Tropical Tuesday Cover Reveal: M.J. McGriff’s The Secret Library is almost here!

Tropical Tuesday Cover Reveal: M.J. McGriff’s <i>The Secret Library</i> is almost here!

Steaming jungles, huge slithering snakes, and a mysterious prophecy…

Oh, and pirates! Don’t forget the pirates!

Spring has only just sprung here in the Great White (Brown?) North but I’m so ready for some summery beach reads.

Don’t get me wrong. I love springtime, but it takes a touch of the tropics to warm my bones after a long, cold winter.

That’s why I’m so excited to announce the new cover and upcoming releases of one of my favourite indie fantasy writers, The Secret Library by M.J. McGriff!

I have met a lot of fantastic indie writers over the years and I’ve read a lot of fabulous indie books. And M.J. McGriff is one of the most fantastic and fabulous. So I’m thrilled to be able to share the release of her second novel in the Magian Series, The Secret Library.

McGriff writes YA fantasy adventure novels full of swashbuckling pirates, magical prophecies, and tons of sassy dialogue. The Magian Series Book One: Macario’s Scepter is a fast-pasted, rollicking fun book that I read in a single sitting. And I was thrilled to be able to be an advanced reader for it’s sequel, The Secret Library.

If you love Indian Jones and Pirates of the Caribbean, you’ll love these books!

Happy cover reaveal, M.J. McGriff! It looks amazing!

The Secret Library by M.J. McGriff

When a surly pirate and a treasure-hunting nun fall into a cursed jungle with the Order captain tasked with their capture—what else could possibly go wrong? 

Seraphina Davalos left her seminary and inserted herself into Captain Mari Adlam’s pirate crew to gain passage to a mysterious isle said to hide a secret library. In this library is the knowledge her twin sister—the one chosen by the gods to wield Macario’s Scepter—needs to defeat the awakening monsters and stop the end of the world. 

No big deal, right? Unfortunately, Captain Luis Fozo is much less concerned with taboo myths and impending doom. He’s determined to exact revenge on the pirates responsible for his brother’s death. 

His plan goes sideways, however, when he falls through an ancient portal and is forced to work together with Seraphina and Mari to survive sirens, harpies, diabolical traps, and whatever else the cursed jungle conjures on their path to the library—and escape.  

Their alliance is only temporary, though. He doesn’t believe their conspiracy theories about the world ending in the slightest. And he certainly, most definitely—without question—is not falling for a brave, naive nun who’s as intelligent as she is beautiful.  

It’s only a few days, a few monsters, and a few curses. How bad could it be? 

A funny, page-turning adventure great for fans of Indiana Jones with a dash of Pirates of The Caribbean.

Pre-Order Today and Swag Away!

You can preorder this tropical adventure right now at major retailers like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, and more! When you do, you can score awesome preorder swag that gets you ready for warmer weather. Just visit @mj_mcgriff’s Instagram bio to preorder the book and submit your receipt for swag!

Discussion

Have you read any good pirate tales lately? Share them in the comments below!

Creative Business 101: How to Build an Author Newsletter in 5 Easy Steps

Author Newsletters.

Everybody tells you we need to have one.

Every author will spend months, and years refusing to believe it.

I addressed some of the concerns writers often have about the value of the newsletter and why I think every writer should have one in Creative Business 101: Optimization Hacks to Get Your Platforms Working Together – Part Three – Newsletters, in which I was apparently attempting to win the “longest blog title of the year award.”

But that’s a different story.

(Did I win?)

Next to the question “Do I really need an author newsletter?” the most common question that I field from my fellow authors is this: “I know I need a newsletter, but where do I start?”

How to Build a Mailing List in 5 Easy Steps

I’m taking a break from refreshing my KDP dashboard to check my pre-order numbers in the last few hours before Tropical Punch goes live on Amazon, to bring you my answer to this question.

There are a lot of different ways to build a newsletter. I’m not going to try to tell you all of them. I’m going to keep things as simple as possible and tell you what I did.

#1 Think of All the Reasons Why a Newsletter Will Not Work For You

Go ahead.

I’ll wait.

I bet you have a list of them ready to fire off at me right now.

I know, because I literally spent years refining and reinforcing this list in my own mind and avoiding what I knew needed to be done.

It’s too hard. It takes too much time. Nobody will read it. Everyone hates junk mail. I don’t want to give away my hard work to freebie seekers.

Are you done yet?

Now, write them down on a piece of paper.

Crumple that paper up into a ball.

And light it on fire.

We’re done with that now. We’re going to commit to giving this a solid effort for 6 months before we give up.

Deal?

Okay then. Now, onto…

#2 Choose a Reader Magnet

A reader magnet is the cookie you are going to use to entice people to join your mailing list.

In order to get the most out of this newsletter experiment, this must be chosen strategically.

Reader Magnets for fiction writers can be: sample chapters, short stories, novellas, or full length novels.

For non-fiction writers: sample chapters, how-to-guides, collections of your favourite blog posts, essays, or complete books. (One marketing expert I follow swears by quizzes as the best magnet for non-fiction writers and other creative businesses. I have no experience with this myself but it’s intriguing! Check out Nikki Clark here.)

I’m going to deal with fiction writers for the most part, but most of these points can be adapted.

Your Reader Magnet Should:

  • Be connected to your other work.
  • Be professionally edited.
  • Have a professional cover.
  • Be a complete story or guide rather than a sample.
  • Have a link in the backmatter where readers can buy the next book.

Let’s break this down a bit.

If you are going to give away for free something that you have put your blood, sweat, and tears into, you want to expect a reasonable return on that investment. The goal of the reader magnet is to lead readers toward buying your other books.

If you are still working on your magnum opus, you can still start building a mailing list. Arguably the best time to start your list is BEFORE you publish anything beyond the reader magnet.

A strategic reader magnet will help you build an audience before your first book even comes out. That’s gold.

EVEN IF YOU HAVEN’T WRITTEN ANY OTHER BOOKS YET!

What is a strategic reader magnet?

Ideally, it will be connected to your other work. Best is a direct connection, like a prequel, origin, or backstory for one of your characters. At the very least, it must be in the same sub-genre as your other books.

(Note: If you have more than one series, you can use more than one reader magnet. In this case you will likely need to run two separate mailing lists, unless they genres are closely related. We’re just starting out, though, so pick one.)

In my experience, and from the vast amount of research I’ve done reading about other people experiences, the ideal reader magnets are complete.

Yes, you can make samples work if you end on a great cliffhanger or call to action, but it’s risky. Some people will be annoyed by this, and we don’t want to annoy our readers.

The time they spend reading our work is an investment and we need to treat them with respect.

Where are you in your writing career? Are you still working on your first novel or do you have multiple series under your belt? If you are writing in multiple genres or write standalone novels, the newsletter will be more challenging. But you can still make it work, so long as your reader magnet is designed to attract you ideal reader and it links to the book you want to drive that reader towards.

Choose wisely.

But don’t stress too much. If at first, like me, you use a less than ideal cookie, you can always cull your list later. That’s a good problem to have, trust me!

#3a Set up Your Email Service

MailChimp or MailerLite or whatever other newsletter service. There are dozens.

MailChimp is what I use. I went with MailChimp because it has a higher threshold before you have to pay.

However, there is no customer support with the free version, the program is bloated with a bunch of stuff I never use, and the subscriptions once you do have to pay are much higher than with MailerLite. I will likely switch at some point, as I’m not enamored by the Chimp.

Do some research, but don’t get too bogged down by the options.

At the free level they’re pretty similar and that’s all we need right now.

Before we get started, I have two bonus tips for you:

  1. Consider using an email address connected to your website rather than a generic gmail, outlook, hotmail, yahoo, etc. account. This will increase your odds for landing in people’s inboxes. Plus it looks more professional.
  2. Decide on a name for your mailing list. Don’t call it a newsletter or a mailing list when you’re talking to your readers. We associate this with junk mail. If you call it a Fan Club or a VIP Readers Group or a Reader Club, your readers will feel more like they belong to something special and intimate. And that’s exactly what you want your newsletters to feel like. You are not going to spam them! You are letting them into your world.

On your newsletter service you will:

  • Create a landing page to collect email addresses from your website. Not the “blog follow” emails that send people a notification when you put up a new blog post. This is for your VIP Readers. Organic email address collection from your website will typically be the most engaged people on your list. You may want to create a separate audience for these organic sign ups. Check out Newsletter Ninja: How to Become An Author Mailing List Expert by Tammi Labrecque for more details on this.
  • Create a simple welcome email automation. This is triggered any time someone joins your list. Keep it simple, remind them who you are and why they are receiving this email, request they add you to their contact list, provide a link to follow your preferred socials, or if you have a Facebook Group. One link is best.
  • [Extra Credit] Create a cookie email automation, either with a link to your reader magnet or to another freebie. Reward them early for opening your mails. This can be triggered to sent a couple of days after they sign up.
  • [Extra Credit] Create a series introduction email automation, if you are a series author. Let them know what you’re working on, provide links to your most recent work. Keep the tone friendly and informative, not salesy. This should come a couple of days after your last email.
  • You can make this onboarding sequence as simple or complex as you like. Multi genre authors might get fancy here. In my opinion, simple is better. You only really need the welcome email, and maybe the cookie.
  • Set up BookFunnel (#3b, below) and integrate with your newsletter service. You can integrate with as many sites as you use to collect addresses from. Follow the FAQs of your chosen service. It’s pretty straightforward.

#3b Set up BookFunnel

Yes, there are other newsletter builders out there. Story Origin. King Sumo. There are lots.

I recommend BookFunnel, not because it’s the best or only, but because I have personal experience with it and I feel confident in my recommendation. It costs $100 a year, and is well worth it. You can use it for sending out encrypted Beta and ARC copies as well, which is fantastic.

On BookFunnel you will:

  • Create Your Reader Magnet: Upload the cover file, and the mobi, epup, and PDF files for your manuscript. You can create this using a number of free programs. When I don’t pay for professional formatting, I use Draft2Digital.
  • Create a Landing Page that requires email opt-in.
  • Set up Integration with your Email Service, the FAQ is very helpful if you have troubles.

You can also:

  • Create ARC campaigns.
  • Create Landing Pages that do not require email opt-in, or which can only be accessed by folks already on your list (helpful for when you want to give a freebie to your list but don’t want them sharing that freebie with other people)
  • Gift books to people.
  • Create Printable download codes for in-person events or bookmarks, etc.
  • Lots of other stuff

But the BIG ONE is this:

  • Check out the Promotions tab and join some promos for your genre! It’s so big, in fact, that this is step #4

#4 Join Promos

In BookFunnel you can browse promotions by genre, or by promo type. The two main types are Sales and Newsletter Builders. When you are first starting out, you will be using Newsletter Builders.

What is a BookFunnel Promo?

A Promo is essentially a landing page with a grid of reader magnet books from all the authors who have joined the promotion. Whoever creates the promo will have a particular theme (Witches and Werewolves, or Christmas Horror, or Sweet Country Romance, or whatever). These themes can be broad (SF&F) or very narrow (SF with Strong Female Leads).

When you join a promo (check the guidelines to make sure you’re a good fit) you will agree to share the promo link in your newsletter on a particular day of the promo. You may share as many times as you like on social media, etc. but you must share with your newsletter on the date you say you will. You will be provided with a trackable link, and when the promotion is finished you will be able to see how many people clicked the link. At first, it won’t be a lot because you will have a non-existent list. That’s okay. The important thing is to keep joining promos, and keep sharing on the dates you say you will. The number of promos you have joined and the number of links clicked become your “reputation” and having a higher rep will unlock higher end promos.

That’s a lot of info. Don’t worry about it too much. Here’s how it works:

  1. Join a Promo (I usually join 3-4 that overlap and commit to sharing them all on the same day). Pro Tip: If you are just starting out, you will want to pick a date near the end of the promo if possible, because then you will have some people on your list to click those links when you write your newsletter.
  2. Follow the link to each promo and save the header image/banner image, or create your own in Canva or BookBrush if you’re handy at that kind of thing. Better images get more clicks. Experiment!
  3. On your share date, create your first email campaign. This is just a fancy way of saying write your email. At the bottom of your email, you will post the promo images with your tracking links. This provides value to your readers! Not sure what to write about in the rest of the email? I’ll cover a bit more on that at the end.
  4. Share your images/links as many times as you like on your blog and social media. You can even do a $5 boosted post on Facebook to get more clicks and improve your rep. The more times those links get shared by all authors in the promo, the more eyes are on all of the books. Sharing is caring!
  5. Repeat. With a good cover and joining 3-4 promos a month, you should start seeing a couple hundred newsletter signups a month!

#5 Newsletter Maintenance

You don’t need to make this a full time job. Commit to writing one email a month to share your updates and promo links. Unless you have a rabid and highly engaged audience you don’t want to send out more than two a month. Big authors can get away with one or two a week. But start with one or two a month. It’s more than enough.

What Should I Write About in my Newsletter?

Check out my suggestions here or do a bit of searching on the interwebs. There are lots of lists!

The important things to remember are:

  • Keep it casual and friendly in tone.
  • Use your “natural” voice, be yourself. If your books are full of smut and cursing, you don’t want your emails to be too prim and proper. You want people who don’t “get you” to unsubscribe. Yes. I said that. You don’t want deadweight on your list. You have to pay for those people! Be yourself. If anyone doesn’t like that, they can take a hike. That makes room for someone who does like you.
  • Don’t try to sell anything, yet. You can use your mailing list to shout out new releases and sales, but try to keep it at an 80/20 ratio. 80% of the time you are providing value to them. 20% of the time you can ask them to do something for you, a gentle ask. In my opinion, one email for e-book pre-orders, and one for launch day is plenty. If it’s been a while between releases, you can use your 20% to remind them of an existing series.
  • Provide value. I know I just said that, but it’s important enough to say it twice. Give your readers something. Tell a funny story, share a relevant meme, or pictures of your pets (these will get more engagement than anything, I swear! we love our furbabies!), link to your most popular blog posts that week. Share your BookFunnel promo links.
  • Build engagement. Take a poll, ask to see a picture of their pets (seriously, try it), ask an open ended question and ask readers to “hit reply” to respond then share the results of those responses in your next email (this is great social proof, when people see that other readers are engaging with you they want to be part of the inner circle too!) Engagement helps your emails stay out of the junk mail. Win win!

Extra Maintenance

Keep an eye on your open rates and click rates. This can give you a good idea of what kind of Subject Lines get the most engagement.

You can get fancy and run A/B testing (send half your list one email and the other half a different one and see which performs better)

I don’t. I just mess up and let people unsubscribe.

If they don’t unsubscribe but they haven’t opened one of my emails in the last three months, I unsubscribe them myself.

I would rather have a small, highly engaged mailing list than a big bloated list of people who never open my emails. I aim for an open rate of 50% or higher. If my open rates drop below that, I cull my list. It’s not the only way to do it, but it’s my way.

And I have a great little list!

Unexpected Benefits of Having a Mailing List

These are some of my happy discoveries. My mailing list has:

  • Helped me find new beta and ARC readers.
  • Started some great conversations.
  • Given me motivation to keep writing when I start to feel like no one cares.
  • Given me a place to ask questions and bounce ideas when starting a new series.
  • Helped me find my superfans (it’s a small, but growing list!)

Additional Resources

I highly recommend these books:

Discussion

Do you have a newsletter yet? If so, do you have anything to add to this list?

If you don’t have a newsletter, did this post help answer some of your questions or ease some of your fears?

What else would you like to know?

Dirty Deeds call for Dirty Dames…

There are only two more days until the release of my new cyber noir detective novel Tropical Punch!

To celebrate, I’m giving away Dames for Hire, a prequel novella to the Bubbles in Space series.

Bubbles Marlowe is one of my favourite characters I’ve ever written. She’s tough, snarky, and most important of all (to me!) she’s sober! Bubbles is the first sober character I’ve written since I quit drinking three years ago, and I didn’t realize until I started how much I needed to write her.

I’ve long been a fan of hard-boiled detective novels and noir stylings, but these books, many of which were written during and just after prohibition, are steeped in alcohol.

It’s a tradition that has been carried forward into modern detective novels, too. It seems impossible to find a private-eye who doesn’t evade past trauma by diving into the bottom of a bottle. Worse are the novels that glamourize alcohol abuse in such a way that it makes it seem that our heroes thrive because of their addiction rather than in spite of it.

Don’t get me wrong. I still love me some Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett.

But I wanted something else, too. I wanted to write a character who reflected not only my own struggles with alcohol, but my freedom from it. I wanted a character who proved you can be sober and a badass!

So here it is…

Click the link to join my VIP Readers’ Club and claim your copy today!

Dirty jobs call for dirty dames.

But this is a bit much…

After a suspicious accident costs her a career, an arm, and nearly her life, Bubbles Marlowe needs all the help she can get.

When a friend asks her to do a little dirty work on the side, Bubbles isn’t prepared for just how dirty it’s going to get.

An arrogant scientist, a young heiress, a gambling king pin, and a few too many hired guns…

Can Bubbles finish the case before it finishes her?

HoloCity’s femme fatales are out in full force in this cybernoir detective thriller.

And these dames don’t mess around.

You’ll love Dames for Hire because it’s got glitter and grit, mystery and hard-boiled badassery.

Get Tropical Punch For Free!

Click the image to Pre-Order your copy today!

Get ready to get PUNCHED

I’m giving away 100 review copies of my new cyber noir detective series on Goodreads!

If you love Sci-Fi and are looking for something fresh and fun, this is the book for you.

Tropical Punch is packed with glitter, grit, off-the-wall humour, and plenty of fast-paced action. You will not be able to put it down!

Enter Today!

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Goodreads Book Giveaway

Tropical Punch by S.C. Jensen

Tropical Punch

by S.C. Jensen

Giveaway ends March 29, 2021.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway
https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/widget/321163

Click the link above to enter the Goodreads Giveaway today! Or, if you want to guarantee you get a copy, you can always pre-order it here.

Winners will be announced on launch day, March 29, 2021.

Do You Love Goodreads?

I have recently restarted my Goodreads account after years of neglect. But I’d love to have more friends over there. So if you’re active on Goodreads, please add me so I can creep your bookshelves and check out what you’re reading and reviewing.

Reading Goals for 2021

Goodreads Reading Challenges have become a big motivator for avid readers and book reviewers in a lot of the online book clubs and groups I belong to, so this year I decided to set a challenge for myself.

I want to read 40 books this year.

I’m already 16 books into my goal, so things are looking promising! This is not including the middle grade and young adult books I read out loud to my kiddos (we do about 1.5 books a month with bedtime reading.)

What’s your reading goal this year? Tell me in the comments!

These 5 Real Life Cyborgs Will Blow Your Mind!

There are cyborgs walking among us…

Does the idea of robotic human hybrids give you chills?

It shouldn’t!

When the word “cyborg” comes up, many people think of popular Sci-Fi villains like the Terminator, Darth Vader, or Star Trek’s Borgs. But don’t worry. Today’s real life cyborgs aren’t out to take over the world.

Yet…

A cyborg is a person (or animal, potentially) made up of a combination of organic and mechanical parts. Typically, today, the most common cyborgs are people with prosthetic limbs. Some even extend the definition to include those with cochlear implants, pacemakers, or contact lenses.

No matter what your definition, though, advancements in medical science are quickly making cybernetic enhancements a part of our every day lives.

What’s in store?

Future cybernetic technologies might include brain implants to help improve memory or aid learning, chips imbedded in our fingers to replace passwords or bank cards, advanced prosthetic limbs to make us faster and stronger, and even exoskeleton armor for military and police use.

Many of these technologies are already in the research and development stages. Some are even being tested by adventurous volunteers!

Here are some of the most fascinating real life cyborgs walking among us today!

Neil Harbisson

Neil Harbisson, Cyborg

Neil Harbisson is a Catalan-raised, British-born contemporary artist and cyborg activist best known for having an antenna implanted in his skull and for being officially recognized as a cyborg by a government.

The antenna allows him to perceive visible and invisible colors such as infrareds and ultraviolets via sound waves. The antenna’s internet connection allows him to receive colors from space as well as images, videos, music or phone calls directly into his head via external devices such as mobile phones or satellites.

Harbisson’s artworks investigate the relationship between color and sound, experiment the boundaries of human perception and explore the use of artistic expression via sensory extensions.

In 2010 he co-founded the Cyborg Foundation with Moon Ribas, an international organization that aims to help humans become cyborgs, defend cyborg rights and promote cyborgism as a social and artistic movement.

Source: https://thoughtworksarts.io/bio/neil-harbisson/

Neil Harbisson became a cyborg in order to overcome a condition called achromatopsia. or extreme colorblindness, meaning he could only see in black-and-white. He has since become an advocate for transhumanist evolution. Harbisson believes not only that people should seek to improve the species via technology, but that we have a moral obligation to do so.

What do you think about that?

Dr. Kevin Warwick

Dr. Kevin Warwick, Cyborg

In 1998, Dr. Kevin Warwick had a simple radio frequency identification (RFID) transmitter implanted beneath his skin, which he used to control doors, lights, heaters, and other computer-controlled devices. His goal was to test the limits of what kind of implants the human body would accept and whether or not it would be possible to receive meaningful sensory or data input from such a device. And, of course, to become a cyborg.

Dr. Warwick has since conducted more experiments in cyborg technology, using both himself and his wife as the subjects. One such experiment allowed him to control a robotic arm–by connecting his nervous system to the internet–from halfway around the world. A similar experiment connected his nervous system to that of his wife, so that he could feel when someone touched her hand, no matter where in the world they both were!

Dr. Warwick’s ultimate aim with these experiments is to one day create a form of telepathy or empathy using the Internet to communicate the signal over huge distances.

This could be a boon to those in long-distance relationships! Also, possibly, for hyper-controlling sociopaths… but that’s another story…

James Young

James Young, double amputee, cyborg

After losing an arm and leg in an accident five years ago, James Young turned to technology to make the most of his new path in life. He teamed up with Japanese gaming company Konami to design his own cybernetic arm, the result of which is enough to make any Sci-Fi geek drool!

Being a double amputee, arm as well as leg, means I have the opportunity to reflect on how we use our bodies in two ways. Feet must give me stability, control and power, and hands must give me fine muscular control. My goal is to find a way in which I can interface with technology with such low cognitive burden and finesse as it to be considered natural rather than using a piece of external assistive equipment.

James Young, on prosthetic limbs and being a “cyborg.” Source: http://jamesahy.com/prosthetics

Young was a part of The Phantom Limb Project, a documentary based on the development of Young’s prosthetic arm which was based on the character Snake from the popular Metal Gear Solid video games.

No. It doesn’t have a rocket launcher. I checked.

Angel Giuffria

Angel Giuffria, archer, actress, and cyborg

Angel Giuffria is a self-proclaimed “bionic actress.” She has appeared in The Accountant with Ben Affleck and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay alongside Jennifer Lawrence. Giuffria hopes that, with increased attention given to the representation of marginalized people in film, more roles will begin to open up for people with disabilities.

“I was born missing my arm, below the elbow, and I was fit with a myoelectric muscle operated prosthesis when I was very young. Obviously, at that point in time, they were much different and not as high-tech. As I’ve gotten older and the prosthetics have advanced, I’ve tried to stay as current as I could with the latest technologies.”

Angel Giuffria, in an interview with Gizmodo, Source: https://io9.gizmodo.com/bionic-actress-angel-giuffria-is-ready-for-people-with-1826081412

While Giuffria once favoured life-like prosthetic covered in artificial “skin” so that she could blend in with her peers, the actress now embraces her bionic limb and enjoys tinkering with its appearance. Her custom prosthetic from Arm Dynamics allows her to add colourful lights, decorative metal filigrees, and even a cos-play lightsaber!

Rob Spence

After losing his right eye in a firearms accident at only nine years old. While he didn’t lose all sight in the eye, he was declared legally blind, and as he grew older what was left of his sight in the damaged eye deteriorated.

That was when doctors decided to replace the eye.

Rather than choosing a conventional glass eye, though, Spence worked with a friend to create what he calls his “eyeborg,” a wearable eye-shaped camera. Although the eye does not interface with Spence’s optical nerve, and he cannot see out of it, the cybernetic eye represents the first step in what could become a common form of wearable tech.

The “eyeborg” is an analogue camera, rather than digital, but the potential is there for digital and live-streaming versions in the future.

Creepy or cool? You tell me…

Discussion

I began researching cybernetic prosthetics when writing my new cyber noir detective series, Bubbles in Space. My protagonist, Bubbles Marlowe, becomes a private investigator after losing her arm in a training exercise accident with the HoloCity Police Department. While Bubbles in Space wasn’t intended to be hard-SF, I was gratified to learn that much of the technology I’ve used in the high-tech, low-life world of HoloCity is already a reality!

Which kind of cyborg technologies do you think you would embrace if they became publicly available?

I could go for some extra memory storage, a la the behind-the-ear microchips of Gibson’s Neuromancer

Click to Pre-Order Today!

Black SF&F Writers You Need to Read NOW! Part 3: Nalo Hopkinson

The very first Black SF&F writer I ever read was Nalo Hopkinson. This was back in high school when I stumbled upon Brown Girl in the Ring and long before I realized how important science fiction and fantasy could be to women and other marginalized people.

I can’t even remember how I stumbled upon it, or why I picked it up, other than that I knew it would be different from anything else I had ever read. Probably I heard about her on CBC Radio. And it was. Different. Gloriously, magically, chills-up-the-spine different from anything I had ever read.

Hopkinson’s blend of Caribbean folk lore and fantasy opened my eyes to the sheer potential of the genre. And it woke a hunger in me for these Other stories. The stories that we have to dig to find. The stories that go beyond the SF&F Canon that my reading had been previously limited to. Stories about Othered people and places and worlds that have been pushed to the peripheral.

That feeling never left me. I still feel that thrill when I pick up a book that I know is going to show me something new, a different way of seeing, a story through eyes I’ve never seen through before. It really does give me chills.

I hope, in sharing her work with you today, you’ll discover something new and wonderful that opens your eyes to a different perspective. There are as many ways to dream as there are people in the world, and there is no reason to stick with the same old visions all the time!

About Nalo Hopkinson

Nalo Hopkinson

Powered by ADHD

…though the brake pedal probably reads fibromyalgia. And if I’m going to stretch this metaphor past breaking point, the toolbox on the seat beside me might be labelled NLD. After all, the flip side to “non-verbal learning disorder” is arguably “high verbal ability.” I’m not saying that my cognitive differences made me a writer — that would be flippant and untrue — but though they pose challenges, there are ways in which they can sometimes help.

I write science fiction, fantasy, speculative fiction; call it whatever you want, my novels and stories are full of the unreal, the futuristic, the unlikely, the impossible.

I was born in Jamaica, in the Caribbean. I lived for years in Guyana as well, and in Trinidad/Tobago. But the bulk of my life so far has been spent in Toronto, Canada. After about 35 years of that, I moved to the USA for a professorship in Creative Writing.

I’ve won numerous awards for my fiction and other literary activities.

I’ve been a maker of 3-dimensional objects for most of my life. Manipulating physical materials is a welcome break from typing black letters on a white background. It might be functional objects or more decorative ones, and it’s where let myself be full-on whimsical. I’ve scattered muted images of some of my pieces all over this site. Feel free to drop me a note to ask me more about them.

My dream home is on a cliff overlooking an ocean, with lots of room on the grounds for a workshop and a writing cottage. And fruit trees. Or maybe truffle-bearing oak trees. Can’t you just picture it?

About the Author: Nalo Hopkinson
https://www.nalohopkinson.com/about-the-author

The Books

Brown Girl in the Ring (1998)

In this “impressive debut” from award-winning speculative fiction author Nalo Hopkinson, a young woman must solve the tragic mystery surrounding her family and bargain with the gods to save her city and herself. (The Washington Post)

The rich and privileged have fled the city, barricaded it behind roadblocks, and left it to crumble. The inner city has had to rediscover old ways — farming, barter, herb lore. But now the monied need a harvest of bodies, and so they prey upon the helpless of the streets. With nowhere to turn, a young woman must open herself to ancient truths, eternal powers, and the tragic mystery surrounding her mother and grandmother. She must bargain with gods, and give birth to new legends.


Midnight Robber (2000)

It’s Carnival time and the Caribbean-colonized planet of Toussaint is celebrating with music, dance, and pageantry. Masked “Midnight Robbers” waylay revelers with brandished weapons and spellbinding words. To young Tan-Tan, the Robber Queen is simply a favorite costume to wear at the festival–until her power-corrupted father commits an unforgiveable crime.

Suddenly, both father and daughter are thrust into the brutal world of New Half-Way Tree. Here monstrous creatures from folklore are real, and the humans are violent outcasts in the wilds. Tan-Tan must reach into the heart of myth and become the Robber Queen herself. For only the Robber Queen’s legendary powers can save her life . . . and set her free.


The Salt Roads (2003)

From the SFWA Grand Master, a“sexy, disturbing, touching, wildly comic . . . tour de force” that blends fantasy, women’s history, and slavery (Kirkus Reviews, starred review).
 
In 1804, shortly before the Caribbean island of Saint Domingue is renamed Haiti, a group of women gather to bury a stillborn baby. Led by a lesbian healer and midwife named Mer, the women’s lamentations inadvertently release the dead infant’s “unused vitality” to draw Ezili—the Afro-Caribbean goddess of sexual desire and love—into the physical world.
 
As Ezili explores her newfound powers, she travels across time and space to inhabit the midwife’s body, as well as those of Jeanne—a mixed-race dancer and the mistress of Charles Baudelaire living in 1880s Paris—and Meritet, an enslaved Greek-Nubian prostitute in ancient Alexandria.
 
Bound together by Ezili and “the salt road” of their sweat, blood, and tears, the three women struggle against a hostile world, unaware of the goddess’s presence in their lives. Despite her magic, Mer suffers as a slave on a sugar plantation until Ezili plants the seeds of uprising in her mind. Jeanne slowly succumbs to the ravages of age and syphilis when her lover is unable to escape his mother’s control. And Meritet, inspired by Ezili, flees her enslavement and makes a pilgrimage to Egypt, where she becomes known as Saint Mary.
 
With unapologetically sensual prose, Nalo Hopkinson, the Nebula Award–winning author of Midnight Robber, explores slavery through the lives of three historical women touched by a goddess in this “electrifying bravura performance by one of our most important writers” (Junot Díaz).


The New Moon’s Arms (2007)

First it’s her mother’s missing gold brooch. Then, a blue and white dish she hasn’t seen in years. Followed by an entire grove of cashew trees.

When objects begin appearing out of nowhere, Calamity knows that the special gift she has not felt since childhood has returned-her ability to find lost things. Calamity, a woman as contrary as the tides around her Caribbean island home, is confronting two of life’s biggest dramas. First is the death of her father, who raised her alone until a pregnant Calamity rejected him when she was sixteen years old. The second drama: she’s starting menopause. Now when she has a hot flash and feels a tingling in her hands, she knows it’s a lost object calling to her.

Then she finds something unexpected: a four-year-old boy washes up on the shore, his dreadlocked hair matted with shells. Calamity decides to take the orphaned child into her care, which brings unexpected upheaval into her life and further strains her relationship with her adult daughter. Fostering this child will force her to confront all the memories of her own childhood-and the disappearance of her mother so many years before.


The Chaos (2012) (Young adult fiction)

Navigate between myth and chaos in this “journey filled with peril, self-discovery, and terrifying moments” (Publishers Weekly, starred review).

Sixteen-year-old Scotch struggles to fit in—at home she’s the perfect daughter, at school she’s provocatively sassy, and thanks to her mixed heritage, she doesn’t feel she belongs with the Caribbeans, whites, or blacks. And even more troubling, lately her skin is becoming covered in a sticky black substance that can’t be removed. While trying to cope with this creepiness, she goes out with her brother—and he disappears. A mysterious bubble of light just swallows him up, and Scotch has no idea how to find him. Soon, the Chaos that has claimed her brother affects the city at large, until it seems like everyone is turning into crazy creatures. Scotch needs to get to the bottom of this supernatural situation ASAP before the Chaos consumes everything she’s ever known—and she knows that the black shadowy entity that’s begun trailing her every move is probably not going to help.

A blend of fantasy and Caribbean folklore, at its heart this tale is about identity and self acceptance—because only by acknowledging her imperfections can Scotch hope to save her brother.

Sister Mine (2013)

Nalo Hopkinson–winner of the John W. Campbell Award, the Sunburst Award, and the World Fantasy award (among others), and lauded as one of our “most inventive and brilliant writers” (New York Post)–returns with a new work. With her singular voice and characteristic sharp insight, she explores the relationship between two sisters in this richly textured and deeply moving novel . . . Sister Mine We’d had to be cut free of our mother’s womb. She’d never have been able to push the two-headed sport that was me and Abby out the usual way. Abby and I were fused, you see. Conjoined twins. Abby’s head, torso, and left arm protruded from my chest. But here’s the real kicker; Abby had the magic, I didn’t. Far as the Family was concerned, Abby was one of them, though cursed, as I was, with the tragic flaw of mortality.

Now adults, Makeda and Abby still share their childhood home. The surgery to separate the two girls gave Abby a permanent limp, but left Makeda with what feels like an even worse deformity: no mojo. The daughters of a celestial demigod and a human woman, Makeda and Abby were raised by their magical father, the god of growing things–a highly unusual childhood that made them extremely close. Ever since Abby’s magical talent began to develop, though, in the form of an unearthly singing voice, the sisters have become increasingly distant.

Today, Makeda has decided it’s high time to move out and make her own life among the other nonmagical, claypicken humans–after all, she’s one of them. In Cheerful Rest, a run-down warehouse space, Makeda finds exactly what she’s been looking for: an opportunity to live apart from Abby and begin building her own independent life. There’s even a resident band, led by the charismatic (and attractive) building superintendent.

But when her father goes missing, Makeda will have to discover her own talent–and reconcile with Abby–if she’s to have a hope of saving him . . .

Short Story Collections


Skin Folk (2001) (short stories)

The SFWA Grand Master’s award-winning collection “combines a richly textured multicultural background with incisive storytelling” (Library Journal).
 
In Skin Folk, with works ranging from science fiction to Caribbean folklore, passionate love to chilling horror, Nalo Hopkinson is at her award-winning best, spinning tales like “Precious,” in which the narrator spews valuable coins and gems from her mouth whenever she attempts to talk or sing. In “A Habit of Waste,” a self-conscious woman undergoes elective surgery to alter her appearance; days later she’s shocked to see her former body climbing onto a public bus. In “The Glass Bottle Trick,” the young protagonist ignores her intuition regarding her new husband’s superstitions—to horrifying consequences.
 
Hopkinson’s unique pacing and vibrant dialogue sets a steady beat for stories that illustrate why she received the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. Entertaining, challenging, and alluring, Skin Folk is not to be missed.


So Long Been Dreaming (2004, anthology)

So Long Been Dreaming: Postcolonial Science Fiction & Fantasy is an anthology of original new stories by leading African, Asian, South Asian and Aboriginal authors, as well as North American and British writers of color.

Stories of imagined futures abound in Western writing. Writer and editor Nalo Hopkinson notes that the science fiction/fantasy genre “speaks so much about the experience of being alienated but contains so little writing by alienated people themselves.” It’s an oversight that Hopkinson and Mehan aim to correct with this anthology.

The book depicts imagined futures from the perspectives of writers associated with what might loosely be termed the “third world.” It includes stories that are bold, imaginative, edgy; stories that are centered in the worlds of the “developing” nations; stories that dare to dream what we might develop into.

The wealth of postcolonial literature has included many who have written insightfully about their pasts and presents. With So Long Been Dreaming they creatively address their futures.


Report From Planet Midnight (2012) (short stories, interview and speech)

Infused with feminist, Afro-Caribbean views of the science fiction and fantasy genres, this collection of offbeat and highly original works takes aim at race and racism in literature. In “Report from Planet Midnight,” at the International Association of the Fantastic in the Arts, an alien addresses the crowd, evaluating Earth’s “strange” customs, including the marginalization of works by nonwhite and female writers. “Message in a Bottle” shows Greg, an American Indian artist, befriending a strange four-year-old who seems wise beyond her years. While preparing an exhibition, he discovers that the young girl is a traveler from the future sent to recover art from the distant past—which apparently includes his own work. Concluding the book with series editor Terry Bisson’s Outspoken Interview, Nalo Hopkinson shares laughs, loves, and top-secret Caribbean spells.


Falling in Love With Hominids (2015) (short stories)

An alluring new collection from the author of the New York Times Notable Book, Midnight Robber

Nalo Hopkinson (Brown Girl in the RingThe Salt RoadsSister Mine) is an internationally-beloved storyteller. Hailed by the Los Angeles Times as having “an imagination that most of us would kill for,” her Afro-Caribbean, Canadian, and American influences shine in truly unique stories that are filled with striking imagery, unlikely beauty, and delightful strangeness.

In this long-awaited collection, Hopkinson continues to expand the boundaries of culture and imagination. Whether she is retelling The Tempest as a new Caribbean myth, filling a shopping mall with unfulfilled ghosts, or herding chickens that occasionally breathe fire, Hopkinson continues to create bold fiction that transcends boundaries and borders.

Discussion

Have you ever read any of Nalo Hopkinson’s work? Which was your favourite? I have read and loved Brown Girl in the Ring, Midnight Robber, and Skin Folk and look forward to reading more! Do you have a favourite folk-lore inspired SF&F writer? Share in the comments below!

Want more Black SF&F Writers?

Check out my “How Long ‘Til Black Future Month Series” for more articles featuring my favourite Black SF&F writers:

Black SF&F Writers You Need to Read NOW: Part One, N.K. Jemesin

Black SF&F Writers You Need to Read NOW: Part Two, Octavia E. Butler

Black SF&F Writers You Need to Read NOW: Part Three, Nalo Hopkinson

Black SF&F Writers You Need to Read NOW: Part Four, Nnedi Okorafor

Black SF&F Writers You Need to Read NOW: Part Five: Indie Edition

Creative Business 101: Optimization Hacks to Get Your Platforms Working Together – Part One: Social Media

Competition in the Creative Business world can be tough, so don’t make things harder by competing with yourself!

To run a successful business, most people will operate on multiple platforms in order to maximize exposure and attract a larger audience. This sounds great on paper, but without proper planning, all of these various platforms can end up competing against one another and causing your workload to grow exponentially with every platform you add!

In Creative Business 101 we have learned:

In the next three posts, we’re going to take all of this a step further. We have killed some self-doubt, identified our audience, and learned how to provide value to our audience with great creative content. Now, what do with do with it?

These optimization hack articles will tackle the following questions you might have about how to optimize your platforms to build a better creative business:

  • Where is the best place to put each type of content?
  • How do you get your platforms working together instead of competing for attention?
  • How do you use your platforms to draw in your “true fans” and build intimacy?

Are you ready?

We’re going to break this up into three sections:

  • Part One: Social Media
  • Part Two: Blogs
  • Part Three: Newsletters

If you don’t have all of these platform types up and running, don’t panic! This article will demonstrate the potential role each of these platforms plays in your ultimate goal to convert strangers into fans.

If all you have at the moment are your socials, that’s okay. That’s all we’re talking about today. I do want you to start thinking about how to grow your business, so be open to setting up a blog and newsletter in the future. I’ll be sharing why this particular trifecta of platforms is so powerful for creative business entrepreneurs.

Part One: Social Media

Social Media is one of the easiest ways to start interacting with your audience. Before you have a website, blog, or newsletter, chances are you’ve been hanging out on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or something similar. Social media is probably the best place to meet your audience, and begin to develop a personal relationship with them. Let’s take a look at what makes social media so powerful.

Social medias are:

  • informal and friendly
  • fast paced
  • community oriented
  • quick to update
  • easy to share

I won’t discuss individual platforms here, as the benefits of each essentially come down to the above stated list. Your preferred social media accounts (whether it’s one or all of them) can all be used in the same way. You want to use social media to provide great creative content AND to actively seek out and engage with your audience.

How to Use Engagement to Boost Your Social Media Following

While a website, blog, or newsletter can be a bit of a one-sided affair with you as the talking head, social media is all about the back and forth conversation. Social media naturally forms itself into tight-knit communities of likeminded people, whether that’s through Groups on Facebook, or tags on Instagram and Twitter, it is very easy to find people who are interested in the same things as you are interested in. And it’s easy to find people who are interested in the things you make.

Because you know your audience, you can use social media to engage directly with the people you know will love your work. Check out the feeds of accounts that catch your eye. Comment on their posts. Ask questions. Introduce yourself, not with a sales pitch, but with a few details about you that might connect with their interests. Have genuine conversations.

When you are interested in other people, they naturally become interested in you. Use this fact to your advantage by forging connections and friendships with potential audience members.

How to Use Creative Content to Build Followers

When you engage with social media users, they are likely going to come check out your feeds too. This is where your content is either going to draw them in or turn them away. You might have had a great conversation on someone else’s post, but if they come to your feed and see a disjointed collection of personal photos and memes, they’re probably not going to click that follow button.

The Best Creative Content for Social Media

Social media moves fast. You want bite sized information that people can read and react to quickly. An interesting image, a quippy caption, an engaging question, these are the things that people are drawn to on social feeds. If you can hook someone’s interest in the first line of text, many will stick around to read a longer caption, too. Experiment with what types of posts get the best conversations going and stick with this.

Beware of “like” traps. Some content inspires a quick scroll by and like, but nothing more. “Likes” are the least valuable kind of social media interaction. They are little more than a social proof that other people are interested in your post.

What you want is dialogue.

How Do I Use Social Media to Create Dialogue With My Audience?

If all you post are pretty pictures, or other people’s quotes, you are unlikely to get much actual interaction on your posts. Visual artists know this phenomenon well. Beautiful feeds full of artwork might get a lot of likes, but people tend not to comment. It’s pretty, but it’s not personal. You can’t build a relationship with scroll-by-“likers.” There has to be a story that bridges a connection between you and your audience.

How do you tell a story?

Have a Theme.

Theme’s are a kind of story. On a very visual platforms, like Instagram, it’s important that your feed have a cohesive visual look. You can achieve this by sticking to one filter, or using a particular colour scheme. This helps followers identify your posts quickly when they are scrolling through their own feeds. On less visual platforms, you can still have a theme in that your post cohesive content and use a consistent voice. Your theme is a story about you. People should be able to scroll through your posts and have a strong sense of who you are.

Show Your Face.

You are the narrator of your story. You don’t want an entire feed full of selfies, but you do need to show your face often enough that someone checking out your feed for the first time has an immediate idea of who you are. Chose pictures that show off your personality, whether that is serious and contemplative, or whimsical, or completely off the wall. Break up these snapshots with other content, but make sure that there are at least one or two photos of yourself displaying to browsers at any given time. When people see your content, you want them to picture you with it. You are the most important part of your story.

Micro-Blog.

Micro-blogging is like the flash fiction of the blogging world. Mini stories about you. You can treat your socials as a kind of micro-blog. Try new ideas here, test out what gets traction and what doesn’t, and then use that information as material for expansion on your blog or newsletter.

Posting a link to your latest blog post is a great way to optimize your platforms, but if you don’t engage your audience’s interest with a caption, they’re going to scroll right past your link without reading the headline. Engagement is key to converting followers into fans.

Whether you are sharing your own original content or you are sharing inspirational content from someone else, NEVER let it sit there without a caption. Connect it to a personal experience, ask a question of your audience, grab their attention. Share your story!

The Ultimate Goal of Social Media Accounts for the Creative Business Owner

If you only have social media and no other platforms your goals are these:

  1. Engage with potential audience members in their feeds.
  2. Create a feed that inspires engagement from casual browsers.
  3. Have an easily recognizable “look” to your content, which highlights who you are as a creator.

Discussion

I hope this breakdown of how best to use your social media platforms has helped you to understand how to get the most out of these indispensable creative business tools.

Do you have any other questions about social media use as a creative entrepreneur? Which ideas would you like to see me expand on in the future? What is your favourite social media platform for your business? Let me know in the comments!

Next Steps: The Blog

Ultimately, you want all of your social media posts to direct your audience back to your blog or website. Blogging is an extremely effective tool at the hands of any creative business owner. Next week, we’re going to talk about websites, and specifically the inarguable power of the blog.

Why? Your website/blog is the next level of engagement with your followers. This is where you move past the “trigger finger” reactions and lightening fast comments of social media, and narrow your audience down to those who are more deeply engaged with your story.

These followers will browse your online store and linger over long-form articles because they are genuinely interested in you. Followers who make it to your website or blog are more invested in your work than those on social media.

You just leveled up.

Stay tuned for next week’s Creative Business 101: Optimization Hacks to Get Your Platforms Working Together–Part Two: The Blog

100 Ways to Die in Space – # 1 Going too Slowly

Good morning! Today I’m sharing a fun series from another writer friend of mine called “100 Ways to Die in Space.” These articles are great for readers and writers of the Sci-Fi genre and might just prove to be a jumping off point for a new story! Be sure to drop Simon a comment and let him know which way to die was your favourite. And make a suggestion for future posts!

Welcome to 100 Ways to Die in Space Hi there bloggies, welcome to a new and fun little feature – 100 ways to die in space. Taking inspiration from a …

100 Ways to Die in Space – # 1 Going too Slowly

Creative Business 101: The Best Way to Create Valuable Content and Build Your Audience

Creative Business 101: The Best Way to Create Valuable Content and Build Your Audience

Every creative entrepreneur wants a bigger, more engaged audience. We want more eyes on our content, more people sharing our stuff with their friends, and ultimately, more buyers for our work. But how to you go from knowing who your ideal audience is to actually building that audience for your platform?

It’s all about valuable content.

If you are new to this series, you can check out the other articles here:

The Best Way to Create Valuable Content and Build Your Audience

If you are reading this piece, you should already have answered the question “Who am I creating for?” and have a pretty good idea of who your target audience or ideal audience is. If not, make sure you read the last post for Tips on How to Identify Your Audience.

In this article we will discuss:

  • How to provide value to your target audience
  • How to take what you know about your ideal audience and apply that to ideas for creative content
  • How to target multi-genre or multi-interest audiences in a cohesive way

How To Provide Value to Your Audience

When you’re starting a creative business and brainstorming ideas for what to put in your newsletters, blogs, or social media posts, it can be very overwhelming. Many entrepreneurs put off building their platforms because of this. We know what we’re “supposed to” do. But when it comes to actually doing it, we draw a blank.

If you have been dragging your feet over taking those first steps to building your audience, I have a pretty good idea why.

You don’t have anything to say.

First of all, that’s a lie. But what if I told you that your content is not really about you, anyway. Your content is about the value you provide to your audience. In order to provide valuable content for your audience, you have to stop thinking about yourself and think about them.

Why are they interested in your work? What other interests might they have that connect to your work?

Valuable content can be entertaining, educational, inspirational, or motivational. You do not have to pull ideas out of thin air. You can do things that have been done before. Find inspiration in the articles and posts that you read and love, then figure out how to make that idea work for your audience.

Valuable content is all about your audience. It is something you curate with them in mind. You are the merely the glue that holds it interesting bits together.

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”
–Helen Keller

The Easiest Way to Create Content Catered to Your Audience

Don’t try to reinvent the wheel here. The internet has been around for a long time, and we have a pretty good idea of what kinds of articles we are drawn to when we have time to kill. And you don’t have to be some kind of super genius algorithm hacker to figure it out. Here are some easy ways to apply basic blogging techniques to your own creative content:

1. Lists

Have you ever read a Top Ten list? Lists are a great way to start producing creative content. You can make a list about anything that your audience might find interesting or entertaining. Anything, that is, that connects your audience to your work.

If you are a romance writer, you won’t probably want to post a list about the funniest ways to die. As entertaining as you might personally find this topic, it’s not about you. It’s about your audience. You want to drive the right kind of traffic to your platform.

Depending on the kind of romance you write, you could to a list of everything from romantic getaways and best valentine’s day gifts, to hilarious safe words and underrated sex toys. What would your audience like?

2. How-Tos

No matter who you are, there are some things that you are good at. Have you ever followed an online How-To type article? Did it work? Was it a terrible fail? Either way, you have material.

The How-To is a great way to bring your audience into your creative process, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Many people in your audience will be amateurs themselves, and targeting burgeoning creatives is a great way to build one leg of your platform.

If you are an artist, for example you can do an How-To for basic skills in your craft. Or you can share something that you’ve tried that didn’t work out with a “How-Not-To” twist. Or go all in on a fail and share “How to Ruin a Painting in 5 Easy Steps.”

3. Inspiration/Motivation

This is one of the most popular type of blog post, and you can spin it a number of different ways.

If you have recently overcome a challenge, share a personal anecdote and a favourite quote to let your audience know that you are in fact human. Motivational stories, even about seemingly insignificant moments, can really strike a chord with people. I shared an experience with teaching my children how to skate, and what that taught me about writing, and my followers loved it! Sharing our failures is a great way to connect with your audience.

You can also share quotes, passages, and images that have inspired your creative work. A science fiction writer might showcase futuristic landscapes by artists which have inspired them. This draws the right kind of people to your feed. If they like the artwork that inspired your novel, this will make them curious about your novel. See how it works?

The Possibilities are Endless!

If you are interested in exploring this topic more, I’d be happy to brainstorm more ideas with you. Let me know in the comments!

“All knowledge is connected to all knowledge. The fun is in making the connections.”
–Arthur C. Aufderheide

How to Target Multi-Genre or Multi-Interest Audiences in a Cohesive Way

I said earlier that you are the glue that holds your content together. You might write in different genres or paint in different styles or record many different types of music, but in the centre of it all is you.

I know I said it’s not about you. Just listen.

The content is still not about you. It’s about your audience. But the way it all comes together and becomes cohesive? That’s all you, baby. You are the part of the equation that will keep your audience with you instead of one of those other platforms (or as well as, we can share!)

When you’re trying to find ways to tie multiple genres of work together, potentially with separate audiences, connection is the key. You need to think of ways that you can connect your interests/ideas to each other.

An author/blogger friend of mine expressed frustration with how to express three seemingly unconnected aspects of her identity in one platform. She’s a writer, a make-up artist, and a cat lover.

Any of these could be its own platform, but if she focuses on them each individually it all falls apart. She either has three separate platforms to grow, which would need separate accounts, and be completely overwhelming. Or she ends up with a random collection of make-up videos, writing updates, and cute kitty pics that looks more like a personal account than a business.

You may have many interests that inform your work, and as different as they are, you are the glue that holds them together. There is something about each of them that you connect with, and your connection is what will connect your audience.

Here were some of my suggestions to her:

  • Do a mood board for your current book (writing or reading) and do a post it with a make-up tutorial using the same colour scheme
  • Do a cosplay of your favourite literary character
  • Dress your cat as literary character (or attempt to dress your cat and take video of the calamity)
  • Share a picture of your cat along with a cat-themed passage from a favourite novel (there are so many books with cats in them!) or a quote from a writer about cats
  • Share a quote from a writer about beauty, identity, or strength, and share it with a look that makes you feel the same way

This technique works for multi-genre writers as well. How can you connect readers from one genre to readers from another and target them in the same post?

  • Share two of your favourite characters, from different genres, and compare and contrast their personalities
  • Compare one of your characters to a character from a different genre
  • Ask your followers a “Would you rather…” with a question from two different genres
  • Compare and contrast mood boards
  • Chose a theme and relate it to books from different genres

The ways to connect our work to our audience and our audience to us. Look for inspiration in the posts and articles that you like to read and brainstorm ways that you can do something similar in your own words.

Discussion

How are you feeling? Do you have a better idea of how knowing your audience helps you create valuable content and build your platform? What topics would you like to see next?

Upcoming articles will address:

  • How to Synchronize Your Platforms
  • How to Turn Your Platform into a Brand
  • How to Convert Followers into Customers
  • and more!

If there is anything else you want to know, please ask! Thank you for joining me in Creative Business 101. Happy creating!

10 Quotes About Humanity to Inspire the Science Fiction Writer

One of the things I love best about Science Fiction is the scale of thematic elements that we get to explore. This is true for creators and consumers of SF art. Of course, the best SF still tackles tangible “real life” conflicts. Some of the most common themes in literature are equally represented in Science Fiction:

  • Coming of Age
  • Courage and Perseverance
  • Love
  • Revenge
  • Good vs Evil
  • Redemption

However, the scale of these conflicts is often scaled up in Sci-Fi to encompass the world beyond human experience. What does it mean to fall in love with a machine? Is humanity ultimately good or evil? Will the planet seek revenge for the things we’ve done to it? Is there any way that humanity can redeem itself?

So I’ve collected some quotes about humanity that might inspire your next creative work. Enjoy!

#1 Educated Monsters

The more humans learn, it seems, the more monstrous we become. Tribal societies of the past were often brutal and difficult, but humans have survived by their capacity to form strong bonds and work together within our communities. It seems that the more we learn, the more we become distanced from one another. What is it about knowledge that twists our humanity? What does the future look like for our knowledge seeking species?

#2 Control Freaks

Humans love to feel in control: of themselves, of their environments, of their destinies. But the more we try to control, the more things seem to get away from us. This quote encompasses two great thematic questions from SF works. What happens when we lose control? and How do we continue in the face of our own destruction, when our enemy is our own hubris?

#3 The Human Race

People love to have an Other. The people who represent, to us, everything that we are not: human/animal, black/white, rich/poor, scientific/religious, liberal/conservative. We like to draw lines between ourselves and feel superior in our perceived “normalcy.” But what happens when the Other is bigger than we are? An alien species, perhaps. Or sentient beings of our own creation. What happens if we have to band together against a threat against our very humanity? Can people abolish the lines drawn in the sand between us in order to save our species? Or will we fragment and be defeated by imaginary divisions?

#4 We’re Fucked

Perhaps the ultimate hubris of humanity is thinking we have any say in what goes on here at all? The planet has been around for billions of years, seen the rise and fall of species far more long-lived than ours. We like to think we’re pretty important, “saving” the whales, “saving” the planet. Arguably, the best way for humans to save anything is to disappear. Blink! Like the tiny inconsequential specks of space dust we really are.

#5 The Comparison Trap

We still have a lot to learn about being human. As far as we know, there are no other species out there that are quite like us. The more we learn about other creatures, the more special we seem to become (in our own eyes, at least). The human brain is the most complex computing organ/machine there is, and even we don’t understand exactly how we work. But this won’t always be the case (hubris again!) will it? What happens when we create an intelligence beyond ourselves, and bigger than ourselves? What will we be taught about our perilous superiority then?

#5 Compassionate Intelligence

Okay, okay. It’s not all doom and gloom. We are the ones attempting to create an artificial intelligence, so we must have some say in how it turns out. Right? What if, from the very beginning, we teach this AI compassion and kindness? How might compassionate computers, robots, and eventually sentients change the world? Hopefully they don’t decide the most compassionate outcome for earth is to eliminate humanity… Better double check that coding.

#7 Human Together

Being human is kind of a team sport. As communal animals, the entire makeup of our brains becomes a bit off-kilter when we’re left to our own devices. This is why the dangers of distancing ourselves from others, and from our humanity, are such poignant themes in literature. Without a “you” who am “I?” What does pure isolation do to a person? Can I be human if I’m the only one left? Or am I just another animal, waiting to die upon an ancient and indifferent space rock?

#8 Human Computers

If AI is an extension of human intelligence, are sentient robots Humanity v.2.0? Will we cause our own extinction by forcing human evolution and effectively rendering the Mother Species redundant and obsolete? For centuries now, scientists have been accused of playing God. What happens when we really do create new life? Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein offers up one suggestion, which has been explored repeatedly in SF media. But what if, like Victor Frankenstein, humans are the true monsters and our creations choose to slay us rather than worship us? Humanity is dead, long live Humanity.

#9 Idealist Humans

Like the idea of compassionate AI, it is nice to wonder about less bleak eventualities on the human timeline. Perhaps scientists have a breakthrough on empathy research, causing people around the globe to truly feel one another’s pain? Octavia E. Butler explores this idea in The Parable of the Sower and… well, lets just say it’s not easy to be a chemically induced empath. She does pose in important question, though. If everyone were forced to literally feel the pain of those around them, how would society change? What are some other ways that humanity might rise above its petty concerns with religion, race, and nationality? Maybe there is hope for us beyond the alien invasion scenario in #3.

#10 No Hard Feelings

Back track to #4 again, and we’re fucked. Unless humanity addresses it’s destructive tendencies, there isn’t really any way for the development of self-teaching AI to end other than in our own demise. Even we know we’re pretty bad for production in the big picture. Is there any way around being offed by our own robot babies? What redeeming feature does humanity have that no other creature can recreate? There’s an argument for creativity, I think. There’s an argument for mythology as a way to communicate with people (and possibly other species) that we don’t know. Will it be enough to save us? You tell me…

Discussion

What is your favourite book that discusses the potential and limitations of humanity in the future? Have you ever addressed these themes in your own work? Have any of these quotes inspired your next project? Let me know in the comments!

If you enjoyed this piece, be sure to check out 10 Gardening Quotes to Inspire the Sci-Fi Writer as well!