#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

#IWSG April 2017: #B2BCyCon2017, Monsters in Our Wake, & a #giveaway

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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.

So, I have a lot to share this month. Gonna keep some stuff real short so I can spotlight an amazing interview. Please stick around to see it all. It would really mean a lot.

1) My Countdown to Con Season is coming to a close and the cons are on. Check out these two videos to see what I have to look forward to this weekend OR bookmark them to watch later.

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2) Monthly Question: Have you taken advantage of the annual A to Z Challenge?

No, no I haven’t. I’ve wanted to, but it just hasn’t happened yet.

3) So, I’ve been trying out new authors this year and it’s been paying off pretty well. Please enjoy this interview with J. H. Moncrieff, an author I’m sure to become a lifelong fan of. Be sure to check out the giveaway at the end of the interview.

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Where did the idea for Monsters in Our Wake come from?

This book was initially inspired by my anger at the irresponsibility of the oil industry and offshore drilling, but it got a lot more complex as it came together.

I can already tell that this is going to be a passionate interview. I’m so up for it.

How did the title of this book come about?

I normally struggle with titles, but this one just popped into my head while I was writing. I loved it, and it suits the book, so I went with it. Thankfully the publisher liked it as well.

What genre is this book and why did you choose to make it so?

I thought it was a straight-up horror tale, but some readers are also seeing elements of sci-fi and fantasy, which surprised me. As I was writing it for a horror press, choosing the genre was easy.

Many find that the line between horror and sci-fi is a very thin one; the Alien films are a prime example. Are you happy or worried about the effects sci-fi elements will have on your readers?

At this point, I’m not sure what to think. It may broaden my audience and attract some sci-fi fans, which would be great, as long as it doesn’t turn off those who think sci-fi is always about aliens, distance galaxies, and technology. Just like horror, sci-fi suffers from a lot of misconceptions.

What would you say is the overall message or the theme of this book?

If I had to pin it down, I’d say the overall theme of this book is the importance of respecting all living creatures and their environment, but it’s also about the importance of communication.

Misunderstandings and miscommunication are to blame for most of the conflict in Monsters in Our Wake.

I hear that. Empathy and better communication all around would make the world a much better place.

Tell me about the main storyline within this book.

The story centers around a family of ancient sea creatures whose lair is invaded by a crew of offshore-oil drillers. The creatures retaliate, damaging the drill ship and stranding the crew in the middle of the South Pacific. And then things really get crazy!

Whoa, I’m in! I mean, I was already, but that’s a great pitch. See my review here for more of my thoughts. Would you like to tell our viewers what kind of sea monster we’re dealing with (giant octopus, dino-relative, etc…) or should they just read the book?

It’s not really spelled out in the book, except for some elements of physical description, but the creatures are related to the famous Loch Ness monster, so I picture them as giant plesiosaurs—something we know once existed but thought was extinct.

Who is the protagonist of this story?

Nøkken and Flora are the protagonists. Nøkken is extremely intelligent, with an incredible amount of wisdom and insight, due to his advanced age. But he’s not as “above it all” as he would like to think.

Flora is a single mother who’s taken a job with an oil company to pay for karate lessons for her son. She quickly realizes she’s out of her depth when most of the all-male crew resents her presence and expertise. Her anxiety disorder only complicates matters.

Who is the antagonist of this story?

There are no clear good-or-bad guys in Monsters. Every character is flawed, with both positive and negative traits. Most of the crew view Nøkken and his family as the monsters, yet the humans are the ones who invaded the creatures’ home and who will destroy it without a second thought.

There is a certain crew member who has a great potential for violence, but the tendency to react with violence to those we don’t understand or identify with is the real antagonist in this story.

I love when a story doesn’t have a clear good or bad guy, it usually adds more depth when characters are portrayed with flaws. It humanizes them even when they are not human.

What is the major conflict in this story?

The crew on the drill ship just wants to do their job and return home; the creatures are driven to protect their own home, the ocean.

That’s the major conflict, but there’s quite a bit of internal conflict between the crew members and also within Nøkken’s family. Picture Lord of the Flies on the open ocean with sea monsters.

I like that description. It really does give you an idea of what to expect without giving too much away. Do you think readers will find themselves sympathizing with both sides of this conflict?

Yes, most definitely. Even characters you may start out hating often have redeemed themselves by the end.

Where and when is this story taking place?

Monsters in Our Wake is contemporary and set in the remote South Pacific.

Tell me about the experience of writing this book; how long did it take.

While I had a lot of leeway when writing about Nøkken and his family, the oil industry was a different story. I had to do a lot of research, and I had a great source who works in the industry. In the end, I had to make the ship in Monsters a prototype, because nothing that exists right now fit my plot the way I needed it to.

It took about a year before I was happy enough with Monsters to submit it to the publisher.

I don’t think the average reader realizes how much research can go into one story. I think it’s a mark of a good writer.

Who is your favorite character in this book?

Nøkken is by far my favourite character and the most fun to write. Since he has a unique perspective, I suspect readers will love him as well. So far, reviewers have mentioned that being able to see the story from the creature’s point of view is one of the things they liked most about the book.

Are there elements of your personality or life experiences in this book?

This book was originally inspired by my anger at Big Oil and its destruction of the environment. I’m extremely passionate about the natural world and the ocean, so that informed a lot of the creatures’ rage about what is happening to them.

But a lot of people depend on oil companies for their livelihood, and that is addressed in the story as well. Once I began writing, I realized it was a lot more complicated than, “Oil bad; environmental protection good.” We definitely need to strike a much better balance than we’re currently doing, though.

I agree, all too often I feel that we as people place limitations on ourselves that come back to haunt us. We never should have become so dependent on fossil fuels that our world is suffering from it. We should have been researching and implementing alternative fuel sources from the start, not just because it’s good for the environment, but because it would be one less thing for people to fight and kill over… I’m off my soap box now.

What is one thing from this book you wish was real or could happen to you?

I would love to see a sea creature one day. Visiting Loch Ness and seeing Nessie has been my dream since I was a child.

That would be really cool! I have a thing for dragons and have always thought of Nessie as a type of water dragon.

What is something you wish wasn’t real and hope doesn’t happen to you?

Ha! Pretty much everything in this book. I wish people respected our oceans more. I wish there was a less destructive way to harness natural resources—or that someone would come up with a better alternative.

I also felt for Flora and her struggles to fit into a man’s world and overcome her anxiety attacks. While I’ve never experienced that exact scenario, I think almost everyone has felt like a “fish out of water” at some point, and it’s not an enjoyable experience.

Anxiety attacks are often overlooked because not that many people have them. While I wouldn’t wish them on anyone, I sometimes wonder if people did experience just one, if they would continue to be so dismissive about them… Darn it. No more soap box from me. I promise.

Let’s say your book is being turned into a feature-length film; quick-cast the main two characters and pick a theme song or score.

Julianna Margulies would make a great Flora. And I’d love Morgan Freeman to do the voice of Nøkken.

As for theme song, something orchestral and powerful? I’m sure James Horner would do it justice.

That sounds like a movie I’d be glad to see.

Do you have any special plans for this book in the near or far future?

I’ve already had a few people, including a director, tell me it would make an amazing film. So while I can’t plan for that and the budget would have to be huge to pull it off, I can always dream.

If anyone knows J.J. Abrams, please feel free to send him a copy.

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To obtain your copy of Monsters in Our Wake, please visit this link: AMAZON

Sign up for the J.H. Moncrieff newsletter for a chance to WIN 1 of 2 ebooks of Monsters in Our Wake.

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Are you doing or have you done the A to Z?
Think you might check out B2BCyCon?
Isn’t J.H. great? And how about Monsters in Our Wake?

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After hanging out with Alex, be sure to stop by and visit this month’s co-hosts:
Christopher D. Votey,
Madeline Mora-Summonte,
Fundy Blue, and
Chrys Fey!!

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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 #69).

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