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Opposing Views

October 29, 2019 by in category Quill and Moss by Dianna Sinovic tagged as , ,

I regularly turn to my writing critique group to share my WIP and gain valuable feedback from fellow writers. 

Two ways to see it: A gorgeous autumn leaf, or a calling card of poison ivy.

But I also find much value in my monthly book group—and not just because I love to read and then discuss what I’ve read. I marvel at how divergent opinions can be about a book. I’ve wondered at times: Are we talking about the same novel?

Sometimes—actually, rarely—the group coalesces in full delight about a book. More often, some love it, some find it so-so, and some are outright sorry they read beyond the first chapter.

Of course, sites like Goodreads offer ratings and reviews on books for people who don’t have or don’t want to be in a book discussion group. But sitting together with a glass of wine and a plate of snacks is my preferred way of finding out what others think about that new novel or latest work of nonfiction. (My group reads both.)

As a writer, I also see how my take on a book is often at least somewhat different from a nonwriter. I can get caught up in the craft—how do the sentences flow, why did the author use that story structure—and forget that most readers just want a good story. The structural elements are important; they are the solid framework upon which the good story is built. But many readers are willing to give a pass on less-than-perfect structure if they are compelled to keep turning the pages to find out what’s going to happen.

It’s often a reminder to me that as writers we can’t predict what will appeal or connect with readers. One example is Kate Atkinson’s A God in Ruins. While I thoroughly enjoyed the novel—the crisp narrative, the layered characters, the grim depiction of war—I was disappointed in the ending, which I thought was a cheap shot, the equivalent of a story in which the main character wakes up to realize it’s all been a dream. But one member of my group gave an alternative explanation. For her, the ending with its surprise reveal represented the awful price the soldiers paid: that they forfeited their future, of what might have been. I had to agree. 


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Unexpected Launch by @readtracyreed

October 5, 2017 by in category Pink Pad by Tracy Reed tagged as , , ,

Unexpected Launch | Tracy Reed | A Slice of OrangeUnexpected….there are a lot of things that happen in life that are “unexpected.”  My latest release, UNEXPECTED LOVE, was completely unexpected.  I’ve talked about this book in a previous post  [UNEXPECTED NOVEL, JULY 2017].

Since then, I did a cover change and set out to try a new launch plan.  First step in my new launch plan, setting up an ARGroup [HOW I SET UP MY FIRST ARGROUP, SEPTEMBER 2017].  I didn’t realize how valuable an ARGroup could be.

On October 3rd, I released my 17th title.  Let me step back and do a happy dance and a HUGE PRAISE GOD!  Okay, now on to my post.  I have been taking the Mark Dawson courses on Self-Publishing and one of the sessions described a new release launch sequence.  I figured I’d try it.  I’ve release a few books and thought I was doing a decent job, however, I didn’t realize I could have done better.

A little more than thirty days ago, I asked my mailing list for ARGroup members.  I got a few volunteers, which I am very grateful for.

According to Mark’s Launch Sequence, 30 days out, I needed to send my book to my ARGroup.  I missed that by a couple of weeks because of a few tweaks.  Once I sent the email out, I made it very clear what I wanted.  Mark said he found it a little difficult to ask for reviews.  Me too.  It almost felt like I was begging, but there’s a scripture that says, “…you have not, because you ask not…James 4:2”  This was very true.  It never really occurred to me to ask for reviews without some sort of compensation [i.e., giveaway, treat, etc.].  As I wrote the email detailing what I needed, I really did feel uneasy, but that was because it was foreign to me.

In the past when I released a book, I never did it with ANY reviews.  Nor did I release at a special price.  My previous launch plan was, a cover reveal about a week before release day.  Then an email to my mailing list, post it on all my social media, book a couple of ads, possibly a guest post and a lot of prayer.

Here’s how I made Mark’s plan work for me.

Day -30

Send manuscript to ARGroup  via Book Funnel.

Cover Reveal Email to Mailing List [see revised cover.]

Day -30 to -7

Make any changes based on comments. [There were a few things changed.  I had two characters with the same name.  One was a first name and the other was a second name.]

Day -7

Final proof read

Book launch promotion [I decided to wait until I had reviews before placing ads.  I did post to my social media. Elena Dillion helped me design some graphics I could use on my social media and eventually as Facebook Ads. See below.]

Email mailing list with an excerpt

Tease about a launch contest  [I opted to do a Goodreads Giveaway which I set up to run during the hard launch phase.  Three signed copies.  In the past, I’ve had pretty good results with the giveaways.]

 

Day -1

Upload to all relevant platforms [I’ve opted to go wide, so my book is on

Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Barnes and Noble
Buy from Kobo
Buy from Apple Books

Send and email to list announcing new release…build a little drama with one of my graphics.

Day 1

“Soft Launch”

Email Advance Group that book is live and ask for reviews [This has been very exciting.  During my soft launch phase, my ARGroup is responding very well.  As of this posting, my team has posted 6 reviews, 5 Amazon US and 1 Amazon CA.  I have never released a book with reviews.  This was the most difficult part, because I really wanted to by a couple of ads.  But now that I have a few reviews, I’m in a better position for promotional ads.]

Ask for 99c sales – State why the sales would be helpful

Day 2 

[This is where I am as of writing this.  In one of my Amazon categories with my ARGroup’s reviews, I started the day in the 120s in one of my categories. YEAH!]

Keep track on sales and traction. or once you’ve reached your review goal.  If it’s great, switch price to regular price.

“Hard Launch” [My plan is to start my AMS Ads at this point.  I’ve been doing very well with AMS Ads.  I like the results.  AMS Ads are a little tricky.  I’m currently running three.  One is costing me money.  However, it’s getting me sales I don’t think I would have gotten otherwise.  The other two are making money.  I’m curious to see how this new ad will work.]  

Email your list the book is live

Day 7

“Mop Up” email to people who haven’t opened the first email.  Thank them for the great launch.

Day 14

“Second Mop Up” Email

If you’re moving the price  up, let them know in this email [I’m moving my price up earlier in the process.]

Close Launch contest [this signifies the end of a launch]

I’ll let you know how this worked for me.  See you next month.  Happy Fall.

Tracy


Tracy Reed

A California native, novelist Tracy Reed pushes the boundaries of her Christian foundation with her sometimes racy and often fiery tales.

After years of living in the Big Apple, this self proclaimed New Yorker draws from the city’s imagination, intrigue, and inspiration to cultivate characters and plot lines who breathe life to the words on every page.

Tracy’s passion for beautiful fashion and beautiful men direct her vivid creative power towards not only novels, but short stories, poetry, and podcasts. With something for every attention span.

Tracy Reed’s ability to capture an audience is unmatched. Her body of work has been described as a host of stimulating adventures and invigorating expression.

http://www.readtracyreed.com/ 

https://www.facebook.com/readtracyreed 

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/tracy-reed

https://www.instagram.com/readtracyreed/ 

https://twitter.com/readtracyreed

https://www.pinterest.com/readtracyreed/ 

A SOUTHERN GENTLEMAN

Buy now!
A SOUTHERN GENTLEMAN
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Trying New Things with Kitty Bucholtz

August 14, 2017 by in category It's Worth It by Kitty Bucholtz, Writing tagged as , , , ,

Not new in the world of publishing, but new for me. The last few years have been crazy in my personal life, so even though I’ve learned a lot about how to move my writing career to the next level, I haven’t been able to implement any of the changes.

Until now.

Love at the Fluff and Fold by Kitty BucholtzI’m excited that I’m about to release a new book! And for the first time, I’m not publishing it as soon as it is ready. I emailed my newsletter list and included the first chapter and the cover so they could start getting excited about the new story/series. Immediately, a few of my readers wrote back saying they loved it, best book yet!

Thanks to a gentle push from a friend, I decided to put my book on pre-order for the first time. I set up the pre-order with the practically-final version of the book on KDP, iBooks, and Kobo. (Barnes & Noble didn’t have a pre-order option at the time I did this, so I prepped the book to be ready to hit the Publish button the day before I want it to go live.)

I emailed my list a second time, left Chapter One at the bottom in case readers missed it the first time, and gave them the links to the pre-order on Amazon U.S., Amazon U.K., Amazon Australia (my newsletter service lets me see where subscribers are from), iBooks, and Kobo. Within a day, I had my first seven pre-orders – yay!

Another first that I’ve wanted to do for a year or two is to create a beta readers group. I finally got that up and running on Facebook a few weeks ago. I have nineteen beta readers who are reading an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of the book that I put up on BookFunnel.

They’ve pointed out typos, offered a few suggestions, and they’ve given me enormously satisfying positive feedback about the book. They’ll be posting reviews on the first day of release so that new readers will immediately see that others liked the book.

I also finally created a Facebook group for all the rest of my readers! I’ve been frustrated with my Facebook author page and the fact that if a reader posts on my page, it’s almost hidden along the side. It’s ridiculously difficult to have a conversation that way. So I created a group that is attached to the author page. For the first time, I can easily chat with my readers and engage with them in a way that will help them to know, like, and trust me. You can see – and join! – my readers’ Facebook group here.

The other thing I learned is that although readers can’t post reviews to Amazon until the book goes on sale, they can post them to Goodreads as soon as I added the book to the site. I created a listing for the ebook, sent a link to my beta readers, and the first four people who had finished the ARC posted their reviews!

Then I created a paperback listing on Goodreads and set up two Giveaways, one for five books to be given away in the United States only, and one for two books to be given away everywhere. I would’ve gotten these up earlier if I could have, but they’ll go live a week before the book’s release.

I’m also going to try to get the paperback edition up on CreateSpace before the official release day. Once the book is live in any form (i.e., the paperback even though the ebook has its own release date), readers can leave reviews. So if I can get the paperback live and available for sale before the official release day (for the ebook), I can tell my beta readers to please leave their reviews immediately. Then it will look like the book releases with reviews. Awesome!

The last thing I’m doing for the first time is something I hope to never do again. The book’s release date is the day after I move! Yup, movers come pick up our stuff, then we clean the house and turn in the keys, and the next day my book goes live. While I’m staying for a few days at a friend’s house, before an international flight. Limited time, limited Internet access, limited everything. Well…we’ll see how it goes!

Meanwhile, I’m putting together Amazon ads for the book (not a first, I’m already running them for two other books), and getting the last newsletter ready that will go out on release day. This is the most amount of work I’ve ever done to have a true book launch. I’m excited!

I don’t expect to sell hundreds of copies the first day; instead my hope is to learn how to do everything, how long it all takes, and create a streamlined process for the future. Then I’ll create a book launch calendar for myself for the next launch.

Exciting times! I’ll let you know what happens! 😀

 

Kitty Bucholtz author photoKitty Bucholtz decided to combine her undergraduate degree in business, her years of experience in accounting and finance, and her graduate degree in creative writing to become a writer-turned-independent-publisher. She writes romantic comedy and superhero urban fantasy, often with an inspirational element woven in. WRITE NOW! Workshop, her website where she teaches and offers advice on self-publishing and time management, is under renovation. Look for the new website near the end of 2017!

 

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Our Next OCC Meeting

February 6, 2013 by in category Pets, Romance & Lots of Suspense by Linda O. Johnston tagged as , , , , ,

Our February OCC meeting is next Saturday. I’m really looking forward to it–as usual. But my reasons are a little different from why I’m usually filled with anticipation.

First, there’ll be a drawing for me to provide a critique of someone’s first chapter. I always enjoy doing things like that–contributing a little bit, I hope, to encouraging someone to keep on writing.

And then there’s our program. Our all-day speaker is Patrick Brown, the Author Program Manager for Goodreads, and he will be talking about how to promote your wok on Goodreads. I need that! I’ve been a member of Goodreads for a while but haven’t adequately utilized it. I did give one book away on Goodreads once, and I receive emails on updates about people who’ve friended me on Goodreads, but I know that there are a lot of aspects of the site that I’ve never used, or have used incorrectly.

Yes, I’m one of those people who use social media, but only a few things like a page on Facebook–the “friend” kind, not the “like” kind. I blog a lot, weekly on Killer Hobbies and monthly here at A Slice of Orange. This month, I’m also starting to blog on the 18th of each month at Killer Characters–or at least my characters are. Plus, I’m currently doing a lot of guest blogs to help promote my two new releases. And I post now and then on a wonderful blog that’s run by some delightful and talented OCC members: Writers In The Storm.
But I don’t tweet, since I’m sure I’d spend too much time on Twitter. Goodreads, if I knew how to use it better, might be another good resource, though, so I’m really looking forward to learning more.

How about you? Do you participate in Goodreads? Will you be at this month’s meeting?

By the way, there won’t be a PAW meeting this month, and I usually look forward to them a lot, too. But there’s always March…

O? —
Linda O! Johnston
LindaOJohnston.com
OODLES OF POODLES, February 2013
Berkley Prime Crime
UNDERCOVER WOLF, February 2013
Harlequin Nocturne

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My Creativity is Currently in the Warehouse (13)

August 9, 2012 by in category Archives tagged as , , , , , ,

I’m on a Warehouse 13 marathon right now. Even though we’re watching episodes we’ve seen, starting at Season 1, Episode 1, I still love it. That’s the great thing about stories you love. You can enjoy them over and over again.
The other thing about stories you love is that they inspire creativity. Watching episode after episode of Pete and Myka grousing at each other, competing with each other, and always having each other’s back presses all my creative buttons. When Pete asked Myka if she was afraid they were the Red Shirts, and she said yes, John and I laughed out loud when Pete replied, “First, we aren’t going to die. Second, I’m so pumped you know what that means.” [paraphrased]
Over the last 20 episodes, I’ve gone from just enjoying the show for its own sake to thinking about my work and how I can make it funnier, more interesting, tense without being over-serious, adding death and destruction if necessary without a Law & Order feel.  All the artifacts and the things that they do make me think about what I can add to my stories, whether fantastical stories or “regular” ones.
One of the “ah-ha” moments in creating my current romantic comedy series, Strays of Loon Lake (Love at the Fluff and Fold, book one in the series, will be out later this year), was when I decided that a local dog was the frisky father of a lot of puppies in town. Suddenly I had this funny element that I could play up.
In addition to a lot of TV watching, I’ve upped my hours of reading lately. It feels soooo much better to be reading more, like I’m eating healthier or something. I’m reading a lot of nonfiction on writing, self-publishing, and neuroscience. But I’m also reading a lot more fiction than I have in the last year or so. I’ve been reading inspirational, historical and contemporary romance, young adult books, paranormal and urban fantasy books and short stories, some horror, and some suspense. (Trying to track it all on Goodreads, but forgetting to add every book.)
Now here’s a chicken-and-egg thought: in the midst of this burst of desire to pull creative stories IN, I’ve also been writing more, getting creative stories OUT. Did the extra reading inspire me to write more? Or did the deadlines for the two anthologies I’m in push me to gobble up more stories for inspiration? My answer is YES.
Add to all that, my jump from wanting to know more about how the brain works to finding books explaining it to me, and I’ve added yeast to the bread mix. I mean that in terms of rising and growing, not in terms of becoming gaseous and fermenting. Though the fermenting part is making me think of wine, which reminds me of living in Australia, which reminds me of some of the unexpectedly creative pieces I wrote in uni. (Now that I have Australia-brain, my brain is using Australian terms. “Uni” is short for university, i.e., my master’s in creative writing program.) And using Aussie vocabulary reminds me of my friends whom I miss terribly, which reminds me I was going to call Verizon this week and get that international calling plan, which makes me think about having some international characters in my superhero novels, which makes me think of the Cowboy character I created for a short story that went nowhere. Now I just need to figure out how to get an Australian superhero named Cowboy, and his super horse, across the ocean to Michigan where my superheroes are living.
And THAT is how creativity so often works. It’s a bunch of very quick, sometimes illogical jumps in the synapses of the brain that lead from one idea to another. The more you allow and train your brain to make these jumps, the more creative you can be. Sometimes you can even get more creative more quickly.
Many writers have named the part of their unconscious that does this work. Jennifer Crusie calls her unconscious “the girls in the basement” I believe. Anne Lamott says in Bird by Bird that her friend Carpenter says there is a little boy in the cellar handing up characters through the cellar door.
I get this “down below consciousness” idea, but I’ve rarely, if ever, been in a basement that made me feel happier than any other room in the building (even the very cool basement of the State Library of New South Wales isn’t as awesome as the Shakespeare Room there; that’s a room I could be locked in forever!), and I’ve never been in a cellar that I wanted to stay in for hours. (Not even a wine cellar.)
I had problems being nice to that creative part of myself. I found myself whipping it to give me more, faster. It didn’t produce much, so I whipped it more. Then I read and really got the idea that you needed to be nice for the unconscious to flow. But basements and cellars didn’t seem that nice to me.
So I created a character named Katie, a little girl about 10 or 12 who plays in the sunroom or in the huge beautifully well-kept backyard. (I live in a small apartment.) Katie loves to read and watch TV and movies that make her laugh or make her a little scared but that always end well. She likes to pretend after the movie or book ends that she is the hero who vanquished the enemy and tamed (rather than killed) the dragon. Or she is the heroine who helps the hero save the day and they live together happily ever after.
I like Katie. I like her so much that I like to play with her even though she’s a little girl and I’m a grown woman. She’s fun. And when she’s making me laugh or making me wonder what will happen next in her one-girl backyard plays, I find myself writing more words with more joy than ever before.
As it turns out, both Katie and I love watching Warehouse 13, and mostly for the same reasons. Katie is giving me ideas about “artifact”-like things I can put in our stories. She wants me to put in more pop culture references like Red Shirts to make people who get the jokes laugh. I tell Katie this is too much work, I’d have to do more research, keep better notes, and I remind her that I too often lose my notes-on-napkins anyway so really–
Katie interrupts me with some cute begging and funny faces and tells me that surely these touches will make me really famous and make me heaps of money and (she knows this is the coup de grace) I’ll make people laugh.
I think about it and then consider the alternative. But what if I don’t make people laugh, Katie? What if they think it’s dumb?
And in her properly outraged 10-year-old voice, she shouts, “Then they’re dumb!”
I laugh and shake my head and agree to try harder to be cute and funny like her. And then I start writing and…well, Katie and I like the results.
What about you? Where does your creativity come from?

Kitty Bucholtz decided to combine her undergraduate degree in business, her years of experience in accounting and finance, and her graduate degree in creative writing to become a writer-turned-independent-publisher. Her first novel, Little Miss Lovesick, was released in September 2011 as an ebook and will be available soon in print format. Kitty has also written magazine articles, devotionals, and worked as a magazine editor. She is the co-founder of Routines for Writers where she blogs every Monday. Her next novel, Love at the Fluff N Fold, will be released in late 2012.
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