My newest book release and following your gift

On Saturday, Feb. 2, my third book is being released by Burning Willow Press, LLC (BWP). They are a phenomenal company that cares about the quality of the books they publish. It can be purchased at a variety of places, but if you search “The Book of Ashley, James Master” on Amazon.com you’ll find it easily. Enough of the shameless promotion though.
I watched a video of Steve Harvey while hiding inside my home during the polar vortex on Wednesday. He talked about how you should follow your gift and not your passion.
“All of you have this gift, identify it. It’s the thing that you do the absolute best with the least amount of effort. That’s what you should be doing. You’re wasting your time pursuing your passion,” Harvey said.
If I’d watch this video a few years ago, I probably wouldn’t have understood this message. Up until a few years ago, my passion was playing video games. I’d spend hours playing them, didn’t matter what game it was. Admittedly, I was pretty terrible at esports or other competitive video games. That ruled out playing video games on a professional level. I was terrible at computer programming, ruling out creating video games.
I spent so much time and money trying to follow my passion instead of following my gift. Making the choice to follow my gift, my life has been changed. I have a better paying job, several published works, and an interesting side job with a really great publishing company.
Some of you may be thinking, “but Jim, don’t you work for BWP? Doesn’t that make you biased?” The answer is… sure, maybe a little. For full disclosure, I will state for the record that I am a contracted author for seven books with BWP as well as an editor for them. I also work in the submissions department which typically entails reading submissions and giving my opinion on whether they would be a good fit underneath the BWP umbrella.
Having said all of that, I don’t believe that it would change my view on the publishing company. If anything, this relationship has strengthened my view on BWP. If you ever get a chance to talk with Edd Sowder, VP of the company, you’ll come to the same conclusion I’ve reached. This man loves four things: his wife Kindra (author and BWP President), his company, his coffee, and his authors. You can typically find Edd on the Writer Imperfect Twitch stream that airs Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. If you don’t watch Twitch or don’t know what that is, then go to YouTube and search Writer Imperfect with Joshua Robertson.
Enough about Burning Willow Press, LLC though. Let’s talk about my newest release. For those that might be interested, The Book of Ashley is the third book in my series, The Soul Eater Chronicles. The whole series is based around demons, monsters, and the holy crusader that stands against the darkness. When people ask me what kind of genre the series falls in, I typically call it “Religious Horror.” Basically, if you like monsters, demons, and books about good fighting against evil then these books might be for you.
This will be the third book I’ve had published. I’ve also had three short stories that I’ve had published in anthologies. All of them with BWP. Every time I publish something, there’s this triumphant feeling of accomplishment. It’s a feeling I’ve never experienced while playing video games.
I know that last week’s rant might have seemed like I didn’t exactly like my profession. Which is totally the opposite. I do not regret one word that I’ve written in the last five years of being a news writer/author. I am so grateful to be doing what I’m doing for a living. There’s nothing else I could possibly see myself doing. Well, maybe I’d be doing something in the dining service/gas station arena. I sure wouldn’t like it, whatever it would be.
“A writer is a writer not because she writes well and easily, because she has amazing talent, or because everything she does is golden. A writer is a writer because, even when there is no hope, even when nothing you do shows any sign of promise, you keep writing anyway,” said Junot Diaz, professor of writing and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2008.
Even if I was still working in a gas station or as a supervisor of a café at a college, I’d still be a writer. Even if I received rejection after rejection, I’d still be a writer. Even if I had absolutely zero training in the craft, I’d still be a writer. Even if I lived in Michigan, I’d still be a writer (because if I lived there, I’d need something to take my mind off the fact that I lived in Michigan).
Identify your gift and follow it. It doesn’t mean that you must abandon your passion. I still play video games, but I’m not focusing my time on it.

Books make the best presents

Tis the season, am I right? Now that we’ve all feasted on ham, turkey, gravy, stuffing, and that delicious cranberry sauce it’s time to do what we all love to do after Thanksgiving. And no, I don’t mean sleeping. I mean, I love to do that too. But there’s something else that I love.

Christmas present shopping. There’s a plethora (I love this word) of different days dedicated to the purchase of gifts for your loved ones. Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday.

That whole weekend is a bit sadistic if you really think about it. First, Thanksgiving has people stuffing their faces on as much food as they can before going out and fist fighting for all those sweet deals.

Come on, you had to know that was coming. However, I don’t really spend that much money. For me, shopping isn’t really about spending money. Sure, we all spend money when we brave the cold and the other crazy people that want to save $5 on something they could get cheaper on Cyber Monday. 

Allow me a moment to backpedal. When I say “other crazy people” I include myself. And when I define that phrase it means “people that willingly go out to businesses in the dead of night to battle other warrior-shoppers for the right to claim a discounted item as their prize.” It’s really not an insult when you call people “warrior-shoppers” right?

When I go out on Black Friday, it’s typically to do some people watching. So, that sounds a bit creepy, but as a writer watching people is all part of the job. When you’re writing a story with humans in it, you want to try and capture human nature. And nothing portrays human nature like crowds fighting for $10 copies of the newest Call of Duty game. Seriously, that happened. I was at the South Bend Wal-Mart standing in a circular crowd with the cardboard box of games in the center. As the sales started and the shrink-wrap pulled free from the box, the crowd surged forward as one. Of course, the people at the front that already nabbed their copy tried to move out of the way of the others, it created a wave of push and pull. For a moment, I felt like I was swimming with waves coming and going. 

Over the years, more shopping days have been added. Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday now distract those “warrior-shoppers” from Black Friday. Maybe we should just change Thanksgiving to something more shopping savvy?

If you’re not inclined to fight the shopping horde this weekend, I’d suggest a better shopping alternative: books. That’s right, I said it. Go buy your friends, families, and other miscellaneous loved ones some books for Christmas. Here’s some quick reasons:

• Books are fairly cheap.

• Newly released books are never hard to find.

• Books often don’t weigh much so carrying five to ten presents to a loved ones house is fairly easy.

• Books are easy to wrap.

• Books fuel the imaginations of everyone reading them.

• There’s a book for literally (a literature and literal pun) everyone.

• Books make excellent White Elephant gifts.

• If you buy a book from a local author you’ll be participating in Small Business Saturdays. Do it.

• When someone asks you what you bought, tell them you purchased magic. Because that’s what books are: magic.

• Books, unlike video games, never need updates.

Go to a brick-and-mortar store, shop online, or go to Goodwill/Salvation Army and pick up some books instead of that new video game or that 1,000,000,000,000 inch television for $169.99.

Your wallet will thank you. And so will I.

99 cent BWP Thanksgiving Extravaganza

This holiday season, stay inside your warm homes with your family playing board games and drinking coffee. Instead of braving the cold and fighting all the other crazy “warrior-shoppers,” go check out Amazon to find these Burning Willow Press ebooks on sale for a very limited time.

The Starhawk Chronicles

The Beast Within

Immortal Slumber (The Crawford Witch Chronicles Book 1)

Follow the Ashes: Book 1 of the Executioner Trilogy

We Could Be Heroes

We Will Gain Our Fury (Seers and Demigods Book 1)

Asclepius

Hello, My Name is… (A Miss Hyde Novella Book 1)

The Road to Jericho (The Hell Walker Trilogy Book 1)

The Zombie Days (POW! Book 1)

Pain-Killer (A Miss Hyde Novella Book 2)

Follow the Screams (The Executioner Trilogy Book 2)

Mysterium Excelsum Unum (Mysterium Excelsum Book 1)

In Obscura Silvae (Mysterium Excelsum Book 2)

Beyond the Vale

Crossroads in the Dark: Anthology of Morality

Southern Fried Autopsies: Dissecting the Best from Southern Authors

So this is a very tiny percentage of the books on sale from Burning Willow Press. This sale lasts over the holiday weekend so don’t miss out!

My two books are also on this discounted list. You can find them here.Just make sure to click on the Amazon links to get the 99 cent deals.