A Political Stump That Shouldn’t Be Political

Gonna take a moment to share something that frankly shouldn’t be political, but judging by the party-lines vote so far, apparently is.

Someone shared a meme on Facebook to say that white men should be treated well because they won World War 2. This of course not only ignores the contributions from BIPOC members of the armed forces (and all women), but blatantly denies the history of why there were fewer non-white combatants than there could have been, such as official regulations which prevented enlisted black men from serving in the same capacity as enlisted white men. Dorie Miller shot down enemy planes at Pearl Harbor in a cook’s uniform because he was not allowed to be a gunner. He saved countless lives, was awarded a medal, and was sent back to continue as a cook until his death, because that was the regulated role of a black sailor.

This shared meme also ignores that tens of thousands of eligible Asian-American men could not fight alongside white soldiers because they had been taken from their homes without due process and imprisoned for years in camps where people were shot to death if they walked too near the fences—a thing which is Very Bad if it happens in Europe, but apparently is not worth mentioning in history classes when it happens here.

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How to Use Criticism and Rejection in Your Writing Career (To Write & Have Written)

This episode is on evaluating and handling negative feedback in a positive, productive way. Hint: It’s way more than, “Grow a thicker skin.” Negative feedback can hurt, but let’s talk about how to make it useful — or at least not harmful.

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Rewards & Reinforcement (To Write & Have Written)

There’s a lot of advice out there on using rewards to motivate your writing (especially during stretch events like NaNoWriMo). While keeping your motivation strong is a good idea, a lot of this advice is not terribly scientific, and it can be modified to be more effective.

Let’s talk about the difference between rewards and reinforcement, why we need to be proud of reaching a goal, and what to do when you tend to cheat and get your prize early.

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The Many Uses of NaNoWriMo (and What It’s Really Not Good For)

Quoth the raven, NaNo More! by Timekeeper Art
sketch by Julie Bickel

You wouldn’t think a call to “Hey, anybody who’s interested, let’s do something this month!” would be so controversial, but you know humans. So I thought I’d lend my own insight on why there might be such varied opinions on the legitimacy and worth of NaNoWriMo and its participants.

What makes my opinion qualified? Well, first I’d say I’m as least as qualified to have an opinion as most of those I’ve seen expressing opinions. ;-) But also, I have changed my views on NaNo over the years, so I feel I have a take from several angles.

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Self-Sabotage and the Fear of Success (To Write and Have Written)

In this Business of Creativity episode we tackle the little-discussed but not uncommon phenomenon of the fear of success. Let’s go over several ways we see this happen, what might be behind it, and what we can do about it.

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When Your Excuse Hurts Yourself and Others: An Inspirational Rant

Okay, rather than snarking at the separate statements which have combined into a irritating whole, I’m just gonna say this over here, as a sort of inspirational rant.

I’m going to use NaNoWriMo and myself as my talking example, because it’s general and won’t point blame to anyone, and also because it’s an easy example this month. But this concept goes well beyond NaNo.

So here goes:


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Creative Artist, Get Over Yourself (I’m Talking To Me)

Let’s talk about human nature, and how we let it boss us around.

Last year I entered the NYC Midnight Short Story Contest, my first try. There are three rounds of competition with a final prize of $5,000 for the winner and still-significant cash for the top ten.

I won my heat in the first round, with a story I love.

I got second place in my heat in the second round, making it into the final 75 — out of thousands of entrants — for the final round.

And then I tanked in the final round, turning in a story I knew was insufficient but just couldn’t fix by deadline. No placement. It was frustrating because I wasn’t just beaten by an excellent story (although I’m sure it was!), which I would have been fine with, but because I didn’t produce a competitive story, and I knew it even as I turned it in.

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For Authors: Table Sales & Hand-Selling Books

Let’s talk about something which is discussed a lot but often executed poorly — author tables and hand-selling books at a live event. Here’s a technique recommendation with data to validate my opinion.

If you’re one of those authors who hates selling — great. 

setting up my table (The Songweaver’s Vow will be displayed on the sheepskin)

One of the things I sometimes try to communicate to fellow authors is that they often kill their book table sales by overselling at live events. There’s a lot of used-car-salesman technique that goes on, and which gets mimicked because that’s what everyone else is doing, and it makes sales harder. It takes a lot of faith, but you can let your books sell themselves.

So here’s the story: I suddenly got an author table I hadn’t been expecting at a fandom convention where I was working. I had books and a banner in the car, but I didn’t have my usual table display materials and I didn’t have my full catalog of titles, just 8. I set up early and then went to help teach a thermoplastics for cosplay panel, leaving my table to be watched (theft prevention only, no sales) by the helpful staff overseeing the charity “flea market” setup. (Table rental went to a local hunger charity.)

I came back an hour later and immediately sold 14 books. One staff member bought every title on my table, the other bought 6. Why? They had felt free to browse, without a creepy pushy author asking “Do you like to read?” and other typically awkward questions. And when they browsed, they decided they wanted to read.

Then I settled down to half-ignore my customers and ultimately I cleared just over $200 in sales in one and a half hours using my patented brand of not-selling ;-) which does involve talking to people and signing books, but feels way less skeezy than “sales.” That was even without my full display or my complete catalog, and with a number of sales lost because I ran out of #1 in a series and they didn’t want to start with book 2. (I *should* have promised a free ebook of #1 if they purchased #2, but that didn’t occur to me at the time…. /facepalm/) And I didn’t accost a single person.

My message is this: If you’re one of those authors who hates selling — Great! you’ll be less tempted to do it wrong. You can sell books without being salesy! Don’t let the live events scare you. It’s not really about pushing sales.

This has been your Public Service Announcement. :) If you’re interested in more, check out the “Hand-Selling Your Books—Without Hating Yourself In The Morning” post I did for Realm Makers. Happy sales to you!

It’s #Inktober again!

Today marks the beginning of Inktober, an annual art challenge. I explained in 2017 why I, a writer and a truly terrible pencil/ink artist, would try this, and how it is good for me. This year I’m doing it again.

Today’s prompt was “poisonous,” so I drew a cute little snake. I was actually pretty happy with my pencil sketch; Inktober and Sketchtember really did a lot for me. Continue reading