Pass the Promotion – Author Lisa Renee Jones Release Party

Ladies and Gentlemen!  Or all those other people who actually read my blog. I’ve decided that, from time to time, I’m going to pass on a little promotion to people I know/connect with/or just plain like.  Will there be a rhyme or reason to this promotion; will it be an every month type of occurrence?  Fuck, no.  I’m not that bleeding organized.  But what I promise is that it will be good stuffs.  So, with that said, let’s get on with the promoting.

Lisa Renee Jones, multi-published, best selling author is hosting a promotion party for her books.  Firstly, the blurbs sound pretty darned good; secondly, they’re books so yays; and, thirdly, you could win free stuffs by checking out the promotion.  Some reviews of Lisa’s work from the important people, you know the READERS, are as follows:

“Lisa Renee Jones is an exciting paranormal romanatic suspense that will have you turning pages from the beginning to the last page.”

“DANGEROUS SECRETS will rivet readers, keeping them on the edge of their seat while giving them an exciting adventure. I quickly devoured the pages, and was left wanting more.”

…”“…action packed and breathlessly leaves you waiting…”     
“Lisa does a wonderful job of always keeping me guessing about who is the bad guy…”
“Another great romantic suspense story by author Lisa Renee Jones.”
It would seem, with reader reviews so positive, that you definitely wouldn’t want to miss out on this promotion Lisa is having.  And you should head to either her website or her FB /  to get in on this great event!  Go.  Now.  What are you waiting for?! Jeesh.

KAZAAM! (Made you look.)

As writers we pound our fucking heads against the wall wonder what it takes to get the attention of our readers. Actually, hell, we wonder what it takes to get the attention of anyone – readers, non-readers, fellow authors, agents, publishing houses, reviewers, etc. Just what is the magic formula to catch the infuriating lovely eyes of those people out there in non-writer land? We know other nerds bookworms will follow our blogs, check our websites, follow our Twitter and FB updates and, generally, stalk us because they hope like hell expect us to do the same – help them out by paying attention to them too. But it is the non-author, non-agent, non-publisher, non-book-world-related-individual we so desperately seek. So is there a magic formula to getting noticed without somehow managing to piss off alienate those we wish to entice?

The inter-webs is chocked full of nuts annoying writers who promote, Promote, PROMOTE at all costs, forcing their links, book blurbs, blogs like me down everyone’s throats at every opportunity they get. We’ve all seen them; we all know someone like this. And a few of us don’t want to admit it fuck it, I’ll admit it but we become these people from time to time. But what is a writer supposed to do?

In the world of writing there are no quippy sales jingles to get stuck in someone’s head, no pop up banner on Amazon that flashes neon letters directing people to your book. And if there are what the fuck are you doing reading my piss ant little blog? Oh, wait, I do know a few well-to-do and well-known peoples. So writers are stuck with trying to catch the eye of prospective readers/agents/publishers out there without alienating every last one of them in the process.

I often worry about how much is too much advertising of my books via blogs, Twitter, forums, FB, book sites, etc. One author friend of mine subscribes to the philosophy that every chance you get to promote your writing, you should; yet another thinks less is more. I, on the other hand, believe a strategic plan Hey, kamikaze was a strategy; just not a great one is the best route. But what is strategic?

On my own FB and Twitter feeds, I heave a mental sigh (and sometimes an audible one) when an ad for someone’s book/movie/music comes up and it’s, probably, the fourth or fifth one I’ve seen that week. I can’t blame these people for promoting their work. Most of the time, the ads are on separate days at different times. This, I would consider to be strategic marketing. And yet I still sigh even knowing this. So how often is too often? Too infrequent?

At one point, I so infrequently advertised on my own feeds (therefore advertising on everyone connected with me feeds too) that some people had no idea I was published! I advertised friends’ work, book reviews, blogs I liked/followed, but not my own stuff. Then lo and frickin behold I mentioned in a blog article that someone happened to read, found funny, and then wondered why I didn’t mention I’d been published…?? Um, I thought I’d talked everyone’s ear off about it already! lol Then I realized I needed to start promoting myself better. But the question still continues to be – how much is too much or too little? Apparently, it’s a fine line I’m going to continue to walk, wandering aimlessly until people either get sick of me or I finally get the attention I crave. Is that even possible?! Until then, if you’re one of the people whom I’m annoying the shit out of – SORRY.

Disconnect to Reconnect

As writers we spend so much of our time banging our heads against the proverbial or literal wall trapped in our climate-controlled offices, staring at blipping cursors, and trying to figure out how to make our characters real and alive on the page.  It’s often, however, that, while we are distancing ourselves from the world in order to pursue our love, our art, we often forget to step back from the writing itself and step out into the real world, interacting with people – you know, the real life characters! 

Writers adore talking about how “real” their writing is, how “like life” it is; we love to strut our stuff On the catwalk, oh on the catwalk…I shake my little tush on the catwalk! and talk about how our writing stems from our lives and experiences.  But there does come a point in most writer’s lives that we seem to retreat from those lives and experiences we’ve accumulated and hide inside the shell of our art, our productivity. 

We all want to be productive, meet our deadlines, and come out with enough material to satisfy our hopefully ever-growing fan lists.  But too often in order to meet those personal wishes as a writer, we find ourselves sacrificing the most important thing about being a writer – LIVING LIFE!

Until recently, I was one of these writers.  I had become a slave to my word count, my productivity.  I felt deep guilt if I missed a personal deadline or blew off a writing session for a day.  I was ashamed to admit that I might be thinking about something else except for the latest project or next project.  I was stuck, sinking into the deep, dark well that writing can become if it’s no longer fun.  Then I was thrown a lifesaver.  No, I’m not talking about the candy, people.

I am fortunate enough to be blessed with an SO who has a very unique look on life.  At least unique for me.  This SO believes that, while art needs to be directed and worked at, the art itself can’t stand in the way of life, just as life can’t stand in the way of the art.  I always thought that dedication to my craft meant a deprived life and long, lonesome days and nights of solitude.  And, to a point, it does.  No one can sit down with me and write the words; no one can be inside my mind and see the images and pictures I see, desperately trying to determine what is the best way to convey them.  BUT and it’s a pretty big fucking but here if all I spend are long, lonesome nights of weary, dogged solitude in front of my computer, what am I really writing about?  I’m no longer writing about life.  Why?  Because I’m not enjoying it; I’m not living it.  How can I write about something that I’m no longer experiencing? 

Yes, I do write about things I’ve never expereinced.  I am not a former cop (for those of you who follow my books), nor am I a clairvoyant.  I have never been orphaned (again for those who know my books), and I’ve never been someone’s slave.  Also, I’ve never had to experience someone else’s death at my hands (again my books), nor have I been admitted to a psychiatric institute this might surprise a few   lol.  But the core fundamentals of each of my books – a woman abruptly changing her life and learning how to love again; a young girl who feels cut off from the world and yearns to be like everyone else; and a woman who has experienced guilt on a personal level and is struggling with her own mind – I understand and have lived.  The details like those I mentioned are icing; the fundamentals are what I have experienced in life and are the real cake.

A good friend, MD/KM, invited me to Romantic Times Convention in Chicago, IL. this past weekend.  My first inclination was not to attend.  Yeah, it’s true, MD/KM.  But the nagging little voice that’s taken up residence in my head recently that I’m missing out on life somehow insisted I go.  I’m glad I had the opportunity.  Despite the “writer” in me thinking how I could have used that time to finish edits, plug away at the ol’ word count, or outline the next project, I was hobnobbing with other authors, connecting with new friends, and wandering the streets of Chicago’s Wicker Park.  I spent the afternoon having drinks in a pub where I’m fairly certain Greek was the official language of the neighborhood; I rode the train (something I haven’t done in Chicago since I was a child); and I meandered in and out of shops and people-watched to my heart’s content.  And, the best thing about it all?  It was exactly what I needed to revitalize my writing!  A new sense of urgency is pumping through my veins to write, promote, and experience life so I can write some more. It’s Grrrrrrr-eat!

I guess what this means is that while I am scraping out time to divide between actual writing, actual editing, and actual promotion, I’ll also be finding time to actually live, instead of hiding behind my computer monitor pretending to do so through my characters who, unless I do it, aren’t.

Oh, yes, and I learned one more thing too that also applies loosely to this article.  Great advice from a newly met-in-person but longstanding online friend/author BG…Just because I’m a writer doesn’t mean my regular life isn’t interesting from time to time.  I don’t need to let my writing consume EVERYTHING I do.

Dream, but remember to live those dreams! -b

BC Brown
Author of A Touch of Madness (Spring 2012 – coming soon), A Touch of Darkness (Fall 2010), Sister Light, Book One: Of Shadows (Summer 2007), and contributing author to Fracas: A Collection of Short Friction (Fall 2011)

Writing Sucks.

Writing sucks.  Plain and simple.  Being a writer isn’t glamorous (it’s long, lonely and often deprived days and nights of self-induced solitude); it’s rarely fun (try having eye strain from hours of staring at a computer screen, or muscle spasms from sitting hunched in one position trying to get a single sentence right or two paragraphs to “flow” seamlessly); and it’s torturous (wait for weeks upon weeks, your stomach tied in knots and your mind heavy, for some stranger behind a desk marked “Agent/Publisher” to rip your hard work and heart to pieces). So why do we put ourselves through the agony of something that should so obviously be distasteful?

I often probably way too fucking often sit and ponder this very same question.  I’m sure every writer out there does from time to time.  The irony is that most other people don’t.  Being a writer is most often seen as fun, stimulating, and, oddly, glamorous.  While I can concur that writing can be amusing and I don’t know about other writers but I find it very stimulating, one thing it never is is “glamorous.”  Sitting around in three-day old pajamas because your dialogue is clunky or your prose too purple; forgoing nights out partying with friends and family because you have a mountain of edits looming; or banging your head on your writing desk for days, weeks, months or, gulp, years because the Muse refuses to visit – I think most would agree that these things don’t quite fit into that glamorous category.  However, every so often we are reminded why continue to write, why we endure the lonely hours and the ever-hovering frustration.

We do this because of you, the reader.  There is nothing more invigorating than having a fan walk up to you in a store that is if you are recognizable for this to happen – it doesn’t most of the time, so don’t get your hope up aspiring/writers! and tell you how much they enjoyed your last book, or having one email you and want to know when the next one is coming out.  People ask “Why do you write?” all of the time.  Most often I retort with the joke, albeit a very true joke, might I add that “If I didn’t write, my head would explode.”  But, to tell you the truth, more than anything it’s because of the feeling I get whenever someone tells me they read my book.  That’s enough for me, forget if they even liked it; they read it! b
B.C. Brown
A Touch of Madness (Spring 2012), A Touch of Darkness (Fall 2010), Sister Light, Book One: Of Shadows (Summer 2007), and contributing author Fracas: A Collection in Short Friction (Fall 2011)

Research = Pound Head Here

There are few words despised by writers.  I mean, we make our stock and trade in words. So how can we possibly dislike any of them, right?  Wrong.  Words are powerful creatures that can often times when used properly strike more mortal fear into people than any action ever could.  Writers are no different.  While we generally pride ourselves on wielding those words against others, there are several words that cause us to shudder, cringe, and, down right, cower.  A shudder-worthy word: EDIT – it makes all our shoulders slump and a quiver of dread creep up our spines; a cringe-worthy word: RE-WRITES – it makes just about every writer’s hands tremble; and a truly heinous word that is cower-worthy: RESEARCH – this is a word we hear and want to run and hide beneath the covers on our beds, praying the big, bad monster waiting doesn’t gobble us down.

Research is one of the hardest jobs of being a writer.  Ideas we generally have loads of.  Whether or not those ideas are cohesive, interesting, or important is another matter.  But we have the ideas is the important part.  Writing the ideas isn’t even hard.  (I know, I know, we writers bitch and moan complain frequently about how our jobs and, yes, they are jobs to all you fuckheads out there who think that writing isn’t a job because it doesn’t support us on a full-time basis are not easy and that, if they were, everyone would come out with novels every year, thus making “writing” somewhat less of an art form.)  Editing, while a serious pain in the ass undertaking is difficult, it isn’t all that hard either.  But research is knowing who to trust your precious, thousands of man hours spent, delicate baby to hold, cherish, and nurture as their own as well as yours.

In this increasingly growing market of scam publishers, shady agents, and capitalistic editors, knowing who a writer can trust is something akin to navigating one’s way through a landmine field.  Doing your own research, knowing how and where to look for motherfucker bad publishers and agents, and putting all the pieces of the million-piece jigsaw puzzle together is almost an overwhelming task for writers.  I, personally, know six writers who have, at minimum, one manuscript completed apiece, but they have those locked away in drawers, too frightened to get caught up in a scam deal with a royality-clenching publisher or a fee-gouging editing house.  Having been caught in a scam deal myself, I can say that I don’t blame them for this attitude.  I know I had the same thing after my first fucking tragic bad publishing contract.

The good news, however, about being a writer in the 21st century is the wealth of information available to us.  As writers we don’t shy away from popping on the ol’ internet to reference a thesaurus because we’ve used the word “throb” too many times in a single sex scene, and we don’t hesitate to cross check our spelling on either.  So why is it that when it comes to researching potential publishers or agents for our work that we are suddenly at a loss for using our technology?  Come on, we have a sea of information beneath our fingertips or, at least, we do as long as the government stays out of our business and upholds our Constituational right to free speech but that’s another rant entirely ripe for the picking.  Instead most writers sit there staring their choosen browser screen with a vacant but seriously confused look of panic on their faces.

If you read my blog and my ego is big enough to believe that EVERYONE reads my blog, hahaha, as everyone should, I’m reminding writers that we make our livings well, some of us rom putting our fingers to keys and using words.  There is nothing keeping us from using the same motion, utlizing our creative with words themselves, to locate and research ALL potential publishers or agents who come across your desktop/attention.  There are   simple ways to do this:

  1. Check – this is a highly recommended site for getting agent and publisher information and checking their initial validity.
  2. Web search the name of the publisher or agent you’re looking at and then type words like: “lawsuits,” “issues,” “problems,” etc.  Come one, people, we know words! Think of some good ones to seek out and destroy those scammers with BEFORE you sign a contract with them. With my first contract, I sure wish I had!
  3. Find the authors of the publishing house or agent you’re looking at and ask.  Open your mouth and ask a question or twelve.  If the author is happy with who they’re working with, they’ll, more than likely, be happy to let you know what good people they are; if they aren’t…well, I’m sure they’ll be happy to let you know that, too.
  4. Follow book/publishing blogs.  There are a ton of these.  Most of them only offer reviews of books coming out, but some also feature “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” lists from time to time; or they give helpful insights and tips on how to find out more about a particular publisher/agent.

Now, I know there will be a lot of rumors circulating that, since I wrote this blog, I’m somehow dissatisfied with my current agent/editor/publisher.  I’ll state it plainly: I’m not.  I chose to write this article today because, in the last four months, I have been approached by eight writers all wearing the dumbfounded expression on their faces of “Where do I begin?”  I gave them these steps as I give them here to you. 

But the big thing I tell everyone who asks is this: Do you check up on a doctor, mechanic, hairstylist, dog groomer, etc. before you use them?  Then why aren’t you checking up on your publisher/agent?  The principle is just the same.  You care about your writing, don’t make the same mistake many of us do in the beginning get lax and entrust it to someone who is just out to make a quick buck.  Take care of your baby and, one day, maybe your baby will be taking care of you.

Keep reading; Keep dreaming. -b

B.C. Brown
A Touch of Madness (Spring 2012), A Touch of Darkness (Fall 2010), Sister Light, Book One: Of Shadows (Summer 2007), and contributing author, Fracas: A Collection of Short Friction (Fall 2011)

In The Mood – Writing and Motivation

Hello, kiddies.  Been a while since I last ranted blogged on anything.  Lonely yet without my sweet shrill voice prattling on and on?  Since my ego is just that BIG, I’m going to come to the conclusion that, yes, you missed me.  insert exaggerated eye rolling here

Today, kiddies, I’m going to go on and on about my latest brain child – moods and how they impact a writer.  Yes, yes; I’m aware that, in the past, I’ve gone over the topic of apathy in writers.  And, I promise, while I may touch on apathy a little in this blog, I will not beat the living shit out of a dead horse.

Apathy and here she goes again on an old topic is a serious problem for writers. 

ap·a·thy - Show Spelled [ap-uh-thee]

noun, plural -thies.

1. absence or suppression of passion, emotion, or excitement.
2. lack of interest in or concern for things that others find moving or exciting.

Clearly, any kind of “absense of passion” for writers who, if they aren’t passionate about their writing end up churning out rubbish like sparkling vampires, alphabetical crime solvers, or in-your-face-with-no-storyline-attached gay/lesbian erotica, make their stock and trade from passion would present a big fucking obstacle hindrance.  But tied so closely with apathy (sometimes also mistakenly referred to as “writer’s block”) is the writer’s own mood.

Poe reportedly couldn’t write unless he was blitzed out of his melon on opiates depressed; Hemmingway supposedly couldn’t write unless drunk as all hell and beating his current wife he was angry.  Many huge names in writing have given interviews about the particular state of mind they need to be in in order to put pen to paper.  King has stated many times that he could never write the things he does without his fear of, pretty much, everything.  Others have stated that when they are happy, their writing slows down; and yet for others, it’s when they are sad, or things are rough in their lives.

What is it about each writer’s personality that determines when their “mood” (because we’re not talking the great and powerful Muse here, people; just emotional presence or state of mind) has hit the Goldilock?  Throughout the years and years and years and years I’ve been writing, I’ve found that my “hot spot” seems to be when I have the most going on in my life – or I’m the most stressed due to hectic schedule, lack of sleep, or too much on my plate at once.  Now, mind you, I’m saying that is usually when the mood strikes; it does not necessarily mean that I take advantage of it.  Moron.  Friends of mine who also are masochists enjoy writing vary.  One friend seeks writing when her life is idyllic and calm; another seeks writing when he is at a low point or feeling blue (although sometimes also when he’s angry, I’ve noticed – ha).  I have a very deligent insane friend who writes no matter what her life is like.  Now that is dedication to one’s craft!

But I still wonder what it is about each of us that cause us to vary what prompts us to write?  Could it be upbringing, personality, genetics?  The question is one of those that is so vast to ponder like quantum mechanics or the male/female relations dynamic or why buttered bread/toast always lands face buttered-side down, you know the BIG questions in life, it may never really be understood.  But I encourage you kiddies to chime in what you think is the reason for people who, in all respects, are really quite similar because, let’s face it, an artist is an artist is an artist.  Whether it is music, visual art, literature, drama, or dance, all artistry is art and its practitioners cut from the same cloth – the cloth of inspiration and creativity.  The fantastic and hair-pulling thing about that cloth is how varied its hue and thread count seems to be.

Keep reading; keep dreaming. -b

B.C. Brown

P.S. Look for the soft release of my latest paranormal novel coming soon – A Touch of Madness