Monday, May 25, 2015

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Why You Should Be a Book Blogger and Reviewer

Are you a bookworm or reading enthusiast?

Being an indie author who just published my first YA fantasy novel, I had the fortunate happenstance to learn considerably more than I had expected to about book reviewers and bloggers. In this new world of digital publications, the audience is vast and everyone has the ability to become not only a consumer, but also a critic. The next J.K. Rowling will be discovered in the multitudes of book blogs and reviews, not by a major publisher.

People such as my wife and myself live for books.  We are avid readers and a bit particular about what we like to pick up.  I say we, but my wife has been on the indie book scene much longer than I have and she has discovered numerous series that she has grown to love connected directly to self published authors and bloggers.

It's nice for me to talk about this in a purely abstract sense, but that isn't why I decided to write this article.  You might consider my proposal and become a book blogger, but the task may look challenging.  Honestly, I don't know about the work involved, but from what I could see, the initial tasks of getting started can be simple.  The number of new writers entering the self publishing market are growing exponentially.  This means content and for a blogger, new content can become a tedious task.

Here's the basics of what I believe you need to get started:


  1. A Blog
    1. There are plenty of sources out there that will let you start an online blog for free. You can find sites like Blogger, Tumblr, Wordpress, so just take your pick.
    2. You can set up a URL very easily with most of these services.  I think my personal URL was like $12 on Blogger and it was very easy to setup.
  2. Content
    1. As I said, blogging can become tedious when it comes to content.  That's the great thing about becoming a book blogger and reviewer. You can do a search for blog tour website and sign on to become a tour host.  This means that when an author contacts a blog tour organizer, the organizer provides a media kit with the basics on the tour (or blitz) so that you, the blogger, has content to write about.
    2. You should also think about what kind of books you prefer to read.  You should also add a "Review Policy" on your blog so that new authors can discover your guidelines for doing a review on your site.
    3. Giveaways - Wow, this is the coolest part from what I can see (other than getting free books to review).  Many new authors, like myself, lack exposure.  When I signed up for my book blitz with Lola Book Tours, she suggested that I do a Rafflecopter giveaway. This was by far the most powerful tool I found as an indie author to get my voice out there with the big audience.  Book bloggers and reviewers benefit from Rafflecopter giveaways as well. This is a service that they can provide their blog readers that makes things a bit more fun.  
    4. Content for your blog can range from posting a Cover Reveal for an author to using exerts from the media kit provided by your blog tour organizer or even as I've suggested here, writing a personal review of an author's work.  You can schedule these posts weeks, even months in advance, carefully ensuring that you have fresh posts scheduled to be posted for each and every day.
    5. If you plan to do book reviews, find your voice and style.  Book reviewers that I follow tend to be humorous, for example, but if your style is more poignant, then you should feel free to express yourself. And remember, you will most likely attract readers that share the same tones that you share with your readers.
  3. Social Media
    1. Start a Facebook page for your blog.  You will also want to do Twitter (which I have found a lot of fun in doing) and of course Google +.
    2. Goodreads:  I cannot stress enough the exposure you can get as a reviewer on Goodreads.  You can find many groups of other readers and bloggers to help you cherry pick the best of the best indie authors out there and this will also give you some virtual street cred as you make friends on the site who may come to appreciate your reviews and suggestions. Zig Ziggler said it best that the best form of advertising is mouth to mouth.
    3. Sign up for Bloglovin and get a button to put on your blog. Also register your blog and claim it on bloglovin to expand your audience.
    4. You should also consider other accounts to interact with your audience like Pinerest and Instagram.  You can even do video blogging and do video reviews of your books.
  4. Monetization
    1. This is the big one that comes after you built your foundation with the other three points of this article. The number one revenue generation resource on the internet is paid advertising.  This is how companies like Google make their bread and butter. You can sign up for a Google Adsense account and place a few, well placed, google ad widgets directly into your blog.  You can also control what kind of ads you would like to run by using suggested terms and blocking terms you don't want to see on your site.
    2. You can also offer to premium advertising spots on your blog for publishers and other indie authors, however, this will probably take a lot of work.

Of course, these are not all the things that it would take to be a successful blogger and book reviewer, but this is enough info to get your feet wet. Remember, if you are an avid reader, the idea of "free books" is usually more than enough motivation to do something you love to do anyways.

And if you don't want to do a blog, there are still other ways you can get involved with indie authors. If you just like winning stuff, you can follow some of these book bloggers that I have suggested and enter Rafflecopter promotions for free books, gift cards and more.  There will be a continuing, ongoing supply of these as more and more authors discover the power of this tool.

You can also use your social media links you have now to talk about books your reading and posting Rafflecopter links so that your friends and family can join in on the fun.

So, this is a great place to start with all of this. If you are serious, honestly it wouldn't take that much to get started.  It can begin in a single day if you motivate yourself to make it happen.  Remember this however, the cardinal rule of being a blogger is to blog every single day.  I'm guilty of breaking that rule myself (as recently as NOT BLOGGING the last two days) and my site traffic has suffered for it. That is why that I recommend scheduling a blog launch for yourself. Setup the blog, make connections to blog tour sites and tell them you are just getting started and any pointers are welcomed. Give yourself a few weeks to get some initial blog posts scheduled and each day, try to have content ready for the days you don't have something schedule. If you have a really good, productive day, you can even get a week's worth of posts done. Try to stay one to two months ahead on your scheduled posts.  And if you decide today that you want to post something different, you can always add a new post for the day (just as long as you have yourself covered for future posts).

Good luck!  Send me invites to your blogs if you take the plunge!  Would love to see the great things you have to offer!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Bumps and Bruises

I was neck deep into writing this past week, as well as promoting the book blitz for Heir of the Blood King in July, but all of that came to a screeching halt early Friday morning.

You would expect that with having four children between the ages of three and thirteen that I would be accustomed to emergency room visits. Yes, when my oldest was little, it seemed that I was overly concerned and if there was a sniffle, we were running to the doctor's office.

On Friday, however, we had our first real scare.  It wasn't life or death, but it was definitively serious. Our ten year old, Lilly, who is also our most emotionally sensitive child, was chasing after her little brother to stop him from hurting himself when incidentally, she slid, landed on her knee and busted her knee open requiring eight stitches along the bottom.

I was not as prepared for such an event as I would have liked to have been.  My emotions run the gambit because she was in serious pain.  I had some stitches on my hand when I was around fourteen, but I never had an injury as severe as the one she had.  I wanted to take the pain away.  I wanted to make things better.

Lilly and I loaded up and headed to the ER, where despite her pain, she remained strong and in good spirits.  I got a wheelchair from the nurse and while I filled out the paperwork, Lilly decided to take a spin and did everything she could to distract herself from the pain.

The real agony didn't begin until they called us back. Lilly was so calm and insightful and answered all of the doctor's questions in a very mature way. When the nurse began to clean the wound, that's when the screaming began.  She cried out, "Oh god, why me?"  Her torment didn't end there.  The way the wound was flayed, the doctor had to give her a series of shots around it so he could cinch the wound closed. He had told her that it would only be three or four more seconds of pain, and yet it took more than five minutes to properly numb the injury.

The nurse held down her feet and I held Lilly's hands. I looked into her eyes and offered her messages of assurances and of love and she kept saying to me, "It's not your fault, Daddy."

I felt like it was my fault.  I felt like there was more that I should have done.  I asked myself, "Oh god, why me?"  "Why my baby girl?"

After it was all said and done, Lilly sat up and looked up at me with pride.  She said, "Luci never got hurt like this before."  That's true, her older, stronger sister had never endured as much pain as she. I told her she was correct.

That was when Lilly stated to me, "This is my war wound.  It proves that I'm strong."

I looked back at her quite astonished. There was a truth to what she had said to me.  When we went to go get ice cream, you could tell that she didn't have a care in the world and she wasn't going to let her experience take away an opportunity to hang out with her daddy and have him all to herself.  It was an experience that she got to share with me and she knew that she was loved.

It has only been a couple of days since the event and she has been made stronger by the experience. She is more confident and independent, no matter how much all of us beg her to stay off her wounded knee.  Something small, and yet so significant fundamentally changed for our little Lilly Bean.

Lesson here for me was this.  Yes, the deepest wounds hurt the most. When we take responsibility and meet the challenge head on, it will make us stronger.

Lilly Bean is stronger than she was before the incident.  She has the war wound, the battle scar to prove just how strong she is compared to the older sister she had admired so much more than herself.  She is now the one that has earned the respect of her older sister who cannot relate to her experience of pain.

Our wounds and triumph over adversity is the source of our self confidence and strength.  No one can take that away from my Lilly Bean.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Life: Fight The Good Fight

As a kid, I always enjoyed board games.  I played Monopoly for hours, Uno, Risk, Sorry and yes, even Life.

Being a child, I thought the concept of Life was simple. I didn't think about a real job, getting married, kids and retirement. 

But the older I get, I realize how much a game living your life can be. I'm not talking about what events happen to you, but how your perceptions about those events fundamentally shape you.

For example, you can have a challenge enter your life and you can go with the "Woe is me" attitude or the "What doesn't kill me, makes me stronger" mentality.  Your choice of how you accept what comes your way, much like which paths you choose when rolling the dice on the board game, guide you to where you want to end up.

So let the backstabbers in your life do their thing.  They are petty and they don't control how you will take that experience and grow.  Your critics will do their best to create calamity and ruin.  The reason that they do this is because like the bad choices they made, their characters are flawed because they choose to be the victims instead of growing from their experiences.

I view challenges and criticism in a different way.  I take what I can and find something constructive to do with it.  Sometimes it fuels the fire to prove them wrong, other times, it helps me find critical flaws in myself and the things I do and I try to change those things that I don't like about myself. 

So don't be hurt, don't cry.  Yes, tears are important for healing and releasing the pain, but once you have processed what has happened, use the experience to grow, especially if the attacks are intended to change who you are.

You can fight the good fight and win the game of Life no matter what your dice roll result may be.


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Aspiring Authors and Parenthood

So my almost 13 year old daughter sent my wife and I an email giving me permissions to a document she created on her Google Drive wanting comments and editing.  As I opened the document, I noticed right away that she wanted to write a story, something more than just free writing because she tried to visually format it using spaces and returns.

As I read her manuscript, I could clearly see her vision for the story she wanted to tell. My OCD kicked in, however, and I rushed through, adjusting her margins, etc. cleaning up the formatting problems that I saw.

Luci was very grateful for the assistance, but I could tell she was upset. I was detracted from the idea she had by its presentation.  As a writer, it is important to put ideas first, for that is the rare commodity of creativity.

My lesson here is this:  Next time, I will sit down with my daughter and go through the document with her exploring the concept.  Once that is done to both of our satisfactions, I will show her how to properly format her document.

Don't ever let the structure of a work detract you from the creative process. If the only way that you can get out the words in your head is with a crayon on your door step, you need to do that. Be sure to take lots of pictures though so you can dictate your work into a word processor after you are finished.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Never Give Up, Never Give In

If you are like me, you've had a lot of people come and go throughout your life.  Some want to lift you up, while others want to tear you down. Hopefully, like myself, you've ended up with more of the right people surrounding you.  If not, you can start getting toxicity out of your life today.

One of the reasons that I launched my first book so late in life was because I lacked self confidence. As I took a step towards my mid-life crisis (Yes, I'm 42 and it is the answer to life,the universe and everything), I considered my legacy.

I wanted to be remember as a good father, husband and friend. I think I have achieved that.  I couldn't have found my source of strength without my loved ones around me.

So if I had any advice for a writer out there who looks at what they just wrote and throws it in the trash (or sends to the recycling bin), it is this:

"Do what makes you happy.  If writing makes you happy, then write because you will only keep getting better at it.  Take criticism and learn from it and keep writing.  Never give up, never give in."

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Suggested Reading: 12 Common Archetypes

To see the full article, go to:  http://www.soulcraft.co/essays/the_12_common_archetypes.html

From the article:

The term "archetype" has its origins in ancient Greek. The root words are archein, which means "original or old"; and typos, which means "pattern, model or type". The combined meaning is an "original pattern" of which all other similar persons, objects, or concepts are derived, copied, modeled, or emulated. 

The psychologist, Carl Gustav Jung, used the concept of archetype in his theory of the human psyche. He believed that universal, mythic characters—archetypes—reside within the collective unconscious of people the world over. Archetypes represent fundamental human motifs of our experience as we evolved; consequentially, they evoke deep emotions. 

Although there are many different archetypes, Jung defined twelve primary types that symbolize basic human motivations. Each type has its own set of values, meanings and personality traits. Also, the twelve types are divided into three sets of four, namely Ego, Soul and Self. The types in each set share a common driving source, for example types within the Ego set are driven to fulfill ego-defined agendas. 

Most, if not all, people have several archetypes at play in their personality construct; however, one archetype tends to dominate the personality in general. It can be helpful to know which archetypes are at play in oneself and others, especially loved ones, friends and co-workers, in order to gain personal insight into behaviors and motivations.

Continue reading at:  http://www.soulcraft.co/essays/the_12_common_archetypes.html

The New Book Cover is Here!

Here's a look at the new book cover for Heir Of The Blood King.  The guys over at ebooklaunch.com did an amazing job in just under a week!

This is a hand illustration done by Dane. I'm very happy with how it looks and the feel.  I will definitely use these guys for all the Adventures of Adam book covers, so they better get ready to fashion the one for The Cult of Draenar when it comes out this Fall!