Category Archives: Writing

Entrepreneur Article About Crowdfunding For Books

Recently, I had the pleasure of working with Samita Sarkar, on the topic of crowdfunding to self-publish a book. Since she was the one writing the article, I didn’t know what quotes she would use from me versus other people who also had experience in crowdfunding, so it was interesting to see the end result.

In her article, “Crowdfunding Your Self-Published Book? Here Are 3 Things You Need to Know” the latest Kickstarter stats show that over out of 349,504 campaigns, just 123,447 succeeded – a 35% success rate. Some 14% of projects finish without receiving a single pledge.

In the three tips listed, lessons learned includes preparing a lot of videos and illustrations prior to the campaign start, then using social media a lot for the duration of the campaign. I talk about how I’ve mastered more software skills – quite frankly, this is because some people that I’ve hired in the past weren’t that great. Sometimes you just have to roll up your sleeves and do things yourself!

With Kickstarter campaigns there is always a risk that it will fail. But obviously I believe this is a risk worth taking as I’m slowly becoming a serial Kickstarter campaign runner! At dinner tonight I warned my friends that I will be emailing them once again to ask for support for the Trump anthology. There was a lot of moaning about how they were tired of Trump, but they were intrigued anyways! (or so I think)

 

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Happy Easter! Trump Anthology update #2

Happy Easter everyone! Someone told me yesterday that they have a full furry costume to pretend to be the Easter bunny for their niece and nephew which is pretty impressive! They said that they scatter eggs in a park and wait for the kids…while feeling creepy…which I found quite amusing.

Since I am getting many questions about the Trump anthology, I will keep posting updates as the project progresses. I expect I’ll be bombarded with more submissions once I launch the Trump Kickstarter late April as a PR exercise to pre-sell books and to raise some funds for the marketing blackhole. I hope to get the world excited about reading this book!

Question 1 – Should I send in both utopia and dystopia story?

Quite frankly we have received a lot of dystopia stories which is why that comment was made in my earlier post about sending in both types of stories. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter which type you send in as long as it is good.

Question 2 – Should I use names of staff in the administration?

One does have to be a bit careful when citing names and I hesitate to recommend using their full names out right. Names are difficult to trademark, but if characters are written with same first/last name in bad light, there could be a lawsuit for slandering someone. As we condone extreme violence or sex in stories, the chance of a lawsuit is low; but be aware it is a possibility.

Same thing goes with brand name products. If your story is selected, we may suggest to generalize a brand name or use half of it so the reader can fill in the blanks themselves.

Question 3 – Am I at a disadvantage because I’m a new writer?

Some people send in a list of their credentials which include degrees, diplomas, titles at companies/societies/associations, etc. One person said that they were an astrologer who lived in the woods and another had multiple PhDs in ABC.

I don’t care about your background, at the end of the day if you can tell a good story, you are a good writer!

Question 4 – How can I increase chance of selection?

Stick to the theme – The book’s theme is a world in which Trump exists in the present as a leader or has left a legacy. A lot of people are sending in stories which has nothing to do with Trump but they had written as a side project or for fun.

These  pieces are really good too, but if it has nothing to do with the theme, the editors (there is more than one editor for this book) will debate if it’s worth the time to make extensive comments to the writer about changing certain things here and there to make the story more relevant to the theme. This is pretty much rewriting the story’s narrative and could lead to months of extra work for the editors.

Or they could chose a story that already has the theme in it.

Basic storytelling – The stuff they taught you at school still holds true!

image of plot diagram labled with exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution

Source: Mrs. Welty’s Guide to Literary Elements

One of my profs in a writing course I took recommended to always start with action. The character is doing something interesting to grab the reader’s attention in the first paragraph. In the next paragraph, the writer can go into why they are doing it, background, etc. Remember that we are not in your head and you have to explain what you are seeing.

World building – I want to feel like I’m in your story: What are the smells around the character? What do people eat? How do they travel? Are their environments different from ours? Are there drones/robots/aliens in the sky? Are there hierarchies in society? Are the rules different at work?

Writing course – If you haven’t done so already, do take the time to consider a writing course in person if you can afford it. The feedback from classmates are invaluable and the instructor is usually the harshest which makes you learn quickly! A writing group which meets regularly also helps improve your craft.

Free open ware writing courses are available at MIT’s website on creative writing as well. I bought books to start one of the courses and then forgot where I put them. Yes, I need real people to push my butt! If you are the super motivated type, then you may find some value in these online courses.

At the end of the day sometimes it’s me, not you.

We have received over 50 submissions so far. If I read your story and I remember it a few hours later because it made me think of XYZ, it’s a good story. If I forget I had ever read your story, then it’s forgettable and didn’t resonate with me.

Sending rejection letters suck as I always get them myself. Writing is also very subjective. Just because your story didn’t make it into this book, it doesn’t mean that your writing isn’t good, it could just be someone else sent in a similar story and we had to chose one.

Good luck and looking forward to your stories!

 

 

 

 

An Editor’s Notes on Submissions (Trump, Canada Anthologies)

Dark Helix Press has two different anthologies open to submissions at the moment: Trump Utopia or Dystopia? and Futuristic Canada. Deadlines for both are April 31, 2017.

First, thank you to everyone who has submitted their works so far! It’s been a lot of fun reading through the diverse stories with their different voices. Works have been sent in from all over the world – US, Canada, Italy, Sweden…just to name a few places.

Here are a few notes from moi, the editor, on these two anthologies in particular:

-We are looking for more stories for the Canada anthology in general.

-For the Trump anthology – more sci-fi and fantasy. Lots of Trump horror stories were submitted, making it difficult to choose among them.

-For the Trump Anthology if you are sending in work, send in an utopia and dystopia piece. We only have dystopic views at the moment. Utopic stories can be dark too, look at stories such as 28 Days Later (movie), Happiness (movie) or American Dream themed works, where among tragedies there is a glimmer of hope.

-World building is not including one sentence stating who is the leader of a country. To make me believe that the world you created is different, you will need to give me some details. For example, Trump was elected, then X, which led to X and your characters in the novel doing X. What do people eat? Are there new customs? The details are clear in your head, but the readers don’t have access to it!

-Please don’t send in horror pieces with senseless violence and killing. They really bore me. If there is death, why did it happen and how did the other characters react? Example, many Japanese haunting stories have a tragic tale of why the ghosts are haunting people.

These are my two cents for now. Am working on a Kickstarter campaign for the Trump anthology as a marketing strategy to find new readers. Will post more details when ready!

 

 

Happy Valentine’s Day! Mentioned in 2 articles!

(Oops, posted day after Valentine’s – forgot to hit publish button)

Today the landlord and men at my office gave out free breakfast, snacks and roses which was really nice of them. I could not resist the heart donuts at Tim Hortons either. Gosh, it’s been a calorie packed day!

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A few weeks ago I had answered some queries about relationship questions and didn’t hear back from the people. Well, today two of the people contacted me and used my advice in their articles!

One was 14 Things We Wish We Knew Before Getting Married which featured wedding pics and advice from married people. It’s mind boggling to see my picture from ten years ago. I looked so young!

The second article was written for businesses in regards to how people should treat their partners – Experts Weigh In: How do you show love to your partners? 

My husband and I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day (something about him finding it annoying) so it was nice that I got fed, received a rose and got to contribute to some articles!

Accepting Death and the New Reality

Buddhist saying: “Death is the mirror in which your life is reflected.”

I haven’t written anything for a while or done anything creative since my father passed away in the summer. This month I’m slowly pulling myself together, working through a writing course and speaking at a conference. Doing little things to stop my brain from going crazy with grief.

Since I live in North America and grew up in a safe environment I have never really experienced much death. The death of a few friends over the years did impact me, however, the death of a parent is a totally different thing. I work in healthcare which is a double edged sword because I know where all the resources are to get help, but when the worst outcome happens, I find myself feeling responsible for this failure. Rationally, I know not all patients make it through the healthcare system because people do get sick and don’t survive. Stats don’t help when the situation is personal.

It is inevitable that we all die. I know this. But when a parent dies, you’ve lost your home, your source of wisdom (which you only listen to half the time!) and a person who loves you unconditionally no matter how many times you screw up. This event totally destroyed me and my heart shattered.

People who have lost their parent(s) approach me and we have a connection since we are living in a new reality which we do not want to live in, yet we have no choice. As a parent myself, I know that if I go, I would want my child to be happy and free of sadness. However, at the moment I find it very difficult to feel any joy because I have survivor and filial guilt. I know I am drowning in pain. I know I am majorly depressed and have PTSD. I am getting professional help. It’s been a slow climb uphill to patch together pieces of my heart and to survive minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day.

One thing that has really helped are Buddhist Dharma talks by a monk called Ajahn Brahm. The Buddhists really take a positive spin on things. Instead of the concept of the body being an enemy as you age, the Buddhists consider death as a return to nature. Ajahn Brahm compares the life of his father (which he only knew for 16 years) to a great concert in which he was grateful to have attended the performance. I recommend listening to this monk as he imparts a lot of wisdom about living life to its fullest and how to handle difficult situations.

A friend told me that we have perhaps 40 good years to use between the age of 30 and 70, when we are mature enough to realize that we have to pull our crap together and really live before we start getting sick/die. Also, my Chinese doctor told me that I must do good before I die. To do good only for oneself is being selfish. So one must do good for oneself and others in order to make this world a better place.

I don’t know when death will be at my doorstep. So I will use my time to create more stories which I hope will make a dent in this big world and will carry on the legacy of my father by taking care of my family. Nothing was more important than family to him. He sacrificed everything for us and I have to learn, grow and do good from the experience of his death. If you have parents that are still here, please tell them you love them. Because life is precious, fleeting and unpredictable, but death is a certainty we will all face one day.

Call for Submissions: Ricepaper’s Speculative Fiction Issue

My friend Derwin Mak and I will be guest editors for Ricepaper (an Asian Canadian literary magazine) for an upcoming issue on Speculative Fiction.  The issue will focus on  science fiction, fantasy, horror or alternative history.

It’ll be published in December 2014 and we are looking for original content.  Deadline is a bit tight – Aug 15, 2014 – however, it is a paying gig and all submissions will be considered.

Please note there are some restrictions on author origins set by the magazine: We are looking for short stories, non-fiction articles, poems, and manga/comics excerpts byauthors with East Asian or Southeast Asian descent. Eighty (80%) percent of the issue’s content should be authored by Canadians.

More information on submission guidelines can be found here.  Good luck!

http://ricepapermagazine.ca/2014/07/call-for-submissions-ricepapers-speculative-fiction-issue/

 

 

 

 

June 7, 2014 Sat Book Signing at Artscape Wychwood Barns

If you are free this upcoming Sat morning in Toronto, I’m doing a book signing/selling thing at a farmer’s market at Artscape Wychwood Barns. A bookstore called Accents located there will stock my book on a consignment basis. 

This time coincides with a Farmer’s market and live music, so come by for the festivities!

My Viking husband will around of course!  Stop by and say hi if you have time!

 SATURDAY, June 7/2014 from 10:00am to 12:30pm

VENUE: The Stop Farmers’ Market, 601 Christie Street, Artscape Wychwood Barns, Toronto.

Book Signing, Reading and Sale “Undead Sorceress, Book 1 of The International House of Vampires Series” by JF Garrard (Author of Multicultural Fantasy Fiction & Non Fiction)

“Ever since Tamara became a vampire, things have gone downhill. Her grandma runs off with her daughter’s soul and then her husband thinks she’s gone crazy. The only thing certain right now is that she has to save her daughter, no matter what the cost. Caught in the middle of a war between vampires, sorceresses and warlocks, she discovers an alternative history to the world she thought she knew”

Hitting No. 1 in Asian Fantasy & Asian Fiction on Amazon Kindle

Today is the first day I’m doing a quick promo to give away a few e-books for free in exchange for reviews. Also, I’m at a Japanese Animation convention, Anime North, doing a few panels on publishing and Asian vampires.

After a long day of chatting with friendly people dressed as Sailormoon, Naruto and other fabulous creatures; I came home to do a quick check to see how the downloads were going. Surprisingly I hit number one in Fiction/Asian American and Fantasy/Asian!

Admittedly these are very niche categories,  but hey, No. 1 is better than No. 100 at the moment! Here’s hoping that I’ll find a great audience who likes to read things from a different perspective!

Meanwhile, greetings from me and a plant lady at Anime North (pic below)!

Kindle May 24 14

 

AN plant lady s

Anime North Schedule & Free Ebook May 24-28

I’ll be at Anime North this weekend and have been looking forward to this for a long time! It’s a big con for me and my book, so I’m super excited! My Viking is very nervous as it is his first con and it’s a big one! The attendance is about 25K and although I’ve been involved for many years, the Viking stayed away…

During May 24-28, 2014 I am giving The Undead Sorceress e-book for free as part of my promotional strategy at the con. Click Amazon Kindle link here for free e-book during these few promo days.

Anyhow, below is my schedule – Sat I’m at the table and Sun I’m in panels. All purchases of the print book will get all sorts of goodies: the whole set of limited art cards along with pandas & bags.

Dates: Saturday, May 24 – Sunday, May 25, 2014

Table is in Dealer’s room, Industry/Guest I1-14

Panels only on Sunday, all at International Plaza Hotel

12pm Peel Room, How To Get Published
2pm Toronto Room, Japanese Kyonshî + Party
3pm Peel Room, Self-publishing & Marketing