wplongreads

Fear

I was honored recently to be asked to review an ARC of a collection of short stories by Michael Chambers. It made me remember how much I used to love writing them myself and it sparked a desire to write a new one. Then fellow author Lincoln Farish pitched an elaborate idea for a psychological thriller and it spawned this little baby.

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Self-Publishing: The New Gold Rush

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On January 24, 1848, one lucky fellow named James W. Marshall found gold in California. For the next seven years, hordes of hopefuls flocked to the West Coast state in hopes of striking it rich with a pickaxe and just a bit of luck. For the vast majority of them, that never happened. What did happen was thousands of opportunistic entrepreneurs making a fortune selling gold seekers the tools they needed for forty times the actual price.

While self-publishing is by no means a new idea, it follows a similar trend. According to Wikipedia (so take the info with a grain of salt), in 2008, there were more books self-published than published by traditional means for the first time in history. For those who got into the eBook publishing game that early, the following handful of years were truly fruitful. The eBook market expanded rapidly as people not only accepted digital books, but embraced them with amazing enthusiasm. Those authors made tidy little fortunes, some even went full-time or built up enough status to rival traditionally published bestsellers, and like James W. Marshall, those early success stories had budding authors all over the world flocking to self-publishing in droves.

But that growth stage of endless opportunity is over now.

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Celebrating the Season

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You may not know this, but I love Christmas. Looooooove Christmas. It’s my favorite time of the year, and as happens every year, I have again been swept up in nostalgic fervor. My childhood memories of wintertime have always been almost magical, and it always makes me a little giddy inside when I finally turn the calendar page to December. It’s like opening a fairy tale book very few other people seem to see. My own little secret world.

With all the controversy over how the holidays are acknowledged, celebrated, and fought over here in the U.S., I thought it’d be nice to do something that brings people together rather than push them apart. So for this post on the feast day of St. Lucy, no less, I’d like to share some of the traditions and stories that make my Christmas special. And I’d like to invite you all to share your own in the comments, or on your own website/blog. 🙂

I wanted to be thorough, so I actually did a little research and found some old folk traditions that are no longer observed, but still give me a sense of history and warmth. When I say I inwardly celebrate Christmas all month long, I’m not exaggerating. In my home country of Slovakia, the fun starts early and ends late in a glorious blend of pagan and Christian traditions that seriously blur the line, which I absolutely love. Check it out:

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We need to talk…

This will likely be long, and somewhat disjointed, and maybe by the time I’m done typing it all out I’ll decide to not even post it. I’ve done that before when I just got tired of reading myself talk. But I hope I don’t, because this is too important to not talk about.

Before I begin, I want to say that I’m a weirdly dichotomous person. I take certain things extremely personally; I get choked up when a friend hands me a candy bar for no reason other than I’d had a bad day. I get teary-eyed when I listen to a group of people singing in perfect harmony. I take off-hand remarks to heart, to the point where it’s made me so self-conscious that I rarely ever put myself out there. And then there’s the part of me that just does not give a fuck. Call me names? I’ll take it as a compliment. Insult me online? I’ll probably find a way to make a joke out of it that I’ll laugh over with my friends for months to come. Bash my books? I’ll take that criticism and do better next time. I am a woman who freezes first, flees second, and fights only as a last resort, which is kind of scary in practice.

I also hate with the passion of a thousand suns being presented with a problem I have no power to fix. Which is why I tend to stay away from politics, political discussions, and any drama swirling about it. Unfortunately, that’s becoming next to impossible this election season, and it’s got me frustrated to no end, because there is no escaping it anywhere, and there are things I am seeing that are actually making me afraid for the future of this country, and for my own personal safety as a woman. So here is me, addressing the big orange elephant in the room. This is where I drop the cliched line every cliched man dreads hearing from a cliched woman: We need to talk.

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How did I get here?

When I wake up tomorrow morning, Dragonblood will be available for sale across online booksellers around the world. It’ll mark my 10th original book publication, and the 7th full-length novel to be unleashed upon the world from the dark recesses of my twisted mind. Quite honestly, this is the first time I’ve actually counted them, and that kind of gives me pause. How many writers out there lose track of their books? Is there anyone who would have passed a milestone like that and not notice?

Years ago, when my stories were being madly scribbled into the back of my ECON101 and PHIL210 notebooks, I kept meticulous track of every single title. No, seriously. Look:

Writing Database

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The 10-Step Checklist for Self-Published Authors

Dear aspiring authors,

This post is for you. This post applies to especially those of you who are considering self-publishing your book. I write it, because it needs to be said, and because I want you to avoid the frustration, upset, and anger I see boiling up in the Indie community every day.

For those of you who don’t want to read through the entire list, here’s the main idea: Do your homework. It’s not just about putting your book out there; it’s about doing it in a manner that will reflect well on you as an author and publisher–because that is what you will become. It’s not just about the art of creating something out of nothing; it’s about conducting your business professionally–because that’s what it is: a business. It’s hard work, and it doesn’t stop when you hit the Publish button. Are you ready for that?

If you’re planning to self-publish, you should be. By going this route, you are taking on the responsibility for everything you put out there, from this moment forward. It’s all on you. Even if you hire professional editors, cover artists, formatters, etc., the final published product is yours, and no one else’s. Readers won’t see what you intended, or what you wanted to do. They won’t see your financial or personal struggles–and they shouldn’t. Your readers are your customers; they’re paying for a product that has your name on it, and you owe it to them to give them the best product you are capable of producing.

For those who want more details, here’s my little 10-step decision tree:

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The (Non-)Reading Habits of the Terminally Distracted

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When I was a kid in Europe, I remember bookstores were almost luxury destinations. I would walk into one and feel overwhelmed and awed, and I’d touch the volumes with utmost reverence. Books were expensive. All of them, except for a handful of children’s books and pocket atlases, were hardbound with gorgeous covers that were as much works of art as the words held within. They were also a universe unto themselves. Getting an autograph, or even running into an author of any kind was almost unheard of. Seeing one made into a movie was a Very Big Deal.

My great uncle would collect books just to show them off on his shelves. His brother, my grandfather, on the other hand, would borrow them from him to read, because he loved the written word, but couldn’t afford to buy the books he wanted. My mom had entire shelves filled with series by her favorites, all black spines with white text, and a clear number on the bottom indicating its order in the series. She never touched them after they were read, except to wipe dust off the tops.

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DIYDay Lesson 22: Formatting Books for Print – How Not To Lose Your Everloving Mind

Hello all my fellow authors and followers! It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, so I thought I would post about something that is of immediate relevance to me, as I am formatting an entire series for print. By myself. It’s going very well, though, thank you for asking. =) But it wasn’t as easy the first couple of times I’ve done it, so I thought I would share a few helpful tips and tricks on how to make the process quicker and much less painful.  So, here we go! For the purposes of this post, I will be using MS Word 2013, but these same tools are available in all versions of MS Word, just in different places. If you’re unsure, Google where to find them. 😉

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DIYDay Lesson 21: Graphics Editing – The Evolution Of A Book Cover

There are gifted individuals out there who can sit down at a brand new task and instantly excel at it. The rest of us learn by trial and error. And if we (yes, I’m mostly speaking about myself here) insist on going it alone, there is a lot of trial and error. What I’m sharing today is the evolution one of my self-made covers has gone through. It wasn’t the only one, by any means, but it was the one with the most revision. I do this to show you that sometimes stubbornness, perseverance, and versatility pay off. Most of the time, actually. Sit back, relax, and watch me screw up.

A lot. And then finally get it right. I give you…

 

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