Public Self/Private Self

I subscribe to a daily newsletter about the publishing industry; it is comprised of articles from both the company that oublishes the newsletter, and other industry professionals on various topics.

Today’s email included an article by a PR person (who shall remain nameless because I felt rather disguated afte reading her $.02). who listed the major mistakes authors make with regard to marketing/PR (and what she allegedly tells her clients). One of those mistakes was oversharing on social media. She emphasized that politics, religion, or even what you had for breakfast/lunch/dinner. should not be mentioned on your social media, lest an author alienate potential and current fans. In short, keep it light and fluffy.

Pause.

Now, I understand the oversharing part. Some things don’t need to be mentioned, like your cat’s yeast infection, or even your yeast infection. But authors are more than just sales numbers on a ledger sheet. We’re people. We have hopes,fears (writers moreso than others 🤣), likes, dislikes.

 I like it when my favorite authors share personal tidbits about themselves: pics from vacations, pets, favorite socks. It humanizes them and makes me even more inclined to buy their work, because they are not just robots sitting in front of a computer, churning out novels.

But to keep my thoughts silent regarding any issue that is important to me–be it Black Lives Matter or a BLT sandwich–for the sake of selling a book, does not sit right with me. And if someone doesn’t want to buy one of my books because I took a stance with which they do not agree, well…I’m not for everyone, and I wish that person well. 

It reminds me of the backlash when singers, athletes, actors, et al make their thoughts known regarding social and political issues. The mindset becomes, “Shut up and keep entertaining the masses. That’s your job, not expressing an independent thought.” Yet that is doing these people a disservice. They are human and have feelings; to try and shut them down for the sake of keeping stadiums, arenas, and theatres filled is hypocritical and oppressive.Yet many people concerned with an entertainer or athlete’s bottom line will attempt to do just that, all for the sake of making a buck (for themselves and their clients).

To paraphrase some quote that I saw on Instagram: I won’t dilute myself for those who can’t handle me at 100 proof. You shouldn’t either.

Thanks for stopping by.

CYBER WEEK SALE: 50% off ERRYTHANG!

AAAAAAGGGHHHHH! This was supposed to have been sent on MONDAY, but when I switched from “draft” to “publish” on the WordPress app, I guess the app/phone interface didn’t get the memo. Grrrr…

Anyway, here is the original post that SHOULD have gotten to you a few days ago. *sigh*

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Hi all,

I haven’t blogged in a long while because I was dealing with an ill family member, NaNoWriMo, Thanksgiving, and the imminent publication of my fourth book.

Well, the family member is better, I didn’t finish NaNoWriMo this year (only got to 27K words), T-Day is over, and my fourth novel, Stormbringer, is out as of today. WOOT!

Since it’s that time of the year where everyone and their grandmother is offering a sale, I figured I’d jump on the bandwagon. 🙂

Here ya go: my biggest. sale. EVER.

50% off (yeah, I said it), all titles through my website. Yes, that includes my newest book, Stormbringer.  Enter code CYBERTIFF at checkout.

You can find details in the latest email that went out to my mailing list (and if you aren’t on my mailing list, then what are you waiting for?)

http://eepurl.com/bHIIdL

This sale is going on all week through Saturday, 12/5. Free U.S. shipping on all orders of $10 & up. How cool is that?

For those of you who wanted to try my books but were frugally conscious, now’s your chance! And did I mention that I now offer the mass market versions of The Bastille Family Chronicles: Dominic and Blizzard: A Sebastian Scott novel? The regular price for those is $8.00 each; if you buy them this week, you can get them for $4 each.  That’s two for the price of one, which is a pretty good incentive to buy both. 😀 And the larger paperbacks, which are $14.95 each, can now be had for about $7.50! At this price, you can get all the titles and stock up for your holiday reading.

Oh, what a bargain! What a bargain for you!

And did I also mention that the books come autographed? And that they make great gifts? Just saying.

The offer is only good through my website, and ends at 11:59 pm ET on Saturday, December 5. Remember to use the code CYBERTIFF at checkout. Come through and gitchu a piece.

Thanks for stopping by.

A Review By Any Other Name…

I have noticed a trend in book “reviews”, especially by independent bloggers such as myself: they aren’t reviews so much as puff pieces: PR-worthy paeans of praise for prose that is possibly putrid.

(that alliteration just rolled off my fingers. Yay, me!)

Seriously, folks: I was a professional (read: paid by legit publications & recognized as such) book reviewer for some years. While individual writing style may vary, a proper review always–ALWAYS–includes the good and the not-so-great things about a book. And make no mistake, there is always something not-so-great about even the most bestselling and/or popular book.

I would never have gotten even one review published had I just focused on how great (or not) I thought a book was; that’s how I learned to write a review, by having my drafts sent back and rewriting them to accurately reflect concrete, objective issues in a book versus my personal feelings about the book (there is a difference, but people often confuse the two under the guise of a “review”).

The people who paid me wanted balance, as that balance was what lent legitimacy to the reviews by both authors and readers alike. And yes, I have caught hell from authors when a review wasn’t as glowing as they’d prefer (“What…what do you mean, you didn’t like XYZ in my book? How could you find fault in it? Publisher’s Weekly and Kirkus Reviews loved it! It’s on the NYT Bestseller list! It’s got over 500 five-star ratings on Amazon!  HOW DARE YOU?!”), but in the end they had to (grudgingly) admit that while the review wasn’t to their liking, it was at least fair. Plus, if an author is a true writer who wants to further hone his or her craft, the constructive criticism is necessary for future growth.

(if you’re a writer and you can’t handle folks telling you your writing sucks in some way, you’re in the wrong line of business.)

There is nothing wrong with giving a shoutout to an author when you’re digging her or his work. Our egos thank you for it. But keep it real and call the praise-only blurbs what they are: acknowledgements of fandom better suited for personal blogs and big-ups on social media, rather than a “(professional) review”.

Thanks for stopping by.

DOMINIC IS HERE! Let’s celebrate with a special sales deal!

Drum roll, please…

The second installment of The Bastille Family Chronicles is here! WOOT!

BFC Dominic cover ebook

(BTW: the title is not missing: it’s on the spine. Chuck Palahniuk used a similar setup for his novel Haunted.)

The Bastille Family Chronicles: Dominic is the story of Dominic Bastille, a transplant surgeon and one-half of the youngest Bastille siblings (he has a twin sister, Nicollette. Look for her story this summer). Dominic has relocated from Newark, New Jersey to Atlanta, Georgia for a unique professional opportunity. Unfortunately for him, his past has caught up with him…in the form of his ex-fiancee, Cecily Porter. Three years post-engagement and Cecily still isn’t over Dominic; to make matters worse, Dominic has hired Taryn McIntyre, a very brilliant and attractive game developer, to help him with his medical research, which tends to integrate a lot of technology with commonplace medical procedures and training. Of course, Dominic and Taryn start a personal relationship in addition to the business one. But Cecily is not done with Dominic..and she plays for keeps.

Read an excerpt from The Bastille Family Chronicles: Dominic

This was more fun to write than The Bastille Family Chronicles: Camille, and that’s saying something!

Read an excerpt from The Bastille Family Chronicles: Camille

In the original draft of BFC: Dominic, Taryn was a freelance journalist who specialized in healthcare, and met Dominic when she was assigned to interview him for a new healthcare magazine. But I didn’t want to be accused of writing about a thinly-disguised version of myself (I worked in healthcare for years, once upon a time, and I’m a writer, so there’s that), so I changed her to a game developer. I liked this version of Taryn better because I have interacted with quite a few female gamers and game developers on Twitter, and I am also a fan of Back Girls Code and Women Who Code. These ladies deserve some literary shine, and I hope I did them justice. I also wanted Dominic to have a romantic relationship with someone who isn’t necessarily like the women he usually dates. Taryn, with her shoulder-length, bi-colored dreadlocks (I use the term “locs” in the book) eyebrow ring, and sleeve of tattoos is not the type of woman Dominic usually goes for. Plus, she’s smarter and makes more money…definitely not Dominic’s usual wheelhouse. 🙂

While this is technically Dominic’s story, I explored some issues that have been going on with women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) fields in general, as well as entrepreneurs. Taryn is in the minority regarding her viewpoints on life and her priorities…read the book to find out exactly how.

Check it out: in honor of the release of The Bastille Family Chronicles: Dominic, I am doing a sale special: if you purchase the paperback from my website (which is autographed, BTW), you get the ebook FREE! How cool is that? Use code EBOOK at checkout to get the free ebook. This deal also applies to The Bastille Family Chronicles: Camille (BFC #1) and Blizzard: A Sebastian Scott novel (which I wrote under a pen name and is more of a suspenseful book. It is centered around Brooklyn-born, Trinidadian-raised, San Francisco-based DEA Special Agent Sebastian Scott, who was introduced in BFC Camille).

Read an excerpt from Blizzard: A Sebastian Scott Novel

Camille ebook cover  Blizzard_Cover_for_Kindle

In order to get this book/ebook deal, you HAVE to purchase the book from my website; the code doesn’t work on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Can’t choose? Check out the starter pack, which includes BFC Camille and Blizzard, since they are the first books in their respective series. Good bargain!

To recap: Buy paperback from website. Use code EBOOK at checkout. Get free ebook. Lather, rinse, repeat. 🙂 Ebooks are also available for separate purchase in epub (Apple, NOOK, Kobo, Google) and Kindle formats.

Please spread the word, and #SupportINDIEWriters. I hope you have as much fun reading it as I did writing it.  Feel free to drop me a line with your comments about the novel(s). Got Twitter? Speak your piece with the hashtag #BFCDominic (or #BFCCamille, or #SebastianScott ).

As always, thanks for stopping by.

I’m being interviewed! Sunday, 5/7, 7pm EDT

Hi all,

I will be interviewed in the Black Girl Nerds podcast on Sunday, May 7, 7 pm EDT. The interview will be hosted by Jamie Broadnax, founder and khaleesi of Black Girl Nerds. WOOT! Tell a friend or three!

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I will be on a panel of three self-published authors (I’m the lone female author), along with Thelonious Legend (Sins of the Father, the first in the Parker Girls YA series) and Kevin Wayne Williams (Everything I Know About Zombies, I Learned in Kindergarten). We’ll be talking about our respective works, and I will especially bring up The Bastille Family Chronicles: Dominic, which is the next installment in the Bastille Family Chronicles series (the first was The Bastille Family Chronicles: Camille). It drops next week! Double WOOT!

Since the podcast starts at 7 pm EDT, there’s plenty of time to listen before you dive into Game of Thrones, House of Lies, the second round of the NBA playoffs (#GritAndGrind, #GoSpursGo), or your preferred Sunday evening programming. If you’re on Twitter, make sure to hashtag it: #BFCDominic, #BGNPodcast

Also…keep your eyes and inboxes peeled next week, as I do my first-ever book giveaway for all three of my titles, It’s gonna be epic!

Thanks for stopping by.
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Stuck (pt. 2)

Back in January (I know, it’s been awhile), I posted about a bout (ha ha) of writer’s block and how reading The Ninja by Eric Van Lustbader helped me break out of it. I promised to follow up on what I meant, so here it is.

It took so long to write a follow-up because I got unstuck, then stuck again, and had to get re-unstuck. Plus, I had to indulge in my annual “holiday”, March Madness, so there was that. 🙂 Anyway, in The Ninja the main character, Nicholas Linnear, is training for a specialized form of martial arts: ninjutsu, or the art of the ninja. As part of his training, he is told to read No Rin Go Sho (The Book of Five Rings), a classic yet short Japanese military tome by Miyamoto Musashi. While The Book of Five Rings is primarily devoted to victorious sword-fighting it, as most Japanese books do, incorporates philosophical and spiritual elements. The main underlying principle to the book is adherence to the Way, which I interpret as an honorable place of spirit that is applied to every endeavor in one’s life. The Way is when a person is true to him/herself in whatever s/he does; by doing so, it’s implied that any decision made will be correct.

Study strategy over the years and achieve the spirit of the warrior. Today is victory over yourself of yesterday; tomorrow is your victory over lesser men. Next, in order to beat more skillful men…not allowing your heart to be swayed along a side-track. Even, if you kill an enemy, if it is not based on what you learned, it is not the Way. If you attain this Way of victory, then you will be able to beat several tens of men.” — The Book of Five Rings, Musashi Miyamoto

I was stuck in my writing because I lost my Way (or way). I was writing to fit myself into a marketing category, instead of just writing and figuring it out later. When I look at my first book, I see where I went wrong (and a future rewrite/re-release is still an option), and how I could have had more fun with the book. Even with the third book in the works for a late April/early May release, I’m slowly getting away from what I think I should be writing (e.g., the romance novel formula that is set forth by the Romance Writers of America) and just letting the story take me where it wants to go. That’s where the most honest writing lives, anyway.

It’s hard sometimes because the story may not be in line with what my current readers want or expect. Therein lies the rub of the published author: give the people what they want, or stay true to self? Stephen King said it best in his book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft :

“What would be very wrong, I think, is to turn away from what you know and like…in favor of things you believe will impress your friends, relatives, and writing-circle colleagues. What’s equally wrong is the deliberate turning toward some genre or type of fiction in order to make money. It’s morally wonky, for one thing…Also, brothers and sisters, it doesn’t work.” — On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, Stephen King

So here I am, finding my Way, writing what brings me joy and what may not fit into the Census-like boxes of the publishing industry. To that end, I may even abandon the whole pen name thing as well; I usually end up signing my real name out of habit, so what’s the point? The best I can do is turn out quality product, and hope that readers will (continue to) ride with me. The minimalization of book category may even help gain new readers, since they won’t automatically see a genre (e.g., romance) and think, “Nope, not for me.”

If you’re in a stuck place in your life (no matter what your profession or day job), I encourage you to go back to the beginning of when you were hopped up with excitement, when you felt, deep down, that your path was the right one for you. I encourage you to find your Way (again). And you might want to check out The Ninja; it’s a pretty cool read.

Thanks for stopping by.

Biting the Hand You Hope To Feed You

The month of February is not just Black History Month (which goes above and beyond Martin Luther King, Jr.; George Washington Carver; and Rosa Parks; but I digress): it is also #Black Comics Month, which is a celebration and awareness of comic books created by those of African descent.

To kick things off, Vixen Varsity interviewed David F. Walker , the creator of the Shaft (Dynamite Entertainment); Doc Savage (Dynamite Entertainment); Number 13 (Dark Horse Comics); The Army of Dr. Moreau (IDW/Monkeybrain Comics); and The Supernals Experiment (Canon Comics) comics. Mr. Walker talked about the state of diversity in comics in general, and the particular issues assigned to Black creators. His frustration came through, especially with this statement:

No, the biggest challenge faced by black creators is the lack of support from black fans. Last year, I was at the New York Comic Con. I can’t tell you how many black people I saw, but I’m guessing that is was well into the five figures—and that’s just one show, in one major metropolitan area. That’s to say those were the black folks at NYCC, and not the fans in Atlanta, or Southern California, or Atlanta, or wherever. But I know that is just half the fans at the show in New York had bought Concrete Park, the book would not have been cancelled. If just ten percent of black folks I see at conventions all over the country supporting creators like myself, or Alex Simmons, or Brandon Easton, or whoever I could list here, we’d all be doing better. Likewise, if more black nerds were speaking out about the murder of Darrien Hunt—one of our own—we would be taking a stand for something that really mattered. But the problem is that more of us are concerned with what’s going to happen on the next episode of Arrow, or whether or not it is okay to cast a black actor as Human Torch or Jimmy Olsen, than they are with the murder of one of our community.

Wow. Just…wow.

I must say, I was a wee bit offended on several levels. I’m especially miffed at the nerd comments earlier in the article, but I’ll leave that alone for now.

As an independently published author, I understand the rage and frustration. We have to work five times as hard to get one-tenth of the recognition bestowed by the mainstream–make that ten times if you are a writer of color, and fifteen times if you are a writer of African descent. But I also write books with no pictures, which are more legitimized within the literary canon. I’m not a comic book creator, nor do I play one on TV. I can’t speak to the unique set of challenges faced by Black comics creators. But I can speak to some of the issues addressed above, which boil down to one thing: marketing.

One of the things that bothers Mr. Walker is the Black nerd community’s focus on things that he considers flightier than the recent death of a Black man while cosplaying. While I don’t recall hearing about it, it’s entirely possible that I did and it got lost in the emotional anesthesia rendered by the spate of killings of unarmed Black men over the past year, and especially during the past few months. Mr. Walker also expresses his displeasure with the lack of support of Black comics creators within/from the black community, even going so far as to state that Black supporters could have kept a comic from shutting down due to poor sales circulation.

To all of this, I say: I. Am. Unaware. Of. You.

I don’t play video games (unless you count Bejeweled Blitz), especially of the role-playing variety. I don’t read comic books. I barely watch movie adaptations of comics. I also don’t watch shows based on comics characters, such as the aforementioned Arrow and Agent Carter. I only stumbled across #BlackComicsChat on Twitter by accident, due to a post by a participant in another group chat. In fact, I only discovered the #Blerd (Black Nerd) tribe on Twitter a few months ago, in all of its lovely, multifaceted splendor. Ditto for activities such as cosplay. These things are foreign to me, and I take umbrage that I, as a potential consumer, should be blamed for my lack of awareness, which apparently affects the bottom line of purveyors of certain creative arts.

Black comics are a relatively small subset of literature in general and Black literature in particular. While comics, video games, and the like (including associated practices such as cosplay) are venerated to nerd nirvana, there is a significant population of Blerds such as myself, as well as those of more traditional tastes, who have never picked up a comic book and who rely on the big-screen comics adaptations (e.g., Blade, Black Panther, Green Lantern) to garner awareness.

If sales are low enough that cancellation is more probability than possibility, and support is deemed practically nonexistent, then what are creators doing to improve visibility? How are you trying to reach people like me, who have not a clue about the rich and diverse presence of comics creators? Who is publicizing the outrage regarding victims like Darrin Hunt and stoking that outrage and call for reform across platforms (social media, racial, community, etc), so that it can expand and evolve past the insulated bubble of the Black comics tribe and select associates? How can you best serve as an ambassador of your world, that would make me want to visit?

As an (indie) author, I have long ago accepted that my writing may not be everyone’s cup of oolong, and I have adjusted my expectations accordingly. Likewise, I also understand that without a mainstream PR behemoth, the task falls to me to let people know about my work. If they don’t know about it, or me, then they can’t try it or buy it. Any failures in those areas are on me, and me alone.

Which why events such as #BlackComicsMonth are so important. By providing a focused showcase of Black comics and those who create them, and within the milieu of social media, there is greater exposure of a tribe that has gone relatively overlooked by those not in the know–which can be a lot of people. Perhaps if events such as this proliferate, the frustrations and blame expressed by Mr. Walker will dissipate.

Thanks for stopping by.

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