an odd collection of tales about learning to do the impossible

Posts tagged ‘books’

Now for something different …

By the time I’d driven home, I knew what I had to do. You see, the only time I struggle with writers block is when I (okay, some part of me, let’s call her the adult manager in charge of my head) insists I write whatever Ms. Manager has decided I must.

No matter how hard Ms. Manager insists, it doesn’t happen.

The little kid in my head who makes up the stories simply stops making them up until she is once again allowed to tell her stories, in her way.

Read more about how I discovered my next novel while having a day at a spa.

Road to Reality

I’m back to reviewing books, and last week I tackled my first non-fiction book, an autobiography of one of the originators of “Survivor.” This is how the review starts:

This book is not an angry tirade, or a plea for sympathy, and it could so easily have been either. Rather it is story of a woman struggling to maintain relationships with her own divorced parents, with the two sons she loves deeply, and with a man whose idea of marriage seems to have been to largely roll her into his tumultuous world, until he didn’t want her there any more.

The book has its high and its low points, but all in all I found it interesting. Read the full review at Road to Reality.

Where did all those genres come from??

Amazon’s other options for me is something called a Sponsored Ad.  My mentor/author didn’t think much of using these, but I bravely tried the concept of picking keywords from my books and bidding for clicks. Every time, it failed miserably, but the good news is if hardly anyone clicks on your ad, it doesn’t cost you much.

A little poking around showed me I had another choice called Individual Products. It involves picking products (books) similar to mine, and advertising to those who buy them. It took forever to seek out these books, although it probably was a good exercise for me to get to know more about what was out there. None-the-less, all this effort yielded even fewer clicks and cost almost nothing.

Then recently a new option emerged. I could bid to advertise based on genre, just like with my Lock-screen ads, but the ads would appear to all Amazon users. So I tried it. And oh my goodness.

Read more at Where did all those genres come from??

Can you sell books on Facebook? Can I?

In contrast, Facebook offers the promise of being able to select potential ad readers with a LASER like precision. Oh boy.

For my first novel, I sought out mature women who liked science fiction and fantasy, were interested in telepathy and (I’d been told this was very important) liked or owned a kindle. Wahoo. This group was going to LOVE my spec fiction e-novel about Lola, a forty-something telepath. I mean, how many of those are out there?

It took no time at all for me to have 4823 such women view my ad 10,527 times and click on my link 275 times. It took no time at all for me to spend  $48.98 to make this happen and to sell, you guessed it, not a single book.

Read more at Can you sell books on Facebook? Can I?

 

How about this ad?

I’d tried a mess of keywords for first book “One of One” and got one impression. That’s right, one. It was a very cheap ($0.22) and highly ineffective experiment. Forget keywords.

So for Shape of Secrets, I looked through Amazon’s suggested sub-genres. One was LGBT Fantasy Fiction. That was a category? Okay, the book is about a young gay man who can alter his appearance to look like anyone, so I guessed it fit. I tried it and got 87,684 impressions, 170 clicks, and sold three books. Hot damn. Yes, I’d spent $63.22 to do it, so I was losing money while Amazon was laughing all the way to the bank, but at least something was happening.

Read more at How about this ad?

Would this ad work for you?

My third attempt was wildly successful. Perhaps it’s because I didn’t target every genre and category I could possibly fit into. I only targeted women’s fiction and I wrote the ad for the audience. I got 98,215 impressions, and 439 clicks. Cool, huh?

Unfortunately, I want sales, not attention.

Read more about my adventures in advertising at Would this ad work for you?

… is still a thousand miles.

You know what? It was a LOT of work to get this all the way done. Not fun creative stuff, but I-just-want-to-quit-this-shit-and-go-take-a-nap type work.

Why stick with it?

Read more at … is still a thousand miles.

What makes it a romance novel?

So. Let’s be blunt. I think sex is wonderful. I agree love is the greatest thing in the universe. I like it when people live happily ever after, or at least I’m allowed to think they will. However, romantic love (in all its trials and tribulations) doesn’t carry a plot for me.

I like action, intrigue, and surprises. I enjoy puzzles, and profound thoughts. So why do I end up reading so many romance novels and then complaining about it in the reviews?

Read more about my frustration with romance writers at What makes it a romance novel?

The Sound of a Story

Then my husband, supporter of my writing and all around good-guy, decides he’s going to read my books aloud so I can have audio books and he’s starting today. Wow. At first blush, this seems great. He knows the books. He has this deep, rich voice, honed from years in a classroom. And, he’s free. I mean, he has the time, but more importantly, he doesn’t cost anything. Narrators are expensive.

Read more at The Sound of a Story.

Then there is the paperback cover …

Every part of self-publishing is an adventure. I’ve been working with a group known as Deranged Doctor Design and we’ve been working on the paperback version of the second novel. Isn’t it beautiful? I especially love the beach on the back cover.

The part requiring the most revision was the color of the spine and the insert on the back. I was determined for it to be orange, so the designer suggested a more transparent look  I loved, but no decision is without ramifications. The cover for the first novel, One of One, was finalized a few weeks ago, and it doesn’t match.

Or at least it didn’t. Now it’s been revised and we’re on a roll.

The first draft of the cover for book three should be done in about a week.  I can’t wait to see it.

 

Almost My New Cover Part 2

I’m going through much of the same process re-birthing my second novel as I went through with the first. The first draft of the new cover was good, but my shape shifting protagonist couldn’t have facial hair, and I wanted more of a feel of the tropics.

I loved the background of this second version, but didn’t like Zane’s new head. As someone else put it, he had too much of a “Jersey Shore” look to him.

Once again, the third time was a charm.

Read more about this process at Almost my new cover and at Fun With Covers. 

The newly named and highly edited new version will be out in mid-February. I can’t wait.

Not My New Cover, but Almost My New Cover

I had great fun working with a pro to design a new, genre appropriate cover for One of One. Here’s what the first draft looked like.

The second draft was much closer, and needed only a few more tweaks to get there.

This final version combines the best of both, I think. I’ll be proud to release it, along with the streamlined and updated story, on January 17.

Check out my original two posts about this process of making this cover at Not My New Cover and Almost My New Cover

Review: The City and The City

Summary: I’m in awe of this book, and I like to think that I don’t awe easily. It has stuck with me since I finished it; the surest sign of an effective story. I give it a 4.8/5, the highest rating I’ve given since I started this decimal point thing.

Read more at Review: The City and The City.

c3 is dead

What prompts an author to kill her own book?

Over the years, I’ve eliminated all the hyperlinks in the book, and the text that went with them. I’ve made corrections and done minor clean-up. Why not. But I’ve refrained from doing anything major.

Because this will be a new book, I have the chance to do some serious editing. So I am. I’m giving more attention to point of view. I’m taking the techniques I’ve learned over the past six years, at conferences, from other writers, and simply from practicing my craft for hours every week, and I’m doing my best to fold those learnings into telling my story better.

Read more at c3 is dead.

z2 will die

What prompts an author to kill her own book?

As with my first two books, x0 and y1, I’ve never totaled up the exact sales, because it’s not easy to separate a sale from a give-away. I’m pretty sure I’ve been paid for over two hundred copies, and have gifted at least as many more. I’d hoped for more sales, of course, but every time a stranger liked my book and let me know, it delighted me. No regrets.

Times change. Sales of z2 have gone from small to nearly zero.

Read more at z2 will die

y1 will die

What prompts an author to kill her own book?

On January 1, 2019 my second novel is scheduled to die. I admit the prospect makes me sad. This book, with its fiery sunset-themed cover, has been part of my life for a while.

I finished it in early 2012, and released it on Kindle September 2012. Shape shifter Zane and his unique crime solving skills were a source of pride and joy.

Read more at y1 will die.

x0 will die

What prompts an author to kill her own book?

A few months ago, I attended a conference of science fiction writers, and signed up for a mentor. It may have been one of my more useful decisions. This guy pointed out that I could still have a marketable product in this particular story, but I needed a more genre-appropriate cover, a much better title, and an updated and aggressive marketing plan.

I can change the title of my book? Apparently I can. I do need a new ISBN number (no problem). I also need to acknowledge to the new reader what has been done (just in case he or she is one of the 800 humans who already read this story.)

And …. I need to kill x0. That is, I must take it off the market completely. No electronic versions for sale, although those who have it obviously always will. No new paperbacks printed and sold, although nothing can prevent current owners from reselling their copies on Amazon and elsewhere.

Read more at x0 will die.

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Here’s the plan

This is my first original post on this blog.

Not my 1st cover

I usually feed it with material from the blogs for my individual books, but this is special. I’m in the process of undergoing something of a transformation (I know, it’s an exciting word) and my books are going with me.

Last spring I gave all six of them a quick edit, with the expectation of moving on to a new series this fall. I was excited to get started on this new project, but I wanted to leave them in the best shape I could.

Then my plan got disintegrated. Burst into flames. Died a violent death. It happens to plans sometimes.

A successful self-published author got assigned to mentor me at a SFWA convention and he made a few suggestions. Rename your books and get new covers. (I can do that?) Learn about writing ads and read about successful advertising. (I can learn that?) You’ve created a product. Why not sell it?

This is my 1st cover

These ideas may not seem like a news flash to many writers, but they were to me. I’d written six books to express myself and to get these stories out of my head. Sure, I wanted to sell books but that was secondary to creating the thing I wanted to create, in the way I wanted to create it. I cared about sharing my stories with those I knew, and then finding like-minded souls who’d enjoy what I had done. I never considered anything other than self-publishing. It was all one big arts and crafts project for me, and I enjoyed the heck out of it.

But he had a point. My sales were down to nearly nothing, so why not put on a new hat? I just didn’t expect to enjoy wearing this other hat so much.

The books have been renamed. Great fun. I love the new names. The first cover is finalized and I can’t stop looking at it. The second one is in progress and I’m betting I’ll be every bit as enamored when it is done.

Not my 2nd cover

The first three books have received a hearty edit with an eye towards moving the story along, keeping words simple and phrases short, and keeping controversy out of the story. I let myself have another go at the first book, and it seems I can’t stop cutting. Zap, another 6000 words just went in the trash. It is no longer the art creation I loved, but it is something else I am proud of and something I am sure more readers will enjoy.

I’ve set an ambitious schedule for the next six months. I’ll be releasing One of One in mid-January and then another book the middle of every month until June. Each version will be as every bit as marketable as I am able to make it, and will receive strategic advertising designed to pull in readers. Will it work? I’ve no idea. I hope so.

Then I intend to start that next great project in the fall of 2019. At least, that’s the plan.

There is a famous Yiddish proverb that says we plan and God laughs. True, huh? Who knows what I’ll be doing in the fall of 2019. None-the-less, it’s good to have a plan.

 

Day 18. I, Human

Right before I give up, I have my epiphany.

This is totally stupid.

I mean it. It makes no sense. I am standing in the middle of a desert so inhospitable that no life form except microbes lives here. It is hot and miserable. The food is lousy and I have no appetite. The liquor all gives me a headache. It’s crowded and noisy and the sounds never stop. The porta-potties stink and I’ve no where to brush my teeth and I can’t even get a damn art car to stop for me even though the sign says it should have been here by now.

What’s worse? I paid $400 to do this. I drove nearly 3000 miles, spent at least another $1000 on supplies, and used up most of my free time for the last month getting my shit together to be out here. And  ….. here comes the epiphany. I’m glad I did it. I’m enjoying myself. Worse yet, I’m thinking about coming back here and doing this again. Seriously…

Do you think you could program a machine to do that?

Read more, see more photos and listen to the song of the day at Day 18. I, Human

Review: Little Computer People

Galen Surlak-Ramsey has written a book that is great fun to read, and certain to delight those with an understanding of computers. The overall tone of the book is fun, funny and self-deprecating. The narrator/main character has a shrewd self-awareness that keeps him from becoming obnoxious, even when he does outrageous things like compare himself to God.

Read my full review at Little Computer People

Our Own Kind of Porn

My average rating for women’s books is over a point lower than for those written by men (3 stars versus 4.25 out of five.) What is going on ? I’m a feminist! I’m a huge fan of women authors and a strong supporter of women anything! Am I secretly sexist? I took a closer look at the books.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read the full post at Our Own Kind of Porn.

 

Review: Murder Gone Missing

Why am I reviewing a crime novel like Murder Gone Missing? Well, even though y1 is a fantasy, it is also a murder mystery, and I have a soft spot for zany crime novels with an unusual premise. Murder Gone Missing begins when the dead body disappears and turns into a clever and funny story, well built to entertain fans of light-hearted mysteries…

Read the full review at Review: Murder Gone Missing

Review: The Ancient Tripod of Peace

My Review Summary: This is a fun read that will keep you turning pages and have you googling Shakespeare and  Greek history… It’s full of ancient secrets hidden in plain sight and the reader is left wondering how much is true and how much has been made up to serve the plot. It’s a fun kind of confusion, and it kept me eagerly reading until the end.

Read more at Review: The Ancient Tripod of Peace. 

Be Yourself? Which self?

The problem is that we are all complex creatures. Pretty much anything you do or say is yourself. Some sides of you are more likeable, or more fully developed, or more integrated into the whole you, but if it is coming out of your mouth without an intent to lie, it is you.

Read more at Be Yourself? Which self?

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