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A Little Empathy Goes A Long Way

Yesterday the writing world saw just what NOT to do when receiving constructive criticism through a review.  I won't mention any names since the said person has already been put through the ringer. (I'm sure most of us know who I speak of.)  When I first heard and read about the "train wreck", as many people are calling it, I was dismayed.  It was extremely unprofessional and downright arrogant.  We all know this.  I was sucked into the drama of all of the responses on Al's "Books and Pal's" Blog.  I was furious that another indie author did this. All of us indie authors already have so much stigma we have to overcome and when someone pulls a stunt like this it makes that huge mountain even steeper.

What got me the most about it all was how many people dog piled the blog and Amazon where the book is published.  One star reviews came in quick.  Not one of the reviews had a "verified purchase" attached to it.  They all claim to have read the sample and based their review on that.  I guess it's easy to say that but there's no way of proving it. I downloaded the sample. I have all faith in Al's review but I'm the type of person who looks when people tell me not to.  I have to admit that the writing was very poor quality and I found myself struggling to even make it through the second chapter.  There were mistakes that a basic editor would have caught right off.  However, it still does not give people the right to go onto the book page and SLAM her with one star review after one star review.  Yeah, she made a complete fool of herself on the internet -- the worst place to throw a fit.... but kicking her when she's already down is about as unprofessional as her replies to her review were.

As a student of psychology I can't help but sit back and look at this all from a broad perspective.  I know many people out there have had temper tantrums and rants. The most recent and well known would be Charlie Sheen.  We all get angry. It's human nature and we deal with it in our own ways. For me, I go running or listen to my music. Some sleep. Some eat. In general, we all have pretty "normal" responses to things that anger us.  Her reaction didn't seem "normal" to me at all, even when normal is relative.  She appears to show some mental instability.  We all get our hot headed moments but usually back away and realize that we were in the heat of the moment and it wasn't wise.  However, her comments were over the course of a few days when she did have ample time to cool off.

Maybe I am overanalyzing this.  I am in no way condoning what this author did.  She could have handled it in a much better way and it wouldn't have killed the future of her book(s). But then I still have to wonder if there is some mental barrier getting in the way of her judgment. I guess I'll never truly know. As already stated, I really hope readers don't group us all into the chaos that one indie author has caused.  Not all of us will respond to reviews that way and the majority of us do edit our work before publishing.  It stinks that one bad seed can really mess things up for the rest of us.

As for the people who are piling up the false one star reviews... to me that is stooping right down to her level of unprofessionalism. I really hope people sit back and realize how hurtful it is and eventually take their reviews down.  The main point of all of this is to be more empathetic to other people. Put yourself in their shoes. All of us are battling something in life and we never know what that one thing is that will trigger our anger to extreme levels.

Through Smoke preview for SampleSunday!

Here is my preview for #SampleSunday! This is a scene from my recently published book, Through Smoke.  Michael, the main character and firefighter is just getting home to find his brother Casey passed out and high on the couch.

Michael got home and saw that all of the lights were turned off and that nothing had been touched.  There was no sign that Casey had been back.  Turning on the living room light, he jumped when he saw Casey sprawled out on the couch.  He was either asleep or completely passed out, Michael couldn’t tell.  He looked horrible.  His hair was disheveled, his clothes tattered, and he looked like he hadn’t bathed in forever.
Michael stood beside him.  “Casey? Casey!” He raised his voice to try to wake him but Casey didn’t respond.  Reaching down, he checked him for a pulse.  One was present.  Sometimes Casey did sleep pretty heavily and Michael could only hope that this was the case.  Grabbing his shoulders, he riled Casey.  This caused him to open his eyes and mumble something.  “Casey, wake up!” He fought the urge to slap him.  He would feel horrible if something was really wrong and he inflicted more pain.
“Mikey? What the hell?”  It came out in a low mumble but Michael was able to make out what he was saying. 
“What is going on? You look like hell!”
Casey sat up and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.  From what Michael could tell, he looked to be coming down off of a high.  His eyes were still glazed over and he was sweaty. His skin felt clammy and he was shivering. 
“You go out with some old friends? Where you been?” Michael felt anger course through him.  What a way to end a perfectly good night.
Casey’s teeth chattered together and he grabbed a blanket that was draped over the back of the couch.  “It’s not what you think, man.”
Michael nodded and went to the refrigerator, grabbing a bottle of water.  He handed it to Casey and sat down on the coffee table. “Drink that. I don’t wanna have to take your ass to the ER.”  Pausing, he looked down at the carpet, trying to compose himself before he blew up at his brother.  “What did you take?”
Casey drank the water down in about two gulps.  “C’mon Mikey.”  His eyes were pleading with him and Michael could tell that Casey was scared of him.  In a way he was glad but he also felt guilty about it.  “I have nowhere to go, please don’t kick me out.”
Michael lowered his voice.  “What did you take?”
Casey hesitated and leaned his head back against the cushion.  “Crack.  It was way earlier today. I came home a few hours ago to crash as I came down off of my high.”
Michael bit his bottom lip.  It felt like someone had punched him in the stomach.  He was faced with a very difficult decision.  Did he need to kick Casey out or continue to allow him to lie?  There was only so much deception he could take before he had to shun his own flesh and blood.  Their mother definitely wouldn’t help him and if he kicked him out he would just be out on the street, more exposed.  Michael wouldn’t be able to live with himself if Casey ended up dead because he turned him away.  But then again, Casey didn’t seem to want his help. He just wanted to use him when it was convenient. 
“Mikey, say somethin’. You look like someone just walked over your grave.”
Michael balled his fists together.  “How many times are you gonna lie to me? You came down to my work and swore to me that you were done with that shit. Do you realize how far I’m sticking my neck out for you or do you just not give a damn?”
“I couldn’t help it. An old buddy called, said he got his hands on some stuff.  I was bored.  You were asleep, I didn’t know what to do. I…I.” He stammered on his words. 
“An old buddy? This same buddy who didn’t pay his half of the bills? Real good friends you have.” Michael stood up and walked to the kitchen, leaning on the bar, debating on grabbing the bottle of whiskey he kept over the sink.  He needed something to calm him down. 
“This was the last time.  I just needed it.”
Michael didn’t even bother with a glass. He unscrewed the lid and took in two gulps, enjoying the burn down his throat.  It tasted better than usual so he took another long swig.  He had no idea what to do.  He loved his brother but he couldn’t take this anymore.  He was beginning to feel buzzed.  He had several beers with Eva and now the whiskey and he had to sit down in a chair to brace himself.  He fidgeted with the label on the bottle.
“Mikey, your silence is scaring me.”
Michael screwed the lid back on the bottle and carried it to his room, slamming the door behind him. His back slid down the doorframe until he reached the floor where he stayed for the time being. He sucked down more of the amber liquid, feeling it instantly go to his stomach. He had nothing to say to Casey at the moment.  Maybe the whiskey would be his muse.  He knew that he had to say exactly what he meant when the time did come to talk to him.  Finding the right words would be the challenge. 
He sat and stared at the whiskey and couldn’t help but notice how hypocritical he was being.  He was riled up about Casey’s drug use and here he was turning to alcohol to help with this problem.  He was no different than him.  Standing up, he walked to the bathroom and poured the remainder of the drink down the drain, watching it swirl until it was completely gone. He had gone down the drinking path before and now wasn’t the time to start up again. 

Can We Be More PETTY???

In regards to my writing, I have changed the two covers of my books! If you haven't noticed, to the left they are listed and they have both changed drastically! I think people have been pretty inviting to it all.  Either that or they loved the fact that I put Through Smoke on sale for $1.99.  Either way, my sales really boomed on Saturday! I had my best day since I published Through Smoke! I have yet to decide how long the sale will run on Through Smoke, but definitely for at least a few more days.

Also, I finally added both books to Smashwords and have sold three of Modern Day Drifter on that site. Hopefully if I get a chance within the next few days, I'm going to try and submit them to the premium catalog in hopes to get them more exposure! :)

It is officially spring break, a time I have been looking forward to. I can't help but feel that the time is already flying by.  Is it possibly because I've been sleeping late? Days tend to be quite shorter when you sleep the morning away, but c'mon, how often do I actually get to do this? It's been nice rolling out from under the covers, not having to rush around and take a quick shower and bolt out the door.  I better not get too used to it though, since as I said, time is already flying by with my week break!

Not only that, but I still feel like I should be working on school work.  I have two projects due next week and a test on Monday so, I guess it's not a complete break. (sigh)

In light of the misfortunes over in Japan, I've kind of been out of the loop with the book promoting and internet to begin with. Like most of us, I've been glued to CNN (or insert your news channel of choice here.) I have a very bad habit of getting enveloped in news stories and unhealthily watch stuff a little too much.  Last night I had to finally turn it off when they were talking to people who had lost their family in the tsunami or earthquake.  It really gave me an epiphany.  While we all sit around and complain about whatever is going on in our life, look at Japan.  It really puts everything into perspective.  When I find myself griping about whatever I've been stopping myself and laughing at my problem.  It sucks that something of this magnitude can make me open my eyes to it all. And it also sucks that as time passes by and the wound heals, I'll sink right back into the rut of complaining and blowing things out of proportion.

One thing that really bothered me was Twitter. I was on there not long after the news break about Japan. (It's where I first heard about the earthquake.) The frustrating part was that movie trailers and celeb gossip was trending OVER the news in Japan. Also, on one of the news channels they had a crawler going across the screen during a report over Japan that said "Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel have split." Seriously? What is wrong with people? I know life goes on but can't we all stop with the petty stuff long enough to say a few prayers for those people? Imagine if that happened to New York.  Just saying... you can fill in the rest....

(steps off of soapbox)

To end this totally random blog (I go from book promoting to school, to Japan... who's got hold of the remote control in my brain?) I am going to say a prayer for Japan.  Even if you aren't the praying type, just allow yourself to think about them for a little bit.  If this was a US catastrophe you'd want the same thing, wouldn't you?

Crossing Bridges

So, how are my 10 followers on this wonderful evening? I've been plagued with the worries for the past few days, due in large part to some things I won't get into on here! After all, I don't like going and reading negativity all over everyone else's blogs so I won't cram it down your throats here.

The good news about the past few days is that I've connected with several other bloggers and book promoters in hopes to get my book more publicized! I've gained about 10 more Twitter followers in the past 24 hours and that's not too shabby for me seeing as the first few months of having the Twitter account, I struggled to break 15 followers, including family members! The bad news is, only one of the blogger people have responded about featuring my book. But hey, to see it from the glass is half full standpoint, that's something to go off of! This ebook promotion stuff has become my full time job, even more than being a student and that's not a good thing!

Another good thing that happened today was that I met with my academic advisor and was informed that I'm still right on track to graduate in May of 2012.  While it's not exactly the degree I had in mind when beginning my collegiate journey, I still need to find some pride in it.  I'll be glad to at least say I have a Bachelors Degree.  The worry I have is the job outlook but as the title of this blog reads, I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.  Right now I need to focus on small steps and small goals.  Tomorrow is presentation day for me in my Sport in World Cultures class.  As they say, public speaking is the number one fear among most people.  I'm having mixed emotions about it.  One side of me is saying "Jess, you've had a bunch of presentations before, you got this." And the other side is saying, "Jess, you're gonna be in front of everyone! Don't talk fast! Don't let your voice shake! Don't sway from side to side." If only I could get that side to shaddup!

So my focus is solely on the presentation.  And then I can say heeeelllloooo to Spring Break! As so many of us have heard before.... baby steps baby steps.... If you look at the big picture it's just going to freak you out.  The same is applied to the writing world.  Promoting is hard but just remember, one sale is one sale... don't worry about your competition who is selling thousands of books a month.  That's not why I'm in it.  I'm in it because I LOVE TO WRITE!

Y'all have a great Thursday evening! :)

Go All The Way

"Today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday."

In the words of Coach Taylor from Friday Night Lights: "Right here, right now, God has placed you to do what you do best. Go all the way." Any inspirational quote from this character fits into my life right now!

My big midterm is tomorrow at 11:00, so be thinking about me at this time. I've studied and studied and prepared as well as I possibly could. I'm even going to try and cram more in tonight before going to bed. I've never been the type of student who stays up all night studying.  Getting a full eight hours of sleep is more beneficial to me than cramming until the wee hours of the morning.  Without sleep I'm worthless, regardless of how productive the studying possibly was.

Not only do I have to worry about the test, but I also might possibly have a group presentation in another class.  The professor randomly calls on the groups to go, so I could go tomorrow or it could be after spring break... there's just no way of knowing!

Spring break, where are you? I see you on the horizon but you still seem miles away!

On the writing side of life I spent the time I wasn't studying on promoting Through Smoke. I connected with a few more writers on Twitter and here on the blog, but still, sales have not budged with it.  As a good friend told me, I just need to keep plugging away.  Right now I'm wondering if I need to lower the price. I really don't want to since my other book, Modern Day Drifter is 99 cents. I'll keep on trucking and see where it goes.

I guess my study break is over. After tomorrow hopefully my blogs won't be solely focused on school. Right now it is consuming me and I apologize for the constant rants! I'm really not that negative of a person!

See you all on the flipside!

Read An E-Book Week!

Hello fellow bloggers! Not much new going on in my world. Same old studying going on here.  Busy busy week... I have a group presentation coming up, a midterm on Wednesday, and a test on Thursday... Spring Break is next week and will be WELL deserved! But enough about boring school stuff -- it seems that's all I ever talk about....

This week is Read and E-book Week! I had hopes of sales picking up due to this, but so far, neither of my book sales have budged. I've contacted a few other bloggers who specialize in promoting books and hope to hear from them soon. I'm trying my hardest to not get discouraged.  I've been promoting like crazy and just feel it's been a lost cause.  I just haven't used the right bait, I guess! I guess it's just not something people are wanting to read at the moment.

Anyway, in light of this week, go out and support your fellow indie author (if you are one) and if you are not one, venture out and try something new. What I've learned about indie authors is that some of them are much better than the traditional authors we are all familiar with!  And just think, if the book you bought turns out to be a bust, at least you aren't out a lot of money. Most... and I do say most indie authors books are generally under five dollars! That is a steal, especially if you get one that is amazing!

I think after Wednesday is over I'll be more relaxed. I'm hoping anyway. I've been in college a long time and have never worried over a test like I am about the one coming up!

Have a wonderful Monday evening! :)

Home Sweet Home

I am back home after a very quick trip up to Oklahoma to see my brother, nieces, and nephew.  It 7 or so hour drive for about a day and a half, but it was worth it, even all of the exhaustion that goes with it.  I'm not sure if it was the wisest decision since I have a very busy week up ahead, but I used the drive for some good study time.  I still don't think I'm grasping the German Myths and Legends material, but I'm trying... The midterm is Wednesday. I guess we'll find out! I also have a group presentation coming up. She doesn't have us scheduled but we have to have it ready to go by tomorrow so if we are called on, we'll be prepared. I'm hoping we get it done fast. I want to get it over with before Spring Break (which is a WEEK away, YAY!)

I got some good writing done tonight.  I need to do some promoting on Through Smoke, but I'm not in a hurry. It's not going anywhere.  I think once I get this busy week behind me I'll be more focused with promotions and things.

I've got a serious case of spring fever going on. We've had some really nice weather already... I'm just waiting on our first huge thunderstorm system to come through.  Apparently we had a storm come through Friday night while I was gone... Figures! LOL

I hope you all have a great start to the week! :)


Today was such a beautiful day that I sat out in my backyard and blogged. I gained three new followers, so thanks to you guys! I will try my hardest to keep up to date with yours as well! I've revamped this one finally, after sifting through a bunch of layouts that just didn't "feel" right.  I wanted something that looked professional, but not too serious at the same time. This one isn't the exact one I wanted to fit those standards.... but it fits for my newest book, Through Smoke that is set in New York. Not only that, I love the Brooklyn Bridge and New York, so it's what I want currently. :)

As for studying, it hasn't happened today. I have a road trip coming up tomorrow and I'll take that time to do some studying. (I won't be the one driving! LOL)  From the moment I woke up at 6:00 am this morning, I've felt out of whack.  I'm hypoglycemic and I just couldn't get my blood sugar regulated. I even downed several Mountain Dews (a drink I'm trying to avoid) and it still didn't make an improvement, not even a temporary fix.

On the novel front, I've sold two today. I need to keep the attitude that as long as I'm selling here and there, it's a success. I'm not out to make it big, I just want to have some readers and provide for some entertainment.  Yesterday I sold three. :) I even got another 5 star review! That makes two for Through Smoke! I noticed the review last night right before going to bed.  I figured I'd check on it all with no real feeling that anything had changed in regards to sales and reviews.  I was excited to see it posted! It was great to see after a somewhat mundane day.

I'm headed to Oklahoma early in the morning tomorrow to see my brother, 3 nieces and one nephew.  It's going to be a quick trip... I will be back Sunday... I look forward to seeing them! I might even make a trip back up there during spring break.  We'll see how bad gas prices are by then.  Right now they're bad enough! I will still try and update my blog while there, but with kids ranging from 7 years old to 2, I'm going to be ran ragged! I can't wait! :)

Have a wonderful Thursday evening!

Diary of a Mad College Student Vol. 1

Well, recently I've fallen victim to studying for a German Myths and Legends midterm coming up next week.  The class is done in English but we still have to memorize German story titles and names and I'm having a really hard time comprehending words that I can't even pronounce!  My brain just has this mental dam that rejects anything that has all consonants in it! There are about 14 or so powerpoint presentations with about 40 slides on each one. (slams head down) Needless to say, I'm a bit worried about this midterm. What sucks the most about it is that he takes two total grades for the semester; the midterm and the final. No room for error at all!

I also have a Child Psych test next week but that one won't be near as bad. Feels like professors like to load us up right before spring break, but I'll take that over loading us up right after spring break. However, I do have a test the day we go back... not too thrilled about that.

That's my complaints for the night.  On a good note, tomorrow looks like it is going to be a beautiful day. 75 with 5-10 mph winds. In West Texas that is perfect, especially compared to Sunday when we were having 55 mph winds.  I'm looking forward to getting a good workout in tomorrow since I didn't have one today. (I went grocery shopping, does that count?) LOL

I've sold two copies of Through Smoke today... I'm happy with any sale but it's just discouraging when I've been busting my tale to promote it. Maybe over Spring Break I can do some really intense promotion through others blogs. Right now my mind is on this mid term which I should be working on now instead of blogging!  I hope you've all had a great Tuesday!