Friday, February 28, 2014

Pre-Order The Sciell Paperback!

Darkness isn’t evil, just angry
There's a cage. One made of pure Darkness. It exists inside us all. We control what goes into this Dark Prison, but not what comes out. For years, we've stuffed into this steel void parts of ourselves we don’t like, horrible things others have done to us, unacceptable things we have done. For years, these things have been despised. People fail to realize the raw power within these neglected parts. They're alive and they're angry. We, as the Sciell, can now see them. We feel the power. In exchange for magnificent strength, we give them what all prisoners wish for: escape…and revenge.
 The print version of The Sciell- Book 1 of The Merging Worlds Trilogy is available for pre-order through Amazon! I can't believe my book is coming about in a little over a week. I'm releasing it an a ebook as well by March 11. The file is still being converted by Book Baby. I'll keep you posted.

Pre-order it here

Monday, February 24, 2014

Haunted Edinburgh Castle


Edinburgh is like a paradise for writers and horror lovers. It's like ghosts vacation there. Many famous writers made this city their home. Edinburgh has a hidden underworld where the castle is strongly connected- a series of secret tunnels leading from Edinburgh Castle down the Royal Mile.

When the tunnels were first discovered several hundred years ago, a piper was sent to explore. As he navigated the tunnels, he played his bagpipes so that his progress could be tracked by those above. About half way down the Royal Mile, the piping suddenly stopped. When a rescue party was sent, there was no trace of the piper. He had simply vanished. Several search parties went into the tunnel system but no trace of the piper was ever found.

The piper's ghost still haunts Edinburgh today, walking endlessly along the underground tunnel beneath the Royal Mile. His music can sometimes be heard from within the castle and on the streets above the tunnel.

When I visited Edinburgh a couple of years ago, some friends and I heard about a cemetery haunted by a dog. It was almost Halloween so we decided, in typical horror movie style, to visit the cemetery at night. It was lit by the street lights. The farther we got from the street, the darker the cemetery got until...we couldn't see a thing. This was one of those, it was so dark we couldn't see our hands in front of our faces. We got so lost. The only "light" we had was the one from Edinburgh Castle. It wasn't bright enough and it was in the wrong direction. We eventually found our way out.  Didn't see any ghosts. Got a good story out of it anyway. 

Edinburgh Castle is like a ghost city. I wasn't able to visit it, but I plan on going back to Edinburgh someday. Reincarnated as a tourist attraction, Edinburgh Castle now offers haunted tours of its dungeons, which once hosted the likes of Duke Alexander Stewart of Albany (who escaped, stabbing his guards to death and then burning their bodies), Lady Janet Douglas of Glamis (accused of witchcraft and was burned at the stake while her young son watched).

A headless drummer has been seen and heard in the castle halls beginning around 1650. A ghost dog has even been seen prancing through the graveyard.

In 2001, an English doctor enlisted roughly 240 volunteers to spend 10 days in and around the castle. The volunteers were all screened to insure that none of them knew anything about the castle. They explored the castle's chambers and secret passages for signs of ghostly happening. Many of the volunteers' experienced burning sensations and phantom gropes. They witnessed shadowy figures and a specter in a leather apron seen in the same spot he was seen by unrelated individuals before the study. 


There have been hundreds of claims by visitors and staff members including apparitions, being touched and pulled, the feeling of being watched, shadowy figures, mists, green lights, sudden temperature drops, and people suddenly becoming over-run by emotions.

The most common experience is the sighting of apparitions. These have been seen by many people on several occasions who all share the exact same experiences.


Sources

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Sciell Giveaway Ends

Thank you everyone who entered the Goodreads Giveaway for my novel The Sciell. It went beyond, beyond, beyond expectations. 983 people enter the contest and 483 people added my book to a shelf. That's 483 in one month because The Sciell was at 2 people until the giveaway started.

For all authors contemplating doing a Goodreads Giveaway. Do it. It helps a lot with discoverability. You can only do it with print books though. Goodreads doesn't host giveaways for ebooks.

Thanks again for all the entries. Congrats to the five people who won a signed copy of The Sciell.

Here are some tips on how to run a Goodreads Giveaway.
How to run a Goodreads Giveaway with maximum results: 11 tips we know you'll need
The Power of the Goodreads Giveaways

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Neil Gaiman: Where do you get your ideas from? [Video]

Neil Gaiman describes it perfectly. I love how he answers the question where do you get your ideas from. It is a strange question to ask a writer. But, people ask it all the time.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Diversity in Speculative Fiction

Recently, there's been an awesome dialogue going on about diversity in sci-fi, fantasy and horror. This discussion has nothing to do with Black History Month, a month I don't particularity care for. I understand the purpose of Black History Month. But, the history/impact of people of color (POC) in the U.S. should be an everyday thing, not something we dive neck deep into once a year.

Anyway, I just read an article on Mythic Scribes that sums up the issue of diversity in speculative fiction beautifully.

"In many ways, fantasy literature, which was overwhelmingly white/European for years, has taken on this challenge and become more multi-ethnic. A few books I’ve read recently that have people of color (POC) as main characters include Kate Elliott’s Cold Magic/ Cold Fire/ Cold Steel trilogy, Elizabeth Bear’s Range of Ghosts, and N.K. Jemisin’s The Killing Moon. This is a huge movement from the Tolkienesque epic fantasy with a group of white dudes going off to battle the Black Lord and his swarthy minions.
However, we still have those damn Black Elves lingering around, poking their dark faces into decent people’s business. (They showed up most recently in Thor 2, with the first camera pan down to the evil Dark Elves landing on the character of Algrim/Kurse, played by a black man, not on the completely white evil Malekith.)
The black/white evil/good dichotomy is so ingrained in so many human cultures that it’s unlikely it will ever disappear..." (Read more at Mythic Scribes)
At the end of last year, Twitter exploded because of #DiversityinSFF. It sparked quite a few articles on the subject- some of which from prominent news sources.

The Nation: Rising Above the Failure of Imagination
"What does it say about writers that it is easier to imagine creating an alien species and alien worlds than it is to create a non-white and/or heterosexual and/or male and/or differently abled and/or working-class humanoid character in a non-Western setting? We see such reticence to approach difference in fiction, across genres and it is, in part, understandable but it is also a bit offensive, this notion that underrepresented people are so different and mysterious, so far from the dominant understanding of normal, we dare not even try to write their experiences."
It's amazing that this conversation is happening. I hope this means more POC in scifi and fantasy. The funny thing is, as a lifelong fantasy and horror reader, I got used to not seeing people like myself in books- so much so that it never occurred to me that this type of conversation was needed. I just assumed fair-skinned POV characters would always dominate fantasy and that there was nothing anyone could do about it.

Until a couple of years ago, I had thought African Americans only wrote urban fiction. I was like a kid in a candy store when I discovered Brandon Massey and Tananarive Due. I mean I was floored. African Americans who write speculative fiction...I didn't think they existed. There's hope for me yet. I never write the stereotypical "African American Literature." I kinda felt like an outsider. I believed I would have issues getting published. Because of authors like Massey and Due, I was able to take comfort in the fact that I didn't have to write urban fiction.

On top of that, there was L.A. Banks- the only African American fantasy author I found whose books were not banished to the ghetto known as African American Literature/Fiction. (I cannot stand that section and refuse to browse it unless I absolutely have to). N.K Jemisin described my feelings about this section perfectly.
"I hate the “African American Fiction” section. HATE. IT. I hate that it exists. I hate that it was ever deemed necessary. I hate why it was deemed necessary, and I don’t agree that it is. I hated it as a reader, long before I ever got published. And now that I’m a writer, I don’t ever want to see my books there — unless a venue has multiple copies and they’re also in the Fantasy or General Fiction section." (Read more here
Just because I'm an African American writer does not mean my stories belong under African American Fiction. Some of my characters may be dark-skinned, but they aren't black because they're not human. African American/black does not exist in The Sciell's world.

I'm sorry, I went off on a tangent.

The authors I've mentioned have given me confidence in my stories. I'm not as afraid of being published as I used to be.

...
By the way,  this is the last week to enter on Goodreads for a chance to win a signed advance reading edition of The Sciell. Contest ends Friday- 2/21. Enter here or through the Goodreads widget at the top right side of the page. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Are Book Trailers Effective?

If done right. Yes. People have shorter attention spans for consuming content online. Rarely do people read entire articles, let alone book summaries. Yes, I know books are meant to be read not seen. That's like saying a good book sells itself, which, unfortunately, it doesn't. 

Back in the day, an author's job was to write. That was it. That's not the case anymore. Times are changing. Videos help with discoverability since they are a lot easier to share than your book's description. 

Remove the notion that a book trailer needs to be a video slide show. It doesn't. The video can be of anything you want it to be as long as it relates to your book. 

Authors usually post their trailers on YouTube, which has millions of users. A video about your book can help you reach more people. Besides, for self-published authors who don't have the luxury of getting their novels in libraries and bookstores, we have to worry more about how are people supposed to find our books. 

Now, I am not saying a book trailer is an amazing marketing tool that works 100% of the time. It doesn't. In terms of marketing and promoting a book, especially for self-published authors, trial and error is the name of the game.

If you have an idea for a book trailer and you think it'll work, go for it. I created book trailers for The Sciell and Found because I wanted to. I have Adobe After Effects and Photoshop and thought it would be fun to create trailers with them. And it was. Neither videos have amazing view numbers and I have no idea how it effected sales of Found.

As I mentioned earlier, I believe videos are a lot easier to share than the book's description. Most pages-Goodreads, Facebook, Amazon- allow you to upload videos. A book trailer by itself is useless. You need to pair the video with other promotional efforts.



"The most important thing: the video is no substitute for a recommendation or an opinion. Therefore, it is not a replacement for the opinions that may appear in the mainstream media or specialized portals and social networks. Nor is it a substitute for critical reviews, back covers… All these factors are involved in the process of buying a book (which, remember, is the aim of the authors and publishers: sell books). So? The book trailer is just the beginning."
Fantastic Book Trailers and the Reason's They're So Good 
"A trailer, in a way, violates a book’s very construction. We are taught from a young age that reading, unlike pretty much everything else, forces you to use your imagination. A trailer inherently removes an element of the imaginative process and potentially cheapens the medium by suggesting a sort of inadequacy.
While there may be truth behind these ideas, we also live in a world where information has to be conveyed in an increasingly succinct and stimulating manner. People are inundated with media, and they no longer spend leisurely afternoons in bookstores or reading extensive book reviews. At least, most people don’t."
How To Make A Book Trailer: 6 Tips

"It is better for your book trailer to be super simple and beautiful than lavish and cheesy. The more visual, auditory, and verbal elements you incorporate, the greater the likelihood that your trailer will be a mess. Your book may be a novel, but your trailer should be a poem."
 The Anatomy of Effective Book Trailers
"Good trailers are not retelling the entire story. It should grab the viewers attention and move them to laugh, cry or excite and intrigue with glimpses of what the book is about. A well made book trailer should end with an image of the book, title, author, website address and availability. These make up the ‘call to action’ aspect of the trailer encouraging viewers to take action."

Monday, February 10, 2014

Holding Your Book

I love ebooks, but there's nothing like holding your first book. I finally finished the layout of The Sciell and uploaded it into CreateSpace. I had to upload and re-upload it because first, my interior was rejected and then my cover was rejected likes three time. Finally, everything is done...almost.

 I just got the proof. It is perfect.

Well played CreateSpace. I was a little worried, but you do good work.

This is just a draft. I'm finding things I need to change, but for the most part, I love it! I can't stop looking at it. I don't know what I expected, but I didn't expect this.
It looks and feels like a real book.


Monday, February 3, 2014

Jack is Back: The Return of 24!

I've been hearing rumors about Fox bring 24 back. I was like, what's 24 without Jack Bauer? I mean, the last season Jack had to leave the country. And then I saw the 24 Super Bowl ad.


Jack is back! I can't wait! Fox is really stepping up their game. I stopped watching regular TV because there was nothing on, but Fox now has some awesome shows. And now their adding 24. Well played Fox.

24: Live Another Day starts May. Doesn't look like it'll be a full season. More like a 12 episode event. I'm not complaining. It's 24.

Here's more about the show.

Fox teases Jack Bauer's return with '24: Live Another Day' Super Bowl ad

Also, we got our first look at Transformers: Age of Extinction. I'mma be honest without you, when I heard there would be an entirely new cast, I was ...done. I'm not as excited about this one. The trailer looks kinda epic, though. Who knows, I might end up seeing it. I'm on the fence right now. What do you think about the fourth Transformers movie?



..
On a unrelated note, I wanted my book, The Sciell, to come out on a Tuesday. Turns out March 10, the release date, is a Monday. Don't know how I made that mistake. The Sciell will be released March 11, instead.
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