Time Traveler looking for a Good Time

x0 tshirtI truly appreciate the friends, relatives and strangers who for one reason or another have read through my novels before publication and offered suggestions and back-up proofreading. After I published c3 I came upon a way to say thanks. I made t-shirts.

It seemed like kind of a goofy thing to do, which I suppose is why I liked the idea so much. I didn’t want the shirts to contain blatant advertising — that’s not exactly a gift, is it? — but rather to be something fun that tied into the whole 46. Ascending collection idea. I finally settled on the shirt shown above, inspired by the first novel in the collection, x0.

Well, it’s a year later and now I’ve got thirteen folks reading the almost final version of the soon-to-be-published novel d4. Nine are first time beta readers. Eight are people I’ve never met in real life and probably never will. How does one thank nine women and four men with ages that range from early twenties to late sixties and who call six different countries on three continents home?

tshirtEasy. You send them a t-shirt. At least I hope that the shirt to the left, inspired by the novel z2, will make them every one of them smile and will even start a few interesting conversations for each of them.

Yes, I would like to do a t-shirt for the intermediate novel y1 as well, in a suitable chameleon shade of orange, but the right tag line just would not come to me so I skipped on to the next book.  Perhaps someday a clever reader will suggest the perfect words. And of course there will eventually be a green tee inspired by the intrepid Teddie of c3.

Those who have heard me complain about how much I hate marketing my books may notice how much fun I am having creating these little thank you gifts. It’s true. I like doing this. It goes to prove that there at least some marketing skills that even a strong introvert like me can embrace.

(For more on this, check out my thoughts on using family and friends as beta readers and my observations about whether strangers make the perfect beta readers instead..)

Try not to care about reviews? Yeah, right …..

Jeffrey KeenI’ve read a lot of discussion lately about how reviews are meant for other readers, not for the writer of the work that is being reviewed. I understand the point, of course, but think that almost anyone who pours their heart and soul out for months (or years) into a book ends up craving some feedback. Sales only provide a cold, dry number, and if you’re self-published like I am, it will seldom be an encouraging one.  Friends and family can and will give opinions, but of course they are biased and usually they aren’t part of the target audience anyway.

A writer wants to know what total strangers, ones who like the kinds of books she writes, think about her book. So yes, reviews matter to a writer, whether they should or not.  I imagine they must mean as much to an actor, or a musician or anyone who puts themselves out there to entertain and amuse the world, and there is no way around that. Once a books has hundreds of reviews, I suppose that individual ones matter less. I hope some day to find out.

One knows that one shouldn’t respond to any review personally no matter how badly one wants to, and no matter how much the review has made your spirits soar or forced your mood into a deep abyss. I’ve been doing a virtual book tour with Reading Addiction Blog Tours these past few weeks and four reviews have been posted so far.

The first, on A Life Through Books, appeared on April 22nd and it begins with “This novel was quite surprising in the fact that it was much deeper than I was expecting from a Science Fiction novel. We are giving everything we love from a good Sci-Fi novel as well as focus on the deeper family/drama aspects of life.” Talk about a reason to jump for joy. “Yes, yes” I wanted to shout. “You got it. You understand.” But of course I didn’t shout anything. I try to be a well-behaved writer.

April 30 A Shelf Full of Books published a review that said “Z Squared is a multi-faceted novel not only about a teacher with the ability to manipulate the speed of time, but about the mystery of the treasure related to a Mayan artifact and racism with overtones of the Klu Klux Klan. There was definitely more to this novel than the synopsis implied.” Another reader who got it. I’m squirming in my chair now, but I’m still not saying anything.

May 1 Pure Jonel reviewed z2. She only gave it three stars (sigh) but her words were so positive that I hardly cared. Her review begins “What a unique story. It took me a bit to warm up to the story, but once I did I was hooked.” I’m so glad that she stuck it out!

Then yesterday Mommasez reviewed it and she said “Being interactive was the first highlight of this book. The second was that the story was so well-written and entertaining.” Okay at this point I have to do something. This is so exciting for me. So I figure one little blog post here, mentioning how happy these reviews make me, is surely within the bound of good taste.

(Thanks to writer Jeffrey Keen on Facebook for sharing the image above.)

How not to name a book ….

Authors note: z2 is currently on blog tour through the fine folks at Reading Addiction Virtual Book Tours. The post below is part of that tour and it appeared a few days ago on a blog called Clutter Your Kindle.  My thoughts were inspired by a post I wrote here back in 2013, two whole books ago. A lot has changed for me since then, but apparently other things haven’t changed much at all.

vampireI confess, I never got into the thrill of the whole dragon phase that fantasy lovers went through a couple of decades ago when I was a young adult reader, and maybe I shouldn’t tell you this but I’ve never been all that into vampires either. Hey, different things appeal to different people. I do confess to a certain lingering fascination with werewolves, however, and maybe it is because they helped me figure out how much I just don’t like the dead guys. So enter the whole zombie fascination. Okay, to each their own, but zombies turn my stomach.

Which does make the fact that I called my third novel z2 a little problematic. Zombies showed up a few years ago and they are still around. Brad Pitt even stared in a movie called World War Z last summer. Every search I do that starts with a z continues to turn up zombie books, zombie movies, and just plain more zombies. We really do have a zombie problem.

cake-topper-xoSo why did I pick that name? Well, I had already made the mistake of naming my first novel x0, only to discover that you can’t make superscripts appear on a blog or anywhere else that matters. I wanted to name my second novel x1, but my love of X-men got me to change it to y1, not wanting to seem like an imitator. So it looked like my third novel needed to be called z2. You know, x0, y1, z2…..

It fit the story well for the book’s hero Alex Zeitman to form a club at the high school where he teaches, and for him to call the club z2. He pronounces it “zee squared” and it is for those who can warp time like himself and for others fascinated by time travel. I refer to the book as “zee squared”. Everyone else calls it “zee two” because you can’t tell it’s a superscript. This was definitely not the way to name a book. Worse yet, some readers have told me that they thought my book was about a second coming of zombies. Good grief.

Have I learned my lesson yet? No. Of course not. The last three books in the 46.Ascending collection have superscript titles too. c3 came out in Kindle a few months ago and d4 will be out this fall. I guess I like the consistency. Maybe I like doing things the hard way. Maybe it just fits to have superscripts for super heroes. Yeah, that’s it. Superscripts for super heroes.

Time enough to take my time

growing bolder 5The last few weeks have flown by with the publishing of my fourth book c3, and I have been overwhelmed with the demands of trying to get this latest book the attention and publicity it needs for a successful launch. Should I do blog tours? How many? With who? I’ll use my free kindle days. How best to publicize them? How much dare I spend?

Blogging, normally something fun I do to relax, has become a chore to tired hands and even tireder eyes. I need at least twenty-six hours in day. Maybe thirty right now.

However, I’ve been through this before and I know that it will pass. My frantic response to a new book will subside, and what will be will be.  I’ll be back here soon posting about confederate flags and puzzles and the nature of time and hope for the future. I’ll have enough time to take my time, and enjoy the journey.

Please will check out this new creation of mine, c3, available on kindle here. Please like the Facebook page Growing Bolder. The image above came from them.

What stays the same?

mayan numbers 300

Can you figure out how to write the number 20 in Mayan?

The story behind z2 is that of a clever 26 year old Maya woman who devises a puzzle to hide a secret she has promised to protect. I did a fair amount of research on Maya culture as I prepared to write z2, but it was only after I finished the book that it occurred to me that I had simply assumed that at least some of the Maya enjoyed riddles and brainteasers  Why? Well, the truth is that I assume that some people from every culture that has ever existed have enjoyed puzzles.

Is this true? I recently stumbled on a book called “Ancient Puzzles: Classic Brainteasers and Other Timeless Mathematical Games of the Last 10 Centuries” by Dominic Olivastro, and I am treating myself to copy. Reading through the reviews, it appears that riddles, mental games and brainteasers indeed span all continents and several millennium, not to mention being common among more trivial divisions like age, gender, religion and educational background if any.

Yes, things keep on changing and generally that is good. It’s also true, however, that some things do stay the same and I’m glad that a love of puzzles is one of them.

Of course, in z2, the puzzle has more to offer than just the satisfaction of solving it …. but that’s another whole part of the story.

z2 goes on tour

In the never ending quest to find those readers who enjoy my kind of writing, I’ve signed z2 up for its first blog tour. The fine folks at Orangeberry will will be trotting out z2 blurbs and excerpts and hopefully even a few reviews before they are done, as well as featuring me on a few guest posts and interviews. I’m excited!

Click here to visit Orangeberry Virtual Book Expo

Click here to visit Orangeberry Virtual Book Expo

Please come find me at the locations below, and also check out some of the material being produced by my fellow eager indie authors.  I am always impressed with the breadth of unusual topics and story lines. Those of us who are trying to make it outside of the traditional world of publishing are a creative lot, you’ve got to give us that.

Book Tour Schedule 

13th August  – Book Feature at Peace from Pieces

14th August – Twitter View with OB Book Tours

15th August – Twitter Blast with OB Book Tours

16th August – Author Interview at Mommy Adventures

17th August  – Guest Post at The Bunny’s Review

18th August – Twitter Blast with OB Book Tours

19th August – Book Review & Author Interview at The Reading Cat

20th August – Guest Post at Blog-A-Licious Authors 

21st August – Book Review & Author Interview at Author’s Friend

22nd August – Book Review at UK Book Club

23rd August – Guest Post & Book Review at Me, You & Books

24th August – Book Review at Book Professor

25th August – Author Interview & Book Review at Brainy Reads

26th August – Guest Post at Paws on Books

27th August – Book Review at Gentleman Reads

28th August – Author Interview at My Life in Books

29th August – Book Review at Journey’s thru Books

30th August – Author Interview at Top Shelf Books

31st August – Book Review at A Novel Design

1st September – Guest Post at Non-Stop Reads

2nd September – Excerpt at Quality Reads

9th September – Author Interview at Nobody Important

16th September – Guest Post & Book Feature at Book Connoisseur

23rd September – Excerpt at Next Big Book Thing

30th September – Author Interview & Book Feature at Just My Opinion

7th October – Guest Post at Aspiring Books

z2 out in paperback

There is something more permanent about a novel once it is printed on paper, and so it is a big moment when a tale that has lived only on machines now sets in your own two hands. Over the last few weeks my third and latest novel z2 came out in paperback and I still am gazing at it in wonder.

Let me be clear.  I do love my kindle. It is wonderful to be able to carry hundred of books with me on a trip, particularity seeing as traveling and reading are two of my very favorite things to do. And it is wonderful to be able to subscribe to a half dozen science fiction magazines for pennies a day and never have to decide whether I should throw any of them in the trash when I am done leafing through them, or whether I should add them to the giant stack of things I might read someday.

paperbackBut I also like books. I like to read floating in the swimming pool and sitting in the sun and when all electronic devices have to be turned off until the captain says otherwise. I like to touch and smell the written word, and it brings me no end of joy to see my own work in print.

If you are not a fan of e-readers and have considered reading z2, please check it out on Amazon here 🙂

Check here for news on y1 making it to the semi finals of a contest and here for news on x0 making it onto 1670 people’s to-read shelf on Goodreads.