Many months ago I was booked for an interview on the Lurking for Legends podcast and totally forgot about it until the host Richard H. Stephens sent an email with the live podcast link! Since my last blog post, my 106 year old grandma passed, so I had been busy planning another funeral and dealing with over zealous relatives who all have opinions but at the end of the day only me and my siblings were paying for this funeral.
Having done a few interviews in the past, the biggest difference in live streaming is the lack of opportunity to correct mistakes. It’s similar to giving a talk in public. It’s a good exercise in practicing improvisation because there will be questions asked which are not scripted and you have to pull yourself together to speak clearly. There were also questions from the audience via the Facebook live feed and I had to answer these on the fly too. I always think afterwards about how I could have sold things better (my husband says I am the worst salesperson!) but every experience makes the next one better.
I haven’t written anything in a while, so I wrote a long personal essay called How COVID Affected the Care and Death of the Elderly In My Family. It’s a recap of what has happened over the last few months with my mother and grandmother before they died. Death is final and even conspiracy theorists can agree that such a thing will happen to all of us! Or maybe not…
Have a look at the essay here if you have time and please follow me on Medium if you can. To qualify for their partner program I need 100 followers but I only have 2. Yes, pretty sad, I know. In the near future I will be posting more on Medium and then mentioning them on my WordPress blog as larger pieces fit there better I think.
Kirsten McNeill is a writer, editor and business owner of KM Writing Services. She answers the question “How do you deal with a negative review?” on the Artsy Raven podcast, Episode 6. This clip is an excerpt from the episode.
Chris Houston, the Marketing Guru of The Idea Shop has over 20 years of experience in book marketing. The Idea Shop is a one-stop shop for fresh new ideas on how to promote creative endeavors of all kinds, from books to podcasts. The Idea Shop can be heard each month on Sauga 960 AM radio.
He answers the question “Why should an author hire a marketer?” on the Artsy Raven podcast, Episode 5. This clip is an excerpt from the episode.
Recently I signed up my indie publishing company, Dark Helix Press, to be a vendor at FIYAHCON, a virtual convention centering the perspectives and celebrating the contributions of BIPOC in speculative fiction. (I’ll be speaking about publishing there too, will release details when I have them.)
At FIYAHCON the vendors are setting up a virtual table on a platform called AirMeet which I have never used before. One of the items I needed to upload was a video and I don’t have any book trailers for Dark Helix Press. In the past I made a book trailer for The Undead Sorceress which was ok, but with new tools available, making a trailer now is much faster than ever before! The concept of making a trailer is the same to make any video for social media, once you learn how to make on video, it’s a skill which can be used for lots of creative fun!
The trailer I made below took about three hours, because I was fiddling with fonts/colors/layout and made some custom graphics for the Dark Helix Press Threadless Shop merchandise because I wanted “clean cut” items that would “pop out.” I had to use a graphic editor to do that (did it quick and dirty with the free Paint.net graphic program) because video programs have limited graphics editing capabilities. Note I had $0 budget, but the video looks pretty good for zero dollars!
Steps used to make a book trailer:
List out what you want to put in each “slide” which is really a short video. Pretend it’s a PowerPoint and on each slide think about what message or text you want to convey.
For episode 22 of The Artsy Raven podcast, I interviewed ND Jones, a USA Best-selling author who has written multiple African fantasy romance series. It was really inspiring to listen to someone has achieved so much on their own and even got her whole family involved! She’s written over twelve books and even started a company which involves her daughter doing graphic design work and her son creating a RPG game based on her work.
One of the reasons why she started writing was because there was a void in the market with positive, sexy, and three-dimensional African American characters as soul mates, friends, and lovers, so she took on that challenge herself. Her book covers look super awesome with strong females on them and I had a good time talking to her about her projects. Although I don’t write fantasy romance, I would like to write more and complete more projects. I have problems finishing things and would like to be like ND Jones when I grow up!
June is Pride Month and on the Artsy Raven podcast we are releasing episodes featuring a LGBTQ author every Sunday. More details available in our June newsletter (click here), including which episode to listen to which has a submission call for short stories. It was great to talk to these authors who all generously shared their challenges and struggles, but despite all this, they all remain optimistic and achieved their goals!
At the end of May we had a book launch for Belief, an anthology featuring Asian authors. I was happy that my 3-tiered cake didn’t fall down and it was a lot of fun baking, even though I’ve lost my sense of smell and taste after the COVID vaccine. Since I take care of my 105-year-old grandma, I get tested for COVID every week and it’s been negative. Anyhow, we recorded the Belief event which can be watched on Youtube here. More details about the book here.
Comedian Josh Williams and I talked a little bit about Belief and other things in life on his One Man Podcast, click here. His podcast is a casual conversation and somehow I impressed him with my talk about the radioactive sandwiches I fed people when I worked in Nuclear Medicine!
I’ve been trying to do more writing by doing writing sprints with an indie author group every Sunday night, but it’s been slow. My brain is still split on weekdays because of virtual school and I can’t write one sentence without the kraken (my child) demanding something. I’m not sure at what age human children become more useful!
For more detailed Artsy Raven podcast episode summaries, they are posted on Patreon and Ko-fi every Sunday.
On some sites I’ve seen 3d covers of books and wondered how people did it. Well, I know I can hire someone or buy software. But being a frugal person I wasn’t sure if it was worth the money so I never tried to do this. Fast forward a few years later and I’m talking to a book marketing person who is asking me about 3d covers.
Doing a Google search I found a website which lets you render a 3d cover for free! Of course it’s not the best quality (the graphic is small in size) and for a small fee you can pay to download the better version.
You will need 3 images in hand before you start: 1) Front cover, 2) spine only and 3) back cover. You can use any graphic program to crop your print book image file into pieces and just save as separate files.
Next Thursday I’ll be hosting an Asian Speculative Fiction Reading event as part of Small Press Fair for Dark Helix Press. All of the authors are wonderful readers and I look forward to listening to them do their magic! Details about this event below!
Also putting together another digital raffle to test how successful it is as a marketing tool. Someone told me that all raffles need to be coupled with Amazon gift cards so we will try that. I do worry about coupling book giveaways with gift cards – do they want the gift card or to read the books? Sigh.
March 4, Thursday, 2021: 8pm EST – 9pm EST Asian Speculative Fiction Readings panel features Asian speculative authors who will read their stories featured in Immersion or Dark Helix Ezine. There will be a Q & A after the panel. Authors featured include Vincent Ternida, Carlo Javier, Melissa Yuan-Innes and Lily Chang. Host: JF Garrard
Immersion, an Asian speculative fiction anthology of fifteen stories which I edited with Allan Cho and William Tham is out! Two years in the making, we’ve used a lot of blood, sweat and tears on this project. The stories range from glimpses into loving relationships (with mermaids, grandparents, etc) to science fiction (using fish slime for fashion) to horror (supernatural beasts and an artist painting in blood). When we started the project we didn’t know what would come in the door. All we knew was we wanted to offer a chance to authors to send in the fantastic and surprise us! Towards the end we also did a cover re-haul and it looks completely different from before!
My latest published short story, The Curse, made it into Brave New Girls: Adventures of Gales and Gizmos. This anthology is the latest release from editors Mary Fan and Paige Daniels, featuring young adult science fiction tales about teen girls with a knack for science, tech, engineering and math… hackers, mechanics, inventors, and more! Proceeds from sales will be donated quarterly to the Society of Women Engineers scholarship fund.