Goodreads Giveaway Postmortem

Some of you might remember that I ran a Goodreads giveaway for my new YA fantasy novel. I was using a new tactic that involved a shorter time frame, fewer books, and a broader audience.

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The giveaway began on August 27th and ended on September 7th. A total of 1409 people entered to win 1 of 5 books. Yay! Over 650 people added the book to their “to-read” list. Yay! The winners came from around the globe, with a representations from Peru, Romania, Italy, Great Britain, and the US.

So, did it do anything for sales of the book? No. Boo! In fact, since the contest has ended, the number of folks with it on their “to-read” list has dropped slightly. This makes me believe that they only added it because of their potential to win it. Anyway, it doesn’t make me any less enthusiastic about sending out copies to the winners. And, I think I might just run another giveaway soon to try and spur further interest.

Total sales of Danny Dirks thus far? 16. :-/ Good thing I had that BookBub run to lift my spirits. 😉

Me? On TV? Sure, why not? Take 4!?

So, if you’ve followed along with my Me? On Tv? Sure, why not? series of posts, you know that I’ve been involved in a local TV show production that’s delving into the various aspects of self publishing. If you haven’t followed along, I’ll give you a few minutes to peruse the older posts (Take 1, Take 2, Take 3). It’s ok, we’ll wait…

Wow, you’re slow! Anyway, just an update to let you know that there’s a website (unfinished), Twitter page, YouTube page, and Facebook page. I think there will be a lot of cool content, whether you’re new to self publishing, or a seasoned vet. While the first episode doesn’t premier until October, you can get a feel for what the first episode will include and get a glimpse of me with a funny, mid-speech, look on my face (or see below). None of the videos are live just yet, so you’ll just have to wait… like the rest of us… to see me in all of my small screen glory… looking awkward and pretending to have a clue about what I’m talking about. 😉

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I Remember 9/11

September 11, 2001 was one month to the day after my wedding day. We sailed out of NY harbor on 8/12/01 and took pictures of the towers on a cloudy, drizzly day. I couldn’t fathom that they would be gone a month later and our lives would be changed forever.

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Anyone who was old enough to remember, knows exactly where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news of a plane hitting one of the Twin Towers in New York City. I had just walked into the office, barely nine months into my first desk job. A coworker stuck her head out of her cube and told me the news. “Really?” My reaction was one of innocent disbelief. “A small plane?” That made sense to me. A small plane getting lost or disabled and hitting a tower. That made sense. Not an airliner… and certainly not an airliner hijacked by religious zealots. “No, an airliner.”

By the time I logged onto my computer, Flight 175 had crashed into the South tower at 9:03 AM. The Internet slowed to a crawl (remember, this was 2001), but for some reason, my computer is able to refresh images on MSNBC.com. It’s one of the few media feeds we are able to get. A crowd develops in the confines of my small cube. We chatter about the events. At 9:43, flight 77 crashes into the Pentagon. “We’re under attack!” someone says. It’s a statement that sounds absurd, but appears more and more real as the minutes tick by.

We discover that a coworker’s sister works in the North Tower. She cannot be reached by phone.

At 10:05 AM, the unthinkable happens. I refreshed my internet feed to see a new picture of the South Tower coming down in a cloud of dust and smoke. “No way it totally collapsed,” says a coworker. “No way the whole thing came down. The top probably just fell off.” If only that were true.

At 10:10 AM, Flight 93 crashes in Pennsylvania.

At 10:28 AM, the second tower collapses.

The coworker’s sister would not survive the day.

Around 1 PM, my company announces that employees may go home at their discretion. I leave immediately. I want to see my wife. I want to go home and feel safe again.

At the time, we lived in an efficiency and were so broke, we didn’t have cable. When my wife got home, we sat in her car and listened to the radio at intervals before going to bed. I stayed home the next day and listened to the radio on and off. We went grocery shopping that night. Living in Northwestern NJ at the time, we were in the direct path of flights coming into the East coast. You were used to seeing planes in the sky. That night, the sky was empty and unsettling. It was as quiet as I have ever known it.

The following weeks were quietly chaotic. I worked in a haze as I dealt with my own feelings about the tragedy. Being so close, the stories of loss and close calls were numerous. “I was supposed to be in the North Tower that morning, but I was running late.” “I lost my uncle.” “There were dozens of cars at the train station left behind by commuters who hadn’t made it back that day.”

A week later, my boss (a woman in her late 70s at the time) makes a point of declaring she doesn’t know what the fuss is about. “More people were killed at Pearl Harbor.” I’m 26 at the time. I have no argument. Now, I would say, “But Pearl Harbor wasn’t in our back yard. And that was a war with clearly defined sides. And there was a military objective behind that attack.” And someone who knows anything could probably come up with a dozen other arguments against that statement. But, that was the defence she had chosen to put up. Otherwise, you had to admit that it had scared the hell out of you. Which it had.

Whether you like to believe it or not, the events of 9/11 changed everyone. It became this generation’s Pearl Harbor, in a war few can define. The experience has made me who I am today, for good or bad. I hope that my son will never have to see an event transpire like that one. I hope he can grow up in a more tolerant world that isn’t driven by greed and power. But, that’s wishful thinking.

At this point, I have the urge to run off into a diatribe about money being the root of all evil, which means I should probably just stop while I’m ahead. A peaceful Patriot Day to you all.
Event times referenced from: http://edition.cnn.com/2001/US/09/11/chronology.attack/

Differing Opportunities

We met up with some old friends this last weekend. Late in the day, I found myself having a conversation with someone I didn’t remember sharing much of a past with. We’d moved in very different circles in high school, but we’d shared the commonality of singing in the boy’s choir group. He brought it up with some fondness and waxed reminiscent of days when the ladies of the larger choir basked in our jocular glow. He said all this with a wink and nudge as if I must have had a similar experience to the one he described. Imagine his surprise when I contradicted his assumption. “Well, it was happening. You just didn’t let it happen,” he said. Not being one to argue (have I ever mentioned that I’m awefully passive-aggressive?), I simply nodded and breathed a sigh of relief when the waitress interrupted to take our order.

But I couldn’t forget the moment. This insinuation that life was happening around me and, if I had just taken the leap, I would have had the same experience, is an awful thing to consider. Had I really been that blind? It wouldn’t surprise me entirely. I led a very sheltered childhood and was prone to conservatism. But, as someone who was always looking for inclusion in the right crowd (and often not finding it), it’s hard for me to believe it was right under my nose all along.

I didn’t date in high school. This is a statement that has surprised more than one person in my life. “Seriously? You didn’t date?” It’s not like it was an active choice! Tall, skinny, red-haired, geeky, self conscious to a fault. It was a poor combination. Looking back now, I also went through periods of depression and suffered situational anxiety. Heck, I didn’t kiss a girl until I was 19. Then I married the next girl I kissed and she’s still a pretty damn good kisser. But I digress.

None of us like to miss out. But, there’s missing out on a free lunch, or that 50% off sale at Target, and there’s missing out on life. Not everyone has the same opportunities, whether it is in life or love or money. Each situation, no matter how similar, is unique. Have I missed opportunities in lfe? Sure, we all have, but, in my eyes, this wasn’t one of them. Yes, I was in the same place and time and situation as you, but I wasn’t blind to something. It just didn’t happen to me that way and that’s just how life is sometimes.

Tally Up Twitter Tuesday – 9/09

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It was a quiet couple of weeks for new content. I did a really poor job of getting out tweets that weren’t about me and my writing. Shame on me! This week’s roundup of what I think are some of the best links I’ve shared over on Twitter:

27 Places to Get a Book Tour (and the Top Ten)  via @selfpubreview 

Publishing Advice I’d Give My Younger Self  via @jakonrath 

4 Ways Authors Can Rock on Twitter  via @CaballoFrances 

You can get these tweets first hand by following me over on Twitter! 😀

What’s in a (Book) Name?

You know that feeling when you stumble across the name of your book and it’s like a light has gone off and you’re all like, “This is the most amazing title of a book ever!” You’ve had that feeling, right? Then you’ve probably also had the feeling you get when you search for that title on Amazon (or elsewhere)and, lo and behold, there are 5 other books with the same title, including a naughty one with nurses. D’oh!

Well, I know how you feel. My experience was a little different, but it still gave me that feeling of having been beaten to the punch. By the way, there’s nothing wrong with books sharing a title, so long as it doesn’t included trademarked terms (eg, Star Wars, Captain America). I mean, plug any single-word title (Redemption, Unforgiven, Ashes) into Amazon and you’re likely to come up with several dozen options.

Anywho, when I was crafting my suspense/thriller trilogy, I had settled on Multiples of Six as the first book and Divisible by Six as the second. But, when I started thinking about book #3, I had no clue what to use. I ran through the gamut of math terms… Propensity of Six, Magnitude of Six, Quotient of Six… before landing on Power of Six. That was it. It was awesome and I couldn’t find a book with the same title… until that fall. I was walking through my local Barnes & Noble and there before me was the latest by Pittacus Lore, The Power of Six. Whomp whomp!

Ah well, worse things have happened. I don’t plan on using the word “The” in my title, so I’m safe, I guess. 😉

How about you? Ever come up with/use a title that’s already been used? Let us know in the comments and thanks for stopping by!

Plot Party!

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This past weekend, I was exposed to a new writing treat! My writer friend, Nisha Sharma, hosted a plot party. Having never been to one, I was definitely curious to see what it had to offer.

So, what is a plot party? Simply put, it’s a party in which you talk about a problem or sticking point in your plot and hash it out with other writers. Here’s, generally, how it goes.

1. You get 5 minutes to explain your plot and the problem you’re having.

2. The group has 10 minutes to throw out any and all possible solutions to the problem. While you, the author, can respond, the idea is to be as open as possible to any and all ideas.

3. You can respond and talk for an additional 5 minutes about what the group has discussed.

4. The current speaker randomly draws the next speaker, and repeat!

I recommend sticking as close as you can to the timelines. As we all know, writers love to talk writing and things can sometimes get carried away. The 9 of us got our time to talk and were done in about 3 hours, with a couple of breaks.

This was a lot of fun. It was fascinating to see where other folks took my plot. For me, what was most amusing was how many times someone would say something and I’d be like, “Oh, that’s already in there.” That’s not to say that I didn’t get good ideas, because I did. I felt like many of the other authors who attended were able to move past the sticking point in their stories. A lot of good ideas were generated.

So, if you’re looking for a good reason to get together with your writing friends, why not throw a plot party? It’s a great way to get the creative juices flowing and it can be supremely rewarding for your writing and that of your friends.

Have you thrown a plot party? Or, do you have other group writing activities you partake in? Please share your experiences in the comments section and thanks for stopping by!

Only 12 hours left on my giveaway!

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Over 1100 people have signed up for a chance to win a signed copy of Danny Dirks and the Heir of Pendragon, but there’s only 12 hours left in the giveaway. Head on over to Goodreads and sign up if you haven’t already. 😀