Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’

I normally don’t make New Year’s resolutions. When I do, they usually don’t last longer than a month or even a week.  But this year, I decided to break from tradition and actually make a resolution: to try new methods to get people interested in my writing. This decision was partially spurred by my earlier decision to try and find a literary agent, as well as from reading a book on marketing and realizing that I needed to change my approach to how I was getting people interested in my fiction.

It’s a hard market out there. If what you’re doing isn’t working, maybe you should try something new.

So if you’re still here and you’re not thinking, “Oh, this is just one of those posts where he blathers on about what’s going on with him and his life”, then you’re probably thinking “How is he doing with that resolution, then?” and “How did he change his approach?”Well, I like to think that so far, so good. This isn’t the sort of resolution that can be objectively measured, like losing so many pounds or bringing your academic scores up. I could measure it by new followers, but not all followers read posts frequently, and only a small fraction are willing to spend money on my books. Book sales can be an indication, as can reads on Wattpad, but to base my success solely on those factors doesn’t seem the wisest course to me. And finally, building an audience is a long and arduous process. This blog took five years to gain as many followers as it has, after all. An audience of readers interested in my books might take even longer.

It’s easier to talk about what I’m doing different. One thing I’ve done is that I’ve stopped doing ads through Facebook and Twitter. Unless you have of big budget like Coca-Cola’s advertising department, ads through those sites usually don’t translate into sales. At the very least, I’m saving money, and that’s never a bad thing.

Another thing I’ve been doing is related to my goal of trying the traditional route again and finding a publisher. That is focusing more on my niche, which is horror. I know, I’ve written and published a lot of sci-fi, but I prefer horror, and what I’m trying to do now is to write more horror stories and trying to get them published in magazines and anthologies. I’m still working on Full Circle, the final book in the Reborn City series, but I’m also devoting more time to horror. The hope is that I can produce enough work and get it published in magazines, building my name as all or a writer, thereby making myself a bit more attractive to horror fans and possibly literary agents and/or publishers.

As of yet, I’ve only submitted one short story, and I’m still waiting to hear back on it. But the next time I take a break from Full Circle, I plan to do some editing and writing, and see what happens. The goal here is to at least get a couple stories published by the end of the year (fingers crossed!).

A third method I’m trying, and this is already producing results, is I’ve started publishing through Wattpad again. Last month, I published my sci-fi novelette Gynoid on that website, and so far I’ve had a positive feedback. There’s been quite a few readers, a couple of votes (which is kind of like “Likes” for that platform), and even a comment or two. One of those comments was from someone who was very relieved to see a certain outcome for one of the characters. That particular comment made me feel very happy, because it showed that the story I wrote and the characters within had people invested.

Sure, Wattpad doesn’t make me any money, but it does give me an audience. And based on Gynoid’s success, I may publish more stories through the website in future, especially for stories that might have a hard time getting placed in magazines.

So that’s what I’m doing right now. It’s a multipronged approach, which is usually what is recommended for any big endeavor like this. Later this year, after I finished the first draft of Full Circle, I plan on editing Rose and shopping that around to agents. Rose really represents not only my growth as a writer, but it is a prime example of the niche I want to write for, so I feel that’s the best novel to shop around to agents and publishing companies. I’m also considering different social media platforms to try out, like Goodreads and Reddit (I know one person who is very active on one of those sites, so I may ask her for advice). If it can work, anything’s on the table.

For now though, I’m just focusing on focusing on my niche and finishing Full Circle. Any resolution that is to be successful takes time, proper planning, and patience. I want this to go well, so I’m not going to rush any of the steps I’m taking to further widen my audience. Will any of it work? Tough to say. But I’m an optimist at heart, and I like to think that this new approach will eventually yield results.

And if you are interested, I’ll give an update in a couple of months or at the end of the year, and let you know how I’m doing. In the meantime, if any of you have any tips on expanding my audience, or places I can look for an agent/publisher, or places that I could potentially publish my stories, let me know. If they work out, I’ll credit you in any post I write about it.

That’s all for now, Followers of Fear. I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me, so wish me luck. And thank you, as always, for supporting me as I work hard on becoming a great horror novelist.

I was going to wait a little longer to announce this, but I’ve already announced it on Facebook and Twitter, so I’d be a bit of an ass if I didn’t let you guys know. As you can tell from the title of this post, after about five months of job searching and wondering how long this period of unemployment will last, I’ve finally been given a new job!

To be more specific, it’s another three-month internship with the United States Armed Forces. Instead of the Army though, I’ll be working with the Air Force. Instead of the Equal Employment Opportunity office, I’ll be working in their legal office doing customer support work (more on that later if it’s allowed), and I’ll be working at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base here in my home state of Ohio, rather than halfway across the world. Not that I wouldn’t love to travel to Europe again, but I think it’ll cost a bit less money to go and live near work this time (especially without having to buy really expensive plane tickets! Those were a real drain on my bank account).

To be honest, I wasn’t sure whether or not I should take this internship when it was offered to me. Five months into a job search, and I was still holding out for a permanent, full-time job. But I asked for a day to think about it, and after talking about it with some people and thinking about it, I realized that while I had job history, I only had so much history and job skills, and that could be a huge barrier in getting me a permanent job. Doing this internship would change that, it would give me a few more skills and some income while I was at it. And while I worked, I could continue the job search without having to worry about my finances drying up (and maybe get out of my dad’s house while I’m at it). So I decided to take it, and I’ve been on a high ever since.

And honestly, I needed this high*. These months of unemployment have been some of the worse in my life, and they only got worse as they went on. There were days I sat on my bed at home, looking for jobs and filling out applications, hoping against hope for a phone call or an email and feeling lower than the earth when none came. Plus there was the occasional friction between me and the folks, which happens when several people are living in one house and at least one or two wish they or others were living elsewhere. Add in the bank account slowly losing income every month, the feeling of being useless if you’re not bringing in money, and a few other things (possibly the winter blues?), and you’ve got a slight case of situation-based depression.

Now that I’ve accepted a job, I’m definitely not going to be feeling that down anymore. We’re aiming for an April 1st start date (since I previously worked for the Armed Forces, the background check and everything else should be much quicker than last year), so in the meantime I’m going to be looking for a place to sublease or do a rent by the month thing, as well as doing whatever else I can to make sure I have a wonderful and productive time in my new position. Hopefully by the time I show up for work, it will all fall into place and I’ll have a blast being there.

In the meantime, I’d like to thank everyone who helped me get this far. My family and friends, and all my supporters online and in-person for making me feel loved and making sure I never gave up. Jewish Family Services of Columbus for their invaluable support and advice they gave me while I searched, and their MAX program for Young Professionals for giving me excuses to socialize and get out of the house. The Big Guy Upstairs, because I like to think that He has a Hand in all the good stuff that happens in my life. And…well, you know. Thanks. I could not have done this without all of you.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. It’s getting late, so I’ll be signing off now. Expect another post from me in the next day or two, I’ve got more stuff to post about here that I’m eager to share with you. Until then, have a great weekend!

* This is not encouragement to do drugs. Rami Ungar does not endorse the use of any sort of narcotic substance. Even marijuana. That stuff will mess with you in seriously bad ways.

As you know, I’ve got a billion different projects going on all at one time. I mean, I’ve got four books at various stages of the editing/compilation process, and I know that some of you are very interested in getting your hands on at least one of these books. So here are some updates on a few of the projects I’m working on getting out to you, the Followers of Fear.

Video Rage

I already mentioned this on my Facebook page and Twitter feed (which, if you are not on, I suggest you check out), but as of last night the third draft of Video Rage, the follow-up to my debut novel Reborn City. As many of you know, I had an editor, Britney Mills, help me look for any problems that I’d missed while working on the second draft. I’m pleased to say that after all the work on this draft, VR looks even better than before and may soon be ready for publication.

But first, I’m sending the manuscript back to Britney for another look over. Together we’ll catch any other problems we might’ve missed, and after all that’s been taken care of I can start working on getting this book out to you guys.

In the meantime, why not check out the first book, Reborn City? It’s the story of a Muslim teenager forced to join a street gang in a dystopian city-state, and the strange connection between the gang’s leaders and a shadowy organization that rules over the city. It’s also currently my most popular book. which I guess means I did a good job writing it. Anyway, if you’d like to check out Reborn City, it’s available in paperback and e-book from Amazon, Createspace and Smashwords. Happy reading, and let me know what you think when you’ve finished reading it.

Teenage Wasteland

No, that’s not a song by the Who. The title might be similar, but it’s not the same thing. It’s also not about teenagers high on acid at Woodstock, but my upcoming collection of short stories revolving around teenagers. And I’m happy to say that I’m making good progress on the collection.

As I’ve stated in previous posts, I’d like for TW to have at least thirteen short stories. So far, there are seven confirmed to be in the collection. Some, like Buried Alive or Travelers of the Loneliest Roads, have already been published and are just getting touch-ups. Others are originals that haven’t been published anywhere else (yet), such as Cult of the Raven God and A Project in Western Ideals. Some of those are getting touch-ups as well, but others, such as Project, will require more extensive editing.

Anyway, I plan to get through the last two short stories of those seven, and then I’ll take a break to get through another big project that needs some work. And after that, I plan to work on the other stories in TW until it’s time to prep for National Novel Writing Month (more on that when we get closer to November).

Rose

That big project I just mentioned? This is it. And if you don’t know what Rose is, it’s a novel I wrote as my thesis project during my senior year of college. The story follows a woman with amnesia whose body is undergoing some strange changes and her relationship with a strange young man who says he loves her. The story is pretty dark and strange, and I’m quite proud of what’s been done with it so far. However, there’s a bit more work to be done, so I’ve got at least one or two more drafts to go on this, and I plan to get started on the next draft after I finish with the stories from TW. Hopefully I’ll be done with it by the summer.

 

That’s all for now. If I have any more updates, I’ll make sure to let you know. Have a good rest of your day, my Followers of Fear. I know I will.

 

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Some of you may remember my previous interview with author Becket, an indie novelist who likes vampires, was once a monk, and works for Anne Rice. Now he’s got a new book out, American Monk, a memoir about his years in a monastery growing closer to God and living in a brotherhood of similarly-minded men.

Welcome back to my blog, Becket. Happy to have you here. Now, your new book is American Monk, which chronicles your time as a monk in a Benedictine monastery. Why did you decide to write this memoir?

One day on my Facebook page I decided to make a post about my experience in the monastery. People responded well to it, so I made another one the following week. I kept up that have it for about half a year, at the end of which I decided to compile all my Facebook posts about the monastery into a memoir.

Why did you decide to become a monk in the first place? And why did you leave the monastery?

I wanted to be a monk because I want to deepen my relationship with God. The monastery was a wonderful place to do that because it was a house conducive to my personality type, an introvert and a scholar. I stayed in the monastery for five years, at the end of which time I was given the choice to make solemn vows, which is like the marriage commitment. It would’ve been for the rest of my life. The monastery was wonderful, but I also felt called elsewhere, although I did not know what that was at the time. So without any hard feelings, I left the monastery and began working for Anne Rice.

What’s a day in the life of a Benedictine monk like?

Monastic life is built around routine. We wake up early in the morning and begin our day with prayer. Our morning prayer lasts for about an hour and a half, and then we would go to breakfast. After that it was time for work. We worked most of the morning until the hour to celebrate the solemnity of the mass. After mass we had lunch. And after lunch we spent the afternoon committed to more work. Our day ended in the evening with prayer. After prayer we went to dinner, and after dinner we had a community time together, where the monks gathered together in one room and enjoyed one another’s company. Finally, we had night prayer and that it was bedtime.

American Monk

In memoirs like these, I’ve noticed that the vignettes within generally run the range from humorous to serious to tragic to inspirational and everything in between. Do you feel that this is true of yours? 

My memoir is meant to be inspirational. I hope that people read it and grow in their relationship with God, because the monastery was a place where a truly began to understand who I was in the divine plan. I am still learning the depth of my relationship with God. In many ways, the monk I was is still inside me, and perhaps he is a better monk than I used to be.

 Does Anne Rice make an appearance in American Monk at all?

She makes an appearance in the beginning and at the end, and in one chapter in between, but the memoir mostly deals with my experience with the brother monks.

What are you working on these days?

I just finished the first draft of my next music album as well as the first draft of a novel appropriately titled The Monk, about an African monk who suffers the stigmata and works as a miraculous channel of God’s love in the world.

When not writing or working with Anne Rice, what are you doing these days? And is there anything on your wish list you think you could be doing in the near future?

I spend time with God, my girlfriend, and my two cats. For the future, I have a few projects that I am working on and I am praying that God will give them success for His Glory.

Well thanks for joining us Becket. Glad to speak with you. And if you’e interested in reading American Monk and other works by Becket, you can check out his website, as well as find him on Facebook and Twitter.

And if you’d like to read more interviews with other authors and with some of my characters, you can head over to the Interviews page for those.

Hope you enjoyed reading this, my Followers of Fear. I certainly had fun putting it together.

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I think this interview has been a long time in the making, and I’m glad it’s finally happened.

Today’s author is a woman who you might have seen commenting a lot on this blog. She’s an author of several vampire novels, as well as a contributor to Self-Published Authors Helping Other Authors, and a contributor/editor/compiler/whatever to the Ink Slingers’ anthologies, including Strange Portals and the recently published When the Lights Go Out. It’s Joleene Naylor, and I’m looking forward to hearing what she has to say!

Welcome to the blog, Joleene. So tell us, what are your short stories about and what inspired them?

Unforgotten is about a pair of old school chums in the UK who go on an annual trip every year on the same date. This years’ trip is complicated by Gordon’s missing wife and the ghost of a little girl who wants to be found. It’s actually based on a dream I had. It started out the same: in a car discussing having been interrogated by the police. Only there was no ghost girl.

In Beldren, a group of former indentured servants decide to take what they feel they are owed from an easy mark; a household of women. Their plan is perfect except for one thing: the women are vampires.  This one was inspired one night when a pickup kept going around and around past our house and my brother got nervous they were “up to something” and I thought, “I wonder what would happen if robbers broke in and found out the people of the house were serial killers? Or vampires? Hmmmm… That could be an interesting story…” Hopefully it is.

I read the first one and liked it, so I have high hopes for the second one. Now what else have you written?

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The Amaranthine vampire series. Shades of Gray is the first, and the newest is book seven, Clash of Legends. I’ve tried to make the story creepy and disturbing, and at times bloody and horrific, instead of just the usual romantic sop that a certain YA book has turned the vampire genre into. There’s no sparkling and no high school, just blood, fighting, and vampires who feed on humans and burn in the sun.

Are you a traditionally or self-published writer?

Self published because I want to own the rights to my own work.

What got you into writing in the first place?

My mother was a writer and poet, so it never occurred to me not to “make up stories”. My brother and I used to make (and illustrate) books for fun when we were children. (I also used to draw book covers and catalogs, complete with product descriptions – I was strange.)

What is it about scary stories that you think draw people in?

People enjoy being scared – safely. We like that little “Oh!”, the tiny burst of adrenaline and that aftermath giggle, but we like when we know we’re not *really* in danger, and a scary story can give us that.

Are you working on anything these days?

I’ve reworked Patrick: A Prequel, but I need to edit it. I am also working on Masque of the Vampire, the eighth book in the series, and the Tales of the Executioners short story collection. There are four of those, three are available for free through most retailors (except Amazon) and the fourth, Beldren, is included in the When the Lights Go Out anthology.

What is some advice you would give to other writers, regardless of their level of experience or background?

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Write what you want to read because if you want to read it, then edit the heck out of it. Change words, shorten scenes, add scenes, delete scenes. The original version may seem like a masterpiece to you, but it isn’t – it’s a rough stone that needs cut down and polished in order to shine.  That may be hard to admit sometimes, or to acknowledge, but it’s the truth for everyone.

If you were stuck on a desert island and could only take three books with you, what would you take?

I think short story collections give you more bang for your buck when it comes to being stranded for a long time, so: The Complete Tales of Edgar Allan Poe, The Faun and the Woodcutter’s Daughter by B. L. Picard, and right now I really, really, really want to read A Candle in Her Room by Ruth M Arthur, only I can’t find a copy priced at anything I can afford, so in fantasy land I would have it. Alternately, if it has to be a book I owned, I’d swap it out for My Sweet Audrina by VC Andrews.

Well, thank you Joleene for joining us today. Really enjoyed picking your brain. And readers, if you want to check out more of Joleene, you can find her on her website, her blog, her Facebook page, on Twitter, and on Goodreads.

Also check out the Interviews page for my talks with other authors and even some characters.

And make sure to check out When the Lights Go Out, available from Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and iTunes. It’s the perfect way to start the Halloween season.

Today I leave for my first post-college job, working with the US Army Civilian Corps in Germany. I’m all packed up (hopefully my suitcase is under fifty pounds, I think it is but that scale’s needle keeps moving), my carry on has everything I need, my passport’s tucked away, and my farewells have all been said on Facebook and Twitter, with lots of comments on both wishing me well. As far as I can tell, I’m all ready to go.

And yet it feels so unreal to me, like instead of going to Germany, I’m jumping into a fantasy world straight out of a movie. You can understand why I feel that way: while I’ve been to Germany before, this is going to be on the opposite end of the country, I’m going to be on a US Army base, and whenever I step out of that base, I’m going to be in a place where the language, culture and the people are very different from what I’ve grown up with (thank goodness I’m already a little familiar with all three of those). It’s definitely going to be unlike anything I’ve experienced before, and unlike when I went to Israel the summer before my senior year of high school or my study abroad trip, I’m not going with a bunch of people in the same boat as me. I’m going by myself! To say the least, I’m a little nervous.

Despite that, I’m looking forward to this. I’m looking forward to immersing myself in the life and cultures of both the US Army base and of Germany. I’m looking forward to meeting all these contacts I’ve been set up with through friends and through my own searching (who knew there were so many people friends with people I know in Germany?). I can’t wait to explore the cities, the castles, the forests and museums and Jewish sections of the cities I’ll be near. I’m looking forward to all the ideas I’ll have for stories or articles while doing this.

And I’m sure that, despite the fact that I’m diving into this alone, I’ll be fine. I’ve reason to believe that. Despite my nervousness, I’ve usually been good with new situations. My dad can testify to this: he saw me on my first day of kindergarten, my first day at Columbus Torah Academy, my first USY (that’s a Jewish youth group) convention, my USY trip to Israel, and then when I got to Ohio State. And, as he made clear on Facebook, I was fine, so I’m sure I’ll be fine this time around as well.

Plus my latest Tarot reading gave a pretty positive outlook on the whole thing, so there’s more reason to be hopeful. Yes, I’m still reading Tarot, and no, I don’t really believe in it but it’s nice to have a positive reading, isn’t it?

When I post again, it’ll probably be in Germany, and to say I’ve arrived safely. What else will there be to say, I can only guess. First impressions, what my roommate is like, how they weren’t kidding about Europe being in the grip of a heat wave, a bunch of other stuff I can only guess at. We’ll see what happens.

In the meantime, wish me a safe flight, in English or German, and wish me luck in my new environment. I have no idea what’ll happen, but I think it’s going to be one of the most exciting experiences I’ve ever had.

Auf wederschein, my Followers of Fear!

I might’ve mentioned this a few times on this blog and on my Facebook and Twitter pages, but I’ve been trying something new with my writing. As you probably know, I’ve been working on a couple of shorter works, a short story and what will likely turn out to be a novelette, since I finished the second draft of my thesis/novel Rose. Unlike previous shorter works, where most or all of the story has been laid out in my head and I’m just transmitting it to the page, I’ve been actually outlining these stories on paper so I have a better idea of where I’m going and to see if doing so improves the stories overall.

I decided to try this because of two things I’ve noticed with my shorter works. For one thing, I’m always worried about the final word count. Many fiction magazines only accept stories of a certain length, and I’m always worried I won’t be able to tell a compelling story within that space, so I try to wedge it in. Usually that doesn’t turn out the results I wish.

Another reason I’m trying outlining is that when I usually write shorter works, most of the story is mapped out in my head. But when I try to get the rest on the page, I sit there wondering which direction to go, how to tell the story just right. And depending on the story, this sitting and wondering can take a while before I actually figure something out and start writing.

For both of these reasons, I’m trying to outline my shorter works. The outlines themselves are just basic summaries of the events of the story, which works for me. It’s just enough information that I can work with it to write the actual story.

And the results have been very interesting. Having a clear direction of where I’m going by writing it all down beforehand not only cuts down on the time I spend on sitting wondering where to go, but having a definite idea of where I’m going makes me less anxious over the word count. It’s kind of…decompressing, in a strange way. I can just write the story as I intend it in the outline and not worry how long or short it is.

As for the stories themselves, the results have been rather mixed. For the first story Streghe, which I finished not too long ago, the outline didn’t help as much, but that was mostly because I kept going back and rewriting or changing the direction of the story. I’d like to write another outline for the second draft though, especially since I think there will be a lot that will change between the first and second drafts. We’ll just have to see what I come up with in-between drafts though and what direction I want to go with that story.

As for the story I’m working on now, a science-fiction story currently at about sixty-seven hundred words, the outline has been very helpful so far. I have a very good idea of where I’m going with the story, and in-between sessions of writing I’m able to lay out what I’m going to put down on the page next in my head, rehearsing whole scenes before I write them down. It’s been a lot of fun working on this one.

Based on what’s happened so far, I think I’ll continue to outline my shorter works along with my longer works for now. As long as it works for me, why not use it? It just goes to show that no matter what stage of your writing career you are in, you’re never too old or too late to learn a few new tricks. And boy, am I glad I learned this one.

Do you or have you ever outlined your shorter works?

What’s been the effects of doing so on your stories?