July 31, 2014

Q&A with...me, Jenn Nixon!

I asked for some questions to answer. Feel free to add more questions in the comments and I'll update. :-)

Here you go!

Chet C asks: How much emphasis do you put on research when you write?

Great question. I try to make my characters and plot as realistic as possible despite the genre. When writing something like Lucky's Charm, I want to make sure everything is believable, so I did a lot of research on guns, locations, and the psychology of someone who kills for a living. If I'm writing Sci-Fi or something based outside of our normal reality, I tend to stay away from too many scientific or technical jargon since I'm never sure if I'm using it correctly, but I research just enough to be able to explain it truthfully within the story.

Sue V asks: What is your worst timesuck (i.e., what makes you facepalm when you realize you just wasted X number of hrs instead of writing)?

Ha! The EVIL Timesuck! There are SO many. Usually, when I'm writing, I try to avoid the timesuck that is social media, Facebook, Twitter, etc. I do, however, have a bad habit of getting timesucked into reading more than I need to when researching. Sometimes I have to research in the middle of a paragraph because my character says something or goes somewhere that I'm cluesless about. That's always fun!

Andrea N asks: How do you get your creative juices to produce great stories?

Love this question! Many of my ideas come from brainstorming with friends. I give them a general idea of what I'm thinking about writing and we play around with it until it sounds even better! Sometimes I'll be inspired by another book, movie, TV show, sometimes a character or even an actor.

Adam T asks: What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?

The answer is 42. Right?

Dauna M asks: How long have you been writing? What inspired you to become a writer?

I've been "writing" in one form or another since about 10-11 years old when I started off with poetry. I eventually started writing Fan Fiction in High School and College! Lots of fun. I didn't decided to take it seriously until I finished my first original story and shared it with friends. They LOVED the story and kept asking me for more, so I did, and I haven't stopped yet!

Luanne T asks: When is your birthday?

April 23rd! I'm a Taurus!

How about you, do you have a question? I'm game, are you?

July 28, 2014

Facebook Promos. What I've learned and paying it forward!

I have a great mix of people reading my blog. Some of you are authors, musicians, artists, models, others are fellow pop culture geeks, readers, friends, family...you get the idea.

This post is probably more for authors, but anyone who uses the internet to advertise can probably pick up a tip or two.

As you know, I've been promoting a few books hardcore the last couple of months on Facebook. I don't have a large budget, so this should be helpful to people in similar circumstance.

Here's what I used, how it works, and the results I got.

Facebook -Events, Ads, and Groups:

Hosting an Event on Facebook is a great way to make new friends, promote your brand, and even make some sales depending on what you have to offer.

Two weeks before my latest book release, I set up an Event Party. I invited lots of friends and family, and ask my fellow publishing house authors and author friends to help me spread the word. 172 people, half of which I didn't know prior, clicked to "Join the Event". For my first ever event, I thought I did rather well.

One week before the book release, I had a daily giveaway via donated ebooks from author friends. This helped to generate buzz and readers invited other readers. Awesome!

On the day of the Event, I had a 4 hour window of giveaways, with a new prize every half hour, and promoted my grand prize drawing. Anyone who wanted the grand prize was asked to leave their purchase code for the book in the comments! I was skeptical about doing this, but it generated more sales that I ever imagined! The party was a lot of fun, I sold books, and gained new readers. Win-Win!

During the Event Day and several days after I ran two different Facebook promotion. One was a sponsored ad and the other boosted specific posts I had on my Author page to gain visibility among my followers.

The minimum magic budget seems to be $5 per day for me. The good thing about Facebook is that you can set daily and lifetime limits so you won't go over a certain amount. Facebook will also bill you at a specific dollar point if you ask them to. Learning Facebook ads can take some time, but there are help sections, videos on the internet, and friends out there who can help you, but it's best to learn the basics it on your own first. The main thing to know is you can BID for Impressions, Engagements, and Clicks.

Impressions are usually by the thousand and are basically a fly by advertisement, it will show up 1000 times on a web page. This helps you show up more, but not necessarily get the attention you want.

Engagements are when people like, comment, or share the post.

Clicks are for when people physically click the link you have in the ad, which usually takes you to another webpage where someone can buy your product.

Each product and ad are different. Getting clicks is more expensive but so far in my experience more effective, but on occasion I do change it up to get it in front of different people. You can change the add constantly, switching from Impression to Engagements to Clicks and back. You can also keep track of this on your own with trackable url links. I use smart url. It will show you the number of time each link you set up is clicked. I highly recommend it to help keep track of any promos you do.

Lastly, posting in Facebook Groups can be helpful, too, if done right. The key is to find promotion or advertising groups for your products. There are many out there and most are open to everyone.

Facebook puts all your groups in a list with the most recently accessed ones up top. If you are posting multiple posts, pay attention to this list. Start on the bottom and work your way up.

When you get to each group, READ THE ABOUT SECTION FIRST! Make sure they allow promotions and advertising. Some groups are just for networking and not promotion. Next, scroll down a for a few seconds to make sure you haven't posted recently. If you spam groups multiple times a day for days in a row they may kick you out. They are trying to help all authors and don't want any one person clogging up the groups with multiple posts.

Above and beyond the promotions listed above on Facebook, you also have your personal profile and Fan Page to help you promote with no additional costs. Branching out beyond Facebook to Twitter, Google+, and other social media outlets may be right for you, too, and if you're just getting started, check out my helpful guide here: http://jennafern.blogspot.com/2013/02/facebook-twitter-pinterest-oh-my-social.html

Hope this helps a bit and remember to pay it forward. :-)

July 24, 2014

Q&A Thursday with Robert Clark

Today's Q&A is with author Robert Clark

Enjoy & Comment!

What is the worst thing you’ve written, how did you learn or know it was bad, and what did you learn from it?

Lanigan’s Woods.  It’s the first book I had published.  I think it’s an excellent story, but when I looked at it again, years after it was released, I found the writing painfully simplistic and amateurish.  As far as the plot goes I don’t have any complaints.  As I said, I think it’s a good story, but if I had it to do over I’d do several more rewrites, preferably with the help of a good editor.  Now I do many rewrites on my novels, whenever possible with the cooperation of an editor.

Why did you start writing and when did you decide to go professional?

I can’t remember not being interested in writing.  I was lucky enough to have public school grade, junior high, and high school teachers who encouraged me.  In college, aside from the standard English courses and the technical writing I needed for my science courses, I took a journalism course and worked extensively on the college newspaper.  When the union I was president of was forced out on strike in 1986, my wife realized I was stressed and suggested I write a novel to release my frustrations.  I did, and ended up producing several as I kept writing after the strike ended.  Later I attempted to market the books.  The first was published in 1996.  I haven’t stopped writing novels or getting them published since, and am always working on at least two, sometimes as many as four or five, at the same time.  At the moment I’m working on three, a science fiction, one that could be considered either horror or fantasy, and one that could be placed in any of the three categories, depending on how you look at it.  I’ll do a draft of one, let it sit while I work on the others, and then go back to it for a rewrite.  I’ve had people ask me if the process confuses me, but actually it seems to work the opposite way and helps me concentrate on what I’m doing at any given time.

Do you write in more than one genre?  Which ones and which do you like best?

My writing is in three genres, science fiction, fantasy, and horror/supernatural.  I don’t actually have a preference.  Something kicks in as an idea for a novel, and the basic idea more or less funnels me into a specific genre.  It isn’t quite that simple, and the three areas often overlap in my writing.  Bricks, for example, is a science fiction, but has strong horror elements.  Depending on how you judge them, Boringville and Incubus could be placed in any of the three genres, although I consider them in the horror/supernatural category.  The overlap isn’t always there.  Askarjan is a straight science fiction; El Duende and Blade of Iron are straight fantasies.  Lycanthrope Book 1 and Lycanthrope Book 2 are horror novels.

Do you read other author’s books when you’re writing?  If so, do you read the same genre or something different?

Writing or not, I always have at least two or three books I’m reading.  They may or may not be the same genre I’m writing in.  I read in all three genres I write, but also in other fiction areas.  I read about as much non-fiction as fiction, almost all the non-fiction in the fields of history and science.

What is the most difficult part of the entire writing process for you? Queries, pitches, editing..etc.

No question.  Pitches.  I love the initial writing.  Rewrites aren’t bad, letting me add and delete things to improve the book.  Editing is boring but critical.  If I don’t love it, at least I don’t hate it.  I consider writing queries drudge work.  I don’t like writing them, but don’t agonize over the process. Pitching the book is something else.  If I wanted to be in sales I’d get a job selling cars.  I hate almost every aspect of it and am not good at it.  Things like doing interviews or book signings are the only exceptions.  I enjoy them because they give me a chance to interact with other people who share my interests.

If you could have the same type of career as any author currently publishing who would it be and why?


Me.  Sure, I’d like to have a string of best sellers.  What author wouldn’t?  On the other hand, I value my privacy, and if someone’s work is well known their privacy is almost sure to take a hit.  In many ways I’ve got the best of both worlds.  I sell enough books to support my writing habit.  After 36 years of teaching, saving for retirement, and being thrifty, I can afford the life style I want without having to make a living from book sales.  It would be nice if I could sell a few more books and make an actual profit on my writing, but even if that never happens I still have the fun of writing the novels and seeing them get published.  Hakuna matata.

Robert Clark was born and raised in Eerie (Erie), Pennsylvania. He was brought up on Creepy, Eerie, and Vampirella comic books, stories of Ax Murder Hollow, science fiction novels, and late night horror and science fiction movies. He delighted in scaring the neighborhood kids with stories he made up or swiped from comic books. His fifth grade teacher told his parents he’d end up either in prison or as an author. To the surprise of almost everyone who knows him, he graduated from college. After graduation he spent years teaching biology. While doing so his fifth grade teacher’s prediction (?) threat (?) curse (?) whatever, came true. Tired of reality, he decided to try writing fiction. The genres he writes in are science fiction, fantasy, and horror/supernatural, although these often overlap in his books. He and his wife live in northwestern Pennsylvania. Clark is no longer teaching biology, but is still writing. At this point he hasn’t been in prison and hopes to keep it that way.

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July 16, 2014

Read the Prologue to #TivaBoon: Royal Guardian

Prologue

King Harer Delos emerged from the shadows when High Healer Riin rushed into the critical care chamber with a motionless infant in his arms. After placing her on the table, Riin attempted to breathe life back into the stillborn child. His efforts seemed in vain.

“The Boon child, sire,” he said gravely between breaths. “She was born with no spirit…”

Shocked, Harer backed out of the room to allow Riin privacy to work, praying he could somehow save the child. A gentle cry rose from behind, Harer approached the child and read the name.

“Infant Tyra,” he whispered. The sight of his child in the swaddling cloth filled him with joy. He pulled back the blanket and caressed her cheek with his finger. “You are a beauty, my princess.”

He picked her up, rocked her gently in his arms. His spirit soared as her tiny fingers curled
around his thumb. Harer bounced his daughter tenderly and moved closer to the critical care door
only to see Healer Riin placing a silk death shroud over the Boon child. His heart sank. He could
not fathom losing a child, especially now, but he knew, under the circumstances, that it would
happen no matter what decision he made.

His former lover, Ziola, continued to manipulate him. Concealing her pregnancy until he
married another, forcing her way into the palace to seek him out, and threatening to reveal their
secret if he didn’t come to the medical ward was proof she was determined to have her way. He
refused to be at the beck and call of anyone, even the mother of his first-born. He knew of only
one way to rectify the situation.

Before entering the chamber, he called one of his guardians to ready his hovercraft to ensure
a swift exit. High Healer Riin turned with a solemn expression on his face. The king placed his
daughter in Riin’s arms. “You will present this child to the Boon family as if their own.”

“What of the Lady Tyra?” he asked, confusion crossing his features.

“I will handle her. Inform your staff that Lady Tyra’s child did not survive, but you saved
the Boon child. I trust that you understand what is at stake here. You are to speak of this to no
one. Am I clear?”

“Yes, your Majesty.”

$2.99 on Amazon! BUY NOW!

July 15, 2014

Teaser Tuesday with Robert Clark

Today's Teaser Tuesday is from Author Robert Clark!

In a town where a significant percentage of the population consists of individuals sometimes considered paranormal, Drew’s ability to detect potential trouble is valued.  Is the problem he senses the vampire hunters Boringville has to keep from encountering the vampires who live there?  Is it the people claiming to be looking for a vicious rapist?

Whatever the threat is, the town’s residents have to find a way to neutralize it without shedding innocent blood, at the same time keeping the world from knowing many beings from legend are real and live peacefully beside normal humans in Boringville.

Excerpt:     

He almost laughed.  Even in a place like Boringville there were problems, although not always the same ones a person would to encounter in most areas.  “Ray.  Over here, please.”
The ten year old of Asiatic background came to him at once.  Drew went to one knee so he could look the boy in the face without looking down or forcing Reynard to look up.  “I thought you were taking SCUBA lessons.  Why aren’t you in school?”
            “I was.  We just ran through some basic drills in the pool today, stuff like mask clearing and recovering lost mouthpieces.  We got out earlier than normal.”
“Good.  You know the SCUBA lessons weren’t what I wanted to talk to you about, don’t you?”
Looking guilty, the boy put his hands to his ears.  Drew nodded.  “What does The Law say?”  While Boringville had a town charter and under normal conditions followed the leadership of the mayor and town council, a place with a population as unusual as Boringville’s had problems most places didn’t and needed special rules to deal with them.  A hidden government, headed by elected individuals called leaders, could be called on to deal with situations not covered by the standard town charter.  There were things the residents of Boringville couldn’t risk talking about.  In those cases they followed a detailed set of rules known as The Law.  Boringville residents were taught The Law from the moment they were old enough to understand it.  People who moved into Boringville from outside, in every case Drew knew of individuals who were aware of Boringville’s secret, had to learn The Law before they were considered true residents of the town.  Only by cooperating with each other and living not only by the standard laws any place like Boringville would, but also by obeying The Law, could the citizens of Boringville maintain the lives they wanted to live.
            Reynard said, “No transformations, even partial ones, where outsiders can see us.
“I didn’t think what I did would cause any harm.  I didn’t think anyone would notice and I can hear better this way.”
            “What would your parents say if they saw you like this?
            “I’d be in for it, wouldn’t I?”
“I think you would.  Most normals would consider fox ears on a human a bit shocking.  They might think they were part of a costume and ignore them, but you know we can’t depend on them convincing themselves they saw something other than they did.
“You know how proud your parents are of you.  Very few shifters can manage partial metamorphosis.  Being able to do a partial at your age is outstanding.  The fact you inherited their abilities is even rarer.  The special traits are recessives.  Even with both your parent’s being were-foxes, the odds of you being one were slim.  You wouldn’t want to embarrass them and yourself for something as silly as having the wrong ears with the wrong body, would you?”
Reynard’s ears took their human form.  “I’m sorry.  Are you going to tell them?”
Drew laughed.  “Tell them what?  I imagine they know you got out of SCUBA class early.  You’ll behave yourself, won’t you?”
“Sure, Drew.”
“Good.”  Drew stood up.  “I’m sure you have things to do.  Don’t let me keep you.”
            “Some of us were going to meet at the creek and go swimming.”  Reynard started away, turned, and said, “Thanks, Drew.”
Reynard headed in the direction of the creek and Drew kept moving toward the center of town.  Even as a newcomer he was acquainted with a large percentage of the people who lived here.  Longtime residents knew everyone.  In a town the size of Boringville getting to know everyone wasn’t difficult, but no other place Drew’d ever been was as friendly.  In a way it was vital.  Any word of Boringville’s secret getting out could be a disaster for the town, and the normals like himself would be in as much trouble as the people of various subspecies.  True, he was a normal with a special ability, but was still a mainline human, not one of the subspecies like a lycanthrope or vampire.
A van pulled into a parking place near him and he knew where his feeling of a potential problem was coming from.  Someone inside could prove dangerous to Boringville.
Five young men and women, all people he guessed to be in their early twenties, piled out.  They were laughing and talking.  He couldn’t be sure, but from the way they were acting he guessed they were college students or recent college graduates on a road trip.  An attractive blonde woman inclined her head in his direction and spoke to her companions.  Drew’s hearing was exceptional, but he couldn’t make out her specific words well enough to tell what she said.  They walked to Drew with a tall, thin, dark haired young man taking the lead, although it was clear he was doing so because the blonde woman was directing him.
The small group of tourists stopped a few feet from Drew.  They seemed a little nervous, but not frightened.  The man in front looked embarrassed at being appointed the group’s spokesperson, but managed a smile.  “Officer, we, my friends and I, wondered if you could help us?”
“I will if I can.”
“Could you, well, maybe tell us…?  I’m not sure how to say this – ask this.”
The blonde woman said, “Jack, just ask him.”
            “Yeah.  I guess.  Officer, could you tell us where we’d have to go to see some of the vampires living in Boringville?”
If Drew could have believed he was looking at some clown trying to make a joke at the expense of a police officer, or a complete idiot asking a stupid question, he wouldn’t have been concerned.  He knew better.  These people were smart and the question sincere.
He wondered if he should be relived.  At least he knew where his feeling of unease came from.  The problem was; what was he going to do about it?

Robert Clark was born and raised in Eerie (Erie), Pennsylvania. He was brought up on Creepy, Eerie, and Vampirella comic books, stories of Ax Murder Hollow, science fiction novels, and late night horror and science fiction movies. He delighted in scaring the neighborhood kids with stories he made up or swiped from comic books. His fifth grade teacher told his parents he’d end up either in prison or as an author. To the surprise of almost everyone who knows him, he graduated from college. After graduation he spent years teaching biology. While doing so his fifth grade teacher’s prediction (?) threat (?) curse (?) whatever, came true. Tired of reality, he decided to try writing fiction. The genres he writes in are science fiction, fantasy, and horror/supernatural, although these often overlap in his books. He and his wife live in northwestern Pennsylvania. Clark is no longer teaching biology, but is still writing. At this point he hasn’t been in prison and hopes to keep it that way.
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