Tag Archives: blog swap

Assessment, Part Three

This is the final post regarding my promotional activities for September and October. It helps me to write about it, and maybe it will improve my game in future efforts. Judging from your comments, you guys are finding it helpful too. There will be more topics in this post, and I'll try to keep each one brief.

I joined the Rave Reviews Book Club Back to School Book and Blog Block Party. (Try fitting that in a tweet.) This project ran the entire month of September, and there were generally two sites per day participating. Every host site had to offer prizes, and the club monitored the comments to hold a drawing. I participated on every site, and I won some great stuff. My stats spiked that day, and my book sales showed a bump too. There is a benefit from cruising around and being friendly too. I gained blog followers during the month.

I participated in Teri Polen's Bad Moon Rising campaign in October. This was dedicated to horror authors, but I managed to fit in anyway. This one didn't come with prizes, but was still a lot of fun. I participated on every post, and tweeted the daily posts. I gained quite a few Twitter followers as a result.

I approached multiple book reviewers going back to August, in hopes that reviews would land during my push. Most of them came through, and I'm still waiting on others. They will come through sooner or later.

I want to mention that Rosy's Book Review Team is extremely helpful. All the review sites are great, but they go the extra mile. These folks not only post to Amazon and Goodreads, they blog about the review too. Approximately a month later, Rosy posts the data on the main team blog. This generates a ton of interest, and Twitter seems to go crazy for them too. I can't recommend them highly enough. Will O' the Wisp wound up in a top ten list on Rosy's sidebar. You can bet I captured that and tweeted the heck out of it.

The reviewers sold books too. A couple of them invited me to guest post on their sites. It's kind of a neat trick to post a review, then have the author show up later. This is one of the unexpected things that happened along the way.

Unexpected benefits were the most fun part. So many people pitched in and tweeted, posted unexpected reviews, or invited me over that I can't name them all. I want to single out P H Solomon though. He really made an effort on my part, and it was completely unexpected. He still makes Goodreads recommendations for Notebook, and I know he sold some copies for me. I also want to specifically thank Charles Yallowitz. He reblogged many of the posts, and included me in one of his own posts. This involved the monsters in his Windemere world. When he posted about the cockatrice, he included a cover and link to The Cock of the South. There were several sales of this book right after that post, and they almost had to be because of him.

I can't thank everyone in a post like this, but the unexpected goodwill is overwhelming.

I was able to pull this all together by planning it as far back as July. It takes Sean Harrington time to produce the Lisa art that accompanied her guest posts. It takes time to garner a book review, because the reviewer has a list to work through. I needed to prepare all the blog tour posts, mine, Lisa's, and Lorelei the Muse even got in on the act.

This preparation allowed me to accept any invitations that came along. I did a couple of blog swaps, because I planned ahead. In many cases where an author visited my site, I appeared on theirs. I had time to custom write a few things, because the blog tour data was ready ahead of time. Macabre Macaroni was all written ahead of time.

I'm in debt to everyone that helped me along the way. I need to get reading some of their books, and will be here when they need my blog space for their promotions.

It was a combination of things that moved copies of both books. I think this is more important than any single thing. Oh how I wish there were one specific thing that would move ten thousand books. There just isn't. At the end of two months, my footprint has grown. More people know about me than did in August.

I'm tired too. The next time, I might not push two books back to back. I think this was a benefit, but it was tiring. It required special circumstances of a fresh release, plus a Halloween themed newish book. That chance doesn't come along every day.

Did I miss a trick in all this? I'm almost certain I did. Tell me about something you've done that helped grow your audience.



Filed under Writing

You get a magic sword! You get a magic sword! Everyone gets a magic sword!

Charles Yallowitz and I are doing a blog swap today. I asked him to give us a brush up on writing magical items into our stories. I hold this advice is good across the spectrum of speculative fiction. Upscale science fiction items will run into the same issues. Here is Charles' primer on magic items:

Thank you to Craig who has asked me to write about magical items and give some tips on how to use them. As you can guess, I primarily write fantasy stories and enchantments are classic fare of the genre. So this topic is up my alley and now I realize how often I use these things. Is that a good or bad thing? Well, it really depends.

You see, there are many schools of magic item usage and I’m going to mention two of the big ones. There are Lord of the Rings type worlds that have maybe a handful of very powerful objects and a few more mundane things. For example, The One Ring is a highly enchanted bauble that can rule the world. It’s a rare level of magic for an item since most other ‘magic’ items are swords that are more durable and sharper than normal weapons. Also they glow when orcs and goblins are around as long as the special effects people remember. The second world type is a Harry Potter style where nearly everything is magical. Brooms fly, letters yell at you, time travel is possible, and you get the point. Wonder why they even bothered learning spells at some points.

So you can see two levels of enchanted items here and that can have a heavy impact on an author’s world building. If these objects are everywhere then you need to have characters act accordingly. Not as much surprise or fear like you would see in a world where a person can go their entire life without running into magic. In my series, Legends of Windemere, there is a type of enchanted object called ‘Durable Gear’, which is nothing more than hardier items. They are easy to get, so nobody is wowed by them like they would be with a magic sword that summons a Titan. Even that second object isn’t extremely awe-inspiring to the older locals because I’ve established that Windemere has a lot of magic. That’s an important factor here. You really need to set the rules on how common these things are and if anyone can use them. There are authors who feel that only magic-users should be allowed to use enchanted objects, but I’m not one of them. Why have a wand of fireballs when you know the spell? Just my personal preference though and I’ll touch more on that later.

Keeping an enchanted object balanced is another issue that comes up. A warrior with a sword that does everything and there are no side-effects is a bad idea. If the item is simple and mundane, like a self-cleaning toothpick, then you can get away with no limits. Still, you should do something in regards to activation. The common choices are rather simple and self-explanatory:

1. Activation word that doesn’t always come up in conversation.

2. Limited charges and/or cool down time.

3. Requiring a trance or great focus.

4. Certain times of day or night.

5. Specific movements of the body.

That doesn’t include side-effects like insanity, memory loss, shortened life span, and whatever the author wishes to inflict on the user. For example, Nyx in my series is a caster who gets an enchanted bracelet that attracts an enemy’s blade and releases a stun blast on contact. She says ‘pineapple’ to turn it on and off, but it seals her magic for about a minute. So a knight with heavy armor will still be a problem for her since a groin kick, headbutt, and right cross are pretty weak against platemail. Again, I will harp on the rule that it’s the author’s choice on how to work with these items, which really only have to fit into the world.

Unfortunately, you’re going to find readers who hate whatever choice you make. Some people want high magic like in Hogwarts and others want limited magic like in Middle Earth. You also have many who claim magic items are tropes, clichés, overused plot devices, childish tricks, and what have you. Well . . . they’re right. Just like dragons, elves, swords, medieval settings, horses, heroes, villains, and everything else are clichés of the fantasy genre. I’m stepping into another topic here, but my personal opinion is that you’re always going to have something calling your work cliché. Magical items are a big target here because they’ve been a staple since the days of mythology. So there really isn’t a way to guarantee that you’ll use them in a way that isn’t called a trope because their mere existence can trigger this opinion. How do you combat this? Just have fun with your stories and do what feels right.

So we don’t end on a downer, I’m going to mention the first enchanted item I made for any of my fantasy series. Still on the fence of using it because I made it in high school. To be fair, it’s more than one thing. I designed a warrior who used five enchanted blades that were always strapped to his back. Each one was unbreakable, could reflect magic, and pass through armor like it was air. So, why did he have five? They were talking swords that were twice as smart as the warrior. They would argue about who he would use and the ‘losers’ would guilt trip him after the fight. He had them because he’d feel bad if he didn’t and I think I made them siblings. As you can see, you simply have to have fun with these things.

Author Links

Legends of Windemere Blog



Amazon Author Page

Note: I've read a couple of Charles' books and enjoyed them immensely. I recommend his short tale, Ichabod Brooks and the City of Beasts, as a great way to test drive his writing style.



Filed under Writing

Wednesday catch up

Today is my rotating day off. I have company arriving tonight that will last through the weekend. I took advantage of a lonely morning to get a few things done.

I finally finished my upgrade of Wild Concept, and uploaded the changes to Amazon. I haven't heard back from them yet, but I'm keeping this project on the down low. It isn't a complete rewrite, more like some new makeup for Lisa. This is my first published book, and I admit that my style doesn't compare to my recent stuff. Forward is a better direction, and that's where I'm headed.

I emailed a few friends about the word count of their short stories. It sounds like I'm already in the ballpark for my book of shorts. I have a couple more things to write and it will be a complete draft. Then I have to struggle with what order to put them in, and a few peripheral projects. As part of this, I managed 2000 new words of fiction for those who like numbers.

I've guest posted quite a few places this year. I wrote one about character growth and used a silly example to make my point. (As I often do.) I kind of think it would make a fun short story. I spent hours trying to figure out where I posted it, and eventually found it. I wanted to make certain the host didn't want to claim Copyright over it. He didn't, and probably thought I was crazy. (Thank you, Charles.) I haven't committed yet, but the story of Lilly and her soup ladle might make it into the short stories.

The book of shorts has a title now. It's going to be called “The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack.” I've already approached a cover artist, and the first few glimpses are amazing.

You probably all know by now that I got another five star review on Will O' the Wisp. This is like rocket fuel for an author. Summer can be a slow time, but I'm motivated like crazy right now. It still needs more readers, and reviewers. If you run out of stars, you can have some of mine.

Go ahead and fill your pockets

I haven't looked back at The Playground draft yet. We're trying to plan our first camping trip, and I may take it for some campfire reading. My critique group is slowly seeing pieces of it, and they've been very helpful.

I've been tagged for the 777 challenge. (Thanks, John.) I'm looking forward to this one, but most of my friends have already been tagged elsewhere. I have a few ideas, and may get it published this weekend.

I've had a few guests post some fun stuff recently. I have one more pending, but she asked me to wait until closer to the end of the month. Blog tours frequently get a push when they begin, and another one as they end. With company around, I may post that over the weekend.

Speaking of guest posts, I'm looking for more. I'm willing to visit, or host. I'll even do a swap if one of you is interested. Let me know in the comments, or if we've exchanged email before, drop me a note. My lovely assistant is standing by waiting to set these up.

Guest post central

I'm open for most anything. I've even loaned out Doubt the Raven for some editing posts last year. Lisa the robot assistant appeared in some short fiction, and my Muse, Lorelei is available too. If you'd like to play with these characters, just ask. I'm willing to write them into a guest post on your site if you like.
Actually that sounds like quite a charged up morning. See what one great review does. I'm off to work on those four outlines before company gets here. Talking yaks, witch doctors, and surgically enhanced muskrats shouldn't be kept waiting.


Filed under Blogging, Writing

Not quite a meltdown

In case you haven't noticed, I've been a bit busy lately. My regular writing week includes visiting your blogs and participating in the comments when it's appropriate. I try to post every day except Tuesday and Thursday. These are usually when I invite guests bloggers over. (Hint, this is my Friday post.)

Whenever I can steal a few hours, that becomes my writing time. I thought I might get a few hours today, but it wasn't meant to happen. There is just too much going on.

Guests and invites are becoming a regular, and welcome occurrence. This week I was interviewed by Mandy Eve Barnett, and did a blog swap with Ali Isaac. (Crawfish Boy, I crack myself up sometimes.) These would have happened in any normal week, and I enjoyed both invitations.

I volunteered to help Charles Yallowitz spread the word about his newest book, Sleeper of the Wildwood Fugue. Charles was so helpful that he provided a complete post, along with instructions for how to post it. It only took me a few seconds to upload. The graphics and everything were included and formatted. Awesome!

On top of this normal week, I also took Will O' the Wisp out for a blog tour. Just in case there is someone in this star system who doesn't know, I have a new book out and would like people to read it. It's the big one in my sidebar.

I hired 4-Wills Publishing to take care of the details, and I'm glad I did. All I had to do was email the posts, along with the peripheral materials and they took care of the rest.

They took care of a few extras too that I didn't expect. When I got an email about what to give away for my Rafflecopter promotion, my first thought was, What's a Rafflecopter? I thought it was some kind of crowd funding site. They are taking care of everything, so I don't have to worry about it. I told them I'd give away copies of Will O' the Wisp. I still don't know how it works, but I'm in it up to my neck now. Who knows, maybe someone will win a copy and really enjoy it. Tell your friends, etc.

They also set me up with a Goodreads author event. I'm supposed to be there tomorrow between 12:00 and 2:00 CST. I hope they meant daylight savings time. I'm on mountain time, so that would be 11:00 and 1:00 for me, unless they really meant standard time. I've never participated in this format before, so it's a test to see if I can figure it out.

4-Wills also set me up with this cool web-page. It lists all the places along the tour, provides a link to the Rafflecopter, and allegedly tells us all how to find the author event. I'm extremely grateful for the folks who volunteered to host this shindig. Which brings me to another topic…

Etiquette. That's right, a bearded old curmudgeon is going to talk about etiquette. Emily Post died several decades before we had the Internet to worry about, so it's been every-man-for-himself out there. I have a personal code about this, and I do my best to follow it. It's based upon this premise: Someone out there did me a solid favor.

When someone does me a kindness, it's up to me to return the favor. When Mari Wells posts an awesome review, or Mandy Eve Barnett interviews me, or Ali Isaac agrees to a blog swap – I'm going to reblog the posts. This is my attempt to drive them some blog traffic. I'm also going to surf back through and participate in the comments, because it matters. I generally surf back through for three days to a week, so comment away. This is important, because if someone comments on another blog I don't get notified. I have to check in.

Add in all the wonderful folks who hosted the blog tour, and there's been a whole lot of reblogging going on around here. If my blog is your only point of contact, it might seem a little repetitious. Please remember that these people did a favor for me, and they might be the kind of people you want to associate with one day yourself. Please consider visiting them and checking out their blogs.

In other news, critique group went well last night. I sent them two micro fictions and one that reaches into short story territory. They were well received, and I got a few good suggestions. Sometime this weekend I need to go through them and make changes. I'm struggling with what to submit next month. More short stuff or the first part of my new novel project?

I also forced myself to get a haircut today. (Inspired by Sue Nichols.) My daughter did a great job. My wife really ought to take me out this weekend. I am some serious eye candy right now.

What do you folks have to say? Has anyone messed around with Rafflecopter? Do you believe in blogging etiquette? Are your rules different than mine? Is anyone else out there so busy they can't think straight?


Filed under Writing

Now that would be awesome!

I’ve heard the phrase, burning the candle at both ends, all my life. It indicates that everyone needs a little down time now and then. A period of time to recharge and reflect.

Right about now, I’d love to burn the candle at both ends. Recently I’ve been using my pitchfork to scoop piles of candles into the forges of hell. Work was a zoo today, and has been for weeks. There are projects that keep getting further behind. I can’t put out the fires fast enough.

I’ve been driving myself hard on the writing front too. I have a lot to get done, and I’m pressuring myself to do it. There is no particular reason, it’s just how I’m wired. It is possible, in theory, to choose two projects per weekend, and stop once they are accomplished. I just can’t live that way.

On a positive note, Sleepy Hollow is over for the season. Maybe I can pre-write one or two of those blog posts in my spare time. I’ll have to hurry, SHIELD is coming back.

There aren’t going to be any guest posts this week. I never got any invites, or requests to appear here. This isn’t a bad thing, but I’d like to keep the goodwill going. I’ve enjoyed the various lessons my guests have provided.

I’d still like to get a romance author in here to share a few tricks. How do you build that heat, and maintain it for a few chapters before delivering the payoff? I have some ideas, but if there is a recipe you’d like to share, we could all benefit from it.

I also got a request for a dialog lesson. I’ve posted about this before, and maybe someone else would like to take a crack at it. Sometimes hearing from a new person helps us learn.

Anyone who appears here is welcome to promote their newest book, or coming soon, or editing service. It’s part of the deal, and is expected.

I was asked by a couple of people how I manage to write in multiple genres. I’m willing to write this out, but if someone would like to make it a blog swap it would be more fun. I can also give a moderate guns tutorial. Guns appear in many genres and it’s always nice to know a little something about them.

Several bloggers have dropped me a line, then never sent me anything. You’re still welcome, and I’d love to host you.

If anyone would like to set up a blog swap, or just wants to appear here, please let me know. I’d love to hear about your new project, and get a few writing tips along the way. I usually have Tuesdays and Thursdays available.

That way, my followers get fresh content, you get new exposure, and I get to burn a few less candles. What’s not to like? Drop me a line at Coldhand (dot) Boyack (at) gmail (dot) com. Lisa Burton is standing by to field all inquiries.


Filed under Blogging

Build your fictional characters

Deborah Fredericks has a great blog that involves a lot of research into dragons. There are dragon legends all over the world, and Deby knows her stuff. I encourage everyone to visit her blog and consider following her. She’s here today to tell us how she fleshes out her point of view characters. Take it away, Deby:

Deflecting Stereotypes

Deby Fredericks

Among the many sins a writer can commit, the one I dread the most is flat, predictable characters. Characters who are defined by some sort of title (“the guard”) or stereotypical role (“grouchy old wizard”). Characters who aren’t… creative.

So I’ve developed a process to help me look beyond such obvious tropes. Most new novels, I work up at least three concepts for each main character, which include a background, motivation and the skills or strengths they will bring to the tale.

The first concept will almost certainly be a stereotype, with motivations a child could see through: a poor woman who works a dead-end job. The second concept will be more interesting, but still predictable: a poor woman in a dead-end job who wants to marry a wealthy customer and leave drudgery behind.

The third concept and any others that follow will become more and more interesting, but less and less predictable. The goal is to arrive at something fresh and original, with enough familiar tropes that readers feel comfortable.

Often I will end up with something like this: “The main character is a bar maid in a dive. She knows her life could be better than this, so she hooks up with the vampire who promises wealth and fame in return for a pint or two of blood. Based on her background, she has a tough attitude, some mercantile skills, plus she carries a stiletto and isn’t afraid to use it.”

I do this for any character that might be a point of view, and for the major antagonists. I also do this for plot developments when I’m not sure what should happen next, and sometimes for whole societies. After all, “secret ninja village” can be just as much a stereotype as “hard-boiled detective.”

Often, the final character will have elements from several of the concepts, but not use any of them exactly. But I try at every phase to generate fresh events or character motives that will surprise my readers and keep them coming back for more.

Deby Fredericks is a small press author with five fantasy novels in print. She writes for kids as Lucy D. Ford. Her web site is www.debyfredericks.com, and her blog is wyrmflight.wordpress.org.


This is a blog swap today, and I’m appearing at Deby’s blog. I’m talking about a cockatrice named Gallicus in hopes of fitting in with her dragon theme. You might learn a secret about me if you read it.



Filed under Writing

What have we learned so far?

I recently invited guest bloggers to participate on my site. A bunch of you jumped on this, and it’s made for some interesting posts. Most of them turned into blog swaps, and it required me to taste my own medicine.

I’m a challenging host. I ask people to give us tips and tricks of the trade. No one person can know all of this, but we can all benefit by sharing. Everyone who expressed interest rose to the challenge. Not a whiner in the whole bunch.

We learned some great character based tips to keep a long series fresh, courtesy of Charles Yallowitz. I countered with character arch over a stand alone novel.

Sean Harrington discussed his artwork, and how computer graphics are the way to go. Who knew oil paints can sometimes take years to dry? (He provided the picture of Lisa down the page.)

Kylie Betzner gave us some good tips on weaving comedy into our stories. This is something all stories can benefit from, even if it isn’t the main focus. She must be good, she convinced me to download her new book, The Quest for the Holy Something or Other.

Whew, between Kylie and Charles I’m feeling spelling challenged. I’ve checked their names twice, and I still bet I get something wrong.

Mae Clair and I did a blog swap this week too. We both delved into the topic of research. She described a field trip to look into the haunts of The Mothman. Mine was about pre-research and creating a stream of information that comes to me. I also discussed my living documents over there. Also, do you know how many ways there are to spell Mae Clair?

Everyone was great about participating in the comments and re-blogging their posts. This helps us both reach a wider audience. I gained a few followers, and I hope they did too.

There’s more on the way, but it’s important to write my own blog from time to time. In a perfect world I’d like to host weekly, or even twice per month. It’s been hard to keep up with, but I accepted all takers. There is one scheduled next week too. We get to learn about collaborating with another author, so stay tuned for that.

I’d love to get someone in here to talk about romance. It doesn’t matter where your setting is, romance is possible. I’ll even let it go slightly into erotica, provided you tell us how to avoid writing “throbbing member”.

World building is another great topic, including how much is too much.

Maybe one of you would like to post about sin words from an editing point of view. Mine are “that” and “was”. Maybe yours are “very” and “just”. We can all benefit from this.

I’m open to other ideas too, and you are absolutely encouraged to plug your book baby. Lisa Burton is standing by.



Filed under Blogging