I’m always happy to announce reviews for my work, and it’s even cooler when it’s a good one. I found this review for The Journals of Bob Drifter on Goodreads. Writers typically have to challenge themselves. Original ideas are a debated myth in these days, so finding ways to stand out or be unique are important. I appreciated the reader calling Bob ” … different than any other book … ”
I’m still plugging away on Discovered’s outline while I’m saving up money to get Betrayed edited. Since I’m such a fan of music, I thought I’d do a little exercise where I picked out title soundtracks all of my books.
So one thing that I don’t do very much is pay attention to lyrics, at least not where soundtracks are concerned. I think it could be a bit boring to narrate a novel to music anyway. What I listen for is for a song to match the feel and tone of one of my projects. I love this song, and I think the tone is perfect. I like the sound. I like the tempo. I’d be thrilled if Bob were to be made a series (not a movie!), and this song were selected as a title soundtrack.
So this is a band I’ve been meaning to endorse for a while. Honestly, in my dream scenario, Halocene does an original song for Oneiros, but this song is pretty close to what I’d want. I honestly think the lyrics match up okay too (but don’t hold me to that). This song has the change-up in tone and emotion that any soundtrack song for Caught would have to have.
So yeah, I’m double-tapping this, but the song works, and I really do like it. The tone shift from Caught to Repressed is something I went into with open eyes, and I wouldn’t change it. This song has that coming of age feel, and Repressed is more or less a coming of age story. Kaitlyn has some ways to grow, but the woman she becomes at the end of this saga is one I’ll love for as long as I’m alive. So this little Y-A, female-lead story has a song that’s more or less an anthem for such a mindset. It’s not where Kaitlyn ends, but it is where she was at that time in her life.
Perception of War is my Space Opera, and I can’t imagine a space saga ever happening without John Williams composing the soundtrack. Perception of War isn’t as romantic as Star Wars, but I’d trust Mr. Williams to apply the proper mood to each scene and nail a great opening credits song.
Stealing Freedom: The Pretender by Foo Fighters
So this is probably the one I’ve thought the least about. I’m not even sure why. But when I thought about what I would want if Stealing Freedom were made into a movie, I thought, “What band do I like no matter what mood I’m in?” Answer: “The Foo Fighters.” They always rock out, and this song fits wonderfully.
What are your thoughts? Are there any songs that you think would go well with one of my books?
Do you remember your high school yearbook? More specifically, do you remember that list of most or Mr. and Ms? I thought it might be fun to talk about a few of my characters using that concept as a twist. I’ve never really tried something like this, so hopefully, it’s fun!
Most Clever: Ardelia Sabine, Stealing Freedom/Power of Words. This isn’t even close! I think a number of my characters have a degree of wit, but Ardelia is on another level. She’d be a great villain if her motives were different. She’s always thinking and planning. Where power or just plain grit get some characters through, Ardelia is a throw back to the characters who love it when a good plan comes together.
Most Sympathetic: Elele’Therios, Sojourn in Captivity. This was a close race in a few ways, but Elele takes it for me. I think this will be controversial to those who’ve read all my work, but I stand behind it. I still think the first chapter in her story is the best first chapter I’ve written to date. There’s so much that happens to her that I don’t think anyone could read it and not hope for better things for her.
Most Dramatic: Sal Veltri,Caught. It was a close contest between him and Elele, but Sal is pretty dramatic if I’m being honest. He’s a man of passion in a lot of ways, and his emotions are always to the max, which is why I gave him this title.
Character I’d Most Like to Hang Out With: Driscoll Navin, The Journals of Bob Drifter. The guy’s hilarious! He’s hundreds of years old, so he’ll have a bunch of stories to tell. I also happen to know he’s generous, so he’d probably pay the tab.
Most Frightening: Grimm, The Journals of Bob Drifter. Ohhh, so very, very close. (NO SPOILERS!) For obvious reasons, I’m going to go with Grimm. Sure, I have other characters who are pretty darn frightening, but Grimm gets the edge because he’s literally a grim reaper. Again, perhaps some controversy in this pick, especially considering the catch to Grimm’s goal, but I’d still run screaming from him in his cowl before any of my other characters to date.
Most Fun To Write: Caden Carroll, Caught. For so many, many reasons. The first is that Caden only speaks in metaphor and simile. I had so much fun researching the normal way to say what Caden means to find the perfect story or movie to pull from. He’s such a cool character to work with, and he’s absolutely bonkers.
Most Like Me: Richard Hertly, The Journals of Bob Drifter. This one will also (oddly) receive a lot of debate for those who know me and have read my books. Here’s the thing, Richard is never satisfied, nor does he ever feel good enough. That’s probably the core of who I am, and why I most identify with him. There are a number of other things I think I have in common with him. All my other characters have some aspect that is beyond something I have without careful thought and consideration. Naturally, they all have a part of me, but Richard has the part I most recognize about myself.
Best Developed: Kaitlyn Olhouser, Caught and Repressed. I’ve loved watching her grow thus far, and I can’t wait for you all to see the woman she’s destined to become. Elele was in consideration for this as well, and this may shift, but, for now, seeing how she’s grown from a scared little girl into even the young lady she is in Repressed is just fun.
Most Lovable: Bob Drifter, The Journals of Bob Drifter. I really think this guy could pretty much befriend anyone. He’s kind, intelligent, polite, and honest. I’ll be honest and say he’s the character I hope most of my readers would call their favorite. I think the reason most people love that book is because most people love Bob. I’d also argue that the majority of those who didn’t care for it think it fell short because, for whatever reason, they didn’t like Bob.
So there you go! For those who’ve read my books, what are your thoughts? Would you give any of these awards to other characters? Who is your favorite character? I’d be interested to hear about it in the comments below.
I’m honestly just watching Kurt Hugo Schneider videos, and in a few, he “writes” a song for a popular singer. My wife and I frequently dance to his writing of an “Ed Sheeran” song. What he does is look for elements common to the performer, and that got me thinking about my brand.
So branding is an interesting concept. Some writers brand by genre. This guy may write horror while that guy writes romance. If you like the genre, a certain author will fill that need. I’ve had dear friends talk to me on occasion about how often I jump around. Honestly, I don’t have the first clue how to hold still. I can’t even type a blog like Thumper talking about the forest with Bambi.
That hurts some authors. I would probably be more successful more quickly (an important combination of words) if I stuck with one genre. Readers like to know what they’re going to get when they buy a book.
So if I don’t stay in one genre, what is my brand? What do people who buy my book get?
Please allow me to offer you a list.
Characters you connect with: If you read the first ten pages of one of my books, and you don’t feel an immediate connection to the characters you’re reading about, I’ve failed, and you probably won’t enjoy the story. I want people who buy my books to fall in love (or completely hate) the characters. Here are some examples:
Fast Pace: Even my longest book, The Journals of Bob Drifter, has a pace that moves. I typically write short chapters that let a reader feel like they’re flying through a book even if that book is 130,000 words. I want readers to feel like they’re on a roller coaster that set the world speed record. True, Bob evolves more slowly, but that evolution is spent building anticipation. This fast pace creates a story that’s hard to put down. Here are some examples:
Surprises: If you want at least one moment where your jaw drops, and you say, “WHAAAAAAAAAAT?” my books are for you. Honestly, I’m not sure which of my stories has the biggest surprise or plot twist. What I can say is that every time someone comes to me to talk to me about my book, they immediately comment about the surprise. Most reviews mention the end of my stories. Don’t believe me?
So there you have it. If you like fast-paced books with great characters and surprising twists, I’m your man. All of these were different reviews for different books from a number of different reviewers (though in honesty there are some repeat reviewers because they became return customers).
I hope this gives some of you who maybe haven’t tried my work a chance to see why you might be interested.
Something that slows down or even completely stops an aspiring writer is the idea that the book is finished when he or she completes the draft. I see it with my students. They spend far too much time trying to make the first draft their last draft.
That’s an unfortunate misconception that only serves to devastate someone. I’m not saying it never happened to me. The first thing I ever wrote, I proudly presented it to a few friend’s and even a published author. I wanted them to lavish me with praise and compliments. That’s just not how it went.
My friend pointed out all of these plot holes, and the author I showed it to just told me why it didn’t work. I was absolutely devastated. I had just spent about a month typing some thousands of words, and the story wasn’t any good.
What saved me in that moment was my sheer stubborn nature. All my youth spent having to do something over and over again until it was right instilled in me the determination to keep at something until it’s done. I’ll admit, that same youth put me in a mindset to completely hate having to do something again. I still do. The thing I learned, and the thing I want others to know, is that the first draft is only a draft.
If your stuck because, “I just can’t get this chapter right,” rewrite your definition of “right.” A first draft should have the general plot and major character events in an order that makes a pretty good amount of sense. I overemphasize this statement. JUST. KEEP. WRITING. First of all, there is no such thing as a perfect story. Someone is going to find a plot hole you didn’t think of. Someone is going to find some copyediting error you didn’t even know existed. For the first draft, don’t even worry about it. Write to get the story out. Hunger for people to point out the holes. Crave criticism.
Now those are things that are still against my nature. “I love this story! I couldn’t bear it if someone didn’t like it!” Do yourself a favor: Never publish that book or show it to anyone. Someone is going to hate your book. It’s the world, and the people in the world will find things they don’t like. Use that feedback to make the book better. By all means, stand behind decisions you make, but do so knowing what some readers might think of those decisions.
The Journals of Bob Drifter was my first book. I have six reviews that are two stars or lower between Amazon and Goodreads. That mans six people just flat didn’t like my book. It hurts to think that. I really want people to enjoy my book. However, if I really did let that stop me from publishing, I would have missed out on the 50 four-star-or-higher reviews. At least 50 people loved the book! That’s the nature of entertainment. (I have 63 reviews for Bob between its two editions and the review from Amazon and Goodreads.) However, the final draft of that book looks very different from what I originally wrote. The order of the book was very different. Some of the decisions were different (particularly with Richard). The criticism from editors and beta readers truly helped shape the novel into what it became, and I still love it.
Every single one of my titles has the same story from that point of view. Sure, when I get criticism, I feel defensive. Who wouldn’t? But a published author has to push through the fear of criticism and see it for what it is, a valuable tool to get better.
When I sit down to write my discovery draft, I have zero regard for anything. I just pound the story out. Sometimes I leave little letters to myself. However, nothing keeps me from finishing the draft. Nothing stops me from getting the story out.
You can’t revise an incomplete story. Anyone who tells you otherwise has figured out something I’ve personally never seen. I’ve heard the same from Brandon Sanderson and James Patterson. I do know that Sanderson had written about 13 books before an agent he’d been soliciting flat told him, “I’m trying to get this book where it needs to be,” or something to that effect. Sanderson said he didn’t want to revise and that he’d prefer to just move on to another book. He eventually came to understand the value of revision.
I type this bit of advice to convince aspiring authors to forget about what people may think or say about your first draft. Just get it written. Embrace the feedback. Don’t ever stop drafting until you’re done with that draft. Then, and only then, you can revise, and revise, and revise.
Don’t be afraid. Some people might not like your story. There might be many more times the number of people who love it. Sure, there is a universe where everyone who reads your work hates it, but it’s statistically unlikely. But in my days of doing conventions and talking to aspiring writers, I continue to hear the same set-back. I just keep going back to rewrite it. Sure, rewrite it after it’s complete. But if you never finish the book because you’re revising it, realize that you’ll never finish your book because you’ll never be done revising it.
Shore Leave was last week, and it was yet again a huge success in terms of books sold!
The thing that really makes this so encouraging is that I’ve now had three consecutive conventions where I sold more than 40 books. This makes me feel like things are starting to build in the best ways.
At Shore Leave, I sold forty-nine books. I was especially thrilled at how the Repressed/Sojourn paperback worked out. I sold out! My favorite story is that one woman bought the book. She came back the next day to tell me how much she enjoyed it. She said she read Repressed in a matter of hours at the pool and loved it. When she found out Kaitlyn’s first appearance was in Caught, she bought that book.
I only have one copy of Power of Words remaining, and that’s pretty good. They actually sold pretty fast. I thought for sure the last one would sell, but it just sort of stalled I guess. But still, I sold 13/14 copies.
The next thing that happened is probably the most encouraging. The Journals of Bob Drifter has been out for four years, and I’ve done three Shore Leave events now. This is relevant because I met Amanda (and Grace) at Shore Leave. Bob did very well at the event, and I think I owe a lot of that to Amanda and Grace. You see, they came to say hi (and buy a few new books! Thanks!). While there, they managed to convince somewhere around four people to buy at least two of my books. They convinced one friend to buy all four of my books.
That’s not it though. That happened to me twice that I can recall. One person would be checking out my table, and another would come up and say, “I read his book (BLANK (Usually Bob)), and I’m telling you it’s good.”
I can’t express to you how that makes me feel. First off, just having someone walk up and say they enjoyed your book is a wonderful feeling, but to have previous readers bring you more readers is the very definition of “word of mouth!” It’s amazing!
The theory I have is this: It takes people a while to get through their TBR pile. This is true for me. I’m only just now reading books I put on my TBR pile a year ago. My thinking is that these people have had Bob on a shelf for a minute and then it just came time to read it. Now they have feedback for me, and they loved it!
Amanda said, “It’s (Bob) one of the best books I ever read.” She then told me the story about how she was at work and a coworker was trying to draw her attention and couldn’t because she was that enthralled. WOW! (But please don’t get in trouble at work, Amanda!)
Another person might have been one of maybe three people to buy my book at a convention last year. He said, “It (again Bob) was one of the best surprise reads” he’s had. He said he bought it because he liked me (which is why most people buy most things at conventions). But then he read it and loved it.
All that feedback is so motivating. I can’t wait to get my next few books out there!
I nearly sold out of all my books. Those were just a few stories I wanted to share because of how amazing they made me feel in the moment. Julie was near to tears a few times. It’s just such blessing, and we thank God for brining so many wonderful people to our lives and letting our business grow.
So now for the business side. Shore Leave (and most other conventions I go to) have much more affordable tables. And the sales from the event made back the cost of the table (which is a huge benchmark to me). But things went so well, we only actually lost about $100. This is still a loss, but it’s significant growth. We’re hopeful that the prints and more products (big news on that is coming) will help tip the scales and allow us to change how we define “success” when it comes to conventions. For now though, we’re just overjoyed this event went so well.
For those who tried my books, thank you so much! We hope you enjoy them. Please remember to leave a rating and/or review on Amazon and/or Goodreads. They really do help.
I once bought the e-version of the first book in the series to read to one of my nieces, but she wasn’t quite old enough. But now the opportunity is here.
We were on vacation last weekend, and we’d forgotten to bring the Jesus Storybook Bible, which is what we normally read to our youngest. As soon as we realized we’d forgotten it, I had an idea:
“I have a book that I liked when I was a kid,” I said. “Would you like me to read that to you?”
I was afraid I’d get one page into it, and he’d get bored, again being perhaps too young to enjoy it. Now we’re three chapters in, and he’s excited to see what happens next.
I’ve always put a lot of stock into reading to children. First off, I love it. I read to my niece Saleah. I read to her younger brother, too, but I didn’t get as much time with that family as I did when Saleah was growing up. Some of the stuff I read, she didn’t enjoy. Some of it, she did.
Later, I read to one of my younger nieces (there isn’t a gender bias here, I swear. I just have a ton of nieces and just a few nephews). But now I get to read to my sons! We read to them every night. Julie and I swap nights. This gives us both time with the boys and time to ourselves when it’s the other parent’s turn. (The older boys are listening to The Half-Blood Prince in case you’re wondering.)
The really cool thing is I’m reading books I loved when I last read them, and since it’s been so long, it’s like reading them for the first time. Perhaps that’s a bit of an overstatement. I certainly remember how Harry Potter goes. But I’m still not sure I could name all four Boxcar Children. I just tired, and I couldn’t do it. So I have this wonderful chance to revisit old stories and share them with my sons. My oldest is getting to the point where he’s reading on his own, and my middle boy isn’t that far behind, but I find myself cherishing this time I get with them.
Reading didn’t become a big habit in my family until I was grown. I first started reading heavily with Natty Bumpo. Then I discovered the Star Wars Extended Universe. Then I discovered Dean Koontz, and then The Wheel of Time. I honestly believe that when we grow up reading, we grow up imagining and thinking. But the biggest value still comes with that personal, quiet time we get with our sons. Not only do the stories we read together entertain us, but the memories we create reading those stories to our children are ones I’ll always want to hold onto.
So here’s to The Boxcar Children! I’m so glad I get to share you with another generation. I hope he comes to love you as much as I do.
I love to read. It’s relaxing, and a good book can captivate even a whole generation. Just look at Harry Potter. That series flat out made reading “cool” again, but time is just too short. I read before work. I read before bed. I read in the bath just to give myself time to read.
But I don’t get through my TBR list nearly as quickly as I’d like. This leads me to audio books. The main reason I love audio book is that they let me read more. I listen to audiobooks when I drive to and from work and pretty much whenever I drive around. This gives me about two to three hours of reading more than I would have. I like a good car karaoke on occasion, but I inevitably want to find out what happens next in whatever story I’m reading at the moment. This extra time can help me either blast through a book I’m reading or get through another book I wouldn’t normally have time to read.
Here are a few other reasons audio books really make my day:
1: It lets me re-read books I love: A number of the sagas I love are large. I think the shortest series I like is four (main) books. So audiobooks let me refresh my mind on previous books before the newest book comes out. It also lets me go back and read entire sagas I love.
2: A good narrator can make a story even better: I have favorite narrators. James Marsters, Kate Reading, Michael Kramer, and Wil Wheaton to name a few. They bring the story to life. Now, I have friends who assert the voice actors in their head are better than the other narrators, but I just love hearing a story come to life. Now, when I read Wheel of Time, I hear Michael and Kate’s voices.
2a. A good narrator can make a book I wouldn’t like a book I loved. I did a review on The Chaos Walking Trilogy. It’s written in first-person present tense, which I would have never read (let alone written) in a book. But when a friend recommended the series, I fell in love with it mostly because of the voice actors. I later was inspired by that series to try writing in that style (Sojourn in Captivity).
3. It’s a safe way to try a book you wouldn’t normally try: So one complaint I get with audiobooks is that, “I can’t pay attention to it.” I’ve found that a good one can really hold my attention. But a boring (or even bad) book can be made far less painful in audio form because I can mentally check out here and there. Then there are the other books. I tried the first book in the Demon Cycle because I liked a short story Peter V. Brett did in an anthology. I tried it via audio because if I didn’t like it, I could just tune out here and there, and listen for the highlights. But I loved it!
These are the main reasons I love audiobooks, and, since I didn’t know what else I wanted to ramble about in today’s post, I thought I’d try to convince readers to give them a try. May I humbly suggest The Journals of Bob Drifter, Caught, The Power of Words, or Repressed? If you sign up for Audible, you get a free credit, and I can’t do more than offer you a free book.
So we got some rest, and boy did we need it. AwesomeCon 2019 was such a wonderful, huge event. As usual, I wanted to take a moment and give you some insight as to how things went.
Last year ended on a high note. We had always planned to slow way down this year to get life figured out and write some more books. The wonderful thing is I honestly thought, “Well that was just an amazing success, but no way do I do that sort of stuff again.”
Well, I didn’t. In terms of books sold, I did even better. I sold fifty one books! I don’t remember the count from Baltimore Comic Con, but I remember it being in the forties.
The first thing I need to do is praise God for such an amazing blessing! Through four years of work, I’m seeing progress in this business venture, and all things come through him.
The next thing I need to do is thank all of you! If you stopped by and picked up one (or a few) copies of my work, you’ve helped my dream come true. I hope you enjoy the stories. I hope reading them makes you that much more excited for the things I’m working on next.
So I won’t go over information he covered because I frankly want you to read his blog. But I do have some additional insights.
How I measure “success.”
I ran into another author who was a bit upset that sales weren’t there. Now, some authors measure success in terms of profit. I’m not one of those. Even with multiple books, I still don’t have enough products to expect to actually profit. I “made” $289. That’s fantastic. It’s certainly way more than I normally make. It paid for my table ($273.35 for badges and table), but I spent $456.66 ordering books, so I actually lost $441.01. That might lead to a lot of sad faces and discouraged hopeful authors. First, AwesomeCon is a huge event with pretty expensive artist alley tables. I don’t go to AwesomeCon to make money. I got to AwesomeCon to have fun and meet people. I got to meet new readers who I hope will become loyal readers. My two of my three most loyal readers were all people I met at AwesomeCon. So yeah, I lost money up front, but those people buy my books I later release, even if they wait to do so at the next AwesomeCon.
So I told the author I mentioned above, “I already know I’m going to lose money here. I don’t count success by dollars made. I count it by books sold.” Fifty one is a new record. So I see this event as a huge success.
How could I have done better? Well, I’m still not used to having so many books. I ordered twenty copies of each of my longer works (Caught and The Journals of Bob Drifter), and I ordered thirty copies each of my shorter works (Repressed & Sojourn in Captivity (paperback) and The Power of Words). I only sold more than half of one of those. So I just ordered too many books. If I’d only ordered half of those numbers, I still would have lost $213 (or so), but that’s expected at an event where I still have a very limited number of things for people to buy. This is something I’m going to try to adjust. At Shore Leave, I intend to sell prints as well. It’s a low-up-front cost item that will help me diversify what people can come to my table to purchase. I’ll also be able to bundle them and increase deals for potential customers.
Now, Shore Leave is much less expensive to attend. I clearly don’t need to order more books. I took that money I earned from AwesomeCon to pay for my table. If I sell all of those books, I’ll make back that table. Mathematically, I will still have lost $100-something, but I’ll have that many more books out there for people to read, (hopefully) enjoy, (hopefully) review, and (hopefully) recommend to a friend.
2. Try new things:
As I mentioned above, I’m always looking to try new things. My biggest mission is to provide low-cost (both to me and the potential customer) products to purchase. Bookmarks did not work. They make great hand outs, but people just don’t want to pay for those. So I looked around and realized that there are a lot of artists in artist alley (go figure). So the new plan is to commission art based on my books to sell prints of at conventions. I don’t expect to do as well as people who sell cool pictures of trademarked characters, but I’m not touching that. But if someone looks at a really awesome picture of Caden or Elele, they may want to buy it. They may want to know about the character. This may work; it may not work at all. The point is you have to diversify your options. Not everyone reads. Most people who go to conventions buy art from someone. Why not art based on my books? Plus, it gets Carlos and Collin some attention. Also, I’m sharing profits with them so I don’t pay up front. It’s a risk on their end, but it’s an investment of time for the potential to profit money.
3. Sharing is great!
I’ve shared a table before, but I didn’t know how to do it. I’d read both of Andrew’sbooks (I shared a table with him a few times), but he’d only read one of mine. Also, we thought of our one table as two tables rather than thinking of the table as ours. This might have been something I did wrong. I’m not saying we didn’t try to help each other out, but we were still pitching our stuff more individually. Steve knew all my pitches for all my books. He understood my work, and he knew how I was marketing. We talked before hand. We also pitched what was right for the reader. If someone said they liked traditional fantasy, I put Steve’s book in his hand. Steve must have sold at least three of my books. I might have sold as many of his. We amplified one another. Now, Andrew is wonderful, and he worked hard for each other. I just lacked the understanding of how sharing a table really works. This is something I really want to continue to try. It brings the up-front costs down for each of us, and it really works when you’re selling the books people want. In fact, during AwesomeCon, I actually told a reader I probably don’t have a books she likes (she’s a fan of Terry Pratchett). I directed her straight to Andrew’s work. I told her, you’ll love him.
So those are a few insights. Ultimately, I couldn’t be happier. It took Julie and I a week to recover. We were so exhausted, but we had so much fun.
If you were one of the people I met at the event, thank you so much for giving our work a try. We truly hope you enjoy the books.
I’m a bad news (sort of) up front kind of guy. When I woke up today, I saw a one-star review for The Journals of Bob Drifter. You can see that here. You can’t please them all. Still, I’m truly grateful the reviewer took the time to offer not just a rating, but a line of review. Any review is a good review. This reader 1) purchased my book, which supported me; 2) rated my books, which helped my visibility; and 3) left a review, which also helped with my visibility.
To any who might feel compelled to defend me, please don’t. I truly mean that. I ask every reader to offer a review, even if they hate it. It is helpful, and it is kind to leave a review, even if that review doesn’t sing my praises.
So not only is that news not really bad at all, but there is good news. I’m happy to announce that the audiobook for Sojourn in Despair is pretty much undergoing editing as we speak. Courtney Sanello was selected to narrate the book, and I’m eager to see how she takes her fantastic audition and converts it into a full audiobook. She’s already submitted the first fifteen minutes, and I honestly think she’s about wrapped up with the rest pending my notes on the first fifteen.