Author of Dark Fiction
I continue my exploration of alternate realities in young adult fiction with my review of Then and Always by Dani Atkins. It’s an addictive read that keeps you guessing about what’s real and what isn’t. But then that’s my favorite kind of fiction.
A mash-up of 1950’s sci-fi, 1960’s pop songs and Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Return to Forbidden Planet is an entertaining romp from its first moment to its last. This was one of the most fun nights in the theater I’ve spent since Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
Loosely based on The Tempest, the plot unfolds as Captain Tempest (Jonathan Harrison), Science Officer Gloira (Heather Krueger) and crew become locked in a tractor beam from planet D’Illyria. This planet is inhabited by a sinister scientist, Dr. Prospero (Owen Robertson); his delightful daughter Miranda (Amy E. Gray); Ariel a faithful robot on roller skates (Jaime Gaingrande-Holcom); and an uncontrollable monster, the product of Prospero’s Id. And wackiness ensues.
The hugely talented cast and musicians rocked the Jaeb Theater. Actor, Spencer Meyers (who played Hedwig in the Jobsite Production) stole the show as Cookie, the comedic sidekick. His rendition of “She’s Not There” was a delight; Heather Krueger’s strong voice really stood out; and Jonathan Harrison did a fine job as the Captain. The final “Born to Be Wild” and “Monster Mash” roused the audience with a well-deserved standing ovation.
Director David Jenkins has really outdone himself with this one. Return to Forbidden Planet is a definite go-see.
For showtimes and tickets, click here.
Jobsite, Return to Forbidden Planet, David Jenkins, Jaeb Theater.
Really excited about my debut young adult column for “Inveterate Media Junkies.” This month I’m reviewing Ann Brashares’ THE HERE AND NOW, about a group of travelers who have escaped to our current time from a ghastly future.
Click on the link below to read my review:
What could draw poet, explorer, loner and paranoid Mykol Ranglen away from the relative peace of his own ring-in-space habitat?He has no choice in the matter as one by one acquaintances are murdered or disappear altogether. Propelled by ever changing and deepening mysteries Mykol embarks to uncover secrets which could make people rich beyond their wildest dreams…or tear apart human civilization.
The escalating quest takes him through worlds of many dangerous extremes, leading him to confront the deadly alien Fist of Thorns, extinct species refusing to give up their power over the future, and those racing against him to uncover the secret first. But in the course of his pursuit, he must also face his own secrets. And some of these are even more dangerous.
The Man Who Loved Alien Landscapes by Albert Wendland
Cover Art by Bradley Sharp
Foreword by William H. Keith
Space Opera Paperback coming from Dog Star Books in June 2014
What They’re Saying About The Man Who Loved Alien Landscapes
“Mystery, heart-pounding adventure, and the dazzling wonders of far-flung space play significant roles in Wendland’s breakout novel, all while gifting us with a mesmerizing tour of alien landscapes destined to get under your skin and remind you of the very reason science fiction exists: Not to escape to other worlds, but to find ourselves within them.”
–Diana Dru Botsford, author of THE DRIFT and FOUR DRAGONS
Inside are alien worlds and titanic space habitats and a brilliant and paranoid hero, all skillfully blended together with long-vanished galactic secrets. Science fiction… good science fiction, by a college professor of literature who loves good SF.”
–From the foreword by William H. Keith, New York Times Bestselling Science Fiction Author
This blog post will be the first in a series of marketing tips for writers. In promoting my book, Cevin’s Deadly Sin, I wanted to hone in on what works in our digital age for reaching the widest audience. Out with the book signings where you might reach a couple of people. In with trying to get reviewed by an online journal that has the potential to reach thousands of people.
First of all, we’re no longer “marketing,” we’re finding our target audience and providing content that interests those people. It’s the idea of providing value and building a community, rather than hard-selling your book.
Marketing Tip #1: Deconstruct the Marketing Approach of a Similar Novel:
Choose a book that is similar to yours and do a search to see how the publisher marketed the book. First of all, choose a successful, well-known book, then take a look at the following:
- Who reviewed this book? Send review requests to those reviewers. “Since you enjoyed X book, I thought you might like to read and review mine.” Don’t ignore the power of the book bloggers. They have helped to boost the careers of many indie authors.
- Where do interviews for the book’s author appear? Send interview requests to those sites.
- Did the author write any blog posts? Generate a list of possible topics and send a relevant one to that blog. Blogs and journals are always looking for content.
- Do a search for articles about books that share your target audience. Write to the article’s author and ask her if she’d be interested in reading your book. This has worked very well for me and actually generated some recommendations for other reviews.
- Make note of web pages that appeal to your target audience and interact with them by offering to write articles, join chat groups, etc.
- Keep a simple spreadsheet of your contacts. That’s the only way of keeping it all straight.
These steps seem simple, yet they accomplish a wonderful goal—finding your target audience. I’ve found that by performing these steps, I’m connecting with people who want to read what I’ve written. And I’m building a base of readers for my future books.
Do you have any marketing tips you’d like to share?
Platform-Get Noticed in a Noisy World, by Michael Hyatt is a really excellent book about developing your platform, and though it’s not specifically geared toward writers, I found that there were a lot of ideas I could use for my writing.
For example, he has an interesting take on writing blog posts. Use a blog post template, with the following elements: Lead paragraph, Relevant image, Personal experience, Main body, and end with a Discussion question in order to encourage responses.
He recommends making video interviews of other authors and post them to your blog. Send the interview ahead of time, and record the interview through Skype.
Post your own videos in which you speak about various aspects of writing or of your books.
Create a public speaking tab on your website:
- Have a “check my availability” button. This is less presumptuous than a “book me” button.
- Post a one-minute welcome video.
- Did you know that there is iPad teleprompter software? It is HDi Pro2.
- Include a photo of yourself speaking
Hyatt tells us to Kiss Marketing Goodbye. Marketing is dead. Tribe-building is the new marketing. It’s about participating in a dialogue with fellow travelers and building relationships.
- Discover your passion.
- Volunteer to lead.
- Be generous. When you lead by serving and giving, people follow.
- Provide a way to communicate.
Write informative guest posts on other people’s blogs.
Offer to give away a free e-book in exchange for people signing your mailing list.
He emphasizes the importance of using Twitter to build your brand. Some useful tips are:
- Customize your Twitter page with your photo, info about you and a link to your blog or web page.
- Comment on and re-tweet other people’s posts.
- Keep your posts short enough to re-tweet.
- Post often, but don’t over-promote. Offer interesting content to your readers
Become an Amazon Associate and use an affiliate code in links to your own books. This generates extra income every time someone buys one of your books through your link.
Hyatt offered some ideas for novelists, such as:
- Post excerpts from your novels.
- Backstory your novel: why you wrote it, how did you settle on the story, did you do any research.
- Behind the scenes look at what the life of a novelist is like.
- Write “directors notes” for your book: why you chose to start with a particular scene, did you have to delete or add scenes to improve the story
- Interview your editor: Ask your editor what her day-to-day job is like, what’s it like to work with writers, get stories about best and worst experiences, what prompted her to get into the business
Hyatt has many more ideas and recommendations that are applicable to writers. This book is a great read for anyone interested in developing and building a platform, and I’d highly recommend it.
Writing Cevin’s Deadly Sin has been a wild ride for me. Literally six years in the making, seeing the culmination of my work published is a huge thrill for me. First, this is a departure for me, before I’ve always written horror and paranormal. For this project that didn’t fit. At first I toyed with the idea of having a cross-dresser vampire or cross-dresser werecat, then I decided, no. This story needs to be told in a realistic fashion.
Cevin’s Deadly Sin is the story of a closeted hetero teen cross-dresser. In most ways he’s a normal kid, yet has that one difference he has to hide. It makes him feel that no one will accept him for his true self. It’s the story of feeling like an outsider, and who hasn’t felt that way at one time or another?
This was my thesis novel for an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. I struggled with the plot tremendously and ended up scrapping and rewriting the entire book after graduation. Then once I had it finished, it was difficult finding a publisher. Publishers told me they liked it, but they didn’t know how to market it. Cevin is hetero so he didn’t fit into the LGBT category, strictly speaking. He doesn’t want to have surgery to become a woman, so he doesn’t fall into the transgender category.
My present publisher, Queer Teen Press, is a little more broad in its content, so they seemed like a good fit to me. I was so happy when they accepted it for publication.
Why did I write this book? I’m fascinated with gender. How much of it is inherent and how much is from upbringing? Why do people in our culture react so violently against someone who defies gender?
I have cross-dresser friends, and I’ve interviewed a lot of cross-dressers, and I know that they had no support groups they could access during their school years. I’m writing Cevin to help them out—to bring awareness to the public about cross-dressing and help CD kids to realize that they’re not alone.
Also, how do we treat those who are different in some way? Tessa is totally taken with Cevin, but when he tries to tell her about how he’s different, she doesn’t want to listen. She becomes afraid and pulls away from him.
In many ways, this is a universal story. Has there ever been a time when you felt like an outsider?
Link to purchase Cevin’s Deadly Sin: