A Whole New World(Building)

If you’re a writer, like me, you probably have your experience with world-building. Even those of us who write realistic fiction have to build our worlds, right? We have to explain to our reader (without droning on about it or info-dumping) how our world works, even if our story is set in present-day on Earth and it’s not alternative history.

For me, unless my story is super straightforward, I consider what I’m working on to be Real-World Fantasy. It gives me the freedom to make rules for how MY Earth works. More often than not, I stick to the rules we’re all familiar with because I’ve mostly written Young Adult and New Adult Romance up until recently.

However, a lot of my stories take place in fictional towns. Or fictional high schools. Those settings need to be built so that my readers will believe they are real when they read the story that is set in these places.

For example – JUST A DUMB SURFER DUDE 1-3 had Dextrus Academy as the backdrop for a lot of the story, and though unnamed, the tiny little Vermont town where all the characters lived was fictional as well.

Even in a realistic, real-world setting, I had to give rules and backstory so that readers could feel immersed in the setting and find the characters believable.

World-building is done by almost every author in almost every fiction book that is written.

It’s the story that determines how much world-building is needed. High Fantasy will require much more world-building than realistic fiction set in a fictional high school, obviously.

Quickly, so as to not lose your interest, but to give you some idea about world-building if you’re new to it, things that need to be figured out are:

  1. Climate/Environment
  2. Geography
  3. Resources (trade, currency, natural resources, farming, etc.)
  4. Has your world changed over time? How much time?
  5. How much of your world do you need to show to tell the story in the book you are writing?
  6. Does the environment/terrain affect your story/characters?
  7. Population size, density, class system, races, ethnicities, species, languages, war/peace, etc.
  8. History of your world
  9. How is your world ruled?
  10. Religion and politics.

I could go on and on…

My next book (coming March 25th, 2022) is POSSIBLY TEXAS and is set in…you guessed it…Possibly, Texas. This is a fictional town, and though set in the real world that we all know, it’s “quirky.” The citizens and the town itself are run by different rules from time to time.

Since it’s set in the real world that we all know, a lot of things were already figured out for me. I didn’t have to worry as much about language, religion, currency, laws, politics, and so forth.

I had to focus on the terrain and geography of the town.

The history and mythology of the town.

Each character’s backstory, how they came to be in Possibly, and what their purpose was in town.

I had to figure out each business in town, who owned and operated it, how it worked, and what service it provided–as well as why.

Who runs the town? Who’s in charge? Do they have a common religion in town? Where do the kids go to school? How do they get utilities and services such as groceries and gas?

In the end, I created a fictional town that worked and ran in a way that would be familiar to readers…but quirky enough to whisk them away on an adventure. To feel that while they have one foot in reality, they’ve stepped through the looking glass. I wanted readers to think:

What have I gotten myself into…and how do I get more?

I would like to invite you on a short walk down Two-Mile Trail.

As we round the wooded bend, we’ll hear a vaguely familiar tune coming from the AMOR speaker set up on the town sign.

Maybe we’ll remember where we’ve heard the song before…maybe we won’t. But we’ll know we know it from somewhere.

Then it’s just a short stroll over Lovelorn Pass Bridge, that someone might be jumping off of and into Susurrus Creek below, and we’ll be in Possibly proper.

If the mystic in the circus tent off of the town square and the giant pirate ship don’t confuse you too much, maybe we’ll explore downtown?

So, come with me on an adventure. Visit Possibly, Texas.

It’s quite possibly the best place to be.

Tremendous Love & Thanks,

Chase

Trust the Process

So, you wrote a story. Or a novelette/novella. Or a book.

It took you days, weeks, months, even years. If you’re not a full-time writer, you did this before and/or after work. On your days off. In between taking care of your kids or pets or other loved ones. You snuck in getting some words out while waiting in lines or on your commute (hopefully, on public transport if you were also writing).

You sacrificed time, energy, and other hobbies and interests to bring life to something that meant the world to you.

Congratulations! You should be very proud of yourself!

You’re not even close to done.

As any writer will tell you–though I might be the first–writing is often the easiest part.

The next step (unless you already have an agent) is figuring out how you’re going to publish. Are you going to tighten up your manuscript, edit and proofread, then query agents in pursuit of traditional publishing?

Will you cut out the agent process and query small presses and indie publishers?

Maybe you’ll self-publish?

All of these paths to publishing are valid. Publishing your Word Baby™ is an incredibly personal decision. This first step towards figuring out your path can be difficult. Weighing the pros and cons and how you will feel about your decision down the road can drive a person mad.

Regardless, you have to make a decision. Otherwise, Word Baby™ is never cradled lovingly by another human being. All the time you spent writing it was wasted–unless you’re the type of writer who likes reading their own work over and over. Which is fine.

Whichever path to publishing you choose, there are numerous steps to complete once you’ve made your decision.

Querying, agents, blurb writing, cover design, ISBN assignment (possibly), copyrighting (possibly), developmental editing, line editing, copy editing, proofing, formatting, marketing…begging readers to please, please, please, adopt your Word Baby™.

I’ve seen plenty of writers–who have managed to write a full novel–give up before they are published. Not because they really wanted to get an agent and publish traditionally and it didn’t work out, but because they got burned out.

The process is tedious no matter which option you choose.

Even after the display of stamina, the Herculean effort, shown in writing 50,000+ words, publishing can make a writer crumble.

It’s not just that there are so many steps and the process drags on for what seems like forever.

A writer has to face a lot of critique during the process.

Agents, editors, beta-readers, advanced readers, random family members, friends…writers get feedback from everyone. If the feedback is not glowing, it can be a strike to the ego. Even if the feedback is good, it’s often not consistent from one person to the next.

A writer has to somehow figure out whose advice to take and how to implement it into their fixes and corrections.

Writers find that if they traditionally publish–especially as a first-time author–they often have very little control once they sign a contract.

Self-published writers will find that their options may be limited based on their experience and skills, their budget, and what publishing avenues offer to them.

Even if a writer can keep a stiff upper lip and take critique like a pro, and they are able to figure out how to use that critique, as well as have the skills and experience needed to get through the publishing process…there’s the waiting.

Just signed a contract with an agent? Awesome! Now it’s time to develop the story, edit, proof, and figure out how to market it to sell to a publisher.

Which could take…forever. It may never sell.

You may get dropped by your agent.

Then you start all over.

Just signed with an indie publisher or small press? It’s time to brainstorm with a developmental editor. Then do the developmental edits. Which can take months or longer. Then there are 3 to 100 other editing levels to go through. Then proofing. Cover design. Interior formatting. Marketing strategies. Beta-readers. On and on and on.

In the end, when your Word Baby™ finally sees the light of day, you will have read your own book no less than a dozen times from front to back (if you’re lucky), and you might be sick of it. You may never want to see that book again.

If you manage to get to the end.

I’ve known many writers who got tired of the process and gave up on writing for anything other than pleasure. Which, writing for pleasure is fine, but I hate to see anyone give up on a dream.

I know a writer who didn’t get their book published until nearly 20 years after they wrote it.

I know a writer who spent a year writing a novel, found an agent after 6 months, had their manuscript sold to a publisher after another 6 months…and two years later, the publisher pulled out. The writer got to keep their advance since it was the publisher’s decision based on things the writer had no control over, but the process hit a roadblock.

They had to start over after 4 years.

In September of this year, I am going to finally publish a book I’ve been working on for 8 years.

EIGHT. YEARS.

Am I sick of that book yet? Somehow, I am not. But I’m tired of the process.

However, the point of me writing all of this is to not only warn writers and future authors that The Process can be a massive pain in the ass. It’s also to let them know that The Process can be trusted. It should be trusted.

The Process is in place to make sure that your Word Baby™ is the best Word Baby™ it can be.

Don’t let The Process defeat you.

If you can spend years of your life writing your book, surely you can devote as much patience to making sure it’s the best it can be.

PS If you were not aware yet, my next novel, an LGBTQ+ Magical Realism story, POSSIBLY TEXAS, is now available for pre-order. Click on the graphic below to reserve your ebook copy!

Tremendous Love & Thanks,
Chase

Stock Photo Models

I can’t speak for all authors.

Some of us are self-pub, indie, or trad. Or a hybrid of two–or all–of these publishing methods.

However, maybe you’re a writer similar to me, and you get to look through stock photos when it comes to designing your book covers? Maybe you get to have some input? Maybe you get to go through stock photos for promo that you or your publisher are designing?

Regardless of how things work for you and your writing career, you’ve probably sorted through some stock photos at one point or another.

It can be a slog.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing I love more than “stock photo day”–that day I have to sort through dozens or hundreds of model photos to give input on what I’d like to see on a book cover or in a piece of promo.

I’m gay because I like men. Skinny, fat, short, tall, light skin, dark skin–all men are gorgeous to me. I’m drawn more to redheads who are older than me, but that’s neither here nor there…

So, it’s with much consternation that I see a lack of diversity in stock model photos. I’m not sure about smaller agencies that license photos, but the big ones have a problem with diversity for certain.

Most of the model photos I see–and my imprint is so good about finding a variety of models for me, though they have to work with what’s available–are white dudes who are extremely fit or at least not out of shape.

My imprint and I struggle to find models who are Black, brown, Asian, Fat, older, etc.

It can be a real pain in the ass and defeating.

The lack of variety of models is not the only problem, unfortunately.

If we find Black models, they are usually fitness photos, bodybuilding photos, very catalog-y, or the models are placed in hoodies and look menacing. Sometimes the photos are outright racist in their positioning and use of Black models.

When it comes to Fat models, they are usually eating, or doing something silly so they can’t be taken seriously.

Middle Eastern/Asian models are usually very catalog-y or they are dressed in costume-y clothes (that are meant to look “traditional” but fail). Or they are put in glasses, a suit, and given a piece of tech to post with in the photo. It’s racist.

Older models (not even that old–maybe as young as 45/50) are placed in odd positions or told to do odd things for the photos. For example: could you sit in this wheelchair and let us drape a blanket over your legs even though you look like you just sent a kid off to college and are in the prime of your life?

Don’t get me wrong (again) – I’m not trying to beat down the white, fit models. They’re all incredibly good-looking. And we all need to work, right? I can’t hate on anyone getting their bag. Especially when they often don’t make the decisions or get asked their opinions about diversity.

White, fit guys are hot, too. That’s not the problem.

The problem is that Black and other POC, different body types, and a range of ages, are not available.

When they are, they are not photographed like white, fit models.

They are asked to do silly or stereotypical things so that their photos could never be used for a book cover or editorial pieces. They aren’t allowed to be sexy, serious, or artistic. They’re asked to play a role.

It’s insulting.

It’s not just insulting to the models–though, I can’t imagine how they feel–it’s insulting to people looking to license photos.

How could you possibly want a photo of a Fat model unless they’re eating or doing something ridiculous?

I can’t lay all the blame on the stock photo sites. They often have to decide what to offer based on what freelance photographers have in their books.

Freelance photographers can’t shoulder all the blame because they’re often told what sells and what doesn’t, so they tend to go with white, fit models.

Honestly, I think the blame has to be shared between the sites and the photographers. If sites demanded more variety and diversity in models, and photographers hired a wider variety of models, the problem would be fixed.

If people who license these photos demanded more diversity and variety, and then actually licensed those photos, things would be fixed.

My intention is not to hate on any particular type of model. Again, I just enjoy looking at the men, regardless of their size, shape, color, or age.

Stock Photo Model Day is always the best day, no matter what.

I just wish that more skin tones, body types, and ages flashed across my screen as I was making my decisions.

Tremendous Love & Thanks,

Chase

The Journey

One thing I’m always fascinated with is how we get from Point A to Point B in life.

If you think about it, when you were a little kid, did you imagine that your life would look exactly as it does now?

I certainly didn’t. My life looks nothing like 8-year-old Chase Connor thought it would. Probably because 8-year-old Chase was a stupid asshole?

Where we started and where we end up are often the complete antithesis of each other. That can be good, bad, or make no difference at all, but it is surprising when you think about it for a minute.

However, when you really delve into how things were versus how they are, you begin to realize something even more important.

It wasn’t the starting point. It wasn’t the destination.

It was the journey.

I had a fairly happy early childhood. My adult life and marriage are…the happiest I’ve ever been in my entire life.

But they aren’t all that interesting. I don’t know about the rest of you, but my adult life is fairly banal. I get up, make breakfast and coffee for my husband and myself, we eat, we talk and laugh, we get ready for our days, and we both start work.

We have lunch.

We finish work and make dinner.

We watch T.V. or read a book. We talk about the future. We play with our dog. We cuddle. Give each other kisses. Tease each other mercilessly. Sometimes we dance in the kitchen to Sleep on the Floor by The Lumineers or Stardust by Nat King Cole.

We tell silly jokes. We go grocery shopping. We have sex. We just enjoy having our person.

It’s amazing. But interesting? Not really.

What we went through that led to us slow dancing in the kitchen on a random Tuesday night is what is interesting.

The struggles. The fights. The lovemaking. The anger. The forgiveness. The compromise. Learning to communicate. The travels. The big decisions. The health. The illness. The timing of our individual existences that caused both to collide.

That’s the interesting stuff.

It’s one of the reasons that a lot of stories end with “And they lived happily ever after.” or it is assumed when the last word is read. Because what comes after finding the purpose of one’s existence and leaning into it is pretty boring.

Dishes. Housework. Random fights over who drank the last of the milk and didn’t put it on the shopping list. Waking up to dog poop in the hallway even though your pupper is trained. Annoyance that you haven’t had a meal you love in forever because your partner hates it.

It’s all booooooooring. Amazing. But boring.

Boring is great. I’ve never been afraid of a small life. In fact, I think that’s what 8-year-old Chase Connor secretly dreamed of when he thought of his future. He just felt it was maybe not acceptable to wish for…happiness.

We’re all expected to have big dreams and ideas for the future.

Walk on the moon! Discover a new animal species! Heal the sick! Be a millionaire!

My cup runneth over with happiness. That’s always been enough for me. More than enough. It is my dream fulfilled.

But it’s boring. I get that.

So…that’s why the middle of stories is the best for me. What happens between pages 50 and 300, to put too fine a point on it.

Beginnings are often exciting. Endings are often sad. But the journey between the two is what makes things interesting.

As a writer, I guess that’s what I try to deliver. A journey. To take the reader on an adventure through a period of a character’s life. Show them how a character started, and end with how they’ve changed–all while showing how and why that change occurred.

Change is fascinating.

It’s also what I look for as a reader. I want to go on an adventure. I want to get invested in a character so that I care about their change.

I want the journey.

Because…in the end…if we’re lucky…we simply end up happy. And that’s blissfully boring.

Tremendous Love & Thanks,

Chase

So, I Did This Thing

I’m a writer. Did you know that?

I write stories that turn into books. Well, sometimes I write stories that end up as just stories. I give those away or they end up in anthologies from time to time.

Regardless, whenever I write stories–no matter where they end up–I write them the way I see them in my head. What The Muse™ tells me to put down on paper (er, screen?).

I have no other motive than to tell the story the way I feel it should be told. Hopefully, it will make some money for me, but I have no control over that part, so I focus on the telling of the story aspect of writing.

Day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, book after book, that has been my modus operandi.

Have a story; tell a story. Release it to the wild.

Other than the hope that a piece of work will make money for me, I have no expectations of what readers will or won’t think. I hope they have a lot of fun reading what I wrote. I love entertaining readers more than anything. However, I know that everything–other than the writing of the story–is out of my hands.

Once that is done, I can’t expect anything specific from my stories. I can’t expect anything from the readers.

I send them out and hope for the best and move on to the next thing.

It has always been that way for me. Until recently…

When I started writing POSSIBLY TEXAS in November of 2020 (during NaNoWriMo), I was so excited. It’s a story about a quirky little town with quirky citizens and it’s a lot of fun. It’s charming. Cute. I felt like readers would enjoy visiting this weird little town and all of its weird little citizens that live in my head.

Over the next year, I realized that I was writing something that was a metaphor. Even I didn’t know what my brain had in mind when I started writing the story. POSSIBLY TEXAS wasn’t just a story about a quirky town and the Possbilians who live there.

With each new page I wrote and polished, I realized that the book was full of my own personal philosophies. My hopes. My dreams. What I hoped for others. The way I see the world. What life means to me.

I found myself hoping–for the first time ever–that readers would feel…something more…while reading one of my books.

I hope POSSIBLY TEXAS entertains. It has a lot of fun characters and locales. I hope readers are charmed and delighted but what they find on the pages.

But I hope it leads readers to also, well, hope. My wish is that it inspires kindness and mindfulness. That it makes readers pause and think of the world outside of themselves.

I hope it inspires everyone to want to be a Possibilian.

Tremendous Love & Thanks,

Chase

BTS (Not the KPop Group)

Did you ever wonder what happens from inception to the end of the writing process? If you’re a fellow writer, you probably aren’t unfamiliar with it. However, for readers, the writing process seems like a magical ritual where words spew forth from a writer’s brain and appear on a page right before their eyes as their eyes roll back in their head and they chant some dark spell.

Fact Check: very few of us actually invoke the dark forces to write our books. I’ve done it twice at the most.

Like any other job, writing a book (or anything) has a process. Steps that have to be taken (not necessarily in what’s considered the “proper” order). Today, I’m going to give you all a Behind the Scenes look at what happens when I write a new book.

From the beginning…to the end.

Step 1

Desperately try to think of an idea.

Scour your brain every second of every day. Wring your hands. Pull your hair out of your head. Hiss at the sun as it rises and growl up at the moon. All day long, think of what would make a dynamic story.

Finally, like a bolt of lightning to the brain, have an idea strike you while you’re showering and do not have access to your phone or other ways to jot down notes as the ideas invade your brain like ravenous zombies.

You can also wait until you’re just drifting off to sleep to think of your idea(s) and then grab your phone from the bedside table to take down your thoughts, thus shining blue light in your face that will keep you from falling asleep for another half hour. Up to you.

In all seriousness, ideas come from a lot of places. Maybe they’re prompted by a single idea for a character. Or a quote. A movie. A song. Something from the writer’s life or something they observed. It doesn’t really matter where the idea came from.

It’s just the first step.

Once an idea starts to form, notetaking and mental filing begin.

Step 2

Outlining, plotting, character sheets, world-building, and lots of other things that keep you distracted from having to write that perfect first line that will draw readers in immediately.

Okay. So, this step looks different to every writer. It depends on if they are a plotter, pantser, or plantser. Or a combination of two or three. Some writers choose to just dive in and see what happens (pantser). Some writers choose to make a few notes and a rough outline (plantser). Other writers want to do all of the things mentioned above (plotter).

Regardless, a writer needs to have–in their head, at the bare minimum–who their characters are, what’s going to happen, and where it’s going to happen. They need to know the POV. They need to know the beginning, the middle, and the end.

The rest is negotiable.

Then again, if a writer is a true pantser, they might just wing it. Some amazing things can happen when a writer gives themselves the freedom to just write and see what comes out.

I’ve been a pantser, plantser, and plotter at different times, depending on the book. Sometimes I am a combination. Things usually go best when I plants.

Step 3

Write those words.

Right after checking Twitter, the DMs, emails, Buzzfeed, CNN, BoredPanda, Wordle, a few rounds of Among Us, and going into your husband’s office to see if you can annoy him in some way.

For me, the writing is the hardest part. Whether I am winging it or going off of an outline, getting the words down is difficult.

This is because it takes focus, concentration, as few distractions as possible, and discipline. Even if you’re an average typist and can manage 40 words a minute, you’re only going to manage to get 2400 words down in an hour of writing.

Most writers I know can manage a half-hour or one hour of writing a day. Maybe less. Most writers have day jobs because until a project takes off and finds a huge audience, writing for a living is not possible for many writers.

So, at best, a writer will get 2400 words in an hour of writing. That’s if they know exactly what they want to write. To technically qualify as a novel, 50,000 words are needed, and most novels are longer than that.

Technically, a writer, as described above, can have a novel in 20.84 days.

But that’s incredibly unrealistic. Unless it’s NaNoWriMo season.

Plenty of writers have written 50k+ words during the month of November, year after year. It’s pretty rare that what’s written during that month because a complete and ready to go novel, though. To do that, tons of preparation work is needed during the first ten months of the year. And those aforementioned dark forces are called upon.

I’ve managed it once. ONCE.

Regardless, let’s assume that a writer needs 1-6 months to write an “okay” first draft manuscript.

Step 4+

Developmental editing. Alpha readers. Editing. Beta readers. More editing. Sensitivity readers. More editing. Line edits. Proofreading. Cover design. Interior design. Getting ISBNs (or not). Copyrighting (or not). The next several months or years after a first draft is done is all of these things.

This is if the writer is self-published or indie.

If a writer goes the traditional publishing route, this process is definitely years. Querying agents. Rejections, half-requests, full-requests, rejections. Then…they (hopefully) get signed before they give up on their book. The agent and writer work together to make the manuscript even better. Maybe get more readers to give it another pass. Try to sell the manuscript to a publisher.

And the process of editing and reading starts over again.

Writing a book is an arduous process that might produce a product that never ends up in the hands of the general public. Even if it does, there’s zero guarantee readers will even care. Or like it.

It really makes you wonder why writers…write. Right? Right.

Well, I write because it’s a big part of who I am. I can’t not write. I’ve also addressed why I write here.

Regardless, here is how one of my latest projects went through the steps mentioned above.

POSSIBLY TEXAS

In September of 2020, I came up with an idea for a quirky little town and the teenage boy who ends up there after spending most of his life on the road with his mother.

For two months, I plotted and drafted and brainstormed. I knew the first third of the book would be introducing the town, the cast, and setting several plot lines into motion. And it would be at least 50k. So, I focused on that part of the book. There was NO WAY I was going to write the entire book in one month. But I could get in the first 50k words.

When NaNoWriMo 2020 commenced, I wrote those words in 21-ish days, declared myself NaNoWriMo Winner, and moved on to other things for the rest of 2020. All through the first six months of 2021, I plotted and planned the rest of the book, wrote words when I could–in between other projects–worked with my developmental editor, had alpha readers read it, edited, beta readers, blah blah blah.

I made playlists and character sheets and fleshed out scenes and went back and changed dialogue and mythology. Changed scenes and dialogue that gave too much of the plot away too early. I rinsed, repeated, then rinsed and repeated several more times.

I worked, worked, fucking worked.

And now…POSSIBLY TEXAS is done.

Seventeen months from idea to completion. Right now, I’m dying to get the book in the hands of readers.

I hope they love it.

It’s not magic. It’s commitment, focus, and drive.

Tremendous Love & Thanks,
Chase

PS – Don’t forget to check out the first ever Author Quick-Fire Questions with Jessica Calla!

PPS – Have you seen my “Indie Recommends Indie” on Armed with A Book?

Begin Again

Happy New Year/New Blog Post, my reader-friends! I hope you’ve all arrived healthy, happy, and hopeful. The last two years have been…something. Right? It feels like we’ve all been in suspended animation for a while. We’re all starting to figure out how to live life again with new rules and guidelines.

Now that I mention it…

Do you ever stop and wonder how you’ll ever start again?

Well, if you haven’t read my previous posts ‘A New Adventure‘ and ‘Adieu,’ they might give some much-needed context for this post.

Leaving 2021 (and every other year behind), 2022 is the year I really stretch my legs as a writer.

As mentioned in the two posts I’ve linked, Young Adult is something I’m leaving behind. It has served its purpose for me, but I need more. Specifically, from my writing life.

I don’t want to have the first post of the year be about what I’ve written about enough already. So, I won’t rehash all of the “Young Adult Stuff.” I also don’t want to have the first post of the year be one in which I ramble incoherently.

Instead, I want to say that I am starting anew. Chase Connor, the writer, is a new man. He’s going to try new, exciting, things. He’s going to see what all he can be as a writer. And he invites you to come along for the trip.

I hate people who talk in the third person. Someone tell me to shut up, please.

So, I hope everyone is excited about a new leg of our journey together. I promise to deliver lots of engaging, exciting stories, great characters, and intricate plots to keep you flipping pages.

This is also a good time to let everyone know that I’m going back to the pre-COVID posting schedule. There will be a blog post on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of every month. Twice a month, every month.

To give a preview of what’s to come–in case you haven’t been paying attention–lots of great books on the way. This year will bring:

TRICKED: THE MEN OF BRIEFLY BUDDIES on Kindle Vella. POSSIBLY TEXAS–a magical realism story set in a fictional town full of quirky characters and locales. THE WARMTH OF OUR CLOSEST STAR–the sequel to BETWEEN ENZO & THE UNIVERSE. THATCHER GRAVES AND THE DEMON’S CURSE (THE THATCHER GRAVES SERIES – BOOK ONE)–a fantasy/paranormal series. And there might be some JACOB MICHAELS IS… thrown in for good measure.

In case you missed it on Twitter, I’ve also announced the sequel to A SURPLUS OF LIGHT, THE BEES AND OTHER WILD THINGS, is being prepared for publication.

More on that in time…

So, a lot of exciting things are on the way! I can’t wait to share them all with you. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a few book covers to whet your appetites.

We’ll be “talking” soon.

Tremendous Love & Thanks,

Chase

Adieu

Thanks to COVID-19, the last two years have been…long.

Difficult.

Troubling.

Sad.

Frustrating.

But also…joyous.

Though the world has been embroiled in turmoil (that kind of rhymes, right?) since March of 2020, it hasn’t all been bad. I’ve gotten to spend more time with my SAM–I mean, it would have been difficult not to considering we were all told to STAY HOME! I’ve had more time to read, watch T.V., see movies, and pick up new hobbies–a failed attempt at a bookshelf nook insert, and a pretty successful go at cross-stitch. I had a blast with both! I’ve listened to and discovered more music. I’ve cooked and baked more. I’ve reached out more to friends via text and phone and DMs and email since I couldn’t see them in person as was usual before March 2020. I learned more about other cultures and started up an Among Us Geeks group on Twitter–it started as a dozen writers playing the game for stress relief and evolved into a much larger group of general geeks. The group has kind of gone quiet, but there is still a handful of us hardcore players still around. I’ve organized and cleaned more. I spent more time with my dog.

Also, did you know Mexico banned cosmetic companies from testing on animals? Portugal enacted mental health laws so employers can’t contact employees on days off. The Great Barrier Reef is making a comeback. An HIV vaccine passed phase 1 of human trials. Rhino numbers in Kenya increased. Giant Pandas are no longer an endangered species. A vaccine for malaria is now approved and could start saving lives very soon. Pandora (the world’s largest jewelry maker) moved from mined diamonds to lab-created diamonds. The Ozone layer is on a path to full recovery by 2050. Ten countries in the world are now getting 97-100% of their energy from renewable sources. A blood test to detect depression and bipolar might be possible soon.

The world isn’t an entire ball of shit.

After two years of a pandemic (that’s ongoing, don’t forget) I actually feel…hopeful.

Nothing will ever be the same and there will always be evil, ignorant people to go to battle with, but each day is a step closer to a softer, kinder, more understanding world. That makes me hopeful. Annoyed by the struggle, but pleased with the tiny steps in the right direction.

I pray you all feel hopeful as well.

My thoughts go out to all of you who have lost loved ones to COVID-19. Those of you who lost jobs. Became disenchanted with the world due to many people showing their true colors. Many people showed how vile they are, for sure. However, remember that a lot of us rose to the challenge. Be inspired by the tremendous amount of gentle, quiet good, not by the loud evil.

That’s my hope for all of us moving forward. Ignore the noise and keep making our tiny little steps towards hope and change.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, 2022 is going to be a new era for Chase Connor Books and me. I’m leaving my Young Adult life behind and moving to…something different. I have to say “farewell” to that part of my writer life and explore and grow and…take what comes. That’s what I need as a writer and a human being to feel that I am fulfilled–because I need to try all I can try and be all I can be before my days are done. I’m hopeful about this journey, too.

I’m so excited to go on this journey with all of you, so I’m starting now.

This will be my last blog post for 2021. I’m going to take the last few weeks of the year to get my shit together and get ready for the next chapter. I was kind of inspired by The Lion Fish Press to take a few weeks to myself.

I’m going to cook and bake and spend time with my SAM and read and watch movies and listen to music and clean and clear my head. I hope all of you have a chance in the next few weeks to do the same.

Honestly, I have no clue what 2022 is going to look like for this blog. Or my writing life in general. I have a general feeling of what I want, and I’m excited to see it magically happen, but I will be as surprised as you all might be when the new year comes.

So…let’s start the next leg of our journey.

Come on…

Tremendous Love & Thanks,

Chase

Welcome to the Secret Society

Do you want to hear a secret?

A deep, dark, shocking secret of mine?

I haven’t been totally honest about whether or not I do “public” events for the release of my books. It’s true–I’m a big fibber. Well, kind of…

Today on Chase Connor Books, I have a blog post for my fellow writers–especially those with a book they are nearly ready to start marketing and then publish. Before we begin, I would like to say that I haven’t kept these things to myself in order to keep “insider information” from my fellow authors and hoard information. These aren’t trade secrets or some secret look behind the curtain pulled around the publishing world. You won’t find The Great and Powerful Oz pulling levers in the text of this post.

No one taught me what I’m about to write in this post. I didn’t have to sign a contract in blood and drink some mysterious liquid from a silver chalice in a secret meeting to learn these things. Simply put, what I’m about to share are some tips I came up with to fit my specific needs as an author. Maybe this post will help you if you’re following a path similar to mine.

It’s no secret that I am about selling my books and not myself. I can be friendly and social (especially on social media), but for the most part, I love anonymity. I love having my real life and my author life separate. I’ve made it clear in the past that I don’t want fame and fortune…just fortune. I don’t need people to love me…I just need them to love my books. I don’t seek validation as a person through my work, though this is not to shade anyone who seeks fame or validation through being an author.

Having said that, before I get into my deep, dark secret, I do have tips for debut authors, especially indies and indie-hybrids with small budgets and limited time to market and promote their work and/or themselves.

A fellow author reached out to me recently to ask me for advice on book launches, so let me tell you all what I told him.

A book launch is not a book signing. It’s a debut. Venues can rarely be too small for launches. A packed small room is much more impressive and feels more exclusive than a large room with lots of empty space. You don’t want people packed in like sardines, but you don’t want them to look around and think: “Jeez. Half the people invited didn’t even bother to show up.”

Surprisingly, libraries are not incredibly conducive to book launches. They often don’t allow sales, they are incredibly restrictive, relatively pricey (you will spend at least $55 for one hour for a single room at the main branch of my local library), and let’s be honest–people want to have fun at book launches. Libraries are great for quickly finding and picking up books, but their meeting rooms are not great for letting your hair down, hearing about a book, and mingling. In my opinion, you don’t just want to give a talk and do a reading from your book, you want people to have fun. If they have an experience, they’ll relate it to your book, and attach those good feelings to your book. The worst thing that can happen (other than the attendees just not caring about your book), is having them listen to your talk/reading, buy a book, and leave. You want them to leave feeling that they were part of something special so that they relate that feeling to your book. 

Because of this, try:

1) Metaphysical bookstores and indie bookstores. Small business owners often love collaboration and inventive, low-cost ways to do more marketing. When you think about it, if you do your book launch party while they’re open in the evening and you provide everything, it costs them nothing but space. They’re also often excited to help other “little guys” and meet more people in the community, too. Make an appointment to go in and talk to the owners face to face, make them feel like they are part of the experience you are trying to create, and get them to realize that this might also help their business. Let them know you want them to attend as well (if they can), enjoy the talk/reading, have snacks, meet new people/customers, etc. The backdrop of a metaphysical bookstore and/or indie bookstore also provides conversation. Just make sure that even if they say “no,” that you thank them, compliment them on something specific about their store, wish them the best, and give them your contact information in case they “change their mind” or think of other collaborative ideas in the future that benefit you both. If you know of stores like this where you are already a patron, contact those stores first. It’s easier to come up with nice things to say about an owner and store if you already love going there. 


2) Private dining rooms in restaurants. Many will let you have the room for free if they will also be selling food and drinks. Just make sure to let them know you plan to give a talk and do a reading so things can be timed with servers coming in and out. This is relatively low cost to you–as long as you make it clear to attendees that food/drinks are not provided. These types of launches also have to be relatively small. Probably no more than 20-30 people. For a first-time indie, this might be perfect, though. Make the people you invite feel as though they’ve been handpicked to be part
of a party that has a limit for attendees (“an exclusive event with limited seating”). You could also talk to the restaurant about whether or not they can set up a specific menu (from their existing menu) for the attendees. A choice between two appetizers, two dinners, and two desserts, with the attendees choosing their own drinks. This will make it feel more special–even though these are things the restaurant would serve anyway. However, it makes serving your room easier on the restaurant staff, and you can get a price per person from the manager to provide to your attendees on their invitation. Bring wet wipes for people to use (if necessary) before you move on to the buying/signing at the end of the meal. Greasy fingers + books = tragedy. Make sure to bring a little gift for everyone to leave with, such as a branded bookmark or some small token of your appreciation for their attendance, even if they don’t purchase a book.


3) Ask your friends and family to host a series of book launch parties at their homes and serve snacks and drinks. Like Tupperware parties. Or you can do a “progressive dinner” and have all of the parties in one night. Drinks and appetizers at one house where you welcome everyone and talk about your book. At the next house, have dinner and you give a reading. At the final house, everyone can have dessert and coffee where everyone mingles more and can buy a book and get an autograph. You can even have your book table set up there and waiting. The chance anyone will get dirty fingers on the books is lower if you go this route, which is a bonus. You could even have someone throw a backyard barbecue when weather permits. We all have that one friend or family member who loves to throw a party. This may be limiting on the number of attendees as well (unless you know Bill Gates and other people who own huge houses), but it’s a great way to build a “secret society” and a memorable experience. Bring wet wipes!


4) Lastly, even before COVID, virtual book launches were becoming more popular. This allows any number of people to attend. You can do a Zoom or Discord launch. Talk about your book, do a reading, and direct attendees to where they can purchase your book online or order an autographed copy to be shipped out to them. You can also suggest certain snacks and/or drinks (a theme) for attendees to prepare for the meeting and people can share what they made and why and maybe share recipes at the end. It’s a fun way to get people involved in the meeting so they have a memorable experience. 

Now that I’ve provided those tips–not that they’re industry changing or anything–let me tell you about my “Secret Society.”

I live a pretty low-key and anonymous author life, hence the pen name (though, I’m not sure if that is obvious to everyone). I have thrown parties at my home before when I’ve released books. Attendees were close friends who like keeping secrets and will help promote my work outside of my usual writer/reader channels. It has always been nice because you know almost everyone will buy a book at the party (friend-guilt is awesome) and you know what types of behaviors to expect. Knowing you won’t get too many difficult questions about the book is another bonus. Also, it’s a more relaxed environment where I can be myself more than I am “Chase Connor.” It’s something I definitely recommend to indie authors if they are able. Get your friends involved, make them feel like they are part of a “secret society,” and have them talk your book up to others when they’re out and about (at work, libraries, bookstores, over dinners with friends, etc.). However, it’s incredibly important to make it clear that there is no pressure to bother other people about your book. Just make it clear that if someone mentions a book, work yours into the conversation if they’re able. Since the “meetings” still revolve around the book, I’d always serve non-messy foods that were crowd-pleasers and easy to eat. If a particular food is mentioned a lot in the book the party is for, serve that food in some form. There may have been a party at my house where donuts and coffee were served for dessert. I’ll let you all decide which book that involved. Of course, people have dietary restrictions (weight loss, sugar-free, halal, kosher, vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, etc.) so that’s something to keep in mind–become familiar with the eating habits/needs of the people you are serving. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with chips and dips or cheese and crackers, as long as you keep plenty of napkins ready. No Kraft Singles, please. Save that for depression grilled cheese. COVID has kept us from having any parties for a while, but hopefully, next year I can resume the “secret society” meetings. 

Now that you know my deep, dark secret…do with that what you will. Have you heard of Street Teams or Beta-Readers or the like? Why not start a “Secret Society?” An author can easily throw a party that fits their budget and needs. Have a book that takes place in Italy? Homemade bruschetta, bowls of salad, and huge platters of spaghetti or fettuccine can be made for a crowd on a shoestring budget. Think Olive Garden, but not so salty. Remember, the food has to be good, but it doesn’t have to be gourmet. What matters most is the experience. Engage your attendees, mingle, tell great stories and jokes, be the best version of yourself you can be, and have everyone leave feeling as though they were a special VIP invited to an exclusive, secretive event. It doesn’t hurt to have free bookmarks or other merch for attendees to take home. The party can be as big or as small as you like–but it can really get your book and your name out there. Give it some thought.

Mystery Novel – throw a murder mystery party! Ghost-y Paranormal novel? Bust out those Halloween decorations! Romance Novel? Chocolates, champagne, roses, and asks the guests to dress appropriately (take that as you will–you might get to see some of your hot friends shirtless)! The only limit is your imagination!

Oh, and if you’re having family around this holiday season, it doesn’t hurt to leave one of your books on the coffee table, dining room table, the guest room dresser, and in the guest crapper. Ya’ know, just in case reading material is needed.

Tremendous Love & Thanks,

Chase