Cover Reveal for S. A. Starcevic’s Untouchable

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I am excited to showcase this brilliant cover to you from a member of my literary  magazine The Corner Club Press. Enjoy!
Ethan Elliot is no stranger to secret identities. As an LGBT teen, he’s dealt with secrets all his life. Nevertheless, when his powers kick in and he’s whisked away to join a team of superheroes, he dons a mask of a different kind – one that sees him battling supervillains and testing his limits.

However, there’s more going on behind the scenes than capes and costumes. At the headquarters of the Protectorate, he makes unlikely friends with Gravity Girl and Element Boy. Except Element Boy might turn out to be more than just a friend, and Gravity Girl is battling demons of her own.

Ethan will discover what it means to be a hero, and must learn that even superheroes aren’t untouchable.

Bio: S. A. Starcevic wanted to be a superhero when he was little, but nowadays he settles for the next best thing—writing about them. Untouchable, his superhero YA novella with an LGBT love story, is signed with Forever More Publishing. When he’s not slaving over books two and three in the trilogy, he blogs about writing, publishing and world domination at Bookshelf of Doom.

The book is available for pre-order hereherehereherehere and here as well as on iBooks.

Writers: How to Use Tumblr Effectively

Recently I have been re-vamping how I use my social media platforms, WordPress being one. I have Heather Hebert of AEC Stellar Publishing to thank for this. I have been doing informative posts on WordPress lately, and I am seeing the benefits of doing so, as well as using generic tags that register me in the WordPress reader and tags that will make my posts appear in people’s search engines. Because it’s difficult to interact with other people’s blogs on WordPress, all of my posts on here will be about providing a service to you.

In any case, I have noticed that generic writing advice on Tumblr receives the most attention for my blog. I never did generic writing advice on WordPress, as I know WordPress is used by more adults than teens, so I wanted to go beyond generic writing advice in terms of my audience. Teens, however, spend a great deal of time on Tumblr, and teen writers are no exception; therefore, I want to help out teen writers in any way I can. They pretty much treat Tumblr as the entire internet itself, and Tumblr might as well be–you can find ANYTHING on there. I can type in any anime, and I guarantee you that a lot of the pics that pop up in the images on Google will all be from Tumblr.

While we writers are expected to have platforms now, and we are overwhelmed by the various social media options out there, I argue that Tumblr is one social media site you cannot ignore. And I am going to tell you how to effectively use it.

To start, here is a picture of a post I did on Writing Effective Action Scenes that has received a sudden influx of attention. I posted this two days ago. When I last checked it, it had about 45 notes. Now it has over 200 and is still receiving attention as I write this very post, so the picture I’m showing you is actually outdated, even though I took it several minutes ago (also notice how short it is):

action scenesLook at the very bottom. Notice that little heart and the number before it? That heart is your notes indicator, which includes re-blogs and likes. The number before it indicates my total notes, which is 274. The great thing about Tumblr is that people do not like and re-blog to like and re-blog. Their likes and re-blogs are genuine. I wrote a post before this with generic writing advice that received over 400 notes. I didn’t know this until I checked the post a week later. Needless to say, I was completely astonished. So how did my post receive this much attention?

  • Tags. You cannot underestimate the importance of tags on Tumblr. The good thing about Tumblr is that everything you need is right on your dashboard. If you want to know what popular tags are, type in a certain word into your search bar, and you can go through that tag and see how popular it is. With WordPress, you have to go to the reader to see what your followers are doing. Not with Tumblr. Now the screen capture above is via thewritingcafe, so thewritingcafe only tagged it as #fightscenes. However, when I tagged it, I used writing, writers, writing advice, writing tips, revising, editing, editing tips, revising tips, authors, teen writers, and so on and so forth. Tumblr does not limit tags like WordPress does. When you’re typing in a tag, Tumblr will recommend a popular tag to you as well, but make sure that tag is relevant to your post. Don’t try to use Google search SEO tags, because Tumblr isn’t about that. A good post on Tumblr has the chance to receive more notes than the followers you have, so it’s unnecessary to try to use Google SEO tags, not when generic tags can carry you far enough. Plus, when the right person spots your post, that person can create an SEO tag for you, if that person so desires, which brings me to my next point.
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Thank goodness there wasn’t anything inappropriate when I screen captured this. Users don’t always censor themselves. But this is what a Tumblr dashboard looks like.

  • Getting the right person to re-blog your post. thewritingcafe is the reason why my post has received a sudden influx of attention, as this blog likely has many, many followers. All it takes is that one person to find your post, and your post can become a sudden hit on Tumblr. Feel free to re-blog your own post, too, tagging it with the same tags you used so that it gets right back into the tag. If you provide something awesome, that one right person WILL find your post and give you the attention your hard work deserves. At the same time, I think I MAY have followed this person on the writing tag before it received all these notes. Even so, if you write a quality post, regardless of whether or not you followed that person that made you a hit, that post is receiving much-deserved attention, so don’t think your hard work is riding on the back of someone else.
  • Creating content that provides a service. Many of my followers tend to re-blog a lot of pictures posts, but these are followers who are in it for the content and aren’t necessarily about creating content themselves. This is not a bad thing. This is a great thing. They are actively seeking content that appeals to them, so if you can provide that content, you are guaranteed re-blogs by these people who want others to see what you’ve created. As I am still an unknown writer, I have to create content that appeals to them. Someone like John Green can post whatever he wants and receive attention; he already has a massive fanbase from his books alone. Not me. So I have to work at creating content. As a writer, you need your Tumblr to be different from your other social media sites, so you want your Tumblr to be something that will gain popularity on this website. Peruse it and see what’s generally popular among writers and readers. You do not have to post generic writing advice like I do. I am a YA writer, so it makes sense for me to post generic writing advice to aspiring teen authors. If you write adult fantasy, for example, you need to tailor your blog around this and create content that will be popular.
  • Re-blog others’ posts that are relevant to your blog. I love going through my Tumblr feed. My followers post such interesting things, like gifs, text posts, videos, among other things. However, I generally only like these posts. I do not re-blog, because most of them are not relevant to the content I create. Even so, if a popular post shows up in my feed that is social justice in nature, I will re-blog it and add my own commentary that will boost the conversation and, subsequently, have my followers interacting with it as well. So when you do re-blog something, add text relevant to the conversation. This will give your followers a taste of who you are as a person based on what you re-blog. Try not be controversial, though. I made that mistake in the beginning, and it earned me some trolls.
  • Follow everyone back who likes and re-blogs your ORIGINAL content. Not only will this give YOU more attention, but once you post something, all those followers are going to be able to see what you post, granted their feed isn’t cluttered, which is the only downside of Tumblr I can think of. Then again, any social media site has the potential to be cluttered–Wordpress isn’t innocent in this, especially if people subscribe to mass amounts of blogs. Even so, Tumblr users will scroll and scroll and scroll through their feeds since Tumblr is so user friendly. *Note: You cannot individually thank all those who follow back; more likely than not, a mass amount of people will do so. 32 people have followed my Tumblr today, so I wrote a post thanking them.
  • Utilize your ask box. All you have to do is create a post encouraging people to ask you questions that are relevant to the content of your blog. Sometimes you don’t even have to do this. People will eventually start asking you questions of their own volition. Try to answer their questions. However, once your blog picks up in popularity, you may not be able to answer all questions. John Green certainly can’t, but he will still answer questions anyway.

That’s my advice on using Tumblr effectively. You can feel free to follow me on Tumblr if you are seeking writing advice. My Tumblr post tomorrow will be tips on brevity–cutting the fat, basically. My WordPress post on Wednesday will be updates on my author life, plus a picture quote from When Stars Die. Can’t wait to see you all then!

Advice to All Writers: Managing Adversity

tumblr_inline_mmo2liWoO21rsw1yfIn the vein of Advice to Young Writers, this is advice for everyone, for anyone, really, who has a goal set high and is being told by others that the goal is too high, that success, especially writing success, is impossible.

I met someone at the mall training to be a motivational speaker, and he has become a pretty good friend of mine. He pumps me up just talking to him, but he’s about making the impossible possible. Just talking to this kid puts life into a withering dream because then you start spouting off what you’re going to do to make your dream come true.

Of course, good motivational speakers will do that. Self-motivating is hard. It’s hard for me to keep myself motivated at work when traffic is dead and I can’t get even a trickle of people to sign up for the Fiat. But I still do it. I still work toward the goal of making killer sales. I haven’t given up because I know it’s possible.

Writing is freaking hard. You hear that all the time. Even worse, you hear from people that you need to manage your expectations, that you shouldn’t expect much out of your writing career. To dream big is to dream yourself into failure, they say.

But we are only told this because the tendency is to become bitter when our expectations aren’t being met. We become those very people who talk down to writers and tell them to stop dreaming big, and so we’ve talked ourselves into believing that the only people who have achieved success are those who are lucky.

So why do we let ourselves fall into bitterness? Because nobody ever motivated us to believe otherwise. We all could use our own motivational speakers, mainly creating ones that always exist in our minds. It’s easy to become jaded when you’re working your butt off, but nothing is as it should be.

Let yourself dream big. You should. You’ll only work that much harder toward achieving it, and there will always be some kind of rewarding payoff for hard work. Success is different for everyone anyway.

I don’t think anyone needs to be telling anyone else to manage expectations because it’s clipping your wings. We’re told the arts is a fickle business, so people tend to try to throw their passions elsewhere while barely developing the passion they already have. Yes, you have to make money so you can eat and survive and all that, but keep pressing forth toward that ultimate dream of becoming a full-time writer or creating a painting that sells for thousands, or that album, or that whatever artful endeavor.

The key to all of this, really, is managing adversity. You naturally want to become bitter when things are taking too long. But anything worthwhile isn’t going to be easy. You also shouldn’t compare your successes to other successes. So what if Amanda Hopkins had publishing stardom fairly fast? Things are tougher now than when Amanda first wrote. You used to be able to buy an ad on Kindle Nation and get noticed pretty fast, but now Kindle Nation is flooded, thus ads aren’t as effective as they once were. You just now have to find your own way to get noticed.

Don’t ever loosen the hold on your dream because then you’ll start working less to make that dream come true. Instead let adversity strengthen you and adjust your dream as needed, but never let adversity overwhelm you. Control your response to adversity, and you won’t feel like you’ve failed, even if you think you have.

So what are your dreams? How will you go about achieving them in the face of adversity?

Stupid Writing Advice

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There are a few rules on this list to the right that have me seething out of my writerly mind. Some of them are good, but some of them are outright ridiculous, whether or not you have the experience to know when to break them. I’m going to pick at the ones from this list that I find extremely stupid.

1. Write what you know.

I hate this one because it’s impossible to write what you know. And really, I should only break this rule in an emergency? You’re not going to know every facet of your book, hence why many a published book was written with research in mind. If you write what you know, your story is likely to not be that interesting. I had no idea about the workings of a convent when I wrote When Stars Die. I did research on the Salem Witch Trials. The point is, I had to do research, and you likely will too. I suppose if you took this rule literally, write what you know includes writing what you know from research, but in this list, this list that says to only break these rules in emergencies, write what you know likely doesn’t include the research aspect.

2. Kids and animals can’t die.

Just what? I get killing off a kid or an animal can be a cheap way to arouse sympathy, but this also suggests that the lives of animals and kids are too valuable, and that the lives of adults don’t hold enough value, so it’s okay to kill off adults, but, by god, you kill off a kid or animal and you’re stepping on sacred ground. I’ll kill off kids or animals if I want to, especially if it’s relevant to my plot. They’re not immune to death.

3. No multiple points of view.

How are you going to learn to use multiple points of view unless you start writing from multiple points of view? If you find it’s pointless later, that’s why you can edit it out. But you’re never going to understand how to use them unless you actually try to write with them. So break this rule. Kill it, if you’re interested in experimenting with multiple POVs. Shannon’s Minutes Before Sunset uses two POVs, and I think she does a marvelous job, and it’s only her second book. I can tell she didn’t care about this “rule.”

4. Happy endings are required for commercial fiction.

No they’re not. Have you been reading commercial fiction lately? A lot of the endings are bittersweet. I don’t consider bittersweet endings happy endings because the MC is often left with some sort of trauma that is going to have to be sorted out. And trauma is painful. It’s not happy.The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray has a bittersweet ending. Mockingjay has a bittersweet ending. I don’t know what commercial books you’ve been reading lately, but I haven’t been reading any with happy endings.

Write whatever ending you want to write. Even if you’re writing commercial fiction. The only books that require happy endings are Harlequin romance novels.

5. If you want to sell, write to current trends.

Just what? Okay, When Stars Die is a paranormal romance, but I didn’t do it to jump on the paranormal bandwagon. It’s dangerous to force yourself to write to current trends because what you write can turn to crap. Also, I’ve seen plenty of books selling that aren’t along current trends. Write whatever the heck you want. Moving on.

6. Write 1000 words a day.

No. Try to write every day, however many words you can get in. Don’t tell me what to do, especially because you don’t know my life.

End rant.

Advice to Young Writers

tumblr_mmkxkqNXQQ1sqwr7co1_500 I am not here to deliver any harsh reality advice about being a writer because there is enough of that nonsensical advice floating around. I want to put a stop to that because I see a lot of young writers divvying out this advice, and I’m not sure where they’re getting it from. Jaded writers who had to *gasp* work really hard to get published? Jaded writers who had to *gasp* put up with rejection? Just stop giving out advice that basically tells writers why they don’t want to be writers. Yeah, writing is hard and time consuming and maybe soul sucking from time to time, but it is not for other writers to decide who should stick with writing and who shouldn’t. That is up for the individual writer alone to decide, not you. Never you. All you need to be doing is writing.

So here’s some positive advice to encourage you, rather than deter you.

Writing is freaking hard but so is anything worthwhile. You’re young. Most likely your writing won’t be publishable until you’re older–and I’m talking about publishable for the big leagues, not your school newspaper or anthology, though that is still pretty cool. And even if you do get published, that won’t be your best starting out. I don’t think When Stars Die will be my best starting out. I’d like for it to be, but I’m 22 going on 23. I still have so many years left in my life to improve my craft.

Don’t be in a hurry to publish. Have you ever noticed that when teen writers make mistakes, reviewers excuse them on the basis that they’re teens? But when adult writers make mistakes, they’re chastised as bad writers? You want to make the best darn first book you can, so don’t be in a hurry to find an agent who will launch you to publishing stardom. Take your time. I’m so glad I took my time.

Don’t write to become rich, but it doesn’t mean you can’t dream about it.  I always say set your goals high so you work that much harder. My dream is to be a full-time writer, and I am going to work super hard to make that a reality. I’m going to keep writing and doing the best that I can to make certain I am noticed.

Don’t let anyone tell you you’re a crap writer. “The expert in anything was once a beginner.” It’s going to be rough starting out, but you’re going to get better. You know why? Because you have to. Because you have options now. You can self-publish, and while it’s not easy, it means you can get your work read by others and earn money. That option didn’t exist when I was thirteen or fourteen or even eighteen. Self-publishing has always been around, but it was never accessible without thousands of dollars. And you’re young! The writing will always be there, and there are so many resources out there that can help you better your writing. Have fun with it. Remember why you started writing and stick with it.

And last, don’t act like you’re an expert, because you’re probably not–hence why I seethe when I read such negative advice from such young writers. You may have had an essay published or even a short story, but you know as much about the business as someone unpublished. The business is fickle, ever changing, so don’t profess to know it. I don’t profess to know it at all.

Seeking 9 More Reviewers for Paranormal Romance (Free ARCs included!)

My MC goes to a cathedral like this. This beautiful photograph is by Joshua Holko.

My MC goes to a cathedral like this. This beautiful photograph is by Joshua Holko.

I am sitting at 41 interested reviewers and have 9 spots left to review When Stars Die, a paranormal romance that is more heavy in the paranormal than the romance. You will receive a free ARC in exchange for doing a review and/or quote. You may not receive it for a month or two, but all I would require for now is an e-mail address to put on the list. It is being published by AEC Stellar Publishing.

In any case, here is a bare bones summary of what the book is about:

Amelia Gareth’s brother is a witch and the only way to save her family from the taint in his blood is to become a professed nun at Cathedral Reims in the snowy city of Malva. However, in order to become professed, she must endure trials that all nuns must face.

Surviving these trials is not easy, especially for Amelia, who is being stalked by shadowy beings only she can see. They’re searching for people they can physically touch, because only those they can touch can see them. Amelia soon learns why she is being stalked when she accidentally harms her best friend with fire during the third trial. Fire is a witch’s signature. The shadows are after witches.

Now Amelia must decide what to do: should she continue on her path to profession knowing there is no redemption for a witch, or should she give up on her dream and turn away from Cathedral Reims in order to stop the shadows who plan to destroy everything she loves?

 

Comment if you are interested! You can either e-mail me your e-mail (you can find my e-mail in the contact tab), or leave your e-mail in the comments.

The Madness of Pre-Release Marketing…Again

Emily the Strange #1, Dark Horse Comics (Augus...

Emily the Strange #1, Dark Horse Comics (August 2005) I feel just like this. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My fiancé and I did some thorough research on this SEO optimization thing, only to come to one conclusion: that I have no time to manage the maintenance of my own wordpress.org website and certainly don’t have the money to hire someone to do it. I keep reading articles that mention people shy away from SEO because of its complexities, but I’m shying away from it because of its power to be time-consuming. I have to work my part-time job, for my  health I need to do ballet, for my book I need to keep on top of social media and blogging, and for my writing career, I need to keep writing. I’ll also be starting school up in the fall where I will have to drop some of my work hours, so where can managing my own .org database fall into this? It can’t. It’s simply impossible. I barely even have any time to read. I need to get to reading a proof from an author looking for pre-release quotes. I’ll probably end up doing that during work today instead of checking my traffic results.

So instead of stressing about this SEO plugin, I’m just going to have to start using Google AdWords to choose the strongest keywords that will yield more search engine results to my website while expecting WordPress to deal with all the maintenance and junk. I also need to buy my own domain simply because it looks better.

In the meantime, I’m going to keep doing weekly book giveaways. I might have to hold off on doing one for one week simply because my fiancé wants me to buy IMAX tickets for Superman (I also said I would anyway), and that’s pricey. But I do want to keep doing this because not only is it the best way to bring in an audience, but it’s a way for me to thank my followers because I don’t always have the time to return the favor by visiting their websites, even though I do my best to read the posts that I find in the Reader. I also try to visit the websites of frequent visitors to mine, but I think books for now are the best way of showing that appreciation.

I am still trying to crack the code of how to use Tumblr as a viable form of social media. I just think the best way to do this is make very visual blog posts and talk about my writing life. Since Tumblr is filled with aspiring teen writers, they think it’s amazing when you land a book deal, so talking about that is likely to get me more attention than talking about it on, say, Twitter, where authors often frequent anyway and getting a book deal to them anymore is like eating a Skittle. Skittles still taste great, but you can’t have just one.

For Twitter, I’m going to do my best to attend scheduled chats that relate to blogging or writing or both. I also need to take my author’s page on Facebook seriously, but, half the time, I never know what to do with it, so more research is necessary for that.

Also, if my contract manager can’t afford to (because she will be spending some money on marketing, something you don’t find at a lot of houses), I’m going to take the leap and buy an ad on BookBub. I’m going to do more research though to see how effective this really is because the ads are pricey. It’s lucky I’m doing young adult because YA ads are $200.00. But I have crazy dreams and I don’t stop until I’ve achieved them, even with monetary risk.