#IWSG Blog Hop–Will I Ever Be Able to Market Myself?

photo-4

It’s that time again. IWSG hosts a blog hop the first Wednesday of every month. Writers get to discuss their doubts and fears they’ve conquered, their struggles and triumphs. Even though writing is a lonely activity, it doesn’t mean you can’t surround yourself with people who understand what you’re going through.

Showing vulnerability makes you strong. If you’d like to read more from bloggers who shared their personal experiences, then please click here.

May’s question–What is the weirdest/coolest thing you ever had to research for your story?

This month I chose not to answer that question. Instead I’d like to discuss my fears on marketing myself as an author. I published my debut novel back in 2013–4 years ago, and I swear I’m probably still at the mediocre level of “marketing” myself as an author that I was back then. I’m proud of my blog. I really am. It has over 200,000 hits. However (there’s always a but), the majority of my hits come from visitors  interested in my INTJ posts. That’s not my readership…I introduced book reviews and author interviews to my blog, hoping to find readers. I don’t have a clue if I met my goal or not of reaching readers interested in the horror and suspense genres.

I’m hit or miss on social media since I don’t use it quite often. I mean, I love twitter but more as interacting with people interested in my favorite tv shows. I feel icky whenever I tweet something about myself. I’m not one of those authors who constantly tweet “buy my stuff!” I hate Facebook. No one ever sees my posts because I refuse to pay anything to boost (or promote) my stuff. I will say that I’ve made a lot of connections with comic book artists and novelists in my Facebook groups. Again, not my readership…The best way I’ve reached readers is through Goodreads. It’s been a slow process but well worth my time. I’ve made genuine connections by being a reader myself on the site.

I need to find a way to create a happy medium for marketing myself. No one will be able to find my books if I don’t share that they are out there. I’m not charming enough to sell myself in person. The only way anyone has known that I write novellas is when someone else spoke up for me ha ha. I’m good at passing out business cards, but I need to create an elevator pitch to sell myself. I’ve been at this for 4 years–I need to do better.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m even in the right field. Instead of creating fiction, maybe I should have been a comic artist or graphic novelist (drawing is my favorite passion)? Or a screenwriter?

I study constantly what works for other authors and then try to implement those strategies. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Knowing marketing is all about experimenting, I don’t mind that aspect. I just wish I could find motivation to promote or market every day. I wish I had that hustle that most self-publishers do.

I need to do better. I will do better. Or will I?…I hate this self-doubt that I have, but I can’t seem to fight it off.

Let’s try this again–I need to do better. I will do better.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

 

#IWSG Blog Hop–Reworking an Old Story

photo-4

It’s that time again. IWSG hosts a blog hop the first Wednesday of every month. Writers get to discuss their doubts and fears they’ve conquered, their struggles and triumphs. Even though writing is a lonely activity, it doesn’t mean you can’t surround yourself with people who understand what you’re going through.

Showing vulnerability makes you strong. If you’d like to read more from bloggers who shared their personal experiences, then please click here.

March’s question–Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?

I believe in Stephen King’s advice of giving yourself permission to write a shitty first draft. I’m talking NaNo where chunks of unusable stuff is added just for word count. I’m talking every scene having ten billion characters in each one, trying to get my full attention. I’m talking the beginnings starting way too early, yet the endings stopping too abruptly.

Let’s just say, my first drafts are a hot mess…

I’ve pulled out really old stories to rework them. Case in point–I published Something’s Amiss in 2014. I had written the first draft back in 2011! I remember because I was working on it when I was teaching creative writing through the ACE (Adult Community Education) Program. A friend had recommended Author House after using the company’s services. I googled them and decided to stay far away! Too many red flags…

So, not really knowing how I could publish my story, I kept it on my flash drive and moved on until years later. I opened up my poor, abandoned, dreadful story and patted myself for not publishing it back in 2011.

There was massive head hopping between Poe and Oliver, scene to scene. I had a bunch of boring scenes (according to the critique partners I had found). I thought I had written a romance, but the romance readers would’ve eaten me alive. Apparently, Oliver wasn’t manly enough, and Poe wasn’t likeable enough.

After getting feedback from two critique partners, I decided romance wasn’t a genre I was interested in writing. I had to do a massive rewrite on Something’s Amiss, deciding women’s fiction was my best bet. No more head hopping. No more boring scenes. Just a man who loves a woman while mourning the loss of his cousin.

After creating my second draft, I found a new critique partner. Someone who liked the genre I was pursuing. She was great. She even gave me tips on how to write sex scenes. If you ever read my book, pages 32-35 are pretty graphic haha.

It was a fun challenge, bringing my story to life. If I would’ve given up on it because it’d be too hard to revise, then that would’ve been my loss. Looking back, I’m happy I didn’t self-publish in 2011 because I still had a lot to learn. Back then, it was a foreign concept to get feedback, then improve my work in progress. I thought a story was complete after I wrote ‘the end.’ It wasn’t until I found Absolute Write Forums that I learned the proper process of writing and publishing. I researched for two years, publishing my debut novel, One By One, in 2013.

Thanks for listening. I don’t think I’ve ever shared that out loud…

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Six Plus One Completed During Women’s Horror Month

Celebrating Women’s Horror Month really motivated me to get my butt into gear with editing Six Plus One, not only edit the darn thing, but finish. Last month, I spent 7.5 hours editing my thriller horror novella. In February, I’ve spent 14.25 hours so far.

Tonight, I can say I’m finally finished! Now, it’s in the hands of my writing buddy Meka. She’s been awesome, already looking over my story once before. We’re both in the 365 Writing Club and keep each other accountable in reaching our writing goals. I don’t know what I would’ve done without her. She had reached out to me when I was in a dark place. My health was plummeting. I was depressed. It seemed like no critique partner would stick around after they got feedback on their own work. I was lost, thinking I’d never be able to publish again. I’m one of those writers who value feedback from critique partners and beta-readers to help improve my WIPs before submitting to editors.

My novella is at 32,326 words right now. When an editor gets ahold of it, hopefully by their comments, my word count will increase. If not, that’s fine too.

When I published my debut novel, One By One, it was meant to be a standalone novel. That was back in 2013. Man, time flies! But, I felt like I wasn’t done with the concept of characters getting terrorized and killed in the woods, one by one. So my sequel idea was born. Alta and her friends are from Voy, the place Kenan and Rae had horrible memories of. First, psycho hillbillies murdered their parents in front of them 10 years ago in their vacation home. Then, their friends are tortured and killed years later.

Alta and her friends are well aware of Voy’s tragic past. What happened 4th of July weekend is mentioned quite often. I’m hoping people will have read One By One first before buying Six Plus One. Otherwise, spoiler alerts!

I’m proud of myself. I’ve been through a lot, taking everything in stride. With Meka’s help, I realized I didn’t need part of the story back in Voy. A decent ending was right after the massacre finding out who the killer(s) is. So, I deleted all of that extra section. It had a different tone than the rest of the story, more quiet, more depressing. I don’t want readers getting bored over mopey situations. I want them sitting on the edge of their seats ’til the very end.

Hopefully, the editor I want will be available when I need her, and hopefully my funds will be okay. Hospital bills are no joke! I’ll find a book cover soon, then it’ll be almost time to publish Six Plus One! I can’t wait. I see all these awesome authors releasing books back to back. I want to join them. 🙂

Soon, I’ll write another post giving more insight into Six Plus One‘s plot and characters. I may even share an excerpt. I’ll also mention how my DIY MFA helped me stay on track with editing my story at a later date. If I can keep up with this schedule, then I’ll be able to release more than one book a year.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

What Writing Has Scared Myself, Wondering Where My Wild Imagination Came From

Celebrating Women’s Horror Month, I’d like to share my personal writing experience. Today I was asked an awesome question: Do you ever come up with anything so wild that you scare yourself, that leaves you wondering where that came from?

My answer–absolutely yes! I really pushed myself to the limit when I was writing Twisted Obsession. I scared myself how easily the words flowed on the page, it’s a pretty dark story. I scared myself how much fun I had writing Miki. Let me tell ya, Miki was a real piece of shit, and I held nothing back. I wanted my readers to feel disgusted by him. No leeway.

But, the most important thing that scared me while writing my suspense novella…how calmly I wrote Chapter 28. I couldn’t believe what I did to the son Jahlin. Some of my beta-readers demanded I change the ending, but I stuck to my guns. How demented and creepy Miki was, there couldn’t be a different ending.

28704404

I remember after writing Chapter 28, I needed to compose myself. I held back tears, fearing what I had in store for Finia next. I felt like a piece of shit because I don’t condone violence. Heck, I’ve never been in a fight before. I’m a peaceful hippie. But, when you write dark fiction, you have to get out of your comfort zone and enter the mind of your villain with no apologies.

That scene was hard for me, but I’m proud of myself. I stayed true to my dark, creepy, obsessive suspense novella. I didn’t chicken out and give a happy ending to please readers.

If you don’t mind spoilers, here’s a sneak peak of Chapter 28:

Miki chuckled and looked at his son, then he scanned the area in the front, back, and sides of the boat. On the lake, they were near an open field, so he had to make sure no one else was approaching. He had gone to the least favorite fishing spot in the area for a reason. Taking a deep breath, he said, “Buddy, do you know how to swim?”

I shuddered typing that, knowing what happens next! If you want to read Twisted Obsessionclick on the title. For all of February, the book is only 99 cents.

For all the writers out there, have you ever been scared of something you wrote? For all the readers out there, have you ever read a scene and felt some way about the author, wondering where that wild imagination came from?

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Sharing an Excerpt of My Crazy Ballerina WIP

It’s post #7 for Women’s Horror Month. Man, time goes fast! Sticking to my promise of showing more vulnerability as a writer, I’ll be sharing an excerpt from my Crazy Ballerina suspense work-in-progress.

If you’ve read any of my books, you know a running theme I love writing about is obsession. My pre-teen Loren character is no exception. After her brother Franco dies, she terrorizes her younger sister Kina. The Carey family will never be the same…

Here’s my excerpt:

In the wee hours of the morning, my feet slid across the carpet in the hallway. I ignored the family portraits hung up on the wall. I walked past Mom and Dad’s master bedroom. There was no point going in because no one was there. They were both sitting on my bedroom floor, probably asleep by now. All night they had taken turns watching over me to make sure I didn’t fall asleep. I made it to the bathroom and turned on the light, then I left a small crack in the door. I did that in case Mom or Dad peeked their head into the hallway. My cover story of having to use the bathroom would sound more real if they saw the light on.

I crept to Angela’s closed bedroom door and opened it. Her Winnie the Pooh alarm clock was the only light in her room. She was snoring lightly. I took a deep breath and placed my hand over my heart. My beautiful little sister. I’d have to keep telling her stories of Franco, so she wouldn’t forget him. I slowly shut her door because I didn’t want to disrupt her peaceful sleep.

I made my way to Kina’s closed bedroom door and balled my hands into a fist. If I was a cartoon character, gray smoke would be coming out of my ears. If Kina had a heart, she would be crying to herself in bed. Or she would be praying near the window.  When I turned the knob, I wasn’t surprised the little brat was sound asleep. Her lamp on her nightstand was still on. Her iPad lay near her pillow.

I folded my arms across my chest, then I stomped to her bed. I wasn’t afraid of Kina, and it was time to prove that to her. If anything, she should be afraid of me. You see, Kina was sneaky. Never in a million years would I have thought she could be so ugly inside. She had that naïve personality that showed innocence. She was probably laughing at how things worked out with Franco. She was probably plotting what to do next. The thing with sneaky people was that they worked on schedules, and sometimes they manipulated other people to do the dirty work for them.

 If there was a war between us, I’d win, no doubt. I wasn’t sneaky. I didn’t plan first. I acted on impulse. And when I think she’s not worth breathing anymore, then I’ll end her life and not even give it a second thought. She could end up like worm food, what she resorted my brother, my best friend to become.

I leaned down. Her breathing tickled my nose hairs. If I didn’t know any better, Kina was smirking. She definitely looked evil.  I whispered, “Kina.” My voice sounded like acid. I wanted to scare the bejeezus out of her.

She yawned and stretched, then slowly opened her eyes. “Loren, I’m happy you’re home. I love you.” Her voice sounded hoarse.

“I hate you.”

Sadness and hurt reached her eyes. What an actress.“Why?” She frowned.

“You know why.”

“No, I don’t. Please tell me.” She hugged her teddy bear, probably trying to squeeze it to death with the black buttons popping off and the cotton oozing from the insides. Franco had given her that Build-A-Bear a few years ago. How dare she hold on to it. It was probably her trophy. Watching Law and Order: SVU I knew  killers liked their trophies to always remember their murders.

I snatched the bear out of the little brat’s hands and threw it on the floor. Kina leaped up. Her mouth was open and her eyes were wide. I leaned even closer to her. “You killed Franco, you little bitch.”

Kina looked like she was gutted. She began crying.

What a joke? She couldn’t fool me any longer.

I pushed her down, so she would lay down again. “If you tell Mom or Dad about our conversation, I’ll hurt you.”

I left her bedroom and let her “cry” alone.

******

What do you think?

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary…Wait I’m Too Scared To Say It Five Times!!!

It’s day three of Women’s Horror Month. When I think of horror, ghosts come to mind. The most popular ghost I know is Bloody Mary. Watching too many scary movies, I believe the urban legend is real. You’ll never see me looking into a mirror and chanting her name five times. No siree.

However, I can definitely write about Bloody Mary. I am a horror writer after all haha. For the past couple of years, I’ve been working on an urban legends novella, on and off. A serial killer terrorizes students on campus using urban legends for motivation.

If you follow my blog, then you know I hardly ever share any work in progress excerpts. Hopefully, by the end of this month, I’ll learn to be more intimate with my blog readers. I hope to show more vulnerability as a writer. So…today I’ll share a scene from my Urban Legends (working title) story.

Here goes:

Surrounded by lit candles, the group of six sat cross-legged in a circle. The floor was dusty, and the lights were off in the abandoned building. The group—three girls and three guys—had brought a full-size mirror with them. They had it leaned up against the wall.

They were in the next town over from Independence University. A group of high schoolers who wanted to seem cool by doing the tradition of trying to contact Bloody Mary on a full moon night.

Unbeknownst to them, someone was already waiting on them in a dark hallway near the room they were in. Dark shadows hid him well. Even if they were to walk past him, they probably wouldn’t notice him. He wore a long wavy wig and a baggy dress with combat boots. He had to look the part of Bloody Mary, even though there was nothing he could do about his male frame.

 His partner, knife in hand, stood in the other hallway. No matter what—these six were trapped, a fatal trap.

He trusted his partner, no questions asked. That person wanted him to become a famous author and would do anything to support him. There was nothing holding him back.

A simple Google search had helped him plan for tonight. The group had blogged about trying to summon Bloody Mary as part of their high school senior hazing. They thought they were daredevils. Yeah right. If they were true daredevils, then they wouldn’t be stalling all night.

His right thigh was starting to cramp. He’d been standing still for an hour straight. He could only imagine what his partner was going through. Probably had to pee due to a small bladder.

Since the building was abandoned, the floor was weak. Any movement would cause a loud creak. If the teeny boppers heard it, then they’d be on high alert. Adrenaline could help them fight back.

And, he couldn’t have that.

He was a fighter, but being realistic, he probably couldn’t take six people all at once.

“I’m definitely getting laid after this. A straight up orgy,” a goofball said.

Sweeny Todd heard a loud slap.

“Ouch. What was that for?” Goofball asked.

“Stop acting stupid,” a snobby girl said. Her and Savannah could probably be friends, if Savannah was still alive.

“Let’s start the summoning,” a natural leader commanded. If any one was getting laid, it’d more than likely be him.

A few minutes passed, and the group still chanted some nonsense. Still stalling, he chuckled to himself.

Then it came. Music to his ears. “Bloody Mary. Bloody Mary. Bloody Mary. Bloody Mary. Bloody Mary.”

Silence.

Sweeny Todd could imagine them huddled around the mirror, anticipating what would happen next. All wide-eyed like the scaredy cats they should be.

Counting to three, he snuck up on them, tip-toeing, so he wouldn’t get caught. All their backs were facing him. This would be easier than he thought.

He stood directly behind a jock, who wore a letter jacket. Probably a dumb football player who bullied his classmates who he deemed lesser than him. The douche bag should die on principle.

Sweeny Todd raised his butcher knife, then struck it through the back of Jock’s head. As the metal sliced through his bony skull, there was a loud crunch sound. He yanked the knife out. Jock slid down to the floor in slow motion like a horror director timed that scene perfectly.

“Looking for me?” Sweeny Todd imitated a young woman’s voice, all high and shrill. He might as well go all out.

A guy and girl glanced back and screamed. Loud noises would ruin his plans. He had to nip that in the bud quickly. He sliced the guy’s throat and watched him fall to the ground.

More screaming, but he was starting to enjoy the challenge. Besides, the abandoned building wasn’t near anything. It was isolated on a deserted farm. No one could hear the screams anyway.

He looked at the girl, who pleaded for her life. Like cowards, the other three ran towards the hallway where his partner was patiently waiting. He heard their screams, plus the thuds as their bodies hit the floor. He heard his partner still slicing and dicing. Sweeny Todd was proud—Bloody Mary was known for torturing her victims after all.

“Please don’t kill me.” He recognized the voice—the snobby bitch.

“But I’m Bloody Mary. What else am I supposed to do?”

“Please let me go. I won’t tell anyone.”

“All your friends are dead, of course, there’ll be an investigation whether you talk or not. At least if you don’t talk, there’s no chance for the cops to figure out it was me. No witnesses.”

The floor creaked as his partner strolled up to them. His partner grabbed the snob from behind.

“Surprise. Your summon was so on point that you brought out two Bloody Marys. You should be proud.”

A tear slid down the snobby bitch’s cheek. “Please…”

“Please. Pretty please with sugar on top. Please torture me, so I can be a legend, one of Bloody Mary’s victims.” He tilted his head. “Why yes, I can arrange that.”

He grinned as he struck the giant knife into her stomach. He stabbed and stabbed. His partner did the final blow of slicing her neck, then pushed the bloody dead body onto the floor.

Snob laid beside Jock like a twisted Romeo and Juliet story.

He high-fived his partner. They scanned the room and admired their work. His partner stood in silence as Sweeny Todd sat on the floor away from the bloody puddle. He opened up Google Docs, his cell phone illuminating the room. He typed furiously away, afraid he couldn’t remember every detail of this perfect night:

The horror in their eyes. The fear in snobby bitch’s voice. Some couldn’t even process what happened, dead before they saw the knife coming towards them. I killed three, and my partner killed three. I’ll have to get details from my partner, but I heard everything. The knife slicing through skin. The warm bodies that will turn cold before morning, falling to the floor.

He added more sensory details in his notes. This story would be awesome. A best seller. Readers would feel every murder. They’d feel like they were experiencing the pain with his characters.

He looked up at his partner to signal that he was finished.

His partner smiled a warm smile. “You’re crazy. You know that? You look so funny in your costume.”

“You’re crazy too,” he said, not annoyed. He was amused that his partner could tease at a time like this. His partner was probably more demented than him.   

Just the way he liked it.

They didn’t bother to clean up their mess. The only thing they did was wipe off both butcher knives, then they laid the knives beside the victims. They wanted the cops to find the crime scene. They wanted the cops to find the murder weapons. They wanted the town to panic.

That was the only way to create history.

They walked out of the abandoned building towards some bushes and weeds. They changed into normal clothes, then stuffed crimson soaked Bloody Mary outfits into their book bags. No one would think to search them as they walked back to Independence University.

*****

What did you think?

This is only a second draft. I still have a lot of work ahead of me for revisions. I’ve been editing three novellas at once–Six Plus One, my urban legends, and my crazy ballerina one. Surprisingly,  I haven’t gotten editing block 🙂

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Patting Myself On the Back. I Acted Like A Professional Writer Today

Lately, I’ve been submitting short stories to magazines and anthologies. Lars’s Muse is one of my favorites. I’ve been submitting this flash fiction piece off and on since 2015 after it didn’t become a finalist for the contest The Cult of Me.

This month, I submitted Lars’s Muse to Horror Tree’s Trembling With Fear. Horror Tree is a great resource for writers looking for dark-themed places to submit to. Recently, the founder Stuart Conover decided to open up submissions to create a reading section for the site. New short stories are posted every Sunday.

Luckily, I heard from Stuart a couple days ago. Who knew a rejection could be rewarding? No sarcasm, I promise. I appreciated that he took the time to offer me suggestions to improve my story. Not only that but he gave me a chance to resubmit Lars’s Muse!

So instead of sulking over a rejection, I embraced it. I revised my story and resubmitted to Trembling With Fear. I’m very proud of myself for showing vulnerability by sharing my work and acting like a professional by listening to constructive criticism.

Maybe the 4th time will be Lars’s Muse lucky charm? I hope so. If not, then I’ll look for another place to send it.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby