Promoting….it’s about being friendly: Shaun Allan Guest Post

I'm honored to guest host the incredibly talented Shaun Allen. I think we started our indie journeys around the same time, and it's been fun to watch his meteoric rise. His latest book is Darker Places. Read the other posts on his tour at the Darker Places Tour Hub.


 

darkerplaces_96dpi_100-199x300I’ve spent the last few weeks really looking at my social media profile and talking to my friends about the things that horrify them.
Which, to be honest, is how I’ve always spent my time online!

Many years ago, when I launched Sin, the indie community was just pulling itself together.  I really enjoyed making friends and talking writing, but I watched other writers spend their time in different ways, and I wondered if it worked.  I briefly looked at posting to the groups everyone was using, and to be honest, it kinda felt like it wasn’t worth it, even back then.  While others were posting the same stuff, over and over, I used my blog to feature other writers, and began writing on Wattpad.
Wattpad, which receives over 14 million unique hits a month, has been an amazing place to share my writing. I've received humbling comments, a massive number of reads and been given fantastic opportunities – not least being commissioned to write for NBC Universal.  They call me one of their most influential writers, something which is mind blowing, and continue to include me in their ongoing new ventures.

Social media – the clue’s in the name

When I’m asked for my one big tip about promoting, I tell people to stop looking at their social media as a mine for sales that they’ve got to slog at to dig out, and find maybe one or two willing buyers for a lot of effort, and instead treat social media as a place to be social, connect and to talk about books.
I’ve spent a lot of the last few weeks talking about Darker Places, it’s true, but I also share memes from the hairdresser I recently purchased with my wife, about the books that I’ve been enjoying by others, sharing funny and interesting stuff and giving back where I can.
Looking at the other successful writers around me, they’re doing a lot of the same things – some of them talk about other businesses, in conjunction with their books, some just talk books, but every single one of my successful friends use social media to be social.

And why wouldn’t you?

Social media is one of the biggest places that we can make friends and influence people, but it’s important to me to make sure that it’s not all ‘sell, sell, sell’.  Instead, my social media leads to my pages, my pages lead to my newsletter and blog, and everything leads back to hanging out and having fun.  I’ve made many friends on my journey, and I learn something new every day.  And I get to hang out with some of the most incredible writers out there.


Shaun's latest book is Darker Places. Read the other posts on his tour at the Darker Places Tour Hub.

 

H is for Horror: #atozchallenge2015

dark-graveyard-background_MJAFJu5uAlexandria Publishing Group is participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge again this year. Here's one of my posts: http://alexandriapublishinggroup.com/2015/04/09/h-is-for-horror/

Horror is an emotion shared by everyone who’s human. The horror genre explores that emotion in all its forms—subtle, graphic, and all shades in between. Horror doesn’t have to mean blood and guts and chainsaws. One of my favorite horror writers, Charles L. Grant, is known for his “quiet horror.” I was excited when I found his work, because his approach to horror mirrored my own. Dean Koontz’s Odd Thomas series is horror every bit as much as Stephen King at his creep-crawliest. Zombies, serial killers, paranormal spookiness—all horror.

Horror as a genre has made a renaissance of late, and like science fiction, can be used as social commentary as well as straightforward story. The Horror Writers Association (HWA), premiere professional writers association, doesn’t define horror narrowly, but includes dark literature and dark fantasy within its purview. And it isn’t just for adults; HWA recently began a blog aimed at writers of young adult horror.

Here are some horror/dark fantasy books and stories written by Alexandria Publishing Group members:

Valerie Douglas – Shades

Donna K. Fitch – The Color of Darkness and Other Stories, Second Death, The Source of Lightning

Terry C. Simpson – The Arcanus Archives: Shadeborn (Bk 1)

Kai Wilson-Viola (as Sabrann Curach) – Footnotes to a Lesson, Litanies, Pillow Talk

 

Explore the world of horror!

H is for Horror Gaming #AtoZchallenge

Fountains Abbey

Fountains Abbey (Photo credit: Jon Pinder)

“[Horror fiction] shows us that the control we believe we have is purely illusory, and that every moment we teeter on chaos and oblivion.”― Clive Barker

Fantasy is not the only genre represented in roleplaying. Probably my favorite genre is horror gaming, as you know if you read my post C is for Call of Cthulhu.

Any game can have elements of horror. In fact, it could be argued that by definition Dungeons and Dragons is a horror game, because of the presence of the classic monster tropes such as vampires, ghosts, specters, werewolves, ghouls, skeletons and zombies.

But a horror game is distinguished by its tone. The typical D&D game is about wading in and dispatching the monsters as quickly as possible, without any sense of fear and trepidation. A gamemaster running a horror-flavored game sets the tone by emphasizing the atmosphere, by engendering uncertainty in his players about the outcome of their characters. If he knows his players well (and depending on the level of trust in the group), he can prey on their fears by including certain triggers in the gameplay.

Many of the horror games in which I’ve played have been set in modern times: Call of Cthulhu, The Dresden Files (maybe not entirely horror), and Unknown Armies come immediately to mind. In these games, the character doesn’t usually have amazing strength or dexterity. Although she may have a limited power or ability, she’s more vulnerable and thus more susceptible to the loss of control mentioned in the Clive Barker quote.

What do you find scary in a roleplaying game? Did I leave out your favorite? Comment below!

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C is for Call of Cthulhu #AtoZChallenge

Call of CthulhuCall of Cthulhu is my all-time favorite roleplaying game. For those not familiar with it, it’s based on the works of H. P. Lovecraft, writer of baroque and dark tales of Things Man Was Not Meant to Know. The main conceit of his writings is that humanity is constantly menaced by horrors beyond our understanding, intent on our destruction. His universe is a cold, nihilistic one without hope.

So why on earth do I love that? Probably because I treat it as fantasy. I don’t believe the universe is like that, so to me, it’s another fantasy world like Eberron or Dresdenverse Chicago. The most fun part of Call of Cthulhu is the investigation aspect. And that it’s generally set in the past.

I am a history nut, especially about the 1920s and 1930s, and that’s the time period of most adventures I’ve played. Sure, you can play modern CoC, or even Dark Ages CoC, but I love the early twentieth century feel.

And I’ve always loved mystery novels, so it’s fun to play an investigator into weird goings-on, finding out as you go about the hidden horrors around you and trying to stay sane.

The game is published by Chaosium. I’ve played using the Basic Roleplaying rules as well as the d20 version by Monte Cook and a GURPS version. I’ll talk about specifics in other blog posts, but that’s it for now. Remember, Iä! Iä! Cthulhu fhtagn!

Can’t Sleep, Spirals Will Get Me

 The other day at the hair salon I read most of Uzumaki, vol. 1. Yikes. Fascinating, but disturbing. It's a tribute to the artist that black and white drawings can evoke such disgust. Based on the description on the back, I thought it would be more creepy than disturbing. Definitely horror. I noticed on Amazon that vol. 3 just came out this month. I think I may have to read the others, since vol. 1 ends with “to be continued,” and I want to find out what happens to the protagonists. I'll never look at spirals the same way again, though. I watched T playing The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess on the Wii last night, and the doors in the section he was traversing had modified spirals on them. Had just a brief “eww” moment.

I heard an interesting phrase from, of all people, Richard Land (?) of the Southern Baptist Convention. On NPR this morning, commenting on politics and evangelicals, said, “Clinton is conducting a job interview. Obama is on a date.” Fascinating observation.