Editorial Assistance

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?