Saturday, July 26, 2014

Ugg. Book Promoting

First, let me say nothing is easy about being a small press author, or I imagine an independent. Your promotions efforts are your own.

My first eBook was published in 2005, and as for as short a time ago as that is, things have dramatically changed. For most small presses the author was (and is still) responsible for almost all promotion. Readers for eBooks were available, but not backed by large corporations like Amazon (started 1994, made its first profit — a penny a share — at the end of 2001, and spread from books to everything shortly after) and Barnes and Noble.  Most sales were from the online book publisher until sites like Amazon took over.

It seemed at the time that mainstream print publishers scoffed at the concept, but they were losing market and electronic books were the only growth section in the publishing industry.  Now you can read not only books, but magazines, newspapers, see TV and movies, receive phone calls, text, and often all on the same device. I have a Kindle and I like it, but all I do is read on it in the car and at night before sleeping, and I can get any publisher's books, small press or NY major publisher, in eBook formats. The market is flooded. The big difference is big publishers have more money to put into promotion and have taken over the market, and although the authors must promote as much as small press authors, they have more backing.

Ten years ago finding your electronic market niche was difficult. As authors, we helped open a market. Reviews on the Internet were about eBooks, and some major review sites emerged. That has changed. I think promotion is even more difficult today. Then there were groups you could post to and have conversations with readers. Most of these sites are almost all promotions and excerpts, and I find that disheartening. The big gun presses have moved into this territory and have taken over almost every review site. It seems almost impossible to get a review at sites where I once had no trouble receiving a review.

I was glad to give away books because I thought it helped introduce readers not only to my stories but to the idea of eBooks. I'd give away copies on my birthday and send out thirty or more books. The year I got only two requests, I decided no more. However, I am rethinking the give-away idea, perhaps putting one of my books up as a free promotion work; don't know.

Some say as an author half your time is writing and half promotion. Sorry that is too much promotion for me as much of it feels like I'm spinning wheels. Amazon gives away eBooks and seems to do very well, but how does all of this translate into sales and income for authors? The middleman seems to make the most. Now I try to have a presence on most social media and plug away at that. If asked to give away a book, I certainly do. So I'm not sure how successful promotions are.

I have done advertising and had some success (i.e. sales I relate to the ads showed in my quarterly report), but again, I'm often going up against big-name published authors. None I've participated in have given statistics on how many were given away or how much interest was generated, or especially on how much income was generated from sales afterward. Most media agencies do not work that way. So there is an overwhelming lack of reporting on the effectiveness of these promotions. A question about audience is also ignored. I'm beginning to believe stories appeal to fewer people, especially among those under fifty, as more interactive games and entertainments proliferate.

I've come to the conclusion that I will continue to write because I love to tell stories. I will participate as my publishers request. I will try to make the content of my blogs interesting and current to showcase not only my books, but also what interests me. Occasionally I receive a great review on a major site, or a flattering email from a reader. I take this as my good job pat-on-the-back.  I think the only thing I can do to promote my name as an author is to continue to write, and someday hope to get picked up by a large publisher. Interestingly, I have found my quarter reports keep increasing. That was one thing e-publishing promised — books available forever; and  that gives me the encouragement to keep trying.

~ But just in case, check out my books on my excerpt page. If you'd like one of my titles, email me the title you'd like. Offer good until August 2, 2014. ~

Others participating in this month's round-robin. Click on their name is see their take on this topic.
Ginger Simpson
Connie Vines

Friday, July 25, 2014

Sixth Friday Freebit from Change

In these six paragraphs, the hidden enemy enters.

~ * ~

Kedriq had returned. Although the news of his return had not yet circulated, Imyne felt sure his return would soon buzz through the maze.

Her steps glided in unhurried grace through the austere dark and empty halls of the Assembly House. She kept her countenance unworried despite this late night’s summoning to the Cabinet Chamber. The ends of her cloak flapped behind her. She didn’t tug the lapels together even for the comfort of conserving warmth, aware, even in her deep thought, of outward appearances.

Things fell out much to her wishing. She knew Governor Vitann upset and angered at the careless and indiscreet revelation on the maze. The disclosure abused Talent protocol, but many knew of Kedriq’s departure, so whom could Vitann blame? The governor’s probes discovered no culprits. With the information being passed mind to mind throughout the Talent community nearly insured their continued failure. Vitann was just lucky the revelation was not of some more important state secret. Imyne smiled.

The unheard-of secret journey had engrossed the mental links months ago, but the resulting rumors continued, growing alarming in their portent. Some claimed the action would kill the remaining squad members, then all the Talents tied to Brenna’s squad. Others, more pernicious, charged the governor’s collusion to open Cygna to a Kaereyan invasion. And didn’t both accusations reap Governor Vitann denunciation among Cygna’s Talents?

A Talent bonded to a squad never separated from them, and Governor Vitann ignored that custom at her own peril. The governor’s insistence on Kedriq for this journey surprised many and many believed it would cause his death and the death of Brenna’s squad. It was true Brenna and her squad had been ineffective of late, but Brenna, always obtuse to any fault, claimed her squad performed more than competently without Kedriq’s inept participation. To most, it only proved inherent blindness in Brenna’s attitude. To Imyne it confirmed Vitann’s disregard of Cygnese tradition.

Imyne’s status as leader of the Adepts’ Council insured the guards’ courtesy in opening the doors for her as she traveled the dark corridors of the Assembly House. She imagined anyone serving during the lulling night shifts found any diversion, any labor, welcome. No spoken word disturbed her wandering thoughts. Only the whisper of her gown brushing the granite floor and the faint pad of her slippers accompanied her introspection. Her soft sounds of movement were occasionally broken by the clank of guards’ weapons, the echoing staccato tap of boot heels on stone floors and the soft clink of well-oiled door latches opened in the dark silent surround. The clarity of sound predicted an impending storm moving toward Sidih.

Friday, July 18, 2014

A Fifth Friday Freebit from Change

Thieves attack Tyna's caravan in this fifth Friday Freebit.

~ * ~

Kedriq twisted around at her warning. His movement saved him. Pain seared his arm, the knife meant for his back cutting less fatal meat. It was a bad mistake for his attacker. With the knife from freeing the ox still grasped in his hand, he swung the blade with deadly results.

“Look out!”

The warning came too late. He jerked the knife free as the man he had slain sagged to the ground, but a second assailant grabbed his jacket, holding him while another knife arced toward him. He knew nothing could save him from this second attack.

With a loud clank, a metal cooking pot connected with the assailant’s head. The man sidestepped, stopped mid-assault, his gaze stunned, his weapon dropped. Another smash of the pot rotated his head back in a violent and unnatural twist. Kedriq heard the neck snap, even as the body fell.

He looked at Tyna, who stood, pot in hand, looking in stricken shock at the fallen man.

“I’ve never... he was one of the escorts!” Even as she spoke, hooves warned of the outriders’ return. Kedriq pushed Tyna behind him with his knife-holding hand. His other arm hung useless. Blood flowed down its length and dripped from the tips of his fingers. As if the sight weakened him, he slowly sank to the ground. His last coherent thought was, that as usual, his best effort was useless.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

All Things Two

Continuing on with my words, intuition, divination, lore, and superstition involved with numbers, here is two. The strongest aspect of two is that it contains many conflicting symbols, as represented in yin and yang, capable of complete opposites, or like wings permitting flight, or snake fangs, striking with a double dose of poison.
  • Cardinal: two
  • Greek: Beta
  • Hindu-Arabic: 2
  • Roman: II
  • Pythagorean numbers: duad

Roman words of two come from duo (duae, duas, duorum, duabus), secundus as in second and secondary; and bini meaning two each as in biannual, bicameral, binary, biceps, bilateral, bias, bifocal, and bicuspid. Greek gives us two prefixes of two: di used in forming many scientific words like diatomic, diacid, and words like dialogue; and dual as in duet, duality, duplicity, dualist, duplex, duplicate. Notice the words involving conflict, betrayal, and two-sidedness. More English words relate to two as in yoked, doublet, reproduction, sex, again, both, wings, and semicircle.

As already mentioned, the prefix di has formed many scientific words; however, the element with atomic number two is Helium (He). The astronomy we have twin stars like Gemini, and Castor and Pollux. Our bodies have two ears, two eyes, two lips, two nostrils, two arms, hands, two legs, feet, two lungs, two kidneys, and either two ovaries or two testicles. Birds have two wings. In mathematics and measurement, we have two-dimensional or flat, and any number divisible by 2 is called 'even.' The geometric symbol for the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, and parallel means at least two lines run side by side. In geophysical features, U.S. Highway 2 runs on the northern border of the United States from Houlton, Maine to Rouses Point, New York. Of course, it is broken into two sections, with the second running from St. Ignace, Michigan, to Everett, Washington.

On the calendar, February is the second month. February comes from a Roman word for purification, a rite that took place in this month. Monday is moon day because the moon follows the sun, but depending on the weekly calendar can be either the first or second day of the week. The moon is also a feminine symbol tied to two, and a pair of days, Saturday and Sunday, comprise the weekend. April Fool’s Day comes on April 2, which also ties into the moon and folly.

In monetary associations, we have two bits equaling 25 cents and the two-dollar bills. Once, before the U.S. mint actually printed two-dollar bills, there was a saying “As fake as a $2 bill.” It seems people distrust two-dollar bills, one reason so few are minted and found in circulation. Some users think these bills bring bad luck.

Christians consider the duality of Christ, having both a divine and human nature. The second human created was Eve, the first woman. The Second Commandment says, “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven images.”

In games, you can get the deuce or two-spot in cards, snake eyes in dice, a double-run in baseball, or two points for scoring in basketball.

Two is an important number in Chinese T'ai Chi.

Two is the symbol of women and represents the feminine in all things such as marriage (as coupled with a man), motherhood (mother and child), and the Yin or eternal female. Because female cycles are tied to the moon, a clear association lies between female gender identification, the moon, and two. The moon as related to women and their patterns gives associations such as the unconscious, emotions, bio-rhythms, instinctual responses, reflection, passivity, the soul, family matters, and heredity. This also makes two audacious because she separated herself from the Divine One, as the moon is now known to have separated itself from the Earth.

Two also identifies the person who is second in command, second place, second-rate, and the red ribbon winner.

The night, as opposed to the day’s sun, belongs in the symbols of two. As one speaks to ultimate power, two represents a differing outlook, one looking for peace, and working differences out harmoniously. In its difference from one, two means a changing perception of self, a consciousness of being someone in some place and time. Other symbols of two include anything including two such as horns, antlers, or two fingers held upward. It is yin-yang of nature, and so represents duality, changeability. After all, women change their minds all the time, don’t they?

In Astrology, two encompasses the House of Taurus (the bull; what?) and symbolizes the planet Venus (another female symbol). In numerology, the alpha associations are the letters b, k, t, which are the second letters in each one through nine-count the alphabet. This is important in divination because you add up your letters to find your guiding number.

Because two is a number of duality in pairs and opposites, it is an inclusive number. This dual nature makes for positive attractions, complements, and partners.

Because of the yin-yang association, two is the number of opposites: day & night, good & evil, heaven & hell, husband & wife, light & dark, hot & cold, joy & sorrow, male & female, me & you, sister & brother, positive & negative, and truth or lie. In color opposites, we have black & white, red & green, yellow & purple, orange & blue.

As a number of opposites, two comes with negatives. Two is a symbol of ignorance and despised by the Pythagoreans as a symbol of polarity, similar to the US Congress today. Two was also known as evil because of its relatedness to all things feminine, a number related to Isis, Lydia, Ceres, Artemis, Diana, Maia, and Juno (Ahh, those misogynistic ancients — go figure). Because of above, two supposedly creates a desire for evil (darkness) and desiring matter (over 1’s spirituality). From there, two devolves into a number representing antithesis, divided polarities, uncompromising opposites, indecision, and thus passivity, and subordination. Slang usage reflects this inherent evil in such epithets as two-faced, double-cross, second-place, second-rate.

In Tarot Divination, the high priestess card represents two. She symbolizes the passive principle of life (female, right?). She represents potentiality, unconsciousness, an unrevealed future, or hidden influences at work in the supplicant's life. The card's placement in a reading is of special value for artists, poets, composers, or anyone connect to the arts. When the high priestess appears in man's reading, it might represent the perfect woman of a man's dreams. If upside-down, the high priestess indicates conceit, sensual pleasures over deeper commitment, and being content with the surface aspects of one's life over inner spirituality.

We also have words of pairing: couple, pair, twins, mates, two halves, Siamese twins, opposites, twosome, team-up, dual citizenship, dual personality, and two-dimensional.

We also have famous pairings like comedians Abbott & Costello, Adam & Eve from the Bible, Batman & Robin from comic books, TV, Movies, TV cartoon characters Beavis & Butt-head, Bert & Ernie from Sesame Street, Cisco Kid & Pancho from movies, dancers Cissy King and Bobby Burgess on Lawrence Welk Show, dancers Ginger Rogers & Fred Astaire from movies, TV cartoon characters Heckle & Jeckle, comedians Laurel & Hardy, TV and movie icons the Lone Ranger & Tonto, Romeo & Juliet from the Shakespeare play, TV cowboy and girl Roy Rogers & Dale Evans, singers Seals & Croft, singers Simon & Garfunkel, comedians the Smothers Brothers, singers Sonny & Cher, and cartoon characters Tom & Jerry.

Two's other side
Other common phrases dealing with two:
  • couple-up
  • dual purpose
  • double deal
  • double life
  • split tongued
  • either… or
  • good things come in twos
  • it takes two
  • like two peas in a pod
  • neither… nor
  • number two – gotta poo
  • pair of wings
  • put two and two together
  • seeing double
  • tete-a-tete
  • twice as much
  • two armed
  • two bit
  • two faced
  • two by four
  • two cents worth
  • two legged
  • two step
  • two timing
  • two way
As you can see, two is a conflicted number, but a very useful one! So there it is — all aspects of two, but certainly a list that is not all-inclusive. Wikipedia has a page on Two.
~ * ~
Sources Some information was drawn from:

Friday, July 11, 2014

A Fourth Friday Freebit from Change

Acceptance and Change deal with a mother, never seen but often heard from, who treated each of her daughters very different.

~ * ~
Now the threat she had been warned of all her life would walk next to her day after day. Naomi’s alarms and warnings sounded within her. “You must never show your gift! Beware of touching others unless you are sure they cannot feel you. You are special. Not even your older sister has your unique gifts. There are those who would harm you if they knew your secret.” The only punishments she received had been for ignoring this stricture. It left her in a lonely limbo.

Poor Kissre. Her punishments were more frequent and harsh, but Kissre seemed to enjoy indulging in misbehavior. The harshness of the punishments eventually insured Tyna’s caution but drove Kissre to ever-greater defiance. She could suddenly hear her mama’s harsh “your older sister is an insolent child,” not even speaking to Kissre in her anger. Tyna smiled, just as she remembered Kissre used to.

Her face straightened. Now Kissre was the only person who knew of her talent, as Naomi called it. A daughter who couldn’t even exert herself to come to her mother’s funeral, a sister who was never around to discuss problems, and didn’t care that her only living relative was alone and struggling.

At the end of a long day of walking, they halted on the shores of a much narrower and faster Hex. The water had a subtle rushing sound that made the steady wind blowing down the wide ravine seem colder. In the icy light of the setting sun, the northern upper cliff edges were picked out in gold, pink and rust striations quilted by navy shadows. Tyna took a minute to look at the day’s ending spectacle.

“This is how it looks at home,” Kedriq said coming up next to her. “The Hex travels to Grotto Falls just so.”

“You mean Witch Falls?”

He smiled. “It is not called that in Cygna.”

~ * ~

Friday, July 4, 2014

The Third Friday Freebit from Change

Of course, trouble brews and miscreants linger in obvious sight. Behind Tyna's back, her right-hand man is scheming with the traitor from Acceptance, Eldin.
~ * ~
Eldin slowly sipped the flat ale in his mug. The Spotted Pig reeked of ale, dirty bodies, and rotting fish. The musty smell of repeated flooding underlined the other scents. The disrepair and filth offended him, but the small town didn’t offer better than this waterside shack. Tonight the tavern filled with the crews of numerous small riverboats. Their dinghies lined the dock surrounding the building. Inside, the crowd offered anonymity, but he kept his back to the wall anyway. Arm wrestlers with their attending audience produced a rough cacophony that drowned conversation.

He felt lonely, isolated by his surroundings. Traitor, a weak inner voice lashed, but he ignored his guilt. In quiet moments like this, his deeds nipped at his conscience. King Clement offers more than I could ever gain in Kaereya. My future lies in Pertelon now, and I’m trained for the service the king requires. He sighed. That service and the constant travel stretched his physical capabilities. His lethargy testified to his fatigue.

One of his contacts had made the offer and entered the bar accompanied by the guide from the caravan, pointing the man to Eldin’s table. The guide searched Eldin, his eyes filled with an unflattering appraisal. Eldin felt his cheek twitch at the implied insult. Many made the mistake of equating size with manliness. The guide swiped his mouth on his hairy forearm before he walked to the table.

Eldin inspected the sloppy man who pulled out the bench across the table from him. A thick arm rose to hail a maid for service. Busy with other patrons, the waitress didn’t notice the beckoning hand.

“You’re Jebe?” He gave an equally dismissive look, but the man missed the slight, his attention focused on gaining the maid’s notice. Jebe only nodded his head once. “Does anyone know you’re here?” Eldin smiled but didn’t bother introducing himself.

“No. The girl’s grieving. She entered her wagon before I left.” Jebe waved again.

~ * ~

Now go to Ginger's blog and follow the links to other Friday Freebits!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Writing, Walking and the Brain

I like to walk. During the summer, I do it frequently but not as much (daily) as I need for a good exercise routine. Often I walk because my legs ache from sitting too long (and I know sitting too long is very unhealthy). Writers often lose a sense of time while working and end up sitting too long. When my legs say move, I walk. Besides enjoying how my walk route changes during the seasons, the action seems to clear my mind almost like meditation. I can’t say that's true because I’m not sure I’ve ever reached a meditative state, but it is relaxing.

Sometimes I use walking as an escape from a plot or character refusing to cooperate. While walking, my mind starts playing with the problem and comes up with a new tact for smoother sailing through that problematic scene or discovers a better motivation for a cranky character. Other times my brain just seems to spasm and imagine a totally different character and situation, so it is not a sure-fire cure for writing problems.

I always thought this was a result of getting away from my desk, but a recent study at Stanford University indicates it might be the action of walking. Their study found the act of walking increased creative thinking through simple tests given to participants after the exercise. They found walking did not focus thoughts as in critical thinking, converging thoughts to find a single correct answer, but released them in a divergent process of creativity. Is it only walking that creates this brain connection? Those doing the study haven’t studied that aspect yet. This study has been reported through many different media outlets since the study's release this past spring, which I missed, but I’m happy to learn that when I do something for my body and health, I'm also doing it for my brain.