Tag Archives: Blog tours

My 2021 Assessment

This is an annual event here at Entertaining Stories. Before writing this, I read back through the last few years of assessments, along with business plans for coming years. What surprised me is how positive and professional they came across. That isn’t the case this year.

2021 can…

Most of this involves things in my personal life that I really can’t post about. Old What’s Her Face and I each had our own health scares this year. Hers is fine, but mine remains a bit of an unknown. I have a January appointment for follow up that I may, or may not, keep. There have been major changes in the workplace, and my father passed away on December 2nd. Recently, our grandson developed a major problem that isn’t completely solved yet. This stuff hits hard.

Most of this has been a lingering problem for the last two years. It all seemed to merge at once, kind of like one of those gigantic freeway crashes we see on the news every couple of years. There is nothing I can do about most of it, so I have to compartmentalize and deal with it as best I can.

Having said that, this used to be a writing blog, and this is a business assessment. My plan said I would only release two books in 2021, and I hit that goal. Both Lunar Boogie and Wreck of the Lanternfish are available right now. Lanternfish is still in the throes of a more demure blog tour as I write this.

Looks like this year was all about series work. I’m kind of proud of that, and frightened at the same time. I miss my stand-alone stories, and want to try writing another one of those eventually.

Publishing two, instead of three, gave me more time to experiment with other things. This was a 2021 goal and I achieved that, too. First came a summertime experiment involving two stand-alone titles; Grinders and Serang. Confession, Serang ties right into the Lanternfish trilogy.

This all stemmed from an invitation to appear on Fresh Ink Group’s blog talk radio program. I really didn’t do a lot of promo around this, but it worked out fairly well. I gave away a ton of free books, but only Serang seemed to gain reviews after the fact.

This allowed me to fine tune my plan. When October came around, I decided there are four volumes in The Hat Series. There were four weeks in the month, and a new plan got launched. I promoted each volume for a week, and ran free days for two of them. This worked even better.

I moved another ton of free books, but this time there was someplace else for readers to go. To be honest, I’m still seeing sales from the October push. It seems the crack-dealer method still has some life in it. A freebie leads to purchasing additional stories. I also combined my free days with a push by The Fussy Librarian. I can see the difference, and will probably use them again.

One of the other things I did was post more at the outer fringes of my circle. Let’s face it, my inner circle already hosted me when each volume was originally released. Since we tend to follow the same people, blog tours can become like listening to a broken record. (Wow, is that a dated statement these days.)

One of the things I noticed, and my inner circle confirmed, is that Amazon’s Pages Read seem to be where all the action is. It seems to have surpassed my actual sales, but Amazon pays me and the readers are getting to read for free. I don’t know what this means, or how to use it, but it’s an interesting observation. Maybe I can find a way to milk this like a prize cow.

With two book releases, and two month-long promo tours, there was a lot of promo. Every tour post was unique, so I was blogging, but it was all hosted elsewhere.

This final bit of December promo comes with an observation. The release of Wreck of the Lanternfish is showing an equal volume of sales for the previous volumes in the series. Could this signal that trilogies are more of a sweet spot than I anticipated? Are there a larger group that won’t start a series until they know it’s complete?

I managed to keep up with my Story Empire responsibilities, and feel like they were successful posts. Entertaining Stories suffered the most. I love this site, and want to stay in touch with everyone here. With all the life issues (particularly the life issues), combined with the extra promo, something had to give.

To be honest, I want to spend more time at the Writing Cabin and maybe even let the Research Sirens steal me away for a while. Until some things settle down, that isn’t realistic.

I have been less than creative for the last six months, but have dabbled with a side project. I don’t want to push anywhere until my personal life settles down. I’m taking life one day at a time right now.

I could be alone here, but 2020 was a better year for me. I don’t ever want to see another one like 2021.

Talk to me in the comments. I really love you guys and would like to get back to more regular interaction here.

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All that other stuff

It’s been hard to come up with blog fodder lately. There isn’t that much interesting stuff happening. I’m still trying to figure out some October promo. I’d better get it together, because it will be here before I know what’s happening.

I came up with a series for Three Act Structure I want to post on Story Empire. One of them is hacked out, but I want to let it ferment for a day or two before I schedule it. The others should be easy enough to create when I need my next post.

A friend is going on a release tour. I assembled all her materials and scheduled her stop ahead of time. I always give priority to others, and try to make sure they’re taken care of.

I’m still swimming in Asian pears. I tried baking one the other day, but didn’t give it enough time in the oven. I also needed better things to stuff it with. Might try it again. I ate a couple fresh from the tree today, so I should be good on the fiber meter.

This afternoon, I sent another chapter to my Critique group. Sometime in the next week I should have them all back. My next amazing stunt has to be sending Lanternfish to the formatter. I want it to come out sometime in November.

Other than that, I dabbled on my side project for a while. Came to 1300 words, so nothing all that special.

Oh, and I spent an hour on the phone with my daughter. She has raccoons in her yard and sent some pictures. They look like this year’s babies and are probably looking for something to eat. Cute, but best to stay away from them.

Doesn’t seem like a lot for a week. I used to blog three times per week, plus host Lisa Burton Radio. This year has really gotten to me and I don’t seem to have some of the same mojo.

Hope all of you had good weeks and have better weekends.

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Question for the masses

If there were a book that looked a whole lot like this, would you read it?

The Hat Series, Lizzie and the hat

I mention this, because it’s probably coming next week. Lizzie and the hat are chasing a new monster for them. Werewolves are tragic, and Lizzie has a problem with this. The human part of the monster has no idea what happens a couple of nights per month.

I’ll probably pull the trigger on Sunday night. Weekends aren’t the best time to publish, but they’re all I have so I’m making due. I’ll spend the weekend getting blog tour posts ready, then hit some of you up to host me if you’re game. I already have a bunch of offers.

Early sales are important, so I’d appreciate it if you’d consider that. You can read it this fall if you like, but Amazon takes those early sales into account. Also, Otto needs a new ball if you know what I mean.

Watch this space for more information. I’ll update the side bar and such with the new book and link once I have it. I’ll make every tour stop unique, so they’ll be worth reading. I can also reblog to support my hosts without sharing the same material every time.

So yay! Cover reveal! New book coming, and I’m excited to publish one this month before school lets out.

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Time for some changes

There hasn’t been anything too interesting going on around here lately. With all the Covid concerns, we work, then we stay home on weekends. It’s been fairly boring, to tell you the truth. Some of this isn’t likely to change any time soon.

We watched a few Halloween movies yesterday, but there wasn’t anything all that exciting. Honestly, there’s just been too damned much television this year. After saying that, I did enjoy the new episode of The Mandalorian.

Old What’s Her Face decided we weren’t going to give out Halloween candy. So, of course, she ran to the store at the last minute, bought a huge bag of candy, and welcomed kids anyway. We didn’t get too many, but we wore masks.

All of my touring is over for 2020. (It’s okay to cheer or breathe a sigh of relief. I feel the same way to a degree.) I like interacting with everyone on blog tours, but it’s a lot of work to come up with unique posts and to keep checking them for days after the posting day. I hope I interacted with everyone who commented, or at least liked the comment if it was directed toward my hosts.

I love all of my hosts. There were many of them over the course of three publications this year. I tried to give some of you a rest and not hit you for every book. Some wanted me to show up anyway. Hopefully, everyone is happy. Remember, I’m here for you whenever I can return the favors.

I really want to start drafting new materials. That’s my happy place. I’m being a little resistant, because I could use a breather. Also, I don’t know that I need three releases next year.

First priority is going to be getting the Lanternfish trilogy wrapped up. Then I want another story for Lizzie and the hat. Anything after that will be gravy. Even if it only comes to a partial draft, that works too.

Beyond that, welcome to Standard Time for those places who still change. Idaho floated a bill to leave us on Standard Time year round, but it failed last year. I have a hunch it will be back. The time changes never bothered me. My body just knows when it’s time, and it feels right today.

They say all blog posts perform better with a picture, so here’s one of Otto rocking out.

Stay safe everyone. Blogging is socially distant, so it’s okay to leave comments.

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Kicking it into Overdrive

It’s September now. The best month of the year is just over the horizon. I can taste the pumpkin spice in my beer, and detect the crispness of the occasional morning. We’ll still dabble with the occasional 100 degree temperature, but October will be here before we know it.

It’s been my favorite since I was a small child. All the spooky Halloween oriented things. The changing colors, I love all of it.

Late summer was busy. It seems like Lanternfish sailed all over the world in the last month. We visited a lot of old friends and managed to get Lisa Burton out of the writing cabin. I’m hoping that my free promotion of the first book will walk some new readers into this series. It’s time to send the ship to dry dock now. She has holes to patch and barnacles to scrape before I take her back out for her last cruise.

I’m going to be popping up here and there this month to promote Murder They Wrote. This is an anthology of seven different short stories with a theme of murder. My character, Jason Fogg, is a private detective on the trail in my story.

I’ll be on the lookout for review posts. With Lanternfish’s free days, plus the new book, plus the anthology, one or two could pop up. If I find them, I’l try to share them here.

You might be thinking, Craig’s had a busy year. He’s probably going to relax for a while. That’s just not the case this year. I try to have a Halloween themed promo of some kind every year, and 2020 be damned, I’m doing it this year, too. I have another book I hope to release on October first. I only have part of my promotional artwork, but I have a cool cover. I’m sure the rest of the art will arrive in time. I don’t even have the formatted MS back, but it will be here.

I decided to post some teasers this month. Simple, visual and auditory at the same time. With this post, I’ve officially promoted three new books in one week. Take that 2020. Check it out. Are you teased? Are you intrigued?

Lisa Burton

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A very busy flex day

Today is my flex day, and it started out in a way I’m not a fan of. I had to get a hole drilled in my head. I probably need more holes, but this one involved filling a tooth the dentist had been watching for a decade. He also removed an old filling, replaced it, and fixed a chipped tooth I’ve had for about four years. None of that was a real problem.

Deep cleaning was a problem and hurt like hell. Then the lady only did one side, as if I’ll ever go back and do the other side. She doesn’t know me very well. Old What’s Her Face pointed out that I’ve never been in for tooth cleaning in the 30 plus years we’ve been together. I don’t see the point. In my case, there is no gum decay and no bone loss. I’m not saying it isn’t a valid procedure, but I just don’t seem to require it.

I wrote and sent out the last two posts for my Lanternfish tour. I planned on ending it in August, but it will carry into the first week of September.

I managed to play two rounds of pumpkin ball today. One at mid-day and one after supper. They’re still crazy about these things.

Tonight, I paid the invoice for formatting The Ballad of Mrs. Molony. This one is coming in October, and makes for a good Halloween themed push for me. October has always been good to me, so hoping I can keep some of that magic flowing.

Then I got an email that said Murder They Wrote is now available in the book store. I knew this was coming, but it looks like I’ll be doing promo into September this year. It could have been worse. At least it doesn’t overlap Lanternfish and Mrs. Molony. It will fit right in the middle.

Seven great authors came together to produce this anthology, and I’m proud to be included. That image up above is a purchase link if you want to get in early.

I was invited because they wanted a science fiction author involved. This posed kind of a conundrum, because I was right in the middle of drafting both Mrs. Molony and HMS Lanternfish. I actually had a character who could stand in perfectly.

Jason Fogg has been with me since my trunk novel days. He first appeared in public as a short story character, earned a second short in my second collection, then became a player in the novel Viral Blues.

Jason returns to short stories in Murder They Wrote. He also returns to his first person POV style. I don’t want to say too much here, because I have promo posts to write. This is just a first strike as part of my busy flex day.

I actually took vacation time tomorrow. I anticipated sore gums and wanted a day to kick back, maybe do some reading. Old What’s Her Face struck like a viper and now I have to take Frankie in for one of her vaccinations.

Sounds cute right? Dad and his girl going to the vet for something that isn’t an emergency. In reality it’s more like a cage match. She doesn’t like her harness. Doesn’t like riding in the car, and doesn’t like going to the vet.

Catch you guys later. I might be able to write some Jason Fogg promo posts before I go to bed tonight.

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Vacation day

This is one of the busiest weeks of the year for us at work. With everything pretty much settled now, I decided to take today off.

I didn’t have any specific goals other than not having to get up and commute. This week began with a return to Daylight Savings Time, included a full moon, and ends with Friday the 13th. None of those are particularly troubling. In fact, I published Viral Blues the last time Friday the 13th rolled around.

The news is depressing with all the viral scares going around. I was looking forward to baseball season, so that’s kind of disappointing. I understand why they’re making all these changes, but I don’t have to like it.

Fortunately for me, there is the writing thing. I need to address some critiques I have back, but I don’t have them all. With that in mind, I decided to add more words. It wasn’t a banner day, but 1600 new words are more than I had when I got up this morning. I kind of like them, but always reassess when my next writing day begins.

The tour for Grinders is ongoing, and I needed to deliver some materials for that. I think it’s time well spent. No sense publishing these things if I don’t try to make people aware of them. This tour hasn’t been any more productive than any of the others, but there is one noticeable difference. I’m enjoying it more. By only having two posts per week, I don’t feel rushed and harried to cover all the comments and such. Comments have been great, too. There seem to be more of them this time.

This could actually be a good thing in the long run. I buy books by earmarking them in my head, then getting to them when I have some time. I don’t always remember all the things I was interested in, and sometimes a reminder will send me running to Amazon. Perhaps, by spreading the posts out, I can have those little reminders online for those who are more like me.

Two years ago, I decided that writing my next book was my best source of promotion. It seems to be working to a degree. My backlist is getting more action than it ever has. It isn’t a lot, but it’s noticeable. More publications means I’m out there more frequently than ever before. Phase two of this idea will be some “specials” when my series books are ready to come out. It’s possible I might weave in a free day for one of the older titles, too. That’s all speculation. My main goal is to get the next Lanternfish book ready to set sail.

Those 1600 word might be all I accomplish this weekend. There could be a few more, but the story has moved to a point where I’m not stressing about it. If I can’t get it finished before Summer, I may just release it in the middle of Summer. I never have great luck with Summer releases, but I’ve been told the middle of a trilogy is a tough sell anyway. They usually don’t move until the series concludes.

I’m open to suggestions on that point. Let me hear from you in the comments. I’d like to learn your release day and promo secrets.

Oh, Public Service Announcement: Hiding in the closet with a copy of Grinders is a great way to spend the weekend and will not expose you to Corona Virus. It’s an E-book, so you can’t substitute it for toilet paper, but you won’t want to after you get into it.

On one of my last posts I tossed a photo of Otto out there to draw interest. Frankie demanded equal time, so here she is on one of the rare times when she pauses in her playing.

Being good, temporarily.

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Busy, but productive

I started my week off with a visit to Mae Clair’s blog. I ended it with a stop by John Howell’s place. These were both stops to promote Grinders. A couple per week is much easier to manage than the dozen or so I’ve done in the past. I still intend to put out a decent number of them, but I’m going to spread them out a bit more.

Lisa Burton went back on the air somewhere in the middle to host Charles Yallowitz. He also has a new book out, so if you haven’t stopped by Lisa Burton Radio, you probably should.

All of these fine people loaned me their space, or have agreed to soon. I would appreciate it if you’d stop by their places and check them out. Maybe you’ll find a cool new blogger to follow. They’re all accomplished authors, so you might find some great reading there, too.

Today, I focused on producing more tour posts for Grinders, but at two per week it was much less stressful. I’m making every post unique, and that allows me to reblog them without sounding like a broken record. More like a wounded record, maybe.

I also made a new pinned tweet. I’m a big believer in the pinned tweet, and regularly share those of my friends and supporters. That’s why I’m embarrassed to admit that I forgot to make one for Serang. Maybe if I hit the Summer doldrums I can toss one out for that story. It isn’t like I don’t have some great artwork to add to it. I’m not much of an artist, but I can cobble together something presentable.

I also worked through critiques for two different projects. My side project was pretty easy, but Lanternfish took some effort. My group helped me make this section so much better, and I owe them a huge debt. Both projects are ready for new words, and I may add some tomorrow. I have some fun research that I need to shoehorn into Lanternfish somehow.

Today I cleared my decks. No idea where tomorrow will lead me, and I don’t really have a plan for it. I’ll check in with all my hosted posts and might even manage some new words. Hope all of you have a great weekend ahead of you.

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A bit about Serang

I think some of you are suffering from tour fatigue, and I am, too. Between two books, it’s been a long process. I hope you’ll indulge me one last post about Serang, and it will be mine.

This time out, I offered my hosts either Lisa Burton or me. I asked my hosts what they would like for their readership, and I really enjoyed the challenges. I think the Serang tour posts were some of the best promo stuff I’ve ever written.

As fun as that was, there is always a downside. Lisa only got one taker, but I have two posters. Rather than shop for another host this week (Holiday week considered) I decided to take it myself.

Lisa Burton

This is Lisa, posing as Serang with her Fu dogs/lions. The female is covered with grey fur, and the male is bronze. Serang had these guys in Lanternfish, but we get a lot more information about them in Serang.

One of the things I’ve tried to do is not explain too much about certain things. Readers will get a bit of information about Fu cubs and parents. How they chose Serang, and more. I never answer the question completely about how she summons them in times of need.

Readers will see her touch her weapon to a jade pendant she wears, and the animals will appear. Whether this is a result of the pendant, her weapon, some combo, or the connection of Serang’s spirit with the otherworld – I never answer. This is on purpose. Not everything needs to be explained. Readers should have a tidbit to imagine for themselves.

The Fu themselves are formidable in battle, and I’ve already written them into HMS Lanternfish. They rub on her like cats, and when the male purrs it’s almost frightening.

Serang becomes identified with the Fu, and there is a bit more information, but I’m not going to spoil it for you.

That wraps my touring for a while. I’m tired and I think you are, too. Winter is coming and I need to read, and work on the next Lanternfish story.

Both Viral Blues and Serang sold fairly well. They could both use more reviews. Serang in particular is suffering on this front. If any of you are so inclined, it would mean a lot to me.

I’m not going to include the standard cover and blurb. You guys have seen it by now, and both covers in my sidebar are linked to Amazon.

Feel free to use Lisa and the Fu as your computer screens or add them to Pinterest as it suits you. If I get ambitious, I may create a pinned tweet using this poster, but the Viral Blues one is still up and relatively new.

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Huh! Never saw that coming.

I’ve spent a month beating myself up about all this promotion. It’s felt like lather, rinse, repeat for weeks – at least to me. However, there is an upside I never saw coming.

This time out, I’m asking my hosts what they want for their sites. Some of them are throwing me a curve or two, and the posts are coming out differently than previous outings. I’ve always pre-written a bunch of posts that I could send out when I was ready, but having both books so close together, that didn’t happen this time.

I’ve been a whiny baby about it, (and could be again), but I think the posts are better this time.

Writing has always been a journey for me, and this feels like a baby step along that path. It’s not as easy, or convenient, but that small bit of challenge is working for me. I’m not talking about sales here. Those may, or may not, come. I just feel like the tour posts are an improvement over my usual fare. It’s just a tick, and some of you might not notice, but I’m feeling it.

I spent the day custom writing posts for the coming week. They’ll spread out, and won’t fill the week, but it’s a comfort zone. If I find more time this weekend, I might even draft some new material. (My favorite thing.)

Many times, I tend to lower my head and charge into the work that needs to be done. I get a lot accomplished that way. Sometimes it’s worth stopping and assessing that production, both for volume and quality.

That’s a lot of words to say, I think I learned something. Blog hosts know their own followers. They know what will connect with them. I will still keep my living document about promotional topics. There is always someone who says to send them whatever I like. I may be adding to my list for future blog tour material.

Next weekend, I’ll reach out to a few more hosts and find out what challenges they give me. I’ll do it with a positive attitude, and hope I’m able to deliver what they want. Obviously, it has to fit with the story. I can’t turn Serang into a horror story or a sweet romance, but maybe I can pluck a few strings that will be different than my usual fare.

It’s a challenge, but I recommend trying it. You likely know your hosts as well as I know mine. Ask them what they want the next time you go on tour. It may be harder, but the results might be better than you imagined.

Aside from the tour posts, I also have one of my Story Empire posts coming up. It’s going to be another Expansion Pack post about characters you might not have considered. Plenty of me to go around this week, and I still have a few open days if anything exciting happens around here.

Here’s something interesting. I’m trying to make a pin board for all of my stories these days. I use them as reference while I’m drafting the manuscript. I found some amazing things that influenced Serang, and you might want to check it out. Asia has some beautiful scenery, interesting wildlife, and more. (I’d kind of love to visit someday.) Here is the link to the Pinterest Board. You’ll find pictures and artwork that influenced the story. Things like Fu Dogs, the Temple of Wind, martial arts, marketplaces, and more. There are simpler things, too, like watercolors of tiny birds, drying persimmons, and musical instruments. The secondary bonus is my boards aren’t going anywhere. They make a nice reference for stories that have been filtered down to specific settings. Mine and yours.

Hope you’re all having a great weekend.

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