If you should ever happen upon me and notice that far off look in my eye, you should know that I am in my own little world. When I don't answer you, it's not because I am being rude (at least not intentionally) or that I am deaf, or blind, or anything else. The truth of the matter is, most days, when I do wonder out in public, my mind is somewhere else. The world around me is a giant playground, a coloring book, and it's just waiting for me to make it brighter. I can look at the quirky lady in the line ahead of me at the grocery store and I suddenly see before me a fairy princess who has been abandoned by her people because her left ear is slightly smaller than her right and fairies simply can not abide by that heinous imperfection. I don't mean to stare, but a brilliant little story has jut begun to take shape in my head and I can't seem to snap out of the image quickly enough.
I've had parents try to wave at me or even speak to me while I wait for the kids at the school. I don't mean to ignore them either. Usually I have my ipod in, listening to music. I do this to help me focus, because otherwise those same parents would soon find themselves as characters in stories that just pop into my head.
I'm not like that all the time. I have quiet moments in my head too. If I am ignoring you during a quiet moment, you have my apologies, I was actually probably reveling in the fact that pink and purple elephants weren't carting Princess Migrania to her own knew home after they nearly wiped out all the Fabrician people. Her elephants eat men, of course, so ... damn! So much for quiet moments. See how easily I can be pulled into my own imagination?
I'm actually not that bad, but I can seriously make a story up on a dime just because I am bored, and generally when I am left to my own devices that is exactly what I am up to. If you see me just standing around with that far away glimmer in my eyes, start checking the bushes for unicorns or faeries. On second thought, you may want to duck and cover before some creeply crawly creature sinks its fangs into you. Chances are, I am conjuring them up from my imagination to put down in my computer the minute I can get back to it.
This is the strangeness of me. Welcome to the life of a fantasy writer! Now, back away slowly, and hope you never see me in line at the local Walmart! :D
It's been a while since I have blogged about writing or anything else for that matter. I have been working on two separate writing deadlines and several e-book cover design projects. I'm not really sure how I managed to get myself into this scheduling mess, but I did! So, today's blog is all about setting goals, and more importantly setting boundaries.
I'm sure many of you can relate to the intense feeling of elation when you have a project that is coming to an end! I know, because I get the same way. The problem for me is, I ride high on that nervous energy and am soon setting goals for myself that are next to impossible.
Case in point - I am having to postpone the release of my book, Revelations, because I got so caught up in another project, The VooDoo Follies, that I was unable to get everything done in time. I probably would have been okay and hit my deadlines except for the fact that I had some technical difficulties along the way with formatting. Lesson learned! It's good to have goals. It's great to get excited! But I must also set boundaries for myself so that I can stay on track. No more multiple "major" project months!
Speaking from a writing perspective, I have to set goals (deadlines) for myself or I will never sit down and finish. This is where my 12-step program to writing success comes in...
Hi! My name is Christine, and I am a procrastinator.
I've gone two weeks without procrastinating on my deadlines.
The first step is admitting you have a problem, right? Okay, I got that one down!
Procrastination - problem - check!
Too many deadlines, too close together - problem - check!
Now where do I go?
Step 2 - Recognizing that boundaries will help me reach my goal...
So, I have begun to set boundaries on top of my goals.
No more doubling up on the major deadlines! This month I am finishing one major project early and turning one out late. I hate that! I mean, early is good, but late is unacceptable for me. I am taking it all in stride though. These are the growing pains I am going through in my first year of self-publishing. I am sure there will be more issues along the way - I'll keep you up-to-date. After all, if I screw up first, maybe I save someone else the headache later! :D
That's it for the month of September! I'm 12 -stepping my procrastination/over-scheduling issues. I know, I know... you're wondering where the other ten steps are... Maybe you'll find out in October.
*Hangs head* Okay, I do realize I just relapsed, but I couldn't help it. I have projects to finish that are already running behind.
How has September been for you?
How to pick your friends on Goodreads...
Once an Indie Author has published their first book, the most asked question becomes: "now, how do I publicize it?"
I do not claim to be an expert here, but I am going to share a few tips with you on a couple social networking sites that I am familiar with.
There are many more places you can go to promote your books (many genre specific too), but the same rule holds true for all of them. Make the most of it! Make sure you learn the ins and outs of the program/ network/ website and utilize to your benefit.
- Goodreads: There are some fantastic opportunities on this site for up and coming authors. Step one, head on over there and CLAIM YOUR AUTHOR PAGE! Your author page has many advantages over the regular reader pages. The biggest advantage being, people can automatically see all the books you write in one place! Yay! The next thing being, book give-a-ways, and networking with people who read your genre! Speaking of people who read your genre... Something to keep in mind when picking your friends on Goodreads is to pick people who have a lot of books in common with you. Sure Peggy-Sue may have 38 friends in common with you, but if they don't have any books in common what are you going to share? Witty banter only goes so far when you have nothing in common. If I don't have at least 20 books in common with someone I don't go looking for their friendship. Don't think that sounds snobbish of me. I have very eclectic tastes in books. While I may pick up a Clive Custler novel and like it, I'm not a huge fan of the genre! Hence, my 20+ books-in-common rule. This guarantees that I will have something in common with the people I am becoming friend's with. It also means that they may end up being interested in the books that I write as well (since I write in the genres I read the most). Don't forget to link your RSS feed (blog for those of you who have one) and Twitter account to your Goodreads profile. It gives your other pages more exposure when you link everything.
- Twitter: The biggest thing to remember with Twitter is hash tags. #books and #bookreviews are both terrific hash tags for promoting your books, or the latest reviews about your books... or book reviews that you are doing for other people. This will also get your book or review noticed by several paper-li contributors. Also try hash-tagging your genre ( #paranormal #fantasy #mystery) along with your post. Many times you can just throw a # in front of words you are already using!
- Shelfari: Just as with Goodreads, you want to go and check out your own author page, update it with useful information that helps readers learn a little more about you. The important thing to remember about Shelfari is that they are directly linked to Amazon.com. Go to your Author Central Account (if you don't know what I am talking about see Author Central below this) and link it to your Shelfari Account. This will enable you to have the author tag on your Shelfari account. Once you've done that, be sure to go to your book page (all of them) and fill in all the missing information, make sure you are listed as the author. Sometimes, there's more than one Bill Jones out there and books can be accidentally linked to the wrong author (this is also something you need to check on Goodreads!) The added information (character info, quotes, etc) are pulled over to your book's page on Amazon, so make it work for you!
- Author Central: If you have a blog, you can add your RSS feed to your Author Central page, your Twitter feed as well (linking everything gets you more exposure, eventually). Make sure you include an author bio even if it's just a small snippet about yourself. Readers love to learn new and interesting things, if they can identify with you on some level, they may want to read what you had to say!
- Scribd and Wattpad: These are awesome ways to get sample chapters out to people who may not see your book by chance on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or where ever else you may have it for sale. If you write YA books and stories - get your butt over to Wattpad, sign up, and make friends! Your target audience is there, waiting to be dazzled! As with any other social networking type websites, these will require a little time and maintenance to build a following, but it can be well worth your time.
One more parting bit of advice for my fellow authors. Reviews are a fantastic way to get your readers interested in your books, but readers are growing weary of over-inflated reviews in the Indie market! To quote one reader (she commented on a one star review of a book I also recently reviewed) "Initial post: Aug 4, 2011 9:56:11 AM PDTJust as an FYI - I 've found a trend with a lot of the YA books I've found lately. Especially the ones that are under a dollar and are sold by "Amazon Digitial Services," and have very top-heavy ratings (25+ 5-star reviews, only a handful of the others).
These are self-published titles (and this is a total guess), but I think the majority of the 5 star reviews are from acquaintences. I've fallen into this with 3 other books and it's made me a much more leery reader.
While we all want good reviews, we should be trying harder and striving for "real" reviews on our books (not book swaps with pre-determined outcomes). The book in question that received the one star review (mentioned above) garnered a 3 star review from me, because while I found issues in the book that needed attention, I also found a story that was pretty good. And I mentioned both of those reasons in the review. I know we can't help what other people write about our own stuff, but be mindful when you review for others! A 3 and 4 star review is still a "good thing" being honest is even better for sales than you can imagine, because as the reader stated above - all the 5 star reviews are making her a leery reader!
We've all been there, as writers, second guessing every chapter, page, word that we have written. So, when is it enough? When do you stop and put down the pen, the keyboard, iPad, or whatever you use to write with these days? I ask this because I think it's something we all struggle with to a degree. Did I use enough adjectives, did I spend enough time on this scene? Should I have killed off that crazy crack dealer in that manner? Do vampires really drool?Okay, you get the picture! Seriously though, it's a question that has been plaguing my mind lately. I recently gave a bit of advice to a fellow author who was considering going back and editing her novel (which is already published) because she had complaints about a scene in her book wrapping up to quickly. Well, I have read her book and I feel it was a neat, clean, scene based on what would actually happen in a real situation. Her other readers were apparently like the hungry little mob waiting to pounce on the pedophile down the street! They are like the crazy zealots at the witch trials who were standing in line to help weight the witch with stones before tossing her in the river to see if she floated. These readers were out for blood and were simply unhappy when they didn't get enough of it.Now, I am not speaking ill of this author's readers. Having read the book, I understood the sentiment. We all come up with clever endings to our favorite villains. Sometimes, we think they are better than what the author has envisioned! But as I said, the scene in question was well written. My advice to the author was this, "You are NEVER going to make everyone happy with what you write, the minute you start trying to do that, you might as well hang up your computer and give up writing all together!" I say that because reading a book is a subjective thing. I have read books that were absolute misery for me to get through, while my friend was in love with them. There will always be someone out there who complains about some aspect of your writing. I think as a writer, especially one who ever wants to publish their works, this is the first thing you have to come to grips with.And that brings me back to my question. When do you say enough is enough? We all have crit partners, beta readers, proofreaders, editors, or just friends with good intentions who tell us what they think before we turn our creativity over to the world. So, where do you draw the line? How much of that critique do you take to heart when you start making changes? How many changes do you make before you're ready to share with the world? And how many revisions are you willing to make to your work once you have published it?For me, unless a glaring mistake has been made/missed that gets pointed out after I have published, then I am done. Now, mistakes happen and I am willing to correct those. For instance, it just came to my attention recently that my novel was missing half a sentence towards the end of the book. Apparently, it got cut off in the copy/paste/formatting for e-book process - Eeepp! After the initial panic set in and I thought about all the poor people who already purchased the book and won't know what that last half of that very important sentence said, I began the correction process immediately! This is where I would love to be able to play "stalker author" and track down each and every one of those readers and say, "I'm so sorry, here's the entire sentence!" That is the only case I can see for changing my already published work. There was an obvious error or mistake in the publication process. I can't fathom changing my book because a couple readers didn't like how I wrote something. There are plenty of books that I have read and wished things were a little different, but I wasn't the author. It wasn't up to me how things turned out, I could only hope for the best. Which is one of the things I love about reading. You have the element of surprise while the author takes you along for the ride.
If you read any of my books, stories, etc. and find something you don't like about them, this is what I will give you: "I'm sorry, maybe you'll like the next one better!" Because my stories are, each and every one, a labor of love. In the end, I have to be happy with what I hand over to the public and I have to accept that not everyone will like everything I do to my characters! My answer, in short, I stop writing when I am happy with the results!
What is my worst nightmare?
Answering the question, "Oh, you wrote a book, what genre?"
*Bangs head on desk, repeatedly*
This is where things get tricky. I've been saying for year -YEARS - I tell you, that a new "fantasy" genre needs to be set up for the books I like to read and write. If I say "fantasy," people have misguided notions that I am writing about orks and ogres smashing and bashing their way through some far off realm. If I say "Urban Fantasy," some people look at me as though I have two heads, because they simply don't understand what that jargon means. And if I say, "paranormal" I get the typical response, "oh, it's a ghost story!"
*Frustrated guttural scream can be inserted here*
So, I wonder, does anyone else have this problem? Or did I miss the "how to classify your book neatly into a specific genre class," because I didn't meant to not show up! Well, okay, I was probably a little busy writing my next "I don't know how to classify this but it's gonna be a big hit, book!"
And for those of you who have been lost throughout my tirade, let me further explain. I write the kind of fantasy about vampires, witches, were-creatures, and faeries. Not the cute, cuddly, silly little pixie dust tossing Disney fairies that go about their day riding purple unicorns. No! I write about the ones who like to cause trouble, the ones who want to see humanity brought to its knees just for fun! I write about bad-ass, sometimes confused, witches who do spells and poof into thin air with hostages! Oh yes, you will find werewolves within my pages too, but alas, no ogres crunching on fair maiden's bones. At least, not yet!
So, my question again, how do you classify these types of books? I ask this because today I found my book, Birthrights, on Amazon-UK with ROMANCE as the top search word and Paranormal just beneath that. There's flirting, a tad bit of temptation and longing, but romance? No one even ... well I don't want to give away spoilers, but I dare say a romance, it is not. Now, it is a part of a trilogy and a little romance will follow, but I feel as though I've been improperly described in this category of "paranormal romance" simply because my beings are other than human.
Now, my fellow Urban, Paranormal, Magical, Otherworldly, Stranger than human writer friends, what exactly would you classify your books as? I used to go with Urban Fantasy, again with the funny looks though. "Ogres in the City? Wasn't that done in Shrek 2?" *bangs head* Then I started saying Paranormal Fantasy, but that leads to people jumping on the "paranormal romance" kick. I don't mind the paranormal romance mix-up so much, but neither do I want my readers mislead. What is a writer to do?
I clicked on a link the other day to an author's blog post and what I read there really stuck with me. It was not in a good way. Her (she will remain nameless) post was talking about a recent conversion from a regular Facebook page to a fan page. She was extolling the virtues of the swap, with things like: I don't have to see the spam from other authors who don't understand that they are my competition. She talked about writers needing to find people in their reading demographic to hock their books and blogs too. There were several points that just got under my skin.
Yes, as writers, we are all each others' competition (genre specific), but we can also help boost each others' sales. For me, one of the best things about becoming self-published and having to seek out other authors was not a boost in sales, but the camaraderie I have found within an awesome network of people. I belong to an author group who help each other with things like critiques, editing, formatting, cover design, morale boosting, promotions, and the list goes on. We don't have agents, editors, publishers, and publicists to answer our questions or hold our hands so we formed our own community of people who do that. We return the favor for others. It's an amazing thing. On this very website I have a space dedicated to some of my favorite Indie Authors. I don't have to do that. I do it because we all need every little helping hand we can get when we go it on our own. Maybe the author who wrote that blog simply never had to struggle. Maybe she really does see everyone as her competition and therefore shuts them out. Maybe she was just having a bad day with stalker authors sending her repeated messages about buying their books. Who knows?
I think probably the most visible example I could give of "the competition being friendly and sharing trade secrets" would be actors and actresses. Think about it, they are competing on a much more hard core level for those paychecks and yet you still see them in the "news" hanging out together, you hear them in interviews supporting one another. What is so different when authors get together to talk shop? I don't see a lot of difference. I also see those actors showing their support by heading out to each other's movie premiers.
My target demographic, my readers, are anyone who enjoys fantasy novels. If you love witches, vampires, ghosts, werewolves, fairies, and other fantasy creatures and humanoids then you are in my target audience. Most authors I know are avid readers. We love books. Writing them is taking that love one step further. So, for someone to say that I shouldn't point another author to my book is ridiculous. I am an author. I go out seeking other people's books when I am bored. Many of them are my competition, because that is the genre I LOVE! I obviously can't sit around reading my own book day in and day out to avoid giving the competition a bump in sales. I mean, I already know most of it by heart. The whole point in reading is to find something new and different to loose yourself in. Maybe, somewhere along the line authors get jaded and they forget why they are writing, or what made them write to begin with. For me, writing has been a part of my life as long as reading has. They have always gone hand in hand. My book shelves and e-readers are lined with books in my genre. They will continue to be. So, if you have a good book you think I will love - feel free to suggest it to me!
I understand people who message you on a regular basis with messages like, "hey, read my book!" are annoying. Some people tend to get a little over-excited. But, I will never begrudge people who advertise their own work in their news feed, be it on Facebook, Twitter, or wherever. It's not necessarily directed at me anyway. It may be directed at their other 5,000 friends and/or followers! And you know what - it's okay for people to be proud of their work and to want to share it with the world.
I believe my genre's audience is larger than some people think. I know for a fact that there are three generations of fantasy readers in my house. That's an age range from teens to sixties. I also know, from hanging out in the Twitterverse, that there are a ton of male readers and writers for YA fiction, including urban fantasy, which I've always thought of as hardcore chick lit. ;) So, really, you'd be surprised sometimes by who's actually reading or writing in your genre!
I have had an immense amount of support from fellow authors in and out of my genre. I have also given support to others. I think it's okay for us to have our own little community, I think it's okay to buy your fellow author's books too! Sure, we may be competition, but we might also be friends. And I might really like your book! :D
So, tell me what you think. Do you think it's cool to have writing communities, to be friends with fellow authors, and talk about your various works among one another or do you take the "we are competitors" route and avoid other authors and their books?
There was a recent thread on the Kindleboards
that has been censored into oblivion about authors helping each other out with "Likes" on Amazon. Allow me to give a little information here for those who aren't aware of what this means.
When you look at books (and other items) on Amazon there is a "Like" feature which enables you to promote that item via Facebook, Twitter, or e-mail. There are Indie authors who are exchanging "Likes" with each other's books in order to (theoretically) bump their book up in searches. There are also "Tag" exchanges and "review" swaps.
Tagging is where you list several keywords about a book so that when someone searches for those key words that book will pop up in the search list. If you are web savvy you know this is similar to what is done for websites. In theory, the more tags you have, the more visible your book will be when searches are done using those key words.
Every author wants their book to be highly visible. Our first goal, as an author, is to have people reading what we wrote. The secondary goal is to make money off of the time that has gone into all the writing, editing, formatting, promotions, etc. Authors who don't have a major publishing house behind them have to get creative. Let's face it, many of us don't have the advertising dollars that major publishers have to throw around. We don't have the big names to lean on to get the word out. That being said, there are tag exchange threads on forums, there are "like" exchanges, and there are even review exchanges (where authors read each other's books and review them).
Before I get into that ethical debate and censorship, I'd like to point out where I stand on all this. I am an author, a reader, and a reviewer. It's important to remember, in my stance, that I am all three. When I make decisions for my own books, and for the reviews that I choose to do or choose not to do, it is made with all three of those things in mind.
If I join a "tag" exchange, how does that affect me as an author? It possibly pushes my books, as well as some fellow Indie authors' book, higher in the search results. Is that good for my book? Yes, it is more visible. Is it unethical for other authors to "tag" information about a book they haven't read just to help someone else out? That is one of the questions that was being debated on the Kindleboards recently in the writer's cafe.
My answer in short, NO! Now, here's why...
I have been an avid reader for a very long time. I was reading the likes of Stephen King by the time I was in third grade. Long before there was a venue for reviews online, I was telling people about my latest reads, as well as the books I looked forward to reading in the future. I was, in effect, telling people about books I had not read. I was telling them what I knew (basically verbal tags) of books I had not read, yet. I still do this today. If I see an interesting book cover that pulls me in and I read the blurb and think, 'man, I've gotta read that book!" Then, I tell people about it, long before I ever read it. And I will tell people what I eventually thought of it after I read it too. I consider tagging people's books with key phrases and words as the same thing. I am telling you, not that I have read this book, but about some simple key words that describe it. If you really like books about vampires and "BOOK A" is all about vampires, the tags should lead you there. When I know a friend likes books about pirates I tell them about the pirate books that I come across. It doesn't mean I have read that book, just that I am pointing out that this is about pirates and you may want to glance it over and see if it's something you would buy. That is what tags do. Tags are not reviews. You do NOT have to read a book to tag it. Just as I did not have to read that pirate book to know that it was something a friend might like. I've been telling people about the books, "Wither" and "Divergent" for a while now. I haven't read either in full yet. I know about what I read in the blurb and I basically regurgitate that information to people who may also be interested. Again, this is a form of "verbal tagging," in my opinion.
As an AUTHOR:
- Tagging will possibly lead people to my books who may not have discovered them any other way - GOOD
- Tagging will tell some readers that they may not like my books (not everyone likes paranormal) - GOOD (Yes, it is good because I don't want someone who really won't like my book to read it and leave a bad review just because it's something they don't like - normally wouldn't read. I want my readers to know exactly what they are getting and tagging helps with that.)
As a READER:
- Tagging lets me know exactly what I am getting into, generally they tell me genre, the types of characters I might find, and some of the themes of the books. If I don't like insects and I see a tag of "insect infestation" I know this book may not be for me. If I see vampires and paranormal tagged, I think, 'hey, I need to check this out further.'
- Searches have lead me to some of my favorite books, if tagging helps with those search results - please, everyone go tag as many books as you can! I want to be able to find them all easier!
As a REVIEWER
- My points as a reviewer as similar to the reader, for obvious reasons. I want to know that this book is in a genre I love to read before I try to do a review.
- I take requests for reviews, but many of the books I review I do based on random searches where I find books that look interesting to me - I check tags to make sure the book is a good fit!
- As a reviewer I tag my blogs with specifics too, if the book I am reviewing is a young adult horror short story anthology then I am going to tag with YA, horror, Short stories, Reviews, and books so that people who come to my blog can find the reviews for what interests them. I feel that online stores should work the same way. I want to be directed to the books that I want to read, without the tags - it's that much harder.
- Tag exchanges introduce me to books by authors that I haven't heard of before. My TBR list has been doubled based on tag exchanges with other authors. That is a very good thing for those authors who are not only going to get a sale from that tag exchange, but possibly a review as well!
The "LIKE" Button is a very similar feature to me. I said it earlier in this blog, I tend to recommend that friends check out books that I THINK they may like based on the information I have on hand. I am very upfront with whether I have or have not read said book. I am not perpetrating a lie of any sort. I am not telling people that I have read this book and love it (unless I did and I do). I am simply stating hey, this book looks interesting, go check it out and decide for yourself if you will like it. That is what the LIKE button is, in my opinion. If i want to know what people really thought after reading a book I am not going to look at how many "likes" the book has, I am going to read the reviews! When I advertise something on my own personal Facebook or Twitter accounts, I usually do so with a targeted audience in mind and I always let people know if I have read a book or if I just thought it looked interesting. Either way, the author of said book is getting the benefit of my word of mouth. Their book just got a shout out whether it's a 'hey this looks cool' or a 'hey I read this, it's great.' No matter what I say, informed consumers will go check that book out before clicking the "buy now" button. They will check out the cover, read the blurb, check out tags and reviews, maybe even read the sample chapters, and make an informed decision before purchasing. My suggestion may have gotten them there, but the author/book information is what will eventually sell them!
So, when the question of ethics popped up on the Kindleboards recently, I was actually in awe. I have to suppose that these same people who are against authors promoting each other through "tag" and "like" exchanges have never said to a friend, "hey, that book looks like it might be pretty good." Because their argument for ethics is that this should never be done unless you have already read the book and really do like it. I can't tell you the number of books I have ended up buying based on someone saying, "hey, this one looks like it might be good."
Personally, when I walk into a book store with friends or family, that is exactly what we do. We browse, we discuss what looks good to us, we take notes on which books to add to our "to buy later" lists, because I can never afford to buy every single book I want at the same time. One of us will say, "oh, I like this, it looks interesting" and so it goes on the list. "Oooo, look at this one!" It's the same as me pressing "LIKE" on Amazon. It's the same as me sharing on my Facebook a book I haven't read yet, but one that caught my attention and made me want to take a closer look. I do the same thing with movies, games, electronics, etc. Where, oh where is the ethical dilemma in that scenario?
AS A REVIEWER: I never review books that I don't like. This is where my "as an author" comes into play. If I don't like a book, I will just tell the author (if they are available) what I liked and didn't like about it and let them know that I can't do the review because it would not be positive. Why don't I write negative reviews? Because reviews are personal opinions. I may hate your book, but there is someone else out there who may love it. I do not want to put on permanent record how much I hated your book, because that negative review may chase away a person who truly would have loved it. I will tell people when I love a book, because it can't hurt the book or author. Besides, when I love a book, I will scream it from the rooftops. I will tell anyone who will listen. I will especially tell the people who I know read within that genre.
So, that brings me to the "review" exchanges. I have reviewed books and had authors turn around and review mine too. I have offered to do review exchanges before, but I never give a good review of a book for any form of payment. That is to say, even if I agree to a review swap, it is with the understanding that if I don't like your book I won't review it. I will tell you why I didn't like it and I expect the same consideration and honesty in return for my own books.
That is the only ethical issue I see worth talking about when author exchanges are discussed. If you agree to "swap" reviews then do so with the full knowledge that someone may not like your book. I tell people who read my book that I want to know their honest opinion. If I gave them a glowing a review and they hated my book, I'm cool with that. It's not for everyone. I will not compromise my reviews of other books just because you gave me a glowing review either. Doing so would result in an ethical violation for me. If you've read a review here at Moonlit Dreams, then you have read my honest opinion.
If you see (somehow) that I have "Liked" a book on Amazon or know that I have "tagged" a book on Amazon, Shelfari, or Goodreads, but you don't see a review yet, you can rest assured I have not read it, but thought it looked interesting (either for myself or someone I know). If you see my "To Be Read" list on any of those sites, you can rest assured I found something about that book interesting and I plan to read it eventually. I consider my TBR list to be just a step higher than me hitting the "LIKE" button on Amazon.
Sometimes, I think people want to see the negative in everything. Sometimes, I think in making rule after rule for behavior and conduct in the cyber world, people forget what they do in their day-to day lives. If you have no problem looking at a book (movie or anything else) and tapping the person next to you (be it friend, family, or complete stranger) and saying, "hey, this looks like it might be good" then why on Earth would you have a problem with someone doing that in cyber-land with a "LIKE" button?
OH - and I almost forgot before signing off, I'm not sure why that thread that I mentioned disappeared from the Kindleboards. Perhaps, (and I really hope this is true) I simply lost the thread somewhere and this is a case of operator error on my part. I certainly hope it wasn't a sign of blatant censorship from the administrators who saw an ethical violation where others did not, but alas, I am not privy to these things. So, I will simply say this, as an author it astounds me that other authors would seek to censor their own. Is this what intelligent adults do in lieu of book burnings these days? Do we now decide that if someone has a difference of opinion with us that we should just shut them down and make sure the rest of the world doesn't get the chance to hear it? Now, there - there, my friends is the real ethical dilemma.
You don't have to agree with me, and I welcome comments from everyone - no matter which side of the fence you sit on. My final say is this, as far as reviews go - they should be honest and you should have read the book before doing one. The "LIKE" button doesn't necessarily mean you have read the book, just that (like in a store) you may look at it and find it interesting and pass it along to those who would like it, or add it to your TBR list. Tagging is helpful to everyone! You don't need to read the entire book to know the blurb says it's about vampires, witches, and a retro-virus that may save humanity from itself (or whatever). Tagging helps readers find books, it helps authors sell books, and it's just plain smart!
Censorship because you don't like someone's opinion is never cool though!
*EDIT: Just to update, the aforementioned post has suddenly reappeared on the boards again. Perhaps it was just hidden for a while. ;)
What do you do when you grow up having Déjà vu type dream/reality experiences that, while cool, scare the crap out of you?
If you're me, you turn it into a book, but not just any book. I suppose that is where this blog begins, with my dreams that used to come true. A fellow author recently read my book and she wanted to know first of all if I was a witch because after reading my book, she really thought I must be. And then she asked how I came up with the idea for my book.
I have said before in an interview
that the book came out of a dream I had, and it did. There is a longer story to it than that and it goes back to my younger years when I would dream conversations that would happen the next day. I would dream entire days that would happen the following week. And I dreamed of an accident that really happened. People call it Déjà vu. I know where it came from, my dreams. I have always had really vivid dreams. I have read books, watched programs, and heard tales of people only dreaming in black and white and I have always scoffed at the idea. I mean, when I dream I get dropped into the middle of a very bright and colorful kind of world. In my nightmares snakes are all colors and they are out to get me! In my best dreams I can watch the sunset from so many different places in the world, and some not of this world, and almost tangibly feel the beauty of the colors around me. I suppose I am a very different person, indeed.
I often wondered, when I would experience an episode of Déjà vu type dreams, if I was time traveling while I thought I was sleeping? That would be cool, and if so I wish I were more scientific so I could control it better and go grab those damn lottery numbers ahead of time! That hasn't worked out for me so far! What used to happen, and what inspired Caislyn Vadoma in my book was that I used to have these dreams. I would remember having them, and then they would happen. It could have been something as simple as a conversation I was having with my friends at our lockers in school. But the one that has always stuck with me, the one that really got me thinking and scared the pants off of me, was the reoccurring dream in which my dad got in a car accident.
The dream started out, at first, with my dad asking me to head to Virginia (we lived in northeastern North Carolina then) with him to go pick something up. I would go with him and on the way back we would be on a country road passing a sign on the side of the road, going through a curve, and then the car would veer off the road for some reason. CRASH!
I had this dream repeatedly for nearly a month. I told my mom at one point and I told my friends about it, because I wasn't getting sleep. This dream was so real that I could feel my adrenaline spike each time that car crashed. As the month went on, the dream changed a bit. Mind you, after having this dream, I was afraid to now get in my dad's little commuter car he had at the time. So, the dream changed. I was no longer in the car. I was just an out of body observer watching as this accident played out.
Right around a month after I started having these dreams my dad was in a car accident. Luckily, he wasn' hurt. When I got to see the actual crash site - well I can't describe the emotions that go along with seeing the exact place that I had dreamed about. It was with that emotion, that feeling of helplessness, that years later I would dream into my character, Caislyn.
A friend and I had been talking about my dreams and how I didn't have the Déjà vu dreams as much any more. I went to bed dreaming of dreams. I dreamed that instead of just remembering them when I woke up that I would go into some auto-sketching fit in the middle of the night and be able to have evidence of my dreams laid out before me. That idea probably also came from the fact that I have on numerous occasions wished on shooting stars for the ability to plug my computer into my brain at night to record the "blockbuster movies" that play there sometimes! Either way, out of that scenario - Caislyn was born. Along with her was the knowledge that she was not human and that the "other than humans" had come out of hiding and were walking openly amongst us mere mortals!
I had originally intended for Birthrights to be a first person point of view alternate history/urban fantasy. I got a big case of writer's block at one point when I was trying to piece it all together and I took it to a friend of mine, Jennifer L. Oliver. We started bouncing ideas. Jennifer didn't like writing in first person. She couldn't do it. We all have our own writing styles that we are comfortable with. So, I scrapped everything that I had already written and started from the beginning in third person and Jaxon Delaney was born out of that re-start. The alternate history was scraped too, sort of. There is an alternate history woven into the trilogy as a whole, but it's part of the big secret the Brotherhood is keeping, so you won't know it until book three. Of course, every novel has its many incarnations before it is born. Mine was no different and it's always fun to go back and look at those early notes!
Now, I go back to the first comment/question... Am I a witch?
The simple answer is no. Not by any definition of the word. The long answer goes something like this:
I do not like organized religions. Before you balk at the idea, hear me out. I have gone to numerous churches in my lifetime. I have gone to so many variations of Christian churches that I probably couldn't name them all. They all had one thing in common, they hated each other! I used to think, how can these people who all believe in a supreme being hate each other for their differences in beliefs? Every one of us is individual. We all have our own look, our own thoughts, and here - in this thing called religion - we are chastised for believing differently.
I didn't like it. The very last church I ever went to, a Lutheran church in North Carolina, really did me in. I went with friends to try it out, and at first I was thinking, "yes, finally someone gets it!" I sat in the Sunday School class that was being held and the teacher was talking about which "other" religion they would be studying next. He went on to explain that they believed in tolerance and that they tried to learn about others beliefs so that they could truly understand. I wanted to scream from the rooftops, "Finally!" And then the letdown. The next words out of his mouth went something like this:
"It's been suggested that we talk about these Wiccan people."
I can already hear the tone going awry.
"I'm not sure that's appropriate talk for the church."
I'm thinking, 'WHAT?'
And then he says it, those words I have been waiting for, "I think it goes without saying that they are going against God and we just shouldn't even discuss that."
Well, that was the last church I ever went to. Here's why... Many religions preach that their God has given people free will to choose. We were made intelligent beings. We are all different. I can not bring myself to believe in a God/Goddess/Whatever that would require these free-thinking, free-willed people to all worship in the same manner or damn them for finding a different path. So, from a young age, I researched religions. I could have stood up and told those people in that church all about my favorite things about the Wiccan world, had they allowed it.
Part One: (From the Wiccan Rede) "An Ye Harm None, Do What Ye Will"I have always loved that line! I think it sums up how we should live perfectly!
Part Two: The Wiccan Hand-fasting ceremony (marriage ceremony) where two people's hands are bound together and instead of promising "until death do us part" they promise "for as long as we both shall love." That just seems a little more realistic to me.
I have always likened "An ye harm none, do what ye will" to the Golden Rule, "Do unto others as you would have done unto you." I think that, in essence, they mean the same thing or at least were meant to mean the same. In my eyes, those two things (and there are more examples) have always stuck with me as what I would like to incorporate into my own beliefs. I have also taken the beautiful things from many other religions and put them together in my own little belief package! So, while I can not claim a single religion of my own, I say I practice a worldly spirituality that is perfect for me. In doing so, I have done research - lots of research! So, while I am not a witch I definitely know how to portray one. And now, I am going to tiptoe out of the heavy subject area that is religion. We are all inspired everyday by the things we live through, the things we accomplish, and the failures we meet with. Sometimes those things we live through lend themselves to a creative outlet. For me, The Awakening Trilogy was born.
I love reading Tracey Hansen's blog, Tracey Hansen Will Write For Food
. It never fails to make me smile! She has nominated me for The Versatile Blogger Award. Thanks so much Tracey! If you haven't stopped in to check her blog out go do it.
The rules for this award are as follows:
1. Thank and link to the person who nominated you.
2. Share seven random facts about yourself.
3. Pass the award along to 5 new-found blogging buddies.
4. Contact the winners to congratulate them.
And now, *insert drum roll* here are seven random facts about me:
1 - Procrastination isn't my middle name, but it probably should have been. I have it down to an art!
2 - My right index finger is actually crooked from all the actual writing I did when I was younger - you know before these new-fangled electronic devices. If you thought computers where bad because they caused carpal tunnel syndrome, just imagine all the crooked-fingered people who would be walking around if we still used pencil and paper for everything! ;)
3 - I can be a bit abrasive, says the people who I insult without knowing it. I don't sugar coat things. I tell it like it is and let the chips fall where they may. If you "CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH" you probably shouldn't stick around! Yes, that was a partial geeky movie quote and I'm cool with that.
4 - I believe in Karma, but I also think Karma needs a helping hand some times, because it can be too damn slow!
5 - I have a love/hate relationship with my first book. There are days when I think it's great (although in need of better editing, I admit) and there are days when I want to shoot it and put it out of its (and my) misery. I suppose I am not alone in feeling that way though.
6 - I abuse punctuation and should be punished for it. Dashes and ellipses just leap from my fingertips at their own whim. It really isn't my fault. I think I have a disorder!
7 - I could be perfectly cool with being a hermit, although I am addicted to social networking sites. Just like Starburst, I am a contradiction!
Now that you know all that useless information about me, here are my nominees for The Versatile Blogger Award:Blog it Out Bitch
by Nina PerezNo One Can Own Your Soul
by Stephanie StebbinsHere There Be Monsters
by Toby TateThe Sweetie Chronicles
by Sara CannonSteve Draws Stuff
by Steven Novak
* Originally posted on Blogger Saturday, May 14.
I suppose it's a boon to my writing that I have so many personalities living inside my head. They all get to come out and play as various characters. Growing up with all those voices wasn't easy. Not that I ever grew up! The voices have just found new and creative ways to express themselves.
Ever since I was a kid the one constant in my life has been my passion for writing. Along the way I also had many other passions. I wanted to be a marine biologist, a journalist, a lawyer, a veterinarian, and about a billion other things that grabbed my interest along the way. What I tend to forget is that I am a writer and I can turn myself, or rather the characters I develop into any one of those things. Essentially I can live that life vicariously through my stories and the characters that inhabit them.
It was when I made that realization that something clicked with me and those voices began to calm a bit. They are still there, egging me on to be this or be that. The difference is, now they are organized and they know they just have to wait their turn and I will eventually create a life for them on the page.
I also came to the realization that any normal human being hearing me talk about the various voices and personalities in my head would quickly jump to the assumption that I must be off my meds. No, I am not schizophrenic. After hearing different, yet similar tales from other authors out there I have come to believe I suffer from another malady altogether. Creative minded people are just different. We have our quirks and we can fit in with the normals out there, but I think there is something different about us on a cellular level. I am positive that some day one of the people in my brain will conduct a study on this very thing to prove my point, but until that day - it's my theory!
On a final note - just remember - the characters you love so much from your favorite book, tv show, or movie were all once part of the craziness residing in someone's head! Happy reading!