Monday, April 22, 2013

Forever ME re-launch ~ New Cover ~Paperbacks ~ And a word about review reactions

Forever ME has re-launched just over a week ago with a gorgeous new cover by the powerhouse book designer Sarah Hansen at Okay Creations. Huge shout out to Sarah and her company.

Forever ME is a YA novel that was inspired by true events. In October of 2010 I caught a segment on morning television about a group of high school girls from Texas. They had created an organization called, Redefining Beautiful. The idea was to encourage girls to go one day a week without makeup. To get girls to understand they didn't need to look a certain way to be attractive. In a matter of moments I was sold and a concept came to me. Two years later "Forever ME" was published.

I never dreamed I would write YA novel, I was used to writing comedy for the stage, independent television and film, oh and the occasional horror novel. Of course the thought of taking on the idea of writing a novel of teen angst didn't really cross my mind, for me, I had a story to tell and I was just going to write it. Even when I knew I was going to be spending 90% of the novel writing from a female perspective...a sixteen-year-old teen's perspective. Naturally as I began to write, I began to wonder, will anyone read a novel about teen girls struggling with the social issues that plague our schools and the lives of our youth written by a man? A female author very quickly came to my support and, "Yes, it's a little novel called, "Carrie" by a man you may have heard of named Stephen King."

"Yes, but that was 1974!" I bemoaned.
"Teens are still teens." This is something every human being who's sixteen or older can attest to. We all worry, will I ever find true love? Why couldn't I have been born rich? Why do the pretty girls always get everything they want? And so on. (They don't BTW, that's just how it seems.) You may have asked different questions but we all still found those years at best, awkward at times and a time when you're still trying to figure out who you are and what you want from your life.

For me, I always knew I wanted to be in show business. I loved acting and writing. So when it came to writing "Forever ME" for the first time ever I had the entire story in my head within five minutes of watching the segment on morning television. This was a book I loved writing, and I learned a lot about my own emotions and perspectives. But the true test would be....would teen girls like the book? Embrace it? Or would I get tons of hate mail.  Well, to my welcome relief, teen girls are taking the time to tell me they do like the book, they love Hannah.  I have had a couple of bad comments...but they weren't from teens. I see the occasional comment...seems like "Mean Girls" my defense...I have never seen Mean Girls...honest! Cross my heart! There was one person however that stated: I didn't know enough about teen girls to be writing about them. They felt It was so exaggerated I was making fun of the girls."  THAT couldn't be farther from the truth. I am a dad. I have a 19 year old daughter who just turned 17 when I began this project. I interviewed teens and asked them directly does this sound right? Teens have no problem telling you if you suck. Their honesty filter is set to wide open.  Which is a good thing. But the comment from the person who was an adult really bothered me...bothered me until....a girl from the other side of the planet sent me a message, that said she read Forever ME and cried on public transport while reading it. Then a teen from the midwest left a message on my FB page that said: Forever ME was amazing! Thank you for your contribution to modern literature and to my life. More and more teens began commenting. "Wish I had been allowed to read a book like this when I was an insecure 14 year old."   THAT was all the vindication I needed. Obviously teen girls are responding to "Forever ME" in a positive way. And just today I saw this note posted on an earlier blog I had not seen before: Hannah is a heroine. More than a heroine. She is real." 

That is all any writer can ask for, is praise from a reader who confirms your writing made an impact on them. I am truly humbled by the girls who have taken the time to tell me, how much they identified with Forever ME.  Thank you girls!

So finally the last news: Forever ME will be in paperback officially on May 6, 2013!
There will be 3 ways to get paperbacks: 1. 2. My Createspace Store and 3. My blog via PayPal. If you notice at the top of my blog there is a PayPal buy button. Copies purchased through my blog are slightly higher priced but they are autographed and the shipping is included on all purchases in the USA.  The button is live now and I am accepting advance orders. But release date will be, May 6, 2013!

Thank you everyone who has taken the time to read the novel, Tweet it, share it on FB and have taken the message of the novel to heart. And once again my fondest thanks to the girls of "Redefining Beautiful" This never would have happened without your heartfelt desire to help girls just learn it's okay to be themselves!

~ Cheers, Thomas Amo

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Write From The Heart

I've read the statement, write the kind of books you'd like to read. I've also read, forget writing from your heart...just write commerically. All authors have one goal in common, we're telling a story. So how do some stories strike like a wicked bolt of lightening and begin flying off the shelves or filling e-readers around the world? 

The answer is—there's no answer. 

The truth is however, everyone buys a book for a different reason and your book not selling doesn't mean your writing is bad, it means you haven't found your audience and or gained enough exposure. While getting on the front page of ENT or Pixel Of Ink will give your book a's pretty much momentary. As your post slides down the feed and disappears so do your sales along with it. Some sales will lag along..but without taking any action you're pretty much back to 1-20 sales for the month again. 

But back to my topic's title. Earlier this week while watching "The Voice" with my wife, I heard a guy sing the song, "I just haven't met you yet." (That may not be the title) He sang great, he was spot on the notes pretty much, but no one turned around. I was surprised by this unil I heard one of the judges tell him..."All I heard was you singing a song." And I thought...well isn't that the point? But no it wasn't. Anyone can sing a song, good or bad, but it's what you do with those lyrics that are going to make the judges hit that button and spin those chairs or not. Same rule applies to writing. Your judges are readers and even though some never turn their chair, try not to take it personally, consider you might be singing in a genre they don't care for. 

Before I began to write novels, I wrote comedy for the live theatre. Full length plays. Mostly British farces. The shows I wrote from my heart, the shows that made me laugh while writing them, usually were hit shows and audience pleasers. The shows where I forced the comedy and TRIED to be funny, usually fell flat on it's face. The audience knew and so did the reviewers. Readers can tell when you're putting them on. But it's not always bad news to write something that isn't your best work because it teaches what not to do next time and hopefully if you do start to do it again, you will recognize it and avoid it. 

So, my current novel, "Forever ME" is from the heart. So much so I actually cried writing the final two chapters. I allowed myself to become consumed into the world I created and it was an experience that far exceeded my comedy writing. "Forever ME" is inspired by true events, when I learned about a group of amazing girls from a Texas high school who took the subject of how you look and turned it on it's head, I was awestruck. The five minute segment on the morning news was all I needed to be off and running. The book is now just beginning to gain some ground, but at the same time, it's my desire to keep alive the message these young women so boldy embraced. Will this sell more books? Who can say, but if I never sold another copy, I learned and grew as a writer and that is always a step in the right direction.