2017- The year of Writing Dangerously.

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Nick of Time has been released and is available for purchase through Amazon and Kindle.  Click here for more info

2017- The year of Writing Dangerously.  I took the jump and decided to go all in as an indie author. Before the year is out, I plan to have six- eight books released.  I have five published, one ready to go, and am partway through writing the seventh.

Big plans ahead.  Book number five comes out in August-ish. My newsletter has also been doing great, and there is a free book of short stories for signing up. My first four novels are available on Amazon and Kindle.  Just click the tab above that says “My Books” for links and information.

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Are Speech to Text Programs Useful to Writers?

Are Speech to Text Programs Useful to Writers?

I belong to a writers group called 20booksto50k. The ideology behind it, is that by the time one has published twenty books, one can be making 50k a year. It’s not quite as simplistic as that. Common advice in the group includes writing to market, having quick releases, etc.

One of the members who has had success with Indie publishing posted a list of things they suggested authors do to reach their writing goals. The point that interested me the most was the one about speech to text programs.

I’ve heard of programs like Dragon Speak before. I know a woman who has a medical reason for using speech to text and I know there are writers who use it as well. I’d been curious, but until recently was unsure if such a program would work for me.

I’m a terribly slow typist who uses 2-4 fingers to type. This has certainly slowed my production down, but could I get used to dictating out loud?

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And can the kitties get used to me talking all the time?

Looking into the matter, I saw that Amazon had Dragon Naturally Speaking on sale for a very reasonable price. That cinched it for me. It was time to give the program a try.

The program is extraordinarily easy to use. A short tutorial, and I was ready to roll. While I’m still learning some of the commands and still teaching my Dragon to cuss, it’s been easy as pie to use the program.

As for my fear that I would not be able to make the switch from composing on the computer to composing while dictating, I took to it like a duck to water. My last test will be to see if the beta readers can tell at which point in my book I stopped typing and started speaking, but I don’t believe they will be able to tell. My writing style seems intact when I dictate.

The proof is in the pudding. For me, an average day of typing on my work in progress was 1k to 3k words. If I had an all day marathon that lasted well into the night, I might manage 6k words.

Yesterday I had a lot to do. I had to go to the grocery, it was trash night, there was some housework that needed to be done, etc. I had three shortish writing sessions during all of this where I took advantage of my voice to text program.

I wrote over 6k words.

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So much faster than this.

It’s true. The amount of work it used to take me all day to complete now can be done in a fraction of the time. I love my new Dragon. For the first time, I think I can become one of those writers who completes a book a month instead of a writer who takes a least 2-3 months to complete a project.

Voice to speech might not work for everyone. Some folks may never find any level of comfort in dictation. However, I have to say it is well worth getting such a program and giving it a try. At worst, you’ve spent a little money to find out if this will work for you. At best, you will greatly increase your production level.

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Don’t forget to nominate Ghost in the Park!

My supernatural mystery, Ghost in the Park, is in heading towards the end of its Kindle Scout campaign. I’m giving out free copies of the eBook whether Kindle Press selects it or not. Last campaign, I gave away 1200 copies. I’d love to give away even more this time around.

All it takes to nominate is 60 seconds and an Amazon account. Amazon runs Kindle Scout, and they will ask you to sign into your account to nominate. It’s a great way to get some free reads.

Ghost in the Park‘s Kindle Scout Page

Ghost in the Park is the first book of my first series, and I’m about to finish book two.

A killer, a ghost, and a cat named Billy.
Bryce’s favorite student has fallen prey to a vicious killer. He’s a mild-mannered college professor, but Bryce feels compelled to use his psychic insight and ability to talk to the dead to bring this murderer to justice. Enter Elizabeth. This ghost is distracting, pushy, and eighteen years old. While she needles Bryce to change his hermit ways, she also shows abilities that will aid him in his search for the serial killer. In the end, he’ll discover why Elizabeth is not your average ghost.

Posted in Ebooks, Fiction, Ghost in the Park news, Kindle, Kindle Scout, writing, Writing Advice | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Get my newest book, Ghost in the Park, for free!

Get my newest book, Ghost in the Park, for free!

It’s Kindle Scout time again, and I’m really excited about this one. Ghost in the Park starts its thirty-day campaign today.

I was very pleased with my last book’s launch, so I’m doing the same thing this time. Everyone who nominates Ghost will get a free copy of the eBook, regardless of whether Kindle Press selects it for publication. If not selected, I’ll announce the free dates here and on my Facebook author page. Be sure to nominate though; if it is selected by Kindle Press, nomination is the only way to receive a free copy.

All it takes to nominate is an Amazon account, and Scout will require that you sign in. Amazon owns Scout, so it is not a third party site, it’s part of the Amazon machine.

You can nominate Ghost in the Park here.

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About Ghost in the Park:

After years of polishing my writing skills on fanfiction, Ghost was the first novel I ever wrote. I wrote it in two short months. This book practically wrote itself. I have left it until now because I wanted to work out the kinks in the Scout process before I put my prettiest baby into the program.

Ghost got a moderate re-write. In the years since I wrote Ghost, I’ve learned a few things. Then it was packed off to the editor and returned in its present sparkling state. This is the fifth novel I’m publishing and it’s my personal favorite.

Ghost in the Park is also the first book in my first series. I’ve got the first three books in the series plotted, and Ghost 2 is about half-way written. I am not sure how many books there will be in total, but I could easily see me writing this series for a long time. It’s that much fun.

There’s a touch more gore in this book than in my usual, but it’s limited to a couple of scenes. The Unruly Ghost Mysteries are all paranormal mysteries, and I wanted to start the story out with a bang. Ghost in the Park has a serial killer for a bad guy, and he is a baddy.

Ghost 2 is less violent and has a completely different sort of criminal. That’s one of the things that makes this series so much fun to write.

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Elizabeth is the oddest ghost he’s ever met.

Bryce’s favorite student has fallen prey to a vicious killer. He’s a mild-mannered college professor, but Bryce feels compelled to use his psychic insight and ability to talk to the dead to bring this murderer to justice. Enter Elizabeth. This ghost is distracting, pushy, and eighteen years old. While she needles Bryce to change his hermit ways, she also shows abilities that will aid him in his search for the serial killer. In the end, he’ll discover why Elizabeth is not your average ghost.

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A killer, a ghost, and a cat named Billy.  Ghost in the Park

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Why Review?

Why Review?

You see it at the end of a lot of Indie author’s books and even at the end of some of the major player’s books. It goes a little something like this:

If you enjoyed this book, please consider leaving a review.

Why does it matter? Why are authors so desperate for reviews?

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Every time you review a book, a cute tiny kitten gets a home!  (This is Scooter.  We rescued the sick little baby when we found it in the backyard.)

Because it does matter, especially to Indie authors. Most Indie author sales are eBook sales. EBooks are sold through places like Amazon. In this digital age, the consumer is king. Buy any product on Amazon and you have a chance to leave a review. Those reviews end up as ratings and ratings have a real effect on how many folks buy the product. This subject is on my mind because I recently released Nick of Time with several free days and I’m hoping to get some reviews myself.

Most Indie writers don’t have big bucks to spend on marketing. Don’t get me wrong, there are certainly successful and established Indie authors that have quite the marketing budget, but those are the superstars, not your average player. Reviews and ratings might be the difference in whether a writer decides to write another book, or which sort of book they want to write next. They may help the writer decide if that one book with series potential is going to be a series or a stand alone.

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Keep in mind that last year at this time we rescued Scamper, also a sick kitten we found in the back yard.

So, what does this mean to you, the reader?

Did you like that book? Did you like it enough that you would like to see more books by the author? Did you notice that one book that had series potential and wished the writer would write more of those?

If so, then review the book and say so. I wrote Wyrd House with series potential in mind. At least one sequel entitled Glass House. I scrapped the idea because I was worried the genre is too fluid. It’s a paranormal mystery with romance, but I feared it wasn’t romancy enough for the romance genre. Then I got some reviews and messages from readers telling me how they would like to read more. Now, I’m considering writing Glass House after all.

If you are reading a book from an Indie author who has just started publishing, those ratings and reviews might be what makes them decide to keep at it, or they might be what depresses them and makes them want to throw in the towel. The consumer has the power when it comes to selling anything, even art. If you enjoy an artist’s work, then a review is a good way to encourage more of it.

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Now, Butters, he showed up during a tornado.  Now I know how people go from having a couple cats to becoming pet hoarders.

What if I don’t know what to say?

I tell you, whether it is a long and thoughtful review or a short and sweet one, your review is awesome. One of my favorite reviews for Nick of Time is of the short and sweet variety. You don’t have to be a writer to say if you liked a book or not, just be honest in your own words. My own reviews for the books of others tend to be short and sweet. Yes, I’m a writer, but I’m not especially expert at reviewing. As I wrote on a message board today, I feel like my reviews are all “I like book. Book good. Make me have feels.” I write them anyway!

What if I hated the book?

This depends on the reader. It is perfectly legit to leave that one or two star review if you feel the product wasn’t good enough, or wasn’t as described. These reviews help keep future possible consumers from wasting their money on an inferior product, whether that’s a new brand of toilet cleaner or a novel. If you feel there are major issues with the writing or the plot, then say so. Try not to give away spoilers for those who might still want to read it. If however, the reason you didn’t like it was because it was about dragons, and it was clearly described as a dragon book, maybe you don’t review it. Think it through, decide what you want to do, and do it.

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But how could I say no?  Look at that widdle face!  Support my cat habit, review a book!

What if the writer doesn’t like what I wrote?

Well then, it sucks to be them. If they are going to sell a product, they need to get used to criticism. Not only that, the writer may need to hear what you have to say. My first book, Descending, had some major typo issues, despite all the work I did and other readers who helped me tidy it up. A review that mentioned this helped me get the book edited and polished further. My other books have the odd issue, sure. I’m not perfect. I have an awesome editor, but not an entire flock of them. My books are very clean now, but not spotless.

Now, if a writer responds to your review and argues a point with you, then the writer is not acting correctly. Most likely they are a bit of a newbie and they have not learned to learn from their readers and not accost them. It’s a rare thing, but it does happen. My best advice is to ignore it.

What if I’m also a writer?

I’m a writer. I read books and I review them. I do not seek to trade reviews, as this is against Amazon’s TOS. Personally, if I can’t give a book a four or five star review, I don’t review it. Even if I feel it’s honest, I don’t want to be that writer who puts down other people’s work. Back before I was published, I might have given a couple lower star reviews, but I was just another reader then. If you are a writer, you will have to make up your own mind about whether you are comfortable writing low star reviews.

In closing, I hope that you consider reviewing the books you read. Keep in mind that all reviews are useful, the long and the short, the ones praising and the ones with criticism. The time you take to review a book is time well spent.

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Scooter says: “if you enjoyed this book, please consider leaving a review.”

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Nick of Time is Free for the Fourth!

My paranormal thriller, Nick of Time, is free on Kindle today.  The 4th of July is it’s last free day, so grab a copy while you can.

Nick has to save people. Every. Damn. Day.
Nick Callaghan’s life has become an exhausting series of strange coincidences. Wherever he goes, Nick finds himself in a position to help others when they need it most. From foiling an armed stalker to grabbing a child in a broken roller-coaster car, Nick’s life is constant chaos. He has no idea what sort of force could have turned him into the world’s guardian angel, but he wants it to stop. There’s only one person who knows what Irish legend he’s fallen afoul of, but Grandmother isn’t talking.

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Click on the cover to go to Nick of Time‘s Amazon page.

Nick got a great review today that I’d love to share with you.

Blue Dolphin Wrote:
“A delightful fantasy mixing reality in contemporary Indiana with the ancient legendary world of the Fae on a green Irish hillside. Nick is your average good guy. For unknown reasons, he has had to rescue people (and animals) in dire need since the age of eighteen. He has trained himself for this unwanted part-time job by taking First-Aid, CPR and self-defence courses, since breaking up fights is also in his unofficial job description. Being an everyday unsung hero is all very well, but the stress and physical effort is making Nick exhausted and depressed. According to his grandmother, the solution to his problems lies in a sleepy town in Ireland, the land of his ancestors, where more amazing rescues and adventures await him.

The charm of this story is in the character of Nick himself. He’s solidly dependable, but comically reticent. Saving lives is so much a part of his life that his extended family now take it for granted. After he rescues his pretty neighbour from a crazed admirer who is stalking her, Nick gains a formidable ally and a new love interest.

The story is narrated in the first person and present tense, which gives it compelling immediacy. We are right there with Nick every moment of his crazy existence, and get to experience the curious time slowing that heralds each new crisis. The pace is steady but sustained as Nick moves from one rescue to the next; there are so many exciting situations, but my favourite is the airplane intervention, which I found highly dramatic. Once the action moves to Ireland, the gentle supernatural elements seep in, and I loved the depiction of the Fair Folk in all their harsh capriciousness. Strong world-building, good character depictions, and terrific dialogue. An original and intriguing tale, beautifully written and suitable for the widest audience.

Posted in Book release, Ebooks, Fiction, Free Books, Kindle, Nick of Time, reading, writing | Tagged | 2 Comments

Writing Novels While Female

Writing Novels While Female

It can be a problem. Many, many female authors have taken up male pen names or publishing under their initials due to a pronounced gender gap in the literary world. J K Rowling is a perfect example, but certainly not the only one.

Author Catherine Nichols found she got eight times the manuscript requests from agents when she queried under a male name. Literature reviews and awards are notorious for under-representing female authors. Men win more literary awards and books about men get more attention. Some genres remain boys clubs, despite having award-winning women authors writing in that genre.

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Brian and Billy- the cutest boy’s club ever.

All of this happens despite the fact that 78% of people working in publishing are women and 75% of books are purchased by women. So why are female authors still being under-represented?

A while back, Peter Stothard, editor of the Times Literary Supplement, wrote “…while women are heavy readers, we know they are heavy readers of the kind of fiction that is not likely to be reviewed in the pages of the TLS.”

Excuse me?

That seems to be the main issue whenever I research this phenomenon. I always find a bunch of men going on about how female authors can’t help but make their books all girly, and female readers only read romance anyway. Then there’s the male readers who won’t read a book written by anyone with a vagina, unless that vagina owner has cleverly hidden the fact behind a male pseudonym. It’s not a rare thing. I know some of these people.

The men that do this are the bad apples in the group. I certainly am not trying to imply all men are that way, far from it. However, the ones that do are loud and proud about it.

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My sweetie, for example, never chooses books based on the gender of the writer.  That wouldn’t even occur to him, and he’s shocked that a friend of his does it.

I have many thoughts on this subject. To start, I would like to say it’s about time to stop treating the romance genre like literature’s red-haired stepchild. Romance sales are a much bigger piece of the book sales pie than any other genre. It’s a billion dollar industry, so maybe we could stop making fun of it or suggesting it’s not the sort of genre that should receive awards. All the top ten lists for romance have Dr. Zhivago and it won a Nobel Prize. Those lists also have Gone with the Wind, which won a Pulitzer. There are all sorts of romance novels. Some are just for reading fun and others are literary giants. Perhaps we could stop referring to romances as if they aren’t “real” books.

While we are at it, perhaps we could also stop assuming books are girly or romantic simply because they’ve been written by a woman. Koontz has a romantic couple featured in most of his work, but no one makes a big deal about it.

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While I am myself quite girly, writing girly books is not my style.

The reason I’m thinking about this subject is that I got a review yesterday. It was a quite wonderful review and it really made my day. There was one statement that gave me pause. The reader thought it odd that I was a female writer and my book was written in first person narrative with a male main character.

It never occurred to me that my gender would be an issue in regards to my selected point of view. I can’t help wondering if it’s because I’m a woman writing a male. Somehow I doubt that Arthur Golden got too much flack for writing Memoirs of a Geisha while being a man. It certainly didn’t hurt his book if he did.

We are writers. We write worlds that have never existed. We get into the heads of our characters whether they are male or female. Why shouldn’t I write male first person? Quite frankly, it’s my favorite POV to write. Teatime of the Living Dead, Nick of Time, and Ghost in the Park are all male first person. They also happen to be my strongest books–I’m good at getting into my guys’ heads.

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Having a relationship that’s over a quarter century old might have helped.  However, writers do write the entire world, not only the little pieces they have experienced themselves.

I imagine I could have avoided all of this if I had decided to write under the name J. Q. Johnson. I considered it, but I decided against it. While I absolutely understand why women authors write under names that are not discernibly female, it was not my choice. I expect that to have a negative effect on my writing career, but so be it. I feel very strongly that if women authors continue to mask themselves behind male or gender neutral names, then nothing will change in the literary world. I think our best hope for change is if more women authors come out of the closet, so to speak.

Not everyone’s ready to do that, and that’s okay. It’s a very difficult decision to make, and it should never be taken lightly.

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A reminder about my novel, Nick of Time:

Nick’s in the middle of a Kindle Scout campaign. If Kindle Press selects it for publication, everyone who nominates it gets a free copy of the eBook. If it’s not selected, I will give everyone who nominates it a free copy of the eBook. Either way, free book! All it takes to nominate Nick is an Amazon account and a minute of your time. Kindle Scout is an Amazon program, so it will ask you to sign into your account.

Nominate Nick in Time here!

Posted in Change, Free Books, Kindle, Kindle Scout, Narrative Point of View, Nick of Time, sexism, writing | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Get a free copy of Nick of Time!

Get a free copy of Nick of Time!  

My newest paranormal suspense novel, Nick of Time, has started it’s Kindle Scout Campaign. For the next thirty days, everyone with an Amazon account can nominate it. If it gets selected by Kindle Press to be published, they’ll give everyone who nominated it a free advance copy of the eBook.

This time, if it’s not selected, I’ll also give anyone that nominates it a free copy of the eBook. When you get that thank you letter from me if it’s not selected, it will tell you how to get your free copy.

For this book, this is the only way you’ll get a free copy. I’m not sending out ARCs this time.

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I’m not exactly a social media butterfly, and that’s hurting my Kindle Scout stats. I need nominations and I need readers! I’m more than willing to give out any amount of free copies to that end. Nominate my book, get a free copy. It’s that simple.

Here’s the link to Nick of Time‘s campaign page. It only costs about 60 seconds of your time. The Kindle Scout program is free both for writers and readers. It’s an Amazon program, so the page will ask you to sign into your Amazon account in order to participate. There’s even an excerpt posted on the campaign page so you can check it out.

Everyone who nominates Nick in Time will get a free copy, it doesn’t matter how many people nominate it. Spread the word in your groups and social media. If this goes well for Nick, I will do it on future books as well. You may never have to pay to read one of my books!

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Nick has to save people. Every. Damn. Day.

Nick Callaghan’s life has become an exhausting series of strange coincidences. Wherever he goes, Nick finds himself in a position to help others when they need it most. From foiling an armed stalker to grabbing a child in a broken roller-coaster car, Nick’s life is constant chaos. He has no idea what sort of force could have turned him into the world’s guardian angel, but he wants it to stop. There’s only one person who knows what Irish legend he’s fallen afoul of, but Grandmother isn’t talking.

Posted in Free Books, Kindle Scout, Nick of Time, writing | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Depression and the Arts

Depression and the Arts

This isn’t an article about the recent suicide of a musician I admire, though I remain sad at his passing. This article is about the effects of the arts and media on folks with clinical depression. It’s been on my mind lately, and Chris Cornell’s death brought it to the forefront of my head again.

I had a discussion a while back where I was trying to explain the fact that the art and media we experience has a very real effect on depression. I was cut off abruptly.

“I’m not talking about being sad, I have clinical depression.”

It was curt and final, that statement. Not exactly a statement that encourages further discussion. I let it go. There are times when further speech is speech wasted. However, if I’d been given any sort of opening, I would have liked to say one thing.

I was talking about clinical depression.

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Today’s pictures are brought to you by the state of Indiana.

Clinical depression runs in my family. We all have it to one extent or another. Me, I still struggle with it on occasion, though I manage. Mine has times when it is fairly fierce, but most of the time it’s mild enough that I have few problems. That wasn’t always the case. My anxiety on the other hand…

I want to make one thing very clear here. I am in no way, shape, or form anti-medication when it comes to either depression or anxiety. Meds help a ton of people and can be a very important tool in toning down severe symptoms. My symptoms are not as severe, and for the most part, I can manage without meds by using alternative therapies. Not everyone has that choice and everyone should consider all the tools in the box when it comes to treatment for mental health, just as they should for physical health. In some cases, no amount of alternative therapy will be enough to help. In my case, it is helpful 99% of the time.

Now, back to the Arts and media we experience in our daily lives. Let’s look at a specific example. Many scientific studies have been done on how music effects brain chemistry. It does. Music, and the type you listen to, has a chemical effect on the brain.

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Many intelligent people will agree that yes, it does. And yet, when it is suggested to these same people that what they decide to view and listen to effects their depression, that’s when the speaker is often regarded as perhaps not the sharpest crayon in the pack.

“I’m not listening to that there new-age mumbo-jumbo.”

You caught me. No one said that. But I guarantee people sometimes think it. Because, regardless of the science that backs up an alternative therapy, if it doesn’t sound like western medicine with its drugs and doctors, it is viewed as nonsense.

Back in the day, when my depression was quite a bit more serious, I learned something that helped me. Art and media that was frightening, depressing, or infuriating made my depression much worse. I started weaning myself off of it. I don’t watch television news, I can read news articles, but I don’t watch it anymore. It’s all too sensational. Television wants those ratings, so the stories are going to be as dramatic as possible. Most news is negative, which leaves people thinking the world is a more negative place as a whole than it truly is. Studies have been done on that phenomenon as well.

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I used to feed my depression–listening to the sad music and the watching the sad movies. I don’t anymore. I don’t need that crap. I don’t care how amazing a movie such as Schindler’s List is, I’m not watching it. I’m sure it’s a fine movie, but it’s not in my best interests to watch it. I can watch movies that have serious bits in them, I can watch crazy horror movies, I don’t have to watch super-serious movies, so I don’t.

When I was a couple of years into cutting out art and media that wasn’t helping my depression, I read a great book by Dr. Andrew Weil. It was called 8 Weeks to Optimum Health, and in it, Dr. Weil spoke a great deal about this very subject.

“Oh, she read a book by some new-age health guru. No wonder she believes this stuff.”

Dr. Andrew Weil got his medical doctorate from Harvard. He worked at the National Institute of Mental Health. He was one of the founders of Integrated Medicine and, at present, he is Director of the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, where he also holds the Lovell-Jones Endowed Chair in Integrative Rheumatology and is Clinical Professor of Medicine. He is one of the many doctors that know how much our behaviors and experiences influence our mental and physical heath.

Because of my own experiences, and the things I learned when I read Dr. Weil’s book and did further research into the subject, I don’t need meds for my depression. I have the odd bad day or two now and again, but I no longer consider myself a person who has depression. It didn’t happen all at once, and it wasn’t an easy fix or a quick one. It’s something I worked at for a over a decade.

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I know I’m lucky. My level of depression was one I could manage without medication. Not everyone with clinical depression has the option to choose alternative therapies to medication. However, even if one’s issues require medicinal help, these alternative therapies can also help. It’s not a case of either or. Dr. Weil himself is a firm believer in using medication when medication is necessary.

If you have depression, take a look at what types of art and media you experience in your life. Pay attention to how it influences your emotional and mental state. Consider reaching out to art which has a positive effect and distancing yourself from that which does not. It’s not a quick fix, but it makes a huge difference. I recommend that book by Dr. Weil. It was a real eye-opener for me.

Also, if at any time in your life you are considering suicide, please speak to someone. There are so many things that can help.

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And now for something completely different:
A writer friend of mine, Robertson Tait, has a Kindle Scout campaign that could use some nominations! I read his Scot Free in Hollywood, and loved it to pieces. If you have an Amazon account, check out his newest book! If you nominate it and it get’s selected by Kindle Press, you get a free copy of the eBook.

Click here to check it out.

Me, I have Nick of Time all set up for its Kindle Scout run. The campaign should be live in a couple of days.

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Word Choice and Writing Style

I was taking part in a conversation between various writers today about word choice. Some participants were arguing the point that using fancier word choices was the way to go. They were quite fierce about it and mentioned how it was nice to build their readers’ vocabulary, and besides, Kindle and the like make it so easy to look up a new word. That’s fine. That’s their writing style.

It’s not mine.

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The anhydrous trace effectuated an anfractuous peregrination betwixt the verdant pedicels.  The sandy path wound through the reeds.  One of these is my style.  Guess which one!

I believe in mixing up one’s word usage to keep things interesting, but you aren’t going to catch me using a word like ‘verecund’ when ‘bashful’ is a perfectly useful word that means the exact same thing. To me, if that fancier word isn’t conveying more meaning, then it isn’t useful. ‘Parched’ conveys more meaning than ‘dry.’ Parched is a word I would use. It’s more interesting, conveys more meaning, and encourages vivid imagery. ‘Anhydrous,’ on the other hand, accomplishes nothing more than ‘parched’ except it might send some of your readers to the dictionary. It also runs the risk of that reader not running to the dictionary and missing your meaning.

As a reader, I enjoy learning new words when the meaning is clear in the context of the writing. While some readers certainly enjoy forays into the dictionary, all it does is throw me right out of the story.

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What the hell is a bufonidae?

If, as a writer, you choose to use more two-dollar words, that’s your decision and your choice. Make certain there is a real reason for your word choices other than wanting to show off your vocabulary or make your story sound fancy. If you are writing Literary Fiction, for example, then your readers will expect a more varied and fancy vocabulary.

If one of your characters is a Literature professor who likes to put on airs a bit, he’s going to use some fancy words. Your character who is a car mechanic might as well, but unless his backstory justifies it in some way, it’s going to seem out of place.

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My sweetie is an educated and intelligent man.  He also admires simplicity.  He’d never say Bufonidae, not when toad is such a simple and understandable word.

Me, I admire writers like Hemingway and Twain, not for simplicity of plot but for simplicity of word choice. Anyone can read one of Twain’s stories and come away with a good experience. I don’t write Literary. I write Genre fiction. My goal is to entertain my readers and let them take a break from their life for a bit. I don’t give a damn about being fancy, nor would that writing style do my stories any favors. It’s not my style. There is a hybrid Literary/ Genre style of writing that some folks enjoy, but it’s not for me.

While you are deciding what writing style your work will take, think carefully about what your goal is for your writing. Only you can decide what style of word choice works best for your work and why. Examine the books you most enjoy reading for style and word choice. Check out some of the top sellers in your genre and see what style they are written in. Once you decide on a style, be gracious to those who decided differently. It’s not a matter of who’s right and who’s wrong. It’s a matter of style.

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My jack o’ lantern last year was completely my style.  Simple and a little humorous.  Simplicity does not equal boring.

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Making Your Own Book Trailer (if you have to.)

Making your own book trailer is much like making your own cover- if you can afford it, hire a professional. Me, while I’ve been writing for years, I’ve just started publishing as an Indie author. At this point, I don’t have the budget for a professional to do my book trailer. I’m a problem solver, so I did my own.

Can you, awesome reader, make your own?

Maybe. I’m not a computer whiz, though I am a fairly competent computer user. If you can use a program like Paint, Paint Shop Pro, or Photoshop to make a jpeg that has words on it, then you can probably make your own book trailer.

What’s a book trailer good for anyway?

It’s a great thing to put on your website, author Facebook page, and Amazon Author page to start with. I also sent it out as a tweet. If you boost Facebook posts, it’s a great one to boost. I think it’s worth it, even if you just use it for things like putting on your author pages.

So, how do you do it?

What you need to make your own book trailer:

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1- A blank panel to put words on. Here the one I used for Teatime of the Living Dead. I made a blank, colored panel and then took it over to Pixlr.com to put the border on it. Then I added some red color to the border to make it look bloody. I made mine 1024 pixels wide and 512 pixels high, because I wanted it to work well on Facebook and Twitter, and that size seems to have worked great.

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2- Words! Keep it simple. What will kill your book trailer the fastest is having too many words. Don’t try to cram the entire summary in there; pick what’s most important to get the idea of your book across. This isn’t meant to be a video summary or even a video blurb. It’s a teaser. Say just enough to make folks want to go and find out more.

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3- Pictures! You need some pictures other than your book cover to make it interesting. You must also make absolutely certain the pictures you use are copyright free for commercial use, or you can get sued.  You can use your own pictures, or check out some of the free for commercial use websites like Pixabay or Picjumbo.  You can put the pics on your blank panel, or make them the same size and alternate words and pictures.

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4- Music! Again, you have to be very careful to use music that is copyright free for commercial use, or risk getting sued. Also, sites like Youtube and Facebook might not let you upload a video with copyrighted music.  This isn’t worth taking chances with.  Use copyright-free music. There is a site I love that has great music and effects. FreeSFX You have to make an account, but it’s easy and free. They have a wide variety of music and sound effects and all they ask is that you credit them in the video. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Take your time finding the right music. It took me a while with the Teatime trailer. I needed something creepy, sure, but the horror music was too serious for my book. Psycho Waltz ended up being perfect. Playful yet creepy. It reminds me of some of Danny Elfman’s music.

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5- A slideshow program. All you need to put these pieces together is any program that will let you make a slideshow with music. There are some online options, but I used Windows Movie Maker. It’s pretty user friendly and there are tons of “how to” posts and Youtubes to help you figure it out. Basically you load your pictures, add your music, and it’s done. To help things go smoothly, I named my pics teavid1, teavid2, etc, so that they would load in the correct order. That way you don’t have to move them around post-loading.

There are fancy bits you can add as well. I had the music fade in and out. The fade out is important as I didn’t need the entire song. I also set the time each frame takes, some shorter if they had few words, none longer than 7 seconds. Length is important. A short video has greater effect. Also, sites like Twitter have length limits (2min, 20 secs.).

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Then there are visual effects. Both my book trailers have random movement, which I think makes it look better. You can even choose a specific movement for a specific frame. Teatime has one frame that spins slightly, for example. I also used a slightly nutty fade between slides. It wouldn’t be right for all projects, but it works for this one, I think.

That’s pretty much it. I’ve made two book trailers in slightly different styles. The one for my children’s book is pretty straightforward panels with words -vs- panels with pictures. In Teatime’s I added the pictures onto the panels with the words. I think either one can be effective, but the words -vs- pictures is probably easier.

If you want a trailer for your book but can’t afford a professional, I hope this post helps you out. Until next time, keep being awesome!

 

Posted in Book Trailers, Ebooks, Self Publishing, Teatime of the Living Dead, writing, Writing Advice | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Teatime of the Living Dead’s Big Fun Release Day!

Teatime is live on Kindle, Kindle Unlimited, and Amazon and available for purchase.  I love this book and I’m very excited about this release.  Teatime is one of my favorite things I’ve written to date.  It combines all the things I love, writing, theatre, and humor.

Some time ago, I was the costume designer for a production of Night of the Living Dead for a Louisville theatre.  I adored the production.  We did filming in a local cemetery for the first bit of the show, participated in Zombie University to teach members of the community to be our zombie horde, and even participated in the local zombie walk.  I never had so much fun making theatre before or since.  These are the experiences I drew on to write Teatime, and I think that’s why the story shines a little brighter than some of my earlier work.

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An Amazon review for Teatime:
“Lately I have gone back to reading books outside my normal sphere of interest. This one is a perfect example of a book that I enjoyed immensely despite my general indifference to zombies. The writing is so strong, the suspense so tight, the chase so enjoyable that I galloped through the story in half the time it would normally take me.

The premise is kind of fun: Andrew Hamilton is a successful theatre producer, getting ready for the first night of an exciting new production, called “Night of the Living Dead”. Small cast, large horde of zombies (30 locals, trained to perfection over a month, 2 media personalities added in for publicity reasons), spectacular, fiery special effects. The dress rehearsal is a smashing success, but on opening night, things quickly go very wrong when the horde of zombies start attacking the public, and it transpires that their ultimate, juicy target is really Andrew.

What follows is a nail-biting chase as Andrew tries to flee the growing, all-pervading threat. The detailed pursuit through downtown Louisville is so well documented that, at one point, I had the map out and was following the action from a virtual helicopter!

Many moral choices must be made along the way, and Andrew’s character, already nicely developed, grows with each challenge. We all have our pet fears, weak points, and personal nightmares. Andrew is tested to the limit over and over again in order to survive, while he has to deal with the guilt of having unwittingly been the spark igniting the mayhem.

Tight, confident writing, impeccable research (the author really knows her theatre), a lovable protagonist put through the wringer, and a worthy romantic sidekick, sufficiently fleshed out to also elicit a strong emotional response from me (i.e. I loved her). There is a fair amount of gore, enough to satisfy the most blood-thirsty, but not so much that the squeamish like me will be put off. This story kept me on the edge of my seat right from the start, and provided a lot of unexpected subplots and enriching detours into the human psyche, and the nature of altruism. A lot more than a scary zombie romp, a thoroughly satisfying read with a heart-warming message of optimism and belief in the power of love, self-belief, and the will to survive.”

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Click here to check out Teatime’s Amazon page.

Click on the “My Books” tab at the top of the page to read a three chapter preview.

I just love this book.  I’m glad it’s finally release day!

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