Category Archives: Writing Process

Dragon Con is Huge

I’m down in Atlanta for the weekend to attend Dragon Con.  I’ve been to several smaller Cons over the years, but not one of this size.  My wife came along, and we went over to the Sheraton to get our badges this afternoon.  The line wasn’t too bad, but I got a good idea of how large this convention is by wandering around downtown Atlanta.  The convention takes up five hotels and the convention center.

Normally, I go through the convention schedule and pick out the panels I want to check out, but there are so many.  It’s a bit overwhelming.  I decided to throw out the planning and just wander around.  So, tomorrow I’ll be checking out the exhibitor halls and probably hang out mostly in the Hyatt where most of the writer/literature stuff is happening.

On the writing front: I received my novel back from the editor and am working on the last (?) revision.  I still don’t have a final title for this one (working title was Half-hand), but as soon as I do, I’ll announce it and hopefully have a cover reveal coming soon after.  It feels good to be getting close, but that only means the marketing effort will be ramping up soon.  I’m looking at a December release date.

 

 

 

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Filed under Conventions, Writing Process

Where are your Writing Roots?

Charlotte is my home.  I love it here and don’t want to live anywhere else, but I still feel out of sorts on the Charlotte writing scene.  It’s not the other writers I meet here, it’s me.  My writing roots lie in a small town to the east.

I started writing in 1993, the same year I moved to Roanoke Rapids.  I worked, raised my children, and learned to write there (I would say “grew old there” but I’m barely past the half-century mark).

My son was born in Roanoke Rapids in 93, as was my first novel.  Now, he’s out of college and working, and that first novel is collecting dust in a drawer.  I like to think that this means I had my priorities straight, but it probably means that I had a lot to learn about writing. (And let’s face it—you’re never ready for parenting.  You just do the best you can and there are no re-writes.)

I joined my first critique group in that little town around 1995.  I still thought my first novel was ready for a Pulitzer Prize and was working on my second novel (Which is also sitting in a drawer).  That first critique group helped me to realize how much I didn’t know about writing.

I left town for a couple of years around 1998, and when I came back the group was disbanded.  I call this my online period, where I joined several online critique groups like Hatrack River, Zoetrope, Critique Circle, Liberty Hall, and Notebored.  I met several fellow writers in these forums from all over the world.

I’m a face-to-face person at heart though and decided to start the Roanoke Valley Writers Group back up.  I’m guessing that was somewhere around 2002.  I published my first book (The Order of the Wolf) when I was a member of this group in 2012.  They were a great bunch and are still going strong.  I’ll admit, leaving this group was the hardest part about moving to Charlotte.

Another first for me was doing my first book signing.  This happened at the Riverside Mill in Weldon.  It is a huge antique mall and consignment shop (there are no books stores in the area).  The staff of the Riverside Mill was very supportive when my first book came out.  I had a book signing there, and they still carry my books for sale to this day.

I will always be grateful to the folks at the Riverside Mill for their support.  That’s why you’ll find me there this Friday afternoon and Saturday signing books (hopefully) as part of their Endless Yard Sale.

Stop by and see me, buy a book, or just shop till you drop.  There’ll be plenty of other merchandise to choose from.  Of course, none as good as my latest novel.

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Of course, you can always find my books on Amazon if you don’t want to come out and shop.

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Filed under Author Appearance, Books, Uncategorized, Writing, Writing Process

Move Over Shakespeare

shakespeare

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a rich patron to support your artistic endeavors?  No more can’t-afford-to-quit-my-day-job blues.  You could be like Shakespeare and have your writing supported by the Queen of England, or maybe Michaelangelo, who had the financial backing of the pope.  Imagine the heights to which your art will soar.

Or maybe, you’ll just waste even more time on the internet.

Patronage for the arts got its start Renaissance period.  It was a status thing for the artist—the richer the patron, the more esteemed the artist.  The patron also got status points for supporting the artist’s work because it was seen as a civic, or even religious duty.  Of course, it also let everyone else know just how rich and powerful the patron was.

So Shakespeare had Queen Elizabeth (among other patrons), who can a modern writer turn to for patronage?  There are endowments and fellowships out there, but it seems most of them are linked to academics.  I haven’t seen any Hollywood stars, rich athletes, or socialites offering to fund your next novel.  It seems today’s patrons are ordinary people.

Lately, I’ve seen quite of few anthologies and magazines being funded by Kickstarter or something similar.  People pay upfront for a future product.  Then there is Patreon, which seems to be the newest “thing” for writers to raise money.  It is based upon the patron concept, but instead of a single rich sponsor, you have many fans who donate to your work.  In return, you can give them early access to stories or special content.

I have mixed feelings about Patreon.  First, I don’t want to miss out on an opportunity that could help me with my writing, but this seems like just another thing to take time away from actually writing.  Second, and my biggest issue, is that it feels more like begging for money than having a patron.  Don’t get me wrong, I like money, but publishing isn’t that expensive in this Amazon era.  It seems like just another way to get money out of people instead of selling books (Not that I’m selling a lot of books or making any money, but I figure that’s my issue to deal with not anyone else’s).

I guess it’s my old-fashioned desire to not owe people money.  Patreon still feels like taking a loan to me.  As Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet:

Neither a borrower nor a lender be; / For loan oft loses both itself and friend.

Of course, whenever I think of this line it comes out in the Skipper’s voice from Gilligan’s Island.

I would like to think that if the next Shakespeare is out there, he would be easy enough to spot and would be successful without the need of a Patreon page.  Or maybe not.

Anyone out there using Patreon?  Please let me know your thoughts.

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Filed under musings, Philosophy, Writing, Writing Process

Free Book Marketing?

Deciding how to spend your marketing dollars on your indie book is tough.  After paying for an editor and book cover, now you have to decide how much to spend on marketing.  You’re already in the hole, and you wonder if your book will ever earn enough to recoup what you already have in it.  So how much more money do you spend on marketing, and will it make a difference in sales?

Well then, it’s time for some free marketing, right?

Unfortunately, nothing in life is free (Somebody famous said that I’m sure).  The majority of the free marketing sites I’ve run across require you to give your book away for free to join.  Most of them want you to have your book free on Amazon.  Basically, you have to be in KDP Select to really take advantage of these opportunities.  So it’s more like: If you want something for free, don’t write a book.  Yes, these sites are free for the reader but lost revenue for you.

The philosophy is that you need to get your name out there in order to build a following and eventually sell books.  Another philosophy I’ve heard is to price your book higher so that readers feel it has value and will buy it.  So like every other aspect of writing, there is no one path to success in marketing.

I’ve had my books on Amazon and Kobo and recently entered a few giveaways on Goodreads and Instafreebie (I also did an Amazon ad campaign).  I’ve been giving away book one of my series for several months to build readership.  I’ve given away about 600 copies of The Order of the Wolf.  I’ve also sponsored a Blog tour for my series and a book blitz for my new book release.

The net result of my efforts is three new book ratings/reviews on Goodreads, one on Amazon, and one on a review website.  I have sold a few copies of The Eastern Factor that just released, but not enough to get excited about.

My take away from all this is that people are more than willing to download a free book.  In fact, I think a lot of people are grabbing all the free e-books they can get their hands on.  Whether they read them is another matter.  I’ve actually heard people brag about how many books they have on their e-reader—more than they’ll read in their lifetime. If they read your book, they have to like it in order to rate it or buy the next book.  Finding readers to take your book isn’t so hard when you’re giving it away, but finding the right readers that will want to read more is the key.

Takeaway number two: I need to do more with ARC reviews and pre-order sales.  Much of the marketing is targeted for this period vs. after the release.

Another takeaway is that I need to have my giveaways on Amazon to harness the power of, well, Amazon.  I’ve resisted KDP Select for awhile, but I recognize that it is the best marketing platform to use when you’re trying to get established.  So this week I’m taking my books down from other sites and switching my series over to KDP Select and I am going to use their marketing features going forward.  Well, at least for the next 90 days.

I’ll admit, I’m a slow processor.  I have to mull over a problem for a while before deciding which way to go.  My wife says I’m hard-headed and will argue with a wall (I am not!), but I do eventually work out a path forward.  Let’s see where this one leads.

Oh yeah, don’t forget to get your copy of The Eastern Factor.    You’ll find it on Amazon.  And you can buy the complete Kingdom of Haven series there as well if you’re so inclined.

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Filed under Books, Marketing, Writing, Writing Process

How Many Times do you Sneeze?

Ahhhh-chooo!

Sounds like a strange question, right?  Let me take you on a guided tour of my mind (Buckle up, this could get bumpy).

I always sneeze twice—not once, not three times, but twice—every time.  I can’t explain this.  When I sneeze, my wife will just stop and wait for the second one.  No use in continuing the conversation, because we both know it’s coming.

Maybe this isn’t all that odd, but then again…my son always sneezes three times.  Same thing, if he sneezes, we just wait until he gets all three out.  Just a strange coincidence, right?

Then I start to think about it.  I’m a junior, named after my father.  My son has the same first name, which makes him Freddie the third.  If he had a son and named him Freddie, would my grandson sneeze four times?

Then my mind starts to churn.  Maybe it’s a sneezing curse laid upon one of my long dead ancestors.  Let’s say my ancestor was attending a sacrifice in Tenochtitlan and happened to sneeze just when the priest was slicing open his victim.  The knife slips and the priest stabs the heart before he can pull it out of the victim’s chest.  Of course, this is a bad omen which eventually leads to the Spanish invasion and the fall of the Aztecs.

As punishment, the priest cursed my ancestor.  With each generation, another sneeze is added until eventually, the line dies out from chronic sneezing.  The only way to beat the curse is to not pass on the name of the ancestor who caused the calamity.  The family will actually have to forget him in order to survive.

Of course, I come from a wily family.  Their solution was to alter the name every few generations to reset the curse.  So a few generations after the curse began, one of my ancestors switched the name to Spanish – Fernando.  My grandfather switched from Spanish to English, but now the curse has caught back up to us.  Now, I have to find a way to beat the curse without losing the family name.

Yeah, I have a weird imagination, but that’s where stories come from.  I think writers are always putting together these strings of strange facts and coincidences and weaving stories out of them.

Of course, if I have a grandson named Freddie who sneezes four times, I’m going to have to take a trip to Mexico City to sort this mess out.  Do you think that priest’s spirit is still kicking around the place?  On second thought, maybe we’ll move to China.

How do you say Freddie in Chinese?

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Filed under Humor, musings, Writing Process