Is it good? Is it bad? Possibly indifferent?

I've been hitting the promotion front pretty hard since September. It started off with Experimental Notebook. There were cover reveals, followed by advanced sales. Early reviews came next, then Lisa Burton toured around and discussed the book. A small bit of that is still going on.

Part of Notebook is a free sample of Will O' the Wisp. The hope was that leading into October, folks might be interested in that kind of story. Lisa made a stop on Friday, and has one more in early November to talk about this book.

Macabre Macaroni is part of the mix too. If someone likes one of those stories, maybe they will take a 99¢ chance on my Notebook.

There is more Macabre Macaroni coming, but I'm also trotting Will O' the Wisp out for another blog tour. You'll probably see a few reblogs around here to help my supportive hosts out.

I want to talk about Amazon advertising today. I decided to run a campaign for each book, but I chose different options in each case. This isn't a scientific comparison, because they are different books with a different price point. I still think there is some information to be gleaned.

In each case, I bid 19¢ for placement of my ad. Amazon awards the bid to the highest amount, but only charges enough to win the spot. Some of my ads were placed for 6¢. I'm only charged when someone clicks on my ad, not whenever it gets seen. Let's look at the chart.

The bottom campaign is an old test drive for Will O' the Wisp dating back to May. This campaign placed my ads on products that might be similar to my book. You can see that I spent 95¢ to show my cover to 28,000 people. Seventeen of them clicked on my ad, and I never sold a single book.

In my mind, this is a mediocre winner. I got a lot of exposure for 95¢. I wasn't convinced or defeated here. So I decided to do it again.

On October 4th I ran a very similar campaign. I am banking on the season to help me with this particular book. Right now I have 19,500 views, and 12 interested parties. Nobody has taken the bait yet, but I've only spent 94¢.

The top row is for The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack, and it started on October 6th. For this campaign, I chose genres instead of products.

I didn't know until after my first campaign what the difference might be. With products, you cannot be advertised on Kindles or the various apps. With genres that is where your book gets placed. What this means is if someone is shopping for a boxed set of the television show “Charmed” they might see the advertisement for Will O' the Wisp. The risk is they aren't shopping for a book, and might not be readers at all.

The Notebook campaign shows 2634 placements, 17 clicks, and one actual sale at 99¢. (Which I have to share with Amazon.) These ads were all placed with folks shopping for ebooks. I have no idea why I have more page views than clicks. I assumed there had to be a click before there was a page view. Maybe the person who bought the book went back and forth a few times??? You can see that my 35¢ royalty cost me $2.55.

Both current campaigns are performing better than my original one. I'm getting a ton of exposure, and I know my covers are great. The Notebook cover isn't as awesome at thumbnail size though.

I don't see these campaigns as losers. I'm spending a minuscule amount of money for a ton of exposure. It is possible that someone will return later and make a purchase too. They might see the cover for Wisp on the blog tour and go, “Oh yeah… I'm going to buy that.”

For those who haven't explored this program, you have to commit a specific amount of money. In my case $100. This serves as a fail safe to prevent dumping a million dollars on a campaign that goes crazy. The campaign ends at $100. There is also an ending date for the same reason.

It looks like the campaign that targets genre is performing a little bit better. Notebook is cheaper, but one sale doesn't sway the performance much.

I know I've spent $50 on several promotions that never netted a single sale. This doesn't look too bad by comparison.

Let me hear from you guys. Have you ever used this service? Are my numbers pretty typical, or do they suck? Would you ever use this service? Has this post piqued your interest in this service? Do you want to buy a book?


Filed under Writing

C.S. Boyack’s Assistant and Spokes-Model, Lisa Burton, is on the #Blog With Me Today to Chat About Will O’ the Wisp


Hey Gang, it’s about time for some Halloween themed reading. As such, Lisa the robot girl is out promoting Will O’ the Wisp. She’s at P. S. Bartlett’s blog today. Please visit and consider following while you’re there.

Originally posted on Author P.S. Bartlett:

I am so thrilled this morning to have on my blog, a young lady who although the lead character in C. S. Boyack’s first novel, also serves as his personal assistant and the spokes-model for his blog, Entertaining Stories.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet Lisa Burton.

Hi, Peggy. Thanks for having me over today. I love getting out in the Fall.

It’s my pleasure, Lisa. I must say I’ve never chatted with a robot but you’re so, genuine.

I’m here to talk about Craig’s book, Will O’ the Wisp. This one is about a teenage girl named Patty Hall. She has a mild handicap that requires her to wear corrective leg braces. Her first day of high school goes just about like you might think.

Ooooo…tell me more!

She’s in love with all things related to space, and science fiction. One night, while stargazing, she and a friend spot something called…

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Jaded Tides Blog Tour

Welcome to P. S. Bartlett who's come to tell us about her new book, Jaded Tides. This is the second book in her Razor's Adventures Pirate Tales.

The Kind of Writer I Want To Be

I’ve believed since I dedicated myself to this journey two years ago that I knew exactly what kind of writer I wanted to be. Since I wrote the first sentence of my first novel, that dedication hasn’t wavered. A simple little sentence started it all.

“Ennis found a bird.”

I’ve had no formal training in this profession but I’ve done a ton of research, logged countless hours writing and I’ve dug in my heels. I’m not going anywhere.

I write fast. I think fast and once I set my sights on a goal I rarely give up unless I’m personally not satisfied with my level of performance or the quality of work I’m doing. So far, I see no reason to quit. As long as I keep breathing, moving, growing and evolving as a person, I’ll never stop.

It is important to me to produce quality books. Since I am still learning every day what that means to me and how it relates to my writing, I believe I can only keep improving. I’ve always loved writing and although I spent most of my adult life working, raising children and just trying to keep my boat right side up, I chose to put my aspirations on the back burner and take care of my family. I do not regret it one little bit. Through that journey, I learned so much about myself and gained volumes of experience at just being a human being. I’m proud of whom I’ve finally grown up to be and I need to be proud of the work I do too.

It’s a long road from writing your first page, to publishing. You will be knocked back more times than you can imagine. You’ll be told over and over again that your book “just isn’t what we’re looking for at this time.” Roadblock upon roadblock will rise up in front of you but you have to keep pushing on. Family problems, money shortages, day job, responsibilities and oh, that little thing called sleep will feel like a ball and chain at times but no matter what, you can’t give up. If being a published author is truly your calling or at the very least, your goal, allowing anything to stop you is not an option—no matter how long it takes or what road you take to get there.

The most important thing to me is that I write what I want to read. I want to write words that feel like warm butter on a hot roll. Words that get inside of you and either make you squirm or rise up inside of you and escape with a smile. Words that stick in your head and come to mind when you least expect it. I want to write stories that when you close the book, you want more. The reason I know how important writing what I want to read is, is because I’ve tried writing stories that may fall into one of the hot selling genres and I couldn’t get through the first chapter. You’ll know you’re writing what you want to read, when closing your laptop feels like kicking a heroin addiction.

I don’t want to write about what everyone else is writing about. I don’t need to sit at the cool kids table to feel good about myself. I know there are lots of genres and I know which ones sell the most. No, I’m not crazy and of course I want to make money and be able to write full time but I have to do it in a way I feel good about inside. I have to do it on my own terms. I have to tell a good story with characters you want to meet and know, and talk to again and again. I believe at some point I’ll be able to put almost anything into words but it has to be my anything, not what’s hot at the moment and not just because I want to be with the in crowd. My readers are out there and as long as I keep looking, I’ll find them and they’ll find me.

I want to stand out. I have this crazy dream that my stories will one day be considered as some of the best ever. I’ll stand by that. I believe that and soon, I’ll live that.

Thank you,

P.S. Bartlett – I’m taking a fantastic voyage. Won’t you join me?


After finding love in the most unlikely of places, Ivory’s life appears to at last be falling into place. Having proven herself a force to be reckoned with, she has at last set sail for the first time as a pirate. The only problem is she’s a woman and must disguise herself in order to set foot on a ship. Being in love with her captain isn’t helping matters either and whole new set of obstacles are presenting themselves at every turn. Her brash style and tenacity, however, could prove to make her, her own worst enemy.

With a sword in her hand and her new found love at her side, Ivory Shepard is about to embark on a mission to rescue and return every young woman she can who has fallen prey to the jaded tides of the Caribbean sex trade. Armed with a secret log book she acquired from a pirate captain—who also happened to be an evil smuggler, she believes herself well prepared for the task. As she’s already learned the hard way, pirates always prove to be unpredictable and ruthless. Unfortunately for them, so is she.

Purchase link: Jaded Tides

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Filed under Writing

A second helping of Macabre Macaroni

I think my reasoning behind this one will be obvious. Hope you enjoy it.

Ghost of the Mind

She tenderly puts the ancient flip-phone on its charging stand, careful not to bend the cord again. A warm shower always primes her for the work day. She pulls on her flats, and places her heels beside her purse. One poached egg later and she heads for the bus stop.

The neighborhood is much nicer than fifteen years ago. Small shops and bistros popped up along the street, and the community garden is in its second year. People are already there to pick up the branches that blew down overnight. She visits the coffee shop before the bus stop.

A fresh romance novel occupies her time for the next hour. People get on, and others get off. She gulps the last mouthful of her latte and throws the cup away as she exits the bus. People jostle by on the sidewalks to remind her why she stopped carrying coffee.

Skyscrapers cast shadows along the sidewalk for the next two blocks. It’s cold in the morning these days. She makes a mental note to get out her sweaters and scarves this weekend.

She takes a turn as receptionist at the law firm until noon. Her secretarial work is piled up waiting for her after she is free of the telephone. It will take the rest of the week to catch up, so she can take her turn at the phone again.

The girls all make plans to grab a glass of wine after work. They stopped asking her years ago. It’s nice to be asked, but she’s refused too many times.

The bus ride home is a repeat of the morning, but she carries a box of Chinese takeout instead. The community garden looks beautiful tonight, and she wonders if she should put her name on the list for a small plot.

News, half of her takeout, and one glass of wine round out the night. The food will make good leftovers, and the wine will last one more day.

She irons her clothes and hangs them in the closet before bed.

She carefully unplugs the decrepit old flip phone and crawls between the sheets. She opens the phone and plays her voicemail.

“Hi, Honey. Happy first anniversary. The boss said I can leave at 3:00 today. Why don’t you come into town, and meet me. We have reservations at Delmonico’s at 7:30. Alright, talk to you later. Love you!”

The voicemail operator said, Message left, September 11, 2001.

She folds the phone shut and clutches it to her breast. “Goodnight, Honey. I love you too.”


Filed under Short Stories & Vignettes

Verbal Tics. Do you use them?

I use verbal tics in my fiction. These are little tells that can reveal background, character, or even eliminate the need for a dialog tag.

These tics are never part of my main character, at least they never have been. I reserve them for supporting characters. Here are some examples of what I’m talking about:

In Wild Concept, Lisa makes friends with a tattoo artist/biker dude. He tends to replace the words ‘has’ or ‘have’ with ‘gots.’ He might say, “We gots to go to the Sheriff’s auction tomorrow.”

This reveals a bit about his upbringing, and possibly about his education. When he drops a line like that, I really don’t need a dialog tag after I’ve set the stage.

I used a cast of thousands in The Cock of the South. (Okay hundreds, but it sounds so Cecil B. Demille I had to use it.) As a way of making a supporting character stand out, I gave him a verbal tic. Roald the dwarf comes from a different part of Europe than the rest of the cast. I chose to introduce his Swedish accent in dialect, but drop it for ease of reading. Therefore, he winds up ending a lot of sentences with “by golly.” He might say, “We can’t leave until we get them cows milked, by golly.”

I think it’s a fair way of reminding readers that Roald isn’t from around these parts.

I’ve done it again, by golly. (Sorry) In my new project there is a character named Wally who is a computer whiz. He tends to end most of his comments with ‘yeah’ in a questioning fashion. It might look something like this, “We’re going to the Sheriff’s auction, yeah?”

It gives me the impression that he’s looking for approval, and adds a bit of character to his section at the same time.

So how about it? Does anyone else use verbal tics when they write dialog? I’ve never done it with more than one character at a time, because it could get annoying. If you don’t use them, would you ever? Why or why not?


Filed under Writing

The Monday shuffle

I got up early this morning. My main plan was simply to read, and not much more. I started my day off with blogs. I follow hundreds of blogs these days, and I've gotten better at browsing them. I also have some I never miss, no matter what. This lasted until my daughter got out of bed.

We had a nice talk, and I vowed long ago that the world could take a backseat to my discussions with her. She's 21 now, and Dad isn't as big a part of her life these days. When I get the chances, I don't pass them up.

When she headed for work, I tore into the novel I'm reading. I'm past the half way mark right now, and excited to see where it's going. Yes, I could have done more, but my daughter intervened.

Critique group went well tonight. I knew where I was going to get called out, and this excites me. It means I'm capable of spotting my own weak spots, now I have to figure out how to wear that hat when I need it.

I checked my Amazon progress tonight. There haven't been any recent sales, but there are a lot of pages being read via Amazon Prime, or the lending library. I think that's pretty cool.

Now might be a good time to mention that all of my titles are available for free as part of your Amazon Prime subscription. It's all the same to me, and if borrowing the books works for you go for it. Even my 99¢ Notebook has been read this way. I wonder if it pays more on a paid-per-page basis than the 99¢ I'm asking. I'm happy in either case.

There were some great comments on the post about stakes in fiction. This is what blogging is all about for me. Thanks for weighing in everyone.

Right now, I'm enjoying an Elysian Brewing Punkuccino. It's a pumpkin beer with coffee, and it's very good. I'll probably spend a bit of time with a paper magazine I'm almost finished with, then it's back to the paycheck job tomorrow.


Filed under Uncategorized

An open discussion about stakes

I try to always post something on Sunday's. I've been a bit busy catching up from the delays my paycheck job threw me. Still, I sent an extensive email to the promotion company I found in Sun Valley. I finished my critiques and am ready for our group tomorrow. Will O' the Wisp is getting an Amazon advertising campaign too. I even managed to catch up with Dr. Who, Last Man Standing, and S.H.I.EL.D. I caught the finale of Fear the Walking Dead moments ago.

I'll figure out a way to catch up with Sleepy Hollow somewhere down the line. I have some major reading booked out for tomorrow too.

These programs got me to thinking about stakes. Good stories need them. The higher they are, and the more clear they are, the better the story… In many cases.

I'm free writing this tonight. Time caught up with me, and I usually get more time to think about stuff before I write.

When Obi Wan croaked, it didn't just propel Luke to new heights. It demonstrated to the audience that genuine risk was involved. Of course they had that whole Death Star demonstration too.

There are stories, like cute romances, where the stakes don't have to be life and death. I still think something has to be on the line, I think the more personal it is, the more it resonates with readers. Catching the killer might be interesting, but it's more interesting with a girl in a well or future victims at risk.

Nothing provides stakes like The Walking Dead. (The original one.) Many of you might argue for Game of Thrones, but I choose TWD. In each case, fully formed characters die. Viewers (readers) understand the stakes, and have seen the result of failure first hand.

In S.H.I.E.L.D. Colson lost a hand and part of his forearm. He managed to briefly turn this into a weapon, of sorts. I respect Colson, and know he's going to continue the fight. Previews tell me Dr. Who is going to die next week. I'm fairly sure time travel will repair this situation.

Do stakes have to be this personal? I believe there is an opportunity to demonstrate a burned out village, and a few refugees. It doesn't have to be on a character level each time. It can be so much better at a personal level though.

I've seen a few things recently where the stakes didn't measure up. They were killed in a flashback, telling me with certainty the character survived. The version of past tense did the same thing in one case.

In a treasure hunt type story, if the character can simply walk away there aren't enough stakes. Greed is a great motivator, but if Camelot will fall without the Holy Grail it's that much better.

I still remember when Robin was killed by The Joker. Those are stakes. Robin II survived a few adventures, and we knew Robin I survived all his adventures. When Robin II died, it gave renewed vigor to the Batman mythology.

I even went so far as killing off my main character in one story. Maybe this is too far, but it would have made a great Greek tragedy. I've been thinking about a short story called The Death of Lisa Burton. If I ever write this one, I assure her fans that she has an escape plan.

How far are you willing to go in your stories? Do you stop at redshirt characters? Those whose sole purpose of being in the story is to die and establish stakes for the hero. Is the sidekick going to kick off in your story? Is the main character going to get it, only to have the sidekick rise up and finish the story? Are you the kind who kills off the pet character? The mentor?

Let me hear it. What tricks do you use to establish stakes? How far are you willing to go? What prevalent tales disappointed in the stakes department? I'm going to start writing again as winter approaches, and maybe you can teach me something.



Filed under Writing