Lessons learned from a positive review

I’d like to post a review I received a while back and then discuss it for a moment.

(Reprinted with permission)


  •  Pale Winter Sun

    Intriguing, unique, distinctive

    4.4 stars

    Mick Collins’ book Pale Winter Sun synopsis from Good reads:

    Isolation in the cold of winter. That’s all Mark Jensen has as he fights to survive.

    Living in the small Mormon community of Grason, Idaho, Mark and his best

    friend Trevor have no one but themselves. Both are shunned from their families

    for simply trying to live open and honestly as homosexual. Cold and queer, the

    boys make do with what little they can, counting on no one but themselves in

    the stark Idaho countryside.

    Mark’s struggles increase when he becomes afraid of confiding in his last

    friend. The growing realization that he is bisexual confuses and conflicts him.

    It leaves him feeling more alone than ever. Friendships are redefined and

    stretched to the limit as the two young men scratch by and they ask

    themselves; can they survive each other?

     

    It is very rare to read a book that strays from the normal plotline. Collins’ book

    was definitely different from what I normally read, but it was a breath of fresh

    air. The daily struggles the characters face places ideas in a new perspective.

  • People in similar situations as the characters share the same feelings and

    conflicts. To be able to experience that through the characters was intriguing.

    For the most part, people do not realize the struggle that comes for being a

    homosexual. Collins’ was able to show the internal conflict not only between

    the character relationships, but also the individual themselves. The atmosphere

    of the book (winter, cold, isolation) compares with the feelings of the two main

    characters. They are considered queer, people are cold toward them, and they

    feel isolated from their community. The storyline was unique and it made it

    stand out. Mark was a strong character in the book. He stayed true to himself

    and it stood out throughout the book.

    The reason it did not get 5 stars was due to the writing itself. The writing style

    was not as refined as some other books, but there is emotion and the message

    is clear. If the writing style was more fine-tuned, then the book would have

    been even more captivating.

    Emma Hall (The Kindle Book Review)

    The Kindle Book Review received a free copy of this book for an

    independent, fair, and honest review. We are not associated with the

    author or Amazon.


Ms. Hall wasn’t able to post this to Amazon because it someone from the Kindle Book Review already posted one, apparently.  Amazon (wisely) won’t let me post it under my own name, so I am posting it here. Which does kinda suck, because I lost a few reviews when I uploaded a new edition a couple months ago.

(Updated – the review has been posted to Amazon.  Thanks to G.W. Wright for showing me what to do)

Sales haven’t been great, especially since the new edition came out, and that is partially my fault.  I haven’t been pushing it much, mainly due to work and trying to get over this damned cold. But then again, sales for books, especially self pubs, are down anyway. I have already put in some time to find new and exciting ways to get the word out, but that takes time and money.  I am stock piling both so I can do it right. That includes a push to get the book into libraries and local stores in Allentown.  I’ll keep you fine folks posted on that as developments happen.

Back to the review:
This review is indicative of a common thread I have come across with Pale Winter Sun.  The message, the story, and the characters are engaging and on point. The narrative isn’t typical to the genre and the overall feel of the story is of isolation. Mark and Trevor’s struggle are not trivialized, and Mark’s journey especially, is clear.

This is what I wanted.  I wanted the points to be clear, non-cliched, and the story to be interesting.  I feel that is mission accomplished.  Go me!

….but…

The other common thread is that the writing lacks.  I had hoped that getting it edited again would relieve that particular problem.  And while it was much needed and certainly helped immensely, it didn’t solve it completely.  And if you know writers, a ship full of compliments can sink with one tiny raft of critisism.  We writers are an emotionally unstable and touchy lot.  So yeah, the last bit kinda bummed me out.  I try not to stay down long, or dwell on the negative, despite my proclivity to so exactly that.  Hell, if a lifetime of battling depression has taught me one thing it is DON’T FEED THE BEAST.

I stood back and looked at this review, and other feedback I’ve received, and put it into perspective. When I wrote PWS, it was message driven.  I had a point to make, dammit, and I was going to make it.  Well that’s great, but in doing so, I let my writing of said message suffer. Another thing I realized; I have only published two books and a few short stories.  Night Shall Overtake was picked up by the first publisher I sent it to. To be honest, I didn’t really expect it to get published in the first place.  Really, I decided to test the field with it while trying to hammer out another project.  While amazing and awesome, it also spoiled me.  Thankful as I am, I’m sure there would have been lessons to learn had I needed to work at getting it published more than I did.  PWS being self published, I think those lack of lessons hurt in terms of the strength of how it is written.

Being the pragmatist that I am, I had to think about what I was going to do about all this. PWS will probably not go though a third edition any time soon.  I’ve too many other projects on the burner right now.  And honestly, I haven’t the heart to rip it apart one more time. (and maybe I’m just a little bit lazy, too) If my writing lacks a little, but the story still holds up, I’ll take it and go with that for now.  I still think it’s a book that can help kids, and parents, dealing with gender, identity, sexuality, and all the components that make up a family.

If PWS is staying put, then where am I employing these learned lessons? The future of course, or really, the present.  Current projects are under severe scrutiny and retooling.  I am still trying to find my voice and become a better writer.  A task that will never end, most likely.  If I focused too much on story, and not enough on style, then I will work hard to get my style down.  Hopping genres probably didn’t help the issue either.  My next novel, A Geography of Purgatory(working title), is back to the dark and gritty and I think it’s the perfect chance to really find myself as the writer I can be. As someone who takes such things seriously, I owe it to myself.  I also feel that I owe it to anyone who decides to take a chance on one of my books.  There is a godawful amount to stuff to read out there, if they do pick up something of mine, I want to make damned sure it’s worth their time.

In case you are wondering: I have no time lines on Geography as it’s still out to the beta readers, but I’ll keep you posted. Going to try the standard publisher route again, then if that doesn’t pan out, I’ll self pub. At least that’s the current plan.

tl;dr – Writer gets a good review, then whines about it.  In the end he learns a very important lesson.

Remember kids: Stay in school, don’t drink and drive, and mistakes are good as long as you learn something from it.

 

 

 

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2nd edition – Pale Winter Sun – Ready for your Consumption

Huzzah!!

Insert fanfare and rejoicing here.

Pale Winter Sun is now the book is should have always been.  A 2nd edition is up and ready.  Many thanks to all those who helped in the process, including Apache and JD, and all those who beta read at the beginning.  I want to especially thank A.M. Leibowitz for the stellar professional proofread and suggestions she made to strengthen this story.

Nothing major was changed in terms of story, but I did tighten up the mechanics and a few points I really should have cross-referenced better before publishing.  That’s the nice thing about self-pub I guess, when someone points out something you screwed up, you can go back and fix it.  I am nothing if not receptive to suggestions and can pack my ego away enough to admit that I done f#^%ed up and fix it.

The plus side (one of many) is that there is already some chatter about this new edition and talk of it taking up residence on some library shelves.  This is something important to me, so I want to get this on as many library shelves as possible.  (I won’t go on about why I think this story is important, etc, etc; because I’m sure you’re sick of me bringing them up)

Let’s keep up the momentum and get this book EVERYWHERE!!

Shameless plugs and links:
For editing work I highly suggest A.M. Leibowitz – www.amleibowitz.com

PWS on kindle – www.amazon.com/Pale-Winter-Sun-Michael-Collins-ebook/dp/B06W551N7L

PWS paperback – www.createspace.com/6477222

 

Remember kids: stay in school, don’t drink and drive, and support your local word slinger.

Another year to try and get it right.

Well, we made it.  Another trip around the sun and we are still here.  Go us!  We tentatively step into 2017, cautious in our expectations.  And why shouldn’t we be; 2016 was a sphincter of a year.  Yes, we lost a lot of our heroes, but we also saw a huge rise in racism, violence, LGBT+phobia, and a sham of an election.  Every year has as much potential to be great as it does to suck, but so far the deck seems stacked against us.  All I can say about it is that we need to take action where action needs taken and we need to watch out for each other.  All of us.  Even the assholes.

I don’t do resolutions, but I don’t go into anything without some sort of game plan.  2017 will be a year of changes and I am ready to embrace whatever changes come my way.

I am ready to write more.
I am ready to market more.
I am ready to play more music.
I am ready to explore new locales (both external and internal)
I am ready to take better care of myself.
I am ready to do more to make the world a better place.

I learned a lot during the last year.  Not only about the world, but myself and my craft.  I am seeing more of what I need to concentrate on, especially on the post production part.  I need to work on my prose, round out my characters, etc etc.  I also need to play waaay more bass than I have been.  Maybe make some new music while I’m at it.

For the upcoming year, I can only wish for the best, prepare for the worst, and hope that we all get through it okay.

Happy New Year.

Remember kids: stay in school, don’t drink and drive, and Auld Lang Syne.

P.S.  – I still need help with Pale Winter Sun. It needs a new edition and that takes money.  Every donation over $5 gets you little something for your donation. 

https://www.gofundme.com/pale-winter-sun-2nd-edition

 

Updates and all hail the Headphone Bleed.

Fall is here and as most people start to get snuggled in for the winter, it’s just getting busier for me.  Pale Winter Sun hit with a splash and I just want to keep it going.  I have gotten a lot of feedback on it and most of it is not only good, but that this book could be a big help to people.  That’s all I wanted for it; to help people. So I ask, if you have read it, please write a review and recommend it to others.

One of the reason’s I’m not able to hunker down for the cold weather is that we are moving next spring.  Not just across town either.  We are getting up and out of Austin and heading north to the wilds of Pennsylvania.  Austin will always have a huge place in my heart, but its time to move on.  The city is changing and I’m not crazy about the direction it’s going, not to mentioned there are getting to me way too many people.  So come spring: Keystone State, here we come!  I’m very excited about the change of scene and interested to see how it will effect my writing.

Insert fanfare and rejoicing here.

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT TIME:

I’m sure some of you have noticed that I haven’t done a Headphone Bleed show in awhile.  Astute listeners will know that I had some sort of new development in the works.  Unfortunately, it looks like that isn’t going to happen like we thought.  It’s just as well, with my increased focus on writing and the impending move coming, I’m not sure I would have to time for it.

The show has always been a labor of love for me, these last few years, but it is time to give it a rest.  As of right now, there will be no new Headphone Bleed episodes in the foreseeable future.  It pains me to write that, but it is the truth.  It’s time put it to bed.  My love for music and bad jokes hasn’t subsided, but I have to refocus.  Now, that’s not to say that it’s gone forever.  I’d like to start it, or some version of it, back up at some point.  There are rumors that live365 might start back up, and if nothing else, I could bring the station back.  Either way, we will see.

The Facebook and Twitter accounts will still be active as promotional entities.  I still want new and interesting bands to expose to the world.  My website szheadphonebleed.com will be up until I have to pay for web hosting again.  Fanboytv.com still has old shows up for the time being also.  Please continue to visit and enjoy.

More updates as they happen.

Remember kids: stay in school, don’t drink and drive, and dance like no one is watching.

 

 

 

Bi Week musings and why I put a list of resources in Pale Winter Sun

This week is Bi Week.  It’s a week where bisexuals try and remind people what the ‘B’ in LGBT means and raise awareness to tear down some stigmas.  I suppose it seems fitting that Pale Winter Sun came out just a few weeks before, especially since one of the characters is coming terms with his bisexuality.  It can be a tricky thing to do, coming to terms with who we are.  More so when we are young and not to the standards of the status quo.  One of the biggest concerns with bisexual youth is violence, depression, and abandonment.  But it is far from exclusive to just bi youth.  Teenagers in general have staggeringly high statistics in these areas.  LGBT+ youth doubly so.

I wrote PWS because of this.  To be honest the idea fills me such sadness and anger.  Our youth deserve better, as do we all.  I also wrote PWS because of an amazing young woman that I am blessed to have in my life.  I just wanted to do my part, using what meager abilities that I have, to make the world a little bit better for her.  To show her that things are dark but there is hope.  That life can kick you around, but strength and resilience can pull you through.  I can only hope that others see it similarly as well.

My friend, and Bi-activist extraordinaire, Lynnette Mcfadzen suggested adding resources to the book.  I couldn’t put them in fast enough.  A story is one thing, even with a good message.  But sometimes people need help, a hand to hold, and there are a lot of people and organizations out there to do that.  The list I added is far from comprehensive but for those who might need it, it’s a start.  I’m going to add the list here as well.  I may do my part for the bi community, but in the broader view, I don’t give a shit about your sexuality, religion, race, gender, shoe size, or preference of toothpaste.  We’re all in this together and we need to start working as one if we’re going to do anything worth a damn.  I believe that with all my heart.  If we can’t foster that in our youth, then when else to we start?

So hats off to my other bisexual peoples on this Bi Week and any other week.  I hope we can soon come to a time when such things are needless and archaic.  That for once and forever we finally stop squabbling over stupid shit and concentrate on more important issues.  (Like buying books from starving authors or buy them a beer once in awhile.  Things like that)

Resources for LGBT+ youth and beyond.

It’s a rough world for everyone.  More so for those who don’t fit in gender and orientational norms.  I’ve listed a few resources if you feel alone and need some help.  While this list is geared toward youth in need, parents and adults who would like to some understanding can also check out these as well.  If you are in crisis or in trouble, always try to reach out.  If you feel there is no one to reach out to, keep the below in mind.  Just know: THERE IS ALWAYS SOMEONE TO REACH OUT TO!

LGBT+ Youth Resources

Rainbowhealth.org

Advocatesforyouth.org

Liveoutloud.info

Bi+

The BiCast.org – (podcasting for the bisexual+ communtiy)

BiNetUSA.org

Biresource.net

Asexuality.org – (Asexual Visibility and Education Network)

Interactoadovates.org – (Intersex youth)

Transgender

http://www.transyouthequality.org/

http://www.translifeline.org/

Trans Student Educational Resources

Runaway

www.1800runaway.org

nationalsafeplace.org

Suicide / Crisis

http://www.thetrevorproject.org

Home

Text anonymous crisis counselor 741741

 

Remember kids: stay in school, don’t drink and drive, and let’s be safe out there.

 

 

 

 

Pale Winter Sun is here!

Finally!  PALE WINTER SUN has arrived!

It’s been a long journey, but finally I’ve gotten this book out to the masses.  A Young Adult novel about two teenagers who are ostracized from their family and community for not being straight, they are forced to survive a harsh Idaho winter.  Relationships are put to the test, a sense of self is challenged, and the struggle of small town outcasts are all highlighted.

Like I said, it has been a journey.  Lot’s of self doubt, and a last minute ending change, came along for the ride.  I feel good about this, not only because I wrote something with some meaning, but because I feel it shows growth as a writer.  I have a message that lies within the pages and it is essentially about the relationships with those we are close to and to not let little things drive them apart.  A simple idea that causes endless complications for us all.  Because this is a YA novel, I’ve also included a section of resources for teens who might need help. (Thanks you Lynnette for the suggestion)  We’re all in this together, after all.  Hope you enjoy.

Click to order your copy.  Available in paperback and Kindle.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1537120352

https://www.amazon.com/Pale-Winter-Sun-Michael-Collins-ebook/dp/B01KM83DD0/

coverPWS