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DENY THE MOON: #CoverReveal and more!

There is something to be said for trying to do everything on your own. When it comes to self-publishing, usually that something is, “Noooo! Don’t do that! Hire someone! What are you doing?!” That’s not to say there aren’t authors out there who can both write and edit their work or market their product and design their own book covers, but the vast majority really shouldn’t. I should know, I’m one of them.

Now I have some experience in Adobe Photoshop, but really all that amounts to is 6+ years of self-taught skills. Great when you are editing photos or goofing around with graphics for roleplay sites, but if you think you can skip over a professional book cover—especially when you are self-publishing—then I have some words of caution for you.

Don’t do it!

Seriously. I know it’s a real drag to fork out cash you probably don’t have to pay someone to do something you are confident you could do yourself, but if you don’t you are possibly shooting your book in the foot before it even starts to crawl. Contrary to popular belief, the vast majority of readers truly do judge a book by it’s cover. It’s the very first impression your work gives to someone scrolling through hundreds and thousands of other books. Why handicap yourself by slapping on a mediocre cover?

The answer is, you shouldn’t. Spend the money, network your connections, get the dang thing made.

You have to give your work—the work you slaved over, tweaked, cried about, and most likely cut yourself off from civilization for—the very best start. This is why, even though I was very proud of the original cover I had made for Deny the Moon, I knew I had to kill my darling and get a professional, and quite frankly better, cover.

Luckily, I came across Silvana G. Sanchez and she dropped me an AMAZING version of my cover. It is everything I wanted from the get go. Trust me, if you are in the market for a beautiful, succinct design, Silvana is where to go. After being blown away for my book, I think it’s safe to say she will be the cover artist for the rest of this series.

 

Okay, okay, enough gabbing about it. The time has come to drop the curtain. I give you the shiny new cover for Deny the Moon!

 

 

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Isn’t it perfection?! I swear, I could stare at it all day (and totally have, haha!) Again, this work was done by the amazingly talented Silvana G. Sanchez, so follow her, talk to her about doing your own cover design, or just congratulate her on being awesome!

FOLLOW SILVANA ON TWITTER AT @SILVANA_MD

Okay, as exciting as the cover reveal is, I promised a few other things. First off, what good is a cover without a book to put it on, right? Those that have followed me from the beginning know how bi-polar I have been with this book. Well, my husband made me promise that this would be my absolute last revision. This is great for you guys though, and for two reasons.

  1. That means I had to make this revision count, which pretty much translates to added content and ironing out every last kink. It also means I had the opportunity to add an excerpt from book two at the end. Yay for more stuff to read!
  2. It also means that after the relaunch of Deny the Moon, I will be putting my focus fully on Raging Spirit. No more being distracted by book one. I must draw the curtain on it and let it be.

So, as of April 7th 2017, Deny the Moon will return to virtual shelves via Amazon and Smashwords distributors.

 

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It’s almost here! And to celebrate the coming relaunch, I am doing a bit of a giveaway! If you sign up for Duckicorn Creative Squad’s bright and shiny newsletter today, you will be entered into a raffle to receive one of FIVE Advance Review Copies (ARCs) to be sent to you immediately! No need to buy anything, just sign up for our not-so-monthly newsletter. It’s that easy!

Click Here to Sign Up for the Duckicorn Newsletter!

Winner will be picked by submitting your emails into an online randomizer and will be announced tomorrow. Keep your eyes on our twitter accounts @MelissaGraham85 or @duckicorn_squad, or on the Duckicorn Creative Squad Facebook page for the winners.

So, all is said and done I think. We have revealed the beautiful cover design by Silvana G. Sanchez, we have announced the relaunch of Deny the Moon on April 7th, and we have opened up a raffle for ARCs of Deny the Moon by subscribing to the Duckicorn Creative Squad’s newsletter. There isn’t much else to say except thank you for stopping by the blog to share this news with me, and more details for the launch party are to come!

So Your Friend Is an Author…

Sometimes your author friends are afraid asking you for help would make them “annoying” or “needy”. Here’s how you can help them out without them even knowing.

Or… you know… here’s way to have them indebted to you. 😉

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Amazing, Isn’t It?

Yes. It is.

How many authors do you actually know?

Now your friend is one.

The key word there is friend.

This was your friend before. Becoming an author doesn’t change that.

Sure, you can tease your friend about this, if your relationship ordinarily involves teasing.

But your friendship is based on more than just teasing:

  • You support one another. Even if one of you writes a book.
  • You’re honest with one another. Even if you think the book isn’t quite, well, you know.
  • You know each other well. How to get on one another’s nerves. How to put things gently. So you can figure out the right way to share honest feedback.
  • You motivate one another. So in addition to honest feedback, you’ll provide encouragement, motivation, and direction.

Your friend wrote a book. That’s a huge accomplishment. Treat it as such.

There are some things you…

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Mark Your Calendars!

I’m excited. Like, super excited. I’m talking full on Jessie Spano on caffeine pills excited (and yes, I mean the full meltdown.) What do I have to be so excited-yet-mind-numbingly-terrified about, you ask?

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Well, if you didn’t ask I’m going to tell you anyway.

Deny the Moon is in the final stages of being republished! Yes, after yet another go-around with revisions I have finally trimmed and tweaked it to exactly where I want it. Huzzah! Hooray! Bravo! Yippee!

Now, anyone who has kept up with my bi-polar plans and efforts with this book will know that after having pulled it from the virtual shelves to really tighten it up, I had planned to shop the finished manuscript to any agent that will accept a previously self-published work. I knew they were out there, just waiting to have my query pop up in their inbox so they could all clamor to offer me bountiful contracts…

*sighs dreamily*

Of course, what I’ve learned about that is:

  • There aren’t very many agents willing to accept previously self-pubbed works, and
  • Of those that do, you really don’t have much of a chance of selling a work if it wasn’t already selling well to begin with

So, after finding two agents that would accept it, I decided to give it a try with them as a means to get my feet wet and if no one bit, I would go back to self-publishing it. I submitted my queries, heard back from one with a very polite and encouraging form rejection, and have waited several weeks to hear back from the other. Since I have not, I will take that as their version of the FadeAway and mark that up as a no-go.

But I did not admit defeat! I took it as a quick lesson in what my future queries will hold, got the scary first rejection out of the way, and set to putting Deny the Moon back on the shelves. The proper way.

And now here we are!

ON FEBRUARY 18 2017
  • I will reveal the launch date for the re-release of Deny the Moon!
  • I will reveal my sexy, shiny new cover designed by @Silvana_md!
  • And a few other treats!

 

It will all be going down here on my blog two weeks from tomorrow. So are you excited? I know I am! I’ll bet you want a little sneak peek, right? Just a teaser tide-me-over until the 18th? Is that what you want? Well…

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Yep, I know. I’m a mean, awful person. Come on, I have to do something to feel in control, here!

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Guest Blog by @DillWerner ~ Writing #OwnVoices : Exploring Gender Identity and Sexuality

I met Dill Werner several months ago through a blog we both wandered onto. We became critique partners and I quickly realized that there was something special with this one. Not just with their writing (which, let me tell you guys, you’ll want to remember their name!) but with them as a person. Through Dill’s platform on Twitter, I have witnessed hours of encouraging statements, calls to action, and a firm solidarity and love for the LGBTQ+ community. The latter is not only very prominent in their professional and personal life, but is also reflected quite masterfully in the writing I was privileged to get a peek at.

 “It’s not as simple as labeling a character ‘bisexual’ and thinking they’ll be interested dating only male or female characters.”

Because of this, I have asked Dill to guest blog for me. After all, this blog is (mostly) dedicated to becoming an author and all that entails. In the era of #OwnVoices and the voracious appetite agents are—finally—starting to get for diversity in literature, Dill is a shining example of how to successfully and authentically embrace LGBTQ+ both professionally and personally.

Dill Werner on accepting, exploring, and representing Gender Identity and Sexuality:

A few weeks ago, I sent an email to my literary agent telling her the truth: I was genderqueer and preferred to use the pronouns “they/them.” It was important for me to make the transition before my debut novel came out and avoid any misgendering in the public eye. She understood and said she supported me no matter what I chose to do. Luckily, I’m with a literary agency that promotes diversity and protects its authors. It doesn’t hurt that I’m also signed to the president, senior agent, and a NYT bestselling author.

My agent knew from the very beginning that I identified as queer and pansexual. In our first phone conversation, we discussed sexuality, gender, and how I wanted to incorporate LGBTQ+ themes and characters into my work. It’s something I included in my query letter, that “it doesn’t matter what genre or age group I’m writing for, there are always LGBT+ elements and characters in my manuscripts. It’s a part of who I am as a writer.” But writing queer fiction isn’t for everyone. (Note that I used the word queer because I am comfortable with it. Not every LGBTQ+ person is. It’s a word we’re taking back and using to empower ourselves. However, people outside of the LGBTQ+ community shouldn’t use it unless they’re referring to the community or an area of interest, i.e. queer studies.)

Writing from multiple gender point-of-views and incorporating more than two pronouns is something that comes naturally to me. I’ve also had extensive training and education in LGBTQ+ terminology. I know which terms to use with which characters and who prefers to be identified as what. Sometimes, I’ll get it wrong or someone won’t agree with me. That’s their right as a reader. As an author, I expect both positive and negative feedback. It’s impossible for

me to get everything 100% accurate all the time. Even when speaking from my own voice, there will be discrepancies. My experiences may differ greatly from another genderqueer person’s.

If you are preparing to write LGBTQ+ fiction, you must do your research. It’s not as simple as labeling a character “bisexual” and thinking they’ll be interested dating only male or female characters. Bisexuality has evolved to mean something much more. It’s when a person is attracted to someone of the same gender as themselves and to people of one or more different genders. If the character isn’t attracted to their own sex but is attracted to multiple but not all genders, then you might identify them as polysexual. Pansexual broadens bisexuality by saying that a person’s sexual attraction is not limited to gender identity. See? Not so simple.

As someone who is demisexual panromantic, pansexual is the term I prefer to use. It’s less gendered and allows me to connect with a person on a more intimate basis. Bisexual never felt right for me because I didn’t feel included as a genderqueer person. Pan is like holding up a sign that says, “non-binary and trans people welcome.” These are the little things that need to be considered when developing characters, characters who represent real people and real experiences.

Each sexuality comes with its own hurdles. Someone who is bi undergoes different discriminations than someone who is gay/lesbian, poly, or pansexual. This is why speaking from one’s own voice is important. In my current adult manuscript—working title, ZIRKUS—I was thrilled to be able to explore my own sexuality and gender identity through characters who are pansexual, trans, and demisexual. ZIRKUS takes place in an international aerial circus where

performers are gifted with supernatural abilities based on their natural talents—think Cirque du Soleil with magic and an all-queer cast.

Kass is my first on-the-page demi character, and his sexuality is crucial to his development and exploring the relationship he has with his boyfriend, Taras. I was finally able to express myself and bring light to a sexuality that rarely gets any page time.

Taras knew the truth of my sexuality. Not only was I homoromantic, but I was demisexual, too. It was the opposite of love at first sight. For me, emotional intimacy had to come before any sexual attraction could take hold. I wouldn’t allow someone to explore my body unless we held a deep, emotional bond between us. The first time Taras kissed me backstage, it was a disaster—two teenagers fondling each other in the dark. I’d felt nothing because there was nothing to feel, not until we knew each other. Once the connection between us blossomed, it developed into an intensity that raged like a brush fire each time his fingers skimmed mine.

Then there is the beta reader favorite, ringleader Nez. At the beginning of the manuscript, Nez isn’t able to voice the particular name for his non-binary gender identity. He doesn’t know what it is it until he talks it out with his love interest, who supports him unconditionally. His journey mirrored the relationship I have with my spouse and how it helped me discover my gender identity. Nez’s plotline is a thinly-veiled exploration of my own gender identity and was a way for me to cope with the dysphoria that comes along with being trans and non-binary:

“Give me a minute, love. I’m having one of those strange–” [Nez] shook his head, eyes pinched together. “I don’t know, really.”
Dysphoria. The one thing I couldn’t understand. “I get it. No. What am I talking about? I don’t get it. Mensch! That was stupid. I’m sorry.”
“Sadie–”
“What’s the right thing to say?” I asked him. “Because I have no idea.”
Nez hooked a stray curl behind my ear, a gentle touch that reminded me he was there. He was there for me, and I needed to be there for him. “Don’t say anything. Listen.” 

I am fortunate to look past something called the “cis gaze,” an unseen the privilege cis people have that encompasses their unawareness to trans and non-binary struggles within their cisgender world. Simply put, someone with “cis gaze” isn’t aware of everyday trans and non-binary difficulties and often doesn’t think they have to be.

Being genderqueer allows me to look at the world from more than a male, female, or non-binary perspective. I am treated one way by outsiders, but I take bits and pieces from each gender and make them part of my identity. However, I will never know what it’s like to fully transitioned from one gender to another. It’s vital that I understand my limitations and realize some stories aren’t mine to tell. Nez’s story is about coming into one’s gender labels but not about transitioning. My trans siblings have covered transitioning much better, and I will continue to promote their works.

If you’re thinking of entering the world of LGBTQ+ fiction, be mindful. Listen first. Be prepared to take criticism. Know your boundaries. Understand that no matter how much you research and how hard you try to be sensitive to the issues, someone won’t like your work. Learn from your mistakes, listen to concerns, and apologize. We’re all human. Lastly, good luck!

dill-werner

Dill Werner is a LGBTQ+ young adult and adult author signed to The Knight Agency, whohas been featured on The Gay YA and the Daily Dot. When not conspiring to take down the gender binary, they cheerlead amazing people in the queer community and edit their Own Voices narratives about feminist sci-fi heroines and heroes and mystical queer circuses where no one is targeted for their sexual orientation. Find them on Twitter [@DillWerner] or check out their Blog for more ramblings about gender, sexuality, and book reviews.

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Book Review: Finding Claire (Hill Country Secrets, Book One) by Pamela Humphrey

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I received an ARC from this author.

This book… wow.

I will start off with stating that this is not my usual preference in genre. I often find myself bored with anything mundane and not magical or supernatural in nature. That being said this book delightfully surprised me!

There was nothing boring about it. The story flowed so well and kept me literally on the edge of my seat. Every time I had to put the book down to do (yuck) real life things, I actually found myself in a near tantrum over having to stop and thinking about the characters in my off time.

Pamela Humphrey knows how to tell a story in a clear, concise, and captivating way and her characters are so realistic and relate-able that I found it hard to think of them merely as characters. She captured the emotions and details of Claire, Alex, and Rainy’s lives very well and makes you care about Claire. She certainly had me DYING to know what happened to her, and the letters from her mother were moving and powerful.

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Perhaps a single qualm I may have had was near the end at the “bad guy reveal”. It teetered dangerously close to cliche for me, and the conflict was very quick and resolved very abruptly once we go there, but still that did not take anything away from my enjoyment of this mystery.

All in all very well written and I am now itching for more Alex and Rainy!! Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of Finding Claire, now available at Amazon and other distributors!

 

 

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Book Review: “The Sand Dweller” by Molly Neely

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I don’t do book reviews very often on my blog. Perhaps this is something I should rectify, since, being an author myself, I know how important book reviews are to emerging and established authors alike. Reviews are the best form of publicity you can get for your work. After all, you can shell out your hard-earned cash for all the frills and thrills of advertising and touring, but if a potential reader doesn’t see how other readers have felt about the work—ehhh—they are a lot less likely to give it a read. It’s about time I start putting my money where my mouth is.

I recently read Molly Neely’s The Sand Dweller and it was a delightful read. Neely has weaved the story of Malachi Ben Sanai (son of the demon general Azazael) into well-known theological history easily and almost seamlessly. From the Battle of Megiddo, to an arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, Neely brings us on the journey of a young half-breed seeking redemption through the centuries.

Malachi’s fate is forever entwined with Ra, the son of Lillith. Pawns in their parents battle of wills, these two men grow with an instinctual hatred for one another but that is where their similarities end. While one embraces the darkness of Hell, the other only wishes to be truly redeemed by the Almighty and find a place in Paradise. If only Hell would leave him in peace to do so.

The author provides us rich characters and has an unmistakable eye for detail and uncanny ability to connect dots between what we know and what she envisions. I really did enjoy this book a lot.

And now for the downside:

It is a very quick read. I finished The Sand Dweller in two hours and 15 minutes once I was able to really hunker down and dive in. This is not to say it makes it bad, but I truly believe more could have been done to really immerse us. Often fast-paced, I can’t help but wonder if there couldn’t have been more character focus (the characters themselves promise rich variety and I would have loved to see focus about them on a personal level as was put on the plot itself).

Don’t take this as a bad thing! The fact that it was such a quick read and drew me in to the point of wanting to know more in-depth things about the characters only showcases how much I liked it. Gimme more!  (On a side note: I think I overheard a rumor somewhere that Neely is writing a follow up based on this book, but I could be wrong. If I’m not then I am excited to see what she delivers!)

If you want a quick, delightful read then I definitely suggest The Sand Dweller. It is out of my wheelhouse for typical reading, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying it. I mean, two hours. Come on.

 

 

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Having Daughters Is Nothing Like I Expected

Since I was a little girl, about 12-years-old, I knew I was going to have a daughter. There was no doubt about it. I would grow up, get married, and become a mother. I didn’t know how many children I would have, but I knew that I would definitely have a daughter. I want to say when I did just that it was everything I hoped for, but in all honesty it was nothing like I expected.

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I knew that I would dress up my sweet little girl in ribbons and curls and cute little pink skirts. I never thought I’d be telling my daughter that she couldn’t wear her favorite dress to the park because there are predators out there that loiter around the swings watching and as fun as it is to jump from the swing and tumble on the ground, he might see her undies.

I remember people showing their kids embarrassing toddler pictures, which almost always included a bath pic or a nakie-baby pic. I was shocked when it became “bad” to share these precious—and usually hilarious—moments of their childhood because it was suddenly considered obscene. I was even more surprised when I eventually understood that some perverts found something less-than-innocent in these pictures and that they eventually stole those precious keepsakes from me because, God forbid, you actually have possession of one then you are automatically considered a “sicko”.

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I knew I’d want to take her swimming or watch her play in the sprinkler in the front yard, but I didn’t know I’d end up making her wear a pair of shorts over her swimsuit because someone at the pool was gawking at her just a little too hard. I didn’t expect to have to pass on the ultra-cute ruffled two-pieces because a grown man might think her tummy showing meant she was inviting his disgusting thoughts.

I looked forward to going on outings with my daughter and visiting new places. It never really occurred to me that first I would have to teach her that it was safer to use the restroom with someone she knew; something in-grained into our female brains long before there was such a thing as a “transgender bathroom-issue”. That men often mock and tease us for “herding” without realizing they are the cause of it.

I knew I would want to take my daughter to the annual fair to see the pretty lights and ride the rides, but I didn’t expect I would find myself tying a rope from my belt loop to hers out of the growing fear and anxiety that someone might snatch her in the crowd. That people might point and laugh at us and some might even give me dirty looks for being that mom, but somehow that little length of rope would give me a sense of security and ease.

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I came to terms with the fact that, the older and more independent she got, the more she would want to play alone or be more adventurous. She’d want to ride her bike around the block, play in a friend’s yard, or go for a walk with friends. I was heartbroken when I realized I would have make her sacrifice most of her independence for safety, and shatter her understanding of the world around her by telling her about stranger danger and bad people. It broke my heart to watch her lose some of that trust in human beings. It completely destroyed me knowing that I had barely even touched on exactly how terrifying and bad the people in this world could be.

I expected my daughter would eventually have the puberty class, as we all did in school. It would be informative and embarrassing, and a little funny, but she would learn more about her body and what it does and why. What I wasn’t prepared for were special classes teaching her about good touches and bad touches, because 1 in 4 children are molested. That means of the 20 kids in my daughter’s class, 5 of her friends will have experienced “bad touching”.

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When I separated from her father, I knew to expect troubled times and difficulty with co-parenting. I knew there would be times when she was with me and she wanted to see daddy instead. I could barely bear it when I ended up having to keep the truth from her about her bio-dad, because the things he later did to another little girl are too terrible to burden her with, and now when she says she wants to meet her dad, it doubly hurts.

I hate to say it, but I even knew there might be a time or two where my daughter would get in trouble at school and I might even have to come and speak with the principal about it. She’s a kid. It’s a given. But I never dreamed I might be called out of work, missing a day’s pay, to meet with the principal because my daughter wore a tank top to school— which lacked proper air-conditioning—because her shoulders were “distracting” and “disruptive”. Meaning, because my little girl dressed for comfort on a very hot day, she’s not allowed to stay in school because of it, because her education isn’t as important as the boys who were somehow too distracted by her shoulders to focus on their studies (I can tell you, they really weren’t. Give our boys some credit).

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I dreaded, but expected, my daughter’s teenage firsts. First car, first phone, first date, first prom… All scary, but memorable, times. What I didn’t count on was that she’d have to walk in parking lots with pepper spray or self-defense training just to go to the store alone, that she’d be pressured into sending boys nude selfies and then find out at school the next day that everyone saw it, that she would have to be assertive when she said “No” to a boy because they don’t always listen the first, second, or third time, and even that I would have to worry that she knew she was worth more than her body and if he loved her, her boyfriend wouldn’t pressure her to give it to him.

Sending my daughter to college will be bittersweet, and I know I will have to trust in her to take care of herself and get her studies done. I just hope, when it comes time to put down work and go to play, that she remembers to go to parties with friends and watch each others backs, to never ever leave her drink unattended or accept an open drink from anyone, and to not get too drunk that she can’t defend herself because being a girl, she can’t do those inconsequential things like boys get to do.

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But I also knew I would have a son of my own, too. Someone I would raise to treat everyone with respect and to protect anyone that needs help. I just didn’t understand I would have to teach him to not look at girls like meat but to treat them like human beings and to love them rather than lust after them, that he should never ever take advantage of a girl who might have had too much to drink and instead get her to a safe place, that he needs to take responsibility for his own mistakes and not blame his inability to focus on what a girl is wearing, that he is not owed anything from the girl he is dating, and that he should focus on what a girl adds to his life rather than what she can give him for a night. I didn’t understand I would have to teach these things to my son because my daughters will forever be forced to deal with boys who weren’t taught the same by their mothers and fathers. But one day, he will have a daughter of his own and it will hit him as hard as it hit me. When that time comes, I hope he will have lived as the kind of boy he would want his own daughter to date.

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**Not every anecdote written here happened to my daughters. Some are examples of stories I’ve heard from other women, as well.

 

An Interview and a Question: What Does it Take to Make You Feel Like an Author?

Everything I have ever felt and thought about and having to put myself out there as an author while being paralyzingly introverted.

The intangible world of the literary mind

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A strange thing happened on the way to the blog.  I received an email out of the blue from someone I’ve never heard of.  That’s not so strange in itself; I get enough spam to feed a spambot until it vomits flowery poetry.

What was strange is that it was a request for an interview.  This wasn’t the usual, “Let’s fill out interview questions and share them on each other’s blogs to cross promote ourselves,” interview request.  This was a straight up, “I want to interview you.”

It surprised me.  The first thing I did was check the email address it came from.  It looked legitimate.  Then I skimmed (that’s what my eleven year old called it) her online.  I Googled, found and checked profiles on Facebook and LinkedIn, investigating if the person looks legitimate.  She looked legitimate.

uh ohIt was time for the, “Oh, uh, wow?” moment.  Me? …

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The ABC’s of Being a Writer: Impatience

So, I have been a part of the “writing world” for a couple of years now and I’ve learned a lot. While I have been writing for far longer than that, I have never been a part of the writing community or been able to utilize what they had to offer. Hell, I didn’t even know what they had to offer. If I had known the tips, tricks, support, advice, and challenges available, I might have never gone through with self-publishing Deny the Moon as fast as I did.

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Okay, so I know I wouldn’t have. I would have known:

  • Publishers rarely take queries for books that have been self-published.
  • There is a whole society of people who willingly read your manuscripts and tell you what you are doing wrong before you make it public.
  • Putting a book out with basically no online presence gives you about as much exposure as a Puritan woman’s kneecap.
  • Agents are not as out-of-reach as I had earlier believed.

I have suffered the folly of many first-time authors. We are so eager to put our work out there so we can proclaim ourselves as “real authors” that we rush headlong into it without thinking about, or learning, the consequences of it.

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Indeed, there is an overwhelming sense of impatience that comes along with being a writer. Especially one questing for that holy grail of accomplishments: a publishing contract. I mean, take this blog for example. If you notice, I started this series with the letter “I” instead of “A”. If that doesn’t illustrate the impatience of a writer, I don’t know what does.

Of course, it’s more likely that I just like doing things bass-ackwards.

Luckily, over the past two years, I have found my way to some incredible writing groups. 10 Minute Novelists is full of peers in various stages of writing and publishing and are always ready to lend  you real-world advice or give you some support when you need it. There are many agents, editors, and publishers on Twitter that lend you unique insights, like Sara Megabow’s #10queriesin10minutes where she reads 10 submissions from a slush pile live on Twitter and explains why she might pass or accept it.

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As writers, we want instant gratification. We don’t want to write a book for years and years, only to have to wait even MORE years to (hopefully) get it published. We want to see our name on a book now. With the growing acceptance of self-publishing, we are finding ourselves closer to that instant gratification, but at what price?

The markets are being flooded faster than we can keep up with. Not just that, but the ease of access means most of the floods come from novice writers whose manuscripts have no business being published yet. I should know. I am one of them! (I’ve recently pulled Deny the Moon from online shelves, but more on that in a bit.) Because it takes so long to write a decent novel, by the time we finish one traditional publishers and literary agents are sick of the influx of your genre, making all that time and effort feel wasted. Which makes us fall on self-publishing even more and, when the market starts to thin a little bit and agents start wanting those genres again, we are ineligible to submit it to them because we have already published. Impatience thwarts us again!

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As I have said, I pulled my book from Amazon and Smashwords because of many reasons. After a few years being a part of the herd, I have come to the shocking understanding that my book is not the best it could be. -GASP- I know, right?

If I had known what a critique partner was before I tumbled down the rabbit hole, I would have a better grip on my craft already and would most likely be starting the query process with Deny the Moon. And I probably would have been rejected because no one cares about Werewolves right now. Eh. Win some/Lose some. However, because I was more worried about being considered a “real author”—what does that even mean?!—when I am finally done making the book the best it can be, I still won’t be able to ship it anywhere. I mean, I can try, but I know the chances are nil. It’s okay though. Lesson learned.

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So if you take anything away from this rambling, let it be to slow down. I know you want to be on bookshelves. It’s okay, we all do. But take your time. Join some communities, get active on twitter, exchange some chapters with an unbiased critique partner. Do everything you can before making the leap. And if after all that you still wanna self-publish? Eh, go for it. Smashwords is a fantastic platform.

 

On Humility and Shooting Yourself in the Foot

As you should know by now, I am not what you call a consistent blogger. In fact, it usually takes an incredible burst of energy (often fueled by coffee, sudden inspiration, and a virgin sacrifice), amazing news I can’t keep to myself, or having something absolutely ridiculous happen that I feel the need to share with the six, or so, people that actually read this blog. Well, as it so happens, today I couldn’t quite catch me a virgin, and I don’t have anything particularly exciting to share with everyone. That pretty much means that someone has done something unforgivably offensive or spectacularly stupid.

You’re in for a real treat today because it just so happens to be both!

On Thursday, In The Inbox introduced the world to David Benjamin. A crotchety old man who I can’t help but imagine kicks puppies and screams at his blog visitors to get off his virtual lawn.

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Turns out, Davey Boy takes rejection about as well as Kanye West takes the Grammys giving T-Swift the award.

In fact, would it be a reach to call David Benjamin the Kanye of the literary world? Maybe? Eh, I’ll go with it.

Now, I won’t get into all the ugly details (just make sure you visit the blog to read the train wreck for yourself. It could save your career) but let’s just say he knowingly didn’t follow the clearly stated rules of a writing conference, got his 319th rejection, and ran to his blog to throw a tantrum. He was condescending to her, questioned her ability to do her job due to her age/boredom/attitude, questioned whether or not she even wanted to do her line of work, mocked her appearance and choice of clothing, and talked about her like she was an ignorant, weak, sad little girl. Basically put, he’s not only an ass… he’s a chauvinistic ass.

What’s even more mind-boggling is that she is not his only target. In fact, there is a thread on his blog completely devoted to trashing every agent that rejects him, though he is noticeably worse on the females. That being said, why would you very publicly attack the people you are literally begging to validate your life’s work?

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And before you start on that, yes… we very much are begging for validation of our work with every critique, every query, every breath, every word. We feed off of it. It fuels our egos—cause you have to know that writers are pretty egotistical creatures when we are shouting, “Look! Werds! I wrote them! Pay me for them! They are exquisite werds! The werdiest werds to ever werd! What? No? LuLz, okay, thanks anyway! I’m just gonna go cry into a bottle of whiskey now.”

Wait. That’s just me? Oh…

Seriously, though. Let’s just put the whole it-doesn’t-cost-you-anything-to-just-not-be-a-raging-douche-canoe thing to the side for a moment, and focus on the real brain-tickler here.

You want an agent to help you get your foot in the door with a publisher. Do you really think they are going to hold the door for someone who throws bullshit at them and then tries—note I said tries. I do gotta say, I really love the writing community when they band together to defend someone—to not only humiliate them, but completely bully them? No. No, they aren’t going to jump at the chance to work with a complete and total twat-knuckle.

To make it in this business, you need a little humility. Say it with me for the David Benjamins in the back:

HUMILITY

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This is a mantra I, myself, have to repeat everyday in my journey. As it is, I have made the gut-wrenching decision to pull my first book from Amazon to give it a thorough overhaul… again. Having humility in my craft is what allows me to see when I could do something better and give it more attention. My work will never be perfect in my eyes, but it will only get better with each tweak.

It’s okay to believe in yourself. It’s amazing to believe in your work. It’s not okay or amazing to have such an over-inflated ego that you think it’s okay to mock and ridicule anyone who dares to defy your beliefs of being the greatest writer in the history of the world holding the next masterpiece in your sweaty, run-down fingers. I mean, you very well might be just that, but no one is ever going to know if you unload a clip of self-damning venom into the foot of your career.