Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Blogging From A to Z April Challenge Sign Ups Are Open!


The A to Z Challenge is blogging the letters of the alphabet six days a week in the month of April. It’s a great way to meet new bloggers.

Start with A on April 1st
Then B on April 2nd

We post Monday thru Saturday. Sundays are a no-blog/letter day.

You can go freestyle or pick a theme, but the topic of your post must reflect the letter of the day.

Visit 5 blogs a day (or more) starting with the blog after yours on the list.

Short posts are essential!

Be sure to grab the badge above and link to the A to Z Blog or any of the hosts:
Arlee Bird at Tossing It Out
Damyanti Biswas at Amlokiblogs
Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh
Tina Downey at Life is Good
DL Hammons at Cruising Altitude 2.0
Jeremy Hawkins at Retro-Zombie
Shannon Lawrence at The Warrior Muse
Matthew MacNish at The QQQE
Konstanz Silverbow at No Thought 2 Small
Stephen Tremp at Breakthrough Blogs
Livia Peterson at Leave it to Livia
L. Diane Wolfe at Spunk on a Stick
Nicole at The Madlab Post

This year, we are introducing categories. Please choose ONE that best describes your blog and understand this cannot be changed. This is entirely Optional, other than for blogs with Adult Content, which will be taken off the list unless marked (AC)

2. BOOKS: (BO)
3. FILM : (FM)
6. CRAFT: (CR)
7. ART: (AR)
8. MUSIC: (MU)
14. GAMING: (GA)
19. HUMOR: (HU)
20. TRAVEL: (TR)

Ready to blog the letters of the alphabet in April? Then sign up now!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Re-Introduce Myself Blogfest

Today is the Re-Introduce Myself Blogfest, hosted by Stephen Tremp, C.M. Brown, Mark Koopmans, and Elise Fallson.

I’m going to give you my “official” bio first -

L. Diane Wolfe

Known as “Spunk On A Stick,” Wolfe is a member of the National Speakers Association and the author of numerous books. Her upcoming title, “How to Publish and Promote Your Book Now,” covers her publishing seminars in depth and provides an overview of the entire process from idea to market. “Overcoming Obstacles With SPUNK! The Keys to Leadership & Goal-Setting” ties her goal-setting and leadership seminars together into one complete, enthusiastic package. Her YA series, "The Circle of Friends," features morally grounded, positive stories. Wolfe travels extensively for media interviews and speaking engagements, maintains a dozen websites & blogs, and assists writers through her author services.

Now the fun stuff -

I’m a roller coaster junkie and want to travel the world, visiting all of the theme parks. I’ve loved photography my whole life and been a professional photographer for 23 years. Love animals and I’m a vegan - no animal products in my diet. (And no, I am not a tree-hugger.) Grew up in Oregon but now I live in NC with my husband and two cats, Rocko & Spunky. (And I was “Spunky” long before we named our cat.)

In short, I am a ball of endless nervous energy! 

Who are you?

Friday, January 25, 2013

Publishing News, Book Announcement, & Inspirational Photo

Publishing Industry News

Amazon just purchased speech-recognition company, Ivona:

“Amazon has been using Ivona's technology for its Kindle e-readers since 2009. Ivona also supplies "Explore By Touch" and "Voice Guide" navigation for Kindle Fire models.”

Could this become Amazon’s version of Siri? Read more at Mashable.

Brian Howard discussed a recent incident on Amazon involving reviews and the worrisome precedent it might be setting:

“Witness the campaign against Randall Sullivan ’s Michael Jackson bio Untouchable: The Strange Life and Tragic Death of Michael Jackson. As reported in The New York Times , Sullivan’s book focuses on the superstar’s last years and, despite being characterized as a generally sympathetic look at Jackson, has come under siege by a group of fans who take issue with some of the book’s statements. And so they launched a flotilla of mostly anonymous one-star reviews seemingly aimed at not just discrediting the book, but killing it.
“As the barriers to publication and mass media continue to dissolve, and the line between who is and is not a journalist is further blurred, the wisdom of the crowd can quickly turn into vigilante justice.”

Read the rest of the article at Book Business Magazine.

And according to the latest Publishers Weekly, the percentage of children reading e-books has grown from 25% in 2010 to 46% in 2012. A breakdown of how they are reading e-books:
22% - Laptop or netbook
21% - IPad or other tablet
19% - Dedicated reading device such as the Nook, Kindle, etc.
19% - Desktop
16% - Handheld devices such as cell phones, IPod, PSP, etc.

Thank you to everyone who has signed up to announce my upcoming book, How To Publish and Promote Your Book Now! I’m giving away three e-book copies to those who post about my book any time between February 5th and 8th. (Information will be sent the Friday or Saturday before February 5th.).

If you haven’t signed up but would like to, fill out the form below.

Thank you!

And your Friday inspirational photo:

Attack of the Butterfly!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Website Hits, Visitors, and the Inaccuracies of Hit Counters

What’s the difference between hits and visits? And are hit counters accurate?

Hits refer to the number of files that can be downloaded from a page. If a page has nine images, it counts as ten hits including the actual page view.

Visits refer to the actual number of pages viewed.

Both numbers can be inaccurate. Visits can be inaccurate as they count your own visits (even when editing your site) or page reloads. Hits can be inaccurate as they reflect a web browser’s requests for a file from your web server.

In short, most hit counters are misleading.

Linda Adams had this to say in her article Hits and Visits 101:

Many people focus on the hits or what a counter shows--because the numbers are high. It makes them feel successful, when, in fact, it is very misleading.

A counter simply counts the number of times anyone visits the page the counter is on. That means if you went back to the main page five times during your one visit to the site, the counter would show five ticks. Counters are notoriously inaccurate for this reason; some web masters have been known to keep reloading their page to make their website more seem more popular than it really is. Worse still, if you have one on your site, and it only shows ten ticks on the counter, this advertises that no one is coming to your site.

But what about hits? Be wary of anyone who says they are receiving a large volume of hits. It doesn't mean there are many people actually coming to the site! Huh? Then what do those high numbers represent? A hit is one file being downloaded. Let's suppose you visit a page with 100 thumbnails on it. Each one of those thumbnails is a file in addition to the web page itself. So, by coming to that one page with the 100 images, you have just generated 101 hits. But only one person visited. So a site that gets 87,000 hits may have only 3,000 visitors, depending on how the site is designed.

But many people often use the hits as a sign of success because the number, for obvious reasons, is so much higher. However, it doesn’t tell you any information you can use to build on your visitors. All it tells you is that you have a lot of graphics and other files on your site.

In addition, there are spam issues associated with some hit counters. Linchpin SEO has THIS article on why you shouldn’t use a hit counter.

If you want to track unique visitors (and more) accurately, try using Google Analytics instead.

So the next time you see a blog or site’s hit counter, don’t be impressed or misled by a large number. A tiny number might be a problem though…

And thank you to all who commented on my hair in last Friday’s post. It does take a long time to dry, which is why I usually don’t. No, I don’t tie it back because I don’t like the way it makes me look. Yes, I can just sit on it. And no, I don’t have any plans to cut it!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Industry News and Interesting Friday Photos

Some industry news…

Barnes & Noble, the Last Big Bookseller Standing: But for How Long?
Holiday sales were down 10.9%, and Nook sales down 12.6%. Its one advantage is the 674 college bookstores it owns. Will it survive?
Read full article at Knowledge Wharton

Fighting E-book piracy -
“RosettaBooks implemented the Digimarc Guardian solution to root out and prevent online piracy for its catalog of blacklist and original titles.”
Learn how Digimarc Guardian does it at Book Business Magazine

A public library without paper.
“The next library in San Antonio, Texas, may not have any paper books for its patrons. Nelson Wolff, a judge in Bexar County, Texas, where San Antonio is located, and Sergio Rodriguez, commissioner for the county's first precinct, have proposed a plan to create a library called BiblioTech that offers electronic media exclusively.”
Read the full article at Information Week

From Publishers Weekly:
“Penguin Group (USA) is the latest publisher to make its books available through On Demand Books’s Espresso Book Machine’s “digital-to-print at retail" sales channel. The arrangement will enable bookstores and soon mass merchandise retailers with EBMs to reproduce all Penguin children’s and adult backlist titles, including books from Viking, Riverhead, Dutton, and Puffin, among others.”

I usually post inspirational photos, but I’m doing something different today.

First, a couple of Christmas gifts from my husband:
When you squeeze the kitty’s paw, Penny sings the Soft Kitty song!

And I’ve been meaning to get a shot of my hair for the past month and finally had a chance. My head is tipped back, but my husband cut off the end of my hair in the shot, so it is an accurate representation of how long…

Yes, some days it drives me nuts. I get it caught everywhere and eating is a challenge. But as long as it took me to grow it, I am not cutting it!

Monday, January 14, 2013

The A to Z Challenge and Team

April 1st will mark the beginning of the 4th A to Z Challenge.

What is the A to Z Challenge? It is blogging the letters of the alphabet (starting with A) every day except Sundays. That’s 26 days for 26 letters. Participants can select a theme or randomly choose each day. It just has to correspond with the day’s letter.

This will be the 3rd A to Z Challenge that I have participated in - and my very 1st one as a co-host!

And with that, here are the 2013 A to Z Challenge hosts:

Arlee Bird at Tossing It Out
Damyanti Biswas at Amlokiblogs
Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh
Tina Downey at Life is Good
DL Hammons at Cruising Altitude 2.0
Jeremy Hawkins at Retro-Zombie
Shannon Lawrence at The Warrior Muse
Matthew MacNish at The QQQE
Konstanz Silverbow at No Thought 2 Small
Stephen Tremp at Breakthrough Blogs
Livia Peterson at Leave it to Livia
L. Diane Wolfe at Spunk on a Stick
Nicole at The Madlab Post

I’m excited to be part of the team!

For more information on the A to Z Challenge, visit the blog.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Beginnings Blogfest and Solomon's Compass

L.G. Keltner at Writing Off The Edge is hosting the Beginnings Blogfest today about the beginning of our writing.

I was always an avid reader. I won any reading contests at school. By the time I entered Jr. High, I was reading at the college level. I was also in all of the advanced classes, although I wouldn’t say I really excelled at English. I wrote for school and that was about it.

And then when I was 13 years old, I picked up a book by an author unknown to me. I loved the cover (a framed print of Whelon’s artwork hangs in our media room today) and I hoped that the book really was about dragons. I mean, don’t you hate it when the cover has nothing to do with the story? Fortunately, The White Dragon was really about a white dragon named Ruth.

And it sparked my imagination.

I began writing short stories. Hundreds of them. I tried my hand at song lyrics. (I refused to call it poetry. It didn’t fit a style of poetry anyway.) Wrote hundreds of those as well. And by the time I hit high school, I was journaling every day, too.

And it was at that time I set the goal of author. (Along with professional photographer, something I achieved much sooner.)

All because of that book.

What sparked your writing?

Monday was the big reveal for Carol Kilgore’s upcoming book, Solomon’s Compass, which I completely missed. (I blame the fact I bleached my hair blonde for so many years.) Here it is now though:

Taylor is in Rock Harbor, Texas, on a quest to unearth her uncle’s treasure—a journey far outside the realm of her real life. There’s one glitch. Taylor's certain the buried treasure was all in Uncle Randy's dementia-riddled mind. Now he’s dead.

Former SEAL Jake Solomon is in Rock Harbor under false pretenses to protect Taylor from the fate that befell her uncle and the other members of a tight circle of Coast Guardsmen called the Compass Points who served together on Point boats in Vietnam.

Jake is definitely not supposed to become involved with Taylor. That was his first mistake. Taylor is attracted to Jake as well, but she refuses to wait for him to locate the killer when she knows her plan will force her uncle’s murderer into action.

But the killer's actions are just what Jake is afraid of.

And thanks to those who signed up to announce my next book the first week of February. I’m giving away three copies of How to Publish and Promote Your Book Now, so if you’d like to participate, go HERE.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Some Book Figures and Assistance Needed With Announcement

Some interesting figures from Publishers Weekly, which included the unit sale of print books. The decline of print books slowed last year, although it still dropped 9.3% overall. Mass markets took the biggest hit, dropping over 20%.

What I thought was interesting was how the sales spread over the three main formats:

Mass market paperbacks - 66,403,000 units
Hardcover - 157,228,000
Trade paperback - 325,789,000

That averages out to approximate three out of every five books sold was a 6x9 trade paperback. For authors and publishers still producing print books, that seems like the smart size to pick right now.

Several people asked how they can help with my upcoming book release. My tour dates are set, but I could certainly use help with announcements. So I’ve decided to make a contest out of it!

Sign up below to announce my book’s release any time between February 5th and 8th and three people will win an e-book copy. I will send out the information, links, and image the week prior.

How To Publish and Promote Your Book Now!
Available February 5, 2012
$14.95 Trade paperback ISBN 978-0-9827139-5-2
$4.95 Ebook ISBN 978-0-9827139-9-0

Publishing and promoting made simple!
Have you always dreamed of publishing a book but didn’t know where to begin? This book walks you through the steps of identifying markets, budgeting, building an online presence, and generating publicity. Get the whole story on:
• Traditional publishing
• Self-publishing
• Print and e-book setup, formatting, and distribution
• Finding your target audience
• Generating reviews and media interest
• Networking and developing an online presence
• Promotional materials and appearances
Uncover your ideal publishing path and numerous marketing options before you begin. Writing is your dream. Give it the best chance for success!

Thank you!

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

The Insecure Writer's Support Group & Inspirational Artwork

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

It’s approximately one month until the release of my next book.

All edits are complete. My blog tour dates are set and I’m working on guest posts. I should have bookmarks by the end of the month. Postcards and notifications will go out this month to book sellers and libraries. I have a few Publish and Promote seminars set. I’m attending one book festival.

What’s odd is I don’t have a single ‘book signing’ scheduled. No bookstore, library, or otherwise. And I’m not sure if that’s good or bad at this point.

My last book release was almost three years ago. At that time, print books were still doing well. Bookstores were beginning to slide, but there were only a couple eReaders on the market. My appearances were fewer than other releases, but I still did well.

But since the majority of my books now sell in eBook format, I’m just not sure that traveling across the East Coast to do signings for physical books is a financially sound idea. Fifty dollars in gas, eight-nine hours of my time, and all to sell a couple dozen books? Maybe? It’s just not worth it anymore.

Times have changed. Time to adapt to the new market. I think focusing on eBook sales and my seminars will be my best course of action.

I’ll miss those physical appearances though. Nothing like meeting fans face to face.

For those of you who’ve been around a while, does that sound familiar? And if you’re a new writer or author, does the idea of fifty signings a year scare you? At the time, I just did what I had to do…

I won’t have a post this Friday, but I didn’t want you to miss out on the inspirational images. You guys have viewed my photography for ages now, so I decided to show you some images I could brag on a bit.

My husband is a computer graphic artist, and below are some of the fun images he’s done. Most are a few years old, but his work has appeared in more places than you can imagine. He is incredibly talented, using 3D Studio Max, Z-Brush, and PhotoShop to create his masterpieces. I’ve also including his animated movie, Steve’s Bad Day, if you have time to watch it. (Yes, I was two of the voices.) Enjoy!