#IWSG September 2017: How I surprised myself with #writing, my insecurities, & my kudos.

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Created and hosted by the Ninja himself, Alex J. Cavanaugh, the Insecure Writers Support Group posts the 1st Wednesday of every month. Click the image to learn more or sign up.

Monthly Question: Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing? (For example, by trying a new genre you didn’t think you’d be comfortable in?)

Never would I have thought in a million years that I would write anything resembling romantic comedy, yet, I have. And, I’m attempting to do it again in a sequel, but I’m pretty sure I’m in over my head. Give me fantasy, sci-fi, and paranormal stuff to read all day long and I’m a happy camper, but when it comes to romance and or comedy, things are little more complex. I honestly don’t like most of the romance I read, but I keep trying it. I do find that romance with comedy is what I’m likely to enjoy more. When it comes to writing comedy, I don’t actually try to be funny; I just stick to what I know best- sarcasm.

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Now on to the personal updates.

I had a health scare recently, on top of my usual health issues, and became consumed with worry over it. I’m fine now, but I lost about three weeks of productivity. My house was in shambles, I got no writing done, and I was barely able to hold myself together my first week back to work. Since then, I’ve cleaned house, recorded a few videos (see my thoughts on book reviews below), finished reading some books, and plan to start writing (working on my current wips) after scheduling this post.

I’ll admit that I’ve been struggling with insecurity over whether or not I’m able to finish series I’ve started. I have so many notes outlining the continuation of stories I’ve already published, but I’m having the darndest time putting the continuations down on paper or screen. I think the main problem with this issue is that I also have new stories that need to be written. And then, I have all these side stories, works of fan fiction or, what I call ‘venting fiction’ (where I write a story to vent about an issue I’m having) that keep popping up. Needless to say, all of these stories are starting to keep me up at night…Oh…And…Of course, I feel like everything I’ve written to date needs to be rewritten so they can simply be better than they are (I may be able to come up with great stories, but I’m not always the most skilled writer).

My book, Chip and Skip Need Each Other, is nominated for an award and could use your vote. Please check my side panel <– if you are up for it. I’m still just so honored that someone actually nominated me. 😀

I got a great review (the first) for my book, Plants and Animals Change Over Time. Check it out here.

Next month, for my birthday on October 21st, I’m having a Kindle sale and a giveaway. For the occasion, I’m attempting to put together a Blitz and would love it if you signed up.

If the Blitz isn’t your thing but you’d wouldn’t mind to help spread the word, please consider supporting my Thunderclap campaign. Jump over to my side panel <– to support in the manner that suits you best.

If you have a moment, I’d love for you to visit my CURIOUS QUESTIONS page and offer your two cents on the question being asked. Thanks bunches.

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So, have you surprised yourself with your writing?
Insecure about finishing a series or two?
Received any awards or great reviews lately?
Think Thunderclap campaigns are worth the bother?

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After hanging out with Alex, be sure to stop by and visit this month’s co-hosts:
Tyrean Martinson,
Tara Tyler,
Raimey Gallant, and
Beverly Stowe McClure!

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Click here to visit other IWSG blogs and sites to receive and share more inspiration and support. (This month, I’m #60).

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords

#IWSG August 2017: reading/writing/editing pet peeves & other #questions

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Created and hosted by the Ninja himself, Alex J. Cavanaugh, the Insecure Writers Support Group posts the 1st Wednesday of every month. Click the image to learn more or sign up.

Monthly Question: What are your pet peeves when reading/writing/editing?

Since I really don’t like editing, mainly because I’m no good at self-editing, it’s all one big pet peeve to me. I don’t mind offering feedback on other people’s work, but self-editing seems like an oxymoron to me. To me, if I write something, I know what it’s supposed to sound like and look like, so I can’t see those places where the ideas in my mind and what’s on the screen or paper don’t match. I really don’t like editing.

In terms of writing, my pet peeves are interruptions and inquisitions. It drives me crazy when people won’t let me write. It’s hard enough finding those magical moments when you are motivated to write and actually have the time only to be trapped by someone else’s need to chit-chat after ages of silence. I swear it happens every time. Then there are those times when you’re writing something and people want to talk to you about what you’re writing, or they want to watch you work and get inspired or any number of annoying things to show that they are all of a sudden interested in your writing when they’ve never cared before.

As far as reading goes, while most people will go on and on about style, voice, and p.o.v., the biggest pet peeve I have is when the author has treated the reader like a simpleton. It drives me crazy when authors explain things that don’t need to be explained. I think I do this myself sometimes and I make myself so mad when I do. Gotta work on that.

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Now on to the personal updates.

I’ve been sick, again. I’m always sick, but as long as I’m not in the hospital it really isn’t that bad. I’m used to it, but it does make keeping up with schedules and plans difficult. I’ve also been losing my battle with depression lately. At least I can say that now; I’m currently in a better place. It’s what I call the bounce back. It’s difficult to talk about depression with people who don’t suffer from it because it’s an entirely different thought process; it’s emotional and it’s messy. Most people avoid those who even mention depression, which is why I rarely talk about it. But since I’m doing better at the moment and will, prayerfully, stay that way, I figured it was important to put it out there in case someone is feeling all alone in their struggle.

On a lighter note, I’ve been keeping up with my YouTube channel pretty well, but I’ve realized that I won’t grow a large following with it. With my efforts split between this and other blogs and YouTube, there’s simply no way for me to put the time and interaction into it that would take for effective growth. At this point, it’s just something else I like to do whether others join me or not.

I’ve been writing quite a bit, though I don’t feel like I’m making much progress. Still, it feels good to be writing on a regular basis. I’ll talk more about it in my WIP update on Friday, where I’ll mention how my last public appearance, for a while, went the night before. I’ll be attending “Meet the Authors” at the Central Library in Virginia Beach. At least I’ll get to show off my new business cards.

If you have a moment, I’d love for you to visit my CURIOUS QUESTIONS page and offer your two cents on the question being asked. Thanks bunches.

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So, what are some of your read/write/edit pet peeves?
Any issues you want to talk about?
Any advice for my library appearance?

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After hanging out with Alex, be sure to stop by and visit this month’s co-hosts:
Christine Rains,
Dolarah @ Book Lover,
Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor,
Yvonne Ventresca, and
LG Keltner!

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Click here to visit other IWSG blogs and sites to receive and share more inspiration and support. (This month, I’m #61).

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords

#IWSG July 2017: Indie Drama, Personal Drama, #IntlAuthorsDay, & #Giveaways

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Created and hosted by the Ninja himself, Alex J. Cavanaugh, the Insecure Writers Support Group posts the 1st Wednesday of every month. Click the image to learn more or sign up.

Monthly Question: What is one valuable lesson you’ve learned since you started writing?

If you can find a good critique group, cherish it. No author can make their story the best it can be all on their own. We all need someone else’s eyes and impressions at some point, even if we don’t like them. I’m constantly on the search for effective feedback that goes beyond “I liked it,” or “I don’t get it, or “Just add more showing and you’ll be fine.” Luckily, I have several resources at my disposal now, and it’s still a struggle sometimes, but it’s a struggle worth dealing with.

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Now for some personal and professional updates… There’s a lot of them.

1) I’ve been experiencing a great deal of family drama lately. If you are a praying person, please send your prayers my way. Otherwise, well wishes are also greatly welcomed.

2) There always seems to be some scandal or drama going on in the indie book industry, anything from vanity press scams, pirated ebooks, and, most commonly, the fight to find space on book store shelves. Recently there’s been an uproar about the new review policy at Amazon.com. Authors are heartbroken over finding that some, or many, of their reviews have been removed. This has many indie authors having to reconsider their partnership with the company and pursue other options.

For me personally, I never liked the idea of putting all my eggs in one basket, but that decision wasn’t an easy one to stick to. I’ve tried so many different promotional and distribution avenues, but the only one that ever paid off was Amazon. I think it’s important for every author to do what’s most beneficial for their royalty gains, and while many argue that they don’t pay the best royalty rate, I recognize that it’s difficult to earn royalties when your books aren’t selling.

There are indie authors out there who are able to build up sales and readers over many platforms and are in a position where they can remove their books from Amazon and still make a profit. To those authors, I say, “what a blessing”. Considering the time and maintenance required to manage multiple platforms and convincing readers to purchase from a different outlet, it just isn’t worth it for someone like me. I whole heartily support any author’s right to manage their business the best way they can and hope that others will understand why I choose to manage mine the way I do.

3) So, I thought that International Authors Day was July 18, but I was wrong. It’s July 14. I’ve created an event for anyone who wants to take part. It’s a come and go as you like Facebook event where anyone can talk about any indie authors they like. Just to be clear, INTERNATIONAL AUTHORS DAY is a celebration of ALL authors, whether traditional or indie. Even if you don’t join my event, please head to social media on July 14 and show an author you love some appreciation.

Oh, and I’m still accepting submissions for anyone wanting to try the blog swap.

4) I finally posted another YouTube video after a very long time.

5) Lastly, here are a two giveaways I’m helping to promote. Please check them out.

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If you’re going through some personal drama, let me know and I’ll pray for you or keep you in my thoughts.

Have you considered making a change to how you run your indie book business?

Gonna try any of the events or giveaways listed?

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After hanging out with Alex, be sure to stop by and visit this month’s co-hosts:
Tamara Narayan ,
Pat Hat ,
Patricia Lynne ,
Juneta Key , and
Doreen McGettigan !

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Click here to visit other IWSG blogs and sites to receive and share more inspiration and support. (This month, I’m #64).

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords

#IWSG June 2017: New Adventures, Counting Blessings, Blog Break, & Can’t Quit

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Created and hosted by the Ninja himself, Alex J. Cavanaugh, the Insecure Writers Support Group posts the 1st Wednesday of every month. Click the image to learn more or sign up.

Monthly Question: Did you ever say “I quit”? If so, what happened to make you come back to writing?

I’ve never said I’d quit writing once I started and really understood what I was doing and how much it was a part of me. I have thought about saying “I quit” to blogging from time to time, but that’s usually due to me feeling like I never have enough time. Even if I decided at some point not to pursue publication anymore, I don’t think I would ever stop writing.

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Now for some personal and professional updates. 1) I’m taking a one month break from this blog to regroup my focus and put some work into another project. I need to get my head together so my posts will go back to being regular and consistent.

2) I recently shared a few blessings on social media that I’d like to share here now. Over the Memorial Day weekend, here in the US, I did not run any kind of a book promotion, but I still managed to get a spike in my Eternal Curse: Giovanni’s Angel sales. A few days after I realized this nice blessing, I got a fan email from a woman who bought my romcom, It’s Like the Full Moon, at a local Con and loved it. It made my week.

3) New adventures abound for me. I’m working to develop a new blog community, but it’s not what I think other people think it is. I don’t want this blog to be competition for other book blogs and I don’t want to do this all by myself. My hope is to create a collaboration that helps bring indie books mainstream.

As blog admin for the Reading Indie blog, I want to:
-create a list of other book and author blogs to help readers find the kinds of books they are interested in.
-promote books even if they aren’t free or discounted and show readers that authors are people too.
-give authors an outlet to build up their SEO with guest posts, interviews, and creative link backs.
-create a gift box prize that intrigues readers into wanting to know more or experience more that indie has to offer.

4) My adventures don’t stop there. I’m attempting to plan two blog events for the Reading Indie blog:
-one for Indie Pride Day (July 1st I believe). Would you like to be featured in a book promo video?
-one for International Authors Day (July 14th). Would you like to do a blog swap promo?

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So, ever thought about saying, “I quit” to writing?
Thinking about taking a blogging break anytime soon?
Wish me luck for my Reading Indie adventures? :/

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After hanging out with Alex, be sure to stop by and visit this month’s co-hosts:
JH Moncrieff,
Madeline Mora-Summonte,
Jen Chandler,
Megan Morgan, and
Heather Gardner!

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Click here to visit other IWSG blogs and sites to receive and share more inspiration and support. (This month, I’m #64).

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords

#IWSG May 2017: Being Overwhelmed, Weird Research, & Another Con

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Created and hosted by the Ninja himself, Alex J. Cavanaugh, the Insecure Writers Support Group posts the 1st Wednesday of every month. Click the image to learn more or sign up.

Monthly Question: What is the weirdest/coolest thing you ever had to research for your story?

At this point in my writing, I haven’t really had to research anything too weird yet. I guess I could at least mention a few cool things I’ve researched, like: scientific terms and effects of two moons for a story I haven’t started yet or how to create a language for a story I’ve been developing for about three years.

For now, I’d say the most interesting thing I’ve researched is angel lore. After I completed the first draft of my first book, before I even knew it was a book, I decided to look into the different worldviews of angels to see if anything interesting could be added to my story. I bought a book online that had high ratings and was recommended by several different sites. Can’t for the life of me remember the title now. I still have the book, but it’s in storage somewhere.

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So, the month of April was a bit crazy for me. I did a virtual convention, went on Spring Break, took a trip with my sister, did a live convention, and battled and assortment of illnesses- some still in progress. I’ve had a lot of low points in the past month, but the high points made it all bearable.

I only finished one book in the month of April and I still need to write a thorough review for it. I’m struggling to finished up the first installment of “We Are Jardin”. Who knows when that will be ready to publish. My YouTube channel will suffer a bit this month. I’m working on a RavenCon wrap up video and have no real Reading Challenge update to offer. Plus, I have two more author events coming up that I’ll have to work around my ongoing medical issues.

All in all, I guess I can’t complain too much. I’m busy in a good way and my health is always an issue. If I waited around to be healthy all the time, I’d never get anything done.

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What have you had to research for a book?
Read any good books last month?
Hope this post finds you in good health.

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After hanging out with Alex, be sure to stop by and visit this month’s co-hosts:
Michelle Wallace,
Nancy Gideon,
Tamara Narayan, and
Liesbet!!

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Click here to visit other IWSG blogs and sites to receive and share more inspiration and support. (This month, I’m #66).

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords