Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Fun Time Bloggin' It!

I had a great time with the book blog tour for Whips, Cuffs, and Little Brown Boxes -- a Lilly M Mystery. And I'm glad I took the chance to see if there would be better success this time than my previous venture ... and it was fantastic! Great reviews that posted right on time with little to no glitches. Over all, I think it gave me the comfort in knowing I'll do it again, and again, and ...

Anyway, here are some review highlights and the links to the blogs. Check 'em out!

I highly recommend this book to all cozy fans.  Kathy Long has a winner on her hands.  I am definitely looking forward to more from this author!!   

http://accordingtosquenn.blogspot.com/?zx=1ba050762b8bf2af

Ms. Long also does a good job developing the mystery, there are several twists and turns throughout the story and I wasn’t sure about the “villain” until almost the end.


The thing that I liked the most about this book was the characters … The mystery was well-written and I liked how everything wrapped up nicely at the end.  Looking forward to reading more about these characters in future installments of the series.


This is the first book in a brand new cozy mystery series and it's off to a great start! It’s filled with some of the most eccentric characters I’ve seen in awhile.


The storyline was fun and the characters engaging (and quirky!)


This is a very funny book and I did enjoy it. A lot. It has all the elements of a good cozy; mystery, romance and humor.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Monday, December 9, 2013

Tidbits and Tidings ... Ho, Ho!

It's been awhile since I've posted. Shame on me :-( I can't say there's been less time on my hands. After all, I've retired and that frees up forty plus hours a week. Of course it means I've slowed down with self-reflecting moments, indecisive thinking, and thumb twiddling. You know, the things retired people do. (grin) Seriously, I have been writing more, promoting more, and just plain enjoying life more. No regrets. So, that brings me back to posting, or the lack there of.  I warn you though, what follows might be recognized as rambling.

What's current: I'm touring "virtually" this week with various blog hosts in promoting Whips, Cuffs, and Little Brown Boxes, my first Lilly M cozy mystery. It's been such fun hearing what bloggers have to say about the book. I've loved it and absolutely recommend the experience with Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours . There's even a special offer for those authors who write cozy mysteries.

What's ongoing: I've been writing a third Lilly M mystery for the past several months. It's going well ... sort of. Just the usual hiccups, which drive me crazy! Lilly has a new setting, temporary of course. She's in Florida, along the Panhandle, solving another mystery. I'm sure folks back in Barton, Ohio miss her. Especially Kooky Colonel Crockett who must be standing watch up in his balcony with his trusty musket Old Betsy at his side! If you're curious, you can read all about him in Whips, Cuffs, and Little Brown Boxes :-)

What's coming: I'm knee deep in edits with my latest book, a romantic suspense, entitled A Deadly Deed Grows. My editor at The Wild Rose Press, Johanna, is a real peach! She's so easy to work with and soooo very helpful. I've learned a lot and it's helped me grow as a writer. Thanks, Johanna! I can't wait for the story to be published. Who knows? Maybe early next year? Like February or March? I'll put it on my Christmas Wish List!

What's brewing: In my head, that is. I've been thinking about the book market. I know authors are obligated to self-promote. If they want to get noticed and sell books, obviously! And I can't help but wonder how promoting in the future will be. With all the technology changes in the works, the possibilities are virtually endless. For instance, what if you create mini promo videos and instead of posting them online, they can be delivered other ways ... maybe even by the Amazon drones! (haha) Or little robotic creatures may arrive on doorsteps to sing the praises of your work! I know one thing for sure, getting noticed when your work is one of millions out there is probably tougher than winning the lottery. Well, close enough. It goes without saying, authors and everyone else wanting to promote a product will have to think outside the box and be on the cutting edge, if they want to rise above the masses.

Final Tidbit: HAVE A GREAT AND HAPPY HOLIDAY SEASON!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

When Are Reviews Useful?



WHEN ARE REVIEWS USEFUL? I had one of those “Huh?” moments after I visited the B&N site this morning and read the latest review of Dying to Dream. And though I claim to be past the stage of crying, ranting, or fuming over not so glowing reviews, there is one aspect that tends to get under my skin. First, I need to point out that this goes for both positive and negative comments. When authors read ...reviews, obviously they bask in the glory of all the praise their work is given, but at the same time, I believe, they look for what might be ways to improve their writing as they read through the negative comments.

For instance, when both my sister and a blog reviewer remarked that in the first few chapters they were overwhelmed, somewhat confused, with all the characters introduced, I could take that critiquing point and do something with it. It’s a specific point about the writing, and that helps. It’s a useful review.

However, when the comments are vague, for instance, “This book stunk.” or “The writing is immature.” and even at the other end of the spectrum, “This book was great.” as an author I am left with that “Huh?” moment. Authors can’t really do anything with that. I’m not saying that reviewers are obligated to write specifics that will help authors to improve their writing, or at least consider if it’s something they want to change. But what about the readers? Don’t readers look for reviews to help them make a better decision on whether to buy and read books? Can these vague comments help?

I know this is only a personal opinion, but in some ways, I believe, a valid observation. Hopefully, some readers will at least think about it before they write another review.

 

Saturday, August 31, 2013

What Works?



Over the past several weeks I have been delving into lots of venues in order to promote my latest book, Dying to Dream. It's time to take stock of what works, what doesn't. My publisher's senior editor has a particular view of marketing, which I tend to agree with on most points. She emphasized starting with a local environment, building a base of readers and fans who will spread the word. So, what have the local aspects of my efforts entailed?

For one, book signings at libraries and independent book stores. I've done a few in the past three months and more scheduled in the near future. Average sales have been modest, around 4 or 5 books per event. Second, I've attempted spreading the word by asking local newspapers to do reviews. My hometown even interviewed me just this past week. These are still ongoing so it's too soon to predict how this will affect sales and readership. I'm also in the process of contacting the bigger chain stores -- Barnes & Noble, Books a Million -- to work on getting them to stock my book, maybe even letting me do a book signing, although I agree this works better for indie authors when done in groups. Nothing has happened yet. And one other venture I've undertaken is to submit my book to the Buckeye Book Fair with the hopes that it will be accepted for the annual event coming up in November. This one would be a real coup since only 100 Ohio authors are invited each year. Book sellers, librarians, teachers and individual buyers from all over Ohio come to the fair to purchase books on display. I'm keeping fingers and toes crossed. My wait will be over by September 30th when the final invitation is given.

Obviously sales promotion wouldn't be complete without tackling online venues. That is something I've done a plenty. Long before Dying to Dream came out, I established an author website, this blog, an author Facebook page in addition to my personal one, and a Twitter account. Staying active on these is not only socially satisfying but also good promotion sense. Recently, I created a Facebook page for my books and another for topics specifically found in Dying to Dream, such as facts about Louisiana and stories about haunted places. I also have a Goodreads account where I've built a following by participating in the Goodreads Giveaway.

Also online are these promos called virtual book tours. From my experience, these help to build an author's platform and profile, but they aren't for helping immediate sales. Maybe other authors have had a different experience, just not me. Besides book tours, if your book is available in Kindle format, Amazon provides opportunities to promote your ebook, Book Discovery for one. I recently participated in this. For a small price you can have your book displayed on their site. I'd say the sales must have happened because my ranking soared for several days. The problem is it didn't stay that way. Again, initially, promotion online isn't about the sales. At least that's what I've been told. Rather, it's about building an audience, creating a platform, preparing for successful and easier promotion when the next book comes out with the promise that eventually the sales will come.

The downside? As a fellow author once wrote, take a look at the top ten list of bestsellers, keep watching over a long period and I think you'll notice how some of the same authors will appear again and again. Bottom line -- it's hard to be noticed, to rise above the crowd, to become successful, but keep on writing, I say. Keep improving. And obviously, keep promoting. And by the way, if you don't enjoy writing? You are losing one of the greatest rewards of this journey as an author.

Link to Amazon Kindle's Book Discovery:  http://www.kindleboards.com/book-discovery-promo/

Monday, August 12, 2013

Both Entertaining and Revealing Interview

                              






Kathryn Long is stopping by Andi's Book Reviews today! Please give her a warm welcome!



What was the inspiration behind 'Dying to Dream'?
I love exploring anything about the paranormal. Several years ago I came up with the idea of creating a character who could paint drawings of people who would manage to “come alive” somehow. She would be haunted by these drawings but eventually discover they could give her clues to solve a mystery. When I wrote Dying to Dream I changed the idea somewhat and had the main character, Marin Seurat, have the psychic gift to dream the dreams of spirits. From these dreams she gathered clues to help her solve the mysteries occurring in the story.
To which character do you most relate?
I’d say Marin because she seems to always struggle with some turmoil in her life whether it’s with the living – like her ex-flame, Trent Robesaux, and her father, Cal – or with the dead – like Marguerite or Cousin Francis. Not that I’m struggling with any spirits! And my future self? I’d like to think I will be as feisty, outspoken, and determined as Tante Louise Picault. She’s definitely my favorite character.
What was your favorite scene?
That would have to be the final scene in the Baulliere’s cellar. I can’t say anymore without giving away details about the ending, but it really was exciting to write.
What kind of research did you have to do for this book?
I often call myself the Research Queen of authors! Whatever I don’t know, I look it up … online or in books (I have several on Louisiana and hauntings) and if necessary, ask a knowledgeable person. Fortunately, the French phrases came easily since I have a degree in French, but if in doubt I always double checked. I have been on a couple of “ghost tours” in the past. It’s interesting what you can learn from that sort of experience.
Will we see these characters again in a sequel or spin-off?
I hope so. I’ve already started developing ideas to bring out more of Charlie’s character. In this novel she stayed a good deal in the background as Marin’s sidekick. Also, I would include Tante Louise. She could even have a series of her own! Like Miss Marple or the female version of Hercule Poirot.
Please tell us about your other published works.
I have a cozy and humorous mystery series with main character, Lilly Millenovanovich, single, forty, and a mystery writer who often finds herself mixed up in real life mysteries. Three comical aunts add to the fun, along with an eccentric neighbor who thinks he’s Davy Crockett and stands on his balcony with his trusty musket Old Betsy by his side. Released so far are Whips, Cuffs, and Little Brown Boxes and Gangs, Illegals, and a Rose Tattoo. Under the pen name K. Sean Jennkrist I have written three young adult novels, loosely based on fairytales. Cinderella Geek, Not So Snow White, and Alice in Realityland are in that series.
On what other projects are you currently working?
I have another book coming out with publisher, The Wild Rose Press next year. It’s a romantic suspense story, tentatively titled A Deadly Deed Grows. I am currently working on a third mystery in the cozy series and will be starting another ghost mystery, soon.
You write YA and adult fiction. Do you prefer one genre over the other?
I prefer writing adult fiction -- mystery or suspense in various sub genres. That’s what I enjoy reading, too, so I guess that makes sense. My motivation to write the YA novels came from my experiences in teaching high school Language Arts. One reoccurring theme in them is bullying. I witnessed that all too often.
Have you ever had your own psychic encounter or ability?
I participated in a couple of “ghost tours”. During one I was using an EMF detector which detects paranormal activity. The device started reacting when I pointed it a building that was supposedly haunted. Still, it could have been reacting to manmade current and not spiritual. We’ll never know!
What is the appeal of ghost hunting? Have you ever been successful?
Alas, I’ve never personally felt a connection, but the idea of it is so thrilling that it keeps me interested enough to explore further. I’m always looking for opportunities. For instance, my husband has been wanting to visit Gettysburg for years. I told him I’d agree to go, but only if we visit the haunted battlefield!
You are a retired schoolteacher. What did you teach? Do you miss it at all?
I taught high school language arts to special needs students. Though the experience gave me many rewarding moments, it was also very challenging and draining. I think the time seemed right to retire. I’ve been itching to write full time for several years, and now I have the opportunity to do so.
How do you think your career as a teacher influenced your writing?
Like many jobs do, this one gave me the discipline and courage to grow as a writer. Unfortunately in my profession, especially with the population of kids I taught, all too often there were students I couldn’t reach. Yet, I had many who did benefit from my help. That taught me to persevere and never let one failure stop me from achieving my goals. In writing and trying to get published, I find similar challenges, but I keep trying, always looking at that one successful moment to motivate me.
I am also an Ohio native, having grown up just outside Toledo. What are some of your favorite places in Ohio that you would recommend to visitors?
My husband and I love a retreat to Salt Fork Lodge, near Cambridge. It’s a beautiful setting and such a comfortable place to stay. We make a yearly trek in July to the Mohican Indian Pow Wow near Mohican State Park. And I can’t leave out our visits to Amish country, traveling through Holmes county, stopping for dinner on the way home at The Barn outside of Smithville. Finally, I need to mention Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens in west Akron. The former home of the Seiberlings is beautiful to visit anytime of the year, but especially during the Christmas holiday.
What is something readers may be surprised to know about you?
I didn’t write my first novel and have it published until I was fifty-three. And I love editing! Go figure.
 
Thank you so much for your time!
 
Visit Andi's Blog!  http://andisbookreviews.blogspot.com/2013/08/meet-kathryn-long-author-of-dying-to.html

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Blog, Blog, Blog ... Does It Really Help Sales?

So, my book blog tour has been in action for six days now, with eight more to go. I've had a couple of nice reviews, displays on blog sites, and interviews and more reviews to come. The purpose? Well, I hoped to promote sales of my latest mystery, Dying to Dream. I think it's probably too soon to tell if it will pan out and be worth the money I shelled out for the tour. Until then ... Let's discuss it.

Do you think blog tours work? Do blogs even work anymore, period? Or have they faded away, disappeared into the shadows while Twitter and Facebook have become the giants of social media? I did read a recent survey results about the various aspects of social media and consumer habits. Facebook seems to be what readers look at more than anything ... more than blogs, more than Goodreads, more than author websites, even more than online retailers such as Amazon ... when it comes to news about books, authors, and such. So, back to my question: do blog tours work?

First off, any type of network publicity needs multiple efforts. If I don't promote the promotion, then it doesn't spread to a wider audience. Lost opportunity there. Second, (and this isn't me whining or making excuses; it's me just stating an obvious fact) the amount of books being published every year, every day tends to put one in that proverbial sea of millions of fish. Write a great novel, and then pray for the best. That's the motto. Of course, unless you land the big one, that literary house -- one of only a few existing and surviving -- that sits atop the thrown who publishes you. Then you're golden, right? Wrong. I site the case of J.K.Rowling, otherwise known for a very short while as Robert Whats-his-name. She had a big house publishing her. Yet, until the "real" name was revealed, Robert"s book wasn't selling all that much, the publisher didn't put anything of substantial value into marketing the book (that's the norm with newbies -- take a chance on publishing them, see if they sink or swim on their own merit, and if not swimming, get rid of them ASAP). After the true identity came out? Bingo, sales soared.

But back once again to my original question: do blog tours work? Well, write a great novel, climb aboard the blogging gravy train, and then pray for the best!

To be continued in about eight days or so ...

Reading Addiction Review

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Settle in With a Cup of Coffee and Chat With an Author

Grab that cup of coffee and settle into your comfy chair. Why? Author Interviews on Omnimysteries.com make for some revealing and entertaining reading. That's a viable reason, I think. I mean, don't readers want to know more about the authors they follow other than their publishing career credits? I know I do.

Anyway, here's the link and oh, wait ... I do believe mine is up and running!

   Omnimystery News
        

Sunday, July 14, 2013

All Good Things Come to Those Who Wait ... and that includes book reviews!

Finally have that write-up on DYING TO DREAM posted in the Akron Beacon Journal today :-) That makes me very happy! And it's timed perfectly for my first book event this Tuesday. Cheers!

Dying to Dream In the Beacon


Akron Beacon Journal                                                                         Sunday July 14th, 2013


Long’s ‘Dying to Dream’ continues psychic theme

Among Uniontown author Kathryn Long’s previous books are the comic Lilly M. mystery series about a sort-of clairvoyant woman who lives with her meddling extended family in a town that very closely resembles Barberton. Long’s new novel Dying to Dream carries over the psychic theme into darker intrigues with a deep southern flair.

The main character is Marin Seurat, who’s relocated to Quebec but has been fetched home to Louisiana by her cousin, Charlene. There’s a curse on their family and a possible hidden treasure that Marin may be able to find by watchful attention to her dreams and the occasional visits of ghosts. A more immediate issue is the apparent suicide of Marin’s former flame’s father, who was despondent after his fishing business was destroyed by the Gulf oil spill. Was it really murder, and can Marin and Trent recapture their romance?

The cousins’ wily, interfering Tante Louise, who practices voodoo and usually is mixing up a gris-gris, and a stranger who’s competing with Trent for Marin’s attentions work into the plot. The narrative is sprinkled with French Creole expressions.

Dying to Dream (243 pages, softcover) costs $15.95 from Mainly Murder Press. Long will discuss and sign her book at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Green branch of the Akron-Summit County Public Library, 4046 Massillon Road.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Tragedy: Name That Author #2

Let's try another American author who may not have died as young as Hemingway, but the death was oddly tragic. As was his habit, this author placed the cap of his eye drops in his mouth before tossing his head back to administer the eye drops. Different, huh?

I guess you'd call this a freakish, once-in-a-million type of occcurance. On the night he died, the bottle cap became lodged in his throat, and alone in his hotel room in New York, there was no one to come to his aid. It is believed that alcohol and prescriptions drugs may have contributed to his death by having weakened his gag reflex.

Such a successful author ... yet, maybe fate had another plan.

So, do you know who this mystery author is? If you want to make a guess ... please leave a comment. I'd love to hear from you!


STILL NO TAKERS?  TIME'S UP! AND THE ANSWER IS ..... TENNESSEE WILLIAMS.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Virtual Blog Book Tours ... Do They Really Help Promote Sales?

Since I recently decided to give this a try ... sort of a booster shot for my latest book, I felt compelled to research what others had to say about the benefits of such venues as virtual blog tours. I was curious whether or not they found it really increased sales. Well, the overwhelming response has been positive.

It makes sense that in order to have your book sell, or any other product for that matter, it needs to reach its market of consumers. The problem is with so many products out there in cyberspace being advertised twenty-four seven, how does one get noticed or at least rise above the rest to have a fighting chance? The more you expose yourself -- no pun intended ;-) -- the more likely people will start to notice, maybe get curious, go check your product or service and buy.

Almost everything I read about a virtual blog tour falls in the plus category, exposure being the main one to find more buyers. The other benefit is creating that platform people talk about. If you sell yourself first, then consumers may become more comfortable with buying the products you offer. And in the world of authors and books, readers do tend to want to know more about the authors and their interests, maybe details on how their story ideas are developed, things like that. Being a guest on various blogs, providing answers to an interview, choosing to write a blog post, etc. helps create that platform.

The downside? Well, unless you plan on a ton of work putting together your own virtual tour where you have to find various bloggers who will agree to having you as a guest, then making sure they have enough followers, that the blog matches with your product idea, coordinating the schedule, etc, you have to consider another option. That option is to find a business site that does this whole thing for you. And that costs money. So, you start comparing, see who gives the most bang for your buck, so to speak.

I am trying Reading Addiction Virtual Book Tours to hopefully get that platform moving and promote sales of Dying to Dream. It's a two week blog tour where I make 10 virtual stops the first two weeks of August. The price was reasonable compared to other sites, at least it fits my modest budget. I'm excited to see what it can do. And once it's over, I will be sure to come back here and post the results!

In the meantime, speaking of guest appearances, why not go over and check out my guest spot on Emerging Novelists ? This is Michael Murphy's site creation to help promote authors like myself. Kudos to him for being such an altruistic guy!

Happy reading!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Tragedy: Name That Author #1

Okay, now I've posted game questions in the past. I've quoted from books and asked you to name the title. I've quoted poems and asked you to name the poet. This time the game will be a bit more ... tragic. This idea came about, by the way, when I mentioned on my author facebook page that generally people who have careers in the arts live longer. As always, there are exceptions and yes, what I'm going to do here is describe the circumstance of an author's tragic death. Then someone, I'm certain, will guess the author in question. Ready? Starting with an easier one.

As it is known, depression will often run in families. In this instance, the author I'm describing died after putting the end of his favorite shotgun in his mouth and pulled the trigger. Now, he may have been feeling the riggers of alcoholism and spent time in a hospital due to extreme paranoia, but then there was also the depression. Sadly, both his brother and sister commited suicide as well.

So, who is this famous author?


So, time's up! The answer .... drumroll please .... Ernest Hemingway! 




Don't worry ... I will post a new one next week :-)









Friday, June 28, 2013

I'm Stuck Between a Rock and a Murder Case

Right now, I'm stuck. It happens. Hopefully not too often. And if somebody can give me some creative mojo to wiggle me out, maybe I'll become "unstuck". They are those moments I've backed myself into a corner and can't seem to find my way out. I hate that. It gives me a major headache. So, this time I thought I'd take a break from murder mystery and "go back to school", so to speak. I needed to look up some advice on developing my plot and get me out of my rut by pointing me in the right direction.

Here's what I've found and maybe if I'm lucky it will help!

Check This #1: Create a plot skeleton, i.e., outline or sketch of what will happen. Keep in mind the main character needs to accomplish something and there will be challenges along the way. This step is not too detailed because quite honestly, points of it will change as you write. The characters will indeed take a life of their own and tell YOU where they need to go and what to do.

Have I done this? Ah, no. Sometimes I wait until so many pages into the story to figure that out. I start with a story idea and then develop from there. But this time, I'm thinking this may be the particular advice I should follow.


Check This #2: Layer the plot, paint it with setting details, make it come alive with well-rounded characters. Remember that the story needs to progress, it will take a journey with sensible twists and turns, ups and downs, to make it interesting and progress toward the resolution. The dynamic characters should experience change, which happens as they experience life. The evil guy in the story may be the static character. This one always remains evil, but you could make him complex with some vulnerable traits, too.

Have I done this? Well ... sort of. Lots of times I will add to the story, flesh out characters, add descriptors when I go back through for my first edit. I really haven't gotten into the story that far yet.


Check This #3: Periodically analyze the action to see if that is where you want to go and don't be afraid to change the course if it doesn't feel right! This is where you can decide if a scene stays or goes. Do the events add to the plot, or do nothing for it? Remember, if you slow things down too much, you lose reader interest. Heck! You even lose writer interest! That's really a bad sign.

Am I doing this? There are a couple of points already where I find I'm rambling. Those areas will definitely have to go.


Check This #4: Pretend you are the character. Sometimes characters come off too mechanical, sometimes too emotional, sometimes ... well, the actions are just plain ridiculous or unrealistic. As the story progresses and your characters must act, ask yourself if that is what you'd do or how you'd react. Question whether the act seems reasonable, senseable. Just because you want the character to do a certain thing in order to force the plot in your desired direction, doesn't mean it's the best choice of action.

Have I done this? Mistake wise? Yes. The reason I know is that when I've gone back and read something I'd written a long time ago and said to myself, "why ever did I think that worked?" or "who would do such a stupid thing?" then I know it's that kind of mistake. This time around? I guess it will have to wait until I let the story simmer a bit. For me, that kind of observation technique most often comes with time.


Check This #5: When the process is slow, stop thinking so much. I know this sounds contradictory to all points above. However, there are times when you get so bogged down, like your sinking deeper and deeper into that quicksand. I've read that it's because you are stopping to rethink everything you've just written, re-edit, re-write, re-everything! Do I do this? Most definitely!

Am I doing this with my current WIP? Oh boy, am I ever! Why else would I be here, writing this article instead of writing my story? The idea is to simply write and continue to write without editing, UNTIL the story is finished. Soooooo very hard for me to do! And really, I think it's because I'm not sure where I want to take this plot. Hence, I refer back to Check #1. I guess that's what I'll do.

Check This #6: When the story ends, check it all! Okay, this one's a biggy! I call it crossing all the i's and dotting all the t's of my story. In mysteries this is extremely important. In my recent publication, DYING TO DREAM I found myself crosschecking everything, lots of times. Matching up events, times, character interactions, experiences until I felt my eyes cross! Now I've decided the best way to keep from making so many mistakes that will need to be checked and double checked is to take notes as you write. What this character does, where that one goes, when this one does this or that. It's time-consuming, but it will help. Of course, if you just use those beta readers who offer to read your story, they might catch those inconsistencies for you! So much the better.

Am I taking notes this time? Ahhhhhhh ... Okay, getting out the pad and pen to start, but first? Going back to try developing that plot skeleton!


Bottom line? If all else fails, just write the darn story! It might not be the most productive and sensible approach, maybe it will leave you lots of work to do at the end. But at least you'll have a completed story, and plenty of time to revise, revise, revise!

P.S. These are just a very few of the multitude of tips out there on writing and developing a plot. I think this was mostly a cathartic exercise for me, but hopefully it helps all of you, too!

Happy writing!
 
 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

To Friend or Not to Friend ... That Is a Tricky Question



With social media being the giant it is, especially for those of you who are trying to market yourself or a product or both, it gets to the point of obscurity as to who you message with, tweet with, video with, etc. In other words, who ARE some of those people? Do we really need THAT MANY friends? Does it all boil down to a numbers game?

Marketers, promoters, agents, publishers, business gurus will all tell you to reach out wide and far, create that platform and sell, sell, sell. But when number sense start pummeling common sense into the ground, you have to start wondering how much good this can do versus how much bad.

First, you have those loyal, supportive followers. Bless you all! They will be there for you, give a cheery greeting when you need it, suggestions when you ask for them, or just a thumbs-up to let you know you aren't forgotten, that you count. And the most truthful ones will "let you have it" when it's deserving!

Then, here's where I think the ground gets a bit shaky. It's like a "here comes an earthquake, hang on and don't fall into the abyss!" type of situation. It involves those unpleasant followers, the ones who lash out, give everyone around them a bad name, give THEMSELVES a bad name, as they post, comment, etc., and I'm not sure why. Maybe they are angry with the world, maybe life hasn't given them a fair shake, maybe somebody took away their favorite toy! Whatever the reason, they tend to post not so nice words. You have to wonder what that makes us. I mean, we are their friends, right? Not really. I refer back to the numbers game. Wanting to spread your word far and wide, getting as much exposure as you can, will make you click "yes" when a total stranger asks to be your friend. I've done it, hundreds of times. Guilty as charged.

So, where am I going with all this? To tell you the truth, I'm not so sure. Throwing the baby out with the bath water analogy doesn't seem constructive. If we have a product to sell, we still need to social network. And filtering through friend requests would be a very, very time-consuming task. I guess this is just the nature of the beast. Personally, I will take the good along with the bad, but I have to continue to grow that extra thick skin. If somebody comes bashing on my turf, I guess a shrug of the shoulders is the best response. But guaranteed, if that somebody comes back a second time, it will be to click on that friend button to erase all memory.

Where do you stand on this issue? Has social media grown into a "no man's land" or need the sign "enter at your own risk" at the welcome gates? Is it really worth it to use as a marketing tool? I say yes, I will take the risk. But what do you think?

A Penny is Still Just ... a Penny

A penny. Right? Well, it is if you really think about it. Yet, how many of us look at a price tag of $19.99 and think, "Wow, that's a great deal!" But when we see $20.00 it's not the same reaction? I can't explain it. I really don't think that penny is going to buy me much. Not unless I intend to add up the so-called one penny deals over a period of, say, hmm, a year ... and I'd have to purchase, oh, maybe ... now wait, my math skills are a bit rusty ... well, I just know there'd have to be a lot to gain me even one dollar's worth of pennies. 
 

Really, when you think about it, we are "SALES OBSESSED" consumers. When I go to my favorite department store for a shopping spree because there's a thirty percent off coupon in my wallet just screaming at me to go buy that $80.00 pair of shoes I've been dying for, or a really pricey designer dress that's so perfect, except for the price, and even though I do this and I save -- according to the nice lady at the register -- a wopping $300.00, I've just burned, well, it's more than my budget should allow on my credit card. Of course, when I argue with my hubby that I saved $300, he just gives me that eye roll and explains in very rational terms that the bottom line is that I've SPENT $$$ to get that discount. Uh, well, duh?!


And how about when some people will drive to ANOTHER CITY just to find gas at $3.45 rather than go up the street and pay, let's say $3.49? (eh, no ... I truly haven't done that one). If this is a one time thing and it's going out of their way to get it and it's a modest 13 gallon tank in their car ... well, you do the math. 


Soooooo when I look on Amazon this morning and see my Dying to Dream ebook has been discounted from $2.99 to $2.51 I'm wondering, will this mind-set philosophy work? Who knows? A penny is still just a penny, even 48 of them! At least, it's getting closer to buying you that cup of coffee :-)

HAPPY READING!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Is There a Real Backstory to Your Story?




I always find it interesting how story ideas come about for a writer, so I thought I'd share mine. Maybe you will find this one interesting as well!

The idea for DYING TO DREAM sprouted several years ago when I was researching about haunte
d sites situated in Louisiana. I found out about Oak Alley, a former plantation with rumored hauntings. I started with the idea of a woman who painted pictures of people she dreamed about, but not just the ordinary variety. These pictures took on a life of their own, changing form and position often, speaking to her, etc. Then, the woman is somehow directed by spirits to find a property for sale in Louisiana and buy it. The haunted moments started once she moved there. That is where I left it ... unfinished.

Fast forward to 2009 and I dusted off the story, using some of the original ideas, tossing out others, and what you see published here is the finished product. My heroine became a psychic who dreams as the spirits who reach out to her. She becomes them, knows their thoughts and feels their emotion, and sometimes, if she's lucky, she learns their mysteries. Using this she is able to help solve a couple of murders and find out some puzzling details about the family history. Oak Alley is written into the story, by the way, as the plantation house in Vacherie.

They say write what you know. So, even though I've never lived in Louisiana, I do have a background in the French language and have studied Spanish. I decided a couple of my characters could benefit from the knowledge, and I have a splattering of French and Spanish phrases throughout the story, which I think adds a little authenticity to them as well as giving the setting some cultural flavor.

As for the paranormal aspects, I've always been interested in the study and phenomenon of spirits. I've even been on a couple of ghost tours! Most of it is all in fun, but still ... who knows? If you read the book, you will notice how each chapter opens with a line or two from various authors and poets about ghostly topics. (And yes, I checked to make sure they are in the public domain and break no copywright laws!)

Even though I love all my characters, I'd have to say Tante Louise is my favorite one. Her feisty attitude along with the French flare and voodoo mystery adds so much flavor to the story.

And the romance? Ah, yes. There is romance Trent and Marin in the present, as well as a tragic couple in the past. But how that turns out, I will leave it to you to discover when you read my book! Enjoy!
 
So, what about you? If you write, does your story have a background history to it? How do your ideas come about? I'd love to hear them!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Trending ... What Will You Be Reading This Year?

Since we are nearing the midyear, I thought it would be interesting to start researching reading trends. I happened on an article written at the first of the year, which offered up predictions for 2013 in two ways: what you will want to read and how you will read it.

Being an author, I find it curious how the subject matter of what people read changes from year to year, and predictions being only as accurate as the weather report. That's right. Go ahead and say it. Might as well flip a coin.

In any case, here's a summary of what Thomas Umstattd had to say at www.authormedia.com --

Ebook sales will level off somewhat in sales profits for publishers as well as a decrease from the previous year's numbers of books sold. That probably makes sense when you consider the mad rush for everyone to buy one of many new toys, aka ereaders, for Christmas and load them up with many shiny new titles that they are STILL trying to catch up on reading before buying any new ones. I know I have about fifty on my Kindle and not even close to half read. Not surprisingly, once again, somebody predicts that ebook prices will come down from those ridiculously high ones set at $10 and up. Yeah ... I'll believe that one when I see it. Of course, there are many great buys out there under five bucks, just not ones by the oh so very popular clique of authors.

The latest craze, Thomas predicts, will be audibles. I personally can't stand listening to books on audio. My mind wanders way too much. And I probably hear about thirty percent or less of what people say to me. Still, I can see how this prediction might pan out. Heck, there are online services -- some for free, like www.acx.com --that will take your self-pubbed book and turn it into audio. It's that easy.

Finally, to the heart of the matter, what will people want to read? Well, according to Thomas, there will be more heart-warming americana type settings and people in them with stories that will make you all warm and toasty inside. I like that idea. Bring 'em on! To the other extreme, young adult books will keep sinking into the darker side. How many millions has The Hunger Games made? Yep. I can see that prediction hitting home. Thomas also talks about Christian literature growing and how serial books will increase in popularity.

Does Mr. Thomas Umstattd have that special crystal ball to see exactly what happens in 2013? Well, we are already close to June and half way through the year. I see more and more series of books, more audible versions of books, B&H is publishing more and lots more of Christian titles, more agents are taking on clients who write in that genre, YA is doing its darker side thing, and so it goes. But like all predictions, Thomas' needs a bit of tweeking. Those hot and trendy authors who always rank in the top ten bestsellers list? You guys and gals still got to get those ebook prices down to reasonable!

My bottom line? Well, all I can say about predictions is that no matter what becomes popular or trendy, I will always love to cozy up with a spinetingling mystery. Take that, Thomas Umstattd!

Reading Trends for 2013  by Thomas Umstattd

Monday, May 27, 2013

Calling All Readers ... Anyone Looking for a Deal

So, let's make a sizzling summer deal! I am in need of book reviews for my latest mystery, Dying to Dream. If anyone is interested and willing to plop down $2.99 for the ebook, then after reading this wonderful tale, write a review to post on Amazon, I will reciprocate by gifting an ebook copy of one of my Lilly M. mysteries -- Whips, Cuffs, and Little Brown Boxes or Gangs, Illegals, and a Rose Tattoo to the first 10 people who post reviews and notify me. Your choice.

All interested parties, email me:  klong9 at neo.rr.com. I'm offering this wonderfully fantastic (okay, it's at least a cool deal) until the end of summer or when I reach 10 reviews. And no matter what, everyone enjoy reading!!! It's a great thing to do.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Cleared for Takeoff

Just heard from the publisher -- Mainly Murder Press -- and Dying to Dream is online now. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo, etc, e-book ($2.99) and paperback ($15.95) are available. ***Have to add ... right now Amazon is offering a preorder deal: $10.82, which remains at that price until June 1st. That's almost $5.00 off the original cost.

It's hard to believe that it all started last September when I signed my contract, more than eight months ago. I think the waiting periods got to me more than the busy ones. Fortunately, the experience remained void of "artistic" differences. The cover art is beautiful, like I never could have imagined -- especially since I'm not really talented at that kind of thing. All in all, I've grown to appreciate the whole process, going from creation to publication, after having ventured down the self-publishing road a time or two. Of course, the parts I enjoyed the most so far is seeing my cover and searching to find it on Amazon. But cliche as it sounds, I'm really looking forward to holding the paperback in my hands.

I have to thank a few people for giving me support and help along the way. LIke those who so kindly and generously agreed to read my story and write reviews ... Michael Murphy, Cherie Jung, and Sand Pilarski. And to my husband who showed patience (most of the time) while I'd spend hours churning out chapters. Can't forget the crew at MMP, especially Karen with her fantastic creative talent. I absolutely love the cover. All the elements, the symbolic representation, right down to the font used in part of the title, which I agree gives the word dream a truely dreamy feeling :-) And a future thanks to all those readers who may decide to read my work and maybe even write a review comment or two. I'm eternally grateful.

So, now what happens? Well, as they say, this is when the real work begins. Promotion. Book signings, virtual tours, peddling to book stores, more book signings, and on it goes until the next creative tidbit comes out! Bottom line, it's fun. I love writing. Otherwise, why would I put myself through such a challenging workout?

At least I've made that first marketing step ... a book signing at my local library in July. Hopefully, a lot more to follow :-) Until then ... enjoy reading!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Book News

How's this for news? Amazon has closed a deal to acquire Goodreads. Now, this is a site that I use and find beneficial both as a reader and an author. It has great features that let you not only keep an account of books you've read, want to read, and a place to leave a comment or two, but also groups for all types of literature to join. A great plus is the Goodreads Giveaway where authors can offer free copies of their books and readers can enter the giveaways to win books.

It will be interesting to see if the site changes much. I did notice a while back that B & N seemed to be the book retailer put in the forefront when it comes to linking where books are available for sale. Amazon, on the other hand, was put in the drop-down menu.

In any case, here is the link to the news blurb -- Amazon Buys Goodreads .

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Time to Correct ... Correct?

Well, I sent off my list of corrections to the editor and now I wait once again. I know I was able to catch a few errors, but always the worry that there may be more. After all, if the pub's editor missed some -- ones that I noticed -- then what? I'm not going to stress over it though. At least I feel between the two of us we did a great job.

 
It's difficult to read my work so many times. I wish I could be one of those who experience it anew. I envy that. Still, I think it's good, really good, the best story I've written so far. I love my characters, especially Tante Louise Picault. She's old but feisty, and colorful with the perfect touch of french culture. The southern feel to the characters makes them approachable and loveable. I'm optimistic that readers will find them endearing and drawn to their story that weaves mystery from the past and the present. The touch of paranormal with the main character who uses dreams from spirits to gather clues is yet another layer to interest, I hope, many. We will see.


  In the meantime, I wait, patiently.

Monday, March 4, 2013

And I'm Off and Running to the Publishing Deadline


I finally received an email with lots of goodies attached ... my ARC and editor comments. And I have 20 days to read through it all, make my comments, corrections, etc. Yikes! I can do this. Yes, I can. Uh ... right? Fortunately, nothing really big going on at work, so I should have time. I just want to make sure I do a thorough job. So, nobody better bug me! Or ... grrrrrrr. (Just noticed: is it any wonder my editor says I use maybe a few too many ellipses?)

I read and reread the email, and then a few more times to make sure I didn't miss anything. So, this is the skinny: my feedback on the first draft ARC is due March 23rd. Cover should be coming around the beginning of April, so I need to start collecting reviews. If I would like them added to the back cover, that is. Of course, as anxious as I am, I already sent out requests for reviews to several mystery review websites and authors. Keeping fingers crossed. -- Thanks Michael Murphy for agreeing to do one :-) And to Cjung at Over My Dead Body. You both are great for responding so quickly, and settling my nerves since this means my back cover won't be blank! haha

Okay, what next? Well ... (yet another ellipse ... sigh) just have to wait and see! If all goes well and according to plan, I will be seeing my baby in print sometime in June. Then, I'd absolutely love to have a book launch event. Maybe at our local library or perhaps at one of the area bookstores. I'll have to start researching. Hmmm. Yet another task to consider, but such fun!

Update: Yet another thanks goes out to Sand, a wonderfully kind and helpful lady who happens to run the very cool ezine, The Piker Press and also agreed to do a review. Then finally, to Apex Reviews who will take a look and see :-)

All great people who help to make this project a success.