Are You a Writer-in-Waiting?

sb10067155f-001A little while ago, I was having a conversation with a colleague about my writing. I found myself trying to describe what I was before I made the decision to go the indie route. And the term that came to me was “writing-in-waiting”. At the time, it was just something I came up with in an attempt to be cheeky. But it actually summed up what my problem was for all the years that I toiled away in anonymity.

And truth be told, it applies to a whole lot of aspiring writers I’ve talked to over the years. What do you call yourself when you’re a writer who has a manuscript, but is stuck in the “what do I do now” phase? These are not the same people have an idea in their head and are undecided on what to do about it. Those people are “aspiring writers”, people who haven’t made the big leap yet.

novels“Writer’s-in-waiting”, on the other hand, describes the people who have taken that leap, put the pen to paper and given their idea life, but aren’t sure what to do next.  I do believe every independent writer has gone through this phase at one point or another. Somehow, the concept of publishing your own works just doesn’t come naturally. We all still believe that there’s a publisher out there who will give us our “big break”.

You know what I’m talking about, right? The cash advance, the contract, the royalties, and all kinds of promotion and publicity. But alas, this is a very hard thing to come by, and it seems to be getting harder all the time. Lucky for us, the very things that are making it harder to get a publishing deal are also providing us with the tool to publish, promote and publicize ourselves.

But I digress. Does this description, a “writer-in-waiting” describe you? If so, the good news is that there are plenty of people who’ve taken that next step and can let you know how and where to make it. And even though there is no such thing as a “big break” anymore, or at least a very slim chance of one, there’s plenty of opportunity for people with an idea and the will to take it public.

Papa Zulu’s 2nd Five Star Review!

papa_zuluWell folks, Papa Zulu has now been available through Amazon.com for just over a month. And thus far, two reviews have come in, and both are both highly favorable! I tell ya, it pays off to hold back on publication so you can make sure that everything is nicely polished and edited. And while I’m still waiting on a few more people to chime in on what they thought about the book, I am pretty happy with what people had to say so far.

Here are the reviews, with some minor omissions to make sure no spoilers were included:

(5.0 stars) So Good
By Rosie Reader

Lots of action and excitement once again; a great follow-up to Whiskey Delta! I hope there is another one in the series because I want more.

(5.0 stars) Excellent Sequel!
By S.O. “SO” (NY)

What can I say about this….except it’s an incredible follow up to Whiskey Delta! I almost wish I’d given WD a lower rating, just so I could rate this a higher one LOL. It picks up pretty much where book 1 left off, but it is written in such a way that if you didn’t read WD you wouldn’t be too lost. It’s not so much about the zombies this time, but the aftermath of that and the internal conflicts both within the Army and within each person.

(Spoiler, spoiler, spoiler)…

There are a few loose ends where the end of the book is concerned and to quote Braun “this can’t be the end…there has to be more…” His relationship with Saunders is brought to attention, there’s a traitor (or 2) in their midst, and his platoon might have a new leader.

You can check the full reviews by going to the books Amazon page, but I warn you, they do contain spoilers! And it might just be a coincidence, but I did notice a slight uptick in sales since the second review came in. So far, Papa Zulu has sold some 13 copies since publication, and Whiskey Delta and the unrelated Data Miners have even made some added sales. So, for obvious reasons, I am pretty happy right now.

And to my fellow indies, keep hammering those keys and pushing those books! Every copy we sell is a small victory and every favorable review is a big one. After all, that’s why we got into this business, isn’t it? To share what we love, think, and what inspires us, in the hopes that other people draw from it the same things we do.

Leibster! Leibster! Rah-rah-rah!

liebster-award-e1355858473421It seems award season is upon us again, and I’ve received a nod from a respected colleague who decided to send a nomination my way! So thanks to Rami Ungar the writer, and best wishes on the Quiet Game as it goes into its third month since publication. And now, getting to the rules of this award, I must share the following 11 details about myself, make my nominations, and answer 11 questions. Here goes…

  1. I am an Aquarius
  2. I was born in Ottawa Ontario on a Saturday during the depths of winter
  3. I have a natural resistance to cold, being burly and furry, but have trouble with heat
  4. For the first twenty-five years of my life, people though I was older than I actually was. Now it’s the reverse! For some people, this may sound like a good thing. But for me, its just plain weird!
  5. I never really fit in with crowds. I always tried to, but found that I was destined to either stand on my own or make up my own social circles
  6. I have a natural thing for animals. Doesn’t really matter if they are cats, dogs, or a wild creature. We just seem to get each other
  7. I don’t get out to the theater much at all anymore, which seems nuts since I’m more invested in new movies than I ever was before
  8. In the space of a year (Dec 2006 – Aug 07), I traveled to southern Mexico, Europe, across Canada and visited New York City. It was a crazy and awesome year!
  9. Unlike a lot of indies, my desire to write and share goes beyond the desire to express myself creatively. Much depends on it for me, and the prospect of not succeeding is frightening to me
  10. I am very susceptible to germs, seeing as how I get sick with the seasons like clock work. You’d think a teacher would have better immunities. Sadly, no
  11. I love kids, but am not sure if I would ever want to have some of my own. But as I have been told many times, no one is ever really ready, so I don’t worry about it too much

Alright, that was deep. Now here are the 11 questions Rami came up with for myself and his other nominees to answer. A word of warning, I was not brief!

1. Do you consider yourself a spiritual person?

Yes I do. While I so often find myself railing against organized religion for its excesses and abuses, I have never been an atheist, nor do I consider it a likely possibility that we live in a universe devoid of any higher order. I guess I’ve always been a monist/deist, a person who believes that the universe is guided by a conscious force that underlies and connects all things, was responsible for its creation and the laws that guide it, but does not intervene or exercise direct control over things.

2. If you could meet any historical personage, who would you meet and what would you say to them?

Tough call. But if I had to choose, I’d say Montezuma II, the last emperor of the Aztec civilization and people. And once the troublesome problem of translating from English to Nahuatl was worked out, I’d give him one very simple bit of advice. “Kill the Conquistadors on sight!”

3. What scares you the most in the world?

The idea of something bad happening to someone I love, and that I couldn’t be there to stop it. Either that or that I could, through negligence or inaction. be responsible for something terrible happening to someone else. Don’t think I could live with myself either way.

4. Morning, afternoon, or evening person?

Definitely evening. Not an early riser by nature, and my most creative and active time is always late at night. Were it not for this incessant need to get a good forty winks a night, I’d work til the wee hours of the morning all the time!

5. What was the worst job you ever had the displeasure of holding?

Again, tough call. There was the two summers during school that I worked for the city doing maintenance on public parks and parking garages. For those unfamiliar with job-speak, that means you clean up garbage. During the months I worked there both years, I cleaned up a ton of puke, feces, urine, and disposed of I don’t know how many used needles, half-smoked joints and even a bottle of heroine. I also got solicited by a few prostitutes, and was accosted by several homeless people.

But then there was the few months I taught in a remote community on the west side of Vancouver Island. Out there, joblessness, idleness, isolation and the problems of drug abuse, suicide, broken homes and behavioral problems create a very tough challenge for teachers. I was there for three months, replacing a teacher who went nuts and ended up suing the school board over a nothing issue. That kind of hostile work environment and the politics of the dude’s lawsuit and how it effected work for the rest of us led to many people quitting and the school almost imploding. I slept very little for those 11 weeks, got sworn and freaked out at almost every day by the kids, and was happy as hell to get out when I did!

I’d say it was the teaching gig. No job was ever that bad before or since.

6. If you could dress up as anything for Halloween this year, regardless of price, what would you dress up as?

If price weren’t an option, I’d go as Iron Man. And the exoskeleton would be real!

7. What’s your dream job?

High-paid author, article writer and traveling guest-lecturer. Basically what I’m doing everything I can to become right now!

8. If you could be somebody else for a day, who would you be? (This could be anything from an actual person–President Barack Obama or Vera Farmiga, for example–or it can be anything as simple as “a dancer” or “a music producer”)

I would love to be Chris Hadfield and go around talking about science, technology, and what its like to go into space. And then I’d unleash a guitar riff on my classic guitar!

9. What is your favorite color?

Rainforest Green. That’s the kind of deep, dark green that puts me in mind of driving across this here island, breathing clean air, and then staring out at the ocean as the high waves pound against the cliffs and the sandy shore.

10. What do you think you’ll be doing in 10 years?

With any luck, living in a nice home in Victoria, writing novels and articles for an obscene (okay, decent) amount of money, and living with my wife and our cat and a dog. She will be working in government with a senior position, the animals will be happy and rambunctious, and we will be busy contemplating what’s next for our family 🙂

11. If you had to brave some sort of apocalypse or natural disaster in your city/town/village, who would want to brave it with?

Tossup. There’s my wife, the natural choice, but if we’re venturing into the realm of the fictional, I would say Daryl Dixon. He’s a good man to have around in a fight, and underneath his tough, redneck exterior beats a good heart.

Alright, that’s me done! And now we move on to my nominations and the questions I would like to see them answer. First, here are the people I would like to nominate for this award:

Nina D’Arcengela

Khaalidah

Professor VJ

Likeitiz

MythRider

Writerlious

Casey Sheridan

Raven Lunatick

Mona (Ramblings)

Eddie Two Hawks

Dangerously Daydreaming

The Wandering Gourmand

And here’s the questions I’d like all of them to answer:

  1. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would go and what would you do there?
  2. If you had a million dollars, what would you do?
  3. If civilization were to end tomorrow, what would be your first priority? Securing a source of food, water and energy? Procreating to ensure the continuation of the species? Or preserving the knowledge of mankind?
  4. Would you rather have:
    A. A puppy
    B. A kiss from your sweetie, or
    C. A well formatted hard drive?
  5. Describe your perfect relationship partner
  6. Who’s your favorite superhero and why?
  7. What was the best science fiction, horror, fantasy movie or television series you ever saw?
  8. If you had a chance to go to another planet, what would you take with you?
  9. Favorite pet (cat, dog, bird, etc.) and why?
  10. What stands out as the single greatest experience of your life?
  11. If you could do just one thing before you died, what would it be?

Thank you again, Rami, congrats to all the other nominees, and hope everybody is having a good week and looking forward to the weekend. Hope to hear from y’all again soon, and stay tuned for more on my end!

Dealing with Mixed Reviews

thumbs upEvery writer knows that bad reviews are a part of the trade. But what do you do when the bad is mixed in with the good? Aren’t mixed messages kind of worse than consistently bad ones? Well, that’s what I’m wondering as I peruse some collected reviews of my books, as posted on Amazon. Some of them only came to my attention by accident, as I happened to be cruising by not long ago, and I must have turned my prompts off.

In any case, here are some of the reviews, good and bad, that came in with regards to Source, my first indie-published work. As you can see, the first one wasn’t so good, ranking the book at a mediocre three out five stars. The second is from Katy “Obsessive bibliophile” Sozaeva, a pro reader/reviewer who specializes in evaluating indie works, which was posted over a year ago. Compare if you will:

Source_2

Inventive and Imaginative, but Scientifically Flawed. I read this with some enjoyment, I admit. But that pleasure was diminished somewhat by the nagging voice that kept saying, “That wasn’t necessary/easiest/realistic.” It happened in just too many places for it to be assuaged by simply pushing the “I believe” button.

Entertaining and enlightening sci-fi story. The Earth and its colonies are running out of water. The government, left with no options, decides to hedge its bets by creating a colony ship and sending off the best and brightest to colonize the stars, while at home strict rationing and a lottery system to decide who should live and who should die will be instituted. Millions will die, either of thirst or through…

Not exactly consistent is it? And consider this: the first review seemed to have far more of an impact than the second. When Katy reviewed my work and looked on it kindly, I honestly filed it in the “Oh, she’s nice” category. On the other hand, the semi-negative review hit me where I live. It actually made me consider pulling it from the shelf and putting a stop on its sequels.

Eyes

And then consider this review from one of the short stories in my Legacies series, otherwise known as Eyes in the Dark. This story I began years back and completed for NaNoWriMo 2011. Some initial opinions I got on it were quite good, all from my writer’s group, but I was happy to see a positive review posted on a professional site:

I liked the story. It had a convincing science fiction scenario and an intriguing dilemma at the core of the plot. I liked the characters, which always helps. I’d recommend this book and read any others Matthew’s written.

I liked that review, especially the last line since it might actually lead to a rise in sales! But I have to admit, I was surprised by it seeing as how I felt the entire thing was a bit rushed and hurriedly written. As it’s writer, I am abundantly aware of its flaws and I keep waiting for someone to say the same bad things that I fear they will notice.

LiabilityOh, and I should also mention the one review which haunts me to this day. It had to do with this oldie, a short known as Liability which I wrote back in 2005. Since I merged it with another short, I can no longer find the review on Amazon anymore. However, I do seem to remember the general nature of it, which ought to tell you something!

The story is nothing special. The ending is a fairy tale of course and is totally unrealistic, but if you’re looking for a cheap read, it’s worth the price.

I’m paraphrasing, but that’s the gist of it. Harsh huh? And the worst part of it is, I took it seriously. And even though that review was one of five that were quite favorable, I still seem to put more stock in it than the others. Here’s what these other people said, just to be inclusive:

Grabs your attention immediately. Is well written IMHO.

It’s a well conceived and beautifully delivered novel. I wish it has more pages for a more lasting reading.

Good story. Gets you wrapped up in the action right away and doesn’t stop till the end.

Don’t look behind you when you read this novel, they may be watching you. thoroughly enjoyable reading.

And I can imagine what seem people would say, since I’ve said it enough time myself to know it word for word. “Hey, [insert your name here], you can’t please everybody. And there’s always going to be idiots and haters. You can’t take what they say seriously.” Yeah, but when it’s me, I say the words, but I don’t feel it. Somehow, the bad reviews always see to make more sense and leave the lasting mark.

So I put it to all the other indie writers, artists and authors out there. What is it about negative feedback that we find just so believable? Why do we treat positive reviews (I’m assuming it’s not just me) as if they are obligatory or motivated by the desire to not hurt our feelings? Are good reviews only meaningful if they come from people who are usually cruel and hard to impress?

I don’t know… All I know is, I want to get better. And the appearance of a single bad review makes me want to work harder and convince them of my worth as a writer. Funny, considering that if it were a friend of mine being poorly reviewed, I’d be telling them they rock, and telling the haters: “Screw you, with some sexual harassment on top!”

Anybody else got mixed reviews to share? This experience feels somehow cathartic and I recommend it highly. Don’t worry, it won’t hurt your bottom line. Hardly anybody reads this site anyway 😉