Tips, tricks, and plans

October is bearing down upon us. This has always been my favorite month of the year. I would happily trade January or August for an extra October. It's also always been my best month for sales. This is probably because I have a few paranormal titles in my catalog.

I plan to hit it hard in October. I have a few guest posts that will appear, and you may find some new blogs to follow at the host sites. I still have time to write a couple more if you know of an October event that I should participate in.

There are also a couple of blog tours via my Story Empire crowd. We'll be giving away prizes and hope to make a big splash. Follow Story Empire to keep up with what's going on over there.

I intended to make the tips & tricks part of this into a Story Empire post, but there is a five person rotation and it would be November before it posted. Over here I can weave in some of my individual plans too.

I intend to use some of the Amazon tools during October. I may run an ad campaign. I'm almost certain to have a sale, or even some free days. Keeping the October theme going, I'll probably focus on The Playground, Will O' the Wisp, and Panama. Both Experimental Notebooks fit the bill too, but since they're 99¢ I don't see how a sale would work. I may do some Facebook boosting too.

Last year, I invited people to provide artwork for Macabre Macaroni. My idea was that some budding cover artists might like a place to showcase their work. I was even happy with grandchildren who glued dried macaroni to a paper and made art. I never got a single taker, and there was no artwork last year. This year I'm taking a different approach. I commissioned a piece of art to accompany the micro-fiction. Macabre Macaroni will post every Tuesday in October.

I'm a little slow on the uptake at times, but I learned a Twitter trick. There are people out there who support me heavily. They make custom tweets about my books, or maybe a post they found entertaining. I want to reciprocate that support, and found their pinned tweets to be handy as hell. They made them, they want them shared, and they're right at the top of their timelines. There is one lady who changes her pinned tweet every day, others leave them for a week or so.

The gears move slowly, but what if I created my own pinned tweet to help them out? I've been doing this, and find it respectful of their time, and helpful to my cause. I'll probably create a graphic of some kind, like this:

In the 140 characters I can say something clever and include the Amazon link. I will try to change it up +/- weekly so it doesn't get stale. Twitter is a volume game. A million people see your tweet, and maybe one buys the book. It does produce sales though, so something that catches the eye might work.

The point is that you should be using a pinned tweet too. I've scrolled through dozens of hundreds of tweets to find something to support an author with. They probably appreciate me sharing their book tweet, but not the picture of their lunch. A pinned tweet is right on top where it's easy to find.

Moving to the next one, sharing buttons. Not everyone is using them on their blogs. I'm happy to share, but again, I may not take the time to create my own post from scratch. I'm now encouraging visitors to use mine on the Lisa Burton Radio posts. This way my guests get a bit more exposure. The sharing buttons are easy to set up through WordPress, and you may want to check them out.

While you're deep inside the guts of WordPress, are you auto-feeding your posts on other social media? I have mine set to feed right into the Entertaining Stories Facebook page, Goodreads, and to tweet the link out. Easy-peasy, and I don't have to do this individually.

This next tip might be worth the price of admission. I think there could be something to what the world is calling curated content. There are a number of apps and social media options out there. I'll even provide links, but I want to talk about them a bit first.

I started out with an extinct platform called Zite Magazine. I used it for news I couldn't get anywhere else. It provided many of the Idea Mill articles. If I liked something, I could give it a thumbs up to get more articles like it. If I gave it a thumbs down, it learned not to send me data about the Kardashians.

Unfortunately, they were absorbed by Flipboard. Flipboard promised the same experience, only better-faster-stronger, yada yada. It failed on this front, but there is a silver lining.

Flipboard will let you create your own magazine. I decided, since I was already there, to test it out. I call mine Entertaining Stories. (Branding and all that.) I selectively share my blog posts there, and occasionally share other items of interest, like when one of you has something wonderful, or Sean Harrington shares a Lisa poster on his DeviantArt site.

Most days I can see a few visitors from Flipboard. On occasion it goes absolutely crazy. I posted a bit of micro-fiction about Lisa this week that had over two-hundred visitors from Flipboard. See the image to remind you of the post.

A few months ago, I shared a post about a short story trick. It involved the twist endings I use in some of the short form. I had over 2000 visitors that found me via Flipboard. It still gets action to this day.

Here is the link for Flipboard.

 

We're still on curated content, but I'm drifting again. (Bear with me.) I've written before about what I call “white noise.” Feeds on all social media have become so much white noise. Twitter is the worst, and my regular feed is like a firehose of data. I scroll through until I see something that catches my eye. Catching my eye has become the new trick. Facebook is similar, and so is WordPress.

I follow a ton of blogs. I can't read them all, so something has to catch my eye in the regular stream. I have my “must read” blogs and they got on the list by engaging and by posting great content.

Re-blogging is a double edged sword. I love it when someone shares my post. I like to share the awesome stuff here too on occasion. It's hard to get much engagement on a re-blog. The original poster is the one where the interaction occurs.

There are some bloggers who share a dozen posts per day, and never seem to offer original content. One of these curated content options might be a great way for them to spread the word. Flipboard is only one, here are a few others.

I have not used these, but I might someday soon. It could be a way to extend my tentacles online without too much effort.

The first one is called paper.li It is like having your own magazine, or newspaper if you prefer. You get to share whatever you want with your subscribers. One of my author friends is testing this out right now, and I hope to learn how it works for him.

The other one is called RebelMouse. This is a similar product. I really don't know the advantages of one over the other.

It seems to me like this could be the way for me to replace the original use I had for Zite Magazine. If I could find a couple of curators who deal with macabre stuff, and some cutting edge science, it could be useful.

It also seems like a place that's ripe for mergers, acquisitions, and takeovers. Flipboard, paper.li, and RebelMouse are all doing nearly the same thing. (One sells to Microsoft, one to Apple, and one to Google.) That wasn't the point of my post though.

These sites are helpful. My content has been shared on all of them by others. I need to check out paper.li and RebelMouse, but before I dive in they have to be easy and fast. Any of us would like more exposure, but my time is limited.

In the case of Flipboard, there is an app for that. I find that to be an advantage. I did not find apps for the other sites.

In my case, all roads lead to this blog. If you find me on Twitter, Facebook, or Flipboard, even Goodreads, there is likely something that leads you back here. That's my system, but there may be others that work better. If you have a better way, share it in the comments. I'd like to know, and I'll bet my regulars would too.

Do you have any experience with RebelMouse or paper.li? I'd like to get some input on these platforms. If I take one of them on, it will probably be part of my 2017 business plan. I'm just gathering data right now.

Are you going to create a pinned tweet? I think it's a great way to let your supporters help spread the word.

Are you going to set up sharing buttons on your own blog? Feel free to test mine out.

Do you know of any October events I should be taking advantage of? Are you hosting one, and need some players?

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Another wonderful review

Carmen Stefanescu posted a wonderful review for my second Experimental Notebook today. Check out what she has to say:

My Review

The Experimental Notebook has some hair raising stories! The creep factor is way up there as well. Fascinating and sometimes chilling, the author created enough variety here to hook people of every interest as there are paranormal stories, horror/macabre and even sci-fi. 

The storytelling is generally well paced and flows nicely. My attention was held by the author’s highly imaginative, well-written and captivating short stories…and so was my imagination.

Read more here

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Verdun

I love it when The Idea Mill posts lead writers to use something in their own fiction. Check out this micro-fiction by Victo Dolore.

Behind the White Coat

img_2503

He fell to his knees, gasping for air.

A strange sensation at his fingers brought confusion and he glanced down at his hands. They were clutching a knife, his knife, sticky with blood.

A dark crumpled form lay a few feet away, its face buried in the damp ground of the forest floor, deathly still.

He tried to take longer breaths. He needed more air.

Shadows played tricks with his eyes in the twilight, making every tree seem a menace. Were they moving closer?

Yes. Yes, they were.

He struggled to stand but found it was impossible as he still could not breathe. His chest felt as if it would explode. At the same time, all of his senses seemed to come alive. He could see things for what they really were. He could hear things he had never heard before. His hands and feet felt alive, somehow stronger.

And…

View original post 397 more words

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Fizzle the Drite, on Lisa Burton Radio

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Lisa Burton Radio. I'm your host, Lisa the robot girl, and we're going to try something a little bit different today. There is a character I've been dying to interview, but he's kind of hard to catch up with.

Fizzle is a drite, and they can be kind of reclusive. If we don't find him, I may have to think on the fly here for something to broadcast. I have a secret weapon though. I bought a beautiful basket of organic apples the last time I was at Whole Foods.

<Pop>

“OH! You scared me. Are you Fizzle?”

“Fizzle is Fizzle. Told to speak of self here. Uh . . . Fizzle small dragon. Fizzle live in woods. Fizzle leave woods to help friends. Tradespeak hard. Fizzle learn from tiny human. Fizzle love apples. What organic?”

“Oh my gosh, you're so cute. For those listening, Fizzle looks like a dragonfly, in that he's a small dragon with dragonfly wings.”

“Fizzle called drite. Not like big dragons or fake dragons. Fizzle and kind dif . . diffe . . . other thing. Drites small with great magic. Fizzle hide easy and have spell called disin . . . dis . . . make bad things go poof. Friends like warning when Fizzle cast poof spell. Give time to be safe. Fizzle have great aim, so no worry. Oh, drites have long tails too.”

“Don't you guys usually protect a forest or something?”

“Many drites protect nature. Not all. Some lazy and some curious. Fizzle protect Visindor Forest and sword lady’s school. Fizzle there before school, but Betty make yummy apple pies. Betty not sword lady. She friend of sword lady. Fizzle leave home and job to cousin. Plimp odd, but strong and good. He planting pine trees. Says pinecones yummier than apples. Fizzle not agree.”

“So why would you leave that all behind? It must be pretty important.”

<smack, chomp, burp> “Fizzle’s friends need help. Luke get into trouble. He need guarding while part of prophecy. Other champions help, but Fizzle protect Luke first. Also, like Nyx smell and Delvin know how to make apple pie. Timoran fun to perch on too. Sari just fun. Fizzle like having friends. Fizzle make sure they stay safe. Gods tell Fizzle to keep them safe.”

“You're pretty small, what would you do if someone threatened your friends.”

“Fizzle say magic. Fizzle very fast and smart. Stay hidden until strike. Bad people never see Fizzle coming. Well, blue lady did once. Evil Man did too, but Fizzle smack him. Evil Man very scary. Fizzle friends all hurt by him. Fizzle too when caught by surprise. Fizzle no like Evil Man. Rather fight Lich, who is a rotting man. Make that one go poof, but he not stay poofed. Very frus . . . frustr . . . make Fizzle pout.”

“Sounds like they could use some protecting. Do you ever sleep?”

“Fizzle have regular sleep. Also have long sleep. Drites need growing sleep for month to get stronger. Fizzle do this and friends get in trouble. This why friends need Fizzle.”

“That has to be nerve wracking. Maybe they could get a fu dog or something to cover for that year.”

“Fizzle like dogs. Luke like dogs too. Fizzle think that hard topic. Luke miss big dog. Fizzle give many apples to cheer up. Fizzle not worry now. Nyx get stronger and other champions wiser. Only Luke and Sari cause trouble. Timoran say they too young for adult wisdom. Nyx say they need head smack. Fizzle think they hide hurt with fun. Oh! Maybe Fizzle take form of dog. Bad people not expect dog to cast poof spell. Can dogs fly?”

“You know what I think? If you protect the champions, that makes you a champion too.”

“Fizzle no champion. Fizzle protector of champions. Prophecy go on with or without Fizzle and other friends. Fizzle know champions need friends. Though champions do not know that champions need friends to win. Not sure how, but Fizzle feel that right. Old Evil have demons, so why not champions have friends?”

“The champion's mission sounds like a dangerous adventure, but Windemere sounds like it has beautiful places too. Do you ever think you might adopt a new forest once everything is sorted out?”

“Fizzle no know. May take Visindor back or stay with Nyx. Fizzle have strong bond with Nyx. Luke call her city rat. Not sure if Fizzle want stay in city. Depend on what around. Many forests without drites. Fizzle can make new home and new friends. Fizzle can travel and plant a forest of every apple tree in world. Call it Yummy Woods and protect it.”

“Thank you for being with is today, Fizzle. The sponsor of today's show is Charms of the Feykin, the newest entry in the Legends of Windemere series. Don't forget to tip your waitress by clicking on those sharing buttons at the end of the post.

***

To make a champion fall, one must wound their very soul.

Nyx is leading the charge to rescue Delvin and Sari, who have gone missing in the southern jungles of Windemere. Battling through the local predators, the champions are surprised when they reunite in the Feykin city of Rhundar. Instead of captives, the missing heroes have become the city’s rulers and are on the verge of starting a war with those that want to exterminate their new followers. Even with such a noble cause, Delvin and Sari have changed into brutal warlords that may kill each other and their friends long before they step onto the battlefield.

Have Delvin and Sari really changed for the worst or is there a greater threat pulling the champions’ strings?

 

Charles Yallowitz was born and raised on Long Island, NY, but he has spent most of his life wandering his own imagination in a blissful haze. Occasionally, he would return from this world for the necessities such as food, showers, and Saturday morning cartoons. One day he returned from his imagination and decided he would share his stories with the world. After his wife decided that she was tired of hearing the same stories repeatedly, she convinced him that it would make more sense to follow his dream of being a fantasy author. So, locked within the house under orders to shut up and get to work, Charles brings you Legends of Windemere. He looks forward to sharing all of his stories with you, and his wife is happy he finally has someone else to play with.

 

Blog: www.legendsofwindemere.com

Twitter: @cyallowitz

Facebook: Charles Yallowitz

Website: www.charleseyallowitz.com

 

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Trying to get back in the routine

Today is my flex day off this week. I got kind of a late start, and it felt good to sleep in for once. I spent an hour feeding Otto, and playing with him and his squeaky fox toy. After he settled down, I headed for the writing cabin.

I landed my gyrocopter and parked on the runway. When I took the elevator down into the basement, I noticed the formerly haunted biplane was missing. The yak was standing in his stall, waiting for me to get back to his story. “Where’s Lisa?”

“She has not returned,” the yak said. “I need to graze, if you don’t mind.”

I opened the stall and led him out the back door. “Stay near the cabin. Lisa isn’t here to guard you, and there are all kinds of fantasy creatures in the woods.”

I left him to his breakfast, and went in through the front door. Bunny needed food and fresh water, so I took care of him before settling into my office.

The window was open, and Doubt the raven soared high above the grazing yak. I grabbed the critiques I received weeks ago and went to work on them. The guys are enjoying The Yak Guy Project, and I didn’t have a lot of tweaking to do. We’re about to get a new member this coming month and I’m excited to meet her and get some different input.

I scheduled my next post for Story Empire and moved on to some of my short fiction. I wanted to do a read through on some of the stories for The Enhanced League. I made a few edits along the way.

I’ve been called for drifting into present tense a few times now, so I try to watch for it. I discovered one such place in a short story. It seems to be when using internal dialog. To my mind that is happening at the moment and present tense feels more intense. I changed it to past tense anyway. When I use contractions like “it’s and he’s” it feels correct for dialog. There is no reason why they aren’t contractions for “it was” and “he was.” Am I justifying, or am I reasonably correct? (Probably justifying.)

I opened a blank page to start the next short story and my phone rang.

“This is the Orange County Jail calling for Mr. Boyack. You have a collect call from Lisa Burton*. Will you accept the charges?”

“Yes.”

“So, um, hi. I ran into a little trouble here in Florida, and need you to post my bail.”

“You have internal phone capacity, why are you just calling now?”

“Turns out there are no signals at all in the jail. I’m fine, but can’t get a signal out. I even tried routing through their printer, but it’s a pretty stupid machine.”

“What happened?”

“Well, I had a lovely visit with Susan Nicholls, and she told me where I could find a new swimming suit, and some flip flops to go with it. That lead to a cute cover up, and some other cool shops–”

“Not the shopping, why are you in jail?”

“I’m getting to that. I just bought a cute denim outfit and some shoes before heading back to the airport. I always fly my own plane, because I can’t pass through security. Too much copper and titanium. So I wandered through the gate and pulled the chocks away from my tires when I was approached by two TSA agents. I swear, I was just minding my own business and coming home.”

“What did they want?”

“Turns out they have a problem with the machine-guns on my biplane. Some plane affictionado had to check it out, then got worried and reported me.”

“I thought you removed them. I hope they weren’t loaded.”

“Um, yeah, about that. You have some pretty scary stuff in the sky’s above the writing cabin. There are dragons, and aliens, and even witches on broomsticks. I may have a class three battle chassis, but I’m not going to survive a fall from twenty-five thousand feet.”

“How do you think your antique biplane would fare against an alien ship?”

“I need you to stop the writer’s brain for a second and post my bail.”

“No problem. I’m sure they impounded your plane. How will you get home?”

“Well, I’m going to un-impound it. Then I’m hugging the ground to avoid radar and coming straight home.”

“You’ll never be able to go back to Florida.”

“No, my plane will never be able to go back. I can still use the rocket-pack if I’m ever invited.”

“Okay, I’m logging in to their site right now. Oh look, they take PayPal.”

“Did you feed Bunny?”

“He’s fat and happy, and the yak is grazing right outside my window. Watch your tail, they may chase you as you fly off.”

“As soon as I get a signal, I’m going to link into their communications and make a mess of them. They can look for me in the Bermuda Triangle or somewhere.”

“Okay. Bail’s all posted, but I don’t know how long it will take at their end. You owe me too.”

“I know, and thanks. The money will go right back into your account once I can hack their system. I need to scrub my record, and destroy all video of my plane landing in Florida. It will be like it never happened, I promise.”

***

* Lisa Burton is my personal assistant and the spokesmodel for Entertaining Stories. She’s a robot and made her debut in Wild Concept. She also has a short story in The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack.

 

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Sundial by Sandra Cox

Sandra Cox is one of the founding members of Story Empire, the collaborative effort I posted about recently. She's here to tell us about one of her books that on sale right now for the incredible price of 99¢. Take it away, Sandra.

Time Travel Vehicles

If you could travel back in time and could choose your vehicle to get there what would it be? In stories, I’ve seen cars, mirrors, paintings used…the list goes on. For my time travel, I chose a sundial.

Sundials date back to thirteen century B.C. and at least one has survived from that time period. Over the centuries, can you imagine the energy that has been stored in that stone? Perhaps enough to carry someone into the past……

Blurb:

He came through time to find her.

As Sarah Miles drives down Eighteenth Street a stranger materializes in front of her car. She throws on her brakes, braces for impact and…drives straight through him. For a brief moment, his voice echoes in her head, “Saura.” Then he's gone. Later that day, she discovers the SUNDIAL and her incredible journey through time begins.

Excerpt:

A purple haze of gunpowder hung in the air that filled her nose and mouth with the acrid smell and taste of sulfur. Her eyes watered and burned.

A sharp burst of gunfire sounded nearby. Fifes and a drum played a tune she didn’t recognize. Cries of, “Remember the Alamo. Remember Goliad,” echoed through the air, overriding screams of agony.

Oh, my God! She clutched Monet and stumbled to her feet. The Alamo? Goliad? Screams too real to be an enactment lifted the hair on the back of her neck. Goosebumps roughened her skin.

In front of her, over a thousand men were doing their best to kill each other.

They wore clothes from another era. Some were dressed in nondescript gray denim; some in white roundabout jackets and pantaloons; some in brown jackets and pants; all carried rifles, clubs, knives and tomahawks and all were bent on slaughtering men dressed in blue uniforms and shako hats.

A cannon blast rumbled. The ground shook.

Where am I? In the back of her mind, a fear too unbelievable to acknowledge grew. Along with terror, a growing sense of urgency bubbled in her like a volcano ready to erupt.

She edged closer to the battlefield and scanned faces for the beloved features of her lover. She’d lost him once—no, twice. She couldn’t lose him again.

 

On sale for .99 September 19-25 at Amazon. http://tinyurl.com/gardensundial

Bio:

Sandra writes YA Fantasy, Romance, and Metaphysical Nonfiction. She lives in sunny North Carolina with her husband, a brood of critters and an occasional foster cat. The last animal member of the family, a kitten, came hurtling out of the woods in southern Illinois to land at her feet. He made the trek back to North Carolina with her and her husband, and wasted no time settling into the household.

Although shopping is high on the list, her greatest pleasure is sitting on her porch, listening to the birds, sipping coffee or a latte and enjoying a good book. She's a vegetarian and a Muay Thai enthusiast.

 

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One tired bulldog

And the feeling is mutual. We had a house full of company this weekend. My parents were here, my daughter came over from Sun Valley to visit Grandma and Grandpa. She also had a local friend spend the night, so there were a bunch of us. Otto’s weekend was filled with new people to pet him, extra socks to steal, snacks to beg for, and heavy duty play time.

I’m pooped too, although I never stole any socks or performed any tricks, I had the same amount of company. I wound up neglecting this blog, and it’s time to remedy that.

The blog tour is over for my second Experimental Notebook. Early reports are that people are enjoying my experiments. We discussed the difference between short form and novels. We revealed some of the things that inspired the stories in the book. Lisa toured around, and handed out her posters, and it was a lot of fun. A few of you made every stop, and I’m overwhelmed with that kind of response. Thank you to everyone who offered to host me, and I hope I delivered what you requested.

I sold a few copies, and flirted with one of Amazon’s top 100 lists three different times. You know how it works, you creep in and fall out. It happened three times though. I also found a bunch of new blog followers, and that’s wonderful too.

Somewhere along the way, someone called me “The hardest working person in fiction.” I wish that were true, but it made me feel really good. Maybe someday, when I don’t have to hold down a full-time job.

During all of this, my workplace imploded. I really wasn’t effected, but big changes rippled throughout the building. I am playing a pivotal role in trying to heal everything, and am making some progress.

Needless to say, there was no new fiction getting written around here. I have plans to hit the promotional stuff again in October. That gives me a few precious days to think about my own writing. It’s almost a disservice to tear back into my novel, but I have a few short fiction pieces that I could address.

Somewhere in there, I’m going to go camping again. Some way, some how, I need some of that forest time to recharge.

So Otto isn’t the only one who’s tired out around here. I still have some posts to check back on. I like to participate in the comments, and have met some wonderful people that way.

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