Thursday, April 27, 2017

A Month's Worth of Links!

Here are the links I shared this month on my Facebook Author Page and Twitter. There’s something here for everyone, so dive in!

Starting May 1, I’ll be participating in the StoryADay May 2017 Writing Challenge. If you’re interested, it’s not too late to sign up. It’s FREE, and you won’t be boiled in oil or put in the public stocks if you don’t hack out 31 stories. In fact, you can make your own rules for this one. The idea is to write every day and finish what you write! I’m giving it a try--why don’t you? From time to time, I’ll post some of my stories on my website

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Don't forget the "call to action"!

I absolutely LOVE that Randy Ingermanson of the FREE monthly Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine allows others to “steal” articles from his publication with the proper permission statement (see end). Here’s a great article on the old familiar “call to action”, the staple of marketing online and elsewhere.

Date: April 24, 2017
Issue: Volume 13, Number 3
Marketing: Your Call to Action
There’s a fundamental law of marketing that will earn you a lot of money if you know it.
The law is simple: “Tell people what you want them to do.”
Now of course you should do this politely. I don’t think there’s any excuse for rude marketing.
But the important point is that people won’t know what you want them to do unless you tell them. 
You can write the most amazing ad copy ever for your book, but unless you ask for the sale, it won’t occur to some people to buy it.
The point in your ad copy where you ask for the sale is called the “call to action” by marketing people.
A call to action is pretty simple. You’ve made your pitch already as to WHY your book is great. Now you tell how to get it, and you use the imperative voice, something like this: “Click here to see my book on Amazon.”
It should go without saying that a call to action isn’t very useful by itself. You have to make people hungry before you can sell them a meal. But once you’ve got them salivating, it’s just dumb to end the conversation without saying, “Come on in and sit down and I’ll serve you an AWESOME meal.”
It’s a simple fact that when you tell people what you want them to do, you’ll get better results than if you don’t.
An Accidental Call To Action
I once saw a call to action done accidentally by a judge. My wife immigrated from Korea many years ago. On the day she got her citizenship, I went to the ceremony at the courthouse. There were about a hundred new citizens being sworn in and the place was buzzing.
At the end, the judge wanted to impress on the new citizens that their new papers were NOT to be photocopied. Apparently, that violates some law. The judge could have simply said, “Don’t make a copy of your papers.”
Instead, he drew them a very long and detailed verbal picture of the thing he didn’t want them to do. It went something like this: “Don’t walk out of this door and go down the stairs to the first floor, and turn the corner and go to the photocopy room and put your papers on the copy machine and put in a dime and make a copy of your papers and take them home.”
The problem was that his long sentence was filled with actions that were easy to visualize. It sounded like a call to action, filled with imperatives. By the end of that sentence, I had nearly forgotten the “Don’t” at the beginning. I’m a native speaker of English, and the judge got me confused with his negative “call to action”. After the ceremony, my wife mentioned how confusing the judge’s instructions were. She was pretty sure some people would do exactly what the judge had described, given that new immigrants are often not fully up to speed on the language. 
There’s a lesson here for your call to action. Be concrete. Be clear. Tell them what you want them to do. 
If you think about all the thousands of ads you’ve seen in your lifetime, you can easily spot the call to action in each one.
  • “Come in for a test drive today.”
  • “Buy one, get one free.”
  • “Have a Coke and a smile.”
  • “American Express. Don’t leave home without it.”
  • “Fly United.” 
A Prime Location for Your Call to Action
One of the best places for you as a novelist to put a call to action is at the end of your book. You’ve just given your reader a powerful emotional experience. Your reader is thinking, “Doggone! I wish this book wasn’t over!”
Now they turn the page and see a one-page ad for your next book. You summarize the story premise in a sentence or two. You show a picture of the cover, which is amazing. Then you write your call to action: “Get it right now on Amazon.” If your book is an e-book, this should include a link to the sales page for the book you’re promoting.
There is no better way to promote your book.
My Call to Action for You
Now this does require you to be able to summarize your book in a sentence or two. Twenty-five or thirty words, maximum. This is an art form that every novelist should master, and if you’re a fan of my Snowflake Method, you probably already know all this.
Most readers of this e-zine are very familiar with my Snowflake Method. In case you’re new here, I’ll just say that it’s my wildly popular method for creating the first draft of a novel that is designed to sell.
The very first step of the Snowflake Method is to condense the storyline of your novel down to one high-impact sentence that punches every possible hot-button for your Target Audience. 

Your one-sentence summary is the most powerful marketing tool you will ever have for your novel.
The Snowflake Method is described in a free article on my web site which has now been viewed more then 5,000,000 times over the years. You can read all about it here on this page here.
I later expanded the article out into a book that teaches the Snowflake Method in a story, because I believe that people learn best in a story. The paper version of the book costs $10.99, and the e-book version is only $3.99.

The four links above are an example of a call to action that illustrates the main point of this article. If you’ve been meaning to learn more about the Snowflake Method, there will never be a better time than right now. Go to it, and have fun!

This article is reprinted by permission of the author.

Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, "the Snowflake Guy," publishes the free monthly Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, with more than 16,000 readers. If you want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction, AND make your writing more valuable to editors, AND have FUN doing it,

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Taking chances

So yesterday was Take a Chance Day.  It was also Lovers’ Day. Are the two related? Or shall I just pick one and go from there?

All kinds of chances

There’s a song called “Taking a Chance on Love”.  And that’s the typical romance, isn’t it?
Boy meets girl.
Boy falls in love with girl.
Boy loses girl.
Boy finds girl again.
And they lived happily ever after.

Then there’s the famous “Chance of a lifetime”--a steal on a car, a house, a fur, a diamond--all those things you’d love to have.
Or the more prudent, “Leave nothing to chance” advice.
And, of course, “It’s your last chance!” as an ultimatum or a marketing ploy.
When you read romantic suspense, how much of a chance do you like you characters to take on their lives and on each other? I tend to lean toward writing character somewhat realistically--that is, they’re not gamblers!
What’s behind the locked door?
Who’s lurking in the secret tunnel?
Who is the murderer’s next victim?
Can I really trust him/her?
And they lived happily ever after.

Would you take a chance?

I’ve read some wild characters taking chances no reasonable human being would take. The plotline is exciting, and the action doesn’t lag. But at the end of the book you have to wonder again, “What kinds of idiots would do that? Which is why I try to make my characters credible but hopefully not boring.

Characters you can believe

Lenore Seldon almost lost the great love of her life because she was afraid to take a chance.
Where Is Papa’s Shining Star?
Annie Ashley took a chance and regretted it.
Finding Papa’s Shining Star
Jean Kingston gave love a second chance, and it changed her life.
The Showboat Affair
Celeste Riley believed a blue velvet dress would bring her the chance of a lifetime.
Dancing with Velvet
Penelope Pembroke’s curiosity led her to take too many chances--even for Sam the mystery man.
The Penelope Pembroke Cozy Mystery Series
Trixie Collier Blake thought she might find a chance to live again in her old hometown.
The Dreamland Series
Tom Morgan knew he was the only chance his family had to survive.
Four Summer Days
Ruthann Cooper wasn’t looking for a second chance at love--but she found that and more.
Ruthann’s War
Susanna Kingsley had to chance forgiveness in order to live again.
Susanna’s Secret
Gail Callaway’s chance meeting with a stranger on the deck of the showboat turned her life around.
The Showboat Reunion

Take a chance to learn more about these women
 and the chances they took 
at my website.


Friday, April 21, 2017

An illustrated character update

A glance at my blog-planner for today shows this is the day for an update on the WIP, namely, The Legacy of Diamond Springs.

     The main progress has been adding/subtracting characters and refining same. I always liked Torr Whittaker, investigative reporter for Behind the Story Magazine which--he is careful to point out--is not a tabloid! His potential love interest, the younger Jewel Ainsleigh, not so much. Hopefully I’ve kept her weakness--that being how she was overprotected and allowed to think of herself as fragile--while showing her potential to rise above all that in a crisis.

     And crises abound at Ainsleigh College of which her father Barrett is the heir-apparent-president. I like Barrett, a gentle scholarly man who’s never been appreciated by his family. First of all, the small but exclusive college is in dire financial straits, not because of mismanagement but because it has retained its independence by not accepting federal funds.

The college evolved from a boys’ school just after the Civil War when Barrett’s great-grandfather had to come up with some way of generating revenue to pay the taxes on Diamond Springs Plantation to keep the carpetbaggers and scalawags from wresting it out of the family’s control.

     I also like Cordelia Pendleton Wainwright “Corey” whose ancestors were brought as slaves from South Carolina to Mississippi in the 1840s. With a master’s degree and a diploma from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, she has never forgotten--and always loved--Barrett Ainsleigh from their days as children together. Now widowed, she has returned to Ainsleigh College to accept the position of Director of Food Services and associate professor of household arts and sciences. But her main job has been to raise Barrett’s daughter Jewel after the abrupt departure of her mother.

     I made some changes to Corey--she’s a strong woman, but she’s vulnerable, too, when it comes to the two people she loves most in the world:  Barrett, the husband she could never have, and Jewel, the daughter of her heart.

     There are other characters--good, bad, just plain evil, obsessed, and some you’ll have to figure out on your own
Alistair Ainsleigh, who didn't want the college but used it for his own good

Geoff Ainsleigh, Alistair's son, up to no good for Jewel or anyone else

Miss Eleanor Pickett who wants to save the town's history but may cost Jewel her life

Police Chief Larry McClure who has to figure out the past to make sure there's a future

And there are family secrets, not completely buried with the dead. Looming over all is Ainsleigh College, a cultural icon in the state, the center of the town’s history and current economy, and perhaps one of those institutions which has outlived its usefulness and spiraled into a danger for everyone associated with it.
By getting away from the house, I’ve hacked out a an average of 2500 words a day this week. Somehow sitting in a public place like a fast-food restaurant energizes me. Home can be too quiet to be motivating, although I look forward to returning to its peaceful confines at the end of the day.

The ‘end of the story’ is coming up--and then it’s time for rewrites of the rewrite and edits! I’m sure I’ll be cringing at what I wrote and how I wrote it, but at least the saga will have ended.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017


A day late and a dollar short…

So, since I took off for Holy Week, I’m a day behind, and Blah-Blah-Blah Day was actually April 17, Monday. According to the website Bizarre, Wacky, and Unique Holidays, this is the day to take care of everything anyone has been nagging you about--blah--blah-blah.

Where did blah-blah-blah come from?

A little research turns up the fact that the word probably originated in the early 20th century, although Webster’s Dictionary did not list it in 1913. Today the Cambridge Dictionary says the word is of British origin and alludes to other words which have little or no meaning. Related words are the Scottish blather (16th century), blab (around the same time), and blabber (14th century). Until 1936 you couldn’t have been called a blabbermouth!
My take

I’ve often (unkindly, I’ll admit) referred to people who run off at the mouth with a lot of gossip I really don’t want or need to know. (We won’t even skate near the mainstream media which runs off at the mouth with “news” which is fact or fiction, whichever suits their agenda!) I tend to be a bit more verbally restrained, but I do run of at the computer sometimes. First drafts come to mind. And yet, without a first draft, there is no finished story.

Sometimes when I re-read a first draft, I cringe and have to fight the urge to hit the delete button. Yet, thar’s gold in them there hills…eventually.
Right now I’m working on a total rewrite of The Legacy of Diamond Springs. I put out a first chapter inviting unrestrained bashing and bludgeoning and other forms of comments. No takers, alas. You can scroll back and find it, and perhaps I’ll put out Chapter 2 in the near future. The last thing any author wants to be is boring…or, in keeping with the theme of this blog entry, offering nothing but blah-blah-blah.

Moving on

Meanwhile, I’m moving on with the rewrite, which will be, of course, another first draft. And all first drafts, as we know, STINK.  Also meanwhile, I’ll be selectively viewing the news tonight…because I am long-since weary of blah-blah-blah!

 Have you visited my website lately? 

Don't forget April's free read: The Poisonous Truth 
Just click "I'll Tell You a Story"

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Story That Won't Die

Some stories never die

April 14 was Titanic Remembrance Day. Today no one is left of the 706 passengers and crew who survived, and few are alive to remember the 1,522* who died. But the name Titanic lives on with all the mystery and myth surrounding that fateful night in 1912 when the “unsinkable” ship plunged to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

Living on the silver screen

My own fascination with the ship began in 1953 when I saw Barbara Stanwyck and Clifton Webb (and a cast of other memorable actors and actresses) in the black and white film directed by Jean Negulesco. Today mention a movie about the ill-fated ship, and one immediately thinks of James Cameron’s 1997 blockbuster. It wasn’t my favorite.
In 1958, a British film, A Night to Remember, based on Walter Lord’s book by the same name, hit the screen. Later I also enjoyed S.O.S. Titanic, a 1979 made-for-television movie starring David Janssen as John Jacob Astor, the middle-aged millionaire returning to America with his much-younger pregnant bride. She survived--he didn’t.
But what you might not know is that there have been over 40 movies and other films about the Titanic and in many different languages. Three were made in the very year of the tragedy, one being released only 29 days later! (It is now lost.)

Finally found

Five years before Dr. Robert Ballard and his expeditionary crew found the ship on September 1, 1985, another movie, Raise the Titanic fueled the imagination of many Titanic buffs (like me!) that the great ship might actually once again see the light of day. Unfortunately, it broke into several pieces during the actual sinking, so the premise proved to be faulty.
Subsequent expeditions by Dr. Ballard and other counties gave rise to the controversy about whether or not to bring up artifacts for display or whether the site should be considered sacred like a cemetery. The display side won, and restoration of items retrieved has been on going.

Remembrances of things lost

The Titanic Museum in Branson, Missouri, has relieved me of rather pricey ticket money twice, but I considered it money well spent. Inside the museum is the recreated “grand staircase” and many permanent exhibits such as Madeline Astor’s life jacket. Other exhibits come and go. I couldn’t wait to see bandleader Wallace Hartley’s violin! This year, through June 11, costumes from the 1997 award-winning movie will be on display.

History and hype

You could fill dozens of bookcases with volumes about the Titanic, both fiction and non-fiction. (Some, of course, are better than others.) One thing is sure--one will make you want to sample another and another and another…
The Titanic is gone, and the people who sailed on her are long-dead, but her story will live on forever. The questions of exactly why she sank and why more people weren’t saved will never be completely answered. Her fate is a mystery--and mysteries continue to intrigue people for generations.

*Statistics about the number of passengers, those lost, and those saved vary by source.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Word Place

will be on hiatus for Holy Week.

John 3:16

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” 

King James Version (KJV)