Tag Archives: school

Don’t Fear Failure, Fear Not Taking the Chance


Dont-fear-failure

After having a bad experience with my publishing company, I decided to take a step back.

I published my first book back in 2013 with a small publishing company. At the time, I was still working on writing my novel and was looking forward to having it published as well. The issues I had with said publishing company began to pile up that I was afraid of publishing another book.

I pushed my book aside and used that energy to focus on my studies; at the time, I was halfway through college.

One day, while watching Youtube, I came across a video – I know, sounds cliche – of someone who decided to take the indie author route.

I was afraid to self-publish. I didn’t know where to start if I decided to take the indie route. Not to mention the many questions I had. I couldn’t possibly make money as an indie author, could I? Where would I even publish my book? Would anyone even read my work? How would they read my work?

In 2015, I finished, or so I thought it was finished, my novel. I began sending query letters out to agents only to receive rejection after rejection. I literally stopped counting after twelve. ‘Market is too saturated with this genre’, ‘this isn’t the right fit for me’, ‘too many books out there with werewolves’. I pushed my novel aside and forgot about it.

Some time had passed before my grandmother asked me what happened to my novel. She encouraged me to keep trying. So, I pulled it up onto my computer, read through it before deciding to change it up.

This was going to take some time.

I spent whatever time I had in between classes going back through my book and cutting, adding, and editing. It was now 2016. It had taken me a few months before I was finished working on my novel – by this time, I had dubbed it ‘the-never-ending-novel’. I ended up adding over 22,000 (almost 23,000) words before sending it off to my editor.

While my editor looked it over, I thought I would research what it meant to be an indie author. I listened to success stories, I listened to authors explain why they switched from traditionally published to indie, I even watched videos on how to and where to self-publish.

No matter how many videos I watched, I had that nagging feeling that this was not going to work. Then another voice chimed in asking me, “Why not just try it?”

I pulled up a collection of short stories that I had been working on and decided to polish one of them up. Of the plethora of videos that I had watched, a few of them suggested that as an indie author you have the opportunity to publish short stories and earn a meager income from them.

I also learned that you should not just stick to writing novels. Publish everything: short stories, novellas, novels. The more work you have out there, the more you will become noticed.

It was late 2016, when I handed my short story over to another editor (I now have two editors). A month later, she hands it back with the requested revisions. It didn’t take me long to go through my last edits. Thanks to another video, I was able to teach myself how to format it to publish as an ebook.

I was now entering my last two semesters of college. I also learned that my grandmother had stage IV pancreatic carcinoma.

I held onto my short story for a few more months with the uncertainty of publishing it.

Finally, in July 2017, I got the courage to upload my short story into Amazon. I stared at the publishing button not wanting to click it. My heart raced and my stomach churned with nervousness.

Why couldn’t I just click that button?

Because once I did, it would be up for the world to see.

But, why would that be so bad, isn’t that what you wanted all along, to publish more books?

Yes.

I clicked published. I don’t know why, but I screwed my eyes shut. I guess I was expecting my laptop to explode? After a few seconds, I stared at the screen. A box had appeared, telling me that it would take 12-72 hours before it would be live.

My anxiety had started to calm down a bit.

That wasn’t too bad now, was it?

No, it was pretty easy, actually.

A few days had passed before I checked on my newly published book. It actually made a few sales. Not bad. Maybe I should try publishing another one.

And thus it began…

One self-published book turned into six more, including the novel that I had once queried agent after agent on. It has been doing fairly well in sales. Though, after learning that people do judge a book by its cover, I am working on having another cover made for it.

I have since learned how to perfect my craft; my writing has improved, I’m learning new marketing skills each day. Most importantly, I have never given up on my writing. In fact, I continue to come up with ideas for new stories quite frequently that I know I will never run out of things to write about. I’ve built a brand for myself, creating a small publishing company, an LLC.

And who cares about what those agents thought. My novel is making money so, there obviously is still a market for said genre. I have since learned that you should write about what you want to write about. It’s true that there are popular niches out there. You just have to find the right one. Don’t be afraid to publish in a popular niche, as well as publish in others.

The more you have published, the more your work becomes noticed. I said that already. Maybe because it’s true, especially if you leave a link to your other works in the back and front of each book. If readers loved one book, they may check out another and another…

I no longer fear to self-publish my work. I’m earning an income doing what I love. I’m actually earning more now than what I was at that one publishing company. Though it’s a slow process for me, my list of published works is growing. I’m hoping that one day I can do this full-time. That’s a goal I look toward to achieving.

For a list of my published works, under my name and under my pen name, check out my website: www.twistedcrowpress.com

 

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I Almost Gave Up On This


ranchers-daughter-cover-1

Rancher’s Daughter is now available on Amazon.

I started writing this novella back in 2006 or 2007. I had been out of the Navy for a few years and I was going through a rough time so I kept pushing the book aside. I almost gave up on writing altogether.

I honestly didn’t know I had saved the file on this novella. I had moved several times since then and thought it would’ve been lost or tossed out like most of my stuff had been.

Last year, I was moving things around the house, setting up my office as my author business began to expand. As I was shuffling things and rummaging through boxes, I found a few boxes of old magazines, notebooks, journals, etc. Things I found too important to lose, apparently. I thumbed through the journals and notebooks when I stumbled upon notes I had scribbled down on this one novella I had started years ago. I turned a few more pages and found the whole story typed up and printed out.

My curiosity was peaked now. I turned on the computer and opened up the files on my thumb drive, wondering if I may have this story saved somehow. Sure enough, I found it. I smiled, thinking that it was some miracle I still had it. I must’ve been able to compile ALL of my works together onto one jump drive years ago and simply just forgot about them.

Through the years, I had purchased a handful of jump drives, saving whatever writing projects I had. I had lost all but two of those jumpdrives. It was a habit for me to open more folders to save newer projects in, abandoning older folders that had old writing projects that I had started and pushed aside. However, all of these folders was saved on this one jump drive.

Now with the file found, along with my notes, I sat down to read through it all carefully and decided to give it another go. Since it had been a few years since I had read this story, I was able to have a fresh start on it; new scenes, new ideas, new title, etc. It wasn’t long before I had added to the story and edited it, before turning it into one polished novella and sending it off to my editor.

Now, I get to see it as I had intended for it years ago as a published book. You can purchase Rancher’s Daughter as an ebook on Amazon.

Supporting Other Indie Authors


support indies

I’ve been reviewing books on Amazon and Goodreads for indie authors for a few years now, I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of blogging about them.

So, I decided to try something different. Being an indie author myself, I know how hard it is to get the word out there when it comes to promoting and marketing my work. There are a lot of ways to market your work, yet most of them are out of the budget range, especially if you are just starting out which means you can only promote your work here or there.

With that said, I decided to create a blog where I will post my indie book reviews, as well as author interviews for any indie author out there looking into promoting their published works or looking into building their online presence.

I know there are quite a few book bloggers already out there, but one more couldn’t hurt, right?

It’s FREE marketing!

It’s FREE, which means I’m not charging anyone to market their books. If you are an indie author and think you are interested, check out my blog here. Or, if you are looking for something interesting to read, visit my blog and click follow.

When Do You Find Time To Write?


writing on the road

Working on my next novel while running errands with my dad.

People still ask me how I find the time to write. To them, I’m quite a busy person.

“You’re a single mom with a special needs kiddo, you work full time, yet you have time to write and publish books? How do you do it?”

“Well, I make time,” I say with a shrug. “I love to write, so, I write.”

True, I have my hands completely full with my daughter. Being a special needs parent is a full-time job in itself, but I wouldn’t change a thing.

I’m often approached by aspiring authors telling me that they don’t have the time to write, yet they want to write and publish a book. If you want to be a writer, then be one. Don’t sit on the sidelines saying how you wish you could be one. Make it happen. Authors don’t find time to write, they make time.

Authors don’t find time to write, they make time.

I was going to college full-time, working part-time, volunteering, taking care of my daughter as a single mom, and helping my grandmother. In the middle of all that I had written and published three books; one of which was a novel.

I have been able to remove ‘attending classes, studying and doing homework’ off of my plate, but my plate is still full. Between IEP meetings (I’ve had 6 this year so far), meeting with someone from the school (a weekly event, if not daily), school events, afterschool events, daily life requirements of housework and errands, work (the main money-bringer), I still find thirty minutes to an hour, sometimes more, to write. If my daughter is at school and I’m off work, that’s plenty of time (8 hours, give or take time out for lunch) to write and get my errands and housework completed.

Being an author is a job.

Since starting my new job last year, I have had nothing but time to write, that I have made it my second job. Being an author is a job. You not only work on your next book, but you have to promote and market the work that you have published. How else are you going to earn an income from your work if no one knows it’s out there?

However, I tend to spend a lot of time writing than I do marketing. That could be a good thing or a bad thing. I’m writing more, which means there will be more published works out there. The more you have published, the more your work will be noticed. I had also decided not to market as much until I had more published works out there.

I’m not saying all of this to brag, honestly! I’m trying to encourage others to make the time. I once used to look at published authors, wishing that I, too, could write and publish a book. I decided to tell myself that I could.

I started writing my novel, Chaos when my daughter was a few months old. I kept pushing it aside as I lacked the motivation to continue. My grandmother became my cheerleader, in a way, urging me to keep going. She knew I wanted to be a published author. I’m glad I listened to her.

Now that she is no longer here, I find myself thinking about her and what she would say each time that I need that little boost of encouragement. Or, I see the pride in my daughter’s eyes when she takes my children’s picture book to school to show everyone that her mommy wrote it. That right there is all the motivation I need.

Mock Ebook Covers Helps With Motivation


For the past few months, I have been working on a novel that had me stopping now and then. It’s a mystery/thriller – murder, the FBI, a love interest. The idea sounded great in my head yet, I had trouble getting it to come out and onto paper. I pushed my novel aside, and then pulled up another writing project onto my computer and worked on it. I was able to write in spurts. My brain kept trying to focus on that one novel though.

I enlisted the help of a few co-workers. A few of them listened to me as I rambled on about this story I was writing. A few others added their two cents, which was enough to help me push aside my writer’s block.

Later that night, I typed up what I came up with, then stared at the scene after I was done. I re-read the story, hoping something new would come up, but as I read it, it seemed as if part of it wouldn’t make sense in the real world, and my book took place in the real world.

Once again, I pushed it aside and pulled up the other writing project, until I couldn’t write any more on it either.

Pushing my other writing project aside, I decided to try something new.

I read how one author creates her own book covers for inspiration. Though she never uses these covers on her books, as she hires a professional, her self made covers do serve a purpose.

She chooses the model, picks a title for her book, and then puts it all together in a mock photoshop software you can find for free on the internet. She then prints it out and hangs it near her computer for her to see while she writes. Once I read this, I was able to understand her methods. Sometimes it takes visual cues to help get the creative juices flowing.

I tried her method and found that it worked. Honestly, why didn’t I try this before? It wasn’t long that the words started to flow. I could visualize the story playing out as if it were a movie. I even went as far as creating boards on Pinterest; picking out my characters and locations to draw out inspiration.

All these methods have helped me write a better story.

I even went as far as coming up with a second book, but that’s just me, always thinking ahead. Soon the outline was coming into place and I was able to determine an ending.

Now it was time to fill in the story.

Check back to see how far along my story has gotten.

 

Today is National Autism Awareness Day


autism awareness

Today is National Autism Awareness Day, but to some of us, this is every day. However, I always wear blue on this day in support of my daughter who has autism, along with a long list of other spectrum related disorders.

For the past few years, there has been a controversy going around on Autism Speaks. Whether you support them or not, I believe you should spread the awareness on autism itself. Become a voice for someone who has autism. Educate yourself and spread awareness.

autism awareness 1

Fact: 1 out of 59 kids are diagnosed with autism. There is NO cure. However, there should be acceptance and not ignorance.

Sometimes Creativity Takes a Break


creative-cat

I often find my creativity taking a leave of absence when I’m in the middle of a writing project. I typically binge watch a TV series or spend some time at my local library looking for a good book or series, then curl up on the couch at home and read. Or, I choose a handful of books from Kindle Unlimited, filling up my Kindle. It isn’t long before my creative juices start flowing again.

For the past month, I had been working hard on three of my five works-in-progress. You’re probably thinking, “Wait a minute, you’re working on that many writing projects at the same time?” Well, yes, it’s pretty common among us writers to do that. I have ADD, so my brain can’t just focus on one thing as it’s all over the place. And being creative, I have so, so many ideas running rampant inside my head…

Anywho. I tend to get quite a bit of writing done this way. When the opportunity presents itself, why not take up on it?

Our minds need a break, just like our bodies. When we have a hard time focusing on something, it’s probably a sign that we need to take a break and let our batteries re-charge.

I often find myself stepping away from my writing. It gives me time to focus on other things. After a few days, or sometimes a week passes by, my creativity returns and I’m back to pounding out the words on the keyboard.

Are Authors Introverts?


What is an introvert? An introvert is someone who prefers a quiet atmosphere, who spends a lot of time alone, avoiding social interactions. Almost sounds like a recluse, doesn’t it? Well, those are two separate entities.

Authors spend quite a bit of time slumped over a computer, eagerly typing away on our current work-in-progress (WIP). The desperate need to meet a deadline, or the need to pound out everything our creative muse is giving us before they decidedly take a break, because, they do that sometimes. We tend to ignore the outside world, quite busy in our own little world(s). So, you can see why it is that we would be introverts.

Most of us require a certain space to write in. I know I do. I often need it to be quiet to think if I get stuck somewhere in a story. Sometimes, I have to change it up a bit to get my creative juices flowing. Often times, I will change up my writing locations; watch a certain TV series; read a book series in the genre I am currently writing in, all just to get me on the right track. Once the creativity gets going, it flows and I keep typing away, or I jot everything down as it comes to me.

I am a huge note taker when I cannot find the time to sit behind a computer. I have a shelf full of notebooks with a plethora of ideas, character profiles, scenes, plots, storylines, etc and so on. I carry a notebook with me everywhere, including having one on my nightstand. Most nights, I’m too tired to sit at the computer and write, but once I lay down I’m often hit with ideas on my current work-in-progress and would start to scribble them down into my notebook.

I’m often asked how I find the time to write? Being a single mom and having a special needs kiddo, as well as a job, it’s hard, but I find the time; I wait till she goes to bed, I write during my lunch breaks, I write while waiting in the school line, I write on my days off when she’s at school. I don’t need to explain my day-to-day, but finding the time to write can be done.

No, I’m not the kind of author that can type up 50,000 words in a month. I mean, that would be nice, but those are the kind of people who don’t have a job to head out to or kids to take care of, or if they did have kids, they have someone else to help them out. Me, I can type up around 500 – 1200 words in a day. One day, I typed up over 2500 words, but that was on my day off from work and I didn’t have any errands to run or chores to do. Those are rare days, too!

Every author is different. We all have our own styles or methods in doing what we do, to achieve getting our book written. There are those who can publish 10 or more titles a year, but that also goes along with what I just mentioned. Or, some of those titles aren’t full-length novels, to which I can see publishing that many short stories a year. I’ve published three titles this year; two were short stories and one was a novel, but I had been working on my novel for almost eight years.

I’ve grown accustomed to staying home on my days off my day job to work – as an author. My author business is a second job. There’s a lot that goes into it other than writing that next book. Marketing would be a big factor that goes into being a published author. Emails to answer or to send out, a webpage or blog to maintain, book orders to mail, events to prepare for. Those are just a few things I’ve mentioned. There is a whole lot that goes with being an author, especially if you’re an indie author. Even when I was traditionally published, I still had a lot of marketing to do on my end. It’s my work and I had to get the word out there on it or else I wouldn’t be making a cent. You can’t sell your books if no one knows it’s out there.

I tend to take breaks from social media. These days, you have to. I find myself getting lost on Pinterest. So many good recipes I need to try, or cute crafts my kiddo would enjoy, lol! If I need to focus on meeting my deadlines, it’s a must to take a break from the internet.

Introverts can be great listeners. Not all introverts are socially awkward or rude. Some introverts enjoy not being in the spotlight, or would rather refrain from speaking to a large crowd of people. Some introverts are more comfortable writing than speaking. Not everyone is great at public speaking or has a way with words when it comes to a conversation. Authors tend to use their way with words in their work and like an introvert, it may take many revisions to get out what it is we’re trying to say.

 

 

Chaos My YA Fantasy Book is Now Available


Chaos Cover EBOOK

I’m happy to say that my young adult fantasy fiction novel, Chaos, the first in my Supernatural Realms Series is finally available.

I have worked on it for quite a long time that I am overly ecstatic to finally hold a copy in my hands!

You can get it on Amazon as an ebook or a paperback, or on my website: www.twistedcrowpress.com

Homemade Avocado Hummus


avocados-in-bowl-(1)

A few years ago, I had worked a booth with the Anthropology Club at the farmers market at Bernice Gardens in Little Rock. Some farmer’s markets are quite a venue to visit; some are big, some are small, nevertheless, Bernice Gardens is quite the atmosphere mixed with farmers, artisans, artists, and a few food trucks.

While I was there I walked around visiting each booth, trying homemade pastries, freshly brewed coffee that was locally grown and roasted, homemade goat cheese, and homemade hummus. I purchased fresh produce from some of the farmers, some pastries, and some hummus. Now and then I have gone back, mostly for an Anthropology class, but to also support the local farmers and artisans. Plus, I had lived close enough, until now as I had moved further away.

The other day, my boss brought in a container of hummus that she had made herself. I asked her what all she put in there and it seemed an easy recipe that I didn’t know why I hadn’t made it myself before. She told me a variety of recipes she uses and I decided to try one for myself. However, if you don’t have a food processor like me, you can still make this using a mixer or a blender.

2 Avocadoes, peeled and seeded

1 can of cooked and drained chickpeas

1/4 tsp of cumin

1/4 tsp of paprika or pepper

1/4 tsp of curry (optional)

1 lemon, squeezed into the ingredients

2 tbsp of olive oil

1/4 tsp salt

If you are using a mixer, you may have to blend for a few mins until ingredients are well blended. Blender or food processor would work better.