Monday, January 28, 2013


...I totally had a "I should write a blog post about that" moment. Now that I have time to sit down and write one, of course, I've forgotten. I have vague, transient thoughts on what that idea may have been but nothing concrete. Instead I'll just fill you in on my week.

It was my birthday this week (1-2-3!). I turned 25. I officially feel adult-ish, and I'm not really sure why. I've been out of school for almost 3 years. Had an actual apartment for that long, too. I have a full-time job. All adult-ish things. Yet, turning over my 24th year definitely felt like something. Weird.

So, to celebrate I did a couple things. I dyed my hair--the first time in 3 years. It might not be a coincidence that that number matches up with my first adult like behaviors. Or it might be that after trying to dye my hair blond (while being red headed) fried it so badly, I thought it might need a break. Either, really. But it's red AND blonde now--ombre style! So take that world!

My friends and I had a nice country style sort of dinner that included fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and packet gravy (not proud of that one but still tasty). That was nice. And delicious. Kudos where deserved there.

Lastly, probably most prolifically, I posted Benajah's Keeper for free on Kindle. And holy crap, it was a success. I was planning on having maybe 100 downloads. 500 was like my "wouldn't it be great" daydream. By the end of the 5 days it was listed, the book had 2,830 downloads...from all around the world.

I'm not posting this number to brag. Hell, I don't even know if it's something that one should be as proud of as I am. I'm putting this out there because I am simply blown away.

Now, I realize that not every single one of those users is going to read my book. Some of them may have downloaded it simply because it is Kindle-lendable, and there is some benefit to them doing this. (Note: I did this on purpose. People are going to pirate shit no matter what...) But some portion of them ARE going to read it, and that's freaking awesome.

All in all, a good birthday, folks. Thanks so much for your support and readership! It couldn't be done without you.

Monday, January 7, 2013


You just don't do them?

I was reading
this blog post earlier. In it, Sneaky mentions that it's ludicrous to write something "post-apocalyptic" in nature that takes place only 8 years in the future. I completely, one hundred percent, agree. I'll even go as far to say, unless you are more than familiar with a place--be it a city, a popular shopping mall, or your backyard--don't make a point of describing it in detail. It can only lead to misplaced assumptions and mistakes...or as I like to call them "Stephenie Meyers-isms."

One thing that was consistently commented on during my publishing process (meaning editing, beta readers, and the "editorial evaluation" I completed before deciding "Benajah's Keeper" was actually ready to publish) was the indistinct setting. The novel is obviously set in the present century, there's a city, a coastline somewhere near by, and a somewhat hilly landscape. Other than that, pretty non-descript.

To be very clear, I did this on purpose. Here's why:

I grew up in central Illinois, in a town that has some identity issues. The first, foremost issue stems from the fact that Bloomington is being amoeba-ed (yes, that is a verb, I swear) by the younger, better looking Normal (and yes, that is it's name). By themselves Bloomington and Normal fall well with in the "small Midwest town" category. Together, however, the result is something near a Chicago suburb with all the chain retailers and restaurants you could desire, the headquarters of State Farm Insurance, and two four year universities--not counting the community colleges. The second issue? We are two hours--a boring, flat drive--away from Chicago, the nearest major city.

Ever since I can remember I've been saying that when I went away to college, I would get as far away as I could from that "Bible-beating, close-minded town." When it came down to it, both of my final choices were almost exactly twelve hours away, but it opposite directions.

The first was Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia. I really liked this school, really liked the setting. I did not, however, enjoy being blown off by the equestrian coach and the school's recent issues with accreditation (to be more specific, it was my professor parents that did not like this part...). Alfred University in New York's Southern Tier, however, treated me with respect an all accounts, offered me a scholarship in a competitive art program, and even had a student boarding program at their brand new equestrian center. It was perfect, minus the fact that the entire town of Alfred has less 6,000 people--including students.

Don't get me wrong, Alfred is beautiful. If trading a six month winter for a picturesque Autumn and a glorious, though shy, Spring and Summer is something you don't mind, it's the place for you. For many, it's not.

It's the people of Alfred that put it on the map, so to speak. You don't find the odd mix of artists, engineers, foreigners, highly educated, and grossly undereducated people anywhere else with a similar population. Or, at least, I challenge you to show me one.

To come back to the point of this post, I make the point that these two places and their surrounding areas are really the only locations I have experienced "in full." The saying goes, "you write what you know." That's good and fine, but what I know isn't exactly relatable. Trust me, I've tried explaining certain qualities of home to people in New York and vice always goes over with a "ya'll crazy" sort of mentality.

I will say that there are DEFINITE pieces of Illinois in "Benajah's Keeper," but there are just as many bits of Alfred. Simply making the story happen in only one of those locations just wasn't an option. Plus, I needed a city type environment...or at least one with a little more hustle and bustle than little 'ol Alfred, NY.

I can see how initially this might be jarring to the reader. Not having a set place or distinct time can leave someone hanging out in limbo, but I still maintain that it was the right decision. Especially when considering what I could have done: make shit up.

This is something that drives me crazy. Also something I'm fairly susceptible as a reader. Doing research about an area of interest within your novel is fine. I'm not saying you shouldn't write about something you know nothing about initially...I would be a damned hypocrite if that's what I meant (Note: How do you kill a vampire? Any damn way you want!). But you should know there's a fair chance that someone is going to take whatever you write as fact.

I call Stephenie Meyers out on this all the time. My parents are from the Seattle area, and after talking to them about the legends/general characteristics Meyers writes into the "Twlight" books, they laughed. Dead serious. When they were dragged to Forks by my youngest sister on a vacation to the Pacific Northwest, they rolled their eyes. However lasseiz-faire their reactions, it does not excuse that Meyers invented histories for real people, that have their own set of legends, morals, etc...

Stephenie Meyers isn't the only one that does this, mind you. Many authors do, she's just the one that comes to mind and the most fitting example for this blog.
I'll admit I started this post some days ago, and I have totally lost my train of thought. Thusly, this has turned into rambling, ranting, and raving--not performed particularly well. But, hey, I wrote a post. That's something, right?