Friday, July 29, 2016

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 134

Last weekend, my wife and I were driving up north, and along the way we stopped at one of those convenience stores to pick up some traveling snacks.  Imagine my surprise when I spotted the following box. 

They're back, folks!

Hostess came out of bankruptcy a year or two ago, and although they've slowly been releasing their original lineup of snacks (Cupcakes, Twinkies, Ho-Hos), as far as I was concerned, I wasn't considering Hostess back until they began making Suzy-Qs again. 

Admittedly, they're smaller than before and they aren't using as much filling, but they're still pretty good, especially after sitting in the freezer for a while.  

So even though writing progress was a bit on the slow side, I still consider the week a win.  

Enjoy the links and the weekend! 


4 Places to Find Your Best Story Conflict

Facebook Ads Work: How to Use Facebook to Reach Niche Readers

9 Ways to Market a Book After the New Release Buzz Dies Down

Distributing Free Books

Publishing Your Book: The Role of Short Print Runs

Guest Post: 9 Easy Steps to Host a Blog Link-Up

How to Grow Your Email List

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Slow Writers and Marketing

Photo courtesy of TopRank Marketing

One advantage to being a slow writer is that I have lots of time to learn about marketing and the best ways to promote books. I figure that’s a good thing, because based on everything I’ve read, it’s takes lots of time to figure this marketing stuff out, especially if you’re an indie writer. 

I’ve bookmarked hundreds of links on the subject, some of which you may have seen listed in my Friday “Seven Writing Links” posts. Media kits, tricks to get reviews, writer platforms, mailing lists, Facebook ads—the list just keeps growing. I’d hoped to be an expert by the time I released my first book, but I no longer believe that’s going to happen. 

The problem is that book marketing is a constantly changing landscape. Tricks that worked a few years ago, no longer work. Heck, techniques that were successful six months ago are already out of date. Blog tours, for example, once considered a requirement for book releases, no longer seem to be in favor. Opinions keep changing over the best way to use Kindle Unlimited and KDP Select. The usefulness of social media for selling books seems to ebb and flow with the seasons. I suspect half (at least) of my bookmarked marketing links are now obsolete. 

So what’s a writer like me to do? Keep up with the current trends, I guess, so that when my book does come out, I’ll know what’s working at that particular moment. But deep down it’s hard for me to watch all these marketing tricks come and go without ever getting a chance to use them. My biggest fear is that all the marketing tricks will be used up by the time my book’s ready. 

Thanks for stopping by.


P.S. The one marketing tip that seems to have stood the test of time is the following:  Write a lot of books, so that readers can buy more of them after they've read your first one.  

Rats! The one marketing tip we slow writers can't use.  

Friday, July 22, 2016

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 133

A busy day at work today, so this week's links are just a tad late. At least it's still Friday.

I'm going to try something new this weekend. Tomorrow morning, I'll be getting up early and meeting some of my writer friends at the local Panera's where we plan to write for a couple of hours. I've never tried group writing before, so it'll be interesting to see if I get anything accomplished. Will being surrounded by others writers inspire me, or will I look around in horror and wonder how in the world can they possibly be writing so quickly?

Either way, enjoy the links and the weekend!


Sending your books out into the world  If you're indie-publishing, this is a must read if you plan on doing anything other than just uploading to Amazon.

How to Write (and Not to Write) an Author Bio

How To Give Away Free Books And Why You Should With Damon Courtney From BookFunnel

Indie Publishing Paths: What’s Your Reader Retention Plan? Part Five

How To Create An Ebook Boxset Or Bundle And Why You Should

Book Promotion: Do This, Not That

Getting Ahead of Yourself…and Your Reader

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

To Hunt A Sub: Cover Reveal

Today I'm pleased to be a part of the cover reveal for To Hunt a Sub, the debut novel of Jacqui Murray. The cover is gorgeous, as you can see for yourself. If you're into thrillers, check out the inside of the book when it comes out next month. And be sure to jump on over to Jacqui's website right now and show her some love!

Pertinent information:

Title and author: To Hunt a Sub by J. Murray 

Release Date: August, 2016 by Structured Learning 

Genre: Thriller 

Preview: Available on Kindle Scout 

Cover by: Paper and Sage Design

About the book:

The USS Hampton SSN 767 quietly floated unseen a hundred fifty-two feet below the ocean’s surface. Despite its deadly nuclear-tipped arsenal of Trident missiles, its task for the past six months has been reconnaissance and surveillance. The biggest danger the crew faced was running out of olives for their pizza. That all changed one morning, four days before the end of the Hampton’s tour. Halfway through the Captain’s first morning coffee, every system on the submarine shut down. No navigation, no communication, and no defensive measures. Within minutes, the sub began a terrifying descent through the murky greys and blacks of the deep Atlantic and settled to the ocean floor five miles from Cuba and perilously close to the sub’s crush depth. When it missed its mandated contact, an emergency call went out to retired Navy intel officer, Zeke Rowe, top of his field before a botched mission left him physically crippled and psychologically shaken. Rowe quickly determined that the sub was the victim of a cybervirus secreted inside the sub’s top secret operating systems. What Rowe couldn’t figure out was who did it or how to stop it sinking every other submarine in the American fleet. 

Kali Delamagente is a struggling over-the-hill grad student who entered a DARPA cybersecurity competition as a desperate last hope to fund a sophisticated artificial intelligence she called Otto. Though her presentation imploded, she caught the attention of two people: a terrorist intent on destroying America and a rapt Dr. Zeke Rowe. An anonymous blank check to finish her research is quickly followed by multiple break-ins to her lab, a hack of her computer, the disappearance of her three-legged dog, and finally the kidnapping of her only son. 

By all measures, Rowe and Delamagente are an unlikely duo. Rowe believes in brawn and Delamagente brains. To save the America they both love, they find a middle ground, guided with the wisdom of a formidable female who died two million years ago.

Author bio: Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Her debut novel, To Hunt a Sub, launches this summer. You can find her nonfiction books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.


Friday, July 15, 2016

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 132

In my previous "Seven Writing Links" post, I may have mentioned something about having the upcoming week off from work and my expectations for accomplishing a lot of writing during that stretch. I must have been delirious. Turns out there were plenty of chores to do around the house, and my wife made sure I didn't forget and of them. As a result, I wound up doing even less writing than usual.

Oh well, at least this week I'm back to work again, so my writing productivity should rise. It can't get much lower.

Enjoy the links and the weekend!


Why It’s Crucial to “Write Ugly”

5 Musts for Self-Publishing Great Books

4 Mistakes That Can Cost Your Book the Best Sellers List (Genre Categories)

Tah-Dah! The Best Place to Reveal Your Story Secrets

6 Questions to Make Sure Your Story Has Stakes

How to Write an Eating Scene

Query Letters Part 1: The Pitch

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Dragon of the Month Club: A Review

Today I'm reviewing The Dragon of the Month Club, a middle grade story written by Iain Reading.

About the Book:

 The Dragon Of The Month Club is the exciting first installment in a new book series that tells the story of Ayana Fall and Tyler Travers, two best friends who stumble across an extraordinarily magical book and soon find themselves enrolled as members of a very special and exclusive club - The Dragon of the Month Club.

 Amazon | Goodreads 

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

In the back shelves of the local library, Ayana Fall and Tyler Travers find a book that not only lets them conjure a dragon, but also allows them to become members of the Dragon of the Month Club. Now that they're members, they receive instructions for conjuring a different type of dragon on the 13th of every month.

The book warns of the dangers of not performing the spells correctly, but that doesn’t stop our heroes from trying out as many spells as they can.Of course, one of the spells eventually backfires and the pair wind up in a strange, yet eerily familiar land with pop-up forests, oceans, deserts, waterfalls, and towering plateaus. And their only chance of returning home involves finding Professor Mobius, a genius who lives in a tower on the other side of the land. Together, Ayana and Tyler must stay calm and keep their wits about them as they journey through a land filled with many wonders and dangers. 

Things I liked:
Despite the initial impression that this book was simply another story about dragons, it was more about Ayana and Tyler’s adventures as they trekked through the mysterious land in their quest to find a way home. Dragons did play a role helping out here and there, but mostly it was about the two heroes figuring their own way out of trouble.

Having Ayana and Tyler interact with Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson was a refreshing twist I didn’t see coming. Sherlock Holmes, you ask? You’ll just have to read the book.

Things I didn’t like:
Although the writing style seemed to be aimed toward (early?) middle schoolers (word choice; simplistic, on-the-nose type dialogue), many of the references and terms which appear later in the book would probably require older readers to appreciate, so I’m not sure if this story should be considered middle grade or not.

I was also quite disappointed with the end of the story—mostly because there wasn’t one. You’ll have to read the next book in the series (not yet published) to find out what happens. If this kind of thing bothers you, it might be better to wait until the next book is out before you buy this one. You’ve been warned!

I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an  honest review.


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Insecure Writer and Waiting For That Perfect Compliment

Today is July's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

Why am I an Insecure Writer this month?

Because I still haven't heard the one compliment that I yearn to hear about my writing.

As part of a new feature at IWSG, we've all been asked to share the best thing someone has said about our writing.  I had to reflect on this for a while, but after much thought I've come up with several possible candidates.

1.  Lately, several members of my crit group have told me they enjoy my dialogue, especially the banter between my MC and her new sidekick.  Considering how terrible my first attempts at dialogue were, that's a real achievement.

2.  After complaining to one of my crit partners that she wasn't suggesting as many changes to my manuscript as she used to, she replied that my writing had improved so much, she didn't feel the need to make as many changes.  I'll have to admit, that felt pretty good.

3.   After reading one of my submissions out loud during a critique group meeting, one of the members announced to the group that I'd grown so much as a writer these last couple of years.  A statement like that can leave a person feeling all warm and fuzzy inside, even if deep down I know that I used to be so bad at writing it wouldn't have taken much to have grown as a writer.

So that's my list.  Which do you think is best?  I'm thinking #1.

So what's the one compliment I'm still waiting to hear?  That my story sounds as if a real, published writer had written it.  That's when I'll know I've arrived.


Friday, July 1, 2016

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 131

Other than the fact that both my kids are attending summer school and I'm teaching my daughter to drive in the evenings, nothing is new this week. :)

Next week, however, will be a different story. I'll have the week off from work (not my choice, the company I work for shuts down its facilities for a week every summer), so my plan is to do a lot of writing. I've said that kind of thing before and been disappointed in the results, but this time I really mean it. Wish me luck!

Happy a great 4th of July weekend and enjoy the links!


Everything the Indie Author Needs to Know about ISBNs for Self-published Books
Lot of information in this article.

Street Teams: When and How do you start them when you have nothing to offer?

Finding Your Audience Part Two - Think Long Term & Build Relationships

Taking the Audiobook Plunge? Read This First

How Goodreads Can Help Writers Grow Their Readership

Making your Character Shine From Page One

Because Magic: Stakes, Conflict, And The Price Of Using Magic