Monday, June 25, 2018

Why I Make a Terrible Fan (But a Decent Writer)

Writers are supposed to think about their fans—even when they don’t technically have any. They say the key is visualization. Imagine your ideal fan. What’s their age, gender, socio-economic position? Do they decorate their room with dragons or unicorns? More importantly, how do they act? Where do they hang out and what are they interested in?

While attempting this exercise, I thought about a YouTube station I watch, John Campea, and how he describes movies. He’s bursting with enthusiasm about the subject; he watches all sorts of movies; he is active in the fan community (leading it, in fact); he keeps up to date on news; and he is loyal to the brands he loves.

Then I thought of myself.

I was horrified to realize that I am a terrible fan.

And here’s why:

1. I nitpick and critique every little thing.

Heaven help the people who go to a movie with me, because they will hear me talk about it for hours and hours—and not usually in a good way. I’ll say I like the movie—and I do—but if one little thing bugs me, I will rant and rave and analyze and dissect—and pretty much suck the joy out of it for the poor saps who just wanted to have a good time. And it’s worse with books, because after I finish a book, I will wander around the house, fuming and muttering like a crazy person, and if anyone happens to be home, they will get an earful about a book they didn’t read and don’t care about. I once phoned my friend Rita and subjected her to a couple of hours of me trying to figure out why my reaction to a book was just “meh.”

2. I don’t consume enough.

Writers are supposed to read, aren’t they? They’re supposed to devour books like Augustus Gloop devours chocolate. And I used to as a kid—I could easily read 3 books on a typical school day. But something happened when I turned into an adult. I got picky, and I got busy. Now it seems I can barely manage a book a month. My movie count is just as awful, and don’t get me started about all the T.V. shows I don’t watch. For being a fan, my interests seem very narrow.

3. I’m late to the party (if I get there at all).

You know how, when you go to Barnes and Noble, there are whole shelves devoted to “New Releases” and “What’s Hot.” Yeah, I typically ignore them and dive deep into the bookshelves. Or I go to the public library and scope out my old standbys, Agatha Christie and Shakespeare. I may see a few popular movies in theatres, but I’m more likely to see them on Netflix. People have been recommending I watch Game of Thrones, which I know I should check out, because it’s the big fantasy show—but I never have. I have this weird resistance to what’s popular and often need to be dragged into it, kicking and screaming, usually by friends and family.

4. I have intense bursts of obsession—then forget about stuff.

Years after it aired, I watched Avatar: the Last Airbender. I binged on the series, enjoyed it, dissected my favorite characters in a burst of fervor—and never watched the series again. This makes me feel incredibly fickle and disloyal. Yes, I have more sustaining interesst in different properties, but they don’t last forever. Nothing does. The favorites are collected in my memories, and then I move on.

5. I have trouble sharing my likes and dislikes with the fan community.

There was a brief, shiny moment when I was active on, and for a little while, I wrote book reviews on my blog. But that seems to be the extent of it. I don’t go on forums or attend Comicon or comment on entertainment articles I peruse online. It seems like it should be easy to put myself out there and say, “I enjoy this,” but for some reason, I find it very difficult.

* * *

After coming up with all the reasons I’m a terrible fan, I had a moment of despair. Because, according to the universal laws of justice established by my own brain, if I’m not a good fan, then I don’t deserve good fans. I deserve fans who are just as critical and inconsistent and shy as me.

“Well, then,” replies my brain. “You’ll just have to change everything about yourself. Become a good fan, so that maybe you’ll deserve them. Stop being critical, go read more books, stay loyal to everything you love, and go watch Game of Thrones already because everyone is telling you that you should.”

And for a moment I considered it.

Then I realized that I didn’t want to fundamentally change my personality on the vague notion that doing so might get me more readers. My brain works a certain way because it needs to work a certain way, and for all the reasons (save one) my way of thinking makes me a terrible fan, this same way of thinking helps me in becoming a good writer.

1. I nitpick and critique every little thing—because I want to learn how stories work.

It’s not enough for me to simply appreciate good stories—I need to know how to write them. And for me, that means breaking a story down, piece by piece. If I enjoyed something, why did I enjoy it and how can I use it for my own stories? If something bugged me, why did it bug me and how can I avoid doing that to my readers? If I felt violently indifferent—which, as far as I’m concerned, is the worst thing you can feel—why is that and how can I make my readers care? I’m constantly doing this, because I want to learn and improve and, for me at least, analyzing my own likes and dislikes is the best way to do it.

2. I don’t consume enough—because I don’t have the time.

I used to read a lot and watch a lot of shows when I was a kid. What happened? Well, I started writing, and writing sucks up an enormous amount of free time. Writing is like having a full time job that doesn’t pay the bills. I’m constantly trying to carve out time for it. Something has to give and usually that something is leisure.

3. I’m late to the party (if I get there at all)—because I know my own tastes.

Being a poor writer means I don’t have money enough to run out and buy books or see movies the instant they come out—I need to manage my resources. This explains my being late to the party, but not why I choose to snub what’s popular. Why not watch Game of Thrones? Well, I read the books in college, and though they were well written, they were also full of sex, violence, and general nastiness that I’m not sure I want to expose myself to in a visual medium. The bottom line is, I like what I like, whether it’s popular or not. I don’t feel like I should change my tastes to please a crowd. The same goes for my writing. I’m not trying to cater to what’s popular, I’m just trying to tell my own story.

4. I have intense bursts of obsession—then forget about stuff—because I need to move on to the next lesson.

The intense bursts of passion usually coincide with my intense critiques. For me, these are learning times, but after they’ve passed, I can’t stay stuck on the same property. I need to find something new. I grew up reading and re-reading Lord of the Rings, and consciously or unconsciously, my first book sort of mimicked it. But I moved on to reading other books, and my writing style grew and changed. If I stayed stuck on one fandom, my writing would start to feel derivative. By seeking out new stories, my writing can expand.

* * *

Having gone down the list and deciding that, for now, I was just going to have to accept that I was not the sort of fan I wanted to be, I then realized that there was one thing I could change:

5. I have trouble sharing my likes and dislikes with the fan community.

There is no reason why I can’t start to share my likes or dislikes; in fact, history proves I have done so in the past. And it feels good to write a story or submit a review. Time and stress may dictate how much I can contribute at any given time, but I can contribute. And maybe, by doing this one thing, I can attract readers who are fans of my boosk—maybe even better fans than I deserve. At the very least, I can have fun—and have fun being me, and not this ideal fan that sadly isn’t fitted to my personality.

* * *

What do you think makes a good fan? Reply in the comments below.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Presenting My Newest Book... Three Floating Coffins

Three Floating Coffins... On Sale Now!
I'm proud to share with you, my newest book, a magical fairy tale adventure that took me six years to write... Three Floating Coffins. All the juicy details are covered in the video below, but if you'd rather not see me talk (and I can't say I blame you--I HATE seeing myself on video), keep on reading.

In the Kingdom of the Seven Isles, a priest has prophesied that one of the three princesses holds a dangerous magic that will destroy the land. The only way to save the realm is to cast out the princesses in three floating coffins. The guilty one will sink and the innocent ones wash safely to shore. Only youngest princess Odele knows the truth. The priest is lying.

Separated from her family, hurt, and on the run, Odele begins a quest to find the one thing that may save her kingdom: a magical amulet that her mother hid somewhere on the Seven Isles. As she delves deeper into the family past, she unearths shocking family secrets and realizes she has more power than she knows. Will it be enough to save her family from the dark plans of the evil priest?

Three Floating Coffins reads like a fairy tale, with all the classic elements you know and love: princesses, dragons, magical amulets, clever urchin boys, mysterious quests, and evil villains. However, I put my own twists on these elements, and it goes deeper beyond the simple surface.

I wrote this book for upper elementary school readers in mind--6th grade or so. However, I think that anyone can enjoy this story, no matter their age. Three Floating Coffins is also a stand alone novel, not part of any series. It's available for Kindle at $3.99 or paperback (352 pages) for $15.00, and you can order both on Amazon or order the paperback on Createspace. I'm working to get a copy for Nook, as well.

If you want to know more, I posted my prologue and first chapter on my website. You can read the prologue here or chapter one here. In the future I might actually read them out loud and post them on my YouTube account, but we'll see what happens with that.

Please check out my book. If you buy and read it, please review it, as I really, really need the reviews. (If you're not sure how to write reviews on Amazon, please click here.)  And if you think you someone you know may like it, tell them as well. 

If you have any questions about me or my book, post in the comments and I'll do my best to answer. Thanks for your support!

How to Write a Review on Amazon

When asking people to review my book on Amazon, I've heard people say, "I'd like to, but I don't know how to write a  review on Amazon." I can relate. When you look at the website, it can be a bit overwhelming. However, the truth is, writing a review on Amazon is actually very simple. Here's how it goes.

* * *

Step 1. Sign into your account. 

If you don't have an account, create one. It only takes a minute.

2. Search for the book you want to review.

For my book, for example, you can type in Three Floating Coffins and my name Rebecca Lang, if you'd like.

Step 3. Click on the correct book.

You want to go to the main page that has all the book information, including the price, the description, and the reviews.

Step 4. Scroll down to where the customer reviews are and hit the "Write a Review" button.

On my laptop, this button appears near the top of the page, but on my phone it appears after the reviews. If there are no reviews, the button will say "Be the first to write a review."

Step 5. Give the book a star rating, write a review, and give your review a headline.

The review can be as long or as short as you like. You can talk about if you liked it or not, what you liked and didn't like, and who you recommend should read the book. You can also include videos and pictures.

Step 6. Hit "Submit."

And you're done.

You do not need to have bought the book on Amazon before you review it, meaning that if borrowed the book or bought it elsewhere, Amazon will still let you post a review. However, they do let people know when the purchase is verified, meaning that you bought the book from them. 

* * *

So that's the quick and simple review process. Now that you know, please do me a favor and write a quick review of my book (if you've read it). It will take all of about five minutes, but it will really help me out.



Since I last wrote this blog, all of about a year ago, I've had several big changes.

My Pendragons critique group fell apart. I was forced to quit my credentialing program just before completing it. And I had to move back to Victorville.

None of these changes were desired, but I think they'll be better in the long haul. I've spent my time reflecting on what I want for this new phase of my life, and I think it might be better if I step away from education and try to focus on writing as a business. I've yet to be successful at making money off my writing. I want to try to do that, even if, right now, I don't know how.

I've also been thinking about thing blog and wondering what to do with it. I may start a new one or I may keep this one with some changes. I was thinking that, rather than focusing on writing, I wanted to look at what it means to be a fan of something. I'd also like to include more videos.

Anyway, this is just to briefly announce where I've been this last year, and what changes you might expect.

But the biggest change is that I've finally published my second book, Three Floating Coffins.

More on that, soon.