Tuesday, December 21, 2010

My Last Book Signing Of The Year

This last Saturday I had my long-awaited book signing at Borders at the Superstition Springs mall. Initially, I figured if I had a signing this close to Christmas that I'd have better luck making some book sales, but that wasn't necessarily the case. A lot of the people I approached in the store were on a mission to find sought-after Christmas gifts and didn't really want to put the time into swinging by my table to see what my sci-fi/fantasy series was all about.

Was that discouraging? A bit. I had a hard time selling books or getting anyone interested in my table for the first hour. After that though, I positioned myself right at the entrance to the store and made sure almost everyone that walked through those doors had a postcard with my book info in hand.

By the end of the signing, I had sold ten books. An old friend from high school came out and supported me, which was really nice, and I had a couple people who were willing to chance a self-published author and grab my books as gifts for someone else.

At the end, the sales manager purchased five of each of my books to put on her shelf in the sci-fi section of the store. I sat down at my table with her while I signed the copies and she stuck 'autographed copy' stickers on them.

It was a great ending to the six signings I've done in the last couple months and a great ending to a very eventful year. I'm sure I'll have more book signings set up after the new year. But first, it's time to take a breather and wind things down a bit, just in time for the holidays. :)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Spirit Blade: Special Edition Review

If there’s one thing this world has a significant shortage of, it’s Christian science fiction and/or fantasy. I apply this comment to all realms of media and entertainment, including books, movies, plays, and even audio drama. The latter of these are in especially short demand, not just in the Christian Sci-fi/fantasy genre, but in general. So I think it an especially wonderful treat that I came across Spirit Blade: Special Edition.

I’ve known Paeter Frandsen, the creator of Spirit Blade, for many years, and have been meaning to pick up a copy of Spirit Blade to listen to for a while now. Alas, lack of time and many other excuses prevented me from doing so, but I put aside some time this last week to sit down and experience - yes, experience - the special edition of this wonderful project.

Spirit Blade is like nothing you’ve ever experienced before. And I say that with a true degree of knowledge, not just assumption, not because I know you or what you’ve experienced before, but because I know for a fact there isn’t much in terms of Christian sci-fi/fantasy out there, let alone in audio form. It’s slim pickin’s out there when it comes to finding the message of truth running through the creative veins of the science fiction and fantasy genres, so when something like this comes out, it’s arrival has to be shouted from the mountain tops.

Too many out there have the opinion that Christianity and science fiction don’t mix, that there’s something blasphemous to even suggest such a thing. I’m not here to launch into an argument about that subject, but I am here to tell you that Spirit Blade proves the two can be brought together within an exciting drama that unfolds through a cast of top notch voice actors, stunning sound effects, and an intriguing storyline that I guarantee will captivate you.

This is a story, a tale of good vs evil, of a reluctant musician named Merrick who gets wrapped up in a worldwide conspiracy and is forced to face the truth about himself, about the world(s) around him, and about his own beliefs. You’ll find demons in this, you’ll find villains, you’ll find an underground resistance. And you’ll find our hero, Merrick, struggling to find his place in the midst of all of it while the forces of dark and light clash together to fight for his very soul.

Spirit Blade is a story as much as it is a treat for the ears, the mind, and the imagination. If you think reading a book has the ability to cast you light years away to other places, other colonies, other worlds - Spirit Blade does just that and then some. Listening to Spirit Blade: Special Edition, you can tell that Paeter has poured hours and talent into his project. The sound effects, the musical scoring, the voice acting, and especially the music - which is all written by Paeter and performed by Paeter and the cast - is superb.

What a treat this was! I can’t underline enough how awesome it is to see someone else out there who has put their creative talents to work to bring such an endeavor out for everyone to experience. The audio aspect of this is made it convenient to listen to on my MP3 player, my computer, even the CD player. As much as I’m for the ereaders out there, you really can’t get any more compact than audio.

To sum things up, Spirit Blade is truth wrapped in a tasty coating of action, adventure and science fiction. If you’re a fan of science fiction or fantasy you will love this. I am proud to recommend this to any and everyone I know and don’t know.

If you get the chance, I highly recommend at least downloading a free 30 minute preview of Spirit Blade at Paeter’s website, www.spiritblade.net, as well as check out the other projects he’s been cooking up. Paeter also has a podcast that you can check out which covers everything from horror to science fiction to comic books to anything geeky. Check it out at http://paeter.libsyn.com.

Spirit Blade: Special Edition was given for this review.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Bottom Line

I think self-publishing - and being an author in general - are both funny things. You never quite know what you're going to get, especially when you deal with the public. This last weekend I had two book signings, both which had very different outcomes in terms of book sales, but both of which had very similar benefits to the time that was put in to them.

My first signing was on Saturday at Half Price Books out in Phoenix.

It's a fairly new store on Camelback Road, and the manager, Jim, had only been a manager there a few days before I came in for my event. He was incredibly hospitable and the store was clean and had a nice polished look to it. During the three hours I was there doing my signing, I managed to sell 0 books. That's right, the big ol' goose egg. The dreaded zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Nothing.

The funny thing is, I'm not dismayed in the least. I had some great conversations with the folks that came around my table. I met a script writer, and one of the store employees used to work as a publicist, so I had a bit of wonderful seasoning in the conversations I had. I'll be the first to admit that I still have so much to learn and I love listening to how others are carving their path and making their way through their dreams.

On the flip side, my second signing was at the Mesa Bookmans on Sunday.

In the three hours I was at that store, I managed to sell 9 books.

Again, I had great conversations with the people who came by my table. I met another author, one who writes thrillers, and managed to get a nice number of people to sign up for my email newsletter. It too was a wonderful experience.

Now, through the lenses of sales and the 'bottom line', some would say my second signing was the most successful. But in my humble opinion, I believe both had their own outcome for me. Of course I would like to sell books - that is one of the reasons I do these signings - but my bottom line isn't going to be the same as some other writers out there. My bottom line is really relationships - with those in the community, book stores, and other writers.

Meeting other authors, people who look up to me simply because I've completed the process of writing an entire novel and self-publishing it, is a great feeling. I want to pave the way for those that have been told they can't do it, let alone on their own. Those that have been told they can't publish a book in today's economy, those that have been told they are dreamers.

Well, it's time for us dreamers to get out there and show the world what we're made of. More than just a bottom line of sales and spreadsheets, but of relationships and community. ;)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Branching Out

Recently, my wife and I came to the conclusion that we could use a bit of extra money each month to help make a few ends meet. That was the initial motivating factor for me to start looking for some part time work, although at first I didn't know what part time work I should start looking for. I've been out of the '9-5' work game for almost a year and a half now, and the unemployment rate isn't all that encouraging.

It was suggested to me a couple weeks ago on another blog that I should look into applying with Demand Studios for some freelance work. I brought this idea to some friends and a discussion mounted on how it would benefit me to do some non-fiction freelance work anyway, especially if I plan to continue to make writing my career.

For years now I've focused primarily on writing fiction, with sci-fi, fantasy, and young adult being my specialties. Aside from working as a feature writer for my high school newspaper so many years ago, I haven't really bothered much with non-fiction - my blog being the only real exception. I figure diving into the world of article writing will be great for my portfolio, for my craft, and even for my finances.

I applied to Demand Studios and was subsequently rejected. I received a form letter type email from them that didn't really give me a solid reason for the rejection except that "due to increased interest in freelancing positions at Demand Media, the approval process has become quite competitive, and we have had to turn down many high-quality applicants." Interesting.

Once Demand turned me down, I applied with Suite101, a website similar to Demand, but with a different process and pay structure. I have been accepted and plan to start working on my first article soon. Though it may take some time - and hard work - for some real funds to start coming in, I am looking forward to this opportunity.

If any of you out there work - or have worked - for Suite101, please share your experiences with me. At the very least, I believe this new journey will help me sharpen my writing skills and add some fresh and diverse content to my writing credits. :)

Photo Credit - Horia Varlan

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Small Beginnings

I had my third book signing promoting my latest novel, Black Earth: The Broken Daisy, this last Saturday at the Tucson Speedway Bookmans. If there's one thing I'm noticing during this slew of book signings, it's that I'm doing much better this time around. When I originally did signings and promotion for End of the Innocence, the first book in my series, I didn't really know what I was doing. I would stutter and mumble when others asked what my book was about, I'd become reluctant to greet people coming to my table, and I never asked any of the book stores if they'd like to stock my book.

I guess I can chalk up most of my dismal success the first time around to shyness and the shell that I am successfully breaking out of this time around.

In the two and a half hours I spent at the Tucson Speedway Bookmans, I managed to sell 26 books. That included three double packs (sets of both books in my series) and ten of each book sold to the book store to stock on their shelves.

When I first arrived at the book store, I was told they had fielded 4-5 phone calls from customers asking about my signing before I even showed up. While I was setting up my table, one woman approached me, bought books already in hand, and asked me to sign them while another woman approached the table all ready to purchase a double pack as a gift. This makes the very first instance where someone not related to me has approached me at a signing simply to have their books signed as opposed to purchasing them there at the signing.

Don't despise small beginnings. I firmly believe in that right now. :)

Special thanks to Anthony for allowing me to do this event in his store.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Tunes Of My Muse

For a long while - actually as long as I can remember - I have enjoyed listening to music while I write. I know there are other authors out there that need complete silence in order to approach their muse, almost as if they were trying to sneak up and attack the paper with a stealth ninja move. Not me. I need the tunes blaring in my ears before I can really focus on my characters and their current predicaments.

I listen to a variety of things ranging from Christian rock to dance and techno.

When it comes to dance music, the beats, the pulse - especially in club mixes - really helps to get the ideas from my head to the laptop screen. I love listening to Benassi Bros, ATB, Jes, Kaskade and OceanLab - particularly their hit, Satellite -

I also enjoy the classics from my early twenties like Collective Soul, Matchbox 20, Lifehouse and 3 Doors Down - one of my favs is It's Not My Time...

I'll also listen to old classics that I was introduced to when I was a kid. My dad and I would do projects on the house late at night and listen to music from Steve Winwood, Gloria Estefan, The Bangles and even Don Henley. My favorite of his is End of the Innocence -

Throw in a bit of Third Eye Blind, a dash of Nickleback, some Evanscence, especially their hit, Bring Me To Life -

and maybe some numbers from Toby Mac, Michael W. Smith, and Fireflight - notably For Those Who Wait - and I'm good to go.

One of my favorite songs at this moment is by an artist I've been listening to for years now - Kylie Minogue. Her current hit, Get Outta My Way, is probably one of the few songs at this moment that I could listen to over and over and over again and never get sick of it.

If you're an author and you love to listen to music while you belt out your latest scene, let me know what's on your playlist. I think music - just like it does in a movie to bring action, suspense, romance to the audience - can bring emotions, and feelings to the page.

Photo credit -  Hryck