How do we get there: Driving versus flying #Vacations #travelblogs

Family Vacations: Driving or Flying

By Michael Melville

I love traveling and I love vacations. They are my favorite thing to do outside of writing and spending time with my family. One of my dreams is to be able to mix writing and traveling while being paid for it. Family trips were a huge part of my childhood and life. These days, with money being a little tight still, people think traveling is more expensive than what it really is. I find it’s the ones who DON’T travel that think it’s expensive, though. You don’t know what you don’t know when you don’t want to see it. Sure it’s going to cost you some money regardless but what you spend in money you will earn back tenfold in family memories and experiences. Sometimes those experiences can dramatically change a child’s life.

I am the biggest fan of road trips. I prefer driving to flying hands down no matter where I go. If you are traveling in the continental USA or Canada, driving is cheaper than flying I would say 90% of the time when adding up the total trip costs. It has been that way for quite a while even when gas prices were higher…SHOCKING BUT TRUE. Yes, there are some instances when it is not. Nevertheless, as I said, usually, driving is cheaper. Right now, you might be saying, “You’re a damn liar what’s your face blogger guy!”


Technology is the king of research now when it comes to traveling, not predetermined, and old-fashioned assumptions. The days of winging it on the road or trusting a travel agent are gone unless you are traveling out of the USA. There are literally thousands of travel websites and travel bloggers who are dedicated to making information about traveling and cutting costs available to everyone. One just has to look. It is all about being educated.

People, in the process of vacation planning often completely ignore the idea that driving could be an option while perhaps being the best option for a long distance trip. The fact that gas prices are down nearly 2 dollars a gallon (in some places) from where they were even just a year ago only lends to this. Flying is cool don’t get me wrong,  and fast but it’s needlessly expensive for a family of four or more and let’s face it, it’s incredibly boring between taking off and landings. Loud people, crying babies, loud kids, no legroom, overpriced booze, stupid fees not to mention inflated ticket prices and schedules (which I hate on vacation) make the whole thing a hassle. Now, a road trip, however, you learn, see, feel and smell so many things that you just will never get in a tube flying 30,000 feet in the air.

Comparing Flying and Driving

So in an effort to help educate people on trip planning, trip costs and vacations in this travel article I will do an honest cost comparison between flying and driving for a family of four. This family will consist of two parents and two kids whose ages are 6 and 10 (one boy and one girl). For the sake of popularity, my pretend “Family” will be looking at taking a vacation in Orlando Florida within the next 60 days and will be traveling from where I live in Michigan. I will also refrain from picking and including pricing for specific vacation destinations in Orlando (so no Disney World, Sea World, Universal Studios etc. etc.….). This article is about getting there.

The costs will be based on current prices at the time this post was written (10/5/2015) and not traveling over a holiday because that is unfair. I personally avoid traveling over the holidays (by plane) or the 3 days before and after the holidays at all costs. I will go under the assumption that the trip will take place in the next 60 days since planning and booking ahead of time is always ALWAYS the smartest thing. A trip like this would likely be planned out much farther in advance than I am doing or at least they should. Many airlines charge extra fees for each ticket purchased for flights departing in under 30 days.

I will be looking at prices from several different websites and try to find the cheapest prices for both flying and driving. Keep in mind prices are subject to change as we all know. Gas prices for driving will be based on driving a 2014 Chevrolet Cruze. Travel costs will also be based on roundtrip travel in both travel options.



Vacation Pricing

Driving (First leg)


Grand Rapids to Orlando

Total Miles Traveled – 1230 miles

Total Travel Time – about 18 hours

Total number of fill ups on the way to Orlando – 2

 (Fill up in Grand Rapids before leaving) – $38.00 @$2.39/gallon

 Nashville Tennessee area – $25.10 @$1.74/gallon

Hotel Costs (Halfway point and 8 hours driving)

One night in Chattanooga TN (3-star hotel) Nov 7th-8th – 174.05 (taxes Included)

Food Costs (Estimated)

Lunch – $40.00 x 2

Dinner – $50.00

Snacks – $30.00

Orlando Gas Costs

 (One tank) $40.00 @ 1.91/gallon


Vacation Pricing

Driving (2nd Leg)


Orlando Florida to Grand Rapids Michigan

Total Miles Traveled – 1230 miles

Total Travel Time – about 18 hours

Total number of fill ups on the way to Grand Rapids – 3

Fill up in Orlando – $31.36 @$2.02/gallon

Chattanooga Tennessee – $24.82 @$1.75/gallon

Top off in Grand Rapids – $1.54 @$2.23/gallon

Hotel Costs (Halfway point and 8 hours driving)

One night at Aloft Nashville Cool Springs, Nov 14th-15th – $117.93 (3-stars, tax included)

Food Costs (Estimated)

Lunch – $40.00 x 2

Dinner – $50.00

Snacks – $30.00

Total roundtrip cost from both legs$772.00



Vacation – Flying (Roundtrip)


Grand Rapids Michigan to Orlando Florida

Four Roundtrip tickets with trip protection insurance – $1,106.00 (Allegiant Air, Direct Flight, and Taxes Included)

Baggage Fees (If applicable) – $200.00 (4 checked bags)

Other Flight Fees – $89.00 (Seat Selections) $40.00 (Priority Boarding)

Rental car (for duration of time in Orlando) – $161.00

Rental car gas – $40.00 (You probably will not use this much, but it depends on how much driving you do while in Florida. Rental cars must be returned with a full or ¾ full tank or pay a fee)

Total roundtrip cost – $1636.00


Total trip savings comparing flying versus driving

— $864.00 saved by driving —


When I priced these all out, I was actually surprised that Allegiant came out on top considering the optional but exorbitant fees they charge but it was just barely that they did. For the flight portion, I looked at Southwest Airlines and (American was the cheapest I found there without naming my own price) in addition to Allegiant. Southwest came out at $1765.64 with a rental car included and no baggage fees. American was the most for these dates and hit $1995.92 with a car rental and trip protection, but that did not include baggage fees at $25.00 for the first bag per person. All taxes were included in these prices.

Now, of course, there are ways to make both trips cheaper, especially with driving. One example would be driving straight through to Orlando and alternate driving between the parents. By doing this, it would have avoided $291.98 in hotel costs for my imaginary family. For me personally, driving 8 hours is nothing, I’ve done this trip, and longer ones alone and can drive about 13 hours before stopping to sleep. In my younger days, I could push 20 hours…oh to be young again.

With flying Allegiant, you could skip the travel insurance, picking your seats and paying extra for early boarding but I would not suggest it at least with Allegiant. The airline is notorious for having delayed and late plans. I think with any airline paying for early boarding is worth it. However, with Allegiant if you do not pick your seats your whole family could end up sitting on different parts of the plane. Do you really want your little kids sitting next to total strangers 10 rows up because you got cheap and took a chance?

You could also play the creative packing game to avoid some baggage fees but I think with kids and going somewhere like Orlando (with all they have there) that would make that one a lot harder than for a solo flyer or even a couple. You could also try to find cheaper flights into surrounding airports like St. Pete’s/Tampa, Daytona, or even Ft. Lauderdale but you are going to be looking at more driving. So you need to decide If the extra gas and driving is worth saving maybe 50 bucks.

Yes driving is actually cheaper

It is fairly obvious that driving is the cheaper option by looking at this comparison even If you want to add on another two hundred bucks for incidental costs like souvenirs or extra gas along the way. Yes, driving does have some drawbacks like potential traffic issues, maybe a car breaking down and stops for the kids or something like that. I have found on all my road trips over the years that issues like these to be very rare occurrences, though. Flying has its own drawbacks as well like late flights, canceled flights, layovers, lost bags, and rough weather. Therefore, it’s important to think about what works best for your family. I still think driving is the way to go and do not buy into the idea that flying is more convenient. When looking at the prices above if I had a family of four going to Orlando I do not know that spending an extra $864.00 is worth a perceived notion of convenience that is the usual argument for flying. Looking back on all my past trips and comparing the ones when I flew versus the ones when I drove I can honestly say the trips where I flew where more stressful and much more of a hassle.

National Lampoons Family Vacation


Now, yes you may think you are losing 2 days in Orlando by driving but you are not really. Considering the arriving flights I found don’t arrive until later in the day, then factor in getting your bags, rental car and driving to your hotel and checking in you lost a whole day of your trip doing all that. Then you have to call it quits early the night before going home, so your family can pack, wake up early to drop the car off then catch your plane. Driving gives you a little bit more leeway and freedom without the panic and rush.


I will also note that the Allegiant flight departed on Friday and returns on Friday. The other two flights I found both left on Saturday. Therefore, the kids will be missing another 2 days of school. As a parent, I never really want to consider the option of my kids missing school so I can save money, that’s what winter, spring and summer breaks are for. In addition, Allegiant doesn’t fly from everywhere or offer direct flights so that airline may not even be an option for some.

Last Thought

Now, of course, there is also the obvious issue. That being neither one of these trip options have hotels, park tickets, parking, park food, or souvenirs factored in. If you are just going to Walt Disney World and staying outside the park, your hotel may offer shuttle service to and from the airport and also to and from the park so you may not need a rental car.

Now, if you are just going to Disney and staying at a Disney resort (which I suggest, see my travel post on that), they offer free transportation everywhere so a rental car is very pointless. However, if you are going to Disney, Universal and Sea World during the trip a rental car will probably be needed and more so if you plan on going to Kennedy Space Center or want to see the Ocean. Depending on what you do, you could be looking at another $1,000 to $2,000 (or more) on top of just getting there.


If this trip is a once in a lifetime event for your family then driving will give you far more freedom to see and do everything that you want to do more than flying ever could and for a cheaper price. Therefore, it’s important to really plan this out way ahead of time. Talk to your kids and get their input on what they really want to do the most because let’s be real you are going to Orlando for them right? If you spend half of your vacation budget just getting there what is the point? That $864 bucks you saved by driving could afford you some additional vacation options for additional days at certain parks. If you drive, it also gives the kids another opportunity to be involved by seeing if there is anything along the way they would want to see. Kids are pretty tech-savvy more than most parents are so I am sure they will have some ideas. It’s not just about getting from point A to point B but everything in between.

Just remember that for family vacations it is about the whole trip and ALL the memories from it. So why not make as many as you can?


Websites I used:




Enough with the Fantasy Football already


Draft that and Duel this

By: Michael Melville

In my time as a sports fan and specifically a football fan (American football, however, I do enjoy European football) I have been known to play fantasy football on online leagues. I say, “Have been known” because I’ve done it a total of 4 times in my life and most recently last year on an online league with my cousins through ESPN. It was all good and fun, but I found that it took away from the pure enjoyment of watching games especially when I watch them with my dad.
Last season while watching games, I had my phone and Kindle going. I was keeping track of stats, player’s points on my league, doing last minute replacements when big news hit or when players were underperforming and injured and well…it ended up feeling like work. The only work I enjoy doing that I am not paid for (or paid for a little bit) is writing. I remember last year I sat through one entire Detroit Lions game with my dad and my face was buried in these damn websites and I think I only watched 10 minutes of the whole game. I know it irritated him about as much as it irritates my mom when I am constantly on Facebook when I am in Florida visiting her. I can’t blame either of them.
So before this season I said no more. I’m not going to waste my precious time on fantasy football leagues. And it worked until the radio and TV ads started running before the season started. You might know the ones I am talking about for sites like DraftKings and Fan Duel. Instead of me not taking part in fantasy football leagues it made me hate fantasy football even more.

I love sports, but I am not a uber fan of sports. I do not live and breathe sports like others do (I’m not judging them though) I suppose you could call me a “slightly more than casual” sports fan. But if I could go five damn minutes without hearing an ad for DraftKings or Fan Duel during a football game or even listening to my local sports radio channel that would be really awesome. These sites are borderline online gambling anyways and only exist because they found a way to skirt the federal online gambling laws. It’s almost like they bought the NFL for as much as they advertise.
Regardless of the legalities, they are literally ruining football for me this season more than a regular online fantasy football league through ESPN or something ever could. Does this annoy anyone else? I can’t be the only one.
This past week I was watching the Lions attempt to beat Denver (they lost…of course) but I found myself muting every single commercial break so I did not have to hear these stupid ads. I cannot be the only person who feels this way. So to all those other companies running advertisements during the game, I’m sorry, I didn’t hear them or really see them and you can blame DraftKings and Fan Duel for that.

To make matters even worse, I was listening to the local ESPN radio channel today and heard an ad for a bookie company for sports betting. I do not think I’ve ever heard that before in my life. I was annoyed. Why can’t people just be allowed to enjoy football or other sports for the pure enjoyment of it? Why does gambling or even pseudo gambling have to be involved? Keep that crap in Vegas or the casinos where it belongs.
I was reading an article on Awful Announcing and it broke down the amount of fantasy football ads during a block of football watching on a Sunday during the 20th of September. This covered pregame coverage and three games on four different networks (ESPN, CBS, FOX and NBC Primetime).

Here is the breakdown for total ads from these companies according to Awful Announcing:
DraftKings: 16
FanDuel: 14

Now here is the breakdown per network for those same companies:
ESPN Pregame: 10
CBS Early game: 5
Fox late game: 9
NBC Primetime: 6

The article is actually pretty interesting and worth a read on its own so click HERE for the link to it. The numbers above came directly from Awful Announcing. Did you know that DraftKings is the number 1 advertiser in all of television right now? I didn’t and I’m horrified.

It makes you wonder just how deep this whole thing goes when it comes to sites like this. According to an article by the New York Times both Jerry Jones and Robert Kraft who are perhaps, the two biggest names in NFL ownership have stakes in DraftKings. What is also ironic is that the same article talks about how the NFL wouldn’t let players take part in a Fantasy League event because it was at a Casino in Vegas. Even on ESPN, it appears that DraftKings has nearly bought up that network for as much as the advertising and commentators talk about it. So where is the line between sports betting and just fun?

Enough is enough already. Gambling already has enough sharks in it and we don’t need them in our sports as well.


Here is another great article from Bloomberg Business



Thoughts on the movie “The Wire” and 9/11

There is a movie coming out soon that is getting a lot of attention and it is not because of drama, its budget, or its actors escapades on and off set. The special effects, however, are getting a lot of attention, but that is not what is rubbing people the wrong way.

“The Walk” is a movie is about a daredevil high-wire-artist who accomplished one of the most daring feats in his line of work. No one paid him to do it, there was no multimillion dollar contract with a TV network. In fact, what he did was highly illegal and was done without the permission of New York Port Authority.  It’s also about a group of people working together to do something many said could not be done and that is helping one man walk a wire which stretched between the North and South towers of the World Trade Center.

Yes, the same ones which were attacked and fell on September 11th, 2001 and it seems that is what is rubbing some people the wrong way.

They are upset about the buildings being used and shown in the film. That somehow in some warped way by recreating this epic moment in time in 1974 that it is somehow sullying the tragic events of 9/11/2001.  But you literally cannot make this film without them. It’s not a film about highwire walking between any old building. The towers themselves are nearly the antagonist of the movie. This film stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and tells the tale of the feat achieved by Phillip Petit in August 1974. In the film, Levitt plays Petit and co-stars the always epic Ben Kingsley. The movie feels like a daredevils version of Oceans 11 and looks just as intense and well planned out. Interesting tidbit I learned while researching this article is that Levitt actually trained with Petit to prepare for the film. I’m not surprised considering how committed he is to his roles.

the walk

Shot from The Walk (Courtesy of Sony and Tristar Films)

It’s ironic because when I first saw the trailer for this the other day, my first thought was, “Wow that’s going to piss some people off,” and my second thought was, “Damn those special effects look amazing.” Apparently, I was right on both counts. Across the internet and especially Facebook and Twitter (of course) there has been no shortage of people sounding off negatively about this film. Some comments I read called the movie, “Disgusting” while others said, “Shameful,” and “Un-American.”

I do not understand these people and here is why. I sat in front of my TV and watched the planes hit both towers, the fires, the people jumping; the buildings fall and the hero’s trying to save lives right along with most of America and the world. It was one of the most, if not the most frantic, surreal and heart-wrenching events of my life. I am not one these kids born just before or after 9/11 who try to diminish the events of that day when they have no memory of it happening or much of the world after. I was 21 years old at the time and I know all too well, what the events of that day did to our country and how they changed it…but we need to move on.

I am not saying forget about it, I am not saying ignore it. What this film can do though that some are not realizing is give people the ability to look at the World Trade Center towers in a different way and light than what we all have been. For 14 years, the towers and that day have been a horrible black eye on the United States and have given us nothing but sadness and anger. The words “World Trade Center” are often still spoken in hushed voices with a certain amount reverence.

the walk 3

Shot from The Walk (Courtesy of Sony and Tristar Films)

The movie I think can help people see those towers for what they were for all those years before 9/11 and that is a monument to human technological achievement and a pair of true modern marvels. During the time, this event actually occurred the buildings and the surrounding complex were still under construction. Seeing the towers in a state of building and birth in the film rather than collapse and destruction was interesting and nice. People tend to forget that for decades these were the two tallest buildings in the world, they remember the end of them but not years before they fell save for the people of New York City who lived with them every day.  Yes, some of the shots in the film of the CG recreated towers are gut-wrenchingly close and ultra realistic. For years though these two buildings were an obstacle to overcome, to be in awe of and not be sad about and that is something worth remembering. This film is about human empowerment and not being a victim.

According to PBS Petit once said about the event, “They called me, I didn’t choose them,” and “…. it was a calling of the romantic type.”

phillip petite

Actual photo from the 1974 event


Through Levitt’s portrayal as Phillip Petit, we can see someone master that marvel and do the impossible. In addition, through his portrayal we can see a person’s bravery and perseverance overcome two buildings that took so many and that is something worth thinking about I think before rushing to judgement and calling the film “shameful.”

Here is the Trailer for the film:


16 Tips from an author who cannot sell books Pt 2. #Fridayblogs

16 Tips from an author who cannot sell books

Part 2

By Michael Melville

Every day on my Twitter and Facebook feed, I see lists of writing advice for writers and novelists and they are usually written by writers just like me. These lists range from original to copied to tongue in cheek to serious. Some of the advice is legit and original while some of it is Googled and occasionally we get advice from “real writers” whatever the hell those are. I am a real writer, a real author or at least I like to think of myself that way but maybe I’ve been wrong this whole time. Therefore, I decided to toss my 16 thoughts into the cesspool that is the internet and proclaim loudly the minuscule amount of knowledge I have learned or noticed concerning this, “thing of ours.” This is part two of a two-part list. If you missed Part one click here.


The Top 5



  1. Some people just won’t

It doesn’t matter if you are running a 50% off paperback sale or dropped the Kindle Edition price of your books from say $4.99 to $0.99 or even free. Some friends and family (many most likely) just will not buy them no matter what or how much you advertise. YES, even if they LIKE your Author Page on Facebook. This could be for many reasons such as:

  • They are cheap
  • They are not avid readers
  • They don’t really support your writing
  • They think because you are self-published that you are not a real author
  • They just don’t like you
  • Your books are in a genre they don’t like (romance and fantasy writers I’m talking to you)
  • They don’t have a Kindle and don’t know how apps work.
  • They see writing as a hobby not a career

I feel that If you published a book two or more years ago and a lot of your friends and family still have not bought it yet don’t expect them to until a book you write says New York Times Best Selling Author on top. Then you can laugh quietly when they try to say they supported you all along when you know they did not. If FREE is not enough to entice them a bandwagon is.

Really though, you need to remember you’re not a writer and writing books for the benefit of your family and friends alone. Its not about making them your sole fans and the leverage behind your sales and marketing. Sure it’s awesome and greatly appreciated when and if they do buy our books and especially if they like them. You’re really writing and creating for you though and the hopes of getting a portion of millions of other readers around the world to do the same thing.

  1. Giving books away for free

After friends, family and co-workers start to find out about your recently released novel or that its coming out, some may say they want a copy and even act a little excited. Then YOU are going to get a little excited right? Your first reaction will be something like, “Awesome, my friends actually want to buy my book, this is amazing.” Usually this isn’t the case however. What they really mean is that they want a free copy and not an eBook either. They want the pretty print version. People always want shit for free that they don’t see of as any real value. Remember when I said that some people will think your writing is a hobby even though it’s not? Well, those people will not want to spend money on your “hobby” either. I’ve often wondered if these people would have the gall to ask Stephen King for a free copy of his new book if they knew him personally…somehow I doubt it.

I won’t lie I’ve given out print copies for free but not often, in fact now I refuse to. They are expensive to order and can have a high-profit margin. I usually refrain from giving away free print copies now unless it’s a Rafflecopter, social media giveaway or they are a legit book reviewer or book blogger. I do suggest keeping at least several copies on hand at home for the occasion when people are willing to shell out money because you never know when you can make a sale and gain a new reader and maybe a good review. If someone says they want a copy tell them how much it is. If they are like, “ok cool I can’t wait” then you are gold but if they say anything that starts with, “oh…,” forget about it and let them know it is cheaper as an eBook on Amazon. I know the owner of my local Biggby Coffee shop, but I don’t expect free coffee out of it. It is just not good business.

  1. Social media and marketing

This harkens back to #5 a little. DO NOT rely on your personal Facebook as a sole means of marketing your books and business. If you do, you will be a really sad panda after your first book has been out for 6 months and the pool of interest dries up. Marketing sucks and is perhaps the shittiest part of being an Indie author but it comes with the business. Learn social media, and stick to what you are comfortable with until you get a hang of things. The most important thing is to develop some semblance of a marketing plan and strategy even if it is basic. Basic is better than nothing. Networking with other authors in the business is part of marketing so do that also. Even if you are not marketing your books directly, you are at least marketing yourself, which is equally important. Just putting your book on Amazon and/or Barnes and Noble and doing nothing as far as marketing means, it was just a big fat waste of money, months and perhaps years. You treated it like a hobby and you literally wasted your time that you could have spent doing yoga or knitting. People do not buy books that they have no idea exist.

  1. It’s all or nothing

No one is going to believe in this, your books and writing career, as much as you do. Even the person you love the most in the world will occasionally question the sanity of this especially when money isn’t coming in consistently or at all. It is up to you too either prove the naysayers wrong or prove them right. It’s all about your tenacity and what’s in your heart. I might get some heat for this but if you don’t have this 100% in your heart you might as well walk away. It’s not easy and is a battle personally and professionally. For us writers’, writing is part of who we are and it cannot be anything less.

  1. It’s just this simple

Just Write. It sounds simple, but this is the part so many budding authors seem to get hung up on because of all these stupid “how to” books and blogs they read. They put so much thought and wasted time in the whole process of writing and writing a book that they forget or have trouble with the most important part. Forget planning and putting too much thought into it. If you have an idea just write, the story will come eventually or you will realize it just does not work (for now). When it does everything else will work itself out.




Note I Left out things like editing because any writer worth their salt should already know this and if not I am sure you will read it on another list, ebook, blog or writers group-









16 tips from an author who can’t sell books: Part 1 #MondayBlogs

16 tips from an author who can’t sell books

Part One

By Michael Melville

Every day on my Twitter and Facebook feed, I see lists of writing advice for writers and novelists and they are usually written by writers just like me. These lists range from original to copied to tongue in cheek to serious. Some of the advice is legit some of it googled and occasionally we get advice from “real writers” whatever the hell those are. I am a real writer. A real author or at least I like to think of myself that way. Therefore, I decided to toss my 16 thoughts into the cesspool that is the internet and proclaim loudly the minuscule amount of knowledge I have concerning this, “thing of ours,” This is part one of a two-part list.

16. Length Matters

There are novels and then anything less such as novellas and short stories. Generally anything over 50/55,000 words is a novel. I’ve read in some places that anything over 45,000 words is a novel. If you wrote a story that is 35,000 words though you wrote a novella so don’t go calling it what it’s not; a novel. If you wanna be a novelist then BE a novelist and write real novels like a real novel writer who writes novels. I outright disapprove of the practice of writing several novellas or short stories in a year and calling them novels to improve your Amazon sales ranking. If you do that you are a sham. I disapprove of the practice that some Indie authors use where they publish their slush piles as a form of marketing. It’s disgusting and you people make E.L James look like good. I wish Amazon (are you listening) would automatically categorize authors works when they are uploaded based on accepted word count benchmarks. If authors won’t be honest voluntarily they should be forced to be.


Also, your novella should not be priced the same as a novel when it’s not a novel. I see no good reason why any novella should be sold for more than $1.99. If the best you can do is write a 150-page story it’s not worth more than $0.99. Stop wasting peoples time.

Here is a great article on word count from writers digest.

15. Music

Find some good music to listen to while you write. Whether it inspires you to write or inspires your writing or your WIP music helps, at least for me. My go to music is a Jazz playlist with some Sinatra, Bennett, Buble, a few songs from my favorite soundtracks and some Christmas music because dammit I love Christmas music all year long.


14. Monetary Goals

It’s pretty unlikely you will get rich writing books, but it can happen.  Yes, there is the hope of it whether authors admit to it or not but it’s still there. WE ALL want some sort of success in this thing we do and any writer who says they are doing it solely for the art of it is full of…you know what. For me, I just want to make an income stable enough to support my family with while being able to do what I love just like anybody else with their own business. That will just take time.


13. Cover Design

NEVER EVER use a cover design program from KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), Createspace or another publishing platform where you can make a cover yourself online. I did this once for a short story and its filled me regret ever since. No matter how good you think it is, it’s not. It looks like a joke, makes you look like a joke and you just made your book look like a joke if you used one. After all the time that you spent writing your book, had it edited then you turn around and use some crap cover creator? Do you want your cover to look like thousands of other generic ass covers on Amazon? Because that’s…what…happens. Why did you even bother with any of it? There are many many very talented cover artists out there who specialize at this end of the publishing business, find one or find a few. If that is out of your budget, take the time to learn Photoshop or GIMP (it’s free) and master your own awesome and unique cover. There is no such thing as a certainty in this business, but great covers do sell books; hell even OK covers sell book’s but bad cover don’t sell books.

It is like window-shopping at the mall I think. You could have a great product but if you dress it up bad, it won’t sell when all the soccer moms and old people walk by. You took the time to write what you hope is a good story so be patient and take the time on a great cover. There is no one behind you whipping you to get that book out.

fake cover

Look I wasted 40 seconds of life on this. Sadly this better than some cover I’ve seen on Amazon

12. Getting Help

No one can help you write your book. No one, not your mom, teachers, best friends, other writers, writers groups on Facebook or even Jesus. Yes, we can offer advice if asked but ultimately it is up to you to sit down and make it happen. If you ask something like, “but how do you write a book,” you are clearly overthinking this whole thing.

11. Beverages

When writing fiction you can never have too much coffee. Anyone who says otherwise is a straight up heathen or worse a poet and should not be trusted.

10. Overshare

80% of your Facebook friends probably do not care if you wrote 1 book, let alone 5 or even more. 30% of that 80% do nothing but play video games. So, be careful about how much you advertise and talk about your business and books on your personal Facebook unless you are cool with ostracizing yourself from what is likely the only social life you have. If you do, make sure you use cat or puppy pictures because people like those a lot it seems.

9. Dumb Drama

Avoid any discussions or arguments about the Oxford comma and whether it should be used or not. You look like a loser no matter side you’re on.

8. What’s your hurry?

Don’t rush your work. Ignore that advice about writing the next novel while your editor is editing your current novel. That only works for those with no job, no little kids at home and people who have a spouse making sure they are “kept,” OR they already are creating a steady income from book sales so they can afford to sit all day and write. According to an old professor of mine who teaches creativity at GVSU, “You cannot rush creativity” and I personally know sometimes that comes in spurts. It’s better, I think to take longer to write one good novel as opposed to writing three or more shit/rushed novels a year. I saw one author talk about how she has written 20 novels in her writing career (10 years). That is 2.5 books a year. Ernest Hemmingway only published 15 during his LIFETIME. This woman is no Ernest Hemmingway, most of us aren’t. Talent and success are not measured in the volume of work but rather by the quality and how readers feel about it. If people like it (your book) the book/s will sell eventually in theory. I don’t know anyone who ever bought a book because the author wrote three novels a year. The only exception to this “advice” is if you are writing a series I think.

7. Read Something

Writers are readers, yes that is true. However, I will admit I rarely read books in the genre that I generally write it. Why? Because I have found I am more inspired by and learn more from reading books outside of my genre. Moreover, it lessens the chances that other people’s ideas can influence my own books and stories. So read what you want not what you think you should be and NOT what some damn list says you should. And don’t feel bad about reading books by traditionally published authors either. A lot of Indie writers feel we (indie authors) should only read books by other Indies which is a giant load of crap. Listen, you’re not a better reader or writer because you shop in the Wholefoods section of the book market. There are a lot of amazing books on both sides of the isle so don’t be afraid of going back and forth. Buying a Nicholas Sparks or Lee Child novel doesn’t mean you are anti-Indie author and it doesn’t make you less of a writer.

6. Polite Marketing

Unless you are doing something really special like a sale, book release or book tour don’t flood your friends and families Facebook feeds, Google+ and emails with stuff about your books and writing. Be a pro and get an Author Page on Facebook for that. They won’t see it unless they actually LIKE your page, they made the choice at that point to be involved.

Facebook Page

Go ahead and click on it….Click it


(Check back for the top  5  later this week)



Into The Dangerous World – A Bad Ass Book Review

About The Book:

Into The Dangerous World
By: Julie Chibbaro
Artwork By: JM Superville Sovak
Release Date: August 18, 2015
Publisher: Viking/Penguin
Pages: 352

Ror lives to draw—to her, it’s like breathing; it’s how she understands life. Raised on a Staten Island commune, she’s never attended a day of school, and knows little of the outside world. When her paranoid father burns down the commune with himself inside, Ror, her mother, and sister end up in a homeless residence in Manhattan. There, she runs into trouble—and love—with Trey, the leader of Noise Ink, a graffiti crew.

 On the city’s streets, and in its museums and galleries, Ror finds herself pulled in different directions. Her father wanted her to make classic art. Noise Ink insists she stay within their lines. Her art teacher urges her to go to college. But what does she want? Ror’s soul-searching—expressed in remarkable drawings and sharp-edged prose, set in the gritty Manhattan of 1984—is cinematic in its scope, and its seamless blend of text and art makes Into the Dangerous World a groundbreaking event in young adult fiction.

 Amazon | Goodreads | B&N | IndieBound

My Review

Recently I was given the opportunity to read and review Into the Dangerous World by Julie Chibbaro for Lady Reader Book Tours. It is not often that I am blown away by a book. This time, however, I was. There were so many things to love about this book that I don’t know where to start and don’t have time to mention them all.

First, I have to mention how well this was written. The story, written in the first person (which I normally don’t like) was so well paced and interesting that I just kept turning pages without realizing how many I had read. The only thing that stopped me was the art (which I will get to). This story is about a teenage girl named Ror whose life is going through a transition after her family’s home was burned down by her father who died in it. Her world is thrown into a spiral as she attempts the tough transition from a self-sustaining lifestyle in the country to the hustle and bustle of civilized living in the city with her mother and sister.

We see Ror find solace in an existing love of art after going to school for the first time. It’s during this time that she befriends a group of people who change not just how she looks at the world but also herself. Ror is slowly thrust into the world of graffiti art and tagging which she finds a love and connection with. However, it’s during this time that Ror is torn between the art on the streets and what her abilities could do for her and her life. She is caught between the worlds of Street art and Mainstream art while battling with the conflicts of who she was and who she wants to be and who society wants her to be.

Chibbaro did a wonderful job of showing her battle with the now and her potential. Another thing I really liked was how realistic Chibbaro was in writing the characters like Ror and her street crew. She maintained that tough urban attitude and tone that often is glossed over in some novels. It really gave the story another added dimension of realism, which I really appreciated as a reader. It made me buy into the story more than I think I would have otherwise. That tone added even more effect, I think, to the journey of personal growth and discovery that Ror was on.

Growing up I had quite the passion for drawing, and like Ror it was my release when life got hard. It was how I coped with things before I found writing. So in that respect I liked the connection I was able to make with the story and how art can change the possibilities for people.


Art by Jean-Marc Superville Sovak

Lastly, I want to talk about the art in this book. Yes, it is a novel with pictures! Who doesn’t love that? The illustrations were done by JM Superville Sovak and really blew my mind. In some ways and in certain cases stylistically the drawings reminded me of the art in one of my favorite books of all time, “Where the Sidewalk Ends” by Shel Silverstein. Which also inspired me as a young artist. In Into the Dangerous World, the art was blended so fluidly that they truly added to the story instead of feeling like they were just there. In this case, the drawings made the story more enjoyable, understandable, more interesting and added a whole different level to the book that you don’t see often in YA fiction.



Art by Jean-Marc Superville Sovak

Between the honest and gritty storytelling, the pop culture references and the equally gritty drawings I really loved this book. Sure this is meant as a YA fiction novel but I think it surpasses that and goes into a book that even an adult could enjoy. Its sees Chibarro and Superville make for a great team both in publishing and in life.

About The Authors:

Julie Chibbaro and Jean-Marc Superville Sovak are the husband and wife duo behind Into the Dangerous World (Viking 2015).
Julie Chibbaro was born into a family of artists, and also married one. She grew up in NYC during the explosion of graffiti art. She has written two historical novels, Redemption, which won the American Book Award, and Deadly, which won the National Jewish Book Award. JM Superville Sovak is half-Trini, half-Czech, half-Canadian. His fourth half is spent making art, for which he earned his M.F.A. from Bard College in NY.
They both live in Beacon, NY.
For those of you that purchase a copy of INTO THE DANGEROUS WORLD any time during the official book tour (August 18-September 30) will receive a one of a kind #IntoTheDangerousWorld pack filled with lots of goodies.
(While supplies last)
To qualify you must send proof of purchase to amydelrosso(at)gmail(dot)com.


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