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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

How to build a huge Twitter presence: A Case Study with Scifi Author Doug Wallace

Every now and then when you're browsing Twitter, you'll find that social media done right. You know: tens of thousands of followers, a fun, snappy bio, and engaging, colorful tweets that aren't trying to sell a thing.

That's Doug. By day he's a native Texan computer security expert residing in Salt Lake City with his four children, but by other times of day, he's an "inkslinger licensed to quill" with a solid bio and a really fun, engaging Twitter feed. He's actually gotten so many followers that editors began to take notice, so I thought we could ask him for a little advice.

Twitter: How To Stop Finding Other Writers and Start Finding READERS!

You know how it is. You keep getting followed by writer after writer and soon it's just a clusterfreak of writers, all of you talking in circles and promoting your books, and WHERE THE HECK ARE THE READERS???

Four quick tips filled with hashtaggy goodness to help you start finding readers on Twitter. 

Monday, December 19, 2016

Holy crap guys, I have three short stories coming out in 2017! Also a picture book!

So it's been a crazy season of acceptances here, and I've been so blase' about life I forgot to tell you guys, my dearest blog people. Silly me! People have accepted my:

--Short story about two brother scientists who try to solve aging...by jumping out of an airplane into a volcano with a bear. Adrenaline Age is as crazy as it is scifi, based on everything I learned in my Biology of Aging class taken to an illogical extreme. That's coming out from The Overcast, a wonderful podcast voiced by J.S. Arquin, who you all know from my story Brain Worms and White Whales.

--Superhero short about an engineering student whose multiple sclerosis threatens to keep him from earning money for school. It's a more realistic superhero origin story with a dose of modern robotics and a spoonful of that nasty medical science I study full-time. Puerto-Rican-centered Hierro comes out 2017 from a dark little publishing start-up that I've fallen in love with recently: The Crossover Alliance.

--Whipping the Dead, my stream-of-consciousness dreamscape that blends some of my Japanese heritage with memories of dying grandparents. To make it truly literary as f, it's structured after the Fibonacci sequence. It's maybe my most beautiful and most pretentious thing I've ever written. I freaking love it, and I guess Pantheon Magazine did, too.

And if I failed to mention that I have a children's fantasy history picture book coming out, about a little Khoi-san boy whose father rides dinosaurs, then I have failed utterly. Utterly, have I failed. I'm truly happy about this one, because there's a wonderful teacher's guide about dinosaurs and African history involved, and the publisher's hunting down a great illustrator, and it's all great. It's called The Different People, and it celebrates diversity in all her forms, and it's coming out from E-treasures Publishing!

So yeah! Amidst all my hype about my upcoming superhero novel, about the comic book character who shoots his author, I forgot to tell you those things. (By the way, if you want to be on the list to know about that novel FIRST when it comes out, you gotta drop me a line

But now you know.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Fredericksburg Barnes and Noble: Doin' Some Community Good With Books!

Since you're all book lovers, and some of you may or may not live in Virginia, I just wanted to drop a little note to let you guys know there's a cool initiative going on at the Fredericksburg Central Park Barnes and Noble (and maybe some other B&Ns around the country) where at the checkout you can also donate a book of your choice to area children! That's kind of cool! I chose one of the Magic Treehouse Books, because I remember really getting a taste of the wonder of history through them, and because they're pretty fun! So if you're in the area you should totally do some of your Christmas and Chanukah shopping there!

The Fburg area B&N is ALSO letting local students ask for donations for their school today. You may love this, and if you do, you should head down and grab some books. Personally, I don't feel super-great about the whole donate-extra-money-to-the-govt-thing, since I happen to have gone to school in the area, and I happen to know these particular schools inflate their budget at the end of the year to get extra federal funding. (That's actually pretty normal: anyone who works in govt can tell you that a lot of bureaucracies do this, where instead of asking for exactly the money they need, and trying to create efficient solutions that cut spending, they'll actually buy up extra useless stuff like hundreds of staplers and whatever to make sure that at the end of the fiscal year they get extra funding.) So to me, it seems a little crooked that these schools will then go send children out to collect MORE money for them.* 

But my qualms aside, you know, it's so nerve-wracking as a little teen girl to ask people for money, and they really deserve at least a high five. They're all raising money for particular departments, which you know may or may not get enough funding from the school depending on politics with the principal. (When I went to Colonial Forge High, it was common knowledge among the students that the principal shifted around funding for departments depending on which ones her kids enrolled in) So stop by and show these kids some love.

And any way, this post is about B&N, not about public schools, and I'm just really psyched that the business tries to engage with the community in a deeper level. We need businesses like that. As writers, this is part of the reason we love book stores: they create real life stories, while selling and sharing our stories. They're safe places for humans to dream about a greater future where we all come together to help each other out, regardless of personal differences or the wrongs of history. A+ and two thumbs up to Fburg B&N.

That's not just the yummy book cafe pretzel in my tummy talking, I promise. -_^



*(Full disclaimer, I'm friends with people who are currently in court against Stafford County School System to try to get equal access for their handicapped kids and end disability discrimination, so I have some pretty hardcore bias against that system)

Monday, December 12, 2016

Books as superhero gear, and new reads for you - a little "guest" post from becominghero.ninja

Hey SuperPeeps. No, don't be mad at me, books are totally superhero gear. Look, here, here is proof: 

Picture taken from this sexy article, on comics as literature, which you should DEFINITELY READ! 

While Spidey looks super uncomfortable with his butt all up on that pole, the point remains, superheroes read. You read to get inspired, you read to become a better person, and you read to relax, so that you're all revved up and ready to fight the next day. If you want, you can take a look at that link above for some comics reading material that some smart dudes think will make you smart and feelingy and stuff. Make sure to come back after that.

So I'm really into the idea of discovering new reads--you know, things your friends have never heard of that are actually objectively well-written. In other words, stuff by authors who are indie because they're independent, not because they can't write. = P Along those lines, since I'm always looking for dealsies for you guys, I talked to a bunch of authors to see what they'd be willing to give my SuperPeeps for free.

First up is James Beamon. This guy's technically no indie: he's a traditionally-published pro from the Science Fiction Writers of America with his name in like 20 different books and magazines. His snarky, oddball style's about as indie as they come, though, and he's one of my top ten favorite authors in the world, so he's heading up this list. He told me he's willing to share, for a limited time, his full novelette Dialogues with Talking Heads, a scifi about a "post-mortem communications corporation" that makes money injecting things into dead people until they talk. Funny, a little creepy, and actually romantic, too. (I was like one of the earliest buyers. Yeah, unlike you guys, I paid money. Look at your privilege, SuperPeeps! = P Back in my day…)

Our next star is Crystal Collier, an established indie author with one of the prettiest websites in the biz and the cutest obsession with cheese. (Of course, you're not here for her cheese or her website, so I'll move on) She's the fantasy author of the Maiden of Time series, described as Jane Eyre meets Supernatural, and I've been following her e-mail list since her first book came out eons ago. For you SuperPeeps only, she's willing to give you the entire first novel in that series: Moonless! Having read it, I can tell you there's plenty of romance and lots of weird fantasy juju. Perfect new read.

Because this is a superhero website, we'd be remiss if we didn't include some superhero fiction. Outside of the comics world, superhero fiction's a sparse genre, with few offerings, so I was recently delighted to discover Kai Strand, author of the SuperVillains Academy series. Her series focuses on a bully recruited for a school of super villains. I like surprises and twists like that, and I loved her writing style in the little short story she's offering you guys for free! It's an exclusive point of view shift from a character from her book, and it made me pretty hungry for more. ;_; #sohungry 

Next on our list of wonders, let's go international. Nigerian author Ray Anyasi is multiply published in nonfiction, contemporary, poetry, and romance. He's an intrepid self-made businessman, as well as the leader of a small press, and he writes sweet, tender romance set in Africa, with characters authentic to his experience. I know all of you in the #ownvoices movement are scrambling right now to look him up, and you're right to get excited: he's offering SuperPeeps the first two chapters of his romance novel, Broken Cloud! African prince, forbidden love, the works. You have my permission to swoon.

Last, there's me. If you like vengeful robot-cars, sentient cockroaches, androids made of ink, zombie fairytales, or anything else like that, I've written it, and I'm especially excited about my new book, Becoming Hero, about a comic book character who shoots his author. I'm offering, for a limited time, the first two chapters of the new book! 

So why, oh why, do you get to get these free things from these authors, SuperPeeps? Well, reading through these folks will either get you inspired or help you relax--and you're also supporting indie business and diverse representation, both things that make the world better by increasing the opportunities available to everyone. I feel like conscientious choices are the first step towards becoming superhero material, don't you? Also--little hot tip for you--this is a great way to help you shop last minute for that bookworm in your life this winter. Because you're getting free fiction, you can test it out, see if it's a style your bookworm friend will love, and then you can always head back to the author's shop to buy a gift! I told you, I look out for my peeps. ^_^

So that's today's super gear, Peeps! 

(Drop me your e-mail address below, and I'll send you all that delicious free fic. All of these stories stop being free when the snow melts, or Feb 15th, whichever is sooner, so...yeah, hurry up. = P)

You can see more "SuperGear" posts at becominghero.ninja, where I talk about all kinds of things that aren't books that I can imagine superheroes using or people who love superheroes drooling over.

Monday, December 5, 2016

The Little Boy Who Turned Into an Ant (G, #FlashFiction Parable)

Thinking today about the twisted metaphor of the ant.

Imagine a little boy who loves ants. He crouches on his fat little legs, with his chin on his knees, watching them, and as he watches one ant struggle for her little crumb--a burden so big, and so heavy for her, and she's stumbling around with this crumb--he feels for her silly little life, and for the sticks she has to climb which must seem so huge to her. Sometimes the ants attack him, and he laughs at them, and their tiny jaws. It's so silly to him that the ants will kill each other for being a different color--but after a while their fighting stops being just a silly thing he watches, and starts to become kind of freaky, as he begins to imagine what it must be like to be ripped limb from limb down there in that field of battle. The little boy begins to bring bread crumbs to the ants, and begins to try to make little paths of separation between the ants of different colors so they don't kill each other, and when the big mean neighbor boy comes with his magnifying glass to fry the little ants, the little boy fights him off. Day after day he spends crouched, just watching them, talking to them and building stuff and laughing, chirping along, like children do.

However, the ants begin to eat through his Father's house, through the basement boards, and through all the little boy's board games.

"We're going to have to spray to get rid of them," his Father says.

"But I love them!"

But of course, if the Father allows the ants to keep eating through everything, then the whole house will be destroyed, and all the dogs and cats, and birds, and all the other giant and glorious pets that the ants can't understand will lose their home, and suffer--to say nothing of the boy, and the Father. Ants are brilliant but quite destructive creatures.

So the ants must be sprayed, but the Father feels the same compassion the little boy does--after all, he is the kind of man to have dogs and cats and birds in his house, a man who loves every living being. However, there is a kind of complete ridiculousness, a uniqueness, a separateness, you might say, to this kind of love, and he says so to his son.

"Son," he says. "If you were to become an ant, and warn them, and lead all the ants away from the house so they stop eating through the very foundations of the world they live in, do you know what the ants would do to you?"

The little boy nods. He's watched enough ant wars to know. "They would kill me, because I would be different than them, and ants hate different. They would stretch me out and tear me apart."

"And if your soul were to survive this kind of suffering, and be reborn a person again, what would you have gained for all your trouble? What would be your inheritance, your nachalah, your prize?"

The boy looks up at his father with big eyes, and says, "The ants, Dad. The ants would be my prize."

"Then ask of me, my Son, and I will make the ants your heritage, and the ends of their world your possession."

And the boy asks.

Even more absurd than this, dear ones, is the mystery of God and his people.

Read the original story from which this parable is created, in Tehillim 2.