceptable it was, I just took a breath and let them know “My artist wants to take a stab at it.” Seemed to all work out OK on that end, because they provided me with all the details I needed to get it done myself.
Bleh, I could go on and on, but that’s the gist of it.
  1. Don’t get angry, poop happens but that doesn’t mean it’s anyone’s fault.
  2. Take a breath and step back. Could the poop actually be good for you, set you on a new path, open a new door?
  3. Explore your options, ask for opinions and advice if you feel it’s necessary.
  4. Be cordial in all your dealings. No matter how crappy things get for you, don’t pass it on.
  5. Take action. Do not let the poop sit. Though in the real world that’s usually best because it will firm up and be easier to handle, typically in the proverbial sense it’s better to handle your poop sooner rather than later.
Night kiddies…

Launch Party – It’s a big deal

Hello hello my dear audience!

Today, I’d like to talk about launch parties. Parties can be awesome, but they can also suck. You do not want to throw a party for your book that sucks.

Step One

Canvas the area. Find where it is that you want to host said party. Your home can be an acceptable place, but in truth, if you can find somewhere else with foot traffic that is not part of your devoted following, do that. Here are some good places to look into:

  • Public Library.
    I know… the library… but it’s typically free to host here, and you’ll get a lot of foot traffic that likes books! So, double win.
  • Book Stores.
    They will charge you. It will suck. But it will be your target audience and you can gain a lot of new fans here.
  • Depending on your genre, Game Stores.
    In my area, I have quite a few game stores that are super open to hosting for games, movies, books, artists, etc. Try to find a place that hosts game night, that can be good traffic.
  • Smalltime Restaurants and Breweries.
    I know, I live in Colorado so smalltime breweries are pretty common for me, but if you look hard enough, you can find one. Restaurants are wary to host you for loss of revenue, but you can find the ones that will be willing to get your extra foot traffic in exchange.
  • Hotels…
    This is like your last resort. Hotels are definitely not the best place to host for a book launch, but they do have the space. You will likely not get any additionally traffic here.

Step Two

  1. Blast your event on social media.
    Make sure everyone knows. Tag all your friends. Get dirty with it, because you’ll have to.
  2. Order postcards for the even to leave in places around the happening of the event. 
    If you’re doing it in a library, leave them in nearby restaurants, banks if you can, and even gas stations. Gas stations are probably pretty low probability of getting you traffic, but it’s an option.
  3. Get “table tents” or banners.
    This one is optional because banners can be expensive. If you’re doing this in a restaurant and bar/brewery, get the table tents and make sure you can set them up and leave them up for a week or two. Put some QR codes on that bitch too.
  4. Reach out to the places nearby to promote you.
    Give them a copy of the book even, and drop off some promotional items like pens/tiny collectibles that can be given away with your website/blog on it.
I’m not to step three yet… so I’ll have to let you know how that goes later. I’ve picked a brewery for my location, and they’re going to let me set up for free, so that’s awesome for me, hooray! I’ve ordered my postcards for leaving around places, and the table tents for leaving on unsuspecting victims tables…
Well, cross your fingers for me. I’ll be having my launch party on October 23rd. Stop by if you’re interested ^_^ Dry Dock, South Dock: 15120 E Hampden Ave, Aurora, CO 80014
Night Night kiddies.
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