Thursday, August 18, 2011

Indie Authors: Why so Serious?

I am a sucker for that phrase because of the amazing character that uttered it. But even before the Joker made it mainstream I tried to live by those words. Don't take life too seriously, try to be laid back, take things for what they truly are and nothing more. And lately, Indie Authors are being way too serious, depressing too a degree, and not nearly optimistic enough.

It started a few weeks ago when I read a post by a fellow Indie on their blog talking about how difficult it is to be an Indie Author. The self marketing, the fan base building, the small beat downs you get when you don't sell a single book in a full week.
It is hard. I'll be the first to say it. I have twenty different websites to log in to everyday, a few times a day each, just to see what is on the forums, see if my posts have responses, talking to other authors. And most of the time it doesn't amount to much. Occasionally I'll talk to someone that is rather interesting and we trade thoughts and ideas and while it's enjoyable to get to know someone new, it is still just one person, one book sale. Sure, more could follow because of that one person but not always.
Getting on social author sites is nothing like having your book listed on the front page of amazon's kindle store or the front windows of a Barnes and Noble retail store. But it does pay off. You, Yourself, are the best way to get your book noticed.
That doesn't mean to post on twitter every half hour a link to your book with a few words, or to get on kindle boards bumping the same thread every day with a blurb and a link to your book. No. The best way to go about it is reply to other people discussions, start conversations, take interest in other Authors and Readers talking about their interests. Most of them will read your reply and follow the link in your signature or go to your profile and check out your blog. Post things that people will like and enjoy reading about, make jokes, laugh at yourself, be as real as you can be so others can relate to you.
That is something Indie Authors have the corner of the market on, we are open to talking to our readers like they are the new neighbors that just moved in, welcoming them with open arms and a cold beer, genuinely wanting to get to know them.
I LOVE talking to people that have read my works, critiquing me in ways I can't, mentioning things they may have enjoyed that I didn't think was that big of a deal, getting to know someone that enjoys books as much as I do. Sure. Not every reader will look up an Author of a book just to shoot the shit. But the ones that do are great!

Basically what I am getting at is try not to get frustrated. All of us published our first novels knowing what we were getting into. Most of us didn't quite our day job, (in my case, night job,) thinking we were going to click that publish button and become rich just like that. Personally in a few years I want writing to be my full time occupation but I know it isn't going to happen over night. I have to be patient and hone my talent while getting more and more fans. I try to be as realistic as I can be about my books, I am my own worst critic. My girlfriend and family talk about my writing more than I do. Yeah I'm proud of it but I know there is still a lot to learn. Have to work for it.

For me the bottom line is this:
In the end, writing is my passion. It's what I love to do. Telling a story for others to entertain, thrill, and with my horror, to scare the shit out of them.
So that is my weigh in on the hardships of the Indie. Do traditionally published Authors have the upper hand right now? Yes. But as artists we are the ones with the freedom and that means more to me. Plus things are in flux right now, the big shift is in motion and soon Indie's, or a form of Indie, will be the new way. So keep your chin up. Something I was always told while I played hockey and was tired and beat up waiting to play my second game of the day.
"If it was easy, Everyone would be doing it."

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Interview with a cartoonist!

Her name is Alisa, and normally I try to stick to horror related stuff as much as I can but I know this girl personally and she's a kick ass cartoonist so I want to get her name out there. Follow her on Twitter!
Meet Alisseus, (the girl on the left. Pouty lip, scared shitless expression. I wish she would smile haha.) Alisseus is the star of Alissa's  newest work, where Alisseus goes on an adventure only Alissa could conjure up. But enough of me speaking for her, scroll down and get a glimpse into the mind of an amazing cartoonist!

Tafe -
Okay, let's start off with a little about you. Where did you grow up and what is a day in the life of Alissa?

Alissa -
I will be 16 in September. I've grown up mostly in Kentucky, unfortunately. I moved around a lot from Florida, California, and Kentucky until I was 3. I learned a lot in those other places. Like how to walk, and talk at the same time. My days sort of merge together because it's the same process repeated. I wake up, pee, get on the computer and draw for hours. Then if I get kicked off of the computer, I go to my room and draw some more. From time to time I have no inspiration and play video games, like Zelda, Super Smash Bros, pretty much anything Nintendo, and Monster Hunter Tri. Pretty exciting life, I know right?!

Tafe -
Haha, sounds like your living the dream.

So, how old were you when you began drawing cartoons and what were they like compared to what you do now?

Alissa -
I have been drawing for as long as I can remember. I think it's safe to say I have improved a lot, but there's still a lot of room for more improvement. For the longest time all I drew was animals. Not even realistic ones. Like... Lion King style. No one will ever let me live that down hahaha.

Tafe -
Reality is overrated anyway.

Who or What ever inspired you too begin drawing cartoons?

Alissa - I actually didn't stop with the whole "animal phase" until I started with my graphic novel/comic (I honestly do not know the difference) and from then on out I got into cartoons. I've had inspiration from mostly Spongebob and Regular Show.

Tafe - I don't really know the difference either, if someone could comment below and straighten it out for both of us, that would be great haha.

How do you begin a comic? I normally will do an outline and sometimes just just jump write in with my novels. What is your creative process?

Alissa -
I sort of do it all at once and see where it takes me. I do a little bit of thinking through at first, and then I just take off. It is better to have the plot laid down firmly first, because that's part of the things I ended up redoing with my comic. That and improving the art, but it's whatever, bro.

Tafe - Tooootally get it, dude. haha :D

Can you explain Alisseus a little bit more for everyone?

Alisseus is a comic/graphic novel that I started my freshman year of highschool. At first I had no intention of publishing it, much less even making it into a comic. It began as just a bunch of ideas that sort of all came together. I eventually drew the first page of Alisseus and told my friends, "It's started." Then it developed into what it is now.
It's a world that is "a cheap rip off of Earth" and it's filled with monsters, and heroes, which are like superhumans in a way, that are to defend normal humans, I guess. Hahaha. But sometimes the monsters get out of hand, and when this happens, one must take it upon themself to awaken The Hero. The Hero is a very special being who was sent to Heroitron (awesome planet name, right?) to eradicate the monsters herself. But this time around, things are different, and much worse. It is a hilarious tale about The Hero and her companions, and their quest to save the world! Yeah cliche plot!

Tafe -
I think the originality of "Heroitron" completely makes up for any cliche haha.

Now being that I'm a writer with a dark streak, is there any chance your future comics may show a dark side of you?

Alissa -

Haha! Most definitely! I have actually been contemplating some ideas for a new comic which is much darker than Alisseus, but I don't think I want to reveal anything as of yet. So stay tuned!

Tafe - 
I'll  be waiting for that one!

Do you have plans for what you will work on after Alisseus?

Alissa - 
I will say that there's going to be a sequel to Alisseus that I have actually already started. I'm not sure where I'm going with the plot now so that's something I need to set down before I work on it further. I'll crack down on it a lot after I fully finish with Alisseus, so it'll be a while probably.

Tafe - 
That's awesome! Something to look forward too.

Now I have to ask, have you ever watched a horror movie that kept you up all night? if yes then what was it?

Alissa -

I have not haha. I'm not a fan of horror movies. I saw I am Legend in theatres (and keep in mind I was in like 6th grade at the time) and I still have nightmares about it even though it doesn't scare me anymore. Now you will probably understand why I don't watch horror movies hahaha.

Tafe -
I still have nightmares about "IT" so its no big deal. and if you don't know what move that is, it's basically the soul purpose for a lot of peoples clown fears haha.
What is your drawing space like?

Alissa -
A computer desk with pistachio shells all over the floor and just a cluttered mess of paper. And it's not my paper. But it is my pistachio mess.

Tafe -
Laughed my ass off when I read that! Enough said.

Besides drawing, do you have any other artistic abilities?

Alissa -
I don't think so. I can do portraits pretty well, but that goes under drawing I suppose. I am terrible at realism and painting, and avoid doing so at all costs.. Which is hard if you're taking Drawing&Painting 2 at school hahaha. I woud love to be good at digital painting because it just looks phenomenal.

Tafe -
And for a final question, do you live in a shit ass town and are soon moving to a kick ass one? if yes, then you suckkkkk. (Now for this question I totally threw it in because I knew you were moving soon and was joking. But the last line needs to be seen.)

Alissa - 
I do live in a crappy, boring town where there is nothing to do. And I am hopefully moving to San Diego soon. But there's been some complications with that, and I don't know what's going to happen. Basically, if I don't get out of this town, I will not be able to do the things I want to do for a career. So if you all could keep me in your thoughts and prayers that would be very kind of you!
Thanks so much for le interview!

Tafe -
You are very welcome!

Below is some of Alissa's works, if you want more go to Deviant Art or for more quirkiness go to her Tumblr. Who knows, maybe YOUR kids will be watching Alisseus on the spongebob time slot in a few years! :)

Thanks for reading everyone,

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Sneak Peak!

Here is just a small teaser of my work in progress ZAMN(Zombies Ate My neighbors. It's a working title.
Saturday I will post the rest of the chapter which is a lot more exciting I promise. Just wanted to let everyone know that I am actually doing more than raving on twitter about MisFits and complaining about having to watch Toddlers and tiaras with my girlfriend haha. Now it's just an edited 1st draft so it is subject to change but probably not much. Enjoy!

Chapter 2

The ceiling spins above me as my office chair spins beneath me. My hands above my head tossing up a crumpled piece of paper, catching it, tossing it up again, catching it, my chair rotating around and around.
My reflection blinks in and out of the blank computer screen on my desk. Forty-three this year, I think to myself. Still playing with paper wads. On the verge of having no job. Kids can’t stand me. And my wife… Gone.

“Having fun?” A familiar voice asks. “Loads.” I reply, spinning one more time and tossing my makeshift ball at my co-worker and friend who is standing just inside the door to my office.
“Even in the midst of layoffs I can still find you goofing off.” Arthur says to me, chuckling slightly.
I stare at him for a moment, pretty big guy, bigger than me at least. 6’ 2” or so, 6’ 3” at the most, thin but strong. Still has a full head of hair. Wish I could say the same, been slowly but surely losing mine for a year or two now. Getting old does actually suck.
“You ready for lunch, Arthur?” I ask flatly, pretending to be mad. “If not then give me my ball, I am hard at work.” I tell him, a wry smile slowly creeping across my face. Arthur throws the crumpled paper at me and laughs, “Yeah, I’m ready. You are driving today though, my car is in the shop.”
I nod an okay to Arthur and he walks out of my office. Standing up from my office chair, I pat my slacks to make sure my keys are on me and not in my desk. Front pockets, back pockets, front pockets once again. Where the hell are they?
My question is answered as I glance at my desk. Sitting on the keyboard of my computer is my keys. I pick them up, pressing down the space bar as I do, the screen lights up from its sleep. My browser pops on and my home screen loads, a snippet of an article about a run down actress getting a DUI, my stock charts that look like a diagram for a plane crash, some advertisement for male enhancement, and local news clips.
“Come on Daryl. Much longer and that cute young girl that works at the taco shack will be too busy to talk to you.” Arthur calls from outside my office. “Just jealous she doesn’t offer you free salsa, Art!” I call out not taking my eyes off of the screen. One of the local news articles has caught my eye. “Outbreak of Violence.” It reads: “Man goes on a rampage at a high end hotel in the business district of San Jose, killing five and wounding two.” Shit. That’s awful. World of crazy fucks out there…
I close the laptop and grab my jacket off the back of my office chair, putting my arms through the sleeves.
Arthur pokes his head in and looks me up and down, “Yes, Daryl. You look cute enough to be my driver, now lets go.” I can’t help but smile, “Do I need to go tell HR that my boss is sexually harassing me?” “Probably.” Arthur says, smiling. “Now are you coming or not?” “Yeah, I’m coming.” I walk to the door, close it and lock it with my keys. The article about the killer in the hotel swirling around the back of my mind.
I turn away from the door and the empty floor is silent. “Kind of eerie in here now.” Arthur says, seeing the same thing I am. What used to be a large floor full of desks, cubicles, big Xerox machines, bustling assistants, lethargic lower level accountants, young messengers, and mail boys, is now the ghost town equivalent. Only a handful of the cubicle accountants are left, them and their cubicles jammed into the far corner. No more assistants answering phones outside offices like mine. Hell, most of the offices are empty anyway. Can’t be more than a handful of people still working on this floor. All vacated cubicles are piled in a corner next to the stairs waiting for someone to get rid of them. Who that someone is I haven’t a clue.
“Yeah,” I say indifferently as we walk across the office wasteland to the hallway that leads to the reception desk and the elevators.
“Did you hear about the guy that went crazy and killed several people last night?” I ask Arthur as we walk across the floor. “Yeah. Was pretty sick. I saw some photos of the victims and they were mutilated.” Arthur says, lowering his voice as he continues, “He ate them. Seriously! He fucking ATE them. Wasn’t far from here either. It was that nice hotel on First Street and-“ Arthur stops as we come out of the short hallway and into the reception area, his eyes set on the young woman that works the reception counter.
“Hey Kristin.” Arthur says, she’s probably in her early twenties, blonde hair, still enjoys life. “Hi Art,” Kristin says, her eyes big with a smile to match, “Hi, Daryl. Headed out to lunch?” Kristin says in her sweet voice that could light up a room. Pretty sure Arthur hired her for that voice alone.
 “Yeah, want us to bring you back anything?” Arthur asks, his business smile on his face. “Would you please? I’m stuck here waiting for the mail guy, he hasn’t shown up today and I'm starving.” Arthur puts his arms on the reception counter and leans forward, “What would you like? Anything you want.” Kristin giggles and I look away towards the elevators, trying not to laugh.
It has never gone farther than flirting, Arthur has talked about taking her out to dinner but never went thought with it. Harmless I guess.
I walk to the elevators to give Arthur his space. Pressing the elevator call button, watching the down elevator slowly make it's slow decline from the top floor to our floor, the lights lighting up one after the other, it is stopping at almost every floor. Shit. Good ol’ lunch rush.
I turn around to watch Arthur, saying his goodbyes to Kristin with a wave and walking over to me with his eyes on the elevator behind me. Kristin watches as he walks away, smiling ear to ear like a schoolgirl.
“Looks like we might get lucky today?” Arthur says, smiling just like Kristin.
“From the look on her face I think you just might.” I reply with a wink, nudging my head in Kristin’s direction. “We are just friends, man. You know that.” Arthur says quietly, not too much assurance in his voice.
“Uh huh.” I grunt, turning around to watch the elevator, it’s coming right up to our floor. Sweet.
The lights indicating what floor the elevator is currently on flash one by one, 21, 22, 23 . . . It stops and the bell rings. I smile at Arthur, both of us relishing in this small office building victory. The up elevator only takes people from the lobby to their desired floor then goes right back down to retrieve more passengers. Might actually make it to see the cute girl at the taco shack after all.
The doors slide open and I turn towards Arthur, “After you, fine sir.” I say, motioning my arms towards the open elevator doors. But Arthur doesn’t laugh. He doesn’t add to my joke. Doesn’t even blink. He just looks into the elevator, absolutely horrified.
I follow Arthur’s gaze quickly, not even slightly prepared for what I see. Oh fuck. So horrified but unable to look away.
Inside the elevator crouches the mail boy, feasting upon a woman in a shredded, blood stained business suit. His head shaking violently as his teeth tear into her chest just above below her collar bone, her eyes jarring up and down as they stare lifelessly up at the ceiling of the elevator.

Please leave comments bellow with input or questions!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Indie and Proud: The Horror point of view

I write Horror, it's what I have always enjoyed watching, reading about, and listening too. You know all those creepy ass sounds that people play in haunted houses around Halloween, I enjoy those too. Of course I hated anything scary when i was younger, (having nightmares terrified me.) But my dad persisted to make me watch movies like "IT" "Dawn of the Dead" "The Silence of the Lambs" "Friday the 13" "Nightmare on Elm Street" "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" Just to name a few, (pretty sure my prepubescent brain blocked out a lot of them.) Not to mention SyFy channel being on all day every day with "Tales from the Darkside" and a show I can't remember the name of that was basically mini horror stories. Now I watch all of that and laugh, somehow my nightmares don't scare me anymore cuz they will make for great novels!

I apologize, gotten off topic. . . my point is, the movies I grew up on were graphic and at times a little "sick." So I believe in writing the same way, no pulled punches, nothing left out, realistic as can be with all of the blood and graphic detail of how that blood spewed from someone's body. (Little graphic? good!)
Now how could I do that with a big name publisher? I would have to edit my shit till the last bloody massacre was no more than a paper cut. Over dramatic, yes. But still. Every Author has their own style of writing and their own story to tell in each and every one of their works. I don't need someone to tell me how to write MY story. And thats how I wrote, Inner Horror. May be a little rough around the edges at times but I told the story how I wanted to tell it.

Now there is plenty of reasons I am an Indie Author, problem with authority, problem with selling my rights to a publisher, (feels like selling my soul) But being able to write how I want to write is most important to me. I am sure plenty of fellow Authors feel the same way and are just as proud of their works as I am of mine, who needs someone telling us it is too graphic or inappropriate in one way or another.

I've said what I wanted to say, It's just my personal opinion :)
Stay Indie my friends and if your a reader, keep it Indie!