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Saturday, September 20, 2014

HOW TO SUCCEED WITH eBOOKS

Megan Fox wrote me, asking if I would explain how to succeed at being an eBook author. 

And after that would I mind establishing world peace?

{I live in an enchanted world. But even so that last request is a bit beyond me.}

Well, to start off:

A self-published author has beaten names including Lee Child, James Patterson and Stieg Larsson 

to become the bestselling ebook author on Amazon.co.uk for the last three months of 2011.

Kerry Wilkinson, 31, self-published Locked In, the first book in his Jessica Daniel series of detective novels, last year,

only to find it shoot up the UK's Kindle charts.

 Self-published author Katie Stephens also took the fifth slot over the same period with her debut novel, Candles on the Sand.

"This time last year, I hadn't even started writing Locked In and now I have a No 1 bestselling book in the Kindle Store,


 outselling many authors that I have grown up reading," said Wilkinson.

1.) Wilkinson's Secret:

Wilkinson never approached a traditional publisher with his novel because he "didn't set out to 'be an author',"  instead aiming just to "write something I thought I would like".

"I keep chapters short and snappy because I like that.

I try not to flit between characters too much because I don't like that either.

As such, in a literary sense, I know it's not perfect - but I wasn't aiming for that. I wanted to create something I would like as a consumer," he said. 


Love Me Tender

2.) Choose the right book, the right genre and the right title:

In other words, catch the potential reader's attention!

At this stage in the digital revolution,

the successful self-published ebooks spring from popular genres, and those for which there are already big online communities –

fantasy, erotica, chick-lit, horror and crime thrillers.

Be careful with your title:

in an era of keywords, tags and search engine optimisation, it has never been more important.




3.) Don't just rely on Twitter or Facebook:

Most people who buy your book want to find out more about you and they can't find that from your Twitter feed.

A website is a sales platform, it's a marketing platform and it's a global presence if you do it right.

 A recent Verso survey estimated that barely 12% of books are discovered from social networks whereas 50% are passed on via personal recommendations.

4.) Do it professionally:

According to the survey done by The Taleist (  
http://blog.taleist.com/ )

self-publishers who take the most professional approach to production – getting external help (editors, proofreaders and, especially, cover designers) –


make on average 34% more from their books.

5.) Learn from the most popular girl in high school - GIVE IT AWAY:

Everyone loves a freebie, especially online. Getting read is an obvious way to sell more copies via word of mouth –

if your book is any good.

For authors wanting to eat, giveaways should be for a limited time only ... AND FOR THE FIRST OF A SERIES

6.) THE DARK SECRET:

No, not erotica,

although, Megan, for you that's not a bad idea –

the print version of EL James's originally self-published Fifty Shades of Grey sold 100,000 copies in its first week in the UK,

becoming the fastest-selling book that year.

Kerry Wilkinson's day job involves web journalism

but his success, he insists, was the same as any book throughout history:

 his book found an audience via word-of-mouth.

"The truth is, there is no magic wand.

Regardless of anyone who tries to flog you a 'How to sell a million books' guide,

it is the dirty secret no one will share – a lot of it is luck."

So there all of us are: on the shore of the ocean of possibilities.  The decisions are yours alone.

Make them wise ones.

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

FOUR BLOOD MOONS



WHY ARE WE SO OBSESSED WITH
THE END OF THE WORLD?


A friend lent me her book on the Four Blood Moons.

She wanted me to read it, so I did.  It made my teeth throb, but I did.

Echoes of Harold Camping murmured to me as the author Mark Blitz basically spoke of the Jewish festivals.

It took him to page 143 to even begin to talk of the Blood Moons.

Only 8 tetrads (4 consecutive blood moons in a row) have occurred in the past 2000 years.

This one will be the 9th.

Then, Mark transformed into Harold Camping:

9 is the last of the single digits.

It marks The End, the conclusion of the matter.

It is akin to the number 6 ... why he doesn't say, but he goes on to say 6 being the sum of its factors
(3 x 3 = 9    3 + 3 = 6 

 and $15.95 is what you just lost by buying his book!)

Mark furthers muddies the prophetic waters Camping style:

9 is a factor of 666 ( which is 9 times 74)
and it is one less than Bo Derek (that last is mine.)

Mark writes that the sum of the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet is 4995 (5 x 999). 

It is stamped therefore with the numbers of grace and finality.

(Italics his/ the head scratching all mine.)


Why all our fixation with The End of the world?

Writing strictly on a not-for-prophet basis, here are some of my thoughts:

1.) WE BALK AT OUR WALK-ON PART IN THE WORLD'S STORY

For many, the world doesn’t only revolve around us – it stops around us too.

1 in 7 people in the world right now believe it will all end during their lifetime.


2.) THERE'S A SENSE OF MEANING TO BEING THERE FOR THE RINGING DOWN OF THE CURTAIN.

The idea of an apocalypse pushes all the right buttons at a psychological level. 

Our minds have always tried to create some kind of framework of meaning to give history and our own personal lives some kind of significance.


3.) IT'S ABOUT POWER

Apocalyptic predictions are a way for people to try to control the way their (and others’) world works.

What you get during times of particular discontent – war, famine or general bad times – is a rise in apocalyptic preaching and ideas.

And at those times we seem to lap it up like there’s no tomorrow. 




4.)  IT'S GOING TO HAPPEN SOONER OR LATER

Robert Oppenheimer had a bet going with other members of the Manhattan Project as to whether the first atom bomb

(that they were about to set off) would start a chain reaction that would destroy the earth’s atmosphere. 

It does seem as if Man has a built-in Death Wish, doesn't it?


5.) THERE ARE NO CONSEQUENCES IF THERE IS NO TOMORROW

The same thought is the basis for the popularity of the movie, GROUNDHOG DAY.

When you’re mortgaged up to your eyeballs, hideously in debt, overworked, underpaid,

totally depressed about the global financial meltdown and climate change,

a little apocalyptic event might seem like a breath of fresh air, right? 


WHY DO YOU THINK WE ARE SO FASCINATED WITH ALL THESE SCENARIO'S OF
THE END OF THE WORLD?
 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A NEW TERROR BORN IN DEATH

 
ANCIENT EVIL NEVER LOOKED SO BEAUTIFUL
 
 
 
Older than the Sphinx
Deadlier than the Colors out of Space
 
Meilori Shinseen is the most
dangerous creature on this planet ...
 
And beloved to the cursed lawman,
Captain Samuel McCord.
 
What will he do when she
enters the desert wastes of 1895 Egypt
in search
of the lost facets of her nature
even she found reprehensible?
 
Join McCord and his companions:
Nikola Tesla, Mark Twain,
Oscar Wilde, Ada Byron
and
Winston Churchill
 
As McCord tries to walk the razor's edge
between love and honor.
 
Will he succeed?
 
Listen to Robert Rossman's
thrilling narration of
DEATH IN THE HOUSE OF LIFE
and find out.
 
"Oh, if when you died,
you were only dead."
- Meilori Shinseen

WHAT MAKES A GOOD BOOK?



Or what makes a book good?

What is the criteria you use to gauge whether a book is worth the read?

Does a book have to be good to make a difference in someone’s life? Why or why not?

Victor Standish:

"For me, if it grabs my interest, makes me think, or helps me learn something then it is a good book."


Samuel McCord:

"A good book is a treasure trove of humanity so that no matter where you open a page and start reading, there is something new to be discovered."


Ada Byron, Lady Lovelace:

" I can more easily say why I don’t like certain books and to be honest, it is often the result of the author.

Of the most recent books that come to mind: one author I simply don’t like due to her style of writing and how her characters are always women who can’t take care of themselves."



So?  What do you think makes for a good book?

Action.  No action.  Romance.  No romance.  A bit of both?



I believe there are some universal facets that make a book good and a good book (the two are sometimes not the same.)


1.) AN INTERESTING VOICE

If you don't connect to the voice, then no matter how spell-binding the plot, you will drift away from the book ...

that is if you even buy the book at all.

Why?

Because the Voice, like the wind in a ship's sails, is what carries you through the book's journey. 

Like an aroma, it permeates each page, each word of the book.

The voice is what will make a page detailing even a train ride something memorable or witty or both.


2.) MEMORABLE CHARACTERS

The sparkling character of Tony Stark made IRON MAN.  Hannibal Lector dominates each page he is on.

The characters in the world of Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz kept me turning the pages to meet more of his one-of-a-kind neighbors.

Memorable characters bring the story to life.  They make you itch to get back to their banter when the world draws you away from their adventures.

In a way, they become friends you can come back to.  They let us see and feel the world in a new way, expanding our minds, enriching our lives.


3.) A VIVID SETTING

It doesn't have to be a fantasy setting.  No matter the genre, however, the world around the characters must feel "real." 

Great settings "ground" the story.  They highlight in the larger world, the tragic or comic elements in the smaller world of the lead characters.

Settings in good books become actual characters in the story either nourishing or preying, sometimes doing both.

After Katrina, New Orleans' streets killed the children/teens who roamed them.  Their souls went before their lives.

Take 1895 Cairo:

 the common man fared even worse.  Their servitude was to multiple masters: taxes, poverty, landed aristrocrats, British prejudice.  They were always in the crossfire of conflicting demands.

A well done setting breathes life into the story you are reading.


4.) A GRIPPING STORY

In essence, the plot has the reader asking, "What happens next?"

What is riveting to you may not be riveting to me. 

But the bottom line to the gripping plot must be PERSONAL and PRIMAL to the reader.

The neighbor of a police detective has her baby kidnapped.  The child is being returned to her one finger, one toe at a time.  No ransom demand.

Did the cleaning lady see something she shouldn't have?  Did she throw away the wrong thing?  Or is it about the detective's past, something to punish him?

Whatever the plot, the reader is invested in it and is staying up longer than she should to see what happens next.


What do you think is essential in a good book?


Inger Wiltz wrote me that my latest book was good -- which made my day.


"Reading helps me so much. I felt that The Stars Bleed at Midnight is the best of your books I have read to date.

So full of wisdom, less battles with creepy critters, and marvelous conversations and bantering back and forth between your characters.

I loved it and I'm looking forward to the continuation."

Why not go to my book's Amazon page 
and try the LOOK INSIDE feature
and see if it interests you?


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A CHANCE TO MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD



If you liked the series, LONGMIRE, you have a chance to have your voice heard tonight.

Fans convinced CBS to bring back the show, JERICHO, after it was cancelled.  

Tonight, prospective networks will be dropping by to see the numbers and the loyalty of LONGMIRE's fans.

Last Monday night, the show's fans virtually shut down Twitter with #LongLiveLongmire tweets, which coincided with the normal airing hour of the drama.

 This show is one of the most meaningful on TV, and it’s a shame A&E failed to see what a brilliant and creative force this show embodies.

 From rich writing, to authentic and yet fascinating Native American stories, 

it dealt with injustice, bigotry, love, hate, family, the law, everything that makes for a wonderful story vehicle, and the writing was sublime.

So if you enjoyed LONGMIRE share a tweet tonight!


TWEET LIKE YOU MEAN IT!


 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

For Melissa Bradley_Cancer Always Plays a Deadly Hand



Michael di Gesu asked us to write a cancer story to be included in an anthology.

 All sales will benefit our friend Melissa Bradley's fight,

as with losing her job and undergoing chemotherapy, the cost of staying alive is sky high.

She  needs our help.

There is also a medical fund to help raise money for the expensive treatment.

 Go here if you feel you could spare a few dollars for Melissa.

Michael and Melissa would prefer funny stories. 

Funny. 

Sometimes laughter is a scarse commodity when cancer is in the same room.

But bravery, grace under pressure, and a firm resolution to go out standing tall ...

those can be found in souls staring straight into cancer's eyes.

My own cancer is too close to write about. 

 My mother died of breast cancer.  My best friend is dying with it.

So what to write?

This is the fable I crafted.  I hope you enjoy it.



 PLAY THE HAND YOU'RE DEALT:

"All of us have a path to follow, and that path begins in the heart."
- Samuel McCord


The gas lights gleaming from his bald head, the young boy in the wheelchair looked up at me.

"Gosh, Captain McCord, I always wanted to see the insides of Meiloiri's."

He sipped his ice tea held with unsteady hands.  "To think a hero like you'd make time for just a kid with cancer like me."

The ghost of Mark Twain sat down beside the boy and winked.

"There ain't no just kids to Sam.  And you're the hero.  Me & Capt. Sam, why we get so jim-jammed with fright sometimes we get all turned around and actually RUN to danger instead of AWAY FROM it!"

A flurry of snowflakes slowly formed in the chair beside me into a tall, regal woman in white buckskins & lightning hair.

THE TURQUOISE WOMAN.

Eyes the color of her name pierced me.  "This poker game has the potential of a loaded gun."

Mark nudged the frightened boy with a wink.  "Mother Nature there sure sucks the joy clean outta the air, don't she?"

The boy clutched my arm as the 3 remaining players pulled up their chairs and sat down.

The bald man in grey Armani grinned like a skull.  "Am I late?"

I said, "You always come too soon, Cancer. I see you brought your usual companions, Despair and Hopelessness."

 Cancer smiled at the trembling boy.  "Ah, I see you recognize them as well.  They keep you company with me in the long, long watches of the night."

"I've heard that," I said.  "That's why I set up this game."

Cancer laughed like the breaking of brittle bones.  "You cannot win."

I patted the boy's shaking fingers.  "Watch us."

Cancer drew out a deck from his inside jacket pocket.  "I'll deal the cards."

His shark smile widened.  "I always do."

I patted the boy's tightening fingers.  "It's not the cards you're dealt, son, but how you play them that counts."

The heavy fog called Hopelessness murmured, "You have Zero Chance, boy." 

Mark refused to look at his dealt cards, winking at the boy.  "You know what the Zero said to the Eight?"

"N-No, sir."

"Why, ain't that a lovely belt you're wearing!"

The boy laughed, and the fog thinned though it growled.

Mark nodded to the threatening fog.  "What did the right eye say to the left one?"

The boy shook his head.  "What?"

"Between you and me something smells!"

The boy laughed so hard that ice tea came out of his nose, and Hopelessness faded away completely.

The man-shaped leech called Despair murmured, "Laughter won't stop the pain, boy!"

The boy cocked his head.  "I-I do hurt less now."

Despair whispered, "But the pain kept you up all last night."

Turquoise Woman sent a spiral of snowflakes shimmering to the boy.  

"And so you were awake to see my sunrise, were you not?  Was it not beautiful?"

"Oh, yes, ma'am!"

"All else in New Orleans slept thru it.  Only you saw it."

"Wow!  Really?"

"Really ... which is why I sent you the robins this morn to sit on your sil and serenade you."

"It was lovely, ma'am.  I heard them in my head all day."

Turquoise Woman smiled.  "See how much more you lived than everyone else in New Orleans?"

She stroked his cheek.  "The pain does not let you sleep thru life.  These past weeks you have lived on a level few ever achieve, appreciating what most take for granted."

I winked at the boy. "Know what you get when you quit?"

"N-No, sir."

"Neither do I.  I've won.  I've lost.  But I've never quitAll it takes is getting up one more time than they knock you down."

I patted his steady fingers.  "Each scar life gives us is a gift, son."

"It sure doesn't feel like a gift, sir."

"No, not at first.  But think on it, son.  Where we are unhurt is where we are unsure of who we really are.  Where we are wounded & healed is where we get to show what we're made of."

The boy's jaw firmed, and the leech called Despair disappeared.

 Cancer flipped over his cards.  They were a Royal Flush.  "I win!"

"No," calmly said Turquoise Woman.  "You lose."

She smiled like a new sunrise at the boy.  

"You may hold the boy for a season.  But only a season.  And even in that season, the boy decides if he chooses laughter and courage over despair and hopelessness."

Turquoise Woman gestured, and a robin fluttered on the boy's shoulder.  "If his treatment works, you will lose your hold on him."

Cancer sneered, "And if I kill him?"

 Turquoise Woman smiled wider.  

"Then, he goes to the Great Mystery where those like Mark Twain here will keep company with him for eternity.  And pain will not even be a memory."

I squeezed the boy's arm.  "Forever with laughter and love.  Not too bad, huh?"

Mark Twain nudged the now-smiling boy.  "You know what sound porcupines make when they kiss?"

"No, sir."

"OUCH!"

The boy covered his eyes and groaned, "That was terrible, sir!"

"Hey, whipper snapper, you got it for free!"

"I was over-charged," grinned the boy.

And Cancer got up and slowly walked away. 



Saturday, September 13, 2014

WHAT WE LEARN TOO LATE



"Sure, the world is cold.  It is our job to build fires."
   - Samuel McCord

What would Samuel McCord tell us today? 


1.) Time Is Not Limitless

 
     That we have more time than we do is an illusion not just for the young.  

When young, we focus on ourselves and our dreams, thinking we have all the time in the world.  

As we get older we fall under the spell of denial.

     As our friend, Tina, has taught us:

Time is the only treasure we start off with in abundance and can never get back 


 Make the most of the opportunities you have today because there will be a time when you will have no more of it.  


2.)  Talent is no substitute for hard work ... or for empathy.


     How many doctors have you met that seemed to have left their compassion in their other jacket pocket?

     We may have skill at writing, at any number of things but we still have to pay our dues to be a member of the human race.

     And those dues include seeing those around us as fellow strugglers in the battles of life.


3.)  Social Media is not your career ... or your life.


     If you are a writer, write ... and write a lot.  The more books in your backlist the more promise your future holds.

     You are alive so LIVE.  Life is more than pasting cat pictures on FB.  Play with your cat, your children.

     Take a walk outside.  

SEE, EXPERIENCE the world.  At the end of your trail, it will be the laughter among friends, among family that you will remember.

     Gold ribbons tarnish.  Memories of love and friendship nurture.


4.)  Take responsibility for your mistakes.


     Mistakes are the tuition you pay to grow stronger, better.  But if you bury them, you lose what good might have come from them.


5.) Don't wait to be told what to do ... or what to write.


     Once you're an adult, no one will tell you what you need to read, to eat, or when to exercise

     You may dream of having a beautiful rose garden, but unless you plant, water, prune, and weed, 

a dream will be all you have.  And dreams do not have lush scents or velvet petals.


6.)  If your words cannot improve the silence, remain quiet.


     We have raised a generation of sh_t talkers.  So often those around us mistake cool for character.

     That is true of fiction as well as in real life. 

 Is your book worth the effort of reading?  Are your words healing or helpful?


7.) Read more books and fewer tweets and texts.

 
Our generation consumes information in headlines and 140 characters:  All breadth and no depth.  

     And that limitation impacts the way we think and how well.  

What limits your thinking hobbles your mind in what choices you make ... in living and in writing.

      Creativity, thoughtfulness and thinking skills are freed when you’re forced to read a full book cover to cover.  

All the keys to your future success lay in the past experience of others ...

which you will find in books. 


Friday, September 12, 2014

SOMETIMES THE MONSTER SAVES YOU


 
HERE IS A SAMPLER OF MOST OF MY HEROES!
 
 
Want to hear a chapter from HIBBS, THE CUB WITH NO CLUE?
 
Want to hear how Samuel McCord, a TEXAS Ranger, got assigned New Orleans by a dying President John Adams?
 
Want to hear how Samuel McCord killed his father and met the Turquoise Woman at the age of 15 in 1815?
 
Hear how Victor Standish and his ghoul friend, Alice Wentworth, spend their first ... and nearly their last Christmas!
 
Hear how a fallen angel awakens in a British insane asylum with no memory of how she got there just in time to join Evil in defending the Earth from alien invasion.
 
Those tales and more are in the audiobook 
BRING ME THE HEAD OF McCORD! 
 
Only $11!  What a steal!

SUCCESS KILLS ... if you're not young.




When a television show is consistently popular, its reward usually isn't getting canceled.

 Based on author Craig Johnson's mystery books about Walt Longmire, a Wyoming county sheriff whose laconic personality belies his razor-sharp detective skills, 

"Longmire" was A&E's second-most popular show behind the reality hit "Duck Dynasty," averaging 5.6 million viewers this season, according to Nielsen. 

That is better than critical darlings "Mad Men" on AMC and "Justified" on FX.


 Unfortunately for "Longmire," it has the wrong audience and the wrong owner. 

A&E said it pulled the plug on "Longmire" because it appeals primarily to older viewers: the median age of the show's viewers is 60 versus 48 for the network as a whole 


And it doesn't have an ownership stake in the show.


I think that last was the true reason.

How accurate are Nielson's ratings anymore in this digital age where shows can be seen on Amazon and a half-dozen other venues?

 "Longmire's" fate is reflective of two growing trends in the television industry:

the obsession of advertisers with younger viewers and the desire of TV networks to own as much of their content as possible. 


 Last year, A&E also canceled "The Glades," 

a quirky crime drama with solid ratings that also had an older audience and was produced by a unit of 21st Century Fox.

 Longmire was not a cynical show; it was designed for people who don't see their views and struggles represented.

So A&E is telling those nearing 50 and those over: 

you no longer count.  

It is an odd mind-set when Baby Boomers still have the most disposable income.  

Alas, those of you out there in your mid-forties, you are about to become disposable yourselves.

DOES THIS MAKE SENSE TO YOU?  WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Why WRITERS Should Listen to AUDIOBOOKS



DID YOU KNOW AUDIOBOOKS CAN IMPROVE YOUR WRITING?


A) NO SKIMMING ALLOWED


     C'mon, admit it: you skim over the "boring parts" as you read print.  It's instinctive by now.

     But skimming robs you of the power and purpose of the words you skim!


B) AUDIO LETS YOU CATCH THE PACE, THE FLOW OF THE WORDS


     The sounds of the words will bleed into your own writing.  You will begin to "see" words as images.

     It will limit your use of HE SAID/SHE SAID in every line of dialogue.

     Don't tell me those words are invisible to readers -- only to you as you block them out as you write.

     You'll discover new ways to add pauses to the spoken lines.


C)  YOU'LL HEAR THE WORDS AS YOU WRITE THEM


     Maybe in your voice.  Maybe in the voice of your favorite narrators.

     It will spotlight "kinks" in your paragraphs.

     The audio's will create a Theater of the Mind letting you see words as images.


D) YOU'LL "READ" MORE


     Stephen King stresses that the more you read the deeper your perspective will be in your books.


     You'll read in places you couldn't with a print book: in bed, exercising, gardening, commuting.

     You'll discover favorite narrators and seek out books they narrate no matter the genre and 

your literary horizons will expand, enriching your prose, breathing new ides into your future novels.


E) YOU'LL LEARN


     AUDIBLE has its DEAL OF THE DAY:

     I got Arthur C Clarke's 2001 for $2!  The intro was by Clarke himself, detailing the unique way he wrote the book.

     I got BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S read by Michael C Hall of DEXTER fame (great narrator) for $2!

     Craig Johnson of LONGMIRE fame detailed at the end of one of his books the origin of his hero and how he writes.  Great lessons.


F) YOUR OWN AUTHOR READINGS WILL IMPROVE FROM LISTENING TO PROFESSIONALS.


G) YOUR VOCABULARY WILL IMPROVE

     You'll learn new words from their use in context of the action of the novels.  

     You'll repeat crutch words less as you insert the new words into your prose.


OH, BEFORE I FORGET WHY ALL THIS TALK ON AUDIOBOOKS!
I'VE GOT A NEW, AFFORDABLE ONE!

ONLY $3.95!

Voodoo in the Carpathian Mountains of Romania?

 A mystic travel trailer that has a life of its own and takes its name too seriously?

 A deadly, unbeatable worker of dark magic out to unravel the fabric of reality? 

A Hellhound named Puppy? 

All in a normal day for the last Lakota Heyoka, Toomey Starks.



Since Toomey is Lakota
here is John Two Hawks with lyrics