A good friend of mine recently became a black belt in karate. She’s a mild-mannered, unruffled Type-B personality with a take-it-or-leave-it attitude who began taking classes after her young daughter and her husband enrolled. It began as a social excuse for her, and provided a bit of fitness and fun. Yet after four, maybe five years of attending karate classes regularly, she resigned herself to the fact that she was indeed on her way to black belt – whether she really wanted to or not, she joked.
Even though she didn’t take herself very seriously, she put one foot in front of the other, trained hard, and was awarded first degree black belt during an eight-hour test in May. After the test, she told me she felt like she had pulled off a grand hoax: how else could someone have given her – little ol’ her – a black belt otherwise?
I had witnessed some of the test, watching her fend off multiple attackers from every angle and flip grown men over her shoulder. She may not live her life as highly-driven, warrior machine like some of her classmates, but she certainly deserves to be called Sensai as much as the next guy or girl on the dojo floor. She had earned her stripes, literally.
But I understand the surreal feeling. It took me about five years to write my first novel. The writing part came easy; too easy. I felt like I must be doing something wrong. Aren’t we supposed to suffer for our art? I kept it as my little pet project, my guilty pleasure. Writing the book was my primary form of relaxation, and was always quickly relegated to the back burner should anything “more important” arise.
After showing it to other sets of eyes, I realized I must be doing something right. I was spurred on, urged to make it to the finish line. But I still found it difficult, even after the incredible high from writing THE END, to call myself a writer. I was proud of the accomplishment of starting at page one and taking the novel to completion. But come on: writer?
Less than three months to go before LOUDER THAN LOVE is unleashed on the reading public and I still have a hard time talking up myself, or the book. In less than a month, I will be surrounded by hundreds of other writers at a national conference in Atlanta. And while I won’t have to prove myself by flipping anyone over a shoulder or fending off multiple attackers should I reach for the last muffin on the buffet table, I do have to remember: I’ve put in my training time and am deserving of the rank of published author.
As I move into promo mode, creating materials to bring to the conference, I am reminded of that cute, simple bumper sticker I often see on cars: WAG MORE, BARK LESS. I’m not a dog lover but I appreciate the sentiment. I may not have the biggest bark on the block when it comes to chatting up my book. I hope the writing comes off as solid and will speak for itself. I want to stay genuinely happy with my writing and have fun with it. To that end, I’ve been having a blast creating swag to share at the conference, and with readers. Who doesn’t love swag?
My book cover hasn’t been made public yet, so I’ve been thinking of cool and creative ways to get my title out there.
Since my main male character is what I call “a heavy metal hero with a heart of gold”, I thought it only fitting to use a guitar pick as my calling card. I went to the best company I knew of, In Tune Guitar Picks, who make custom picks for tons of bands, including moe., the band I work with.
With a rainbow of colors, gauges and fonts to choose from, I had a hard time choosing. I’ve always been a fan of the girly-grrrl Joan Jett pink-black combo, so I went with that. And some in purple matte. They’ve inspired my friend Kim at Gionis Designs to work up prototypes for some wicked cool earrings:
How fun is that? Can’t do that with a paper business card! They are functional, as proven by moe.’s guitar tech, Frank. Strong enough for the double-neck, and between the teeth!
Frank shows the most convenient place to carry a guitar pick is between the teeth!
Button-Lab made me some über-cool pins – I suggested the Metal Lord font and the old-school red/black combination, and they worked all their shiny-metallic magic – love the way they turned out!
What’s the coolest/weirdest bit of promo swag you’ve ever seen? Would love to hear about the goodies you may have picked up at a conference or convention.