Writing for Whom and for What?

So I’ve written on this blog before on how I feel about writing for money first. I’m against it. My goal is not to have my writing be about money. If I can get a comfy deal where my writing is mine but I get paid for my books, I’m sure I won’t say no, but my I want my writing to be about writing first. It is part of the reason I have chosen to be an independent author.

Even though I write my books for myself, I do consider my audience from time to time. As an author, I do want people to read my books and I care that they do. But I wonder if we live in that twisted a world that I’d have more readers if I was actually charging people for my work and promoting myself in such a way to gain the appeal associated with publishing for pay.

Do readers associate quality with a price tag because we live in such a capitalistic society?

Or could it be that the best way to get people to not read my work at all is to put a price tag on it?

Would people rather read a free book? Or would they feel better or like the book is worth it if it sounds good and they had to pay for it?

Right now, my novels are free with the exception of one of the first books I published electronically on Smashwords (which I am intending to do some work on anyway).

I keep thinking, Shannon, you have to live. You have to get back on you feet. If you can get paid for publishing all the stories you work so hard on, why shouldn’t you? Every one else is. There’s a smaller annoying voice at the back of my head (sometimes at the front) that keeps saying, You deserve to live better than you’re living. You deserve to be paid for your work. You could be one of these bestsellers and New York Times-whatevers. You write well enough to stand among the authors people make such a big deal about. So why don’t you? We don’t live in a world where you can stand by your morals and beliefs and pay your bills. We don’t live in a world where people will engage your work out of a genuine love for reading and stories. You’re wasting your talents.

Those things do pass through my mind, especially when people look at my like I’m crazy when I tell them I only sell hard copies but my novels are free for people who come looking for them online. I try to make people aware of that immediately because my first goal is not profit. Other Black people and Black readers want to see me succeed but its always so obvious that they don’t think I can do that without being traditionally published or participating in publishing for profit.

What is success? I try to define it for myself. In my fantasies, it’s gaining a solid readership and owning my intellectual property. Like a lot of writers, I wouldn’t complain if money somehow came with that. Money just isn’t my first goal. Can you be recognized as an author without fundamentally tying money into what you create? I’ll keep writing regardless of the answers to these questions. ~S.T.

Surprise! Halloween Publication

Halloween is upon us and I decided to begin serializing Alexandria’s Knight for the occasion.

Soon-to-be demon Queen of the Underworld, Alexandria has one little problem standing between her and the crown–and his name is Adriel. Dria has loved Adriel since she was a teenager and there’s no one else she wants by her side and in her bed. However, having been her protector for years, it seems Adriel only sees her as his charge, nothing more. In order to fully ascend to the throne and claim what is rightfully hers, Dria must be mated by midnight of the next equinox. She has until then to prove to Adriel that her feelings are real and that they are meant to rule the Underworld together.

Stop by Wattpad to read and vote on this story. (Voting isn’t necessary but I’d appreciate it 😉 )

My Interview at the 2021 National Black Festival

I said I was going to post last year’s interview but I’m not sure where it is and its kind of a hassle to find your time stamp in a video that has a bunch of other author interviews in it. I’m making up for not posting last year’s by posting this year’s on time.

In no way was I prepared to talk to a person live tonight but I did my best. You can see my interview for the 2021 National Black Book Festival by fast forwarding to 01:01:00. ( I wanted to put the video on here but I have a regular old account and adding videos is a premium feature, sorry!)

–S.T.

2021 National Black Book Festival

It’s that time of the year again! Time for National Black Book Festival. Its virtual again this year because of Covid-19 and ready to go.

I will be presenting virtually Friday, October 22nd at 9:25PM Central Standard Time via Zoom. Here’s a link to the fabulous lineup of my fellow authors and presenters.

To be completely honest, I had no intention of participating this year. Buutttt, as the time for the event rolled around, I still hadn’t made up my mind so I have decided to participate since I’m already registered. I figure it is better to participate than not.

For more information about the event, please have a look here at the video and here on the main FB page.

I am currently serializing my fantasy romance novel, Miradey, on Wattpad. Please stop by, read, and rate!

Typos, typos, typos

Wearing all the hats–author, editor, proofreader, cover artist, publisher–is hard. My friend says I’m being hard on myself. The trouble is I went into writing my novel, Oracle, wanting it to exceed expectations for a self-published novel, especially since I’ve always gotten the impression that the publishing industry and reading audiences tend to think and operate as if self-published work is of low quality and its writers have low standards.

Oracle is a really great story and I’m in the process of editing the novel for Wattpad, Pressbooks, and print. If I could pay an editor, I’d have one, trust me. I know typos can take away from reading a perfectly good book and I am the type of writer who cringes at typos and grammatical errors. So as I read through Oracle again in printed format, I’m finding errors I never noticed before, along with things I’d just rather change. I was so excited about participating the 2019 National Black Book Festival that I may have printed the book before it was totally ready. At least that’s how it feels in retrospect.

I am trying not to be hard on myself, but I won’t be satisfied until I know I’ve done as good a job editing as I can so that this novel is the best reading experience possible.

Update

This month I am participating in National Novel Writing Month. Writers around the world are writing 50,000 words this month, donating to the cause and participating in virtual events (all virtual this year because of Covid-19). Last year, I wrote about breaking an almost 10-year streak writing and winning. I “lost” by about 7,000 words and I was devastated. This year I’m not doing so good either and doubt I’ll make the 50,000 word limit though I’m doing my best.

Its been a hard year.

I’ve been sick for over a year, including having surgery to have my gallbladder removed. I’ve also moved out of Fresno, California and relocated to Kansas City, Missouri. Honestly, I was starting to feel trapped in Fresno and think its a good thing that I left but relocating is like starting all over again.

This October, the National Black Book Festival went virtual so I’ll be posting my interview soon. So awkward (I’m laughing, don’t worry), I don’t think I interview well.

I started publishing/serializing Miradey, a fantasy romance novel, on Wattpad. Check it out!

Miradey is cursed. It isn’t her fault and no one can save her. She sees no way out of her fate when she is duty-bound to protect her people…especially when she must eventually protect them from herself.
When Benedict Orion discovers Miradey’s name on a ledger of the cupids meant for him, he refuses to give up on saving her. With the help of The Third Dragon on The Hill and a lot of magic, he will reach across time and reality for her.

Infinity Second, serialized on Wattpad

THE WRITING IS DONE!!!

So sit back and read now that I have published the final chapters of Infinity Second on Wattpad. Once I’m done publishing all the chapters, I will label the book as complete. (I wanted to enter this story in the Watty Awards 2020 but its about 9000 words short and I worked too hard on it to go in and fluff it up for the extra words.)

Infinity Second Covers 2

Everybody knows that everybody dies. But how many people can say they live twice but die only once? Nikelle Evans discovers she is a special kind of human called a Mortality.

Morality are human in almost every way…except before they die and see their life flash before their eyes, they have one very long second in which to live an entirely separate life as a different person. After joining the Mortality Investigations Bureau, Nick/Nikelle unravels the secrets behind the death of her mother and what it truly means to be mortal.

Black Writers Weekend 2020

Black Writers Weekend (@blkwriterswknd) | Twitter

I found out about Black Writers Weekend (August 27th-29th) though Wattpad where I currently serialize my work. This year the event was virtual because of the Covid-19 pandemic which was convenient for me since I otherwise wouldn’t have gotten the chance to participate.

Hearing Octavia Butler and Harry Potter basically in the same sentence was a joy for me when it came down to a discussion of diversity for Black authors and how we made limited in our participation in genres like fantasy fiction. Panels I listened to included

  • I am a creative | a Dafina conversation with Donna Hill
  • I Am Creative | A Dafina Books Brunch Talk w/ Mary B. Morrison
  • Panel | Rocking My Black Girl Magic
  • Create + Master a Writing Career with Wattpad
  • Panel | Black Librarians Speak Out

This event was uplifting and I could sit back and do my hair while listening and watching!

National Black Book Festival 2019

Yep, I was there. It was a good learning experience for me. The turnout wasn’t all a Black author (especially a Black fantasy author) looking for exposure could have expected and paid for. Still, I think I’ll give it another shot next year.

Most of the writers this year were children’s author so it was cool to see so many writers talking to Black children and children in general. Including myself, there were three other fantasy fiction authors at NBBF this year. I had at least two people ask if we were the mystery section!

I think I learned to pitch Oracle pretty well and a lot of readers seemed interested in addition to those who actually bought the book. It was very nice to meet A.L. Riley, the author of Eerth Awakening, who was sharing her fantasy/sci-fi book on my right which I’ve had the pleasure of reading after the Festival.

It was a little difficult to get around the room and meet other authors since I had to watch my table by myself without an assistant. Half the time I looked up, someone looked like they might be stopping at my table to look at or talk about my book. The other half of the time I was too nervous I’d miss someone if I left the table. BUT I did manage to meet other authors and publishing professionals.

A.L. Riley,  Eerth Awakening

Mwalim, Land of The Black Squirrels

Dr. Deitrick Gorman, Relaxed & Ready

Ernest M. Fountain, Songs of Poetry From the Heart

Keturah Kendrick, No Thanks

Angela Monay, The Test of Time

Angela Adley, Growing Up Without my Daddy

Edwina Fort, Redemption

Linda Murray, Stop Being The Apple That Fell From The Family Tree

Traci Byerly, Unapologetically Gray

Freddie Smith, Your Birth Is Not In Vain (audio)

I met A LOT of authors and business folks so I’ll name a few more: Claudette Milner, Roderick D. Talley, Julia Royston, Rhonda Lawson, Myran Jones.

One thing I seriously thought about: I have a Kindle and have had an Amazon account since 2001 if I’m not mistaken. Most of the books I read are from the Kindle store though I’m fairly critical of Kindle’s literary content, particularly its romance genre. But KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) does reach a lot of readers so I’ve considered publishing there, just for the sake of outreach.

Don’t forget! Oracle by S.T. Rucker is available to read for free online at Wattpad or you can get your copy on Lulu.com.

Here’s to valiant attempts–NaNoWriMo 2019

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For the first time since 2008, I “failed” at writing 50,000 words during the month of November. By 5:18PM on November 30th, looking at a 7,160 words left to go, I gave myself permission to simply stop.

I admit: I cried a little. I berated myself. I felt adrift and like the world made no sense. I thought, How could I fail at this?  How could I let anything come between me and this fruitful yearly goal?

Let’s be real, this year alone, I’ve had–

  • an incompetent property manager threaten, verbally abuse, and attempt to evict me.
  • had the same property manager protect the upstairs noise nuisance tenants who have harassed and stalked me since I signed my lease last December
  • been harassed at work for over two months to the point where I almost had to file a federal lawsuit
  • ended my relationship with the remaining abusive members of my immediate family
  • been repeatedly reminded that half the healthcare “professionals” in Fresno are useless and shouldn’t be practicing medicine.

This chronic stress level included but was not limited to: food poisoning caused by a co-worker (who also got sick from her tuna salad but saw no connection in both of us getting sick the same day), multiple sinus infections, an ulcer, migraines, anemia, chronic anxiety and panic, 8-day starvation/no appetite, depression, suicidal thoughts and ideation, eight Emergency Room level pain attacks that led to a gallstone diagnosis, chronic indigestion, and vision changes. That’s just for starters and I dealt with all of this by myself while everyone stood by and watched.

After the most recent fiasco with the assistant property manager and the upstairs residents in my apartments and a severe pain attack on Nov 30th at 1:00AM in the morning, I just couldn’t do it anymore.

I know that I did the best that I could under the circumstances. Because I knew that, I gave myself permission to let go of my current streak and JUST SLEEP and recover from the pain attack, depression, and exhaustion. Instead of cowering in shame at 2019’s November failure, I will try to look forward to building a new streak next year. Or die trying!

2ozs1o