Lessons from My Reading

M. K. Theodoratus, Fantasy Writer, blogs about the books she reads--mostly fantasy and mystery authors whose books catch her eye and keep her interest. Nothing so formal as a book review, just chats about what she liked. Theodoratus also mutters about her own writing progress or ... lack of it.

.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Finding Time to Write and to Promote, That's a Puzzle Plaguing Most Authors.

Here an minute, there an hour. does that describe the you social media time? Seems like I'm always promoting one story or another.
 
I'm not the only writer I know who complains about social media gobbling their writing time. But marketing to build a fan base takes time ... or money. If you're like me, you've got more time than money.

As I write this DuoLit , a source of much good advice, seems to be on vacation ... or something, but they keep popping up on the web. One blog which I keep rereading, "Authors Who Say “I Don’t Have Enough Time for Promotion” Are Doomed to Fail", gives writers some ideas for managing their social media time.

Yeah marketing is the bane of a writer's existence. If you don't promote, you don't exist in the possible reader's mind. Lack of recognition is the bane of the pip-squeak writer's "career".

Came across a marketing article on the importance of not ignoring Amazon. I'm including it because I recently came to the conclusion that I needed to promote my for-pay books, like Troublesome Neighbors, on Amazon more ... on my own. Haven't broken the code to selling more than a few books a month, but if I study enough... ?????????? Who knows what might happen. I do have some decent reviews. 

7 Bestseller Book Marketing Strategies For Fiction Writers by Jonathan Gunson is one of the best promotion round-ups I've seen in a long time. Thought it was well worth studying. In fact, you should check out the side bars too. You'll find lots of interesting information. 

How does my promotion do? Not too well. I'm not a social being [like I'm a grumpy hermit] so the word-of-mouth thing and building a fan base is like reading cuneiform to me. But I keep trying.


Perhaps one of my greatest promotion finds: Buffer, a service for scheduling your tweets. Yeah, there are others. But Buffer has just added a new application. You can now post pictures into the body of your text when you use them. Even the computer klutz here [me] can work it. They offer a limited free service and a paid one. The cheapskate here still does the free bit. Oh, one other thing Buffer offers built in analytics of your tweets. 

You may be dismayed by the number of click throughs ... but every looker counts.

~~#~~

Promotion gobbled my time this week. Today was the perfect example. Came upstairs determined to start writing new stuff on a new story.  

First came reading my three comics. 

Then, had to check my Amazon ranking, which is sinking again ... though I got another four star review. [It was too generalized to crow about.] But when I check my reviews, my description for The Ghost in the Closet picked at me again.

Then, I went in to edit the description and post it on both Amazon and Smashwords. The story is also on Nook but it'll be a while before the changes appear. Below is the new version.

Some say seeing ghosts is a gift,
 but after losing her job, Dumdie Swartz says, "Hogwash".


Since she was a child, Dumdie has seen ghosts. Over the years, she developed several tics and quirks to hide the fact. When her boss witnesses several of these occasions, he fires her, thinking that she suffers from mental issues that could hurt his business. 

Without a job and money, Dumdie becomes just another old woman living out of her car. As winter approaches, her luck changes. Dumdie secures a room in a homeless shelter. But all isn't well. The ghost of the former owner of the converted mansion haunts Dumdie's room because she’s distressed over her lost will.

When the shelter is threatened with closure, Dumdie must make a decision. Does she continue to hide her gift or does she use her talents to save the shelter...and herself. 


Now that most of my morning is gone. I will have accomplished something, I guess. The new sales description which I hope is an improvement and this blog which has been edited four times through. I hope you accomplish more with your writing time this week.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

What if My Writing Disappears? -- My Worst Writing Fear by Curtiss Robinson


 
What If My Writing Disappears?

by 
Curtiss Robinson  
 

Hey there book reading maniacs! I have been asked to write a few things that might be a little surprising but we only live once right?

 Well let’s get it on!

While writing Protectors of the Vale late one night in Zabul Province Afghanistan, I suddenly became keenly aware that I was no longer alone. My men were sleeping soundly in their US Army-issued sleeping bags (affectionately called fart-sacks…yep, you can imagine why). It was late, probably around 0100 hours if memory serves me correctly, and I felt the hairs on the back of my neck prickle with anticipation. I was still in my boots and pants, but my body armor and helmet were across the bed. I reached under my pillow and felt the cool grip of my M9 Beretta pistol. I slid it quietly into the low-ready position and flipped the safety off. I looked around a little nervously, half expecting nothing and half expecting something unspeakable. I dared not stand up for fear of giving myself away with the creaking of the cheap mattress springs from my cot.

A cool breeze blew from nowhere. It danced across those now bristling hairs on the back of my neck sending shivers down my spine. A cold sweat began across my brow, and I felt the palms of my hands grow sweaty as well. I took a minute in the near darkness to put my eyes on the M4 rifle propped up on the bipod beside my bed. It comforted me like a loyal friend I knew would never let me down. I longed to belt my pistol and grab the rifle, but those damnable squeaky springs would be my undoing for sure if I did.

The room was bathed in a dim glow from the screen of my computer and moonlight streaming through the one window high in our small B-hut. My eyes were attuned to the poor light but I saw nothing. I strained to hear movement, but there was nothing but dreaded silence.

I considered waking my men, knowing that their loaded weapons were useless as they lay prostrate in their fart-sacks, but I hesitated knowing that a false alarm would be both humiliating and impossible to explain. In my mind, I pictured something terrible devouring them one by one like a human burrito bar at a Mexican restaurant. I know it was ridiculous, but my mind was now on high alert and everything seemed possible at that moment.

Suddenly, I noticed something I had overlooked. It was the laptop—more specifically the program I had open. I realized that I had been writing for several hours as I did every night after a long day of fighting the enemy, but I hadn’t saved in a long while. “Son of a biscuit,” I thought and mouthed to myself. How could I have been so careless? I was trapped! Both hands were on the pistol, and I was immobilized on the squeaky cot. I was willing to fight and even die protecting my men if something attacked, but I hated the thought of losing my work. I reconsidered the rifle just out of reach. I reconsidered waking my men. I even said a little prayer hoping that God would be with me but, in the end, I was drawn to that god-forsaken laptop!

I took a deep breath and moved my left hand away from the pistol. My right hand trembled a little as the anxiety built. I got my index finger of the left hand over the mouse pad and eased the cursor ever so quietly across the screen. Time slowed to a crawl as I tried to use my peripheral vision to watch the shadows while my attention focused on the save icon. It was in place, but I knew the mouse button would make an audible click when I pushed it. I knew the enemy would hear. He was always there, always listening and waiting for his opportunity to kill the lot of us. I scanned the room one more time, my head on the proverbial swivel. It was hell not knowing what was out there, but somehow all I could think of was not saving my work and dying at the hands of the enemy. My mind raced. I started picturing the enemy capturing us all. As they tortured my men with knives and hot brands, I could picture them slowly and painfully deleting my work one…character…at…a...time!

In one deft move, I threw caution to the wind and pressed that blasted mouse button and, as I had predicted, there was a click. It wasn’t that loud in reality but, at that moment, it sounded like a bass drum…ba-BUM! I sprang up and the springs from my cot squealed like screeching brakes. I whirled around ready to open up with my pistol, but there was nothing there. I holstered the Beretta and grabbed the rifle, knowing death was soon to be upon me. I pulled the charging handle back and let the buffer spring catapult the bolt forward, ramming a bullet into the chamber. It made yet another gargantuan noise…cha-chaunk! Who or whatever was out there surely knew I was awake by now, so I roused my men saying, “ON YOUR FEET!”

Twelve warriors sprang into action, grabbing pistols and rifles with reckless abandon. I dashed to the wall and took cover just as the enemy was about to kick our door in. My men took up positions behind cots and footlockers, preparing for the devil himself to come through the door.

Suddenly, my senior NCO flipped on the lights and said, “Sir…what in the hell?”

I was surprised to find myself lying in my cot with the laptop on my chest. Apparently, I had been having a nightmare when I called out to my men in my sleep. I didn’t have the heart to tell them I was having a bad dream about not saving my work so I lied. I said, “Just a little PTSD…I’m good men. I’m good.”

Not a word was ever spoken about that night out of respect for me but, I tell ya, the one fear I have as a writer is losing all of my work. As a result, I am always saving and emailing my wife backup copies. It really doesn’t bother me now that I am back in the good old US of A, but in combat the darnedest things can really get the best of you!

~~#~~ 

Author Bio:
Curtiss Robinson


Image of Curtiss RobinsonCurtiss Robinson (1970-Present) was born in Key West, Florida, grew up in South Carolina, and joined the US Army in 1989. For twenty years he served in Ft. Bragg, NC, Schofield Barracks, HI, Ft. Bliss, TX and returned to work in Charleston, SC with the SC Army National Guard. During his second combat tour (OEF 2007) he wrote his first adventure novel, "Protectors of the Vale", which mirrored the successes and failures of his PMT team in Afghanistan. In 2009, wrote "Defenders of Griffon's Peak" which further detailed the adventures of his sword wielding and spell casting fantasy characters. Curtiss is a lifelong martial artist and RPG enthusiast which contributes greatly to his combat scenes and vivid imagery but it is love for epic heroes and tales of legend that fuel his love of writing.

You can learn more about Curtiss Robinson at his Website

Other social media sites include: Facebook, Twitter, and Google+


 ~~#~~


Blurb: Defenders of Griffon’s Peak


Continuing The Heroes of Dae’Run Series with Volume 2 The stalwart city of men takes up the fight against the Bloodcrest Forces in Defenders of Griffon's Peak as the orcs of Dek'Thal build alliances with the worst of mankind...the fearsome assassin's guild and a deadly pack of were-wolves. Ever in opposition, the Protectors of the Vale venture from the Far West to unite with the heroes of the Far East to defy the evil Bloodcrest Forces. Vlaad-the last human defender and champion of Griffon's Peak and his beloved Theila, a warlock of dark magic, leave their home to hunt down the orc leader Gorka Darkstorm and put an end to his evil plans. Cunning assassins lie in wait at every turn, deadly were-wolves prowl through the night, and the worst fears imaginable stand between the heroes and their duty. Vlaad and Theila will need more than skill with a sword and sorcerous might to fight the evil looming before them as shields splinter, blood flies, and magic lights up the sky.

Check out Robinson's work on his Amazon Author page  or click the buy links for Protectors of the Vale, Defenders of Griffon's Peak, and Guardians of the Mountain.