Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Ins and Outs of Reviewing Books Online

Today I am featured on Fabulosity Reads, an awesome blog that does -- of all things-- book reviews! Please stop by and say hi to me and my host, the lovely blue-haired Wendy of South Africa!

I hope you will chime in on the discussion about reviewing books online. Should you or shouldn't you? How tough can you be and still keep friends? How nice can you be and still maintain credibility as a reviewer? And as an author, are you ready to have your book reviewed?

See you there!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Love Affair with Paper

Yes, so I'm a compulsive journal writer. I used to buy the nice, bound journals but economically they weren't feasible since I would go through one in less than three months. Then I came up with this idea to use the piles of scratch paper my husband collected through his business. He knows about my love affair with paper, so he has always been very good about saving it for me.

As you can see, all that's needed is a hole punch, the paper blank on one side and a massive 3- ring binder. And of course a free hour to punch holes in all that delicious paper.

Voila-- my new journal!

This one should last me about a year. I can't wait until tomorrow morning when I start writing in it!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Getting Out

This writing business is solitary. So is editing. Working alone, me and my laptop, day after day. Not that I'm complaining, I love the work but sometimes you just have to get out! Near our home is the Kennecott Copper Mine, the largest man- made excavation in the world, large enough to be seen from outer space. This photo gives just a small sense of how massive it is. Sorry I wasn't able to turn it around for you.

 Last week they had free tours, so a few of our family went up to take a look. Here we are riding the bus up the mountainside, on the way to the visitor's center at the top, where we can look into the excavation. The two shots below were taken on the ride up, showing the work that is happening all along the mountainside.

(The problem with being the photographer is that you're not in the picture. Bwa ha ha.)

Here they are standing in front of a twelve -foot tall tire that goes on a 250 ton capacity truck used to haul ore and rock out of the excavation to the crushing mill. (Note: The two men are 6 ' tall) One of these tires costs $21,000 and lasts one year. There are six tires per truck. See those little specks in the top photos? Those are the loading trucks, seen from a distance.

A few interesting facts about the copper mine:

It is so large that it has its own weather patterns.

It's been in operation over 100 years, produces 425,000 ounces of gold per year as a by-product in the copper smelting process. Gold currently sells for over $1500 an ounce.

The mine provides 40% of all copper used in the U.S. The copper is 99.9% pure after it is refined.

The mine and all its connected services provide 25,000 jobs in the Salt Lake Valley.

If you ever visit the Salt Lake area, I hope you will get a chance to go see the Kennecott Open Pit Copper Mine.

Friday, July 15, 2011

From my friend Karen

Today I have guest posting the fabulous Karen Walker, who blogs at Following the Whispers. She has recently released her memoir of the same name as an ebook. It's a wonderful book, and well worth the read. I read it awhile back. My review is here

Following the Whispers by Karen Walker can be found online at Amazon and Smashwords.

Welcome, Karen! Love your name, btw.

Making Good Choices - A Writer’s Journey

Life is all about choices, so why should writing be any different? We choose our mates, what clothing to put on, whether to eat that chocolate cake or not. We choose in every moment.

As writers, we face so many choices. What adjective to use, how to describe that tree, should I change the dialogue (unless you’re writing memoir, of course, in which case, you don’t make things up).

Choices get harder as we move along the writer’s journey. Once our story is down on paper and it’s been revised to our satisfaction (and hopefully our editor’s satisfaction), we face some challenges where choices need to be made.

  Am I going for traditional publication?
  If so, I must first find an agent or small press - who will I query?
  What do I include in my query letter?
  Should I ask folks to look at it first?
  Do I listen to what anyone suggests?
  How long do I wait to hear back from an agent?
  How long do I give the query process before choosing to self-publish?
  If I choose to self-publish, how will I do it?
  How do I pick which company to use?

I faced all these choices. It took me 2 1/2 years to pour through journals, deciding what to include. I ended up with a 700-page self--help tome. An editor told me to “tell my story,” which I didn’t know how to do. After a four-year stint to complete a college degree, I re-wrote the book, crafting a memoir. I tried to find an agent for almost two years, at which point I chose to self-publish.

There are so many options out there, it can be overwhelming. It takes patience, perseverance, and tenacity to bring a book into the world. We can all simply do the best we can in every given moment, making choices based on intuition and information gleaned from a variety of sources.

My best advice - stay tuned into your gut. It will help you more than anything else. Because ultimately, your journey is yours alone. Here’s to making good choices along the way.

Karen, thanks so much for letting me write here today. You are such a strong support for writers. Thanks for all you do.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Finding Stories

So you all know that I make these cookies to sell, right? And there's a certain kind of flour (among other things) that goes into them that makes them look like this.

Although the flour is available at Costco, the past two weeks it has been unavailable. Apparently, some "company" has been coming in and buying  pallets of it as soon as it's delivered and leaving the shelves bare until the next shipment arrives. And not just one Costco, but every single one in the Salt Lake Area--about 8 or 9 stores. That is a whole lot of flour!

So I went to the mill that supplies the flour and asked them if I could buy the 25 lb. bags there. "No, we are all sold out," the clerk said. I told her about my Costco experience. I said, "I'd like to know who is doing this and what they are doing with all that flour."

She said, "Well, I'd like to know what the man's doing with all the flour he bought the other day. This guy comes in and buys an entire pallet of whole wheat flour. That's a lot. It's like 90 bags. And whole wheat flour doesn't keep that well, so why does he want so much?"

When I told my husband about all this, he said, "Maybe someone  is stockpiling it. Wonder what the winter wheat crop has been?" He researches it on the internet and learns that the winter wheat crop was bountiful. He also learns that Russia had a plentiful wheat crop as well and is trying to import it to the United States.

"Aha!!"  I exclaim. "That's it! It's the Russian Mafia, trying to create a demand by purchasing massive amounts of flour throughout the U.S. and creating a false shortage."

Well, anyway, there's the story.  Stories are everywhere, if you pay attention and connect the dots. Whether they intrigue you enough to write about them is another matter. Although it's fun to imagine the scenario about the Russian Mafia, I don't want to write about it. It's not really my genre. But if anyone else does, feel free!

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Answers You're All Waiting for about Kindle Sales

Sorry to make you wait til the end of the week for the results of my last post. But it was a tough week, bla bla bla. Nevertheless, here is the answer, which most of you already guessed in your comments. What really surprised me, however, is how your response to the GHOST WAVES cover wasn't that positive. Because I have always loved it, guess that's me showing my age and oh-so-out-of-it status.

So yes, the newly priced .99 ebook that is selling much better between the two titles, is ta-da! UNCUT DIAMONDS.

Now don't get me wrong, it's not like Uncut Diamonds is burning up the charts and headed for bestseller status. No way. It just isn't that kind of book. People seem to either love it or hate it, with very little in between responses. Regardless, my lovely bloggie friends, if you loved it or hated it, I am grateful for all the reviews and to-read statuses that you have posted on Goodreads and on Amazon. Reviews always help a book's sales, even if they are less than stellar.

So considering reviews, online presence where I have made many friends willing to give this novel a try, even if isn't really their usual genre, and (apparently) cover-- that puts Uncut Diamonds ahead of Ghost Waves in Kindle sales.

Now here is the other little secret I didn't tell you before: That when they were released in print, Ghost Waves outsold Uncut Diamonds by about the same percentage as UCD is now outselling GW on the Kindle. Bookstores just did not want to stock my novel, while they were willing to take a chance on GW. But now that everything has changed in the bookselling industry, it is what's happening with ebooks that matters more than what's happening with bookstores.

So How to get Kindle Sales?

Have an online presence and keep at it. But make friends online, don't spam people, constantly talking about "my book, my book, my book" Ugh. What a bore.

Make sure your cover is eye-catching, professional and up-to-date. A little mystery about what the book is about doesn't hurt either.

Encourage readers to post reviews about your book. The more the better, and don't get upset if you have a few stinkers in there. It helps make you look legitimate, like they aren't all from your friends and relatives.

And thanks for playing my game!