Tag Archives: Lisa Burton Radio

2019, I’m calling it a success

I always try to do a year end assessment this time of year, then follow it up with a business plan in the new year. This is the assessment post.

My goals for 2019 were to step back from social media a bit and to explore sequels in my stories. In this, I was successful. I used to make custom tweets and make time to share them, make the occasional post on all the other formats out there, but honestly, they accomplish nothing. I keep these formats, and this blog auto-feeds to them, but the main goal is to point people here.

Currently, social media is for my own entertainment, but I try to share favors. Meaning, if someone tweets about my books, I try to follow and share their pinned tweet. I like finding out about all the baseball trades, bulldog pictures, and simple stuff on Facebook, but that’s about all it’s good for. I joined a big group event on Facebook that was promoted like an online trade show. It was a total failure, and I won’t make that mistake again.

I stopped paying for Facebook ads and Amazon ads last year. They never really did much, and the last few times they did nothing. My promotional efforts these days are in the form of blog tours, and a promotion company. Even then, I don’t always hire the promo firm.

When I released The Hat, the promo company really paid off. I got a bunch of early reviews, and sales were great. Things really tapered off after that. I used them for Viral Blues this year, and got one review from the NetGalley portion of the bundle.

As far as exploring sequels and series work, I count it as a major success. Success means different things to different people, so some explanation is in order. I’ll include covers and links, but I’m skipping the blurbs. This isn’t about promo, but assessment.

The first thing I published was Voyage of the Lanternfish. This is a crazy pirate fantasy with magic, monsters, and gunpowder. I’ve heard the term Flintlock Fantasy thrown around, and that might be a reasonable description.

It’s important to note this is not a sequel to anything. It’s the original book in what is destined to become a series. I published it on New Year’s Day, so it counts as 2019.

This book sold fairly well, and the comments I got on it led me to the trilogy idea. Reviews are lagging, so I’m a bit concerned.

Something else came up in a lot of the discussion. Two characters clicked with people, and they came up a lot. One isn’t so much a character as a collection of root monsters. I count them as one, because they function in swarm capacity during the action scenes. In my mind, they were just a bit of silliness to fill in the corners while Lanternfish was on a long sea voyage. Kind of like how Scrat fills out the edges of the Ice Age films. However, people loved them. I even had one ask for a root monster stand-alone book.

I don’t see that happening, because some of my over-the-top characters are better in small doses. A little is wonderful, too much can lead to brain damage.

Once I decided this could fit the classic trilogy format, I panicked a little. It would take at least a year to produce the next volume, and likely more than that. How am I going to keep fans interested during that time? This is where the other standout character came into play.

Lanternfish is set in a fantasy environment, mostly because I want to avoid comparison with Pirates of the Caribbean. There are some parallels to real world places, and it isn’t hard to understand that Serang is from pseudo-China. Her character, and this part of the world, made it easy to write her story.

Serang was raised by monks, then fled the country to become a pirate – kind of. This is a stand alone title, but it supports the Lanternfish environment. My hope is that Lanternfish fans will learn more about Serang by reading her book, and that it will tide them over until HMS Lanternfish is ready in 2020.

There is also a chance that people will read Serang first, then follow her into the Lanternfish stories.

Honestly, I dropped the ball on promotion of Serang. I released her story about 60 days after Viral Blues, and did an extensive tour for it. (More on that later.) When Serang published, I worried about my regulars suffering from tour fatigue. I took her on tour, but cut it short as a business decision. I also did not use the promo company for her story.

As of this writing, she only has four reviews on Amazon. This is partially because Amazon won’t let some people post reviews. They can still post on BookBub and Goodreads, and she’s doing better there. It seems odd to me, because these people review a mountain of books. It isn’t like they’re all shills for C. S. Boyack, but there’s nothing any of us can do about it.

I think she deserves better, and all of the reviews have been glowing.

The third book was a true sequel. My first one. It’s called Viral Blues, and is the follow up story to The Hat. The Hat sold incredibly well, and is the best reviewed book I have. Because of this, I thought Viral Blues would do better than it did. I paid the promo company for this story, and pushed the hell out of it around the Halloween season. It did well, but maybe I expected too much.

Lizzie and The Hat are back, but so are a bunch of old favorite characters. I’ve gotten some nice comments about Lisa Burton returning to a story, and admit she’s kind of a scene stealer at times. I’ve also gotten some great comments on Clovis. Both of these characters came with existing fans, so it was fun putting them in a new tale. Lizzie and The Hat carry the story, but it’s kind of like a superhero team-up.

I doubt there will ever be another story like Viral Blues, but it was a blast to create it. Lizzie and The Hat will go on, but it will be in their own adventures. These stories are paranormal with a lot of dark humor and snark.

I don’t want to jump ahead to my Business Plan, but I have some fun ideas for Lizzie and The Hat.

My goals for the two series are different. When it comes to Lanternfish, a trilogy almost demands prerequisite reading to carry on with the story. Stories about The Hat, can be read as stand-alone volumes with more available if you enjoyed the one you picked.

My Story Empire friends helped me scratch out some branding ideas for the series. With Lanternfish, there is no mistaking that figurehead. If it appears on all the covers, that should be good enough. When it comes to The Hat, I commissioned a small badge I can include on all the subsequent tales. It’s Lizzie playing her upright bass. It’s just a small icon that will let readers know it’s part of the series.

When it comes to the other parts of writing, some things changed. With three publications, they almost had to. Writing all those tour posts takes time, even if they are excerpts. All of my tour posts are unique, so I don’t wear people out when I run out a new story.

***

I didn’t return to blog posts about the writing cabin until late Autumn. This was a mistake. It’s easier to blog about what I’ve been doing than it is to fictionalize the same information and converse with Lisa. However, my stats clearly demonstrate that readers prefer interaction with Lisa.

I didn’t post as many Idea Mill posts this year, and they performed well. I need to step it up on that front. All of us need ideas for our stories, and sharing the oddball things I stumble across is kind of fun.

I also skipped Macabre Macaroni this year. I was neck deep in promotion for Viral Blues during October, and didn’t have time to write scary micro-fiction for the blog. Honestly, it passed without much notice. It’s one of those things people love when it appears, but don’t seem to miss if it doesn’t. No idea what to think about this.

Lisa Burton Radio slipped a bit, too, but that was on purpose.  Here’s a bit of my thought process. Feel free to disagree with me, but I’m just being frank. As an author, I know how hard it is to find good free promotion. Even then, there is only so much you can do. Talk about your main character, maybe your antagonist, plot. Sometimes share an excerpt.

I created something unique, in that Lisa interviews the character of your choice. It’s different enough to draw attention, and they are always popular posts. I started out asking people to give me a chance. I even advertised on various sites to get guests. I wound up posting weekly without much gap for two years. We moved some books, too.

However, there is a downside. They take a lot of work to put together. This is a collaborative effort, and it eats into my time. Many times, the guest author never even shows up, or publishes one comment to the group in passing. These posts work when the author pushes the hell out of them. I have one guest who still tweets out his older post from a year ago. That’s how it’s done.

Lisa Burton Radio is still available upon request. I’m not begging for guests any more. It’s a choice slot, and you get out what you put into it. I’m using the time I gained to write my next book. If you’re interested, Lisa will be happy to talk with your character.

To close the year out, I did something I swore I’d never do again. I held some Amazon free days for one of my books. The Playground is an older title, but several characters from this book made an appearance in Viral Blues. It also has a loose Christmas theme behind it. Honestly, we moved a crap-ton of books. My stats even showed it reaching single digits on one of the categories. I could call it a best seller at 100, so at number 9 I was kind of impressed. What I’d like to see as fallout are people following Clovis and/or Gina over to Viral Blues. A few reviews would be nice, too.

It isn’t lost on me that Serang, Voyage of the Lanternfish, and The Hat could make timely free books when the sequels are ready for publication. Watching the fallout from my Playground promo closely to figure this out.

Obviously, there is more to life than my author career, but this is a writing blog. My life has health issues, pets, relationships, and a 40 hour-per-week job, too. This post is an assessment of my 2019 success and fumbles as an author. My goal has always been to entertain people for a few hours. It’s even the name of the blog. With that in mind, I think 2019 goes in the win column.

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Wednesday author chores

Today is my flex day again. I really want to be working on a couple of manuscripts, but I have other duties to attend to.

I started off with Lisa Burton Radio. I have two authors who are looking for a bit of promo, so I wanted to get their shticks out the door. I spent a couple of hours on those, then shipped them out. One of them already returned his, and while I’m tempted to work on it again, I’ll probably put it off for a couple of days.

Viral Blues got its first review, and it’s outstanding. Things like this make me glad to know that someone had a good time with the story.

I need to tour this book around, so I spent some time writing tour posts. I have a bunch more to write, but can only do so much in one sitting. Three of them were shipped out, and that’s a reasonable start.

Additionally, I received a post that I’m going to host, then assembled and scheduled it. This is part of the Something Wicked tour the Story Empire authors are going on. This is going to be a fun group event, so I hope you guys will come along. I’m including Something Wicked as part of the tour for Viral Blues.

As I catch up with the tour posts, I may put the touch of a few of you to host something. I’m a couple of weeks away from that, but working that direction.

I think the sidebar is up to date now.

Yak Guy has moved out of the spotlight. You can still find him by visiting my Amazon page, along with all my other books. I added Viral Blues to the carousel, and gave it Yak Guy’s premier real estate. If you click on the larger covers, they go directly to those books.

All in all, it was a productive day. No new fiction, but there are other tasks an author has to attend to.

Old What’s Her Face is home now, so productivity is coming to an end. It’s time to enjoy a few hours like other people do with a day off.

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Did a lot, but…

Today was my flex day and I had a pretty good list of projects. This was the list:

  • Editing on Serang
  • Work up three small critique sections
  • Send out the shtick for a new Lisa Burton Radio show
  • Read more of a fantastic novel

I got a lot done, but never got all the way to reading.

I started with the interview shtick and got it out the door. This author is looking for a mid July date so I have plenty of time to schedule and get it assembled once it’s in my hands.

The critiques are important to me. When you’re in a crit group, those people are there for you and you have to be there for them. I scratched this off the list.

When it came to Serang, I changed a few minor wordings, and one sentence that made no reasonable sense at all. Funny how those things still manage to slip through at this late hour. I never got all the way through the MS, so this one remains on my weekend list.

When it comes to the weekend, my slate is pretty clear. I can get all the way through Serang, then dedicate my time to reading. I don’t have to start on The Viral Blues edits yet, so if I get that far it’s a bonus.

I also have my next Expansion Pack roughed out for Story Empire. I’m not up again for a while, so I have time to spiff it up. I like to schedule them one ahead, so I might even deal with that in the evenings. Blogging doesn’t quite seem to demand the concentration the other projects do.

The expansion packs are doing okay, but I’d like to see them do better. These are the helpful ideas I have right now, so I’m not moving on until that well dries up.

All told, it was a productive day. I’d like to have done more, but really can’t complain. Back to the office tomorrow.

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It starts with a blog post

It doesn’t look like there’s going to be any new fiction from my keyboard this weekend. This is because I have a lot of blog commitments right now. It only seemed appropriate to start off with a blog post too. Make no mistake, this post also helps me organize my work plan so I can keep track of it all.

I have to work up one of Lisa’s shticks and send it to the author. We go back and forth on the interviews, and I need to serve it her direction.

I don’t want to saddle a guest with the week between holidays, so I’ll probably make a Lisa Burton Radio slot about my own works to hold the spot. I have books too, so why not?

This is the time of year to write a couple of posts that have proven popular over the years. The first one is a year end assessment. It’s a thought about what worked, and what didn’t during 2018.

The other one is a 2019 business plan. I usually write these in my word processor so I can dwell on them and spend a couple of days before I schedule them.

I have two posts coming up over at Story Empire, so of course, I haven’t even thought about them. One is Christmas Eve, so I might get by with some well wishes and such. I can probably cobble together a conclusion to the series I started about writing small, medium, and large for the other one.

I probably ought to do a Christmas post over here too. I have a couple of old Lisa Burton Christmas posters and might recycle one of those.

All told, there’s a whole lotta blogging goin’ on. It’s a short weekend for me, and that’s about all I can manage.

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Pretty good flex day

This is my last flex day of 2018. On holidays, we work eight hour days, because so many people want time off. I only have Christmas Day off next week, and New Year’s Day off the next one.

I wanted to accomplish some things today, and feel like I’ve done that. I started off by opening a can of chicory coffee and making some. It’s kind of a treat, and not what I usually buy. I like to get a small can once in a while, like today.

Social media is always my first stop, so I worked through email and such. Then I turned my attention to some critiques I received. Working through this section a couple of times served the same purpose as reading my last chapter, so I figured to give it a go.

I wound up with 2600 words, and that makes for a nice day for me. My characters, argued, chased two different kinds of monsters around, and shot the crap out of things. I think they had fun too.

Confession time here. I don’t have a detailed storyboard for this one, and I’m struggling with word count again. I may have to give up some writing time, and make a board for the portions that are left. This one is extremely character driven, so the plot doesn’t have to be quite as heavy. I still need one though, and the characters ought to be moving it along.

Second confession time. I’m writing two books at once. This is almost always a problem, but I’m doing it again anyway.

Then I turned my attention to Lisa Burton Radio. I have tomorrow’s post all written and scheduled. It promises to be a fun one, so make sure you swing through.

I still have another one to prepare the shtick for, but I normally wouldn’t do that until Saturday. I might still do it this afternoon.

Other duties include the Christmas Eve post at Story Empire. I still have no idea what I’m going to do there, but I’ll come up with something. It probably isn’t the best day to conclude the mini-series about writing small, then medium, then large.

I also think next week might not be the best week to force upon one of Lisa’s guests. I may write something up for myself just to fill the slot.

If I don’t do anything else today, it was a good day. I may just play with the dogs and hang out. Or storyboard. I should be storyboarding.

This is squirrel patrol in the big chair with me. Note Otto’s open and alert eye as he scans the back fence. He couldn’t catch one in a million years, but he enjoys the chase.

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Weekend

Mom and Dad came for a visit this weekend. It didn’t leave much time for authorly things, but it was fun. We went to dinner, and Mom did some Christmas shopping. I tagged along and scored a beer at Old Chicago while they hit the mall.

We stopped by the pet store, and the dogs scored these cool tire toys. They have ropes through them, and they love them.

Frankie loves her new toy

I managed to prepare the shtick for a new Lisa Burton Radio interview and send it out. I also worked my way through some critiques. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s enough for one afternoon.

Hope everyone else had great weekends too.

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My weekend

I really only had two goals for this weekend. It’s a short weekend for me, between the holidays. We don’t get flex days on holiday weeks. I pretty much failed anyway.

I wanted to get some back of the book material out for Lanternfish, and I accomplished that much.

Getting a haircut was part of the plan too, and I failed. My hair lady has moved on to another shop in the same franchise. I went to her because she is good, but really didn’t like the franchise. Now that she’s 20 miles out of my way, my happiness with her skills doesn’t outway the other burdens.

This franchise has one of those computer systems you must use just to get a haircut. It reminds me of the thing at Red Robin where I have to place my own order, and pay at the table. It’s freaky. I don’t feel like I owe a server a tip if I’m doing all the work. Are they going to ask me to wash the dishes next?

I want to hand someone money for a haircut. I don’t want to contribute to their database, become part of their farm, or do their bookkeeping for them. I just want a haircut. They don’t need my email, Social Security number, phone number or anything else to do that.

There are two places closer to home, so I stopped in to them. One was booked solid, which is a good sign. The other didn’t have anyone on site who could cut hair. They only work Tuesday through Friday. Scratch them off the list.

I’m going to call the busy place, and maybe I can find a new person to do business with. Kind of rough on Thanksgiving week, so I’ll be a bit forgiving. (I may have to buy a ponytailer soon. Or do something like Einstein did with his hair.)

Then I started a different kind of Lisa Burton Radio post. It might take a week or two to sort out, but it’s going to be interesting. Having fun with it, and I won’t post it on Thanksgiving day.

Since we got paid Friday, we managed date night on Saturday. Nothing too fancy, just dinner at Kahoots, which is one of our favorite places. They had pumpkin beer on tap too. It’s the second place I found all season that had some. (Elysian Pumpkinchino.)

We had matinee tickets to watch the Grindelwald movie today. We had a great time, and I would like to see it again to look for all the little things. I like the way Rowling portrayed the rift in a society. Someone has to drink the KoolAid before a movement gets underway. I didn’t like the division of KoolAid drinkers, but I wasn’t supposed to. It was very well done. Go see it.

Okay, so for a two day weekend, it was still kind of productive. A lot of it was family stuff, but it was fun. I need to get back to work on that Lisa Burton post, but I may have to peck away at it during the week… unless I get a haircut one night.

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Planning and scheming

This is my flex day. I mentioned before that I work ten hour days, and get a rotating day off each week. We get the occasional three day weekend out of the deal, and this is one of mine. It also allows for a bit of manipulation if you watch the calendar. That’s what I’ve done for November.

My next flex day is Wednesday the 7th. I took vacation on the 8th and 9th. This means I’m off from the 7th through the 12th, because the 12th is a holiday. Burn 20 hours of vacation and get six days off. Not a bad deal.

This weekend is going to be all about clearing the decks. We’re taking the camper to have it winterized this afternoon. Since we got paid, we’ll probably work in date night. I can still get my Halloween tee shirt at Old Chicago if we hurry, and that’s likely where we’ll end up. Probably time to coil up the hoses and drain the water heater to keep ahead of the silt. I might even get a haircut, just to get it out of the way.

I’ll have time to work on some Lisa Burton Radio slots if anyone is interested. The recent ones have produced really well. Some of that has to do with the book being presented, but also the involvement of the author. The last few authors have shared everywhere, and are still sharing everywhere. I see the click throughs to Amazon too. Lisa could use another few guests right now.

I’ll probably keep polishing up Lanternfish this weekend.

During my vacation I want to hit it hard. There is a new story I started, and my work life just didn’t allow me time to do much with it. If I clear the decks this weekend, my vacation time is wide open to make some real progress.

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Happy Wednesday

I’ve been slacking off on the blog, because I’ve been doing a lot of things that don’t relate to the author’s life. When I do, they aren’t the sexy things. One of the things I’ve always done is share this life – warts and all, so that’s what today is about.

I spent the last week in a trade conference for my paycheck job. There weren’t a lot of extra hours available. Next week, I’m going to Texas for a conference that is more directly related to what I do. All part of the job.

This week was my week to catch up… except… we scheduled job interviews. This is because all of us on the interview team have been in and out for a month. The other two members are tied up for the next two weeks.

There is an outside chance that I can make some real progress on Friday, so I have my fingers crossed.

On the writing front, this was my flex day, and I spent it working on the stuff nobody ever talks about. It’s part of the writing life, and it has to get done too.

I wrote a post for Story Empire that will go live next week. I also assembled and scheduled a Lisa Burton Radio interview. I mention this, because this stuff takes time. It has value, so I forge ahead. It has value to me, and it helps other authors too. If you haven’t checked out Story Empire, you might want to cruise over. There is a wealth of information authors can take advantage of.

I dedicated a big part of this morning to finishing up a book I’ve been reading. I fiddled around with this for far too long, and I needed to finish it. I even resorted to reading one chapter on my 30 minute lunch breaks. At least I got four chapters per week that way. It was a wonderful story, and I gave the author a five star review on three different sites.

Time. It’s all about time, which seems to be in short supply these days.

I like to read on airplanes, but I like to find things I don’t necessarily have to finish. This time, I have a couple of craft books saved that I might dive into. Other flight, I’ve chosen short story collections, or even novellae, because I can finish them. (I made that word up, but novellae seems like it should be right.)

On Tuesday, I got another Lisa Burton poster via email. (It looks really cool too.) That means I have the Lanternfish cover, plus two promotional posters. I ordered the last one, and it looks like I’ll be able to meet my winter publication deadline pretty easily.

To round out my day off, I worked through nine chapters of Lanternfish. I found a few things to correct, even though this is about my third pass. Good news is that I’m really enjoying the story still. I think that bodes well for my future readers.

I nearly wrote that I worked through nine innings of my book. Can you tell I’ve been watching the baseball playoffs? I don’t have a dog in this fight, but the games have been very good. (I’m not cheering for any specific team, but I’m glad the National League will go back to Front Row Amy’s ballpark.) There’s one on right now, and I’d better get back to it.

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Productive, in its own way

I had today off as a holiday. I’m looking forward to the eight hour shifts next week, as opposed to tens.

My plan was to deal with a bunch of author chores that didn’t involve new fiction. I was moderately successful, if not completely.

There were some blog chores. I traded pages with a few other authors. I got one shtick out the door for an interview, plus I sent an additional questionnaire out.

I finally took the time to work through my own critiqued pages, and that was wonderful. I haven’t had a critique group for a while, and it’s nice to get back to it. These small changes led me to add a couple of lines that really improved my story.

Beyond that, I did a bunch of research on infectious diseases, as one does. I swear, if anyone ever looks at my browsing history I’m in big trouble.

I wanted to at least start on another complete read of Lanternfish. I made some changes and need to re-read it to look at the big picture.

I also wanted to work on a couple of storyboards, but that fell by the wayside.

October is going to be a busy month for me, so these chores may get finished in bits and pieces.

I hope everyone had a nice weekend, and a happy Columbus Day if you got the day off too.

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