Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Ever Wanted to Appear in a Fictional Novel?

Good morning! How was everyone's weekend!

Happy Belated Mother's Day for those who celebrated it this past weekend, and to those who celebrate it at other times, Happy Mother's Day to you too! Mothers are amazing! 👶

I spent the day getting mannies and petties 💅 with my mom, two of my sisters, and my niece. My brother came to breakfast with us, and he asked if he wanted to join us at the salon, but apparently he has ridiculously ticklish feet. 👣 You gotta understand, my bro is 6'2" and built like a linebacker. I had this hysterical image of him kicking the poor, 90-pound Asian salon lady in the fact while she tried to give him a pedicure. Or better yet, her hanging on to his foot while he kicked, flying through the air like an attached streamer.

Yeah, my imagination went a little wild. I had a super busy week, but not a bad one. Here's a ridiculously adorable picture of my toddlers falling asleep on one another. The baby is in her car seat next to them, but she's facing the other way, so you can't see that she, too, fell asleep. Gotta love that hot, Utah sun! ;D

So, question for you: have you ever wanted to appear in a fictional novel? Lots of writers base personalities or certain traits of characters on people in their lives or acquaintances they've met.

Pretty much all my characters have parts of me in them, especially the female ones. I don't think I've ever based a character's personality completely on someone I've known, but I have drawn specific aspects from various real life sources.

So have you ever thought about this next question: would you ever want to appear in a fictional novel, specifically as a villain? 😈 I'm gonna take a wild guess and say, probably not. That's why you must always mind your manners around an author. 
Otherwise, you might end up immortalized for something that's less than flattering. ;D

For example, this is song rather than fiction, but did you know that Carly Simon wrote the song "You're so Vain" about an ex-boyfriend. It's about Warren Beatty, whom she dated and, apparently, wasn't too impressed with. Ouch. 😉

So tell me, who are your favorite villains?

I don't know that I could choose just one. There are those villains, like serial killers, who are usually the creepiest and most fascinating. But then you gotta love those hilarious villains that are just so happy to be evil. They always make me smile (while rooting for the hero to take them out, of course. 💪👊)

Crime Fic:

Starting today, check out this promotion for mysteries and thrillers through Instafreebie. Lots of fun books up for grabs. It will run through the 24th. Check it out HERE. 

As you can see from this Scrivner screenshot, Book 3 of Street Games is coming along.

Stay tuned over the next few weeks. As I get closer to completing it, I'll ask for help from all of you in choosing a title.


Remember that Bastions of Blood comes out in exactly one week! I'm so excited for you guys to finally get book 2. You can still pre-order the book for $1.99. That's a dollar cheaper than what it will be when it comes out. Just saying. Pre-order HERE

Remember that I'll be having a Facebook launch party where I'll be giving away prizes including free books and Amazon gift cards. It will run from 7-8:30 MST on May 23rd. Go to THIS LINK to join the event.

Based on what you've read so far in book 1, what do you predict will happen?


Specifically, who is your favorite Dystopian villain? I'm just curious. Jeanine Matthews of Divergent? Big Brother of 1984? What do you think of B so far in Interchron?

Remember to check out the Epic Worlds Giveaway, if you haven't. It only runs until the 19th, so be sure to fill up on free books set in epic worlds. The clock is ticking! Check it out HERE.

Well, have a wonderful week. Whatever you're doing this week, be awesome at it. There's really no other way to go through life! ;D

"Writing is a struggle against silence." --Carlos Fuentes
"Literacy is vital to democracy. For if the governed can neither understand their leaders nor distinguish truth from lies, then a democracy descends into oligarchy, a government by and for the elite few." --John Stauffer 
"Oh that my words were now written! Oh that they were printed in a book! That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock forever!" --Job 19:23-24

Monday, May 15, 2017

Best Way I've Ever Found to Grow my Email List

Good morning! Yes, I know. I've been neglecting my blog again. Cest la vie. But here's the thing:

I've been super busy these past months, overhauling books, busy getting rights reversions, re-editing old works, and building my email list. All of this is in preparation for my "next phase" which will start when I release my next book in about a week. So... *rubs hands together*

1. Instafreebie.

In February, I attended the LTUE conference in Provo, Utah. There, I was approached by a young woman who worked for a site called INSTAFREEBIE.

Anyone heard of it? I hadn't. So please listen. All you authors out there, if you're not on Instafreebie, YOU NEED TO BE ON INSTAFREEBIE.

It's by far the best way I've ever found to build my email. List. Basically, before Instafreebie (IF) I'd had about 30 people on my email list for the 3 years. I just had a really difficult time building it, as many authors do. I joined IF and started doing their promotions. (It is a paid service, but it's not expensive and the promos are free once you join.) In the past 6 weeks I've gained roughly 1800 subscribers. No lie. Here's proof: (Btw, I have different lists for the different genres I write, since not all people who read one genre will want emails about the others. That number represents my total current subscribers across all lists.)

It's by far the best site I've ever found for connecting authors and readers. Seriously, go join IF. Now.

2. I left one of my publishers. They nearly went out of business, but then were bought at the last minute by another company. The problem was, that company only published YA books. Mine are adult. So they didn't kick me to the curb, but they were very frank about the fact that they wouldn't be promoting my books. They said if I wanted to do a promo, they'd put it on their Facebook page, but that was all. So I had them revert the rights to me so I could self publish. I knew I would do better on my own.

I actually feel quite blessed with how well it went. It took some time, of course, but went very smoothly overall. I was able to obtain full rights on both novels I had with that publisher as well as usage of my covers. (Score!)

But here's the kicker: I decided to re-edit Citadels of Fire, since it was one of the first novels I ever wrote. I have a new (relatively) method of editing my work that includes a specific way of editing for crutch words. I wanted to re-edit that manuscript just to see how bad my crutch word usage was back then. And guess what?

It was TERRIBLE! Obviously I've grown a lot as a writer since then, but the thing that was very eye-opening to me is that it was edited for publication by a professional editor. And they didn't catch any of the crutch words/passive voice. When I re-edited it myself a few weeks ago, I cut almost 5,000 words out of my manuscript without changing a single thing in the plot. It was just tightening things up. That's staggering.

So that inspired me to write a little pamphlet for authors about how to edit your own work and never have to pay a professional editor again. I'm working on that now. It won't be a very long book, and I hope to have it finished in the next few weeks.

Finally, Book 2 of Kremlins, Bastions of Blood, will be out next Tuesday, May 23rd. I'm going to have a Facebook Launch Party. (I'll put details in my post tomorrow.) This book really should have come out a year ago, but there was delay after delay at the publisher, before they finally went under/sold to another company. So I'm very excited to finally be able to publish book 2 of my trilogy.

Like I said, more details tomorrow.

Also, for the time being, I'll be publishing about once per week, just updating with news of all my genres. Normally it will probably be on Mondays, but this week I'll be posting it tomorrow. Wanted to do this post today by way of introduction to my new format.

Okay, I think that's all. See you tomorrow, and have a fantabulous Monday! ;D

Thursday, February 2, 2017

2017 New Releases and Friday Funnies

Welcome to Friday Funnies! Because everyone needs a good laugh on Friday.

Feature and Follow Friday

This week's question: What is your most anticipated book of 2017?
Hm. Lots of good ones slated for release. I think I'll go with Cassandra Clare and Laini Taylor's newest releases. Two of my fave authors, so I'm excited for their new books. ;D

Strange the Dreamer
Lord of Shadows

How does #FF work?
--The goal is to increase blog followers, make friends, and have something to post.
--You create your own post using the weekly question.
--You leave your link and thumbnail in the linky list that links back to your post (visit alisoncanread.blogspot.com)
--Once you have your post up and linked, visit other posts and them them hi. FOLLOW them, don't just comment.
--If you especially like a post or just want to show appreciation, like the blogger name on the linky list.
--The person with the most likes gets chosen as the next Feature.
--You must follow the weekly featured blogger.

What books are you looking forward to this year? ;D

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

IWSG: Fearlessness in Writing

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day.
Details HERE and as always thanks to our wonderful host, Alex J. Cavanaugh

The thing I've been thinking about lately is boldness vs. fear. I've never thought of myself as a fearful or timid writer, but I think sometimes I am and I don't realize it. Some of my earlier stories were accused of being somewhat predictable. I haven't had anyone say that in awhile, but that doesn't mean that I've completely gotten away from it either. 

Part of that is just learning how to craft a great story. Learning to put in twists and turns and do what the reader won't expect. But I also think it partly has to do with simply being bolder. Taking more risks in general. Some of the most successful stories on the market are popular specifically because they don't do what the conventional story does. 

I'm going to be doing a lot of story boarding and planning for upcoming projects this month, so I'm challenging myself to always ask if what I'm doing with my story is something that might be expected or predictable. If the answer even might be yes, I've told myself I HAVE to change it to something more surprising. The most shocking thing I can think of for that scene. It can be harder than you might think to do that and still keep whatever theme, plot, or character you're going for in tact. But that's my challenge for this month. And therefore, the thing I'm most insecure about. ;D Wish me luck!

January Question: How had being a writer changed your experience as a reader?

It's definitely made me more critical. As a writer, we are our own editors, so we tend to edit--whether consciously or unconsciously--every book we read. I'll admit it can make it harder to just sit back and enjoy a great story.

It also makes me always dissect a story as I read it. Where is it going? What's the point of this scene or that detail? When it comes to watching TV or movies, I always have to keep my mouth shut because I can usually predict where the story is going, just by it's structure. A by-product of crafting your own stories, I'm afraid. But I always find that understanding the story structure enriches the experience for me.

What are you insecure about this month?

Monday, January 30, 2017

January is Ending: The Number One Way to Keep Accomplishing Your Goals

So January is coming to a close and I'm taking stock of my month. The first month of 2017. At this point, statistically most people (like 75-90%) who made New Years Resolutions have already dropped them like Charlie Brown's rock.

I actually haven't, and I'm proud of myself for that. But did I accomplish everything I wanted to in January.

Another no. I wanted to finish the draft of my WIP by the end of January, and while I've made good progress, I'm only roughly half way done.

I also wanted to write one short story this month on top of my other writing. Yeah, kinda choked on that one. It took me most of the month to even come up with a viable idea. I think I have one now, but the fact remains I didn't get it written in the 30 day period I was aiming for.

The same is true of some of my other personal goals. I definitely made progress, but not quite as much as I was hoping.

And do I say this to be negative or feel sorry for myself? Of course not. Quite the opposite. The fact of the matter is, I've done more writing this month than I did in the last six months of 2016 combined. Even if I don't manage 12 short stories, if I manage like...3, it'll still be more short stories than I written in the past 3 years. (That's about how long it's been since I wrote my last one.) And while I didn't make as much progress as I would have liked, the fact is, I still made progress.

And I think this is the main problem most people experience who give up so quickly on their resolutions--be they physical, productive, financial, or anything else. They assume that if they can't do 200% of their goals immediately, it means they'll never be able to, and they'll never reach them, so they give up.

But the thing is, you have to train your brain to work toward any goal. I'm still re-training my brain to get used to this amount of writing. As much as I accomplished on each of my goals this month, I'll probably do time and a half or twice that next month. As you train yourself to do more, you'll be able to do your tasks more quickly and efficiently. But as with anything, you have to build up to it.

So what's the number one way to keep accomplishing your goals?

Just keep on keeping on. 

Even if you only did 50%, 10%, 1% of what you would have liked, just keep pressing forward. Decide you'll do that much again this month. No! Decide you'll do more. If you only did 1% this month, do 2% next month. Or 5%. Or more. Then press on from there. The brain is an amazing organ and it adapts more quickly than most people realize. You'll improve at an amazing rate, if you just keep trying. Bottom line?

Just don't give up. If you're still pursing your goals, you're already a head of 3/4 of the population. And you'll be J.K. Rowling before you know it. ;D

Happy Monday!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Blogging Tips, Friday Funnies and Week in Review

Scroll down for both #FFs. ;D

                                     Week in Review

Words Written: 6204. Better than last week. Not as many as I wanted, but meh. I'm happy with it. :D Moving right along. I actually think I've written more words this past month than in the last...I don't even know...3-6 mos combined. *does creepy author dance*

Books Read: Still haven't finished American Gods, but making progress. I have five days to finish! ;D

Short Story: Yeah, didn't even touch the short story. :/

Welcome to Friday Funnies! Because everyone needs a good laugh on Friday.

Feature and Follow Friday

This week's question: What are some tips that help you with blogging? 

I think my number one tip would be to just be yourself and not overthink it. Treat your blog (kind of) like a journal. Not necessarily a personal one, but a journal about whatever your blog focuses on. I've taken to sometimes just posting about rambling thoughts I've had in the past week, strange ideas that I realize I can incorporate into my writing. These posts tend to be short and not at all thought out, but sometimes they get way more hits than the ones I do think and plan out. People are most inspired by genuine, human thoughts, I've found. So just be yourself and don't overthink it. ;D

How does #FF work?
--The goal is to increase blog followers, make friends, and have something to post.
--You create your own post using the weekly question.
--You leave your link and thumbnail in the linky list that links back to your post (visit alisoncanread.blogspot.com)
--Once you have your post up and linked, visit other posts and them them hi. FOLLOW them, don't just comment.
--If you especially like a post or just want to show appreciation, like the blogger name on the linky list.
--The person with the most likes gets chosen as the next Feature.
--You must follow the weekly featured blogger.

How has your writing week been? Do you make these faces when reading/writing? ;D

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

LTUE 2017

Good morning and Happy Hump Day! :D

Just a quick announcement today. LTUE 2017 runs from February 16-18 at the Provo (Utah) Marriott. For those who don't know, LTUE stands for Life, the Universe, and Everything. It's an annual symposium on Sci-Fi and Fantasy. I haven't attended in a couple of years but I love it. So much knowledge and networking with other authors to be had! More details HERE.

Anyway, I'll be there this year, both as a panelist and as an appearing author at the Book Extravaganza. If you're in Utah, come and see me. I'd love to meet you and stay for some panels. I promise you'll learn tons and feel an amazing drive toward your own creativity. Hope to see everyone there! ;D

Have a fantastic Wednesday! Make sure to practice random acts of kindness! ;D