Tag Archives: ebook

Wired for the Weekend

A Jade Weekes Art Mystery

A Jade Weekes Art Mystery

Wired went live on Smashwords in the early hours of March 15th, and is already flying off the virtual shelves. It’s available for Free through March 29th as I tweak the formatting, cover image, and promo copy. While there are a lot of moving parts to coordinate for the official launch, I’m excited to finally have it available, and look forward to feedback from readers.

Wired is the first installment of the Jade Weekes Art Mystery series, with the 2nd novel, Enigma, scheduled for release late 2013. Set in Paris, St. Pete, and Chicago, this mystery unravels an organized crime gang, solves a murder, and reveals the haunting past of main character, Jade Weekes.

Here’s the promo copy from Smashwords:

Short description
Read for FREE through March 29, 2013! Jade Weekes emerged from the oily wash of the Seine five years ago with no memory of her life, but an uncanny knowledge of fine art, museum security, and a knack for walking away with priceless treasures. Now she’s tracking an elusive Van Gogh with ties to an underworld struggle that will reveal her forgotten past.

Extended description
Jade Weekes leaves Paris to track a priceless Van Gogh from St. Pete to Chicago. Her contacts are shady and she is beginning to think there is more to this job than a buyer wanting a gift for his wife. Otherwise, why would Simon Morrell, a rival thief, cross her path just as the FBI begins asking questions?

Caught up in the six billion dollar international art theft industry, she enlists help from unlikely sources: film actor Alex Ford, and veteran FBI specialists Stewart Connor and John Young.

No one is who they seem, most of all Jade Weekes.

You can download Wired for your e-reader here.

The Red PencilLook for me to return to blogging on a regular basis as I vet ideas for novel number 3 in the series (working title The Missing), and ramble on techniques for character development. Enjoy your weekend, and get outside to soak up the extra sunshine. ;)

Book Marketing Insight

What if you could be sure there was an audience ready to devour your next book? What are the hot key words you should use in your book description and marketing to get readers to notice you? Is the trending interest going up or down?

Since there isn’t a working crystal ball nearby, I resorted to more useful Google tools, Insights for Search and Google Trends.

Google Trends
This nifty tool allows you to compare the trending pattern of multiple search terms to compare where the greater interest is trending across Google web searches and news references. But there’s more! It also breaks out the data by geographic region and time.

In my own search for “book, art theft” the trend for both the web and news were high which bodes well for my next two novels. Since I set the region to World, I also know that the United States ranks third in interest behind Egypt and India. By clicking United States under the Region results, I get a sub-region breakout by state and then top cities. Now I’m digging down to where my fans may be and can target their time zones via Twitter. (You may have 2k+ followers, but if you miss their coffee break, they’ll never see your message.)

If I were to use this information to tweak my marketing messages, I would need to be sure to include key words related to my genre/content that trend well in web searches. (Think Ad Words)

Insights for Search
The difference between this and Trends is that Search is analyzing the data over search volume rather than directional trend. The graphs may look similar, but the data gleaned will be more detailed here.
Here’s an example for my search “stolen art”:

I’ve added News Headlines so I can verify I’m actually looking at data related to my subject and not a video game or music playlist. Over the past 12 months, New York, California and Texas have the highest search rate. If you are logged into your Google account, you’ll also see actual numbers.

Since I have a fair number of Twitter followers and blog fans in the UK and Canada, I added those two countries to my search and voila, I can clearly see where I have my work cut out for me.

Disclaimer: I do not work for or have any affiliation with Google. I just love how easy they make it to do research and fine tune my work.

Have fun playing and be sure to share any cool tools you’ve come across that helps you write and sell more books:).

***   For other Google tools go to Google.com and click” More” on the top menu and them click “Even More”.   ***

Let’s Talk About the Weather

August 26, 2011

The skies this morning were mostly clear, however, the air remains thick with tropical moisture. A hot wind scatters sun burned leaves. This is late summer in North Carolina. Two months of scant rain is forcing trees to drop shade while occasional “cool days”, as in under 90F, lets you imagine chilly football games and Halloween costumes. This is hurricane season.

Just days after a rare earthquake felt in tiny to moderate rumbles from Toronto to South Carolina, we’re bunkering down for Hurricane Irene. I’m fortunate to not be in the direct path; rather my neighborhood will experience stiff 50 mph winds and rain. That’s normal for an old-fashioned thunderstorm in this part of the country.

Now here is how it relates to writing. Hold on to your laptops….. your characters experience earthquakes and weather. Shocking, I know.

I’m a weather junkie. If disaster is falling from the sky, I’m glued to the Weather Channel and taking pictures. Freak 2-foot snowstorm? Documented. Standing in the eye of Hurricane Fran… got that too. Just think how powerful your hero’s scene would be if he/she crawled through a wind savaged parking lot, trying to rescue their loved one? How do I know they’re crawling? Have you tried to stand up when the wind speed is over 60 mph?

As writers, we can use our real life experiences during extreme conditions and situations to tighten the tension in our stories and add realism that draws in readers. Add details that involve the senses. How does the air feel on their skin? What color is the sky? After a hurricane, the sky is amazingly clear, and the tropic induced sunset is breathtaking. That’s the reward for surviving nature’s battering.

A snow storm plays a critical role in Perfect Copy, while the conclusion for my WIP, Anatomy of a Lie, is shaped by a hurricane. Take a moment to think of where in your story your characters could be helped or hampered by weather conditions. Have you described your character’s frustration, joy, the forces shaping his/her actions?

The eye of Hurricane Fran moved through central NC, right over my apartment. Power went out around 11pm as winds intensified. From my upstairs window, we watched green flashes silhouetting the bent trees as electrical transformers exploded. During the night, the steady howl calmed, drawing myself and neighbors outside to see the damage. Trees lay across cars, but it was too dark to make out much more. We were standing in the eye. Moments later the east side of the side began to pass over and dump over 16 inches of rain and $2.4 Billion in damage. I lived without electricity for a week, grateful for a gas stove and water heater:)

Rain, sleet or snow… weather facts have built-in drama.

Outer Bands of Hurricane Irene, Central NC

Best Seller for a Day

This is an innovative program founded by the Indie Book Collective, @IndieBookIBC for those of you on Twitter. The idea is to spread the word about a single author and title and drive significant 1 day sales. It started with 2 women, added in a few volunteers and through Twitter’s word of mouth power, has worked.

Coming up on April 6th it is Rachel Thompson’s turn with “A Walk in the Snark”. This hilarious non-fiction look at life and the quirks of relationships and parenting is amazing. If you want a peak at Rachel’s flavor visit RachelintheOC.com.

On April 6th, the ebook price will drop to just  99 cents on Amazon. In addition, you can take your purchase confirmation code to BestSellerForADay.com and enter to win up to $50 in Amazon Gift Cards.

Why does this work? Because there are thousands of reading options available, but unless the world knows where to find you you’ll sit in the 500,000+ ranks listening to crickets. Best Seller for a Day simply spreads the word with one huge shout to create awareness. It’s so effective that IBC co-founder, Carolyn McCray is now an ongoing contributor to Digital Book World’s newsletter and New York agents and publishers are taking a second look at their marketing model.

Contrary to the popular misconception, you do not need a Kindle to read an ebook from Amazon. Trust me, whatever you have, there’s an app for that.

I am a big supporter of BSFAD. When Amber Scott’s “Irish Moon” went on sale, I purchased a copy for myself and gifted a copy. It’s 1-click Whishpernet technology, what can be easier than that?

Looking for more? Use the links above and follow the stream here:






Copy Writing Part 1: Introduction

There’s a lot of psychology that goes into how we receive messages and which message will motivate us to take action.

Take into account the environment where your message is encountered. Each has a unique personality that goes with the medium and a ‘reader patience threshold’. Our media saturated brains want to process information faster and craves bullet points and directness. As related to writing, I’ve grouped ad copy outlets into two categories:

Book Jacket/Back Cover copy/Online Book page (point of purchase)
You have about 5 minutes to convince a potential reader to buy your book. They may be reading the copy online on your author page or inside a book store. You have a hook at the beginning of your novel to reel in your reader; you need a hook in this copy to pique their interest.

Twitter & Social Media
140 Characters and that’s it. Luckily, you can send multiple tweets and build up a profile of your work. Even so, you need to be compelling and interesting. You may hold a reader’s interest 2 minutes. If the message works, they’ll click a link and spend much longer than that on your website or point of purchase site. Same with Facebook and similar social media: if you’re updating on a regular basis and entertaining, you’ll build a loyal following.

Tease & Entice: How do you shape the message?
This is where I step back to my writer/producer role and you become my client. My first question to you is what is your goal? Understanding the end goal up front helps you work backwards to a starting point for your promotional efforts, then you build in the steps to get you from here to there.

Identify what is unique about you and your work. You want to be fresh and differentiated from the masses shouting for attention. You want to present that in a way which is also fresh and differentiated.

Copy writing is powerful because it is precise. You need to make every word in every sentence earn the right to be there. Use words that carry double duty by being active, descriptive and mood setting. When you think what you have written is fairly tight, go back and cut some more. The bones of the message should be there, not the flesh which is what you deliver in the novel.

Don’t be afraid to tweak and test. There are many tools available to measure click-through on tweet links so you know right away if your message works. When you find something that resonates, tweak it for another medium, perhaps a Facebook update, or blurb on a forum signature line. Expand on it and test it on your book page.

Advertising is a growing, changing, moody animal. What worked for a particular company 50 years ago may still work today and in the same breath, what is hot today may be irrelevant tomorrow. Know your audience, put yourself in their place and think hard about what would make them want to read your work.

Next Time
Copy Writing Part 2: Copy Writing for Your Book Cover

This will concentrate on how to pull the best from your novel to make your jacket copy as compelling as possible.

(I’ve spent over 20 years working in media with 13 of those in advertising. My producer credits range from 30 minute programming for sports franchises to award presentations, Internet marketing and thousands of television commercials. I’ve learned a lot over the years, mostly how to listen to my clients. After all, it is the client (aka YOU) that knows their product the best. Now, go write something.)

I have a Google Puppy

I have a Google puppy that fetches news articles, blogs and press releases several times a day and drops them into my mail box. These aren’t your random posts, but targeted to what I need for my WIP. Google Alerts are quick and easy to set up, and if the information it brings doesn’t work out, I can tweak it until I’m getting quality and insightful morsels.

I originally set up an alert for “FBI art theft”: worked great, although there is a video game that keeps popping up. Then I set up “Interpol art theft”. Apparently there’s a band by that name currently touring, but not quite what I was looking for. Since 90% of the fetches were band related with no criminal intent, I dropped the search.

I discovered that by automating the research and having it done on a rolling basis, I was getting more news clips and updates on old theft cases than if I had done this at random times on my own. The criminal methods and outcomes of these cases are evolving, and to keep my work fresh, I want to be in the know about what’s going on in the art world, what’s been stolen and who is getting arrested. This timely information helped me create a realistic world for my main character and fueled creative ideas.

Google Alerts reminds me of the old clip service bureaus. Those were the people who scoured newspapers and magazines for their clients and made a “clip book” of their public image. Google Alerts take much less time and you’re never in danger of paper cuts.

20 Years ago, we would have scanned microfiche to read up on news events or locate historical documents. We’d drive to the county seat courthouse to look up birth records and find old maps and photos to help fuel our fiction. Be thankful for the 21st century.

To try it out yourself go to www.google.com and click More at the top, then click Even More at the bottom of the drop-down and Alerts will appear in a list of Google-ish options.

If you’d like to help name my puppy, DM me at @jpg_writer.

RUSH, Relevance and Henry David Thoreau

Be OriginalLast week, as I was driving home from my day job, I set my iPod to shuffle and settled into the flow of traffic. The Moody Blues “Forever Afternoon” was perfect for unwinding, a melodic story within the context of the album and still fresh after 43 years. The next song was BU2B by Rush, a song so new it’s not even on a disk yet by a band that’s been around 43 years. Wow.

I had one of those moments where a snatch of conversation from earlier in the day, the two songs playing adjacent and my own quest to find a place for my writing exploded into one word: relevance. What is the magic elixir that made classic musicians like the Moody Blues, Zeppelin and the Beatles survive the wearing away cynicism of time? How about Rush? Their music catalog is full of timeless songs and still their new music is fresh and …. well, relevant. Trust me; I too feel some days “I’m ahead of the wheel and the next it’s rolling over me”. Really, “It’s just the kind of day to leave myself behind”. See what I mean?

Certain emotions and human experiences remain the same no matter the year or generation. Tapping into that crosses time. Being original, being a leader at what you do will set you apart and make it hard to date your work. Techno pop had its day, but it sure sounds retro these days when I hear A Flock of Seagulls on the radio. The best compliment you get is how great your writing is, not how much your book is like so and so the famous author.

Keep in mind this is hard work. You have to dig deep to be original. However, as you pull in collective human experience, your plot and characters are becoming real, breathing elements for your readers. Your story will take on new turns and layered dimensions. Relevance cements the connection between you and your reader and in ten or twenty years you will still have a connection.

I’m now looking at my current work and thinking about how well I’ve layered my themes and character motivations. Will it be relevant in ten years? Have I created a unique voice for them?

I’m not sure if I could name one book that has stood the test of time for me, there are so many that I love still and go back to on occasion to reread a passage. My favorite passage? That’s easy: Henry David Thoreau’s Walden. “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”

Writing goals for 2011: Write, Read, Blog, Market, Publish

2011 is starting out great. 
Last week I Tweeted a promo code for a free download of “Perfect Copy”.  Less than 24-hours later, as I rang in the New Year, 30 copies had been downloaded and the web site had been accessed over 100 times in a single day.  As a new indie author, this was a huge confidence boost.  Downloads continue to be strong and I now have my first review on Goodreads.com thanks to CheckedOut.  (The free download will continue through February 28th at http://smashwords.com/b/23208 coupon code UX85k.)
This will be a busy year full of marketing, writing and learning the ins and outs of eBook publishing.  I have two new books in the works to publish this year, plus a brand new nanowrimo for which to prepare.
I’m starting off January with a series of blogs about my writing process.  If you are starting out or stuck, maybe these tips will get you writing with me.

Everyone is welcome to comment, share their work, tips or ideas.  I think something amazing happens when you get a group of smart creatives together.
Here is the first entry; the next post will be Friday January 7th.

Finding Your Writing Niche

It’s just you and a blank screen waiting to make a great story or novel. You’re not writing a report for your boss, a dissertation for your teacher, or fulfilling your client’s business need.  It’s just you.  How wonderful!

Or is it?  You are your toughest client.  When faced with writing whatever you want, suddenly the ideas flee like dust motes in a sun beam.  How do you reign them back to your fingertips and make a cohesive tale?  It’s challenging no matter where you are in your writing career, but even more so when you’re starting out.

In a college creative writing course, my professor had us dissect a story so we could understand how is was constructed.  I couldn’t relate to the story and the mechanics were lost on me because they had no relevance to my likes or experiences.  Years later, I turned this exercise to a more personal approach and finally had my ah-ha moment (thanks Oprah) and moved from thinking about writing and actually wrote a novel.

1. First I pulled out a legal size notepad and in about 3 minutes, listed every book I had recently read off the top of my head.  I included books I loved as well as a few I didn’t care for and didn’t finish.  That was column one.

2. Next, I quickly marked whether I liked the book and listed a simple reason as to why. That was column two.

3. column three dug a bit deeper and began to reveal a pattern.

Here’s an example:

The Spellman Files (Lisa Lutz)

Liked-Quirky Characters/Quirky voice

I liked how the author pulled me in by giving some of the story line through the investigation reports Isabel Spellman, the main character would write.  Isabel is so ingrained with the private investigator mentality that she has trouble relating to people in any normal sense.  This sets her up for unusual and funny situations.  I also like the use of San Francisco settings in the story line, having visited SF, I felt right at home with the Spellmans.

Looking over my list, there was a clear pattern of likes and dislikes in my reading material.  My original list had a lot of science fiction and a handful of mysteries.  Today, the list is a broader, eclectic mix of non-fiction, mystery and literary fiction.

I learned the types of characters that held my interest while reading, personality traits, genres, tone, etc.  That’s when I knew what type of novels not only would I enjoy writing, but also exactly the novel I should be writing.

If you tried this exercise, what did you learn? Do you have mostly mysteries like me, or is your list based squarely in a particular ethnic culture which shapes the plot?

Notice the settings of these novels.  How are they tied to the character and genre?  They can influence the setting, but think about how the setting can influence your characters and your plot.

Now is when the pen hits the page, the fingers to the keyboard and the real excitement starts.

There is a reason best selling authors are best selling authors.  If you take the time to understand how they go about writing a successful novel, then you can shape your own writing that will spark passion in your readers.


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