A Writer’s Resolution

Image credit: Geoff Whaley

A week into the New Year, I’ve finally decided to write a post pertaining to my goals in 2014. I have personal resolutions for health and happiness, but I’d like to keep this post focused on my goals as an author and as the owner of this blog.

The first, as an author, is a fairly straightforward one: Complete the next book in my Click Your Poison series.

As far as a blogging resolution, I feel a bit hesitant. But… I think I should embrace being a “blogger” — and for me, that’s easier said than done. I have a voice in my head saying, “Why should you shout your opinion at the world? Why should anyone care?”

Well, in order to silence that voice, I pledge to post more often and more honestly about the two things that should draw you to this page: 1) My writing, and 2) My journey from unknown writer to self-published rock star (gotta dream big, right?)

This year, just like this kid, I'm resolving not to lose my sense of humor.
This year, just like this kid, I’m resolving not to lose my sense of humor.

Topic #1 will include include progress updates and samples (hooray, samples!), and will involve the community when and where I can. Maybe I’ll bounce story ideas off you, give polls, or even host contests for naming characters, businesses; that kind of thing. It should be light and fun.

Topic #2 will focus on what I’ve learned in this business from pitfalls and successes. This will primarily be of interest to other writers. In that vein, I’m introducing a new topic: Lessons Learned (to be populated gradually over the year)

Happy New Year and best wishes in 2014!

-JS

STAR WARS Myers-Briggs Personality Chart

Too cool not to share! I found this on Geek in Heels where it looks like it’s going viral. What’s your type? If you want to take the test, you can do so here.

I haven’t taken one of these tests in years, so I took it again and got INTJ… I guess as someone who plots multi-universe books, I probably could have guessed I’d get “The Mastermind.” What about YOU? What character are you?

Ding-dong, the Witch is Dead

Hey! Amazon deleted that 1-star review written in Dutch!

Haters need not apply

 

It would appear that the 1-star review of INFECTED was deemed invalid by Amazon’s filters, but… Why do you care?

I doubt you do. This post is a blending of narcissistic and cathartic, which I believe comes out to narcotic, and fits the definition of a substance offering a hollow, fleeting happiness that will consume your life if you let it.

But that’s what blogs are for, right? Sharing the good and the bad. Exposing shortcomings.

Like this one: I actually cared about a review written in Dutch that said my book “wasn’t for people with actual zombie experience” (according to google translate), whatever that means. In my dark hours I would see zonder inspiratie flash across my mind and I’d wonder if maybe this was the one guy who had it right. Maybe my writing is uninspired. Maybe he’s the only one with the guts to tell the truth.

The fact that the review was taken down (no, I did not “flag” it or anything of the sort) doesn’t eliminate doubt. Comes with the territory, I guess. But it helps.

I’m in trouble if and when my books ever go wide and–God forbid–thousands of people review it and some small percentage is negative. I realize that will happen, and I’ll be fine. Even if all those negative reviews get to stay up, I’ll know that all the positive reviews are unquestionably valid.

See? That’s what this did. It’s a good thing. Okay, enough narcotic. It’s Halloween! Time for a zombie author to celebrate.

Oh, and if you hear a scratching at your door, you may want to look through the peephole before you open up to give out candy:

    You never know what's lurking out there...
You never know what’s lurking out there…

Celebrating the 10,000

IMG_20131012_233633743

The horde grows! Yesterday my website crossed into 10,000 views and I just wanted to say a big THANK YOU to all my faithful readers. You guys make it all worth the while.

That’s it! Back to work.

PS — Should have some news on Click Your Poison book #2 soon…

Pics or it didn't happen
Pics or it didn’t happen

When Do You Dump a Bad Book?

They say breaking up is hard to do, and I know I’ve suffered many a bad relationship with books and movies. Rarely, if ever, do I quit before I’m finished. Because of that I try to be more discerning before I dig in. What about you?

Over at book-rating site Goodreads, they did a user poll and came up with some fun data. Check it out:

1373380267-1373380267_goodreads_misc

I honestly can’t think of the last book I quit. Actually, wait, I can. It was a self-published Iraq war memoir that shall remain nameless and was a chore to read. Movies, I’m getting better at dumping. I’ll sheepishly admit the last I turned off was Zombie Strippers. I was looking for camp well done and didn’t find it.

What about you? What books or movies have you abandoned? Why? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

PS — If you haven’t used Goodreads, it’s pretty useful and a fun way to find new books. I’m on there as an author, if you want to connect.

Thankful for Your Brains

Happy Thanksgiving, all! I have a lot to be Thankful for this year. Not the least of which is for you, the reader.

This website, which just celebrated its one year anniversary yesterday, has introduced me to many wonderful people: Thank you for your comments and thanks for reading. I’m equally thankful to those who read in earnest silence; the lurkers! I’m Thankful to have published my first book this year, and touched that so many of you not only spent your hard-earned money on something I wrote, but also that you enjoyed it enough to share with your friends and family. I’m thankful that people value the written word, that you appreciate when time and effort is put into writing, and I’m glad to live in a society where it’s possible to earn a living from my passion (not that I’m there yet, maybe next year, ha!).

Now, to show that I’m thankful for your brains, enjoy this ten-course zombie thanksgiving feast:

1)

http://www.underwatercitypeople.com/HappyThanksgiving.html

2)

https://www.facebook.com/zombiedatingguide

3)

http://zombieportraits.com/happy-thanksgiving-zombie-turkey/

4)

http://www.zazzle.com/a_zombie_thanksgiving_card-137540433110706408

5)

http://blingee.com/blingee/view/118668988-zombie-thanksgiving

6)

http://shewalkssoftly.com/2011/11/

7)

http://joonbug.com/newyork/scenetracker/Pre-Thanksgiving-Zombie-Walk-2011/vu5W9wOVb6R

8)

http://shewalkssoftly.com/category/art/page/13/

9)

http://popculturecrusader.blogspot.com/2011_11_01_archive.html

10)

http://peoplesrepublicofpaul.wordpress.com/tag/zombie-thanksgiving/

And, of course, I’m thankful to have gotten married this year. None of this would be possible without you, Michaela — LOVE YOU!

(Dessert)

http://www.joyboe.com/2010/10/creative-costumes-as-art-form.html
* I don’t own any of these images and therefore all art is linked to the original source. Thanks to the artists for making this a HAPPY ZOMBIE THANKSGIVING!

Perhaps a month? And I’m a little scared

As promised, here’s an update on my impending book. I’ve gotten round one of reader feedback from my betas, with Mike somehow making it through unscathed (that dude is a ZAdass–Zombie Apocalypse Badass–sorry…that’s awful) and Chris showing me the best ways to die. Seriously, Chris can be in my survival group, but he’s not making the decisions (love you, man).

What’s up now? I’m sending the manuscript out to a professional editor next week, so she can shred it apart before it rises again as an immortal hellion bent on spreading across humanity like a virus. Also, I’ve got a talented cover artist working on a custom design for me. Here’s something she did a couple of years back:

wolves

So with all this awesome news, why am I suddenly terrified?

Maybe it’s because I’ve been toiling in obscurity so long it’s all I know? It’s like all I’ve ever wanted to do is go skydiving, and now that I’m standing in the door, I keep thinking how crazy I am.

Well, ready or not, I’m making the leap — in a month, perhaps.

Book trailers

I have a friend who can’t seem to get behind the idea of a book trailer, so figured I’d put my thoughts out there and explain a bit about why I support them.

The easy answer — We live in an increasingly visual society, and a book trailer is a quick way to get people excited about books.  Take this trailer for Stephen King’s Under The Dome for example:

I don’t own the rights to this, it’s merely an illustration.

Thirty seconds, and you’ve been good and teased on the book’s premise.  What’s wrong with that?  Well, as my friend would say, we’re trying to make books more like movies, and in doing so, robbing the reader of their own imagination.  To put it bluntly: we’re catering to the illiteracy of our society.

Here’s why I disagree: I don’t see this clip as a “trailer” (as it’s billed), but as a commercial.  Why shouldn’t books get advertisements?  We can see “trailers” about housewives using laundry detergent without spoiling our own experience with the product.  Otherwise books are advertised without actually telling us anything about the book.  “Hey, a new thriller book is out.”  If you don’t know the author, how do you know you’ll be interested?

I think book reviews are an excellent tool, but only insofar as you’re relying on someone’s opinion.  With a commercial, you get a chance to see what the book is intended to be.  It’s sort of like saying, “Here’s what I want to make you feel when you read this book.  Does something like that interest you?”

So as I see it, book trailers are raising awareness.  It’s up to the filmmakers to properly raise this awareness–to tease us–without spoiling the experience.

***update***

BONUS THOUGHT: After sleeping on it, I wonder if book covers didn’t experience a similar skepticism during the transition from plain-leather-binding to printed works of art.  One could make a similar argument that cover art limits the reader’s imagination by introducing visual representations of characters and story world.  Even so, one could make the case that cover art allows a potential buyer to instantly glean an understanding of what lies within the pages, and that book trailers are merely the next technological leap in this vein.

Happy Birthday to me

Today is the day I’m ready to stop aging.  I’m 28.

Even as a kid, in all the make-believe sessions, fan-fiction writings, video games I dreamed to be bigger than they were; the hero was always 28.  Somehow 28 seemed the perfect blend of adult wisdom and youthful prowess.  The first thing I realize as a 28-year-old, however, is that the wisdom isn’t fully cemented.  At least I hope there’s more to come.  I don’t feel “old” yet, and I doubt I ever will.

I’ve survived the curse of 27, having failed to go out in a blaze of glory tragically before my time.   I guess I’ll just have to find success the hard way.  Tim O’Brien began his groundbreaking literary career at 29, so I guess that’s the next benchmark.

I was reading another author’s blog and found this quote by the owner:

I think for a lot of people, around 30 is when life starts to move, when all the blood and tears you shed in your 20s while learning and working toward your future finally start to pay off.

I hope to be amongst those ranks.  It gives me a reason to keep aging.

Oh, and happy 155th to Thomas Edison as well!