Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Softer Side of Men

This is admittedly going to be a completely chauvinistic post. I apologize to men in advance.

I have been reading the works of a lot of Indie authors over the past year, about half of them have been written by men. I have been totally awestruck by the sensitive side of these many male authors. I suppose it is in part because I’ve tended to read hard core thrillers when I have read books by traditionally published men. Perhaps the sentiment has been edited out before publishing. I don’t know, but I welcome the softer side of male authors.

The most recent read has been Jason Halstead’s The Dark Earth. The deep love of the hero, Eric, for his daughter, Jessica, took me into the story deeply connected to the characters.

I have previously praised the following writers for their writing, but I just realized that the common ingredient has been their sensitivity:

Dannie C. Hill’s In Search of a Soul is so imbued with Hill’s obvious regard for women that a female reader cannot help but fall a little in love with his hero. Douglas Durian.

Will Bevis’ short story, The Killing of Train Man Brown, is a treasure of observation, the kind that rips your heart out. A young boy's tenderness for a man who is essentially an outcast is remarkable.

Finally, Bert Carson always writes stories steeped in issues of honor, but not just the traditional male concept of bravery in the face of danger, but that deeper "everyday" kind of honor that guides lives lived by a sense of it. I really enjoyed Fourth and Forever, for the values it illustrates.

I’m fully aware that many authors, male and female, strive for a protagonist that is cool, reserved, unflappable and I appreciate those characters, too. I’ve just been struck by the plethora of male authors whose main characters freely display deep feelings and tended to pull them out of the pack, personally.

I will keep my eye open now for traditionally published men, like Pat Conroy, who do create openly caring male protags. That is if I ever get around to reading those books with the long list of Indie books I have loaded on my Kindle!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

My Aversion to Vampires

Okay, I know it’s not the popular thing to say, but I have a very strong aversion to vampires, or let me be more specific since vampires don’t really exist (or do they?) – vampire stories and movies creep me out.

It’s about the blood. No, it’s about my neck. No, it’s about both. I always turn my head when there’s blood and gore in a film.

I was almost paralyzed when I was about 12 and my little sister started bleeding profusely from a pulled tooth. I just barely managed to get her situated over the bathroom sink, then quickly called for my mom and went to lay down on my bed, queasy and dizzy.

Then I’ve always had this thing about my neck. See, I’m fairly convinced I was guillotined in another life and hence I can’t stand being touched on my neck or wearing anything that’s too tight around it. A choker necklace is completely out of the question.

Given these two intimate details, which is probably TMI (too much information), there is no way I can get into a book that is about vampires. So, unfortunately, that leaves a large segment of the Indie authors out of my reach. Too bad for me, I fear.

As with anything I don’t understand, I struggle to get into the mindset of someone who loves vampire stories. I would really enjoy writing a character who’s into vampires, but since I don’t get it, I can’t write it.

So, part of my reason for writing this is to ask those of you out there who are into the vampire thing to please comment. I really would appreciate your feedback.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Fine Art of Introspection

Looking inside yourself - examining why you do something or how you really feel about someone – isn’t always fun. I’d venture to say that the majority of the time it’s not a walk in the park. However, as writers, and really as functioning people, it’s necessary and good.

How can I write a character that’s true to life if I don’t understand what makes them tick? I can’t really understand what makes anyone else who they are if I don’t have a pretty good idea about myself. In fact, I’m pretty sure that’s why it took me so long to come into my own as a writer – because I hadn’t figured myself out yet.

I naturally over-analyze things, so I don’t often have to prompt myself to dig deeply into my interior. However, there are times when I just can’t get a grip on the way I’m reacting to something and will make myself go to the park or a quiet bistro to think it through.

Of course many of my revelations come through dreams, as I’ve made obvious through my online persona. Those trips down the yellow brick road serve me just as well.

Whatever it takes to get to our own mental and even spiritual roots, we have to do it to write well. At least, that’s what I think. How about you?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Top 100 on Kindle...

You’re probably sick of all the KDP Select discussions. It is getting old but I needed to pass along a couple of my own observations from this time around.

First let me say, I’ve tried the free promotions before, without much luck. However, I’ve read so many blogs praising them that I decided to give it another try for the launch of my sequel, Red is an Attitude. No, I didn’t give it away, but instead went back to the original, Red Mojo Mama, and give that away for five days.

The previous attempt netted me a little over 2,000 downloads, including the UK. This time around I had over 12,000 downloads in five days, all but a couple hundred were from Amazon US.

Here’s the dynamic that really startled me. The first time I did the free promo for Red Mojo Mama it never got above #354 on the free downloads list. This time I started out on the first day at 154 and through the next four days was on the Top 100 list. Day Three I hit the highest spot at #51. As I rose through the ranks, the download rate got faster... much faster. I watched as the books began to rack up “sales” so quickly that I realized it was at 10 or more per minute. Yowza!

It seemed the longer the book stayed on the Top 100 list and the higher it got, the better the download rate became. Catch-22: You’ve got to be on the Top 100 list to do really well at the free promo, but to get there you have to have an amazing download rate first. I think the big difference here was that I promoted the free days on more than just Twitter this time. I listed it as an event on Goodreads, paired it with a Goodreads paperback giveaway, announced it on a couple of Facebook groups I belong to and on Facebook in general. Then I told everyone I knew about it. I’m sure my friends, family and tweeps helped me with that initial download rate.

So, in the first two days of Red is an Attitude being on Amazon it has sold more than the first two months of Red Mojo Mama being available. So, whether or not the original sells more (which it’s beginning to look like it will) the sequel is benefitting.


Monday, April 9, 2012

Continuation of a Life

I knew when I began writing the story of Lydia “Red” Talbot in Red Mojo Mama that one book wasn’t going to do it. She’s a made-to-order character for a series of books, and in many ways similar to Stephanie Plum, the famous protagonist of Janet Evanovich’s many books, which is not something I had planned.

Red grew organically out of my own experiences in life and soon took control, leading me around by the nose. She’s also been persistently tapping on my brain, demanding her sequel, for the past 12 months. So, I’ve finally made it happen. On April 12th, Red is an Attitude will go live on Amazon (fingers crossed).

To celebrate, I’ve put the original ebook – Red Mojo Mama – free on Amazon from April 9th through April 13th.

This is all good news – at least for me. However, if you think Red’s let up on me – no way. She’s already poking and needling me to get started on number three. That’s okay, because I have the major plot point done. Now, all I have to do is build a whole novel around it. No big deal.

I’m beginning to wonder if I’ll ever be able to write a book without a sequel or series, since I’ve already started the second The Great Twitter Adventure novella. I love my creations so much I’m not sure I can tolerate them going away at the end of a first book. It only seems fair to give them more adventures. If I ever write something that comes from the dark side or has an unhappy ending (not likely) that may change.

Anyway, at least in this case, I’ve managed to continue the life of one Lydia “Red” Talbot and it feels good.