Book Review: Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

Girl in Pieces, by Kathleen Glasgow, starts out with a nameless, silent girl in a mental hospital sharing her mental observations. Silent Sue, one of the other patients calls her. All the women on this floor are the self-harmers, the NSSI--Non Suicidal Self Injury, the cutters and burners.
We learn her story is small slices--the chapters are short, some a single paragraph. But the author's ability to pack so much information, characterization and emotion into the each sentence is one of the things that makes this novel so great.
Left on the lawn of a hospital, freezing and bleeding to death, her own story comes back to her in pieces. Charlie begins to open to her doctors and fellow patients as she begins to remember who she is and what happened.
I felt her anxiety as she has to leave the safety of the hospital and enter the public world in the care of her mother whom she fears.
That's all the plot I will share, because the discovery of herself and of her capacities, scraping away the surface and finding the abuses and fears below is what kept me reading, (or listening in my  case).
I have written a novel where my main character is a teenage girl who cuts. It's science fiction, set 800 years in the future and I've shared some of the chapters on my blog. I've written it as "the other", as it is called in literature--writing from another's point of view, position of experience, not having lived it myself. I hurt for these girls, and the growing number of boys, who have  suffered so much at their own hands, whose only break from depression and anxiety is to create their own physical pain. I wanted to say something that would bring their plight more awareness.
Kathleen Glasgow comes at this novel, not as the other, but as the person who has experienced this life first hand and hearing her own words at the end of the audio version brought the impact of the novel to an even deeper level to me.
I loved this story for the author's beautiful, some call it poetic, writing. For Charlie's ceaseless striving for acceptance and love, and her eternal struggle to overcome her weaknesses and doubts.
Note: This novel contains strong language, violence, and sexual situations.

Source: https://www.amazon.com/Girl-Pieces-Kathlee...

What is Relevant about Kindle Ads?

I've been using some Kindle advertising recently to see if I could generate some sales.


There are different ways you can use Kindle ads, though they all use targeting on Amazon.
One way is to target groups. For instance, I've been using "Flypaper Boy: Coming of Age" for my ads. Here's my blurb:
He always wanted to fit in but never had the skills. Now he has the moves, confidence, and the opportunity to choose. Will he be a superhero or a villain?


You're limited for the number of characters, so you have to spend a lot of time refining your blurb to say exactly what you want, very concisely. 
Then you choose your target. You can target interests or products. Interests are like, Reading: Fiction: Young Adult. There are not a ton of them to choose from, so it's really hard for me to create a target group that is successful.
The other way is to choose products like books by Bryan Cohen or Brandon Sanderson, or any other author or series that is similar in some way--that an audience for that product would be interested in your book, read the blurb and buy.
On the page of that target group or product, a little picture of my book shows up as a suggested purchase, with the little blurb next to it.
The final step to reach people is that you must name your price, the amount you are willing to pay to have your ad 'clicked'. Others may be out there bidding higher than you and will have their ad placed before you, but I've found for $.60 I get a lot of 'impressions' (the ad being placed on a page.)

Here are the results of three ads I placed for Flypaper Boy.

The first was based on groups, such as that mentioned above. I got:
110K impression
54 clicks at an average of $.49 per click and a total for $26.66 spent
0 sales when I stopped the advertisement.


I saw that was going nowhere, so I stopped it and changed my approach. I picked three different authors and targeted about fifty books.


I only got 35K impression and 11 clicks over four days for a cost of $5.95, but I had 3 sales for $6.20 in profit. Kindle shut down my ad because they said, "It lacked relevance." I realize I wasn't getting hundreds of thousands of view and clicks, but I actually turned a profit.


I beefed up the same ad but added a about 700 more specific books to target. That got me really relevant. I got 233K impressions, 101 clicks and spent $52 to get $16 in sales. (That's about $10 in revenue for a loss of $42.)


What is my take away from these three trials?
The ad that is relevant to Kindle Direct Publishing is one that makes them money fast.

Sharpening the Saw - Random Ruminations Remotely Related to wRiting (and Running)

To say I ran a marathon four years ago would really be glorifying the experience. I ran the first seven miles.

It was the St. George Marathon. If you know anything about that event, you probably know the first seven miles is very scenic and all down hill. After that it may have been scenic. I have no idea.

The next thirteen or so miles was a run walk. Three gruesome miles seemed like I was climbing straight out of a gorge and though the next ten miles were roughly level, it seemed like I was still going uphill. I don't remember much of the final six miles. The last mile was accented by terrible body cramps. At one point, with the finish line in sight, people were cheering me on with "You can do!" type encouragements, but my legs had physically seized up and I could barely move. Somehow, I made it across the finish line in something like five and a half hours total time. I think two or three people came in behind me.

Clearly, the saner side of my brain vowed to never do that again, and truth be told, I may have run ten miles in the last four years.

When I began a running program in July of this year, my goal was to make running a part of my reasonable life. Or was it, a reasonable amount of running part of my life. However I said it, I meant that I would consider myself a runner, get in reasonable shape, reduce my weight, and not overdo it.

Starting with only a mile and a half with more walking than running, I slowly built up to four miles, twice during the week, and five to six on the weekend. Then the insanity hit me...

I reconsidered running another marathon.

My problem at St. George was that I had stopped preparing about six months before the event. My long runs had gotten shorter with more gaps in between. By the time I hit the marathon, I was running, maybe, two days a week.

Long story short, I've set a goal to run the California International Marathon in Sacramento in December of 2019 with the goal of running at a Boston Marathon qualifying pace for a 60 year old. I'll turn sixty the following June. I'll follow up with the Modesto Marathon in March of 2020 to keep my momentum and improve my time. However, I will not do this if I haven't kept up my running lifestyle for the next four years. The intermediate goals are three half marathons in 2016, four in 2017, five in 2018, and at least six in 2019, before the CIM. If I can maintain this level of running, I should be able to comfortably run the CIM and Modesto Marathon with a qualifying time. Then it will be off to Boston in the fall.

YA Books Podcast

I know. I've tried podcasting before, and believe me, I intend to finish the Pariah Podcast. I'm recording episode 11 right now, with 12 ready to record right afterward. I'm editing episode 13 and am writing 16 which will fold Nit into the story completely.

This new podcast is supposed to be my effort at doing something for the community. Whether you are readers of YA fiction or writers of the same, my hope is that you will find interesting interviews with author you read or want to emulate.

I want to interview authors of all types of YA Fiction: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Horror, Romance, Mystery, even Literary.

I've done about ten interviews so far and have launched the podcast with the first four episodes.

It's available on iTunes at https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/yabookspodcasts-podcast/id1044942015?mt=2 and on Libsyn.com. However, if you go to Libsyn, download the episodes. If you try to stream them they...well, they don't after 28 seconds.

I'm meeting lots of great authors and am having a blast talking with them about their lives, their books, inspiration and their writing methods.

Come by, check it out, and, by all means, subscribe and leave me a review. I don't care if the review is bad...that's what I need to get in front of more listeners: subscriptions and reviews.

Thanks,

pec

September Book Deals

Here are some fantastic ebooks on SALE! Who doesn't love a sale, right? Please pass this on to your friends who might be interested. And help us share it on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks!!

 Check out all these books!


Imperfect Love by Rebecca Talley 

Regular Price: $3.99
SALE Price: $.99 

Purchase Imperfect Love

Lauren Wilson is well on her way to her happily-ever-after. She’s passionate about her career as a middle school English teacher, she adores her handsome, hard-working husband, and with a baby finally on the way, her perfect life is within her grasp.

But then a devastating test result changes everything.

Forced to choose between her baby and her husband, Lauren makes the only decision she can live with, and she returns to her small hometown in hopes of rebuilding her shattered life.

Ethan Campbell is a gifted photographer who travels the world and has no desire to settle down. When his mother dies, he must go home to settle her estate. Then it’s back to exciting adventures across the globe.

When Lauren crosses paths with Ethan, her teenage crush, old feelings resurface—feelings she’s not prepared to face. Will Lauren have the courage to trust again or will she spend her life alone? Imperfect Love is a story about sacrifice, healing, second chances, and discovering that although love isn’t always perfect, sometimes it’s the imperfect love that’s the sweetest of all.



A Change of Plans by Donna K. Weaver

Regular Price: $3.99
SALE Price: $.99


Purchase A Change of Plans
Audiobook  (If you own the eBook, the audiobook is only $1.99)

When Lyn sets off on her supposedly uncomplicated and unromantic cruise, she never dreams it will include pirates. All the 25-year-old Colorado high school teacher wants is to forget that her dead fiancé was a cheating scumbag. What she plans is a vacation diversion; what fate provides is Braedon, an intriguing surgeon. She finds herself drawn to him: his gentle humor, his love of music, and even his willingness to let her take him down during morning karate practices. Against the backdrop of the ship’s make-believe world and its temporary friendships, her emotions come alive.

However, fear is an emotion, too. Unaware of the sensitive waters he navigates, Braedon moves to take their relationship beyond friendship—on the very anniversary Lyn came on the cruise to forget. But Lyn’s painful memories are too powerful, and she runs off in a panic.

Things are bad enough when the pair finds themselves on one of the cruise’s snorkeling excursions in American Samoa. However, paradise turns to piracy when their party is kidnapped. Lyn’s fear of a fairytale turns grim. Now she must fight alongside the man she rejected, first for their freedom and then against storms, sharks, and shipwreck.



Salem Witch Haunt by Theresa Sneed

Regular Price: $4.99
SALE Price: $2.99

Purchase Salem Witch Haunt

When she finds herself thrust back in time, 17 year old Bess Martin, a senior at Danvers High, sets out on a mission to save her 11th great-grandmother from the gallows-tree. With a near-perfect knowledge of the historical events about to unfold, Bess knows the untimely fate of many. 

The problem is that Bess has inherited her grandmother’s sharp tongue—a tongue that caused her grandmother to be tried and hanged as a witch in Salem Village, 1692. 

Can Bess stop the hangings and change the course of history, or will she share her grandmother’s fate? 




Felicity A Sparrow's Tale by Loralee Evans

Regular Price: $2.99
SALE Price: $.99


Purchase Felicity A Sparrow's Tale

Tales of adventure and danger have thrilled Felicity since Augustus, her ivory-billed woodpecker friend, taught her to read as a little nestling. She adores the tales of heroes and heroines who forge ahead in spite of all odds, and who always seem to succeed no matter what. More than anything, Felicity wants to be brave and selfless like them. 

But adventures are in short supply, especially for someone who’s just an ordinary sparrow. 

Until the day an unexpected visitor shows up at her tree with an unusual request…




Newbie by Jo Noelle
Regular Price: $3.99
SALE Price: $.99
The housing market is crashing, and Sophie’s life is crashing with it. At twenty-four, her successful real estate career evaporates. She’s broke, can’t find a job, or pay her bills, leaving Sophie wondering how her successful lifestyle became so fragile.
At the urging of her roommate, Sophie accepts a job in her fallback career—teaching six-year-olds. She hopes it’s temporary. After all, how long can a tanking economy last anyway? The best part of the new job is Liam, another employee at Rio Grande Elementary. The worst part of the new job is, well, teaching.
Sophie has a surprise real estate closing from a contract she wrote months ago, leading her to a niche in the real estate market and to a new partner, Kevin. Sophie must choose between Liam or Kevin and between a lucrative career or recess duty.




Lost Without You by Annette Lyon

Regular price: $2.99
SALE Price: $0.99

For months, Christopher Morris has been Brooke's idea of the perfect man—attractive, charming, and fun to be around. But lately he's begun acting strangely, becoming possessive, controlling, and moody. Brooke feels she has no choice but to break up with him, but Christopher doesn't take it well. He drives her wildly back home and gets into a car accident. 

That's when Brooke first meets police officer Greg Stevens. After she keeps meeting him—at the worst possible times—they begin dating. Greg confesses he's a widower and that Brooke is the first woman he has so much as looked at in years. 

But as Brooke agonizes over whether Greg will ever be able to truly love her, Christopher makes a dangerous return into her life, deciding that if he can't have her, no one can.





The Man from Shenandoah by Marsha Ward

Regular Price: $2.99
SALE Price: $.99

Purchase on Amazon
Purchase on BN
Purchase on Kobo
Purchase on iTunes


When young cavalryman Carl Owen returns from the Civil War, he finds the family farm destroyed, his favorite brother dead, food scarce, and his father planning to leave the Shenandoah Valley to start a cattle operation in Colorado Territory.
But Pa does a bit more: he also chooses a suitable mate for both Carl and his younger brother, James.
With no one else in mind, Carl is agreeable to marrying the delightfully flirtatious Ida Hilbrands somewhere along the trail, but James is devastated. Ellen Bates isn't the girl he loves and must leave behind.
Making their way across the vast continent, the Owen family and their friends battle a prairie fire, internal strife, a band of vicious outlaws, and the land itself to try to achieve their goals, but before that can happen, the two brothers are fighting over the hand of one girl—and only one of them can win!



Dangerous Favor by Joyce DiPastena

Regular Price: $3.99
SALE Price: $.99



Mathilde needs a champion.


Her father has been accused of stealing from the king, an allegation that has reduced her family to poverty. She has one chance to find and marry a man who can help her prove her father's innocence. Lord Therri, heir to a rich barony, has the wealth and connections Mathilde needs to delve into the mysteries of her father's past. Furthermore, Therri embodies all her romantic dreams.

Etienne, the younger son of a disgraced family, has neither wealth nor connections, but is smitten with Mathilde at a glance. She finds the knight intriguing, but believes he is only out to seduce her. While she seeks for a way to win Therri's attention, Etienne tricks her into granting him her favor, an embroidered white ribbon, for a tournament, setting in motion a dangerous chain reaction of events. 

Can Etienne save Mathilde from a nightmare from her past and prove himself the true hero of her dreams?


With No Regrets (Book Two) by Julie N. Ford

Regular Price: $4.99
SALE Price: $.99

Purchase:

Living With No Regrets Is Harder Than It Seems

Finley isn’t exactly sure when her life began to feel unfamiliar. She suspects the transformation started long before she caught her husband and fellow garden club member doing the white-trash-two-step on her new Bernhardt sofa. Now free from the shackles of a loveless marriage, and with her children off to college, she’s finally able to go searching for the missing pieces of her heart.

Finley’s best friend, Cathyanne, is already working hard to ensure that Finley finds true love this time around. But when Finley is unwittingly tossed into the arms of two men—their sexy trainer and her neighbor, a popular country star—Cathyanne fears finding the right guy will be more complicated than she ever could have imagined.

For Finley, building a new life feels as impossible as flying a paper airplane to the moon. But maybe, just maybe, with the right help, she will find her whole heart—even if it’s in the very last place she thinks to look.


This Very Moment by Rachel Ann Nunes

Regular Price: 4.99
SALE Price: $.99 


A Compelling Story of Heartbreaking Loss, Inspiring Faith, and a Newfound Love Strong Enough to Heal All Wounds.

Bill Dubrey is a sought-after plastic surgeon for LA’s prestigious and wealthy, and an equally sought-after bachelor. On the surface it appears he has it all—money, respect, and fame. Yet behind his aloof exterior lurks a tragic past that prevents him from finding lasting happiness.

All that changes on the day Kylee Stewart reenters his life. She alone knows Bill’s secret agony, and she is determined to help him face his past. During the years they’ve been apart, Kylee’s own life has been far from easy, but unlike Bill, she has turned to God in her need, finding a faith to which she desperately clings.

The tentative friendship they begin has Bill rethinking his stark future, yet he keeps his heart in check—afraid to commit, afraid to lose again. During Kylee’s darkest moment, when she needs him most, will he be there for her? 



Shooting Stars by Philip Carroll

Regular Price: $3.99
SALE Price: FREE Sept 15- 19


Chuck McWilliams is fourteen years old and had just started high school in Washington State when his father lost his job and moved them to the hot, dry, valley of Central California. Starting his freshman hear six weeks after the rest of the students, Chuck is insecure about finding his way, making new friends and overcoming bullying from members of the cross country team. 

When he is invited to the Homecoming Dance by a strange girl in his English class, Kelsey Llewellyn, he can't think of any reason to say no. Later that day Dahlia Chand, an attractive girl on the cross country team, asks him to the dance, he wonders if he has made a mistake. 

How a secretive student, Doug Le Roux, avoids the notice of the rest of the students, yet stands out so clearly to Chuck makes him wonder if something extraordinary is going on at this high school. 

Chuck will become entwined in an ages old battle with werewolves, vampires and elves that most of humankind is unaware of in their midst. Remarkably, he will find the most enchanting magic comes from romance.



Ideal High by Valerie Ipson

Regular Price: $4.99
SALE Price: $1.99


There’s no way I’m taking Blake’s place as president of the student body. As soon as the memorial for him and six of our friends is over, I’m resigning as VP. Really.

Except people say the fire was no accident. (I say it’s way too easy to blame someone who’s dead.)

When I read the writing on the wall, literally, the bathroom wall, I know what it means. To get to the truth I have to come out from under my paisley comforter.

But, seriously, what stage of grief says I have to be the one to fix what’s wrong at Ideal High? Maybe I’m the one who’s broken.



First Love Second Chance by Lindzee Armstrong

Regular Price: $.99
SALE Price: FREE


When wedding planner Keslee gets asked on a date by her long-lost high school crush, Bryce, everything should be perfect. But Bryce mistakes Keslee for her deceased twin sister, Jadyn. And Keslee doesn’t correct him. Talk about awkward. To make matters worse, she learns they’ll be seeing a lot more of each other because Bryce is the marketing director at the venue where Keslee’s new client has chosen to get married. Keslee knows the charade can’t last much longer, and fears she’ll lose Bryce forever when she tells him the truth.



Emerine's Nightmare by Anna del C. Dye

Price: $2.99


What would you do if one night, life as you know it changes and you are left alone in despair? That is how Emerine’s nightmare starts and now all he does is run.

His family lived at the edge of the forest until dark shadows killed them all. Now they want him, and so does a magic tree. He has never seen dark shadows or enchanted trees before. Emerine has to get to the heart of Red Forest, to the fairy people. Only then he will be safe. Safe? He has never heard of fairies before and once he gets there what?

We have a fantastic line-up of great books that are on SALE! Everyone loves a sale, right?

Cassandra Jones by Tamara Hart Heiner

Regular Price: $3.99
SALE Price: FREE Sept 16-17


What's special about Cassandra? Absolutely nothing. She's as ordinary as any other fifth grader. And yet her ordinary life is riddled with hilarious and sometimes heart-breaking mishaps as she guides herself through the world of pre-teens on the brink of adulthood. 

Cassandra Jones is the new girl at school. She's been uprooted from her beloved state of Texas and relocated to the hillbilly Ozarks of Springdale, Arkansas. She wonders if she will like her teacher or if she will have any friends. She can only hope school won't be harder than it was back home. 

She doesn't expect to have two close friends, and even worse, two friends that don't like each other. As she tries to make a spot for herself, will she keep her friendships intact? 

Here I am Trying Again.

Drawn into the Mist is going live on September 15th and with that I'm trying a Rafflecopter giveaway.

It took me several hours and several tries to get it to look right and to add in all the links that I wanted, but it looks like it actually works.

The giveaway is right there, to the side.

Go sign up and see if you can win the Kindle HD7.

 

pec

Something else that didn't work...Channillo.com

Last March I started posting a serialized version of a story I've worked on for years, actually two of them, that are set in the Galactic Battle Base environment. I posted a weekly chapter on Channillo.com. They were a new site that 'promised' to bring readers who were interested in following serialized literature.

Long story short...it didn't work for me. After seventeen weeks of posting a chapter each Sunday, I went from having four subscribers to two. I asked for analytics of how many people visited the site, clicked on my chapter descriptions, etc, but was told they wouldn't make that available.

My story, "Trigger Warnings" is about several of the inhabitants of the galactic battle base who suffer from some kind of mental or emotional, even physical, trauma and the mental challenges they have dealing with that. The main character cuts herself, (Non-Suicidal Self Injury - NSSI), and the boy she's falling for was a victim of childhood sexual abuse. (Note: There is no graphic content, but these are mature themes.)

I feel this is an important story and I was hoping to reach new audiences with it.

I've taken it off of Channillo and created another blog on this site where I will post chapters on a mostly weekly basis. The first chapter is up, if you're interested.

 

pec

"Veils and Vengeance" a Book Blast Book Review

If you've read my blog at all, you know I'm trying to find my place as an author and trying different things to "build my platform".

At the LDStorymaker's conference I attended the Indie Publisher's track and at one of the panels they mentioned The Author Indie Hub. It seemed like the social network I wasn't able to establish or find on my own. So, once I got back home I signed up.

Reading the daily posts on the group, I was that Rachelle Christensen was doing a Book Blast for the launch of he newest book, "Veils and Vengeance". I signed up to participate to get an inside view of what a successful book launch looks like.

So far I've gotten more Facebook page likes for my author page, more Goodreads follows and more Twitter followers than from any other promotion I've run on my own.

But, enough about me. You are here about the book.

I figured that though the book was described as a mystery, there would also be a substantial amount of romance. I'm all for romance in the books I read. Love is a part of life and happens at the best, and worst of times. In "Veils and Vengeance" there was a continuous romantic sub-plot with the appropriate amount of tension. Knowing that the author is a member of "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints" I assumed the romance would be light and not heavy on sexual content. I was happily correct.

After writing my Amazon review, I read what others had written. Most described the mystery aspect of the book as "cozy". I hadn't heard this term before, but saw how it applied. There was murder, attempted murder, and mystery though not to the point that I felt uncomfortably anxious.
 
The book takes place in Hawaii. While I was reading it to write my review my wife was binge watching "Hawaii Five O" on Netflix. Sometimes when thinking about the story I tried to remember how Steve Magarret amd Dano Williams fit into the story.

Also, I lived on Oahu for three years when I was in the army. That was twenty-five years ago and I have never really wanted to go back. Reading the book showed a different side to the tourist trade than what I had seen and thought it might be nice to see one of the less visited islands.

I enjoyed reading "Veils" from beginning to end.

I've been reading "Indie" authors, trying to help out others trying to make it into the established author world and have read a lot of garbage as a result. Rachelle's writing was a breath of fresh air.

I recommend this novel to anyone who wants to read a Romance, a Mystery, a Travel Book, of just an entertaining story without having to worry about objectionable content. What follows is the review I wrote for Amazon and other sites.

With trying to give an honest review in mind, I tried to find a reason to not give this book a five star review.

Full disclosure: I received an advance reader copy a week ago, but after only a few chapters I pre-ordered it so that I could have it on my kindle and share it with my wife.

Rachelle Christensen's writing is immaculate. Told in the first person point of view of Adri, a wedding planner from Idaho who accompanies her client to a dream wedding in Kauai, her characterization is deep and consistent. The plot moves forward at a quick but comfortable pace with island descriptions and back story seamlessly tucked into the action and dialog. The occasional romantic interlude reminds us that even murder suspects have a need to love and be loved.

If five stars means I loved the story, Veils and Vengeance gets all five.

Beat - How To Suspend Disbelief

I recently read the book, "Beat" by Jared Garrett. I was really looking forward to it because I've been impressed with what Adam Sidwell and Future House Publishing have put out. Adam even says that if you liked Hunger Games, you'll like this one.

While it was a good story, with driving action and suspense, at times, I didn't find a comparison to Hunger Games nearly accurate.

This is a great book for a teenager who wants an exciting book with action and tension. For a teenager who is analytical or an adult who is marginally familiar with statistics it could only be considered an average read--too many plot holes and far too many bullets for a fifteen-year-old boy to survive.


I'll try to avoid spoilers...


The premise is fun but a little too simple to work. Ninety percent of humanity is wiped out by a bug that kills when a victim's heart rate exceeds 140 to 150 beats per minute. This happened about 100 years before Nik Granjer rides his bike through New Frisko, a calm and controlled reproduction of the former, but now dead, city. I got the impression that the infection came during out current era. By my calculation there should have been over 700 million people left on earth; many more than seem to be left in this society.


This was the first thing that challenged my ability to suspend disbelief. With only ten percent of humanity left there would not be enough infrastructure left to not only continue the existing level of technology, but actually advance way beyond that.


Some simple things threw me off as well. Like the redwood trees and seeing snow on the mountains. I got the impression that the New Frisko was near the old one. You can't see any mountains with snow on them from anywhere near San Francisco and the redwood forests he describes would have to have grown up since the Infektion, about 100 years before. For trees to grow the size he describes, they would need closer to 1000 years.


The story is told in the first person point of view. I'm not a big fan. As a result, the middle twenty percent of the story drags as Nik "notices" and "realizes" things, and processes his thoughts over and over, and develops his theories.


Finally hooking up with a friend, the story picks up its pace again and becomes more interesting.


The author alters some spelling conventions under the pretense that these letters have been outlawed to simplify communication. I found these misspellings distracting and inconsistent.
Overall, the pace is fast with interesting--though not always believable--details. As I said at the beginning, a great read for a teenage boy.

Bio-rhythms, Editors, and Metaphors

I don't know what's wrong with me, recently. I've been short tempered, grumpy, and negative. I have some ideas, but they're kind of personal, and you don't really want to know that kind of stuff. Probably something to do with my Bio-rhythm and internal chemistry. (I don't really believe in Bio-rhythms. They were a thing in the 1980's.)

I got my manuscript of The Galactic Battle Base: Trigger Warnings back from the editor I sent it to. He obviously didn't get my vision and chopped it into pieces, deleting much of what I thought was the focus of the story.

Either, I didn't explain my story clearly enough--through dialog, description, and character conflict-- or he went into it expecting to get one thing and was confused by finding another. I imagine it is a combination of the two.

So, with my current state of mind, I was pretty much torqued. With each correction and deletion I found myself becoming angrier and angrier. I had set myself a pretty demanding goal of getting this book published by mid May, to take it with me to the LDStorymakers conference. I could see, from the amount of work he was suggesting I do and with all the other things I have going, this was either an unrealistic goal, or it was going to require a whole lot of effort.

Instead, I shifted gears. (That's a metaphor. Some say you shouldn't use them when writing science fiction because the readers will take them literally. I would have to say, "Come on. You read science fiction. You're supposed to be more intelligent than the average reader. Don't be stupid." While I have a car with a manual transmission, this doesn't mean that I actually went out and changed from fourth speed down to third. Maybe this is a worn out metaphor, which is a danger when using them, but I think it's pretty apt.)

My biggest projects at the moment are The Pariah podcast and gearing up for www.Channillo.com.

With the podcast I have to get another episode recorded and in the can this month. That shouldn't be too hard, I have the next episode edited and ready to record. But I also need to edit the first five episodes and publish them as a chapter book for Kindle and Print on Demand, as I've promised my www.patreon.com supporters. With Channillo I had said I would do chapters from the Galactic Battle Base story, "Family Ties" and publish an episode every two weeks. I've decided, instead, I will also use chapters from "Trigger Warnings" as well and change the output to ever week instead of biweekly. This will allow me to focus on that story, develop each chapter with its own story arch, and hopefully make it clearer to the reader. Once I've gone completely through the novel in this manner, I can resubmit it to an editor and see if I'm closer to publication as a separate novel.

Okay. I've gotten that off my chest. My self-doubts have been aired.  Now, if I can adjust my bio-rhythm or my internal chemistry I'll feel much more like the author I thought I was two weeks ago and get back to getting things done.

Professional Suicide: Writing a Bad Review?

I just want to document this event in case it goes terribly against me. 

I just posted a 2 star review for a book I tried to read. No. I'm not talking about the one I reviewed earlier today. I gave Water So Deep 4 stars.

This other was by an author I've run across on Twitter. I thought I would give her book a try and write a review. She had a number of 5 Stars on Amazon and Goodreads, and she claims to work in secondary education.

I thought about saying nothing, just letting it go. But, you know me. If I can't take every opportunity to shoot myself in my foot, I'm just not me.

Honestly. After five pages I stopped and sent an email to my editor telling her how grateful I was for her hard work. I don't believe this other author used an editor, let alone beta readers.

I'll admit, I only read 10% of the book. I couldn't take much more. I couldn't tell who the POV character was, (maybe it was all of them), the description was obscure and verbose and dialog was circuitous and redundant. 

It's books like this that gives self publishing a bad name.

 

pec

Water So Deep by Nichole Giles: A Book Review

As all of you regular, imaginary, reader know, I'm trying to find my was as an author, and specifically, an author of Young Adult Fiction. I'm trying various ways of connecting with people and building my platform. I tried reviewing a book for a 'Virtual Book Tour' and as you know, reading a book someone else asked me to read and review was a lot more like work than recreation.     

So, this time I decided to read and review a book of someone I've met at the LDStorymakers Conference. Someone who writes YA and seems to have a pretty good foundation as an author. This review is completely voluntary, so I can say what I want, with no expectations to meet and no strings attached.

Here is my review I am posting to Amazon and Goodreads:

I just finished reading, "Water So Deep" by Nichole Giles.

This is the story of Emma, a senior in high school with a mysterious side. The story introduces her problem immediately--she's got mermaid issues. But, you know that already. You've seen the book cover. We just don't know how big of a problem that is until we see how erratic it make her life. She can't have any real friends; that would require honesty and trust; and she can't be honest with anyone, including her family or her best friend, Heather. The only one who knows the reason for her periodic need to get into the ocean is her grand-mother, on who's porch was left the baby Emma seventeen-odd, years before.

Enter, James, the amazingly handsome, totally buff, loner, with emotional needs of his own.

The story unfolds for us through these two perspectives. We are privy to their individual, inner turmoils which result in the majority of their relationship conflicts. As an adult (read that as old) man, I felt like if they had only followed through with their resolutions from one paragraph to the next, most of their problems would have been eliminated through a little simple communication. But then, we would have missed Chapter Three of, "The Book of Love", where, "You break up and then you give it just one more chance." (See, that's how old I really am... I'm referencing 1950's Rock and Roll.)

I'll admit, much of what I've read in the past which has been labeled, "Young Adult" was more fantasy than romance, and wonder if this book's plot is typical of creating romantic tension. As an old man, again, I enjoyed the romantic elements of the story, while I appreciated the development of the "Mer Lore" the most. I didn't expect a simple resolution to Emma's dilemma, as this is admittedly, "Book 1". But, I did enjoy the ending for the extent of its resolution and foreshadowing of the expected conflicts in the next book.

I happily give this book four stars and look forward to book two.

This is where my review will end on Goodreads and on Amazon. What follows is fraught with plot spoilers and addresses some of the things that came to my mind while reading that weren't resolved in this book. So, I would recommend that you read the book before you read further on this post.

I mentioned above that I thought both main characters were inconsistent in their resolutions and that if they had followed through with many of the things they had just thought out, their conflict would have been resolved and they could have moved forward with more important things, such as, preventing Emma from permanently becoming a mermaid and finding out why Keith was now stealing so much.

It bothered me that her parents seemed so unsympathetic. I mean, the first time we see her father he is absent mindedly blowing off the safety of his son. Even her high powered lawyer mother only seemed engaged when there was a legal threat to her kids. Granted, this is YA and we need to get them out of the picture somehow and focus on the youths.

Maybe I'm threatened by physically strong male characters, but I felt like James was a little too buff for someone his age. To have biceps so rock hard that blood vessels shift between them and the skin seems unrealistic to me in someone so young, unless he's doing steroids or spends all of his time in a gym. It didn't sound like James had that much time, or money.

I got the idea that contact with salt water would cause Emma's physical change, yet, when they took pizza to the beach she got her feet in the water and nothing happened. If there was an explanation given why this was an exception, or that it didn't happen all the time, I didn't pick up on it.

I was a little surprised about Emma's sudden recognition of her love for James. It was like it was a brand new realization and only the page before she had giggled at his allusion to having sex with her in the back seat of the car or right there in the sand of the beach, whatever it took to make her undesirable to Merrick.

Then there's Merrick. Granted, his motives become clear at the end of the book. Before that, I felt like his behavior was more animalistic and less rational thinking than I would expect of a creature which is part human--and longer lived than typical humans.

Finally, some mention was made to the siren call or the mer people. I wasn't clear if this was an intentional allusion in the story or if I read into the the comment that it had to do with why boys were so attracted to Emma and then she "Iced" them and shut them down.

I read the story on my tablet and I read it somewhat faster than I would have, wanting to get it read so that I could do a review for Nichole while the book was still newly published. Because of those two conditions, I may have misunderstood, or completely missed something which the normal, more intelligent, reader would have picked up.

Again, I hope you read this, if you haven't, and enjoy it as much as I did.

pec

Facebook Advertising: It Didn't Work for Me.

Here are my results.

I started a Facebook ad campaign to get "Page Likes" for my author page. I planned to pay up to $2.50 per day for ads to bring people to my page and get a "Like". I ran the ad for four weeks, and this is what I got.

I muddied the purity of my study by a getting a 'wild hare' and boosted a post, right in the middle of this campaign and paid an additional $60.

I started the campaign with 22 page likes, which had remained unchanged since I first started my author page and sent out "like requests" to all my friends on my regular facebook page. I tried to add a comment to my author page everyday, but probably ended up posting once every two to three days.

After 28 days, here's what I got:

Paying up to $2.50 per day, I spent $68.27 on this specific campaign and they say I got 84 page likes from it, costing me $0.81 each.
From the 'wild hare page boost' I got 123 page likes for that specific page.
I now have 136 page likes for my author page.
During this time period I had 2 organic page likes from people I met on twitter, so there were 15 pages likes from other sources--possibly secondary to the 'wild hare boost' or from posts on twitter.
During this time period I had one (1) conversation with a person on Facebook from these new page likes. I cannot say that I have sold any more books as a result of either of the advertisements. I have had a hand full of Kindle Unlimited downloads and cash sales. If all of these were from the facebook ads, they would have a value of about $5.

So, I got one conversation and (maybe) $5 in sales from an investment of $128.27. Was that worth it? It depends on whether those page likes will read further posts, repost them, and/or buy my books.

Going forward. I will be interested to see if I continue to get any Author Page likes. My hope, all along was that this would build a momentum that would carry on a consistent page like increase. We'll see.

pec

Is there value in a 'Virtual Book Tour'?

So. As my regular (imaginary) readers know, I'm trying different methods of marketing to see what will gain me traction as an author, what will "Build My Platform", find me readers to buy my books and increase the size of my audience.

Here's what happened to me. 

I paid "Free and Discount Books" $60 to promote my book launch of "Shooting Stars". Well, $30, actually. I paid them another $30 to promote my Kindle Count Down of "Flypaper Boy" which occurred at the same time. I got ZERO benefit from it. Okay, part of it was my fault. I got stupid and set my countdown deal to start at 8:00 am on that Monday. According to their site, I needed to start it 12 hours before they were supposed to begin advertising, or I would be S-O-L. Lesson learned.

For Shooting Stars I was supposed to get Tweets throughout the day from their site and their sister sites, thus going out to hundreds of thousands of "Readers". I never saw any tweets. I did twitter searches on my name, the books name, their website and found nothing to do with me or Shooting Stars.

The following day I get a Direct Message from elitebookpromotions.com asking me if I wanted to bring my book out of obscurity. What author would not? So I asked what guarantee they had that they would do any better for me than "Cheap and Discount" did. Her eventual response was, "Do you have any books?"

I noticed a tweet that they were looking for bloggers to participate in virtual book tours for some of their authors. I figured this would be a good way to observe someone else's success before committing my own cash. And, hey, they give you the book to read, free. So I signed up to read, "Reporting Lives." EBP asked me what day I would like to post my blog. I said either the 12th or 13th. They gave me the 12th.

The cost is $295 and EBP will provide you with five days of blog posts, interviews and reviews.

Feb 11th was a special day on this tour as the reviewer was Sam G. an "Amazon Top 1000 Reviewer" scheduled to share his or her reviewing magic. After a little research, the honor became a little dubious to me, as Sam G. writes only 5 Star reviews. and wrote three others 5 Stars on that same day. It appears that Sam G. reads 24/7 to be able to write so many reviews. Maybe he/she listens to one on audio while reading another. Maybe he/she listens to two at the same time. I was hard pressed to read the entire book in 10 days, on top of a full time job, caring for family and trying to promote my own work at the same time. Sam G.'s got the skills.

I noted the Amazon Kindle standing of "Reporting Lives" was around 300K at the beginning of the week. I'm familiar with the place. It is truly 'obscurity' and the place from which any author would want their book brought from. On the day of my blog post, I had a Kindle Unlimited Download of "Shooting Stars" and it moved from 300K to 133K (Not exactly 'out of' but definitely 'Less of' obscurity . A single download moved me almost 200K ranks. I watched "Reporting Lives" walk consistently back up the ranks to around 400K as of this writing. My guess is that the only obscurity "Reporting Lives" was brought out of was from the books "Gifted" to the people volunteering to read it for the 'Virtual Book Tour'.

I was told to make sure my post was up by 9:00 am eastern time, on the day I was scheduled. When I was sent the schedule they had put me on the 10th instead of the 12th. I was graciously moved back. I was also told that I should expect to see visits to my sight before and after the scheduled day. I did. I had several visits the three days before from three different ip addresses referred from the author's site, which were all close enough together to have been the same person. I assume this was the author, checking to see if the post was up yet. I posted my review on the afternoon of the 11th. That ip address visited once more after the post and never returned. That's cool. She wanted to see what I'd said. The day of my post, a link on the "Elite Book Promotion" site went active. I got two visits to my site on the 12th directly to the blog post, from twitter, and one today. Two came from EBP.

The EBP site is fairly unimpressive (he with a really boring site says). Every page has the same heading, a huge graphic for EBP. On my laptop, that's all I get--their emblem and links to other pages. If I didn't scroll down, I would never know I was on a different page. I would expect to see the latest and the most important information at the top of each of these pages, like, the daily promoted book, links to videos, what book is on tour, etc. Not their overly large self.

In conclusion, you may ask, "Would you pay $295 real dollars to have your book take a virtual tour?" My answer is virtually, "No way in hell." Another question is, "Was participating in the book tour beneficial?" My answer to that would be, "No and yes." While the book cost me nothing, I spent 10 hours reading it and two hours writing and editing my review, and working with it on my blog. This is all time I could have been writing, recording my podcast, or promoting myself. For my time I got, possibly, one Kindle Unlimited Download and no remarkable increase in visits to my website.

But! Learning that there is virtually no value in a virtual book tour by EBP has saved me a real $295 knowing that they will not bring my book out of obscurity. It's up to me.

"Reporting Lives" - A Book Review


'Reporting Lives' is Debra Picket's fiction debut. She is a long-time writer and award-winning reporter/columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times. In 2004-5 she made a series of trips to East Africa to cover the response of the Chicago philanthropic community to the AIDS pandemic and subsequent orphan crisis there. While there, she began developing the idea for this book, which is largely based on her experiences.

'Reporting Lives' tells the story of Sara Simone, a twenty-something single woman and reporter for a local Chicago television channel. She is tall, attractive, and emotionally crippled. As a reporter she's intelligent, intuitive, and extremely confident to the point of narcissism. We never learn if her emotional unavailability is due to a tragic family accident which occurred during her college years. She does mention feeling some guilt for choosing not to accompany her parents on their tragic journey, though the author never ties that into Sara's inability to commit to a relationship or open up honestly to friends or co-workers. Perhaps her behavior is a result of parental unavailability, as she was raised by two highly successful and driven professional parents.

Regardless, it is this lack of human connectivity which sets her up for a fall on an assignment which has lead her to the slums outside Nairobi, Kenya.

After a bus load of Kenyan exchange students die in a fiery crash on a Chicago freeway, Sara is sent to Nairobi to get video of the families' reactions to the loss of their children and brothers. Sara has the unique ability to draw out this type of story. Things don't go as planned and she spends two months traveling the countryside--not quite breaking through her own emotional walls to find meaning to the abject poverty all around Kenya, and the root of her uncharacteristic response to it.

While Sara seems to wander through the story, passively bouncing from point to point--even her crisis in the Mathare slums seemed randomly inexplicable, out of character, and lacking remarkable impact--the strength of the author's prose and African experiences come forward to win the day. 

Descriptions of Nairobi and later at a hotel near a game preserve came alive for me. I had spent a few years in South Africa during its financially independent and economically robust period during apartheid, working in the townships of Soweto, Chatsworth, and others of the Bantu Tribes and mixed races. Then, returning decades later to find a struggling economy with many of the opulent hotels and businesses in disrepair, or boarded up, many of the scenes described in this novel were particularly poignant. There, in the hotels and restaurants, is where we meet the many characters which make this story grandly diverse.

Though Sara Simone never came alive to me as an empathetic and active character, many of the secondary characters did. Trisha, Simon, Vince, even Mr. Handleburg, and many more all came to life with depth and personality. Finally, Ms. Picket's skill with word craft brought the scenes to life--from a horrific accident on a rain-slick Chicago freeway to the desolation of the Nairobi slums, and the marginal existence of post colonial, and post embassy bombing, Kenyan tourism.

pec

The Grape City Con in Lodi, CA.

I attended my first Comic Con this last weekend. It was the Grape City Con in Lodi, California. (About 45 miles from my home.) I've been to Baycon and World Con, which are both science fiction and fantasy genre based. (Much more writing than visual. Though each had a strong role playing, cosplay, component.)

But, this was my first time as an author with a table of my own, trying to sell books. I sold three books. For the price I paid I certainly didn't get my money back. But making connections and learning how the whole system works was worth it.

Here's what I learned and how I would do it differently next time. Stockton Comic Con is in August and I plan on being there.

1) Wear a t-shirt. I was wearing my standard long-sleeved, button-down, plaid type, shirt. If the shirt has a super hero on it, that's even better. Maybe I can get a "Flypaper Boy" t-shirt made. It would have the caption, "A teenage superhero with tenacity". Or any other t-shirt with something clever to say would help a guy like me blend in. I was certainly not the oldest coot in the building, but definitely the uncoolest.

2) Take my daughter with me. She would have fit right in with a lot of kids her age and she loves to draw. I think the inspiration alone would have been good for her. Plus, I could walk around a bit without wondering if someone would have stopped at my table if someone was there.

3) Make eye contact, smile, and talk. Like I said, I sold three books. No one walked up and asked for a book. Well, one lady did, but she was one who bought one before and said she needed another for her sister. For the most part, people walked past me without looking. Those who looked for a split second and I smiled at them, they smiled back and looked at what was on the table, before they walked away. Those who smiled back and I asked how they were, replied and spoke with me. I was able to tell them about my podcast, my books and what I had coming in the future. It was also those people who bought books, or vowed to buy one for their Kindle.

In summary. I had fun and will do this again.

pec

My Dad has a Barn--Let's Put on a Book Tour.

To all my imaginary "regular followers": You know I am experimenting with different ways of developing my "platform" and establishing myself as a successful and productive author. 

My latest attempt has been to join a book tour. I've seen ads to have books promoted through such a tour, but haven't had the courage to put up the cash yet--considering the lack of success I got from the money paid to "Free And Discount Books" for my launch of "Shooting Stars". For the $60 is shelled out, I can't see that I got a "Red Cent" worth of promotion from it.

So, this time I saw a tweet about reading a book and reviewing it on my blog for a book tour organized by www.elitebookpromotions.com. The book is, "Reporting Lives". I read the book, wrote my review and will have it posted next week. (Right here for your nonexistent eyes to peruse.)

pec

The Pariah Podcast, Episode 2

Alright. Episode 2 is up for my young adult fantasy podcast. If you want to download it or other episodes, just click on the words in the top right corner, "The Pariah Podcast", or you can go to iTunes and subscribe. You could also become a patron at www.patreon.com/Norvaljoe and help me get more episodes out, and faster, while earning some rewards.

Scott Roche gave me a bit of a reality check when I was complaining that no one had given me an iTunes review yet. He told me to just be patient and get a few more episodes up... No kidding. I'm just too impatient.

Episode 3 will be up on the patreon site in a few days, and will come live on my blog and at iTunes about a week later.

pec

Imposter Syndrome

I read a post on Twitter this morning where an author was describing how much of her was consumed various thoughts and actions. She mentioned something called, "Imposter Syndrome".

That's one of those things which keeps authors from finishing their books, or if they finish it, it keeps them from seeking out agents or publishers. I think the idea runs along the idea that, "I'm not really an author. I'm just faking it. I'm an imposter. So I don't deserve to finish the novel, or get published, because then, everyone would see what an imposter I really am."

I feel that myself. On the one hand, I believe that anyone has the right to write the requisite number of words as long as they meet the criteria of following a story arc which logically proceeds from beginning to end. They can then call themselves an author, writer, novelist, etc. A real one, too. 

I tell myself that all the time.

And still, I look for validation all the time. Sales and reviews of my books help me validate it. Though, if you know me personally, books sales have not been phenomenal. I somehow think that if sales had rocketed through the ceiling, I would feel much more validated. 

I work full time as an orthotist. I'm a good one. I'm creative and talented and many of my patients even like me.  But then, I feel like, if I'm an orthotist full time, then I'm only trying to be an author, writer, novelist part time, faking along the best I can until... 

I was running the projects through my mind that I currently have going, mentally trying to get a grip on what I should work on next. Here was the list I came up with:

The Pariah Podcast:
    The Intro and Episode 1 are recorded and in the can.
    Episodes 3 - 7 have been edited once.
    Episode 2 has been read out loud, re edited, and ready to record.
    I want the first 4 Eps in the can by the launch date of February 6th.
    I've decided to broaden the plot of The Pariah and will probably bring another 25K words into it. So I need to outline that and write those five episodes.

I need to make bookmarks of my books and podcast to hand out at a Comic Convention I'm going to and get them printed.

I committed to a website trying to serialize digital writing for a monthly subscription. I said I will serialize a Galactic Battle Base Novel and will need to have my first episode ready by March 31. Again, I would rather have the first four episodes ready, about 2500 words each to be release every two weeks.

The Galactic Battle Base is with the editor. I would like to release that in May. I need to do another edit, at least, and get cover art for the book.

I want to release "Shooting Stars 2" in the summer. So I need to do at least two full edits of that before sending it to the editor.

In the fall I want to release "The Price of Friendship 3" on Podiobooks.com. So that needs to be written, edited twice and recorded.

So, the realization which I had was that, while I may not believe the rest of the world should take me seriously as a writer, if I am to get all of this done on time, I need to take myself seriously as a writer.