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Introvert? Empath? Good Literary Citizen? (1 of 3)

I suck at social obligations.

Three Myers Briggs tests have found me to be an off-the-chart introvert, and my abilities as an empath once made me fear I was secretly from Deanna Troi’s home planet. It’s not a great combination. If I have to go somewhere, I soak up everything around me and it leaves me drained.

This doesn’t mean I can’t function around people. I’m practiced at faking normality. (Aren’t we all?) What it does mean is if I have to deal with people for very much or for very long, I can’t write.

The first time I heard the phrase Good Literary Citizen, my heart sank.

You see, I agree with the principals behind the idea, but I’m horribly suited to putting them in practice. Over the years, I’ve found three avenues that work for me, at least in limited quantities. I’ve found corollaries of these that have the capability to be my kryptonite. This post covers one set. (Two more posts are coming.)

A Problem:

I’m from the US. Put me and a handful of other Americans in a room full of Brits and I’ll be the first one to start talking with a slightly British accent and I won’t even notice it. Yes, I have my own voice, but it’s as mutable as everything else about me. If I’m not careful, I write like the last person I read.

A Solution:

Read short things by different people, and read lots of them.

I’ve become a great fan of flash fiction. My genre is speculative, so I subscribe to Daily Science Fiction. Most days they send me a story of 1000 words or less. Some are brilliant. Occasionally one is sort of dumb. Every few days I read several of them at once. This keeps me current on themes and word choices floating around in my chosen genre, without any one author getting too deeply into my head.

Sometimes, DSF lets readers vote for stories they like. I do this to support authors who impress me. I also seek them out elsewhere and follow them or list their works as “want to read.” It’s my way of giving them a quick thumbs up before I move on to my own writing. (I also save their stories to reread and inspire me to write better.)

What to Avoid:

I avoid long novels by others, and I will not let myself get involved in a series. Not now. Not me. I can read all those great series out there when I retire from writing. I’m looking forward to it.

I also avoid authors with too distinctive of a voice. There’s nothing wrong with them; in fact some of them are great. They just aren’t for me right now. Again, someday …

As a result (1) I’m generally writing, (2) I generally sound like me, whatever that is, (3) I’m not completely out of touch with what is happening in my genre and (4) I’m doing at least something to support other authors.

I think it’s a win-win-not lose situation. Given my constraints, I’ll take it.

 
 

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The Red Pearl

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Chloe Helton and her novel The Red Pearl.

Author’s description of the book:

“The Red Pearl is a delight. Meticulously researched, it transports the reader to the inns and backstreets of Boston in 1778. Lucy Finch’s personal tragedy spurs her on to take an active role in the revolutionary war, despite the immense danger it brings to herself, her family and friends. Ms. Helton’s characters are warm, living beings with gifts and flaws. Their relationships are altered — broken or strengthened — by the battles on distant fields and the evil of individuals closer to home.” – Carrie Bedford, Author of Nobilissima

There’s something peculiar about the small group of men who have begun to frequent The Red Pearl, the tavern that has hosted a variety of Boston’s men since before the Revolutionary War began. In a rebellious city that does not tolerate Loyalists, men could come here and speak freely without fear of the repercussions — and Jasper Finch, the tavern-keeper, has always been proud of that.

But now the war is in full force, and Lucy Finch — the tavern-keeper’s wife — is growing nervous about The Red Pearl’s most loyal customers. Their clandestine meetings and hushed whispers suggest dark secrets — secrets which may threaten the safety of Boston, and the future of the war itself.

Lucy struggles to stay loyal to her husband’s wishes while grappling with the surprising truths of America’s war for independence. When a terrible assault makes her ache for revenge, she must make a choice: Will she keep quiet about the explosive secrets she has learned, or will she expose them and risk her marriage and possibly her life?

Set in the wild and unpredictable world of the Revolutionary War, fans of historical fiction will fall in love with Lucy Finch, who faces impossible choices that may change the fate of a nation.

About the Author:

Chloe Helton is the author of four historical fiction novels, including And the Stars Wept and the Wattpad favorite A Thousand Eyes. Her readers have journeyed with her from the shores of Elizabethan England to the stormy battlefields of the Civil War in search of the often-hidden stories of women who made history.

Find Chloe at her website, or on Goodreads, on Facebook, on Book Bub, or on Twitter.

Purchase her book here at the Amazon link for The Red Pearl.

Yes there is a giveaway:

Chloe Helton will award a randomly drawn winner a $15 Amazon/BN GC.

Enter here to win

My favorite excerpt:

“I came to tell you something to pass to your captain.”

“Such as?”

“Information. Men talk, especially when they’re drinking in the tavern, and I’ve heard things that might be of interest.”

“Tavern gossip is not our concern, Lucy. It was good to see you.”

My lips pursed. Jonathan had never been the most friendly of us, but this was rude. “No. I paid fifteen pennies and took a whole day to come here, which my husband would have my hide for if he knew of, by the way, and I won’t let you pass me off. As your sister, I deserve to be listened to, at least.”

He looked away, then sighed. “I regret my rudeness. You may speak.”

Tempted to clench my jaw – you may speak, how patronizing of him – I launched into the story immediately, my enthusiasm spiraling with every word, and when I finished I glanced at him proudly, anticipating his astonished and impressed smile.

His fingers twitched. “Thank you,” he said flatly. “I’m sure it will be taken care of.”

That didn’t sound right. “You’re not going to do anything about it?”

There were a few other soldiers on the other side of the empty pit, and they perked up for a moment at my urgent tone.

“We get dozens of tips like this,” my brother informed me quietly. “The colonists never have a problem foiling British shipments.”

“You don’t understand. They’ve gotten away with it so far; they said they’ve never had a ship that didn’t pass through.”

He considered this. “Okay.” It wasn’t a rejection, but it wasn’t a promise, either. It was less than he would have given Thea, who had married a good patriot, whose first love had not been so wild as to scare our father into marrying her to someone so absurdly sensible as my husband.

“I promise you, I am speaking truth,” I told him. “I wouldn’t bring this to you if I didn’t believe it.”

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish.

Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

A Personal Note from Me:

I knew I wanted to feature this book as soon as I read the description. I love stories of strong women who affect history! My own blurb for One of One also contains the phrase “the fate of a nation.” It’s a great phrase; it never fails to give me the shivers.

Although I didn’t get a chance to read this fascinating novel in time to review it along with this post, it sits high on my to-be-read list.

 
6 Comments

Posted by on November 29, 2019 in other authors

 

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The Gumbeaux Sistahs

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Jax Frey and her novel The Gumbeaux Sistahs.

Author’s description of the book:

Five Southern women wage a hilarious war against the ageism problems of one of their deep-in-trouble sisters using their improbable friendships, evil-genius schemes, oh-so-numerous cocktails, and a shared passion for good gumbo.

When southern artist, Judith Lafferty, loses her long-time, prestigious museum job to a much younger man, she finds herself devastated, alone in her sixties, and on the brink of financial disaster. Enter the incomparable Gumbeaux Sistahs, who deliver day-old coffee to her front door as a ploy, then go on to kidnap her, feed her excellent gumbo, and come up with outrageous solutions to her problems. Their motives are just good excuses to drink wine, have a great time, argue over whose mother makes the best gumbo, and, most of all, help a sister out. Ageism, dangerous boyfriends, deep loneliness, and any other challenges that can face the over fifty crowd don’t stand a chance against these five resourceful ladies. The Gumbeaux Sistahs is a heart-warming, smart story of friendship and unexpected shenanigans that you do not want to miss.

About the Author:

Born in New Orleans, Jax Frey came into this world, whooping and hollering, with a sense of love and celebration of Louisiana culture, food, family and fun.  Translating that celebration into her writing and onto canvas is her true calling.  Her colorful art depicts everything-Louisiana from her dancing Gumbeaux Sistahs paintings to her popular line of original Mini paintings.  Because over 25,000 of the mini paintings have been created and sold into art collections worldwide, Jax holds a world’s record for The Most Original Acrylic Paintings on Canvas by One Artist.

Jax is also the co-founder of the Women of Infinite Possibilities, an empowering women’s organization started in Covington, LA, where Jax lives today with her lovable, tornado-of-a-pug named Lucy. The Gumbeaux Sistahs is her debut novel.

You can find  Jax Frey on her website or on Facebook. Email her at jaxfreyart@gmail.com. Also visit this website to see her art!

A Personal Note from Me:

I knew when I read Jax Frey’s biography that I had to host this book. For one thing, I lived in Lafayette Louisiana for nearly seven years. While gumbo has never been my specialty, I did leave Louisiana with a great etouffee recipe given to me by a local. It’s still a staple of my cooking. Believe me, food from this region is more than something to eat. It’s a whole philosophy of life!

But more importantly, I love the her organization Women of Infinite Possibilities, so I’ve included a link to it as well. The website says “Women of Infinite Possibilities was founded in September 2009 as a non-profit organization dedicated to touching the lives of one-thousand women in a powerful and meaningful way.” Wow. Sounds like they’ve done that and more.

Purchase The Gumbeaux Sistahs on Amazon

Yes there is a giveaway:

Jax Frey will award a randomly drawn winner a $25 Amazon/BN GC and will award a second randomly drawn winner a print copy of the book (US only).

Enter here to win

My favorite excerpt:

“While he talked, he kept slamming his fist against the countertops. He threw things like the salt and pepper shakers and the tea kettle across the room, and slammed a couple of open drawers shut. Each slam sounded like a gunshot to me. He went on and on. Luke always did like the sound of his own voice. I sat there waiting for the first punch, the first shove, the first something. I remember thinking that I knew he wouldn’t stop this time. I knew Luke was getting ready to kill me. I waited for the end. And I know this sounds crazy, but I remember that I was thinking that poor Bea was going to come home to a horrible mess in her house. Isn’t that the craziest thing?”

“You’re a kind person. It doesn’t surprise me a bit, honestly. Did he hurt you badly, Helen?”

“No,” she said, simply, “Bea killed him.”

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish.

Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

 

 

 
1 Comment

Posted by on October 11, 2019 in art for peace, other authors, writing

 

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Available Now as an Audio Book!

One of One has been turned into an audio book! It wasn’t easy, and to be honest it wasn’t cheap, but worthwhile things often aren’t. I have to hope this is one of those worthwhile things.

It’s available here directly from Audible. ($13.97)

It’s available through One of One’s Amazon sales page. (Obviously just pick “audiobook.”)

It’s also on iTunes for $17.99, easily found under Audiobooks > Sci-Fi & Fantasy > S. R. Cronin.

I’m pleased with the final result. The narrator has a rich voice, honed by years of class room teaching. He’s intimately acquainted with the nuances of the story.

He built a special soundproof room in which to do this, and invested in a fair amount of professional grade equipment as well. Most chapters were recorded all or in part several times, until he was happy with the results. Then he had me listen to them and fixed anything I didn’t like.

Did I mention that I’m married to him?

No, I didn’t marry him in order to get him to record the book; we’ve already been married for a while. He offered to do this under a pen name for me, so it wouldn’t sound like I was related to my narrator. I declined. I think its kind of cool the way it is.

I was also very happy with the local (Asheville) sound engineer we found to turn our DIY efforts into something more polished. For a non-trivial but also not ridiculous fee, he smoothed our files into something more professional, added in a special sound for my many scene changes, created our audio sample and helped us craft the “intro and outro” sections.

Please listen and see what you think.

 

 
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Posted by on October 3, 2019 in One of One, writing

 

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An Irish Worldcon: I’m here!

A year ago today, I set off on a four week cross-country trip alone, visiting the high plains town I grew up in, the mountain cabin I wrote my first short story in and spending days at Burning Man. It was an amazing trip. Now, probably because I just finished season 3 of The Good Place, I’m fascinated with unintended and even unexpected consequences. It’s no surprise, that trip had many.

One of them was meeting someone who’s mother lived in my hometown in North Carolina. Months later, the mom and I met to share a glass of wine. We discovered we both loved science fiction, and by the end of the conversation (and the bottle of wine) we were talking about attending Worldcon 2019 together in Dublin. I’m still not sure how our conversation got there.

And yet, here we are. You gotta love how things sometimes work out.

This is my first worldcon, and hers, and we’ve both selected a non-stop itinerary for five days of panels and workshops and readings by author’s we like and, well, we’ll see just how much of this actually works out…

I’ve also volunteered for a few things, and it looks like that will keep this all interesting. I’ll be helping out at the Science Fiction Writers Association reception on Thursday and their table on Friday. I’ll be handing out worldcon volunteer assignments in the staff lounge three of the days. Most exciting of all, I’ve signed up to help with the stage crew of the opening ceremony and the Hugo awards which will be given out Sunday night.

My specific assignment? I’m going to get to run one of the spotlights! For some bizarre reason, I find this very exciting.

I’ll be posting more as the week goes on …

Read more at And the winner, she is …., at Feeling at home , at Forward into the Past and at A New Irish Experience.

 

 

 

 
8 Comments

Posted by on August 14, 2019 in being better, other authors, travel, writing

 

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Would this ad work for you?

There is something more difficult than creating that first draft of a work of fiction, at least for me. It’s called writing an ad. Yet I am as determined to market my new novels as I was to create them. I just have no feel for it.

So, I did what any of you would advise. I talked to experts. (Or at least to people who were successful at marketing their own books and willing to talk to me.) They had a lot of great advice, particularly about what to bother with and what to ignore. I consolidated their opinions into this:

Go with Kindle Select no matter how much you don’t want to, and put your time and money into advertising on Amazon and Facebook.

This was simple enough. I could do it.

They advised I buy and read the books they’d turned to. I bought them all. Two were on writing advertising copy, one was on how to use Facebook to sell books, and the other on using Amazon. I’ve read them, pretty much cover to cover now. With notes. And highlighters. I’m very thorough.

I started with Amazon Lock Screen Ads. My first ad is at the top of this post. It got 5,418 impressions which seemed like a lot to me but my books tell me it is woefully inadequate. 16 wonderful people clicked on it, none of them bought it, and I spent $2.26. I was fine with this as learning exercise.

I tried again. This time I tried to be more witty. Maybe I was. I only got 5026 impressions, but 63 people clicked on this one. Four times as many clicks cost me $11.47 and no one bought it. This was a slightly more expensive lesson on the learning curve.

My third attempt was wildly successful. Perhaps it’s because I didn’t target every genre and category I could possibly fit into. I only targeted women’s fiction and I wrote the ad for the audience. I got 98,215 impressions, and 439 clicks. Cool, huh?

Unfortunately, I want sales, not attention. All those clicks cost me $63.30 and as far as Amazon can tell, I made one sale from this. Yup, I spent sixty some dollars to make two. Not good.

I did get a bunch of page reads through Kindle Select all of the sudden, so maybe I picked up an extra ten or twenty dollars there. I’m not going to last long spending sixty to make twenty, though.

I decided the careful targeting of one group at a time could be the secret sauce I was seeking, so I created a bunch of ads designed to appeal to every subgroup I could think of. None did very well, but my absolute worst was this ad designed to appeal to readers of Literature & Fiction: Action & Adventure and Mystery, and to Thriller & Suspense: Kidnapping and Paranormal. (It’s not so far fetched. The book is about two telepaths rescuing a kidnapped sister.)

It got five impressions. Period. No clicks at all. The good news is it didn’t cost me anything.

My creative campaign didn’t even show a version for Kindle Fire. I can’t tell if it is because it did so poorly, or it did so poorly because it was never shown on Kindle Fire. (If anyone knows how this works, please tell me!)

Back I went to more generic ads. My next most successful one was an exact repeat of an earlier ad, targeting pretty much the same groups. But it managed 16,829 impressions and 43 clicks. Why?

It also never showed an ad version for Kindle Fire. Why not?

The most exciting part was that I managed to sell another whole book and this time I only spent $19.08 to do it. Wahoo. With the Kindle page reads, I could be approaching breaking even.

Of course, breaking even is not the point. I am determined to keep at this, figure out what works and why and find a way to actually make money.

For more about my Amazon advertising adventures see “How about this ad?

 

 

 
3 Comments

Posted by on June 5, 2019 in being better, writing

 

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x0 will die

What prompts an author to kill her own book?

On December 1, 2018 my firstborn novel will die. I admit the prospect makes me sad. This book has been part of my life for a while.

I wrote the first draft in just six months in 2011. After several rewrites, professional editing, and more feedback and corrections, x0 became available on Kindle in 2012. The paperback version followed.

I’ve never totaled up the sales, because it’s not easy to separate a sale from a give-away. I guess I’ve been paid for about four hundred copies, and gifted at least as many more. I’d hope for more sales, of course, but every time a stranger liked my book and let me know, it delighted me. No regrets.

Times change. Sales of x0 have gone from small to nearly zero.

A few months ago, I attended a conference of science fiction writers, and signed up for a mentor. It may have been one of my more useful decisions. This guy pointed out that I could still have a marketable product in this particular story, but I needed a more genre-appropriate cover, a much better title, and an updated and aggressive marketing plan.

I can change the title of my book? Apparently I can. I do need a new ISBN number (no problem). I also need to acknowledge to the new reader what has been done (just in case he or she is one of the 800 humans who already read this story.)

And …. I need to kill x0. That is, I must take it off the market completely.  No electronic versions for sale, although those who have it obviously always will. No new paperbacks printed and sold, although nothing can prevent current owners from reselling their copies on Amazon and elsewhere.

Over the years, I’ve eliminated all the hyperlinks in the book, and the text that went with them. I’ve made corrections and done minor clean-up. Why not. But I’ve refrained from doing anything major.

Because this will be a new book, I have the chance to do some serious editing. So I have. The original x0 came in at just under 119,000 words. The leaner new version is under 96,000. I’ve broken the chapters into smaller chunks. I’ve given more attention to point of view. I’ve taken the techniques I’ve learned over the past six years, at conferences, from other writers, and simply from practicing my craft for hours every week, and I’ve done my best to fold those learnings into telling my story better.

I’m pleased with the result.

So while x0 will soon cease to exist, it will give birth to a new and better novel. I’ll be blogging all about it soon.

 

 

 
2 Comments

Posted by on October 14, 2018 in One of One, writing

 

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