Beyonce’s ‘Lemonade’ and UFC 197 (No Sleep Saturdays, Volume 1)

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Happy Monday, Everybody! I hope that everyone is well and that you all got lots of writing done this weekend??? If not, sending good vibes your way for an uber successful week.

So. I’m taking a brief moment from the black hole commonly known by writers as revisions to tell you all about my weekend. I’m also veering off of my scheduled list of blog topics to tell you guys about No Sleep Saturday.

Some of you might be surprised to know this, but I’m a huge MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fan. Like, seriously. It started when my husband and I lived in San Jose. While channel surfing one night, I accidentally stumbled across what, at the time, appeared to be two men—wearing just their drawers, ya’ll—wrestling (or as we say back home, “wrassling”). But this was different from regular wrestling. Nobody came into the ring and slammed a chair over somebody’s head. There was blood on the mat. And lots of it. They were on that floor grappling like one of them had found the very last chocolate donut on the planet and the other guy wanted it for himself. And one of the guys had blood pouring from his eye. But they kept fighting! (But if I knew the last chocolate donut was at stake, I’d fight too, ya’ll). I know this might sound gory to some of you, but it was so exciting to watch because of the unpredictability of the match and the athleticism of the fighters. And when I found out that girls fought, too? They had me, honey.

So fast forward to this past Saturday and UFC 197. For those of you not familiar with the sport, this fight was a huge deal because Jon Bones Jones, who is considered by many to be the best fighter in the world, returned to fighting after 15 months. Side note: those people who consider Jones to be the best fighter in the world obviously do not know about my cousin, Keshia, A.K.A. Desert Storm, who, in high school, was voted most likely to knock a motherf*cker out. But I digress.

Anyhoo, Bones’ return was a huge freaking deal, but another fighter stole the show that night: Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson. He fought a wrestler named Henry Cejudo. I may not know much about the technicalities of the sport, but Demetrious whupped that boy like he stole something. It was such an exciting fight! And what do you think happened after the fight? I was up, on Twitter, looking at some of the comments from fans–and so hyped I couldn’t sleep. So my naive behind said, “Well, since I’m up, I might as well watch Lemonade,” Beyoncé’s visual album featured on  HBO. Now why I did that??? My can’tsleepness went from about 75% to 175%! Why, you ask? Because as the kids say, “This album is lit.”  Disclaimer: I’m a HUGE Beyoncé fan. Her family is from my hometown, New Iberia, so it’s very likely that we’re cousins. Just sayin’…

So since Beyoncé and I might be cousins, I’m probably biased, but I loved all the songs and visuals from the new album, so much so that I had to go to Twitter–again!–and see what other fans were saying. All the fans were just as captivated as I was, and No Sleep Saturday quickly morphed into No Sleep Sunday. And since both Beyoncé and Demetrious decided that they were going to be out here on these streets snatching people bald, it is very likely that I will have to spend the rest of the week applying Jamaican Black Castor Oil to my edges.

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Who said life was gone be easy???

What about you guys? Any other MMA or Beyoncé fans? What are some of your interests aside from writing? I’d love to hear your thoughts!


How to Get More Book Reviews

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Book Reviews

I’ve written quite a bit about book reviews on this blog:

Book Review Query Etiquette
How (Not) to Respond to a Negative Book Review
How (Not) to Respond to a Negative Book Review – Part Deux

And another post that sparked an interesting discussion: Would you Give a Fellow Author a Negative Book Review?

I’ve even talked about how I get quite a few book review requests despite the fact that I’m not an “official” book reviewer. At this point, you’d think I’d be all book reviewed out, right? Well, just about every day somebody Googles: “How to write a book review letter,” and that query leads them to one of my aforementioned posts. So I thought I’d do another post with more detailed information about how to approach reviewers.

Some of my more seasoned author pals will probably know this information already, but please feel free to give your thoughts in the comments section with advice and tidbits that I didn’t mention here.

So here we go!

  1. This might seem like a no-brainer, but the first thing you want to do is Google “[fill in your genre] book reviewers.” For instance: “Romantic comedy book reviewers.” Or, “Book reviewers for horror novels.” This might take a bit of research on your part, but it’s an important step so that you don’t send someone who only reads science fiction your erotica novel.
  2. Once you have the list of bloggers, please, please, please read their review policy! If they clearly state that they are “closed to submissions at this time,” please heed this! And don’t query them anyway because that’s probably the fastest way to get your email deleted. Or their policy might be that they are only accepting review requests from authors they’ve worked with before, or from traditionally published authors. So whatever their review policy is, please follow instructions!
  3. After you have Googled reviewers in your genre and have whittled your list down to reviewers who are open to submissions, it’s time to start getting your letter ready. This doesn’t have to be some grandiose thing. Keep it professional, polite, and to the point. For example, don’t do this:

Dear Blogger:

What happens when Die Hard meets Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead? You get Babysitting Ain’t for Chumps, where my kick ass main character, Swanky Johnson, battles mob bosses in New York City after getting stuck with her dead date’s daughter. Think you’ve seen it all? Well, prepared to be wowed by Swanky and her side kick, Peanut!

I see that you don’t accept adventure novels and that you are currently closed to book review requests, but I thought I’d send you a note anyway because I don’t want you to miss out on this (because once Hollywood buys the rights, you’ll be able to say that you were among the first book reviewers! (wink).

I have been in love with writing since I was seven years old, and I am so happy to share this journey with you!

Sincerely,

Literature’s Next Big Star.

Please don’t do this!

Instead, do this:

  1. Address the book reviewer by name. If you search the blog and can’t find the name, then I think it’s fine to say “Dear [insert name of blog].” You can open with how you found the blog or get right into why you’re writing. Totally up to you. Just remember to keep it polite and simple.
  2. State your business quickly and get out of there: the genre of your book, the blurb, word count, and the formats you have available.
  3. Thank the book reviewer for his/her time and go about your day. Seriously, that’s it. Don’t wax poetic about what writing means to you. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

So the letter might look like this:

Dear Cynthia,

I’m writing because I see that you are currently open to reviewing speculative fiction books. Would you be interested in reviewing my novel, Ripley’s Ghost? 

It’s ______________ words. Here’s a synopsis: [include the book blurb here].

If interested, I’d be happy to send you a copy of the book in the format of your choice: mobi, Epub, PDF, or hard copy.

Thank you so much for your time!

Sincerely,

Le Author. 

Sure, it’s not the sexiest letter on the planet, but it’ll get the job done! And if someone agrees to review your book and then suddenly dissapears into a dark hole, please don’t write them demanding to know why they haven’t reviewed your book. Just assume that they got busy, starting reading your book and it wasn’t their cup of tea, or was so engrossed in your book that they were reading while crossing the street and got hit by a bus (it could happen!).

And if you get a negative book review: do nothing. If it makes you feel better, put the reviewer on “the people you will snub when you’re rich list” and keep it moving. Don’t respond. Don’t write them telling them that they got your book all wrong and that they’re an idiot. Just pretend the review doesn’t exist and focus on getting more reviews–or writing your next masterpiece.

And if writing letters isn’t your thing, go social! You can post a query on some of the review groups on Goodreads (Goodreads even has some peer review groups that you can join–someone reviews your book and you agree to review theirs in return). If that’s your cup of tea, then go for it! I’ve even seen instances where reviewers will start a thread saying that they’re looking for new authors to review. I’ve also seen authors “@” book reviewers on Twitter with a link to their book. You can also join some of the Facebook author groups and post your info–it’s really up to you! Some other advice: be nice to people. People will probably be more willing to buy and review (good!) books by authors that they actually like.

What about others? What methods do you employ for getting reviews? And if you’re a book reviewer: what are some things that authors do that you wish they didn’t? I’d love to hear your thoughts!


On Writing and Unaccomplished Goals

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Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

Happy Wednesday, Folks! It’s the first Wednesday of the month so you know what that means: it’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group Day! What’s the purpose, you ask? Well, writers from all over come together and discuss our fears and insecurities–all without feeling silly about it. And if you’re a writer reading this, why not join us if you haven’t already???

This month’s cohosts are Megan Morgan, Chris Votey, Viola Fury, Christine Rains, Madeline Mora-Summonte, L.G. Keltner, Rachna Chhabria, and Patricia Lynne! If you can, stop by their blogs, see what they’re up to, and leave some comment love.

Okay, guys. You might have noticed that I haven’t blogged in a couple of weeks (or maybe you haven’t, lol). And that’s because….

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A couple of Thursdays ago, something fantastic happened: my husband and I had our second baby girl!

She was about three weeks ahead of schedule and I have to tell you: I’ve been quite the busy bee. With a one and a half year old, late night feedings for the newborn, and trying to get adjusted to this new “normal,” team no sleep is definitely back in the building (#teamnosleep).

And that leads me to my insecurity for this month. I don’t have the time to write like I used to, and when I have the time, I don’t have the quiet. I know things won’t be like this forever. I mean, kids do grow up–right? (Right???) But in the meanwhile, I have to rest in the knowledge that yes, I may not be producing books at a super fast rate, but at least I haven’t given up and I’m still writing. And even though I haven’t been able to market myself like I’d like to, at least I’m still doing something. It’s easy to get so overwhelmed by all of our life goals that we end up doing nothing, so I’d like to challenge myself (and some of you) to not be so down on ourselves whenever it takes us a tad bit longer to reach our goals (and I’d also like to challenge myself to not get so caught up in goal making and pursuing that I forget to live and enjoy life).

I was listening to the incomparable Les Brown (motivational speaker) recently and he said this quote: “By the yard it’s hard, but inch by inch, it’s a cinch.”

Ain’t that the truth???

 Sure, I haven’t accomplished everything on my goal list, but what matters is that I’m getting there. And I’m pretty sure that same sentiment applies to all of you. Instead of bemoaning all the things we didn’t get to do, maybe we should celebrate the things that we’ve already done. Life is short, you guys. Drink wine. Eat waffles. Be happy. And if you get the chance, then by all means, write.

 Anybody else hard on themselves over unaccomplished goals? I’d love to hear your thoughts!