Friday, December 28, 2012

Friday Inspirational Photos - TSO

Since there wasn't a lot of publishing industry news outside of Amazon's announcement that they expected to sell 2 million less Kindle Fires than expected (and the fact that my husband and I both had the flu this week - the one time every five years we get sick!) I decided to end Christmas week with more photos from our seventh Trans Siberian Orchestra concert earlier this month. Enjoy!

















Friday, December 21, 2012

Choose Your Own Apocalypse Blog Fest and Friday Christmas Photos

Choose Your Own Apocalypse Blog Fest, hosted by Apocalypse Now and The Warrior Muse.

You see, while many people think the world really is going to end on Friday, the 21st, most of them can't agree on HOW. Will it be an alien invasion? Zombies? Collision with a mighty meteor? The super flu? Solar flares? Oh my, there are so many ways the world could conceivably end, but what we want to know is how you, yes YOU, think it will happen.

The rules are simple:
1. Choose your apocalypse
2. Sign up on the linky below
3. Tell us how you prepared for your survival amongst everyone else's demise
4. Describe your apocalypse and how it's going down
5. Make sure the badge is displayed on your blog
6. Visit your fellow survivors and see how their world ended
Other than that, make it whatever you'd like!

Since I am a big Lovecraft fan, choosing my apocalypse was easy!

An earthquake in the Pacific Ocean will rip a chasm in the ocean floor. Those dwelling in the great city of R’lyeh will awake from their centuries of slumber. Cthulhu himself will lead the millions to the surface, where in a single day they will wreck havoc across the earth. Those not killed will go mad at the sight of Cthulhu, Ithaqua, Servitors, and other monsters.

How have I prepared? I’ve been in contact with the Great Race of Yith, intelligent beings who have conquered time through the ability to send their minds across eons and inhabit new bodies. Many dwell among us and I have convinced them to take me with them.

And should it all go bad, I intend to enter the Dreamlands and take my chances there!



Fortunately for us, this is as real as Cthulhu gets:






 
Everyone have a Merry Christmas!




Monday, December 17, 2012

People Skills for Writers

Online, writers don't lack for tips when it comes to grammar, punctuation, storyline, and book promotions. But one aspect that's overlooked is people skills. And not just for writers - think how much better this world would be if people skills were taught in schools.It's part of the foundation for success. (In my book, Overcoming Obstacles with Spunk, it's one of the Five Keys.)

I cover people skills in my upcoming How to Publish and Promote Your Book Now. They can help us handle situations like this:

• The reviewer who hates your book.
• The overbearing fan who asks too many personal questions.
• The bookstore manager who rudely says no to a book signing.
• The author who makes a snide remark about your genre.
• The interviewer who attacks you with questions.
• The writer who has no interest in purchasing your book but pumps you for information.

(You can probably think of a thousand more situations that might induce the urge to throttle someone. Resist!)

It all comes down our reputation. It's slow to build up, but one's reputation can be destroyed in a instant. All it takes is one moment of poor people skills to join the ranks of "Authors Behaving Badly."

Have you been in a situation where you had to stop and think before reacting? One where you almost said or did the wrong thing? Or have you witnessed a bad people skill moment lately?


Friday, December 14, 2012

The Hobbit Blogfest, Déjà vu Fest - Setting up a Blog Tour, and Friday Photo

The Hobbit Blogfest, hosted by Tyrean’s Writing Spot and M. Pax. We are to answer a couple questions in celebration of the release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

What is your favorite hobbit characteristic/or the one that you think closely resembles you . . .?

I’d like to say their penchant for fun, but it’s probably their short stature and big feet. (I’m 5’3” and wear a size 10 - men’s.)

If you could choose between a scrumptious second breakfast and a perilous unexpected journey – which would you prefer?

I’m all about the thrills - give me the perilous journey!

Have you ever left behind something on a journey (expected or unexpected) and wished you could have it over and over again? (a pocket handkerchief?)

I’m always forgetting things on a trip. I remember buying some really cool candy while staying with a friend. It was supposed to be a gift for the next person we were visiting. We drove off and left it in my friend’s fridge. (At least she enjoyed it.)

What is your Favorite part or quote from the book that you hope will be in the movie?

It’s been so many years since I read the book, I can’t think of a particular part. Always enjoyed Smaug though.


Next is DL Hammon’s Bump-Déjà vu Fest. We are to repost something from this year that maybe didn’t get a lot of attention. I did a two-part series on setting up a blog tour, and while Part I received a lot of traffic and comments, Part II did not.

Conducting a Blog Tour - Part II

After six blog tours of my own, there are a few things I have learned. This is a continuation from Part I - Setting up a Blog Tour:

Dates are set, you have your topics.
What happens leading up to, during, and after your tour?

Before tour:

List your upcoming tour on your blog and website.

Make sure you know exactly what each host expects and wants.

Prepare all guest posts and complete interview questions. This should not be something you rush through - it will take time. Go over these several times, looking for errors. You don’t want mistakes or poorly written guest posts.

A week or more before your tour begins, send your hosts all information, including:
Guest post/interview
Short bio
Short book blurb
Links to your site and where to purchase book
Jpg images of your book cover and a promo photo if you have one
Your book’s information - price, ISBN, genre, etc.
Html code or link to book trailer

Confirm dates, information received, and time of post with all hosts.

During tour:

Post link to tour stop on your blog and all social sites. Entice your followers, readers, and fans to visit your host’s site.

Check your guest post several times a day and respond to comments. The key to a successful tour is your interaction with the host’s followers. And remember, no matter what is said, remain positive. Even if your stop that day is a review and it’s not the most flattering.

Check back on earlier stops, as some people will comment late.

Be sure you have made it easy for people to follow your blog and other sites. (Because you should gain during a tour.)

After tour:

Thank each host!

For sites featuring giveaways, be sure to get winner’s contact information for sending books or passing along to your publisher.

Thank your followers and fans for keeping up with your tour.

Continue visiting your host sites. If you never visit again, you are sending the message that you were just using them.

Problems can arise at every stage of your tour, so be prepared:

Hosts that forget to post on time. (Or at all.)

Hosts that are indifferent or don’t interact with those who comment.

Incomplete posts or links that don’t work.

Hosts that continue to make demands or complain even after your guest spot.

(Sometimes things happen. All you can do is learn from the experience and avoid problematic hosts in the future.)

Your tour is successful if any one or more the following happens:

Your book sales increase during or after a tour.

You are exposed to a lot of potential readers.

Your own sites gain followers. (Hits are good, visits are better, followers best.)

Now who is ready for a virtual tour?

Part I

And your Friday inspirational photo from a recent Christmas lights hayride:



Monday, December 10, 2012

Cheers Cavanaugh Blogfest


Today kicks off the the Cheers Cavanaugh Blogfest, hosted by Mark, Morgan, Stephen, and David. The prizes include a signed copy of one of Alex’s books, a recording of Alex playing guitar, and a photo of the elusive ninja himself.

We are to give back to the most giving blogger on the Internet, Alex J. Cavanaugh. That’s probably not possible in a single blogfest, but we’re going to try.

In +/- 20 words, what does Alex look like?

He looks like the very sexy Hugh Jackman. (I’ve heard there are bonus points for this!)

In +/- 20 words, who could play Alex in a documentary? (Living or dead.)

I’ll stick with Hugh Jackman. (Maybe more bonus points?)

In +/- 20 words, who does Alex remind you of?

Captain America - wholesome, genuine, humble, and willing to do anything for others.

In +/- 100 words, (excluding the title) write flash fiction using all these prompts: Cavanaugh, Ninja, IWSG, Cosbolt, Guitar

The stage lights dimmed. The crowd roared, and I added my voice to the cry. I’d waited all year for this concert. Cosbolt live!

Strobes flashed, spraying a rainbow of colors. Shadowy figures moved across the stage, keeping to the shadows as if ninjas. The crescendo around me rose several decibels in anticipation.

The strobes ceased, plunging the arena into darkness. My heart pounded in my chest. I stretched higher on my toes, determined not to miss the moment.

An explosion of lights flooded the stage at the same time as music erupted from the massive speakers. I squinted against the brilliance, my eyes on the dark figure front and center. I was only ten feet away and could clearly see the guitar’s silhouette. I screamed louder, my hands in the air.

The bright lights dimmed and spotlights fell on the figure. Tossing back his long hair to reveal the “IWSG” logo on his chest, he stepped up to the microphone and held up his fist.

“Are you ready to rock?” Cavanaugh screamed.

I think I lost my voice that night.

(Image is from my recent TSO concert.)

For Bonus Points: In +/- 40 words, leave a comment for Mrs. Cavanaugh - thanking her for sharing

Thank you for allowing Alex to pursue his dream. He’s helped so many and made the blogging world a better place. True success is based on how many lives one touches, and Alex is the epitome of true success.


For a list of participants, visit Mark, Morgan, Stephen, or David. And if you’re not following Alex, visit his blog HERE.

Best I could offer, Alex! Hope you enjoy today. You deserve it.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Are Your Book Sales Sagging? And the Friday Inspirational Photos

Many have noted a dip in book sales over the past month. Before you start to panic and wonder what you are doing wrong, I can explain the dip in one word - Christmas.

Okay, might take a few more words than that. But here’s why Christmas is causing book sales to drop:

People like to give physical presents. It’s really difficult to wrap an ebook, so many are purchasing print books instead. And unfortunately, with print book sales continuing to decline, this increase is barely noticeable. People are also buying ereaders and tablets as gifts.

Ebook sales continue to explode and people are giving those as gifts - but in the form of gift cards from Amazon, iTunes, or Barnes and Noble. So ebook sales from those gifts won’t occur until after Christmas when everyone goes bonkers with their gift cards. (BTW - never try to access iTunes on Christmas day.)

People tend to stop buying things for themselves in the month or two leading up to Christmas. They’re either hoping they will get those items for Christmas or they’ve been ordered by family members not to buy anything else. (Yes, that does become an ultimatum in our house.)

So if your sales are sagging a little, relax. Come Christmas morning, things should perk up again.

And your Friday inspirational photos…



It was our seventh year to see Trans Siberian Orchestra in concert and we had middle floor, second row. I still haven’t gone through all of the photos (I’ve been formatting books all week) but my husband put together a DVD already of the video he took with his iPhone. Hopefully I’ll get to the photos soon!

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

The Insecure Writer's Support Group

It’s time for another edition of The Insecure Writer’s Support Group, hosted by Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh.

I thought today I’d offer some tips and encouragement for those of you preparing to format an ebook for self-publishing.

Ebook formatting is usually done in Word (unless you have a program like InDesign that can create epub and other formats for you) which makes it simple. However, there are a few things you want to watch out for:

No hard line returns unless you are ending a paragraph. Either remove them all or be prepared for weird formatting in your ebook.

No extra spaces at the end of sentences. If you’re uploading to Smashwords, you’ll get an error message. Those also need to be removed.

Watch your line spacing - single is best.

Since the font size can be changed by the reader, you need to think of your ebook as one long scroll rather than a physical book - don’t try to guess where pages will end or begin.

For that same reason, no page numbers in your table of contents.

Go easy on graphics.

Taking care of those things before you begin formatting will save you hours of frustration!

If you’re still beating your head against the keyboard, let me know, as I do formating for both ebook and print book form HERE. Believe me, I’ve seen just about every weird formatting issue out there!

Don’t let ebook formatting get the best of you.

And do I dare tell you about Word’s weird way of including ghost formatting in documents? Fun!

Monday, December 03, 2012

Pimp My Blog Feature, And You Are? Blogfest, and Baby Faces Blogfest

In true Hammy fashion, I think I’ve taken on too much! But I will do my best.

Today I have the “Pimping Your Blog” feature over at Gossip Girl’s site. She talks about my first non-fiction book, Overcoming Obstacles With SPUNK!

And I signed up for TWO blogfests! What are the odds?

First one is the And You Are…? Blogfest, hosted by Tammy and Emily.

These are the "And You Are...?" Questions:

1. How many speeding tickets have you gotten?
Just one, despite the fact that I drive 5-25 miles over the speed limit at all times. (Warning - DO NOT get in front of me unless you plan to MOVE!)

2. Can you pitch a tent?
Barely.

3. What was your worst vacation ever?
The vacation itself wasn’t bad, but one year we drove to Arkansas to visit my husband’s parents. One day of driving - 15 hours on the road. When we arrived, I was almost in tears and asked “How on earth are we going to get home?”

4. What was the last thing you bought over $100?
 Do Christmas gifts count?

5. We're handing you the keys to what?
A Hyundai Sante Fe Limited, fully loaded. Boo-yah, baby! Yes, that’s my real vehicle and I am still stoked to drive it.

6. What was the last meal cooked that made even you sick?
We share the duties, and once in a while my husband over-spices. Probably one he cooked then.

7. Fill in the blank: Oh my gosh! Becky, look at her butt! It is so big. She looks like two balloons are stuck in her pants.

8. What was your first car?
A Volkswagon Bus. Always threatened to turn it into a dune buggy. It did 72 mph DOWNHILL.

9. Your best friend falls and gets hurt. Do you ask if he/she's okay or laugh first?
I ask if she’s okay. I’m not that insensitive!

10. What's the worst song ever?
Achy Breaky Heart. Nails on a chalkboard.

Next, it’s the Baby Faces Blogfest, hosted by Trisha WORD and STUFF.

Post a picture of yourself as a baby and/or post a short story about when you were a baby.

I’m going to do a little bit of both.

When I cleaned out my mom’s storage unit this past summer, I found this photo of me on my first birthday:

And I’m also posting this one of me and my father. It’s a scanned print made from a slide, so not the best of quality, but I’ve always liked it. My father died when I was eleven, and my mom told me I was the daughter he’d always wanted. So any photo with the two of us together is special.

Now to hop around to all of the blogfest participants. And if you have time, stop by Gossip Girl’s site.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Industry News and Friday Inspirational Photo

Some interesting things in the news this week:

According to Tech Crunch, $1.456 billion was spent on Cyber Monday, the biggest day ever. Digital content sales grew 28% from last year.

"Barnes & Noble Decides That Purchased Ebooks Are Only Yours Until Your Credit Card Expires." (Nice, huh?) Read the full article, which also covers DRM, at Tech Dirt

Publishing Executive posted this article - 1 in 5 Adults to Own an iPad in 2013
The Simba Information Report reveals:
“After tracking U.S. iPad ownership trends since the tablet's birth in 2010, Simba estimates that within a few short weeks, one in every five adults in the U.S. will own at least one iPad.
“Additionally, the report projects that within five years, there will be more adults in the U.S. who own an iPad or other tablet than those who purchase print books -- and it is up to publishers and authors to decide how to approach this.”

Publishers Weekly noted that mass market paperbacks had fallen 23% this year, with hardcover and trade paperbacks falling 7% and 10% respectively.

What do you think of this week’s news?

And your Friday inspirational photo:


Feeling chilly?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Reasons for a Query Letter Rejection

Before you start sending out query letters, it helps to know some of the main reasons why you might receive a rejection.

(Taken from my upcoming How to Publish and Promote Your Book Now!)

A proper query letter is critical. It’s usually an editor’s first impression of a new writer. That letter reveals so much about a person. It’s the first test a writer must pass in the submission process.

How might your query fail the test? Here are some reasons for rejections:

1. Improper formatting/poor grammar.
2. Addressed to the wrong person or to “Whom It May Concern.”
3. Omission of key requested information.
4. Poor attitude—writer comes off as cocky, overbearing, insolent, or just a jerk.
5. Querying a genre they don’t accept.
6. Author isn’t marketable.
7. Synopsis doesn’t intrigue or grab the editor/reader.
8. Editor was having a bad day.
9. A similar book is already in production.
10. Manuscript isn’t marketable or it doesn’t fit their current needs.
11. Unstable market causes problems that result in sudden submission closings or worse.

The first five reasons demonstrate the writer either can’t follow directions or will be difficult to work with. It often means instant elimination no matter how good the writing. These mistakes can (and should) be avoided. The second two you can work on to improve. The others are simply factors that are outside of your control.

What other reasons can you think of for a rejection?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Remember to be Humble: You’re Not All That and a Bag of Chips

Achievement is good. Meeting goals feeds our ego and boosts our self-image. Success gives us the confidence to keep moving forward even when times are tough.

But when we think we’ve finally arrived, we’re actually going backwards at a frightening rate.

A boastful comment on someone’s recent blog post reminded me of an old but true saying - “Pride comes before a fall.

Humility is a virtue. It is remembering that we didn’t get here on our own. It’s not boasting or bragging. It’s the willingness to help others achieve their dreams. It’s acknowledging that sometimes we are wrong. It’s the ability to put the spotlight on others.

As my husband likes to say, it’s admitting we are not all that and a bag of chips.

Am I the best speaker in the world? Far from it. Am I a great writer? I already know I’m not. Do I know everything about publishing and promoting? Not a chance!

But what I do know in these areas I am more than willing to pass on to others. (Because really, you don’t want to make all the mistakes I’ve made along the way!) And I’m willing to continue to improve and learn more.

As writers and authors, as human beings, we need to maintain a humble spirit. The genuine, giving person will be remembered. The arrogant jerk will not. (At least, not in a good way!)

Do you try to remain humble? Do you catch yourself acting with false humility now and then? And can you recognize true humility when you see it?

Remember, if you do think you are all that and a bag of chips, you’re really just a couple fries short of a Happy Meal!

And since I forgot a photo on Friday:


Sploosh!

Have a great Thanksgiving, everyone!

Friday, November 16, 2012

I Miss You Blogfest

Today it the I Miss You Blogfest, hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh, Matthew MacNish, and Andrew Leon.

List a blogger you miss and one you would miss.


The blogger I miss the most is Eric W. Trant at Digging With the Worms

Eric is a published author whose work includes light fantasy, science fiction, and literary pieces:

Out of the Great Black Nothing: Novel 2011
Short stories in several volumes of An Honest Lie

On May 21 of this year, Eric’s 18 month-old son died, and he’s not been online as much. He always had such thought-provoking posts and I really miss those.

Eric, when you are ready, we hope you rejoin us.


The blogger I would miss the most is Elizabeth Spann Craig at Mystery Writing is Murder

Elizabeth is the author of many cozy mysteries. The next one, Knot What it Seems, comes out on February 5, 2013. (The same day as my next book - we’ll have to celebrate!)

She founded the Writer’s Knowledge Base and features an Ebook Services Directory on her site.

Elizabeth’s posts are so informative and she really knows how to relate writing, publishing, and promoting to real life.


I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting her in person, and she is just a delight!

I’ve followed her blog for years now and would really miss her!





I’d also like to thank everyone who offered either a tour spot or assistance with the release of my next book. Most of my dates are now full and next month I will have a sign up with a giveaway for anyone who wants to help announce its release on February 5th.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Renaissance of Hetty Locklear Celebration

M. Pax has a special celebration planned for her new release!


The Renaissance of Hetty Locklear

A New Adult Urban Fantasy, The Renaissance of Hetty Locklear is the first book in a new series. And it’s now out! The main character, Hetty, is a twenty-two-year-old, stumbling about in an effort to become a full-fledged adult. She struggles with self-esteem, weight, relationships, and making the transition between college and the real world.

Graduation from community college isn’t the magic elixir Hetty Locklear counts on for becoming an adult. Her parents, who work the Renaissance fair circuit, insist she spend part of the summer with them. Hetty doubts pretending to live in the Middle Ages will help her find her way.

To make it worse, an entity haunts her at her dead-end job, warning her of a dangerous man she doesn’t know. The ghost leads her to a lover who has a lot of secrets. He pulls her farther into peril and into a strange, hidden world of genetic experimentation.

New Adult Urban Fantasy with a contemporary sci-fi twist. Mature content.

Available as an ebook at Amazon Amazon UK Smashwords iTunes Kobo
Visit M. Pax’s site for more links.

M. Pax is celebrating her latest release with a jousting tournament and contest at her website. Cheer for the knights to help them win the grand prize, and you’ll be put in a drawing to win an ebook copy of The Renaissance of Hetty Locklear. Five will be given away. Huzzah!

Please go cheer on the knights!


I am also setting up a small blog tour for the release of How to Publish and Promote Your Book Now! I’m looking for host sites that appeal to writers for these dates: February 7, 15, and 18. Thanks!

Friday, November 09, 2012

Industry News, Friday Inspirational Photo, and Special Bonus Photos!

From CNET News - Amazon Wine now open for business!

“Customers order directly from a winery, via Amazon, of course, and are able to ship up to six bottles for $9.99. Looks like Amazon Prime's free, fast shipping doesn't work for this service, and the site notes each winery operates under its own permits and determines which states it can ship to.

“So far, the list of eligible states is pretty limited. It includes California, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, Washington, Wyoming, and Washington, D.C. However, Amazon said more will be coming soon.”

Makes you wonder what they will sell next!

From Publishing Executive - 25% of all Android apps pose a security risk.

“Security research firm Bit9 today released a new research report showing that more than 100,000 Android applications in the Google Play store—25 percent—pose a security risk to mobile device users and the enterprise networks to which they connect.

“In its examination of the more than 400,000 Android apps, Bit9 found that 72 percent use at least one high-risk permission. In addition, the company found that:
42 percent of applications access GPS location data, and these include wallpapers, games and utilities
31 percent access phone calls or phone numbers
26 percent access personal data, such as contacts and email
9 percent use permissions that can cost the user money”

Scary, huh?

A couple photos for you today.

I appreciate everyone’s sweet comments and praise regarding my photos. Ironically, when I took photography in high school for three semesters, I got two B’s and one C! But the teacher did tell me that if I ever slowed down, I’ve be a great photographer. (Did I mention I am Hammy the Squirrel? I can only go so slow!)

Today’s Friday Inspirational Photo:

And…

I got a review copy of How to Publish and Promote your Book Now!

(Yes, that is a Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket holding up the book. Purchased him during one of my signings at the Barnes & Noble outside of GT. Extra special as that is one of the settings in my YA series, The Circle of Friends.)

Right now, I am a happy Hammy!!!