Monday, May 18, 2015

From First Idea To Final Draft Part 2: The Bottom Line

What are you writing for?
To tell a story that's burning its way out of you?
To become a USA or NY Times Bestseller?
To quit your day job and generate enough income with your writing to support yourself and/or your family?
What's your bottom line?

To succeed as an indie writer, you have to wear a lot of hats. All of them, to be specific. You have to handle writing, marketing, social media, strategic planning, web design, and probably a few other things I can't think of right now. But if it's essential to the success of your business, you, and no one else (unless you plan to hire someone and cut into your own meager profits) are responsible for making it happen.

Most importantly, you have to be a customer service expert. If you think your profits are your bottom line, you're wrong; if no one's reading your work, there are no profits. If your customers aren't happy with you or your work, then kiss your sales goodbye.

This means that in order to keep your customers happy, you may have to put profits on the back burner.

Last week, I was trying to give a friend of mine a free audio copy of one of my stories. When he went to redeem the code, the site prompted him to register his financial information so he could take advantage of a "free trial". He was leery of doing this because this same company had taken him for a ride not too long ago, and the ride had not been free.
I tried to find a workaround--reviewers are hard to come by--but was unable. In the end, I had to let the matter go. It wasn't worth risking someone's finances so I could push a product on them.
In hindsight, I'm grateful to have learned this lesson with a friend, rather than a stranger.

Customers, readers, must always, always, always come before profits. It's Business 101. Your reputation is everything. If you present yourself as only self-supporting with no interest in others, you will fail. If your primary goal with writing is to attain financial freedom, you have a better chance of getting struck with red lightning than making that happen. Not because it's impossible, but because no one's going to care about you if you don't care about them.

If your bottom line in writing is to get rich, you're going about this the wrong way.

If your bottom line is the exchange of knowledge, and your willingness to aid in the success of others, then you are on the right track.

What's your bottom line?

Thanks for reading.

Monday, May 11, 2015

An Open Letter To Law Enforcement

A few weeks ago, I was eating with my family when a number of officers entered the restaurant. I immediately became apprehensive.
Two of the officers locked eye contact with me and lingered for longer than a few seconds. I physically tensed and braced myself for a confrontation. Blessedly, I nodded at them, they nodded at me, and that was the end of our brief, tense encounter.

My fiance said that I was so tense that she was afraid a confrontation would break out. I argued that I tensed because the officers sized me up, but that didn't matter. I shouldn't have been ready for a confrontation. They should not have sized me up.

But the truth is, I do not feel safe in the presence of law enforcement. I do not trust most law enforcement.

Which is very sad to say, because I have known some incredibly decent police officers in my time. I've known two went far out of their way for me, bending the law to cut me a break. So I know that all police officers are not bad.

I've also had a police officer threaten to kill me on one occasion if I ever returned to his town again. I've also been physically assaulted by police officers when I had my hands in the air and was surrendering.

I also know that this isn't limited to color. My fiance, a white woman who stands at less than five feet five inches tall with her hands above her head, was pulled over a few months ago for an issue with her plate. The officer verbally accosted her to the point of tears.

The plain truth is this; as a person of color, in this day and age,  I am afraid--terrified, actually--that I will one day be stopped by a police officer. I will comply with the officer's every command. And it won't make a difference.

I am also worried that eventually, citizens will no longer tolerate being executed by police, and a good officer, one who takes the oath seriously and does their best to enforce the law and go home to their family every day, will pay the price. The consequences for that will be marked as a failure in future history books.

Update: Officer Brian Moore, a twenty-five-year old New York City Police Officer, was shot in the head on May 3. 2015 and died of his injuries the following day. His accused murderer, Demetrius Blackwell, was apparently unprovoked in his supposed actions. Demetrius Blackwell is a black man. 

I don't know when or why the system became so fundamentally broken, but I implore you to see and realize that things need to change. Either stricter psychological screening, more thorough background checks, or something, but something, somewhere needs to change.

So as a private citizen, I make the following promise to all members of law enforcement;

  1. If you see fit to stop me, I will comply with all instructions given in a polite and professional manner.
  2. I will reveal up front if I'm carrying any weapons on my person or in my vehicle (Note: I never carry guns).
  3. I will remain polite and professional even if I disagree with your actions.
  4. I will remain polite and professional and hope you give me the same courtesy.

Just like most good officers, I pray that a traffic stop does not result in my death.

Thank you for the service you provide.

Thank you for reading.

Monday, May 4, 2015

***New Releases!***

"Era of the Scourge Book 1: The Ring of Asarra" Audiobook Cover


Era of the Scourge Book One: The Ring of Asarra is now available as an e-book from Audible! Narrated by the generous and talented Al Kessel, the story clocks in at almost three hours of dark epic fantasy and retails for $6.95.

But rather than have you pay for it, I'd like to give you a copy for free. I'm hoping you'll find some time to post a review, but if not, it's cool. I hope you enjoy the story.

No catch, no obligations. I won't subscribe you to my newsletter unless you ask me too. Drop me a line at avery [at] universalwarrioronline [dot] com, and I'll gift you a copy. I won't spam you, sell your email address, or anything like that. Let me know where you'd like it sent and I'll pass it along. I only have a few copies to give away, so first come, first serve.

Also, "The Anniversary", my latest short story, is now available for Amazon for one dollar. Already well-received, this science fiction/romance focuses on a married couple who face a life-altering decision when an illness reaches its terminal stage. Already well received with two reviews, it's being hailed as an "imaginative story that will keep you guessing".

"The Anniversary" Cover

I'm going to try to start blogging every Monday in order to establish a routine. Fingers crossed. Like I need something else to do, right?

Thank you very much for reading and your support.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Daredevil Season 1: Reviewed (Spoiler Free)

Disney's "Daredevil" premiered exclusively on Netflix on April 10, 2015

Daredevil has typically been one of Marvel's Tier-2 heroes, never quite achieving the fame of Spider-Man or others. Disney and Netflix look to change all of that with a wholly original take on the Man Without Fear, brought exclusively to Netflix for Marvel's darkest, grittiest outing yet. The result is arguably the best show on television right now; a brutal, intelligent and unflinching look at Matt Murdock and the fictionalized version of Hell's Kitchen he has given so much to defend.

Daredevil succeeds on so many levels that it's difficult to know where to begin. It never condescends, nor feels rushed. It expects you to at least have an idea as to how Daredevil came to be and then does the viewer a service by not cramming the entire lore into a single episode. The storytelling is taut and breathless, executed by less cuts and more circular, sweeping takes.

Hell's Kitchen makes Gotham City looks like Sesame Street. It is a city so infused with grime and corruption that one almost becomes exhausted at searching for even the tiniest ray of hope; there's none to be found. Almost no one can be trusted and when you think you have a certain character figured out, they delightfully surprise you.

It is in it's characters and the stars that portray them that Daredevil truly stands out. Nothing is so black and white as good and evil. There are no heroes, no villains. There are simply characters of varying moral ambiguity, dropped into this snake pit of a city trying to figure out who they are.

Charlie Cox's Matt Murdock/Daredevil is magnificent. He is a font of barely-suppressed rage, struggling as much with trying to save his city as he is dealing with his ever-increasing acts of violence, knowing what it will cost him in the end. Daredevil is a character of faith, and some of the best scenes in the series have him speaking with his preacher as he watches himself become the monster he is trying to slay. Elden Henson's Foggy Nelson fills the sidekick role nicely, never quite sure as to what's happening, never quite certain of the decisions being made, doing his best to be supportive until things finally reach a tipping point. Deborah Ann Woll's Karen Page, a tragic character in the Marvel canon, has an interesting character arc, beginning innocently before simultaneously evolving and devolving into the stalwart companion. Vondie Curtis Hall is relentless as Ben Urich, Rosario Dawson needs more screen time, and Bob Gunton as vivid as always.

Vincent D'Onofrio is absolutely horrifying as Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin. Though not as physically big as some would have liked, his presence is felt in every scene from his first, and he is never larger than when he has his first, riveting encounter with Matt Murdock. Wilson Fisk is pragmatic, ruthless, and singleminded until an event begins to change and shape his focus. D'Onofrio plays this with such force that you end up empathizing with the character, even pulling for him. He is also a terrifying physical presence who's acts of violence may even have the most desensitized of viewers catching their breath. If there was any flaw in the production, and this is stretch, is that this is not the Kingpin I would have liked to see. D'Onofrio plays him almost manically, as if he's always on the verge of losing his grip on sanity.

All told, Daredevil is the best series to hit TV since HBO's Game of Thrones. With family-friendly hits such as Agents of SHIELD and darker entries such as Daredevil, Disney is free to continue its domination of the ratings as long as it continues to produce quality such as this.

PS: Spider-Man, the grown man, the teacher, the husband, and occasional Avenger, would fit perfectly into this universe. Make that happen, please.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Update Your Calendar! The Ring of Asarra, Warblooded, The Anniversary

Hello, Planet Earth! I apologize for going so long without an update (three weeks!) but the truth is I've had to sacrifice blogging for writing. The good news is, the sacrifice has paid off.

So without further ado, let's get your calendars updated. This is going to be a big month.

  • The audio production of Universal Warrior: The Ring of Asarra will be available April 15, 2015. This will be based off of Version 3 of the book and will retail for $2.99.
  • The Anniversary will be available April 22, 2015. This science fiction/romance short story will be available for Kindle, Nook, and all other e-readers for .99 cents.
  • On April 7, 2015, Universal Warrior: The Ring of Asarra will exclusively be available for Kindle. If you want to grab a copy from Barnes & Noble, iTunes, or Kobo, it will be available for forty-eight more hours.
  • The Universal Warrior Wiki is now publicly available. There's now a complete timeline and a partial character list. I'll keep it updated as more titles become available. It's still a work in progress, so feel free to poke around.

Shortly, I'm going to start a promotion that will let you get a copy of the Ring of Asarra completely free of charge (with teeny, tiny stipulations. But no money).

So that's all for now. I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday and I will check in with you all later. Thanks for reading and as always, your support.

Monday, March 16, 2015

"The Anniversary" Release Date and Details


What if you never had to say goodbye to someone you loved?


John and Maria Maldonado live in a run down area of New San Mateo, California. They have never had much, but they have always had each other. After nearly three decades together, life takes an unexpected turn.

The life they have built together is thrown into turmoil as they struggle to make sense of it. In Maria's need to protect John, she has a radical idea. Though John is resistant to the idea at first, Maria's persuasiveness wins him over and life is never the same again...

"The Anniversary" is a science-fiction/romance short story unrelated to the Universal Warrior franchise.

It will drop for all e-readers (Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Kobo) on April 22, 2015.

It will retail for .99.

As of now, there are no plans for a print version or pre-orders.

Thanks very much for reading.

Monday, March 9, 2015

From First Idea To Final Draft Part 1: The Truth About Writing

I'm going to tell you a hard, cold, bitter truth about writing and the creative process in general. It's not going to be something you want to hear. It may turn you off of the craft altogether. But it is the truth.

This meme is darkly funny because it's true. We do spend an inordinate amount of time watching videos, screwing around on social media, or generally staring off into space wishing for some magic force to write the words for us.

Because the truth is, there are moments when we feel trapped; where we would rather do almost anything but write, but knowing that we cannot leave our space until we do. Knowing that once we've written, we will be granted momentary relief.

Because the truth is, writing hurts.

It hurts like hell.

It's much like emotional childbirth; you are literally willing something into reality. You are birthing something that only exists within your imagination and with each stroke of the pen, or strike of the keys, you are dragging, pushing, or pulling the intangible into the real world.

The process is incredibly exhausting and takes its toll in different ways. I never sleep so soundly as I do upon completing a project.

The worse part is; the first thing you write will be complete and total crap, and it will make you wonder what the hell the effort is for.

So there it is, the brutal truth about writing. In the next post I'll show you how to capture your first idea no matter when or where it hits you, but before we got started, I thought you should know the truth.

Thanks for reading.