MATTHEW SULLIVAN

AUTHOR/SCREENWRITER/POSITIVE VIBE ENTHUSIAST

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Calling all Classrooms and Book Clubs…

While I’m in between drafts of my next novel, I’ve decided to set aside a few hours a day to connect with readers from across the country.

If you’re a teacher with a classroom full of enthusiastic students or the member of a book club that spends at least a few minutes talking about the book before turning into more of a wine club (I’m aware of how some “book clubs” function), I’d love join your classroom or club (via Skype or FaceTime) to talk about Stealing Christmas, The Orphans, or just writing in general.

If you’re interested in setting something up, just email me at matthew@matthewsullivanwriter.com and let me know any dates/times that might work for you and which book you’d like to discuss. I look forward to having you join me on this virtual tour.

Orphans Trilogy Update and More…

Rarely does a day pass without several people asking about the second Orphans book. For those peeps (and everyone else who read and enjoyed The Orphans ), I have some great news …

After focusing on a couple unrelated novels (one of which is still out to publishers, so cross your fingers for me),  I’ve started putting pen to paper on the second Orphans book. You excited? Awesome! Because that’s not the only good news …

I’m also giving the book away for free! All you have to do to get your copy is sign up for my email list by filling out the form at the bottom of this post. To get the book in your hands even faster, I’ve decided to send it out in five chapter chunks as soon as they’re ready, which should be about every four weeks.

But there’s more (hence the “and more” in the title) …

I will also be releasing my second novel, Stealing Christmas, in the next few weeks. While I won’t be giving it away to the masses, I am going to give it away to any teachers looking for a fun summer read. If you’re a teacher and would like a digital copy, just email freebook@matthewsullivanwriter.com with “Stealing Christmas” in the subject and the type of eReader you use in the body of the email.

Well, after all my promises, I think I have my work cut out for me. Time to get back to writing!

Sign up for your free copy  of The Orphans: Book II by filling out the form below:

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PS:  If you haven’t read The Orphans (Orphans Book One), it’s available for purchase on Amazon for the low price of $2.99 in ebook format and $14.99 in paperback and is free to read with Kindle Unlimited.  

How I Conquered Crippling Back Pain By Reading A Book

This post is for anyone who suffers from back pain. According to stats (that I’m too lazy to look up), a lot of people deal with daily back pain. Hopefully, my story can help you.

Truthfully, this post shouldn’t require much explanation. The headline says it all. The “how” is that I just read a book. However, there’s a good chance you’re thinking my success was a fluke and that it can’t happen to you. For that reason, and to give you hope that you can have the same results, I’ll hit you with the full story (kept as short as possible):

I suffered from terrible sciatic nerve pain for over six years. It all started after I messed up my back doing yoga poses that I saw in a Sports Illustrated magazine. (Feel free to laugh for a minute before continuing. I realize how ridiculous that sounds.) The morning after tweaking my back, I could barely get out of bed. I felt shooting pains down my leg with every step I took. I went to a doctor and got an MRI. They told me that I had a herniated L5.

It took a few weeks, but things finally got better. Not fully-healed better, but marginally better. Every morning, my back was stiff and there were be jolts down my leg. My back would loosen up as the day went out, but it would tighten if I stood or sat in a chair too long, and the pains would increase in frequency. Most physical activity would have the same result. I once had to stop a hike after half a mile because my back got tight and the pain was too much.

I tried everything to fix my back: massages, visiting several chiropractors, acupuncture, etc. If there were any positive results, they were fleeting. Maybe a day or two of relief and then it would go back to usual.

As I said, this continued for about six years. I was convinced that I’d messed up my back for good and there was nothing I could do. Then, when my back was really acting up, my wife’s friend and spiritual mentor recommended a book for me to read. The book was Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection by Dr. John Sarno. Interestingly enough, I had heard of Dr. Sarno many years earlier, because he had cured Howard Stern of severe back pain.

I immediately bought the book (the Kindle version is only $7.99) and read it in two days. The morning after I finished the book, I woke up and my back was completely healed. I don’t think there was ever a point in my life where it felt as loose as it did that morning.

Since then (about three years), I have been completely pain-free, except for a couple day period around the time I was releasing The Orphans and got insanely stressed out. When that happened, I picked up the book, read it again, and my pain disappeared.

I don’t want to go into specifics about what the book says, because you really need to read it to reap the benefits. However, the gist of Dr. Sarno’s theory is that most back pain and joint pain is not due to structural issues (like a herniated disc), but actually a defense mechanism against unconscious stress and emotional issues. Recognizing the symptoms and acknowledging that they serve no purpose allows them to go away. The book isn’t a cure, as much as it as the vehicle to help you cure yourself. For that to happen, you really need to believe the message.

I realize this sounds too good to be true, but it isn’t. And, if you’re experiencing back pain (upper or lower), tension headaches, or any joint pain, you owe it to yourself to read this book. I know a lot of people (especially dudes) who are suffering through pain will probably say that they aren’t stressed. Trust me, I would have said the same thing before I read the book. However, the existence of your pain is evidence of something below the surface. Worst case scenario: You’re out $8. Best case scenario: You get to go back to living a normal life, just like I did.

One last note: If you haven’t heard, I’m giving away free copies of my novel The Orphans. My crazy goal is to give away a million copies. All you have to do to get one is send an email to freebook@matthewsullivanwriter.com. Get your copy and spread the word. Thanks!

Why I’m Giving Away A Million Books

This isn’t a clickbait scam, I promise. I’ve fallen for those too many times to employ the same sneaky tactics. I’m seriously giving away a million ebook copies of my novel The Orphans. It may sound crazy, but as someone who spends most of the day having conversations with myself through made-up characters–crazy suits me.

Now for the why …

Seven months ago, I self-published The Orphans. I sold a bunch of copies, and got great reviews (currently 4.9 stars on Amazon). A month after it was released, my amazing literary agent found me, and we took the book offline to shop it to traditional publishers. After that, the story gets a lot less exciting. We were turned down by all the publishers we approached.

While I could have found some solace knowing that the primary reason the book was passed over was because I “didn’t have a big enough social media presence” and that having 12 publishers pass on it puts me in elite company (since JK Rowling was similarly shot down when she first approached publishers with Harry Potter), I didn’t. At least not right away.

Why not?

Because I don’t have Kanye West confidence. I only have regular-person confidence. After every rejection, I couldn’t help but doubt myself and my abilities. I doubted whether I had made the right choice to leave finance and pursue a writing career, whether I should have stuck with films instead of switching to novels, and whether I should just hang it up and go back to a steady paycheck, PTO, and the other corporate perks.

Doubt is a real son of a bitch. It’s something everyone deals with. And, while doubt is bad on its own, what’s really terrible is that it often wins and keeps people from taking chances and pursuing their passions. I love writing and sharing my stories with people. I’m convinced that it’s what I was put on this earth to do, even though doubt has tried to tell me otherwise many times.

But, while the doubt kept popping up like an arcade Whac-A-Mole, and will keep popping up for as long as I’m alive, it will never win; because, every time it springs out of its gopher hole, I knock it back down. I don’t use a foam mallet or any of the measures Bill Murray resorted to in Caddyshack. I use something much more powerful: meditation and practicing mindfulness. I’ve found that there’s nothing more effective at destroying self-doubt (of course, an incredibly supportive wife also helps a ton).

My experiences with and growth through meditation and mindfulness were what inspired me to write The Orphans, which bridges the gap between spiritual fiction like The Alchemist and popular young adult fiction like Harry Potter and The Hunger Games. The purpose was to not only entertain (of course, you gotta do that first) but to also introduce audiences of all ages to the idea of meditation and mindful living as a means of tapping into their authentic selves and finding true happiness. It’s a message that people need to hear more than ever, as the world we live in gets increasingly competitive. To me, the message is more important than money, and that’s why I’m giving a million copies of the book away.

So how do you get this free book? It’s simple. All you have to do is:

That’s it. Do that between now and 5/31/16, and I’ll send you an EPUB version of the book, which is readable on almost all smartphones and tablets, including Apple and Android products. Also, if you want to like my Facebook Page or Follow me on Twitter or Instagram, that would be sweet and would probably help when I go out with my next book.

Some of you might be thinking, “Hey, I don’t take handouts from the government or anyone! I’d rather buy your awesome book!” If that’s the case, great! I obviously appreciate anyone who wants to buy it even though they can get if for free. After all, food doesn’t buy itself, and I have made the price super low ($1.99 on iTunes and Amazon), so you could literally buy it for less than a Grande Skinny Mocha at Starbucks, which I’m not ashamed to admit that I order. If you only read physical books, the paperback is available here.

To give away a million copies, I’m really going to need your help. So please share, tweet, repost, email, etc. this post so it can reach as many people as possible. After I hit a million, we’ll see what happens. Maybe I’ll revise my target and shoot for two million or more. I appreciate you taking the time to read this and appreciate your support.

Sincerely,

Matthew Sullivan

 

**Your email will be added to my distribution list. To date, I’ve used it to send one email. So don’t get too excited about receiving a bunch of awesome mail from me.**

How A Snowball Becomes An Avalanche…

The Orphans has been out for just over three weeks now. The initial sales were fantastic, and I couldn’t be happier with how well the book has been received. But now that the post release push has passed, we (well, really just me) find ourselves in the inevitable lull. It’s one of the perks of being in a “hurry up and wait” profession.

I knew that this was coming. I knew that, even in the best-case scenario, it would take time to build some serious steam. And I knew that it wouldn’t just happen on its own or by accident like things do in cartoons. You know, where someone harmlessly tosses a snowball down a mountain, then it grows into a massive mound, before turning into an avalanche.

I knew my avalanche wouldn’t come so easily. I don’t have the luxury of tossing my snowball (I’m still talking about The Orphans if I’ve lost you with this analogy) over a ledge. If anything, I’m rolling it up the mountain, and it still needs to go over the top before it will start to roll on its own. But it will. I’m very confident of that. And while I could keep pushing it myself, and maybe get a hernia or two, I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask for the help of my great friends and followers.

The good news is, we’re not pushing a real snowball and there isn’t any actual manual labor involved. Realistically, you don’t even have to leave your chair or couch or wherever you’re sitting, assuming you’re sitting. All you have to do is a few simple things:

If you’ve read The Orphans

  • Write a short, honest review on Amazon and Goodreads (if you use it). Reviews not only increase exposure on Amazon, they also help potential buyers make decisions.
  • Recommend The Orphans to your friends. I bolded that because it’s by far the the most important way to help the book grow. The number one reason readers check out new books is because someone they know recommended them. I mean, that’s the only reason why I read Little House on the Prairie in third grade. Obviously, the more the you can recommend the book to the better, but if you can even tell just two people to check it out, that would be amazing.
  • Gift a copy to a friend or relative who likes to read. You can buy them a copy or even just let them borrow yours to help spread the word. **You don’t even have to have a print version to lend it. Amazon lets you lend the Kindle copy, too.**

If you haven’t read or purchased The Orphans

  • Check out the first four chapters on Amazon by clicking here: The Orphans (Orphans Trilogy Book 1).  If you get sucked in, grab a copy and keep reading. If you don’t get sucked in, don’t keep reading. Nothing is for everyone. There are some people that don’t like pizza. I don’t get it, but it happens. And the last thing I would want is someone spending even a fraction of their life not enjoying my book.
  • After you’ve read the book, follow the steps for people who’ve read the book.

That’s it. Pretty simple, right? Well, I don’t want to take up any more of your time that could be better spent spreading the word, so…

Now Available on Amazon: The Orphans

Today is a big day. Okay, that’s an understatement. It’s a HUGE day. The Orphans is available to read! (Click here  to purchase on Amazon.)

This book is not only the culmination of the twelve months of hard work and countless rewrites that it took to move the story from my mind to the page, but it’s also the first time I’ve had the chance to truly write for myself and with a bigger purpose.

On the surface, The Orphans is a fast-paced, young adult, adventure fantasy about a group of teens who find themselves up against seemingly insurmountable odds in a war to save the world. However, just below the surface is the more important story about a much more relatable battle that nearly all of us face: the inner struggle for happiness, peace, and self-love.

At an early age, we’re taught to strive and to compete against one another. We’re encouraged to determine what we want to do when we “grow up,” to plan our lives, and to constantly look forward. We’re flooded with all sorts of information to reinforce these principles: what schools are the best, what jobs make the most money, what gadgets we need to buy, and how all of these thing are going to make our lives better. And at no point along the way do we take the time to really get to know our true selves or put the premium on our personal happiness and mental well-being that they deserve.

This way of thinking is so ingrained in us and can be incredibly tough to break. For me, it took having cancer to change my course. But not everyone gets a wake-up call like that, nor would I want others to have to go through such a traumatic jolt to reach their epiphany. That is why I dedicated a year of my life to work on The Orphans. My intention is to not only entertain, but to help encourage people of all ages to consider putting their own happiness ahead of the things that society trains us to value, and to start living where life truly exists—in the moment.

I hope that you can find as much joy reading The Orphans as I found writing it.

Book Description:

It was an accident.

That was what the authorities said killed Charlie Kim’s parents. And in Charlie’s mind, that was how it had to be. An accident meant closure. An accident meant that the driven fifteen-year-old could move on, reassemble his life, and return to the carefully planned future that he had laid out for himself.

But then Charlie’s memories of his parents suddenly begin to vanish. And suspicions arise, calling the accidental nature of their deaths into question. Charlie can’t help but doubt himself and the motives of those around him…

Doubt leads to discovery. Charlie uncovers secrets that forever change his life. And thrust him and the group of teens that he is forced to unite—fellow orphans, whose parents have met similar fates—into the center of a secret battle between good and evil…

A battle dating back to the war in Heaven. A war that only Charlie and the Orphans can end. But if they hope to stand a chance against the ultimate evil, they must first overcome their own inner demons.

Regulators, Mount Up!

Big news! My book (The Orphans) is going to be available for presale on Amazon in eBook format starting tomorrow (Fri 5/22).  Unlike with films and their million dollar budgets, all of the marketing falls on my shoulders, which is why I really need YOUR help to get the word out by being part of the SULLIVAN STREET TEAM. Don’t worry, there are no “blood in, blood out” requirements to join this badass crew. All that’s required for membership is the following:

  1. Send a short email to your friends (as many as you feel comfortable with) during the launch weekend, which is this weekend (May 22-24)
  2. From May 22 until June 21 (4 weeks), post about The Orphans one time per week on your social media accounts (FB, Instagram, Twitter, etc.)
  3. After the book is released (eBooks will be delivered June 15th, the same day the print book goes on sale) and you’ve read it, just go on Amazon and write a short, honest review.

That’s it. Just one email, four social media posts, and one review and you’re in. You can obviously post and email more than the minimum requirements, but that’s your call. Also, if you have any other marketing ideas, I’m all ears!

You’re probably wondering what comes with a SULLIVAN STREET TEAM membership, right? Like maybe a 10% discount at Taco Bell or an automatic upgrade to A boarding on Southwest? Well, I can’t promise either of those things, at least not for the first book. But what I am able to promise is to include every member’s name in the Acknowledgements section of the book. That way, if (or maybe I should say when) the book blows up, your name will be in the millions of copies and you’ll be able to show that to your future grandchildren (or current grandchildren). Which I think is pretty cool…

If you’re down to join the crew, just send me a Facebook message or email (matthew@matthewsullivanwriter.com) and I will send you some links and hashtags to use and assign you a day to post (I’m trying to stagger the posts so that we reach the widest audience and stay top-of-mind). Of course, if you’d rather go rogue and post on your own schedule, that’s fine, too.

I really appreciate all of your help and can’t wait to see all of your names in the back of my book.

Self-Publishing and Online Dating

I received an email from a reader asking why I decided to self-publish. I get asked that question a lot, and even though (most of the time) it’s probably a harmless/genuine question, my first instinct is always to defend myself and my decision, as if they were really questioning me as a writer. While self-publishing has been around forever–it has obviously become much more prevalent thanks to the Internet and Amazon–it still has a stigma, especially among writers.

Self-publishing is a lot like online dating was ten years ago. Back then, no one wanted to admit that they did it. People would rather say they met in a bar (the previously looked down upon way of meeting someone). The reason people did that, and the reason we do a lot of the things we do, is because we’re afraid of being judged. The perception was that anyone who online dated “had to” because they couldn’t meet people otherwise. While that might have been the case for some people, it wasn’t true for most. Nowadays, just about everyone has realized that it is actually a great way to meet people and get to know them before you start dating. Rightfully so, the perception has swung in the opposite direction. That much can’t be said for self-publishing.

It is still widely believed, especially among writers, that anyone who self-publishes does so because they “have to.” That kind of thinking is great for traditional publishers, because even though the physical barriers to publishing have mostly disappeared, that mental barrier is just as important. It perpetuates the belief that anyone who self-publishes isn’t a real writer. After all, anyone can do it. I refuse to believe that. Anyone willing to put in the hours to write a novel and then has the cojones to put their work out there, in my book, is a writer.

Hopefully, in less than ten years, writers’ perceptions about self-publishing will change and they will see it for what it is: an amazing opportunity. When done correctly, and by that I mean not rushing and taking all of the proper steps to ensure the quality of their work (i.e. countless rewrites, paying for copy-editing, hiring a cover designer, etc.), there is no better way to retain artistic and financial control. That is why I am self-publishing. Not because I “have to”–I’m not even sending my work out to traditional publishers–but because I “want to.” Here are a few of the reasons why:

  1. The submission process is filled with rejection. It’s something everyone encounters. There are countless stories of incredibly successful books (like Harry Potter or Moby Dick, maybe you’ve heard of them…) that got rejected over and over. Since I’m always working on new stuff, there’s nothing worse for my productivity than having to deal with a constant stream of rejection.
  2. As evidenced by the number of popular books that have gone on to success after being passed over, the rejectors/gatekeepers don’t necessarily know everything. Sure they might be incredibly knowledgable about the marketplace, but they don’t bat a thousand. Just like their counterparts in the film industry, they have just as many bombs as they do blockbusters.
  3. I want to be in control of what I write and when I write it. The freedom writing gives me is one of the things I love most about it. I don’t want to lose that.
  4. I’m kind of greedy. The royalties you get from self-publishing ebooks are over four times what they are for traditional publishing, and the print royalties vary from two to three times that of traditional. Plus, I got mouths to feed and would like to start a family in the not-too-distant future.
  5. I believe in myself.

I encourage all of you to believe in yourselves a little more. Don’t worry about being judged by others, just follow whatever path feels right in your creative and regular lives and success will follow.

 

 

Writing Advice

I happened to come across a great article, which is really an excerpt from the new book Getting There: A Book of Mentors by Gillian Zoe Segal. It was written by Matthew Weiner, the creator of Mad Men.  He talks about some of the ups and downs that he encountered during his career–and even before his career got started–and the number of rejections he received while trying to get Mad Men made. I highly recommend checking out the article and the book. Here is one of my favorite lines, which is incredibly relevant for anyone just getting started on a creative path:

Artists frequently hide the steps that lead to their masterpieces. They want their work and their career to be shrouded in the mystery that it all came out at once. It’s called hiding the brushstrokes, and those who do it are doing a disservice to people who admire their work and seek to emulate them. If you don’t get to see the notes, the rewrites, and the steps, it’s easy to look at a finished product and be under the illusion that it just came pouring out of someone’s head like that. People who are young, or still struggling, can get easily discouraged, because they can’t do it like they thought it was done.

Writing and Baseball

With the baseball season in full swing and my Nationals–the consensus World Series favorites–struggling out of the gate, it dawned on me that writing novels shares a lot in common with being a major league baseball player. All right, fine. You’re right. They don’t have a lot in common. I was just saying that because I still wish I could have played pro baseball…BUT they do have at least one similarity. The similarity I speak of is the fact that like the baseball season, writing a novel is a very long process. As is true with anything that covers such a long time, it is inevitable that there will be ups, but there will also be downs. Winning streaks and losing streaks.

Currently, the Nationals are on a losing streak. They’re playing poorly, and the media talking heads (and sometimes myself) are already questioning if they’re going to get it together. But here’s the thing, at 2-6, the Nats have played less than 5% of their season. They still have 95% of the season to go! This kind of overreaction is common in sports and in writing. It’s easy to get frustrated with a page, paragraph, or even sentence that you are writing. That frustration can build and build until, before you know it, you’re in the writing equivalent of a losing streak: writer’s block.

In both cases, it takes mental strength to pull yourself out of those losing streaks. Sometimes, it can be as easy as making more of an effort to find joy in what you are writing. Sometimes, you might need to take a break or try something new like they did in Major League (if you have seen Major League, you need to watch it now!). No matter what you do, it never hurts to take a step back and remind yourself that the process–just like the baseball season–is a long one and that things will eventually turn around. Because unlike the baseball season, where we are just spectators, you can control the shift in momentum.