AuthorMarketingClubLive, New Podcast and New Releases

I hope you’re as excited for fall as I am. I’m going to be busy and I like that. I thought I’d take a moment and let you know what is coming down the line.

If you haven’t purchased your ticket to AMCLive yet, you’re running out of time. There are not many tickets available and you will not want to miss this. Jim Kukral ( is hosting the inaugural event in Cleveland, Ohio on September 8th and I will be speaking in the morning. The most dynamic folks in the indie publishing world will be there, including Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant from the Self-Publishing Podcast.

Speaking of podcasts, mine is getting a major overhaul thanks to fellow author, Richard Brown. Richard will be the new co-host beginning with episode 8 on September 8th. I’m so grateful for all of the time and energy he’s contributed to the podcast. We’re going weekly (every Monday), doing video as well as audio and the show has been rebranded and established on the big social media platforms. Our first guest will be bestselling author, Scott Nicholson, and his interview will air in late September.

On September 1st I’ll have two new releases. The first is Dark Justice, a mystery/thriller/suspense box set organized by Lorhainne Eckhart. The collection will include titles from Scott Nicholson, Cathy Perkins and Karin Tabke. You can pre-order the title on all the biggest bookselling sites. The links are on my books page.

Also on September 1st you’ll be introduced to The Black Fang Betrayal. I’ll have a dedicated post about this project next Monday. If you want a sneak peek, go here.

And finally, I hope to have my first middle-grade title out on October 1st. If you kids like Goosebumps, you’re going to love this book. More information on that coming later…

Whew. That’s it for now. Can you keep up?

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Shout at the Devil

Shout at the Devil because he’s hard of hearing these days. The guy has been touring with Mötley Crüe for over 31 years.

What would possess me to drive over two hours and through three states to see a band that is not exactly in their prime? It all started on August 7, 1985. My brother and I attended our first rock show at the Civic Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to see Mötley Crüe at the beginning of the Theater of Pain tour. It was quite a spectacle. Vince, Mick, Tommy and Nikki were hitting their stride as both musicians and performers. And no matter what you think of Mötley Crüe, you cannot deny the commercial success they have had over the years. In addition, Mötley Crüe is ending their legacy the same way they began it in 1981; with all four original members. Sure, Vince was absent for a few years but the majority of the band’s history includes all founding members. Think about that. I challenge you to name another band with the same level of international recognition that will retire with all original members. U2 is the only other band I can think of that will be able to make that claim provided nobody in the band dies before they quit.

When I had the chance to see Mötley Crüe one last time, in Pittsburgh, with my brother, I had to do it. Almost 29 years to the day from my first exposure to the Crüe, it was exactly what you would expect from musicians who have been playing and living hard for over fifty years. If you were to take any performer or athlete and compare their early twenties to their early fifties, you would no doubt see a decrease in performance. The same is true of musicians. Vince gave it his best, but he was not the Vince Neil of 1981 and nobody in the crowd of approximately 23,000 was expecting that. We knew what we were getting and we paid our money anyway. Tommy Lee and Nikki Sixx stole the show. Both of those guys played as well, if not better, than they did in the 1980s and 1990s.

I’m not out to convince anyone that Mötley Crüe is the best hard rock band in the world or that you should care. I’m not going to get bogged down in an album sales conversation. The Crüe means more to me than the sum of its parts. We all have a band, artist or performer we feel that way about and it’s pointless to attempt to quantify our emotional connection. Just enjoy it and don’t worry if someone else doesn’t.

And on the podcast this week, the topic is dark music and its connection to fiction. I’m fortunate to have my first guest, author Richard Brown. We had a great time and I hope you will enjoy listening to the conversation.

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“I’m sailing. I’m a sailor. I sail.”


Although not as quoted as Caddyshack or Stripes, Bill Murray’s character in What About Bob? has some great lines.  He’s never gone sailing, never been on a boat and he hates the water.  So what does he do?  He declares himself a sailor and then he sails. Take a minute to watch the scene. Go on. I’ll wait.

It doesn’t matter that Bob is tied to the mast or that he’s not steering the craft or that the other people in the boat probably think he’s an asshole. It doesn’t matter because sailors ride boats on water. Bob is riding a boat on water. He sails. He’s a sailor.

Never before has there been so much opportunity available to so many people.  We live in a time when you can make yourself into whatever you want to be.  All you have to do is declare it.  I know this sounds crazy, like something written by a New Age guru, but it’s not.  If you strip the idea back from all of its philosophical, religious or social connotations, you have the power to be what you say you are.

In 2009, I declared myself a writer.  I did not walk into my living room and stand on the couch and shout this at my family, but somewhere inside of myself I did.  I did not worry about a five-year plan, a platform on Amazon or finding an agent.  I sat down and began to write and therefore I was a writer.  My declaration directed my actions and I did what I had to do at the time which was exactly what I needed to do.  While writing my first draft five years ago, I was not worried about the click through rates on Facebook because that was not the action I was supposed to be taking at that time.

Most people my age don’t believe this.  We’ve been raised to believe in a fixed mindset.  You are something and that’s what you will be and you will never change.  You’re either born creative or you’re not.  This is not true.  It was not an intentional lie, it’s just how we’ve evolved.

If you have ever played a single note on a guitar, you are a guitarist.  You may not be a good one, but you are a guitarist.  You are one because you are doing what guitarists do and therefore you can be nothing but a guitarist.  People who are not guitarists don’t play guitar.  This sounds so simple it’s almost comical.  The difference between people who are something and people who want to become something is the difference between declaring it and not declaring it.  People who think of themselves as a guitarist will take actions consistent with being a guitarist.  They will practice.  They will learn technique.  They will listen to other guitarists and talk to people about playing guitar.  In other words, once you declare yourself a guitarist you are one. If you declare you are not creative, you will not do creative things and therefore you are not creative. If you declare you are trapped in a relationship you will not take action to free yourself from it and therefore you are trapped in a relationship.

There is nothing inherently wrong with a plan, goals, objectives, to-do lists or day planners.  However, those are all pointless without action.  Those tools become nothing more than intellectual masturbation for people who say they want to be something but in reality they do not. I have friends who are “writing a book.”  You can substitute “writing a book” for “losing weight,” or “eating better” or “ending a relationship.”  Those people do not believe they are already what they want to become.  They are waiting for the perfect set of circumstances, the perfect time to take action which is action consistent with who they are in that moment, not what they want to be. There is no “right time” to do anything because doing it makes it the right time. It couldn’t be done if it weren’t the right time.

If you want to sail, declare yourself a sailor and you will find yourself doing things that sailors do.  Like sailing. If you want to be a writer, declare yourself a writer and you’ll find yourself writing.  If you have written something and now you know what you want to do but you don’t know how to do it, click here. And tie yourself to the damn chair if necessary. It worked for Bob.

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Addiction’s Suffocating Embrace: Reflections on Social Media

I’m not conventional. More often than not I find myself going against the grain. The grain right now is social media, using it personally and as a marketing tool. Yeah, I’m going against that. Some authors will tell you such-and-such sold 4 million copies when a link was retweeted by a celebrity or so-and-so used Facebook to make $10,000 a month in royalties. I’m sure those stories are true but it’s not been that way for me. The only thing I have is my experience. Advice is telling someone what they should do while sharing experience is being honest about what worked and what didn’t. I don’t give advice. I share experience. This has been my experience. Use it or ignore it. It’s nothing but the truth. My truth.

I’ve been conditioned my entire life to be a “people pleaser.” You have too. But there is no one “people” and therefore it’s impossible to “please” them/him/her. No matter what I say or do, some people will dislike, refute or ridicule me. I can’t control that. I can control my response to it. Everything I write/post/say is coming from an altruistic place. I share my experience with the hope it will benefit someone else. I don’t lie or say things to hurt people. Ever. Making you believe that is not my concern. I don’t need to prove myself because I’m already me. I always have been. Your reaction to me is your business and I promise to stay out of it.

This started as a podcast, turned into a blog post and now it’s both. I’m still experimenting with the podcast. I’m not sure how it will evolve so if this is a little different than what you’re used to, let me know if you like it. Or hate it. I’d like to hear from you either way. What follows is a transcription of episode 6 of The Horror Writers Podcast.

I have an addictive personality. I know this about myself and so I have to be vigilant. The substances, while alluring, are easier to avoid these days. They’re not in my house and I’m too lazy to go to a bar. But there’s another more insidious substance that is always in my pocket. It’s probably in yours too. I feel like I must reclaim part of myself, step back from the edge and take a breath.

How many times an hour do you tap that little blue globe or the speech bubble? How many times do you use your finger to pull the screen down and refresh it? There’s nothing inherently wrong with social media and its now part of our collective lifestyle. You’re part of it whether you want to be or not. But this is even more complicated for me because I’ve operated under an assumption I no longer believe to be valid. I create content that entertains and hopefully enriches the lives of others. I’ve been told since I began my journey in 2010, that if you’re a writer, an artist or a musician, you have to build your platform. You must be constantly promoting your art on social media otherwise your message will be lost in the mass of messages broadcast every second of every day. And so I began with my band’s page on MySpace. I interacted, promoted and managed the content, and at one point, we had over 20,000 views. Did that help sell any music? I don’t know. Did that help us connect with fans? Maybe. Did it warrant the sixty to ninety minutes a day I spent on MySpace? Probably not. And then came Facebook. Whatever reputation, cred or brand loyalty we had on MySpace died there. So we started over on Facebook. You see the pattern here and if you’re an addict you recognize it all too well. When I began writing I invested hours each day into Facebook. Not constantly spamming my book links (although I did that early on), but interacting with people. Did it sell books? Probably not. And then came Twitter.

I have twenty four hours in my day. I eat. I sleep. I’m bound by the same mortal constraints as everyone else. I never say, “I don’t have time for that.” Instead, I say, “I choose not to do that with my time.” It’s more accurate because we all have the same amount of time and we always find it for the things we love to do. The question becomes what I choose to do with my time. If I choose to write novels I can be compensated for my creativity while providing an escape for people, a bubble of entertainment to help block out the shit life hands us. People seem to like my stories. They tell me so and my sales confirm this. I can also choose to spend my time posting to Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Pinterest/Google+/NextBigThing. My posts will bring a momentary smile or chuckle to people and then get swallowed by the steady stream of content.

Algorithms are not sexy but they are on the verge of global, digital domination. Even assuming you see all of my posts is wrong. Facebook, and now Twitter, is becoming more of a closed system. If you’re not my friend you won’t see my content. But even if you are my friend you might not see my content. Sure, you can pay to have that post “boosted” but it feels like throwing money down a well. Your circle of interaction is closing because the people you friend and the people who friend you back are usually in direct alignment with your principles. So long, diversity of thought. Hello echo chamber of ideas and morals.

There are better, more interesting Facebookers and Tweeters than me. There are people who write great jokes and post fantastic pictures. People don’t write me to tell me how interesting my Tweets are. Nobody is sharing them at the same rate my novels sell. And therein lies my choice. As my addictive personality rears up and begins to steal time from my fiction, I’m getting less of it created. The universe has told me it values my fiction over my Tweets and you should always honor what the universe shares with you. If I continue to spend my time on social media I have less of it remaining to write. It’s simple math.

I don’t think social media is evil. In fact, I love it. Too much. If it was not getting in the way of my creativity or not negatively affecting my quality of life I would not consider it an addiction. I would not feel compelled to change my behavior. Social media may not be cutting into your life. In that case there is nothing wrong with it. For me, however, I need to make a change.

By examining my addictive nature and questioning a false assumption propagated by my industry, I’ve discovered truth. The assumption is that independent artists need social media to sell their craft. I no longer accept that assumption. In the five years or so I’ve spent building my platform and being part of several social media networks, I have no evidence this has helped me to meaningfully connect to others, let alone provide any measurable return on investment. The sales of book two in a series is direct evidence of a measureable ROI from book one. Indisputable. Can I track a Facebook post directly to a sale? No. Others have and my hat’s off to them. They have cracked a code I cannot. But I’ve talked with enough authors to know that most get a miserable ROI from social media. Using a tweet, one author with over 100,000 Twitter followers asked them to buy her book. She used a tracking link to verify less than ten purchases. There is no doubt social media has a solid ROI for some, but it doesn’t for me. It’s forcing me to choose between momentary flashes of witty banter or a lasting legacy of making a difference in people’s lives.

This is not a rant, abandonment or a manifesto. I’m not declaring myself free of addiction’s suffocating embrace. I’m not deleting my Facebook page. I’m not suggesting anyone else should agree with me, support me or refute me. This is a declaration of sorts. This is me valuing my creativity enough to protect it. You’re probably reading this blog because you like my fiction. It’s made an impression on you or made your life better for a few hours. Nothing I post on Facebook or pin to a board on Pinterest will ever have that impact.

I can’t cut the cord completely and I don’t want to, but I’m shifting, prioritizing, reevaluating. What does that mean for you? Now, more than ever, we need a more personal connection. That isn’t going to happen in a constant stream of 140 characters buried within the tweets of thousands of follows. And if something kills Facebook the way it killed MySpace then all of the content created on the platform will die too. If you sign up for my list we will always have a direct connection regardless of what happens in the world of social media. I’m a person, not a corporation. I respect you and if you ever decide to severe our relationship it will be completely in your power to do so, to opt out.

Logging out of Facebook on my phone might be harder than walking out of the bar for the last time. I’ll let you know how it goes. In an email.

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