Thursday, April 24, 2014

Spring Fling 2014 Here I Come

Debra gets set to head off to a conference this weekend.

It's just about that time. Every two years my RWA chapter hosts a conference, and this is the year...and the weekend! Friday morning I head out to Spring Fling 2014 for the beginning of two days of networking, workshops, keynote speakers, gala dinners, and a book signing.

This year I'm not pitching to an editor or agent, so I don't have to worry about my elevator pitch. I am volunteering as a time keeper for the editor/agent appointments, so I will get to rub elbows as it were.

I submitted my ad for the program months ago and delivered a conference set of swag (bookmarks) to be distributed to all conference attendees in their goodie bags.

Tonight I'll finish gathering and organizing my supplies:

boxes of books for the book sale/book signing

bookmarks galore

postcards for e-books

And then all I need to do is choose my outfits and I'll be ready to go. Yay!

I'm sure I'll have lots to report next week!

Until next time,

Happy Reading!

Debra
www.debrastjohnromance.com

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Promotion - what works and what doesn't?

Paula wonders what promotion works and what doesn’t.

In case you think I might have the definitive answer to this, I’ll start by saying I have absolutely no idea. All I know is that sales of my latest novel ‘took off’ in April –but I don’t really know why.

‘Irish Inheritance’ was published at the beginning of February. The sales by the end of that month were disappointing, to say the least, despite the pre- and post-publication promotion I did on Facebook and in the yahoo groups. I also set up my own blog tour, and guested at various blogs, usually one per week (in an effort not to overdo it!). But I was so disappointed by the end of February, I seriously considered giving up writing altogether. There seemed to be no point in continuing to write if only a handful of people were going to read my stories.

In March, my blog tour continued, and I’ve already told you about a successful few days around St. Patrick’s Day. After that i.e. during the last week of March, sales slowed down – and then, WHAM! At the beginning of April, sales took off again. So much so, that by April 13th, I had sold more than I sold in the whole of March, and at the moment it looks possible that April sales will be double the March sales. I track the sales on Novel Rank, by the way, and I'm not talking about thousands or even hundreds of downloads, but there have still been far more this month than any of my other books have achieved.

The e-book is selling mainly on Amazon’s USA site – and I’m mystified as my others have usually done better in the UK than in the US. I’ve only done a couple of blog visits in April and I haven’t done much advertising on Facebook, apart from occasional mentions when a new review appeared on Amazon. A couple of people have let me know that they have recently downloaded it, but I have no idea about the other sales.

Not that I’m complaining, of course, but it would be interesting (and useful!) to know just what has led to these sales. The book has an attractive cover, and it's set in Ireland which, I know, has attracted some readers who have Irish ancestry or who have visited Ireland. It has had some good reviews on Amazon, but then so have my other books. I don’t think I have promoted it more (or less) than any of my others. The only difference seems to be that my publisher has left it at the ‘sale’ price of 99 cents. That might explain why people are buying it – but doesn’t really explain how they are actually finding it on Amazon.

So I remain mystified (but happy, of course) about the sales so far!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

What To Do...

Jennifer is in between projects.

I feel a tiny bit in limbo right now. I’ve completed two manuscripts and both are in various stages of editing. One, the sequel to The Seduction of Esther, is in the final stages of editing—four more chapters-worth of comments from my critique partner, and the subsequent edits, and I’ll be able to submit it to my editor.

The other one is a standalone book that I want to submit to agents—more out of curiosity than anything else. It’s in very rough shape and needs a lot of work. I’d like to start heavily editing it, but I’ve put it aside for so long, I’m going to need to reread the entire thing, and I don’t want to focus on it until I complete the sequel I mentioned above.

I’m also starting to get glimmerings of ways to start the third book in my series, which is good, because I’ve been completely stuck regarding that story. But it needs to percolate some more and I need to focus on the two other manuscripts before I start a third!

And therefore, I’m in limbo. Working in spurts and starts, giving my subconscious creative room to grow and trying to shut out that stressful voice that keeps poking me, saying, “You should be working!!”


Just another day in a writer’s life!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

An Easter gift for writers

Ana has an Easter gift for all writers:

It is not bad grammar to split infinitives!
Don't believe me?
The grammar girl says so at http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/split-infinitives
She references wikipedia        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Split_infinitive

I am relieved! I have struggled for several years to retrain my brain and my ear to hate split infinitives, and I still stumble when I read un-split infinitive phrases like, "She decided not to go."

When speaking, "Decide to not go," sounds better to me, probably because when I say it, I emphasize 'not' for clarity.

The fact that the rule against splitting infinitives is imaginary doesn't mean it is a good idea to do it in our writing, though. It invites nasty comments from misguided, but well-intentioned critiquers.

Star Trek stood up to be counted when each episode opened with, "To boldly go where no one has gone before."

It's good to know I am grammatically correct when say to my significant other, "Well, the next time you want to accidently forget to take out the trash..."




Friday, April 18, 2014

Friday Friend: JL Oiler

Guest Post:
Hello and Thank You for having me here! For those who don’t know yet I am JL Oiler a Paranormal and Sci-Fy Romance author with Rebel Ink Press. When I sat down to ready this post I struggled with what topic to talk about, but after cruising about the various book sites and reading all the latest gossip about the latest releases I decided to address Reviews. Now some authors cringe at the word alone. Why? Because the opinions of readers drive our art. That being said, all in all what I want from a review is simple....honesty.

A review regardless of being good or bad should be based on true facts. I received a review one time that basically stated the reader enjoyed the story and characters but gave a poor review mark because it was "short". Hmm well when you get a story from most places it gives you either the word count or number of pages. So this complaint is like throwing a fit when you buy a box of Lucky Charms and discovering it has marshmallows. That information was right there at the start, you simply failed to read or look for it.

I can honestly say I enjoy someone who gets into the meat and potatoes of what I did right and what was wrong. Both let me sharpen my art and improve from one story to the next. It was one of the best forms of feedback we receive. With that in mind I honestly don’t like getting reviews from "friends" because it makes me question the validity. When reading a review of a fellow authors work I have on occasion searched out other reviews by the same individual to see if they are one of those nice folks who go through and give all their friends a shiny 5 star review. That’s just bullshit. It’s not an honest review and does the story or readers no justice.  I have the same opinion about reviews for rewards (such as money, or gifts). They by far remind me too much of the TV commercials where the guy starts off by saying “I’m not a doctor but I play one on TV” We already know the individual will say exactly what pleases those footing the bill.

So tell me, have you ever purchased a book based strictly on a review? What was the result, were the reviewers dead on or dead wrong?

Let me know and I’ll drop your name in a drawing for this snazzy SWAG package!

Thanks for Joining Me!
JL OILER


High Tides
Links:


Blurb:
Before the world we know rose above the waves, there was another. A world of magic, myth, and mayhem with Atlantis its crown jewel.

 Ruled by brother’s Kia and Finn, it was a place of indulgence and indifference to the rules of humanity, until the brothers allowed their pride and pleasure to rule them. Too late they discovered their triviality would curse all of Atlantis to an unimaginable fate.

 Alana Merrick always felt more at home with sand between her toes than shoes on her feet. Now calling the small islands off the coast of Belize home, she's living her dream. Little does she know the peace and relaxation she finds beneath the waves is about to become very turbulent. As the present and the past collide, Alana may find that there are fates worse than death and the lines between fact and fiction are blurry.

 You might never look at Atlantis the same way again…

Excerpt:
“You have grown as cold as the creatures you use so easily. They are what you have grown to love. For your indifference to those of your own, I curse you all. May the oceans come forth and consume you. Fins replace legs and arms as your kingdom disappears into the depths of the ocean floor. This is my gift for your indifference. You all shall become what you worship until you can be loved as both the men and beast you are.” She called out from beyond the winds and rain, which now pounded them. Waves began to slam the walls, the earth quacking moments before searing pain gripped both men as they watched in shock as Oceana transformed into a seagull and flew straight up and away.
The grand pillars and walls surrounding them split and crumbled, splashing into the now turbulent water. Kia felt himself free fall, his arms and leg flailing about as he descended with large chunks of stone into the cold, dark waters.

The ocean stifled the scream that attempted to flee Kia’s mouth, pushing the last gulps of air from his lungs as he attempted to fight his way back toward the surface.  His mind began to fog, his vision becoming clouded. His body felt strange, as though it were stretching, twisting, changing. Minutes passed, and with them confusion of why he was still alive.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

So Many Hats

Debra ponders the many different things going on in her life.

On any given day I'm a wife, teacher, writer, board member, friend, daughter, sister, etc. These are not exclusive, as I am all of these all the time and probably more. And more often than not, the tasks involved with each overlap.

For instance, today I wore my writer's hat at school because I was using the copier to scan my new contracts so I could e-mail them back to my publisher. For a small part of the morning, I also wore my board member hat, as I took a 'spare' five minutes while my fourth grade writing class was working on their paragraphs to draft a copy of a sponsorship solicitation for an event I'm organizing for the Historical Society.

At home, I usually wear my teacher hat on a nightly basis, as there's always a few more papers to grade and get through.

After school today, while wearing my wife hat and making lunch for tomorrow, I also did some multi-tasking and donned the board member hat once again to phone the President of the Society to chat about a few things.

Even my nighttime routine lately has me wearing a different than usual hat. Normally I cuddle up in bed with a book around 9:00 and it's lights out no later than ten. I am definitely not a night owl. This is my time for pleasure reading, however I'm hosting a guest on my other blog in a few weeks and she loaned me a Kindle copy of the book so I could do a short review snippet as part of the post. It's a genre I don't normally read, so I'm not exactly considering it a pleasure read, although it is a well-written story.

During yoga last night as I stretched and toned my body, I also wore my teacher hat as I thought ahead to the next day and the tasks I'd need to complete ahead of the long weekend. (We're off Friday and Monday for Good Friday/Easter Monday.). I also wore my daughter/wife hat, as we're hosting dinner on Sunday and I haven't gone shopping yet, so I was making lists in my head for that as well.

You'd think with all of those hats, I'd become weighed down and off-balance. Sometimes that's true. There are times I am overwhelmed with the responsibilities involved with each hat, especially when they all are 'due' at the same time. But all in all, my varied interests keep me happy and busy, giving boredom no time to set in.

And it reminds me that when I create characters for my stories, I need to make them well-rounded and diverse.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!

Debra
www.debrastjohnromance.com

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Common-sense advice about writing

Paula looks at some common-sense advice.

I can do no better today than to direct you to this article about the ‘worst pieces of writing advice’:


I found myself cheering inwardly as I read this, as it debunks some of the most hackneyed ‘myths’ about writing but does this in a constructive, not destructive, way, offering common sense advice in place of the so-called ‘rules’.

My favourite one is #1, the argument against the ‘show don’t tell’ advice, and also the follow up #2.

Which one is your favourite? And are there any you don’t agree with?