Favorite Books of 2015
In no particular order, here are some of my favorite books of 2015!
I mostly read non-fiction, whether it’s to gain knowledge about a particular subject (like indie publishing or photography), or just to learn about other geeks out there like me.
5000 Words Per Hour – Chris Fox
This book, along with Monica Leonelle’s “The 8 Minute Writing Habit”, has changed my writing routine for the better. I admit, I’m a total pantser, but I wanted to see if this book could still help me. And it does! While I’m no where near writing 5,000 words per hour, this book has been helpful in two ways. 1.) I’m writing every single day again, which is awesome! Some days I may only manage 250 words in my work-in-progress, but my personal goal has been to form a daily habit of writing at least 250 words. The good news leads me to… 2.) Most days I double and triple my daily goal! Again 500-750 words may not be huge numbers, but in time they will add up. I encourage any writer struggling with Butt In Chair Time each day to read this book. Do the sprints. Even short sprints add up.
The 8-Minute Writing Habit – Monica Leonelle
(See above for some of why I LOVE this book! Seriously, just like the title suggests, it helped change my writing habits.) “The 8-Minute Writing Habit” basically inspires you to write – at a minimum – for 8 minutes a day. Who doesn’t have 8 minutes to spare? The great thing about this mini-Pomodoro method is that once you get through those first 8 minutes, you’re usually in the flow of things and don’t want to stop. So, get this book, and learn how to turn an 8 minute habit into productive writing!
Writing Into the Dark – Dean Wesley Smith
I follow Smith’s daily blog (formally called “Writing in Public”) religiously. Really, the man needs no introduction. He writes every day and shares his word totals with with the world. Very inspiring stuff! His career spans four decades and has written both traditionally and self-published, as well as for his own publishing company, WMG Publishing. “Writing Into the Dark” is about learning to follow our Creative Voice whenever we put our Butt in Chair to write and to ignore our Critical Voice. You know, the one that likes to tell us “that story isn’t good”, or “you’ll never amount to anything writing like that.” Following Creative Voice and tuning out Critical Voice is no easy feat, but this book will help any author develop that skill. Personally, I’m a total pantser, and I loved this book even more because it was like talking with an old friend who shared my writing style. Not that I needed the validation. Outlining just isn’t for me, and it’s nice to know I’m not alone.
Prosperity for Writers – Honoree Corder
I loved this book so much I just bought and read her follow-up: the Prosperity For Writers Productivity Journal. This book helped cement the belief that I can succeed as a writer. This will be one of those books that I turn to time and time again.
You’re Never Weird on the Internet – Felicia Day
It’ll make you laugh, cry, and make you fall in love with gaming all over again (not that anyone would fall out of love with gaming). Highly recommended even if you aren’t familiar with Day. If you’re a fellow geek, you’ll enjoy it.
On the iPhone – David Hume Kennerly
This book inspired my first daily photo challenge from April 2015. While I do enjoy shooting with my Canon 70D, my iPhone is my favorite camera. Why? Because I always have it with me. And I’ve captured more memories and beautiful shots than I ever could have planned to do.
Grandma Gatewood’s Walk – Ben Montgomery
Not only is the story of this 67 year old lady’s thru hike on the AT a fascinating one, it’s also a nice history lesson. A lot has happened in our modern world just since the 1950s (interstates were built, cars were manufactured, etc), which really puts things into perspective. If you’re a hiker or enjoy the outdoors (and living off the grid), give this one a read.
As you can see, my non-fiction list far outweighs my fiction lists. This is pretty typical. I’d like to up the number of fiction books I read in 2016.
Devoured (The Hunger #1) – Jason Brant
A fast, fun zombie-filled ride. Except that these are no ordinary zombies. I won’t spoil it for ya, you’ll just have to read and enjoy it for yourself.
The Haunted Mask, One Day at Horrorland, and Why I Quit Zombie School – R.L. Stone
Goosebumps are just plain fun. And “The Haunted Mask” is just plain creepy. What more could a Monster Kid like me want? I got on a Goosebumps kick later in the year thanks to my nephew (the same one who inspired my book, “Zombie Boy: Press Start“), and the ones listed above were some of my favorites.
Until next year…. !
Goodbye 2015, Helloooo 2016!
2015 was a pretty good year
While I didn’t accomplish all of my writing goals, I did manage to publish two books that I’m very proud of: “Monster Girl: Ghost in the Attic” and “Zombie Boy: Press Start“. I also wrote the vomit draft of my first horror book as well as several short stories, all of which will be published at a future time. I was hoping this year would be a good time to bring my books to the audio world, but it’s something I decided to put off a tad longer.
One big goal that I hoped to accomplish this year just recently happened. ALL of my books are now available at all the major online retailers: iBooks, Nook, Kobo, and, of course, Amazon. I’m in this for the long haul, and going wide to all the other stores just seemed like a no-brainier.
It was also a good year for me personally due to all the hiking my husband and I were able to do. And also for the two hiking-and-gaming-filled visits by my best friend and her husband. Unfortunately, with the good comes the bad, and 2015 also brought me both home and auto repairs to deal with. Bleh. However, I am very blessed with what I have!
My focus for 2016
Book sales are still low, which is to be expected. Readers don’t read my books if they don’t know they exist. So, 2016 is the year of promotion and more writing. Writing needs no explanation. I’m a writer, therefore I write. However, I can’t efficiently promote unless I have a decent number of reviews. I’m working on a plan that I can implement hopefully in the first quarter of the new year that will net me more reviews, and thus allow me to promote more. I’m sure readers hear/read it all the time, but it’s true. Reviews are so very important to indie authors like myself. Think about it. When you’re browsing an online store for a product, you check out the reviews, right? I know I do. I want to get a general feel for what other users think of said product. Does it perform as advertised? Is it a good value? Has it held up over time?
Books are no different. We buy them based on what our peers say about them. I’m gonna toot my own horn here for just a second. Knowing how important reviews are, I try to return the favor as often as I can. Granted, life is hectic and I don’t always remember to do it, but I do practice what I preach and write reviews for some of the books I read. (I mainly review on Amazon and Goodreads since the Kindle has been my preferred reading platform for a while now.)
And speaking of reviews…. One thing I would like to do more of in 2016 is read more fiction! I read a crapTON (yes, that’s a word) of non-fiction. I’d like to make a concerted effort to read even more indie fiction this next year, especially in the horror and thriller genres. With that will come more reviews, too!
See how I brought that back around? I firmly believe ya get what ya give.
Stay tuned for books 2 and 3 in the “Adventures of Zombie Boy” series! Be sure to check out book 1, “Zombie Boy: Press Start” available NOW!
Available on: Amazon | iBooks | Nook | Kobo
Happy New Year, everyone!
“Zombie Boy” is Now Available on iBooks
Anyone who knows me knows that I love both my Mac and my iPhone, especially my iPhone. Not only is it basically my brain (aka Mission Control), but it is my favorite camera. After all, the best camera is the one you have with you. And I have my iPhone on me 99.99999999% of the time.
My iPhone has been used in two daily photo challenges this year (one from April and the second is going on right now), and it gets a lot of use out on the hiking trails. One of my favorite things to do with my iPhone’s camera is use the Olloclip 4-IN-1 lens attachment and shoot macro. Spring and summer bring out the bugs, and while I prefer them to not be in my house, I do love taking extreme close-up photos of strange-looking bugs that I find outside. (Click here to view photos on my Flickr page: Bugs and iPhoneography.)
Not only do I love the built-in camera, but my iPhone is used to edit photos, read books, watch movies, listen to music and podcasts, and even, wait for it… write stories. I’m writing this blog on my iPhone right now. My latest book, “Zombie Boy: Press Start” was written almost entirely on my iPad. (See #2 in the “5 Things I Learned” Post.)
My MacBook Air fills in the gaps (which aren’t many), and is also used to compile and publish all my books. Which brings me to the point of this blog entry. Books. Specifically, iBooks.
Like many indie authors, I did a stint of time in Amazon Kindle exclusivity, but now the time has come to spread my wings and take that next step into my writing career’s future.
I’m happy to announce that not only is “Zombie Boy” now available on iBooks, but ALL my books are! It was a goal of mine to “go wide” to all the major book retailers this year, and I am beyond thrilled to have reached that goal! Being published in 51 countries is a pretty awesome feat! That’s 700 million potential customers who love their iPhones as much as I do.
To celebrate, “Zombie Boy” will be on sale for a limited time for $.99! (Links for each book are listed below.)
Be sure to let me know what you think by leaving a review on iBooks. It may seem small, but reviews help indie authors in a HUGE way.
5 Things I Learned Writing “Zombie Boy: Press Start”
Writing “Zombie Boy” taught me a few things.
From video game references to the different ways to describe zombie goo, I had a blast writing my third book! Like always, it was a great learning experience. Here are a few things I learned.
1. That setting writing goals is a MUST.
After reading “5000 Words Per Hour“ and “The 8-Minute Writing Habit“, I decided to set a daily writing goal of my own. My initial goal was to meet one of the following every day: either write for 8 minutes OR write 250 words. I basically do my own shorter version of the Pomodoro Technique. Because, honestly, I have no excuse to not write 8 minutes every day. It really is amazing what setting a daily goal did for my productivity. I typically write longer than 8 minutes, and most days I at least double, and sometimes triple, my minimum word count. (And the 1,000 word days are like Heaven!) Using this technique, “Zombie Boy” was written in just shy of two months. Compare that to the seven months for “Monster Girl” and five for its sequel. The takeaway from this is, no matter how small, every little bit adds up. Another good book to read on that very subject is “The Compound Effect“.
2. That I can write first drafts using a keyboard.
When I wrote my first two books, “Monster Girl” 1 and 2, I did so longhand using only pen and paper. For most of my writing life that is how I preferred to write. But I’ll be honest, transcribing from paper to screen is so not fun. It’s such a drab that with “Zombie Boy”, I wanted to learn how to tap into my creative flow using a keyboard the same way I am able to do it with pen/paper. Surprisingly, it was easier than I expected! I even wrote paragraphs using my iPhone but I mostly wrote entire chapters on my iPad since those are two devices that I always have at arm’s length. My MacBook Air was mainly used for editing.
3. That I’m still a total pantser.
For the record, I do outline key events, but it’s usually nothing more than a few sentences. Mainly to get what’s in my head down on paper so that I won’t forget it before I write it. I’ve mentioned before that Stephen King writes using a similar method, but I also recently read another book on the subject that I really liked. Dean Wesley Smith’s “Writing Into the Dark“ is a great read for anyone feeling unsure about your pantsing methods. Not that we need permission to write the way that feels most natural, but it is nice to know we aren’t alone.
4. That there is a fine line between enough and too much.
“Zombie Boy: Press Start” is chock-full of video game references. Some are obvious and others not so obvious. Balancing how many references was tricky. My love of gaming could have lent itself to a reference every other page, but I had to make sure that each one fit the story. I do feel I captured that balancing act, and I promise there will be more fun references in future sequels!
5. Naming characters/places/games/etc. is hard.
You’d think it would be easy, but it’s something I struggle with all the time. Naming stuff can be fun, but when that perfect name eludes me – the one that encapsulates the very essence of that person, place, or thing – it feels like pulling teeth. I have two criteria for naming: 1.) it must sound good, and 2.) it must have meaning, whether apparent to the reader or not. Even coming up with the subtitle for this book was a challenge. The book needed an immediate reference to gaming since it plays a major role in the story, and I think “Press Start” does an excellent job of conveying that. If you’re one of the people I hit up for name ideas, THANK YOU for your ideas and putting up with me!
Thank you for reading! “Zombie Boy: Press Start” is available at all your favorite online bookstores! I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it!
Available on: Amazon | iBooks | Nook | Kobo
How I published a book while playing Fallout 4
A lot of blood, sweat, and radioactive tears, that’s how.
I’ve put an insane number of hours into Fallout 4 since its November 10th release date, and I’ve put an equal number into editing, polishing, and publishing “Zombie Boy” in that same amount of time. To say my brain feels like someone used a Mesmetron on it would be an accurate statement. But, boy, does this feel awesome!
I started “Zombie Boy” in September at the request of my nephew. He loves the “Monster Girl” series and is a HUGE zombie fan, the biggest I know (and I know a few). He asked me, “When are you gonna write the ‘Adventures of Zombie Boy’?” Well, I couldn’t get that title out of my head, not to mention, who’s gonna say ‘no’ to such a request?
On November 11th, I finished the first draft of “Zombie Boy”, just one day after Fallout 4‘s release. What timing! (I wish I could say it was all planned, but it was a total accident. Ok, maybe a little planned.) And now, a month later, I’m happy to share “Zombie Boy” to the world!
Join Liam and his friends on an action packed, zombie-bashing adventure! For a limited time, “Zombie Boy” is on sale for $.99 (ebook). It’s available in Paperback and ebook at Amazon today, but I’m not stopping there. “Zombie Boy” will be available for iBooks and Nook very soon!!
Thank you to everyone who helped make this possible! My editors, Jessica and Susan; cover designer, Craig; to all the advanced readers: Rhonda, Viki, Roger, Tori, Lori, and Lori (that last part sounds like a cool all-girl rock band), and to anyone I may have forgotten (my brain is mush – again, see paragraph one, haha), I couldn’t do this without you!
Cover Reveal – “Zombie Boy: Press Start”
Announcing “Zombie Boy: Press Start”!
Baseball, video games, and… zombies. What could possibly go wrong?
Liam Walker wants is to be an all-star baseball player, but life has other plans. When his best friend, Katie, lends him a video game, his world literally changes. Transformed from a down on his luck boy next door into a zombie bashing video game character, Liam must learn to deal with bullies, new friends, and loss while attempting to learn the rules of the game and save everyone from a zombie apocalypse.
With time running out, can he navigate his way back to the real world before it’s too late? Or will the appeal of being a zombie slaying hero have him staying in the video game world forever?
“Zombie Boy: Press Start” is my third book and the first in the “Adventures of Zombie Boy” trilogy. It will be available very soon! My nephew is the biggest zombie fan I know and, after reading “Monster Girl”, it was only natural that he encourage me to write, as he called it, ‘The Adventures of Zombie Boy’. How could I say no to that? Combining our mutual love for gaming and his infectious enthusiasm for zombies, the story of “Zombie Boy” was born.