Making The Case For “Inside Jokes” In Your Books

As authors, we all write for a reason. That reason may differ from person to person, but we all have the common bond that we want to share our words with others.

For me personally, I write because I think I’m a good storyteller who can paint a picture with my words, and I like to try and convey those images into the minds of others in hopes that they find my books enjoyable. Some do…some don’t. I would love to become a best-selling author who does nothing but come up with my next book’s plotline while sipping Mai Tai’s on a beach, but for now, I’ll just settle for the fact that more than a few people are enjoying my creations.

For some of you who have read my books, you know that they contain several personal touches contained within the pages. I like to use characters based on actual people I know, such as one of my main characters, Pat Vigil, my best friend who passed away a few years back, and a certain someone named Tim Baker-something-or-other, a person who has had a major influence on my life since childhood. But, I also like to add stories in my books involving those people. This serves a dual purpose – first, I’m able to create some dialogue for my characters, and second, I’m able to share more of myself within the content – even if only a few people who read it will make the correlation to what I’m writing.

Some would say that it makes no sense to have “inside jokes” that only a few people will get and that it just takes up space on the page, but I completely disagree with that train of thought. As an author, it’s my job to tell a story. Sometimes those stories take on a life of their own while I jot them down, such as when I’m writing my inside jokes. In the case of Pat Vigil, the way I write him in the book is exactly how he was in real life – a smart-mouthed goofball who was the best friend in the world. I like to incorporate things that he and I did together into my stories. I don’t like to think of it as page-filler, but more of an homage to people who mean something to me on a personal level.

In the case of Tim Baker-something-or-other (some of you on here know him, so I’m trying to conceal his name just a bit – yea I know I failed), he and I have shared many funny memories which I think make great conversation pieces, so I incorporate them into my books for others to share along with too. Maybe he’ll be the only one to fully get the joke, but people who know him will also get it, so I’m at least connecting with some of my readers on a more personal level.

Here’s an example from my upcoming novel. For those of you who know this “Tim” guy, you’ll know he has an abnormal fascination with the movie Jaws. And for those of you who have seen our back-and-forth banters on his Facebook page regarding this movie, you’ll also know I like to give him crap about this. So, here is one of those little inside joke instances…


Tim walked into the room, in the middle of what appeared to be a heated debate taking place between Mercer and Vigil.

“What are you two jabbering about?” he asked.

Vigil answered, “We were just discussing some of the best shark movies of all time. Apparently, a few of mine don’t even make this bozo’s list.”

Tim smiled, knowing Mercer would agree with his next statement.

“In the annals of history, there’s only one shark movie that can hold its weight in water, no pun intended.”

“Oh, I know what it is,” Mercer proclaimed, taking a friendly jab at his friend with an inside joke. “It’s Sharkna…”

“Don’t you dare say it,” Tim good-humoredly interjected.

Recognizing the partial name of the movie just mentioned, Vigil responded, “Whoa, wait a minute. How does that movie not make the top three for either of you?”

Tim let out a hearty laugh before replying.

“That comment alone tells me all I need to know about you. That movie shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same breath as Jaws.”

“Jaws?” Vigil replied. “It was alright, but it’s like forty years old.”

“Alright,” Mercer stated with a laugh. “Let’s move onto another subject before someone gets slapped.”


This snippet serves to create some banter between characters, but it also lets me share parts of my life with my readers. Sure, it’s an inside joke between Tim and I, but it’s also just a funny little back and forth between friends in the book. You don’t need to personally know us all to fully get the joke, but you also don’t need a deciphering manual to enjoy the story.

This is where some authors get lost with adding these sorts of references. This particular dialogue has nothing to do with the story itself, but it serves as a comedic moment where I’m able to show the bond of my characters.

Do I think this story is hilarious? Of course, I do…but I guess I’ll leave it up to my readers as to whether or not they find it enjoyable as well. And for the record, I personally believe Tim is a HUGE closeted Sharknado fan…

You can read the rest of the story in my upcoming third novel, Blood Dawn, scheduled to be released later in 2017. For now, you can get caught up on the first two installments in the NESA series by CLICKING HERE

As always, thanks for stopping by and Happy Reading!


The Great (or lack, thereof) Social Media Experiment

A lot of my opinions aren’t among the most popular, and that’s okay. I’d rather speak my mind (hopefully it comes across tactfully) than follow the herd and go along with what I consider to be the status quo.

I’ve recently been conducting my own little social media experiment. And while the results aren’t shocking (to me, at least), they are doing wonders for my ego when it comes to proving the point I’m trying to make. I post a lot of comments about how society is being dumbed down on a daily basis. The evidence is all around us. And the biggest culprit of this massive crumbling?…Social Media…

For example…I recently lost a few hundred Twitter followers over the course of one night (482 in just under six hours to be exact). My crime? Unfollowing them. Nothing more.

Now, in all fairness, I sometimes say or post something that doesn’t sit well with someone, and I suppose I can understand someone unfollowing me for those reasons, but my number of Twitter followers hadn’t changed in several weeks. As soon as I unfollowed about 1,600 people, the proverbial claws came out and I suddenly lost a bunch of followers because people can’t handle the social media rejection of not being followed themselves.

We’ve become a society that is so enamored with what other people think of us and how many people want to “follow” us, that our obsession with this desire overtakes any rational thinking. We’re so concerned that thousands of people might actually miss out on every single thing we do in a day, that we post every little thing we do throughout the day, just in the hopes that someone will see and “like” it. I purposely unfollowed those 1,600 people on Twitter for my little experiment. Why? Because I wanted to prove my point. And oh did I…

We’ve become a bunch of butt-hurt crybabies, just like the ones we tell our own kids to steer clear from. When your kid comes home and says, “Mom (or dad), this kid at school always whines about every little thing and all he cares about is being popular.”

What is usually your response to this? Well, I’ll tell you mine… I tell my kids to stop hanging around that kid and find a new friend that doesn’t complain so much and who doesn’t care about racking up a large amount of friends just because he wants to be popular. We tell our kids that there is more to life than being popular. But then we get on social media to see how many “likes” our stupid little memes have gotten in the past ten minutes, or how many friend requests we have from people we don’t even know. We’ve become a society that only cares about being popular – and it sucks.

So, the next time you tell your kid to go find a new friend because of how their current one acts and that there’s much more to life than being popular, take a look in the mirror and swing that judgmental pendulum back around at yourself for a few seconds. If you don’t like what you see, make a change and do something about it. I did.

As an author who is trying to build up my brand and spread the word about my books, of course I need social media. I’m not naive. I know I need a bunch of followers if I’m going to reach the masses eventually, but at what cost does this all come? If I don’t follow you, does it mean my books are lesser in quality? On the flip side, if I do follow you, does that make my books better to you because you feel you have a connection to me because I follow you too? Both questions can be answered with a yes, but only because this is what we’ve become.

Do I want a million followers? Hell yes. I’d be lying if I said anything less, but does that mean I have to follow a million people of my own in order for that to happen? I’m not one to play by society’s rules. There’s a saying – you can’t win the game if you don’t play the game – but I’m not willing to play it like that. Maybe I’m wrong (it’s happened once or twice in my lifetime), but I don’t see the need to get caught up in what I consider to be the downfall of society.

I look at it this way…Would Stephen King, Clive Cussler, or James Patterson be as popular as they are if they had started writing books in the past five years? Absolutely not. Their writing ability and talent would still be there, but I wonder how they would fare with their sales as newly published authors if they chose not to get onto social media and follow a bunch of people simply because it’s what society says you must do in order to reach a certain level of “achievement”.

Social media is a double-edged sword. I hate it, but I need it. Finding the delicate balance between the two is becoming more difficult by the day. I’ll probably go back and re-follow some of those people I unclicked. I didn’t mean to delete everyone necessarily, but I don’t need to see thousands of little cat pictures cluttering up my feed from people I’m not interested in. If I unfollowed anyone here, please let me know and I’ll remedy that. I don’t mind following people I have a genuine interest in. That is what social media was supposed to be about in the first place. We’ve just turned it into what it has become today.

As always, thanks for stopping by and Happy Reading!

How Not To Fail At Writing A Book

I know what you’re thinking…Why go with such a negative sounding title when I could have chosen a completely different play on words and made it sound much more positive? As you’ll see, I wrote it that way for a reason.

I could have easily titled it, “How To Succeed At Writing A Book”, but the truth of the matter is that even if you follow the steps below, you’re not guaranteed anything in the form of success, sales, or fame. On the other hand, if you follow the steps below, you will unequivocally and most certainly not fail, because no matter what, you can’t ever consider something a failure if you put forth your very best effort when it comes to publishing a book you’ve worked so hard on.

Hopefully these steps serve as a beginning guideline when it comes to helping you achieve your writing and publishing goals…

Step 1: Write The Damn Book

This seems like an obvious step in the process, but there are plenty of people who never even accomplish this task. It might be because life just gets in the way, or they become too overwhelmed with the stress and fear associated with writing, but whatever the reason, if you don’t at least finish the book, you can’t ever begin to succeed as an author. Okay, so I’ve solved this problem for you…the rest is up to you.

Step2: Create A Compelling Book Description…And Memorize It

There’s this little thing called “The Elevator Pitch”. Essentially, it’s a 30 second sales pitch you create to impress someone, primarily for a job interview, but it can easily be transferred into the realm of creating a memorable book description. If you can develop a clear-cut, concise description of your book and confidently present it to a potential reader in 30 seconds, you are statistically setting yourself up to generate more sales. Write your book description on a piece of paper (or type it), and read it out loud repeatedly until you can recite it word for word without missing a beat. Then, just start telling people about it. If you can do that, you’ll be ten steps ahead of the competition.

Step 3: Market Yourself And Your Book…Even Before The Release Date

Don’t wait until you release your book before you begin promoting it. Build up your brand far in advance and get people excited about the release of your book. Odds are that people may not get excited about an unknown author they’ve never heard of, but if you become sociable and charismatic with people, they will remember you, hopefully enough to give you a chance. You may even want to consider setting up a free giveaway in order to generate some buzz about the upcoming release. Most importantly, market and brand yourself in a manner which reflects on how you want potential readers to perceive you.

Step 4: Make Some Sort Of Attempt To Edit The Book

This is always a touchy subject in the self-publishing world. There are so many books that get published without one second of editing going into them, and nowadays even ones that have been edited seem to still have flaws. Let’s face it – editing services are quite expensive, especially since most authors won’t ever make back that initial investment from sales of their book, but that doesn’t mean you should forego the editing process altogether and put out a crappy product. If you can’t afford an actual editor, find someone who can at least help to tighten the book up. There are far too many piranha editors who will charge you for an edit, but don’t know what they’re doing, so it can be difficult to swim through those murky waters to find the right person who can help you. You should be willing to spend some time, either on your own (although I don’t recommend this), or with someone you trust, to put out the best book that you can for your readers. They’ll most definitely appreciate it. And while they’ll never compliment you for having a properly edited book, they will most certainly blast the errors all over your review page if you don’t make any editing attempt at all. So, pick your poison with this one.

Step 5: Generate A List Of (Trustworthy) Test Readers

This is always the most fun part for me. Why? Because it means the book is finished! Remember Step 1? Well, if you’re at the stage of looking for test readers, go ahead and congratulate yourself on being one step closer to publishing. Test readers can give you invaluable insights when it comes to your story, how it flows, how your characters develop, how it all comes together at the end, and so much more. Your test readers are not – I REPEAT, ARE NOT – your editors. They aren’t looking for misspellings and grammatical issues (however, if they point them out to you, it could help when the actual editing begins), but instead they are looking for story structure and that it makes sense and it’s a good book from beginning to end. Something I always do is promise my test readers an actual signed copy of the book once it’s published. This is just a little incentive for them helping me out and being a part of the process for me. When you begin the marketing phase of the book, you should already be reaching out to people to see if you can find qualified test readers. And by qualified, I don’t mean your mom. I love my mom to death, but according to her, I should already be selling more books than James Patterson. So, no, she would not offer the most unbiased opinion. You want unbiased. You want people to tell you where things are slacking, and you want them to be brutally honest with you. If you can’t handle the feedback during the test reading phase, imagine how you’re going to react when you get nothing but 1 and 2 star reviews because you didn’t want to take things to heart that could have made the book better.

Step 6: Release It To The World

Holy crap, sound the trumpets and roll out the marching band! You did it! You’re finally ready to publish! Are you excited? Well, you should be. If you’re not, throw the book in the trash and find another line of work. Okay, well don’t really do that, but you should be thrilled with the fact that you just wrote a damn book! And, if you’ve followed the outlined steps listed above, you probably have a book that’s not too shabby in its own right. Now it’s time to share your book with the world. Publish it on Amazon, Goodreads, Smashwords, or whatever other platforms you use, then go back up to Step 1 and do it all over again for the next book.

As with many things in life, writing a book is not an exact science. What works for me, or others, may not necessarily work for you. Some of these steps might help you along the way, but then again, you may discover that tweaking them as you go works better for you. These are just things that help me, and I hope they will help you as well.

As always, thanks for stopping by and Happy Reading!


Have The Courage To Write Badly

I know what you’re thinking… “Chris, are you nuts? What do you mean I should write badly?”

No, of course I don’t want you to write a bad book, but you should be willing to put forth the effort to write badly.

Still confused? It’s okay, I am too…

What I’m referring to is finishing the first draft of your book. We sometimes get caught up in the small details when writing our books that we tend to forget our first draft is just that – a first draft. I’m pretty sure none of us has written a book and then just published it. When we type that final word, we all know the real work begins and we are in for a long haul of editing, rewrites, more editing, and even more rewrites.

So, why spend so much time fine tuning your book when you know it won’t even come close to being a final product? I’m perhaps the biggest culprit of this. I’m not ashamed to admit it, even while I’m typing this and trying to tell you to do the exact opposite of what I do. But, I am trying my best to take these words to heart myself and apply this to my writing.

I think it’s important to get through the first draft as quickly as possible. For me, I’m setting a goal of a thousand words per day for my novels. That gives me thirty thousand words each month and approximately a little less than three months to complete the first draft, which is about seventy to eighty thousand words.

What do I mean by not being afraid to write badly? I mean you shouldn’t be afraid to put words down on paper that might not make the final cut. You should be focused more on completing the book than detailing it as you go. Again, I am totally guilty of doing this myself, but I try to convince myself I’m doing it in a way that is best for the book. I do a ton of research while I write my books, both before and during the writing process, so sometimes I’m not able to glide along freely nonstop for an hour or two.

Here’s an example…after reading a snippet of Lost Voyage, a friend asked me, “How the hell did you learn so much about eighteenth century steamships?” I replied that I did a ton of research for it. My point is, I wasn’t able to just jot down ten pages of material and plug away at it. I needed to slowly approach it and take the time to get everything right as I was writing it. I know what you’re thinking…it sounds like such hypocrisy on my part, right?

As you can see, this poses a dilemma for me when it comes to following my own advice. Believe me, I’m trying, but we should all be willing to write without fear. This may seem impossible, and it’s okay to have a little fear. It’s what motivates us to strive to be better writers, but too much fear can cause you to curl up into a ball and never complete your book.

So, how do we find that middle balance? It all comes back to taking the plunge and writing whatever you can, as fast as you can. You can’t wait for the good moments to just come to you. You have to be willing to create your own moments and finish the book without fear of it not being the perfect product. It won’t hurt you to write a chapter or two that ends up being garbage, but it could hurt you if you spend two months writing those chapters because you wanted to have the perfect wording every step of the way.

Once an idea pops into your head, go with it. Don’t get caught up in miniscule details. If you do, you’re likely to lose your ideas and forget where you wanted to go with the story. Sometimes, the best writing you do comes from the first ideas that pop into your head. Don’t lose that.

You should write your ass off and never look back until you’ve written you’re entire first draft. If you do this, you will have one hell of a body of work to either fine tune, or maybe even better, you may have written a much better story than you could ever have imagined because you simply rode that tsunami wave of adrenaline and emotion and you surprised even yourself.

So go ahead…write badly. Write so badly that you finish your novel in two or three months. Sure, you may spend another two to three months fine tuning it all, but at least you’ll know where you stand a lot sooner than if you took a year to write it because you wanted perfection from the start.

Besides, fear isn’t such a scary word if you use it as an acronym…Forget Everything And Run.

Forget about Everything being perfect And Run your ass all the way to the finish line. You might not win the gold medal, but you’ll sure have a leg up on the rest of the competition. These are, of course, just my opinions. I hope they help to serve as some sort of guidance, for you and me….

As always, thanks for stopping by and Happy Reading!


Making A Case For Not Publishing Your First Book…Yet

I can’t remember who told me this, but when I was getting ready to find an editor for my first novel, Lost Voyage, someone told me I might want to consider not publishing until I had two or three more novels to release. Of course, I laughed this off and wasn’t even going to consider it as an option. This was, after all, my first novel and I wanted it out there for the world to see.

How was I not supposed to publish it?

I now have two novels available, with a third in the works to be released later this year (maybe, as you’ll read further down), but I’ve recently found myself reflecting on those words which were said to me two years ago. I’m now realizing what those words actually meant and that they might not have been as crazy as they sounded. I was so excited about releasing my book and was about to become a first time self-published author, and I just didn’t have time to listen to that nonsense. But, maybe I should have. And maybe so should you.

Now, I’m well aware that more than ninety percent of you will disagree with me, and I can’t fault you for that. Self-published authors get so caught up in how fast they want to get their book out, that they often rush everything and overlook many things along the way. For me, the biggest thing I’ve overlooked is that I don’t have a huge following – yet.

I know more and more readers will come as the years pass, and I’m also aware that you can’t grow your following unless you put out more books, so I know this will sound like a complete contradiction considering what I’m about to say next, but I don’t necessarily know that I want the masses flocking to buy my books yet.

I can hear you all screaming through the internet… “Are you crazy?!?!”

Well no…okay, maybe a little, but I’m really rethinking my whole publishing outlook for the next few years. As happy and proud as I am to have two novels published, this is also my downfall, and I’m really wishing I would have waited until I had a few books done before releasing any of them. So, I’ve decided to reformulate my publishing strategy.

Gone are the days (or they are extremely rare) of massive publishing contracts and worldwide exposure for authors such as myself. Add to the fact that the society we live in now has the attention span of a gnat with ADD, and it’s easy for an author like myself to get lost in the mix and forgotten about. With only one or two books out, it’s hard to keep a loyal following, no matter how good a self-published author is.

With my novels, I will have the same main characters in each book, hopefully for the next twenty years. It is my biggest hope that everyone loves these characters enough to want to keep reading them, but how long will my fans wait until the next book gets released before they become too anxious or lose interest?

There are millions of self-published authors nowadays, many of whom are content with just putting books out. I, on the other hand, take a different approach to how I view being a published author. I want this to be my career. I want to be able to get paid to write books. There’s nothing wrong with someone doing it for reasons other than this, but I’m transparent about what I want out of this. If I don’t build a following, however, this will never happen. And I don’t believe I’ll build the following that I want simply by putting out one book per year over the next ten years.

So, how do I (or you, if you’re interested) combat this awkward dilemma I am faced with?

The answer is to simply not publish – until you have enough books to keep readers engaged for a while. I know, it’s crazy, but it’s what I’ve decided to do, at least on a much less significant scale. I still plan to release books for writing competitions and such, but I’ve set a goal for myself that I hope will help me to build that huge following I seek.

By the end of 2018, I plan on writing eight more novels. That will give me ten in total. This way, when someone reads a book or two of mine, they can immediately dive into the next one, or eight, if they so desire. For me, this is the way to build my loyal fan base of readers who won’t lose interest while waiting for my next novel. Then, I can pump out one per year and still have those readers coming back for more. And I’m going to go even one step further down the crazy path and make my first novel available for absolutely free in an effort to bring in and entice new readers to give me a chance.

The difference in this strategy is that the loss of interest I mentioned earlier now becomes anticipation about the next book. My point is, they will have ten books to read and become loyal to me, as opposed to reading the two I have now and then having to wait another year for the next one to come out.

This isn’t an easy decision to make, and who knows if I can write eight more books over the next two years with a house full of screaming kids and a new one due in June. I want nothing more than to have millions of readers, but my long term goals and aspirations far outweigh any short term ego-related motives I may have.

I’m aware this strategy isn’t for everyone, but there is some common sense logic throughout this post. Would you rather write a book a year for the next ten years and maintain a minimal following or would you rather hold off publishing for two or three years until you were positive you could keep your readers engaged for a longer period of time by having eight to ten novels readily available for them? For me, it’s the latter.

And who the hell has time to write eight books in two years? So, I get it if you aren’t on the same page with me on this one. This, as with all of my posts, is based on my own opinions and reflections of what I see can work best for me.

Hopefully it will help a few others along the way too.

As always, thanks for stopping by and Happy Reading!


Relationship Marketing – You’re Doing It Wrong!

As a self-published author, building strong relationships with your readers can go a long way towards contributing to your success. This statement probably seems pretty obvious, but are you building the right relationships with the right people?

A while back, I posted about how I decided to opt out of virtually every Facebook “networking” group I was a part of. Why did I decide to do this? Because, these groups just didn’t work – for me anyway. I’m sure there are plenty of you who are in some of these groups and will argue this, but for me, it wasn’t worth investing my time to get nothing in return. Ninety nine percent of these groups are just authors who post their own books, usually about ten times per day, and they do nothing to try and network except to reach out to other authors and ask if everyone else would share their posts and buy their books. When you ask them to do the same, what do you get? Crickets…

I quickly realized that less than one percent of the people in these groups are actual readers looking for new books (this isn’t scientific data, but more of an observational data compilation). So, how were these groups really helping me to network if there were no readers in them? It can be argued that being a part of these groups is a great way to build relationships with other authors who can help spread the word about you, but the reality for me was that other authors weren’t looking to buy books to read. And as for all of that love-sharing they say they’ll do? Well, they really only want to push their own material. This is fine to an extent, but I ask again, how was this helping me to network with the targeted audience I intended to reach – potential readers of my books?

It just wasn’t.

Anyway, long story short, I left all of these groups and began focusing on different avenues to promote myself. There are groups set up specifically for readers who are looking for new reading material, but these groups are so inundated with postings that it’s easy for your book to get lost in the mix. So, I also opted against joining these groups. Instead, I concocted a crazy plan – I went out and found readers who like to read in my genre. I know, it’s crazy right? I actually went directly to the source and networked with the right people for me.

I reached out – both online and offline – to people who like action-packed thrillers. But wait, it gets even crazier…instead of selling my books, I just gave them away. Yep, that’s right, I didn’t charge a penny for them. And I didn’t lose any sleep over it. Why? Because I was networking.

I was meeting and talking with people who liked my style of books. I asked a local bookstore if I could stand in front of their shop and hand out my novels. I told them I wasn’t trying to take away sales from them, but rather just give my book away for free to fans of the genre. They obviously had no issue with it since I wasn’t taking any business away from them, and in the process, I was reaching my intended audience.

Did it work? Well, that depends on how you measure success. I was able to make a few sales of my second novel as the result of giving away the first, so I’d say it was a success. The best part of it all was that I wasn’t a minnow in a big ocean of other authors in all of those Facebook groups I came to loathe. I was the Great White shark in a pond of my own.

Networking isn’t about how many people you know. It’s about how many of the “right” people you know. It’s easy to get caught up in the numbers game when it comes to how many potential readers we can reach if we just keep joining group after group, but unless the right people are seeing you, what good is it doing you to join all of those groups?

Quit waiting for everything to come to you. Put in the effort and go out and find your readers, unless of course, you like being a minnow. If that’s the case, then my Great White ass will gladly devour you along the way. I don’t say this because I think I’m above anyone, but I do say it because I plan on being very successful as an author and I would love it if more came along for the ride. I never look at a fellow author as my competition, and of course I’m not serious when I say I want to devour anyone along the way. But, I will be the one who paves my own path, not anyone else. So, lighten up and take it how it was intended – as a joke to insert a little humor into your day.

My only exception to the author competition rule is when it comes to an Ike versus Vigil battle (inside joke – bonus points if you get the reference, and if you do get it, the first person to comment on it will get a free book via Kindle. My first or second novel, your choice). See? There I go networking again. It’s really not that hard, people.

As always, thanks for stopping by and Happy Reading!


My First Novel, or as I like to refer to it – My Nightmarish Ordeal Into the Self-Publishing World

I released my first novel, Lost Voyage, in April of 2014. I was so excited to finally put my book out for the world to read, and as ready as I thought I was, I was in no way prepared for the rollercoaster of emotions which would soon follow. It was a book that was essentially ten years in the making, and all of my excitement and jubilation quickly turned into frustration and self-doubt.

I knew I had a good book, not because it was mine and I worked so hard on it, but because this is what people were telling me. But, those same people were also telling me that the book wasn’t as up to par as it could be. There were some mixed reviews about the novel and I couldn’t quite figure out what was going on to create all of this confusion. This was supposed to be the greatest book ever written, right? Okay, well maybe that’s a little too far, but anyone who has published their own novel knows where I’m going with that.

I had been told I wasn’t as receptive to feedback as I should have been and that there were glaring issues with the book I overlooked. I had hired (two) editors by the time the book was finished, neither of whom were of any help to the overall appearance of the book apparently, but it all came down to one simple explanation – I failed at doing my due diligence before releasing my novel.

I became so enthralled with the fact I was finally publishing my first novel, that I overlooked quite a few things. I didn’t do this intentionally, but in the end, it all came down to me and how I failed to self-police my own work. When I received my novel back from my editor, I simply published it, assuming this person had done the job I paid several hundreds of dollars for. I skimmed through it beforehand, but never really devoted the appropriate amount of attention to the details which became so incredibly obvious afterwards.

It was one review, however, that finally made me take a long, hard look at my novel. A reviewer said I had spelled one of my main character’s names wrong in the book. I was in shock. Not because I believed her, but because I knew that had to be impossible. Nonetheless, I decided to check into it and I started reading from the beginning. Now, keep in mind, if I was smarter at the time, I would have just used the “find” tool and typed in a portion of my characters’ names and tried to figure it out that way, but I decided to start reading from the beginning to locate this phantom atrocity.

And I am SO glad I did…

From the onset, I became painfully aware of the many mistakes, run-on sentences, and repeating of useless phrases in the book. It was almost as if it was written by someone other than me. There was no way I could have written that, right? I mean, I was perfect, right? By the time I located the misspelling of a certain main character’s name – yes, the phantom atrocity was all too real – I was sick to my stomach with everything I had read up to that point. It was still a good book, but it could have been so much better by fixing all of these mistakes.

I pulled Lost Voyage from every platform it was available on and did a major overhaul and re-edit of the novel. I hired another editor (yes, my third for this book), and she performed the equivalent of book CPR on it. The result – a product I was yet again proud of displaying for the world to see. Only this time, that pride was justified. And guess what? This time, I actually proofread it myself about ten times before re-releasing it.

Are there still some issues with it? Probably. No matter how many times you go over it with a fine-toothed comb, there will most likely be something that gets caught by a reader. Hell, even my favorite authors have minor issues with their books that I catch. But, the difference this time around is that I know my novel is a million times better than it was.

After I re-released it, I entered Lost Voyage into a few writing competitions. One was for a movie screenplay deal, and the other was for an action/adventure writer’s competition sponsored by my favorite author, Clive Cussler. While I didn’t win either of them, I made it as a top three finalist in the first one and I cracked the top ten of the second. It is worth noting that the judges of both competitions made it very clear certain books didn’t make the preliminary cut through the first and second rounds due to editing and grammatical issues. Mine made it virtually all the way to the end in both contests.

This isn’t a bragging point (okay, well maybe it is a little), but it’s more of a statement to my willingness to take a long, hard look at my novel and the fortitude to pull it from the shelves until it was a more professional product. Learning can be a mutha f-…okay, well you get my point.

My novel was read through from beginning to end several times by different judges and it was never rejected or eliminated because of editing issues. So while I didn’t win, I take great pride in the fact that my book was good enough to make it as far as it did. That’s a win in my book (and yes, every pun intended).

Feel free to check out Lost Voyage for yourself and let me know what you think.

As always, thanks for stopping by and Happy Reading!


What’s In A Name?

Over the years, I have come to realize a few things about trying to brand myself in such a way that comes off as positive to my potential audience. When I played in heavy metal bands, it wasn’t as important as it is now, as I try to focus solely on my author brand.

For starters, I absolutely despise the term “indie author”. I’m an author, plain and simple. I never referred to my band as an indie band just because we weren’t on a major label, and I’ve never heard a new restaurant owner refer to themselves as an indie restaurant just because they weren’t a huge brand, so why should I, or any of us, not be able to use the simple term that even the most renowned authors do? Okay, there’s my rant about that. Moving on…

As an author, I’ve realized that I need to be able to reign myself in when it comes to what I post or respond to on social media. A lifelong friend of mine, and fellow author, would constantly get on me about what I would post (sometimes on his page), and his words were simple, yet to the point. He always told me, “Think about the fans.”

Although I understood his point, I never really grasped what it truly meant. At the time, I was also a heavy metal lead guitarist. Why should I have to give in to “the man” when it came to how I posted stuff on my own personal accounts? It was very un-metal to have to follow the rules of society, but alas, I decided to heed his advice. This was my sort of growing up party – and it sucked!

I didn’t want to have to restrict or censor my comments. I wanted to be able to post a stupid picture of a dog giggling and make reference to a penis joke and I most certainly didn’t want to have to stop acting immature. But, something had to be done if I was to be taken seriously among my thousands of potential readers, so I broke down and did it – I grew up.

I went back and removed five years worth of posts on Facebook. It took weeks, but I realized that if I made it big one day as an author (and I will make it big one day as an author), that everything I’ve ever posted will be searchable and available for some nitpicking moronic troll who will try to discredit me in some way. I didn’t need some off-colored joke or reference to come back and bite me in the ass – so please, if you are a nitpicking moronic troll, I mean no disrespect and please don’t use this against me – and I don’t want to alienate any potential readers because of those old posts I made while under the influence of alcohol after a wild night on stage with my band.

Do I still post stuff that is questionable? Sure I do, but it depends on how each person decides to take it. I’m not going to stop speaking my mind if I feel strongly about something. Do I argue with people about their political rants or about how great they think their beloved Broncos are? Absolutely, because let’s face it, the Broncos suck! Go Pats! But, I have learned to tone it down quite a bit. I’ve learned that my name and my author brand depend on it.

I see so many authors who rant and moan about stuff and even post about their readers in a negative way. Then they wonder why they have no sales and a bunch of 2-star reviews. I’ve decided to take a more grown up approach and throw my name out to the world in a way that will help me sell a million books. I’ve decided to – dare I say – start acting my age. Ugh, that hurt to get out.

So, if you are hoping to be as successful as I hope to be one day, no matter what your chosen career path is, then my advice is to remember what your name is and then think about what people will associate that name with. If I can stop posting puppy penis joke pictures on Facebook, you can surely make some changes to brand your name a little better in the community as well. With that, I leave you with the words of my friend, Tim Baker… “Think about the fans, dude. Think about the fans.”

As always, thanks for stopping by and Happy Reading!

Go “Fund” Your Own Book

Disclaimer: This is a long one, so buckle in and enjoy the ride…

This will inevitably rub some of my fellow author friends the wrong way, and I’m totally okay with that. It’s not necessarily my intention to rub anyone the wrong way, but not everyone will agree with my views or stance on this subject.

I’m personally sick and tired of all of these “funding” accounts that seem to be never ending. Someone always needs help with this, or wants money for that, but the one that usually irritates me the most is when I see an indie author asking for free money so they don’t have to work and can sit at home and write their book. What’s wrong with that? Well, probably nothing is wrong with asking for people to hand over their money, but I take exception to what the final product being delivered as a result of that money is. The final straw for me came when I approached one of these authors and she became enraged at my inquiries as to how she spent the money that was given to her.

Now, I am well aware of the fact that I am in no way entitled to know how she spent that money and she was most likely right in saying it was none of my business, but this time, she was wrong. It was my business. Because you see, I had given her a few bucks of my own money during one of her campaigns. It wasn’t much, but it was something I just felt compelled to do at the time. In her campaign, she mentioned how she was going to be using the money for an editor because she couldn’t afford one on her own and how she would be using some of the money for printing costs associated with the release of her book.

So, when the book was finally released, I decided to take a peek on Amazon and read the sneak preview. It covered the first two or three chapters, but I never even made it to the end of that. From the very first sentence, the book was a complete mess and it became apparent there was no editing done to this book. We all have editing flaws and my books are by no means perfect, but I actually employ an editor. I casually mentioned to this author that the first sentence of the book was a little out of order (It read, “She came to a dream in him.”), and I asked if it was supposed to say, “She came to him in a dream?” She said yes and that it wasn’t a big deal and it didn’t need to be changed because everyone would know what she meant. I was flabbergasted.

I was almost willing to let the comment go until I decided to say that her editor should have at least caught it. She then proceeded to tell me that she didn’t need to hire an editor because her sister proofread the book and she was a teacher. Again – flabbergasted.

I brought it to her attention about her impassionate plea when she posted her book funding campaign and how it said she would use the money for an editor. She reiterated her previous statement – you remember, right? The one where she told me how her sister was a teacher so by her proofreading the book, that was good enough? Just checking to see if you’re still with me…

So at this point, I’m aware I’m getting under her skin. I decide to ask where I can buy an actual copy of the book since the Amazon link only had an e-book version. Not because I actually wanted it, but because I knew what her response would be. She told me she wasn’t going to do any print versions of the book because it was just easier for people to download it instead.

Any of you who know me know I simply couldn’t let this one go without responding back to her…

I reminded her of the campaign yet again and mentioned how she said she would use the money for editing and printing costs once the book was finished. Her answer was short and to the point. She said she decided not to use the money for that. But wait…it gets even better. When I asked what she did with the money (and yes, she was quite perturbed with me by this point), she honestly told me she just associated that money as a means to her writing the book and tried to justify to me as it being some sort of a wage.

I had to unfriend this person so that I wouldn’t have any affiliation with her whatsoever. I was so irate she had willingly begged for and taken money from people and did absolutely nothing with it that she said she would.

Yes this made me salty and yes I’m aware not every indie author is like this, but my nicest response and advice is to go fund your own book. We all wish we could get paid to write. That is the end goal for most of us. If you have to work a real job until that time, then pull up your big boy pants and suck it up buttercup. The world is not here for you to sponge off of while you try and reach your goals. Make your own destiny in life…or at least find a teacher in your family or circle of friends. Because, as it was made apparent to me, that’s all you really need anyway.

As always, thanks for stopping by and Happy Reading!