I Need Your Help with Something Small

Hey Dear Reader,

I’ve been working on a project for a while now and, now that the novel is finished, I’m getting my marketing in order.

I’ve written a novel that sets all the visceral cruelty and sensuality of the vampire myth in the pastoral setting of the Amish landscape.

My first round of cover designs have come back, and I’d love your take on these covers.

My question is simple: which one of these books would you add to your cart? Leave a comment below!

If you read in the genre or have any graphic design background, I’d love to hear any further suggestions you have as well.

As I said, this is the first round of drafts, so I have a few revisions to get things right, and your help is going to go a long way.

Thank you!

A Few Do’s and Don’t’s of Author Self Promotion

Excellent advice from a reviewer/blogger on how authors can avoid being “that guy” on the internet.

the Little Red Reviewer

There was a neat panel at this year’s PenguiCon about author self promotion. I didn’t make it to the panel, but I wanted to, and I bet a lot of what I bring up in this blog post was mentioned there. Or at least I hope it was.

As a blogger, I’m on the receiving end of all that author self promotion. What authors put out there tends to end up in my inbox and in my twitter feed, and allows me to make a snap decision on if I’m going to give them 5 seconds, or a week of my life to read and then write an in depth review of their novel.

I’ve been blogging since mid 2010, and on twitter for about five years. I’ve seen plenty of author promotion – some of it effective, and some of it terrible.   Us blogger types can be harsher than…

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How to Manage Scenes in a Novel—Structure Part 8

Kristen gives some very practical tips for creating an easily readable outline of your story’s rising and falling action. Check it out.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

And….ACTION! And….ACTION!

As a fiction author, you will often feel like an acrobat spinning plates while standing on your head and juggling fiery chainsaws. There are so many components to keep track of, lest you end up down the Bunny Trail of No Return. Organization is key when it comes to being a successful novelist.

Before we continue, if you want better odds of winning my 20 page critique at the end of the month, I am running a separately drawn contest over on my Dojo Diva blog where I am talking about why everyone (but especially females) needs at least some basic self-defense training. Comments count for one entry. Comments with a hyperlink count for two. And you get to learn about beating up bad people.

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Moving on…

We have spent the past few weeks studying the fundamentals of what makes up a novel, and today we are going to discuss…

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Review: A Brief History of 7 Killings

The language is rough, but it bounces with a jovial, yet often treacherous, Jamaican riddim. Fall on the wrong side of the beat, and you’re like to get a bullet in your belly.

A_Brief_History_of_Seven_Killings.JPGWhile certainly not brief, this book does contain its fair share of killings (more than 7). Chronicling the lives of various Jamaican ghetto dons from the late 60s all the way to the 90’s, it reads like The Godfather goes Caribbean. The language is rough, but it bounces with a jovial, yet often treacherous, Jamaican riddim. Fall on the wrong side of the beat, and you’re like to get a bullet in your belly.

I grew up in Jamaica during the 80’s, and the idyllic island life that plasters most people’s mental picture of the country was as far from the truth of my childhood as India is from the West Indies. Gangs ran amok. Thievery and murder were commonplace. When men began testing the bars on our windows at night looking for weak points in the house’s defense, my father asked a neighbor what he should do.

“Don’t bother calling the police, brethren,” our neighbor said. “When you call them, they tell you, ‘We’ll come by and pick up the bodies.’ No. Buy a machete, and wait by the window. When the first man comes through, chop de head off ‘im, and pull ‘im through. Then the next man. Chop ‘im head off too, and pull ‘im through. When they stop comin’, then the police show.”

This book–with fictional characters and factual events–lives, breathes, and speaks the Jamaican story: the best and the worst of it. It’s a book you get lost in. If the dialect is a little tricky to read, I suggest picking up the audiobook. It feels less like a reading and more like a stage play with some of the best voice acting I’ve heard on a book.

For the amazon link, click here.

Series and Psychopaths—The Author Sadist & Why Audiences LOVE the Pain

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 9.18.35 AM Mads Mikkelsen in “Hannibal”

Hubby and I are now careening through Hannibal, which is some of the most amazing writing I’ve ever seen. I would have never believed any actor could even rival Anthony Hopkins’ portrayal of Dr. Hannibal Lecter, but…? Mads Mikkelsen might actually be better. I don’t know if I have ever felt so conflicted about a character. Hannibal is a stone-cold killer, but then I catch myself rooting for him?

Wait…no, he’s the BAD GUY. Right?

I’m so confused *head desk*

Yet, this series is such a prime example of why series are superlative storytelling. Instead of containing a character like Lecter to 90-120 minutes, we now have what no movie can offer…TIME. This allows for a layering, a depth, an exploration we always craved, even if we weren’t entirely aware of it at the time.

I find it harder to make snap judgements (like I do…

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Some Simple Encouragement and Advice for Writers, Artists, and other Creatives

We worry when we stumble across something truly excellent that we might just be setting ourselves up for disappointment when we can’t sustain that level of mind-blowing brilliance.

You’re thinking about a story or a blog idea and boom, it hits you like a frying pan in the face in one of those old cartoons. It’s that perfect idea. It’s the one that takes everything that throbs inside of you and puts it into words that express it in a way you haven’t heard before. For a moment, you rocket up into the stratosphere, imagining the unique visitors and comments, the book sales, the TED talks, the friggin’ Nobel prize!

Then that other feeling hits you. It’s the one that makes you feel like someone’s just poured a pint of mercury into your veins. It’s a feeling of dread and depression. It says, “yeah, this is the most incrediawesomeable idea I have ever heard. It’s the one that’s going to make me. But then what?” What do you follow it up with. You stop hopping around in the shower like Gollum with his precious, and you stand there, water dripping off your cheeks, a cold numbness prickling at your private parts. The mercury meets up with that prickling and makes it way, slowly to your brain. All your dreams clam up under the urging voice saying, “Put it away. The thought is too good. You can’t follow it up. People will be disappointed with whatever you put out next. You’ll slowly watch your followers tick down from the hundreds of thousands to the fifty that you have now, which consists of TeamFollowBack members, BookSpammers, and your alcoholic uncle who writes dark, erotic crime novels with characters that are uncomfortably close in resemblance to the people in your family.”

We all know that voice. Anyone who is judged on their creativity knows that voice because we know we are not the source of our ideas. We are dependent on inspiration for our greatest ideas, and we cannot control it. So we worry when we stumble across something truly excellent that we might just be setting ourselves up for disappointment when we can’t sustain that level of mind-blowing brilliance.

Let me step in to encourage you here, my friend. I’m all for practical consideration and planning out your next steps before making big decisions, but worry has no place in that process. So the next time you hear that voice, step out of the shower, throw it in the toilet and flush it. Then towel off and go write. Don’t worry about following up your brilliant ideas with more brillianter ideas. Just put them out there and keep writing. It won’t all be great, but the more you write, the better and more consistent it will get.

Review: Blue Ruin

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Blue Ruin’s best trait is its slow reveal. If you did not read the synopsis or look at the movie’s poster, you wouldn’t know it was a revenge thriller until a good twenty minutes into the movie or so. It opens with wit and a melancholic humor that helps you quickly attach to the main character, Dwight. He is a homeless man, living off what he can scrounge and what he can steal. Isolated from people, he is still drawn to them, to a life he once knew. I won’t give up too much more, because, as I said, every small revelation is a slow unraveling of the backstory that weaves together with Dwight’s current actions to create the tapestry of chaos and violence that lays over a growing number of bodies like a sheet at a morgue. I will say this, however. Dwight is not the perfect action hero. He is no ex-marine or ex-cop or ex-mafia hitman. He’s just a normal guy, a little pudgy around the edges and not accustomed to pulling a trigger. He makes mistakes, and he is punished for them. That’s what made this revenge thriller so refreshing. Give it a shot. It’ll be worth the night.

Catching Up on the Blog Tour

If you haven’t found the recent links to my blog tour online, I’ve posted them here for you. Enjoy, my friend.

What Inspires My Writing on Journeys Thru Books

An Excerpt from Chapter 3 of Hindsight on BookBlurbsJim

Villains and What I Learned from Writing Hindsight on Pastime with Books

To Outline or Not To Outline on Next Big Book Thing