To get a hamster or not is the question

Image result for hamsterLexie wants a hamster. I don’t know what brought that on, but she won’t let this go even after I told her there were three problems with a hamster. Their names are Nikki, Spooky and Tails. Ok, so Tails isn’t much of a hunter, but the other two cats certainly are.

Hamsters and cats don’t mix.

I know this because as a child, our family cat killed the class hamster that my family was watching over Christmas break.

Image result for cat huntingCats are hunters. Our cats bring in lizards, snakes, birds and even mice. Some of these creatures are dead but some are alive…but not for long if I don’t intervene.

We explained all this to Lexie, but she still wants a hamster. She insists that the two can exist together. But Nikki loves her. Nikki sleeps in her bed. Nikki would be a threat to her new pet.

So, we said no to the hamster. But anyone who knows Lexie knows she won’t give up that easy. Every few days she would ask. And we said no hamster each and every time.

I didn’t think Lexie even knew what having a hamster meant. Did she know how to take care of one? I told Lexie that if she was serious about a hamster, she needed to research them. I thought the idea would discourage her.

It didn’t.

Lexie asked to go to the library to get a book on hamsters. When there wasn’t one in the children’s section, she got the only one from the adult section. And she read it. Sure, she had to ask about a few of the words, but she read up on what type of hamster would be best. She read about their care.

And she did something we weren’t expecting. She decided that to get a hamster, she needed to be responsible. She began setting her alarm. She got up on her own and was dressed and ready for school. Ok, that only lasted the first week. But she still sets her alarm and sometimes gets up without me going in there over and over until she wakes up. And she works hard to get her homework done and make it to her activities on time.

She seems like a totally different child. Oh, she still drives me crazy, but she is trying to be good. She is trying so hard that she has burst into tears when she forgets something or something goes wrong. She worries that that one act will be the deciding factor on whether she gets a hamster or not.

So, now my husband and I are thinking hamster…well, maybe. But the more she tries, the more we consider it. I still think if we get her a hamster that the cats will kill it, but Lexie seems fine taking that chance.

BLOOD BOND is #FREE – Check out an #excerpt of this #fantasy #novel

Today is Friday, and while I sometime host a guest author, I didn’t have one lined up for today. (Any authors who want to be featured, check out this post.) Since my book is FREE until tomorrow (October 13), I thought I would share an excerpt. You can pick up your copy of Blood Bond on Amazon.

Excerpt

As Soren walked, he noticed a brown dragon sitting apart from the others. The last time he had seen Barth was when the dragon had thrown him off his back before Blinking. Remembering that horrible feeling of falling, he clinched his fist and stalked over to the brown dragon. Barth regarded him coolly as he approached.

“You! What the…why did you do that?”

“You were making a mistake,” Barth said, calmly.

Soren paced in front of him, waving his hands as he spoke. “You couldn’t have told me that and then landed? Instead, you threw me off your back while we were in the air! I could have been killed!”

“And yet, here you are.”

Soren took a deep breath and another. “What if Dex didn’t save me?”

“Then neither of you would have had to worry about the Blood Bond,” Barth said with amusement in his voice. His eyes focused on Soren and when he continued, he tone was serious. “You and Reddex share a Bond that is stronger than any I have seen. I knew he would save you, just as I knew you were acting out of anger. It would have been a mistake for you to leave. Do you regret choosing to stay with him?”

“No.” Soren sighed. “I don’t regret it.”

“Well, there you are. Perhaps you should be thanking me instead of being angry.”

Soren threw his hands up in the air and stalked away. Now he was more annoyed than he had been after dealing with the General. He didn’t want to return to Camden. He needed to work out his frustrations. He spied a rake leaning against a nearby building. Grabbing it, he returned to the place where Dex had originally landed. Though the dragon never complained about sleeping on the rough ground, Soren began clearing the area of rocks. Dex would probably point out he had been sleeping on them for the past week without a problem, but he needed something to do and removing the rocks and sticks, so they didn’t jab the dragon as he slept seemed the perfect distraction. As he worked, he considered erecting a tent nearby but dismissed the idea. He knew he too would probably be sleeping on the ground. He had become accustomed to sleeping against Dex. He found he slept better that way.

As he continued to clear the area, sweat dripped down his face. The manual labor felt good. What felt even better was to be out of the city. There was no chance he would be bombarded with questions out here or that anyone would doubt his observations. His thoughts went back to his report on the advancing army. He knew what he had seen. The cloaked figure was a woman.

“What are you doing here?”

Soren froze at the sound of a voice he hadn’t heard in years. His hands gripped the rake handle until his knuckles were white. He turned slowly. The man stood with a saddle thrown over one shoulder. His hair and beard were streaked with grey. A brown leather apron covered his clothes. The look of disgust on the man’s face was one he had seen thousands of times.

“Hello, father.”

His father dropped the saddle to the ground and took a step toward him. “I might expect to see Jerrick here but not you.”

His father could always tell them apart. He didn’t move as his father approached. He saw his father’s eyes travel down his face to the mark on his neck.

“What’s that?”

“Nothing.”

Soren didn’t see the fist coming. It slammed into his jaw. Pain exploded across his face. He fell to the ground. He lay on his back, slowly bringing his hand to his mouth. He wiped away the blood. Anger coursed through him, and distantly he heard Dex calling to him.

“You don’t speak to me like that.” His father placed his foot on Soren’s shoulder, pressing down until he had him pinned to the ground. He leaned over him, applying a little pressure. “The mark?”

Soren grunted as his father increased the pressure. “It’s so they can tell Jerrick and I apart.”

“They?”

“The King, his men.”

“Ah. I see.” His father glanced up, his eyes widening.

Soren heard the wings. The ground shook as Dex landed. His father took a step back, releasing the pressure on Soren’s shoulder. He backed away as the red dragon advanced. Soren climbed to his feet, placing his hand on Dex’s flank. His father’s eyes flickered to him.

“You don’t belong here,” his father said. “Nothing good will come of this. And soon you will be the cause of another death, and they’ll know it.”

Book Blurb

Man severed the alliance with the dragons fifty years ago. But now an invading army marches north destroying everything in its path. The dragons believe only together can the invaders be defeated. They need an emissary.

Womanizer. Drunk. Failure. Soren is many things. A leader isn’t one of them. But, Dex, the dragon who saves him from a cliff, believes different. Thrust into an adventure he never wanted, Soren’s life changes forever when during a battle Dex’s dragon blood mixes with his blood creating a mystical blood bond – forever linking them.

As the bond strengthens, Soren must decide whether to return to his old life or accept the bond and embrace his role in the battle against the invading army.

***

You can read the first chapter here or another exciting excerpt here. Or stop reading snippets and get the whole book here on Amazon – for FREE through 10/13.

 

Using a Book Trailer to promote your novel

This post is the fifty-seventh post in a series about writing a novel. You can check out the list of past topics at the end of this post.

Last week, I wrote about buying an advertisement to sell your book. Another method of advertising is to create a book trailer for your novel.

A book trailer is a short commercial used to whet the audience’s appetite. It should capture the tone and message of your book. And most importantly, it should make the viewer want to go out and buy your book.

Now depending on who you ask, book trailers are either a great marketing tool or a complete waste of time and money. On one hand, videos generate a lot of online traffic. Reports show 78% of people watch online videos each week. Studies also show people recall six times more information from video than text. But there are no stats to prove that book trailers sell books.

I first wrote about book trailers back in 2012 when I created one for my book Summoned. Back then, many trailers were simply a collection of still shots set to music. For someone on a tight budget such as myself, this was an easy option. The total out-of-pocket expense for my trailer – including paying for the music – was $25. (You can check out my post here.)

Nowadays, those with a bigger budget are going all out – hiring actors and voiceover artists. But few of us Indie Authors can afford that type of expense. I know I certainly can’t afford a CGI team to create a dragon for my trailers.

If you don’t have a big budget, you might be able to find some aspiring film directors at the local college who might take on your project. Or you have to do what you can afford – hiring someone to create a trailer or doing it yourself as I did back in 2012. (You can see my trailer here.) I will say that even going the still photo route is hard for authors of fantasy and science fiction as it is hard to find appropriate stock photos and footage.

Another option would be to film yourself talking about your book and telling the world who you are. This is a good choice for non-fiction writers.

No matter which way you decide to go – high tech or simple, do-it-yourself or professional – here are some tips.

Length

Good trailers are short – typically under two minutes.

Call to Action

The reason many book trailers don’t work is because they don’t compel the reader into action. They are not supposed to be a retelling of your story but should grab the viewer’s attention and excite or intrigue them, so they rush to buy your book. A well-made book trailer should end with an image of the book, title, author, and availability.

Visibility

A good trailer does nothing if not seen by potential readers. This is one of the biggest problems with book trailers. It must reach the correct viewers. You can post it on YouTube, Facebook, your own website, Bookreel.com, or Trailershelf.com and others. But just because your trailer is being viewed, there is no guarantee that those viewers are members of your target market. There is no guarantee those viewers are even readers.

Previous topics

#1 – Deciding to write a novel – Writing Myths

#2 – Three areas to develop before starting to write a novel

#3 – Finding a Story Idea and How to Know if it “good enough”

#4 – Developing Characters for your Novel

#5 – Major characters? Minor Characters? Where does everyone fit in?

#6 – Developing the Setting for your Novel

#7 – The importance of developing conflict in your novel plot

#8 – To Outline or not to outline 

#9 – The importance of a story arc

#10 – The importance of tension and pace

#11 – Prologue and opening scenes

#12 – Beginning and ending scenes in a novel

#13 – The importance of dialogue…and a few tips on how to write it

#14 – Using Internal Dialogue in your novel

#15 – More dialogue tips and help with dialogue tags

#16 – Knowing and incorporating back story into your novel

#17 – Hinting at what is to come with foreshadowing

#18 – Tips for writing different scenes in your novel

#19 – Dealing with Writer’s Block

#20 – Killing a Character in your Novel

#21 – Keeping things realistic in your novel

#22 – Establishing Writing Goals and Developing Good Writing Habits

#23 – Using the five senses and passive voice in your novel

#24 – The benefit of research in fiction writing

#25 – Novella or Novel, Trilogy or Series – decisions for writers

#26 – Avoiding Plot and Character Clichés

#27 – Novel Writing – Endings and Epilogues

#28 – Fantasy Novel Writing – World Building, Dragons, Magic and More

#29 – Finishing your First Draft

#30 – Your Second Draft and Beyond

#31 – Picking Stronger Words and Watching out for Homonyms

#32 – Omitting unnecessary words in your novel

#33 – Beta Reader, Proofreaders and Copy Editors

#34 – Knowing your grammar or at least using a grammar checking program

#35 – Using a Revision Outline during your Novel Editing

#36 – Editing Techniques: Taking a Break and Reading Aloud

#37 – Publishing Options for your book

#38 – Self-publishing an ebook decisions

#39 – Picking Your Book Title and Your Pen Name

#40 – Investing in an eye-catching book cover

#41 – Writing an awesome book blurb

#42 – Deciding on Front Matter for your novel

#43 – Deciding on Back Matter for your novel

#44 – Formatting your eBook for publication

#45 – Pricing your e-book

#46 – Selecting Categories and Keywords to improve your Novel’s visibility

#47 – Book Promotions: Cover Reveal and Pre-Orders

#48 – Publishing your novel with Amazon and KDP Select

#49 – Publishing your e-book with Smashwords or Draft2Digital

#50 – Marketing your E-book

#51 – Finding your Book’s Target Market

#52 – The importance of Book Reviews and how to get them

#53 – Is it worth it to offer your book for free?

#54 – My results from offering my novels for free

#55 – Amzon’s Kindle Countdown Deals explained and my results

#56 – Selling your book through book ads

#Free eBook Alert – BLOOD BOND is free 10/9 to 10/13

From Tuesday, October 9 thru Saturday, October 13, you can download my fantasy novel, Blood Bond, for FREE!

Available only at Amazon.

Don’t have a Kindle? No problem. Download the Kindle App for free here.

Blood Bond: Book Description

Man severed the alliance with the dragons fifty years ago. But now an invading army marches north destroying everything in its path. The dragons believe only together can the invaders be defeated. They need an emissary.

Womanizer. Drunk. Failure. Soren is many things. A leader isn’t one of them. But, Dex, the dragon that saves him from a cliff, believes different. Thrust into an adventure he never wanted, Soren’s life changes forever when during a battle Dex’s blood mixes with his blood creating a mystical blood bond – forever linking them.

As the bond strengthens, Soren must decide whether to return to his old life or accept the bond and embrace his role in the battle against the invading army.

 

Download Blood Bond for FREE here.

Miscommunications abound when getting info through my daughter

Last week, I wrote about this year’s extracurricular activities for Lexie and Jase. As I mentioned, fifth graders have lot of choices. They can help with the special needs kids (Buddies), do safety patrol (morning or afternoon), be in fifth grade strings (beginning orchestra) or be on EPTV (morning announcements). There is also choir, robotics or student council.

Many of these opportunities must be applied for at the end of the fourth-grade year. Lexie wanted to do patrols. She applied…and didn’t get in. That is practically unheard of, but the P.E. coach insisted they had too many people for afternoon patrols. He said she was on the waiting list. A day later, Lexie came home and told me if she changed to morning patrols that she could get in. I agreed she could do that. But somewhere along the way, Lexie must have not understood what Coach meant, because she still didn’t get in. She would have to wait until after the summer to see if anyone moved or dropped out.

So, I asked Lexie what else she might want to do. She said EPTV. I knew there would be an application for that too. I asked Lexie to find out when it would be. The librarian aide told her it would be after the STAAR test. The test came and went, and Lexie didn’t see any applications. I told her to keep checking. And then we heard they were doing interviews, and it was too late to apply.

Feeling frustrated, I wrote the school librarian. She admitted that when Lexie had spoken to her and to her aide, they thought she had already applied. It seems that the applications had been out for weeks and that on the day she didn’t get into patrols was the deadline. She asked about EPTV just next day. (She swears she never heard the multiple announcements to apply for EPTV.)

So, now it was too late for EPTV unless she wanted to be the backup camera person. But that would mean that she would only be used a handful of times if at all. We declined that option. The librarian had another suggestion. Every year, the librarian aide picked a fifth grader to help in the mornings with the kindergartners. If Lexie wanted to, she could speak to the librarian’s aide about it.

She did that the next day and it was all set. Or at least it is if you can believe what Lexie says. And I do…most of the time, but the past few weeks had proven that communication with Lexie or rather through Lexie was not always accurate.

As it turned out, Lexie did get the librarian assistant job. I think that was through persistence. At the end of summer, she checked in the with the librarian aide and then again after school started. In the beginning of September, she began helping with the kindergartners and enjoys reading to them a few times a week.

Little did we know that a few weeks later, an afternoon patrol position opened. Lexie said Coach told her she could do it if I approved. Hmm…I had heard that before. So, I emailed Coach and guess what. This time the information was correct. Lexie began training as a Patrol the following Tuesday.

All this miscommunication was frustrating, but I guess it all worked out in the end.

Selling your book through book ads

This post is the fifty-sixth post in a series about writing a novel. You can check out the list of past topics at the end of this post.

Over the past few weeks I have talked about offering your book on promotion whether it is for free or at a discount. From my own experience, no sales promotion is going to succeed without readers knowing about it. And no book will ever be read without readers being able to find it. This is where advertising comes into play.

Now you can go with free routes – posting on Facebook, Twitter or blogs. But your reach can be limited on these venues. You need to go where readers go. You need to go where people buy, review or discuss books.

But before you purchase an ad on any of website, I would suggest you research whether this will help you reach your target market of readers. It doesn’t help to just advertise your books to just readers in general. You need to get it in front of those that actually might read your book. In other words, don’t advertise your sci-fi thriller to romance readers.

Some websites will offer you an ad on their website or perhaps a listing on their “special” or “deal section.” And some even will include your information in their e-mail newsletter. Other sites will offer advertising based on a Cost-per-Click (CPC) program. This is where you have an advertisement (sometimes just copy and sometimes with an image) and you only pay for the people who click on the link in your ad.

Let’s go over briefly a few places you can buy an advertisement.

Amazon

What better place to advertise than on the biggest e-book retailer out there? Amazon offers Amazon Marketing Services, which offers sponsored ads, display ads or video ads. The sponsored ads are cost-per-click while the display ads or video ads require a $35,000 budget to start, so those are out for most of us. Find out more here.

https://advertising.amazon.com/kindle-select-ads

Goodreads

Goodreads is another good place to advertise. They have over 80 million members and 430 million page views a month. This is where many readers go to discuss books or to find their next great read.

Here though people won’t be clicking to buy your book. They will be adding the book to their To-Read list. This may be an easier commitment than an actual purchase and the plus for you is that when people add books to their To Read list, it shows up in their friends’ news feeds and email digests meaning more publicity for you.

Facebook

With over 1 billion users, Facebook could be the way to find the next reader for your book. Like Amazon and Goodreads, you pay when people click on your ad. You can narrow who you want to see your ad by region, age, sex and interests.

Book/Reader Websites

There are numerous reader websites such as BookBub, Kindle News Daily and Ereader News Daily to name a few that offer advertisements. These can range in price from $15 up to several hundred dollars (especially when looking at the very-challenging-to-get-accepted BookBub). Before considering any of these, you need to look at how many of their readers are in your target market.

There are many blogs out there that will tell you which sites they have had success using but remember that each book, each promotion is different. My results will not be the same as yours just as your results will differ from another authors. My advice is to set a budget and experiment to see what helps increase your sales and reviews.

Previous topics

#1 – Deciding to write a novel – Writing Myths

#2 – Three areas to develop before starting to write a novel

#3 – Finding a Story Idea and How to Know if it “good enough”

#4 – Developing Characters for your Novel

#5 – Major characters? Minor Characters? Where does everyone fit in?

#6 – Developing the Setting for your Novel

#7 – The importance of developing conflict in your novel plot

#8 – To Outline or not to outline 

#9 – The importance of a story arc

#10 – The importance of tension and pace

#11 – Prologue and opening scenes

#12 – Beginning and ending scenes in a novel

#13 – The importance of dialogue…and a few tips on how to write it

#14 – Using Internal Dialogue in your novel

#15 – More dialogue tips and help with dialogue tags

#16 – Knowing and incorporating back story into your novel

#17 – Hinting at what is to come with foreshadowing

#18 – Tips for writing different scenes in your novel

#19 – Dealing with Writer’s Block

#20 – Killing a Character in your Novel

#21 – Keeping things realistic in your novel

#22 – Establishing Writing Goals and Developing Good Writing Habits

#23 – Using the five senses and passive voice in your novel

#24 – The benefit of research in fiction writing

#25 – Novella or Novel, Trilogy or Series – decisions for writers

#26 – Avoiding Plot and Character Clichés

#27 – Novel Writing – Endings and Epilogues

#28 – Fantasy Novel Writing – World Building, Dragons, Magic and More

#29 – Finishing your First Draft

#30 – Your Second Draft and Beyond

#31 – Picking Stronger Words and Watching out for Homonyms

#32 – Omitting unnecessary words in your novel

#33 – Beta Reader, Proofreaders and Copy Editors

#34 – Knowing your grammar or at least using a grammar checking program

#35 – Using a Revision Outline during your Novel Editing

#36 – Editing Techniques: Taking a Break and Reading Aloud

#37 – Publishing Options for your book

#38 – Self-publishing an ebook decisions

#39 – Picking Your Book Title and Your Pen Name

#40 – Investing in an eye-catching book cover

#41 – Writing an awesome book blurb

#42 – Deciding on Front Matter for your novel

#43 – Deciding on Back Matter for your novel

#44 – Formatting your eBook for publication

#45 – Pricing your e-book

#46 – Selecting Categories and Keywords to improve your Novel’s visibility

#47 – Book Promotions: Cover Reveal and Pre-Orders

#48 – Publishing your novel with Amazon and KDP Select

#49 – Publishing your e-book with Smashwords or Draft2Digital

#50 – Marketing your E-book

#51 – Finding your Book’s Target Market

#52 – The importance of Book Reviews and how to get them

#53 – Is it worth it to offer your book for free?

#54 – My results from offering my novels for free

#55 – Amzon’s Kindle Countdown Deals explained and my results