Thursday, September 27, 2018


We're just about to hit October and things are going to be pretty busy for me book/event wise. This is good,
for those of you keeping score.

First thing's first: Paige's Story was pitched to a literary agent and he's asked to read my manuscript. I'm not banking on him taking it, according to one of the more well-known, successful authors who works with him, the fact he's even looking at my manuscript is a big deal. So, stay tuned for further details on that.

Next, On October 19th, I'll be sponsoring the annual screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show at The Gibson Theater here in Batesville. It's been going on for almost 5 years
now and used to be sponsored by the local comic and game shop. Sadly, they closed. Rather than charging admission to the event, or getting rid of it altogether, I decided to sponsor it. My friend Charlotte will be arranging for The Denton Affair, a local acting troupe out of Cincy, to come and do their shadow show. (They are the bomb diggity, guys. Trust me.)

On top of that, we'll be taking donations for Safe Passage, a locally run
women's shelter for women and their kids who are looking for a safe place to get back on their feet. And with all the bullshit going on in the news with Brett "he was just a boy" Kavanaugh, we figured this was a more than worthy cause.

So yeah, come on out. Doors open at 11:30. The show starts at midnight. I'll be there collecting donations,
and selling books and merch. I'd love to have you drop by and say hi. Maybe buy a sticker and donate some items to the shelter.

Then, on October 27th 11am-2pm, I'll be at Three Sisters Books and Gifts in Shelbyville signing books.

Somewhere in there is my birthday. I'll be NOT 40 YET! TAKE THAT, AGE!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

4/5 Stars Would Blog Again

Contrary to popular belief, I am not a millionaire. I know, shocking. Actually, most authors aren't. People tend tothink of authors on the level of J.K. Rowling or Stephen King-- really fucking well off. Truth is, most of us are broke, some of us are comfortable, and a few of us are rich.

We Independent authors tend to lean toward the broke or comfortable side. Most of us have day jobs to keep us in the comfortable zone. Because of this, we will take any and every sale and all the publicity we can get.

Yesterday someone with 13k+ followers retweeted a link to my book. An hour later I sold a book. Was the sale from that RT? I don't know, but it sure didn't hurt. Like I said, we'll take what we can get.

Another helpful thing for us little guys is reviews! Doesn't matter if you leave a master's thesis or  a simple, 'Thumbs up. Good read.' Every review counts. When someone is on the fence about buying a product online, where's the first place they go? The reviews. The more the better-- even if they're varying in opinion. Those reviews are what will make the potential buyer commit or move on.

The final helpful thing is personal recommendations. You read this book. You loved it. Tell your friends. Tweet about it. Put it on the Facegrams and Instabooks, and that weird thing with the little ghost on the icon. Word of mouth is a powerful tool.

It costs you nothing and, believe me, we little guys appreciate it.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Getting Back to Normal

Aaaw, that's cute. That means I was, at some point, normal.

Paige's Story has been on the virtual shelves for almost a month now and things are going well. I mean, people are buying it, so, you know, could be worse. I'm no where near 'quitting my day job' levels of success, but still, I'm pretty happy.

My first book signing was a huge success and I'm considering having another one. I was also interviewed by the local paper.
I did my best not to bring dishonor upon my family (and the family cow).
I mean, it's hard to screw up questions like, "What is your advice for aspiring authors?" Answer: Get a cat, drink bourbon, and prepare for a lot of self loathing. (Kidding. I didn't say that. I should have, but I didn't.)

Right now, the biggest thing is promoting the book and keeping the sales up or, at least, existent. Existent is good. I'll settle for existent.

The OTHER biggest thing is getting to work on book two. .....which will be happening this week. I have a four day weekend coming up and it's time to sit down and get back to work.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

It's a Book Party!

It's been a busy week.  On Tuesday, as I'm sure you're all aware, Paige's Story was unleashed upon the world. The next day my kiddos had their first day of school.

In the meantime, my husband/manager/cheerleader arranged a book signing at a local cafe. So that's going to be fun!

Then, today, I was contacted by my old elementary/jr. high school to come speak to the jr. high English and Literature classes about what it takes to become an independent author. Answer: Hard work, creativity, and unhealthy levels of whiskey consumption.
You must also be willing to never sleep, possibly go into debt and/or liver failure, and stare into the existential void for at least 3 hours of your sleepless night.

Initial sales have been...good. I mean, I guess they have been good. I don't have much to base them on. But my book is in the hands of more people than I ever expected so I call it a win. I'm going to take a few weeks off and then get to work on book 2 of the Fort Thomas Series. I have a pretty clear idea of what I'm going to do. Just need to sit down and do it.

Anyway, so yeah, sorry for the lack of updates. I'll try to be a little better about them from here on.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Cause of death? Exposure

I'm at the day job today because of reasons (like, I don't feel like being fired, and health insurance is a good thing to have and maintain.). Anyway, a coworker approached me and asked if the book was out yet.
I told her not quite, but showed her first draft of the ebook .pdf that I got back from my designers the other day. She gave it a glance and said, "Hey, why don't you just forward that over to me so I can read it?"

It took me a moment to realize she was dead serious. "Yeah, um, no. That's how stuff gets leaked and plastered all over the place before publication." She agreed that would be a bad thing to have happen. Good, glad we have that sorted.
Then, she went on saying how it's  not a big deal because I'm going to give her the first signed copy. Well, that's news to me. Still, I smiled and said I'd be happy to sign a copy when it came out and told her the paperbacks are $9.99.  Undaunted, she continued, "Yeah, I can't wait to get my free signed copy."

Gentle readers, I implore you, never, ever assume that just because you know an artist, writer, or craftsman in any way that you will be getting free goods/services from them. It's rude.

Publishing, whether independent or traditional, is not a cheap process. Even with the money raised by my Go Fund Me, I'm still paying quite a bit out of pocket. So before I turn a profit on this endeavor I'll probably have to sell a lot of books. Agreeing to tell your friends about it is fine, and I appreciate it, but artists of any sort cannot live on exposure. It makes for a shitty breakfast, especially when the kids want waffles.

"But, A.J.!" you say, "You have a day job! Your husband has a job! Surely, SURELY you can spare one measly copy?"  While, it's true, I have a day job and my husband has a job, it doesn't mean I like losing money for publishing my books. My hope is to maybe make a little extra cash so things aren't so tight all the time. You can't break even let alone profit if you give your work away... no one can. Now, will I give free copies to certain people? Sure, I will. They are people who have been integral in the process. People who have done a lot more than just asked, "So, how's the book going?" every so often at the office.

Artists work too hard and for too little already. Asking someone to create something for you for free is not only presumptuous, it's, as I said before, rude. If your friend/family member/coworker is an artist, be a super cool friend and support them! If you like books, music, comics, cartoons, art of any sort... pay for it. That shit don't come cheap.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

The Biggest Little German Festival

Ever third weekend in July our local German village, Olderburg, hosts one of the best events of the summer: Freudenfest.
It's a two day event with a community breakfast, bike ride, 5k, pie baking contest, German music, beer drinking games, dancing, food... even dachshund races.

It's a great family-friendly event. There are games for the kids and lots of space for them to just run around and play in while you and your friends relax with a cold beer.

And there is plenty of beer. All kinds of beer! All the colors of the rainbow! Friday always features German beer, while Saturday also has the usual domestics as well as the German beers. For those who don't like beer, Ertel Cellars, the local winery, is there with a great selection, and of course there's water and soda pop.

I mean, you're going to need something to wash all the food down. My favorite are the bratwursts and sauerkraut balls. But there are also home made chicken and pork chop dinners, burgers, fries, soft pretzels, corn-on-the-cob, sno-cones, and ,the husband's favorite, chocolate dipped cheesecake on a stick.

Food and beverages aside, Freudenfest is basically a giant class reunion for me. I get to catch up with all my friends and family.

Thing is, at Freudenfest, we're all friends. Let me repeat that: We're all friends. Guy bumps into you and spills your beer? He apologizes and you're cool and say, "Hey, no problem." Because, one more time for the people in the back: we're all friends here! People come from out of state just to hang out and everyone is totally cool. In all the years, I can't recall a single drunken brawl breaking out or anything dramatic like that happening. Everyone dances to polka music, even if you hate polka, dude, you dance. You sing the schnitzelbank song even if the only line you know is "Oh du schöne Schnitzelbank," and you definitely, definitely keep coming back every year.

If you want to come and hang out with all us crazy Germans come on down! I'll be there Saturday evening the husband will be there on Friday.  For more information check out the fest's website.

Ich liebe freudenfest!

Monday, July 16, 2018

Now... We Wait.

After weeks of revision, editing, reading, and re-reading I finally submitted my final draft to Chrissy at Damonza for formatting.

Now I know why authors often say they never read their book again once it is published. I can recite
the damn thing now, and my life doesn't even have to depend on it.

It was almost a year ago that I finished the first draft... more like Labor Day...but close enough. It's strange. When I started writing this I had no intention to publishing it. Paige's Story was just this...thing... I had rattling around in my head since I was in high school. The only reason I wanted to write it all out was so I could just have documented proof that my brain did a thing and it was kind of a cool thing.

I set out to write the One True Draft two years ago this coming November. As it turns out, I wasn't the only person who thought the thing rattling around in my head was cool. So, last year this time when the first draft was finished my husband and all our friends just started talking about me publishing it.

I remember very clearly sitting at the Brackman's Labor Day trap shoot thinking everyone was crazy
for believing I could publish this. But then, everything just became 'the next step'.  The first draft was done. The next step is to send it to beta readers. The beta readers gave their input. The next step was to write a new draft and then send it to a content editor to make sure the story made sense, flowed well, had plot holes... all that stuff. The content editor had his say so, the next step was to write yet a new draft taking all the suggestions into account. The next step was sending the revised draft back out to a couple readers for approval. After they gave their enthusiastic thumbs-up, the next step was to send it to the copy editor to fix the grammar, punctuation, and spelling. After she red-penned the ever loving shit out of it, I just had to fix all the errors.

....then, suddenly, I had a final draft in my hands. All shiny and chrome.  Now
that final draft is going to a professional formatter.

As soon as it's back all I have to do is upload it.

I never expected to get this far. When I started, I never wanted to get this far. But here I am and it's pretty exciting.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

So I Got Myself a Website

Technically, the husband got me a website. He's my agent/web admin. I pay him in pizza and chaste smooches on the cheek.

Anyway, I have a website. It's right here. When the time comes you'll be able to order my book there, read about upcoming events and all that stuff.

In other news, my manuscript is back from the technical editor. I'm currently going through and approving all the corrections (there are many.)

Me no comma so good
I'm also waiting on my final drafts from my cover artist, as well as my web banner. As soon as the banner is done I'll set up a Facebook page and that will be one more thing I'll be hassling you guys about.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

You Can't Judge a Book by Its Cover...But You Will

1 week ago I submitted a cover art proposal to the artists at This is a huge thing for me. It's exciting because it just brings everything even closer to completion. A cover is something visual I can associate with my book. It's what everyone who picks it up or glances at it while shopping online will see. It's the first thing they'll see. It's what's going to make them decide to glance the back blurb or move on. 

"But AJ!" You say, "You were an art student! You can design you own cover!" 

You have a fair point. I did go to art school. I survived 4 years of it and emerged with a piece of paper saying I can draw pretty pictures. And I can. I'm particularly fond of my character sketches and landscapes. 

BUT! Cover art is not illustration. It's graphic design. And I suck at graphic design.

I had my teacher tell me as much as I fumbled through her class back in 2003. Look lady, I didn't want to take your class, the goddamn list of prerequisites made me.

Point is, while yes, it would be cool to make my own cover, I am nowhere near skilled enough to do it. On top of that, I have a day job, kids, ragged, dying shreds of sanity to cling know, the usual.

So I hired a professional. I can't wait to see what they come up with. Don't touch that dial.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

A Taste of Things to Come

With publication looming ever closer, and the world being a giant, flaming ball of shit, I've decided to take a break from doom and gloom and post the back cover blurb of Paige's Story for the masses to check out. Read on and enjoy!

Also, if Paige's Story sounds like something you or someone you know might enjoy, spread the word!

When an explosion levels a secret lab in the dead of night, an experimental computer virus is unleashed on the world invading artificially intelligent workers and soldiers. Once infected, these synthetic humans experience 1 of 2 side-effects: Sentience or Corruption.

30 years later, the military and governments of the world are still struggling to cope with the shock. Synthetics are met with distrust by most, subjugation by some, and acceptance at arms-length by the rest.

To further study the rising sentience in the world’s robotic population, the military has recruited the best and brightest scientific minds to research this mysterious virus. Unfortunately for 13-year-old Paige Bryan, her parents are 2 of those minds chosen, and she finds herself moving to Fort Thomas - a military base full of sentient machines.

When soldiers start to malfunction and a strange little girl arrives, Paige and the scrappers of Ft. Thomas soon find themselves swept up in a mystery that, left unsolved, may mean the end of the already fragile peace between humans and synthetics.

Monday, June 18, 2018

In Case of Panic Attack Break Glass

I had a panic attack today. The Day Job is getting worse and has gone from something I really enjoyed to something I dread thanks to management changes, company downsizing etc... I don't really want to get into it. Regardless, it's put a huge amount of stress on me and in the last 6 months I've had 3 panic attacks. That's astronomical for me, especially since I'm on medication to keep them under control. 

Thing is, people don't know how to react to someone having a panic attack. It freaks them out. I get it. It is an unsettling thing to see. Now I can't speak for everyone, but here's a helpful guide for when I have a panic attack.

In case of a panic attack:

1) Do not ask why I'm freaking out. My brain is a herd of rabid velociraptors on cocaine right now. Chances are I don't know why. Just accept that I am and move forward.

2) Find a cat.

3) If a cat can't be found, offer me some water. Hydration is important.

4) A cat would be nice.

5) Empathize. If you know how it feels to be in my shoes, tell me. It'll make me feel like less of a loser... Because, trust me, I feel like a loser right now. If you don't know how it feels, sympathize. Say something encouraging like "That looks like it sucks. Don't worry, I still like you."

6) Are you sure there aren't any cats nearby? Have you looked?

7) Yes I'm doing weird breathing exercises and probably tensing and relaxing my hands. Let me do this. It helps.

8) Cats have gone extinct and no one has told me, haven't they.

9) I'm probably crying some. Don't judge. Like I said, I already feel like a huge loser.

10) Okay, I'll settle for a dog.

11) Once the episode has passed I will be very tired and likely have a headache. Offering ibuprofen or something like it is appreciated.

This has been a public service announcement.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

And the List Shortens. (sorry, I'm running low on Jenkins puns)

I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'm almost done.

No, Frodo, I said almost done.

Don't get salty, Baggins. Go eat a second breakfast.

I sent Paige's Story off to my technical editor 2 days ago and now I'm prepping my cover art proposal. Once all the I's are confirmed dotted and T's confirmed crossed, it'll be up to Damonza to do the cover and format it.

After that... well, it's go time.

I'm still going with Amazon Kindle Direct publishing. And once it's available, you bet Odin's thundering asshole I'll be spamming everyone with the sales page.

I'm excited and nervous, mostly excited. Paige's story has been in my head since I was 15, maybe younger. It's been started, stopped and started again more times than I care to count. And now, here it is... getting a nice polish and shine and, more importantly, being presented to the world at large.

I may puke.

Pour me a drink.

In the meantime, the husband and I will be getting rewards together for all the supporters of my Go Fund Me and getting a decent author photo taken. (I personally like my pic here or the one of me and the pizza over on Twitter and Facebook)

There are so many people I need to thank. My donors, my beta readers, my editors, my friend Gabriel Beyers for his loads of advice (and for sneaking me free HDMI cables back when we both worked at Comcast...but that's neither here nor there), Peter Clines for his words of encouragement, my husband Ben for his years of working with me and helping me bring this to fruition. He's the best writing buddy ever. My friend and fellow author Paige Gray; our Tuesday coffee and book sessions are always motivational. And my Mom, because she is technically the one responsible for all this.

Anyway, I'm super excited to be nearing the end of my first publication.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Jenkins, Bring Me a Progress Report

One of my favorite past times is bouncing ideas for my books off my husband over a glass or 3 of whiskey. By now, he's almost as familiar with my characters as I am, so he can tell me if any idea I have sounds out of character for anyone and stuff like that.
And The Husband makes Three

Lately he's been going over my editor's comments chapter by chapter and we've been working through the issues together. This has resulted in a lot of progress on my rewrite. Like, a lot. Like, I'm probably almost done.

Now, the thing about my editor is that he is NOT the audience for which I am writing. I already know my target audience digs it (at least the ones who have read it do). With that in mind, he not only pointed out all the story structure problems (things like plot holes, under development, over development, head-hopping) but he also pointed out all the stuff he personally didn't like. I don't want to say he trolled my book, but he gave me the kind of feed back that Comic Book Guy might give. The "Um, excuse me but..." type of stuff.

This is NOT a knock against my editor. This is kind of what I need. I need someone to point all that junk out so I can address it before I publish. I've changed dialogue, the timeline of events, and expanded on things I hadn't given much thought to. This has resulted in a much smoother, more coherent story. And I am pleased.

 Now, will I change every qualm he has with the story? No. He is a fundamentally different reader than me. There are quite a few things I'm keeping that he dislikes, because my target audience likes them and I like them.

I'm so close to being done with the rewrite. A few good, long writing sessions and I should be done. I can't wait. I am really proud of this thing I've created and I can't wait to share it with everyone.

In the meantime, check out what the husband got us!
Cool, huh.