Birthday Food Freebies 2 – This Time It’s Personal

With me just having had my 40th birthday, I’ve tried to get my hands on as much free birthday stuff as I could muster. I’ve had discounts on oil changes and free movie popcorn sent to me, among other things. There is absolutely no shame in my game: where I come from, the system was set up for me not to make it past 21. So I’m going to enjoy every year anniversary of God getting me through another year. And if somebody’s offering something to me for my birthday for free, I’m going to take it.

In a previous blog, I’ve given my rundown of a few restaurant birthday clubs I was part of, with ratings of how valuable their birthday deals were. The clearcut winners were Red Robin and Ruby Tuesday. Well, now it’s time for another round of birthday freebies. Check it out.

Freakin Unbelievable burger: if you are fortunate enough to live in Southeast Michigan or Kentucky, you should give these guys a try. They make very unique burgers. Their offer is pretty simple: you get a free, custom-made burger for your birthday. You can’t beat that (unless they throw in some fries). Just make sure they get the order right. The location near me gave me the wrong burger and I didn’t find out until after I got home. Rating: 4.5 birthday candles

Texas Roadhouse: these guys offer free ribs or appetizer with purchase. Since I am a rib fanatic (don’t tell my anti-pork wife though), this is a great deal. One can always make room for some extra ribs. Rating: 4 birthday candles

California Pizza Kitchen:
Their offer is pretty simple: free dessert, no questions asked. I can dig that. pair that up with their initial offer (a free side dish just for joining) and you have a nice offering to go with. Their fried mac n cheeze balls are TO DIE FOR. Rating: 3 birthday candles

Golden Corral: Their birthday club offers a BOGO buffet. Basically, it allows somebody to treat you to an all-you can-eat meal. You’ve still got to pay for your own drink, though. I strongly advise you avoid their Apple Soda. It tastes horrible. I wasn’t really impressed with their burboun chicken entrée and their steak mini-sandwiches were a bit dry. Their fried chicken and taters were decent, tho. Rating: 3 birthday candles

Applebees – these guys offer a free dessert with any meal. Their desserts are decent, and they have a nice selection. You gotta make sure you go to the right one, though, or they’ll make you have to dine-in to get it. Rating: 2.5 birthday candles

Chilis – These guys also offer you a free dessert. It would be as solid as CPK, but there’s a catch. Not every Chilis’s participates in their rewards club, so there’s a chance youmight get a hassle when trying to redeem your dessert. At the one in Flint, I had to not only purchase an entrée, but I had to dine-in to get my dessert. Not optimal when you want takeout. Also, you only get 2 weeks to redeem. Rating: 2 birthday candles

Bagger Daves – Their birthday offer is weaksauce. They only give you a 5 dollar credit off any purchase. Considering how ridiculously expensive their burgers are, that’s not much of a deal. You might be able to get a beverage out of it. Like with Red Lobster last time, their birthday offer basically covers the tip. Rating: 1 birthday candle.

So that is round two of the birthday club freebies. Use this information wisely.

You Only Die Once Update 7-4

Happy 4th of July!

I just received the art for the promotional poster for my concept rap album You Only Die Once from Jennifer Prentice, who is an awesome illustrator and an old friend of mine. She did all of the hard work: all I did was add the movie credits. Some of the money I’m raising will go to pay her for her services, as well as bringing more illustrators I know aboard for some more cool art.

YODO-movie-poster

The lovely lady pictured with me is Nyima Funk, a ridiculously talented actress and comedienne I met during my freshman year of college. Her credits include starring roles on “Who’s Line Is It Anyway?”, “Key & Peele,” “Wild ‘N Out” and “Undercover Cupid.” She has graciously agreed to be “Cast” in my story as Agent 69, a secret agent sent from MI-5 to back up Agent 008 ½ in his mission to recover a stolen Neutron Bomb.

This image is available as a poster to everyone who contributes at least $20 to the campaign, and they’ll receive it along with the illustrated chapbook and three bonus songs.

I’m also going to have this available on YODO-related merch, so if you’d like to see this image on a T-shirt or coffee mug, that will be available also.

Oh, and in case you were wondering what type of role Agent 69 plays in my story, she is a major part of the song “Find Out,” which I’m giving you a sneak peek of…right now.

Like what you hear? Then PREORDER THE ALBUM! You can contribute as little as $5 to get your copy reserved at the link below.

http://www.gofundme.com/jugghead-yodo

Birthday Food Freebies – The Inside Scoop

Yeah, it’s my birthday. Yeah, I’m thisclose to 40, and yeah, I’m getting my second (third? Fourth? 25th? I’ve lost count) creative wind. But that’s not important right now. What’s important is that I’ve signed up for a whole bunch of food clubs at the high end restaurants near my home. I expected to be inundated with a deluge of free entrée offers to have I and my wife blissfully munching for all of this week. The actual results? Not so much. Can’t say I’m not disappointed.

But anyway, here’s the inside scoop on the restaurants I signed up for, and what they offer in terms of birthday freebies, as well as my ratings for them. If I ordered an item, I would try to split it with the wife, because I’m that type of guy.

  1. Red Robin – you can’t go wrong with “free burger and fries, no questions asked”. The only restriction is their premium burgers. I got the Whiskey River BBQ burger. Good stuff, but I don’t like steak fries. Oh well, beggars can’t be choosy. Rating: 5-birthday candles.
  2. Ruby Tuesdays – they also offer the free burger and fries, but they also include a free biscuit (describe the biscuit). The burger selection is limited to $8 and under, though. I ordered the Smoked cheddar roadhouse burger. Excellent sammich, but the wife couldn’t eat it because she doesn’t do pork, and I didn’t know they put bacon in it. Rating: 5-birthday candles.
  3. Logans – they offer a free appetizer or dessert. Pretty nifty but they have a $8 limit, which only covers about half of their appetizer menu. Their dessert selection was rather limited too. On the plus side, the appetizer comes with four of their rolls, which are REALLY good. I ordered their bourbon BBQ wings. I liked ‘em, but they were a bit spicy for the wife. Rating: 5-birthday candles.
  4. Don Pablos – they add ten bucks to your Habaneros club gift card, which is good for pretty much any single item on the menu. Needless to say, you can get a LOT at Don Pablos for ten bucks. I ordered a combo of two enchiladas (one beef, one chicken) and a large chicken taco with some chili potatoes (which were deelish) and some great Mexican rice, along with the standard homemade naked nachos and salsa. These guys LOAD YOU UP. Rating: 5-birthday candles.
  5. BD’s Mongolian Barbecue– buy a bowl, get an unlimited meal free. This one is sneaky good. It’s basically an all-you-can-eat deal for one cheap bowl. And if you’ve ever been to BDMB, you know that you can go wild with those ingredients. Rating: 4-birthday candles.
  6. Famous Daves– buy an entrée, get one half off. This one’s respectable, especially considering somebody’s going to be treating you for your birthday. Basically it’s a half-off discount on either your meal or whoever’s treating you. It doesn’t beat free, but it’s still a decent bargain. Rating: 3-birthday candles.
  7. UNO- $10 off a $25 order. I’m giving this one a passing grade only because I looooove their shrimp skewers, and getting half off an order of those is a good thing. Rating: 3-birthday candles
  8. Joe’s Crab Shack – free appetizer, but have to buy an entrée first. I don’t consider this much of a deal because Joe’s food is pretty durned expensive, and some of that crab is literally PAINFUL to eat. Have you tried cracking that spined crab? My hands were sore for a week! Rating: 2.5-birthday candles
  9. Fuddruckers – $5 off a $25 order. This one really isn’t too spectacular, since $25 won’t really get you that much at Fudd’s (Maybe a bigger burger, but that’s it). So the $5 off is really just a supersize option, to take your burger from merely huge up to gargantuan. Rating: 2-birthday candles
  10. Olive Garden – free appetizer or dessert with purchase of 2 entrees. I can see some value in this. You got a nice romantic dinner with your luvved one, and then you get a free appetizer to boot. Bonus. The wife wasn’t too impressed with it, though. Rating: 2-birthday candles
  11. Red Lobster– $5 off any 2 entrees. This is probably the worst deal of the group. A dinner for two at Red lobster can easily run you anywhere from $30 to $80 with appetizers, drinks and dessert. Taking a measley $5 off your bill is weaksauce – basically it barely covers the cost of the tip. Rating: 1-birthday candle.

So now that you know who’s got the hookup, why are you still reading this? Go get signed up for these clubs RIGHT NOW!

I need proofreaders!

Okay, here’s an update on my projects:

  1. Godmode is selling briskly. It’s not on pace to be a bestseller or anywhere near the top of the Amazon book list, but it is moving units. It’s humbling that almost 1000 people have picked up copies of the book since its release in April, and a few people have taken time to chime in on what they thought of it. I even appreciate the not-so-flattering reviews. At least you cared enough to say SOMETHING. The plan is to continue to promote the book any way I can. I actually want to post some google ads, but I’m having a hard time freeing up the  money to invest in an extensive marketing campaign.
  2. I haven’t forgotten about The Seizure. I’ve actually written scripts for the next 4 chapters. Chapters 6-9 are all finished and ready to go. All they need is art. Problem is I’ve been working insane hours at the dayjob as well as taking as many freelance clients as my brain can handle. I’m actually quite proud of myself for how I managed to tie everything in the story together. But there’s still the final chapter to be written, and as of right now I have no idea how this thing is going to end. All I know is that Bobby and his buddies are headed for a major showdown against a most unexpected foe. I have no idea how this confrontation is going to play out. I just know that somehow I want all of Bobby’s allies to have a moment of shine, and I want Bobby’s battle to be EPIC. Also, finding the time to actually do the artwork for the chapters I have finished has been a Herculean task. I take my art supplies with me almost everywhere, but there’s never any time to pull them out and actually do anything with them. The final issue is that I promised to continue doing webcomic reviews (I’ve got a huge list of comics to look at stored) but I haven’t done a single one. Not. A. Single. One. Honestly, the motivating factor of the webcomic reviews was for marketing and driving traffic to my own webcomic, and with the actual comic on hold, that seems kind of pointless. But sooner or later, one day I will get The Seizure back on track – I hate leaving stories unfinished.
  3. I still have plans to reissue The leopard Man as a self-publishing venture. I’ll probably put it out through a combination of Createspace, Kindle publishing, Nook and Smashwords. And I would offer the download for FREE as a big middle finger to the-publisher-that-shall-not-be-named. But it involves a total, complete reformatting of the manuscript, going through and finding/fixing the typos that their editors were too lazy to look for, not to mention setting the book up for all of these different venues. Truth be told, it is not very high on my priority list. Not very high at all. But if there’s a demand for the book, I’ll see what I can do about making it available.
  4. But right about now I’m getting the itch to start working on a new story. I’ve been talking with my old buddy Amy Lewis about maybe collabing on an action crime flick screenplay, on some “Taken meets Law Abiding Citizen crossed over with Falling Down” isht. And I’ve been thinking about delving into starting the first book of my high fantasy epic “Kingdom in the closet.” I already have the book outlined and some worldbuilding done, I just need to start writing. And of course, there’s always planning out the next book in the Godmode trilogy (yes, I intended for it to be a trilogy).
    Problem is, I have a nasty habit of starting multiple projects and inching forward on all of them at once. I’ve been trying to be more “one project at a time,” but it’s hard to do because I know I have a limited time in this mortal coil and I keep getting bombarded with ideas (in fact, I got a couple of cool app ideas I just pitched to some programmer buddies of mine). But before I start pouring my time and energy into a new book, I want to see how far I can take the current manuscript I have sitting on my hard drive.
    This is where you come in.
    I’m working on the second draft of my literary love story “Spades.” It chronicles two college sweethearts as they fall in love and build their relationship in college, then fight to stay together as they deal with the harsh realities of life after graduation. It’s a book about falling in love, staying in love through trials and hardship, and playing the hand one is dealt. I want this story to be absolutely irresistible to agents and publishers, but for that to happen I need some extra sets of eyes to look at this story and tell me how it can be improved.
    I’m putting out an open call to all of my people and everyone reading this blog. I NEED PROOFREADERS! I really need some people to read my story over, pick it apart, ask questions and give me some intel I can use to make the story as good as it can be. Can you please find it in your heart and in your schedule to check it out? I’ll include your name in my acknowledgements or dedication once the book sees print. Contact me at quan@quanwilliams.com if you’re interested.
  5. Can you do it? Please? I’ll be your best friend…

GODMODE is for the children.

GODMODE is for the children.

I just had an awesome time interviewing juniors at GrandBlancHigh School this past Wednesday. I was thoroughly impressed by how seriously the majority of the students took the event, coming in dressed to impressed and even bringing resumes.

It’s an annual event the school sets up to help prepare their kids for postgrad life and the rigors of getting jobs and college admission. Every student is required to attend and do at least two interviews, as well as check out at least three job fair booths.

I have absolutely no idea how these guys found out about me and GODMODE, but they extended an invite to me to appear and conduct some interviews. I was a little apprehensive because I’m not a company and I’m certainly not hiring, so what could I possibly offer to the event? But I decided to attend anyway, and just make the most of my opportunity when I got there. At the very least, I could use it as a vehicle to promote my book some more.

I printed up a few bookmarks with the Godmode website on it, and attended. It was very well organized, and they even offered me breakfast and lunch. It was formatted to where half of the booths conducted interviews while the other half was a job fair, and then it flip-flopped after lunch. I did the job fair part first, and was happy to meet with about 20 students who had taken an interest in either me, my book, or my profession. I was able to guage their interest and give them a few pointers about pursuing one’s dream of writing professionally, and getting published. I was asked about where I draw inspiration, how I got published, what classes I took to prepare for writing, what I write about, as well as the pros and cons of being a writer. I told them the biggest pro of writing, especially writing fiction, was that you are in complete control of the stories you create, which is very therapeutic when you’re a teenager and so much of your world is out of your control. I even got a few of them who were interested in proofreading my next book.

After lunch, the focus shifted and I was the one doing the interviewing. The first bunch of kids I talked to were awesome, and very serious about exploring the writing profession. One guy (I think his name was Desean) was on the Grand Blanc Football team, and played alongside my nephew Terrance Dye, who now plays at NorthernMichiganUniversity (Go Wildcats!). awesome kid: well-prepared, articulate, well-dressed and respectful. If that’s how he always is, Desean;s going to do some major things after he leaves high school. Since I didn’t really have any positions for them to interview for, I instead went the route of asking them about how prepared they were for some of the hidden aspects of the writing life: drawing inspiration, studying others to improve your craft, doing research, handling rejection, withstanding criticism and stuff like that. To some kids I had to give them some important general interviewing tips (i.e. DON’T BE LATE!!!) I talked to a number of other kids, all with very promising futures. Unfortunately, about half of these kids weren’t really interested in becoming authors, and really only interviewed me to meet their quota. To these kids I tried to show them how being a good writer can have a positive impact on whatever their career goals are, and how the skills necessary to being a successful author can still apply to them.

There were a number of prominent companies there, including Microsoft, Edward Jones, ITT, the armed forces and a bunch of colleges. I got to do some networking with Diplomat Pharmacy and hope to get my foot in the door with them and this graphics firm I also met there. I then ran into another author who was looking to start a writer’s group with other African-American writers in Flint. So I was able to come away with some very valuable contacts.

There were quite a few people taking an interest in GODMODE, and I was pleased to have gotten rid of all 25 of my bookmarks. A bunch of the kids thought the concept behind the novel was awesome, and I was pleased to hear that. There was a church there interviewing, and a few of them seemed to take a little umbrage with me using the title GODMODE for a sci-fi horror book about monsters, and I at first wanted to tell them that one of my main characters is a bible-quoting evangelical Christian, but I thought better of it and just shrigged the whole thing off.

I enjoyed the event a lot, and would have stayed a little longer to do more networking if I didn’t have to bolt for work immediately after. If they ask, and I’m still in Michigan next year, I’d love for a chance to do it again.

Does my published novel still need an agent?

I just got some great news from Necro Publications. The final edits are almost completed for my novel “Godmode”, and in addition to that, the cover art is almost completed. Things are moving quite briskly with the development of the book, and I expect it to launch sometime in May.

That means I have to start building the machine with which to promote the book and get as much exposure for it as possible. I’ve been trying to clear other projects off of my plate specifically to make this happen. It’s part of the reason why I’m taking an extended break from my webcomic The Seizure in a few weeks. It’s also why I wrapped up and released my latest music project Chapter 2. I was going to start the process of making The Leopard Man a Kindle book and self-publishing it through Createspace, but that can wait. As far as my creative projects are concerned, Godmode is priority numero uno.

I’ve got some pretty extensive plans for it, too. I’ve started piecing together an official Godmode minisite, and I plan to have a TON of exclusive content available on it. character bios, bestiaries, maps, weapons lists, the whole nine yards. in addition to that, I’ve also got a film score for the book that i plan on making available. I’m debating whether to release it as is, or to go back and try to add a bit more orchestration and instruments to the songs, and maybe get a cleaner mixdown. Either way, I will offer it for free to everyone who buys a copy of the book. But I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.

I’ve made no secret that my ultimate goal for Godmode is for the story to get optioned for Movies or Television. The biggest issue is how to get my story in the right hands to make that opportunity possible. I’m thinking of shopping an agent. It seems a bit counterintuitive to me, though. Normally you need the agent to get your book published in the first place. I’m wondering how many writers tried to land their agents AFTER the book found a publisher; specifically with the intent of landing the book a deal in other venues?

And while we’re at it, is this process any different from seeking an agent for the book when it was unpublished? Also, how do i find a literary agent with Hollywood ties? It doesn’t seem as if that’s something a lot of agents advertise about themselves. And once I pick an agent or three, how do I query them? Do I just say “Hi, I’ve got a book coming out and I need your help in getting a movie deal”? and is this a job for a literary agent, or do I need to be looking for something else altogether? I just don’t know.

All i know is that i wrote this book with a movie in mind, and it would be a shame if I couldn’t at least take a stab at getting this thing optioned. if you have any ideas or suggestions, I’d love to hear ’em.

To Free Or Not To Free?

For the three of you who don’t know, in addition to all of my other creative exploits, I also dabble in music. I co-run a songwriting company / small record label with my father (www.expectusmusic.com) and I use that as a platform to put out the occasional music project. My last two projects have been underwhelming successes, in that after I failed to sell any copies of them, I started giving the projects away as free downloads. To date, I’ve given out at least 200 copies of my solo debut “48505,” my gospel collaborative effort “Winner Take All,” and my demo mixtape “From The Archives” to friends and family via Facebook on their birthdays. I plan to continue this, btw.

But now, I’m on the cusp of having two major music projects released. First, I’m almost ready to release my second solo album “Chapter 2” and I want it to make as big a splash as it can make given my limited resources. And after that, right around the time my next novel “Godmode” is released, I plan to release a movie score to read the book by.

The main issue for me is how much to charge for the projects, or whether I should charge anything at all. I actually want to have the Godmode soundtrack be available for free IF you buy a copy of the book. With me releasing the project through Bandcamp, that might actually be possible because they make discount codes available. But the big issue is with “Chapter 2.”

See, for me, getting my music heard is more important than turning a profit. The music is just something I do to express my ideas musically, and it’s not my primary creative focus (writing books takes that title). It’s basically another way to build my brand. I know a lot of music insiders (most notably my man Sid UncleJamz Johnson of Cincinnatti) cry foul at the mixtape and free album craze, but you can’t deny that it can work. It’s the way guys like 50 Cent, Yelawolf, Drake and Kendrick Lamar established themselves and built audiences, which caught the attention of major labels. Now, I’m not saying I’m at those guys’ level, but then again, why can’t I be? They all started exactly where I started. Heck, even two former rhyming partners of mine (Hookdiggy and Zod) were able to create a buzz for themselves by giving out free music.

There are two sides to this argument. On one side is the fear that people in my network would balk at paying anything for my music. That’s one reason why I gave away my first few projects, so people could hear my stuff and it would create value and interest in future projects. Whether that was successful or not I don’t know. Out of the 500+ people in my network, many of which have paid me lip service as far as supporting my music endeavors, I wonder which of them would actually shell out 5 bux to support their boy, especially if the music is good (which I think it is). Don’t forget that this is a group of people who, as a collective, wouldn’t spend $5 to download a copy of my last book. And I won’t lie: I’ve seen the entrepreneurial endeavors of my peers and I haven’t been quick to shell out loot to support the majority of them myself. In my defense, though, I have and I do support my peeps whenever and however I can: this very blog you see is hosted by a company owned by a very good friend of mine (www.grefuga,com), I’ve done pro bono and reduced price graphics work for friends like www.snackcetera.com, I’ve recommended the webcomics of friends  – not to mention offering free advertising – at my own webcomic www.theseizurecomic.com, and I’ve ordered jewelry from a graphics client of mine who does really good hand-crafted work (www.neferene.com). But I understand if people are reluctant to pay up.

But on the flip side of that argument, does not charging for the CD show fear or a lack of confidence in my product? Is offering my CD for free practically begging people to give me a listen? I don’t know. I do know this: I don’t have the means or the time to go out and promote this thing traditionally. I don’t have the connections or under-the-table money to get my songs played on the radio. I don’t have the time or the following to get love at shows, and I don’t have a management team who can get me booked if I did have the time. The “get your music heard” music services like Reverbnation require upfront cash or subscriptions, and I don’t have the loot for that. Heck, I don’t even have the money to get a decent video made of one of my songs to post on youtube. There’s a video for one of the songs on “Winner Take All” currently in post-production, but that has been entirely up to the rather busy schedule of the guy editing the video for me, since I can’t afford to pay him to make it a top priority. So giving the album away for free may possibly be the only realistic way I can get the word out about my Album that would actually entice people to give it a listen.

And on top of that, if I do charge for it, then how much should I charge? I first toyed with charging a buck for the whole CD and .50 apiece for individual songs, but why stop there? If people would pay a dollar for my CD, why not 5? I am including the “name your price” feature on my CD, but what should be the minimum price? I don’t know if my ego can take me offering the CD for, like, a buck, and STILL not getting any downloads.

Whatever the choice is, I need to make it quickly. I want to have this CD out by next week, so I can focus my attention on other projects.

So if you’re reading this here blog, and you’re interested in some good Hip-Hop, then check me out at http://jugghead.bandcamp.com, and however much I’m asking for the CD (I promise it won’t be more than 5 bux), show ya boy some love, give a listen to the songs and pick it up if you like it. I’d really appreciate it.