I’m Having A Major Meltdown

I’m Having A Major Meltdown – Hear Me Out

First off, I apologize to my local Domino’s delivery guy. I guess finding my address wasn’t so easy for him. I broke down in angry tears explaining how I was sick and couldn’t cook at the moment. Which is why I needed to order the pizza in the first place. Poor lad couldn’t get away from my front door quick enough. I then proceeded to explain in my review how it wasn’t the driver’s fault that I was having a bad day. Thankfully, That was a one liner, as I winced through very blurred vision. Oh, but I will shamelessly admit I did take to Twitter on my phone, as I impatiently waited. Yep! I did. You see. My seizures came back. And today was my husband’s first day back to work. We both agreed pizza was easy to order. But of course, I failed.

I’m so frazzled! I’m so sorry!

His first instructions; just take a deep breath and everything will be OK. Easier said than done.

I’m such a mess, and if this sounds jumbled, it’s because it is. My brain is all screwed up.

How’s my writing going? It’s not. It was, but It’s at a halt for the moment. I was hoping to gain some perspective from the cover artist since I’m a very visual person. But, the cover artist seems to be on an island of his own somewhere in outer space at the moment. I’ve been waiting for something grandiose, but still nothing but emptiness. I guess it that light travel or maybe it got sucked up in a warm hole. LOL! Anyway.

I’ll catch up when I’m feeling better and nicer. In the meantime, take care y’all.

 

My Book Challenge

Hello! How’ve Y’all been? Well, it’s continued to be rather rainy up here in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. But, I’ve heard the sun is soon forthcoming. *insert happy dance*

So, every year I challenge myself to read a few more books than the previous year. I’m usually a bit further along from where I am today. However, these past two weeks I’ve made some progress.

Before I get into my reading challenge, allow me to share these two beauties. I’ve been looking forward to these.

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Courtesan by Diane Haegar is an absolute labor of love. I came across this book a few times, and each time I was pressed to grab a copy, but never did. So, imagine my surprise when I learned the beautiful cover which I can never forget belonged to a social media “friend?!” Once I connected the dots, I knew I had to grab a copy. It’s fate. It’s meant to be.

Duty to the Crown by Aimie K. Runyan appeared in an online book club I’m in. I will admit, I’m a sucker for a great cover. And both of these books have great covers that draw me in. They both are also historical fiction which is a genre I enjoyed but hadn’t been reading much of, as of late.

If you follow me on Goodreads, HERE, you’ll see my book reviews. I apologize I don’t have a ton of them up. My account got hacked earlier this year. I was able to get it back, but all of my 500+ read books were gone. Hence my effort to step up my game when it comes to reading.

The following image contains my reads of the past two weeks. That’s my kindle at the top of the stack, which contains more of what I read. If you follow me on Instagram @itsrosecastro or Twitter @RoseCastro, I typically share what I’m currently reading.

Yes, my two books are in the mix. Why? Because in all honesty, I had not read these in paperback form. I figured it was time, so there you have it.

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Reading isn’t just a hobby for someone like me. I know I’m not alone when I say this, reading offers so much more. It’s not just an escape in the moment, but adventures the author takes you on in which you can visualize and feel so much more.

I don’t usually plow through this many books on a consistent basis. But, I needed a break from writing because A) my teenager is busy getting ready to graduate, and if you follow my blogs, you’ll know, that he usually helps me. B) I got new glasses, and I’m having a tough time adjusting to these. So, they are rendering me useless in the writing department. C) I needed to step up my game in the reading department. I’ve noticed when I don’t read as often my creative juices become stagnant. No one wants stagnant writing. I’m a believer in reading while you write. I think it’s important. It helps us grow as writers. But that’s just my opinion. And you know what they say about those? *wink*

My original goal for the year was more than 25-books. No particular length. I’m at 12 so far, and it’s not quite the middle of the year. I think I’ll exceed my challenge, so long as my health and eyesight permit.

What are your reading goals?

There is no right or wrong answer. I have a lot of family and friends *cough my husband cough* who claim not to enjoy reading. Personally, I think it’s because they haven’t found a book that can pull them in. You have to be willing to invest your time. Many books start off a little slower. So, if you only make it to the fourth chapter, you might not have gone far enough to get hooked in. Trust me, most of us prolific readers are the same.

Just remember, pick a book in a genre that interests you. It doesn’t have to be a literary classic. Heck, I started out with comic books, and I still enjoy these very much, thank you. Don’t allow others to influence your likes and dislikes. In other words, don’t be intimidated if what you have to offer is, “I really enjoyed XYZ by LMNOP.” Others might want to get into the nitty gritty, but you don’t have to. I love ‘The Odyssey’ and ‘The Iliad’ by Homer. Most of my close acquaintances don’t, and that’s OK.

Create a reading area that is free of distraction, with comfortable seating, and grab a book of your choice. It can be 30 pages or 300. The point is to read.

Share what you are reading on my Facebook Page, HERE, and below in the comments section. I would love to hear from you. Kudos for photos of your reads!

 

Steampunk – Sorry, Victorian Steampunk

Do you know what steampunk is? You do? Great! You don’t? No worries, I didn’t really know what it was neither. Well, at least until an author friend wrote a steampunk novel.

First, here is the technical description of steampunk.

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Merriam-Webster

steampunk

noun steam·punk \ˈstēm-ˌpəŋk\

Definition of steampunk

  1. :  science fiction dealing with 19th-century societies dominated by historical or imagined steam-powered technology

Did You Know?

I think Victorian fantasies are going to be the next big thing, as long as we can come up with a fitting collective term for [Tim] Powers, [James] Blaylock and myself. So wrote the science-fiction author K. W. Jeter, credited with coining the term steampunk in 1987 to describe a wave of fantasy novels set in Victorian times and celebrating the technology of the era, much of which was powered by steam. In both name and subject, steampunk is an antithesis to cyberpunk, a genre often noted for featuring computerized, futuristic, or unearthly settings. The popularity of steampunk has since carried over to motion pictures, fashion, and even things like restaurant décor.

Origin and Etymology of steampunk

1steam + cyberpunk

First Known Use: 1987

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You’d be surprised, you might have actually watched a steampunk inspired movie without realizing it. Below are a few titles.

 

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (Sean Connery, Peta Wilson, Shane West) 

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (Rachel McAdams, Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law)

Stardust (Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert De Niro, Claire Danes)

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (Kirk Douglas, Peter Loree, Paul Lukas)

Treasure Planet (animated film)

Van Helsing (Kate Beckinsale, Hugh Jackman, Josie Maran)

Sleepy Hollow (Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, Christopher Walken)

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law)

Steamboy (animated film)

Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (Meryl Streep, Jim Carrey, Jude Law)

The Golden Compass (Nicole Kidman, Eva Green, Ian McKellen)

Robots (animated film)

The Rocketeer (Jennifer Connelly, Timothy Dalton, Alan Arkin)

These are just a few films with elements of steampunk. There are far more including TV shows, but, I think you catch my drift.

Steampunk has been around for three decades now and has also evolved into post-apocalyptic, alchemy, western, cyberpunk and perhaps others I have yet to discover. In addition to the fan following, there are also those who’ve adapted steampunk as a cosplay lifestyle. And I love it! But, you won’t catch me dawning any steampunk threads. I’m just not brave enough. Besides, it can become too expensive, because, ya know, I’d want everything to come as close to perfect. Ha!

I became grossly emerged along my author friends side, as she wrote The Dragon Lady. She researched Victorian steampunk, specifically, for almost a year. You see, you can’t just throw in steampunky stuff like goggles, an airship, compasses, or what have you’s and call it steampunk. There is much more to this, and while I love the genre, you won’t catch me writing it. It was stressful just listening to her. But, I tried to be as helpful as I could, if even just to be a sounding board.

Victorian steampunk requires that you write in a particular dialogue to stay true to the period, along with being OK with crossing lines in terms of describing inventions and clothing that is of the era while incorporating mechanism enhancements to items that may have already existed. In other words, not an easy feat. And, I’m glad some writers can get sucked into the subgenre and do this justice. Because the last thing we need as readers are more books that do the subgenre injustice.

Grab your copy today! Click Here
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Give a new genre a chance. You might find yourself pleasantly surprised, as I have. I used to be one of those readers who’d only stick to traditionally published, best-selling authors. I’d seldom venture towards anything unknown. Boy, do I wish I would have taken a chance on Indie and Self-Published authors much sooner. Seriously, I missed out on a lot. Don’t make my same mistake. Yes, you’ll come across some cringe-worthy self-published books, but, that’s what reviews are for. Be kind, but be honest in your reviews. Let all authors know how you enjoyed their work, good or bad, we need to know. That’s the only way we grow.

Book Marketing

Where to start? Diving right in, I suppose.

First, allow me to share some exciting news. Elemental Linx got to hang out in the No. 4 spot in a category which Rick Riordan (You know? Percy Jackson!) dominates. I know the Amazon rankings change quite often, especially for those of us Self-Published authors, but, I savored the moment while it lasted.

Top Four

Now onto marketing. I’d love to say Elemental Linx made it there on its own. But, that isn’t true. Between a fellow author friend, my husband, and my eldest son, we spent a lot of time reviewing my marketing options. (I need the additional help because, as you all know, I can’t see very well. The added eyes are a must.) I’ve been very fortunate to have found a very small group of fellow writers who are willing to help an amateur out with marketing ideas. However, truth be told, nothing about book marketing is cheap. Some authors swear by certain book promo sites, while others steer free and clear of these. I wish I could sit here and tell you which ones work best, but I can’t. Because I have relatively no good results from the various sites I’ve tried to promote Elemental Linx on. The ROI (return on investment) has been ZILCH!

At one point, I’d almost given up. Here I was with a new release, and with the exception of a few sales early on it seemed the momentum had fizzled away. What’s a gal to do?

Thankfully, I was desperate enough to use my lifelines, ALL OF THEM! 50/50, Phone A Friend, and Ask The Audience. I also dug deep into researching online, but everything I read came up with older information. As with technology, book marketing is ever changing. What once would launch a Self-Published author into success two years ago, no longer holds true today. And those who are currently sitting on success, however, little or much, guard their trade secrets like no other. Understandably so.

Then there’s the promo site, the Holy Grail of promo sites, BookBub. Oh to get a BookBub is almost like winning the lottery for Self-Published authors First, allow me to say, depending on the genre it can cost a pretty penny, but, it is one of the only known promo sites where you at minimum make your money back, for the most part, as there are exceptions, but these are rare. Getting approved for a BookBub promo is the key as it is not easy. I’ve heard of authors submitting and being rejected over 60 times! Say what? Yep, you heard me right. So why continue trying? Because it’s also the promo that has landed authors on bestseller lists like that of USA Today. The BookBub gatekeepers have done an excellent job in making their site beneficial to all. In other words, they’ve created a win-win scenario.

Have I tried to get a BookBub promo? Yes, yes I did. My promo request was rejected. I’m not going to lie, it did hurt. But, I expected it. I submitted for a BookBub within the first week that Elemental Linx released. Although they have accepted new releases, these are typically from proven authors with BookBub followings. I think I might have had three Amazon reviews for my book, and BookBub likes to see a few more so they can get a better view of how readers have responded to the book.

Remember, this is why writing reviews to books you’ve read are so important! We need your awesome reviews!

So then what? Well, like I mentioned before, I was desperate. I was reading the comments to a post within a writers group on Facebook. One of the writers made a comment that I’m not sure most caught onto, or if they did they didn’t pursue it. But I did. I asked the person if I may private message them to which they said “yes.” Before I knew it, I was asked how serious I was in dedicating time every day to marketing. Seemed like a fairly easy question, but, I had to think about it. Like I said, I require help, so I needed to make sure I could give it a go with the proper help. Once I established this I agreed to give it a try.

Marketing Is Not Easy. Period.  

I was invited into a special test group for book marketing. The information available to each member is astonishing, but for someone like me, it is overwhelming. I’m not a numbers person, and there are a lot of numbers involved. I also have a hard time wrapping my brain around complex information, partly because of my chronic illnesses, and partly because I guess I’m just not that smart. Thankfully my support, in other words, my husband, is great at numbers! He’s been patient in explaining why the spreadsheet works the way it does when capturing data. I understand 3/4 of what he’s saying and forget it as soon as he’s said it. Retention is just not there. But, we keep at it as often as we can. Eventually, via repetition, I might learn something.

What I have learned is that unless you have a huge budget that allows you to hire industry experts, this book marketing is a daily task. So far, what’s been working for me is understanding my books categories and how to push through these via keywords. It’s not easy, it takes time to build, and yes, a little money as well.

Only time will tell if my new approach to marketing is sustainable. In the meantime, we’ve got to continue thinking out of the box.

 

My New Release & Reader Reviews

Writing the title to this blog entry had me on the verge of wanting to say, “Ooops, I did it again…” You’re welcome. Because I’m sure you are thankful I didn’t do that.

Now for the main event… “Let’s get ready to rumble!” *insert beat* (Yes, I’m cheesy)

Book one of The Tetrad Prophecy series, Elemental Linx, is finally LIVE! Yay!

It only took two years, but it’s done and I couldn’t be happier. You can get your copy in paperback or eBook. Click HERE if Amazon is your go to.

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Now onto a very important topic that is reader reviews.

First off, I’d like to say THANK YOU to all who take the time to buy books and support writers. And a most special heartfelt THANKS to those who go the extra mile to leave reviews.

Sells are obviously the original goal when authors like myself publish a book, followed by hoping to please our audience with our creations. But what is also important are your reviews.

From Mackenzie Flohr, Author of The Rite Of Wands.

“In order for an indie author to succeed, they require to hit a certain ranking, which comes from three things: word of mouth, sales and reviews.

It’s true. Word of mouth is the only way we survive. Just buying a book for the sentimental purpose of buying it for the intention of supporting an indie writer, but either not reviewing/reading/telling other people or a combination actually ends up just hurting the author in the long run. So if you know of an indie author, PLEASE post a review on Amazon and Goodreads, and tell your friends to do the same!”

These are passionate words from a passionate author who loves her craft. I can assure you, many fellow authors feel the same way.

If you enjoy reading but aren’t always sure what to say in a review, here are five simple steps to consider.

1) Briefly, describe in a couple of sentences what the book is about.

2) What did you like?

3) What did you dislike? (Be respectful, but be honest)

4) Who would you recommend this book to?

5) Give the book a rating. 

 

Thank you again for your continued support! And I can’t wait to hear your feedback of Elemental Linx!

Talented Self-Published Writers

It’s that time of the month, no, not THAT time, but the time where I get to share a few of my thoughts with you all.

First, allow me to share a few scares I’ve had. On two separate days, I thought my time had come, and I’d gone blind. It’s all fun and games now, but my memory has been slipping more these days, and something as simple as my glasses makes a difference for me. I still have much difficulty seeing/reading, but since I’m in no rush for anything I can take my time. What takes most of you a few seconds or minutes, takes me several minutes to hours. Yes, hours. My vision comes in and out of focus, and I need to practically press material up to my face to read correctly. I’m not complaining; this is who I am. I’ve accepted this, even if on some days I want a refund on my body. LOL!

OK, enough of that. So, I’ve been reading the works of a few fellow authors. I’ve got to say; I’m impressed.

I often wonder how was it that I never stumbled across self-published and Indie authors in the past? Maybe I was so tunnel visioned, having eyes only for the ‘Best Seller’ sections? Was I too lazy to venture further within the multitude of books, going with the flow? Probably all of those above.

But now, now that I’m writing, I have found myself wandering into a couple of great writing communities, online. Via these groups, I’ve come across opportunities to obtain ARC aka advance reading copies of works from fellow authors.

What an ARC reader does, is straight forward. They do exactly what any reader would do, except, they receive the book before the release date. This way, they can offer a review as soon as the book is released. Or, in cases where the person reading has a substantial following, the review might be requested in advance and shared with potential readers in advance, as well. You know, how you sometimes see on the cover of a book? Any given book?

Here’s an example on the cover of one of Dan Brown’s books (he happens to be one of my favorite writers of our times), where a snippet of The New York Times review is shared on the cover. 9780307950680_custom-0ed546af9490d232f9c5151a1b0b24b68e1484e6-s6-c30

This ARC’s help authors on the date of a book release, because there is only so much we can do to share our stories, without divulging too much information. We are biased, obviously. (I’ll never be able to say that word again without thinking of the late Alan Rickman as Professor Snape.) And by default, our opinions of our books aren’t always what the readers want to hear.

We have our opportunity via the book back blurb and in the description sections. That’s where we have to sell the book to the readers.

ARC readers, on the other hand, have the opportunity to share their honest review of a book with the general public, usually when these first come out, so it helps potential readers decide if the review is helpful in their buying decision or not.

Having these fantastic opportunities to ARC read for various authors has allowed me to discover new favorites. I’ve delved into genres I normally wouldn’t find myself reading, and now I’ve taken a liking to. It’s refreshing in a way, but it’s also to me, very eye opening. So many magnificent writers!

I plan on starting to share my personal reviews on a book or two a month, here on my blog. These will probably be a mix of self-published and traditionally published authors.  So keep your eyes open for this. (I just noticed I’ve made lots of references to eyes/vision/seeing… I guess it tells you where my thoughts are.)

 

A Moment of Reflection

“I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits… I still believe that one day mankind will bow before the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed, and nonviolent redemptive good will proclaim the rule of the land….I still believe that we shall overcome!” – Martin Luther King Jr, quote from his inspiring Nobel Peace Prize speech.

I don’t like outwardly discussing politics. Why? So many of my friends and family are of different political beliefs than my own. But in the end, like me, we can all agree on one thing. Mankind deserves peace and equality.

As I continue editing book one of ‘The Tetrad Prophecy’ series, ‘Elemental Linx,’ I find myself more passionate about my storyline as it relates to mankind. I see an opportunity to further illustrate via words the beauty that our species is. Because we truly are remarkable living creatures. It doesn’t matter what each of our political stances or religious beliefs are, as humans, we are amazing! And I can only hope that each of us reaches our fullest potential for the greater good of mankind.

I couldn’t get past today without thanking all of those who sacrificed so much so that we could all have the opportunities we have. I’m not saying the world is perfect, but it would be a disservice to all of those who trekked the way for us to not acknowledge where we stand today.

OK now, back to editing.