Be Kind and You Will Receive Kindness

It’s the last Friday of the month, which means I’m back with another We Are The World Blogfest post! This month I stumbled across a post that was dated from 2018, but it still absolutely warmed my heart.

The woman in the post talks about how she runs what she refers to as an “anarchist co-op coffee shop” (more on that later), and that several of the homeless kids in the area knew that she would slip them free food and things to them when they came by.

Most would think the story ends there, but this gets even more heartwarming.

The kids go out of their way to help her out. They organized to make sure that at least one of them stayed with her all night when she had a late night shift by herself. And then another time, they —

Well, you’ll just have to read for yourself…

Isn’t that just so great? Now it gets even better.

A friend of mine is the one who brought my attention to this post. He explained that he knew the woman personally and that she was the sweetest woman he knew. The coffee shop was joint owned, so there was no top-down hierarchy for the store. Each of the owners put in an equal amount of work into the shop, and each split the profits.

So that’s why the woman in the post never got in trouble. She was one of the owners so she helped make the rules.

Isn’t that fantastic? I wish more places could do this sort of thing to help out homeless kids in their neighborhoods. I hope you enjoyed this post! Be sure to check out the other heartwarming stories on today’s blog hop.

Most Writers are (Thankfully) Not Weavers

I’m a sucker for a book where the protagonist is an author, but add in the fact that they are also changing the world they’re living in, and I’m a goner.

That’s the kind of premise that Heather Kindt’s The Weaver has, and this book sounds incredibly unique. I’m the kind of person who has watched In The Mouth of Madness more times than I can count, and even though that movie is more about the author bringing about the monsters from his imagination into the world around him, The Weaver fiction brought to life certainly doesn’t sound pleasant.

Heather Kindt was kind enough to interview me a while back on her blog, and she has been super supportive of my work since Stolen came out. As soon as I read the synopsis for this book though, I knew it was going on my Kindle. Some books are just like that, you know?

I hope you take a chance on this incredible sounding book (with such a gorgeous cover!) and happy release day, Heather! Here’s hoping the villains in my book never become flesh and blood…

Author Vending: Finding Events [#AuthorToolboxBlogHop]

Today’s post is part of the Author Toolbox Blog Hop, basically it’s a bunch of authors putting together helpful information for other authors. I was approached by Raimey a couple of weeks back because she noticed my tutorial videos, and thought I would want to join. This is obviously something I really enjoy doing, so I was happy to be part of their blog hop! You can find all the other posts for this month showing up over the next couple of days here.

When you first started out in the author business, if you’re anything like me, you had highly unrealistic expectations of what the book business was like. You assumed that author tours were these magical series of events where a publicist setup the locations and all the author had to do was show up, sign copies, and talk about books. That’s so far from the truth, it’s no wonder people get overwhelmed when they learn that much of this lands on the author’s shoulders to organize, stock, and attend.

My very first author signing at Story On The Square in April 2018.

As part of my ongoing Author Vending series, I’m talking about tips and tricks that up and coming authors can use as they attend festivals and shows to promote their books. There are a lot of steps that an author might find themselves struggling to figure out. I want this series to be a guidebook to those authors just getting their feet wet.

Whether you are an indie author or traditional, working with a small press or the big five, unless you’re a big name author, chances are you are going to be responsible for setting up your own book tour. The words book tour sound intense at first, but really you just have to think of it as a series of places where you’ll be doing readings and signings. It’s an opportunity for your friends and fans to see you and buy copies of your books. Even if you only do a couple a year, they can be huge promotional tool to get your name out there and to get people talking about your work.

The first major step is finding events to attend as a vendor. Ideally if you’re just starting out as an author, you’ll want to find a venue that has the following requirements:

  • Low cost – This may seem like a no-brainer, but this is essential for a first-time author vendor to choose their first events at places where they have the ability to break even. A $50 author booth, where you’re selling your books for $10-15 a piece is more likely to be successful rather than one with an initial cost of $100+.
  • Local – Try to find a venue that doesn’t require you to drive far. That not only makes it easier for you to get a return on investment, but means that if you get there and realize you forgot an essential piece of your setup, you can still run back without stressing out.
  • Not necessarily author focused – Sometimes if you’re the only author at an event, it helps you stand out. Your booth will attract the readers, and you’ll be surprised how often people will want to buy a copy for themselves but also one as a gift.
  • Support group – If you have a hard time talking about your books or your worlds or characters, don’t be ashamed to bring a friend or family member to help out. Ideally having someone in the booth who has also read your book and loved it will help to champion your work when you’re too nervous to do it yourself. The more you encounter these situations though, the easier it becomes to figure out how to describe your work.
A book signing from earlier this year, April 2019, at Book Warehouse.
I had so much more confidence (and book swag!)

So now that you have a good idea what to look for, how should you find events in your area?

  • Look for libraries and independent bookstores. Many indie bookstores will already be planning an author signing event, and libraries are always looking for more exciting events for readers of all ages.
  • Look for events you’ve attended before. Even if it’s a craft-focused show, you may be surprised at how well you do, especially if you’re familiar with the layout and guests.
  • If you’re struggling to find local events, or want to branch out, Facebook is a great place to start. Start an Author Business Page and make sure you list your hometown there. You may have festivals reach out to you to attend their show. Look around for events your friends are attending, or events a few months out. You’ll be surprised how quickly you find places looking for vendors.
  • If costs are still too high for you, see if you can find an author/artist/crafter who is willing to share a booth with you. You get less display space, but it’s much easier to break even with half the cost of the booth. This may help you get into some high traffic venues too like fan conventions.
  • When attending events, make sure you walk around and see what else is there. I’ve found a few author festivals that way. You’ll be surprised how often other authors will use those events to promote an author-specific event.
  • Join an authors group near you. I’m part of the Atlanta Chapter of the Horror Writers Association, and I can’t tell you how much I’ve learned in just the 1.5 years I’ve been part of the group. Some people have been doing this for decades longer than I have, and there is always more to learn.

I hope this helps you in finding that first event, and in getting the nuts and bolts down of what is required for it. Usually it’s just having the confidence the first time, and with each event afterwards it gets easier and easier.

Although online promotions can help really get your name out there, I’ve found that it still doesn’t beat a local event. You get the chance to talk about your work, to talk with fans, and to sign books in person. You ultimately are creating a unique experience for your fans, and even though at times they can be a lot of hot work, it’s totally worth it.

Story Time with Robert Frost

It’s amazing the kinds of things that happen as a kid that end up impacting you for years to come. Whether it’s being up on stage for the first time or getting to meet a celebrity in the flesh, those moments can leave a lasting impression that can mold us down the road.

This week I’m over on my Youtube channel talking about a unique experience I had with poetry when I was little. It was both exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time, and I thought it would be fun to share! I’ve been posting up a lot of tutorials for the past few weeks, and I wanted to do something a little different.

I hope you all enjoy this! Maybe I should do more story time videos in the future? What do you think?

Ten Years of Blogging and the Struggle of Realness

WordPress sent me a notification recently, one I really hadn’t expected, but apparently I’ve owned this site for ten whole years!

That’s just crazy to think about.

Looking back over my first post, it took me a while to really get comfortable with what to even blog about. I was struggling to figure out how to open up, and it was difficult to even feel comfortable talking about who I was or where I was from. That kind of honesty online felt dangerous, even though now it’s an everyday thing.

When I was growing up, and the internet was the wild west it was really frightening to use your real name online. Everybody used aliases for fear of being the victim of identity theft, which wasn’t really understood at the time. You had emails for different usernames, you carefully managed what information you gave out because everything was public. Very few messageboards were behind passwords, so everything you said and did was public. Nobody knew how that would affect job prospects, or health insurance opportunities. Mental illnesses just weren’t talked about.

Then came Facebook, and you had to use your real name to get setup. You originally had to enter your real university email address to have an account. Suddenly there were potential ramifications of things you did online, or at least, you thought there were. Oh boy, things sure have changed ten years later!

I had to think of this site as a “professional online portfolio” which sounds kind of ridiculous these days, but that was the equivalent. Slowly my blog grew out of my writing experiences, my progress, my struggles, my highs and lows. Slowly I started to understand my online presence and how it reflected a unique part of me, similar to how my writing does. I grew more comfortable in my online skin, I grew more comfortable in what I could share.

Today it’s easily the hub of my author business and I work hard to keep it updated (*eyes that header image real hard haha*). It’s as natural a part of my work as my writing, as Facebook, as Instagram, and YouTube. It’s taken me a while to fully embrace it, both its more casual aspects (the blog itself), and its more professional pieces (media kits, book listings, social media links, etc). It’s had a lot of modifications in the past ten years, and several complete revamps. I feel like it’s going to get another one soon once I carve out some time.

Some of you all have been following my blog since I first published my sword and sorcery short story in Short-Story.Me! (which has also had a heck of a site update over the years!) and it has gone on to get–

*squints*

A whopping 58,500 views? Holy cow!

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’ve worked real hard to figure things out through this blog, and I appreciate you all for following me on my journey. Some of you have even been with me from the very start, and I can’t express how thankful I am for your support and motivation!

Here’s to ten more years of blogging, writing, learning, and figuring out this whole author thing.

Thanks for being here. ❤