Best Day Ever! (Create Your Dragon!)

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Today, I had hands down the most exciting adventure in my writing career. I went to Gulf Middle School here in Cape Coral, FL and I got to meet with different classes as part of Author Day for their Literacy Week. The event was made marvelous by my dear friend and author, Jamie Ayres, whose ‘18 Things’ sequel, ‘18 Truths,’ is about to debut on January 28. (Check back later for more news on Jamie).

During my presentation, I asked the students to take three minutes to create their own dragons. The kids picked what the dragon’s core would be made of and what the dragon was in charge of protecting. I got the most incredible answers, some of which I am tempted to “steal” for my sequel to my novel, ‘Core.’

So, for my middle school friends and anyone else who likes to have fun, tell me your dragon! What does it look like? What color, size, shape? Does it breathe fire, water, poison smoke? Where does it live? And most importantly, what does it protect and what is in its CORE! Be creative, friends. And…GO!!

Oh yeah, and if you’re still looking for a copy of ‘Core,’ find it here!

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The Art of Becoming Great

Listen and I will tell you how to become greater than the world.

First, become small. As small as you can without disappearing altogether. Tighten your arms around your knees and shut your eyes tight and think “smaller smaller smaller.” Don’t get excited as you begin to shrink–only remember that you will never be tiny enough.

Second, eat a balanced breakfast. Balanced does not mean, in this particular case, you should eat a collection of nutritious, physician-approved food items. It means eat something you enjoy. Eat tuna salad and egg rolls and grilled cheese. Eat cold cereal or raspberry jelly or pie. If you’d rather, eat nothing at all. Drown yourself in coffee or peanut butter milkshakes if that pleases you. Keep in mind that by “eat,” really I mean eat, drink, laugh, shower, run, kiss, cry, sleep, do. And by “breakfast,” I mean lunch, dinner, midnight snacks and all the times in between.

Third–and this isn’t so important, but could hasten your becoming great by a good deal–don’t have too much fun. Beware of turning up the music, of dancing with closed eyes and blissful abandon. Beware of singing too loud in the shower and reading good books for long periods of time. Don’t work so hard that you get many things done and don’t laugh so hard that laughter is the only thing you can hear. Because then, you will miss armfuls of things. You will miss the people who choose to dance beside you and they will get tired and give up and eventually find another partner. You won’t notice the harmonies trying their hardest to join in with your song and when their throats are hoarse and their voices thoroughly ignored they will close their mouths and forget how to sing in the first place. And in the end, you will only have things that have gotten done and there will be nothing good left to do.

Fourth and finally, ignore this. Ignore me. Ignore my advice. Because–and this is key–if you spend effort–even the littlest bit–trying to become greater than this world, trying to become greater than a few, trying to become great at all, then you are wasting your time. And no one can teach you how to get that back. It can’t be done.

 So stop trying, and be. Stop learning, and do. Stop listening, and live. There is no becoming great. So stop becoming, and be.

 

3 Things I’ve Learned About Indie Publishing (So Far)

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I have been an author for about 3 weeks, so I thought I’d share the vast and incalculable amount of knowledge I’ve harnessed so far through publishing my debut novel, “Core.”

1. Don’t call it self-publishing.

Why? Because self-publishing, in my opinion, has a negative connotation to it, as though no one believed in me and I had no choice but to go it all alone, like some sort of lesser-than. Indie publishing, now? I feel like I’m doing something different and bold and daring–breaking the norm and blazing my own trail. It just sounds cooler, and thus, makes me feel cooler. I find myself advertising my book as indie instead of keeping it a secret. It went from “oh crap, they found out I’m only self-published” to “yes, my book is awesome and I did it myself! BOO-YA!”

2. Don’t do it yourself.

I know exactly one sentence ago I was bragging about that feeling of accomplishment that comes with knowing I did it all on my own. But the truth is I didn’t. And I suggest you don’t either. Why? Because doing it all by yourself is lonely and sad and not as much fun. I’m thankful I had my own little mini-team of helpers. My husband–who is my editor, cover artist, promoter, publicist and manager all in one (all volunteer and unpaid, I may add; what a trooper). My best friend, who edited all of my manuscripts–even the old crappy ones. Who laughed with (and at) me as we poured over each sentence of my work, and who is always there to send me a “you’re-a-freaking-genius” text when I feel down. My sister, who gushes over everything I do, even if it’s lame. Who hangs up on me when I call her to see how she likes it so far because she’s “not finished and it’s too good to put down so stop calling or she’ll block my number.”

Without these people, I wouldn’t have “Core.” I wouldn’t be an author.

 3. Don’t freak out.

I can’t tell you why I burst into tears when I think sales aren’t going well. Or hyperventilating when my mom-in-law starts texting me all the mistakes she found in the first version. I forget to remember that freaking out isn’t going to boost sales and it isn’t going to inspire me to write a better sequel. All it does is make me stall. So what do I advise you do? Call up someone who’ll tell you what you need to hear. I recommend someone who you know will tell you how perfect and wonderful and gifted an author you are; someone who will pull a lie out of their butts and tell you that at any moment, millions of people will discover your book and you’ll feel silly for freaking out. If you don’t have anyone like that, shoot me an email and I’ll tell you! It doesn’t necessarily have to be 100% true. It just has to get you to stop crying. Or whining. Or screaming.

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In summary, this is all brand new to me, and the most valuable thing in my world right now isn’t book sales or ranks or royalties. It’s encouragement. It’s a great review I didn’t expect. It’s a friend running up to me and squealing about how excited they are to be reading my book. It’s my family member wrapping me in a hug and saying how proud they are of me. This is what keeps me going, keeps me from hiding in my closet with a dozen copies of “Core” and using the pages to sop up hysterical tears brought on by the false belief that I’m a failure.

If this post does nothing else for you, I hope you find a bit of encouragement here. You’re not a loser, or a failure, or whatever your silly head tells you. You’re an author. You worked hard. You’re still working hard. And believe it or not, you’re already changing the world.

Chin up, fingers down, and keep typing.

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 (By the way, “Core,” made it to the top 5 of amazon’s bestsellers for Sci-fi/ fantasy in print this week!)