Thursday, April 28, 2011


Some people are now saying blogs do not create business or increase sales. There are just too many of them out there. Unless you get thousands of hits a month, the blog doesn't help the professional. Speaking of which, many are less than professional.

That said, if a person can be a guest blogger on a popular blog, he/she probably gets more notice than from their own blogging efforts.

I'm taking a break for a while since my readership has dropped off. I'll research the reasons why, see what I can do to create more interest, and begin again later in the year. Our travel schedule also prevents my following through for the summer. 

Thanks so much for reading in the past. I'll hope to see you again at a later date.

Monday, April 25, 2011


Marketing and promotion go on forever.

I mentioned before that my publicist sent a message about the Children's Authors Show. Don McCauley of Free Publicity Focus Group interviews authors for a web radio show. My interview will air for 24 hours April 27/28. He suggests putting a copy on my website but I'm not sure an audience would pay attention unless it were video rather than audio only.

Don's Free Publicity Focus Group provides a free strategy analysis to increase your website visibility. I had one done and although it doesn't give the step-by-step instructions I hoped for, it gave me plenty to consider and think about. For a fee, Don will do more work such as keyword analysis/strategy, branding, website design, media releases, email marketing lists, teleseminars, and more. He sent along several examples of good websites which use great keywords to get noticed. I'll consider more later.

Everyone says authors should belong to Twitter. I finally broke down and joined although I'm not sure I really understand how to utilize this form of social media. I've read recently that social media isn't the mecca for promotion that most people think it is. I can, however, say one person turned up for a book signing and purchased two books because he saw my post on Facebook.

While checking Google analytics I saw one person visited my website or blog from Facebook. Which brings to mind another subject - knowing your audience or target market.

I'm told I can find out lots of information in analytics about my audience. I have yet to find many specifics along those lines. I'll keep searching.

In the meantime, if you have any technical advice to pass on, please comment. 


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Easter Egg Hunt Game

I'm early in case someone wants to take advantage of a new kind of Easter Egg hunt.

Last year my son did a progressive hunt. The first direction led to another direction and so on until the end where a nice prize awaited for the granddaughters - a $25 gift card to Barnes and Noble. They love to read.

I'm having Easter this year. We are celebrating Easter and two birthdays. The twin grandsons will be 2 on April 27 and the twin granddaughters, from another family, will be 13 on May 1st. For the boys, we'll just hide some plastic Easter eggs that hold mostly balls I bought at the dollar store and a couple of marshmallow treats.

However, the girls are another matter. I bought the little favors again at the dollar store. Too old for a traditional egg hunt, I wrote rhyming (I'll admit, not good rhyme because I was in a hurry) directions to lead them to their birthday gifts. The first egg has marshmallow treats and directions. Each girl follows her own path. The second egg is actually an egg shaped puzzle they have to figure out how to open to get the directions. The third egg holds directions inside and sits atop a chocolate cross. The fourth egg and directions sit on a Rubic type puzzle. The fifth egg holds one of the girls' birthday gifts either inside with the directions or sits on top of a package. The last egg sits on their second birthday gift.

They enjoyed the game last year so I'll hope they appreciate it again this year.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


After a week's break, I've discovered the blogs must be boring as reading has dropped off. I think I'll change my strategy. I'll talk about whatever comes to mind. Today I'll concentrate more on Promotion.

While writing a proposal for the Douglas Country Writer's Conference, I've discovered more on promotion. Try to be a guest blogger on popular blogs. Also search out interview opportunities. After hearing Dom Testa speak at AuthorU, I have a different outlook on interviewing.

He says your subject should be broad. If not, there will be no interest by media to do an interview. Suppose you've written on the life cycle of frogs. Who cares? Who wants to know about frogs? However, if you choose a subject such as his that says "Smart is Cool" to teens, you can land an interview.

In my case, Charles Russell appeals to a wide variety of people. How to look at art appeals to a large percentage of people although they don't realize it until they read my book. As one person posted on Facebook, "I'll never look at art in the same way again." Another woman made the same comment after attending my author visit at Evergreen Country Day School. That is my goal.

I tell a story on my website ( about an incident I experienced during the Moscow Treasures and Traditions exhibit during the 1990 World Games in Seattle, WA. Check it out. 

I did land an interview on The Children's Authors Show. It will air April 27/28. You can fill out the form on the site to request an author interview. My Pelican publicist forwarded the information to me.

She also forwarded the information for a guest blog on Imagination Soup. The host hasn't informed me when the article will be posted.

Promotion is a never ending but necessary evil whether you publish with a publishing house or self-publish. Thank goodness I've received lots of help from the publicist and by word of mouth.

Tomorrow I mail the final submission as requested by Pelican after a contract was signed for the Frederic Remington's Art, the second book in the How the West Was Drawn series. Hopefully the book will be released in Spring, 2012. In the meantime, I'm concentrating on doing author visits at retirement communities during the summer. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Writer's Journey - Ordinary World

I am a little late today. I did a web radio interview for The Authors Show which will air in the near future. It was an interesting experience. The directors edit the telephone conversation then post the edited version on the show for listening. He says some people receive good results, while others receive none. I hope mine falls in the first category.

Now that the archetypes have been somewhat covered, I'll delve deeper into the 12 elements of a story according to The Writer's Journey. Each post will be followed the next time with Questioning the Journey. At times it may take two posts to cover the material. Let's begin at the beginning - Ordinary World.

As you previously learned, the Hero lives in his Ordinary World until something happens to disrupt it. We all know the opening must "hook the reader, set the tone of the story, suggest where it is going and get across a lot of information without slowing the pace."

Think how your audience will first encounter the book - title, first paragraph, first dialogue, where in the character's lives the story fits, an introduction or prologue. Even though many people wait to come up with a title, you still need to be considering it from the beginning. The beginning comes from a few symbols or metaphors that put the audience in the right mood for the journey.

Take The Godfather as an example. The title suggests the main character is both god and father. Yet we see in movie trailers, posters and the logo that there is a puppeteer working the strings of an unknown marionette. Is the main character the puppeteer or the puppet of a higher force. The title and imagery presents a metaphor with many interpretations.

A prologue can introduce the main characters, their world, cue the audience as the the kind of story it is, start with a bang, introduce the villain or story threat, and fill in necessary backstory.  Most children's books do not have a prologue. Backstory is woven throughout the book. 

Many books simply begin by placing the Hero in his Ordinary World before any problem arises. It is necessary to contrast it to the Special World the Hero will be thrown in later. It might provide some backstory. We discovered from the The Wizard of Oz how the Ordinary contrasts to the Special World by using black and white for the Ordinary World and color for the Special World. Even though the world may seem boring we might get some foreshadowing of what is to come. Dorothy clashes with the ornery neighbor and is rescued by three farmhands. This beginning foreshadows the problems to come and with whom. 

The Ordinary World offers a glimpse into what the Hero wants and raises some questions. Will the hero win the game, get the gold, and beat the villains?

Next post will cover some other Ordinary World points.