Weekend Recap: Books, B-days and Laughs

This weekend I made an effort to get out of the house, something my naturally hermetic self has to really gear up for. This is especially true when I’m going through some things. But, it was two of my beautiful cousin’s birthdays and despite the fact that Netflix was calling me, I ignored the muse stealing heffa and hit the streets.

First I had to take care of some business (cuz I stay grinding) by stopping off at a literary event hosted by my local library. I’m so glad I came through because I met a couple of amazing Memphis based writers and got to plug my baby WTRTCA to a room full of readers. It was awesome and I was only a little nervous. Me + public speaking= I need a sedative!

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The agenda. See that last line down there that says “Remarks from Guest Authors”? That’s me! I’m about to blow up y’all.

My assistant, Sista C.J., was slipping on her post. Not only did she not get a picture of me speaking about my book, but she didn’t pass out my promo cards. I had to do it myself. Gasp! I thought I was the talent, and deserved to be treated as such, but I guess working with family keeps you humble. I would dock her pay, but since I’m not paying her anything…

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Doesn’t she just look like an assistant who’s all over her job?

One of the primary speakers was author Lakisha Johnson and she came with it. She’s a successful independent publisher with a faithful fan base here in Memphis. Her topic was “Be Careful Who You Love” and she gave me plenty to think about! For one thing I got to see a pro in action. If you’re an author attending an event to sell books, it’s less about going on and on about your book, and more about leaving an impression on the audience. If they remember you, they’ll remember your book. If you haven’t read any of her books, you might want to check them out. From talking to a few of her fans, I got the impression that they’re very steamy.

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Author Lakissha Johnson keeping us on our toes in this love game.

After stumbling through my 60 second remarks on WTRTCA,  Sista C.J. and I met up with some of our cousins for dinner. We gossiped about family, lusted after a few professional athletes and Idris Elba, talked about my sudden case of baby fever (I promise I can hear my biological clock ticking away like a gong) and ate some delicious Mexican food.

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Mi familia!

Later, we changed the venue and went to see Tony Tone at Chuckles Comedy House. I’d never heard of him, but he was pretty funny. Forgive me for not having a candid picture of him. I was too busy admiring the way his biceps strained against his shirt while he was holding that mic to take a pic.Talk about guns? Bang, bang baby.

tony tone

What’d I tell you about those guns?

My cousin Miller took to the stage and busted a few moves. They were all circa 1989, but she did her thang!

Cousin Miller gettin' it in. Her repertoire included The Wop and The Smurf. If you don't know: Google it.

Cousin Miller gettin’ it in. Her repertoire included The Wop and The Smurf. If you don’t know: Google it.

So all in all it was a weekend full of good people, good food, and good times. What more can a girl ask for?

What did you get into this weekend? Do you attend local literary events on the regular? Any tips to help me get more comfortable with public speaking? How about some advice on how to get over baby fever? Talk to me.

Indie Publishing: The Perks of Being A Boss

Like a bossEveryone wants to be a boss these days. Pop culture is inundated with phrases like “boss chick”, “all eyes on me”, “poppin’ bottles” and my personal favorite “like a boss”. You can use it to describe doing anything with excellence: I ate that whole piece of chicken (like a boss), I paid my taxes (like a boss), I sawed that bunion off (like a boss). You get my point. But when you decide to self publish, you really are a boss. And like I promised last week, I’m going to list the many benefits of independently publishing your books (like a boss). Sorry, I couldn’t resist.


 ********5 Perks to Indie Publishing********

You don’t have answer to anyone but yourself. Didn’t get those proofs approved yet? Feel like changing the cover on a book already in print? Changed your mind about the release date?  Want to release your book in three parts over the course of a year? No problem. There won’t be a marketing exec telling you that you’ve lost your mind. The only person you need to run it by is you. No one will reprimand you. There won’t be a big meeting or conference call where you’re treated like a temperamental writer with threats of re-negotiating your contract. Unless you decide to hold said meeting with yourself. Which is entirely your prerogative. #JudgementFreeZone

You have full creative control. You have the final say on everything from your typeset font to your cover design. Want to make a plot change that’s eons away from your original synopsis/proposal? Go for it. Feel like writing a sci-fi self-help historical romance? Who cares if it’s never been done. Do you, kid. There’s no team of experts stifling your creativity with marketing trends, focus group data, and comparative sales reports. But in all your creativity, don’t forget that you do want to eventually sell your book and keeping a specific fan base in mind is probably a good idea.

Full return on your investments. There’s no team to split the pot with. All profit belongs solely to you. Now, I’m speaking of money made after you’ve deducted the cost of an editor, cover designer, promotional material, etc. Because what you don’t want to produce is some certifiable junk. But once you’ve paid for that initial investment, every cent that comes in belongs to you. You don’t have to worry about paying back an advance from a publishing house if your sales don’t meet their projections.

The complete success or failure of your book is entirely in your hands. Some may view this as a negative, but you’ve got to have a boss mentality about it. I feel totally empowered this fact. No one is going to work harder for me than me. Whether I sell 10 or 10,000 copies of my book is entirely up to me. It’s all dependent upon how much time and effort I’m willing to put into marketing, promoting, and writing. The same is true of traditionally published authors. Publishing houses allot only so much for book promotion, and the less of a name you have for yourself in the industry, the less of a budget you get. So, no matter what, hustling is the name of the game. Suddenly I’m feeling all, “I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul.”

The world is your office. Literally. You can work anywhere, at anytime, and do most of it in your pajamas. I love modern technology and the fact that I can network, market, promote, write, email, conference call and connect with business associates from anywhere in the world. Being an indie author (especially once you’ve hit your stride) means freedom from conventional schedules and constraints. You can handle your business and write anywhere. That sense of freedom and discovery is part of what keeps me going down this indie publishing road. I can’t wait to see where it takes us!


Tell me about your indie publishing perks below. Nothing is too small. Whether it’s getting to hang out and drink coffee at Starbucks all day, or the amazing tax write-offs for hosting parties to discuss your book, I want to hear about it!

**Bonus** Check out my take on signs that confirm you’re a writer. Lots of strange behaviors and quirkiness ahead! (Click here.)

 Photo credit: savvysmilinginlove / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

5 Truths Every New Indie Author Should Know

Although my first instinct is to pour my heart out about my sister’s illness, I’m going to resist using y’all as a form of therapy and actually talk about something I haven’t covered in a while: independent publishing. Here are 5 things every new independent publisher should know. I’m going to go ahead and warn you that it ain’t pretty! But I’ll follow up at a later date with some independent publishing positivity.


1. You will feel overwhelmed.– That’s an understatement. You’ll feel so discombobulated that you’ll question your sanity and then answer back with something like, “You passed crazy a long time ago.” There’s so much to be done and there’s no one else to do it. Hence the term “independent”. You’re it kid.

2. You’re a jack of all trades, master of none.– Well, let’s hope you’ve at least mastered the art of writing. But other than that, be prepared to become a business tax professional, an accountant, publicist, marketer, spokesperson, sales person, tech geek, secretary, and the list goes one. You’ll need to know a little bit about several roles in order to maintain some semblance of organization and control.

Frustration

3. You will be disappointed.– Overnight success shouldn’t even be a phrase because it just doesn’t happen. Building a brand and a readership takes time. And for an independently published author it usually takes even longer than most traditionally published authors. If you’re expecting to launch your book at the top of the Amazon bestseller list, then it better be because you’ve spent the last few years building a following that is engaged and ready to support your efforts. Otherwise, be prepared to watch that sales graph move like a little old guy climbing a hill. Using a walker. While stopping to smell the roses and shoot the breeze with every person he see’s. But as long as he’s steadily climbing that hill, things are going in the right direction.

4. More time in a day will be something you’d willingly trade blood, your two front teeth or your first born child for.– Seriously, no matter how organized you are, as an independent publisher your to-do list will always be longer than your completed list. There will always be something to add, something to remember, something to do. No matter how much sleep you sacrifice (and you will sacrifice sleep) there never seems to be enough time. Make your peace with it. I like saying this little mantra, “God has given me all the time I need to fulfill the destiny He has for me.” This is extremely helpful if you view your talent of writing as a calling.

5. Sleep will be something you remember fondly.– This is especially true if you have a 9-5 job in addition to running your publishing company. We’ve already established that time is a sneaky little commodity (some thief called Netflix comes and steals mine on the regular), and trading sleep for a few hours of business dealings and writing will probably happen more often than is healthy. There was actually a point in which I was so tired that I experienced a true life mirage. I…well I…I won’t get into all the details, but it happened. It was crazy weird and the mess freaked me all the way out. Let’s just say I’ve recommitted myself to getting the necessary Z’s.

**Bonus** People will randomly solicit you for services you can easily perform yourself.- I had one chick in-box me on Facebook offering a one day only ‘sale’ to advertise my book on her website. She claimed to have 2,500 followers specifically interested in my often overlooked genre of Christian fiction. But guess what? The access to her website was blocked, the ‘sale’ ended at midnight and there was a pre-requisite $49 set up fee. Oh and let’s not forget that I had to do all of it immediately or the ‘service’ would revert back to it’s original price of $319. I almost cussed! Child please.


This list is in no way meant to discourage a new author from pursuing independent publishing. It’s just me venting about some of the frustrations I’ve experienced since my first self publishing venture. I don’t think I’m alone in wanting to occasionally pull my hair out. (I won’t do it. I’m waayyy too into my hair to do something like that!) Tell me about your indie publishing angst in the comments below!

P.S. For those of you that have been praying and believing with me for my sister Tiffany’s full recovery, I have good news. She’s talking! And soon, the feeding tube will be removed. Things are on an upward spiral and I couldn’t be more grateful. God is good!

Photo credit: Pablo Municio / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

I’ve Been M.I.A…. Here’s Why

Hey y’all, I’ve been missing in action for the last week couple of weeks due to a family emergency that sent me into war mode. I gladly signed up to be a front line soldier. My oldest sister Tiffany was admitted to ICU after an emergency room visit that saved her life. I won’t go into all the details, but I know that God spared her and I’ll be forever grateful for His grace in doing so.

My Beautiful Sister Tiffany

My Beautiful Sister Tiffany

Needless to say, blogging, tweeting, answering emails or even just writing has been the farthest thing from my mind. So if you’ve reached out to me in any form over the last couple of weeks and I haven’t responded, charge it to my head and not my heart. I hope to get back in the swing of things in a few weeks, but for now it’s taking all the energy I can muster to work my full-time job, take care of my family and divide my time between Memphis and Dallas.

If you believe in the power of prayer please pray for my sister’s full recovery. She’s a wonderful single mother to my beautiful niece and awesome nephew, and she has much to live for. The road ahead will be challenging, but I know that God is with us and victory is on the horizon. We just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other on this journey of faith. I started a Go Fund Me donation page for Tiffany to help with expenses, as she will be out of work for quite a while. Click here to read more about my fabulous sister and the place where her journey begins. Even if you can’t donate, sharing the fundraiser page on your social media platforms could have a huge impact. Whatever you do, PRAYER is much appreciated.

Much love to you all!

XoXo,

Faith

 

 

 

Me, Wally Lamb & the Moment It All Became Clear: Show vs. Tell

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You ever have one of those moments when you just ‘get’ something? When you fully understand something that was previously a novelty to you? Some people call it an epiphany. Oprah calls it an ‘A-ha moment’.  I had one while reading She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb.

Both my editor and fellow writer/beta reader Ann Fields gave me this advice as part of their feedback for my first novel: show the story, don’t just tell it. I struggled to understand exactly what this meant. The phrase ‘show vs tell’ is thrown around in the writing community all willy-nilly and it’s pretty difficult to explain what it actually means.

She’s Come Undone is the best example of mastering show vs tell that I’ve ever read. The book somehow conveys that Delores is an obese, largely ignored, sexually repressed, sarcastically humorous, intelligent, scared girl. The writer doesn’t tell us this. He shows us by creating scenes in which other characters react to Delores, by giving us insight into her thought processes, by sharing her responses to outside stimuli.

She's come undon

Lamb’s style is dramatic, sensual and visual. We’re not told that Delores is cynical and prone to highlighting other people’s flaws. We’re shown it in the way she notices someone’s rounded belly, stained teeth or oily skin. Delores doesn’t simply take a swim with her father. We’re right there with her feeling the warmth of the pool, seeing the hazy colors of life underwater, experiencing a little girl’s crush for her father.

Reading She’s Come Undone made something click in the part of my brain that couldn’t quite grasp the difference between telling a story and showing a story unfolding. I think it’s important to have a balance between the two, but practicing the skill of showing will make me a much better writer.

The biggest takeaway for me is to not write down to readers. Trust their intelligence enough to believe that they’ll get the point. Relinquish enough creative control to leave room for various interpretations. Because really, that’s what art is.

I’d love to read more books by authors that have mastered the show vs tell balancing act, so if you have suggestions, please don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments below. Special thanks to Kate Loveton for suggesting She’s Come Undone to me! I haven’t finished it yet, so no spoilers please. :)

As a writer, have you struggled with show vs. tell? How did you work through it? Here’s a great article on the show vs. tell debate. I’d love to hear your thoughts on it!

#WriterWednesday : 5 Simple Ways to Increase Your Blog Traffic by Faith Simone

Faith Simone:

A couple of weeks ago I was graciously hosted by fellow author Nigeria Lockley. I wrote a post for #WriterWednesday about 5 simple ways to increase your blog traffic. Although it isn’t Wednesday I thought I’d re-post it on my blog today. I hope you’re all coping with the time change better than I am. Where the coffee at?

Originally posted on Nigeria Lockley:

Have you been wondering how to make your blog work for you instead of you working for your blog? Have you racked your brain trying to figure out why your readers barely engage with the content you post? Well, today on #WriterWednesday the 2014 winner of the Very Inspiring Blogger Award, Faith Simone ofAll Things Written to Inspire and Encourage is stopping by The Neophyte Author to steer us all in the write direction. 

5 Simple Ways to Increase Your Blog Traffic by Faith Simone

Blogging is not for the faint of heart, but it doesn’t have to be super difficult either. At its root, blogging is intended for two things: sharing a person’s personal thoughts on a variety of subjects and connecting with others. That’s it in a nut shell. But we all know that many folks use their blogs as a way to sell products, make…

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Guest Blogger: Mary A. Perez (This Thing Called Tears)

There are a few people walking the earth brave enough to wear their hearts on their sleeves; not because they’re careless or foolish, but because they’ve been through enough to know that each time they share their stories they celebrate their triumph. They’ve won. Mary Perez, of Reflections from the Heart, is one of those people.


This Thing Called Tears by Mary PerezMAry I consider myself a tough cookie. After all, aren’t I a survivor? I’ve survived some hard times: A broken home by age three, followed by poverty, hunger, homelessness, alcoholism, neglect, loss of a sibling at age nine, two near-drowning incidents, in a car wreck, juvenile detention home, taunting, brawls, racism, alternative schooling, marriage to a ruthless man twice my age, bearing four children by the time I was twenty-two—three  by cesarean—physical abuse, verbal abuse, emotional abuse, betrayal, hopelessness, despair, rejection, abandonment, being shot at (he missed), divorce, single-parenting … BUT God! Howbeit, there is a softer side to me as well. This thing called tears. Yes, a family member has even called me sentimental. I have been known to cry after losing a pet, even an insect. I cried when I shot my first deer. I may cry when reading a book, in a dance, a song, during weddings, or when watching a movie. I especially cry when I hear a newborn’s first cry, whether in real life or on TV, I can’t help it, the tears flow. I sometimes cry when opening presents, saying goodbye, at being pleasantly surprised, while laughing, praying, or worshipping in church. Seeing mountains, rainbows, the ocean, a kitten, or a hummingbird can make me cry. I cried when I heard my grandchild call me “Mimi” for the first time. And at times, I cry when I’m hurt, scared, tired, or angry. But I don’t want you to know that. I am tough. Not weak. Remember? Now I’m not much of a horse person, but I know enough to know that a horse is full of grace and strength with every muscle, tendons and ligaments working in unison to support a rider at galloping speed. Yet, that same powerful, majestic horse is controlled by a bit in its mouth and will move in the direction the rider wants to go. When I read about Moses, he was the meekest man who walked the earth. When I read about Jesus, He was all-powerful, yet kept that power in check. His meekness was not weakness. So, I say: It’s okay to let our guard down at times and reveal our softer, sensitive self. It doesn’t mean we’re a softy, or a weakling, or a pushover. Power under control means self-control, and that is a virtue. After all, we are human with God-given emotions. Besides, God bottles our tears. And because God loves us so much, I would venture to say: Sometimes God cries. © M.A. Perez 2013, All Rights Reserved


Running in heels“More than a memoir—this book is a promise of hope for anyone who was abandoned as a child, to anyone who woke up hungry and went to bed hungrier every day, for every wife who has loved a husband who left bruises on her heart and on her body.” Connect with Mary and find out more about her newly released memoir Running in Heels here!


Faith Simone says: It takes a lot of courage to be vulnerable and upfront about things that many people would like to pretend never happen. To come through it all with grit and grace intact, is nothing short of a miracle. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us today Mary!