Category Archives: How To

Rock of Stages

After moving into my house here in Florida I set about trying to decorate it to suit the eclectic diversity of my possessions. I’d traveled extensively for years and many of my memories were tied to those travels in the form of furniture, statuary, paintings, masks, tapestries, etc. The trick was to try to keep my home from looking like the hodgepodge it actually was, and not, too terribly tacky. I am generally pleased with the way it all turned out, but I have to say, one room in particular presented a huge challenge. My 14’ x 9 ½’ one-step-down sunken sunroom.

I have an open floorplan with cathedral ceilings so my main living area has a living room with an island bar separating it from my kitchen and breakfast area and the sun room is located at one end of my living room with the step down and triple sliding glass doors separating the two rooms.

Each sun room side wall consists of patio type sliding glass doors. One side leads to the breakfast room and the opposite one leads to my office. The fourth wall is the back of the house outside wall which has two, 4 foot-wide jalousie windows starting two feet above the floor and going up to the ceiling, a glass single door/screen combo and one more small window, also starting at two feet above the floor and going up to the ceiling. I explained all this so that you could realize that at least 90% of the sunroom “walls” are clear glass doors and I had no idea how I was going to place any useful furniture in it.

My dilemma was I needed more walls, but I also needed the light the sunroom provided to brighten up the surrounding living room, office and breakfast room. Part of the solution came when a friend gave me her no-longer-needed room divider made of knotted jute cord. And that idea started me looking for other room dividers that were see-through. I found two “curtains” made of 2” coconut shell discs strung with black cord. The two curtains together were the width of two of the sliding glass panels leading to the living room. If all the sliding panels were drawn back or open, the three panels stacked into a recessed area at the end of the wall. If closed or partially closed, the recessed area was a blank single-door-size wall.

I decided to close the panels of the living room glass doors and leave one width doubled and open to walk through and then faux paint the blank recess area to look like a rock wall. Having never attempted painting rocks before, I wasn’t sure I could pull it off, but I wanted to give it a try. I wanted the rocks to look stacked up and maybe cemented in place, but I was having trouble visualizing different rocks. My yard doesn’t have any rocks in it, so I roamed around the house searching for something that looked like a rock. I found what I needed in the kitchen. An Idaho potato! Don’t laugh; it really looked like a rock. Ha! So I got my paints out and started painting with one hand and holding and turning the potato with the other.

After my painting project was done about a week later, I placed my reading chair and a small table against the coconut shell curtain and sliding glass panels between the sunroom and living room. A fountain was placed in front of the “rock wall”, and a knurly tree that I made out of a fallen limb from an outside tree went in the corner at the entrance to my office. The rest of the decorating project fell into place after that. I placed a rustic-painted ice cream table against the glass doors going into my office. My friend’s knotted curtain acts as a backdrop, and I put a wicker storage bench below the jalousie windows and a wicker tower cabinet in the corner near the entrance to the breakfast room.

Rock Wall

Beginning Rocks

Rock Wall

Coming Along

Rock wall-whole - Copy

Recess #1 Finished, Coconut shells – left

After walking past that rock wall for years now, I’ve decided I’d like to try to make the rocks look a little more three dimensional by adding shadows in and under some of them and by darkening grout. I still don’t know how to do it, but I’d like to give it a go.  Anyone have any suggestions? I’ll follow up with more pictures later when I finish. Please cross your fingers for me. FYI, I have noticed that the grout and some shadows look darker in my photos than in real life. Hopefully, I can make them more real looking.

Sunroom

Sunroom Complete

 

Coco Ihle is the author of SHE HAD TO KNOW, an atmospheric traditional mystery set mainly in Scotland.

Join her here each 11th of the month.

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Writing Book Reviews: Purpose and Tips by Christine Husom

There are two basic purposes for writing book reviews: helping potential readers decide whether they’ll read a particular one, and letting authors know what’s good, or not, about their book. It’s an evaluation of the book from the reviewer’s perspective.

Book reviews should be helpful to both reader and author alike, written as objectively as possible. A good rule of thumb is to highlight what the author did well employing the basic elements of storytelling—genre, plot, characters, dialogue, pace, conflict, climax—and to offer suggestions of ways to improve the story, or the writing itself, if need be.

One thing to watch for is if you can’t write a review of the book itself—genre aside,—don’t. You may enjoy books from a genre, or sub-genre, and then read one in a genre you find you don’t like. It’s not good practice to write a review criticizing the genre itself. Most people who read your review are partial to those books.  If you read thrillers, historical romance may not be your cup of tea. If you favor traditional mysteries, horror may be too graphic for you. An evaluation of a book is meant to be just that.

Another thing to be careful of is viciously slamming a book or author. A review that reads like a personal attack is not regarded as valid, and will be dismissed as such. It makes readers wonder what vendetta the reviewer has against the author. This is a mildly-written example: “I am glad that this book only cost me a penny. Maybe I’ll donate it to my library…just so I don’t have to look at it anymore.” Or the person who left a 1-star rating on a book then wrote, “This is a book I did not order and have not read. I have no idea how I can review a book I don’t have.” What purpose did she have for rating the book, and posting her comment?

On the other hand, constructive criticism is valuable to both authors and readers. If there are a number of grammatical mistakes or typos, and that is noted in reviews, it alerts the author he needs a better editor, and perhaps a team of proofreaders. An author should know if reviewers think the characters need to be better developed, or if the ending seems to come out of nowhere, or if the pacing was too slow, or too fast. The following review gives the author something to ponder: “The author writes a thriller that is hard to put down, but her sentence structure needs improvement.” It’s not written as an attack. Instead, it is constructive criticism.

If you don’t like a book, but want to write a review on it, you can be thoughtful and honest without being cruel. Think of it as a personal critique to the author. Be respectful, and leave out any personal put-downs. When you evaluate a book and post it on sites, your review is out there for the world to see. People, in general, appreciate honesty served with a measure of decorum.

Christine Husom is the author of the Winnebago County Mystery Series.

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Things I learned about books and bookstores by Sheila Deeth

I run a local writers’ group. When I mentioned a free online seminar about getting books into indie and gift stores, one of the members suggested I take the class and report back. I suspect I wasn’t the right candidate for the lesson though, because in my other life I’m a mathematician. Still, it wasn’t all bad. Here’s my report:

  1. Sales are up at least 5% in indie bookstores. (Is this global, national, or average sales figures per store? Does the fact that many stores have closed affect the number?)
  2. Over 700 new indie book and gift stores have opened in 6 years (but how many have closed? And why does 100 a year sound such a small number to me?)
  3. Indie stores are where bestseller lists get their numbers from. (Great, but where do non-bestsellers go?)
  4. Indie stores hand-sell (as long as you can persuade them to read, stock and sell your book)
  5. People who look in indie stores often buy from Amazon afterward, thus raising your Amazon ranking (so much for hand-sold. I want to support indie stores!)
  6. Indie stores are community centers. People meet and talk. (Very true. I LOVE INDIE stores! Just wish I could sell my books in them).

Then came the really important stuff: Indie stores don’t exist to help you. You have to prove YOU can help THEM. Which you do by…

  1. Making the buyer’s job easy
    1. Easy ordering (preferably from a major distributor)
    2. Easy payment
    3. Easy returns
  2. Make sure the buyer can find the book and contact you
    1. Info sheet with your phone number
    2. email
    3. and address
    4. plus the book’s ISBN
    5. plus BRIEF info about it.
  3. Describe how YOU will drive sales to the store
    1. “I’m going to talk on the radio and I’ll tell everyone they can buy it from you.”
    2. “I’m going to bring the radio host to your store.”
    3. “I have tons of endorsements and reviews that you can quote from in shelf materials. The book will sell itself.”
    4. “I’m going to be featured in all these magazines.”
    5. (I think they missed the step about how I get the radio to interview me, how I get those endorsements and reviews if I’m still trying to find readers, how I persuade those magazines to feature me… Maybe all that’s in the not-free seminars I can’t afford to follow up on.)

Then came the mathematical finale…

  1. If 200 stores stock your book (200! My first novel was stocked in three)
  2. And sell 4 or 5 copies each per month (In 6 months I sold one)
  3. You’ll sell 1000 copies in a month, which pushes you up the lists and means
  4. More stores will stock your book
  5. Thus meaning more stores sell 4 or 5 per month (because, of course, those first 200 stores will continue selling it, won’t they?)
  6. And you’ll make a real-world salary, plenty to live on, in your first year!

Bumping straight back down to reality, the radio will interview me, magazines will feature me, and readers will look for me if I’m famous or have sold lots of books. Meanwhile the indie store closest me closed. I only sold one book. And pyramids are still pyramids, even when they’re made of dreams.

The best advice, of course, is to write a book that people will read, and I hope you’ll read mine.

Sheila Deeth is the author of Infinite Sum, recently released by Indigo Sea. If you think she suffers from low self-esteem after reading this, please improve her self-confidence by reading and reviewing her novel. And if you or your loved ones are weighed down by things that happened in the past, this novel just might help you understand.

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From Timid to Confident

For some time now, I’ve wanted to share with you readers just how much of an impact belly dancing has had on my life. As I look back over the more than twenty years of my professional dance career and time spent teaching my students, I can’t help but smile while thinking how changed I am from the timid, insecure person I was in the very beginning. Not just in dance, but in every aspect of my life, and I’d like you to imagine my words as an analogy for most any career.

Those who knew me as a beginning dancer probably wouldn’t say I was timid and insecure from their observations, because I was also enthusiastic and very much taken with the mystique of the dance. I, like most of us, suffered silently. I didn’t know many dance steps or how to transition from one to another. I felt my figure wasn’t ideal. I had no idea how to put a costume together or where to find the resources for costumes.  What about hair and makeup? There were so many things I didn’t know, and I couldn’t help feeling intimidated by all those dancers who were so good at their craft. Does this sound familiar?

Take heart. Perhaps if I tell you what I did, you may have similar results.

First of all, you must learn that it is all right to be timid in the beginning. In fact, that trait is helpful. It makes you try harder, want to learn more. If you live in an area where lessons are taught, take as many lessons as you can. Subscribe to publications, read articles and order catalogs that offer supplies. Attend seminars and conventions that give you the whole picture of what you have learned in the classes, and more.

As in any endeavor, networking helps. When I first started going to seminars, I took the time to write to the teacher or guest of honor, ahead of time, letting her/ him know how excited I was that they were going to be teaching and/or performing. That way, when I got to the seminar, there would be at least one person whom I knew, and it’s so easy these days with e-mail. I was always surprised when they remembered that I had written them, but you see, people love to be appreciated. Many famous dancers, I believe, are friends now, because I took the time to make their acquaintance. And the wonderful thing is that belly dancers are really great people. They are eager to teach you the things they have learned and to share their experiences and ideas. So there is really no reason to feel intimidated. Make friends with other students and with vendors, too. After all, your interests are the same.

The more you learn the more confident you become. The more confident you become, the more relaxed you are and the more you can enjoy this beautiful art form. I’ll always remember taking a seminar with the famous performer and teacher, Bert Balladine when he held his head high and told us that each one of us was a gift of God’s and we needed to dance as though we believed it. In the beginning, you may need to pretend you feel that way, (I certainly did), but as you master each challenge, it becomes easier to feel the beauty of the dance and feel beautiful performing it.

When you feel confident and beautiful in one area of your life, it’s amazing how that bleeds into other aspects of it. Because of my experiences in the world of dance and the wonderful people I have met through the years, I feel I have become more interesting, confident, sharing, and even disciplined than I would have been had I not had the courage to enter in with love, enthusiasm, and a willingness to try. So put on that smile, lift yourself up and start on your journey. You, too, can go from timid to confident.

With that said, see how you can take this “dance lesson” and translate it into advice for writing, or for artwork, or for music or science, or whatever your interests are. And have fun!

 

Coco Ihle is the author of SHE HAD TO KNOW, an atmospheric traditional mystery set mainly in Scotland.

Join her here each 11th of the month.

 

 

 

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Medieval Brass Rubbings

Being a romantic, I’ve always had an affinity for the Medieval through Renaissance periods of Britain; roughly between the 5th–17th centuries. Some really beautiful artwork can be found in catacombs and tombs in churches and abbeys, particularly in England, in the form of monumental brasses, which memorialize burials of important people of the day. Brass plates were often etched in effigies of the deceased and sometimes included relatives, pets, armor, status, even occupation of the individual. For historical or artistic value, many people have sought to copy some of these brasses onto paper. I decided I’d like to do that too.

Medieval brasses date back to as early as 1015 AD, I was told, but most of the ones that have survived through the ages are from the 14th century on up to the present day. Many were lost during the Bubonic Plague or Black Death beginning in 1347 AD, building and reconstruction projects, and destruction from wars throughout Europe. Although, the largest collections of brasses are in England, others can be found on the Continent.

Much information can be gleaned from these brasses, such as style and fashion, occupations and status, genealogy, heraldry, the history of armor and even ecclesiastical history. In fact, one could spend a lifetime studying this subject. For me, though, I was interested in learning the craft of rubbing and having a couple pieces of history in my home as mementos of my trip. I have a room with a 6½ʹ tall x 4ʹ wide medieval tapestry and I wanted a couple of brass rubbings for that room, as well.

I lived in Germany at the time and researched for several months to find brasses of the right ilk and then headed for England. Unfortunately, many of the really old brasses are not available anymore for rubbing, because they have been worn down over time, but replica brasses have been made, many of which are exact copies of the originals and are available for rubbing. There are also miniature brasses for those who don’t have time to rub a large one.

To make my rubbing, I used a special black rag paper, a gold metallic, hard wax block and a smaller pencil shaped wax tool, and masking tape to affix the paper to the brass. Many people have thought that making rubbings would be easy, just like coloring. But I can tell you, if you want a really good rubbing, it takes time and patience and sensitivity in one’s fingertips to feel through the paper to the raised areas of the design in order to know where the edges are. The weight of pressing down with the hard wax tool one uses to actually rub is tricky and the consistent direction one rubs makes for a neat and attractive finished product. Achy fingers are a given, before a brass rubbing is completed, I can assure you, but the finished product, for me, was well worth it.

I now have three framed brass rubbings. A small one, I rubbed myself, which is about 26ʺ tall x 10ʺ wide, and a pair, each 3½ʹ tall x 16ʺ wide, of Sir Roger Bellingham, d. 1544 and his wife Elizabeth, d.1500 from Kendal, Westmorland, England; my knight in shining armor and his lady.

If you are interested in learning more about brasses in England you may wish to visit The Monumental Brass Society online. My brass rubbing are below. I also have some grave stone rubbings that I made here in the U.S. Have you ever done any rubbings?

P1020390             P1020400      P1020411

 

Coco Ihle is the author of SHE HAD TO KNOW, an atmospheric traditional mystery set mainly in Scotland.

Join her here each 11th of the month.

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Teaching Creative Writing to an Elementary Class by Christine Husom

I was invited to talk to a group of third, fourth, and fifth graders about the writing process and what goes into writing a book. This will happen tomorrow. Children are a joy to be with. It’s like they have sponges attached to their bodies, sucking in whatever information you give them.

I’ll start out by asking if they’ve ever lain on their backs and watched the clouds move in the sky, and ask them to describe what they saw, how they felt. Someone is bound to say some look like cotton. Then I’ll tell them how when it was snowing recently my four-year-old grandson told me the flakes were big and looked like cotton balls—the clouds were breaking and the pieces were falling to the ground. That’s a great concept for a children’s story.

A few years ago when I spoke to another class I made up large cards containing and explaining the elements of a story/book. We’ll touch on those.

Purpose; why do you want to tell the story?

Setting; what is the location, the time of the year?

Point of View; who is telling the story, is it in first person or third person?

Plot–Story; what are the key scenes moving the story from one point to the next and the actions of the characters?

Characters; how do you make them believable, what drives them, motivates them, what do they care about? What a protagonist or main character is, and what an antagonist is. That a character may be an animal, or a bad storm.

Dialogue; how does it help tell your story and things about your characters? I’ll ask them if their grandparents or teachers or friends all sound the same and use the same words. I’ll tell them it’s important to give their characters different voices.

Pace; what is the speed and rhythm; do you want things to move slow or fast?

Conflict, the heart of fictional plot; what is the struggle between your characters or forces? What is the bad guy doing that the good guy can’t walk away from?

Climax, or when the tension is at the highest, toward the end of the book.

I’ll show them what a manuscript looks like before and after it is published. How a big stack of papers turns into a book.

Then I’ll draw a storyboard:twelve boxes, three rows of four, or four rows of three. In the first box, write down the question the book asks. In the last box, write the answer to that question. The other boxes are the plot points that lead to the eventual answer at the end. Storyboarding chapters is a tool to create logical flow after you have determined what your book is about, and why you are writing it.

And then we’ll write a story together. I used the storyboard technique with a class a few years ago and they came up with a wonderfully creative tale. So, I best get my supplies together so I’m ready to meet my students in the morning.

Christine Husom is the author of the Winnebago Mystery Series, set in Minnesota.

 

 

 

 

 

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How to Make Book Cover Pins

Want to try a super easy method of advertising your book? Make a book-cover pin to wear everywhere you go. It’s amazing how many people will ask you about it! Just be ready to have a clever one-sentence answer that will make them want to read your book. That may take you longer than actually making the pins, but will be worth the time spent.

I have a PC, so if you have a Mac, the instructions may vary. Before my book was published I got a photo of the cover from my publisher which I keep on file in my computer for guest blogging and other promotions. I made my pins 1 ¾” by 2 ¾” but you can make them any size you prefer.

So, go to Microsoft Word (I have Word 10) and click Insert. Find the picture of your book cover in your files, select it and insert it in Word. Resize it to 1 ¾” by 2 ¾”. Click on the picture and you will see Picture Tools at the top right-center of page. Click on that and directly below that will be Picture Border where you can select the thickness and color of your border. I picked a 4 ½ pt. border in black.

Go back to Word’s Home Page  (set the Page Orientation to Landscape) and right-click on your bordered picture and left-click on Copy. Go to a space to the right of the photo and click Paste. Then reposition it to line up with previous photo. Continue to paste across the page to total 5 covers. If you’d like, you can make a second row below this row, giving you ten book cover photos.  Now that you have your book covers all on one page, save it and print it on Glossy Photo paper.

I purchased a 9” thermal laminator at a local box store for around $30 and laminated the sheet of photo paper (just follow the instructions enclosed with the laminator) and then cut out each book cover pin. After a trip to the local craft store to get pin-backs the right size to glue to the back of the covers, I was all done!

I’ve had people ask me about my pin at the grocery store, while dining out, at book signings and talks, all sorts of places. If you wear a plain top in a complimentary color, the book cover will stand out better. Have fun wearing your new pin and give some away to fans, friends and family. If you have a contest for a give-away of your print book, include a book cover pin.

After you’ve made your pins, you can use the laminator for other purposes: for recipe cards to send as gifts, or announcements, special photos to keep in your wallet, etc. I’d love to hear some of your ideas how this project can be used! Enjoy!

Coco with Book Pin

Coco Ihle is the author of SHE HAD TO KNOW, an atmospheric traditional mystery set mainly in Scotland.

Join her here each 11th of the month.

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A New Mom by John E. Stack

This last week we went through something that could have been devastating to our family depending on how it was handled.  My wife and I do old-fashioned type parenting and we do things that a lot of parents have lost the power to do – we have rules.  We figure that parenting is difficult enough without trying to be our child’s friend.  Friends can’t make rules for friends, and kids don’t function well without rules.

Anyway, one day this past week was pajama day at our daughter’s elementary school.  It was book fair week, and the pitch was wear your pj’s and curl up with a good book. Allie (6 years old) decided as my wife was ready to pull out of the garage that she wanted to wear pajamas.  My wife’s response was “it is too late to go back and change.” She had an appointment scheduled right after she dropped Allie off at school.

Allie’s response was one of anger and she said “I’m going to find me a new mom who doesn’t have rules and will let me do anything I want to do.”

Now, if I had handled this, I would have probably lost it.  I may have been mean, may have grounded her, who knows.

My wife, the super intelligent women that she is, played things just right.  She calmly told her “Okay, good luck with that”, and took her to school.

That afternoon, she went to pick Allie up at school.  She said that Allie acted a little different as she approached the car.  As Allie got into the van Suzanne asked, “Did you have a good day.  By the way, did you find a new mom?  I’m just asking, because I need to go through your clothes to make sure you have enough to take with you.”

Allie softly said, “No.” She was quiet for a few minutes and said, “I’ve changes my mind.  I would like to stay with you and dad forever.”

My wife responded with, “Well, good. Because when we adopted you it was forever. And, we want you to live with us forever.  Do you still want me to be our mom even though I’m still going to have rules and tell you what to do?”

“Yes,” she said.  The rest of the day went pretty good.

Yeah, I would have totally messed that up.  As I think back at around 35 years ago, we had a similar conversation with another daughter.  I don’t remember all the details, but she decided not to leave either.

In regards to raising kids this is what I know:

  • You must have rules.  Say what you mean, mean what you say, and do what you say you are going to do.  Suzanne’s mom told us this.
  • Discipline with love, not anger.  Tell your kids you love them, every day. Remember, they will decide what nursing home you will go to someday.
  • Parenting is tough.  Whether you birthed them or adopted them, no one can raise them like you can.  God chose you, so you have big expectations to live up to.
  • Pray.  When you don’t know what else to do – pray.

 

***John E. Stack is the author of Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo, Cody’s Rescue adventure at the Zoo, and Oliva’s Sweet Adventure.

 

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The Passage of Time and Little Details by L.V. Gaudet

Just as in life, little things in your story would change with the passage of time.  It’s not a necessity, of course, but those little changes can bring a sub-layer of change to the reader’s unconscious mind.  And if they do pick up on it, it’s a nice touch in adding depth to the story.

 

They said goodbye in the spring.  She ran her fingers through his hair that was cut short just the week before, the hair tips following the curve of the top of the ears they were just shy of touching.  If it were any shorter, it would be called a brush cut.

She frowned inwardly at that.  She had always disliked brush cuts.  They reminded her of the father she had lost the day he enlisted in the army when she was only six.  He died years later, coming back for brief moments between tours of duty.  But something had changed in him.  When he came home for good, he never came home all the way.  Something of him was left behind in the war-ravaged wasteland that was left behind when so-called peace came and sent the soldiers home.  He killed himself ten years ago on her twentieth birthday.

 Now, years later, as she said goodbye to her own six-year-old son in the spring, it felt like a piece of her had been torn out.  She had watched him walk away, holding his father’s hand, her estranged husband, with his freshly cut short hair, she swore she would never let her son join the army like her father had.

 Her husband had joined the army too.  That’s why she left him.  She could not bear to live that again, to have her son live it like she did growing up.

 Summer is over now and fall is coming.  Her son’s summer with his father is over and school starts in a few days.

 She turned at the unmistakable racket of the approaching train, watching anxiously down the tracks.  Butterflies flitted in her stomach.  She told herself it was at seeing her son, but the reality is was over seeing them both.

 The train pulled into the station and she waited the interminable wait of one waiting for their loved ones to arrive in the designated arrival area.

 She held her breath and forced herself not to run to him, to tear him away from his father’s hand and squeeze him tight.

 There he was.  It felt like her heart would leap right out her throat.  Her throat constricted and her eyes burned.  Where is he?  Her son was alone.  How could he send him alone?  He’s only six!  But then her son turned, and he came through the crowd.  Her heart leapt and sank at once.  He was dressed in uniform.

 Her son ran to her, face cracked into the biggest smile she had seen since she said goodbye to him in the spring.  She got down on one knee, opening her arms to him, and he ran to her, throwing himself into her embrace and wrapping his arms tightly around her neck.  She ran her fingers through his hair, the tips of his hair reaching just past the top of his ears.

 “Mommy,” he sighed into her shoulder, “your nails got longer.”

 She looked up at a sense of a presence close by.  Her estranged husband stood over her looking down.

 “You look thinner,” he said. From his expression, she wasn’t sure if it was an attempt at a compliment or sarcasm.  He was still bitter at her for leaving.

 “You were supposed to bring him back last week,” she said, narrowing her eyes at him.

 

If you picked up on it, the above starts with a reference to the boy’s recent haircut and his hair being trimmed above the ears.  When he sees him again, the boy’s comment on her nails is a distraction to the reference to his hair now being just below the tops of his ears.  The ex-husband’s comment on her weight could go in any one of many directions.  It could be used as a reference to a longer space of time since she left him.  It could be a hint into his character, or her own wasting away at the end of her marriage.  It could even mean she’s become more healthy and fit since leaving him, at a healthier weight than before.

 

Even if the character doesn’t noticeably change, and neither does his or her immediate surroundings, some things can’t help but change with the years. Some things grow (plant life); other things inevitably deteriorate with age. Things become modernized as they have to be replaced. After all, that fridge in the kitchen will not last fifty years seemingly untouched by time.

 

images (4)It might be an old ice box from before the age of refrigerators, then be replaced with an early style fridge, eventually becoming more modernized as each one has to be replaced. (Just as an example, assuming the character even has one.)  Or it might be a fridge at a place the character frequents, even if that frequency is once every decade.

 

A change like that the character is certain to notice. Similarly, horses and wagons eventually become replaced by increasingly modernized cars.  Everything has a finite lifespan, whether it is a fruit fly or something that lasts for eons. A small sapling tree will grow and grow, becoming a massive tree and eventually dying.  A stone wall will weaken and crumble over time.  Look around you; everything is touched in some way by the passing of time.  Pick things that can be described well by you and easily be identified by the reader.

 

It is little details that make a story.  The odd little things that might catch one persons eye while no one else in the room even noticed.  Throw them in at the oddest of moments.  A moment so divine, that it is almost out of place – almost.

A moment of utter seriousness, where  picking out that one ridiculous detail only serves to bring home to the reader the gravity of just how serious it is.

That one out of place almost unnoticeable thing in a time of grief, to show how strangely the mind might work in a moment of stress and confusion masked by forced peace and quiet, to reinforce on the reader the many levels of the story and its characters.

 

Amidst the crowd of mourners packed into the room like cattle in a cattle car on the way to be rendered, Annie alone noticed the little loose thread sticking out mournfully from the fabric of the seat where Mrs. Peckham sat.  Annie stared at that thread, mesmerized, unable to look away.

 A stray thought teased at her mind.  With all these people staring at Mrs. Peckham, watching her sit there lost in her private world of grief, weeping for her child so tragically torn from her breast by the drunk driver, what does that thread mean?  Is the chair unraveling in sympathy to the shattered lives of all the mourners who’ve sat there day after day?

 She looked around, wondering if anyone else saw the thread and what thoughts it provoked in their minds.

 

No matter how farfetched and deep within the realm of the unbelievable a story may lay, it’s the little details that suggest it might just be possible.  It’s the ability to sell the story as a “what if”, the idea that just maybe this *could* be real if our world were shaped a little differently … that is what makes a good story.

 

L. V. where the bodies areGaudet is the author of Where the Bodies Are

What kind of dark secret pushes a man to commit the unimaginable, even as he is sickened by his own actions?

Watch for book 2 of the McAllister series coming soon at Second Wind Publishing, LLC:  The McAllister Farm.  The secret behind the bodies is revealed.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00015]

 

Link to reviews of Where the Bodies Are on Angie’s Diary

https://angiesdiary.com/bookoftheweek-web/081-botwoct262014.html

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To Offer it Free or Not – Marketing Your Work

Free BooksAs with everything to do with the art of writing, publishing and marketing books, there are different views on the worth of offering your books free.

Some will argue that you should not work for free.  And, in essence, that is what you are doing when you offer your books free.  You have spent countless hours writing, editing, perfecting, and polishing your writing.  You chose the perfect cover, formatted the book for eBook, and finally are rewarded with seeing your hard work available to the world.

Of course, you want some monetary gain from all that hard work.  Who wouldn’t?

But, unless you are already a well-known author, will the world even know you exist?  Will they (the readers) buy your book when you are an unknown quantity to them?  When there are so many badly written, badly edited, and just plain bad, stories out there, the reader needs to have a reason to want to invest their money in your book.

Possibly one of the more appealings ways to an author is the free sample chapters.  However you get that out there, through posting them on social media, allowing partial sample downloads on Smashwords, or ther means.  Free samples let the reader get sucked into the story, and just as they get hooked they are cut off with no option except to stop there or get your book.

I see offering books free as a marketing tool.  Companies do it with other types of products all the time, offering try me samples in the hope you will love it enought to buy it.  The buy one-get one free offer.  Buy that and we’ll toss this in with it.  Get one month free.  Even the grocery stores get in on the action with their free sample days.  These are all teasers to encourage you to buy or try their product.

If there is one thing everyone loves, it is getting something for free.

How many books have you passed over buying because you didn’t know if you would like the author?  The write up on the back cover looks good, the cover art is enticing, but you just don’t know.  So you decide instead to buy that new book by the author you love.

This does not mean you have to give it away free forever.  Offer it free for a limited time. With so many companies marketing other products by this method, it must work.  Otherwise, they would invest that marketing money in other ways to market their products.  You can always offer it free again if it suits your needs.

You can also offer limited time coupon codes so that those who get the code can read it free while others have to purchase it.  Coupon codes can be used in a targeted marketing campaign.  For example, let’s say you are publishing a humor book suitable for grade school kids about survival while camping with scout groups.  Offer the coupon code to your local scout groups, giving the kids the eBook free.  If they read it and love it, they’ll tell their friends about it.  Target book clubs for your genre.  If your book is about gardening, offer the coupon code for free limited time download of your book to a few garden clubs.

Knowing they got something free that others have to pay for makes people feel special.  They feel like they got a prize, they feel superior, they feel a small sense of empowerment.  They feel like they matter just a little bit more.  They feel like someone cares.  Each feels special in a different way, depending on their personality.  It doesn’t matter how they feel special, you made them feel that way and they like you more for it.

The hardest part of selling books is getting readers to know it exists. If free offers help, then it is worth it.  The first job of selling your book is getting someone to read it.  If you did your job right in writing the book, then they will do your second job for you – getting them to talk about it.

People talk about books and share information on them for three reasons:

(1) They loved it,

(2) They found it controversial and it got their blood boiling,

(3) They hated it.

Nobody talks about the book that isn’t noteworthy.  They also won’t talk about it if they haven’t read it or even heard of it.  If they loved it, they will talk about it, and they also will want to read more.

Another way to get free samples of your work into your potential readers’ hands is short stories.  Offer short stories for free eBook download.  Blog them, Facebook them, share them.

Consider this:  work together with another author who writes similar stories in the same genre.  You both offer a free short story written by the other with the purchase of your book.  Both authors have a vested interest in promoting the books, one to earn the royalties and the other to get their reader audience to grow through the free short story.

Always remember to plug your other work.  Whether a book or a short story, free or for a price, always remember to include a plug for other published work that is available.

Every piece has to be your best.  Whether free or not, a 100 word flash fiction or 150,000 novel; every bit of writing you put out there needs to be good.  Advertising yourself with mediocre short stories will not increase your readership.

However you choose to market your work, the goal is the same – getting potential readers and buyers to notice you in a sea of possible authors.

L. V. where the bodies areGaudet is the author of Where the Bodies Are

What kind of dark secret pushes a man to commit the unimaginable, even as he is sickened by his own actions?

Watch for book 2 of the McAllister series coming soon at Second Wind Publishing, LLC:  The McAllister Farm.  The secret behind the bodies is revealed.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00015]

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00015]

Other links to purchase L.V. Gaudet’s books

Link to reviews of Where the Bodies Are on Angie’s Diary

https://angiesdiary.com/bookoftheweek-web/081-botwoct262014.html

Follow L. V. Gaudet:

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