New Posts on Wednesdays and Saturdays -- er generally

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

book trailers

Creating trailers for my books has become one of those things I generally do when I finish the rough draft. They help me write the blurbs, and I enjoy playing with images. If you have an interest in such, the ones I have created are at [Rainy Day Trailers] as well as on my Rain Trueax channels at YouTube. For reasons relating more to my lack of techie skills than a desire, I have two channels there with no idea how to merge them. This is the one with the most recent videos-- My YouTube Channel.

Because of discovering filters to use on photos, for the first time I put together the video with one of the apps. I like how besides looking like a painting, it gives the images a fantasy feel-- appropriate for a paranormal book where the 'other' side intrudes on what we consider the real world...



This following link takes you to it on YouTube if the embed is too slow. Much of how well videos work is dependent on the speed of someone's server. Mine varies in how effective it is. It can help to put it on pause and let it get ahead, in short, buffer. (My granddaughter taught me that one-- as often happens with techie stuff that they get far faster than I do).


If you haven't seen the videos for the first two in the Hemstreet Witches series, they are at:
&
Although I'd been creating nature videos, I didn't know until I began bringing out books that there was such a thing as a book trailer. I don't think they help  sales. I do them as a creative adjunct, using images I've put together, which inspire me when writing. I like sharing them with readers. Some writers pay actors to act out some of their scenes. Those are fun but not in my budget. 

The music is generally purchased from [JewelBeat] where I have collected a variety of different themes. You cannot use popular music without running into copyright infringements. YouTube is strict about that. JewelBeat gives the purchaser a license. I think they also have some free if you acknowledge its their music. I prefer owning them to not wonder if someday their policy will change. This keeps it simpler and I can reuse them if a new video needs that particular song. There are other sources for music but the only other one I have is from PurplePlanet, which can be free or by license. Of course, none of that matters if you only create videos with music for personal use.

One thing I was told early on was keep book trailers short-- a minute is best. When I put together photos from trips or like the recent Roses in the Rain, I think they can go longer.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Managing Time

by Rain Trueax


obviously that's not me. It is one of my created images for inspiration on the books, 
such images often provide an idea for a scene. Can't you just see that that young woman, 
at that waterfall as she contemplates what she wants in her life! 
Contemplation is an important part of writing and life at all ages.

Besides writing, editing, and working with images, I have a few other things in my life, although less than I had at one time. When I was at the busiest in raising the kids and being involved in the community out here, I had a philosophy regarding what I would accept in the way of projects.

Enjoy or not enjoy, my firm standard was only two, outside, time consumers, at a time. There are things, you cannot manage in terms of time-- raising kids, with all the variables that go with that, is a big one. Sometimes, at the height of their years of being involved and before they drove, that could mean three trips a day, into where they went to school. At 20 miles each way, that meant I was driving 120 miles some days. Since I have not ever been fond of driving (it is a necessity), that was a lot of hours in the vehicle-- and that didn't count what I might've done for myself in another town. Those were years of not as much money; so it sometimes meant breaking down on the road and having to walk-- before the years of cellphones. Sometimes when I think back on that, like accepting a ride into town with a stranger, I really do see that life as from another lifetime.

Nowadays, I might only get to town once a week if that. It gives me lots of time for writing, doing art on the computer, reading newspapers, and some involvement in social media. I don't have the same problem with deciding what to take on from someone's request-- now it's what I might myself take on in terms of writing or marketing. As with all writers, I have to evaluate opportunities regarding writing oriented events (which I should be doing but so far have not for assorted reasons.

Shopping is another of those things I do no more than I must. When I hit a store, I buy multiples so I don't have to do it again soon. There is a small grocery store not far from the farm. It's more expensive than town, of course. It also doesn't have everything.

A big change for our home came after Ranch Boss retired and became less active away from the home. He runs a consulting business out of here. Something neither of us expected is that he now does most of the cooking. It's something I did for probably nearly 50 years of our marriage but now it's down to him as the chef. We both like that setup as he enjoys finding recipes to try-- and I enjoy sampling his creative output.

Another thing I used to do more of was being on the phone. Now, I am a receptionist for Ranch Boss, with answering, when he's gone, for his clients. For myself, I only talk to the kids and that's not often. Most of those I used to chat with have either died or gone onto other interests.

Photography and working with images is one of my time consumers. It is what I do now when I used to paint or sculpt. I enjoy using filters to alter photos to make them look like paintings. I am using one for my profile, where it had to be cropped to a square but here is the full image that the filter created.



At the moment, other than for research, I read very little. For a few months, I haven't had the time and after working on my books, my eyes don't want to read anything on an eReader, paper, or most especially not on the computer. Research is always, of course, ongoing even for contemporary books. I may take a month this summer to read some of the books on my Kindle. I keep buying those that look interesting and have accumulated a lot for any mood.

For television, I watch some news. This winter, I discovered for the first time channels that show home remodeling or buying a home on an island, lake, etc.. I find those shows relaxing, as they change a home into something special or someone finds a dream place. Finding a home is also something I did years ago, but that one could come back into my life, as living 20+ miles from town is not as easy when a person gets old.

Not sure if this has been boring, but I thought since I do write a lot about the writing process, my books, their covers, etc., I should put something up once in awhile about what my own life is about-- writing, conversations with Ranch Boss, managing cat activities, some social media (Twitter, blogs, Facebook, and a few email friends), looking for images, creating images that work for books/book trailers or blogs, writing, and that's about it.

It doesn't sound like a particularly exciting life. Other than my husband, it's a solitary life. I've sometimes worried that I've let it get too solitary, but as an introvert, it's the one I am choosing for now.

Another image I created using one of our photos and a filter. I don't know if it'll ever show up in a book trailer, but I like Navajo land, a place I only drive past for the most part but find exceptionally beautiful in the way that some places attract me for reasons I can't explain. I like the hogans and small houses tucked into redrock country. 

Whether I can use these images ever, I don't consider them time wasters but rather inspiration. Yes, I live a life in the flesh-- but in my imagination, I live many other places.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

marketing or not

by Rain Trueax

In the 5 1/2 years since I became an indie writer, what I have learned about marketing books....
 ....

la te dah de dah

ho hum

sigh

*twiddling thumbs*


 What was the subject again?


In short, I still don't know much. I know what marketing needs to do-- get your books seen by those who might enjoy reading them. And that is where what I know ends. How do you do that?

Well, there businesses who only promote books. Their prices vary but they are not free. Some of them send out lots of Tweets with the idea that will get the book readers... except how many people buy books based on tweets? I have only a thousand or so followers on Twitter (and follow about the same number-- none of which are political by the way), but have never seen a sale directly coming from my tweets about my books, nor when someone else generously (and it is generous) shared my Tweet. Would bots do better? It would take dollars to find out. I personally go to Twitter only long enough to post a photo or write a few words. In the time it has taken me to do that, twenty Tweets will have gone past. I've read you can create a Twitter Deck that means you will see more of the posts by others in the Deck... but would I be in anybody's Deck? If I had a Deck for others, would I remember to look at it? The obvious answer is maybe once a month... maybe. All I know is I don't read much of anything there and have never purchased a book based on a Tweet.

Then there are contests you can enter where if your book does well, it gets publicized. I only hear about them after somebody else has won and lets their friend list know. Do I remember the contests in time to enter for the next year? You probably already know the answer to that.

One of those contests costs almost $400 to enter. If someone has a lot of sales, that makes sense. When you don't sell that much, the money has to come from someplace. Where would that be on Social Security? The savings accounts? Not a good idea with no guarantee there'd be a return. Yet, you know what they say-- no risk, no gain... but no loss either lol. I have heard of those who've spent over a thousand dollars to get their book out and are moaning that it hasn't sold. Hitting the zeitgeist of what readers want is a combination of skill, luck, and fate maybe. I was never going to put that kind of money out-- although I do put out some as I don't think you can avoid that.

I have paid some money for promotions at Facebook and have gotten a lot of readers to my Facebook [Rain Trueax Author] page, at least temporarily. Translating that to sales-- not so much. I also don't keep that page as active as I should. I am working on that. 

One of the best places I've had for sales of my books is a site at Facebook called [Pioneer Hearts]. I am relatively sure I'd have never sold much of anything without it as it lets readers connect with books. It has had a bookstore put together by one of the supporters of the site. Evidently, Amazon is not going to continue to support it, which is definitely too bad for writers not on A lists. 

At Facebook, I've joined quite a few groups that involve different genres of books and for authors. I don't think any of them have led to a single sale. This is most of a problem for my paranormals, which since they aren't historical, can't go into Pioneer Hearts...

In the end, what I jokingly said above is true-- I still know almost nothing about how to promote my books to the readers who will potentially enjoy them. When a book does well, I am always surprised and wonder now from where did that come. When they don't, I wonder the same thing. 

Part of my problem may be that my books are romances but kind of hybrids with a lot of a novel in them. There is no ready-made fan base waiting for them, as I hear from other authors who write more what their base wants. I think writing formula books has a real plus for marketing-- except what if that's not what comes to you as a writer?

Anybody reading this far have any marketing ideas that either lead you to find the books you enjoy or that has led to steady sales for your own?

Saturday, June 10, 2017

sometimes there are no reasons


There is no explanation for why it took me over five months to write my last book. It's not that long. I knew where it was going. Liked its characters. Of course, that wasn't solid writing, but from the time I began writing 1/15/17, it took until 6/3/17 to see the end of the first rough draft. 

The only similarly long time between start and finish was Love Waits, but I wasn't writing on it the whole time. I had begun its first chapter one autumn and just didn't have a good feel for it. I stopped to write other things and came back to it the next fall where the writing flowed. 

There are many drawbacks to having actual writing be sporadic and stretch over such a long span-- not the least of which is forgetting details that lead to a horse having its name changed on just one ride. Sometimes though it's just how it is and not the fault of the book but something in the writer. I would write for a while and then stop. Some days I'd make myself write. Others, I'd accept it was how it was.

One thing that complicated it was how many elements were in the book-- things I needed to think about. My paranormals are stories of humans finding their lives intermingled with the 'other' side. It's always a situation of trying to decide what that will mean for each of the books. This one was complicated by politics playing a factor since the hero is considering running for a political office. Politics are a dicey subject to put into any book.

My goal was this would be a shorter book like the first two of the Hemstreet Witches series at around 60,000 words. It ended up 70,000+. Its editing has also been difficult because of those writing breaks where I lost continuity-- something an edit is supposed to find. I tried to catch as much of that as possible before sending it to its other editor and beta readers. I doubt I found all the mistakes.

Anyway, this is its cover and after more editing, it should be out by the end of June. Time will tell on that too. 

In terms of my life, today is the graduation of our oldest grandchild. She is off to college next year and an adventure of her own. Dramatic time, a little teary and scary, but important as a part of the cycle of life. This is from 1998. I know they can't stay babies forever. We don't want them to, but I do miss those days and the cuddles.




Thursday, June 08, 2017

Roses in the Rain

More roses just because in the editing I'm doing, this is my respite, my place to feel good. When my editing of the rough draft is finished, I will put together a little video of the roses and some music. As much as they are beautiful anyway, in the rain, they become almost mystical. These old fashioned, vintage roses are so special with their fragrance and the fact that they only bloom this once.

 

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

eek!


 While writing the last chapters of my WIP, I had posted about the covers I had in mind for the paranormal romances. I thought I had that problem solved... Turns out not so much. The problem with books that bridge genres is they aren't easy to nail down for what should be on a cover. Well, not necessarily easy even when they don't, but especially difficult when they do. 

Paranormal can be a genre. Likewise, so can romance. When it's both, what do you emphasize on the cover? It's even more complicated for writers not on the A list, writers whose names alone won't sell their books. Covers are big reasons why potential readers will check out a book. 

Like a dog gnawing a bone, I just couldn't let go the possibility that I was taking the wrong path on the paranormals. So, over the Memorial Day week-end, instead of writing, I spent time finding images, trying various Dreamscope filters and creating covers with just the witches. Even then, it wasn't simple. I needed something for each that told a bit about who they were, what their gifts were.

For paranormals that are in fantasy kingdoms or where the characters are vampires, zombies, werewolves, dragons, it is a little simpler. The Hemstreet witches look like anyone else. They live a normal lifespan, have to earn a living, but they have a side life, one that is not at all normal where they have powers and see things others do not. They bridge worlds and have to find peace with both-- while staying alive. 

For just one of the books (the next one), for fun, I'm sharing a couple of the options with which I played-- none are on its cover. This time, it took a lot for the muse to get through to me.





There were more I tried that would have hero and heroine, but he didn't end up even making it on the cover-- although the model you see in the images below is how I saw him. Unfortunately, the decision to go with five women left out all the heroes.





For me, some of this is play in between writing scenes. In the end though, it was a lot of work, and I was enjoying doing covers less than usual. I get it that my covers will never suit all readers-- I just hope they reach out to a few. The work I put into them is worth it when that happens.

♥♥♥♥♥

Monday, June 05, 2017

roses

I rarely cut the roses from the garden because they last longest when they stay on the stem. The fragrance and beauty of them in every stage is such a gift in June. The tea roses are in full glory as are the old fashioned, where this is there only season to bloom. Damask and musk roses are so fragrant and will be more of the show as June goes on.
 






Saturday, June 03, 2017

for our own good

 first tea rose this spring

Recently, the media has been feeling very put upon by one political party and politician in particular. I read many memes and pieces, by mostly liberals, who feel threatened by this 'assault' on the news. Without journalism, how will we know what is happening? goes the cry. 

I have a cry too-- how will we know anyway given that most of the press today has an agenda. You can tell what it is by headlines and how often stories look like they will be saying one thing when they end up something very different, ending with-- it cannot be proven.

Is this anything new? Well, Mark Twain writings indicate it's not from what he wrote in the 1800s. 


I had come across a rather famous quote by Twain on the press. 
“If you don't read the newspaper, you're uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you're mis-informed.”
Unfortunately, as happens so often, he probably didn't say it or at least it isn't listed among his writings. This happens a lot when something seems more powerful if it is from someone famous. What's a little lie among friends-- right?

There is though something on the press by another famous person that can definitely be attributed to him, and it's even earlier.
"Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle. The only extend of this state of misinformation is known only to those who are in situations to confront facts within their knowledge with the lies of the day.

"I will add, that the man who never looks into a newspaper is better informed than he who reads them; inasmuch as he knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods & errors. He who reads nothing will still learn the great facts, and the details are all false."  Thomas Jefferson in 1807
Someone I like seemed trying to make the case that Yellow Journalism is justified as the people need to be told what to think since they often won't figure it out on their own. I am still trying to wrap my head around that thought since it's alien to anything I myself would believe. This piece is about the beginning of the term and what it can accomplish-- [Yellow Journalism]

What I want from a newspaper is not a dramatic headline but the facts of what happened. The editorial page is where I want someone to tell me what they think it means. The cool thing about editorial pages is I pretty well know what to expect from the opinions because of reading many previous writings. A front page story is supposed to be about what happened-- period, and I rarely look up who wrote it.
"Yellow journalism was a style of newspaper reporting that emphasized sensationalism over facts. During its heyday in the late 19th century it was one of many factors that helped push the United States and Spain into war in Cuba and the Philippines, leading to the acquisition of overseas territory by the United States." [Yellow Journalism]
It was early in 2016 when I got disillusioned with the major newspapers in my country. I would see headlines, read the articles, wait for the headline to be proven and find it often was disproven on the third page. How many people read to the third page? 

 The New York Times admitted after the 2016 election that their coverage had been biased. They quickly though renounced any attempt to change their ways; and since then, most of the major newspapers and most cable news stations have been heavily biased to report all the negative. A Harvard study had CNN at the top of the list with 93% negative stories on the current administration.

Some say well the stories are negative because everything happening is negative but that begs the question. Are they covering any of the things that make this administration look good? How about when another country's leader visits here and says nice things? Does that get the same coverage that the secret source said about the same thing only sounding bad? 

For those who want impeachment - yesterday, this is perfectly okay as are the fake news sources who constantly have someone from the FBI, CIA or State Department relaying, off the record, what is about to happen-- guaranteed. Sometimes the mainstream runs with that too as just reporting what they heard-- as in gossip.

This is not an article to say our current President is a good guy or bad. I don't have an opinion on him as I don't know enough facts. I didn't vote for him based on the issues of what he said he'd do (which he mostly is trying to do). Mostly, this is my opinion about the sources we rely on to tell us the truth of events, and my belief they are not what I once thought they were. That it's nothing new is no comfort.

It has gotten so bad that many are turning off the news period. When the news is changing everyday and using hidden sources, maybe that's not a bad thing. How does your garden look today? *s* 




Wednesday, May 31, 2017

music as a tool

For those of you with no interest in writing or reading romances, the following will be of little interest. I wrote it somewhere else as regarding the romance genre and decided to share it here.

Image from Deposit Photos and filter from Dreamscope

One of the 'secrets' to the romance genre, the well-known secrets, is that there is a happily ever after. That is not true with love stories, which can end happily or tragically. But a romance will get to the point where it all works out for the couple. It's a genre requirement.

What creates the best romances, however, is the belief it might not. He might get killed. She might leave him. They might decide they love each other but cannot work out a life together. That concern is what keeps readers interested, even knowing the end is guaranteed (unless it's a love story). The writer wants the reader to believe there might not be a HEA, which makes for a wonderful feeling when it happens.

One way I try to get that uncertainty into my books is by music. I only listen to music in two settings for my stories-- one is something dangerous, which can be a fight or fast horseback ride. I need an energy that isn't in my daily life and find it in the right music (western soundtracks are great for that).

The other time I need music is for the romantic scenes. Let's face it most writers are not constantly living love stories in their personal lives. We are facing all the normal conflicts that living with someone, raising a family, living in a community bring about. So to write a love scene, I have to get into a mood, and for me, music does it.

More importantly to get into a space where I can make myself believe this couple, in love or not, will not make it. There are certain songs that do that better than others.

This morning with writing such scenes, I'm using, It All Fades Away, sung by Steven Pasquale for the musical version of Bridges of Madison County. This man knows it didn't work out but he's not sorry for the memories. It is the kind of music that puts me in the mood to convince myself, and hopefully later readers, that the characters really believe they are about to lose their love.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

changes ahead


For me, one of the cool things about being an indie writer is the option of creating my own covers. I've written about this before. It's not just a budget that makes me want to create mine. I like the control. To add to it, I am not fond of the cookie cutter images that are popular with so many. Doing my own helps me find new insights into my story, often seemingly coming from nowhere. 

In Facebook, when I wrote something about the next book coming in June, one of the readers said she loved the cover I'd put with it-- except that wasn't the cover I'd planned. It was the kind of image I use for inspiration in writing. I explained, and we both laughed.

Then I began to think-- I liked it too. And when I looked at the cover I'd planned, I didn't like it nearly as much. Until Dreamscope, I had been using photograph type images, as many do, but that didn't really suit me. As when I began publishing books, I wanted something more painterly. But, changing that one had a complication-- what about the others in the Hemstreet Witches series? They should look like they belonged together. I could explore the options-- no risk there.

Cropping the images I'd been using, I would try one and when it looked odd, I'd crop again. With Dreamscope, I never know what to expect. In between image work, I'd write a few hundred words on the WIP. Eventually, I found what felt like a mix between photograph and painting. The results are on the banner on top.

Then something else happened, which can occur when you do your own. I saw new approaches to the last two books. Until then, I couldn't get excited about what seemed it'd be more of the same. The covers changed that. Now, I am looking forward to each of them with this whole new slant-- and all thanks to a reader who helped me see things a new way. :)

That change also led to new covers for my two other paranormals-- Sky Daughter and Diablo Canyon. I hope these non-traditional covers will help readers see the fantasy angle to these stories as well as the couples who face something they hadn't expected.

For anyone in Amazon Kindles Unlimited, all my paranormals are or will be available there for those with memberships and interested in trying something new without having to buy the book. If you haven't tried out KU, there is a $9.95 monthly cost but then unlimited borrows. For readers with voracious reading habits, this works out to be a good deal-- even though not all books are available there. For indie writers, you must have your books exclusive to Amazon. I only did that for the paranormal/fantasy/metaphysical contemporary romances.

One thing I enjoy about being an indie writer-- changes are always possible.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Season of columbine and rhododendrons


When I write a blog ahead of time, sometimes it just does not work when its date comes along. That happened for today's blog. After the Manchester terrorist attack, I am postponing the entry I'd planned 'til maybe early next month. It felt all wrong, with my heart aching for the ones killed, those hurt, and all of us, since this kind of senseless tragedy keeps happening. 

Nature is the healer and so, here is what my garden looks like outside the living room windows. It is full of the columbine that come up each year, with new ones self-sowing and no idea what colors there will be. The combinations are wild and totally by happenstance. No photos to prove it, but the hummingbirds also love this season.

The rhododendrons are beyond the fenced garden and ones that came with the land when we bought it nearly 40 years ago. They have survived pruning by the sheep (who are not supposed to eat rhododendron leaves as they are poisonous-- evidently not for those who enjoy buffet dining). They'd make short work of the columbines too, but that's the yard fenced off for the birds-- cats don't get access either.












Saturday, May 20, 2017

an internet discussion


One of the things I love about Netflix streaming is the ability to choose something that feels good at the time. We had their rental DVDs for years but often by the time they'd get to us, I'd have lost interest in the subject. Streaming has less documentaries but still enough to keep us finding something almost every night with varying subjects.

My personal favorite has been nature series, most of which have come from BBC or so it currently appears. Some are better done than others, but I like this glimpse into the animal world where the films are put together (of course, not always as they happened) to create an interesting story.

One of our cats, Raven, is very much into nature documentaries and watches avidly. One night, she tried to get behind the TV screen to find that bird. It's as much fun to watch her reactions as the films. I do wonder what she gets from the images.

I know they are so good for me right now as a way to not think about the news. We are bombarded by both true and fake news-- and it's up to us to sort out which is which, as fake news can appear on what have been regarded as mainstream media. 

One person I finally had to unfollow again puts up stuff from a series of twitter people who espouse the ultimate in conspiracy theories regarding Trump and the GOP. I went to the trouble to look up the names of those it is claimed are reliable sources. One had been a chick lit writer before she became an investigative reporter-- from England, who knows all the FBI's secrets and what is about to go down. When it doesn't, this 'friend', who is her own fake news source, goes onto the next imminent take down. She is feeding at the tit of revenge and joy at someone else's bad news. I have no idea what this is doing to her health-- but it wasn't doing anything for mine even though I had enjoyed her other posts.

Some try to make sense out of our times by using logic. Is that possible? Many are living with the fear that climate change, a terrorist, an illegal immigrant, or some new disease (that returned from the ice) will take us all out. Frankly, for me, the rabid fear talk gets old and yet I understand the trauma they are feeling with a time like ours. How do we discern truth?

A long time friend of mine used an analogy to show what might be our problem. She posted the following in Facebook:
Today I had the pleasure of enjoying a visit from one of my nieces and her 3 year old, Brigitte. From observing Brigitte I learned a lesson on how we adults learn to see differently. Brigitte loves painting and already can name a number of colors like red, yellow and green and even brown but confuses black and white. 

At first I couldn't see why. Then I came to an extraordinary realization. With primary and secondary colors the hue saturation is usually strong enough to be recognizable whether the surface is in strong sunlight or shadow. With black surfaces depending on how shiny the surface the parts receiving the most light reflect white appearing gray. The gray shine color can also pick up some bounce colors from surrounding objects. With white shadows take on the compliment of the sky and sometimes bounce color from near by colors. 

We adults have been taught to think black for objects that absorb all visible light waves because we know that despite what our eyes are seeing the object's constant surface color is black. Same is true for white that reflects all visible light waves. The child will learn to judge similar objects in the same way as adults repeatedly tell them the surface color is true color. The truth learned here is we see what we know.

If you have not studied color theory in a painting class, I fear I might be talking in a foreign language. Seeing the connection between color theory to our total opposite way of seeing Trump as president may be difficult even if you have some painting experiences. James Burke's visual presentation is less technical and has a strong historic basis. I feel gratified recognizing examples that support Burke's thesis.

Burke says all cultures have guarded the truth as they see it with the strongest weapons of their day. Individuals like us live in a challenging time where the only constant is change. Strongly recommend "The Day the Universe Changed" from Netflix.
My friend and I've had many conversations through many years the only difference being this one is at Facebook. I responded and said basically:
If we can react to changes, we can succeed but if we constantly look for what makes us comfortable, we will have to have a catastrophe to make us wake up and it might be too late. I don't think the color analogy works as more than a starting point because life is more complicated.
We've been watching some nature shows, where the animals instinctually know where to go and with exact timing-- for what always worked before. We see it with migratory birds. Humans have an instinct too but more we are taught and early training can be most significant with it being difficult to move beyond it to new ideas.
Right now humans have SO much info that processing it becomes nearly impossible where sources that some count on for absolute truth, are not-- but are presented that way. Since political ideology is often remote from our lives, through stories we hear, it is even more complicated.
Personally, I find it particularly frustrating because I don't want to have to come to a conclusion right now as to whether, as some newspapers and 'experts' say Trump is insane or, as I see for myself when he talks and what he's doing, that maybe he's just doing it his way and not what they want. Currently to not believe he's clinically insane is to be isolated from left wing groups but to think he might have some mental issues (that currently aren't serving him well) with how he deals with things is to be isolated from right wing groups. It is a black or white time-- and someone better be able to tell the difference...
It's not possible today to discuss politics with many people. This has formed people into exclusive cliques and woe unto those on the wrong side. For many, on both sides, to try and discuss alternate views is like that wave crashing on a rock that will not be moved by anything but catastrophic forces-- political discourse just doesn't happen. How can it if you believe the other side is trying to destroy the world! For many, the world is black and white. Anyone on the wrong side is not respected. The end of reasonable discourse, polite agreeing to disagree, is sad. I'm glad it's not gone everywhere-- yet.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

a little wine with my whine

 image from Stencil

Being a writer has pluses and minuses. When a book doesn't sell well, it's hard not to feel badly about it. As I writer, I don't put out anything where I don't believe in the characters, story, and its message. From the beginning, I understood that not everything I wrote would be liked by others. How could it-- I don't like everything either.

Amazon, with its system of voluntary customer reviews, allows readers (and even those who don't have a verified purchase) to have a stake in whether a book sells well or sinks to the dreaded black hole, from whence it shall never be seen again. 

What one such reviewer put in Amazon about Red Hawk Christmas, a book I wrote last fall, may explain what happened to its sales.  First the review and then the whine:
First off, this book popped up when I was looking up non-fiction books about RV life. I didn't realize this was fiction. My mistake. But it started out ok, seemed interesting. However, I soon realized this Diana wasn't really into RV life--she was really just a tourist traveling in an RV. It really deteriorated at about 50% on kindle when it was total dialogue. Not very pleasant to read.

I disliked Diana when she kept waffling about not wanting any kind of relationship with a man and she was rude and unfriendly to anyone who tried to just be polite to her. Until.....she met a handsome man, then her hormones kicked in and she acted like a teenager. Why didn't he try to kiss her, he must have a girlfriend, why didn't he call her......all the while still saying she didn't want a relationship.
Meantime, some other guy who she met at an earlier RV park was interested in her, she kept telling his she didn't want a relationship, but yet she tells him where she is because "she didn't want to be rude." He asked several times if she minded if he came to where she was and she told him no, then when she gets off the phone/email, she says she doesn't want him to come, yet she doesn't tell him that. Good grief.


And this woman is 58 years old! It just seemed so stupid to me. Sorry, but no other word to describe this. I guess this is a series of short novellas, and I surely won't be reading anymore.
From my perspective, as the aggrieved writer lol, I wish there was an option for commenting on such reviews. Every writer recommendations says-- stay out of it because reviews are for the next reader. Fair or not fair, the reviewer gets the floor. What I'd have said, had that option been available, would have been-- 
Sorry you didn't like the book. This is the first in what I intended to be a series about starting over later in life. In her late 50s, the heroine is facing a difficult situation. She hadn't expected to have her husband divorce her. She hadn't expected that the other woman would have been someone she had regarded as a friend. With the divorce, other friends avoided her as the suddenly single woman or because they chose her husband and his new wife with whom to socialize. Her children are well settled in life and her grandchildren beyond needing babysitters as they set out to make a life for themselves. A retired teacher, she has a pension and her half of what had been community property. Money isn't a problem-- life purpose is.

When the book begins, she has made a choice to give away most of what she owns, sell her home, and buy a Class C motorhome. She has no idea if this will be a forever deal or just a transition. The book is about finding a way to get rid of negative thinking, and she did this through reinventing herself, seeing new places (many she'd only read about), and meeting new people. Through the history of others, she got a new perspective on her life. I liked her, and she did have a small romance toward the end, but whether it was going anywhere, that's undecided when the novella ends.
Since the woman said she'd gotten the book by mistake, I rewrote its tags to be sure no one else mistook it for non-fiction. It's hard to say if anyone will see them. If you didn't know what Amazon's black hole looks like-- RHC's ranking last I looked was 1,141,957. Using a search for any subject is unlikely to come across it.

I won't say it was selling gangbusters before that review in mid-February, but since then it literally never had another sale. Amazon puts first the last review (obviously hers) or the review with the most likes. Her review is what anyone would see if they had considered the book. What is a bit ironic to me is although I knew it hadn't had sales, I had no idea why, until last week when I read that review for the first time.

That reviewer, accomplished her stated goal of protecting any other reader from buying that book. She went beyond disliking it to doing a character assassination of the heroine. Heck, if I read that review for someone else's book, I might not bother scrolling down to look at other reviews. Why read a book about an obnoxious heroine (most of us have enough of that in our own lives).

I've heard other writers talk of going through a crisis of belief in their writing after reading something like that. It did lead me (besides the new tags) to see if the second half of the book was all dialogue. It's not all, but yes, there is a lot as I prefer to reveal people through what they say to others-- especially with a book like this one where the only point of view is the heroine's. 

Writers need reviews. Some places you can only get your book featured if you have a lot. There are places writers go to purchase reviews, which Amazon will delete if they find out. I never did that anyway, feeling it was bad karma at the least. 

I am not sure what makes readers take their precious time to leave a review. All of them are appreciated (yes, even that one) as it is a connection between writer and reader just too bad it can't be a two way street. Although I do not regularly read my books' reviews, I do the first couple for each book-- hoping I have not disappointed a reader. I always go to that first review with trepidation. Some writers never read their reviews. I can see the logic in that as sometimes I can change something based on a review-- but not when it's a book in which I believe. 

Saturday, May 13, 2017

the cove

The last week of April found us finally at the coast with longtime friends. We had been scheduled to go the first of April but then Ranch Boss and I got sick with that cough thing. The owner let us switch our dates to the end of the month which gave us three nights at the cove. Time there is magical, as is time with friends we've known since our youth. The weather changed constantly with storms passing through and the sunshine reappearing. Storms at the coast are special times to be there.

The only disappointing aspect was the starfish were gone from the tidal pools. We've read how a disease has killed them off all along the coastline of western North America. The belief is this is due to a warming ocean where diseases pose new risks to the creatures depending on the seas. The starfish at the cove were colorful and wonderful to photograph. I hope they make a comeback. 


The Cove