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?

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.