Blogging about nothing, and thank you for reading it

John's Head

quillwritingToday is one of those days I really want to write a blog post, but I’m kind of at a loss for what to say.  There’s just so much to comment on, but others have already cornered the market on it, and to add to it would simply dilute the narrative.  That is the last thing I want to really do with this post.

Blogging is as much passion as it is art, but it can also be a royal pain the ass.  I have many friends who maintain their own blogs; some about what’s going on in their minds, others their hearts, and many about personal projects they are working on.  Be it weight loss, quitting smoking, fighting addiction, or simply attempting to overcome something from their past, we all have something to blog about.  Everyone can write if they want to, and there is no shortage of quality…

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Author Simone Salmon releases “Camille and the Bears of Beisa-Drafnel” through Solstice Publishing

"Camille and the Bears of Beisa-Drafnel" was recently released by Solstice Publishing.

“Camille and the Bears of Beisa-Drafnel” was recently released by Solstice Publishing.

As my guardian angel instructed, I wrapped a small piece under the ribbon tied around my braid. I noticed Miss Mattie’s immediate reaction. Her harsh tone gentled and she even allowed me to eat with her at the dining table. A welcomed change, my nerves were still on guard, unsure of how long Miss Mattie’s tolerance would last. Against my better judgment, I decided to ask about Caleb and Cassandra.

“Miss Mattie, do you think I can visit with my sister and brother sometime soon?”

Growling, Miss Mattie cocked her head and then swung around to face the door. Her eyes rolled back into their sockets. Her head snapped back as she sniffed the air.

“Why are you sitting at this table?”

I warned you, Grandmother. Leave the table now!

Miss Mattie’s neck protruded as her limbs extended. Fingers mutated into claws and hind legs ripped through her lower extremities. Wiry tufts of hair sprouted all over her body. Her face contorted and elongated as saliva slimed down enlarged jowls. My hand stifled the scream roaring through my head.

Get up and walk away slowly. Do not turn your back on it. Now!

From Camille and the Bears of Biesa-Drafnel by Simone Salmon

Hello, book enthusiasts!  Yes, it has been a while, but we are back with another Solstice Publishing author, Simone Salmon, author of Camille and the Bears of Beisa-Drafnel, a fantasy-thriller filled with intrigue, adventure, and surprises at every turn.  As usual, B&B lets the author’s work speak for itself, and Simone’s work has received praise from many peers, including screenwriter and author Robert Blake Whitehill of the Ben Blackshaw Series:

This story operates in many rich dimensions. It reads like a graphic novel, but without need of illustrations, as the events explode like fireworks in the mind’s eye. What an amazing piece of writing!”

Simone Salmon, author and Certified Reiki Practitioner, has released "Camille and the Bears of Beisa-Drafnel."

Simone Salmon, author and Certified Reiki Practitioner, has released “Camille and the Bears of Beisa-Drafnel.”

Salmon describes herself as a “spiritual truthseeker,” who embraces and appreciates many different spiritual pursuits, including appreciation of psychic phenomena.  On her blog, she showcases many emerging authors and offers services as a Certified Reiki and Pranic practitioner.  Salmon is a native Jamaican who moved to New York and resides there while, in her words, work on her “exit strategy from Corporate America.”  Let’s welcome Simone to the Books & Blondes Cafe with a hearty hug, a raised mug, and checking out her work!

Some of Simone’s other links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/drafnel

Twitter: @miraclemindcoac

Website: www.ssalmonauthor.com

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/simsalmon/

A word about my blogs, my writing, and clickbait

John's Head

Don't worry, Mr. Cole!  This blog is clickbait-free. Don’t worry, Mr. Cole! This blog is clickbait-free.

There’s been a lot of talk recently about “click bait,” which is term used to describe inflammatory or controversial headlines, videos, photos, links or other media to drive internet traffic to various sites, mostly news sites and blogs which rely on advertising to keep themselves in business and support the livelihoods of those operating or owning such sites.  While I will never begrudge anyone the ability to make a living through legal means, there is something I wanted to make my readers aware of so expectations of this blog are clear.

I will not knowingly engage in the practice of “click bait” on this blog, or any other blog which I either operate or contribute to.  Others might do so, but I won’t, no matter the pressure or the cost.

That said, I do take great pains to ensure that my headlines…

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Paper Losses: A Little Bite

John's Head

paperlossescoverBelow is an excerpt from my novella, Paper Losses, available in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon.com from Solstice Publishing:

James entered the facility and saw Danny at his desk. He could not believe just how frazzled Danny looked. The generally clean-cut, clean-shaven Daniel Sconcroft actually had the look of fear in his green eyes. A heavy-set man but not taller than James, Danny stood up and smiled weakly.

“Hey James,” Danny said. “You’ve gotta’ see this.”

James looked at the screen Danny was looking at and saw numbers; lots of numbers. It was the latest Publisher’s Statement. James knew that the Publisher’s Statement was the Nielsen report of the newspaper business. A good statement meant numbers were up, advertising rates could be raised, and businesses would come to the larger paper. Weak numbers meant ultimatums to “grow the business” or you lost your job. It was that simple, and even…

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John T. Murphy, Author of Mission: Veritas, stops in to share some marketing and writing wisdom

JohnTMurphyphotoHappy Fourth of July, everyone!  As we Americans get ready to paint the sky with fireworks, toss some meat on the grill, and enjoy company with family and friends, let’s sit back and enjoy some coffee and chat with author John T. Murphy, whose novel Mission:  Veritas – an absolutely amazing, action packed thrill ride, to be honest – is available on Amazon.  John’s been gracious enough to stop by our little grotto of caffeination and answer some questions.

Did this book stay consistent through the writing and editing process, or did it evolve from the original idea?

Oh, it changed drastically. I first wrote it as a screenplay because I thought I could shoot it on video using green screen. I was a video hobbyist at the time, and I was going to get my (then) 18 year old son to play the lead role. That was an incredibly expensive idea, and I had to abandon it. A friend suggested I write it in novel form, then put it on Amazon. I did just that, but writing a screen play and writing a novel are very different. I had dabbled in writing for the past 23 years, read books on writing novels and so on, but had not gotten published. So, my writing skills by the first time I uploaded my story to Amazon were pathetic. Unfortunately, no one I knew would or even could tell me what was wrong with it. It wasn’t until I went on a freelancing website (Elance.com) and hired an editor to critique the story did I realize how much work I had to do. The only thing consistent between the time I started to the time I got published was the general concept and the story line. The rest underwent a much needed overhaul. Everyone has a unique inspiration for starting this arduous quest that will make you doubt yourself time and again. That is mine.

Who/What do you enjoy reading in your spare time?

I used to read Brad Thor, Steven King, Pies Anthony, Orson Scott Card, and on and on. The only time I had for reading was when on an airplane or at lunch breaks at work. However, since starting to write in earnest, I spend my ‘reading time’ reading books on writing skills.

Is there a place where you are able to “find your center?”

If, by “find your center” you mean “inner peace” then, no. There’s always turmoil in my head, despite living a pretty decent and stress free life. The turmoil comes from my constant wrangling over whether my writing is good enough, will I get published, will readers keep interested, am I being too boring here or wordy there. Then there’s the grander quest for  life accomplishment, and all the ordinary things that people worry about when they’ve got their basic needs satisfied. It’s important to have constant angst, though. It keeps one trying to do better. If we felt “inner peace” too much, we’d sit around and play video games or just meditate, or something else unproductive. Angst produces drive.

If you mean “getting in the zone” for writing, well, that’s a challenge as well. There’s always distractions, both external and internal. Calls I should make, errands to run, coordinating with other people’s schedules and so on suck up huge amounts of time. Then, I start remembering little things I wanted to look up, investigate, or something to buy on Amazon, which adds up to more time suck and diffusion of focus.

If you’re wondering how I get into the creative mindset, I first swear that I will not check email until later, nor open up a browser window unless it is the Thesaurus.com, or to research bits of fact for the story. No random surfing or shopping. I go back through the chapters just prior to what I plan to hammer out for the day. Getting my neural pathways warmed up, I’m usually able to get in the zone and stay there. Even if I go back and make edits to previously written pages, it’s all about being in those pathways where the story lives. It’s really hard to just pop open the word processor and start with my most recent sentence. Using this “review, edit, then create new” method, it doesn’t matter where I am, in someplace quiet, or in an airport.

What are some ways you effectively marketed your book?

My book marketing manager is probably best at answering this, but I would say that it is in, you guessed it (but probably didn’t want to hear it) social media. The whole idea behind marketing is to get your title and book idea before as many eyes as possible. Things like book marks, business cards, networking events, or standing in a trade show booth are all extremely limiting in the number of people who will encounter you, your book, and have it last in their memories. I think those kinds of gimmicks are fine for when you’re out and about and someone asks what you do. Fine, give them a book mark or card. But that shouldn’t be your main marketing thrust. I’ll bet you’ve never encountered a single inventor of the consumer products you buy. They didn’t give you a card or coupon, or anything close to that. It’s just as likely you’ve never met the authors you’ve read, or at least not very many.

I believe there are certain essentials to a good marketing strategy: A good cover design; an intriguing title;  a good hook line; a good blurb. Each of those elements ought to provide a tantalizing taste, then leave the prospective buyer wanting to find out more. Think about your own experiences when buying a book, even an ebook. You look at the cover, the title, read the blurb, then make a decision to buy or not.

A good hook line is something I suspect many authors overlook. They anguish enough over writing a two-hundred word blurb, then feel like they’ve paid their pound of flesh. But shrinking the story down into a twenty-word sentence that gives the gist of the setting, the conflict, and something with spice to add intrigue. Having a hook line will shorten the amount of time people need to invest before deciding your novel is of interest to them or not, to then read the rest of the blurb, or to even buy. It should be short enough that when people you meet ask, “What’s your book about”, you can tell them in less than 20 seconds. And, it should result in them being intrigued enough that they say, “Huh! I’ll have to buy it.”

Taming the social media beast is worth a few books all by itself. But, quick advice for marketing to an author newb: good cover, good title, a great hook line, then good blurb. If you have money to spend, invest in a professional cover designer.

What is the one piece of advice you can give to authors struggling to attract readers?

When new authors start out (much like I did), they believe they can create a finished novel in one go around. This is highly unlikely. This would be akin to saying, “I like music, and I listen to a lot of stuff, so I’m going to compose a symphony.” Read lots of books on writing. I’d recommend starting with “Writing Fiction for Dummies” by Randy Ingermanson and Peter Economy.

I’m not implying anyone is a dummy, but it’s really well written and illuminates readers into the structure, mechanics, and secret methods to use for coming up with pretty solid scenes and better story.

Another is “The Hero’s 2 Journeys” by Michael Hauge which gives the main character more depth, describing the outer struggle of the plot, and the inner struggle of the protagonist that drives his/her actions and choices.

So, my single piece of advice is… Start by assuming your first draft will be terrible. You need to endure that, we all do. Then hire someone with specific knowledge on novel writing to critique, then study, refine, study, refine. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Actually, several marathons because there’s the quest to get published, then marketing, and so on. Be mentally prepared for that kind of commitment.

missionveritas coverThanks, John!  Mission:  Veritas is available on Amazon.  Check it out!  We hope that John decides to stop back in soon!

Reblog: How to spot a vanity publisher

Today’s digital media makes it easier than ever for a writer to become published on their own.  Still, there are some shady folks out there who continue to con budding writers into signing questionable contracts for publishing while charging them for the service.  This doesn’t have to happen.

KC Sprayberry, Author and Editor with Solstice Publishing, blogged about ways to identify a vanity publisher.  Her blog is informative, and essential reading for all writers looking to get their story out there.  Please click on this paragraph to read KC’s blog!

Poem: Four Leaf Clover

Food for thought

SOUL FIELDS

There is
an invisible
four leaf clover
in my heart
surrounding
my inner child´s
innocent
believing in good

even if
I forget
I can´t be but
a lucky person,
because
my
heart beats

– Deelia ©

And then, as if written by the hand of a bad novelist, an incredible thing happened.  ― Jonathan Stroud

You never know what worse luck your bad luck has saved you from.
― Cormac McCarthy

Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.   ― Dalai Lama 

Connect with your heart and you´ll always find a four leaf clover.  ― Deelia

Image: Wikimedia Commons

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