Marketing and Me

Recently I met with another local author and had one of those Zen moments where I had to decide exactly why I write. This author was very well put together, had her spiel (aka, pitch) memorized and gave every outward appearance of success. She looked, in a word, classy.

Flash to me … in my jeans and nondescript shirt, sporting a pair of Nike’s that are starting to get a hole in the toe. In my defense, this was a social function I’d taken my son to and a friend of mine decided I needed to make this acquaintance right then and there, so it wasn’t like I knew I was going to be meeting anyone in a professional capacity.

That being said … this other author had a much better handle on the business of writing than I think I’ve ever had, which is what brought about the Zen moment.

Driving home from the function, feeling not a little discouraged, I began to wonder exactly what set me apart from her and was not surprised when I came to the conclusion that she just plain knows how to market herself better than I do. She’s confident in herself and her writing.

I’m confident that I can get through anything the world throws at me but when it comes to my writing I know that I am constantly improving, so the confidence isn’t quite there. Sedition was fun to write but Saboteur was a more solid book because I had learned a lot about style and craft between the two books. (Even though fans seem to like Sedition more, which I find curious.)

Enter the Zen moment …

I made the decision a long time ago that I write because I have to write, because if I don’t write my brain will explode, because there are a zillion stories floating through my mind that need to come out.

I write because I love it.

It’s the process that I find fulfillment in, not the sales.

This doesn’t mean I don’t hope to sell a whole gob of books one day and secure a much brighter future for myself and my son, it just means that I will continue to do the minimum amount of marketing. Things like this blog and light conversations with interested readers, and memberships with organizations that don’t require too much money (Hello, single parent here) are all things that I can do without cutting too much into the writing time.

At some point I imagine I’m going to have to change this decision but for right now this is what fits for me.

Advertisements

Round Robin Blog Posts – Social Issues in Fiction

I’m so happy to be joining the Round Robin Blog Hop this month. This month’s topic discusses social/current event issues that are important to me and how, when, or if I allow them to seep into my fiction. 

Deviation-510Let me start off with admitting that I definitely allow social issues to be addressed in my fiction. Anyone who has read my work, particularly my science fiction, will have noticed this for certain. Deviation, for example, has the very blatant conversation about women’s rights. Tapped is the start of a much larger conversation on religion that will be spanning several novels. The Abolitionist (which I’ll start later next year) is fairly self-explanatory.

All of these issues are very important to me and I believe that every author has the responsibility to Scornedsay something with their fiction.

However …

I also believe that every author has the responsibility to thoroughly research, understand, and clearly provide counterpoints to any social issue they address in their writing.

I shy away from making my personal opinions known here on the blog because honestly, I hate fueling the fire for these sorts of debates. They’re pointless and detract from the more important social issues that we should be spending our energy debating and attempting to fix … like homelessness, children living in poverty, the fact that some employment applications (or other legal forms) still ask for your “ethnicity” and therefore support a racist social structure, or the shameful amount of people going hungry everywhere …

But all of those things I can and do address in my writing. I “address” them, but I do not answer them because honestly, if I’ve written it right then I won’t have to.

Readers don’t need me to tell them poverty is bad, they already know it. My job as an author is to help somehow bridge the gap between the Reader and that poverty, to help them experience it so that they understand why poverty is bad.

This is terribly idealistic of me but I truly believe that we can change the world. Books can change the world. Stories can change the world. Authors … can change the world. Not by telling the world what to think, but by exposing these issues for what they are and bringing them forward in a terribly intimate way.

Have a look at what some of my fellow authors believe in and write about in today’s Round Robin Blog Hop …

Skye Taylor  http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
A.J. Maguire  https://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/ (YOU ARE HERE)
Beverley Bateman  http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Margaret Fieland  http://www.margaretfieland.com/blog1/
Marci Baun  http://www.marcibaun.com/
Victoria Chatham  http://victoriachatham.webs.com/
Connie Vines  http://connievines.blogspot.com/
Bob Rich  http://wp.me/p3Xihq-vQ
Rachael Kosinski  http://rachaelkosinski.weebly.com/
Helena Fairfax  http://helenafairfax.com/
Judith Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/
Rhobin Courtright  http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com/

Missed Deadlines and Fighting the Muse

I know there are a lot of writers out there that just go with the flow, throwing out however many words a week at sporadic intervals, relying on their Muse to get them through.

Wait, you actually thought you'd be writing today?
Wait, you actually thought you’d be writing today?

I envy these people. I imagine their Muse sitting right beside them, nagging them at all hours of the day to get their work done because there’s sooooo much more to be done.

My Muse …

My Muse is that fat, lazy cat licking herself in the corner. She really couldn’t be arsed to move herself, let alone nag me about anything. If I relied solely on her, I would never get anything done.

So I have to make deadlines. Deadlines motivate me, force me to go to the corner and pick up the lackadaisical Muse and pester her until something resembling a plot starts to show up. This is why first drafts take me so long and why editing has become my favorite thing ever, because editing relies more on style and craft than it does on my capricious Muse.

This is also why a missed deadline drives me to hiding in a make-shift couch fort, gorging myself on chocolate.

Now then, I have missed several deadlines for Persona. At first this was because of the Great Avocado Incident of 2014 wherein I managed to stab myself through the hand.

Yes, I really did that. Yes, I lost feeling in three of my fingers on my left hand and the Doctor’s weren’t sure if I’d ever get it back. It was awful, I tell you; awful.

However, it is now nine months into 2015, I have full functionality with my left hand (hurray!) and I have still managed to miss nearly every deadline I’ve given myself with Persona.

Why?

Several reasons …

  1. Because I missed the first deadline.
  2. Because I MISSED THE FIRST DEADLINE.
  3. Because life happens sometimes and there were family issues I needed to attend to.
  4. BECAUSE I MISSED THE FIRST DEADLINE.
  5. Because this is the single hardest piece I have ever written.

I think you get the point. While there were other elements that got involved here, the main problem is that I let that first deadline slip away from me. I lost my momentum, my drive, and it took forever to get it back.

So if you’re like me and your Muse is a fat orange cat whose back is constantly turned to you, make deadlines.

And then KEEP those deadlines. Your couch fort and chocolate will only sustain you for so long.

Owning Your Craft – Sedition Version

I began reading Sedition to my son recently. He’s seven now and the whole Fantasy world of Dyngannon seems to appeal to him.

Sedition-WEBThat or he just really likes the sword on the cover. I’m pretty sure much of the story is over his head but, he picked it and all. (Don’t worry, we read picture books before we settle in for a chapter of this one.)

In any case, it’s been nearly six years since that book was first published and Trenna Silvanus remains one of my most popular characters. I get loads of commentary from people wanting to know when the next segment of her story is coming out (soon, I promise) and … yes, this does make my little writer’s ego fluff up in pleasure.

That being said …

If Sedition weren’t already published I would be doing a major overhaul on it.

The dialogue is hard to get through in places. There are dozens and dozens of peripheral characters whose involvement in the story itself could be richer – sometimes shorter, but richer in content at least. The exposition is clunky. The narrator’s voice bounces (particularly in regards to Brenson and Nelek, which I’m going to blame on the fact that I wasn’t handling the male POV right).

The one bright, shining light in the book so far (and we’re only in Chapter Seven) is that Trenna really is likable. She’s spunky, tough, and has a sense of humor that exerts itself in some of the oddest places.

Why am I telling you all this?

This book is out for sale. What sane writer points out the flaws of their own work in a public forum? Who’s gonna go out and buy this thing now?

Honestly?

Because any sane, professional writer also owns their craft.

I own the fact that the book I wrote nearly ten years ago (NOTE: it did not get published as soon as it was finished, it took a long time to find a home) is not as strong as the books I’m writing now.

I own that my personal style has changed with every book I’ve written.

I own the mistakes that are in Sedition just as much as I own the things I did right.

What did I do right?

Trenna.

In fact, the main cast of characters were done right; Nelek, Brenson, Faolan, Marsali, Brock. They have individual voices, concerns, arguments, and motivations. And while I remember it was complicated to the max trying to get all those individuals out into the open without making a 300,000 word book, it worked out in the end.

So this is me owning my craft. Maybe I’ll start working on a 10 year anniversary edition of Sedition and clean up some of my mistakes.

Maaaaybe.

Probably not, though. Because after Usurper is done there’s at least one more book in this series. And the Tapped series has at least 4 main books with several novellas in the queue. And I have a Civil War/Western that has been simmering on the back burning for a while now. Annnnnd … my Dragon Noir.

You get it. There’s lots going on in my head. But hey, if there’s enough interest maybe I will.

Attack of the Secondary Character – Round Robin Discussion

The beast roared again.

It knew Relo was there.  It had known the moment he’d walked into the cave, its heightened sense of taste and smell had alerted the beast to this trespass.  But Relo had anticipated this.  In thirty-four years as a Tapped Acolyte he’d hunted every species Nellis had to offer.  He knew each weakness, each strength, and when Nellissian people were threatened, he had no qualms about exploiting such knowledge.  This, after all, was not a matter of fair play but a matter of survival.

Me: Relo … huh … that’s an interesting name. Sounds kinda like “reload” which makes sense given the whole science fiction element, right?

Cat: meow?

Me: (Because I really am crazy enough to discuss these things with my pets) I know, I know. Relo … what? Relo Bomani? Sounds exotic and … you know … they’re on an alien planet and all … OK. So … the hero’s name is Relo Bomani.

…. approximately 700 words later ….

“I see I missed the action,” Seach said.  Most of his face was still in shadow but Relo knew the man was frowning.

“It was a surprisingly fast battle.” Relo looked down at his thigh and tried to determine how bad the wound was.

Seach walked to him, fixing the light on his wounded leg. “But not uneventful. Sit still.”

“Actually, I think I cut myself on its tail when I tried to get out of the way.” Relo took the phosphorous light from Seach and angled it so his friend could work.

Seach snorted his amusement as he crouched beside him, slipping the pack off his shoulder as he did so. “Serves you right for coming out here alone. I swear, sometimes I think you are trying to die.”

Me: … huh … I like this Seach fellow.

Cat: (just purrs cause by now he’s laying on my feet)

… 3000 words later …

Me: Ugh. I hate this book. I do not like the way it’s going. Relo is too … just too … strong. Not enough vulnerability in him. And he’s not funny.

Cat: (lots of meowing cause he’s crazy enough to think I can understand him)

Me: I know! Seach is so much more interesting. He makes me laugh. And he’s not afraid to fail. I totally love him.

Cat: (stops meowing because I’m scratching under his chin and he’s in kitty heaven)

Me: But you know, I’m not liking much of this plot either. Let’s change everything. We’ll make Seach the hero. Keep Jorry as the female lead. Relo can be the secondary.

Cat: (suddenly bops me on the hand because he’s had enough attention for one day but he’s too lazy to move out of hands reach)

… About a year later … 

“You know Jorry won’t drink that,” said a familiar voice.

Seach relaxed and glanced at Lieutenant Cavil as they continued through the D-Fac. Her black hair was shaved close and he could see little spirals of dark curls pressed up against her scalp. She grinned at him, her teeth bright white against the backdrop of her ebony skin. Cavil was beautiful in that hard way that military officers could be. It was like all the training and battle she had seen managed to sharpen her appeal and for half a second he forgot the danger they were in.

“Lieutenant Cavil,” he said with a smile. In his peripheral view he saw Jo look up from her computer. “It’s been a while. Decided you were ready to tell me your first name?”

“It’s been two years and eight months,” Cavil said and laughed. “I thought you would have lost interest by now.”

“Lost interest in a beauty like you?” Seach clucked his tongue and winked at her. “Never.”

… So … Have I ever had a secondary character steal a book from me?

Yes. Very much so. I revamped all of Tapped to accommodate a new hero in Seach and I have never regretted it. He’s funny and vulnerable and he really made the story for me. He even counterbalances Jorry as the lead female character precisely because of those traits.

Hop over to some of my fellow authors to see if they’ve ever dealt with a scene-stealing secondary character before!

Marci Baun  http://www.marcibaun.com/
Anne Stenhouse http://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com
Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com
A.J. Maguire https://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/ (YOU ARE HERE)
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/
Margaret Fieland http://margaretfieland.com/my_blog
Victoria Chatham www.victoriachatham.webs.com
Connie Vines http://connievines.blogspot.com/
Geeta Kakade http://geetakakade.blogspot.com/
Rhobin Courtright http://rhobinleecourtright.com

Favorite Scenes — Deviation Edition

Someone asked me what my favorite part of Sedition was the other day and I sort of stood there, struggling for an answer. I finally said that Trenna was my favorite part of the book, but she shook her head and asked for a specific scene and then proceeded to tell me hers.

Which, let’s be honest, flattered me beyond all hope because Sedition has been out for several years now and she’s still gushing to me about it. (And berating me for not having Usurper in her hot little hands yet. I promise, it’ll be out next year.) It was a nice little ego-stroke and I’m trying hard not to let it get to my head.

At the risk of spoiling the beginning of the novel I’m going to go ahead and say what my favorite scene of Sedition is. Well, it’s not much of a spoiler because it is so early in the book and it doesn’t give much away. My favorite scene is when Trenna gets knighted and tells Nelek he’s going to regret it.

But I have loads of favorite scenes in all of my books. It’s why I keep writing, these scenes just keep cropping up. (I think that’s normal, actually. If I didn’t have a ton of favorite scenes then I wouldn’t be able to write the books.)

Since Deviation and Dead Magic will be coming out this month I’ve decided to post snippets of my favorite scenes from both. We’ll start with Deviation today. I’m not going to give any setup for the scene because that might spoil the book, and I’m not going to explain why I love this scene so much because honestly … I’m not sure myself.

Deviation:

Reesa swallowed hard and forced herself to look him in the face.

He had read the book.

His blunt jaw was held tight, his lips pressed so hard that the edges went white with strain, and there was the tell-tale tick at the corner of his left eye.  God help her, she knew him well enough to know that her life was in danger.  Flawed characters made the best characters, so she’d made Hedric a mess of reckless behavior.  He was an unstable, quixotic, volatile, walking bringer of death.  Mesa had been his saving grace, a counterbalance, and now she was gone.

For long minutes he just stood there, probably hoping she would fall over dead with the way he was looking at her.  Misery and torment contorted the long, jackal-like features she’d made him famous for.  She needed to do something, explain herself, apologize, anything to ease him before he struck her.

When he finally spoke, hoarse and low, she felt fear like a rod of lightening in her spine. “You did this,” he said.

Because she didn’t know what to say, Reesa lifted her chin and fought for a brave glare.

“How could you?” he asked.  When she still didn’t respond he closed the gap between them, slamming a fist into the wall behind her with enough force to make it dent. “How could you?” he shouted again.

“It was a book! Fiction!”

Hedric gripped her tank-top and lifted until she lost footing, levering her body against the wall and bringing his face inches from her own. “Does this feel like fiction to you?”

***

And … I’ll stop you right there, because I’m cheeky like that. When the book comes out you’ll get to see where in the story that scene is.

 

 

Book Review – Incantation by Annamaria Bazzi

The beginning of this book was a little rough. I had a hard time understanding what was going on, which might have been done on purpose since the character didn’t know what was going on either. As a reader this was a trifle frustrating since I prefer to know just a little bit more than the character on the page. After having finished the book, however, I understood a bit better and can appreciate the way the beginning was crafted.

I’m not one for giving spoilers so I’m having to refrain quite a bit on what I say here. The magic system was glossed over a bit, but given that the main character had no idea how to use magic it doesn’t detract from the story. After I got the hang of what was going on I really enjoyed the characters and the story being told. There was a moment near the end where I got very uncomfortable due to the general nastiness of the antagonist in the book, but the author managed to yank the story away from the precipice just in time. (Though that rescue did come via magic and the author risked Deus Ex Machina in that regard, but given that the whole story was based on wizards and magic it did make some sense.)

But my favorite part was the end. I was more than satisfied with the way the story concluded and with that in mind would have to give this book four out of five stars. (Or whatever symbol floats your boat. On Goodreads and Amazon I’ll be using stars so I might as well carry that over here.)

Book Blurb:

Magic is an illusion. It doesn’t really exist. Or does it?

A horrible car accident destroys Dolores Reynard’s life. But instead of waking up in a hospital bed, she awakens in a teenager’s body. Soon, she discovers she is at the heart of the murderous mystery surrounding the death of Mona, the young girl whose body she occupies. Caught between an evil greater than she ever imagined and a wizard who heals her tattered heart, she is forced to play a dangerous game of intrigue in the hopes of finding a way to return to her previous life.

Will magic be her ally, or will it lead to her demise once and for all.

Book Links:

Amazon / smashwords / B&N

~ABOUT THE AUTHOR~

Although born in the United States, Annamaria Bazzi spent a great deal of her childhood in Sicily, Italy, in a town called Sciacca. Italian was the language spoken at home. Therefore, she had no problems when she found herself growing up in a strange country. Upon returning to the states, she promised herself she would speak without an accent. She attended Wayne State University in Detroit Michigan, where she obtained her Bachelor of Science in Computers with a minor in Spanish.

Annamaria spent twenty years programming systems for large corporations, creating innovative solution, and addressing customer problems. During those years, she raised four daughters and one husband. Annamaria lives in Richmond Virginia with her small family where she now dedicates a good part of her day writing.

You can visit Annamaria at:

blog http://annamariabazzi.com

website http://www.annamariasbooks.com

facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Author.annamariabazzi

email annamariascorner@yahoo.com

twitter https://twitter.com/AMBazzi

goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6890526.Annamaria_Bazzi

Check in on Kendíka’s facebook page https://www.facebook.com/kendika.burkeshire