Ramblings., Random.

My experience going viral (on a small scale).

March 17, 2016
Twitter

Mid-January, I made a small tweet I didn’t really think about. It was of a quote I once heard, likely from a professor I can’t remember, but the words stuck with me for the years to follow. I had to butcher it significantly to fit the Twitter character count, but the gist of it comes down to:

Never make fun of someone for mispronouncing a word because it means they learned the pronunciation through reading.

It rang true on so many levels, and I think that’s why it resonated with so many people:

1. Reading is good! You can learn a lot from just picking up a book.
2. Making fun of someone is bad, regardless the capacity.
3. English is hard!

Since January 22th, when I made that tweet, I’ve gone on a rollercoaster of new experiences, including small scale Twitter and Facebook virality, something I never thought would happen, and especially not from a tweet poorly structured and quickly composed. But, I guess that’s how going viral works–you can’t predict it or force it.

At first, I was happy to see all the “hearts” and retweets on Twitter. A couple hundred were cool, vaulting this tweet into my most successful tweet category (previously, it was a response tweet to @JaredLeto, which he retweeted, and gained approximately 40-60 “hearts” and further retweets). But I was proud my most successful tweet was done so on my own, and not because of a celebrity’s fame.

But, then weird things started to happen. About two months later, I woke up one morning with approximately eight new Facebook friend requests, along with some message requests. I wasn’t sure if it was related to the tweet, until I saw the same people following me on Instagram and Twitter, with a connection to that tweet in particular. Friend requests are harmless, but the messages were what really made me uncomfortable. Things like “Hi princess, how are you?” all the way to I love you.” My stomach twisted into knots.

Now, it might seem like I’m exaggerating. This is hardly “going viral” and only a few people broke the barrier to communicate with me, but did so in a very unacceptable way. And that’s what it comes down to; unsolicited messages of a personal nature has crossed the line, especially when I feel somewhat blindsided by the sudden popularity of a two-month-old tweet.

Since then, I’ve been dodging Facebook requests and messages, and filtering who I allow to follow me on Instagram. I never thought I’d be so uncomfortable about something like keeping my images public. But I don’t want the actions of a few to ruin the relationship with an online community I’m a part of. That’s why my Twitter is still public, my Instagram is still public, and I haven’t felt compelled enough to delete the original tweet. I’ve seen so much dialogue brought to light because of my tweet, and I don’t want that to stop. It’s important, on so many levels, to discuss the importance of reading and the reminder that bullying is bad, regardless the situation.

A lot of good has come from this one tweet, especially when a friend tagged me in this picture posted on Facebook:

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The individual who shared a screenshot of my tweet is blogger Fabulous Chase, and yes, there are over 6,000 shares on Facebook. Of my tweet. That’s on top of the over 6,000 retweets and 6,500 “hearts” on Twitter. The screenshot has also been shared on Instagram, with less interaction, but still. I’ve experience some of the downfall of going viral (on a very small scale), but even better, I’ve created a dialogue about reading and bullying, and hopefully helped people along the way.

I don’t know what exactly the point of this post was. Part sharing a quote that means so much to me, to a different audience. Part recognizing there are very boundaries that can be crossed, even in a digital setting (especially in a digital setting). In the end, hopefully more people can take away something from this, whether it be inspiring and educational, or a lesson that people behind a computer screen are just that: people.

What do you think? About the quote, about “going viral, and about interacting with people you don’t necessarily know? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter!

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Cover Reveal., Graphic Design.

COVER REVEAL // Pieced Together by Kelly Moore

March 15, 2016
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I love my job. I don’t think I can say that enough. And, ever since I went freelance full-time, I’ve been working on more book covers than ever! When I was introduced to Kelly, she presented her project and an awesome challenge, different from a lot of things I’ve worked on in the past. Recently, I’ve been getting into custom photography for my book covers, opposed to using stock (which I still do, it’s just more fun to do it all yourself). Knowing I wouldn’t find the right stock imagery for her concept, I created my own! I’m so excited to share the first (yes, first. There will be more to come!) cover design with custom photography:

 


 

Kyren couldn’t get over killing Brogan’s father, even though he did it to save her. The demons of his own past took control, and he left her when she needed him most. In the aftermath of their agonizing breakup, Kyren and Brogan sought healing on very different paths. She moved to a remote island in Maine and started a new life, while he isolated himself on his yacht, and almost drowned in booze and guilt. After three long years, they’re each in a good place. Neither can forget the intense, passionate love they shared, but they’re both sure it’s over for good. Too much time has passed. There’s too much old hurt.

Fate intervenes, however, and places Kyren on Brogan’s doorstep. For both of them, it’s like they were never apart. His body craves hers, and she immediately longs to submit to his magnetism. Brogan is terrified of giving in to their passion. Can he be the man she needs him to be? Will he break her heart again? She’s not the same person she was back then. She’s stronger, and she has a big secret. Has he learned from his own demons? And most importantly, when she comes clean, will he be able to handle the truth?

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Facebook  //  Twitter  //  Add to Goodreads  //  Kelly’s Website

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Cardboard Monet, Graphic Design., Web Design.

The Five Stages of Grief, I mean DESIGNING.

February 5, 2016
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I’ve touched on these stages on my Facebook page, but thought I’d elaborate on what happens and why they exist. I work on any number of covers at one time, and sometimes inspiration determines the direction I take. For instance, I have covers due next month, but over the weekend I finished covers needed next year. It’s inspirations fault, really. You can’t force a design to be designer, you just have to go with the wind. But, true to process, each of the five stages are almost always dealt with for every cover project.

Stage One // “I HAVE AN AWESOME IDEA.”

  • I start every cover project with enthusiasm because I won’t take on a client unless I’m excited about the project and think I can make something out of their ideas and story. I usually have at least one or two concepts to explore, and of course they’re both awesome ideas.

Stage Two // “That execution won’t work—back to the drawing board.”

  • Unfortunately, as with any creative venture, things don’t always go according to plan. There are a lot of different factors involved in designing—inspiration and stock images to name a few.

Stage Three //  “I have no ideas. I’m not going to get this done in time. I’m a complete failure.”

  • At one point in every design project I start to question why I think I can do this as a career.

State Four // “Screw it, I’m just going to mess around, see what happens.”

  • This stage is going to be addressed more in a future blog post, but it basically amounts to tinkering, experimenting and trying the most out-of-the-box techniques with a project, and hoping for the best. Some things don’t work out (read: a lot of things don’t work out), and some seem like a stroke of genius, but just the act of messing around can spark inspiration and new directions.

State Five // “Wait—the author loves it? Awesome! Done. Boom.”

  • Self-explanatory. Always an awesome feeling, and even better that the author is proud of their new cover :)

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Video Games, Writing.

ICYMI Edition #013116

February 1, 2016
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It’s been a slow week, because, well… other things happened. Nevertheless, here’s what you missed on the video game blogs!


That VideoGame Blog // REVIEW / Oxenfree (PC)
If Supermassive Games’ Until Dawn, Thatgamecompany’s Journey and Christopher Smith’s mind-bending psychological horror flick Triangle had a love child, it would be Night School Studio’s recently released Oxenfree.
{Read more at ThatVideoGameBlog.com}

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Cardboard Monet, Graphic Design.

5 Essentials to Prepare for your Book Cover Artist

January 29, 2016
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There are a slew of blog posts out there telling you how to find a cover artist, and the questions you should ask when searching for one, but what happens after you’ve asked the questions? After the search is over? In order to get the best experience when working with a designer to create your book cover, you should arm yourself with the essentials—it’ll help both you and your designer reach the perfect cover.

5 Essentials to Prepare for your Book Cover Artist


 

Basic Book information

This should be a given, but you’d be surprised how many times I’ve seen an author just expect me to know. It may seem like we work magic in Photoshop, but we aren’t mind readers. That’s why the first essential you provide is the basic information about your book. Most artists will request this right off the bat, but make their job easier by providing things like: Title, sub-title, author name (if you’re using a pseudonym), genre and audience age, comp titles, and—at the very least—a synopsis or the beginnings of a back cover blurb. All of this information is crucial to creating a cover that fits within the category it will be promoted within. Because, remember: your cover is pure advertising. While you might have a vision of what your book’s “shell” looks like, it means nothing if it doesn’t attract a reader and sell.

Examples of Book Covers You Love

Everyone has their favored aesthetic, and for a designer to understand yours it’s helpful to provide a handful (3 – 5) example covers of published books whose covers you oogle from afar. Make sure you point out the elements you like of each. Sending examples is great, but if you don’t explain your reason for liking it, it’s just as bad as not having sent any to begin with. And, while covers you love are great examples, there are also . . .

Examples of Book Covers You Hate With a Passion Burning like 1,000 Suns

Similar to the book covers you love, the book covers you hate gives a designer an idea of things to steer clear of and avoid like the plague. Don’t like text on an angle, if you’re unable to state that outright (maybe because you don’t exactly know that’s what you don’t like about a cover), by at least providing an example we can deduce what you dislike. Sending another handful of examples in this category are just as important as the covers you like, so even if your designer doesn’t ask for them (shame on them), make sure you send some.

A Description of What Your Ideal Cover Looks Like

This is a question I ask almost immediately for cover art projects both with Cardboard Monet and REUTS Publications. Essentially, if you could have any cover in the entire world—encrusted with jewels, dipped in gold, or even carved out of a stone tablet—let me know. While I can’t promise any of those difficult requests, this at least gives your designer a mark to meet. They may have suggestions about how to improve the concept, or can give you reasons why it’s not the best direction, but it gives us a glimpse into your mind’s eye, how you view your book, and how we can bring it to life.

Your Timeline of Expectations

It may differ from what your designer can provide, though this is likely something discussed before a contract is even signed. Make sure you’re on the same page, and understand some things beyond your control might interfere and cause the timeline to change. On either side of the fence, if something does change, make sure you let your designer know ASAP. Need a cover sooner? That’s important to know for scheduling purposes. Need to change the dimensions of your paperback book? Crucial. Proportions vary greatly between book sizes, and it’s not as easy of a fix as you might thing. Basically, communication throughout the entire process is key, but if you’re able to establish a baseline going forward, it’ll help in the long run. Trust me.

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Ramblings., Random.

What’s New In Ashley Land?

January 27, 2016
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The other day I made a semi-cryptic tweets, and received an overwhelming amount of support in return.

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So, what happened?

I quit.

No, not the blog, nor Cardboard Monet or REUTS Publications. Earlier this week I made the difficult—and somewhat spontaneous—decision to quit my day job, effective immediately. I won’t go into specifics as to why it happened, and happened in this specific way, but what I will say is so far it has been a positive experience, even if it’ll take a little bit to get used to.

And I can now breath the biggest sigh of relief.

So, instead of being a Debbie Downer about this situation, help me celebrate! I’ve decided to piggy-back off of my “End of the Year” sale, and offer a I Quit My Day Job sale. Order a book cover project by February 15, 2016 and get $100 off your order!

In addition to cover art, I’d like to extend a typesetting discount! Typically my rate is flat for up to 100,000 words, but because we’re celebrating, I’d like to increase that limit to 200,000 words! Huzzah!

Request a quote today and lock in your February and March dates :)

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Video Games, Writing.

ICYMI Edition #012416

January 24, 2016
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I’m making sure this one gets out on time this week. If you’re just now following along, on top of all the work I do reading and writing for REUTS Publications, offering freelance book production services at Cardboard Monet, or just working on my own work in progress pieces as an author, I’m also a video game blogger (it’s true, we exist) for two exciting sites feature below. Each week I’m wrangling together the articles posted within that week, so you can enjoy them if you missed them.

Enjoy!



That VideoGame Blog // WAR DRAGONS: All Things Burn released today!
It is, after all, Appreciate a Dragon Day, and mobile game pioneer, Pocket Gems, knows just how to celebrate: by transforming their PvP mobile game War Dragons (Android, iOS) into a full-fledge novel.
{Read more at ThatVideoGameBlog.com}


That VideoGame Blog // REVIEW Crashlands (PC/Mobile)

I picked up Crashlands, from developer Butterscotch Shenanigans, for two reasons: cool, comic book feel, and the prospect of crafting a “stem cell baby” as teased in the trailer.

{Read more at ThatVideoGameBlog.com}

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Playing Catch-up., Video Games, Writing.

ICYMI: Debut Blogging in Full Force

January 18, 2016
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**I meant to do this on Sunday, but then Far Cry 4 happened, which I thought was both understandable and fitting 😉**

A new addition to my blog will be the weekly round up in the form of In Case You Missed It (ICYMI). Since I’ll be blogging on two sites outside of Eventide & Barley, I want to be sure you can still find my articles and follow along with all my bloggy happenings.

Enjoy!


amazon-prime-gamers
BitCultures // AMAZON PRIME’S NEW PERK FOR GAMERS
A gamer’s dream come true: the hottest new video games for a fraction of the price.
{Read more at BitCultures.com}

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That VideoGame Blog // Review / Until Dawn (PS4)
B-movie horror? Check. Choose your own adventure? Check. PlayStation exclusive? Check.
{Read more at ThatVideoGameBlog.com}

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That VideoGame Blog // Two decades of Pokémon: have you caught ’em all?
Happy birthday Pokémon! Or should we say happy early birthday.
{Read more at ThatVideoGameBlog.com}

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That VideoGame Blog // Create your own Yarny from EA’s Unravel
Be careful not to unravel yourself. Though you it might accidentally happen when Unravel is released.
{Read more at ThatVideoGameBlog.com}

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Ramblings., Random., Video Games

That Whole Blogging Thing

January 12, 2016
wii

Last week I posted about my resolutions for 2016; some lofty, others more reasonably attainable. You’ll notice point number two under short-term goals was:

-Blog more, both in a personal and professional setting. And I have some exciting things brewing on the horizon which might help me achieve this resolution.

Well, guess what? I can finally announce some of those “exciting things brewing on the horizon.” Within the last week I have been accepted for not one, but two blogging positions with some video game blogs. Eeeee! That’s right, not only will I fulfill my very first resolution for 2016, but it’ll also help me write more, and I’ll have an excuse to pursue one of my favorite hobbies: video games. So, while I’ll focus on writing/design/me in this blog, you’ll be seeing posts from me at BitCultures and That VideoGame Blog in the very near future.

While I’m working on my first articles for these two blogs, I could use some (wo)manpower to help think up some new blog posts ideas. At the start, I’ll be working on reviewing some classic titles (meaning I get to dive back into some of my favorite childhood games), as well as showcasing what I think is the worst video game in video game history (it’s not E.T. for Atari). Have a neat-o burrito idea that I can write about / research in the video game industry? Leave it for me in the comments!

Stick with me, because things are about to get crazy. And you can follow my antics on the PlayStation Network by adding me as a friend! The name’s “supersmaaashley.” Do it, to it.

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Inspiration., Ramblings., Random.

New Year, New Resolutions

January 9, 2016
fireworks

New Year’s Resolutions always seem so lofty and out of reach. I almost didn’t want to place any additional stress on myself by coming up with some for 2016. But, at the same time, wandering aimlessly through the year seems like it could be a waste of 365 days. We’re already eight days into this new year, and I definitely feel as if I need some sort of direction, even if they’re small goals, to get me back on track and in the motivated spirit.

And so, with that, I’m setting some resolutions for myself. BUT, instead of just blanket resolutions on the year, I’m breaking these up into short-term and long-term goals, where the long-term goals don’t necessarily have to be completed by the end of the year, but if I’ve at least started them, I’m happy.

Well, here goes…

Short-Term Resolutions:
-Learn to meditate / start meditating. We work out our bodies, I think it’s important to work out our minds, as well. And since my career is primarily a mental strain, I want to do my mind a favor and learn to do… nothing. So, armed with the phone app Headspace I’m making the leap into meditation and mindfulness.
-Blog more, both in a personal and professional setting. And I have some exciting things brewing on the horizon which might help me achieve this resolution.
-Finish writing one novel. I should be putting this under the long-term resolutions, but I’m determined to finish at least one of my WIPs this year. I have to do it.
-Enter a short story competition. I see so many in the writing community who participate in these fun short story/anthology competitions, that I want to join in on the fun, too! A more lofty short-term goal, but that’s the beauty of short stories: they’re short.

Long-Term Resolutions:
-Finish all my WIPs. Not necessarily likely to happen within the 2016 year (though I suppose it could), but if I’m able to make significant progress, I’ll be happy.
-Establish a better work-home balance. The reason this is under a long-term resolution is because I don’t want it to ever end, and I know it’ll be tricky to implement (being the workaholic that I am).
-Learn a new language. Probably my loftiest goals, but I’d like to at least pick up a new language with a basic understanding of how to communicate. I’m deciding between Italian and Romanian, and kind of feel like I need to stick with my roots, and learn how to have riveting conversations with Dracula.
-Volunteer more. I recently was accepted to a local human society to help socialize cats, and I want to make this a permanent part of my life. Nonprofit organizations thrive on volunteer work, and I’m happy to be part of that community.

Do we share any resolutions? Want to learn Romanian with me? Let me know in the comments!

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