Saturday, October 31, 2015

Dirty Laundry

Book sales have been . . . horrible, terrible, and almost nonexistent.

According to my financial advisor, as of today, we made $18.21. We spent $6,485.43 to publish three books. To break even, we need to sell approximately 9600 more books.

Hindsight: Invest the $6,485.43 on one roll of the dice at a crap table where the odds are slightly better, instead of wasting 5 years to write three books which could have been used for doing something else like being a Circus Clown, Wal-Mart Greeter, or Professional Wrestler.

Truth be told, I’m not complaining about the choice I made to self-publish nor am I upset about the money I spent. I actually like writing, though I don’t consider myself to be a writer in the true sense of the word or an author for that matter. I’m just a guy who wrote some things down and put them out there for people to read, much like this blog. Making money is optional.  

So, why am I exposing my dirty laundry to the world?

I am writing this because some young or old wanna-be indie-authors out there might not know what they are getting themselves into when they pursue a career in novel writing.

Editing, attractive cover designs, and printing are just a few of the things you will have to pay for, unless you’re lucky enough to have someone who will do them for you, or you do them all yourself. Never edit your own work!

The long hard road to being a successful novelist is paved with frustration, but it doesn’t have to be so painful. Educate yourself before diving into the deep end. Ask a lot of questions. Go to conventions and talk to other self-published authors. Establish a budget. Manage your time effectively.

Yes, all this advice is coming from a person who did none of those things, but it doesn’t mean you have to be as stupid as me.

What will make your book a success?

Write an interesting story is a good place to start. Work hard to eliminate as many errors as possible, and if anyone tells you that your book has to be perfect before publishing, that person is crazy. I find mistakes in books all the time. It happens. It’s not the end of the world. Normal people will understand.

An eye-catching cover is nice, but more importantly, it should be applicable to the story. Same can be said for the title.

An intriguing blurb to attract a reader is essential. (I’m horrible with blurbs)

Effective marketing is also necessary; a subject I am not qualified to offer an opinion on. I have no clue on how to create a buzz for books. “Hey, I wrote three books!” is not working for me.

If you are a new and unknown writer and hoping to be traditionally published, I suggest you write a marketable novel. I’ve been rejected 247 times and have stopped sending out query letters. Yup, it took 247 times to make me final realize that my story wasn’t what they wanted. It should have also told me that being a Circus Clown was a better career option.

After all is said and done, I did learn one thing in five years.

Looking forward is the same as looking backward if you do nothing.

Therefore, I will write another book this winter.

“Seriously, Mr. Kafka!? You’re gonna write another book? You promised to take me to the North Pole this winter to find out if Santa Claus really lives there!”

“I’m sorry, jimmy, but this is something I must do, and besides, there is no Santa Claus. He doesn't exist.”


Happy Halloween!


Saturday, October 24, 2015

An Epic 3 Book Adventure

Looking for an entertaining set of books to read this Summer? Look no further than the exciting and fantastical Broke Fiction Trilogy!  

A story that promises to keep you guessing and eagerly turning the pages to find out what happens next. Engaging and quirky characters make you feel like you’re a part of the adventure. And it all comes to life in this magically crafted tale about the difficulties of being young and alone.

What if you had the chance to learn one thing from the past that still remains a mystery to the world; what would you choose?

What if you were immortal, but the only way you could save the people you love was to sacrifice your immortality; what would you do?

What if you had a wish; what would you wish for?

Fate, free will, and six uniquely different sisters force a young boy to make tough choices about what he truly desires most in life.

Vanguard Review: Great coming of age tale with a well developed magical land to explore. Each time I thought I knew where the story was headed, I was surprised by another twist or detour. I love the themes of growing up, the role of family and tradition, and adventure. There is even some romance along the way. Highly recommended for my fellow fantasy readers.

Warfolkan Review: Wajue continues his journey and it is surprise after surprise. Now grown and evolving into a leader, he is faced with loss and tough choices once again. This book is filled with both adventure and some lighthearted banter and fun. This book is full of diverse characters, friendships, romance, betrayal, bravery, and strength. Wajue continues to be the hero warrior searching for answers and truth. It was great to follow Wajue and he matures and finds his way.

Sagacity Review: After the cliff hanger ending in book 2, this third book in the series gets off to a fast start of continued danger and adventure. Who knew a talking owl could be such a beloved character? Again full of interesting characters, new romance, and mystery, this is a superb follow-up to Warfolkan. It kept me guessing until the end and left me satisfied. A sure thing for those that have been following Wajue's journey.



Wednesday, October 21, 2015

A Sci-fi idea

Science fiction has always been popular, and it's a proven endless pool of possibilities for writers and movie makers. I believe the world needs progressive thinkers if we are ever going to explore beyond our own planet.

To honor Sci-fi, today's topic is - What if 

‘What if’ . . . the constant thing that plagues my brain.  

I have a, ‘what if’, idea that I’ve been pondering, but unfortunately it’s a science fiction ‘what if’, and I don’t write that type of stuff. Actually, I’ve been musing over this idea for a very long time and occasionally, I add a quirk here and there to the idea, but the time has come for me to dump it from my brain and share it with the world. Truthfully, I need the space in my head for other stuff.

Program note: I am uncertain if this idea has ever been used in a book or movie, simply because I am not into the science fiction genre. If it is an original thought, please feel free use it in any future scribbles; I won’t be offended nor will I file a plagiarism lawsuit against you, and please don’t sue me if the idea has indeed already been used.

Okay, here’s the idea. It’s complicated, but aren’t all sci-fi plots?

There is a race of people on a distant planet. Their population is decreasing because of a unique problem they have, and if they can’t find a solution, they will cease to exist. ( I know that isn’t new, but stick with me on this.)

Here is their problem: A unique occurrence happened several generations ago when a child was born, it suddenly had all the memories of a particular parent. If the child was a girl, it knew everything its mother knew and if the child was a boy it knew everything the father knew.

At first it only happened to a few children, but over time, it happened to all the children, and the problem grew exponentially with each generation. When a girl was born, she knew the memories of her mother, grandmother, great grandmother, and so on and so forth. The same was true for the boys; they were born with all the memories of their father’s ancestry.  

For a time everything was great, but eventually the newborns die instantly after birth, because their brain capacity couldn’t handle ten generations of memories.

Their only hope is to explore other planets and find a race of people that were primitive and were using only a small amount of their brain. EARTHLINGS!

After discovering that the earthlings were the ideal species, and the only hope to save their race from extinction, they decided to mate with the earthlings.

Here’s the part where it can/ could get interesting and have multiple plot twist.

Plot #1: The human race hasn’t used natural child birth as a means to repopulate in over a thousand years – all done in a laboratory. But, for the alien race to survive, birthing children had to be done the old fashion way, however, the female human body had evolved, and it was no longer capable of giving birth naturally, except for one lucky girl! She can save everyone! But will she?

Plot #2: The aliens colonize earth and take over the planet. They make a TV series about it, and it runs for 20 years. 500 years later, the same thing happens and the alien-humans are again forced to find a new planet to colonize.

Plot #3: After some thought, I deemed plot #3 to be inappropriate. In other words, it wasn’t politically correct. (Yeah, I’m a coward for not adding it.)

Plot #4: One of the aliens secretly mates with a human female to see if they can save their race. The child is male/female, either or works, and the child is incredibly intelligent, but it has loyalty issues. Help the aliens or warn the earthlings? Or does it try to stop other children from being born so that it’s the only superhuman ever to be born?

Plot #5: The aliens secretly come to earth and mate with humans, but it doesn’t work. The babies still die. They are forced to ask the earthlings for help. The people of earth somehow find out about the aliens. A select few want to help them, but religious fanatics want to destroy the aliens. All hell breaks loose on earth! War – drama – intrigue – etc. etc.

There you have it; my wild and crazy sci-fi idea and a tiny insight into my warp mind. I’ll never write such a tale, and if it hasn’t been done, I think one of the plots might make an interesting movie or book. 

Just thinking about knowing everything my father and grandfather knew makes my head hurt.

Whew, I feel better, and now I have the space to think about new stuff.

“Mr. Kafka?”

“Yes, jimmy?”

“You have a lot of empty space in your brain, and I recommend you retain as much as possible while you still can.”

“Not funny, jimmy. Not funny at all!”

“I wasn’t trying to be funny.”

(This article will be deleted if anyone tells me that my idea has already been done.)


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Dancing with Words – Vulgar Edition

The two greatest superlatives above all others are, “Holy shit that was awesome!” and “Holy shit that was horrible!” Both are bold and to the point. Any recipient of such an assertive and powerful remark can be substantially affected for a day, a week, or even a year. I suggest exercising extreme caution when directing either one at a person who is particularly excitable, but when referencing an inanimate object or subject, it’s absolutely permissible.   

How to make a real difference? – Proper word usage, of course. Take for example three major problems in our world today: Global warming, Cancer, and War. The only way to rectify all three is by using words that people can understand. If someone of prominence were to say the sale and distribution of all beer, wine, and recreational drugs would cease until Global warming, Cancer, and Wars were completely eradicated, I believe those worldwide issues would instantly vanish. People get real serious when you take away their ability to get high.

“Don’t worry, jimmy, we have a ten year supply of rum stashed in a secret location!”

“I wasn’t worried, Mr. Kafka.”

The following is a recent quote I read by the actress, Jennifer Lawrence. “When the Sony hack happened and I found out how much less I was being paid than the lucky people with dicks, I didn't get mad at Sony, I got mad at myself.”

Normally, I would by-pass such a frivolous statement, but for the purpose of today’s exercise I found her penis envy to be highly appropriate, and I understand her passionate meaning. However, I don't believe my dick ever brought me any luck that I am aware of and I doubt that the pit boss at the casino would appreciate me rubbing the dice on my dick before tossing them out onto the crap table.

Accountability - responsible to somebody or for something; and the most common word frequently used by presidential hopefuls when they are trying to get elected, but never held to after they are elected. If I make a mess, I have to clean it up. If I write a check, I have to have money in the bank. If I get a loan from the bank, I have to pay them back. I wonder what would happen if I told the bank that my wife and I haven’t passed our household budget for this year yet, therefore we won’t be able to pay you until we do. (I imagine they would have a good laugh down at the bank!)

1 thru 10 word game. 

NO! - The word every woman said to me, except one, so I married her.

Less Fat/ Reduced Fat – the two words on every item in the grocery store.

Authorized Personnel Only – three words that will never pertain to me.

I TOLD YOU SO! – Four words I used a thousand times after having 4 children.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, text, and email – Five ways to have a conversation without making eye contact.

May the force be with you. – a quote from a movie that is apparently atheist friendly.

I have a bad feeling about this – seven words I say every single day when I wake up.

Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn – Eight words I say to my wife when she asks me what I want for supper.

I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse – Nine words the car salesman said to the other car salesman right before he bamboozled me.

And last but not least . . .

Gimme a Rum and Coke with a twist of lemon – My favorite ten words of all time!

Holy Shit that was Awesome!


Thursday, October 8, 2015

Broke Reviews

How important are book reviews to a reader?

Well, in order to find the answer to that question, I visited a local library and a book store to conduct a sneaky survey. (I left jimmy at home.)

Of the 21 random people I grilled, here are their responses to the questions I asked.

“What attracts you to a particular book – genre, the cover, the back of the book blurb, or do you browse through a few chapters first?

12 – Genre 1 – Cover 3 – Book Blurbs 5 – Browse   

Note: 8 of the people I asked said they also check-out/buy a book because a friend recommended it.

Then I asked, “Do you ever select a book because of a review you read?”

Only 1 person said, yes!

With such an overwhelming number of no’s, it compelled me to ask why. Their responses where varied, but they all had a similar ring to them.

Most said they didn’t trust other people’s opinions and preferred to judge for themselves. Even one person said that book reviews generally sounded as if they were written by a friend or family member, or the person was paid to write it.

To be honest, I wasn’t surprised to discover how little reviews played in the selection of a book to read.

Being the curious type, I asked if any of them ever wrote a review on Amazon.

2 people declined to answer. I suppose they thought I would look them up, and only 1 said yes, and it wasn’t the person that said yes to selecting books because of the reviews they read.

What does this survey tell us? Well, considering that it was only 21 people, I doubt it has any significance on whether or not a review is important to a potenial reader. I personally think it’s only the upper-crust media who really put stock in reviews, and as for the rest of us, we simply rely on our own instincts.

Here’s the way I see it: A good review is good. A bad review is like a car wreck, you can’t look away, which means sales will probably be good. A so-so review is the death sentence, because mundane, ordinary, and unexciting are boring and nobody likes boring.

For an author . . . of course it’s awesome to read a great review, but it would seem that it doesn’t necessarily mean other readers will be attracted to the book because of it, at least according to the 21 people I asked.

21 people out of 7 billion. Yup, that’s enough to convince me that reviews aren't necessary for success. Okay team, stop writing bogus reviews.

Actual review from a random book on Amazon: “The novel unfolds cinematically; you can almost feel the sun's rays and smell the horse sweat. Truly a fascinating novel about one woman's determination and grit in the heart of the Old West." (Sound like what an average person would write? NOT!)

Here’s another: “I found this book hard to get into at first. The writing just seemed amateurish at best and it seemed like it was taking a long time to get into the meat of the story. But, I gave it a chance and I'm glad I did. When the story started to unfold, it seemed like the quality of writing also picked up. It's not perfect by any means. The writing isn't entirely consistent in quality and the story sometimes needs to be reined in, but overall it's an interesting read. I'm looking forward to reading the next two installments.”  (This book is flying off the shelves.)

Tomorrow, jimmy and I will be concocting a few of our own book reviews that we think will coerce millions to read our books! Yes, they will all be silly and childish.

Have a great day!


Thursday, October 1, 2015

Inspiring Words

How does a writer come up with an unforgettable phrase or statement?

I believe a writer must become the character in every manner possible in order for an unforgettable line to be memorable, and it should come across as spontaneous. If it sounds forced or planned, it’s doubtful it will be remembered as something remarkable or significant.  

A bad guy ‘bitch speech’ right before he tortures or attempts to kill the hero is generally a redundant spew of blah, blah, blah we've all heard a million times before. But, when Clint Eastwood, as Harry Callahan, spouts off, “Go ahead, make my day,” it’s a line that instantly becomes legendary. It's short and to the point.

Formulating an ‘etched in your mind forever’ quip, quote, or statement is not an easy task. I often wonder, while reading a book, what was the writer thinking when they wrote something exceptionally significant. Did they like it at first? Did they rewrite it a hundred times? Unfortunately, only the writer knows the answer.

I purposely mentioned the Clint Eastwood quip because we now live in a world where movie excerpts dominate our social vernacular, and more so than any passage from a book. Yes, it is true that many memorable movie lines come from books, but when was the last time you heard a group of teenagers talking about something they read in a classical book? Probably never! Audio books contribute to the hearing it rather than reading it as well.

I used to be a big movie watcher, but as I grow older, the comfort of a good book, while sitting in my soft chair, late at night, when the house is deathly silent, is how I now prefer to be entertained. Movies have become redundant and boring to me.  

Here are (3) of my all-time favorite lines. I could list a thousand more, but these speak to me on a personal level.

“Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality.” ― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
“You're bound to get idears if you go thinkin' about stuff” ― John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
“When today fails to offer the justification for hope, tomorrow becomes the only grail worth pursuing.” – Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller

I truly enjoy reading books because I'm always alone with nothing but the author's imagination and mine, and in a world crowded with people, such a thing is rarely possible anymore.

This winter, visit a book store, library, or go on-line and get a mountain of books. Reacquaint yourself with your imagination; it’s a youthful experience you won’t want to miss!

Have a great week, I know I will; I have a stack of books to read.