#indieBP Writing, Social Media, and Networking Tips

I’m going to mash the last two posts into one giant post, because there’s a lot of overlap and I’ve been busy this week.

Things I’d wished I’d known when I started writing:

This boils down to two items.

1. Passive voice. I started out writing papers in university, where the passive voice is used extensively. Coincidentally, it was the first thing to go in my creative writing efforts.

2. Show and Tell: Everyone needs to look this up if they don’t already know it. Don’t tell the reader what’s going on. Show it. Animate your characters, set a scene, describe things. When writing takes on a cinematic quality, the story comes to life.

Almost everything else boils down to World War Comma. Commas are mean jerks that will screw up your sentences. Do your research.

Now, for social media and networking:

I’m big on Twitter and Facebook. I’ve never tried Pinterest and I stay away from Goodreads. Working a full-time job, I need to prioritize. I’ve noticed great results with Facebook and Twitter, so that’s where I put my time in.

Here’s the list of DOs:

1. Do engage. Talk to people. They talk back, they’ll retweet your stuff, talk you up to their friends and just be plain awesome if you’re fun to talk to.

2. Keep it (mostly) relevant. Some personal stuff adds flavor and connection. On that note, keep it positive.

3. Set a schedule. This can be with a tweet scheduler, or just a time of day that you log in. Try to do a little bit every day, even if it’s just a short progress report. You’re building a brand, and for that you need constant exposure.

4. Learn how to use social media. Read about the platform and its tools. Figure out if there are any communities or tweet chats that are worth joining.

And some DON’Ts:

1. Don’t spam. If I memorize someone’s tweets, I drop them. I’ve read that 90% content, 10% obvious self-promotion is the way to go.

2. Don’t whine. Life sucks, but if you want to be a professional then don’t habitually bleed all over social media. Doubly so about book sales. Remember, you’re awesome, your life is awesome, everything is awesome. (Especially your book.)

3. If you must tweet excerpts, don’t shorten words into textspeak. Also, make sure said blurb makes sense. When I skim my twitter feed, half of the quotes I read get an “ooookaaaaay…?” reaction. Don’t be that guy. Make sense.

4. Don’t get into fights with reviewers. It doesn’t matter that they didn’t like your book. Thank them and find more reviewers.

5. Don’t mistake social media time for “work.” You’re not working if you’re spending all of your free time on twitter. Social media has diminishing returns. Unless you’re in a tweet chat or event, there is little to gain in spending more than 15-30 minutes at a time on social media. The best way to promote your book is to write more books.

My top 5 books #IndieBP

I heard a rumor that you want to know what my top 5 books are. As always, I’m very happy to oblige!

I’m going to take it from the top.

1. Dune (Frank Herbert)

Dune will always occupy the top spot on this list. I read Dune for the first time when I was 14. It changed my life. The complex universe, storyline, and beauty of omniscient storytelling sucked me in. I’ve read almost everything by Herbert, and I scour used book stores to find his out of print books. What an imagination!

2. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)

Say what you will about Card, but Ender’s Game is amazing science fiction. It’s also a complete head trip. Technically, I enjoyed Ender’s Shadow more, but they’re the same book written from different character’s perspectives.

3. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)

I’ve read this book three times since I was 13. Every time, the story becomes more elevant to my day-to-day life. The book is intense, and forces strong emotions from the reader. Dostoyevsky is a master of writing madness and humanity into his characters. He can drive you into a depression in a paragraph. There’s a reason I call the months I read him “Dostoyevsky Benders.”

I also tend to want to punch his characters in the face. Raskolnikov and the “Underground Man” are utterly insufferable.

4. Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)

The first book of the Sword of Truth series blew me away. Neglecting the baggage of the rest of the series, it’s a great read.

5. The Silence of the Lambs (Thomas Harris)

The book is much better than the movie. Dark yet funny. Poignant and charming. It’s an experience. Hannibal (the sequel) would make my top 10, and it’s infinitely better than the movie as well.

Indie Block Party: Want to know what Thea reads?

You did ask, after all.

I’m reading the Iliad, the epic poem written by Homer a long time ago. It’s the story of the Trojan War. Here’s a blurb I found in the Dover edition:

Epic masterpiece chronicles last days of the Trojan War — quarrel of Achilles and Agamemnon, the battle for Helen of Troy, Greek siege of the city, Trojan counterattack, stratagem of the Trojan Horse, many other events. Vast in scope, fresh and noble in literary style. This edition reproduces the celebrated Samuel Butler prose translation.

Now, as for how I discovered the Iliad (and the Odyssey), do I have a story for you. It’s in a way the story of my early life, and how I came to be fascinated by stories and storytelling.

When I was eight, my mum introduced me to Greek Mythology. She gave me two books–children’s editions of the Greek Myths, and an illustrated, simplified version of The Iliad and the Odyssey. She read these books to me every night before bed, until I had them memorized. If I close my eyes, I can still see the pictures and hear the words.

But, I loved the Iliad and the Odyssey. As an adult, I was browsing through Kindle’s extensive selection of free classics, and found them both. I had to do it. I felt compelled to read the entire thing as it was written. Without learning ancient Greek, anyhow. I’m only willing to go so far.

I’m about 20% into the Iliad. It’s brutal. Wordy, complicated. Many characters named, only to fall in the next verse. Often, by being speared in the groin. Random. But, I’m fascinated by classics, especially in translation. I find that I focus more on how the words fall together, and how the vocabulary works. The Iliad paints vivid pictures, and there is incredible characterization for the main characters (The Atredes (not to be confused with House Atreides from Dune), Odysseus, Nestor, Hector, Achilles.) Every word has a purpose, and no space is wasted on telling rather than showing.

I tend to intersperse modern (post 1940s) books with classics. I need to keep my mind on language. Reading is studying for writing. A few months ago, I came to the conclusion that discomfort is good–it’s the side-effect of challenge. Challenge brings improvement. Thusly, I’m getting demolished by the Iliad, but every day I read it, I understand something else about literature. Some new truth. A new appreciation for the timelessness of literature. Some months, I go on Dostoyevsky benders. But, once I come out of it, I know a little more than I did before about language.

I’m actually starting to get into the Iliad. Scary, no? I’m a bit excited for The Odyssey. It was always my favorite of the two.


An interview with Hemanth Gorur

As part of the awesome Indie Block Party, I had the opportunity to interview Hemanth Gorur, a paranormal thriller author! Say hi to my zombie and sci fi loving entourage, Hemanth! This is the first interview I’ve ever given, so please forgive me if the questions are weird. I wanted to delve into the nature of speculative fiction, and have some fun.

What draws you to the thriller genre in particular? When does a guy wake up in the morning and say, “You know what, I’m going to write a paranormal thriller. This is the best idea ever!”?

It’s the opportunity to set the pulse racing in your reader. Especially in the paranormal genre, there is immense scope for portraying the fictional as real, the supernatural as something that can have an impact in material life. There is scope to stretch the definition of ‘fiction’.
You’re clearly quite drawn to the psychological elements of your genre. How does adding a paranormal element to your stories complicate this? Are there cases where it gets easier?
Normally psychology as we know it extends to the here and now. We probably use it to understand human beings living in our lifetime, or in some cases dead ones. When I add psychological elements to a paranormal thriller, especially in themes like reincarnation, there is suddenly a vast new sphere of psychological profiles you can draw up. There is a certain tartness, a certain tanginess when you can get your story to revolve around the psychology of living beings but from a vastly different era.
What are the biggest challenges facing you as an author?
I think the issue facing most authors, including me, is that, suddenly you have everybody writing. Not that that’s bad in itself, but what that has done is create a huge slushpile out there in the market. Add to it the various self-publishing mechanisms you have today and suddenly it’s difficult to pick out the good stories from the bad. There is no single policy or policy-making body to my knowledge that is the universal gate-keeper of writing quality, wherein if your writing sucks you have no chance of drowning out that one good story by a deserving author by just dumping 20 badly written stories out there into the market.
What author do you draw the most inspiration from?
That would be two of them actually: Robert Ludlum and Dan Brown. Yes, they’re not paranormal authors, but they do know how to tell a story!
What’s your favorite and least favorite paranormal entity? Would you ever willingly join the realm of the paranormal?
My favorite would be the character in X-Men who shapeshifts to imitate people she sees. I don’t think I have a least favorite. And yes, I would join. It would be fun to be there yet not be there and things like that!
Pick your two favorite authors. Who wins in a barfight?
That would be Ludlum again and Arthur C Clarke. I’d place my money on Ludlum (he was a US Marine!).
Would you live in any of the worlds you’ve created?
I’ve created just one so far – the world in Aymaran Shadow. Though there is a dip back into 18th Bolivia, the world centers around modern India and of course the travel paths of the two antagonists who come South America and England to India. So, I guess I would.
What’s your dream writing location? Coffee shop, bar, library, writing shack, the moon?
I like the last one – moon! But, that sounds dramatic sitting here. I don’t think you could actually write there. I’d go for the beach – a moderately warm sunny beach, with people frolicking around in the distance, while I’m under the shade of beach groves in a recliner, sipping my apple juice and pounding out those pages.

Announcing Bedlam’s release: Meet Samantha Henderson (character interview)

Bedlam is finally available for purchase at Amazon and Smashwords. Happy day! Thank you to my editor, proofreader, army of awesome beta readers, and my awesome boyfriend for making it happen. I’d also like to thank my cats, because they’re fuzzy and cute. I’m also getting great feedback on the cover art. James at Go On Write does my covers now, and he’s amazing. I’d also like to thank my day job, because they’re so great and supportive of this whole writing thing I do.

I’ve decided to interview Samantha “Sammie” Henderson, the protagonist of Bedlam. She’s got quite the story to tell. One thing I’ve noticed is that we’re all the heroes of our own stories. Samantha is no exception.

Thea: Tell us about your job. Why would you want to put down riots for a living?
Samantha: Well, I specialize in Compliance Studies. Is this going to get back to the Captain?
Thea: I won’t tell him if you don’t.
Samantha: Hmm. Well, we do put down riots. But, we do a lot of good and protect lots of innocent people! Before all this craziness began, I was looking for lost kids during a school evacuation. Rioters like to take hostages in schools, you know. So we do more than just look scary and spray down crowds with pacification chemicals.
I always wanted to protect people. You know during the Second Revolt of 2025, about a decade ago? My parents were lost during that. I don’t want to let that happen to anyone else. That’s why I do what I do.
Thea: Why not do something else?
Samantha: It’s not like I could get into art school with no parents or family to act as collateral. You know how it is, your family needs money if you want to go to school at all. Plus, I don’t want to do the mandatory genetic augmentation the rest of the military has. I don’t want to stop being me. So, that left retail or the Peacemakers. Let’s just say I have a face for radio and leave it at that.

Thea: What do you do when you’re not in duty?

Samantha: I run. It sounds silly, I guess, but the world makes sense when I’m out there. Our base is quite large, and I know all the trails. I’m not sure what happened to my bunk mates, but we used to do movie night and hang out. I really miss them.

Thea: There were many missing people after that. How did you survive that first terrible day?

Samantha: I’m honestly not sure. I just stuck to my training and improvised when necessary. Just good luck. I don’t really want to talk about it again.

Thea: What worries you the most about what happened?

Samantha: The rioters were crazy! Nobody should be capable of quartering a grown man with their bare hands, right? I don’t think it’s happening just here, either. I tried calling my brother, and he doesn’t answer. I left him so many messages, at least until I used up my credits. I hope he finds a way to get in touch. The phones are dead now, so it’s like the outside world just vanished.

Thea: If you could do anything, what would it be?

Samantha: I’d paint, I think. I liked art in high school. I definitely wouldn’t be a model or a basketball player.

Thea: How do you get through the day?

Samantha: I just take it one day at a time. My contract is up in three years, so I’ll see where that takes me. If there’s a world left to go back to, at least. Maybe it could even be better than the one we had, once we’re done cleaning it up.

As for surviving, I just listen to my training, and keep myself and my comrades safe. I hope we can rescue some people soon. At least I have a giant stone wall to live behind. They have nothing!
So, that’s Samantha. She kicks zombie butt and takes zombie names. Pick up the Zombie Bedtime Stories if you love zombies, and stories about the people surviving them.
Now, get yourself back to the Indie Block Party:
Indie block party small

Introducing the latest Zombie Bedtime Story: Bedlam #IndieBP

I have a very special project that I’d like to share with you. My most advanced work in progress is named Bedlam. It’s the fourth part of my bloody and unique Zombie Bedtime Stories. It’s been almost two years in the making, and it finally is making its debut on August 22, 2013. That’s in 3 days.

Let’s roll that cover:

Bedlam cover

Bedlam cover

The idea for Bedlam came to me when I was fleshing out the overall plotline of the Zombie Bedtime Stories. I didn’t just want to write a ton of random zombie shorts. I wanted a persistent, shared universe with recurring characters and a beginning, end and middle point. I mostly pants the stories, with unexpected (and hilarious) results. I know one or two things that have to happen, and I make the rest up as I go along. I’ve tried making outlines, but I ignore them because I’m a force of chaos.

Bedlam marks the end of the beginning. It’s the last story where a new character is introduced, and contains the last pieces of worldbuilding. Now, the stage has been set and we know (or have heard of) all the players. There are 8 total stories planned for ZBS, and a novel to finish it off. I’m hoping to have it all wrapped up sometime during 2015.

I always try give something of myself to my writing. In this case, Samantha was bullied mercilessly as a child, much like I was. We share a love of running, and both want to do what’s right. The story itself is as much about Samantha’s inner struggles and doubts as it is about the zombies. I wanted to put a human angle into a character in an inhuman, savage situation.

Now, for the blurb:

Corporal Samantha Henderson is a member of the Peacemakers—an organization devoted to putting down the riots that plague their nation’s cities. When what starts out as routine guard duty at an elementary school quickly turns bizarre and bloody, Samantha finds that her life is turned upside down.

Citizens have gone into a berserk killing frenzy, dismembering her comrades with ease. Samantha is the only soldier who makes it back to base alive. With her friends missing and only Captain Remus McIntyre for guidance, can Samantha survive the zombie apocalypse? More importantly, can she protect the weak from their enemies—human or otherwise?

Want more? I’ve got a first paragraph for you, too!

“I want my Mommy.” The girl clinging to Corporal Samantha Henderson’s hand choked back sobs, and looked up at her. She couldn’t be more than seven, and her pale blue eyes were bloodshot and brimming with tears. Samantha had been part of a squad assigned to evacuate this large inner city elementary school. She didn’t know if they were going to escape before the rioters closed in, but Samantha was determined to do her duty and get as many kids out as possible. The school was a decaying, squalid building—a leftover relic of the baby boom nearly a century before. The grey hallway dragged on ahead of them, only punctuated by the shadows of closed classroom doors and the occasional splash of children’s art projects. Samantha sucked in a deep breath as she enjoyed hearing the pounding of her boots on the cold granite floor. The echoes gave her the illusion of power and control, when in reality her stomach gnawed around the chill of uncertainty.

Indie Block Party Introductions: Come meet Thea!

I’m taking part in a sweet blog hop called the Indie Block Party. This should be an excellent way to get this blog revitalized.

Indie block party small

The first post is a means of introducing myself. I’m pretty awesome. Post done.


Just kidding!

I’ve been writing for three years. I got my start writing movie, music, and theater reviews for a local blog. The editor took a sadistic joy in giving me the more unpleasant assignments. In the end, this gave me the gumption to work on my own creations. If utter crap can make it, then why can’t I?

I started writing mostly because I started having really awesome story ideas. I couldn’t ignore them, or get them out of my head. So, I wrote them down and people seemed to enjoy the results. My favorite genre is science fiction, but I really do love horror and fantasy as well. Speculative fiction is the best way to depict the extreme positives and negatives of human potential. By going outside of our world, we learn more about ourselves and the human condition that we can without the forced change in perspective.

This blog is about my journey as a writer. It has my triumphs, my challenges and everything in between. There’s a great deal of everything, and I try to keep it on topic. When I’m not writing, I’m at my day job, jogging, sleeping, pacing, or practicing my driving. I just got my first car, and I’m working on my standard driving skills. It’s totally awesome.

#Zombie Bedtime Stories: Bedlam excerpt!

Hello world! I’ve been working diligently on polishing my latest offering — Bedlam. I’m very excited to finally be ready to share a short excerpt. If you like what you read, please consider joining my mailing list. I’ll be sharing members-only coupons, promotions, contests, and (especially) first dibs on my works post-release. Let’s roll the cover again:

Bedlam cover

Bedlam cover


“I want my Mommy.” The girl clinging to Corporal Samantha Henderson’s hand choked back sobs, and looked up at her. She couldn’t be more than seven, and her pale blue eyes were bloodshot and brimming with tears. Samantha had been part of a squad assigned to evacuate this large inner city elementary school. She didn’t know if they were going to escape before the rioters closed in, but Samantha was determined to do her duty and get as many kids out as possible. The school was a decaying, squalid building—a leftover relic of the baby boom nearly a century before. The grey hallway dragged on ahead of them, only punctuated by the shadows of closed classroom doors and the occasional splash of children’s art projects. Samantha sucked in a deep breath as she enjoyed hearing the pounding of her boots on the cold granite floor. The echoes gave her the illusion of power and control, when in reality her stomach gnawed around the chill of uncertainty.


Like it? Want another teaser? Let me know in the comments. Your command is my wish, dear reader!