Tag Archives: paper dolls

Looking at 2015

Many people post about New Year’s Resolutions, and WordPress will be flooded with them next weekend. I’ve always avoided that, but like to create a loose business plan. It’s hard to look ahead without looking back, so that’s what I’m doing today. This will probably not be one of my 300 word posts.

Last year about this time, I committed to getting new business cards, adding one new version of social media to my arsenal, and publishing two new novels.

I got and distributed the business cards. These were mostly left at various bulletin boards, or at the table in a restaurant somewhere. So far, I have no idea whether I’ve accomplished something or not. I know it can’t hurt, but I wish there were a way to track performance.

I signed up for Goodreads. I haven’t been overly impressed, but I’m probably not working it the way I should either. I think it’s “neat,” in that it provides another way for someone to discover my stories.

As far as the two novels go, that didn’t quite work out. I wrote two new novels, but only published Will O’ the Wisp. I learned by publishing Arson during the Summer that Summer is a bad time to release a book.

It’s a good idea to put a manuscript away for a while before editing it. I finished The Playground in May. To distract myself, I turned to short fiction. This short form stuff turned into the Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack. The plan changed when I decided to publish it.

Both Wisp and Notebook deserved some promotional effort, and The Playground took a back seat.

On a wild hair, I decided to make Lisa the robot girl into the spokesmodel for Entertaining Stories. Then I had to figure out what to do with her. I ordered some fresh blog art, and it was very well received. She got asked occasionally to make a guest appearance on various blogs, and these were always fun, because I had to write them in character.

When it came time to go on blog tours, I added Lisa to the mix when I pre-wrote my tour posts. Then I got the crazy idea of making posters about the books, featuring Lisa.

The little push I organized for Notebook was very well received, and the posters the hosts put up were quite popular. The paid promotions for Wisp were also popular, but I didn’t have a ton of extras made up.

I’ve been holding back posters for The Playground, featuring Lisa, for months. I’ll try to publish it sometime in late Winter of 2016.

I also had Sean make up some paper dolls of Lisa, simply because it’s hard for an ebook only author to hand out swag. The post announcing the paper dolls, and the page where they permanently reside were two of my most popular posts for 2015.

My intention was always to make this blog into ground zero for my self publishing efforts. That remains my intent. If you want to reach me, this is the best way unless I’ve given you my email address.

My growth rate for Entertaining Stories has always been slow, despite posting about five times per week. I simply accept it for what it is, and keep forging ahead. I seem to attract the kind of people who interact, and support my projects when I need them to, and I’m eternally grateful for that.

Part of the job involves supporting others when they need it. I’ve made my blog available for others, and some of those posts were very popular this year. Mae Clair recently pushed into my top ten posts of all time, so my readers appreciate meeting guests.

I’ve learned a bit about being a good host, and being a good guest. Being a good guest involves delivering what the host asks for. Many of my guest spots were custom written based upon the host’s request. Some of them were by Lisa, two were by Lorelei the Muse, and one asked me to bring the raven of doubt along. Aside from those character posts, I also appeared on various blog as myself this year.

Being a good guest also involves surfing back through the host site and participating in the comments. When someone responds directly to the host, it’s still okay to hit the like button. Many times they leave a comment for me, and I try to respond to every one of them. My habit is to return for three consecutive days.

Serving as a host is also important. A popular guest can drive blog traffic the other direction, and I gained followers by hosting others. It is expected for a host to write an intro, and even a final word to go along with the guest spot. If you’ve read and enjoyed someone’s book, it’s nice to say so before handing it over to the guest. It’s also important to set the site up to allow visitors to comment.

I appeared on two sites this year where I had to enter my email address, then manipulate a Captcha before I could answer a comment. I was lucky to even get the comment if that’s what the visitor had to go through.

I stepped up my game when it comes to re-blogging information my readers might like. One of the things I do is try to re-blog the source material. I’ve tried to read something that turned out to be a re-blog, then discover it links to another blogger who re-blogged the content. People aren’t going to go through all of that to read the source material. Re-blog maybe, re-re-blog never.

I try to keep Entertaining Stories looking fresh. I’m really going to miss the frozen hand, and the electronic snow falling across it looked great. I’m on the lookout for some good wallpaper for next month.

I didn’t even know what a “street team” was the first time I tried one. I’m a big believer in the power of a street team now. I’ll put out a call for The Playground soon, and try to get a team assembled for its release. It worked quite well for Will O’ the Wisp, and Experimental Notebook.

Some of the popular things (beyond Lisa the robot girl) were my party stop for the Rave Reviews Book Club, Macabre Macaroni, and The Idea Mill posts. It seems like a good idea to keep doing some of that in 2016.

My membership in the Rave Reviews Book Club continues to provide dividends. I became member of the week this fall, and got invited to appear on Blog Talk Radio. My Experimental Notebook was a President’s Pick.They support my efforts on Twitter, and that really helps too.

2015 turned out to be a good year. My sales increased, I made new friends, and I expanded my footprint. I plan on 2016 being even better, but that is a different post.

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Weekend winding down

My wife decided she wanted to watch the Women's World Cup game. We haven't watched soccer since the last Olympics, but what the heck.

I didn't manage any editing this weekend, and I also didn't work on any short stories. I really wanted to work on short stories.

My son is working in Nevada. We had our daughter-in-law and the kids over last night. All the adults got a small lobster tail, and a large king crab leg. We rounded it out with potato salad and Mexican corn on the cob. The girls picked up some fireworks and we participated in the neighborhood volly to celebrate the 4th.

Some things you just have to do. I can't write all the time. Still, I managed to write out some blog posts and send them to others. I don't have all the dates, but I'm going to be popping up here and there. I also have another guest appearing here this week.

I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to post the PDF images of the paper dolls on WordPress. In the end, I decided to post links to the printable files, and images of what they look like. I really enjoyed this project, and it looks like quite a few people clicked on the PDF files. It would be cool to see a photo of your paper doll wherever you might be. I'll be content when I see Lisa on the International Space Station. Maybe Vanessa-Jane Chapman can have her jumping out of a cake, or something.

This page with the paper dolls also required a post to talk about what the heck I was doing. This post is less than a half dozen “likes” from making it into my top ten posts of all time. I would really appreciate those half dozen likes if some of you have the time. My top ten get read regularly, and they are a decent introduction to what you might find on my blog. In any case, the page with the downloads will remain.

I spent a little quality time on a beta read for a friend, but I have more to do. I also worked up my critiques for the group meeting tomorrow night.

The outlines all creeped ahead in one fashion or another. I have a few months to tinker with them, so they aren't as urgent.

My brother made me a hammered copper hatband for the cowboy hat I bought in Jackson. I spent a couple of weeks letting it patina, but didn't like the look. I touched it up with a little 2000 grit sandpaper and it came alive. The green color remained in the deep hammer marks, and the polished copper held the high parts. I sprayed it with a clear coat, so it wouldn't continue to patina and stain my hat. All the green turned black upon contact with the clear coat. Nothing I can do about it, but it still looks pretty good.

That was my weekend. Some productivity, maybe it could have been more. We're camping next weekend, so I don't know if I'll get anything accomplished. There could be catfish involved, so that's a plus.

How was your weekend? Is anyone out there writing, promoting, researching?

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Sometimes, ya gotta try new stuff

We authors tend to all try the same things to promote our works. We blog, we tweet, we sign up for paid promotions. It all works to a degree, and there is no magic spell that will help us stand out from the crowd.

I've been known to try some crazy things from time to time, and today is no exception. I see that adult coloring books are all the rage today. Sadly, I don't have any of those. Still, maybe an old school trick still has some life in it.

My regular readers know that Lisa Burton, the robot girl, is a recurring character on Entertaining Stories. I recently promoted her to 'Official Spokesmodel' for Entertaining Stories.

Lisa takes her job seriously, and when I'm writing she really gets into it. She uses alternate voices to read back my dialog, calls me out for too many coincidences, and dresses for the part.

I recently sent her over to Sean Harrington's studio to pose with some of the outfits from my novels. Sean designed a paper doll sequence and you can have it for free. Those of you who've been lamenting a Lisa of your own, can now have one.

She's pretty helpful too. Just stand her next to your computer and read out loud to her. She will miraculously help you spot difficult passages and weak dialog.

The doll is Lisa in a classic James Bond pose. It clearly shows off what she did to $20,000 worth of GMO human skin.

I chose to print my doll on card stock. She stands up better when you dress her up.

Some of you may be happy with simply the doll. She's just as helpful as when she's in costume.

While the doll represents Wild Concept, there is an outfit for every novel.

If you prefer chasing the dreaded demon, El Chivato, through the Panamanian jungle, there is an outfit for that.

Maybe you want to delve deeper into witchcraft in your story. The outfit from Will O' the Wisp is there for you. Here are a couple of examples:

The Cock of the South

With the hat, which Lisa knitted herself, she filled in for Argon the cyclops. Without the hat, she assisted with any number of characters, from the Southern Dwarves to a Remsian nobleman.

Arson

Maybe you prefer Lindsay Pennington, from Arson. I still say this little pyro is the most fun supporting character I ever wrote.

Of course you can go absolutely crazy and mix them up if you like.

The whole kit is absolutely free. I've made a new page at the top of my blog. Click on the printable PDF files and go to town. Make as many as you want. Spread them around town. Give them to friends, with my blessing. I'm sure Lisa would be proud to serve as your bookmark.

A big thank you goes out to original cover artist, Sean Harrington. This project wouldn't have been possible without him.

Another big thank you to everyone who reads Entertaining Stories. Your comments are what keeps me motivated. Who knows, maybe one day I'll offer up a small Muse to put on the other side of your computer.

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