Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Three Questions

Paula asks (and answers) three questions!

Firstly: A couple of weeks ago, someone on FB was asking why the sales of her books were so low. Okay, I know, it’s a question many of us could ask! One of the replies suggested that she should look at the bestselling books on Amazon, and aim to write something similar to those.
My reaction: unless she’s a very fast writer, the ‘popular’ trends might have completely changed by the time her book is actually published, because people soon tire of the same kind of novel. Personally I go into ‘yawn mode’ when I see yet more books about ‘cosy cafes’ or, here in the UK at present, stories set in Cornwall (I blame Poldark for that!), and I’m not into ‘psychological thrillers.’ Yes, these may be current trends, but how long do these kinds of trends last?

Secondly, another author (again on FB) declared that she had read and enjoyed books about the music scene when she was a teenager, so decided to write her own series. This same author then said she’d enjoyed books by another author set in her own city, and so she decided to – yes, you’ve guessed it, write her own series set in that same city.
My reaction? Don’t you have any original ideas of your own, without having to ‘duplicate’ what other authors have written about?

Thirdly, yet another author declared that ‘if you like books by x, y, and z, you will love my book.’
My reaction: for one thing, it comes over as incredibly conceited to ‘compare’ yourself to bestselling authors. Also, if you need to ‘compare’ yourself to other writers, it doesn’t say much for your own originality.

So, what do we do? Follow the trends (albeit belatedly), write to a theme that has been successful for another author in the hope that it will be as successful for you, or try to gain readers by likening yourself to other authors?
My reaction: I couldn’t do any of these things. Or rather, yes, I probably could, but I wouldn’t want to. I can’t write to a ‘trend’ or a ‘theme’, and I certainly don’t try to imitate any other writer.

Maybe my novels don’t sell as well as stories about ‘cosy caf├ęs in Cornwall’ are selling; maybe I’ll never reach the top ranks on Amazon; but I write the stories that I want to write, and I write them in my own style.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Book Trailers

Have you ever made a book trailer?

I’ve seen several and they intrigue me. Basically, they’re taglines paired with photos and set to music, and they’re used to illustrate your book. Like a movie trailer.

I’ve attended conference workshops about them and people pay good money to have them made. While marketing does require investment, trailers were never something I was going to spend money on, because I’m not sure it’s the best use of my resources. The problem is I’m really not a graphic person or a videographer—I should probably make use of my kids.

But then I discovered this free program/computer app. It takes you step by step through the process of creating the video. It can even create one from a blog you write. You can choose images to use and music, colors and fonts and it puts it all together for you.

So I tried it. Once I got the hang of it, it was super easy to do. My biggest problem with trailers is that they’re static, like a slide show. And because I’m not spending money, I’m making do with the images I have access to, as well as the music. But I don’t think it’s a terrible trailer, and I certainly don’t think it’s doing me any harm.

What do you think?

Saturday, July 14, 2018

In the throes of Summer

Ana's summer is probably as busy as yours.

I took cell phone photos of the three ice-cream pails of just-picked-by-me raspberries and my grandkids sliding down the big slide yesterday at the county fair, but Blogger says they are not formatted for uploading. So word pictures will have to suffice until I figure that out.

I asked for, and was granted, an extension on book 2. I'm not a fast writer, and I over-estimated how many chapters I could write last winter. Writing in summer is more challenging with work, gardening and grandkid sleep-overs. I'm half way through the story. The heroine and side-kick are entering a seedy bar in search of the injured and missing hero.

I had fun this past week helping with a short film shoot. The ten-year-old granddaughter is the protagonist. She goes exploring and is frightened by an alien hiding in an abandoned house. She runs home and returns with her skeptical older sister and squirt-gun-toting younger brother. They track down the alien, who checks them out and zooms away.

My film-producer daughter brought home her camera gear, including a film drone. (The drone has crashed into tree tops twice on homing mode. Obviously, it's a city, not a country, drone. More online tutorials will be downloaded.)

The short film footage is now in Rachel's editing computer. She'll add CGI images (shimmery light?) to show the alien being. It will be fun to see the final footage. If it's good enough, she'll color correct and sound design, and who knows where it will end up. The footage Rachel shot with the ten-year granddaughter (when Brandi was five) was just released as a music video for a New York City band.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

A Month of History

Debra spent June immersed in early U.S. history.

My hubby and I love to travel. Usually our one big trip a year is a cruise over spring break for our anniversary. Summers used to be filled with long weekend trips with our parents and and another with the hubby's sister and family. But, as our parents have gotten older and unable to walk around as well as they used to, and as our niece and nephew have gotten older and it's no longer 'cool' to hang with your older relatives, those smaller trips had stopped.

This summer, things changed a bit. At the beginning of June we took a week-long road trip with a friend out to Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia. While we spent the majority of our week in Williamsburg immersed in 18th century history, we did take a side trip to Yorktown and Jamestown, which gave us a peek into 17th century history. Every little part of the trip was wonderfully awesome. There is no possible way to pick a favorite thing, although I have to say their Nation Builder program topped the list. My favorite to listen to was Thomas Jefferson. He talked about the importance of education and how the most important thing we can teach our children is history. My paraphrase of both speeches he gave is along the lines of: You have to know where you've been to see where you're going.

Governor's Palace - Colonial Williamsburg

Old Capitol at Night - Colonial Williamsburg

Young Thomas Jefferson - Colonial Williamsburg

The Church at Jamestown Settlement

Artillery Demonstration at the Revolutionary War Museum in Yorktown

Last spring we purchased a travel trailer, so we've been taking quite a few weekend jaunts recently. Last weekend we took a short trip out to Galena, IL (home of President/General Ulysses S. Grant) and walked around taking in the sites of 19th century history.

On July 1, I officially took over as President of our local Historical Society. I'm looking forward to leading the Society in its new direction of programming and education.

Our Newly Restored Original 1896 One-room School

Interior of Central School

Me (Playing "Schoolmarm" at a Laura Ingalls Book Discussion in the Schoolhouse)

So, yessire, it's been a history kind of summer so far. And I love it! (And what a perfect lead up to the Fourth of July here in the States!) #historyisfun

Until next time,

Happy Reading (and traveling)!