Tuesday, July 10, 2018

10 reasons why you should review your favorite indie author's work:

1. If a book doesn't have reviews, people are hesitant. If you like a book, let people know!

People really have no idea how much power their words have. Reviews shall always invite more readers to give a book a chance.

2. Indie authors mean well but often question their work. We give our best but it's always best to know how we're doing.

Self-doubt is real and at times crippling. If you'd like to empower an indie author whose work you enjoy, a positive review goes a LONG way to do just that. 
3. You can be instrumental in getting an indie's book into the hands of another reader and every single reader counts for us.

Odds are high at least one of the books you read this year was recommended by someone. What's quite curious is that odds are you can find those books at book stores or in a variety of ways that aren't readily available to an indie author. Tell people about indie books you love and give someone a secret Santa gift worth talking about!
4. Odds are super high we'll thank you in some way.

We are often very aware of our review numbers on different sites because we don't have people hired to be on the lookout and when we see a positive review, we will probably reply. 

5. We always need reviews. Rarely will you see an indie author boasting of all the reviews that are raining down on his books.

I know not ONE indie author that has the problem of too many reviews! Every review helps. Every review makes a difference. We just hate asking for them. 

6. It's guaranteed that 4 and 5 star reviews will get a #SnoopyDance or a #FortniteEmote

It takes very little to bring us big joy. Don't believe me though. Ask around and you'll see what a small review, a note, a thank you, anything can make such a huge difference. 

7. It helps us grow our hair back after pulling it out while editing.

Seriously, although I'm balding in certain areas, I have no idea how I still have hair some days :D

8. It's part of your balanced diet, burns calories, and is #KetoDiet friendly, plus #GlutenFree

Hey, trendy diets are review friendly too!!

9. Because it wards off evil spirits of self doubt.

We will be consulting to see whether Zak Bagans can confirm the existence of these malevolent spirits to banish them far far away from our muses. 

10. Because you can and it makes ALL the difference.

That's what you don't realize. But it's true. Each time an indie author has someone who believes in them and supports them, it inspires us to push 5 times as hard. 

#ReviewIndies #IndieCommunity #IndieAuthors #IndieBooks

Monday, July 9, 2018

Calling for a Blog Hop #10RandomAuthorGoals

The main idea of this blog post is to invite fellow writers and actually anyone I know to share their random dreams. Not the big goals you're gunning for, but the random things you'd like to experience. The main thing is to keep it random, spontaneous, and fun. 

Beyond the obvious, share 10 things you’d like to happen if you were succesful:

10. Get interviewed by Sean Evans on Hot Ones. Being Puerto Rican/Cuban , I suspect some Spanish cursing would go down while I attempt to tackle 10 spicy as hell wings.

9. Do a cameo in a movie inspired by a book of mine while eating a Cameo cookie.
8. Have enough relevance or success to earn the right to a commencement speech or TED Talk. 

7. Get an Estrada beer or tea blend going.

6. Get a sponsorship from Chiquita Bananas to fund a 00 Bananas scholarship :)

5. Help write a video game concept/script and then don a motion capture suit to appear in it.

4. Have someone surprise me at a Comic Con cosplaying one of my characters.

3. Appear as a guest vocalist on a music track or two lol

2. Have Adriano Zumbo create a dessert inspired by my Daydreams on the Sherbet Shore

1. Write something about #PuertoRico that’ll inspire more people to visit and help our Island out.

How about you? What random goals pop into your head? Share your link below! 

Thursday, July 5, 2018

#Humans4PuertoRico - Helping Puerto Rico in Yabucoa

Greetings kind readers! If you’re here, it means you read the title of the post and would like to help someone in Puerto Rico. I’ve been asked a LOT about how we can help people back on the Island and for some months I’ve been drawing a blank because many foundations either finished what they set out to do or have made questionable use of money donated. It’s a sad thing to say, but unfortunately it’s true. I said I’d only further share a cause I trust and that’s why I’m writing.

Unlike other foundations or efforts, I know who is in charge of this effort, which is why I’m paying it forwards. I’m using the #Humans4PuertoRico hashtag not because I’m the organizer of this cause but in the hopes it makes it easier for me to share efforts I support because I know the people organizing it.

On this occasion, someone I worked with when I was back in Puerto Rico is carrying out efforts to help the municipality of Yabucoa, one of the hardest hit by Hurricane María itself and its aftermath. They are requesting school materials for kids between the ages of 5-17, including the following:
  • Crayons
  • Magic Markers
  • Notebooks
  • Pencils
  • Erasers
  • Pens
  • Construction Paper
  • Loose Leaf Paper
  • White Paper
  • Pencil cases
  • Lunchboxes
  • Other school materials

I have the contact of where to send these materials, but since this is personal information I do not wish to post publicly. If you are interested in sending materials, go to my author pageon Facebook and send me a list of the materials you will be contributing and the sending address so I can notify the organizer and put you guys in contact.

About the organizer: ZB is someone whom I worked with for 7 years. She was always an extremely responsible peer and was always awesome to work with. Beyond her work ethic, she has always proved she’s a standup human and one of the most generous and hard-working people I’ve ever met. This is not someone I’ve heard about or heard from another person. This is someone I know and trust, which is why I’m sharing this post and looking to help in any way I can. Puerto Rico is not just the metro area and a lot of people still need a lot of help.

Important information: ALL materials must be received by August 2 to organize and distribute for the start of class on August 13. Btw, 8/13 is my birthday and unlike other years, if you want to get me something for my birthday, help these people out. Sure I’d love book sales, reviews, socks, bananas, and tea, but I’d rather know kids on the Island are smiling and starting their school year right instead of a book sale. Also, if you’re an author and would like to donate copies of your books, send me a message with amount of copies you’re willing to send. Once I have a tally, I’ll inform the organizer to see if it’s cool to send them along.

Peace, love, and maki rolls.


Friday, June 22, 2018

An Indie’s Fire needs YOU

Did you know that right this very minute you could motivate someone beyond your wildest dreams? It’s true. If by any chance you’ve ever read an indie author’s work, and enjoyed it, the power is in your hand to fuel that person’s fire.

Does it require any additional investment? Well if you’re referring to money, then no. But if you’re talking about time, then yes, although not that much to be honest.

You see, motivation is a funny thing like that. You might ask: what difference can one review make in the life of an indie writer.

The answer: A TON.

In general, people have no idea how hard it is to get a review for your work. And by review, I obviously mean a legitimate review. I will speak in depth in regards to other types of shady reviews eventually, but for now, let’s focus on a genuine and real review. I’ve talked about this before and it’s something I’ll continue talking about because people so often take themselves for granted and just how much of an impact small actions can have, ESPECIALLY on the Writer Journey of an indie author or any indie artist for that matter.

To explain a bit better, let’s see my stats for my books. I’ve been at this indie game now working on my fifth year. I’ve sold a sizeable amount of books, connected with hundreds of people, thrown every fiber of my being into the work, and I post un-monetized randomness all 5 business days of the week to get people to smile. This includes Visual Typos, Teactionary, Tasty Tuesdays, SkyThoughts, Sock it To Me, and the random yet popular 00 Bananas. I connect with people, email thank you notes, never spam, reply to every single comment, and try to have as much fun as possible. I also have people who borderline harass me for Book 3 in the Human Cycle. People seem to genuinely like my work. Yet my reviews are in the lower double digits if I’m lucky.

Some people might say I’m not using the right tactics, not contacting the right people, not searching for those opportunities and all of these are valid points, but I do things my way, hate to pester people for a review, and alas, Only Human has 28 reviews on Goodreads and my next most reviewed books are the Daydreams onthe Sherbet Shore (11 reviews) and Between the Tides (9 reviews). I have 12 books out and between them, most of them have single digit reviews. Not only that, 3 of them don’t have a review to them (For Writing Out Loud, Peace, Love and Maki Rolls, and Pensando en Metáforas). So this means that the lion’s share of motivation honestly comes from within, which should be the case anyways if you choose to be an indie artist. But just one review, one comment, one share that is received and not hustled for or solicited is huge. And although we appreciate a rating, it’s never going to be the same. Sorry, but that’s the truth.

A good review can pump me up when the ink isn’t flowing, when I wonder if the effort is worth it, when I question the how in regards to the things I do. And I don’t keep this a secret. I tell everyone how happy it makes me to show my appreciation. I have dozens of friends who are on the same boat and when we review any work, we don’t hold back. If it’s a pile of dung, you’ll get the truth. But when the books hit the mark, we say so in as many ways as possible. And it fuels us for days and weeks. Hell, on low days, checking an old review can give new wind to our sails. I’m not joking. On Booktube, when people talk about my work, it’s pretty awesome, especially when you listen to a comment where it shows that the person got the concept or paid attention to some tiny detail you thought most people wouldn’t notice. It hasn’t happened often that people talk about my work in a video, but trust me, every single time it does, I’m giddy for days. The same when someone sends fan art or takes a selfie with a book or tells a friend about a book. All things that cost nothing, yet are priceless.

So you see, in your power is the ability to talk about something different from the norm. On your BookTube channel, there is the chance to talk about something that isn’t a trend, isn’t the fad of the moment, although, hell, you could help make a trend. That’s something a lot of people don’t realize. If enough people talked about someone’s work, interest would rise, and more people would give that author a chance. It’s not science, it’s word of mouth and it’s a hell of a lot more effective than a facebook ad.

Share a post, like, comment, all things that can help improve our performance with algorithms, that are so detrimental to smaller authors. Did you read a book you really enjoyed? Suggest it to a friend or a book club. Work at a school? See if it’s something you could recommend to the administration so kids in your class can read. You know why? Because it’s free and it can help someone’s dreams come true. Don’t wait until these creators have a bad day. Seize the day and let them know if their work matters. And if the work sucks, say so as well, but be constructive. All of this feeds the fire and trust me, as indie authors, often times we’re braving the elements while cupping our hands around a small flame. It hurts. It’s aggravating. But that flame is our dream and we’ll be damned if we don’t do everything in our power to keep that light lit. Still, some kindling is always welcome, and some motivational gasoline is much obliged.

Peace, love, and maki rolls

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Separating Kids from Parents is NOT Normal

I have no idea how anyone can justify the things we are seeing in the news. Beyond political pettiness, jingoism, and sheer blindness to amorality, I just can’t wrap my head around separating kids from their parents.

That we see this and still have people justifying, normalizing, rationalizing taking kids from their parents in the manner in which we’re seeing is worrying. It’s past baffling, frustrating, and confusing. I’m worried at the state of madness we’re entering where anything is justified because, well they’re immigrants.


Have we reached such a new low that anything can be justified for the supposed greater good? What does it say of someone who is supposedly Christian who not only turns a blind eye but nods in approval at what we’re seeing?

Do not get me wrong, I’m not naïve enough to think that the media coverage does not have a role in how we're talking about this. But even if it’s skewed towards one political side, that does not change what’s happening. If even one of these cases were real, that would be bad enough, but it’s not an isolated case. It’s a new norm. It’s the new US.

There are a LOT of topics to be talked about with the current state of affairs, but when it comes to immigration, the level of ignorance in general is part of the problem and I am still very ignorant because being from Puerto Rico, I had no idea how hard it is to get US citizenship. People say, why not get a Green Card? Why not apply for citizenship? In these fast-food times, how long do you think it takes to become a US citizen? By the way, I don’t mean people who enter illegally as so many people are quick to mention, as if it’s a cardinal sin against the US. No, I mean professionals with degrees who pay their taxes, are law abiding citizens, and actually contribute to the country. Do you think it only takes days or months? I’ve worked with people from countless countries and the immigration process varies from case to case, meaning that if you're from one country, it's probably easier to get citizenship than another. The process can last a year, or two, or five, or eight, or ten, or more. It can cost thousands upon thousands of dollars and even so, there’s no guarantee. I know people who have either HAD to leave or given up on the immigration process because even with all of what they have to go through, even all the hoops they jump through, they still have to deal with the fact that a LOT of people don't want them in the country.

Regardless of your opinion of immigration and immigrants, the case of immigrant children being separated from their parents and how politicians, officials, lawmakers, and fellow citizens want to normalize this is a new low and by all means, you can stop calling yourself Christian if you are for this. That’s a bold blanket statement but I can’t see any way in which a compassionate God would not only allow, but condone and encourage what we’re seeing as if it’s a good thing. To me, there is honestly no moral gray area on how this is all being carried out. There is no justification where I see this and say, OK I see your point. Calling this a bargaining tactic is even more disgusting and it’s been used in the media and by politicians. And you know what? The only other instances where I’ve heard something similar is from dictators and terrorists.

If you do a search on the topic, it becomes more worrying because people are intensely defending this. "If they entered illegally, it's their fault. The blame is on them. Get out of our country." OK. So you want to deport people because of your beliefs and because someone entered illegally. Why do it in the manner in which they are doing it? I'm not saying you have to give a free pass to everyone and I'm not even talking about the immigration process in general, which has its countless areas of opportunity. I'm talking about how these separations are being carried out and people saying it's not only allowed but correct. That this is just like when someone commits a crime and either the state takes the children or they are sent to their relatives as if it were even remotely close to as organized as they say.

It may be a matter of opinion, but I honestly feel we need to be better than this. And not just a little but A LOT. Alas, people insist on supporting their party no matter what and conveniently turning a blind eye to things they would easily condemn if the same happened to them. It’s all about rooting for your team unconditionally and with this topic and during these times, it’s becoming harder to just accept someone else’s opinion in matters like this.

This isn’t about taxes. This isn’t about guns. This isn't about Social Security or taxing the healthcare system. This isn’t even about immigration. This is about infant children being taken from their parents. Don’t add adjectives. Don’t add categories. Don’t add nationalities. Don’t add immigration status. Take it for what it is. Kids taken from parents. Want to deport them all? That's a different topic and one I disagree with as well, but that's a matter of opinion. Taking a three-year-old from their parents' arms and putting them in a cage is not. That's just messed up and please don't describe it like a summer camp, as some media outlets are. Auschwitz was not a summer camp. Japanese internment camps were not summer camps. Cuban concentration camps in Miami during the 60's were not summer camps and what we're seeing is riding on similar lines. 

Please, don't look at this from a conservative point of view. Don't tell me how liberal logic is flawed because they support abortions but are against deportation or how this is being carried about. Don't tell me that it's the parents' fault. Don't view this from a political or ideological point of view. View this as a human and tell me how you feel about it. I have and I'm telling you right now, this is a far cry from whatever "great" is supposed to mean.