Sunday, January 31, 2016

Win A $100 Amazon Gift Card!

GO TO THE RAFFLECOPTER BELOW TO FIND OUT ALL THE WAYS YOU CAN ENTER TO WIN A $100 AMAZON GIFT CARD! IT'S EASY!

Why You Should Join My Mailing List (Besides Winning A $100 Amazon Gift Card)

1. I write short stories all the time. I send most of those to my mailing list. No one else sees the majority of them and you don't have to pay anything to read them. It's just something I do for fun and want to share with all of you.

2. I won't spam you to buy my books all the time. I'll just tell you when I have new releases or when one of my books is available for free or on sale.

3. I will send you announcements whenever I am giving away free stuff and you might get automatic entries that no one else will get.

4. I will send you fun activities, like quizzes, to take. For example, I plan to send a quiz in the near future about "Which Greek God Are You Most Like?"

5. I will give you free previews of my writing before anyone else gets to see any of it.

6. You can unsubscribe at any time.

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Friday, January 29, 2016

15 Writing Parodoxes That Frustrate Most Authors

Writing is weird. Everyone thinks it's one thing, then you get into it and you find out it's a totally different thing. These aren't necessarily my opinions, but thoughts I've seen expressed by the writing community as a whole. Here are a few of the paradoxes of being a writer:

1. You must learn all the rules of writing, so you can know all the best ways to break these rules.

2. You will post about grammar and punctuation on facebook. You might even correct people's spelling every once in awhile, but you live in a constant state of fear that everyone will find out that there are a lot of things about the English language that you still don't understand. Do they know that you googled the spelling of that word before you typed it? If only they could see all the red your editor marks on every page of your novel before you publish it. What if they knew about the time you were playing madlibs and you got adverbs and adjectives confused with each other?

3. Readers are tired of reading the same formula books, but when they read your book that breaks the rules, they wish you'd write like everyone else more.

4. You have two agents interested in your manuscript. One agent rejects you because they think your characterization is weak, but your plot is amazing. The other agent rejects you because your plot is weak and your characterization is perfect. Which one is it? *cries*

5. You must post on social media all the time. Readers like getting to know authors personally, but don't post anything personal because this is a business and not your diary. You don't want to make a fool of yourself.

6. You want to be popular as a writer, but fear going viral.

7. Some books that make millions of dollars through self-publishing were rejected by publishers because they didn't fit the market.

8. You rewrote something twenty times that your critique partner thinks is "good for a first draft." (So is it terrible for a twentieth draft?)

9. Everyone should be honest in reviews. As an author, you are a terrible person if you do anything to influence a review for one of your books. But if writers post anything except for five star reviews for other writers, then they should know better than to be honest. You're destroying another author's reputation by not saying their book is perfect!

10. One star reviews that say,"This book was amazing!" Five star reviews that say,"I hated this!"

11. If you spend a second typing up something and posting it on the internet and then it blows up in your face, it will never go away. People will screenshot it and re-post it. It will haunt you for the rest of your life. If you write a novel and work on it for years, but it doesn't sell enough copies, then your publisher will take it out of print and everyone will forget that it ever existed.

12. You're not good at writing because your books don't sell well. You'd be popular if you were good at writing. Then, when you hit the NYT bestsellers list, you're still not good at writing because all popular novels are shallow drivel that even a monkey could write better. Maybe your novel would be good if it wasn't so popular...

13. You write everyday to the point where it's destroying your social life and making your house a mess, but people wonder when you'll get a real job and stop sitting around, doing nothing.

14. In order to feel good about your writing, you need critique partners and editors to rip your stories into shreds and tell you everything that's wrong with the story. If they tell you it's all perfect, then you know something is wrong.

15. You cried when you got your first one star review, but you tell everyone else to suck it up and get used to it because this is a harsh business that only thick-skinned people can handle.

And last but not least...

You love writing more than anything AND you hate writing more than anything. It's the easiest job in the world AND the most difficult. It makes you feel like a genius AND a complete idiot.

Friday, January 22, 2016

90 Days By T.E. Ridener


NEW from T.E. Ridener!
Book 2 of the Prairie Series, 90 Days, is now available.
This book features a FtM trans hero and the lady he loves.

-----BLURB-----

While her sister and future brother-in-law prepare for their wedding day, which is set to happen in three months, 24-year-old Laney McIntosh is barely holding her life together by a thread.

She’s been forced to fake a smile for months for the sake of her family, but she isn’t so sure she can do it anymore. There are secrets she has kept and they will threaten to shatter the picture-perfect status they’ve finally achieved since her sister’s return. 

Through the ever-growing darkness in her mind there is one beacon of light that shines brighter than the rest: Benji, one of her sister’s best friends.  

Benji Palmer is a transgender man and he has his share of demons, but what he feels for Laney has only been growing stronger since the moment he met her. Despite his own struggles he wants nothing more than to make Laney happy and he’s determined to heal her heart. 

A lot of things can happen in 90 days. 

Good things. 

Bad things. 

Crazy things. 

Beautiful things. 

Will Laney and Benji finally get the happily-ever-after they’ve always wanted?

BUY LINKS: 
US: http://amzn.com/B019B6WEE8
UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B019B6WEE8

AU: http://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B019B6WEE8

WHERE TO FIND T.E. RIDENER:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TERidener
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TE_Ridener

Blog: https://teridener.wordpress.com/
Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/116562535517354273173

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Writing "For Exposure"

There's nothing wrong with writing for free if that's what you want to do, but there's a few things you need to know before you agree to do this. This advice applies to writing free short stories, novellas, and novels, not to blog posts. That is a totally different topic.

1.) Don't Do It If The Person Doesn't Make You Sign A Contract

 This should be a huge red flag for you. If they don't make you sign a contract, they don't know what they are doing. It doesn't matter if the person is one of your author friends or an actual publishing company, there should always be a contract.

Why?

Because it establishes a communication about expectations. It makes sure everyone understands what is going to happen and there are no disagreements over it. It protects both parties.

We tend to think of contracts as something you use to negotiate money and when you write a short story for free, there is no money involved. So when there is no contract, it's easy to shrug it off.

I've done this three times. Two out of the three, I was given a contract to sign. The other one, there was no contract and I still feel like that one was a mistake. I'm happy about the other two.

The person I didn't sign a contract with did zero editing of my story. The other two had editors that worked on it. The person I didn't sign a contract with was rude to me as soon as I agreed to let her use my story. The other two were very polite and professional. The person I didn't sign a contract with didn't give me a free copy of the book, she made me purchase it. The other two gave me copies of the book and one of them even signed it with a very nice note!

A contract is the difference between a professional and an amateur. It doesn't matter if you've known each other for years and you are best friends, draw up a contract anyway. You need to iron out all those details. It doesn't make you any less of good friends.

2.) Your Name Will Be Hard To Find

 Unless you are a NYT Bestselling author and they are trying to sell more copies using your name, your name will probably be hard to find. It's unlikely that it will be on the cover. It will probably only be in the blurb and right next to your story title inside the book.

This might disappoint some authors, especially if it's the first thing they ever published, so I just thought I'd warn you.

The exception to this rule is if you are a part of an anthology of novels. Usually only a handful of people are part of something like this, so there's enough space for everyone's names.

3.) Do It For Fun Or Experience, Not Exposure

The last short story I submitted to an anthology, I did it because I wanted my story included with the kind of authors that published with that place and because I wanted to see a story of mine in print for the first time.

I don't know if publishing with them gave me any sort of exposure, but it doesn't matter. It's nice to see my name on something other than an ebook.

It's next to impossible to measure a word like "exposure", so people can promise you this and it doesn't really mean anything. So ignore that. Take it out of the picture and try to figure out if you're doing it for any other reason.

If it's just for exposure, just so your other books will sell well, then you are likely to feel resentful and disappointed when an anthology doesn't make you suddenly a NYT Bestselling author.

I will admit, I've met one exception to this rule. There is one author I know of whose first bestseller was an anthology, but that's not the case for most of us.

It's unlikely that anyone will remember you wrote for the anthology, even people who are fans of your books and read them regularly. Most people think I've published nothing in the last three years and that isn't even true. I've published a few short stories, but no one noticed it because my names aren't on the covers and I can't tag my author profile on Amazon to the books.

That's why you really need to make sure you are doing this for the right reasons. It takes time out of your life, time you could be using to gain exposure in other ways.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Time To Break Some Rules

So I usually try to follow the rule of never responding to any of my one star reviews. It draws unnecessary attention to them and people are entitled to their opinions. Their negative feedback often causes me to analyze my own writing and change it in the future, so it's not really a bad thing.

Also, I love reviews. Even bad ones can help me sell books.

But today, I am going to make an exception and talk about a one star review that I received recently for my free novel "Pandora's Mistake."


I'm not angry at this review at all. I totally get where this person is coming from and why they said the things they did. I don't even want to address most of their review. I just want to talk about one sentence that they wrote at the end of the review:

"Wouldn't recommend to anyone with qualms about sexism."

This part of the review really stuck with me. I couldn't stop mulling it over for days after I read it. It's not because I am angry that they posted it. Some of it is that I am concerned for the reader. I think I might have struck a nerve with them and hurt them unintentionally and that was not what I was trying to do with this book at all.

I get why they wrote what they did. Pandora is a very naive woman in my novel. She was created by Zeus and then told that her only job in life was to be the perfect wife to Epimetheus. Epimetheus is a horrible husband who winds up being physically and emotionally abusive. She worries that it's all her fault that she's being treated this way, that maybe she should have been a better wife. Deep down inside, she rebels though, looking to Prometheus for escape from the situation (he has been abused, but by the gods, too) and she calls to Zeus for help as well. (He's like her Dad, after all, since he created her.) She wants to know why Epimetheus isn't getting nicer when she's trying to do everything right. Zeus never replies because he has abandoned her.

The only way I can really talk about this is for me to break another rule, a rule that involves not talking about personal stuff more than I'm usually comfortable with online.

I grew-up surrounded by very conservative people. I lived in California all my life, but I grew-up in a small town where people were different than stereotypical Californians. They were very religious and a lot of people might consider them to be the kind of people who take things too far. I knew a lot of homeschoolers (I went to homeschool myself for a few years as well.) Even though we didn't live in the south, they were the type of home-schoolers who liked to argue that the south should have won and even held an annual Civil War Ball.

I was told by many, many people in my life that I had to be quiet and nice and submissive. That I was stepping out of my place if I argued too much and that no man would ever love me if I behaved that way. That women weren't allowed to have authority over men and that they made terrible leaders because they had periods and too many emotions. That the greatest gift in life for a woman was to be married and have kids. When I had a certain career goal that many woman I knew disapproved of as a teenager, they would tell me,"Just wait until you meet the right man. You'll forget all of that and become a housewife."

I did meet the right man and I am a housewife now. My mother is also a housewife, so don't get me wrong, I don't think there's anything wrong with housewives or anything wrong with women who work. But I also don't think there's anything wrong with a man staying at home and taking care of the kids and I don't believe I should have to submit to anybody. I believe we are all equals.

Those ideas being forced on me over and over again made me very confused as to what it meant to be a woman. It made me make some poor decisions in life because I was just trying to follow the rules. Pandora is facing a similar dilemma. She's trying to be a submissive woman and it's not working.

I have rebelled against these ideas as an adult. I married a man who had a very strong, loud, single mother. I adored her. And I laughed when I was around my husband, my brother-in-law, and my brother-in-law's father. My brother-in-law and his father were saying how most of the men in their family can't resist marrying loud, opinionated women and how they were as annoying as they were lovable. It made me crack up. I am always the quietest person among them and it's nice to have a husband who appreciates you when you are fighting for something. Who admires you when you are strong and roots for you as well. Who likes it when you have opinions and express yourself.

But because I grew-up with that background, I kind of threw parts of it into that Pandora story. How the reality of being the perfect, submissive wife is actually horrible and how all the people who told you to be that way are not going to be there for you to help you through it when things get bad.

And it's not just my experiences I am basing this on. I've seen how these ideals have effected people's marriage.

I also wanted to say something about Pandora. She's the Eve of Greek Mythology. She's the reason that some people, even to this day, will say sexist things about women. She's seductive and she's overemotional (supposedly.) She's also stupid. So she uses all of that to unleash every horror onto humanity. Women are men's "curse."Or so the myth likes to claim.

No one even remembers that it was really Zeus who wanted to destroy humanity (because he was angry at Prometheus for giving men fire.) That she could have been trying her best to be a good woman and wife, but since a god planned all along to use her to destroy her own species there was little she could do to stop him. She was just a new person (with the mind of a child), she wasn't going to know how to outsmart him. She was being used by everyone around her.

I wrote my series to be about looking at characters from new perspectives. I don't view the world as black and white, I view it in shades of gray. I find it interesting to make Pandora and Medusa into heroes when they are traditionally viewed as failures and villains. Or like in my next book in the series, the one about Sisyphus, I show how badass he truly is, how much of a threat he was to the gods, even though to most of us he is an unknown and unimportant character.

I just can't say any of this stuff in the book because you are not allowed to as an author. You are not allowed to be a character with opinions and feelings about things. Your characters just have to be themselves. You can't put footnotes here and there, saying,"By the way, reader, I do not approve of any of these actions" or "Do you get this metaphor? This is about oppression of woman in society."

I can't have all my characters spouting my beliefs for me either. Not only would that be easy to see through, but it would be boring and unrealistic.

I like to write about people who are different from me. I like to write about people who offend me. I've been close to a lot of people when I've seen them go through bad things and I like to write about what I've seen other people go through as well.

I assure you, Zeus and Epimetheus are the villains in my story. Especially Zeus. I am the opposite of most people who love the Greek Gods. I think they're all a bunch of jerks, except for Hera (unless Hercules is involved.) I also happen to like Persephone and Hypnos a lot, for some reason. I think I hate Zeus more than any other greek mythological character ever, which is saying a lot since Tantalus murdered his own son and tried to feed him to the gods for dinner. I still hate Zeus more than that.

We live in a harsh world and sometimes it's hard for me to write happy endings when I haven't seen justice occur in real life, so it's probably confusing sometimes when my characters don't have happy endings. I'm working on that part of my writing, but when it comes to the greek myth books, I embrace the tragedy of stories just like the ancient greeks embraced it as well.

I don't hate conservative people. I have people on my friends list on facebook who are conservative (and who don't necessarily believe any of the things I mentioned here) and some of the closest people to me in real life are conservative people.

So I want you to know, if you were the person who left that review, I'm sorry if I triggered something for you. I don't want to be a reason why you cry or feel angry. And I just didn't feel right not saying anything about it, even if I may be unable to address reviews like this in the future.

I write things sometimes so that people who had bad experiences or did bad things in their life can have people in fiction that they can relate to. I don't pull punches when my characters are suffering and I don't always fix all of their problems. It's just how I view the world and how I view writing.

And if you don't like it, that's fine, you don't have to read my books or give me any of your money. I accept it, but I'll still be your friend on social media if you want and I hope you can understand where I am coming from.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Why Confidence Is Important In Writing

I love dark entertainment. It doesn't matter if it's books, movies, television shows, or video games to me.

There was this television show that I started watching recently. It's called "Flesh And Bone." It's a dark television show about ballerinas. The main character has practiced so hard in the first episode that she is able to easily rip off her own toenail. There's blood on her hands, but she pushes herself and binds her foot up. She sucks up the pain because she is up for an audition for a paying ballerina position. One of the teachers rejects her as soon as she starts talking.

But she remembers that toenail. She remembers that earlier she ran away from a painful situation and she knows she deserves this opportunity. So she asks for another chance. She could have bowed her head and walked away like the other girls, but she stands up for herself instead. And she passes the audition with flying colors.

Why? Because she had confidence. People without confidence bow their head and agree when someone tells them they failed. People with confidence, keep trying and believing. They stand up for themselves.

I know that people say that the most important thing to have in the publishing industry is thick skin, but I disagree. If you have confidence, you don't even need a thick skin. If someone doesn't believe in you, it doesn't hurt you because you believe in you.

In fact, I believe that the reason some authors get angry at one star reviews is that secretly, deep down inside, they wanted to be validated. They don't feel confident in themselves and their writing, so when they see anything that's not positive written about them...it makes them feel bad about themselves. They get defensive and sometimes they lash out, making the whole thing worse.

If you are a self-published author, like myself, then you have only one person who believes in you: YOU. You don't have a publishing industry standing behind you or an agent submitting your story to various places. You have to do it all yourself.

I'll tell you something that was previously a secret. That anthology that I recently published with? I was terrified when I submitted my short story to them. I've written several short horror stories in the past few years, including that one, and all of them, including that one, have been rejected by the magazines I've submitted them to. If I hadn't submitted anyway, though, I wouldn't have gotten to see my pen name in print for the first time.

If you are not confident as a writer, you are not going to try for the opportunities that are presented to you. You're not going to network with people the way you are supposed to. You won't know how to use your contacts to accomplish things.

If you are not confident as a writer, you will hold back when you are writing. You won't dare to write in your own special way. You'll try to write like everyone else because you believe in them and not yourself.

If you are not confident as a writer, you will not submit your stories to different places. Yes, even in self-publishing you must deal with submissions. Sometimes there are awards you can try for or reviews from bloggers. If you are insecure, you won't bother. Because you "know" before you even ask, that they aren't going to accept you.

If you are not confident as a writer, then you won't be able to justify with your family why you need money to pay for an editor or advertising. You'll feel guilty for making them survive on macaroni and cheese and hot dogs for a week because you need the extra money. Eventually, you'll stop using the money on yourself because it's just your "stupid" writing and what does it matter anyway.

You'll be robbed of time by people who don't think your writings important. You will agree with them.

And you won't tell anyone about your books. Your friends and family will be shocked when they find out you published something. You won't have the support of them. You'll never know you have the support of fans because you'll never mention your book to anyone.

You won't know when to tell people 'no.' You'll always do what your editors and critique partners say, even if it destroys your story. You'll regret everything you write. Because you don't believe in yourself and your abilities.

I know how it feels to lack confidence, so I hope as a writer that you don't lack confidence.

It's easy to believe in yourself when you have a team of people complimenting you and backing you up, but when you are standing alone, sometimes against criticism, it's difficult.

But it's okay to be confident. It's okay to reach for the stars. To sometimes publish before you are ready because you will learn and to strive for goals that seem impossible. Believe in yourself and do it anyway.

It doesn't matter what other people say. Their words can't hold you back.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

New Short Story Published

I have a new short story published! It's a scary story in an anthology ready just in time for Halloween. It's called "Horrors: Real, Imagined, And Deadly."

I know several of the authors that contributed and have read their work. They are all excellent.

Thanks to Matt Sinclair for putting it together.

So far, it's only up on Amazon and Smashwords, but I believe it will be up on Itunes, Kobo, and other outlets really soon.

It's also the first time anything I wrote will ever be available more than just electronically.

Here's the cover.



And the blurb.

What are you afraid of? What causes the hair on your neck to stand up? Do you worry about what your fears mean? What horrifies you might be nothing to someone else. But there’s something for just about everyone in this collection of personal tales. Whether your fears remain secret or you laugh while you watch monsters devour your neighbors, you'll find a reason to keep your lights on tonight. The first collection from Elephant’s Bookshelf Press focused purely on horror stories, "Horrors: Real, Imagined, and Deadly" includes tales from E.B. Black, Kay Elam, Kim Graff, Justin Holley, Precy Larkins, Sarah Glenn Marsh, Mindy McGinnis, R.S. Mellette, Madeline Mora-Summonte, Matt Sinclair, A.M. Supinger, and Charlee Vale.

Here's where to buy it.

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Horrors-Imagined-Deadly-Matt-Sinclair-ebook/dp/B0174SD1BK/
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/583670