The June Book Cover of the Month Begins!

The June Book Cover of the Month Begins!

June’s bracket has 30 new covers and the top two runners up from last month, The Lost Travencal by C.M. Jobe and The Other One by Amanda Jay are also back for their deserved second attempt at winning.

Last month, we went with a single tournament in which voters could vote through all the rounds at one time. Since it broke the record for most overall votes, I’m giving it another shot. I still feel it was taking a lot of energy though, so this month’s bracket will only be one week long. To make it work, I need your help. Please vote and share as much as possible to get people a chance to pick their favorite.

As always, I’d appreciate it if you tag the authors and artists if you know them. I try to tag or friend every author I can, but sometimes it’s hard to track someone down. Max participation is a huge deal to me. The more people who vote, the more recognition these authors and artists receive, and I want this to be as legitimate as possible.

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Image taken from Pixabay.

If you are the author, let’s remember to be good sports! 1) Please feel free to message or contact me at any time. 2) Please feel free to like, share, text, ask for support, and call everyone you know. I absolutely want max participation. However, if you’re going to offer giveaways or prizes, please offer them for voting, not just voting for you.

Also, while your summoning your army of voting soldiers, please make sure you ask them to vote in every match. Part of the idea of this is to get exposure to as many artists and authors as possible. By all means, if you can get 1,000 people to vote for your book, do it. Just please also send some eyeballs to the other matches.

A final note to authors and artists: I currently have links to the books’ Amazon pages. If you’d prefer I switch that link to sign up for your newsletter or like your social media page or whatever, just send me the link and let me know. I want this to help you. I want this to be as helpful as possible, so whatever you need me to do to facilitate that, just let me know.

I hope you keep having fun. Please, vote, share, and discuss as much as possible.

All you have to do now is head over here to vote!

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Book Review: Creating Character Arcs by K.M. Weiland

Book Review: Creating Character Arcs by K.M. Weiland
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This cover image was taken from Amazon for review purposes under fair use doctrine.

I’ve recently started eating more greens thanks to my friend the Quintessential Editor. (I’m pretty sure he recommended this book.) This book was something I read to help me with outlining more.

Creating Character Arcs: The Masterful Author’s Guide to Uniting Story Structure, Plot, and Character Development, does a few things that I’m a big fan of.

The first thing I’m a fan of is the case studies. Each arc description is summarized and supported with examples to help illustrate how such a plot plays out in different movies. I should explain that this book is a bit different from what I’d call plotting.

In plotting, you’re marking the key plot points and events in a story. This is so readers see progression in the overall narrative. I’d wanted to improve my development of characters as they progress through the plot points. This novel did that. Weiland breaks down three types of arcs: The positive change arc, the neutral change arc, and the negative change arc. She breaks negative change into three more I can’t recall off the top of my head. The case studies and benchmarks she provides are things I plan to pull out while outlining my next main project and editing whatever I’m working on. I think understanding these types of character arcs is a must for writers. How you feel about them and how you apply those thoughts is as unique as the storyteller in my opinion, but understanding them matters.

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This image and the feature image were pulled from K.M. Weiland’s website for review purposes. As I’m trying to recommend her book, I’m hoping she’ll forgive the use of these images.

Another thing I’d like to highlight is the idea of “The Lie Your Character Believes.”  That resonated with me. I won’t go into it here because 1) I fear copyright and 2) I think authors, especially those who feel they struggle with outlining, should give this book a read. I actually listened to the audio edition, and that was super helpful for a guy like me.

I’m less inclined to be entirely beholden to some of the more rigid benchmarks. Weiland gives specific percentage marks for each point of the story. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I completely disagree, I just don’t know that I’d be that militant about where certain shifts in the story happen. What I will say is those benchmarks are great guides, but stories need a bit of leeway.

What I intend to do with this book and information is weave some of the elements of this book’s character plot points with my plotting.  This should keep the sense of progression my stories have (which I feel are solid) and give me a way to plan the emotional journey of my characters a little more carefully.

Creating Character Arcs is a great outlining tool that provides informative case studies for each type of arc. Authors or aspiring authors should pic this up and add it to their toolbox of story building tools. I’m a fan of “how-to” books that are this simple to understand and through in presentation. I can’t say enough about those case studies!

Thanks for reading,

Matt

 

A 3-Star Review for Caught

A 3-Star Review for Caught

Greetings all,

caught-front-coverI just wanted to share a bit of good news.  Caught has a new three-star review up on Goodreads. I’m always overjoyed at any review. I say it, and I mean it every time. Please feel free to look here to see the latest opinion on my work.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

It Was Indeed an Awesome Con!

It Was Indeed an Awesome Con!
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This is me speaking at my panel on the pitfalls of self publishing. Photo by Peggy Trujillo.

I’ve had a few days to rest (at least a little), and I think I’ll be back to work in another day or two. It won’t be long at all before my next event, which is Shore Leave. I’ve just learned bout some more opportunities coming my way, so stay tuned for that. With that said, I wanted to give you all a bit more insight as to how AwesomeCon went.

First off, some special thanks.  The first must be my helpers. They get the chance to attend the event and have some fun, but they have to help me sell books and give me periodic breaks. Events like this take a ton out of me as it is, and I wouldn’t be able to do them without help, so I’d like to offer special thanks to Peggy Trujillo and Keith Simmons.   They made it so I could step away when I wanted. They made it so I could attend my panel (more on that later), and they made it possible for me to check a few items off the bucket list (yes, more on that later, too).  A note about Keith, turns out, his cosplay costume was well liked by the AwesomeCon folks. He made their list of favorite costumes.

Next I’d like to thank Andrew Hiller.  He actually joined me at my table this year. Teaming up with him gave me another person to talk to. I’ve read A Halo of Mushrooms, and A Climbing Stock is on my TBR. It was a pleasure working with him, and I want to make sure I say thanks for sending some traffic my way and keeping me company.

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E.A. Copen speaks about self publishing during the first day of AwesomeCon 2017. Photo by Peggy Trujillo. 

Last, but in no way the least, is the new group of friends I made during my panel. I didn’t have anyone to be on my panel with me, and I truly wanted those in attendance to get the most out of the experience. So I approached a group near my table and asked if they’d care to join me.  They call themselves the Awethors, which is a clever name if I do say so myself.  They were a super group of people to meet.  Jeffery Cook, D.R. Perry, and E.A. Copen were fantastic additions to the panel, and they made it a huge success.  I had several people come up to me and tell me they loved it. I owe that success to them.  Thank you all for joining me.

For those interested in the marketing side of things, this is the spot you should be interested in. Jeffery wrote a book called, “Working the Table, An Indie Author’s Guide to Conventions.” I can’t wait to dig into that. I brought around 300 business cards, 75 bookmarks and a ton of QR-Code cards I’d made a while back. I should have brought more of the bookmarks and business cards. I ran out of those on the first day, and I think they were effective. All told, I sold about 10 more books than I’ve ever sold. Caught finally gained some traction, and I’m hoping readers start posting reviews soon. I’m also nearly sold out of soft-cover editions of The Journals of Bob Drifter. I’m proud of the fact that I sold enough product to make up the table, gas, new books (sorry, TBR pile), and parking. By any standard, that’s a success. I’ll admit I didn’t reach my super goal, but I’d still call that weekend a success.

Me AwesomeCon 2017I think my favorite part of the event was having people approach me and tell me how much they liked my work. I posted about that earlier, but I can’t say enough what it means to me for people to show their appreciation.  A lot of those conversations gave me some much needed motivation to stay true to my dream and keep at it. It’s amazing to think anyone would take time out of their day to stop by and just say they liked my books. Thank you!

A note on the value of reviews: I had a large number of people who spoke to me about my book. They took a night to think on it and then came back. A lot of them said my reviews on Goodreads  made a convincing argument to try my books. I’d like to thank those who reviewed my books. I’d be ever so grateful to anyone else who’s read my work to do the same. They really do matter. If you hated them or loved them, there is no such thing as a bad review in my eyes.

Me and my signed comic
This puppy is going on the wall in my office (if I ever unpack). 

The convention wasn’t 100 percent business. Last year, I made it a point to meet Summer Glau.  This year I had a chance to meet someone who was fundamental to my dream to become a writer. If I’m being honest, Stan Lee was far too busy to do much more than sign a comic, but this Uncanny X-Men #101 is right up there with my signed copy of The White Dragon. I honestly only need one more autograph to have my own personal Rushmore of authors (ok, look, Tolstoy would be on that list, but I don’t think that’s in the cards). I didn’t pay for the photo or any of the events, but having that signature on my favorite comic ever is really special, and I’m glad I got the chance to do that.

 

It feels weird. This post is under 1,000 words, but I feel like I only scratched the surface. I wish I could talk about every conversation and every cool thing I saw, but there’s just too many. All I can do is say it really was a great time, and I can’t wait for next year!

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Some Things for which to be Grateful

Some Things for which to be Grateful
Me AwesomeCon 2017
These two came by to tell me they loved The Journals of Bob Drifter. They also wanted a sequel. While that’s not currently a plan, I did tell them there will be a book they might want to pay close attention to coming in 2019.

I’m spending a few days recovering from a productive, enjoyable, and exhausting AwesomeCon.  I’ll post more about the event later (probably next week). But since I post something every Wednesday and Saturday, I thought I’d share some achievements and milestones with you all.

The first is how successful AwesomeCon was as a whole. I met a lot of new friends. I had several readers approach me (more on that later) to tell me they liked my work, and I sold a solid number of books.  Thus far for yours truly, if I had trouble making back what I paid to have the table. I’m not consistently earning back that money plus a little extra, which I plan to use to order more books for the next event. This would have been enough of a blessing by itself, but my week has only gotten better.

I can say with pride that I now have 300 followers! Raven and Beez was my 300th follower, and I’m always overjoyed when people think enough of my goings on that they let me bombard their WordPress reader with my thoughts. The fact that I’m slowly growing followers is a motivating thing. There’s a lot of perseverance required in this line of work. It’s an evolutionary process, requiring years to build an audience and establish a rapport with true fans.  I’m simply amazed I’ve  come this far, even acknowledging how much farther I have to go.  I want  you all to know how much I appreciate you. I hope my blogs and post are useful and entertaining.

2017-02-23-bob-drifter-coverThe last thing I wanted to share with you all was a very special 5-star review for The Journals of Bob Drifter.  I was at AwesomeCon during a particularly slow hour when a woman approached me to tell me how much she enjoyed the book. Cathey was so emphatic in her praise that I didn’t really know how to react. You always hope for someone to like your work, but before she even posted this review, I genuinely felt how much she loved it. That sort of moment is what makes a lot of late hours and months of bad sales seem worth it. Just coming up and telling me what she thought was a supremely inspirational moment for me. That review just sort of enchanted the euphoria to another level.  Cathey, if you’re reading this, I can’t put into words what that meant to me. I give you my word that I’ll always push myself to tell compelling, powerful stories. I hope to introduce you to characters that are as inspirational as they are emotional.  Thank you.  I make that same promise to all of you.

As happy as I am, I will need a bit more time to recover and get back into routine. I’m still waiting on the editor to get back to me with Sojourn in Captivity and then the second edition of The Journals of Bob Drifter. I’ve started an outline for a short story revolving around Kaitlyn from Caught. I have a very ambitious goal for 2019, and I’ll have to get to work if I want to meet it.  So I’ll rest up a few days and then charge forward.  I want you all to know how much I value your comments, likes and questions. Every email or message I get is precious to me.  Thank you all and thank you for reading.

Matt

 

An Interview with the April Book Cover of the Month winner Gabriel Rodriguez

An Interview with the April Book Cover of the Month winner Gabriel Rodriguez

May_Cover_CollagelrHello everyone! It’s actually been an incredibly busy few weeks. I’m happy to say I’ve been eager to post this interview I had with Gabriel Rodriguez. As most of you know, I’ve been interview each month’s winners.  Click on each month to see those interviews. December. January. February. I wasn’t able to reach the artist for March, but here’s the announcement for it.

I am happy to have an interview for you today from the man who designed Singular,  April’s winner.

Without further delay, let’s get right to it!

Hello Gabriel! I just wanted to say congrats one more time!

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Image of Gabe provided by him and used with his permission.

First off, do you have a website? Would you be willing to allow me to post 3 or 4 of your favorite projects? If so, please attache JPGs to your reply.  Do you have an image of yourself or a logo I may use?  If so, please attach that as well.

My name is Gabe Rodriguez. I’m a creative handyman living in Seattle with my beautiful wife and three rad kids. You can see more of my work at http://radriguezinc.com/

When did you get in to art? 

I gained more of an appreciation for art after I married an artist. At the time we married she was studying art in college and she helped open my eyes to museums, the theatre, we even sat in the nose-bleed seats watching an Opera performance. To this day (almost 14 years later) we still love going to museums and are very much inspired by the art of others.

How long have you been creating covers?

Believe it or not, Singular is actually my first book cover design.

What got you started in creating covers?

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The cover to April’s winning cover provided for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine. 

Designing book covers has been a long time coming. I spent over 10 years as a freelance photographer. It was only in the last two years that I started to focus on design. I was fortunate to work with a good friend and talented designer who brought me under his wing and taught me a lot about design.

One of the ways I learned design was studying book covers with him. He encouraged me to keep a file of screenshots and iPhone pics of inspiring covers. So when I was approached by Zack to design the cover for Singular it was fun to go to my inspiration files and study what others have done and fuse that with the story and meaning behind the book.

Do you prefer one medium over another?

I still love photography and I think in pictures a lot. I’m very much intrigued by digital illustration. It keeps me up at night. Either working on drawings of my own or going down rabbit trails of various artist portfolios and Instagram feeds.

Do you have someone who inspired your own work? If so, who? Why?

I love the creativity of folks like Brad Montague (Montague Workshop) whose work makes me feel that art and creativity can change the world.

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A book cover by Peter Mendelsund posted for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

In terms of book covers, I’m a big fan of Peter Mendelsund and Daniel Gray. I’m in awe of their seemingly effortless designs that pique interest, convey meaning, and make you think.

In illustration I love the work of Don & Ryan Clark of Invisible Creature and artist Jean Jullien. They create characters and build worlds that blow my mind. In a similar way I’m inspired by authors like Zack in their ability to create a world of their own.

What makes you choose to work with an author or not?  What do you look for in a great client? 

I haven’t had to make this choice with authors yet, but in photography and design it usually comes down to looking for clients that are passionate about their work, can bring some good ideas to the table, and then trust me to execute a concept that will serve them well. Obviously it would be amazing if every project had an endless budget and a deadline that would allow for research and experimentation. But in the end, creatives love to create. Let us do that for you and we’ll love you.

What are some of your pet peeves about clients?

I’m a pretty easy going guy so not a lot comes to mind. I don’t love having to educate clients on importance and realistic costs of particular things, but I feel it’s an important part of the job. If I could pass anything on, it would be to value the work of others in the same way you want others to value your work.

What would an author need to do to work with you? Do you have a link to your standard rates, or do you negotiate fees by author?

Being relatively new to (book cover) design, I don’t have a standard rates page. I’d love to work with talented authors both new and old. The only requirement for me is passion and ideas, I can take it from there. I understand that there are a range of budgets and projects so rates depend on complexity and vary from project to project.

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Image of Zack Hubert taken from his Amazon page for review and promotion purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

How did you come to be chosen to create the cover for Singular?

I’d like to say it was destiny because that sounds more romantic but in actuality Zack is long time friend of mine. He’s been a supporter of my work in the past and I appreciate that he took a flyer hiring me to design his book cover as it was my first one. I’d also like to think that we’re just getting started together and that this is the first of many.

Artistically, what were your goals for the cover?

We wanted something that would catch your eye and draw you in as well as a design that had some meaning and gave insight into what the book is about. The cover needs to help sell the book but also compliment the story.

How was Zack to work with?

Zack was great to work with. He brought a lot of good ideas to the table and was able to point me in the direction of art and covers that have inspired him.

Singular was such a clean, simple concept.  What inspired the idea?

I visited a lot of used book stores looking at old covers and artwork to pull ideas from. Zack also gathered a collection of book covers he liked and we those served as a mood board. I tend towards clean design so I think I was looking for a clean design solution from the start.

APRIL_Cover_Collage FinalCan you walk me through the whole process of that cover? From commissioning to final product? How did you feel about it once it was finished?

Zack asked me about designing the cover as he was nearing the completion of writing the book and I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to sit with the story for about two weeks before starting in on the design. I started with a handful of loose design concepts. The concepts varied in style but all paid homage to the book and tried to go beyond clever idea or just looking good and convey some sort of meaning as to the themes of the book. It was nice to work with a great story that had solid themes I could work into the cover design.

We agreed on a concept that would work well and then I got to work on giving it a spit shine in Photoshop. The final design ended up combining a few elements from other concepts which we both really liked. Along the way Zack had great feedback of what he liked and I was up front with my opinions as well. We worked great together to produce a final cover that I’m very proud of.

Is it your favorite cover? If so, why?

This is definitely my favorite book cover. But I’m optimistic that my next cover will be just as good! 🙂

What can we expect to see from you next?

Currently I’m working on writing and illustrating a short story book about a fat chicken. I’m excited to share it with the world soon.

Is there anything you’d like to say to readers?

I’m very inspired by authors like Zack biting off a huge project like writing a book. The discipline to sit down everyday in the face of resistance is amazing. I would add a bit of encouragement to your readers. If you are interested in design or writing books (or something equally as cool), sit your butt in a chair and do it! A little everyday. It’s something I’m trying to live out in my creative endeavors. Cheers!

Once more Gabriel, I just want to thank you for spending time to do this interview. You’re an amazing designer, and I, for one, am glad I’ve gotten to know you.  

For all you out there in the blog land, thanks for another great month of voting! The June BCOTM tournament is pretty much set up and will kick off July 1!

Thank you for reading,

Matt

The Con of Awesome! What I’m up to this weekend!

The Con of Awesome! What I’m up to this weekend!

13260113_808371919307583_171282834181363032_nHappy AwesomeCon everyone! So this convention has a special place in my heart. They were the first large con to contact me and invite me to their event. I’ve had a panel there every year (like last year) since I became published, and I have one this year as well.  I always look forward to this convention, and I’m excited about what I have going on this year.

First, I’ll have a partner in crime.  Fellow author Andrew Hiller will be with me at the booth, he’s joined forces with me. I read A Halo of Mushrooms, and posted my review here.  It’ll be nice to have someone to sit with and talk about writing with all day.  Andrew and I will be at table P19.

caught-front-coverNext, I’d like to announce a few sales. To celebrate this event, Caught will be on sale for 99 cents from now until the 19th. If you were waiting on a deal, this is your chance. Outside of the electronic universe, the hard cover for The Journals of Bob Drifter will be reduced to $30. The soft cover will be down to $20.  Caught will be it’s regular price of $9.99, but if you haven’t had a chance to grab any autographs from me, I’m bundling the books.  You can buy Caught and The Journals of Bob Drifter together for a total of $25 (with a soft cover of Bob, $35 for the hard cover and Caught). I wanted to re-release Bob before this, but it’s my own fault for giving my editor two books to edit at the same time (I’m selfish really). So reducing the price to Bob is the least I can do for those readers who want to try out my work.

As I mentioned above, I’ll be hosting a panel (actually it’ll be more of a Q & A).  It’s about the Pitfalls of Unwary Self Publishers. That’s scheduled for 5:30 June 16 in room 154.  I hope to see you all there!

AwesomeCon runs from June 16-18.  Doors open at noon Friday and close for another year at 5 p.m. Sunday.

I think that’s about it. I’m looking forward to a great weekend, and I hope to see you all there!

Thanks of reading,

Matt