I’m so excited and grateful for this success for both Aileen and me : ) Thank you to everyone who supported me through this book launch!!!! <3 I think this calls for some celebratory release week sheet cake + champagne!
It’s still Monday (in my timezone) and I’m sneaking in a blog before I turn into a pumpkin. Today, I’m coming at you from the rolling hills of Los Angeles, where I’ll be hanging up my passport for a year or so.
1. Los Angeles
I’m so excited I get to stay in LA! The food is crazy delicious, I can get involved in any class/activity imaginable, and I have so many new cafes to explore. It’s such a cool city, I have zero worries about getting bored… But I am kind of apprehensive about this whole parallel parking thing. I remember the last time I parallel parked (Five-ish years ago in Pittsburgh?) and gave my passengers a solid twenty minutes of laughter. But that was before I had a back-up camera, so maybe now it will be okay??? (crossing fingers)
2. Wait But Hi
I ventured out into society over the weekend (THE SHOCK) because I got chosen to join one of the Wait But Why meetups taking place in LA. Unfortunately, Tim Urban did not show up in person (so I couldn’t propose marriage yet), but I met 15 super interesting people and we shared a lot of wine and great conversation. Writers, directors, film editors, divers, MBAs, actors, musicians–such an awesome and eclectic group!
3. Tessa Dare
Melissa at LilyElement got me started on Tessa Dare, and Tessa is yet another reason I’m excited about LA–she’s giving a talk at the local RWA chapter next weekend. How lucky am I?? Her Spindle Cove novella Beauty and the Blacksmith is free for a few more days, so check it out if you’ve never read her before. Her stories are always cute and hilarious with satisfying HEAs. They make me feel so cozy and happy!
4. No Man’s Sky
These are the times I’m bummed to be a Mac owner. The reviews are coming out for No Man’s Sky and people are saying it has a boring resource gathering aspect, but I’m sitting over here like I LOVE BORING RESOURCE MANAGEMENT GAMES AND I WANT TO NAME PLANTS. Since I can’t just pop out and buy a gaming PC, I’m killing time until the Mac port release by watching playthroughs on YouTube. I highly recommend Shirley Curry’s gaming channel. She’s a grandma who her subscribers as “grandkids.” It’s TOO CUTE. “Oh no!” Shirely gasps. “That’s too far away. Oh no! I can’t go there. How far away is the planet?”
5. Book Finished!
Maybe I should’ve led with this, but QUANTA RESET IS FINISHED!!!
The file is on its way to be converted for Netgalley. YESSSSS!
I’m so excited to be done. It kind of came down to the wire with this deadline (it always seems to…) but I’m happy to share the story with you all and I hope you love it!
I’m so happy!!! A friend told me that my teeth look perfect now—like American teeth. So I’m glad I can finally represent my country with my mouth? Also because:
2. It’s time to leave Thailand
It’s been fun. I’ve made friends, I’ve gotten my teeth tortured into shape, and I’ve eaten enough khao soi and coconut shakes to last a lifetime (or at least a few months). As much as I’ll miss Chiang Mai, I’ve had one too many massive cockroaches in my apartment the past few weeks and it’s time for a break from nature.
I’m just bummed that I won’t have time to see this movie. I’ve seen the trailer half a million times while sitting at the coworking space at the mall, and I feel called to share it with you all. It’s about a haunted classroom and it may be the best zombie film ever made:
3. Next stop: Los Angeles
I’m so excited to be heading back to LA! I get to hang with Aileen, finally meet her baby, and hopefully eat lots of donuts while I’m in town. I also get to reunite with The Nook—my #1 favorite working spot at Aileen’s house. Not sure if it’s weird to have a favorite spot in someone else’s home, but The Nook has a long list of fans—it’s just so cute and sunny!
The Nook is my Happy Place
We’re signing up hosts for the Quanta Reset blog tour. Jump over to YA Bound if you’d like to join in on the fun : )
5. More Quanta
Aaaaand, hold tight for more Reset news. The book should be live on NetGalley by the end of the month, but subscribe to the Ink Monster Newsletter if you want to be the first to hear about it. You should definitely get on the list regardless, because I heard a rumor that Shattered Pack news is coming soon, too ; )
Not that I’m biased or anything, but Meredith’s story is awesome. If you’ve enjoyed the Alpha Girl Series so far, you’re going to love reading from her POV.
June in Thailand means it’s finally cooling down and we’re into the rainy season–so 95 degrees instead of 100+ every day, and lots of regular showers to keep the air clean. I’ve been bouncing around, I’m so happy. THE SKY IS BLUE AND LIFE IS WONDERFUL!
Other than the weather, here’s what’s up:
Now that I can breathe, I’m back to work and revising a couple projects–one for me, and one for Ink Monster ; ) Quanta Reset is really coming along and our new team editor is amazing, so expect good things in September!
2. America bound!
I’ll be back in America before Reset releases. I’ve loved my time in Thailand, but I’m looking forward to being on home soil for a while. I’ve been in Asia for most of the time since January 2012, when I first moved to Taiwan. I totally wasn’t planning to be abroad so long. So many bagels to eat to make up for lost time!
My ten-year college reunion was this weekend and I missed it. But I didn’t really miss anything. I’m still close with my four closest friends from the good old class of 2006, and as much as it would be fun to see what everyone else has been up to, I’m okay with losing touch with acquaintances. Being abroad has definitely taught me that the important people make time for you, and you have to do the same. Otherwise, it’s okay to grow apart–there just isn’t time to stay friends with everyone. Plus, reunions are weird.
Best of the class of 2006! They couldn’t get rid of me if they tried.
I backed Niche on Kickstarter and have been playing the alpha game–it is so cute and it’s exactly the kind of repetitive fun I like as a break from writing. I’ll let you all know when the final version goes live on Steam. Until then, I’ll be busy trying to breed purple tiger-striped antler babies.
This is probably the most important post I’ll ever write and it’s VITAL that you follow my recommendations.
K-drama means Korean drama. They’re serialized TV shows that South Korea cranks out like hotcakes, and they are pure magic. Dramas come in a huge variety from historical to paranormal, but they share a few common features–the most important one being romance. Whatever else is going on, there’s always a cute, sweet love story. If you like reading romance, then you’re going to love watching K-dramas.
To enrich the lives of my readers, I’ve decided to share this list of (a few of) my favorite dramas. Enjoy, and I apologize in advance for all the hours of your life you’re about to spend binge-watching.
The real estate is valuable on my favorites list, but I’m recommending EXO Next Door first so you can dip your toes into K-drama. The episodes are a manageable fifteen minutes each and the series hits all the right comedy and romance notes as a famous boy band drops into the heroine’s life.
Also, EXO. If I were currently 13, my bedroom would be plastered with EXO posters.
The Heirs was a huge recent blockbusters with a cast of mega-stars. It’s basically Cinderella set in contemporary Seoul. You’re going to know exactly what ‘second male lead syndrome’ means after this. Just embrace the inevitability that you will fall in love with Kim Woo-Bin. (If you like it, try Boys Over Flowers)
Another contemporary. Oh My Venus is a weight loss story, but the issue is treated in a way that doesn’t make me want to chuck my laptop–focusing on the heroine’s health instead of her exterior. I adore every person in this cast and the romance is totally adorable. Must. Watch.
This one is a full-on historical w/ a gender-bender twist. The heroine disguises herself as a guy to survive, and ends up attending an all-male university. She’ll get executed if she’s caught, but her super-cute roommates/love interests aren’t going to let that happen. The male leads are so on point it’s ridiculous. (If you like it, try Rooftop Prince and Dae Jang Geum/Jewel in the Palace)
Contemporary gender-bender. This is one of the most popular K-drams of all time–so much so that it has Japanese and Taiwanese versions. The heroine is a nun in training who ends up joining a boy band posing as her twin brother, and if you can think of a better premise than that, I hope you’re writing screenplays in your spare time. (If you need more gender-benders, try Coffee Prince and To the Beautiful You)
That’s all (for now…) but I hope you try watching a few of these. OR if you’re already a K-drama pro, share your favs with me! Cheese in the Trap and Descendants of the Sun are next on my to-watch list, which I will get to the next time I’m not in write mode… So maybe ten years from now ; __ ;
Last year I blogged about digital nomads, wondering why more fiction writers don’t take up the call of the road. After a year bopping back and forth between Asia and the U.S., I want to update my thoughts and give you a peek into the reality of my life as a digital nomad.
In the abstract, ditching the 9-5 to travel and write full-time sounds like living the dream. Beaches! Exotic locations! So much inspiration all around! There’s a whole niche of travel bloggers trying to sell this dream, and they’re funding themselves by getting other people to buy in.
Here’s the real deal about the beaches and inspiration bit: 1) I hate sand. 2) Nothing is exotic. I feel more at home in Taipei than I do in Texas. And 3) Inspiration is great for a first chapter, but it doesn’t get a whole book finished.
I’m always posting my desks on Instagram. I get to write at some of the coolest cafes around Asia, but I’m guessing your corner Starbucks has a selection of equally flat and lovely tables to work at.
The life I’ve chosen has tons of advantages–low cost of living, no cooking when street food is cheaper, and a level of cultural immersion that keeps my brain churning–BUT there are a few massive downsides.
1. Distractions. Today I should be writing, but I’m blogging and then I’m going to go to the Sunday market, because I want fried coconut puffs more than I want to sit down and work. Tomorrow I’m planning to write, but instead I could book a spa day for cost of a dinner at home. I could also play with elephants on the spur of the moment if I felt like it. That level of freedom is both exciting and dangerous.
2. Distance. I’ve talked about feeling distant from friends and family before, but being on a different timezone than everyone I’m working with makes accountability a big challenge. The twelve hour time gap puts me out of sync, and it’s real easy to let things slide. REAL EASY.
3. Self-discipline. Adding points 1 & 2, self-discipline becomes essential to being a successful digital nomad, and it’s something I struggle with daily. When I have a raft of distractions and everyone who could call me to task is sleeping… It’s not that I don’t want to write. It’s just that writing is a mental challenge, and there are so many things my instant gratification monkey would rather do instead.
Since last year, I’ve met a few fiction writers living in and traveling through Chiang Mai. Inevitably, they have a certain level of drive. They can shift aside the distractions and buckle down on whatever project is due. They’ve also built a foundation before booking plane tickets–either establishing a pool of freelance clients, or locking down another revenue stream. I also know of people who hit the road with no backup plan or set income. Those types tend to want the digital nomad lifestyle more than they want a specific career.
That seems absolutely bonkers to me. There’s something to be said for the digital nomad experience if that’s what calls to you, but if you embark on the travel adventure of your dreams without a goal in mind… Temples and Pad Thai get boring eventually. Ask the locals. Or ask yourself–how often do you do touristy things or adventure around your home town? Once the wonder wears off, you find yourself in a routine, and if you don’t have a reason to get up in the morning, friends and home and familiarity may start to seem more compelling than musty hostels and a sea of interchangeable backpacker buddies.
I think my life is very much a ‘grass is greener’ situation. It sounds sublime that I get to travel and write and nothing else, and so many things about this lifestyle keep my engines purring, but it’s not all peaches and champagne. I have to book a trip for May and I’m dreading making the reservations. Can you imagine? I can go wherever I want, and I still don’t want to book because every trip means time lost in travel, sucky layovers, and an escalation of the mental battle between productivity and distraction. I’m not so jaded that I won’t have fun on that trip, but if I went back in time five years, I’d think the current me was crazy.
Yes, I can make you jealous with my pictures and spa days, but ultimately, this lifestyle involves sacrifices. I’m missing reunions and the baby showers and weddings of dear friends. I haven’t seen most of my extended family in years. This life was my choice and I’m not complaining, because I could go home this week if I really wanted, but it’s important to remember that living the dream means living A dream–not necessarily all the dreams at once. It’s also more work than the Instagrams would lead you to believe.
As soon as you stop cropping out the tourists, the glamour starts to fade…
If you think being a digital nomad and working on your masterpiece novel (or your startup or budding freelance whatever career) sounds amazing, then all power to you, and please come have a Thai tea with me in Chiang Mai. Maybe this lifestyle sounds like a nightmare. Or maybe you’d love to try a few months abroad, but just can’t or are too afraid to get started. Fear not. The pages aren’t any easier to write on the other side of the ocean. Whether you’re sitting at your dining room table or at a hipster cafe in Seoul, the words don’t come any faster. Your problems definitely won’t disappear on the road, and as romantic as visiting Angkor Wat sounds, I’m guessing your fantasies of Cambodia don’t factor in a hoard of tourists poking you with selfie sticks. Not as glamorous as advertised.
That’s the reality of my life as a digital nomad. Join me or don’t! Just remember that life doesn’t improve on a curve proportional to the number of stamps in your passport. It’s all about the drive and dedication you bring to your work–whatever and wherever that is.
Quanta has escaped her laboratory prison, but that’s where the good news ends.
Life at the Shadow Ravens’ compound is a disaster. She’s drowning in visions of the dark pasts and darker futures of her fellow Ravens and is plagued by her own panic-inducing memories, but Lady Eva still expects her to “train” and “participate in missions.” Plus, the food tastes like burnt plastic.
The only bright spot is her genetic pairing to the brilliant Altair Orpheus. As their relationship grows, she’s positive that chemicals aren’t the only things drawing them together—although chemistry is definitely involved.
While they test the limits of her game-changing new ability to reset time, word arrives from Eva’s agents: Doctor Nagi is still experimenting with her DNA. If he succeeds in duplicating her power…
Forget the Shadow Ravens. The whole world is toast.
I didn’t think this was ever going to happen, but it’s happening. I am touching a marketing topic–not with a ten-foot pole, but with my grubby little fingers. INSTAGRAM!
There’s a ton of info out there on how to market on Instagram, but most of it isn’t for writers. How can a writer use Instagram??? We’re word people. We write in dimly lit cave dwellings that don’t photograph well. We lead boring lives shackled to our computers.
I have bad news. If you’re self-promoting, no one cares anyway. I love this Delilah Devlin post on the topic of self-promotion. No one cares about your book (or my book) and you can’t use social media to interact with your fans when your only fan is your mother (thanks for reading my blogs, Mom). Everyone has a book. Everyone is writing a book. Many of the writing/reading hashtags on Instagram are filled with people self-promoting. They might follow you, but odds are they’ll unfollow if you don’t follow back because they’re just trying to sell their own books or services. That’s not helpful to anyone.
How do you get Instagram famous? Already be famous. Or be pretty and post a lot of selfies. It can be a really superficial platform if you let it. At least fifty of my followers are ghosts, and most of my likes are from bots. If I wanted to boost my ego, I could go ahead and buy a few thousand followers. Or pay for a bot to follow and unfollow accounts and inflate my numbers that way. But that’s wicked fake.
(Obligatory post soundtrack. Jason Derulo CAN make you famous on Instagram.)
So why bother? You might not want to. I just really like Instagram. I like playing with the filters and sharing pics of my noodle bowls and where I’m traveling. Someday I’d love to use it to repost fan-generated collages and #bookstgram posts, but until then, I like it as it is. It’s fun to see what the bloggers I’ve made friends with are reading and up to. It’s fun to browse through the writing memes. It’s fun to follow Etsy shops and foodies in my city and look at things that have nothing to do with being an author.
Instagram as a beginning/mid-career writer is all about making connections. That’s it. That’s the secret.
When most people talk about marketing books on Instagram, they go straight to photography. Take better photos. Learn composition. Use editing software. That’s great if you’re a photographer and/or interested in photography, but I’m not. I don’t want you to like my pictures. I want you to like my books and the more time I spend learning to take photos, the less time I have to write and improve myself as a writer.
Here’s the best news in this post. If you’re an author, the quality of your photos makes close to zero difference. Look at John Green’s Instagram. He’s already a big name, but I don’t see him posting from a photo shoot. It’s selfies, movie stars, vacations–a slice of his life.
A photo posted by Colleen Hoover (@colleenhoover) on
For these big names (and all us writers) followers are readers–not photography fans.
If you want to play in #bookstagram, that’s a whole different ballgame. You’re gonna need some white bookshelves, twinkle lights, a crate of Funko vinyls, and a studio-quality lighting setup. The pictures on there are fun and beautiful, but incredibly staged. It’s mostly where the readers party. If staging photos plays to your strengths and you enjoy doing it, then go to town! It’s definitely one way to build a following and I will for sure like your pics.
Unfortunately, a following doesn’t sell books. Neither do double-taps. The equation is much more complicated than that.
When we talk about writers who are killing it on Instagram, the examples people give are always their favorite writers. Is Colleen Hoover killing it on Instagram? Absolutely, and she gets a ton of credit for putting so much of her personality into her photos. She’s also a break-away success and at this point in her career, she has a bajillion loyal fans who’d probably make her successful on most other platforms, too.
Which writers are specifically good at Instagram?
Adriana Locke is a perfect example. I have never met or interacted with her so there is zero bias when I say that she has got this Instagram thing Locked down (no pun intended?). I found her account through bloggers–in one of her book acknowledgments, she thanked her loyal Insta-followers by their handles and the bloggers were freaking out with appreciation and love. Isn’t that beautiful? Isn’t that perfect? Sure it was also a marketing move, but it felt totally authentic because Adriana’s account is REAL. It’s her life. It’s pictures of her kids, book quotes, memes, fan reposts. Nothing about it feels staged. She’s just interacting with fans and living her life, and that’s exactly what I want from an author on Instagram.
A photo posted by Adriana Locke (@authoradrianalocke) on
Another case study is Nicole Peeler. And this one is definitely biased because Nicole was my MFA mentor, but still, I love her posts. They’re all booze, humor, and her adventures (and foodventures) through Pittsburgh–and that matches perfectly with the content of her books. It’s marketing in one way and yet it feels totally natural. You like looking at this stuff? You’re going to love my stories. Boom.
A photo posted by Nicole Peeler (@nicolepeeler) on
Or Simone Pond. I have no connection to her, but I love her feed. It’s like, this is my dog, this is my desk, this my exasperated face when some dude is talking at the cafe. Plus reposts of other people’s pretty #bookstagram posts. It’s real. It’s doesn’t feel like anyone is forcing her to Instagram for marketing purposes, but it’s also not trying to image craft some glamorous picture of writing life that I don’t believe. It’s just the writer trying to do this whole writing thing, and I respect that. I will follow that.
Readers (especially book bloggers) are tired of having books shoved in their faces. If you use millions of hashtags you look like a spammer. If you’re all BUY MY BOOK, FOLLOW ME, GIVE ME ATTENTION, people will block you. Even being good at Instagram doesn’t sell books–but being a PERSON–showing that you’re not a marketing bot–makes you a lot more likable, approachable, and interesting as a writer among so many other aspiring and working writers. In this over-saturated ebook world, that’s the best you can do.
It’s a paradox. Social media can be a great tool for putting yourself out there… And yet it can also be a huge, useless time suck. So here are my tips for using Instagram as a writer:
Interact. Don’t be a snob who doesn’t follow anyone. Also don’t be obnoxiously posting follow for follow requests (I will block you so hard), but if you’re going to use the Instagram, use it as a platform to make connections. Until you already have a legion of fans, that means geeking out over books that aren’t yours and showing your other interests. Yes, share news if you have a book on sale or a special blog post you want to pimp, but that shouldn’t be the focus of your feed.
Be authentic (not Socality Barbie authentic). I don’t want to follow staged. I want your version of authentic whether that’s a blurry photo of your fourth cup of coffee on deadline or a perfect pastel shot of your workspace. Although fair warning, we’re all going to know if you don’t really have a perfect pastel workspace ; ) (See Jenny Han or R.S. Grey for examples of photo-savvy authors who are believably authentic). The reasons people will like you are probably the reasons they’ll like your books, so show yourself and your style, whether you’re perky or macabre or a sarcastic mess.
Have reasonable expectations. You will not get 10k followers overnight (unless you pay for them). You will get followers one at a time, and if you’re doing it right, you probably have to get to know them first. Have a little romance, y’know? Don’t elevator pitch on a first date. Even if you do get five million followers and ten million hearts, you’re not going to sell fifteen million books, so take a step back. Don’t obsess over followers and likes that mean nothing. Wouldn’t your time be better spent writing??
Be practical. If you don’t like Instagram, don’t use it. You don’t have to be on every social media platform and Instagram is no exception. If you take terrible photos and you think it’s a stupid platform, then stop wasting your time because anything you post is going to smack of I’m just doing this to market myself because everyone says I have to do this to market myself. Experiment with something else if you must. Try vlogging, Vine, Bubbly, Periscope, or the million other platforms that are so new and cool that I haven’t heard of them yet. Find what helps you showcase your talents, but doesn’t feel like a chore.
Be a writer. You are not a photographer. You are a writer. I repeat. You are a writer. You are not using Instagram to connect with photographers or food bloggers or to become a celebrity. You are using Instagram to connect with readers. Readers will follow you because they like you and/or because they like your books. Not because they like pictures of your books. Not because you have a slick brand.
Have fun. Post your dinner. Post selfies. Post your bookshelves. What is much less important than how. Tell me a story in the captions. Share excerpts in your handwriting. Share videos. If you’re a great photographer, then use those skills. If not, do something else that only you can do. Because if it’s not fun and it’s not selling books, then why are you bothering?
And now it’s your turn. Who are your favorite authors on Instagram? Who do you think we should all follow for Instagram knowledge? Please share in the comments!
Hi from Northern Thailand! It’s 8 a.m and I’ve discovered the secret to productivity. Do you want to know???
Surprise. It’s ROCK HARD BEDS.
When I’m home in the US, I sleep on a cloud comprising several layers of down, more novelty pillows than you could count, and piles upon piles of snuggy blankets. My bed in Thailand is like sleeping on a rock. A boulder topped with one paper-thin sheet.
My hips are bruising from this nonsense, but I’m not changing a thing. Why torture myself, you ask? Because when I pop awake at 5 a.m. I am SO READY to get up and get to my computer. Staying in bed lazing around sounds like a miserable idea for the first time ever. As much as I miss the cloud bed, I’ve discovered that I’m happier being productive than I am being comfy.
Wooden desk chair = heaven compared to the flat torture sleeper.
Productivity is good for everyone. I’m reading lots of Shattered Pack and Cursed and finally getting back to work on Quanta Reset, which is a wonderful thing. The past few months were a bit rough at Dodge Ranch, so my mind has been twisted up like a ball of yarn scraps–now I’m FINALLY getting back to doing what I love and it feels amazing.
And the big news for you guys [[[drumroll]]]: the Quanta Reset cover reveal!!!! I can’t wait to share this one because it came out so SO COOL. I’d just show you now, but I’m not allowed thanks to a blood pact with that little blueberry of an Ink Monster mascot.