What I’ve Learned From 28 Brilliant Creators

Some awesome perspective from some awesome writers.

I Miss You When I Blink

It occurred to me recently that I am one selfish mofo. When I interview fellow writers and artists, which I do a lot for work (in addition to writing my own stuff, my jobs are: co-hosting a literary talk show, running an online lit mag, and selling books at an indie bookstore), I often take advantage of the conversation to seek advice on my own queries about creativity, productivity, and life. I’m supposed to be asking questions for the readers and viewers — and I am, I swear — but I also sneak in a lot of chit-chat on topics of my own personal interest. Because come on: It’s all about meeeEEEEeeee.

It was the interview I did recently with my friend Ed Tarkington that made me realize what I was doing. I’m a sucker for time management tips, and I’ve always been totally fascinated by the habit many writers have of getting up in the…

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Book Marketing Trends for Authors and Other Good Reads This Week

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I’m afraid I haven’t had much time to devote to blogging lately because I’m trying to finish a first draft of my novel. More on that later. In the meantime, following are some awesome reads for the Indie’s among us. Enjoy and have a great week.

7 Book Marketing Trends Authors Can’t Afford to Ignore. Kimberley Grabas offers some solid marketing strategies, with lots of actionable tips.

Why do we write? Lisa Kron offers a very interesting perspective on the impact that writing, even entertainment writing, can have.

Self Publishing Notebook. Jonathan Kile offers an interesting a funny perspective on indie writing and publishing.

Vetting Vendors: Public Relations Professionals. Naomi Blackburn has some advice on how to hire a PR pro that won’t ruin your PR.

Scene Structure: Understanding the Truth about Character Arcs. CS Larkin gives us a great nuts and bolts post on character arcs.

And just for fun, check out this Content Idea Generator. Who knows, it might be your next brilliant idea.

I do it because I can – flash fiction challenge from Chuck Wendig

Ah, the first flash fiction challenge for the new year from Chuck. Our assignment: to pick a random pic from Flicker and use it as inspiration for a short story of 1,000 words. I have to admit I went slightly over the 1,000 but just a smidge:

 

I do it because I can

She looked almost alive, swathed in veils and satin in her simple coffin. Like a princess. Ironic, since her killer left her on the side of the road, naked, bruised and obscenely posed for all to see. With a note clutched in her hand that read; “I do it because I can.”

Her grandmother told me in broken English that it was a custom from her home country – to send the loved one dressed in their best, to Heaven. After what had happened, I wondered how the woman still believed in Heaven. Eyes closed, prayer beads rattling between nervous fingers, her lips moved in silent prayer. Her silver hair glistened in the flickering candlight making her as much of a spectre as her dead granddaughter.

I sat in the back row and watched as mourners came and went. Some cried at the coffin, others crossed themselves defensively, lest the same thing happen to their child. Still others sat in the chairs and stared straight ahead. I waited for the killer to arrive. I knew that he would. That he would want to see his handiwork and the devastating effect it had on the world.

My partner sat in our unmarked, just outside the church – smoking and watching. We exchanged texts throughout the afternoon. Mostly to amuse ourselves and in the end for nothing at all because the killer never came to pay his respects.

As the last vestige of sunlight refracted through the stain glassed windows I rose. Tomorrow was another day for catching killers. Awkwardly, I knelt in the aisle, crossed myself and went outside.

After pushing through the ancient door of the church, I stood on the stoop and looked around, trying to adjust to the gray light that shrouded my world. The engine on the unmarked turned over and I squinted at my partner, who cranked a hand to get me moving.

I plunked into the passenger seat and closed the door against the cold. “So?”
My partner, Joan waved a gloved hand. “So nothing.”
I sighed at the tired little church as we pulled away from the curb. Joan smacked my arm with the back of her hand. “Cheer up, it’s beer o’clock.”

I nodded and stared straight ahead, wondering what made the human race so cold and uncaring. But soon, I was perched comfortably on a bar stool and doing shots and beers with Joan and the hard edges of life were softened.

Joan nibbled on a pretzel thoughtfully. “He’ll probably show at the funeral.” She turned bright green eyes on me. “Where he can watch from a distance.”

I nodded, then drained the rest of my beer. “Probably.” I tossed a few bills on the bar and stood. “Let’s go.”

She dropped me at my house, where lights in the window told me Cassie was home. “You want me to come in?”

I frowned at her. “For what?”

“I could make dinner. You two could stand to eat something besides pizza.”

I smiled at her. She was a good woman, a good person. She cared. We both cared. But I had to pretend I didn’t see that extra caring in her eyes – since my wife left last year that look in Joan’s eyes was too much of an invitation. I couldn’t take advantage and I didn’t want to.

“Maybe another time.”

I stood on the sidewalk and watched as her brake lights disappeared into the fog, then turned slowly toward the house. It was probably the fog or the street light reflected in the wet pavement but I saw a flash. When I turned toward it, it disappeared. Could’ve been the beer and whiskey too.

Cassie opened the door and frowned at me – her golden curls backlit and crowned her head like a halo. I smiled – she was my angel. “You gonna stand in the rain all night?”

I hurried up the walk then gave her shoulders a squeeze before going inside. “Daddy’s home.”

The house smelled like coffee and spaghetti. And the table was set and waiting for me. Cassie pulled off my coat and nudged me into a chair. I sipped my coffee and the warmth spread through my body, taking the chill out of my tired bones. “Looks good.”

Cassie smiled proudly. “Made it myself.”

I stared at the plate of spaghetti and meatballs. “Oh-oh.”

She smacked me with a napkin and said, “Eat, you old bear.”

Afterwards, I helped her with the clean up and dishes. “How was your day?”

She told me about school and a boy she liked and wondered out loud if I’d pop for a pretty dress she wanted for an upcoming dance at school. “You think it’ll make him love you?”

She blushed. “Oh Dad, you’re such doof.” She frowned. “How was your day?”

I told her about my unsuccessful stake out and she nodded in sympathy. My daughter was an old soul who understood my need to seek justice in the world and sympathized. She snapped her fingers. “Oh, I almost forgot.” She pulled an envelope out of her pocket and handed it to me. “This came for you.”

I frowned at the unaddressed envelope then tore it open. Inside was a note: “I do it because I can.”

My heart dropped to my toes. “How did you get this?”

Cassie recoiled at my reaction. “It was taped to the door when I came home.”

I went to the window and looked out, then I went to the front door and threw it open. And I felt him out there in the fog, watching and waiting. I withdrew my gun, then said to her, “Lock the door behind me and call Joan. Tell her to get over her now!”

Then, I stepped into the fog, gun raised, flashlight poised. I stepped off the porch, scanning the yard, the bushes, then went around back. The gate was open and my breath caught in my throat.

I burst into the yard but it was empty. Hands trembling, I ran the flashlight beam across the yard and along the house. Then I saw them – footprints in the sodden grass, leading to the back of the house. Panting, I followed them to my patio door which was locked. I pounded on the door. “Cassie! Cassie!”

Then she screamed. “Daddy!”

From conquering fear to business models that don’t react – best reads of the week

It’s been a while since I’ve done a link post – and I think I want to get that back in on this blog. The holidays and general craziness is over for now, so time to get back to basics. Following are some super reads that I wanted to share.

Overcoming Fear by Jo Eberhardt. This has to be one of the best things I’ve ever read on overcoming our own doubts about ourselves. I actually cried as I read this heartfelt and often funny story. Do yourself a favor and read it – it will make your day, put a little bounce in your step and lift your head just a little higher.

THE E-PUBLISHING REVOLUTION IS DEFINITELY NOT OVER (Regardless of what you’ve heard)
Literary Agent Laurie McLean, is pretty sure the ePub revolution is not over and that Indies still have some serious say in the world of books.

75 New Year’s Resolutions for Writers. Yup that’s right WiseInk has 75 resolutions from which to choose that you could conquer this year. I have to admit, there were quite a few I think I’m going for.

9 Ways To Make Your Author Resource Box Sizzle by Publicist Joan Stewart. You know she has some great examples of the mini bios that authors can do for various platforms. Some of them really quite good.

Business Musings: The Reactive Business Model by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. It’s a long read and there was a lot of ‘back story’ to get to the point but when she gets there, it’s worth the trip. And I couldn’t agree more with her.

As a little bit of further inspiration, I tossed in this trailer for a movie called, “Joy,” which I just saw this afternoon. If you are someone with a dream, I highly recommend the film. One of the most inspirational stories I’ve seen in a long time.

Have a great week.

Annie

A Great Mystery Read That I’m Loving And Other Mysterious Tidings

Yowza, yowza get your chance to win a free book here. Thanks Princess Weird for honoring me by using my book as a prize. I’m truly flattered.

D.L. Perching

I recently purchased Coffee & Crimeby Anita Rodgers. It’s a fun murder mystery with likable characters and yum – food. Prepare to laugh, be intrigued, and crave all sorts of things like pie a la mode when page turning or swiping through, rather, this gotta add it to your eBook library.

P.S. Every time I say the Coffee & Crime, I crave coffee and cream, plus sugar of course, but not too sweet.

I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but if you love a great murder mystery that’s also a fun, smooth, and clever read with a likable cast, you’ll really like this one. I’m not finished with it yet, so no hints or clues please if you’ve read it. ;)

Click on the image to grab Coffee & Crime for yourself, dear book lover.

a great mystery read

Other Mysterious Tidings

I was so excited to get my first…

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Writer T-Shirts By Genre

My friend, the princess of weird, aka DL Perching makes these awesome shirts for writers. Thought you’d want to check them out. I sent one to a friend as a gift and she loves it. They are really super cool and groovy. :D

D.L. Perching

Been working hard on my writer t-shirts designs. I created an entire section of writer t-shirts by genre here.

The shop will continue to grow as I’m able to add to it. :)

Here’s a clickable screenshot that will also transport you to my online Writer T-Shirts By Genre storefront…

writer t-shirts by genreIf you see a shirt you like and are in these locations (image below), I can send you a special link to so it ships from those locations. I will be updating the inventory’s descriptions and adding the U.K.,  European Union, links so shipping prices are lower than shipping from the U.S.

writer t-shirts by genre shipping info

Also, sign up for my newsletter, The Work Geek Gazette, for Indie author shout outs, book giveaways, awesome t-shirt sales and discounts, info on free books, etc.

Many thanks!

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Writer Chick Predicts 2016

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Yup, it’s New Year’s Day and time to make a few predictions (about which I will no doubt, be wrong). Because, well because it’s fun to predict the future and considering all the drinks we had last night, a few laughs might be in order. Am I right? Okay, so Writer Chick predicts…

  1. After an unsuccessful Kick-starter campaign, Barnes and Noble will go belly up – blaming Amazon for their failure.
  2. The Author’s Guild will start selling ‘information products’ for writers that promise secrets methods to beat Amazon’s algorithms. Of course it won’t work, but Amazon will be (very) publicly blamed for their author members’ low royalties.
  3. Amazon will be voted the “Person of the Year” by Time magazine – this will drive NY Times  writers into a frenzy.
  4. Apple will release the long awaited iAlarm. The innovative gadget will wake you in in ten different time zones, provide unreliable weather forecasts, and give you ten affirmations to utter before rising.
  5. ABC, NBC and CBS will engage in a bidding war for the new TV pilot based on the Star Wars movies.  However, while the major broadcast stations are mired in entertainment warfare, Fox will create a kick ass show based on Hugh Howie’s Silo Series.
  6. Amid the Star Wars mania that Disney is spending millions to generate, Ford Motor Company will come out with the limited edition Darth Vader – an SUV hybrid that comes only in black and has a hissy sound system.
  7. The Big5 publishers will team up with Walmart to create a book co-op in hopes of driving Amazon under – instead, they will drive Walmart under.
  8. In a last ditch effort to gain votes, Donald Trump will auction off his hair in a Vegas style, online event.
  9. Apple will also come out with the iPhone Jumbo which users will wear like a backpack. Some will complain about the inconvenient size, however, all will agree that the awesome clarity on streaming videos cannot be beat.
  10. PETA no longer satisfied to just fight for animal rights, will kick off a campaign for animal marriage. Next up – inter-species marriage.
  11. In a stunning revelation on the end of the year, Barbara Walters special, Michael Moore will reveal that he is a genetically modified life form created by Monsanto.
  12. The cost of oil will topple to an amazing $19 a barrel. However, California drivers will still be paying upwards of $3 a gallon, for reasons only Gerry Brown knows.
  13. Apple will also develop a new product- the iHologram – an eReader accessed by a computer chip, placed in your brain. Google will file an intellectual property lawsuit, claiming the brain chip was to be their next succession in the Google Glasses evolution.
  14. An anonymous whistle blower will reveal that Google has been an arm of the NSA since its inception. Finally, somebody will use Yahoo to search on the Internet.

How about you? What are you predictions for 2016? Tell em like you see em in the comments. Happy New Year.

Annie

 

 

 

All the good things that happen to us every day

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Happy almost New Year, everybody. Hard to believe that another year has passed already, but it has. I look forward to what the new year will bring. In the meantime, I am still struggling with my Christmas cold, which came upon me a couple of days before Christmas and has hung on pretty tightly since.

It’s been a fun fest of cough medicine, tissues and late night coughing. I mean seriously, how much snot can one head hold?

I don’t know about you but I can be a pretty big baby when I’m sick and even I wish I could leave the room when I’m like that. The incessant whining, the sad eyes, the stooped posture. Yikes. And ironically, since it’s one of those bad head colds I can barely talk, so all my complainng comes out in Minnie Mouse like squeaks and squeals. Not a pretty thing, my friends.

However, it’s gotten me thinking. In my quest to beat the cold into submission, to meet it headlong in battle with light saber raised and determination glinting in my somewhat crusty eye, I realized it’s a losing battle. Yes, I can take the meds, get rest, drink fluids, and eat chicken soup but the thing is, the cold will take its course no matter what I do. All my focus on dare I say obsession with it, doesn’t do much to change it.

And from there I thought, it’s kind of how life is. We get slapped around and we fight back and then we get slapped some more. We get up and rattle our light sabers but then somebody kicks us in the head. It’s messy. It’s bloody. There’s lots of drool involved. And our all consuming focus on the problem only makes things seem more futile.

So I wondered if maybe it was a smarter to just let it be. You know what I mean? Just say, “Well, okay, that sucks.” And then move on. In fact, when I have been able to do this, often the problem works itself out.

Okay, what’s my point? Yes, I should definitely get to the point. The point is that what we focus on is what we get. Right? If we focus on problems then problems we get. But what if we focused on the good things that happen to us every day? And I promise you, no matter how bad you may think things are for you, good things do happen to you every day. You may not notice them, but they happen.

So maybe the trick is to start noticing those things. All those tiny little, lovely things that happen to you every day, like:

  • The email you got from an old friend because you sent them a Christmas card
  • The unexpected gift from a friend that arrived just when you were feeling low
  • The wag of your dog’s tail or that special purr from your cat
  • The snow on the mountains that you can see out your bathroom window
  • The guy who let you into to traffic or the lady who let you cut in line at the grocery store
  • You sold a book
  • You got a review
  • People you don’t even know read your blog or make a nice comment
  • Somebody retweets you
  • Starbucks sent you a coupon for a free coffee
  • Sunrises
  • Sunsets
  • The freedom to get on the Internet and bitch and moan about anything and everything
  • A great new book to read

The list goes on and on. Every one is really, truly a tiny little miracle. To be celebrated and appreciated and paid forward.

So, I don’t know about you, but I’m going out to look for the good things. Tiny as they may be, I know they’re out there. And as long as I have tissues to daubs my runny nose and eyes, I think I’ll be able to see them.

How about you? Do you notice all the little good things that happen to you every day? How did it make you feel? Feel free to share.

Annie