Editorial Assistance

Five Most Popular Posts of 2012

Since 2012 is coming to an end, I figured it would be a great idea to write a post featuring my top five most popular/helpful posts this year. Listing and rereading these posts are as helpful for me as they will hopefully be for you. 2013 will be one hell of a year for me, so it's important I take note of what posts were popular and try to comprehend why. Enjoy!

How to Survive 100 Degree Weather with No A/C and Limited Fans

Uncommon Assassins edited by Weldon Burge

Four Characteristics Successful Writers Share

The Snowflake Method, Info Overload and Consistency 

Buffy, Supernatural, Ghost Ship, and Silence of the Lambs

I'm not surprised that these posts are the most popular. Four of those posts were list posts, three humorous. From my experience with Neatorama and Cracked, those are definitely formulas that work.   

Uncommon Assassins edited by Weldon Burge

*Giveaway Bonus* 

The giveaway is closed. The winner of the signed, paperback copy of Uncommon Assassins is Selinda!

I hope you enjoy the the review. ^_^

Assassin stories usually don't interest me. For the longest time, I associated stories centered around assassins with flashy action movies - you know, the type of action movies with sexy characters, one-dimensional villains, action-packed music, and little to no plot.  I'm certain the association is a misinformed, close-minded one, but it's the type of association that sadly kept me far away from many books or movies centered around assassins.

Regardless, when I learned that Weldon Burge was putting together another short story collection, this one called Uncommon Assassins, I knew I had to get my hands on it.

Zippered Flesh: Tales of Body Enhancements Gone Bad, the first short story collection edited by Weldon Burge, was amazing. I absolutely loved reading and reviewing it. Back when I used to give out the Reader's Den Choice Award, I knew without a doubt that Zippered Flesh would get the award.

Weldon Burge is great at many things, and putting together interesting short story collections is one of them. Fortunately, that's as true with Uncommon Assassins as it is with Zippered Flesh.

Just like with Zippered Flesh, Uncommon Assassins is full of short stories with terrifying or interesting twists. I read and edit so much that I can predict what will happen in most stories. Because of that, I'm often desperate for uncommon books. I love being surprised. I love being totally uncertain about what's going to happen next or assuming I know exactly what will happen next and being proven wrong.

While one or two of the stories in Uncommon Assassins didn't surprise me or come across as particularly uncommon - For instance, as well-written and interesting as the first short story was, it didn't seem all too uncommon to me - most of them did.

My absolute favorite story is a tie between Everybody Wins by Lisa Mannetti and Fire & Ice by Joseph Badal. Both stories have incredibly terrifying plots. In Everybody Wins, the antagonist takes advantage of suicidal people through a suicide hotline and basically forces them to kill themselves and someone else. In Fire & Ice, the antagonists takes advantage of young girls by getting them addicted to drugs and forcing them into a sex business. In both stories, the writers do a great job showing just how heartbreaking and horrifying being in those positions would be.

With Fire & Ice, I loved knowing that the antagonists had finally messed with the wrong young girl and that karma was about to get them really bad once the girl's brother, an assassin, got involved. As for Everybody Wins, I found the whole concept as interesting as it was terrifying.

Other favorites were Fat Larry's Night with the Alligators by Ken Goldman, Misconceptions by Matt Hilton, Bloodshed Fred by Monica J. O'Rourke, and Slasher by Paul F. Wilson.

Of course, there were some stories I didn't like so much either. My least favorite was The Pepper Tyrant by J. Gregory Smith. The concept of having a pepper eating contest as a serious challenge with serious consequences is interesting, and I liked the twist at the end. However, the story seemed awkwardly written, definitely compared to the stories after and before it. I also had mixed feelings about Killer by Ken Bruen. I loved it's poetic style, word usage, and formatting, but the plot confused me about halfway through.

Overall, I have to say that Weldon Burge did a great job with this collection, just as I expected, and that I can't wait to get my hands on the next collection he puts together.

Find Uncommon Assassins

Update on Unconventional Methods of Book Promotion & Networking

It's a good thing I don't have an established, large fanbase yet. I still have a lot to learn about self-publishing, especially when it comes to conversions, distribution, and cover art. Even worse, a lot of personal matters interfered. Unfortunately, that means that I couldn't release Unconventional Methods December 5th.

At first I thought I could learn and do all the conversion and distribution on my own (generally my downfall; I'm learning to get better at accepting help), but then I realized that was unlikely to happen. I almost turned to Book Baby, but after lots of research and discussions with other writers, I decided against that. While I wouldn't say Book Baby is a scam or that it's vanity, I have heard that the prices can easily be avoided and that the customer service has a tendency of going down once you actually sign on with them.

Instead, I think I'm going to The Eyes for Editing or WalkingStick Books for ebook and print conversions. I've come up with my own ideas for promotion, but I wouldn't mind turning to Xpresso for a book tour. Of course, this depends on how the tour sign-up process works and if they do tours for nonfiction books. By that, I mean how exactly does Xpresso get participants? I wish I could turn to Novel Publicity for a tour, but they're much too expensive for me.

While I like my current cover, I'm thinking about buying a stock image and creating a new cover. Interior design and book jacket design are two things I never thought about, unfortunately, so I still have a lot more planning to do if I plan to make this book both an ebook and a print book. I still have to create and pay for a number of tl;dr cards as well.

So far, here are prices (as of now) for what I'm talking about:

1.) Stock Image - $19
2.) eBook formatting - $100
3.) Print formatting - $150
4.) 100 copies of tl;dr card - $39.99

Already, that's over my current budget ($300) and that doesn't even count taxes or other hidden prices I may not know about just yet. My ordering of print copies for Indiegogo backers will have to wait. At this rate, I'll be lucky if I don't have to put one of the things above on hold until I do other freelance things on the side to pay for it.

In all, I'll have to update my Unconventional Methods page to make it clear that most of the dates there have changed and that I can't do the book tour (Only two people volunteered anyhow).

This is all a learning process for me. As of now, there are three other books I'd like to self-publish - a how-to series and an anthology. Working on Unconventional Methods is a great way to prepare me for those books.

Black Earth: Exodus by David N. Alderman [Review]

 *Giveaway Bonus*

There's a Rafflecopter giveaway for all 4 books in the Black Earth Series at the end of this post. Entering is easy, and the only required entry method is commenting on this blog post. However, the people with the most points will win. 

The giveaway ends December 16th. I hope you enjoy the review!


Nathan Pierce has a lot in common with the Broken Lands. In spite of how much damage has been done to the world thanks to Legion and the president, there is still sunlight and love within Nathan. Sure, he struggles with the sunlight, but it's still there and can remain there as long as he has enough faith in himself and those he loves.

As thus, it's only fitting that Exodus, the last book in the Black Earth series, begins with Nathan reflecting in the Broken Lands about the many people who have already departed either from this world or from his life before continuining his journey against Legion.

Sitting in the Broken Lands playground, watching the sun set with Ginger, is one of Nathan's last moments of peace.

Soon after, they find a woman who is part of Legion, a woman willing to help Nathan and betray Legion in the process. Unfortunately, her very presence causes more members of Legion to arrive, and things can only get worse when more members of Legion join the fray.

In a dark realm far from where Nathan and members of Daisy's Rebellion ran into trouble, Cynthia Sin Ruin sits atop a throne as the princess of the Black Cathedral, the mysterious Ryn her king. She doesn't know exactly why Ryn asked her to be the princess or what exactly she's supposed to do, but she has mixed feelings about the Black Cathedral. Sometimes she's anxious and afraid; other times, she loves the power, and she loves the power even more when Ryn gives her the one thing she loves most - sex slaves. Her battle is within. Will she lose herself to her sex addiction and the darkness involved in being the princess of the Dark Cathedral?

Back on Earth and inside the high tech SilverTech facility, Mr. Silver is still dealing with the assassin who has been trying to kill him for a while. Even more, he has to prepare to leave for Anaisha along with the selective group of people being sent to Anaisha with his special airships, but that won't be so easy with an assassin as successful as Mira deadset on taking his life.

Of course, as the case with all the books in David Alderman's Black Earth series, there are more plots than just the point of view (POV) ones. Ericka Shane, Heather, Pearl, President Stone, Evanescence, Olivia, Absolute, Marigold, Ryn, Chaos, Legion...they all play a considerable role in the plot. All of the sub-plots intertwine, but this time around there aren't as many sub-plots to keep up with.

For the most part, I really liked Exodus. The descriptions, especially the descriptions for battle scenes with Legion, were wonderful. I loved the character development for Nathan, Heather, Cynthia, and Ericka. I enjoyed reminiscing about how certain characters were in the first book and marvelling at what they became. Since I knew that the Black Earth series would lead to David's Expired Reality series, I didn't expect a happy-go-lucky movie ending where the main protagonists would somehow defeat the antagonists in the nick of time and save earth moments before it could fall apart. I don't want to spoil the ending, of course, but my expectations about the ending were true.

There were some things I didn't like, but I'll cover that below, in my review of the entire Black Earth series.

Black Earth Series

I've read and reviewed all four books in the Black Earth series. If you want to read my reviews of the first three books, just click the corresponding title:

Black Earth: End of the Innocence 
Black Earth: The Broken Daisy
Black Earth: Dark Masquerade

This is the first book series where I've reviewed all the books. That in itself makes me very happy. It's been quite the ride, but I enjoyed reading the series as much as I enjoyed talking to the author.

Characters have grown, some more than others, and much has changed. Many have joined the tale and disappeared. The conflicts became tougher in each book, the stakes higher. David Alderman outdid himself in each book with his great writing and immense imagination.

With each book, the number of sub-plots grew smaller and smaller. That's a good thing! However, there's a bad side to that downsizing. By the last book, I couldn't shake off the feeling that seemingly important plot points that carried on through multiple books didn't really get a proper ending.

I'm okay with the fact that some of the major plot points weren't resolved since David makes it very clear that the story continues in the Expired Reality series, but I felt like there were one or two sub-plots that could've been resolved. For instance, it bothered me that the origin of Cynthia's book wasn't really explained. I also didn't like that her pregnancy often seemed like an after thought. When her pregnancy first happened, it played a vital point in the plot, but, by the last book, it seemed like a build-up with no 'up.'

I'm not really a fan of ratings. The numbers usually seem arbitrary to me, but I feel the need to rate Black Earth.


If you think you'd enjoy Edgy Christian Speculative Fiction, this is definitely the book for you. There are demons, aliens, sci-fi technology, angels, battles, and much, much more. Even better, the series is mainly about hope, faith, love, and willpower. I hope you enjoy the series and meeting the author as much as I did!


Author David N. Alderman
  Find David N. Alderman


Cover Reveal for Unconventional Methods

There it is! The cover as well as the release date for Unconventional Methods has been revealed. I'm both very excited and very nervous. This is not just my very first nonfiction book to be published, but it's also my first self-published book. I still have a lot to learn and a lot left to do. 

If, by any chance, you want to help me share the cover reveal and release date by posting the cover image on the sidebar of your site, all you have to do is copy/save as the image below: 

The Importance of Prioritizing

Prioritizing and time management is hard work, and it becomes even harder when more variables get tossed in. For instance, I spent a long amount of time being a workaholic loner. Though I was miserable, I never had a hard time creating and sticking to tight, efficient schedules. I knew exactly what I wanted to achieve and exactly how to go about achieving it in a timely, thorough manner. Prioritizing was my entire life...

Well, until I met Matthew, fell in love, had a series of breakdowns when I went away to college, and then finally reached a happy equilibrium with myself where I feel confident, beautiful, intelligent, and ready to pursue my dreams.

Now everything is reversed. I still have my bad juju moments, but overall I'm very happy with who I am and who I want to be. As a result, I hang out a lot more, both with my friends and my boyfriend, and I allow myself to take breaks and have fun. On top of that, my fear of college has dissipated enough for me to enroll in college again (though I admittedly still think I could be doing much much better things with my time) and I finally have a part-time job.

Nothing clashes more with prioritizing than being a full-time college student who has a part-time job and friends/boyfriend who like to hang out.

Of course, when I say prioritizing, I don't mean just prioritizing my personal life. I'm a writer, editor, reviewer, and entrepreneur. My ideas are never 'average.' I like to take something that's been overdone and add something fresh or relatively unheard of. I like to create a list of ideas and and put it together to make something grandiose. Unfortunately, grandiose innovations require dedication, time management, hard work, and, more than anything, the ability to consistently prioritize.

If I were a stranger observing myself, these would be my priorities, in order from most important to least important. It's not really in order of what I think is most important, which is a vital distinction to make. People, including me, don't necessarily live life the way they want to or think they should. Many of us live life the way it forces us to and then try to add in what we want.

  •  Hanging out with my boyfriend.
  • Getting good grades at college, or at least going every day and finishing the majority of the assignments.
  • Hanging out with friends (keep in mind that, while I do get asked to hang out more than before, I don't get asked to hang out on an everyday basis. Some months I'll only be asked once or twice. Other months, I'm out one or two times a week. Regardless, it's not rampant and extremely time consuming).
  • Working on Unconventional Methods of Book Promotion and Networking
  • Improving my networking.
  • Entering into writing/scholarship contests.
  • Working on Savior of the Damned and other fiction ideas.
  • Developing my retail store idea or any other entrepreneurial idea that seems worth pursuing. 
  • Working on DIY Guide to Book Promotion and Networking and the tutorial videos.
It's a lot to try and prioritize, and each is very important for one reason or another. The first thing I want to do is start crossing stuff off the list. I start thinking, "Maybe I should hang out with Matthew less. Maybe I should turn my friends down. Maybe I should become a part-time college student or take another break...."

They seem reasonable when written out like that, but those solutions don't really work for me when applied. They throw off my equilibrium in a way that always escalates to unnecessary issues.

See, my main problem with prioritizing is that I want to think about and work on every idea simultaneously. I want to be an entrepreneur, writer, editor, reviewer, tutor, full-time college student, sales associate, committed girlfriend, and social butterfly ALL AT ONCE. Every day, I'm awake and active for 15 hours, give or take, and I want to stretch those 15 hours and divide them into neat little portions where I can cleanly take off one hat and put on another.

Unfortunately, life doesn't work that way. If you have lots of ideas and live an active, multifaceted life, your method of prioritizing needs to take that multifaceted life and spell it out. What does that mean?

First, it means that you need to figure out what part of your priorities will happen consistently regardless. For me, that's the first three priorities in the list above and improving my networking. I don't have any intentions to change those priorities or do them some other time. They just happen, and they don't interrupt my life so much that they're intolerable or counterproductive.

Second, it means that you need to figure out what's most important to you now and what can be put aside until later. If I take that list above and list it again based on what's immediately important, but this time missing the four consistent priorities, this is the list I get:

  • Working on Unconventional Methods of Book Promotion and Networking
  • Working on Savior of the Damned 
  • Working on DIY Guide to Book Promotion and Networking
  • Entering into writing/scholarship contests (Which I'll most likely do simultaneously with developing my retail idea)
  • Developing my retail ideas (This may move higher up on the list if I enter this idea into the Big Sell competition this May) 
Now that I know exactly what needs to be done by order of immediate importance, I know exactly what to focus on individually. Right now, I need to finish Unconventional Methods of Book Promotion and Networking. That needs to be ready for publication by the end of this month. Until I finish Unconventional Methods, I shouldn't work on any other thing in that priority list. Sure, if I get ideas, it's fine to note the ideas in a notebook, but I shouldn't follow up on that idea until I'm finished with what I'm currently working on. Otherwise, I'm just giving myself permission to procrastinate with the excuse that, "It's not really procrastination. I'm working on something I need to work on, after all."

I also need to get rid of my 'be all, end all' notebook. Having one notebook for everything I need to do makes me more likely to procrastinate and work on something I shouldn't be working on. Beside that, it's also highly unorganized and frustrating when I want to search for something and find it mixed in with a gazillion unrelated notes.

How do you prioritize?

Author Interview: Mark Carver

Give us a brief introduction of yourself.
I'm an American currently living in China with my wife and son. I teach English classes at a Chinese university. My interests include art, tattoos, heavy metal, cathedrals, a cold beer, and of course, reading and writing.

Tell us about your writing. What genre(s) do you specialize in?

I've been writing stories of all kinds since I was a little kid, but I've always been drawn to sci-fi, action/adventure, and horror. I like to infuse all the elements that I enjoy reading into my own writing. I'm a sucker for intense dramatic atmosphere and melodrama, and I try to make my writing moody and engrossing. I also enjoying writing about characters that are unlikable and even repulsive. I see it as a challenge: to make readers loathe a character but still feel compelled to read about them.

Who are your favorite authors?
I pretty much only read classics. I rarely pick up a book that is less than one hundred years old, though I do enjoy some modern authors. Anything from the Gothic, American Romantic, and Victorian eras suit me just fine, but I also enjoy intense psychological stories, regardless of genre or era. Lord of the Flies by William Golding is my favorite book.

What inspires you to write?

I like writing what I would want to read. I get most of my inspiration from music and movies. I am a very visual writer and I try to replicate what I see in my mind through words. I listen to a lot of bombastic music like death and doom metal, and this helps put me in the mood to write. I love action movies that are explosive and over-the-top, so I seek to combine rip-roaring action with atmospheric creepiness. This is the direction that my writing is going now, but I'm sure my inspiration will change when I branch out into other genres.

Describe your writing process.

The time of day doesn't matter, but I have to be alone, either at home or in my office. I usually listen to heavy metal music, and I like to drink beer or green tea. I find my best bursts of creativity happen after I've watched a TV program or movie.

Any upcoming projects?
The Age of Apollyon just came out last month, but I'm already 2/3rds finished with the sequel, Black Sun.  There will be a total of three books in this series, and I expect to finish Black Sun early next year. I have a few ideas in my head that are just waiting to pop out, and I'm pretty good about keeping a steady writing rhythm, so I hope to crank out at least one book a year. You'll just have to wait and see.

Where can we find you and your books?
The Age of Apollyon on Amazon
The Age of Apollyon on Barnes and Noble
Official website

Four Characteristics Successful Writers Share

I spend a lot of time stalking reading and observing Neil Gaiman's blog and Tumblr.  I've been reading his posts as though they are chapters of a book for months. For his journal, I started from the first post and worked my way up. There are more than 5000 posts there, so I of course haven't read everything, but I like to believe I will one day. For his Tumblr, I started from the most recent post and am currently working my way to the first.

If vicariously living through Neil Gaiman and other successful writers - Amanda Hocking, J.S. Chancellor, Michelle Davidson Argyle, David N. Alderman, etc. - has taught me anything, it's that there are five characteristics many successful writers seem to share. Incidentally, of the five characteristics, I fail at three.

In fact, my idea for this post came about when I asked myself, "Why am I not more successful? What is Neil Gaiman doing that I'm not doing?" I have faith in myself. I know I'm intelligent and hard-working enough to achieve anything I put my mind to, so why haven't I achieved much of anything since the busiest, most successful month of my life?

Here's what came to mind:

Successful Writers Finish Projects

After all, how can you attain success if you haven't finished anything?

This is, by far, one of the hardest things for an aspiring writer to do. It's completely understandable. Writing a novel is hard work. It takes some people weeks to complete a full novel while it takes others months, if not years.

For many, that's the appeal of Nanowrimo. It motivates writers to finish; it teaches them that writing a crappy novel is okay as long as you finish the damn thing. Even more, it combines all of that with a large support system.

Notice how I said 'projects' instead of 'project'? Sure, some writers are lucky enough to be wildly successful with only one project under their belt, but most successful writers I idolize have finished loads of projects. Whenever I check in to see what they're up to, they're always working on and finishing something else. It makes perfect sense. The more quality stuff you have out there, the better.

Successful Writers Make Meaningful, Genuine Connections 

What does Amanda Palmer, Neil Gaiman, Erika Napoletano, and Chuck Wendig have in common? They don't treat their readers like far-off fans. They treat them like friends. They consistently talk to their readers (for Amanda Palmer, listeners). They let their readers know that they play a vital role in their success and even let their readers play a vital role in their success. Their connections are meaningful and genuine. Whenever I read something of theirs, I feel like part of one big family. Because of that, I absolutely love supporting them. 

I go into more detail about genuine relationships in Facebook and Marketing: Episode 2 - Genuine Networking.



Successful Writers Work Hard and Make Their Own Luck

Sometimes, people do get out-of-the-blue lucky but, in most cases, luck is just a matter of preparation and hard work meeting opportunity.

The chances of you getting lucky rise when you finish more projects. The chances of you getting lucky also rise when you make meaningful connections. See the pattern?

All in all, don't rely on luck and don't expect it. Just work hard, finish projects, and make meaningful connections and luck will probably come knocking at your door.

Most Importantly, Successful Writers are Consistent

Consistency is boss. If you're not consistent with connections and writing, you'll never be successful. Consistency is the driving force behind all the characteristics of success.

What do you think leads to success? What writers do you admire?

Step One: Preparing 'Unconventional Methods' for Publication

In July and August, I ran an Indiegogo campaign for Unconventional Methods of Book Promotion and Networking. I only reached 17% of my $2000 goal, or $355. After fees from Paypal and Indiegogo, that amounted to $290. I have not and will not touch that money. It's specifically for the book, which I am, of course, still working on.

After doing a substantive critique, I came up with a seven step list of everything I need to do to get Unconventional Methods ready for publication. Some steps are longer and more time-consuming than others, but they will all get me to a finished book worthy of publishing and promoting.

Here's step one: Define terminology for the index. Put chapters in the right section depending on the terminology. Add/remove chapters. Figure out which interviews I'll for sure conduct and where I'll place the interviews in the book.

I finished step one yesterday and learned that Unconventional Methods will have two sections, both with 5-6 chapters (titles subject to change):

Social Media and Networking
Yahoo! Answers
Seven Step Networking
World Literary Cafe*
Facebook Pictures*
Roundabout Promotion*
Author Karma

Promotion and Advertising
Giveaway Sites
Quizzes and Games*
Web Series*
Business Products
Character Personification*

*Chapters I'd love to get an interview for. I will not conduct an interview for each, but I need to choose three for each section for the sake of a back-up plan. 

I plan on doing two interviews for each section. I already know exactly who I'd like to interview and what to do if I can't get their help. I won't release names until I complete step two, which is dedicated entirely to interviews, and get some okays.

How do you prepare your books for publication, especially if you're self-publishing? 

What I Learned from Fat Kid Rules the World

*NOTE: There are slight spoilers, but really it won't ruin the book for you. Also, I made all snippets of writing advice bold so, in case you don't really care to read about my life or emotions, you can skip right to the juicy bits about the craft of writing.

The first time I read Fat Kid Rules the World, I was a freshman in high school. I don't remember how I found out about the book (maybe it was required reading for some classes?), but I do remember judging the title: "Is this gonna be some stupid revenge story? Why'd I choose to review this for the newspaper?" However, as soon as I started reading the book, I couldn't stop. I forgot all about my immature judgements.

Curt, the sickly talented guy always afraid people will bail, and Troy, the social outcast who thinks far too much and depresses himself, seemed like two halves of my whole.

I didn't really have a breakdown until my sophomore year of high school, but I could feel myself bristling even when I was a freshman. In fact, a scene from pages 146-148 made me realize I was bristling.

In the aforementioned scene, Curt and Troy are in a diner. Curt asks Troy to watch these skinny, stereotypically beautiful people eat. At first Troy starts putting himself down. He thinks about what makes them beautiful and relates it to what makes him not beautiful. Curt instantly realizes this and tells him, "You're not watching them. You're watching you. If you'd watch them you'd see it."

I remember how Curt's response really struck me. I realized, in that moment, that I'd been watching myself my whole life. Hell, I still do. People are often just one-sided mirrors to my downfalls and flaws. I exaggerate their positives and exaggerate my negatives even though I know damn well how simplified that is.

Anyway, back to the scene.

Troy goes back to analyzing them as they eat. It takes a while for him to stop watching himself - trust me, that's really hard to stop doing - but when he does stop, he finally realizes that they're just acting. They're trying really hard. There are little indications, if you look close enough, that make it clear just how unsure and unhappy they are as well. As 'perfect' as they may seem, they're really not.

Curt puts Troy's realization in words: "That moment you see through the bullshit? That's what punk music is all about. That's what anything great is all about. We're all just stuffing our faces, no matter what we look like, and people need to figure that out. When you can play that moment, you've got it."

In the very next chapter, Troy cried. I cried too. It seems silly in hindsight, that a scene as simple as that could make me cry, but it really did mean something to me. I cried because I felt like those pretentious characters trying too hard to be stereotypically beautiful and perfect. I thought, "I'm worse than a liar. I am a lie."

Minutes later, I forced myself to stop crying, promptly felt dumb for crying, and buried the moment of clarity in my mind where it would simmer until the downhill current of shit hitting the fan started a year later.

On a writerly note, Fat Kid Rules the World also taught me that book reviews can be really fun if you're passionate about the book. Fat Kid Rules the World was my very first review. I've written 50+ reviews since then.

The Second Time

During a field trip to Indianapolis with the First Friday Wordsmiths, the only club I'm able to stay in after the car crash, we visited the Konnegut Library, where Corey Michael Dalton lived for Banned Books Weeks. His section of the library, which consisted of a small desk, a futon-like bed, and a chair and tables for his laptop, was sectioned by a stack of banned books.

Sorry it's so dark, but isn't that a cool stack? It almost looks like he's in a prison, like the books. 

In that stack, I noticed Fat Kid Rules the World instantly. I remembered how much I loved it for being realistic and unfiltered. when I learned that the FFW advisor was planning for us to do a public reading of banned books on campus, I knew I would be reading from Fat Kid Rules the World. When I checked it out from the library, I intended to read a scene for the event and turn it back in. Of course, I didn't do that. Instead, just like before, I peeked at the first couple of pages and couldn't stop.

I figured I wouldn't have time to finish Fat Kid Rules the World, which is why I never intended to read it a second time, but I made time simply because I couldn't fathom not finishing it. Kudos to K.L. Going for that!

This time around, Fat Kid Rules the World taught me an important lesson about writing stand-alone books. When you want to keep the book focused, it's a good idea to choose a very specific goal to end the story on. In Fat Kid Rules the World, the goal became the first gig Troy could play in without panicking out. 

See, I'm the type of writer who always gets carried away with sub-plots. I love sub-plots, and I think my love for video games plays a huge role in that. However, I don't want every fiction book I write to need 3-14 books just to tie the plot up. I would love to write a slice of life or bildungsroman story that only requires one book to finish it, and Fat Kid Rules the World helped my mind click. Now I know exactly how to go about writing a stand-alone book.

Yes, yes, I know that's really simple, and that's something I should've known as a writer and editor ages ago, but something about seeing it effectively done in a published novel made the advice seem that much more effective.

The Power of To-Do Lists

*This is a post that I originally wrote for The Best Damn Creative Writing Blog before it went down and came back. I'm reposting the article here since it is no longer on the site.

 Every morning, without fail, I create a to-do list that usually keeps me busy throughout the day. The satisfaction I get from writing a check mark is only rivalled by the satisfaction I get from biting into a chocolate bar.

First off, consistently creating and following a to-do list is important. Part of me wants to tag on a shy 'Maybe...depending upon the person,' but the differences I've seen in satisfaction and progression between those who list and those who just rely on their mind are too distinct. If there's a lot of stuff you need/want to get done, lots of stuff that will depress you if you forget, create a list. Most serious writers have a lot on their plate, definitely when it comes to networking and promotion, so I'm especially talking to you if you inhabit that broad category.

You may think you're too busy to sit down for two minutes and sloppily jot down what you want to accomplish (you can eat breakfast and write simultaneously, y'know); you may be a very unorganized person by nature who likes every day to be a spontaneous surprise; you may be too scatterbrained to get into the habit of doing a list every day; heck, you may even be dead set on the idea that no written list can beat your all-powerful mental list.

You know what? I still say write a list because I once was all of those types (except unorganized) and none of that stopped me. Here are some pointers:

  • Make the list extremely long so you won't feel bad if you can't check everything off. Because my lists are often scary, off-the-wall ridiculous, I can easily say, "It's okay I didn't complete everything. I mean, it would've been impossible, and I'm just human after all." Is that cheating in a sense? Perhaps.

  • Find the number you are okay stopping at. As long as I check off the 3-5 most important things on the list, I'm satisfied. 

Lists are a great way for you to see how much closer you are to your main goals. I'm all about drawing the big picture (listing major goals), breaking it into a number of puzzle pieces (listing minor goals), and then drawing the big picture again.

More importantly, though, lists and check marks are an obvious indication that you're not wasting your life away. At the end of the day, note how much you've completed (not how much you haven't; that's counterproductive) and notice how good you feel about yourself before sleeping.

I announce what I've completed on Facebook - not to seek validation from others, but to seek validation from myself. Social networking sites can make stating your daily accomplishments, things you want to complete and actually did thanks to a list, seem so much more final, like you're proud enough to share your progress with everyone who can read your statuses.

And you should be. So get in the habit of writing those lists.

The First Draft Race

*This is a post that I originally wrote for The Best Damn Creative Writing Blog before it went down and came back. I'm reposting the article here since it is no longer on the site.

Writing the first draft of a novel is like a race, except it matters less who is first and more who can pass the finish line.

Let's say there are fifty runners. Even before the race starts, one can predict the outcome. Fifteen people won't make it past the preliminaries. Thirty people will struggle through and stop at the first round. The remaining five people, though, will win.

It's usually those fifteen writers, and a couple of writers who stopped at the first round, that never rejoin the race. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. Maybe they've realized writing isn't for them, and they can redirect their energy to something they can better excel at. However, there are a few dedicated troopers that just keep coming back. Sometimes they get closer; sometimes they don't advance at all, but they take a deep breath and try again. It's not that they don't genuinely want a completed first draft. They don't know how to get there.

This article is for those troopers.

I spent about two or three years constantly starting new novels. Ten-thousand words, if even that, was as far as I could get before my passion dissipated. Still, I wanted to be a 'real writer' with all my heart, and I was certain, even at the age of thirteen, that 'real writers' actually, y'know, finished stuff.

Things changed for the better when I stumbled upon five methods that both challenged me and kept my passion going. Here they are, in no particular order:

1.) Nanowrimo: National Novel Writing Month, or Nanowrimo, is a contest where your goal is to write fifty-thousand words or more from November 1st-30th. Nanowrimo is great for encouraging you to just write and write with no inhibitions. The forums are friendly and infomative; you have a deadline to hopefully stop you from procrastinating as much; it's easy to gather a support group that will follow you way after November. I didn't win Nanowrimo the year I participated, but I did reach twenty-thousand words. Hey, that's ten-thousand more than my usual word count at the time!

2.) Inspiration: Watch movies that make you think, "Wow, I want to make my readers feel this attached and awed." Listen to songs that fit your scenes. Read a book that totally moves you or frustrates you enough to want to do better. It's important to refrain from getting too lost in fantasies. This can easily lead to more dreaming and less doing, but it is important to surround yourself with inspirations. You develop a need to finish, to fulfill your dreams. Needing feels a lot more significant.

3.) Prompts/Experimentation: After Nanowrimo, I realized my real problem. I wasn't writing in the right genre. So, to figure out where I really belonged, I started the Practice Package. My goal was to write a short story/scene in every genre and see what story held on the tightest. After that, I took a long writing break to experiment with life.  And it worked. I'm suggesting that you write stories from prompts or write outside of your comfort zone or live differently for a while. Maybe you'll learn what is holding your muse back
4.) Edit Less: Are you a perfectionist who finds it necessary to stop every chapter, every scene, every paragraph, every sentence...to edit? I understand your anxiety. I was once that perfectionist, and I know too many aspiring writers who are that perfectionist. You know what I tell them? STOP EDITING! Or, at the very least, edit very minor things that won't take too much thinking. If you know you have to edit something that will take lots of time and energy, write a note and save it until you're finished with the entire novel. You finish the first draft. Editing happens in every draft afterward.

5.) Discuss/Theorize Less: Writers love their stories. We're excited to think and talk about our quirky characters, interesting settings, and amazing plot points. It's okay to spend hours upon hours developing your stories or ignoring everyone's groans when you absolutely must tell them the awesome thing Sally told Matthew, but make sure you're actually writing. Otherwise, you can fall into the trap of telling the story so much that, by the time you've sat down to write chapter one, you're no longer excited to see where the story takes you. That, my friend, is tragic.

My Indiegogo Campaign

See that video above? That girl just so happens to be me. In spite of my fears of looking like a goober when recorded, I asked my friend Mike to record me talking about my Indiegogo campaign. I wanted this video to be an introduction of sorts to the longer question and answer session underneath the video, where I thoroughly explained the who, what, when, where, and why about Unconventional Methods of Book Promotion and Networking, the guide I need help producing and marketing. You see, I'm a college student trying really hard to pay for a car and textbooks. Self-publishing a book is as expensive as paying for a car and textbooks combined, so I actually really do need help publishing this book.

I went into this campaign like a wide-eyed, hopeful kid. I somehow figured that the moment I put up the campaign, all the people who liked my FB page and my author photos would instantly support me. I set donation amounts as low as $1 and $5 with the hopes that, since anyone could give that much, anyone would.

7 days into the campaign, only three people donated. I'm extremely grateful and thankful that those 3 people donated a good amount of money, but my heart still sank. Of course, I understand the importance of marketing or I wouldn't have written a book about it, but this crowd funding campaign taught me so much about coming into anything wide-eyed without hardcore preparing from the get-go.

I still have 28 days left to market this campaign and ask for help, so I'll try to go as all out as possible. In my next post, I promise to share what I've learned about crowd funding, even if I don't meet my goal (and I honestly don't think I will. It's not a self-confidence thing. Realistically, I don't think I will). If you want to support the campaign, though, there's a big link below. ^_^

In other news, I am changing my update schedule for Tiffany Rambles. Every Wednesday, I'll either post an article on writing or something personal. Every Friday, I will post helpful links about writing that I find from emails. The first post that I'll put up next Friday will be brimming with 30-50 helpful links just as an introduction.

The Social Adventure: Zoo, Indiegogo, China Town, Beach...

I'm an ultimate wallflower. I somehow went from being a semisocialite to someone who shudders at the thought of calling friends and gets emotionally drained after hanging out, which later leads to abrupt sadness. I'm pretty sure that's also why I've been hesitant to use Twitter for so long. There's so much chatter. It makes me feel like I'm at a large party, expected to talk to all of these people, and then I just shut down.

A couple of days ago, I decided, "To hell with that. I'm gonna do things. There's no reason for me to feel lonely, like Matthew is the only one who wants to hang out with me."

So I did things. I went to the zoo with Matthew's sister and her boyfriend. A seagull creepily approached and stared at us the entire time we ate. When all the kids ran him off, he would come back and just stare.

I loved the meercats. They were so chill. When they're sitting there, looking up at the humans, it's like we're actually the zoo animals and they're watching us.

For 4th of July, I hung out with my cousin and her friends. We all shot firecrackers at this park. Someone let kids with no concept of death shoot the crazy firecrackers, and it was terrifying. Then, after that, I stayed in Chicago with my sister, mom, and niece for almost five days. 

This thing was made be trolls. The moment we lit it, it turned around and started shooting at me, my cousin, and her friends.

Mike, Matthew's best friend, recorded my Indiegogo video. I'm a little nervous that I look really awkward, but what the hell. It'll be fine. Now I'm just waiting to get the edited video back; then I can officially start the Indiegogo campaign and get back to work on the novel.

EDIT: He gave me the edited video right when I was in the middle of adding pictures to this post. It's mostly okay! I wanna edit a couple of things, but I like it. ^_^ 

I hung out with Matthew and a couple of other people at Mike's house. It was initially supposed to be a movie day, but it instead turned into a Minecraft day where I tried (and failed) to write a scholarship essay. I'm perfectly cool with that. I like Minecraft. Whenever I have the time, which I hope will be soon, I'd like to play. It's basically an advanced version of Legos, and it's great for building 3D maps.

Me, Angie, and a couple of other friends went to China Town for a parade. It was my first time at China Town. I wasted money on a lunch box and a fan, but it was money I was proud to waste. Wish I could've wasted more.

I don't know why I left the lunch box out of the group picture.

Found the petting zoo, and that was really fun. Unfortunately, we couldn't find the parade when we first got there, so we all spent most of our money in the normal stores. By the time we got to the parade, we were broke and kinda tired. The petting zoo made finding the parade so late completely worth it.

He has the Fro Factor.

Then we raced against time to get to the bus, but GPS on phones failed us and we missed it. Good times, good times. Still, I had a lot of fun, and I mostly feel sorry for Angie for having to spend so much money on the CTA passes.

I planned a beach trip. It was a small trip. Me and four others went. Though walking on the sand was like walking on hot charcoals and the flies persistently tried to rape us, I had a lot of fun at the beach. I discovered that my swimming phobia is much more fatal than I thought. When Jojo dumped me in the water, I seriously almost drowned. I'm the type of idiot that goes under and automatically screams. Whenever we went in to the deeper portions, it felt like the ground would just disappear and I'd drown. Just typing that now is making my heart go crazy. I think it's a control thing.

Anyway, these kids stole the big bouncy ball I brought. We had to go and get it back, but the ball kept flying back to them every time, so we punished the ball by forcing it to stay in a chair.

Ultimate punishment for a backstabbing ball. Somehow, though, the ball looks really godly.

Then a group of guys came and started playing football in the water. I didn't have my glasses on, so they all looked like running flabs of meat blob. Just when I thought THAT was odd, someone brought out an alligator. I'm really sad that I couldn't get a picture of that. First everyone thought it was fake, but then we saw stuff like his tail move. He had a duct tape around his mouth and a leash. The guy let us pet it. So I did, like three times.

The day before the beach trip (I think?), I got hired. I now have a part-time day job! All in all, this has been a great week, but I know that, soon enough, I'll have to return to my busy schedules. I don't want work to fall too far behind. Still, this vacation was much needed. Now that wallflower syndrome is going away. I like hanging out and talking to people. I like planning events, and I feel much better about myself.

Today I finished putting all of my office stuff in my bedroom, since my stepbrother is moving back in and needs that room. I love waking up to the medals, office materials, and that picture of me and Matthew at prom. It always reminds me that I have accomplished a lot, and I have a lot more to accomplish.

Buffy, Supernatural, Ghost Ship, & Silence of the Lambs

I had a ridiculous nightmare last night. This isn't the first time I've had a wild dream. In fact, I have wild dreams almost every day. Some are so realistic that it often feels like I'm losing my grip on reality. I'll get a crazy sense of deja vu only to realize that a certain moment or memory isn't real. It just happened in a dream. Other dreams teach me stuff or work out story elements I couldn't figure out while awake. For instance, I learned about a minor character's entire back story through a dream. I also learned about soul splicing and ragnarok, two terms I had no idea existed until I woke up and Google'd them.

So, I bet you're wondering how a nightmare can possibly combine all of those shows? Even if you aren't wondering, here's a retelling of the nightmare with pictures. Pictures make everything better, after all.

So, the guy was basically Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs.

Except he was strong enough to easily murder Sam and Dean Winchester from Supernatural. I don't know why he wanted to murder them so badly, but he REALLY wanted to. Than again, the Winchesters don't understand that death means forever, so they'll be back.
He can also shape shift (his true form is...hard to describe. Also, I don't remember) into a guy that looks just like the dude from Ghost Ship...

...And whenever he shape shifts into Ghost Ship dude, he cuddles with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, who is apparently his girlfriend. She knows that he is a shape shifter with the same interests as Buffalo Bill, but she somehow doesn't find this creepy and refuses to murder him. They are madly in love, and their relationship is very angst heavy.
This is where the mind screw comes in! It turns out that I'M Buffy. 

I don't understand why my mind created this nightmare. D:

Seriously, I've typed five different explanations for why I had this nightmare, and none of them make sense. If you've ever wondered what it's like to be inside my mind, there's your answer.

How to Survive 100 Degree Weather with no A/C and Limited Fans

I'm the type of person that finds a reason to go outside every day. I blame it on those seven or so months I spent at Indiana University Bloomington. There really wasn't any way for me to stay inside. If I didn't have to head out for classes, I had to head out for a meeting. If it was the weekend and I had no classes or meetings, I had to head out for food. I tried to hoard food that would be great for weekends where I didn't want to leave the dorm, but that always failed. It's amazing how quickly the food I saved became unappealing.

Meh, been there done that.

There's nothing wrong with loving to walk around...at least when it's not damn near 100 degrees every day. And it has been damn near 100 degrees every day, so there is clearly something wrong with me. Still, the heat didn't matter as much to me when I walked around near my house. My house has air conditioning, my dad's car has air conditioning, my boyfriend's house has air conditioning. As long as I know I'll  be returning to an area with A/C, braving the heat isn't a big deal.

Braving the heat is a big deal now. It has been a big deal ever since I left Hammond for 4th of July to do stuff with my family, since no one seems to have A/C. But I'm a trooper. I can't stop working just because I'm hot and a bit crampy. I have books to read and review and coaching sessions to renew. Initially, I thought about asking the authors whose books I'm reviewing if I could write the review next week, but then I'd end up having to read and review three books in one week as well as work on my new author website, author photos, and the Indiegogo campaign. Plus, I really want to go to the beach. I don't want to overwhelm myself.

These are the methods of survival I came up with for my current predicament - staying in an apartment with no A/C and limited fans. For me, it really is survival. I have a frail body. Frail bodies are susceptible to fainting and death, yknow. D:

Buy an Extra Fan

By Buy an Extra Fan, I mean buy a fan for yourself. That was the first thing I thought to do when I entered the apartment and noticed that there was five of us and only three fans, two of which are broken. This may be a tricky one if you don't exactly have money, but getting money in any way you can is vital for this option. At the Family Dollar near the apartment I'm staying in, a box fan is $18.00. You should probably stay away from illegal things like drugs and prostitution. You see, Independence Day just happened, and police are always more on edge a couple of days before and after Independence Day. Chances are you'll get busted pretty fast.

You can always start a hobo style Indiegogo/Kickstarter Campaign. You can go about this in a couple of ways. You can set up a lemonade stand and sell lemonade, but this may be ineffective if you're an adult and need a license to sell objects. I've never seen anyone do a lemonade stand in reality, so I don't really know how it works. Maybe you can find a cute kid to do it for you or enlist your own kid?

I expect 50% of the profit.

Or you can get the whole hobo experience and label a can "Help Me Buy a Fan." Then stand out outside, dressed in rags, and wave the can around. Or you can pretend to be a statue that only moves when you put a quarter in the can. Amanda Palmer did it for years.

Pros: Your own fan; constant air.
Cons: Depending on what you buy, noisy; constant air, but it's constant hot air. That's arguably better than no air.

Cover Yourself in Wet Hand Towels

You know what's really hard? Trying to sleep on a small couch when you're really hot. When you're really hot, you don't want any parts of your body to touch each other. That's as disastrous as the *mashed potatoes touching the spaghetti on the your dinner plate.

*EDIT: So, it's been brought to my attention that mashed potatoes and spaghetti is an odd combination. So feel free to replace mashed potatoes with apple sauce or something. I have a bad understanding of what foods go together. 

Don't judge me and my belief in food segregation! 
My mom, who sweats a lot more than I do and wears a wet towel around her neck, suggested I wear a wet towel as well. That's when I decided to get two wet towels and put one on my belly and the other on my legs. The hot air coming from the fan wasn't as hot with the cold, wet towels on me and I was finally able to sleep.

Pros: You can wipe the sweat off; the hot air coming from the fan isn't as hot; it feels good.
Cons: Sleeping with wet towels on you all night could make you ill, but if you're in a house that really is 100 degrees, the towels will dry pretty damn fast anyway.

Put Your Head in the Freezer

One fan is so broken that the air coming through it is either nonexistent or hot. Still, my mom used that one. The other fan works as long as its put in a box so that it can stand up some way, but that wasn't discovered until this morning. My niece and I have our own fans.

My younger sister doesn't have a fan, and I couldn't afford to buy her one, so she stayed up all night, really hot. Sure, she would've stayed up all night anyway (that's how she is with her laptop), but I felt bad because of how hot she was. At 8 am, she came and sat next to me to get some of the air from the fan. After complaining about how her body heat was clashing with my body heat, I finally just got up and let her sleep under the fan. Unfortunately, that left me without a fan for a couple of hours, so I walked around the house like a zombie until I decided to put my head in the freezer.

That was such a wonderful experience. I kept my head in there for about 3-5 minutes. The longer I kept my head in there, the more I felt like I was exaggerating about the heat. I thought, "You know, its not THAT bad. As soon as I get my head out of this freezer, I'll get right to work."

The instant I took my head out of the freezer, the heat instantly bombarded me. It was like that moment when you're taking antidepressants and you stop taking them because you think you're not depressed anymore but the depression crashes down so hard that you feel like the pills betrayed you (that's why I hate pills and hate that psychologists are always so quick to give them to you. They don't cure anything). I continued my zombie tactics until my niece gave my sister her fan and I took my fan back.

Pros: It feels good.
Cons: It only feels good when you're head is in there. The freezer effect is not long-lasting. Also, if you do it too often, you'll run the risk of irritating people or somehow breaking the freezer. And trust me, you don't want to break the freezer or the fridge on a 100 degree day. 

Lay Down in a Depressed Stupor

At some point during those hours where my sister had my fan and my head wasn't in the freezer, I laid on the coach, arms and legs spread completely a part in a fashion that I'm sure looked ridiculous, and gave myself a self pity party. I thought back to the time I almost fainted in Six Flags Great America and had to spend the rest of the day in my friend's car while he and my other friend lived it up in Six Flags (I'll write a blog post about this later). I thought about how I could very easily faint now and how much easier that would be than trying to survive the heat. That gave me some type of vengeful satisfaction, though I can't for the life of me understand why. Who was my vengeance aimed at? The sun itself?

Your vengeance feeds my happiness, silly frail human.

I kinda wanted to cry, but then I also wanted to save my tears. I mean, I already wasted enough water sweating. I didn't want to waste any more on tears.

That lasted for all of two minutes before I put my head back in the freezer again and decided to check Facebook.

Pros: Vengeful satisfaction against the sun?
Cons: It's the sun, you goober.

You should also drink lots of water and try to wear as little clothes as possible without being completely naked (unless you're not in a house with four other people and being completely naked is fine).

How are you getting by?

eBooks Cost Less than Fast Food

Does it ever bother you that books seem so...devalued? They're either so cheap that they might as well be free or they're outright free. At first, I didn't really have a problem with this. For a long time, I couldn't afford anything, let alone books (I was in high school and didn't have a job). That turned me into just the type of person creators dislike. You know, the type of person who dedicates hours of their lives to finding websites where they can illegally get stuff for free.

The main reason I became a book reviewer two years ago was because I knew it was the only way I could legally get books.  Of course, once I got past the "Wow, free books!" phase, reviewing became a passion. I do it now because I like to help authors and readers. Plus, when I upload a review, my opinion at least temporarily matters to someone. That's a good feeling.

Now I get so many books for free that I don't know what to do with all of them beside give them away in large giveaways or sell them.

It's gotten to the point where, whenever I discover a new legal website that gives away hundreds of books or I browse through Amazon's free section, I feel disappointed. I talk to many authors. I'm writing my own books. I know how much work and time goes into writing, publishing, and promoting a book. I'll need to raise thousands of dollars to prepare my books for publication and promotion, yet people will expect me to sell it for less than a dollar.

Whenever I see a book that I knew took a lot of work, I respect the author. I can buy a crappy McDonald's burger for a buck. Something about only spending a buck on something I respect seems...insulting.

How do you feel about the pricing of eBooks? Does it ever bother you, even if you're not an author? 

POV Concerns, Contemporary Fiction and Kickstarter Fears

Okay, so this has nothing to do with anything I plan on discussing in this blog post, but I want to share it anyway because I think it's cool.

Gotta love pirate language. I first tried this out last year. Now that I'm back at it, FB is pretty cool. I love how poking someone is actually shooting a cannon. That's the best part. 

Putting up a blog post at Rambles isn't on my horrendously long to-do list, but that's perfectly fine. Sometimes it's best to say "Screw you!" to your list and do something else. Right now, that something else I feel like doing is blogging. I don't know how many people really read or care about my posts here, but it's not a big deal. As long as I get my thoughts and concerns out, you know?

POV Concerns

In a recent post, I said that I wanted to change Savior of the Damned to third person. All previous six or seven drafts beforehand were in first person. However, I like the story being in first person when Alecia is narrating. Would it be a bad idea to have all chapters told in Alecia's POV, which will be most chapters, in first person and all chapters told in other character's POV in the third person? I saw this format effectively used in River Bottom Blues by Ricky Bush, the book I reviewed over at Reader's Den. 

Contemporary Fiction

I want to have certain books traditionally published and other books self-published. I know for certain that I will most likely self-publish all of my nonfiction books - 15 Unconventional Methods of Promotion and Networking will be my first nonfiction book - and the Savior of the Damned series. However, I do have some contemporary fiction ideas, and I'd prefer those to be traditionally published - preferably by Rhemalda Publishing. 

As it so happens, contemporary fiction is a genre I don't fully understand. I know contemporary fiction is supposed to be fiction told in the present time, but I don't really know what the subgenres are. I know there's women contemporary fiction, but that's about all. Of course, I'm sure I'll probably easily get my answer by searching on Google. Still, your thoughts on contemporary fiction would be much appreciated.

Kickstarter Fears

Next month will be all about raising funds for 15 Unconventional Methods of Promotion and Networking, just like how this month is all about finishing the damn book. I'm exactly 1/3rd of the way through. Anyway, next month I'll be asking for $1500. That's not a whole lot considering how much money others have asked for when it comes to self-publishing, but, for me, a small budget is better than no budget. Plus, I know about plenty of cheap alternatives and DIY methods of promotion and formatting.

Still, I'm terrified that very few will donate to me and that I won't get the money at all. Without that $1500, I'll only have maybe $250 to pay for editing, cover art, formatting, and promotion. That's....ridiculous. I'm already spending $150 on cover art. That's why I'm making sure that I'll have prizes for people who only donate $1 and those who can only donate $5. I'll have to figure out which methods are best when it comes to promoting Kickstarter projects, but I'll figure something out. I always do.

I hope you share your thoughts in the comments section! Here are two songs I really like. The first one is very bass heavy and involves screaming, so, uh, you may wanna turn your volume down or steer clear of that if you hate chaotic nonsense. Me, I love chaotic nonsense (apparently). The second song is so much calmer and more relaxed that if you listen to both back-to-back, you will get whiplash. 

Rude Drivers and Back-to-Back Reviews

Okay, so I don't mean to start this blog post by ranting, but I just have to. Here I am, coming out of a lot to get on the street, when the lady behind me speeds up, almost scratches the side of my dad's car trying to get in front of me in a small lane, and forces me to go to the side so she could get to wherever she had to go at least two seconds faster.

Really? I don't even have my license yet (I'll probably get it next week) and I wouldn't do something that immature and reckless. She was much older too! I'm supposed to be the hotheaded teenager, jeez.

Moving on, moving on...

This will be a busy day. Scratch that, this will be a busy week. My boyfriend graduates tomorrow. Father's day is this Sunday. I have three books to read and review this week. Today I'm reviewing The Fifth Device by Gunther Boccius for Self-Publishing Review. I want this review to be one of my best reviews yet for two reasons in particular:

1.) This is the first book I've been asked to review for Self-Publishing Review. As far as I can tell, Self-Publishing Review isn't a print magazine, but it is an online magazine. I haven't written anything for a magazine since Suspense Magazine in 2010. I want Henry Baum, the man in charge, to feel confident that consistently giving me books to review is a great idea. Plus, I like the idea of getting paid to sporadically write reviews for a magazine. The extra monetary help is much needed. Seriously, this is how I'm planning to pay my cell phone bill. -_-
2.) The Fifth Device, a 462-page book with a large cast of characters and many thoughts on sexuality, politics, corporations, etc., won't be easy to review. There is a lot going on, a lot I want to address. This isn't a book I could have successfully reviewed when I first started writing reviews as a senior in high school. Because I know it's more complicating than the books I usually review, this is a test of my 'skill.' I like tests as long as I'm the one grading myself.

Tomorrow I'm reviewing River Bottom Blues by Ricky Bush. As soon as I turn in the review for The Fifth Device, I'll need to go to Walgreens to get a Father's Day gift and my boyfriend's graduation gift. Then I'll come back home and start reading River Bottom Blues. It's only 186 pages, so I should finish today, even if I get distracted by today's tasks and have to stay up way late to finish it. Of course, Matthew's graduation is tomorrow, so I'm not sure exactly when I'll get to finish the review. However, I know for sure that I will at some point...even if I have to stay up way late. Ah, the life of a freelancer!

Wednesday I'm reading Zombie Candy for a Novel Publicity Whirlwind Tour. I'll be reviewing that Thursday. I love love love being a participant in Novel Publicity's tours. Emlyn Chand, the lady in charge, really gives her all to make sure the tours are fun and full of prizes. Writing for Self-Publishing Review makes me try hard to make sure my reviews are magazine worthy; writing for a Whirlwind Tour makes me try hard to be more creative. You see, those who write the best/most creative review wins $100. From what I've gathered so far, creative entries have a higher chance of winning.

I'll have to start making loan payments June 16th (even though I'll stop making loan payments in August when college starts). Fortunately, I have money put aside for any and all college expenses. It's not much, but it will at least get me through these first few loan payments and the first semester, as far as books go and whatever the loan doesn't cover. I'm hoping I'll have a part-time job at some point so that I won't be struggling too much when that 1000 I set aside for college runs out. Trust me, messing around with college, it will run out very soon.

Of course, I also plan to have my nonfiction novel Unconventional Methods of Promotion and Networking finished and in the hands of some beta readers by June 15th. I would really like to interview some authors about their unique promotional methods, but I'm having a hard time finding authors to interview.

Lately, I've been writing a lot of nonfiction. I can't wait to get back to fiction, though. When college starts, and I put the business on hold, I plan on writing fiction in-between classes and other work. I would love to finish Stepford Smiler (tentative title) or some other contemporary fiction book. I know contemporary fiction would be perfect for Rhemalda. Yeah, I've been making a big deal out of self-publishing lately, but I still very much want to be traditionally published, and starting with Rhemalda would be a dream come true for me.

Speaking of Rhemalda and contemporary fiction, here is a really cool Kickstarter they're doing: