Saturday, May 29, 2010

"Zombies Amuck" second place

I posted previously about all the winnings and good things going on. This evening I had to pick up son from girlfriend's house and then bring him to the house to pick up a few things so I could turn around and take him to his friend's house to spend the night. On the way home, I stopped at the post office since I've not checked it in a couple of days. It was full of fun envelopes and not so fun ones (those are the pesky bills). One of the fun ones was my second place story, "Zombies Amuck," with the judge's comments and my check for winning ($20 for second place; first place person received $30). It's fun trying to decipher the comments made but for the most part they pertained to expanding more, describing more, give more detail, et cetera.

Two of my favorite comments were here: (this is right after George, the main character tries to keep Amy and William, his two best friends, away from the family plot so they don't discover he's a zombie)

"Well, I've seen plenty of graves and there's nothing special about that little plot back there. Figured we should just move on and go find some more interesting ones."

Amy finally caught up to us, her face ashen like she had seen a ghost, or a zombie.
(Judge's comment - Good image)

He did say a little further on that I had use of dialog (whew - because that's what I use most in my stories - lol).

And his final comment: Very interesting story. You develop interesting characters and an element of mystery & surprise in the story. I enjoyed it!

I think if we had a another thousand words I could have developed and expanded the areas that he felt needed more description. As is, the story limit was 2000 words and I came in at 1793 words (so guess I did have a bit more to play with but I don't like really cutting right up the max limit). So now I have a certificate and a story with comments for my entry and who knows, next year I may do it again.

I like getting packages like this in the mail - see you all in the postings - E :)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What does the "butt in chair theory" mean to you?

Find out by stopping by Virginia Grenier's blog. She had posted this question on several forums and I responded to her. Come see what I had to say along with several other working/writer women. You may even be surprised by some of the responses. E :)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Counters, why do they differ?

I have a counter on both blogs and my website, set up through Amazing Counters as well as one on my website set up through weebly. I was looking at my statistics for the last few days, and this is what I've come up with:

Counters through Amazing Counters:
Website: From 05/16 through yesterday I had 5, 5, 2, 6, 8, 6 and 18
JGDS Blog: Same dates, I had 11, 12, 18, 16, 29, 13 and 26
EEC blog: Same dates, I had 2, 5, 2, 1, 8, 5 and 2

On weebly's counter on my JGDS website, same dates, I had 12, 29, 18, 36, 31, 26 and 64.

Now I don't know about you all but that's quite a difference in hits on my website from both counters. So if anyone knows the answer to that, please leave a comment so I can stop fretting about the peculiar way the counters are adding visits or hits to my sites.

And I will be reaching a milestone for the JGDS blog hits within the next few months. Maybe I'll run acontest or something for hitting 5000 visits to my blog. I'd like to see more followers and more email subscribers over there also. I'm thinking this summer, I will definitely need to run a contest/competition or whatever to try to get more readers/followers/email subscribers, especially since I will be doing several homeschool conferences and there are at least two new titles coming within the next month to month and a half, with one more coming shortly after that. I'm still thinking on this, but I'll keep you all informed on what I decide to do - E :)

And the winning continues

I'm a member of the Foothills Writers' Guild and every spring and fall a members' only contest is held. In the fall, the following categories are available to compete in: Poetry (Guild Prize, Muses Prize, Jean Brabham McKinney Prize, and Children's Poetry Prize), Prose - Fiction (Arrows to Atoms Priza) and Nonfiction (Freedom Prize and President's Choice Prize). In the spring the following categories are available to compete in: Poetry (Archibald Rutledge Prize, Pegasus Prize, Dramatic Poem Prize, and Carolina Prize) and Prose Fiction (Betsy Byars Prize, Sandlapper Prize, O. Henry Prize) and Nonfiction (Gus Wentz Prize).

I entered the Betsy Byars Prize this past spring and won second place (since there were only two winners, I can only guess that only two of us entered this short story for children category as I understand that in some of the past years there have been no entries in this category), which pays out $20.

I'm having fun - lol - see you all in the postings - E :)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Winner, again!

Talk about it being a good week all around - I've won a second book - a signed galley of Marshall Karp's Cut, Paste, Kill. From the website, here is the original posting with my response. Don't know why I posted a response but it sounded like fun. I apparently was following M. J. Rose's sites stumbling on this contest. The solutions and ad man's answer can be found here, which I like much better than my puny little answer - but it was a starting point I guess. Of course they are advertising gurus, whereas I am not. I do what I can and have very little budget. Maybe I should see if he would do an advertising campaign for my series - lol.

1) I won a copy of Reading Magic by Mem Fox from the Indie-Debut 2010 site (see my posting on the other blog)
2) I've been sending out an email campaign to homeschool associations/groups and so far have hit 25 of the listed 53 states/territories in a total of 11 emails and some of the email addresses are bouncing back but some are bringing in results
a) I've been asked to advertise on The Link Magazine website but I can't afford advertising right now, so will have to wait for that
b) I've been asked to join the H.E.R.I. convention in Jacksonville, FL in July as a vendor (I had considered this one recently but because of the deadline being a couple of weeks ago and me not having the funds at the time, decided to forego this one this year) but they will take applications through the 1st of July, which helps me since I can probably swing the fees by then
c) I've been asked to consider attending another conference next year (this year's has already happeened) in Illinois as a vendor (this one being a 12+ hour drive, I really need to think about this; perhaps they will have an advertising campaign that I can participate in)
d) From the email campaign, received a response stating that she had passed info to other members in the group and that her daughter loves geography and history and that they would be using my books to study US History in the fall - I told her about the special deal I had going right now, and she placed an order (my first sale for Reservations) this morning - woohoo - go me!!! - (for more information on this, please see my other blog for a "Sweet Deal" - the deal has been extended to June 5, so order your copies in the next two weeks)
3) I won a copy Marshall Karp's book as listed above.

Hopefully the emails will pay off in the long run and Reservations will be in my hands by the 15th of June and Altitude will be available shortly after that. I'll keep you all posted (on the JGDS blog) when books are available. E :) - ((((((doing the happy dance, has won two books and things are looking up for the series))))))

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Well, First I didn't know I was even entered for a drawing of anything when I posted my comments but when I was contacted by the person for my address, I was like - wow - I won and didn't even try to win - lol. Check out Indie Debut's 2010 posting on what I've won. Thanks, Donna McDine, for posting the wonderful topic which led me to write an article for the VBT Writers on the Move this month. The original discussion on Indie Debut's 2010 site can be found here.

Check out my other blog for a limited time sweet deal on the first three books in my series. Deal is good through midnight tomorrow night. Come on over and order your copies today. E :)

On being human

I received this posting from Heidi Thomas, author of Cowgirl Dreams this morning and felt that it was worth sharing with you all. Hope you enjoy. E :)

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Is Free Profitable by author Dana Donovan

Ten years ago I finished my first book, "Attraction of Blood". Since then I have written another ten books, taking time between each to author the perfect query letter design to hook a literary agent into selling my work. Typically, after a hundred or so rejection letters, I convince myself that maybe this book doesn't have what it takes to go mainstream, and so I endeavor to write a better, more marketable novel that no agent in his right mind can pass up. Such has been the endless cycle of the last decade.

Naturally, amid all the writing and querying, I am also self promoting, self publishing and self marketing. For most of you, this is nothing new. That you are reading this now is likely because you are a member of VBT or some other writers group and by being here, you are presently engaged in this very practices.

So my topic today is more of a question, which I will pose after sharing this observation with you. It is something I have noticed this past year having participated in the monthly rotation of hosting and being hosted on the "Writers on the Move Virtual Book Tour." There seems to be two equally interesting facets to the typical format that participating members employ when featured on the tour.

First is the self promoting format. I love this type. Except for the newest members to the VBT community, I have stopped by all your blogs and met (I think) everyone in the group. The diversity amazes me. The wealth of talent assembled within this micro community inspires and encourages me to plow ahead whenever I feel deflated by the infinite dead ends I hit in my efforts to further a career still in-waiting. So to all of you I say thanks. Your good-fellowship is priceless and heart warming.

The second format that I see employed in these tours is the academic side. Though I love the self promoting facet, I especially appreciate the brass tacks, tactile, take it and run advice that some of you offer when your turn comes up in rotation. I am talking about the helpful hints and pointers offered as a means to further one's career, to move one beyond the rut that we all sometimes find ourselves in. Stephen Tremp does this well, so does Marvin Wilson, the Old Silly. Last week I hosted Mayra Calvani who also shared with us her tips on helping us dig out of our ruts by cultivating the right mood for the type of writing we are trying to express. Karen, Lea, Maggie; you too work the ropes expertly. Truth is that many of you thoughtfully share tips with us of things that have worked for you.

It is in that spirit that I attempt to share with you something that has recently worked for me in gaining exposure as an author, and by extension, sales of my books. My suspicion is that this may not, in fact, be news for some of you, but hopefully it will be for others.

What is this cool marketing tool? Perhaps not so surprisingly, it is the oldest marketing tool in business, used by corporations large and small, by emerging young enterprises, pushcart street vendors and even (though I don't condone it) by illegal drug dealers. I am talking about the Free Sample, the Buy-One-Get-One and the outright Free-No-Questions-Asked promotions.

Like many of you, I am self published and have listed electronic versions of my books on, among other places, Smashwords. I applaud their concept: read half free, buy the rest if you like it. It is not original. I know that. Frankly I have used that same marketing strategy on my on website for years. But I have recently taken that construct to another level. Instead of letting a prospective buyer read only some of the manuscript (book), I let them read all of it. Better still, I let them read a second one as well, absolutely free. The hook is the same. If they like it, they will buy more. What I have found, however, is that if they like an entire book (or two) they are far more likely to buy additional books from you than they are if given only half. Trust me on this. I have really followed this closely.

To be clear, again we are talking about ebooks only now. Naturally, print copies are out of the question. That said, I can tell you that sales of my ebooks on Smashwords have been fair, especially compared to e-versions at Lulu. In the first few months on Smashwords, where nine of my books are listed, I averaged one thousand sample downloads, resulting in six books actually sold. A little over a month ago I made available the first two books of my Detective Marcella Paranormal Mysteries series totally free. This resulted in a virtual flood of ebook downloads (nearly 8000 in six weeks), which translated into one hundred and seventy eight sold copies of my other books!

Of course, this does not work well if you only have one book, but it does if you have two or more, which many of you have. Now I know that no author relishes giving away her hard work for free, but the exposure to a mass audience is something I am willing to compromise on. The sales this month of my ebooks on Smashwords by far eclipses the sale of those same books on Lulu in the past ten years. Does that mean it is right for you? Maybe not, but I thought I would share my thoughts on the matter just the same.

So now my question. What practice do you employ to bolster sales of your books, and how well is it working?

Dana E. Donovan,
author of the Detective Marcella Paranormal Mysteries series
Resurrection, Abandoned, Skinny and more.

free downloads>

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Prom 2010

I haven't posted much on the kids lately but just got this picture of daughter and her boyfriend at prom. Aren't they adorable? I like the dress she finally decided on, although the other one she had bought was very pretty. I'd like to see it on the girl she lent it to so that I know it wasn't a wasted purchase. E :)

Monday, May 03, 2010

Meet Author Dana Donovan

Dana will be my guest author on May 6. Check out how he's turned "free promotion" into a profit. Here is a bit about Dana and his books:

Dana Donovan grew up in New England where folklore and superstitions can mold a town’s history as much as its people. Here, in the fictitious town on New Castle, Dana exploits that phenomenon, perpetuating the enigma of small town life and the belief in all that dies is not dead.

Books by this author include: Abandoned, A Talisman’s tale, Resurrection, Skinny, Death & Other Little Inconveniences, The Witch’s Ladder, Eye of the Witch, The Witch’s Key, Bones of a Witch, and soon to be released Witch House. For more about the author, stop by his website.