Sunday, April 7, 2013

Top 15 Fighter Quotes for Great Inspiration

Hard knocks is probably a better teacher than any you'll find in a classroom. How else can you explain the remarkable insight boxers and karate men and MMA guys/girls possess? Despite many of these folks lacking a formal education, they know things about life, success, and overcoming adversity that you just can't find in textbooks, and that rival even the most intelligent minds for great inspiration. Some of my favorite philosophers, in fact, made their living with the ol' fisticuffs. When I get down on myself, like during tax season for example, these Top 15 Fighter Quotes keep me going.

15. Getting hit motivates me. It makes me punish the guy more. A fighter takes a punch, hits back with three punches.

--Roberto Duran

What I get from it: Life deals you blows. You can take them and give up, or you can fight back. I choose to fight back. So should we all.

14. Every fighter has a story that could break your heart. We lose, we get hurt, and everything comes apart. That's when it's so difficult to stay on the straight and narrow.

--Barry McGuigan

What I get from it: Champions hurt the same as any of us. The difference is they keep fighting. But so can we.

13. Oh yeah, I mean every fighter has got to be dedicated, learn how to sacrifice, know what the devotion is all about, make sure you're paying attention and studying your art.

--Marvin Hagler

What I get from it: If you're not willing to work hard, you won't be able to fight hard.

12. I never tried to be a mercenary or a killer, but a hard working fighter.

--Larry Holmes

What I get from it: Success doesn't have to mean tearing someone else down.

11. I was a tiger, a good fighter, in good shape, but I was always nervous before boxing matches.

--George Foreman

What I get from it: Controlled fear is good.

10. I don't mind answering any questions, because I'm not just a fighter. I'm a lot more than that.

--Gina Carano

What I get from it: We're all deeper than what we do for a living. Our value goes well beyond that.

9. Normally, I could hit hard enough, as anyone who studied my fights might have known. But the impression was that I was essentially a defensive, the very reverse of a killer, the prize fighter who read books, even Shakespeare.

--Gene Tunney

What I get from it: You don't have to fit into any one category, no matter how others think of you.

8. It's the bullies who are afraid, are the ones that do all the fighting. It's not the secure kids that get out there and fight. It's the insecure kids.

--Chuck Norris

What I get from it: It takes greater strength to be in control than out of control.

7. The only litmus test I have for myself—am I willing to fight anybody? When the day comes that I won't fight somebody, I won't fight anybody. If there is someone out there that makes me go 'I'm not fighting him,' then I'm not going to fight anyone anymore.

--Chael Sonnen

What I get from it: You don't have to be the best, but if you're not willing to try, then you shouldn't even be in the fight.

6. Within our dreams and aspirations, we find our opportunities.

--"Sugar" Ray Leonard

What I get from it: What drives us can ultimately become our reality, if we truly want it bad enough.

5. Life is a gamble. You can get hurt, but people die in plane crashes, lose their arms and legs in car accidents; people die every day. Same with fighters: some die, some get hurt, some go on. You just don't let yourself believe it will happen to you.

--Muhammad Ali

What I get from it: No one's immortal, but what's the point in sitting around worrying about the end when you're not there yet?

4. If you want to learn to swim, jump into the water. On dry land, no frame of mind is ever going to help you.

--Bruce Lee

What I get from it: The greatest teacher is doing.

3. Only a man who knows what it is like to be defeated can reach down to the bottom of his soul and come up with the extra ounce of power it takes to win when the match is even.

--Muhammad Ali

What I get from it: Losing teaches us about the sweet thrill of victory.

2. A lot of people give up just before they're about to make it. You know, you never know when that next obstacle is going to be the last one.

--Chuck Norris

What I get from it: This one really hit home the last few days. So much going right with my career right now, but I actually thought about giving up and getting a regular job because it seems like something always goes wrong just when I'm getting ahead. But I've come too far to back out now, and it took Chuck -- the real Chuck -- to convince me.

1. Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done! Now if you know what you’re worth then go out and get what you’re worth. But ya gotta be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody! Cowards do that and that ain’t you! You’re better than that!

--Rocky Balboa

What I get from it: I can't elaborate on that. It's perfect as is.

Great inspiration can come from the unlikeliest of places, and I could spend all day on sites like Quoto just reading what far greater people than myself have said about it. But if it's anything that you can learn from fighters, both in the ring and out, it's that action produces results. Until you're ready to get in the ring and start -- as Duran might say -- throwing three punches back for every jab life floats your way, you'll never reach full potential. So hit back, friends. What are some of your favorite inspirational quotes?

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Lickety Split: New Book Cover Design I Did

No finished product to go with it yet, but here's the cover design I did for a book I'm currently working on. Cost me $0.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Solitaire Parke: The Interview

Whether a writer or a reader, Goodreads is a pretty terrific place for lots of reasons. Having a place to track our voracious appetite for storytelling is the most obvious, but another is in some of the people you meet. Recently, I had the honor and privilege of meeting author Solitaire Parke through GR. If you haven't checked out Vengeance of the Wolf, then you really should, horror/sci-fi fans. He has a clean writing style, a lush talent for description, and a deft hand with characterization. Some people want to write, but have no business doing it. Solitaire is NOT one of those people. Recently, he swung by for an interview. Let's get to it. 

What do you want people to know about you as a person, as a writer? 
I'm really not much different from most people at least down deep where it counts.  I try to calibrate my moral compass every day and work as hard as I can.  As a writer, I try to never box myself into a genre corner and just write what I feel, or what I dream. 
Describe your publishing journey for readers. 
Like so many other authors, I have file cabinets full of rejection letters.  I got to a point in my life where I didn't trust anyone else to publish my work, so I decided to do it myself.  Indie authors understand exactly what I mean.  In the independent world it's more important to help others because what you do for them comes back tenfold.  I discovered it's easier to help them than to stress over me.  In the end, your work reaches the public and we as authors control our own destiny.   
What are some of the best/worst writing tips/advice you’ve ever received, and what advice would you give to an aspiring writer?
I think the worst tip I ever got was from a publishing house in regards to my poetry and was told that real poetry died two hundred years ago, ergo...go get a real job.
The best advice I have gotten came from an Indie author who told me not to listen to negative advice and just keep writing.
When did the writing bug first bite and who, if anyone nurtured you into what you would become?
I got bit on my twelfth birthday after being introduced to the writing of Edgar Rice Burroughs, the author of A Princess of Mars.  So I guess it was his fault.
Employers always ask about the 5-year plan. If you had an employer in indie writing—and thank God we don’t—what would you tell him your 5-year plan is? 
Write a lot, laugh a lot, love with abandon and make as many friends as possible.  Oh, and sign on for five more years.
From inception to The End, discuss your process for getting a book like Vengeance of the Wolf ready for the public?
That book required a massive amount of research into the paranormal.  I sat down every day and wrote my brains out.  Once it was finished, it went through multiple edits and I had everyone I knew read the book, sometimes more than once.  I'm sure it was more grueling for them than me.  I sent it out for reviewing to as many people as would say yes and then sent it to every publishing house that would read horror.  The rest as they say is Independent history.
On the business end, how much do you handle, and how much do you outsource, and what personal time/money costs are involved? 
I'm not a business man, and have never been.  I'm blessed with an incredibly talented family and so most of the expenditures that authors incur were simply bypassed.  My daughter is one of the premier digital artists in today's industry and I worked building web sites prior to becoming a full time writer.  Everything except ordering the finished hard copy is done in house.  I'm a very fortunate man.
You are quite varied in the style of writing you represent. How do you feel this helps or hurts in your overall career goals?
I'm sure that the reading public probably thinks I'm all over the board, but in the end I think they will see that I write from passion and not for any particular genre or just for remuneration.
What marketing techniques have worked best for you? 
I'm not sure there is a patented method that if you do a thing, then all will be well.  I'm pretty sure it amounts to hard work and diligence.
In VOTW, there are several unfortunate, ill-fated politicians. As a journalist, who covers politics, it was a nice bit of escapism for me. What are your views of the American political scene?
Hehehe...I think the book intimates my feeling about American Politics or just politics in general.  An oxymoron no matter how cleverly disguised...Jumbo shrimp, freezer burn, or honest politician is still...I think you can see where I'm going with this.
You have a passion for music, design and photography, it seems. Where do these things fit in to your writing time, how do they help you in your work as a writer, and what other hobbies capture your interests? 
All of my previous occupations have helped me to feel, hear or see with a different set of senses.  It has given me a unique way to describe what the mind's eye dumps into my consciousness.  At least I'd like to think it does. 
What special writing rituals do you employ when prepping your books—anything from creating and working from an outline to OCD’n it is welcome :).
I generally dream the books first.  From there it's translated to an outline and which piece of music it makes me think about.  I stick with the same kind of music until it's finished.  I guess the inspiration is fueled by how the music makes me feel.
What are your favorite or most influential books/movies, and why?
Edgar Rice Burroughs - A Princess of Mars and Bram Stoker's Dracula were the two most influential books for me.  Both authors had style, flair and were just plain gutsy.  Both have been turned into movies and although the movies weren't as good as the books, they still hold a special place for me.
Which dream projects do you just HAVE to tell that you haven’t gotten around to yet, and what’s currently in development?
I recently dreamed a new sci-fi project that I'm very excited about, but sadly hasn't been fitted into the docket of front burner writing.  The project I'm working on presently is "The Emerald Dragon" which is going up on my blog one chapter at a time until sometime later this year.  It's my first Urban Fantasy and I had no idea it would be this much fun.
Series fiction is, marketably, a good idea for indie and traditional writers alike. What are your thoughts on it—do you find it easier or harder than one-and-dones? 
I like the series fiction concept.  If one takes off on you, it gives you the direction you need to go, but sometimes the urge just smacks you in the head to write one for which there is no return.  Single standalones are easier because you don't have to hold back, it's just total disclosure by the time you finish and that's pretty satisfying too.
What’s your very next book?
The next one up will be released this month and is entitled "Tinker Smith & the Conspiracy of OZ."  "Tinker Smith & the Conspiracy of OZ" is the story of ten children stolen from their parents and genetically altered. Their new found abilities cause them to become outcasts to society and ultimately superstars that can save the world from the geneticist who made them. Oscar Zoroaster, the self proclaimed Wizard of Oz and his private army, follow on the coat tails of global destruction to affect his dream. His technological prowess is far beyond standard science and he deploys it on an unsuspecting populace. This evil genius wants to reshape the world into the image of his children. His "OZ" on earth.

Vengeance of the Wolf is available in all sorts of ways, along with Solitaire's other works, at the official Solitaire Parke website. Check him out! 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Jodi Picoult: Out of Touch with Reality

With more and more of us earning a living through self-publishing, it’s kind of amusing when you hear someone as out of touch with reality as Jodi Picoult chime in about what a writer should and should not be doing with his career.

In a recent interview with The Daily Beast, Picoult gave the following advice to aspiring authors: “Take a workshop course. You need to learn to give and get criticism and to write on demand. (Me: Agreed.) And DO NOT SELF PUBLISH.”

Great advice if this was 2005.

What we have here is a New York Times Bestselling Author giving career advice to a different kind of professional, whose platform she doesn’t even remotely understand. It’s like a lottery winner telling you to spend all your money on tickets instead of investing in a 401K or IRA.

Picoult was lucky enough to win the New York lottery. Yes, she pounded the pavement tracking down the lotto tickets until she found the winning numbers, but in the end, luck rewarded her hard work and unwillingness to give up. Same as any indie author making it on their own terms.

And there are several.

Of course, what’s really happening here is Picoult is defending the platform, which made her a success: traditional publishing. She’s doing so because she’s a star in brick-and-mortar bookstores, which are quickly cutting hours or disappearing altogether.

An endorsement of an alternative system threatening the one, which made her a success, is bad for business. When eBook sales are the majority of the market, and more bookstores are closed, it won’t be as easy for her to make those bestseller lists the way she does now.

So of course she’s going to say something stupid and short-sighted like “And DO NOT SELF PUBLISH.”

She’s going to say that because she has a skewed impression of what success at self publishing actually means.

She doesn’t realize successful indie authors are making it on their own terms because they know how to seek and accept criticism. They know how to respond. They know how to keep at it until the book is as polished and well-formatted as anything New York puts out.

Yes, there are tons of horrible indie authors, who aren’t doing any of the things they need to do for success, and yes, they give the rest of us a bad name. But the market and these writers’ own continued failures will eventually sort them out.

Picoult’s blanket condemnation shows no respect for those of us, who do get it. Those of us who are looking at our own work with an unflinching eye. Those of us who are seeking the help of professional editors and proofreaders. Those of us who are investing in top-notch covers. Those of us who are willing to rewrite and rewrite and rewrite again, however many times it takes to get the work to professional quality.

She assumes we are amateurs even when we’ve moved over 1,000 copies of our book in a short time period and out-earned the typical traditional publishing advance of $5,000 in less than a year.

Picoult assumes much, and I’ll just let the familiar cliche about assumptions stand on its own without spelling it out for you.

After all, I'm going to assume you do get it, even if you're one of us stupid, misguided indie authors Picoult bites her thumb at.

Monday, March 26, 2012

How do you handle a bad day?

March 16.

The day I became a full-time freelance writer. It was not without its share of hardships. For one, the full-time income wasn’t quite there yet, meaning poor-pitiful-me had to produce some pretty awful dreck to get paid. If you’ve been around the freelance game long enough, you know what I speak of:

Content Mills, duh-duh-duhhhhh!!!

I had a handful of decent assignments, but they were more like fine China around my house. You didn’t eat off them very much.

Slowly but surely, like the Little Engine That Could, I kept chugging along, believing in myself, saying my prayers, taking my vitamins, and inexplicably watching a lot of Hulk Hogan reruns on YouTube.

Today, I’m a full-blown work-for-myself kind of guy, and I feel a lot better about making the rent when it comes due every month. Sounds great, doesn’t it? It is. But it’s not perfect. Take today, for example.

One of my many jobs is I’m a reporter for a new media organization in Fort Smith, Ark., known as We’ve recently expanded to Northwest Arkansas, which would mean something to you if you actually lived here.

(Hint: NWA, as we sometimes refer to it, is where you’ll find the Walmart Headquarters. I’ll wait for the boos and the hisses to die down if you hate Walmart.)


Anyhow, tonight I have two meetings, which take place at the same time. I have another story due before the end of the night. And I’ve got one hush-hush project I’m working on, which could put me in hot water with one particular branch of local government you don’t wanna piss off. My objective will likely piss them off.

So I woke up this morning. My throat felt like a little person was on the inside of my mouth taking a tiny switchblade to my uvula.

My muscles, back, bones, ache—from what, I don’t know. It’s close to 2 p.m., and I haven’t had the energy for a shower or a meal. Just really not the kind of day you should be working, in other words.

Yet here I am, starting my day with a laundry list of complaints in the hope maybe it will energize me to do the actual paid work.

Working for yourself, ladies and gentlemen, is not always a picnic. You’ve got no sick days to run to for help. No personals. No vacation time. You don’t work, you don’t eat. Pretty simple. Throw into the mix, I’m down to the last 10,000 words of my workable draft of The Vacant, which will finish out tomorrow, come Hell or High Water, and you’ve got one tired me.

If you’re serious about working for yourself, you’ve got to realize there are going to be days like this, and you’ve got to find ways to work wthrough them. This bitch-fest blog post is how I’m doing it. I don’t want or need sympathy. I just need to throw some thoughts out on paper, get my fingers working on something with a point, and work out the cobwebs enough so I can do my jobs. All of ‘em.

And already, I feel better.

How do you handle the tough days when your body and/or mind is not cooperating? Horror fans…writers…share your thoughts below.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Kindle Fire Giveaway Finals

If patience is a virtue, and believe me sometimes I am not so sure, then you people are saints for waiting on me to get this up.

On Jan. 1, the deadline I set for the Kindle Fire giveaway, The Congregation finished with only five reviews on Amazon. Luckily for my bank account, I sold quite a bit more than that. It is still a loss leader for those of you curious, but nothing near what I feared. In the process, I picked up five reviews, and since a deal is a deal, only five of you will be slugging it out for the Fire.

Now, per the original rules of the contest, this is for my blog followers to decide, so if you are one, feel free to vote for yourself and direct your friends and family to sign up here at the site and vote as well. The full list of reviews are at this link, so read through them and choose your favorite. The participants, who made it in by the deadline are: S. Mark Dancer, Brad Molder, S. Lawrence, HLLivingLoco, and RedSoxFreak67.

(You all don't hold it against him that he likes those Red Sox, he's actually a swell guy.)

For the sake of transparency, vote in the comments section below the post you are now reading. Simply write the Amazon user name you liked the best. Vote only once. Anonymous votes won't be counted for obvious reasons. Voting closes a week from today at 11:59 p.m.

On Saturday the 14th, your Fire will be ordered and on the way to the address you specify. The rest of you get a free $9.99 (or less) ebook from the author of your choice just because you were such good sports for playing along. Now maybe the next time I do a giveaway, maybe more of you people will take me seriously :).

Seriously, thanks guys, and please tell all the friends and followers you can to buy The Congregation today! It's bloody, it's messy, it's nasty, it's mean, and it's fun. And it won't take up too much of your time.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

KDP Select discussion: observing the pros and cons

I wake up today at the bright and early hour of 10:30 in the morning—perk of writing for a living, don’t let anyone tell you it’s not—and there’s an email in my inbox touting KDP Select, a new initiative to increase the amount of lending titles while also compensating writers in the process. Since releasing The Congregation on Nov. 3, 2011, this option has taken on greater significance for me. I have a dog in the hunt, so to speak. 

Initially, I see the “lending” option and think, “What’s in it for me?” At the same time, I acknowledge “Free,” while often vilified as being associated with “self-pubbed crap,” is an effective way to increase exposure and grab those all-important initial reviews. But automatically, I’m thinking how many loss leaders can my sanity afford after pouring so much time into my books?

(Plural, because No. 2 for me will be out in January.) 

Looking at the numbers included in the email, if the money pot is $500,000, as it currently is, and only 100,000 borrows are made for the month, then each borrow is worth $5 to the author. You lend out 10 copies, you make $50. You lend out 1,000, you make $5,000. Obviously, the more in-demand your book is, the better your paycheck. 

Of course, the flip side of that coin is this: if there are 1 million borrows and only $500,000 in the pot, then each one is only worth 50 cents. Is this good or bad for authors? For the most part, I choose good, and here’s why:
1. Free lending on the best supported eReader format in all of publishing

It took me several minutes to figure out the Overdrive option at my local library, and I must say, I didn’t like it. The cover art didn’t come through, there was a due date, and a waiting list. All these things affect my enjoyment of the reading experience in a negative way. Presumably, Amazon’s system will be as simple as making a purchase. Presumably, the cover art will transfer as well. Presumably, the only “due date” will be the one-month option, and if your book is not read in that month, the reader can always re-up it the following month without having to wait on someone else’s term to finish.

2. More people own Kindles than any other eReading device.
Even those that don’t own a Kindle can and do purchase books on the Kindle App via iPad. But then, my understanding is that this promotion is just for Kindle owners, so we’ll just limit our potential reader base to those persons. Even so, you’re dealing with millions and millions of potential readers. The particularly rabid fans can be found over on the @AmazonKindle Twitter profile. Currently, around 80,000 highly targeted candidates. Actual owners dwarf this number, but let’s say that just 1 percent of the most rabid Kindle fans borrow your book each month. That’s approximately 800 people. Using the $5 per borrow example, this would earn you around $4,000. Furthermore, Amazon has guaranteed a minimum of $6 million to the KDP Select lending pool for 2012. That means the revenue pot will be AT LEAST $500,000 per month. Borrows are another story.

3. Amazon giving away 5 days of free promotion every 90 days.
No details included on what that means, but considering that Amazon are pretty much the best marketers around, 20 days of free exposure per year, depending on the depth of that exposure, can be potentially life-changing at best and a shot in the arm for your career at worst. Even if there are 1 million borrows for the month, and you only earn $400, that’s $400 more than you had and the probability that you’ll pick up some good reviews and a nice little boost in the “also bought’s.”
4. Amazon is only grabbing exclusive rights for 90 days versus a lifetime.

I don’t know about you, but I can give up 90 days of my book’s sales life on other outlets if it means exposure and awareness for my titles increase. Granting Amazon the required 90-day exclusivity clause is an excellent way to jumpstart sales and carry the positive buzz over to other eReader platforms.

5. Not everyone will be eligible to participate, which means it won’t kill your sales.

Kindle Owners’ Lending Library is essentially a second revenue stream that you can earn through Amazon. It appeals to a different group of readers (the mostly rabid). Prime members are the only ones eligible. There are many, many more Amazon book customers than Amazon Prime members. Your promotional efforts can reach the widest possible base of Amazon customers, and you could earn 50 cents to $5 per borrow or 35 cents to set-your-own-price per sale. Users of the iPad will still be able to read your book through the Kindle App. Prime owners of a Kindle product will be able to borrow as a perk of their membership.

The Downside:

1. Competing against the big boys. Publishers have some hostility towards Amazon, so there is the possibility that you won’t have to fight Stephen King or Dean Koontz or insert-bestselling-author-name-here for a piece of the pie. However, it’s possible since print copies may continue to be distributed at one’s leisure from any outlet. Should publishers embrace this concept, then it could shrink the royalty pie for newbies considerably.

2. Lack of information regarding promotional tools. Just looking at the KDP Select web page, it’s difficult to determine how effective the “free marketing for 5 days every 90” will be. I do wish the company would give a more involved accounting, so you know what to expect before clicking “enroll.”

3. No grandfathering. The Congregation is on sale at Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, iTunes, Kobo, and virtually everywhere eBooks are sold. Had I known about this option ahead of the publication date, I would have likely not hesitated to give Amazon the 90-day head start. If I want to do that now, it looks like I’ll have to unpublish from Smashwords and wait for the title to disappear on the other sites before becoming eligible. Then, after 90 days, I’ll have to do that crap all over again if I want to have the widest possible reach to electronic readers.

What do you guys think of KDP Select? You can read the details here and the legalese here. Please feel free to let me know if I’m confused on something. I think this is a good overview of the pros and cons, but getting the facts about it out there is my first priority.