39 things you didn’t know about me

39 things you didn’t know about me

I’ve been meaning to write one of these for years – they are easy and can be fun ways to share information: make a list of lesser known, interesting facts about yourself and your life. Include some pictures if you want to. It won’t get search traffic, but it’s good content to share with your list later and engage them by asking them so respond or post one of their own secrets.

  1. I was the star of my highschool musicals
  2. I used to polevault
  3. I can understand Spanish and Chinese, but speak haltingly.
  4. I spent summers at scout camp as a goodwill ambassador and crafts instructor.
  5. I eat too many cookies
  6. I once bawled in public at the airport over a girl
  7. this is harder than I thought it would be
  8. I spent my Junior year of high school as an exchange student to Argentina, and fell in love with mate (tea), empanadas (the best kind are with meat and olives).
  9. I went to school in Malta for fine art and philosophy, then studied classical painting at the Angel academy in Florence for a semester.
  10. After that, I ran an outdoor school kitchen and taught kids about nature for a year.
  11. I moved to Taiwan to teach English, after getting a teaching certificate in Barcelona, and – after getting rejected twice, finally enrolled for a Masters, then a PhD program at Taiwan’s #1 school.
  12. My favorite places ever are Oregon, Argentina, Bali and Malta (maybe? It’s been a long time, I need to go back and revisit).
  13. I gave myself my first tattoos. They still look pretty good. They’re astrology symbols for Jupiter and Saturn: they’re my two ruling planets.
  14. I believe in astrology (though I dislike the term “believe” – I think there are measurable, repeatable effects with a statistical significance). It makes sense to me and interests me.

15. I have weak teeth, and after getting screwed by a crappy dentist, a very nice one gave me a bunch of dental implants without charging. I try to repay the favor whenever I see someone struggling.

16. Most of my early fiction is based on real places, mythology or history. I do a lot of research, and we’ve even spent time in Northern Ireland / Eastern Bulgaria for research trips.

17. I’m fascinated by ancient civilization, megalithic structures, and all things ancient.

39… I’m currently 39 years old, and still struggling with adulthood.

Writer Confessions

Writer Confessions

What is this post?

Writer confessions probably isn’t the right term, but the idea is – in this post you could talk more about your writing process. Describe your typical day; the things you wrestle with, the things you must have in your writing arena. Your writing space should be an extension of your author platform, not only to keep you inspired, but as a visual cue to readers.

Do we have to?

If your writer space is messy, just mention a few of the key objects you rely on; you can even use pics from the manufacturer’s website. You *could* also use affiliate links to products you recommend, but unless you’re driving tons of traffic, this probably won’t be a strong source of revenue – it’s better to get something done quickly than procrastinate because you haven’t added in all the fancy stuff.


My confessions:

  • Two characters in two different books quote the same passage from Keats in dialogue
  • I sometimes mix up my characters’ names – even across series
  • I need a plate of cookies and a cup of coffee or tea; or ideally a beautiful coffee shop with cake
  • Background noise distracts me (I can’t even have someone walk into my field of vision when writing) so I have a huge pair of noise-cancelling Sony headphones, my wife hates them because she’ll have to yell to get my attention. When writing, I listen to soft indie folk music or trans/techno music (all beat, no lyrics).
  • I’m much better at plotting and editing than I am at getting the first rough draft down into words, but I’m working on increasing my writing speed.
  • One time I hid under the table at the London Comicon rather than talk with readers.
  • I’m a cat person. We’ve had several small black cats named Xiao Hei (little black). One of them got sick, and I couldn’t bear to have the vet put him down, so he had two good weeks at home before dying in what I assume was agonizing pain in the yard. Still one of the big regrets of my life.
  • Sometimes I lie awake at night musing on all the stories I’ll never have time to tell.
  • I LOVE rain and thunderstorms, but only from the safety of a front porch with a nice view.


Now it’s your turn

What interesting details can you “confess” about your own writing process?

How to make a living with your writing

How to make a living with your writing

What is Lorem Ipsum?

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry’s standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged. It was popularised in the 1960s with the release of Letraset sheets containing Lorem Ipsum passages, and more recently with desktop publishing software like Aldus PageMaker including versions of Lorem Ipsum.

Why do we use it?

It is a long established fact that a reader will be distracted by the readable content of a page when looking at its layout. The point of using Lorem Ipsum is that it has a more-or-less normal distribution of letters, as opposed to using ‘Content here, content here’, making it look like readable English. Many desktop publishing packages and web page editors now use Lorem Ipsum as their default model text, and a search for ‘lorem ipsum’ will uncover many web sites still in their infancy. Various versions have evolved over the years, sometimes by accident, sometimes on purpose (injected humour and the like).


Where does it come from?

Contrary to popular belief, Lorem Ipsum is not simply random text. It has roots in a piece of classical Latin literature from 45 BC, making it over 2000 years old. Richard McClintock, a Latin professor at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, looked up one of the more obscure Latin words, consectetur, from a Lorem Ipsum passage, and going through the cites of the word in classical literature, discovered the undoubtable source. Lorem Ipsum comes from sections 1.10.32 and 1.10.33 of “de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum” (The Extremes of Good and Evil) by Cicero, written in 45 BC. This book is a treatise on the theory of ethics, very popular during the Renaissance. The first line of Lorem Ipsum, “Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet..”, comes from a line in section 1.10.32.

The standard chunk of Lorem Ipsum used since the 1500s is reproduced below for those interested. Sections 1.10.32 and 1.10.33 from “de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum” by Cicero are also reproduced in their exact original form, accompanied by English versions from the 1914 translation by H. Rackham.

Where can I get some?

There are many variations of passages of Lorem Ipsum available, but the majority have suffered alteration in some form, by injected humour, or randomised words which don’t look even slightly believable. If you are going to use a passage of Lorem Ipsum, you need to be sure there isn’t anything embarrassing hidden in the middle of text. All the Lorem Ipsum generators on the Internet tend to repeat predefined chunks as necessary, making this the first true generator on the Internet. It uses a dictionary of over 200 Latin words, combined with a handful of model sentence structures, to generate Lorem Ipsum which looks reasonable. The generated Lorem Ipsum is therefore always free from repetition, injected humour, or non-characteristic words etc.

Your Author Funnel

Your Author Funnel

I wrote recently about author funnels on Creativindie but the point was this: you can’t try to give everything to everybody. You have to focus on the 95%.

Who is going to visit your blog? Either people who know you, your name, your book’s name – or people who don’t.

People who already know you and your books probably don’t need to visit your website much: when they finish a book you’ve include a call to action and links to go buy the next one, or sign up for a free book from your website. (If that’s the case, you have a special landing page where they can sign up for their free book, not just the homepage).

And it’s important to get those people onto your list.

But it’s more important to think about the people who found you by accident – because they were searching for stuff related to your genre, and because you were smart and wrote a lot of great content with keywords relating to your genre – they stumbled upon you’re site.

And now you’ve got, maybe, 3 seconds to catch their attention.

How do you do it? With fancy colors and images and moving gifs and flashing lights?


One Facebook or Twitter, when they are scrolling through a bunch of stuff, pictures help your posts stand out. But they are already on your website. You don’t need to catch their eye, you need to hook their brain. Probably with an interesting headline or subtitle.

All your posts should extremely clickable with captivating titles, but you also need your subtitle/tagline (under your blog header or logo) who you are and what exactly you do.

And then you want them to do something.

But don’t give them a ton of choices – too many choices will paralyze them.

Give them  one choice.

The choice will probably be, “Read Something For Free.”

You could offer a free book, but if they don’t know you yet, they aren’t going to want it – at least not badly enough to give you their email.

So instead you should try and get them to read an excerpt. “Read the first chapter free!” and immediately following, add social proof with a few reviews, or “over 100 5 star reviews” or “over 10,000 sold” or “winner of X prize.”

Give them a reason to start reading.

Back it up with social proof.

At the bottom of your excerpt you have “get this book for free on Amazon” (for your permafree book – if you don’t have one, you can link to your book).

At the end of that book, you have another offer – something even better – to try and get them on your email list.

Why do you need an email list?

So you can let them know when you have a new book out, ask them to buy it and review it, and hopefully share it with others. But if you only have one book, after they’ve bought it and read it, having them on your email list is worthless… unless you plan to write more books soon. It’s still a good idea, but it can be expensive once you get a few thousand people on your list to keep it up, unless you’re earning some money back.

So you need more content.

My point

Don’t give them everything. Don’t worry about everybody. Make the thing you want them to do the easiest thing to find; remove obstacles (price, confusing site, email optin). If you ask for their email too earlier they’ll leave. You need to make them want your book before they’ll trade their money or their privacy to read it.

You can do that with excerpts, or a brilliant description, or a beautiful book cover, or lots of quality reviews. Attract them with the right content, grab them with a good offer, get them on your list – OR sell the book hard and get them to click over to Amazon and buy.