Category Archives: authors

My First Open Stage Event

On Friday night, I had the privilege of sharing two of my poems from Angelic Visions at D & S Music Hub’s Open Stage Night. This was the first time I actually had the opportunity to take part in this. I really enjoyed the experience. I confess to being more than a little nervous. But, the overall experience went well.

The two poems that I shared were EVICTED! And Beauty & the Beast. I think I read the second a little fast, due to nerves. But, the feedback I received was all positive. I got many compliments and praise for these two pieces, and was glad that they were enjoyed by the audience. In addition to that, I got to listen to other poets, short story authors, musicians, singers, etc. Plus, I met a lot of really cool, creative, and friendly people.

The things I would have done differently (or will do differently, next time I do this):

  • Relax, and be confident. It’s a casual atmosphere, not like I’m meeting with the press or a lot of big name publishers and editors.
  • Carry my tote-style purse, with a few extra copies of my book(s) in it, in case anyone is interested. And of course, keep a pen for signatures.
  • Have some kind of swag on hand, be it business card or bookmarks. It’s the perfect opportunity to give someone a card with your website/blog/author page url on it.
  • MENTION THE BOOK! Doh, I totally missed out on the opportunity to mention that these poems are from the anthology Angelic Visions. And, that they can download the book for FREE. Double DOH! I blame my nerves, and not knowing what to expect as it was my first ever Open Mike Night opportunity.

Also this one thing I did do: Thank the host and the person who invited me. I really appreciated this opportunity.

If any of you live in the Pittsburgh/Harmar/Cheswick/Springdale, Pennsylvania area I highly recommend you check out any and all events at D & S Music Hub. It’s a nice little place, run by very nice people and I’d really like to see their business flourish and expand.

If you have any questions, or advice for Open Stage events feel free to email me at dragondreamzpublications@gmail.com.

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Ten Reasons Why I’m Doing NaNoWriMo This year…

There are a lot of “Non-Nano” and “Nan-Not” post out here in the blogging world…

I just thought I’d add my two cents and state why I decided to give it a try again this year. Specifically, my own personal reasons for doing nano…and why I think I really need to at this time.

1. Why not? Since I’ve been laid off from my day job I have plenty of time on my hands. Lord knows it’s a better time waster than playing Angry Birds, Temple Run, etc. 😉

2. Self-esteem. Finishing my writing project on time aka “winning” Nano will give me a sense of accomplishment and boost my self-esteem, which I really need right now.

3. Self-discipline. I tend to start writing projects and not finish them. And, as of late I haven’t been disciplining myself to sit my butt in the chair and write for at least 3-4 hours. Participating in nano will help me do this, stop me from chasing after the next “shinny thing” because I have a goal with a deadline, and need to stick to it.

4. Freeing my creativity. The need to just sit, and let my mind flow…let the words flow.

5. My sanity! Good Lord, yes! The need to pour out my emotions in text format, use writing as a way to deal with things that frustrate me…Yeah. And, with Nano’s “rule” of not worrying about making it perfect I can do just that. If I get mad at somebody I can have my protagonist fictionally kill them. LOL

6. Forming good habits. Good writing habits, that is. When I wrote Wishful Thinking it was for Nanowrimo 2007, and the habit of writing every day lasted long, long past november. True, I did worry more about the rules of mechanics, punctuation, grammar, syntax, and style…but I kept up the good habit of writing daily, having a monthy and daily word count goal and a need to finish what I started.

As Og Mandino wrote, “I will form good habits, and become their slave.”

7. It’s fun. Simple as that.

8. Writing every day makes you a better writer, as does reading every day.

9. It will make me a better editor too. When this draft is finished, and after it sits for a while unnoticed, I will have my work cut out for me for sure! I will have a ton of revisions to tackle, from correcting misspellings and typos due to writing in a rush, fix my plot holes, add dialogue, etc…and then the fun stuff. Grammar. Punctuation. Spelling. Style. Syntax. Mechanics. Come January, I will have just as much practice doing all of that work as the work I am doing writing now. Thus, my skills will be sharpened.

10. When all is said and done, I will have added a great new body of work to my repertoire. And, I can do what I chose with it, polish it up to send to a publisher or have final edits done by an affordable editor, and publish it myself. 😉 You can never read or write too many books. 😉

The more you write, the more likely you are to become successful…So why not Nano?

Write with pride,
~K Crumley

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Filed under authors, creativity, day job, Fantasy Fiction, Goals, Goals and Resolutions, schedules, self-confidence, self-discipline, self-publishing/indie publishing, Staying focused, time management, time wasters, writing

Why I don’t Write Book Reviews

As some of you may remember, I used to do blog posts known as “Friday Five”. I would feature 5 titles from a specific genre each friday. Many of these titles were indie/self-published.

I would simply post the cover, blurb, and amazon/bn/smashword links. No one book got special treatment over any other.

While I was requesting for people to email me their info about said books, if they wanted me to include them, I started getting requests for all kinds of things from book reviews to author interviews, etc. THIS was not my intention…

It was not about reviewing and rating books, merely about spreading the word.

Plus, At the time I was working 40-50 hours/week at my dayjob, still editing and publishing Full Armor Magazine, 2 plus writing my own books and poetry, and apartment hunting. Something had to give…
(To make matters worse, I was suffering from colitis).

I was completely overwhelmed, and took a brief blog hiatus. When I began to blog again I ceased the inclusion of Friday Five. It was just too hard to fit that into my schedule. And, although I regretted dropping Friday Five for many reasons, I was relieved that I was no longer getting requests for reviews, etc.

Which brings me to my point:

It’s often debated whether we authors should or shouldn’t review each other’s works.
I’ve heard and considered arguments from both sides of the fence, and found that I can only speak for myself.

Here are the real reasons why I won’t review any book, indie or traditionally published (at least not in any public forum).

Time management. Between my crappy part-time day job, online courses through the Art Institute, Freelance web design work, writing my own books, and everything that indie publishing entails…I simply do not have the time. I wish that I did, but I don’t. Book reviews should not be written in an off-hand, casual manner. They should be written with a lot of thought, and by someone who sincerely enjoys doing them. Dare I say it, by someone who feels it’s their duty to do them. That is not me. Which brings me to my next point.

I don’t want to be known as a book reviewer, or even a reviewer/author. I just don’t think it’s a hat that I want to wear; even as a dual career of author/reviewer. I already proudly wear the dual hats of web designer/author. I don’t want to divide my goals any further as far as writing and editing, etc.

The Quid Pro Quo/Eye for an Eye Scenarios I avoid these scenarios at all cost. If we agree to review each other’s books in a sort of partnership, we foster the scoffer’s thinking that we are a “mutual back-patting society.” If we bash each others books, we risk being scorned and/or having the other author (or their fans) retaliate.

These are just some of my feelings on the matter. For more insight on this issue check out Kristen Lamb’s Blog!

Also, I’d love to hear your take on things…
Agree or disagree?

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New Words to Live (and Write) By.

~When you give up, and when you quit you are letting the haters win.~

~The road to success is made of many small steps, rather than one giant leap.~

~One word at a time…One word at a time…One word at a time…~

~Writer’s block is the result of under-confidence, rather than not having anything to write about. Take a break, and write a list of top 10 things you can do, or the achievements you are most proud of…If you come up with ten (or more!) Start writing again.~

~Don’t let anybody tell you “You can’t…” they’re probably only saying that because they can’t.~

~To paragraph John Lennon, “(Writing) is everybody’s business…it’s only the publishers that think THEY own it.” ~

~Don’t let anybody tell you “But no one wants to read about ____________.” How do they know? People tend to make grandiose statements, and speak for everyone else when they really only should speak for themselves. Nobody should ever speak for all of the readers in the world–people’s tastes vary when it comes to art. Tell your own story the way you want to tell it. Be true to yourself and to your artistic abilities.~

~Surround yourself with positive people. Let them lift you up. Listen to only positive thinkers. The “Negative Nellies” will drag you down if you let them.~

~Chose your mentors wisely. Foolish people will claim themselves as experts even if they’ve only done one thing right their whole life. The internet is full of “self-proclaimed experts” and less than 25% of them actually know what they’re talking about and/or are worth listening to. (there’s a whole separate blog post on this topic next week). What may work well for some may not be the right path for you. Look at the most successful people, take ONE thing they have done and try that out…Talk to educators (real educators) in the field, and get feedback ONLY from people you trust and respect. Again, chose your mentors wisely. ~

~Time is valuable. Take any spare moment you have and WRITE.~

~Read every day. Read mostly in your own genre, but read anything that interests you. Read non-fiction as well as fiction. Read good books, and even skim through bad books. Be a critical thinker and reader. What you like and don’t like about the work of others can help you make critical decisions about your own works, your own storytelling, and style.~

~CONFIDENCE is about more than reading a bad book and saying “I can write a better book than that.” CONFIDENCE is reading a great book, and saying “I can write a book as good or better than this one!”~

~Don’t pigeonhole yourself. We tend to do that with genre, and even with style. So many authors (and soon-to-be authors) go around saying “I only write paranormal romance,” or “I only write literary fiction,” when we should feel free to expand. If your muse is guiding you toward horror, don’t ignore it. If there’s a poem on your heart, write it down. If you don’t want to be known for doing “XYZ thing” then use a pen name, but by all means free that creativity! Maybe you can incorporate it into your own writing somehow, or do a side project…or write some stuff just to write it, without publication. Do not ignore your muse.~

~Formula fiction is a lot like filling out “Mad Libs.” I avoid it at all cost.~

~ The market is fickle. A few years ago we were mesmerized by a boy wizard, then it was vampire love stories, and now the trend is distopia… But epic fantasy has never really gone away, nor has romance, or mystery. As I’ve said before, don’t chase trends, don’t write for the market. Write what YOU want to write, and your books will be more likely to stand the test of time.~

~Feedback is vital, but don’t let your manuscript dwell in the “feedback basement.” That’s when you’re so afraid (or insecure) about your current project that you are trapped in the feedback/revise/feedback/revise/feedback/revise treadmill. At some point, your story is good enough and publish/submit worthy. Have the confidence and knowledge to know (yourself) when that is without relying on someone to TELL YOU when that is.~

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V. I Will Live This Day As If It Is My Last. (part I)

I will live this day as if it is my last.
I will finish this book/this chapter/this rewrite today rather than postpone it for tomorrow.

In short, I will do today’s work TODAY.
Tomorrow’s work belongs to tomorrow.

No longer will I procrastinate, especially with my writing.

Procrastination is another bad habit of mine that I have no choice but to break if I even hope to gain success.

“I will form good habits and become their slaves.”

You never know what tomorrow may bring…
You could wake up in the morning, and be too sick to work on your current project(s).
A storm could knock the power out, and you’d be relying on very little battery juice left in your laptop/tablet/phone.
The internet could be down…
Any number of things could happen that would interfere with your writing/productivity time.

Therefore, we must do what we can to take advantage of every spare moment we have TODAY. Carpe Diem!

Carpe Diem!  Gather ye Rosebuds While Ye May!

Carpe Diem! Gather ye Rosebuds While Ye May!

Take advantage of every spare moment that you have today! Every moment of peace and quiet is writing time, productivity time, and study time. Every uninterrupted second I will put toward work, and work joyfully.

I will treat each day in this matter.

For tomorrow is it’s own new day, and will be full of its own work and accomplishments.

Seize the Day! Live each day as if it is your last.

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II. I Will Greet Each Day With Love in my Heart.

Why do I write?
More specifically why do I pursuit a career in writing fiction?

Am I in it to get rich and famous? Maybe even be dubbed the next J.K. Rowling? Nice dreams…but no. That is not why I write.

Quite simply, I write because I love it. I love to write, and am in love with the whole process of writing and publishing from beginning to end. It is my passion.

A very wise woman who I respect, and fellow writer and poet once told me “You have to love what you do for a living…”
And she is right. I’ve had a lot of unpleasant jobs with bad career decisions, and have learned to steer clear of those. A day job (especially for a writer) is a necessity, but the more pleasant a day job you have the better off you are.
I like retail, and have really enjoyed retail loss prevention…
But more than that, I love writing.

As I focus now (more so than ever) on making writing my full time career, I am writing with a new fervor each day for minimum 2 hours…and before I know it those 2 hours have become 4…then 5.

I Start each day doing something that I love.

And, it has changed my attitude and outlook for the better.
Suddenly, I don’t mind the rest of my tasks so much.

Dishes, laundry, even Algebra homework. 😉

And when I’m all done with my other daily tasks, I just might find time to write again.

Start every day with love in your heart.
Do something that you love,
Spend time with someone that you love…

And the rest of the day will seem that much brighter. 🙂

~K. Crumley

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Filed under authors, creativity, day job, Goals, Goals and Resolutions, Great Reads, schedules, self-confidence, self-discipline, Staying focused, time management, Uncategorized, writing

New cover! New cover!

New cover!  New cover!

Yes, I know. A lot of skeptics out there are saying we should not do our own covers. We should leave that up to PROFESSIONALS, and yada yada…

Well, guess what…I am studying web design, and have expanded my knowledge of photoshop, etc. Therefore, I feel qualified to do my own graphics and covers. I’m not trying to brag or sound arrogant. I’m just implying that some of the “thou shalt nots” apply to some of us, but not to all of us in this new publishing era. I also see nothing wrong with learning to do new things, and making improvements upon what we do…even expanding our areas of expertise. 😉

Without any further a do,
Here is one of my NEW and IMPROVED book covers.

More on this later, but I just wanted to share. I’m quite proud of what I did here. 😉

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January 21, 2013 · 11:07 pm

What a stupid question…

You know, I really hate when people say “are you working hard or hardly working?” It’s not funny…it’s almost insulting. It’s like people want to hear you say you’re doing bad…so they can feel better about how they are doing. And, they use that cliché little jibe to cover their true intentions.
Alright, alright. I know it’s really an old joke, and maybe my recent job situation has just made me oversensitive. But, I have always hated that expression, and never found it amusing.
However, I have the perfect comeback…sad to say, it is actually true.
So, from now on when people ask me “Hey, Karen! Are you working hard or hardly working?”
My retort will be,
“Hm. Let’s see…I’ve got two novellas nearly completed; each part of two different fantasy series. I also have a poetry anthology to be released, a new short story, and a Young Readers adventure series on the back burner. I also just started a new epic fantasy series for NaNoWriMo…all while working a new full-time retail loss prevention job, and going to school online for Web Design. *deep breath*
Does that answer your question…?”

But maybe the late, great Donna Summers said it best…

Writing is hard work, especially working on multiple projects at once.
My day job is mentally and physically exhausting. Plus, going to school online…?
I just wish the world would slow down a little bit…

I also wish that people wouldn’t ask such a stupid, unfunny question.

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Playing Hardball with Myself: Writing and Self-discipline

I need to re-dedicate myself to my writing, and my writing related goals. To do this, I need to discipline myself. It can be hard with my new job, new class schedule, and other demands that accompany the holiday season. Still, I have to make every effort to get myself to where I need to be right now with current projects (there are many), New releases (hopefully soon), and (hopefully) sales.

I am at a time and place right now in my life which is perfect for me to set my sights on new goals, dedicate more time to writing, and focus on the publishing process from beginning to end. However, I lack self-discipline.

I have realized there comes a time to play hard-ball, and make myself stick to a solid writing schedule as well as new release dates. Now those release dates can be flexible…but not to the point where I’m letting a whole year (or years) slip by as I have done in the recent past. I have to stick to some kind of “grace period” of no longer than 3-4 months from my intended release date(s).

I’ll be posting release dates soon, as I work out the schedule and details.

For those of you patiently for Charmed Lives (sequel to Wishful Thinking), I assure you I will be working to make the next 3 titles available ASAP. And, I appreciate you as readers. 🙂

~K. Crumley

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Filed under authors, changes, creativity, Daughters of Oberia, Goals, Goals and Resolutions, schedules, self-confidence, self-discipline, self-publishing/indie publishing, Staying focused, stumbling blocks, time management, Uncategorized, Wishful Thinking, writing

Reasons People Give for Not Reading Indies.

As an indie author, there are several things that annoy me on internet message boards, blogs, and other online forums. People claiming they “don’t read indie authors.” They’re “tired of searching through the muck” for something “readable,” “well-edited,” or enjoyable. While these arguments used to really irk me, and evoke my pro-indie rants I decided that in order to rightfully respect other people’s opinions I can look at their reasoning. Yes, most of the time it’s just a cop-out excuse. But the other side of the coin is that they realize that (most of the time) indie authors are responsible for our own quality control, and they are holding us accountable.

So, without any further ado here are the five reasons I hear most often from the “LYK OMG I DON’T REED INDIEZ” camp. Only two are really worth listening to.

1. All indie books are bad, poorly written, un-edited, typo-laden, etc. This commentary to me is not worth listening to. Stereotypes are formed of ignorance. And, saying all indie titles are bad is no different than saying that all traditionally published books are bad. ALL books have errors and typos. And, there are good and bad books on both sides of the fence. MANY indies hire editors, proofreaders, etc. MANY indies do care about quality control. I happen to be one of them.

2. It’s too hard of work for me to weed through all of the crap to find something worth reading. That’s a lazy, cop-out answer. Sorry, but that’s my opinion. It’s not really all that hard to find good books whether traditional or indie. It’s not hard to download a sample, or use “see inside.” It doesn’t take that much time out of your busy day to read through even the first 3 pages. When you buy trad books, don’t you sample first? When you buy a paperback at B&N don’t you skim through it first?
Here’s a tip: The best indie books are in the TOP of the lists on Amazon. AND, you can narrow it by genre. The worthy titles (in both publishing formats) are in the top 100; other worthy reads are in the top 1,000 – 3,000 range. And, they are NOT at the bottom. If you’re “bottomfeeding” and finding nothing worth reading, then you have no one to blame but yourself.

3. Negative Nellies Many of the people who’ve made the above comment are victims of their own negative energy. If you go around thinking “all X is crap” when you search through indie titles, you’ll see only the crap. Every typo, misspelling, ugly cover, horrible blurb will jump out at you screaming “here I am!” Even in good books, the flaws will jump out at you and look just as awful, because you’ve pre-ordained it to be so.
And, I confess I’m speaking from experience here–not in regards to SP books, but in regards to TP ones. When I first embarked on my indie journey, I adopted the “all TP books are crap” mantra. Every error, every page printed crooked, every little typo and Mary Sue character nearly turned me against ALL books regardless of publication method. Thank Heaven that phase was short lived. 😉 The power of positive thinking. Try it some time. It won’t hurt…I promise.

4. Authors behaving badly. I confess this is hard to argue against. I’ve been turned off of writers for this (both TP and Indie). People in the arts should watch what they say and do as a rule, to be sure they don’t turn off their audience, full of consumers who will buy their product.
I only argue against the idea that “all indies do X thing.” That’s a stereotype, and stereotyping is just wrong. There are badly behaving authors on both sides of the fence. Case in point: Anne Rice.
Regardless, the need to police ourselves is apparent–because we don’t have publicists telling us “don’t do that.” There’s nobody in place to slap our wrists with a proverbial ruler, like a Catholic School Nun. I have a list of dos and don’ts in place, but I’ll save that for another time.

5. But I don’t know of any indie authors…and all the ones I’ve heard of have already traditionally published by now. This is a good argument, and a very plausible one. Maybe, it’s even a call-to-arms for most authors to get the word out about our books.
It’s very important to spread the word, and have our “street team” (readers, friends, relatives, co-workers, fellow authors, etc…) help spread the word about you and your books.
Even good books go unnoticed because of lack of advertising, marketing and ineffective promo.
There’s also a chance that some of these people read an indie/sp book without realizing that they were. Whether that’s due to the author being discreet about her publishing methods, or the fact that the book is just that professional from cover-to-cover and nothing stands out as looking “indie” it’s hard to say.

In closing, I’ll just say this: (and it applies mostly to #4) Don’t judge the whole lot of us based on the actions of a few. There are good indie books, and there are not-so good ones. There are sensible authors and ones who fly off the handle at every perceived slight. And, not every author engages in seedy publicity tactics, or sock puppet review scams. Most authors I know steer clear of doing that. Authors are people, and people make mistakes…it’s a shame that so many get judged on the actions of a few, but that carries over into ALL walks of life, not just authors.

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