Didn't think I'd need to "spell" that out (bad pun, I know), but if you ever thought proper spelling wasn't important, have a look at the image below.
Part of the fun of writing is having fun with the language. Like bad science jokes (scientists tell the corniest jokes), it's something you can't fully appreciate unless you've got a firm grasp of the subject. For instance, the word: unionize. The same spelling carries disparate meanings in different disciplines, and the only clue as to which is intended is how the word is pronounced -- unionize versus un-ionize. Thus, if you're a chemist, that word means something different than what you would think if you were a plumber instead, as illustrated below.
Everyone has his or her own measure of success. For some that measure is the number of cars in the garage. For others it's the number of push-ups they can do under a minute. But how do you measure the success of an artist? The easy answer is to count the number of zeroes in their bank balances, but that doesn't help us much because it applies as easily to the writer as to the welder. If the purpose of art is to get others to feel, then the degree of success is whether, and how well, the artist achieves this effect.
In the same vein I'd like to share with you something that really touched me and made me feel proud. On March 22, K. T. Bowes of New Zealand reviewed my novel, The Gullwing Odyssey, on Amazon. Ms. Bowes is a bestselling author on Amazon, with ten books to her name. While it's always a thrill to receive praise from others who've been at it longer than you have, what really moved me was this:
I absolutely loved it. I read it in hospital, waiting for my daughter to have emergency surgery and it should definitely have been harder for the author to engross me in anything -- yet he managed it.
These are the moments that make the task of writing (even editing -- ugh!) worthwhile, when someone else says, "That part was really funny," or "I really relate to this character." But rare and special is the instance where someone says, "I was going through a tough time, and your book made me smile."
That, to me, is the measure of a writer's success. That, for me, is why I do what I do.
I would like to extend a heartfelt and sincere thank-you to Ms. Bowes, and wish her and her family strength during their difficult times.
Check out K. T. Bowes's books now available on Amazon, and be sure to visit her blog, The Library Corner, for more great reads. Her latest, Demons On Her Shoulder, published this past Sunday, is a novel of restitution and hope, demonstrating that unique and powerful human ability to build a life from the ashes of destruction, a life without emotional demons.
Marco and friends have thrown their hats into the ring - even those who don't wear hats. Up for grabs is the Royal Palm Literary Award, presented annually by the Florida Writers Association. The RPLA is a premier awards contest, "established to recognize excellence in members’ published and pre-published works while providing objective and constructive written assessments for all entrants" according to the FWA website.
Wish me luck!
See that big silver medal? That's the symbol of literary excellence the judges at Readers' Favorite affix to books they give a perfect five-star rating. And it's going right on the front cover of The Gullwing Odyssey.
What does that make me? Really proud and really flattered.
Readers' Favorite is the fastest growing book review and award contest site on the Internet. It is a recipient of the "Honoring Excellence" and "Best Websites for Authors" awards by the Association of Independent Authors.
On March 10, 2014, the judges at Readers' Favorite published this sterling five-star review of The Gullwing Odyssey:
The Gullwing Odyssey by Antonio Simon begins with a case of mistaken identity that leads to a funny, tongue-in-cheek fantasy tale of epic proportions. Lead protagonist, Marco Gullwing, possesses a unique blend of talent, luck, and the blessings of the gods to get out of intensely dangerous situations that would have discombobulated, maimed, or killed lesser men during his mission to deliver a simple letter.
Source: Readers' Favorite. Emphasis mine.
If you're late to the party and want to know what all the buzz is about, you can get your copy of The Gullwing Odyssey right here. It's available in all ebook formats as well as in paperback, with free shipping on the latter if you purchase your copy from this site.
Want to try before you buy? Sample the first three chapters for free.
Want to meet the characters first? Check out these full color portraits and interviews.
And as always, enjoy!
Why see? Why breathe, even?
Words have power. Words build things that aren't there, flesh out people who don't exist, and make visible that which only the mind can see. They have moved the most stolid of hearts to laughter and to tears. They have fomented wars and invited peace. Words are even so powerful as to prompt feelings in us even in the absence of context. Mention "stink" and already our noses wrinkle up in disgust; mention "love" and see how our skin flushes with warmth.
Words give mass to concepts that men have suffered under, fought and died for. Words like slavery and freedom, words like revolt and injustice.
Words are timeless. Your words speak to your contemporary audience. But they also reach backward and forward in time. Backward, as you are joining that great conversation with every other being who thought to put finger to keyboard, pen to paper, quill to papyrus, chisel to tablet. And forward, because fixed words carry onward for later generations to share in the conversation.
Spoken words serve their purpose well enough, but are fleeting. They're gone the moment they're said.
Written words have permanence.
Writing them makes you immortal.
A milestone. A watershed. A landmark. Call it what you will, The Gullwing Odyssey has reached another.
Back on December 17 of last year, I was ecstatic to share with you the news that my novel broke into Amazon's top ten list, peaking out at #7. Have a look at the screenshot below. As of 3:45 p.m. this past Wednesday, the novel has jumped up another rung to #6.
Once again, I'm flattered and honored. This all wouldn't have been possible without you, the readers, and I sincerely appreciate your support. I'm also a bit intimidated -- though just a bit -- as you've set the bar pretty high. Now worries, though. I won't let you down.
Let's say you've just penned the next worldwide bestseller. Great as it may be, your readers can't want what they don't know exists. Your job as a writer isn't over once your fingers complete the last keystroke. Your audience is out there, eager to read what you've written, but you need to find each other first. And while some of you may cringe at the prospect of posting on Facebook or Twitter, the fact is it's an unwritten rule of the game that you'll have to promote yourself if you are to achieve any success.
This article isn't like others you may have read about author social media and SEO (search engine optimization). Unlike those, I'm going to tell you exactly what you need to do to help get your message out.
Writing is a highly personal activity. Your work speaks for you and reflects on you. Therefore, you are your own brand. Your first task is to identify your brand name. Will it be your name or your pen name? The title of your book or that of the series? Decide on a brand name so your readers -- new and returning -- know what to expect.
Pick a good name -- one that uniquely identifies you and your work, and more importantly, one you can live with. Reputations aren't made overnight, and you'll be working under this name for a long time.
Get Set Up
Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens famously stated that the Internet is "not a big truck. It's a series of tubes." I'd say he's only partly right. Social media itself is like a truck. Your message is its load. You want to get as much of your message across while making the least number of trips. Naturally, the bigger the truck, the more it can carry and the fewer trips it has to make. More efficiency means more time you can devote to writing.
First things first: start a blog. You need one. Not only will it help keep your writing sharp, it is also a tool for getting your message across. I can't stress this enough: your blog is your message. Social media is how you get that message out. Post frequently and regularly. You want to garner a following, but that's not all -- you want interaction too. Be sure to respond to your audience's blog comments promptly and thoughtfully. After all, no one likes to be ignored.
Limiting yourself to one or two social media accounts is like using a wheelbarrow when you've got a big rig truck parked in your front lawn. Do not limit yourself to just a few social media outlets. Open accounts with Twitter, Goodreads, and LinkedIn. Then open Facebook and Google+ accounts, and make pages on both. The aim is to make it easy for your audience to find you. Your readers might have Facebook but not Twitter accounts, or LinkedIn and Goodreads but not Google+, and so on. Don't have them chase you down, because in many cases they won't. You need to go to them.
For each of your social media accounts, assign the same brand-name you devised earlier in this exercise. Your goal here is to have consistency across all accounts so that your readers can find you on several outlets.
Get The Word Out
Now that your truck is loaded up, you need to get that message out. By now you might be thinking: "I just opened five social media accounts; how on earth am I going to make time to post to all is them?" Simple. Integration.
You don't have to post to each account individually, as that would cut into your writing time. Remember, you are an author first, and a social media wizard second. Writing is the end in itself. Social media is a tool for successful writing.
First, sign up for Buffer. It's a free social media integration app that will save you loads of time. Make an account with Buffer and link your social media profiles to it. All social media posts you draft in Buffer will be disseminated to all your accounts at once. Alternatively, you can schedule your posts for a future time.
Next step: syndicate your blog. This means setting up your other accounts to update every time you post a new blog entry. Sites like Goodreads and others allow you to syndicate your blog. When you syndicate, each time you post to your blog, the message can reach several outlets in the time it takes you to post to one.
Remember: The Dog Wags The Tail...
...And not the other way around. Social media can be loads of fun, but it's also a tremendous time sink if you're not careful. I reiterate: you are an author first, and a social media wizard second. Don't get your priorities crossed.
Writing is a conversation. Your words speak to your readers, and your readers respond. Don't speak to an empty room. Get out there and be heard.
Best of luck, and happy writing!
Some of you have asked: "Why is it called The Gullwing Odyssey?" The short answer is that it's the odyssey undertaken by the main character, Marco Gullwing. But there's more to it than just that.
We'll start with the "Odyssey" part. An odyssey is a long journey full of adventures from which one derives knowledge or wisdom. The word and its meaning come from Homer's Odyssey, that piece of classical Greek literature about an ill-fated sea voyage.
It's axiomatic for odysseys that things not go as expected. If everything had happened as Marco had hoped, we wouldn't have much of a story. Nor would Marco (and we, the readers) have learned anything from the experience. What's more, the adventure sure wouldn't have been as funny, if at all. Thus, throughout Marco's journey, everything that can go wrong often does.
The "Gullwing" part is a bit harder to explain. Marco's surname is unorthodox for his ancestry, but it's entirely fitting. His surname is meant to evoke seagulls. Seagulls are coastal birds, keeping with the book's nautical theme. They are capable of soaring for large distances at a time. By comparison, Marco's travels involve long stints of ocean voyages to far-flung locales.
Moreover, seagulls are particularly good at flying, as was famously pointed out by Richard Bach in his classic novella, Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Bach's novella is about Jonathan, a seagull who strives to be so good at what seagulls do best (flying) that he transcends his physical nature to become the perfect seagull. To quote Bach's work:
Most gulls don't bother to learn more than the simplest facts of flight...
Marco is like Jonathan Seagull, but in reverse. He claims he's only good at delivering letters because that's all he wants to do for the rest of his life, and he doesn't think he's terribly good at that, even. He doesn't want to be a world-traveler, or a fighter, and least of all a hero, but he becomes all these things quite by accident, and much to his chagrin.
It isn't until Marco's misadventures are foisted upon him that he realizes he has a lot to learn about the world, and perhaps most of all, about himself, which brings us full circle back around to the odyssey theme.
Don't jump to conclusions -- the sequel to The Gullwing Odyssey isn't ready yet (working on that). I figured I'd share this info with you since I'm collaborating with Darkwater Syndicate on a brand new project that's in the works.
Things have been pretty hectic around here, which is why my Twitter account has been so quiet lately. Darkwater Syndicate is gearing up to introduce a new fantasy author and publish his debut novel, a traditional sword and sorcery fantasy with an ironic twist.
The new project is unrelated to the Gullwing series, but from what I've seen so far, it's a great read. Needless to say, Darkwater Syndicate and I are really excited, and pretty exhausted, over the project. It's still under wraps, but rumors from within Darkwater Syndicate's offices tell of a sneak-peek later this month on their website. The book will be out in late February or early March.
See you at the launch party!