Friday, April 29, 2011

M. Do You Love Your Characters?

When we had the Question and Answer session at the kids school the other day we were asked several great questions. One that made me think was; how do you create the people in your story?

We thought about it for a minute and then answered together in turns. The best way that I can describe it is that you need to love them like you would your own child. You create them, you mold them, even more then your own children.

Your kids have free will and can truly decide to choose their own path, but your characters will only follow the path you set before them. They will face the blockades that you set up. When they hurt, you hurt. You really have to love the characters in the stories that you write to make them come to life. Life in the absence of love is worthless. Everybody loves something and knows what love can feel like.

Channel true love into the heart of your characters and words on a page will take form and gasps of breath.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Friday, April 22, 2011

Our Eyes Opened in a Time of Darkness

Everything happens for a reason.  It really does.

This past year has been nothing but a freefall for my family and I.  It all started not too much longer than a year ago.

I woke one morning with a strange feeling, it was like stepping on the floor of a rocking ship.  Then my world went blurry and my vision was doubled.  Along with all of that I had trouble with speech and motor skills.  There were several other symptoms that came with the issues, but that isn't really that important.  What happened next is.

I went to the doctors and then another doctor and another.  The symptoms and possible diagnosis came for about a year and just recently, the problem has been fixed and I am "normal" again.  The medication that I take fixes it and thankfully I am finally able to drive again and allowed to return to work.

The stupid medical issue isn't really the story though.  What happened to my wife and I is really the amazing thing.  We rekindled an old passion for writing and given the time together, we were able to complete a few manuscripts (Self publish one of them), have a few that are half-way there, and several others outlined for the future.

What we are starting to realize is that maybe the last year of hell was something we had to go through.  If life had gone the way it was going (Before I got sick), would we have started writing again?  I really don't think we would have, at least not for the next twenty years.

If anything came from this last year it was a reawakening to our passion, writing.  Maybe, just maybe it had been worth it and now the biggest problem that we will have is finding a way to juggle our day jobs with hours of writing, review, and rewriting. 

Our friend, Mary Jane always told my wife, "Life happens when you're making plans."  I find this to be one of the truest statements I ever heard.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

School Q&A

Today we went for our very first Q&A session at a school and it was amazing.  I really had no idea what to expect or what to do, but it turned out fine.

We were introduced to the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th graders at our kid's school and even though we knew some of them it was unnerving.

To start, we had the 5th and 6th grade classes together and we started by reading to them.  They sat silently until we finished and then we opened up to some questions, which were amazing.  Then we did the 4th grade and finally the 3rd grade, which is our son's class.

Every one of the kids that asked a question, which was most of them, made our lives easier.  They were interested in every facet of writing and what is entailed in the journey.  They asked questions about the book itself and also wanted to know about the sequel.  There wasn't a kid in the place that didn't have an interesting and sometimes difficult question to answer.

My personal favorite question of the day was, "How old do you have to be to start writing a book and get it published?"  To that we said, "There is no age limit, if you have an idea that you want to write, then write it and never think you are too old or young."

Even though we started the day with intense nausea and anxiety, now that it is done I can say it was amazing.  Thank you to the kids at CTC, your questions were amazing.  See some of the example questions at

Friday, April 15, 2011


After some minimal research, I have learned that you are able to s-pub your book on the Nook.  If you go to Barnes & Nobles PUBIT you can register with B&N and get set up.  Once you are set up it is similar to Amazon and you can post you book.

It seemed easy and I will give everyone a warning, changing a file to an .EPUB was difficult on my end.  For some reasone every time I tired to just upload to them it deleted half of the information or left it blank.  Unfortunately the only advice that I have is to keep trying and eventually it will work.

I was able to convert the file after about what felt like twelve hours of trying into the correct format.  And, amazingly enough our book is now available for the Kindle, the Nook, and in Paperback!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Thank You

As usual, I am having problems with my regular schedule.  I know that I said I would blog on Mondays and Fridays, but to be honest, I couldn't think of anything to say.

Then it came to me, after two days of stewing over it.  I wanted to say thank you.  Not just to you, but to you too.

First of course we thank our family and friends.  They support us and help amazingly and without question.  Without them we wouldn't be able to even consider doing this writing thing.

Along the way, we have been able to pick up tid-bits of information and learn emense amounts of knowledge about a business that we used to barely know about.   Just a little over a year ago, we started this journey and really had no direction other then to keep ourselves busy.  Then, one fine day we decided to think about getting published.

Just like all other ventures of this generation, we went to the internet and started looking for the ins and outs, the hows, and the how nots.  What we found was a community of people that gave out support and information willingly without asking for much in return.  At first, we took to Nathan Bransford's blog, who's I still read too much, and followed many of his step by step instructions.  People like Nathan make it possible for many of us to even consider doing this and without the orange crusader the writing community would be lacking in a huge way.  So all we can say is thank you Nathan.

But that wasn't it.  We went further and found Janet Reid, Betsy LernerDystel, and Bookends as well as several other agents who go out of their way to help the cause.

Then of course we have our fellow writers Bryan Russell, Matthew MacNish, and L.G. Smith.  So to all of you we say thank you.  The ways that you helped were selfless and kind in a ways that are hard to describe.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Balancing Act

I feel being an author is like a Tight Rope Walking act, if you have the balance then you'll be able to stay on the rope.

When a person actually sits down in that chair and begins to write, do they really think about what it will lead to?  I know that we all daydream and know what we want it to be like, that's simple.  If you write it, they will come.  Sorry Field of Dreams, but I had to borrow your line.

But that isn't really true in any sense.  Anyone out there that thinks an author has it easy is certifiably crazy.  Yes, they may be right the writing is fairly easy, but what about the next draft and the next and so on.  It is work just to get the manuscript to the point that you would release it for other eyes to read.

Done right!  Not even close.

Now we have the amazing task of convincing the world that the words we constructed into sentences, then paragraphs, then chapters, and finally a story are even worth reading.

After the writing is done and while the writing is going on, an author needs to network and get themselves out there.  You have to juggle Facebook, Twitter, Blogging, and any other method of social media that comes along.  But wait, still not done, now you have to set up public appearances and at least start reaching out in your community.  In our case we wrote a MG so we are heading to local schools and talking to them, which I will add have been very receptive.

Once you have written and sold a few copies, the fun really begins.  You basically have to stand in the center of the world and let them strip down your heart and soul, because, face it, that is what you put in your story.  And, whether they love it or hate it, you have to take the criticism with class and a grain of salt.

So if you can get through this easy, simple task of just writing a story, then go for it.  The adventure you will pursue is as exhilarating as any story you will write.  And, in our case we aren't going out and buying private jets, but we have already received payment.  All I have to do is look at my kids eyes when they are holding a copy of our book and it is all worth it. 

I can sit back and be proud to now be an author.  All we have to do now is keep writing and stay on that rope.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Tuesday Night Fright

I know that I usually blog on Monday and Friday now, but a strange occurrence happened tonight.  It all started just like it always does.  I sat down at the desk and pulled up the internet connection, attempting to get my social networking done for the night. 

At first the buttons on my keyboard started shaking and the thing lifted almost clear off of the desk.  There it just remained hovering over the desk as if suspended by strings.

Amazingly next, the screen of the computer started turning and did a complete 360 on its pedestal.  It was creepy, it was strange, but that wasn't it.

A loud beeping noise started to play from inside of the CPU and forced me to hum the tune in response, otherwise the consequences would have been unspeakable.  The only true comfort was that it seemed to accept my out of tune respones.

So there I was, in my chair (with the NY Giants logo on the back), humming to the sounds, watching the spinning monitor, and trying my best to wrangle up the keyboard.  At first I thought a priest would be in order, but when one of my children came down to see what was wrong, everything went back to normal.  And, I feel the only way to heal is to share my experience.

Oh and by the way, really all that happened was that my new found addiction, Twitter, wasn't working.  That is almost as scary as a possessed computer, right? 

Have you gotten to the point with the social networking craze that I have?  Do you feel anxiety when Blogger/Twitter/Facebook aren't working?

Monday, April 4, 2011


This weekend, I was talking to people over FB about whether or not kids actually use the kindle. Amazingly, there are quite a few.

Our kids have them available to them at their school. Each class is allotted a certain number of the Kindles for use. Great idea; saves on paper copies and they last longer.

What about on the personal side? How many kids out there could really be using a kindle for personal reading? Believe it or not, more than you would think. The response that I received on the FB Kindle fan page was that of avid readers with avid reading children that all praise, worship, and love their Kindles.

Maybe, just maybe, this is going to be the way of the future. I don't know about for people like us that use our index fingers and thumbs for page turning, but the kids.

It is like when I was a child and computers were just coming to the classrooms. The first one I used was a Commodore 64 and we learned basic programming. Then we switched to Apple for a short stint, then finally to the amazing 486. Either way, were there people in that time thinking, we will never be dependent on computers. Well they were wrong, because I am only 30 and I started with computers, which we weren't dependent on 24 years ago.

The moral of my story is, we may not want to accept it or like it, but it is happening over our heads. Just look to our children.

Friday, April 1, 2011


Self Publishing

There are two ways to self publish your material through Amazon. You can either publish your book as an eBook or you can create a paperback. Both of the two systems are easy and user friendly.


To create an eBook on Amazon, all you need is completed material, that you have copyrighted, and the willingness to put yourself out there for the world to see. Once you get out there you will available to the world, so I would recommend being ready when you go.

What you want to do is go into the main Amazon page and scroll down to the bottom of the first page. From there you will see a link that says self publish with us. Click there and then click on get started under the Kindle Books tab.

Go to the bookshelf and follow the instructions. They will give you detailed instructions for uploading and creating the downloadable work. You will be asked to select a 30% or 70% option for royalties and set the price for your work.

Within a day or two, your book will be set up and available for anybody with a Kindle or Kindle App to download. From there you sit back right? No.

The next step is to promote and network, something you should have already been doing. I still am not an expert in this, but as I go I am learning.

For example:

On twitter we are now @maleslie11 (Let us know what your twitter tag is and we can follow you)

Facebook we have shop (Looking for fans)

Obviously the blog and looking for more ideas and outlets to network.


The next way to publish with Amazon is to use their sub-company, Createspace. That is the tab directly above the eBook publishing for Kindle’s tab. You would go there, create a login, and get started. This is somewhat more difficult.

Now you will have to go through the word document of your MS and turn it into a Book. You will have to set the margins correctly, they have help topics for this and templates. Make sure you have alternating page numbers and the pages mirror each other.

For us it was kind of trial and error, but we were able to create the book with two attempts. After you have created the book and uploaded or created a cover with them, then you order a Proof. Inspect the proof, make the corrections you want, or if there are none, make the book available.

You don’t have to buy any copies of your book other then the proofs and it will be available for sale on Amazon and Createspace. What happens is, when JOE CONSUMER buys your book they order it and the company prints it on demand. No stock and no overhead, unless you buy some of your own copies at cost, which we did. Our kid’s school wants us to go in and do a presentation and we should have a few for that and not all networking should be done on the internet.

If you choose the option to pay $39.00 for a membership then the books will cost you less and you will have more outlets to sell with.

Amazingly enough, in one day, we have already sold a few copies. I don’t know what is going to happen, but it has been fun to do so far.