Family Priorities

In my last post, which was a while ago, I mentioned that I was living in a town 4 hours from my family and working to pay off debt. Well, that lasted 6 weeks. My wife and kids went to pick me up around Mother’s Day, and when I hugged my wife I noticed she had lost a lot of weight.

Abbie is a small framed girl already. The school she teaches at is a huge stressor for her, and my being gone added to it. We have 3 kids and it was more than she could handle while juggling school stress, too. It was an easy decision to make. I was home for good a few days later.

I was working at a hotel and had already put in my notice to switch to a better company and position. I decided to pass on the new job and go home where i was needed. The slim job market here makes it tough, but something will come along.

In the meantime, I have been writing again. I have had a horrible dry spell. Nothing clicks like it should, and everything just kinda sucks. That’s if I can even get a good idea going anyway.

I have created a new character for a story series, Waylon the Wandering Whale, and the “Morgan” franchise is getting some new stories. I am still waiting to hear back from a publishing company for “Bella and Betty Bear’s Big Fight. Good Knight Ricky is still a challenge, but I am finally moving on that again. The missing element has been found, and it really changed the dynamic of the story. So, Things are happening, I’m just not overly vocal about it for now. Remember, Morgan Goes Fishing is available on Amazon or starting tomorrow, my eBay store.

We have also been working on our house. A LOT. It’s amazing what you can do to a house for under $50. We have painted, put in bookshelves, cut out trees and brush and hauled off 6 loads of trimmings. We have been busy. Here’s a flower bed we did over a tree stump I chopped out.

The good news, I have been more inspired to write. It’s almost like the more I work, the more ideas I have to write about. It’s not uncommon, I guess. Hard work is good for the brain. At least for me.

The best part of being home is my kids. They grew so much in the 6 weeks I was gone. Bella is a little marvel. I don’t know how to explain her, but she is amazing. Smart, caring and so much more big girly. Morgan just jad her 5th birthday. I don’t know what it is about her, but she inspires me in so many ways. Then there is Ricky. My little man. He has had some attitude issues that we are trying to work through.

I closed my facebook account. I can be found on Instagram and will be posting more there. I will even be starting some small video announcements and reveals. Find me on Instagram @danlittle104. My ebay store is also up and running, and I will be integrating things from there to here more very soon, so check it out @https://ebay.com/usr/littlebooksandhobbies. Find a book and enjoy.

Y’all have a good day.

Dan

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Author Interview with Shannon Stewart

I had the opportunity to work with Author Shannon Stewart for a promo piece for her book Grief. Luckily I was able to do an interview with her. Check her out, her book has a lot to offer. So, let’s get started with Shannon Stewart.

Name:  Shannon Stewart aka Daredevil Bama Gurl aka WHITE COAT WOMAN

1.What is your earliest memory of writing?

A:  I’ve always written poetry.  I kept a book of them all the way into adulthood and may one day publish them.

2. How did you get started in your writing career?

A:  I have so many stories floating around in my head and I’ve started and stopped over a dozen.  I just never had the desire to just completely finish one until I saw my husband doing the same thing but finishing.  He starts and stops stories all the time but he does it when he gets a block and he just moves to where his creativity takes him.  That method works for me as well so now it’s like an assembly line. Expect to see a lot of productivity from me in writing now.

3. Do you write in multiple genres? If so, which? Is it hard to transition between children’s book author and your other styles?

A:  I’ve never really just settled on a genre.  Like I said, I have many stories floating around in my head and I’m pretty sure there are multiple genre involved.  So, my plan is to go wherever my creative juices take me.

4.What comes to you first: title, character or setting?

A: I generally think of multiple interesting scenes.  They don’t always fit so I save them for when the rest of the story pops into my head.  As it develops, I start formulating the plot around those ideas.

5.How many books have you written?

A:  I’ve written 3 full books so far, but I’m only about to release my first short story.

6.We know writing isn’t always the most lucrative business. Are you a full time author, or do you do other work as well?

A:  I’m now a Family Nurse Practitioner and I’ve been a critical care Registered Nurse for the last 18 years.  I’m also an co-executive for my own indie record label and publishing company.

january 2018 - critical care registered nurse shoot

 

7.. Do you have a certain way to set your writing mood? If so, what does it involve?

 

A:  I don’t set a mood.  I write in my spare time.

8. What is your latest book about? (book summary/sales description)

A:  Grief is a short story I have on pre-order on Amazon. I write a different take on the 5 stages of grief that we typically go through multiple times in life.  I sensationalize each stage a bit to make it entertaining to keep people’s attention in today’s world but at the end of each of the 5 chapters I add some White Coat Woman education. I also have a very sensational 1 minute book trailer to peak the curiosity of people who watch it.

9. Where can people find you and all of your amazing projects? (website, social media links and any upcoming events you’d like to share)

A:  http://www.whitecoatwoman.com/

whitecoatwoman@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/daredevilbamagurl/

https://www.instagram.com/daredevilbamagurl/

https://twitter.com/nurzshannie

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=83FrnZXbW7U

10. What is one obscure, non-writing related fact about you? (something fun, interesting, or a little quirk)

A:  I’m a social media micro-influencer and I have a branded name of Daredevil Bama Gurl.  It’s a name my husband gave me because I like rock climbing and parasailing and different stuff like that.

10142017 willie stewart shoot4084_pp

11.What goals have you set for yourself in your writing career?

A:  I have just one goal for my writing career and that’s to have fun while doing it.
12.You just sold your one millionth copy, how do you celebrate? (Dream big, right?)

A:  I would want to throw a huge party for everybody in my hometown of Ozark, Alabama.  That’s not too big right? I would plan on much bigger things but I would want to start there so people back home could see that being from a small town doesn’t mean great things can’t happen.

13. How many books do you hope to release?

A:  I don’t have a set number.  I just want to continue to write as long as I’m having fun doing it.

This is where my book can be found:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07LDLGPNF

grief 3d product cover

 

Overcoming the block

A while back I talked about the lack of creativity I have been dealing with. I figured out what it was. I had been to busy with home projects to focus on much else.

It’s a pretty lame reason to not be able to write, but it makes sense. Have you ever been there? You know, the point where anything else on your plate just kinda shuts you down? These are normal times.

Life happens. For me it was a mess of a house that needed a ton of work before we could move in. Then we had a bunch of projects after we moved jn. I would be up until 3 am working some nights.

When you mix in 3 kids and a wife with her hands full at school, and just needing some extra stress relief, it gets busy. Don’t let life make you feel like you’ve lost your edge.

Just a few months ago I was buried in writing work. The last 2 months, not a thing. I am trying to pick up more things here and there. I know it will come. Sometimes, you just need to empty off your plate.

Now for some updates, Morgan Goes Fishing is getting a new series behind it. It will be a sight words based series based on Morgan. I am writing them to be progressive stories. Each one more difficult than the last. Morgan Goes Fishing will be a more difficult book.

Good Knight Ricky and the Bad Joke Dragon, is being shortened. Write for the age, not the reading level if you are writing a story based on someone you love. Ricky is 6 and reads on a 4th grade level. You can’t combine those. Write for the age. They will enjoy it more. It will be out next year.

Bella and Betty Bear’s Big Fight will be out next year. This will complete the stories written for my kids. Illustration on Ricky and Bella will be my hold ups as I secure the funding.

I am moving forward with an eBay based book store. I have mostly history books listed now, but stop in and check it out. It’s at Little Books and Hobbies on ebay.

So, I can get moving again. When you come to these times, don’t force it. They happen. Writing will never stop. The creativity will slow down here and there, or your ideas will be crap. Don’t get discouraged. When the ideas hit, run with them. Even if they take some time to come to you.

Author Interview with Claressa Swensen

I finally got the opportunity to do another Author Interview. I have worked with Claressa Swensen in the past, and really enjoyed it. She reached out to me a few days ago to see if I did any author interviews. Knowing her work, I couldn’t pass it up. I hope you guys enjoy it. I will be including links and pictures along the way, so you can find her work.

So, let me introduce you to, Miss Claressa Swensen.

Q: How many books have you written?
A: I have published four books, however I have written many more than that. I frequently come up with story ideas that either get started and never finished, or I finish them but never pursue publishing.

Q: We know writing isn’t always the most lucrative business. Are you a full time author, or do you do other work as well?
A: I am a stay at home mommy, my daughter keeps me on my toes so I don’t always find time in the day to write like I should.

image2
Find it here: http://a.co/d/4wFlBtl

Q: What goals have you set for yourself in your writing career?
A: I think it would be fun to write a series. I hope to build up enough confidence to do a school assembly. And hey, who says I can’t win a literary award?

Q: What are some of your favorite events to sell your books at?
A: I find library and bookstore readings a lot of fun, because I really get to interact 1-on-1 with the kids who read my stories. I also love events where I get to network with other authors. It’s fun to meet other people in the same profession as you.

image3
Find it here: http://a.co/d/8XWW8B1

Q: Think of your first book, are you happy with the end results? If not, what would you change?
A: Although I definitely see my writing get better with every book, I wouldn’t change a thing about the first. It’s all part of the writing process, I get to watch myself grow as an author.

Q: Is there a part of the process, after writing, that you enjoy most?
A: Yes, I love being able to collaborate with the artist on how we want the illustrations to turn out. Also, there is no better feeling than the one you get holding that very first physical copy of a book you created. I would compare it to the first time you hold your own child, not quite the same, but so close!

image4
http://a.co/d/7LqZzNZ

Q: What award do you think would be the most exciting to win?
A: I don’t know; Caldecott, Newbery, Moonbeam. An award is an award, and it would be amazing to have my work appreciated that much.

Q: What is your favorite book you wrote? Why?
A: With every book, my favorite turns into the latest release I have. I get passionate about new projects and suddenly my focus is all on that book.

image5
http://a.co/d/6h2uAPC

Q: How many books do you hope to release?
A: As many as I possibly can. It’s so much fun, I just don’t see why I would ever stop.

Q: Where can people find you and all of your amazing books?
A: My website is http://www.ClaressaSwensen.com. My books can also be found under my name on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. And don’t forget to follow me on Facebook at Facbook.com/ClaressaSwensenOfficial!

image1
http://www.ClaressaSwensen.com

Claressa is awesome. Her books are adorable and you can tell she is proud. Go show her a little support at any of her links. You can follow any of the links in the pictures above to get right to the one you want. All are available in e-book format as well. Be looking forward to more interviews and book promotions coming soon.

I Hate Rejecting Reviews

Hello everyone. In one of my last post I mentioned an upcoming book review. I was really looking forward to doing another one. I have missed it over the last couple of months. However, if something falls short, I won’t review it.

Unfortunately, it isn’t going to happen. Not for this story. When I read the story I noticed too many editing issues. I’m not an editor, as I have stressed before. I am thinking that nobody else is either, which I know is wrong and I speak strictly in sarcasm.  Seriously though, why isn’t this taken seriously.

I know when I write something I really put thought into it. I am a picky person, but since I don’t do well with my own punctuation, I try not to judge others. If I do find something, I mention it. When it comes to the flow of a story, that is something that kills me to see.

I have every reason to believe that authors aren’t out to just knock out as many titles as possible. I know we want to put out a quality piece. Nobody has ever set out with the idea that they wanted to write garbage and leave it. I know I haven’t anyway.

Now, this story I read was not garbage, and I don’t want anyone to think that is what I felt about it. There were however issues. Let’s look over some of the things to consider when writing something. I  won’t go too deep into this.

First, make your story clear. When introducing a character, please introduce them in a way that makes sense. Don’t just throw it in. Make it feel like it belongs. Try not to throw in a top hat wearing penguin into a story set in the desert. It doesn’t make sense.

Second, if an editor makes a recommendation, use it. They mean well. If you aren’t sure of the flow, by all means, get a serious second opinion. Don’t be upset if someone says, dude, this is bad. It’s criticism, we all get it.

Finally, make it flow. Nobody wants to read a book that makes no sense. When it is a kid’s book, make it so they can follow it. I read every book I review to my kids. At ages 6,4 and 3, I get a great feel for what kids will like. If a story doesn’t interest them, it likely won’t interest most kids. So please, don’t be offended if someone says that it doesn’t make sense.

I have read books that I have removed from our collection. It’s not an easy thing to do. I love books, and so do my children. We are a book family. After reading literally thousands of stories, I have a bit of an idea of what works. I try to use that in my reviews.

I want to give a good review. That is why I am here. It is never my goal to rip someone apart and destroy their dreams. I just know what a quality story is. That being said, I am a little disappointed in Morgan Goes Fishing. I know I formatted it wrong. I will eventually reformat it and get it a new chance at life. I love the story, but I fell short.

I know the disappointment of falling short. That is why I want to make the books I review the best chance I can. If you have a story to review, please feel free to submit it to my email. I am always willing to take on another story. You know I will be honest, and I won’t share any personal details with a story I reject.

I am done with my rant for the day. Just a quick reminder, a critic won’t kill you. Ya’ll have a great day.

Dan

 

A Problem With Editors

Editors are an essential part of the writing world. They give insight we need. I desperately need all the input i can get, especially for punctuation. I welcome the critiques.

So where is the issue? Simple, a lack of professional response.

I had Good Knight Ricky and the Bad Joke Dragon sent to an editor. I know perfectly well it’s not perfect. She was eager, so I gave her a sneak peak. I didn’t expect a great review since it was it wasn’t finished.

What I got back was a less formal response than I have gotten from my chosen at random critique group. Some tips were well warranted. Others, well, I wondered if she even read the story.

As an editor you should have a clear and professional response. I expect a well and properly written response. Capitalize your sentences, punctuate. If I can criticize punctuation there is a problem.

A three paragraph run-on sentence is not the sign of a quality editor. No remarks on your horrible punctuation is also an issue. If you submit to an editor, expect them to respond as an editor.

Our stories are our passion. We want them to be the best they can be. When you reach the point of editing, be prepared to be crushed in many cases. Expect to be nitpicked.

If you get a response that isn’t professional, move on. The work you receive from them should have the same passion and thought as what you put in yourself. If they can’t structure a sentence, for the sake if your story, find someone else.

Just a little tip this week from a recent experience that really frustrated me. Being new to the business is no excuse for settling.

Why I disappeared

We all have times in our lives when we just kind of disappear. This last month has been one of those times. I have kind of just shut down and avoided all of social media and sites. Probably not the best business move., but here is why it happened: We bought a house.

We live in a small town. Not the place we will stay, but it works for now. The opportunity to buy this house came along and we couldn’t really pass it up. Then we walked in to the place. I had to question my judgement.

We bought a house from hoarders. I mean, really, really bad hoarders. I am a minimalist and the overwhelming garbage in the house shut me down. It took us nearly two full weeks to clean out just the garbage. We filled a 12 yard dumpster in trash just from 3 rooms.

I then found out they were holding stuff for other people in the house, and didn’t bother mention it. So, we had people digging through the dumpster to get the stuff out that belonged to them. That’s fine I suppose.

When we were finally able to see the floors, I decided the carpet had to go. Luckily we found some pretty decent hard wood floors under it. If not for this scraper we would have never gotten to it. http://a.co/d/cKg0IfG

It is an ugly job, but it made it a lot easier. It helps to break the glue and under layers to remove the carpet. Finding the floors in the condition they were in made my day. Down the road we will rent a sander and refinish them. The house was built in 1920, so they need a little love. We have a lot of work to do, but it will be well worth it.

My next job is tearing out some plaster on a couple walls and hanging drywall over the lath. The shared wall between the living room and kitchen had a leak by the chimney and it messed up the plaster, so it has to go. That will have to wait until summer.

We are finishing up the bedroom paint and then we can finish moving in. It has been a long month, but the end is in sight. I am quick to get overwhelmed and shut down while I remedy a situation.

I have been doing some work on Good Knight Ricky and the Bad Joke Dragon. This is my latest short story that I am writing for my son. It has been a fun one too. I also have books for sale through my Biblio.com page, https://www.biblio.com/bookseller_info.php?d=2916574

I am also on Instagram and Pinterest both @danlittle104. Follow me there and feel free to check out Biblio. Give me a like and a share. If you comment, I will do my best to respond. I am really trying to start a harder push here. Things are leveling out on this end.

 

When You Have To Walk Away

Some decision aren’t easy to make. Sometimes if you are lucky they do the work for you. Today, I got the first one. It has been brewing for a while, but I was hoping things would level out.

After four months and little progress I stepped down as the Author for The Lizzie Andrews Series. There were a lot of factors that helped to make the decision. That didn’t make it any better, really it just made me mad at myself for waiting so long.

This project started in May or June. In had high hopes for it, but creative differences really do throw a lot of weight into a situation. It was set to be completed by October 1st, but it was changed. It was pushed back to the end if January. Then it was cancelled.

What were the problems? 1. My collaborator ignored all of my ideas. Try writing a 25,000 word book with less than a paragraph of information to work with, and creative license removed. It won’t happen. 2. The ideas would change by the day. What was the plan on Monday, would be changed a lot of times by Monday evening. 3. My opinion didn’t count because I was a man. I know, all the sexism stuff, let’s not start on it. If there was an idea, and there were several, that I didn’t think fit into the scope of the book, I would be told my opinion didn’t matter because I’m not a woman or mother. 4. Refusal to pay.

Now, I am a proud supporter of team work. I went well above my call of duty to make this come to life. I recruited a new illustrator when our original quit. Then I kept our new one from quitting, when our collaborator could never be pleased.

Finally, after countless hold ups and withheld information, I got the chance to write the first chapter. When I submitted it to her, I knew there would be edits. It’s part of the business.

The suggestions came, no problem. Then all of the sudden she was going to send my work to her sister to “See if it was any good” as she put it. This was my breaking point. The sister has never been a part of the project, and apparently she is an author as well.

I saw this as another piece I worked hard on that would be turned over and butchered by someone else. It wouldn’t be the first time in the process that I submitted I piece, like for a promo, and got back something I didn’t even recognize. So I had enough.

I listed my issues with the project, much like above, and told my collaborator that I had to take my name off the project. Our creative goals were too far apart, and the dealings were turning shady. I had to think about the goals of my business as a writer, and Lizzie no longer fit in.

When you get to a point that honesty is in question, it’s a red flag. Keep in mind, I have 4 months and 2 cancelled contracts with not so much as a penny received. Then she asked for all of my outlines and layouts for the book.

As an author, i put in my contracts, that a failure to pay means I keep all the work i put in. I think it’s common sense. I just simply denied her request and moved on.

I can’t take it all as a loss though. The $1,000 would have been nice though. This is not an easy business to be in. I love it, I love the stories and I love my fellow authors. I don’t think I am cut out to collaborate.

If you are, by all means, do it. Just watch your back and stick to your guns. When a job is no longer fun, consider it’s worth. Don’t be afraid to walk away and do what is a good move for you personally.

I am done venting now. Thanks for reading. I will be able to get back to my own writings more now. So, keep an eye out for Good Knight Ricky and the Bad Joke Dragon, and check out Morgan Goes Fishing. Y’all have a good day.

Dan

The Little Labradoodle, Puppy Pickup Day Review

Hey everybody. Tonight we have another good book review. I got to read The Little Labradoodle; Puppy Pickup Day, y April Cox. I am really glad I got the opportunity.

doodle.jpg

The artwork for this book is enough to sell the story. I will admit that I have been hoping to read this story for a while. I had accepted the fact I would have to buy this book to read it to my kids. Luckily, I didn’t have to. I will do that later.

Would I have bought it, you bet. The cover stood out to me when I first saw it. Going through just helped to earn it a place on the bookshelf.

Ms. Cox did an amazing job creating a whole world for the dog in this book. The Little Labradoodle had to see his own shortcomings and come to terms with them. She let it do so in a really cute way.

The use of other animals to help The Little Labradoodle through its journey was fantastic. It was a great way to help kids learn other animals, as well as important lessons. Along with this, she used an awesome retracing of footsteps story line to teach as well.

It was a great book, and the illustrator did amazing work. My kids loved this book. They read it before bedtime and immediately wanted to read it again. The rhyme scheme, illustrations, and lessons make this an easy home run.

My only issue was the simple personal preference, I don’t really enjoy a rhyming book. (i hate the repetition of sounds). My kids love them, so we read them. It is not at all a reason not to buy this book. I got a free download for the review, and when we budget it in, I WILL be buying a hard copy.

I love supporting other authors and seeing their dreams grow. Follow the link below to get a copy of The Little Labradoodle today. You can’t go wrong with it.

While you’re at it, grab a copy of Morgan Goes Fishing for $6.99. Get it on my welcome page and save $1.00 off the Amazon price. Everyone have a great day, and thanks for checking out the review. Go show Ms. Cox a little support, she has a whole line of products to choose from.

Dan

 

Book Review Stress

Hello again everybody.

Tonight is more of a vent session for a part of my blog. I love what I do. I love getting to read new stories and present them to my kids. The excitement in their eyes as I read them a new one is pretty much why I started writing.

So, what is there to vent about? Sometimes I can’t take a book past the initial reading stage with me, and it doesn’t get presented to my kids. It’s the hard part. Sometimes a book will just fall short for my standards, and I don’t feel comfortable writing a review.

At this point I deal with a serious personal conflict. I was asked for a review, not editing. I could post my opinion of the story at that time. I have seen people offer a positive review for a certain fee. To me, that’s crap. If a story is good, but delivery needs work, I can’t write an honest review.

I have to operate fairly. I will be the first to admit that my punctuation needs some serious help. I am eternally grateful for editors. I don’t use them here. Honestly, I hope my wife never reads a single post here. She would kill me.

So how do you handle a book that isn’t ready, but has been released. I struggle with this. I decided that instead of doing a review, I offer a few critiques to the author. Again, I am not an editor. I just try to offer a few tips to bring out a more complete product. I think we should all do that.

I don’t charge for my reviews. For me, it really is about encouraging the authors. It’s not easy having an editors eye and terrible grammar. I can tell you a sentence is wrong, but I can’t come close to telling you how to fix it. Infinite commas I suppose.

I am always looking for more books to go over. My kids range from 3 to 6, so naturally I look for that range. I you have something, please, let me know. I would love to do a review for you. Everyone will get the same treatment. If there is a problem, I will address it with you privately before I just throw up a review for some blog content.

I truly enjoy what I do. There is a world full of amazing talent out there. We get to tap into that. I love that. Shoot, we get to see what may be a big seller before its even in print. That’s why I don’t charge. I have considered a donation thing if someone felt so inclined. I try to always throw in a little bit extra for people I hire for my projects, so a donation is a fair idea.

Anyway, have a great night. I have to meet a school to see about a book reading for their elementary and preschool classes. That’s exciting. Take care, and thank you for letting me vent.

Dan