Tag Archives: self promotion

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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Action in the back catalog

I’ve been doing a lot of promotion lately. Considering I released two books in three months, it’s kind of understandable. Things are going well and both books are selling.

To be honest, promo wears me out. I’d rather talk about you guys than myself, but books die on the vine without this kind of thing.

This time out, I’m still going slow. John Howell hosted me today. If you missed the reblog, this is the link. I’m custom writing all the pieces once again. I have one post I need to write this weekend, and another I need to get close on. There are other folks I intend to ask this time out. Don’t want to wear out my welcome at any of the sites.

There is something interesting going on right now. I’m seeing action in my backlist. This is where authors used to make their living decades ago. That model kind of died off, but with ebooks it still has some validity.

Some of this is caused by Viral Blues. That’s the one that included a sequence of my previous characters in a story with Lizzie and The Hat. It’s possible that folks liked VB, and are interested in reading more about some of the characters that appeared in it. I hope so anyway.

Victoria Zigler published a nice post today that included a couple of my older titles. She’s an author herself and a big time supporter of independent authors. Here is the link to her post. I’d appreciate it if you’d run over there and leave her a comment. Check out her site while you’re there and browse her books, too.

I have a lot to think about with some of this. It’s a lot of promo since September, but there are some interesting results. It may be time to move the chain a bit.

When I’m hosted somewhere, I always try to reblog the post. This isn’t to shove it down your throat, I’m trying to drive traffic to those bloggers who were there for me. The hope is they get some good numbers on the day, and maybe my introduction will lead you to another cool blog you might enjoy.

These are positive thoughts, but they could be slightly off-base. Helping others, I’m all about that. However, I am also wearing my regulars out by doing it. Let’s face it, you know I have a new book by reading about it here before I even take it on tour.

I want to balance out gratitude for the favor and keeping my own site from becoming like a broken record. I’m always willing to host something for those who’ve helped me, and that’s also being nice.

Is a post, similar to this one, that includes a few links, easier to digest over here? I could do a weekly post with tour links and a bit of salesmanship, then have a more digestible schedule here for the rest of the week? Is that a balance between polite to my hosts and still respectful of my regulars?

Where is the chain today between polite and efficient? I’d really like to hear from some of you on this.

More promo seems to be working, and it’s something I ought to keep doing. (Who knows if I will, but I can see the results in the new titles and the backlist.) Is it appropriate to keep posting things around the Internet, but not reblog every single post? Will I irritate those who went out of their way for me? I would participate in the comments, and share like crazy on social media either way.

I’d like to see those older titles keep moving. I could run out a post about Yak Guy, or Panama on a monthly basis. Maybe step up Lanternfish when the second book in the series is near publication. Maybe I could prepare a backlist post and have someone host it where several older titles are included.

This is stuff all authors struggle with. Do you have any secrets here? Do you have an opinion about this stuff. I have followers that come here for more than sales-pitch. They like my bulldogs, my sourdough bread, and my backyard fruit trees. Some of you would rather visit the Idea Mill, than read another post about one of my books.

This has rambled on for long enough. I think you understand where I’m coming from. What suggestions do you guys have? What is appropriate these days? Talk to me. Chew me out. Tell me how to make polite changes. Tell me if you think I should not change anything.

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Saturday checking in

Things have been pretty crazy around here. I (nearly) finished up my blog tour for Viral Blues this week. The big climax was the Something Wicked tour with all my Story Empire friends. I like to reblog my appearances in hopes of sending the host a bit of traffic. For that leg of the tour, I had my own guest that day and could not post over the top of them. They deserved the spotlight, and brought us some wonderful options for Halloween reading.

I say almost finished, because I have one interview that will post on Halloween. It promises to be a good interview, and I’ll share it here. Then, that’s it for Viral Blues. I’ll watch for reviews, and if they’re on BookBub I can tweet them out. BookBub is starting to warm on me. I need more followers there, and am willing to follow back.

This is where I come to a rift between heart and head. My heart wants to return to drafting of new material. I still have two projects in the works, and one of them is near conclusion. I also have some fun ideas for the Lanternfish sequel, but it is lagging a bit behind. I may have a little maneuvering room here this coming week.

My head is telling me to release Serang. This one is a supporting story to Lanternfish, and not part of the main trilogy. I made big strides toward publishing today, and expect to publish it next week.

This may actually be a cover reveal. I don’t recall sharing the image before. With Serang, I’ll need to do a bit of promotion. I’ll do a blog tour, but I don’t think it will be as extensive. I only have two specific pieces of Lisa Burton art, plus I can recycle the one from Lanternfish. I haven’t even started writing posts yet, so that’s going to eat into my time.

I have my concerns about this story, but I freak out about all my releases. Lanternfish had comedy bits, and they were well received. Serang was one of the more serious pirates, and her origin story will be serious, too. (Sorry to disappoint those comedy fans.) I have some neat settings and situations in the story, so we’ll all find out together. The few coming-of-age stories I’ve written were well received, so fingers crossed. A lot of things about Serang are explained in this story.

My wiggle room is in the form of vacation, paid vacation. I’m getting paid to be an author. (Don’t laugh, I’m counting it as a win.) I don’t have to return to work until Halloween. Old What’s Her Face is out of town for a couple of days, and that helps, too.

I’ll spend the next few days dabbling with blurb ideas, maybe cobble together some promotional posts. I’ll check my list of potential hosts, and see who I haven’t put the touch on lately. I really have no idea who I’m going to ask.

I may even pull up that nearly finished draft and add a chapter to it. It’s science fiction, so it won’t tangle with any fantasy ideas I’m working on.

No matter what, I’m breaking for the World Series. I still have a few remaining pumpkin beers and can’t be expected to work all the time. I don’t have a favorite team, and nobody this year has me cheering against them either. So far the games have been great, and I hope they continue on that path.

Let me hear from you. Are you watching the Series? Do you have a favorite team? Am I crazy for releasing another book on the heels of Viral Blues? Do you like or hate the cover? Are you sick of all this book promo?

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Peeking out

I’ve been admittedly quiet around here lately. This is because I’ve been appearing everywhere else. My local efforts haven’t been that interesting, so I’ll just brief on them.

I try to have a couple of posts per week out there, then spend my time supporting those. If you’ve hosted me, you may have seen all the Twitter action and such.

Every weekend, I try to contact a host or two, then write something specifically for them. This tour has been 100% unique material, even though the cover and blurb are the same.

There has also been a surge of interest in Lisa Burton Radio. This takes quite a bit of work, but I like to be there for my fellow authors. I’m not one of those who takes but never gives in that regard.

It honestly doesn’t sound like much, but it’s kept me hopping. I’m enjoying the baseball playoffs to no end this year, but many of those games find me with my iPad across my lap and trying to polish up a post during the game.

Some of you might wonder why you haven’t heard from me for this tour. I will send something if you like, but I have another book coming right on the heels of Viral Blues. I don’t want to wear my usual hosts out, but I’ll need places to promote that book, too.

Part of this weekend is dedicated to whipping Serang into final shape. Most of it involves adding a title and copyright page, a bit of back material, and a fast sweep of the tale itself. If I get everything done, that will make three publications for me this year. I think anyone would admit that’s a pretty busy 2019.

For now, it’s Viral Blues until the end of the month. It has a Halloween theme, and you can read it in a long day. I think it’s funny, and maybe you’d enjoy some seasonal reading.

With this schedule, something had to give. I’m sad to note there is no Macabre Macaroni this year. I never had to time to write some seasonal micro-fiction. Nobody appears to have noticed, but I hope you’re all having a fun Halloween season anyway. Here’s an old MM image of Lisa to hold you over.

Lisa Burton

Old What’s Her Face has a Pirates film festival on today. I adore these movies, and find the music inspirational. They also serve to remind me that I haven’t touched Lanternfish II in over a month. In a perfect world, I would finish this manuscript by the end of the month.

It’s about time for me to knock off, eat some Asian pears, drink a pumpkin beer and find some baseball. (So many Asian pears this year, and they’ve been better than any previous year.)

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2019 Business Plan

I skip the whole New Years resolutions thing. If you enjoy it, have at it. What I like to do is outline my plan for the upcoming year. I’ve been known to look back at it here and there to see how I’m doing.

Last year, I pledged not to take on yet another social media platform. I signed up for Book Bub anyway. I like it as a presence for my books. It doesn’t require a lot of my time, and it gives me a nice place to post reviews of the books I read. I’ve transferred over a bunch of old reviews I wrote for people who are also there. I see they’ve done the same thing for me. Technically, there isn’t really a social aspect to it, but I put it in the same category.

Google Plus announced they are going away, and they won’t really be missed. About all I did with it was autofeed my blog there. I monkeyed with it for a few months, but never enjoyed it, or found any value.

The point is that social media has only produced minimal sales for me. I never really noticed a difference in my bottom line. Some of my author friends are even quitting Facebook now. I like the occasional Far Side cartoon, or bulldog video, so I’ll keep mine. With their advertising changing so frequently, it’s become kind of worthless for book promo.

Pinterest I really enjoy. Not for promotional purposes, but for ideas. I have images to inspire characters, paranormal art, science fiction, all kinds of things. I’ll keep my presence there, but for different reasons. It’s nice to forward a few images to my artist when I want a book cover or a new Lisa Burton poster.

Last year, I decided that my best promotional tool was to write my next book. Voyage of the Lanternfish is available as of a few hours ago. This is a pirate fantasy, with all the black magic and monsters you might expect in one of my stories.

I lost my critique group in 2016, then started relying upon beta readers. I like this process, but you have to find people who are willing to kick your butt. (Behind the scenes, of course.) In 2018, I lost my beta readers. This was devastating, but the end result was good.

I’m now part of a new critique group. While there is a difference between critique and beta, they both serve somewhat the same purpose. As a bonus, I get to hang out with a very talented bunch of people who are willing to kick my butt when I need it. (Behind the scenes, of course.)

These people have all written series, and are encouraging me to do the same. My own reading preference is for stand alone books, but I admit to enjoying a series on occasion. I understand the drill, hook them with the first one, then sell them additional stories in the same environment.

I’m still up in the air about writing stories where a previous book is a prerequisite. If I can pull it off, I would like any subsequent stories to be enjoyable even if you haven’t read the previous book. Honestly, I haven’t written a book where someone didn’t mention interest in a sequel.

Having said this, 2019 is going to be my year of the sequel, and possibly the prequel. I intend to write at least one more book in the Lanternfish environment, plus a prequel for one of the supporting characters.

In addition to all that, Lizzie and The Hat are going to make a return. The Hat is my most popular title, and I have multiple ideas that would be fun to explore. One at a time though, and with some dependence on whether the next one is popular too. The next one promises to bring back a few other old friends, and I’ve already started writing it.

That’s a big list, but I may be able to release three titles in 2019. Things would have to fall into place, but it could happen.

In a perfect world, I’d be about to start that cyberpunk novel I’ve been talking about for a couple of years. This one is intended to be a stand alone title. It went on the back-burner again, because I really need to explore the advantage of sequels.

Finances are a big concern. Book covers and promotional art are one thing, but advertising is getting expensive too. I would like to hire a promo company at least during the time around the book’s release. This is a push on multiple fronts in addition to any blog tours I might set up.

My mentality is to bounce around a lot. When I read, I change genres with every title, and I like that. When I write, I do the same thing. I’m starting to realize that many people are not like me. An author sparks their imagination with either a character or world building, and they want more. I intend to deliver some of that in 2019.

I’ve bounced around with promotions in much the same way. It all becomes somewhat like Whack-A-Mole after a while. My blog will remain my main focus, it will auto feed to other sites, but if you really want me you can find me here.

It’s all kind of calming to make these decisions. My focus will be on production of good fiction. There will be blog tours to help promote, and even some new Lisa Burton posters. I’m not going to spend time making graphics for Twitter, or figuring out how often to make Facebook posts about my stories.

I hope your 2019 is productive, positive, and enjoyable. I think mine will be too.

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Busy all day

It doesn’t seem like much really, but I was busy all day today. Otto decided to wake me up around six o’clock. After feeding dogs and making coffee, I started on social media. This may seem like a waste of time, but with a new book release I wanted to stay on top of things.

About the time of my second cup, I started sending out the pre-written blog posts. This involves some extra steps with my iPad, but once you fall into the rhythm, it isn’t bad. I have to copy the Amazon universal link, then convert my post to Word. I email the Word copy from Apple Pages. This prevents me from accessing another Pages document until I either delete the email or send it. However, I’ve already copied the link, so all I had to do was paste it in the email.

I can freely go to any other app, so I then copied the book blurb from Amazon and pasted it into the email. Beyond that it was a matter of attaching a cover, and in some cases a Lisa Burton poster, and sending it into cyberspace. Social media is easy, because it’s always in my email signature. All my hosts have to do is copy and paste at their end.

The only things I failed to send were an author photo and bio. It’s probably better to have it, but it’s done now.

I got so wrapped up in this, I forgot to call my parents. Mom called me after a reasonable time. “Oh yeah, Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.” Son of the year here.

Like I said, it doesn’t seem like much, but I sent ten of these out today. Between mailings, I checked in on the post over at Charles Yallowitz’s place to respond to comments. I also shared it everywhere I could think of, and tweeted it out a couple of times.

The week ahead of me will involve sharing, responding, and participating as much as I can on the tour posts.

There have been a handful of sales, but the only promo is my post, and the one Charles put up. Can’t be disappointed at that. It’s moved into triple digits as a dystopian novel. My hope is to move into double digits on one of the lists, but the next ten days will tell that tale.

My plea today is for early sales. If you’re interested in this one, a sale now has more benefit to me than one in December. They’re all special, but that’s a fact of a new release. You can read it in December, and that won’t matter. A rapid cluster of sales will help me get onto a list, which could cause Amazon to help spread the word.

Enough about that for now. Tonight, I’m going to watch a baseball game and drink a beer. (And probably surf through Charles’ post a couple more times between innings.)

Back to the office tomorrow to start dealing with the fallout of the two crazy weeks previous. Hope all of you had a good weekend, and a Happy Mother’s Day where appropriate.

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Time for a new plan

My goal this weekend was to work on Lisa Burton Radio interviews, and work on a few advance blog posts … at a leisurely pace.

This is the busiest couple of the weeks of the year at my office. This means we’re changing the flex schedule temporarily. Which mean I don’t get a flex day for two weeks now.

Then I got The Yak Guy Back from the formatter. I need to check it, and turn it back around. I also need four more advanced blog posts. On top of that, the posts I already have are too short. Maybe with a book blurb it will look better. Oh yeah, I have to write a book blurb.

I decided to set my alarm clock for 4:00 AM. The first mission will be to proof the copy of my book. After I get it sent back, possibly with changes, I’ll work on the advanced posts.

Maybe I’ll schedule in some def-con three grade panic around 10:00.

I actually am ahead of the game on the interviews. The only problem is in the final phase, because my guests aren’t turning them back right away. I have a couple more weeks scheduled, so I can float a bit if I have to. I’d still like to prepare a couple and send them out this weekend.

I should explain the reason for my state of mind. My experience with Summer releases is dismal. In my mind, it isn’t Summer until school lets out. Right out wrong, that’s my position. I’d liked to have gotten this done a month ago, but it was a matter of funds.

If everything happens according to my new plan, I’ll dig out my email list and send inquiries to my traditional hosts. It could work that I’ll have everything I need next weekend. These are folks who have larger followings, because the goal is to spread the word.

I usually leave an option of custom writing something for a couple of my hosts. Once in a while, they have a specific idea and I try to help them. Again, tempting fate, but I might be able to write those next weekend.

Hey, if everything works out perfectly, this could happen.

Disclaimer: I always freak out at book release time. Better have a beer tonight.

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It’s a Milestone

I was brought up to keep quiet about accomplishments. I’ve done that all my life, but it’s kind of counter-productive to all the promotion that comes with being an author.

We all work hard, and it seems like progress is slow. It is there, and it’s harder to observe, but it happens. I’ll walk you into my announcement.

Today was largely dedicated to Lisa Burton Radio. In fact, I accomplished nothing else. I assembled and scheduled two interviews. At one per week, I’m keeping ahead of the game. This is because I know what it feels like to fall behind.

I also sent another shtick out, with one more to go out tomorrow. This is the mid-point of the process. This is how I keep the line moving.

Somewhere along the way I spotted a number in my editor. Remember, this is WordPress we’re talking about here, so there is a bit of uncertainty. The number was 100. From what I can tell, there have been one-hundred episodes of Lisa Burton Radio.

I know it’s possible the number refers to one of the episodes I have scheduled, but that poses the question: When is it appropriate to celebrate?

I choose now.

Lisa Burton

I’ve worked hard to make these interviews into a going concern. The kind of place someone might seek out when promoting their fiction. I kind of feel like I’ve accomplished that.

This isn’t discounting the partnership with all of you. You folks have been wonderful to participate, to use the sharing buttons, and to actually buy the books being showcased. Thank you for all of that, and Lisa thanks you too.

I’ve gotten to work with some amazing authors, and I’ve learned a lot from you.

Thanks also to Sean Harrington, who revamped this image for me on very short notice. He’s been a godsend to me, and I look forward to many more years of working with him.

I’m not going to slack off, but for one night, maybe it’s time to have a glass of whiskey and take some small pleasure in one of the little things. Here’s to the next 100.

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Whew!

Hey there. Remember me? It’s been a while since I wrote something specifically for the blog. I’ve wanted to, but the blog tour demanded my attention.

The tour is over now. This one involved a pile of pre-written posts, plus a few custom requests from various bloggers. Overall, the tour was a success. We moved multiple copies every day, and it’s still selling. My experience lately is a book will flatline shortly after a book tour ends. This poses the question of what to do next. No, seriously, what should I do next?

So much of the stuff from even eighteen months ago doesn’t seem to work any longer. Facebook ads are getting horrible performance now according to some of my friends. The Amazon ads were never really much good. I tried a few email lists a couple of books ago. They cost money, but delivered nothing.

It’s a shame really, because The Hat is a fun story. More people would enjoy it, if I could only find a decent (and cost effective) way to reach them. I can give it a rest, then try the Amazon free days. I never understood why people would grab a free book when it only actually costs 99ยข, but they do.

Going back to December, many of my friends released books, and I hosted as many of them as I could. They’re all good authors too, so there were some worthy books promoted here. One saw the end of an epic series, one is the beginning of a new series. There were many others between these bookends.

These same friends were there for me too, and I appreciate everyone who donated their space for my tour.

If you’re a new author, there are some observations you could make here. These are good things to know. First, I have friends. You’re going to need friends too if you want to spread the word about your books. Keep in mind that I was there for them, even though I had my own blog tour going on at the same time. They were here for me under the same circumstances. This isn’t exactly easy, particularly when you hold a full-time job. It’s what friends do for each other though.

Everyone participated in their comments too. It’s hard enough to get someone to look your way. It’s always good to acknowledge those who have something to say.

If you were really paying attention, you came across some great people too. Making friends with my hosts is a good idea. One day you might find them willing to host your book release too. Now this is different than keeping a list of contact information and only contacting them when you need something. I’m talking about conversing with these people. Participating in their blog comments from time to time. Maybe tweet out something you find interesting. You know, friends.

I run Lisa Burton Radio on a different basis. I pretty much take all comers there. Many of those people I’ve never met before. I have made some good friends via that process too. Some of my blog hosts offer something similar. There is a trick to these opportunities too. Many regular promotional slots have dried up. It isn’t because the author/blogger got bored, it’s from lack of participation.

As authors, we don’t want those slots to dry up. We may not have a book release every month, but if the slot goes away it’s gone when we need it. My advise here is to follow those blogs who offer something like this, and share those posts on social media too. The goal is a two-stage one. First, the slot stays available and will be there when you need it. Second, if the slot grows over time it will be a better slot when you need it.

The slots I took advantage of were at PH Solomon’s, Sue Vincent’s, Colleen Chesebro’s, and Chris Graham’s places. Visit these people and make friends with them. Help keep their slots alive and growing.

I’ve been pretty successful with Lisa Burton Radio, but there are weeks when I don’t have a show. It’s rare these days, but it still happens. I want to keep this slot available for you guys. I’ll admit that I’m projecting my thought process onto the other regular slots, but if I stopped getting applicants, the show would end. That would be one less place to promote your new books. (Or your old books too for that matter.)

I guess what I’m trying to say is to work on your platform, even if you don’t have a new book to promote. Make some connections and participate in some promos for other people. Maybe some of them will be there for you when you need them.

Thank you to everyone who bought a copy of The Hat. If you enjoyed the story tell someone. The reviews are looking wonderful, and are always appreciated. Your effort might be as simple as telling your co-worker about the story. I’ll try to do the same thing for you.

Lisa Burton

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Taskmaster

I don't have to return to the paycheck job until July 3rd. I've been trying to get this week off since April, but things have been too busy at work. It isn't perfect right now either, but I need my time off.

I got enough response to my request for guest authors to carry Lisa Burton Radio into October without missing a week. This means working on those posts will be part of what I have to do.

I need to work through two critiques this weekend, and have them ready for our meeting on Tuesday.

I could have gotten my first book out by now if I'd have gotten the time off, but I didn't and it's time to do something about it. Those of you who know me will recall that I like to make a list.

Projects for my week off:

  • Re-read The Enhanced League and make edits.
  • Figure out how to add images to the back of the book and actually make them look good.
  • Get the final MS out to the formatter, and pay her.
  • Assemble a guest post I agreed to host.
  • Work on Lisa Burton Radio stuff as it comes in.
  • Finish up a post I've been working on to appear elsewhere.
  • Start the word searches on Yak Guy.
  • Read Yak Guy and start editing.
  • Write blog tour posts for Enhanced League.

Depending on how well I do, I can get to some of these:

 

  • Research and assemble something I'd like to post for July 4th.
  • Publish The Enhanced League.
  • Put out a request for blog tour hosts.
  • Do some deeper research and start writing my time travel short story for an anthology.
Nine days, Thirteen items on my list. Some of those are pretty variable, like the Lisa interviews. Might get one to work on, or a dozen.

On top of that, I intend to hang out with Otto, drink some beer, watch a few baseball games, and I might even play a video game. It's a vacation after all.

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