Time To Learn About Flickr and Creative Commons Licenses

Screen ReflectionDays of research on the computer have left me blurry eyed with the dizzying array of hosts who would love to have you upload all your pictures large and small to their storage reservoirs. This, in the fervent hopes you’ll upgrade and get all that stuff off your own limited computer, laptop, tablet, and cell capacities. (Okay–there’s another Oxford comma!)

There is everything from MyCloud to ZipCloud and JustCloud. I signed up for the Box.com 10 gig free cloud storage for my files. These could comprise all kinds of files–including videos, financials, spreadsheets and taxes. My Dropbox is currently at 45% of 5.8 GB capacity. I take double pictures of everything–never sure the first will be acceptable. Because this is the digital age, I can take a gajillion pictures–(and do!). I never have to wait and they never have to be developed. I have the power of the “delete” button AND I need photos for my posts.

I like YouTube for video, and other than the one html file, the remainder of my “files” are photos. But I have not found one cloud that will store my html file unless it’s within a website.

I’m a senior: I need it simple. Old Lady With Computer

My Weather Bug is programmed with at least seven locations, all of which when checked come with a beautiful background and usually have the photographer’s name and the notation “©[photographer] on flickr“. I’ve been looking at those pictures and wondering where in the world those were taken. But I keep seeing “Creative Commons” and “flickr”……

Great! Another photo storage host! Flickr will host up to a capacity of 1 TB. WHAT??! Not 5 gigs or 10 gigs–1 terabyte.

According to the internet: “One terabyte is one trillion (short scale) bytes. The unit symbol for the terabyte is TB.” Which is 1,000 gigs! Va Va Voom!

Waiting for the other shoe to drop, I signed up! Why not? I won’t be buying any more little flash drives, the last one of which I’d ordered from Amazon to back up all those files. It came apart after the third use.

You knew it’d get complicated somewhere though, right? Now we have the option of offering any of these photos through a Creative Commons license. There are attribution options out there. And many more photos to share! I love it and I’m sharing two I found today. Hope these have the proper licenses. Resource Box

How to Give Feedback … and Avoid Killing the Writer

thank you! guess i was using an “Oxford Comma” and didn’t know it. also go by the “breath” rule, tho i’ve also noticed the propensity to eliminate any and all commas anymore. still–i like the breath rule.

Phoenix Publishing & Book Promotion

How to Give Feedback … and Avoid Killing the Writer

by Mary Ellen Stepanich

Before I retired, I was a professor of Organizational Behavior. I always said to my students, “I’m very organized, but my behavior leaves a lot to be desired.”

Once upon a time, during my tenure at the university in the late ‘90s, I was called as a criticprospective juror. When I told the judge I was a professor of Organizational Behavior, he asked me, “What is Organizational Behavior, anyway?”

I replied, “It’s the study of human behavior in organizations of work with a view to improving the performance of individuals and groups so as to increase the performance outcome for the organization and satisfaction for the members.”

The judge said, “I don’t want you organizing my jury. You’re excused.”

One of the topics we discussed in my classes was the tricky issue of giving feedback

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Free WordPress Blog Theme

This is a free WordPress Blog Theme–titled “Twenty-Fifteen”. Given that it was actually fairly easy to change out of my old theme, “Beach,” I feel now that I have the power, this theme will be short-lived–no doubt until the end of the year! I know white space is supposed to be a good thing–but this much?

Having been crushed that the clickable file I tried to upload, wouldn’t, I’ve scouted for most of the day for a free host where I could park some html files. This was not a huge file. Frustrated woman

I’ve tried uploading a gif before and noted that the action I had programmed in, didn’t. This is getting very frustrating!

Today, I found a number of free html file storage hosts, offering anywhere from 1 to 10 gigs FREE storage with up to a 250 mg upload capacity. Most are geared towards businesses wherein they hope to snag an upgrade or premium account later. Having checked everyone from HiDrive to Box, I finally went with Box only to discover it doesn’t really hold my html file as I’d hoped either. Google Drive is another (obviously giant) host driven toward businesses hoping to get bigger and there is always “the Cloud.” It’s out there–somewhere.

So, apparently, I’m back to the self-hosted website. ARGH! Gotta be an alternative! There must be something I haven’t thought of or tried yet. I will continue to tackle that problem and now I’m thinking it’s time to look into FREE (there’s a recurring theme here as well) #twitter hashtag analyzer/tracker out there. Suggestions? No, not Yoast–apparently this blog (at my level anyway) doesn’t support that app either–I’ve looked.

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Wanted: Free WordPress Themes

I Need a New WordPress Theme! (I think)

I liked the (free) theme of this blog, so much so it’s dominated the background since I created the site (and that’s been awhile).

However, I keep getting assailed with bigger and better–that’s what led to publishing my grandfather’s 2nd (and more) novels in the first place; created this WordPress blog, opened (or resurrected) accounts for Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Etsy, Facebook and Pinterest. Is all this really necessary?

Link Images
Yes, these were all clickable–but WordPress doesn’t do html?

I’m still mainly clueless regarding the purpose of half of the above and as I’ve alluded to previously, really don’t know what I’m doing. So it goes that there is a constant need for more knowledge, ever more studies into making the present, better. Yes, I’m one of those that must learn from my mistakes!

Behind the desire to make something more desirable, more topical, create a larger readership, open more channels, craft a better product, I’ve been looking into converting this WordPress blog into a “self-hosted” website. Having read what I could, I’m still not sure of the benefit other than to infuse the coffers of others with my hard-earned Social Security money–all those years contributing my portion of those pitiful paychecks into that which is now being called the “entitlement.” (Guess I missed the benefits–don’t get me started).

Do you have a compelling reason for converting from a regular WordPress blog into a self-hosted website? (Maybe getting it to accept an html graphic?) I’d love to hear it! Since this is not “big business,” I’m thinking maybe I should just do more with the blog I have:

    1. Keep up the writing commitment
    2. Offer a wider content
    3. Continue with reviews (I do still love reading for fun)
    4. Change that old theme

New WordPress Theme

WHOA! I know what you are thinking! (I almost snuck that one in!)  “But it has served so well!” Or perhaps, “It was obvious at a glance the blog’s subject.” Okay, the last, arguably so.

Therefore, in keeping with the aforementioned warning [she] “doesn’t know what she’s doing,” I’ll only say this–I’ve been surveying some new theme ideas. Uh Oh.

Commitment to Blog Posts

Day 35: What are you going to do to keep the blogging momentum going? What plans do you have to continue your connection with other Author Blog Challenge participants and the new readers you’ve generated for your blog?

Keep the Momentum Going? Huh?

Dash To Christmas
Can I really add one more commitment to this pile?

This time of the year, I can think of few things I’d need to add to the chaos of the on-coming Christmas-time rush. No doubt it’s my daughter’s fault. Born in the middle of October, she upped the start of the season as her birthday quickly heralds in Halloween, followed closely by Thanksgiving, and in our case Christmas, though I know most people celebrate this time of year in their own way.

My celebration these latter years is just getting through it. For too many years, I tried doing the multi-tasking thing–keeping my regular-time job, but also the decorating, shopping, wrapping, baking, cooking, and cleaning in prep for company (LOTS of it–my hubby is from a large–need I say, Catholic family?). And then in reverse, the clean up, get ready for New Year’s Eve–again clean up. Thank heaven his sisters married, had families of their own, and started taking over the whole routine!

Now my goal is to do as little as possible.

Holiday Shoppers

The Author Blog Challenge is being completed with this blog. 35 days.

In the meantime, I published the anthology, which was decided would be the last of the books published for my grandfather. However, in view of the over-whelming need to keep the momentum going and the necessity for continued marketing and sales promotion, I will keep the blog active, but on a scaled back version.

The daily thing was pretty significant–huge contribution of time–and most of the new subscribers were, indeed, participants of this challenge. I greatly enjoyed reading everyone’s posts and subscribed, so they have grown into personal links and will be on-going.

The history with the blog had been extremely spotty–and getting to it was not at the top of the priority list. Realizing the importance of a schedule, however, I will commit to at least two blog posts per week. I’m responsible for one blog post a month to this MeetUp, and as everyone else, will be keeping a separate writing schedule as well as participating in a copywriting effort for ice cream money.

It’s good I have a dog to walk–exercising the fingers doesn’t constitute a complete work-out routine and my back-side doesn’t need to grow (any larger). Resource Box

How Many “Do-Overs” Do You Have?

How many “do-overs” do you have in your life?

How many of us would choose a “do-over” if the Genie got out of the bottle?

Incredibly lucky, I seemed to have gotten the right life partner right out of the chute–luck–and guidance from above–as I really wasn’t that smart. I met him when I was 17 and only knew what I didn’t want. My first and best decision.

However, when I think of do-overs, mine would be incredibly miniscule compared to the big picture. And mine would mainly have to do with money. Growing up in poverty, I learned to be very careful with money early and, for the most part, guided our family budget. That isn’t to say my hubby didn’t make some of his own grand decisions, leading to several extremely poor financial choices. Do-Over–don’t give away the store!

Do-Over

So I thought in the do-over world, money might be right up there at the top.  I was wrong. It goes much deeper.

What about completely changing your destiny?* Wait to get married. Finish school. Choose a different career. We are certainly not the first to want a second chance–the chance to do it “right.” How many books have been written about the subject? Too numerous to count. One of the final works by Jane Austen, “Persuasion,” might be an excellent example.

A quick look into a short poll regarding regrets (not necessarily in order):

  1. Too shy about taking risks (squandering opportunity).
  2. Not having married the right person.
  3. Not having children.
  4. Not keeping your mouth shut about something.
  5. Drugs and/or alcohol.

And the good news about several regrets–some things are never too late to change:

  1. Education–go back to school.
  2. Leaving the downers–you’ve heard the song, “Don’t Bring Me Down”
  3. Standing up for yourself.

We all need and deserve a second chance, a do-over, from time to time.

Carpe Diem

*When further asked if the do-over would change who they are–would they still do-over? The answer was no.

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The Mynah Birds Are Mocking Me

Good Grief! Those sounds–what are they?

Every day that I walk my dog, I am greeted with myriad sounds of birds that are way beyond my ability to identify. Every area has it’s contingent of indigenous birds–but in Goodyear, Arizona, what would they be? Guess I’d have to bring in an avian expert as even perusing the web for some idea, I’ve still come up with no clue.

Because of the water features associated with the golf courses, I see a number of water related birds, but these don’t have the call I’d like to identify. I’ve confronted a pair of ornery (burrowing?) owls on more than Burrowing owlone occasion. They became rather aggressive when they spied Frosty from aloft, but circling and landing just feet away apparently decided against tackling her as she came with strings attached (me).

Perhaps if I could catch a glimpse of them, it would help to identify if they have a squatty body with short tail, or slim body with long tail, short beak, long beak, colorful body or black. They make a dreadful mess of the sidewalks, but trying to spy them in the branches has been futile. Of course, we have our sizeable population roadrunnerof doves, pigeons, quail, hawks, killdeer, hummingbirds, mocking birds, mud hens, widgeons, blackbirds, sparrows, finches, and even roadrunners. cactus wren

The cactus wren is the state bird of Arizona. That certainly makes sense, but what sound do they make and are they actually in the neighborhood next door where the cacophony near evening is almost deafening?

Which bird is it that is making me wonder if I’ve teleported to Africa? The only bird I can imagine making all those sounds might be a mynah bird. But is that even possible? Surely they aren’t common or wild around town. Or are they?

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Exclusive Content Management Classes

I’ve mentioned before my love of reading, including historical fiction, but then I enjoy most books except porn and vampire–or are those pretty much the same genre these days–not sure. I’m also one who enjoys taking an occasional class, customarily at my local community college where generally the fees are quite reasonable and the courses widely varied and JUST what I’m looking for in an effort to further whatever interest is being pursued at that moment. I usually do quite well in them–except for that JavaScript class previously noted in which my grade of B (not A) was deserved. I struggled with that one! If they awarded  graduate-hat2“Miscellaneous Degrees,” I’d have won one long ago, taking everything from real estate classes to computer and graphics classes, though it’s become obvious I need to update my graphics programs which would necessitate new classes. It’s a never-ending cycle, this life-long education.

So it was determined recently I needed a few more classes–this time in Content Management, SEO, and Marketing and Social Networking. Mercy! These in addition to the aforesaid graphics programs would set me up fairly well with this blog, as well as give me additional background for the copywriting I’ve tackled on the side, along with the regular promotion of my grandfather’s books which have now been published.

I’ve never had time to get bored–there is always plenty to do!

I popped on the Estrella Mountain Community College website and found that I’d missed enrollment for the Fall Semester, but Spring Semester would be opening in October. Super! Estrella Mtn Comm College

I set up an account, checked for classes and found the perfect two, one online, to begin and added them to my “wishlist”. Of course, then I had to wait until payday to complete admissions and registration.

Online registration is as complicated as at the physical location, however, there is no one to advise you with the proper answers (online) and so began a convoluted effort at filing the appropriate paperwork in which at one point I realized needed to be a year-long Arizona resident to qualify. Additionally, they required you to verify you’d be an Arizona resident through the end of the class. Well, no problem (I thought), as we were living in Yuma in our RV prior to moving here and eventually leasing this apartment for a year, which will be next July. I had to go in to present the appropriate documents.

First, these days you must verify you are a U.S. citizen. That done, I armed myself with lease papers, receipts from our RV rental lot in Yuma, and the U.S. Post Office transfer of permanent resident address to Maricopa County. None of that mattered, however, when they asked for my ID. I presented my driver’s license, which is from Idaho and is valid through March of 2017. On that basis, I was denied the class as an in-state resident ($35.00); but could pay the out-of-state resident fee ($387.00). On Social Security, I had waited until I could pay the $35–but $387? That’s probably our food budget for the month. I’m disappointed and needed to vent. Thank you for listening!

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Writing Dialogue That’s Natural

Talking just seems to come naturally–long conversations–no problem. There is the usual he said/she said argument about who talks the most, but I’ve heard men on the phone long enough for it to take root and grow (not that women don’t converse just as long–just that it seems more of a tie).

So what is it about writing dialogue that gets us typewriter-tied?

The problem seems to be one of making it flow naturally or come off as contrived. We’ve all read books in which the dialogue just isn’t believable–others where you might be a fly on the wall listening in to the Conversationconversation.

It was suggested that one of the ways to really get into writing dialogue is to go to a very busy place and politely eavesdrop (a shopping mall or Starbucks?). The suggestion was to take down some of the dialogue or create “prompts” to help you remember the conversation. Perhaps in my world, I’d have to take a recorder (the cell phone would do nicely), and just hit the record button. Who knows the tidbits you’d get if you weren’t caught and busted for being a weirdo.

We all have “self-talk” and usually have no problem with the running dialogue. I can carry on a real conversation and answer quite naturally when I’m on my walks with the dog. But to remember it and write it down later; again, just won’t happen. I’ve tried the cell phone thing and recorded dialogue thoughts, plot thoughts, and ideas to research and verify or clarify. Well, admittedly, the latter worked as, again, it would have been forgotten otherwise by the time I got home to pencil and paper or keyboard.

The nice thing about going to a very busy venue is that along with the bits of conversation you’ll catch the accompanying accents, facial expressions, and body language. Those are wonderful to help add real, engaging dialogue. The quiet groans, giggles, hand waving gestures and head shaking, head nodding, eyes closing. The expressions all go a long way in authenticating the dialogue.

There’s an art to painting the picture and creating that conversation. Add the nuances and you have completed the scene in the mind of the reader. It’s about more than just the words. It’s a stage and the characters, the actors. Set them free.

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You Won’t Believe Who Is Starring in This Movie!

DAY 30 PROMPT: If a Hollywood agent were to come knocking on your door with an offer to turn your book into a movie and told you that you could call all the shots, who would you have direct and star in it? Write the first paragraph of a glowing Rotten Tomatoes review of your film.

Who stars in the movie of your book?

First, and of paramount importance, would be the heart attack I’d have to survive after the man explained why he was there!

But if we are talking fantasy, then the next question would be “which book?” Since I’d have to assume one of the sailing adventures, I might well imagine that the same actor might be more than capable of making lead character in any of the three. Or….

Harrison FordSO! If I were to save some money (titter titter–in Hollywood–right!), might I combine an actor and producer in one fell swoop with either Clint EastwoodHarrison Ford or Clint Eastwood? (Well, you didn’t say it had to be a present day actor and this is my fantasy–right?) The free-wheeling Ford would make a fine Captain Dan McChesney (Cocos Island Treasure); strong, vigorous, with  fair-minded intelligence in his soft doe eyes. At the same time, Ford might have to find another island, as Cocos Island is uninhabitable, thus forcing the search for a more equitable location. (Maybe the insurance wouldn’t be as high on, say, Tonga, which appears to share many of the same attributes as Cocos Island.)

Clint baby, of course, brings that fierce presence to the screen, creating a no-nonsense compliment of men, capable and strong, but still willing to jump when Clint yells “Frog!” Yes, he could work as well……but maybe not for “Lucky Joe.”

“Lucky Joe” would require a separate producer–perhaps George Lucas–and actor. I like Johnny Depp. depp Depp, of course, would have to have his stowaway mate, Joe, who could be played by a much easier going Brad Pitt. Then the problem might be the continual fights between Depp and Pitt–but perhaps Lucas could keep them separate for the duration of the film–set to be a short one.

Sean ConneryDid I miss Sean Connery? Oh my no! Connery would make the protagonist in “Sons of the Sea,” Captain Beasley (he even has the beard!). Not sure that Connery would want to double duty as producer for this, though I know he is quite capable. The love interest (and yes, McShane did manage to include a love interest; whether or not he knew what to do with it is another question), Edith, Natalie Portmanmight be played by Natalie Portman. Why not, you ask, Jennifer Anniston? Oh, puleese, the over-used Anniston couldn’t make it more than one day in that bug and snake infested environment and in that heat her make-up would be a nightmare. No, I think we’ll stay with Portman. She might be able to pull off innocence a little better as well. Connery might be a tad old for Portman, but they are ACTORS–right?

Rotten TomatoesRotten Tomatoes says of the new film just out, Lucky Joe, “Depp does it again with quiet intensity, saving a weak rewrite of the original historic adventure by Stanley McShane. However, with Brad Pitt serving up redemption with the assurance that he is being guided by a force stronger than he, together all will survive whaling in the Bering Sea in 1901. Whether or not his angel saves his dopey ass in the wilderness of the Sierra’s is another question. You’ll have to see this whole thing to believe it. And you might! If Lucky Joe can bend a bawdy band of seasoned seamen to his will, nothing is impossible.”

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These Books Designed Their Own Book Covers

These Books Designed Their Own Book Covers

Describe your process for choosing and designing your book cover. Who created your cover? How did you find him/her? What do you love about your cover? What might you do differently next time?

It’s assumed there is a process for designing book covers and I must admit to being a bit behind the times as at my age, sensibilities were formed a long time ago and things have changed. My process began by studying book covers–LOTS of book covers. What did I like–what didn’t I like?

I like colorful covers and those that hint at what the book is about.

Book Covers

Out of the six covers under the author name Stanley McShane, it may be obvious that none are particularly heavy in romance. That alone may limit interest, but not everyone is a millennial. Urged to seek the help of my cousin’s daughter, three of the covers were designed by Christine Armstrong. Two of the covers feature ships painted by McShane for his manuscripts and the western uses part of another painting. My Titles

I particularly enjoyed the story that Cliff Johnson, retired Idaho Chief of Police, told regarding the cover he hadWrong Side of the River in mind and went about utilizing the son of a friend for his cover knowing exactly where and what he wanted the cover shot. The problem is, it took forever, and it was only after the boy became so tired and bored with the whole thing the picture was made perfect–just what he wanted–and doesn’t it speak volumes!

I love the cover Christine made for “Sons of the Sea”. I’d noticed a statue the town of Grimsby installed to honor their fisherman–and sent that to her. She incorporated it beautifully and I was thrilled with it. Most of the other covers have been changed at least once, several at the suggestion of veteran Quartzsite AZ naked bookstore owner, Paul WinerPaul Winer (who bought several), at the Reader’s Oasis Bookstore. The man knows his music AND his books!! Talk about an unusual venue!

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Promotion Through Social Media

The Day 28 prompt is: How are you using social media to promote your book? What aspect of social media would you like to learn more about? What are your next steps? Social Media

Since I’m currently using nine of the ten pictured in Laura’s example, I guess I’m not doing too badly. Probably won’t be doing Instagram and use several of the others to a more or lesser extent.

Really, I’m not sure whether the reach through these social media outlets is successful, though I do believe the name of Stanley McShane is getting out there.

Familiar with the term, “Jack of all trades, Master of none?” Guess that’d be me or more appropriately put, “Mistress of None.” I’ve taught myself Word (and a very old version at that), and opened accounts in Facebook as well as the other media platforms, but have only a basic knowledge; none of manipulation in any of those programs. I know the associated access of personal info by Facebook and try not to “give away the store”, though it’s obvious now that ANY information whatsoever can lead to further denigration of personal information.

Spoon-Feeding PublicI have a major problem with Google+ and given it’s greater participation on the “Richter” scale of social media standings should be doing more there, though it’s feared the same relinquishment of personal information as Facebook. I’m being blackmailed on a larger, more grander scale than ever before, and it’s all legal!!

Given all that–I’d love to be able to use both Facebook and Google+ to gain better name recognition and sales advantage. For that matter, I’ve barely tapped LinkedIn and Twitter. I’ve enrolled in an SEO class, but where are the classes in reversing the information highway through FB and Google+? I’m not interested in paying for ads (Social Security doesn’t allow for more than a few meds). I need common practices and tips that most under the age of 40 freely peruse.

I’ll continue to read, read, read–but the time to write is being consumed by the time required to read, interpret, and digest and I’m no longer blond. OH! The next step then would be the “how to” CD’s. Yes?

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Building the Platform

The Day 27 prompt is: What are the three most important things you are doing to grow your platform?

Having started this process with NaNoWriMo in 2011, I’ve been through the gamut of ideas, following rules and advice, and letting the creative juices flow until they became a trickle.

Several initial ideas were dumped: Garbage

1) Forget salt-water taffy at book signings. The kids grabbed a handful and the adults weren’t into taffy.

2) Started with inventories of flyers, bookmarks, postcards, and business cards. It was a toss up how many were found floating around the store, left quietly on a display shelf, or at the check-out. I’ll finish out the current stores, then redesign the business cards.

3) Laminated posters–found difficult to display without investing further in an easel (and I found irritating those authors who had as they captured the eye and blocked the traffic).

What were the three suggestions acted upon and still being implemented? Branding

1) Reading about the idea of “branding”, I went back to my book covers and changed the author’s name font so they were all consistent.

2) I’d established a blog and paid for custom domain. I’d created several very simple websites (including one for my Women On Wheels® chapter and this would presumably involve a shopping cart).

  1. A) Decided instead to create an Etsy and Pinterest account.
  2. B) Opened a separate Facebook account for Stanley McShane with a Rosepoint Publishing page and a Stanley McShane page on my personal FB account.
  3. C) Opened a Goodreads account in the name of Stanley McShane.

Would a database or email marketing list be effective? Possibly, but difficult  for me to consider or implement. I haven’t wanted to muddle a book sale with further requests assuming my ever-growing twitter followers and blog subscribers have first shown the interest and made the contact.

Other than the above, the current push for promotion and marketing strategy will have to solidify the platform, one which is hoped sufficient to provide a solid base for the current launch: “Sole Survivor-A Fiction Adventure Anthology” (released Monday).

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The Dark Art of SEO

Excellent, relevent, and extremely timely content since I just signed up for an SEO class at my local community college!

Phoenix Publishing & Book Promotion

The Dark Art of SEO

SEO - Search Concept.If you’ve studied online marketing, you’ve most likely come across the acronym SEO. But what is it and how does it help?

What is SEO?

SEO is short for search engine optimization, which is the process of optimizing a website so that it ranks well in search results on Google and other search engines. The idea is that the higher your site ranks in the search engine results, the more traffic your website will get and the more sales you will make.

There is some truth to that thinking. If someone searches for your name, your company name, a book your wrote, or a product you sell, you want your website to be at the top of the list, or at least on the first page of results.

But if your name is Betty Jones or you wrote a memoir titled My…

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If I Had The Money, I Could Sell More Books

If I Had The Money, I Could Sell More Books

DAY 26 PROMPT: What would be the ideal NON-bookstore venue for selling your book? Why? What is your plan to reach out to such a venue to ask about having them carry your book?

As with most things in life, if I had the money, I could sell more books!

Three of the manuscripts I’ve published have dealt with sailing–stowing away, being shanghaied on a whaler, accounts of carrying cargo around the Horn. They would certainly appeal to a particular crowd, and it occurred to me years ago that one good venue might be a boat show. Looking into that, however, quickly discerned the cost was prohibitive. And the logistics–aye–don’t get me started! Boat ShowJack SparrowOne of the MOST fun festivals attended, if not successful or lucrative, was the Pirate Festival in Rockaway  Beach, Oregon (although there are many, including a larger one in Portland). I suspect, depending on the year, and the rain, it would have been an excellent venue given two of his sailing adventures involve pirates.

There is a large tourist market in Seattle called Pike’s Market that given enough time I’d have gladly hunted for appropriate mom and pop shops who would have been interested in the historical fiction books. There was Godfather’s Books and Espresso Bar in Astoria, and I noticed the “bar” had all the accoutrements of a Starbucks–comfortable social seating, wifi availability, affable sea-going crowd, and enough books to surf through 60 cups of Java. I’ve tried libraries, including the one in Cannon Beach, Oregon, where I’ve mentioned before the jewelry shop called Cannon Beach Treasure Company that featured treasures from the deep as well as videos of his dives.

Except that the Maritime History Museum was closed and we couldn’t alter our timing or route, it had sounded promising when I spoke to the manager. Gray’s Harbor in Aberdeen has a wealth of history and maritime related establishments. Aberdeen has also claimed notoriety as the home port of the tall ship Lady Washington, a reproduction of a smaller vessel used by the explorer Captain Robert Gray, featured in the Pirates of the Caribbean film The Curse of the Black Pearl. Obviously, the best venue for his sailing adventures is the coast–either left OR right.

As far as his mining and penny stock certificate tale, in addition to bookstores, there are a number of historical societies, including the one in Tonopah, Nevada, and the library in Pahrump. I suspect the anthology would also be an appropriate addition to those locations as well.

All to say, if I had the money, I’d sweep the Pacific Coast shoreline north and south and every old mining town with a bar and restaurant in Nevada. I don’t. What’s that old saying, “It takes money to make money?”Resource Box

Betwixt and Between Books-Freelancing

The Day 25 prompt is: If your goal is to sell books, you must view your book as a business. In what ways do you treat your book as a business? Where could you improve? What resources could you leverage to improve your book business?

Okay, the gig is up–I’ve been caught betwixt and between!

While the original goal of publishing my grandfather’s manuscripts was simply a means to share that inheritance with the other members of the family (his daughters now too old to care) and that side of the family also too few to provide any kind of significant remuneration, the promise I’d made was being fulfilled.

Since writing has always been something I enjoyed, and the collateral education (Word, graphics, semi-limited internet) also of major interest, flights of fancy took wing into realms of independent freelancing–providing commercial reward. In order to have enough time to go back to school for a few of those classes (Front Page, Photoshop, JavaScript), I had to quit my day job. No loss there. After 17 years with no particular reward, either monetary or personal gratification, it was not a difficult decision.

cameraWhat followed were years of non-compensatory writing–the clear definition of writing for fun. At some point, that style of writing was going to require my also taking photography classes and getting a bigger, badder, better, faster, more Camera on Biketechnical camera than the Minolta I’d been packing on my bike. And I couldn’t see where that would lead into a rewarding and high-paying second career.

Then the effort of publishing his manuscripts through Create Space steered me into a much more commercial enterprise. It was time to get serious about writing, as now sales were going to be the result of direct and concerted effort of marketing and promotion, which coincidentally requires a great deal of copywriting–for social media, web writing, content, and emails. In part, to that end, being a participant in an educational Meetup is well worth the time and an education in itself. Getting feet wet with a copywriting broker, albeit crappy pay, is another recent vehicle for learning the craft.

AH! I see where this is going! It’s that old ring-road!

Living is a life-long learning and educational process. I’m not in the middle of a new novel, but I’ll be writing–a lot. Therefore, I’ve enrolled in my local community college. There is always room for improvement and the business is growing.

See how other Author Blog Challenge participants are growing.

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No. 2 On The Fear List

DAY 24 PROMPT: Describe your first book signing – real or imagined.

No. 2 On The Fear List

Depending which list you’ve read lately, you can find fear of public speaking on all of them, arguably number 1 or 2. I’d always heard public speaking had a pretty good hold on #2, right behind death, and the first book signing could qualify.

There are those “innate” fears, the ones that are instinctive from birth that including falling (or heights) and loud noises. Then there are the fears we gain as we progress through life and associated experiences. One list of 3,000 people surveyed ranked public speaking as #1 and then according to rank percentage:

  1. Public speaking 2. Heights 3. Insects and bugs 4. Financial problems 5. Deep water 6. Sickness 7. Death (Huh?)

Behind the fear of public speaking, of course, are additional fears:

  • Fear of Being Noticeably Nervous
  • Defensive Thinking & Behavior
  • Loss of Confidence

Hastings Book SigningI prepared for my first book signing by researching the internet, reading as much as I could, and following all the advice that made sense to me including sending out all the notices to the local papers, notifying the social media, preparing hand-outs, creating business cards, postcards, and bookmarks. Additionally, I found a source for salt-water taffy. Checked with the Hastings book manager regarding what would be available and what additional supplies I’d need including tablecloth (clearly forgotten) and props or posters. Also, I supplied her with flyers to post on her windows announcing my book signing date.

Putting on a brave smile and emulating a Wal-Mart greeter, I was first they saw through the door and they were handed postcards and then an effort to engage–but showing no interest–backed off. It was when the local newspaper people showed up that I first started to unhinge and the resulting picture in the paper was embarrassing.

Selling one of the first books I published, “Cocos Island Treasure”, the potential buyer thumbed through and spot read. I mentioned Grandpa’s painting of the Bessie did not show the Golden Gate Bridge, Golden Gatewhereupon he pointed to the first sentence and asked if I changed his words. When I replied no, he read, “The schooner Bessie headed in through the Golden Gate at San Francisco……” Stammering out an incoherent reply, it was only later I remembered that the entrance to the bay had been called the Golden Gate long before the bridge was built.

As much as I’d toiled over the manuscript, the time spent gathering appropriate paintings, and feeling ready for meeting the public, found no come-back or simple explanation to his query. (Note the 2nd and 3rd item in the last list above.) You could probably add “Loss of Face” to that list, or is that understood?

The fourth time our little group performed Diana Ross and the Supreme’s (I was a “Supreme”), I began just having fun with it and the crowd, but I left being “Diana” to our beautiful and talented leader, Geneva, and never did learn to solo with my gospel group either.

I suspect it’s a gift; one I do not possess, and that I’ll leave to others.

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Grandpa May Have Lied

DAY 23 PROMPT: If you could meet one of your main characters or ideal reader anywhere in the world for coffee, drinks, dinner, or a caramel, who would it be, where would you meet them, and why?

It was actually my son who took the genealogy study so much farther than I had. Hitting those walls almost immediately, I had no clue how or where to proceed, and pretty much shut down. Mark, on the other hand, joined Ancestry.com and used the resources to their fullest extent including the offer of a DNA test for $99.

My paternal grandmother was born on the Chippewa reservation leased from Cherokee land in the midwest. Told all my life that part was handed down along with French/German (which made sense) and Swedish and Irish on my maternal side, I was shocked when the test revealed no such results.

Would you rather know where you came from or stay in blissful ignorance?

(Ever seen the show “Who Do You Think You Are?”) British Isles

Those of us old enough to remember Kirk Douglas as the fearsome Einar in the 1958 movie “The Vikings” (also known as Norsemen) perhaps received a romantic message about these fierce, seafaring warriors. They surfaced approximately AD 800 and for more than three centuries went about conquering most of the then known (and unknown) world, including the British Isles, and much of the European continent as well as Greenland and Newfoundland.

Vineland (Old Norse Vínland) is the name of coastal North America explored by Norse Vikings, where Leif Erikson first landed in ca. 1000, approximately five centuries prior to the voyages of Christopher Columbus! An “Irish Viking”–yes, I could go for that! Not a specific “race”, most were more collectively known as coming from the areas now known as Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. AH!

And ergo the problem.

Liverpool DocksMy son had no problem tracing the paternal side back on U.S. soil practically to the first ship arriving after the Mayflower. We know they fought in the Revolutionary as well as the Civil War. Grandma Rose–100% Swedish–we know exactly from where she hailed and have contacts there! But Grandpa Rose, Patrick John Rose, J. Wesley Rose, Stanley McShane? No clue.

If I could, I’d pin him down right there in Long Beach near the ocean he loved; perhaps in the park where we took bread crumbs to feed the pigeons that last time I saw him and I’d start asking questions–explain the contradictions in your manuscripts! His real name might answer a few questions and from there, where he was actually born–really. He had an Irish brogue that never waivered, wasn’t faked. But my DNA doesn’t lie.

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“James Michener Protagonist”–Stanley McShane

DAY 22 PROMPT: If you could ask anyone in the world to write a blurb for your book, who would it be? Why that person/people?

From Michael Reisig, author of the acclaimed “Caribbean Gold” series including “The Treasure of Tortuga” and “The Treasure of Time”, and numerous additional adventure thrillers in his “Road To Key West” series, comes this description of the …works of Stanley McShane.

“Stanley McShane… the epitome of a James Michener protagonist.

Caribbean GoldI’ve written before of Michael Reisig after reading his Caribbean Gold series. Reisig descriptively penned the exploits of swashbuckling heroes in the year of 1668 as it follows Englishman Trevor Holte and the audacious freebooter Clevin Greymore in their Caribbean adventures. His “Caribbean Gold – The Treasure of Tortuga has been a No. 1 best seller in Amazon’s sea adventures, romance adventure, men’s adventure, and historical Caribbean since it’s release January, 2015 by Clear Creek Press. His works have been optioned for motion pictures, sold to overseas publishers, and produced for ebooks as well as audio.

Humbled and thrilled by his generous praise for the anthology “Sole Survivor” by Stanley McShane due to be released tomorrow, Reisig wrote a stunning Foreword after reading a pre-release copy. Michael Reisig has been writing professionally for fifteen years, as a former newspaper editor and publisher, an award-winning columnist, and a best-selling novelist.Michael Reisig A true adventurer, Michener protagonist himself, he relocated to the Florida Keys after graduating college to establish a commercial diving business, got his pilot’s license, and traveled extensively throughout the southern hemisphere, diving, treasure hunting, adventuring, and writing about his travels. He knows of which he writes!

It is that adventurous spirit, keen eye to detail, and the humorous twist of life that he captures in the heart and soul of his characters deftly brought to life with an intense but compassionate empathy. You can’t help but love his heroes; their strong moral character, as they triumph through the odds.

Yes, it’s truly an honor to have Michael create a blurb for this book–one to which I’m deeply indebted.

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Just Enjoy Reading or Bibliophile Qualified?

Just Enjoy Reading or Bibliophile Qualified?

There are usually one or more bibliophiles in your life–besides yourself! Whether they are out having fun, reading, or just too busy for interviews is another whole subject.Roberta

However, I did get a response from my former Yuma RV lot-mate, retired librarian, Roberta, who wrote, “I do love books, but I’m not a voracious reader. I probably read a few books a month on average.  I belong to a book group, so I read what we’ll be discussing each month.  Depending on how long that takes me, I’ll read one or two books that I want to read.  I listen regularly to NPR & it’s a great source of recommended books for me.”

Roberta enjoys her book group and actively participates at times leading a book discussion. As part of that responsibility, she admits to doing quite a bit of research on the author and topic. RobertaReading for her own enjoyment, she gleans books from all the major sources: public library, Kindle and Barnes and Noble online, although she admits to be more kinesthetic, as she prefers the “real books”, soft or hard cover to digital or eBooks. Roberta

Not wedded to any one genre, Roberta enjoys historical fiction, mysteries, family sagas and psychological fiction as well as travel. Extending into non-fiction, topics that hold her interest are history, biography, and the arts, and that incorporates many of her favorite authors, including Ivan Doig. She will follow some contemporary authors on Facebook, but does not join e-mail lists and although aware of Goodreads, doesn’t use it. The librarian in her still makes notes to herself about books that she’s read, although she does not rate or review them publicly.

Roberta is married, has grandkids in another state and enjoys an active life outdoors including traveling, hiking, cycling, Jeeping, cooking, writing in her journal and keeping up with personal letters. While she is not sure she qualifies as a true bibliophile, I’m not sure there is an absolute number that would elevate you to the category. However–three or four books a month?? There are people who haven’t read anything since high school! I’d say she does very well!Virginia WilliamsResource Box

 

Books Are Books?

Books Are Books?

DAY 20 PROMPT: Did you publish your book as a traditionally printed book, an eBook, an audiobook, or all three? How did you come to your decision?

When I worked in graphics creating flyers for gospel concerts, I had a boss whose mantra was “they don’t know what they are doing.” That went for some of the most successful acts he engaged as well as anyone in his band who displeased him in rehearsal and upon occasion included myself (still don’t).

I certainly had my share of bluffing my way into jobs or events, his position being one, but probably the biggest and most recent was the publishing of my grandfathers manuscripts. Talk about clueless….

It wasn’t like I came to a decision whether or not to create a printed book, eBook, or audiobook as much as I was steered into making a simple stock print book, soft cover, 6 x 9. Biggest decision there was glossy or matt cover. It was only with the fifth book that I chose not to do a print book as the total word count created a novella and I saw no reason to go to the expense of creating a formally printed book.

Also, having no other experience than the one NaNoWriMo steered me into–CreateSpace–I came to appreciate the quality of their binding, if not the cover paper (which tends to curl at the corner slightly) and the speed with which they completed orders. CreateSpace also steers you into distribution, so there again it’s not as if you are making a big decision.

After having created those print books, it was (again) a natural progression to find the road into “Kindle” and from there eBook formatting, becoming ever more complicated entering the world of Smashwords. While it was felt Smashwords gave me a far greater reach for the eBook version than did Kindle, I’ve yet to see a big sales advantage.Large Print Book

One of the first notices I had of the choice of eBooks over print books is that I’d used the stock format for CreateSpace which used a font less friendly to older folks. The common complaint until I got that first book into the second edition with larger print was that the font was too small and difficult to read. I suspect as we see the progression of the aging population the push to eBooks will become ever more popular as they discover the option to make the print as large as needed for comfortable reading.eBook Storage Rather than getting bigger and better bookcases, we’ll be looking for ever larger eBook storage capacity or flash storage. Perhaps the bookcases will hold thousands of books–but on Kindles, Cruzer’s or SanDisks?

                    Virginia Williams

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Walking Is Good For The Mind

Walking Is Good For The Mind

Really, I miss riding. You could get in the breeze with nothing but the sound of the rushing air and the occasional major diesel engine whizzing by. It was the solitude, with nothing but your mind generating random thoughts–which was great until you had something you really wanted to remember–but couldn’t stop to write it down. Palm Valley Golf Course

So now, I’ve substituted walking my 12 lb Bichon Frise–that fluffy little white faced dog with the black eyes that look up and grin at me. I can see she is enjoying the air as well–never mind smelling every bush, shrub, or tree.

Interesting how other dog walkers approach you–either knowing their dog will behave or won’t–and tugging them tightly to the side. My little girl, Frosty (actually Frosty Dancer Nampa Dandy–Frost for short), exhibits a mild interest unless the opposing dog becomes aggressive. On the walk today, I was struck by how many little white tailed bunnies were about–noteworthy because one block away my little dog and I met with a coyote just a few days before. No, we aren’t out in the country–merely greenbelts and golf courses. Resident coyote

The walks give me the same pleasant drop in blood pressure, leaving the cares of the world back home, and while not “in the wind” at 75 mph, still the quiet privacy of alone time. Thinking; making those mental lists, generating ideas, blog prompts, and snapping those mental pictures of scenes to be remembered.

Well, that is, until the advent of the smart phone. Damn.

Isn’t modern technology grand? To aid in my walking goals, I discovered the sport apps. Two in particular, because I couldn’t find one to do everything I wanted. Mind you, both are multi-purposed and will calculate everything except your decreasing checkbook balance. They will monitor your heart rate, total your miles, check your weight loss, scrutinize your running, accumulate your burned calories, keep the history, suggest exercise partners, and propose challenges. However, the “S Health” app on my Galaxy 5 won’t chart my route. Rats! The purpose was to walk 10,000 steps per day–that would equate to approximately five miles. Sure it became too much in the oppressive heat of Phoenix. So I revised that to 7,000; also a bit much. EndomondoEndomondo will do much of the same, including the benefits of calculating your average speed, duration, and distance AND follow you via GPS on your route. Great! You can even note your favorite routes and “share”. (uh oh) Here’s the rub–even set to walking–Endomondo won’t calculate the steps. If I have a monumental thought, it can be recorded on that whiz-bang machine. Or, if I really don’t want to think, I can have music the entire route with both apps. What??!

No! I was seeking quiet, thinking time.

And, I think the walk was doing the dog some good, too!

Virginia Williams