My Honest Author Bio

As I was traipsing through the wilds of the internet, I came across a post about the idea that most author bios are polished to a reflective, not necessarily realistic sheen. It seemed like a fun exercise to write my own “honest author bio.” Yes, I am five years late to this party, but this was a lot of fun to write!

And Now, the Bio

Aniko Carmean is a writer masquerading as a software tester. She is convincing in this role, having achieved sixteen years tenure and the level of “Senior Engineer.” There are days when she suspects someone might be onto her, and she distracts her interlocutor by cracking puns like the one she told on the eve of a co-worker’s visit to not one, but two bank clients, when she said, “We’ll get more bank for our buck!” Aniko is a water sign, and has the tenacity to prove it. She is married to an air sign, and between the two of them, neither has their feet firmly on the ground. This keeps things interesting. When Aniko is not acting in her capacity as diplomat in the Software Development Life Cycle, she can be found navigating Austin’s public transportation system, trekking through suburbia with three dogs, or being friendly on Twitter. Aniko writes surreal stories. They are strange and lovely chimeras who wish you would take them home with you. Care and feeding of the stories is easy, and after several professional edits, they are guaranteed housebroken. No messes! You’ll have less trouble reading them than Aniko had writing them, and after some of the dreck you’ve read recently, won’t that be a nice break? The next fact is not related, but is simply jammed here because this is an honest bio, and the wildflower garden of Aniko’s thoughts is disorderly. She once spent several days confused by the apparent apocalyptic disappearance of all the other thirty-seven year old women, only to discover all the women her age were trying (and succeeding) at looking nineteen. A stubborn proponent of caring more about the quality of her soul than her appearance, Aniko decided to stop dying her hair. You can spot her by what her hairdresser politely calls “sparklies,” but which are really the silver hairs Aniko has earned through the pain, grief, and disillusionment that come in any well-rounded life. In spite of this, Aniko smiles all the time. She is quick to laugh, often at her own jokes. If you buy her books, she will laugh at your jokes too!

As ever,
-aniko

Get three free stories, all of which are housebroken, vaccinated, and looking for a good home!

Get three free stories, all of which are housebroken, vaccinated, and looking for a good home!

Amazing, amazing!

My last post was heavy. It was so heavy, I almost didn’t have the strength to publish it. I feared being vulnerable. I was worried that people would be annoyed by a post that was more personal and less like a nice, safe essay. I even thought some people would be mad that I foisted my anxieties and fears on them, or disgusted that I mentioned anything to do with spirituality.

None of that happened.

Instead, the whole world reached out to me. I got thoughtful comments on the post. A friend I haven’t seen in years contacted me directly, with kindness and care. Others sent direct messages, and one lovely person even sent me a beautiful travelogue of  a recent adventure. And, as if the effect of being brave enough to admit to having lived through some darkness spread beyond the digital expanse of the post, another friend who knew nothing about it chose last week to remind me she’s always here for me, no matter what. It was the best week. I felt so loved.

Thank you all for being there for me.

With love,

-aniko

Beautiful blooms near my bus stop - gorgeous as your friendship!

Beautiful blooms near my bus stop – gorgeous as your friendship!

Flipped Bit

Sometimes, I flip a bit.

This is what we say at my day job when our software doesn’t behave as expected. “It flipped a bit!” In the past year, I’ve flipped almost every bit I have – and came close to a full crash. There are so many details I want to share, but what I want to share encroaches on the privacy of others. In some cases, it would be hurtful. I considered starting an anonymous blog, but then I realized that if I have to do something in secrecy, I shouldn’t be doing it at all. What I can give you are moments, images.

A look of pure hatred from a person I wanted nothing more for than happiness and light. The choice of betrayal or jail. Sobbing in the bathroom at work when I received news that made me feel like my DNA was unraveling. The thought of stepping in front of a city bus. There was also the dry air in Las Cruces, the dust rising like ghosts down the long road on a Sunday morning. Funerals. Too many losses, one so sudden and shocking. A year spent with people desperate to save their own lives, only to end up realizing I was the one who needed to be saved.

I am the person that those things happened to, but I am not the same.

I’m better now. Stronger. Whole. I have become a prayerful person, awakened to an unending source of love. When I am walking the path meant for me, joy and kindness are what I bring. Truth is what I speak, even when it is uncomfortable. I understand that this life is an opportunity to give with complete abandon of self.

I am a happy woman, quick to laugh. I love to write. I love to read. I love to be helpful to my co-workers, to care for my husband, and to walk the dogs given into my custody. I even love Twitter, and the conversations I have with friends I may never hug because we are time zones and continents apart. I’m finding my way back to the joy. I’m planning a return to classes at the Writer’s Studio (NYC-based, but I take the online class), and would love to work and, someday, be admitted to the master class. I want to be the best writer I can be. I want to be able to move from my particular pains and into sharing the universal hope and promise. I know there are bad days (bad years!), but without all of that bad, I would never have reached the spiritual deficit I needed to experience before I could be open to another way of being. The intense experiences of 2014/early 2015 taught me that it is true: blessed are the poor in spirit.

 

As ever,

-aniko


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Prolific Publishing for Success and Money: Or What I Learned By Trying

Had I Found the Blueprint for Success?

Last year, I read every book on writing and marketing that I could find. I subscribed to a handful of webinars, ‘attended’ email training sessions, and became a rabid devotee of any author with great branding and a promise of how I could succeed in publishing. Even though most of what I heard was not new to me, I felt like I had discovered a blueprint to success. All I had to do was publish prolifically, be helpful, and give away samples of my writing. Although the adjective “prolific” made me a little nervous, I decided to give the approach a try.

The journey hasn’t been all s’mores and champagne for me.

Attribution http://www.123rf.com/profile_bowie15 via  123RF Stock Photo

Attribution http://www.123rf.com/profile_bowie15 via 123RF Stock Photo

Initial Doubts Blasted by One Strong Outlier

I felt the first doubts about the method when I tried reading several works produced in the paradigm I was eager to emulate. It struck me that while some of these authors are doing well for themselves from a monetary standpoint, and were often quite the social media darlings, I didn’t feel their writing was good. The stories were competent in the way that food at a national restaurant chain is predictable: it won’t make you sick, but it won’t inspire you, either.

There are outliers, of course, and not everyone who publishes abundantly writes formulaic books. My friend Hunter Shea is very prolific, and offhand I can think of at least three new books he released in fairly quick succession (THE MONTUAK MONSTER, ISLAND OF THE FORBIDDEN, and HELL HOLE). Hunter’s work is consistently high-quality and fun to read, but for each one of his books that I enjoyed, there were at least two by other prolific authors that fell flat and ended up on my “didn’t finish” pile.

Despite my doubts, and with Hunter as a positive example, I remained determined to try publishing frequently. I started by drawing up a five year writing plan. In it, I scheduled myself to produce four new works a year. Each publication would have a free introductory “hook,” and at least one of the four publications would be novella-length or longer. I’d churn out works like my name was Krispy Kreme and the stories were 2AM hot donuts! Such was the plan, in any case.

What Happened When I Tried

I did manage two releases in six months (MIXED MEDIA and SPILLWAYS), but I discovered that having an excellent editor means I’m called on my authorial laziness, plot sloppiness, and continuity misfires. To be blunt: I do a lot of rewriting during edits. Getting MIXED MEDIA and SPILLWAYS right was a time consuming process, but I stayed on schedule – barely. At this point, I should reveal that both of those works were already drafted and “just” needed editing.

Long term, my personal slush pile couldn’t be my only source of material. I needed to be able to produce new works at a rate commensurate with my publication goals. To this end, I decided that I would experiment with writing a new work in a compressed timeframe. I blasted out the rough draft in a few weeks, which is amazing given that the only time I have to write is my hour-long bus ride to work. It wasn’t any worse of a first draft than most, but it was also not dazzling. I employed no challenging points of view, nor did I craft within a non-standard form. When the overarching goal was to publish at a frenetic pace, literary merit felt like a “nice to have” rather than an imperative. Under those conditions, my writing devolved to chain restaurant quality. I won’t publish a work that isn’t my best, and I’ve spent multiple editorial cycles improving the story. It is finally worthy of my readers, but getting it that way meant I missed my publication deadline for this piece by two months. So much for writing a “fast” story!

It was an interesting experiment. I think that if I were a full-time writer, I could have better luck with making quicker production turnaround, but my boundary conditions are decidedly not those of a full-time writer. For now, I’m done with attempting a frenetic publishing pace. I can’t honor my literary calling when the focus is on growing my shelf space rather than on the joy of creation.

Author Fatigue is One Thing, But What About Readers?

In a blog post Ania Ahlborn points out another possible downside of rapid-fire publication: reader fatigue. I can’t think of anything more fatiguing than reading masses of sub-par novels… well, other than writing masses of sub-par novels! I love that authors I enjoy have multiple books, but sometimes a year or more will pass between when I read those works. This, for me, is even true with series. There are so many voices to experience, and because my reading time is just as scant as my writing time, I’m apt to drift between genres and temporarily abandon even my favorite author.

Conclusion

I’m glad I tried the approach of fast publishing. I am pleased with the works I produced last year. SPILLWAYS, in particular, contains my best writing, with stories that challenged me as a writer. It is also my least read work – so far. I think that is partly because I am waiting to do a strategic campaign to advertise it, but it might also be a symptom of reader fatigue. If you are curious, you can read MOON SICK, the first story in the collection for free. All you need to do is sign up for my author newsletter at http://www.oddskybooks.com/odd-literati. After you subscribe, you’ll receive a follow-up email with a link to download the story in the format of your choice.


What about you? Have you tried writing at a multi-book per year pace? Do you read everything by your favorite prolific authors as soon as the books hit Amazon’s Whispernet (or the newstands)?

Ghosts & Chapbooks

It is wonderful to be able to connect with the authors whose works have moved me. That is one of the true gems of the internet age. At the end of last year, I read two works that moved me enough to write about my experience with them. I sent my pieces to the authors, and offered that – if they wanted – they could post them on their blogs. Both agreed! My delight is now threefold: the original story, the ability to express gratitude to the authors, and the honor of having my words appear on their blogs.

I read Hunter Shea’s latest work, ISLAND OF THE FORBIDDEN and was transported back to the time when I lived in a haunted house. Yes. You read that right. I believe ghosts exist, just as much as I believe in the chair where I’m sitting or the coffee I’m drinking. If you want to read some of the supernatural events I experienced, please visit Hunter’s post, A True Haunting in Belgium.

I had the rare and blissfully tactile experience of reading Mary SanGiovanni’s chapbook, NO SONGS FOR THE STARS. To quote myself, which is probably a first for me, “It feels good to feel, not just with our imaginations and our hearts, but also with our hands. Neither e-books nor mass produced pocket editions can provide the beauty I experienced sitting quietly and reading this slim chapbook.” The story is an enthralling addition to Mary’s (multi)verse. To read more of my thoughts about the chapbook medium and the story, please visit Mary’s post, Guest Post – Aniko Carmean – No Songs for the Stars.

Hunter and Mary, you are both amazing writers and wonderful human beings! I am so glad to have read your works!

-aniko


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Wondering Where I Am These Days?

I’ve been building a website for my new publishing imprint, Odd Sky Books! You can visit the “under construction” page to sign up for a newsletter to get updates that will be more frequent than I’ll be updating this blog. Here’s the URL: http://www.oddskybooks.com.

I am also busy preparing to publish a collection of short stories later this year, and getting ready to write a novella that continues the story of Mario Santa Maria from my recent short story, MIXED MEDIA. The idea to do that wasn’t mine – it was yours! Readers wanted to know how the story turns out, and I’m happy to oblige.

My publication plans for the next few years are very aggressive. I will not be spending time blogging, but I also will not take down this site. People seem to find it useful for two things:

1. The MailChimp + WordPress.com Tutorial

2. A Review of Ania Ahlborn’s Seed

You can always reach me by using the Contacts page on this site. The best way to find out what’s going on with me or my writing is to sign up for the newsletter, either using the link here, or by visiting Odd Sky Books. I will be sending a monthly letter that has the tone of an email from a friend, not a marketer. When Odd Sky Books launches, there will be additional benefits that current subscribers will receive. I’d love to have you join me!

As ever,

-aniko

Author Reading

Here’s a video of me reading the opening section of my surreal short story MIXED MEDIA. In it, the protagonist discovers that there’s something strange going on with the way he sees art.  Enjoy!


 

I wish that YouTube didn’t always choose the most awkward expression as the still video clip! :)


About MIXED MEDIA:

Story Blurb

Mario Santa Maria is an artist who has lost his dreams – literally. Insomnia, unemployment, and a failing relationship are his lot. Things are going badly, and then things get strange. On a visit to the Vos Modern Art Museum, Mario discovers he has the ability to intercept the communication between art and a viewer. MIXED MEDIA is a surreal tale of masterpieces, Delphic sugar cubes, and the promise of new perspectives.

What’s hidden by what we see?

You can read MIXED MEDIA for free (PDF), or purchase it on Amazon (5.0 out of 5 stars). If you enjoy the story, please consider leaving a review on Amazon or Goodreads.


 

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