Monday, January 26, 2015

Update: Two Strand Twist and Dreadlocks Update

My most popular blog post is Two Strand Twists and Deadlocks. Its twice as popular the second most viewed post. Crazy, huh?!? Yesterday was the anniversary of my nephews death and I was not feeling spending two hours on a blog post, so I made a video instead. See the bottom of the page.

It was my first video and I was nervous so I didn't even answer the questions I was supposed to.  So I'm going to answer them below:

Are my two strand twists too small?  Do I need to evenly part my hair for them to look good?—No, my parts are not even and my hair looks good. 

Should I start over with freshly washed hair?
I didn’t start over. I just re-twisted them.

How often and how should I wash my hair?
My hair flipped the Eff out because I didn't wash it for a couple week because I didn't want my hair to unravel. Now I wash it at least twice a week, and my hair looks better after it'swashed.  

What is the best locking gel? 
I tried a couple of different gels but after six months I stopped twisting my hair so I didn't need a gel. 

What are the best blogs for this information?
The best video I saw confirmed I didn’t have to twist my hair on a regular basis. I wish I could find the video, but I think she took all of her videos down. 

How can I keep my dreads from being too scalpy?
Don’t get them twisted by a professional. The isht hurts. 

Is it locs, locks, dreads or dreadlocks? 
It doesn't matter.

Monday, January 19, 2015

My Series of Book Covers for COAL

I mentioned I spent a butt load of money on covers I commissioned for COAL that I'll probably not even use. But I have to admit, there is just something really awesome about seeing a visual representation of my writing, and I don't regret the money I spent. Most of the artwork and covers haven't been spot on, but when it works, it works and there is no high quite like having a good cover. Well maybe getting a five star review and fan mail. I love fan mail.

I was perusing Amazon for book covers with black YA characters. I found an incredible cover and with a little digging, I found the artist.

I told her I wanted a young black male with an afro or braids. After I chose a model from stock photos, she gave me this a FINAL cover.

I would be kinda embarrassed to give someone this for a final product. I told her to forget about the afro. And this was the final cover we decided on.

In the above cover, the arms don't match and he does not have a right hand. I should have told her I wasn't satisfied, I'm a punk and I was not confident it could get any better. I do enjoy seeing a Black man with a sword and fantasy-like clothing.  It's not something I see every day.

Next I went to Dreamup which is linked to Deviant art, which is similar to 99 Designs. If I remember correctly, you can either contact an artist, put out bids and see who accepts. 

I actively seeked one artist and one person accepted by bid. With Dreamup, I was hoping to find character design I could ultimately use for the cover.

Here are the end results.

The first one is the best, but I don't think neither would be good for a cover.  Again I do like seeing a black man with a sword. It makes me tingle.

Finally I went to Fiverr and asked for a cover from Jeshart, the guy who did the cover design for Medusa (amazon link) and my WIP BLACK BEAUTY (Wattpad link)

The cheapest and the best was Fiverr. Funny how that works sometimes. I love this cover.

But tt feels more MG than YA.  So the next and final step will be to 99 Designs once I pay for an editor and come up with the extra cash for another cover. Wish me luck.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Diverse Books Tour: Sins of The Father by Thelonious Legend

As part of the Diverse Books Tour, I'm hosting Thelonious Legend the author of SINS OF THE FATHER
“What did you do? What just happened?” Eve demanded.

“I crashed the energy grid for this quadrant,” Ana said calmly. Stepping outside the guard shack, she slowly looked the building up and down twice through a small scope.

Gwen looked at Eve. Eve shrugged her shoulders and adjusted her rope. “OK, I’ll bite… and why did you crash the energy grid for this quadrant?”

“The building is now being powered by backup generators. But the generators have a limited capacity, so only the floors that are most critical to the business should be on,” Ana explained, as a 3D rendering of the building materialized above her tablet. The rendering contained small human images inside. “The outage will only last seven minutes, but when the power comes back on the cameras will be in an endless loop, so we don’t have to worry about being seen. Now, the lobby security will be checking every floor, so we need to check our five floors as quickly as possible. I already unlocked the doors to the loading dock, so let’s go! Wait…”

Gwen saw that Ana had a concerned look on her face. “What’s wrong?”

“They have a larger janitorial staff than I figured. I count nine individuals in the building, but—”

“But what?” Gwen pressed.

“Heat signature. There is something different, unique, about one of the heat signatures. We might want to rethink this.”

“See, I told you! It’s a trap!”

“You don’t know that! We have to try. We have to at least try. I can’t go on like this!”

“Fine, Eve! Fine! But I’m only going in if we’re not doing the stupid monster movie thing and splitting up. We check the floors together.”

“No. That’ll take too long,” Eve stated.

“Can’t you see something is wrong here? I have a sixth sense about these things, and this doesn’t feel right! So we go in together and stay together or we don’t go in!”

“OK, fine, whatever.”

“Cool. And another thing—” Gwen started, before Eve interrupted her.

“Wait! Shouldn’t we say a prayer first or something?”

“You can’t be serious!”

“Why wouldn’t I be serious?”

“We’re about to break into a building! And you just choked out a security guard. Doesn’t it say in the Bible, ‘Thou shalt not choke out minimum wage workers’?”

“Don’t get an attitude! I’m just saying—a prayer might be nice!”

“You can’t pray before you break into a building! Plus, that guy probably has a wife and kids! Now he’s going to lose his job because he was choked out by a bookworm! I pray that you don’t run into another security guard or janitor!”

“You’re not funny! Let’s just go!”

“Wait, here, take these. You can hook them on your belt.” Ana gave Eve and Gwen some canisters.

Eve inspected one of the canisters. “What are they?”

“Tear gas.”

Gwen clipped her canisters on her belt. “Anyway, remember if something happens, we go out the windows and not the exits. That’s what the ropes are for. Got it?”

“Can we do this already?” Eve stormed off.

Gwen stood over Ana as Ana slid a card through an electronic door reader.

“What is that card again?” The girls were in a dimly lit hallway. Abstract artwork adorned the walls and the floors were polished marble. Ana was attempting to open two large double doors.

“It’s a skeleton key. It has integrated circuits and a microprocessor that communicates wirelessly with my computer. The first swipe detects the type of cryptography or encryption algorithm, and voila! The second swipe unlocks the door. It works on hotel rooms too!”

“Are you two finished? Can we go in now?” Eve asked, as the door opened. The three sisters entered cautiously. The room had a large lab at the center, surrounded by cubicles. The lab was encased in glass with a biohazard sign on the door. Two large oak desks were directly in front of the lab door.

“This must be it!” Eve exclaimed

“Wait, I thought I heard something?” Gwen whispered.

“You kept saying that on the sixth floor. I’m not falling for it,” Eve replied.

“I keep telling you, this doesn’t feel right. And where are all those janitors?”

“Hmm. That’s actually a good point…” Ana noted.

Click, click.

The girls froze. Holding her breath, Gwen noted the east and west ends were a wall of windows. The west side was too far away. Plus, they would have to pass an emergency exit. Gwen grabbed her rope and started walking toward the east windows.

“Come on! We have to go!” she whispered to Ana and Eve, who were still frozen. She came back for them. “Ana, lock the doors, and let’s go!”

She started pushing them toward the windows. She stopped when she heard footsteps outside the door they’d just come in. She heard more footsteps coming up the stairwell of the emergency exit. Whoever they were, they’d given up the pretense of being quiet.

If you like what you read, Here is the synopsis and links to buy:

Plot Summary:

This was going to be a special year for the Parker sisters. Eve was going to dominate in the classroom and on the basketball court.

Gwen was going to make the starting five and go down in history as the greatest prankster ever. Ana was going to do as little as possible.

But without warning, all three sisters gain extraordinary abilities that defy science… powers that come with a cost. Now all they want to do is make it through the school year without drawing any undue attention, while racing to find a cure before the side effects of their new abilities kill them. Eve’s temperament, Gwen’s fondness for pranks, and Ana’s predilection for money, however, are challenges they must overcome to achieve their goals. Because if they can’t, they’re dead…

Book Links

Amazon: Purchase Link
Barnes & Noble: Purchase Link

Book Depository: Pick up internationally!

Monday, January 12, 2015

My 2014 Writing Expenses... It does not look good

I know I'm broke because I'm counting down the days that I'll ge able to do my tax refund. Usually I wait to file taxes until the last minute because I know I'm not going to do anything with the money but throw t into my savings account.  But this year, I'm anxiously waiting for my W-2s. My get out of debt plan has left me as broke as a joke.  I’m prepping the paper work for my tax lady and I've even already counted up the money I spent on my growing business.  Which leads me to the topic of this post. I'm going to be brutally honest and show you my numbers.

I spent approximately $1,888 on my writing business last year. And according to Amazon and Smash words I made $20.63. That's a net loss of -$1,863. Not so great. Not so good at all. But most business don't make money their first year. I've read it takes between 3 to 5 years to make money, and five books to create a steady income. 

I released two short stories Chaos (Amazon Link) and Medusa (Amazon Link). Total publishing expenses for those two books were less than $200. I didn't expect much money for those stories. My goal was to gain a small following for when COAL is released. So most of the expenses were spent on the actual novel.

2014 was my first serious year of writing and the first time I published anything. I gave myself room to explore and learn. For 2015, I'm going to be more money conscious. The learning period is over. I'm going to spend less per book and make more money.

How does my $1,888 breakdown you ask? See graph. Not shown are books $44.08 , giveaways $10, Writing manuals $55.73)

There were no big equipment purchases.  Half of the $428 price tag was to pay for my accountant to do my taxes. 

I spent $500 on a developmental edit for COAL. I’m not sure if I will pay for a developmental editor again. I don't think she did anything that a good critique group couldn't do. It could have just been my editor also. On top of that I still have to pay for a copy and line editor.

This is probably my biggest waste of money. I spent too much on covers and illustrations that I didn't like or didn't use. I'm going to go with 99 designs next and stick with something. Good or bad. No more money will be spent on cover art for COAL after I dish out the money for 99 designs.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Book Tour Hosting

I don't know much about hosting book tours, but when the ladies at Twinja's BookReviews started Diverse Book Tours, I had to add myself to the list of  blog hosts. We need more diverse books and we also need to market those books. Plus, I'm a big fun of the dynamic duo and their ability to dish out book reviews like nobody's business.

Real quick, here is my experience with being a tour host:

-I hosted four books: Pig Park by Claudia Guadalupe Martinez, Dia of the Dead by Brit Brinson, The Savage Fortress by Sarwat Chadda, and The Sanctum Series by Madhuri Blaylock.

The comments may not be show it, but hosting the tour made December 2014 the most viewed month of my blog so far. I promoted thier books and the authors promoted by blogpost.  Win-Win.

-The Sanctum Series by Madhuri Blaylcok has the most pageviews. Two weeks later, Madhuri's followers are still retweeting her tweet about my blogpost. I can only dream of having readers and cool as hers.

-I tried to post on the weekends, when I normally wouldn't post anything. (Not that I am a heavy poster anyway).

-I got free books! Of course, a  review is required, but there is no timelimit on the review.

-I recommend
  Dia of the Dead for a quick read,
  The Savage Fortress for a well-written meaty novel full of action and beautiful imagery,
  The Sanctum Series for action, sexiness, and teenage angst. 

-Hosting was easy! Most of the promotion material was provided to me.

In conclusion, I definitely recommend tour hosting or just plain book hosting. If nothing else, it’s a great way to get out there and meet new people. 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

My First Post for the YA-NA Sisterhood

I am contributor to YA-NA Sisterhood!!!!! Woohoo!!! And last week my first post, 3 Tips To Automate Your Life In Order To Save More Time To Write went live.  I know, really long title right? But you should check it out anyway. Automation is the key to taking over the world.

Also, my short CHAOS is available for free on Kindle Unlimited or $2.99; and Medusa is currently 99 cents on Amazon.

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Best Part of THE INTERVIEW: The Sexy Asian Guy

On Christmas night, my family gathered around the television to do our patriotic duty and watch The Interview. I love Seth Rogan, but I hadn't expected much from the movie.  I was pleasantly surprised. The well acted and scripted movie kept me laughing and entertained the entire time. It never felt over the top stupid. 

The bad guy played by Randall Park, the actor who played by Kim Jung-un.
Since Asian Man don't get enough love from Hollywood, I thought I'd shine some light on the extremely sexy and super talented Mr. Park. In my opinion, he made the movie and pretty much stole the movie from Seth Rogan and James Franco.  

So who is this guy? According to Wikipedia
Randal Park a native from Los Angeles to South Korean parents.

I knew there some street under all of that blubber. Honestly though, Randall made blubber look good. 

If you haven't watched The Interview, I highly recommend it. And I'm looking forward to seeing Randall Park acting the upcoming ABC show Fresh off the Boat