On the Dreaded Topic of Self-Promotion

Firefly Avatar

I am in the process of taking a much needed mental break in the midst of lots and lots of editing. Having a fantastic time, really, but because I don’t have anything “big” that’ll be released until next year, I thought it was a good time to revisit my goals and topics related to my career. One of them is about marketing and promoting both myself and my work.

So here’s the part where I get all real and gritty with you. I hate telling you all the reasons why I’m awesome and why you should invest in any project I’ve been a part of, simply because “I” did it. I would much, much, much rather show you why you might be interested, than command you to buy my books. This, I feel, is an important distinction because it really comes down to a matter of trust for me. You are the reader, and you are the reason why I’m writing. (Doubly so if you’re a fan of a license I’m working on!) Thus, I feel it’s my job to pour every ounce of passion that I have, that excitement I don’t know how to shut off, into everything I do because I feel I need to earn your dollars and your support. I’m guessing this partly comes from the way I buy books. I’m not someone who has ever bought a book because it’s popular. I might get a book from the library, mind you, but when it comes to dollar signs I feel that every one of them is a vote. I feel that every time you star a book or review it or talk about it or recommend it — that’s another way to vote.

The lessons I learned this year, however, forced me to rethink this philosophy. (Or, I should say… This is what I’m currently going with.) I cannot ensure that every person who comments actually reads the entire contents of the books I work on, nor will I make every fan happy. I found that obsessing about the comments and reviews is a path to madness and procrastination. That way is shut. It was also not easy for me to realize that often, fandom isn’t related to the specific details of things like which character wore what and when. It’s about the emotional connection to the story, the characters, and who you/me were at the time. Sometimes, fans are reacting to an actor who was in the movie, or the angst toward what a director did, and that’s got nothing to do with the nuts and bolts of how a project is put together. Often, however, authors don’t have control over every step in the process for the production of a book, comic, or game. I do my part, and then I watch it fly away into the ether, until it becomes a real live book–and fans don’t necessarily care about logistics, because reminding people that the production of any show, book, game, etc. has business mechanisms in place robs those beautiful things of their glamour. This did break my heart a little bit, because I’ve always been a DIY’er to varying degrees. Yes, now I know that there are fans who may have loved something I did, but will never get around to connecting with me or writing reviews. Now I do!

I would love/kill/sacrifice my mac-and-cheese addiction for the illusion of control over what happens after a book is released. The brutal honest truth is that I have none. Yes, marketing can help boost visibility and get people interested in a book. Certainly, self-promotion can benefit this, too. That? That I can control. How then, do I talk about me being “me” without wandering around dazed and confused even though there are no mind-altering substances in my system? Or, to put it another way, how do I talk about me being “me”, other than what I’ve already been doing to encourage you to check out my work?

Oh, I’ve heard the mantras. Fortune favors the bold. Fake it until you become it. I’m going to let you in on a not-so-big secret. I suck at being fake, and I have my own way of doing things. You took the stickers off your Rubik’s Cube? I had a screwdriver, took it apart, and reassembled it. The need for me to “pretend” has gone the way of the stegosaurus, unless I am specifically tying an appearance to a performance on stage or at a con. It is boring, uninteresting, and a waste of my time (and yours) to pretend to be one person in this one instance and another somewhere else. I can be polite and professional, but the vast majority of the time? I’m just me with all my quirks and oddities.

Okay, applying this to Firefly… I am scared to death of being funny when talking about The Gorramn Shiniest Language Guide and Phrasebook in the ‘Verse. My normal state is sarcastic, mind you, and this setting is a breeze to write for because of that. Why, if someone were to invite me to write for the comic, I’d… Yeah, okay. Not going there. Anyway! Sometimes My Big Fat MouthTM likes to crack a joke before my brain has the opportunity to catch up. I’m not even kidding. Offensive? Um… There’s been a few instances where I may have potentially said the wrong thing at the worst possible time…

You get the picture.

Here, though, I feel that being funny about the language used in the show is both inappropriate and disrespectful to Joss Whedon and his team, Fox, and my publisher. My role as a language analyst is after the completion of the work, and I felt that this meant I had a responsibility to look as deep as I could into the subject matter. I feel that if I’m being a smart ass, I’m sending a message to you that I didn’t take this project seriously — and I can assure you that is most definitely not the case. It’s the exact opposite, in fact, and I can guarantee that my editor feels the same way about her contribution. This, too, is me being me. It’s just a serious flavor of what I have to offer you as a writer. Even though I am thrilled to be a part of this setting again, I don’t want to F-bomb it up. I love Firefly. Always have. I am proud to be a part of the ‘Verse, and it is my wish that you’ll take a chance on this book when it was released because of that, too.

I better end this post today before I wax even more philosophical. I really don’t know if I’ll ever figure out this self-promotion thing, and I have no clue how to even go about asking you to help me boost the signal. I’ve been doing that, it just hasn’t been consistent and pushy, ’cause that’s annoying. Still, I often feel like my time is better spent writing All The ThingsTM than talking about writing them, but I know that’s not always a good approach. I guess only time will tell.

    Mood: I’m having a bad hair day. Ergo, crabby.
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Um… Yeah, well ixnay on the okecay erozay?
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: HAH HAH HAH
    In My Ears: That would be Pandora, of the Nightmare Before Christmas variety.
    Game Last Played: Diablo III
    Book Last Read: SON OF A… I forgot the title. Again.
    Movie/TV Show Last Viewed: Once Upon a Time
    Latest Artistic Project: Can’t think. Editing.
    Latest Fiction/Comic Release: Gods, Memes, and Monsters
    Latest Game Release: Dread Names, Red List for Vampire: the Masquerade and Ghosts in the Black for the Firefly RPG.
    Current State of Projects: Read my latest project update and My Departure from the Conan RPG.

Read a Preview of Upside Down: Inverted Tropes in Storytelling

Hello dear Readers! Jaym Gates and I are hard at work wrapping up the cover design, initial Table of Contents, and the submission guidelines for our upcoming anthology titled Upside Down: Inverted Tropes in Storytelling for Apex Book Company. We’ll be launching a Kickstarter for this anthology, and I’ll be sharing more details about that soon.

Today, I wanted to share with you a preview of what this anthology is all about. Maurice Broaddus has written a story titled “Super Duper Fly” which appears in the October 2015 issue of Apex Magazine. Follow the link and you can read it on the company website!

In his own words, Maurice talks about the trope he wanted to tackle and why.

THE MAGICAL NEGRO—It’s easy to believe that this trope came from a good place or at least rose out of benign neglect. After all, a white writer is “writing what they know” or appealing to their target demographic, which is typically people like them, but they want a more diverse world. So the easy solution is to put an “other” at a critical place in their hero’s journey to help them along. The Magical Negro is one such other (see also: Magical Native American, Magical Asian, etc). One sees The Magical Negro in such movies as Ghost, The Legend of Bagger Vance, The Family Man, and Bruce Almighty. Or in an unusual amount of Stephen King novels/movie adaptations such as The Stand, The Talisman (written with Peter Straub), The Shining, and the ultimate ode to The Magical Negro, The Green Mile.- Maurice Broaddus

In the upcoming Upside Down, you will find tropes and clichés that writers chose to tackle and examine through the lends of their stories. These range from race-based tropes like the Magical Negro to others grounded in genre, like the City Planet. Our submission guidelines, which will be posted shortly, will include a wish list of the types of tropes and clichés we’d like to see. This will help us ensure we’ve got a good mix of stories that’ll cover a broad range of tropes for the reader.

Hope you’re as excited about this collection as I am!

Revised Cover and Title for the Firefly Dictionary

Firefly Dictionary_CVR front new copy

The Gorramn Shiniest Dictionary and Phrasebook in the ‘Verse has a revised cover and a fabulous new title! I’m happy to share this with you today. Huge thanks to my editor at Titan Books for giving me the chance to update you with the revised cover. Spring 2016 can’t come soon enough!

Welcome to Apple and Pen Pr0n

Go on... Take a Bite...

My week ended with: “So, what do you think about getting an iPhone?” For the first time in forever and a day, I have acquired an Apple product that is not music-related, and I feel…strange. When I turned my iPhone 6 on for the first time, it was if millions of droids suddenly cried out before falling silent, and thousands of windows were smashed–and it was my fault. It’s been years since I’ve dealt with anything Apple-related, and I’m slowly but surely being indoctrinated into the cult of Apple. I’m not sure if there’s a theme song (there should be), but I’m also determined to save up for a new compy(1) because of the experience.

It’s not about the marketing, for me. It’s not about being hip or cool–’cause I’m gonna shimmy my way, regardless. It’s more intuitive to my needs, but there are a few things I haven’t quite figured out yet. For example, I’m religious about using the WiFi, and I’m not sure if I have to completely close an app by swiping multiple times to get out of an article or not. When I reopen an app, it opens to right where I left off, so I’m not certain if it’s still running in the background or not. I also haven’t determined how in browser apps, like Pinterest(2), work on the phone. There’s a few apps that do weird things like not clicking through to the next screen, but I think that’s more app-specific than Apple’s fault. Plus, I’d really like to know what’s being stored on the phone versus what’s in the cloud. All of the music in my iTunes account wouldn’t fit on my iPhone, so I have to assume some of it is in the cloud, for example. Not sure!

Haven’t found any games quite yet, but I know I’ll need something. That’s lower on the priority list, though. The photos are definitely better, and the images are a lot more fun to play around with. I like the easy way I can clean up fields and whatnot as well. Plus? Super mega bonus? Automatic snooze feature, which is great. More than this, though, is the fact that apps actually work on the iPhone. I feel that there’s something to be said for where developers are putting the bulk of their efforts. I like the droid, I really do, but app usage is better and having the ability to auto-sync with iTunes makes it a lot easier to use the music I have. And, let’s face it, the covers are a lot better. I wound up getting a wallet-style that is working out pretty well.

A thing of wondermentWith the euphoria of new tech, however, comes the lament of old tech. Namely, a eulogy for a pen dying. I found a new one that writes fantastically well. It’s the EnerGel Tradio .07mm by Pentel. Quick-drying? Yes. Less bleed on characters? Yep. It writes really smooth, which allows me to write fast. The only thing I don’t like about it, is I wish it had a gel cushion around the handle given how much handwriting I’ve been doing lately. I’ve tried many pens in the Pentel family, and for whatever reason this one is better than the usual suspects like their large selection of retractable pens. Aye, well here’s the rub and reason for my angst: it lasted for approximately 30 pages college-ruled pages’ worth of handwriting. I can get refills for it, as I’ve just learned, but am still in that conflicted emotional state that comes from: “I discovered a new pen I like! Annnnnnnnnd I’m going to burn through several of these, aren’t I?” It really is a fabulous pen, though, and the violet color is amazeballs. It just sucks I’m having ink drainage issues. Phooey.(3)

So yes, highs and lows exacerbated by fall organization and projects this weekend. Nope, no drama. Welcome to life in Mundania! Where the water’s fine and the screeching is down to a minimum.

(1) Just in case my compy is listening… Forget what I said. M’kay? I’ll feed you more energon cubes. Promise.
(2) Yep, Pinterest. It is great for being inspired to make art, but I’m also checking out other, more productivity-focused apps, like Trello, to sort things out. Need to sync it with my PC, though.
(3) Hello Mercury. Why you gotta be spinning all backwards-like?(a)

(a) If this were true, then Mercury is one sick bastard 365 days of the year.(i)

(i) Did I just sub-sub footnote myself? I think I did. Oh, hell.

    Mood: It’s Monday. That’s pretty much all you need to know.
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Managed and I hate myself for it.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Eh, enough.
    In My Ears: Royals cover by The Vitamin String Quartet
    Game Last Played: Mah Jongg Solitaire
    Book Last Read: I really should look the title up. My memory is used up in favor of editing this Book That Won’t DieTM.
    Movie/TV Show Last Viewed: Once Upon a Time
    Latest Artistic Project: Planning a calligraphy illustration thingy. It’s technical.
    Latest Fiction/Comic Release: Gods, Memes, and Monsters
    Latest Game Release: Dread Names, Red List for Vampire: the Masquerade and Ghosts in the Black for the Firefly RPG.
    Current State of Projects: Read my latest project update and My Departure from the Conan RPG.

“Writer’s Block”, Instrumental Music, and a Keyboard

Land of Symphony Avatar

Technically, I’m off of my second or third social media hiatus, but now that I’m back I’ll be online less than I was before and blogging more frequently. The negativity has really gotten to me, this time around, and in the past few weeks I have had a complete 180 in mood and all things. As an artist, I need silence, that freedom to not say but to listen, and the ability to create without an audience watching or I seeing them. I suppose this comes from my many years of being a performer, but you know? When I used to practice for hours on end, I didn’t need/want an audience, and I don’t need one now. All I need, is the room to practice, and thanks to a wondering, loving, and supportive group of friends and loved ones, I have that. Now, it’s up to me to make them proud.

Many things, with respect to my productivity, go back to the fact that I was a performer for a long period of time, primarily my formative years and in college with a few events that happened beyond that, including a rock opera. I’ve had jobs in the music industry, and I’ve also acquired a keyboard a while back, but I haven’t played regularly for a long, long time. For me, the piano is connected to a great deal of trauma, and I’ve been avoiding it and anything related to any kind of songwriting for a while–until I can’t anymore. I’m working on a song at the moment that’s connected to an… Well, let’s just say it’s a “big” story, and this tune won’t let me go.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been picking away at my office, to see what it is I actually have sitting around in boxes(1), and sorting some things for later.(2) This was done with the intent of possibly moving my office, but now I see I have a very clear space to set up my keyboard, and that will allow me to do something I haven’t done in a long, long time: practice. It is scary, for me, and I don’t think it’s something that can ever be explained to anyone else–nor do I want to. Not anymore. I’m not getting back into music because of my past, but because of my future. I don’t know if I’ll still be able to play blindfolded or with my hands behind my back–time will tell how long I can even play. But, this is the last piece in a series of dominoes for an artist’s recovery program I’m taking, and this is everything to me, because this is where my heart can be found(3).

Music is also the first thing I turned to after my initial two weeks of social media deprivation, to help rebuild the foundation and get things flowing again. This, I feel, is pretty important given that I don’t believe in writer’s block. I do think it’s as Kathy Steffen described: writer’s avoidance behavior. The block is an illusion, it’s a piece that we think is there because we’re specifically avoiding something, we’re shielding ourselves by saying there’s a physical object standing in our way preventing us from getting to whatever it is we need to. And yet, there are ways to power through it beyond motivation: deadlines, journaling, switching to another project, positive affirmations, visualizations, mini-art therapy, etc.

More than all of this, however, is the fact that music, either listening or performing, has always increased productivity for me on a number of levels. More, if the music doesn’t have any words associated with the song, as well. To me, music and animation are similar, in that there’s the creative aspect, but also the mathematical and logistical components required to breathe life into each piece. I may have mentioned this one before, but words are music to me, and certain words carry minor tones (e.g. if they have a negative connotation), and others major (e.g. positive). So, listening to classical or dub step or ambient or even drums fills my head, gives me something to focus on, and sometimes allows me to “see” the music that is happening. This last piece, setting up the keyboard and playing, is reconnecting a mechanism that has been missing for far too long, for a good, damn reason.

Like I said. Scary. But nothing good ever comes from giving into fear.

(1) Yes, my office could have been one of the parents’ from Coraline.
(2) Later, but not indefinitely. I hate filing more than splatterpunk, but it does feel like clearing out the cobwebs, to be sure.
(3) My cousin explained that the translation of a surname in our family tree means “music.” Appropriate!

    Mood: My cats are pretending to be Dickens-esque characters, ergo…
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: I ADMIT NOTHING.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Considering I walked for six hours on Friday, my butt fell to the chair. Hard.
    In My Ears: Clubbed to Death (Kurayamino Variation)
    Game Last Played: Tetris. Because Tetris.
    Book Last Read: I’m reading a book by Ursula Le Guin, but sadly I cannot remember the name of it since I just started.
    Movie/TV Show Last Viewed: Harry Potter series
    Latest Artistic Project: Gothic corsages. There shall be pics, later.
    Latest Fiction/Comic Release: Gods, Memes, and Monsters
    Latest Game Release: Dread Names, Red List for Vampire: the Masquerade and Ghosts in the Black for the Firefly RPG.
    Current State of Projects: Read my latest project update and My Departure from the Conan RPG.

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