Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Life is a balancing act. We all know that and some times the best plans fall through the cracks. I hate when that happens. I'm a scheduler. I like to know what time, when, and where long before it's supposed to happen. However, that rarely happens. I live in a house with my husband, my child, two cats, seven puppies (outside) and one adult dog (also outside), but my life can get unpredictable. So can my writing. I know you've all been waiting eagerly for Mia's Waking up and Bedlam, and I hope you've all been just as eagerly waiting for my In Black and White. The thing is, our writing life kind of caught us by surprised, dragged us under, and held us hostage.

We were both contracted to write books for Ellora's Cave. Crazy, I know. But as this blog is about Self-Publishing, I'll keep that business to a minimum, because obviously, that is not part of SPE. That being said, we've both been busy trying to balance everything, and that's going to happen to you.

As an author, you don't just write one project and say 'I'm done!' Especially as an indie author. If you read any of the marketing books out there for authors, I can promise you with in the top 5 ways to market, "Write the next book." Will be one of them. Okay, well you can write the next book after you edit, spit polish and shine and release the first one, right? Well, that depends on the type of release schedule you want to have and how many series you have. Typically in the traditional author world, it takes about a year for the next book in the series to come, some times six months. And fans are willing to wait for that, especially if they love the author. It can work that way in the Indie world too, but you don't want people to forget your name.

Now, I'm not telling you to write crap and throw it out there, because you want quality, but quantity counts for something too. My point is, never stop writing, figure out how to balance your life, your kids, your husband, your work. Stop making excuses like 'I'm too busy' or 'my day job sucks the life out of me'. I get that. I do, when I wrote one of my first novels I was working three jobs. I wrote on Lunch, between shifts, and late at night, granted I was young then, but I managed. On top of that, learn to roll with the punches, sometimes you have to put a project on hold, or sometimes something unexpected happens for it. Black and White is in limbo until I hear back about something pretty specific for it. It drives me nuts, but I have to work with it.

There's an experiment in Chris Baty's No Plot, No Problem, that I thought worked great for finding time to write. Take an spreadsheet, and put times down the side of it, starting when you wake up and going to your typical bed time. Now, track what you do each hour of your day, once you've done that for a week, go back and look at it. Anything that could be consider a time waister (I.E. Playing Candy Crush on Facebook and hour before bed. Watching that TV show you're really not into, but it was on anyways.) highlight it in red. Now look at that, really look at it and you will see when you can fit writing in.

Here's a glance at my typical weekday (I normally take weekends off for more family time.):
5:30am: Get up, make husband his lunch and breakfast
6:00am: Go back to bed. (you'll see why I do this in a bit.)
8:00am: Get up with daughter, get ready for the day, make both of us breakfast
8:45am: Feed dogs and cats, make sure there are still 7 puppies.
9:00am-11:30am: Spend time with daughter, work with her on shapes and colors, play games, attempt to work with letters. (if there is any independent play time here, I use it to do chores and occasional research.) some times go to the park, that kind of thing.
11:30: Lunch time
12:00 (some times 12:15): Daughter goes down for nap, I work on what ever is on my to-do-list. (writing, editing, blogging etc.)
2:30ish: Daughter gets up from nap, so we read, chase her around, love on her.
5:00pm: Start dinner
6:00pm: Eat dinner
6:30pm: bath time for daughter
7:00pm: Bed time for daughter, work out time for mommy. (this is normally a 30 min run)
7:30pm: Shower
8:00pm-12am: Work, writing, editing, whatever is on my list. My rule is, if I'm too tired to work, I have to go to bed. I can't play games until midnight
3:00am: Get up, feed cat.

So that's kind of how my day goes, I'm sure there are little details missing, but I tend to get a lot done during the day. The point of this post? Balance your life, find the time to get shit done, stop making excuses.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Wrongness of Public Shaming (Two Parts)

My post for this week was all but done when Alex pointed something out about the source of my post… What if it wasn't 100% true, or worse what if it were just a marketing ploy… So that started the research. What we found was that not everything in some recent blog posts were true, or it was half-truths, or that if it was true there was no proof… So now I have to revise my post and really I should have known better, always check the facts. Maybe that should be my post next time. But here it is, now broken into two parts: When Trolls Attack and Two Wrongs Don't Make A Right.
Bottom line is this: Public Shaming of anyone is wrong, we have become this culture of blood thirsty vipers who like to gather in masses to abuse, shame, and verbally attack one person or a group of people we feel like we are better than. It's disgusting and in this one instance it was from both sides. Both are wrong, and no one is a winner in this little internet war.

Part One: When Trolls Attack

Anyone who's been on any sort of social media this week (yes, it is only Wednesday but whatever) has seen the brouhaha over trolls attacking authors and their fans. Even if you've missed this week's installment of “When Trolls Attack” you know you've seen at least 10 previous episodes and next week I'm sure there will be a whole new line up for us all to sit back and shake our heads at as it unfolds in our social media newsfeeds.

Haters... They're a bitch. No, seriously, they are.

We waste so much time on them, they interrupt our lives, they distract from peoples hard work, they shame people for the things they enjoy. And let's be clear, this isn't about “bad reviews” this is about people who seek out to scare, hurt, and ruin author's based on a personal bias, a rumor they've heard, a misunderstanding, or simply no good reason at all. People who spread hateful speech, threaten bodily harm, threaten sexual attacks, and lash out at not only the author, but their family, their kids, and their fans... Bottom line, it's wrong.

In the effort of being professional we all know the drill... Don't feed the trolls. Don't engage them. And by all means, don't call them out because that is what they feed on. So most people quietly suffer in silence as strangers hide behind the guise of internet anonymity and spew their hate... I can guarantee you if those people had to put their real name, a picture of themselves, and a public listing where they could be reached, they would never, and I do mean NEVER, post the shit they post. That right there tells you how cowardly they are.

But the question is, how do you, or I, or we deal with this. Don't engage seems to be the choice most people go with, others go to launching a campaign against the haters, while others sadly feel like they have no choice but quit. And no, this isn't a rant about some authors giving up. Others might post that, but not me.

The choice to stop writing and not release their work because of haters is a personal choice and only that author can choose that. Whatever he/she is going through it is his/her choice on how to handle it and in this one case they did choose to not release her book and that is okay. That said, it is human nature to want to lash out and defend ourselves, but at the same time most of us know that ranting on social media makes us look defensive and petty. It's a fine line to walk in defending ourselves when people attack our character and our creativity.

Part Two: Two Wrongs Don't Make A Right

In the case of this weeks brouhaha, a troll, "reviewer" or whatever you want to call this person, rated a book low and then had some snide comments about the author and then took to jumping on another reviewers post to make some more snide comments. We all know the type, they are doing it to get attention… Unfortunately the author responded and that lit the flames. He lashed out, the author lashed out, others came to his defense, her fans came to her defense and LINES WERE CROSSED. Everyone was spouting TOS for Goodreads to "prove" that they were right while others were wrong and it was grossly out of hand.

The only thing I can say is this: Authors, please don't respond to negative remarks. Don't have your best friend, your husband, your neighbor, or your fans respond to negative comments because it makes you and your brand look bad.

That being said, this situation has quickly snowballed out of control. Authors are jumping ship, lashing out at any low reviewer. Anyone who isn't giving them 5 Stars and a glowing review runs the risk of being labeled a troll, hater, being from a fake account.

So let's clear up a few things:

What is the definition of a Troll?
In Internet slang is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a forum, chat room, or blog), either accidentally or with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.[1]

What is the definition of a Hater?
A person that simply cannot be happy for another person's success. So rather than be happy they make a point of exposing a flaw in that person.  Hating, the result of being a hater, is not exactly jealousy. The hater doesn't really want to be the person he or she hates, rather the hater wants to knock someone else down a notch. [2]

Where in lies the difference if there is any? Does it really matter, both are there solely for bring another person down. Ruining their day. Pissing in their Wheaties. And neither is acceptable behavior.

Regardless of who is being what the cold hard facts are this, as Alex just pointed out, this is the nature of the beast. Review sites are like this. People troll them looking to say hateful things. We all know this and not every low review is a fake review, sometimes a person just doesn't like a book. It is helpful when a low star review is accompanied by a written review to help the author know what the reviewer liked and didn't like, but we all know that 9 times out of 10 you aren't going to be given any feedback.

But the worst part of all of this is that both side started threatening violence, making violent suggestion and in a community where we have so little support from the mainstream world we should not be tearing ourselves into different factions. Seriously people, have a coke and a smile and shut the fuck up. Everyone knows the old saying: If you don't have something nice to say then, take to social media, gather your pitchforks and call for the head of someone you deem less than you, which will in turn cause them to build a Frankenstein's monster out of the heads, arms, and legs, of their fandom to unleash a fury of hellfire and brimstone on the authors behalf… *head desk* Oh wait, that isn't the old saying, the old saying is this: If you don't have something nice to say then don't say anything at all. Which doesn't mean don't leave a bad review if you feel a book calls for it, but there is no reason to shame a person, imply that they are stupid and there is never any reason to threaten physical violence or harm to one another no matter which side of the fence you sit on!

So where does this leave everyone? Some will delete their Goodreads accounts, some will take to Facebook, Twitter, etc.. and some will find a good friend to vent to in private. Others will quit writing all together. It is a personal choice on how you chose to handle it or if you choose to handle it at all. My stance, for myself is the same as it has always been in my previous posts about remaining professional and branding. I will quietly find my way to Alex's inbox and vent in private.

Authors, don't feed the trolls… And don't let your fan base or friends feed them either.

And in conclusion here are some wise words on the nature of Haters, thanks T.O.M. and Toonami:

"Well, I guess it is time to hate on… Haters
We’ve all got one.
It’s the person who says “That sucks.” No matter what you’re doing.
Now this isn’t the same as criticism. Criticism serves a healthy function.
Sometime it can even help you get better. That’s because it comes from a good place.
Hating, however, is when someone just wants to cut you down.
They wanna watch you fall. Toonami’s had a lot of criticism and a lot of haters in our time.
We welcome the criticism, because this is a work in progress.  And we wanna hear what you guys have to think because we love you.
But when it comes to haters, ol TOM learned his lesson a while ago. You can’t let them get to you. So keep your head up, keep doing what works for you.  And don’t be afraid to listen to your critics, but always, always ignore the haters. We all deserve better."

So there ya go: Don't be afraid to listen to your critics, but always, always ignore the haters. We all deserve better.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Author Bios

So this week Mia and I had the challenge of writing author bios for another project. I hate writing author bios. They often come out cheesy, fake, or make you sound arrogant. That being said I thought I'd share a bit of insight I've gained through writing them.

The instructions we received included: Do not include information that could be used for stalking (not the exact words here) like where you live (we were told not even the town), do not use information that could be considered outdated. (Like age)

Okay, easy enough, but when you are using a pen name, and you don't want both bios to read the same or give out important information. What do you do? How do you talk about yourself without sounding pompous and asinine? My advice? Have fun with it, mention your writing, your other books. However don't claim that you're the best at something, or are fresh, or give a new look. Things like that are for the reader to decided.

That being said, if you are actually (and I have to put that in there, because their are authors who claim it and aren't) best seller, mention it! That is worth the bragging rights. Won awards? Mention it! If you have a ton, be selective pick the ones the readers are most likely to know. You don't want your bio long and drawn out. You want something that's quick to read and something that catches the reader's attention.

My favorite line from my new bio reads "Her preferred genre is paranormal romance with a flare for things a little less vanilla." That tells my readers, at least those who know the term, that my sex is going to be a bit more rough and they may even dare to hope for BDSM. The rest of it tells them when I started to write, where I write (In my office where the coffee is endless and chocolate magically appears ;) )

So again, my advice is to have fun with it. Readers like to know that authors have a sense of humor and have personalities. You don't want a boring bio, you don't want one that makes you sound pompous, you don't want one that gives promises that are more opinions than anything. My formula for writing bios? Simple, Place, Time, Fact about your writing (genre, other books you have, best sellers), something fun. My last part reads Can be bribed with coffee and sweets.

Good luck!