Tag Archives: reader

The Growing Author

I think it’s pertinent to share my thoughts with everyone on what I learned through the release of my second novel, The Curse of Pirini Lilapa. It was officially published on June 21, but I didn’t have its release party until June 22.

The undertaking in releasing this book was something like I have never experienced before and has made me but luckily I had some experience already in this sort of thing. The hardest part, of course, was the language barrier and communicating my ideas and design to someone whose native language is not English. Luckily, I had met a few contacts who could speak a decent amount of English and worked in the positions I needed them to work in. I knew someone in an advertising agency who could design the inside of the book with her staff. I also knew another person who knew a book printer who could help me with printing books. This, my readers, is known as 關係(Guānxì). It means relationship in Chinese and it is part of the cultural identity that thrives here in China. So many times I have seen this play out, sometimes in bad ways (like when students enter our program because they simply know someone), sometimes in good ways (like my case) but it’s a fundamental idea that one has to be cognizant about while in China. If you’ve ever heard of the phrase “Don’t burn your bridges,” and thought it was just an idiom, it is actually life over here.

In fact, this idea permeates through more than just simple relationships, but it also affects how we are perceived as foreigners. For example, I recently went to a family lunch for the parents of a recent graduate to our program. I had never heard about this lunch until the day before, but no one actually invited me. At 7 p.m. at night I finally get an invitation from a colleague who must have “forgotten” about me (all too common in China), but I refuse the invitation as I already had other plans. Then the father personally adds me and invites me to the lunch. Now, I actually do enjoy these lunches and dinners quite a bit, and I did eventually end up going, but only because the father actually took the effort to invite me. So, there I was, the only foreigner in a room of 200 or so Chinese, and I needed to be there in order for them to have the ability to say that they know a foreigner, in order to give them 關係. Now, how does this relate to the novel? I only mentioned that story to show you how essential it is for Chinese people to have us at events, no matter the event, even if it’s simply taking a picture with you so they can claim to have a “foreign friend.” So, getting back to the book release, I held this event at a coffee shop and when asked how much money it would be to reserve the second floor they said there was no money needed, just that everyone should buy at least one drink and that they would have the ability to take photos of us for use as promotional material. Compared to other places and prices that I looked at in Yixing, this was a great deal and I ended up having my event there. You can see some of the pictures below, but again, it reverts back to this idea of relationships and not only that but “the face” here in China.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

China is, lack for a better word, shallow. They DO care about how you look. They DO care about your skin color. They DO care about your sex. Although they may not say it explicitly, it goes back to their cultural identity and never losing “face” to someone. Face is like reputation, and because people take photos of me, or have lunches with me, or have their coffee shop filled with a bunch of foreigners, they automatically gain a lot of “guanxi” and they gain a lot of face.

 

Another thing that was extremely surprising to me doing the second release of the book is that, since traveling and teaching abroad, I have actually gained more fans than in the States. You think that this would be the opposite, right? Back home people know me, I grew up with them, I have established long-term friendships with them. While that is true, some of my best friends are actually the ones I have made abroad and I think it’s because we have gone through the same thing. We are both living and adapting to our environment and the struggle we share is similar. That is why support is so high here. Even from the Chinese actually. Although they most likely cannot read the book, they still buy it and support me and that matters a lot to me. I also think it’s because when people find out that I’m an author and a traveling teacher it kind of makes me an outlier. I mean, it’s like randomly seeing a celebrity on the street. Now, I’m not trying to equate myself with a celebrity, I am far from rich and famous yet, but it’s not that many times that you run into someone (especially someone so young) who has published a novel—that, too, I believe helps me gain fans and supporters.

The last thing I learned doing this book release was that timing is EVERYTHING. Now, this should be obvious, but it’s even more so when you are living abroad (especially in China). As I have an American fan base and a Chinese fan base, I need to post things on social media at the specific times where it can gain the most traction. Typically for me, this is in the morning (or the night before for America) or late at night in China around 9 PM which will then hit America at 9 AM. This, for the most part, I did successfully; however, I did fail in getting pre-publicity reviews before its release, and I hope that doesn’t really hurt me and my sales for the book. This time doing it I am much more cognizant about the money that I spend in promotion and marketing because the last book cost me waaayyy too much money and I doubt I’ll ever make a profit on it (to be honest, most authors don’t make a profit on their first book anyway as it’s just a way to gain your fan base and establish your credibility). Also, I’ve learned that I waited much too long to release this second book as it has been 5 years or so. I really should keep sequels to no more than 3 years, so I will be much more diligent on this third novel and hope to release it maybe in my early 30s, maybe before 30, who knows, it all depends on where the story goes. I do know, however, that China has given me the time and the economic freedom to publish my books as an author which is fantastic.

Overall, as I turn my nascent author career into one that is hopefully full-time professional career I will need to keep up with the times and learn new things on the way. That is the most exciting part about being an author and a traveling teacher, never growing stagnant. I always have to adapt to situations and it has made me a more confident and competent person than I was before.

Do you have any experiences that have shaped you as an individual? I think we all do. I would like to hear them in the comments if you would like to share!

  • Michael E. Thies

P.S. Also, it’s my birthday June 29th. As a birthday gift to all of my fans I have discounted my books on Amazon from 2.99 to .99 cents. So, download them while you can by clicking on the links here. The Trials of the Core and The Curse of Pirini Lilapa. Also, you can win autographed copies of both books by going to The Guardian of the Core Facebook page, liking the page, and sharing the most recent post with your friends!

Review #5 (More good news!)

Hi everyone!

Alright, I know you are all probably getting tired of me posting the reviews that I get on here, but, I can’t help it, this is my debut novel and the amount of positive feedback that I’ve been getting on it has been phenomenal and something I can’t be thankful enough for. With that being said, this next reviewer, Jay Williams, gave it a 5/5 stars and this is what he had to say:

“A well-written adventure in a fantasy world, this novel quickly engages the reader and keeps you engrossed through the never-ending action and adventure. People and places are always introduced with a brief description that helps to form mental images as the story progresses. I was completely in suspense up to the final selection of the apprentice. I’m looking forward to the next book in this series. Thoughts and images of the story and its characters stayed with me long after I had finished the book.”

Thanks Jay for your support. And thanks for everyone who has been behind me on this project of mine 100%. I appreciate it and it means a lot to me. December can’t get here fast enough, nor can my book launch party November 6th.

Until the next one!

Writer’s Block Press

 

Review #4

Hey everyone,

So, here is another review that came on about my book, compliments of “Teresa” on Goodreads. She received my book from the NetGalley system. For the most part pretty positive! She didn’t like the fact that it’s not a “complete” book and that there is bound to be a second one, but I suppose…it is a series after all. Wouldn’t be without other books. Anyways, here is the review!

 

“SPOILERS WITHIN:
This is a science fiction story involving magical powers, technological advances and one all powerful guardian. In this portion, the applicants have applied and eight are chosen to compete for an apprenticeship with Eska, the current Guardian of the Core. Should they survive the contests, they will have the opportunity to answer questions for approval from the ruling families and with the required votes begin the apprenticeship for a 200 year position which will require the person to remain single, childless due to the potential transfer of the power.

This portion is well written and the author has well developed story line with the different locations. I could relate to the characters as I was reading the story, not to mention some of the technology used in the story. The places, people and events had excellent descriptions. The reader is able to get lost in the storyline and wonder where the time is gone when he arrives to find, what is to me, a disappointing ending.

Like so many stories being published these days, to me, this is merely part one of a story. From the way the story ends, it is clear there will be more but instead of creating one novel they’ve broken it up into parts so that more money can be made. ( )”

 

She gave it a 3/5 stars. My lowest one yet, but still overall a good review I think considering what she wrote above. Thanks for reading along and hopefully you’ll get the chance to review and read my book soon enough.

As An Author…

This is a poem I made up. I haven’t done poetry for a while, but this one just came to me so I figured I had to write it down. WordPress is being stupid and not allowing me to tab so that is why the bullet marks are in there so that I can indent, so just imagine that you are reading the poem without them in there.

As an Author…

I survey the scenes our senses savor

  • Causing us to sniff and salivate

I am trained to paint pictures

  • Not tell tedious tales

I create charismatic characters

  • But only by observing others

I notice the nuances that make you, you

  • And make them, them

I might obfuscate observations

  • Or, I may dissect definite details

I can orchestrate the Swan Song

  • And may compose a crescendo
  • As captivating as Casanova’s charisma
  • Or as drawl and dilapidated as death

 

But, for it to be anything at all

  • Ostentatious or otherwise

 

I need sky-shattering support

  • For I am an undiscovered underdog without it.

Thanks for reading! I hope you find it enjoyable and relatable (especially if you’re an author).