Monday, October 26, 2015

The Listing Hop - Best Theme Parks

Hosted by Bish Denham to celebrate 8 years of blogging and co-hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh.

My list is of favorite theme parks, with three dream parks thrown in, and their roller coasters.

Universal Studios’ Island of Adventure

Located in Orlando, I’ve been there twice now and get to go again next year. We’re staying on site with fast passes for all rides. The park boasts two great coasters - Incredible Hulk and Dragon Challenge (which I still call by its original name, Dueling Dragons.) I almost fell asleep on the
Incredible Hulk once while waiting for it to launch! With seven inversions, it’s a smooth B&M coaster.

Add in Universal Studios itself, and there are three more coasters - Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket, Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster, and Revenge of the Mummy. (Technically not a coaster, but close.)

Busch Gardens Williamsburg

Tied with Islands for my favorite, I’ve visited this park four times! It’s the most beautiful park in America, with shows and animals along with the rides. It now boasts seven coasters - Loch Ness
Monster, Alpengeist, Apollo’s Chariot (my most favorite coaster!), Griffon, Grover’s Alpine Express, Verbolten, and Tempesto.

It was also home to several now defunct coasters, including the Big Bad Wolf and Drachen Fire. The latter was the first coaster I ever fell in love with and I’m glad I got a chance to ride it before they tore it down.

Paramount’s Kings Island

Home to the world’s longest wooden roller coaster, The Beast, this is Paramount’s best park. Located in Ohio, it is home to 13 coasters - Banshee, The Bat, Invertigo, Backlot Stunt Coaster, Vortex, Firehawk, Flight of Fear, Adventure Express, Flying Ace Aerial Chase, The Great Pumpkin Coaster, Woodstock Express, Diamondback, and The Beast.

Its most famous defunct coaster was Son of Beast, the first wooden coaster with a loop. Not sure why it failed, but I was fortunate enough to ride it before they tore it down.

Sea World Orland

If you love animals, Sea World is one of the best parks. You can see orcas, feed the seals, and pet the dolphins. We’ve been twice and seeing or foster daughter Ashely pet a dolphin was the greatest joy.

It’s home to two coasters, Kracken and Manta, with a third, Mako, opening summer of 2016. With seven inversions, Kracken is probably the most intense B&M coaster you will ever ride.

Paramounts’ Kings Dominion

Located in Virginia, this park has some unique coasters, including the Anaconda, which dives underwater, and the Rebel Yell, which you can ride forward or backwards.

Its 12 coasters are the Dominator, Grizzly, Hurler, Rebel Yell, Ricochet, Anaconda, Avalanche, Backlot Stunt Coaster, Flight of Fear, Volcano the Blast Coaster, The Great Pumpkin Coaster, and Woodstock Express.

My dream parks are:

Six Flags Magic Mountain

Located in California, Magic Mountains shares the title of Roller Coaster Capital of the World with Cedar Point in Ohio. (Sadly, I’ve been to Cedar Point and was very disappointed.)

Its 19 coasters are Apocalypse, Batman: The Ride, Canyon Blaster, Full Throttle, Gold Rusher, Goliath, Green Lantern: First Flight, Magic Flyer, Ninja, The Riddler's Revenge, Road Runner Express, Scream!, Speedy Gonzales Hot Rod Racers, Superman: Escape from Krypton, Tatsu, The New Revolution, Twisted, Colossus, Viper, and X²


Located in Spain, this park has seven coasters - Dragon Khan, Furius Baco, Stampida, Shambhala, Tomahawk, El Diablo-Tren de la Mina, and Tami-Tami.

Shambhala is Europe’s tallest roller coaster at 249 feet with a 256 foot drop. However, the coaster I most want to ride is Dragon Khan. Boasting eight beautiful inversions, it’s been dream coaster of mine ever since I got a coaster video featuring a ride on the beast.

Nagashima Spa Land

Located in Japan, this park features 11 coasters: Acrobat, Children Coaster, Corkscrew, Jet Coaster, Looping Star, Peter Rabbit Coaster Shuttle Loop, Steel Dragon 2000, Ultra Twister, White Cyclone, and Wild Mouse.

The top coaster is Steel Dragon 2000. When it was built, it was the tallest (318’) and the fastest (95mph), just beating out Cedar Point’s Millennium Force. It would be my first ride of the day if I visited!

Have you visiting any of these parks? Which park is your dream theme park?

The Realms Faire is coming in just two weeks! I’m hosting The Unicorn Hunt, and there are almost a dozen games with tons of prizes. You don’t want to miss it.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Marketing Outside the U.S. with Author Stephen Tremp

In the past I’ve made the mistake of going solo with KDP Select (through Kindle Direct Publishing) for my e-books. KDP Select is an optional program that allows you to reach more readers and gives you the opportunity to earn more money in addition to sales of your book. The downside is it’s an exclusive program, meaning your book(s) cannot be sold digitally with any other publisher, including you and your blog, as long as you are enrolled in the program.

If you live in the U.S., you may not know other regions of the world use companies other than Amazon Kindle to purchase and download books. The Kobo (a rewording of the word book) e-reader and app are popular in Canada and Europe. Slowly, but surely the European market is opening up to self-publishing, and Kobo, with its partnerships with local retailers in each country, is intent on making the platform as user-friendly as possible.

According to Book Bub, Kobo is the market leader for ebook sales in Canada. The majority of our Canadian subscribers use Kobo, so we would recommend including Kobo in your Canada Featured Deal.

Two ways to get your book on Kobo: use Smashwords or publish your e-book directly with Kobo where you can track your sales. It’s free to use, and they’ll even convert your Word, OpenOffice, or Mobi file into an ePub for you for free.

Publishing Translations: Have you thought of publishing your books in French, German, Japanese, or Mandarin? But how would do you know if another culture would like your books? For me, I can go to the beach and sell my physical books. Lots of tourists from around the world visit year round, and the Japanese love the concept of wormholes. I sell a lot of books to Japanese tourists. So I’m looking hard into translating a condensed version of my Breakthrough series into Japanese. I’m thinking I can shave off about thirty percent of the word count and have new art professionally done specific for the young Japanese market.

To translate into a different language, you’ll have to look at your stories from different angles due to cultural differences. If you have humor, it may not translate well. And what about the setting? I’ll need to decide if I keep them “as is” or make Tokyo the main setting.

Question: Have you considered translating your books into another language?

Short Blurb: A four hundred year old evil is unleashed when the daughters of those killed during the Salem Witch Trials find a new generation of people to murder at a popular modern-day bed and breakfast.

Stephen Tremp writes Speculative Fiction and embraces science and the supernatural to help explain the universe, our place in it, and write one of a kind thrillers. You can read a full synopsis and download Salem’s Daughters by Clicking Here.

Stephen Tremp posts weekly blogs at his website Breakthrough Blogs.

Next Stop: Wednesday October 21st Jo Wake at Food Life and a Scent of Chocolate. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

The Insecure Writer's Support Group and Anthology Contest

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

A quick note to any of you who joined the Realms Faire Thunderclap - we had to redo it and couldn’t save all of those who’d pledged. Please take a moment and sign up again HERE.

And in case you missed it, author and powerhouse promoter, Randi Lee, did a guest post here on Monday, Marketing to Your Readers, Not to Yourself, that was packed with great information.

On the writing front, I have begun to edit the four stories I’ve written so far. I might still write the fifth one, especially as it will be the most unique. (I’m sure there aren’t many paranormal romances involving sharks. I could be wrong though.) One I’d written a few years ago and after tackling it last week, I know it will need a ton of work.

Of course, I have a lot going on in other areas, as I never put my eggs all in one basket. But I don’t mind. Chaos is my life. (And if anyone is in need of book formatting, please see Spunk On A Stick for more information. I love to format!) But I will be taking some time off until October 19 when I host author Stephen Tremp.

See you then!

The IWSG Short Story Contest 2015

Eligibility: Any member of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group is encouraged to enter – blogging or Facebook member. (Must have a blog post this month or last or join the Facebook group by today to qualify.) The story must be previously unpublished. Entry is free.
Word count: 5000-6000
Theme: Alternate History/Parallel Universe. That’s right, we’ve decided to go the speculative route. This theme has plenty of scope and we’re open to pretty much anything along these lines, except erotica or graphic violence.
Story deadline: November 1st 2015
How to enter: Send your polished, formatted, previously unpublished story to TheIWSG at gmail dot com before the deadline passes. Make sure to include your contact details.
Judging: The IWSG admins will create a shortlist of the best stories. The shortlist will then be sent to our official judges.
Prizes: The winning stories will be edited and published by Freedom Fox Press in the IWSG anthology next year. Authors will receive royalties on books sold, both print and eBook. The top story will have the honor of giving the anthology its title. The winners will also receive an exclusive badge to display on their blog.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Marketing to Your Readers, Not to Yourself

I’d like to welcome author and powerhouse promoter, Randi Lee!

There’s a new trend in the publishing world: both traditional and independent publishers are looking more and more toward authors to market their own materials. It is becoming increasingly normal to find a request for an author’s marketing plans on agent and publisher submission guidelines sites. Thus, it is not only self-published authors who are tasked with the precarious job of self-promoting these days; more and more traditional and indie authors are playing the writer/marketer balancing act, too. Regardless of the publishing route we choose to follow, we, as authors, now find ourselves falling under a united flag: the flag of the self-promoter.

In one sense this is a positive, as it is uniting authors in new and exciting ways. I see authors coming together through various social media mediums to support each other and share their knowledge in the fields of marketing and self-promotion. It is bringing together three fragmented units of authors: Traditional, Indie, Self-Published. It’s reminding us that while our roads to publication are different, our goal in traveling those roads is the same: we want our books to be read. We all want to spread our words as far as they can go.

There is a hindering negative to this new trend, however. Just as a doctor’s specialty is in medicine and not in constitutional law, we are authors. Our specialty is in writing, not marketing. Yes, these two fields share commonalities, but they are different. Having spent over eight years in the marketing and communications fields, I can tell you that you may think you know how to write a proper marketing campaign—you know how to write a dynamite 90,000-word novel, after all—but you probably do not. Creative writing and marketing writing are two completely different elements. Authors are not inherently good at marketing because they are not inherently designed to market. I’ll explain…

Authors, the books you write are your own. They’re a recipe of you, comprised of ingredients you select to satisfy your story appetite. Your books reflect your values, they flow to the melody of your word choices, they sing of your character designs and they dance around the world you build. Authors often refer to their books as “their babies.” Rightfully so. Just as all of the elements of life come together in the womb to grow a child, so do all the elements of the world come together to grow your book. As much as you are writing for the reader, the book reflects you, it exposes you, it is you.

That’s nowhere near being a bad thing. The best books come from the heart. They come from that place deep inside you that no one else gets to see. The best books are unique and individual, telling, through similes and clever phrases, your story. For all of us authors to abandon what’s in our hearts and write only what we feel will appear to readers would make for a quite boring, quite mundane and quite redundant library. The art of reading, I think, would dissipate.

What is troubling about your book being all about you, dear authors, is that marketing is the exact opposite: marketing is the art of writing to someone else’s heart. It isn’t about sharing your message, about people understanding the hidden reasons behind why you wrote a certain scene or what you were trying to convey through your character’s clothing choices. It’s about connecting what you’ve written to the reader in a way that makes them feel special and understood, that makes them think the story is akin to their story. It’s about making the reader want to read your story because they can see their own story within the one you’ve written. The creative writing portion of your publishing journey was about you. The marketing writing portion of your publishing journey is about your reader.

It can be hard to determine whether you’re writing your promotional materials for yourself or for your reader. An easy way to ensure that you are writing your message for your reader and not yourself is to ask questions within your materials that include the word “you.” For example, in my recently released novel, Affected, the main character faces a loss when the love of his life runs away from him. I targeted readers who have been left by someone they loved in the following image teaser:

In this example, I spoke directly to the reader’s memories and emotions on the subject of loss. I asked them if something like this had ever happened to them. I asked them what they would do. I created an instant emotional tie between my reader and my story, thereby taking my book, my world, my message, and making it about them. Now my book has given the reader something: it’s provided them with a sense of understanding, a knowledge that they are not alone in what they went through. It resonates with them because they know what it is to lose, and reading about that loss gives comfort and provides validity to their experience. It gives their sense of loss a universality: they are not alone—not thanks to your book.

We want our marketing to be about us, our message, our story. Of course we do. We’ve put everything we have into these books. It can’t be about us, though. It has to be about the reader if you want to create those emotional and spiritual connections that pull cause readers to pull books off shelves. Make your marketing message less about you and your book. Make it more about what your book can give your readers. When you market, market towards your target reader’s emotions, past experiences, likes and dislikes. Market towards your target reader’s hopes and fears. Think about aspects of the book that can help them in some way or something in the book they can relate to. Use that as your pitch, and watch your book sales soar.

Thanks, Spunky, for having me on your blog today! I hope this information proves useful to you, Spunky’s readers. Good luck with your self-promotion and marketing campaigns. I hope that making it about the reader leads to exceeding successes!

Randi Lee is an author and blogger, as well as a freelance writer, editor and designer living in New England with her family and two much-loved dogs. She recently released her debut novel, Affected, and is currently working on its sequel, Ascendance. Randi loves sharing tips and supporting fellow authors. She often posts helpful advice and author spotlights on her website. Affected, her action-packed dystopian thriller, is available at all store fronts, including: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and iTunes.