Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Dangers of Flip Flops

           I am a huge Diary of a Wimpy Kid fan. I originally bought the books for my kids, but my daughter started reading parts to me, and I got hooked. The books are hilarious. As soon as the latest book came out, I picked it up, and my daughter started reading sections to me almost immediately. Greg was talking about how boring recess was because of his school playground. Due to injuries and insurance, they had removed all of the playground equipment for student safety.

            While the description was incredibly funny as usual, it made me kind of uncomfortable. I do think the schools are going a little overboard with safety. Last year, I got a call from the secretary at my daughter’s school. She asked me if I knew my daughter was wearing flip flops. It’s California. It’s hot. Everyone wears flip flops, so you can understand my confusion. The secretary then tells me that the student handbook clearly states that students cannot wear flip flops to school. I told her I didn’t remember reading that. She lost her mind inferring that I was uncaring. Didn’t I know that my daughter could trip and fall while running with flip flops? Didn’t I know how dangerous flip flops could be? My daughter is in junior high and most of them sit around talking or reading. They don’t run unless you make them.

I was too perplexed to laugh. I knew she wasn’t joking but didn’t see how she could be serious. I asked her if we should send our kids to school in bubble wrap and bike helmets. She got so upset with my “lack of concern” that she decided to look up the rule in the student handbook so she could read it to me. I sat quietly while she frantically looked for the specific rule against flip flops. It wasn’t there. It did say kids had to wear appropriate footwear. I made sure she wore her tennis shoes on P.E. days. I thought that’s what it meant. Again, it’s California. It’s 100+ degrees. Flip flops would be appropriate. She would not have it. She yelled at me. She yelled at the principal asking him if he knew that flip flops were not specifically banned in the handbook. A problem they remedied for this year I assure you. No more flip flops. It’s the law.

I also have problems with my daughter’s P.E. teacher. My kids are in Tae Kwan Do which is obviously a contact sport. They wear lots of protective gear and are closely supervised, but they get hurt occasionally. You would think that as a P.E. teacher, he would be glad that she was involved in a sports program outside of school. No. He told her that she had too many notes to get out of P.E. at school and that I should consider putting the kids in a safer sport where they wouldn’t get hurt. A safer sport? Are you kidding me? What sport is that? Croquet?

My husband will tell you that I am an overprotective mother, and I thought he was an adrenaline psycho who didn’t care if the kids got injured. He enjoys getting the kids involved in risky sports like riding dirt bikes, quads, skateboards, motocross racing, etc. It made me crazy. I said “The kids might get hurt!” He said “Yeah, so. They won’t die. They’ll have fun, and they’ll learn to be careful, and that they can get hurt and be ok later.” I didn’t get it at first. I certainly didn’t want to listen to my husband who has enough scars and broken bones to rival Evil Knievel. Then he pointed out that I have my own scars and broken bones that I got having fun and being a little wild when I was a kid. Didn’t that make me stronger? Make me fearless about going after what I wanted in life knowing that I could survive pain?

                He was right. I don’t want to see my kids hurt, but unfortunately, pain is part of life. I used to try to protect them from everything. Now, I teach them caution, but I also teach them not to be afraid of life. Sure, you might get hurt, but it can make you stronger. Sometimes the things you want most in life come with some pain and effort, but it will be worth it in the end. Don’t be afraid to live. Do what you love. Chase your dreams. Don’t be afraid to wear flip flops.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Living Under a Microscope

            I was standing in line at the grocery store feeling sorry for myself when I happened to glance up and see one of those magazines that runs mean stories about movie stars and other famous people. The big picture in the center was of Jennifer Lopez. She was walking in a green evening gown that was cut up to her thigh, so that her left leg was fully exposed showing some cellulite and tan Spanx trying to hold it in. The headline was something like "Stylists tell all." Now when I was younger, I might have giggled and maybe even been a little grossed out, but time and age have changed me.

I’ll be the first to admit, I am no Jennifer Lopez fan. It would have been easy to be catty and point at the sex symbol and snicker at her cellulite, but when I looked at that picture, I actually felt sorry for her. Why? I saw a woman with two small children who is trying to pick up the pieces of her career after a divorce. A woman with some post kid chub like I have, only I don’t have to worry about people following me around trying to take unflattering pictures of me all the time. I can’t imagine what it must be like to live under a microscope like that with people watching my every move.

            She wasn’t the only one they were criticizing. Apparently, movie stars can’t even be human now. They were vilifying Kathy Lee Gifford for having sweaty pits and some other hot male movie star for having bad breath. Are you kidding me? They can’t even sweat or have bad breath? They were making fun of a stain on Britney Spears’ shirt because famous people never spill food on themselves I guess. They have to look perfect 24 hours a day. And, whatever they do, they can't go anywhere in sweats unless they are jogging or taking their skinny fat butts to the gym.

            I know there are those who will read this and say that famous people know that living with paparazzi and having their lives an open book for all to see is just part of the deal. Somehow, I don’ think that when Jennifer Lopez signed on as a Fly Girl dancer on In Living Color, she knew she would end up on the cover of a major magazine with a Spanx encrusted, dimpled thigh hanging out. We see the consequences of this pressure on actresses everyday who walk down the Red Carpet with their bones sticking out. Then they get blasted for being too skinny. They can’t win.

            And why do people care if Kathy Lee has sweaty pits; Brittney spilled some Taco Bell sauce on her shirt; Brad Pitt has body odor; or Jennifer Lopez has cellulite? Why do we want to see who has the best and worst beach bodies? Honestly, are we so pathetic and lacking in self confidence as a society that we can’t wait to revel in the pain and human weaknesses of people just because they are successful and/or beautiful? Those magazines are selling or they wouldn’t be in business. They hound movie stars and other famous people and can’t wait to dig up dirt. The more pain the better and people keep buying it. I just don’t get it.

            I’m going to risk a Forrest Gump moment here and say that my momma used to say “You can always find someone worse off than you are, but that doesn’t make you any better.” She also said “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Good advice. Thanks Mom.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Schizophrenia and Multiple Personality Disorder - Common Mistake

            The other day I was doing a class on behavior analysis for the staff of several care homes. One of the staff members approached me afterwards and wanted to talk about a particular patient he was working with. He started talking about the patient having multiple personality disorder saying he was diagnosed with Schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder (Dissociative Identity Disorder) are two completely different diagnoses. Having worked in the field of psychology for more years than I care to mention (10 years specifically with schizophrenic patients), I have found that confusing these two for the same diagnosis is the most common mistake when talking to others about mental illness.  

Unfortunately, I have seen this in literature as well. I have read several books that included main characters (generally the bad guy) diagnosed as schizophrenic, but was actually described as having multiple personality disorder. Whenever I find mistakes like that in a book, it bothers me. I feel like the author based his/her knowledge on stereotypes and misinformation rather that doing research to make an accurate portrayal of someone with mental illness.  I know that not everyone who reads about fictional characters is going to be a professional in psychology, but I think it’s important to your homework if you are going to create a character with a mental illness.

            Schizophrenia is a Psychotic Disorder marked by hallucinations, delusions, and/or disorganized thinking. People with schizophrenia have both positive and negative symptoms. Positive symptoms include the hallucinations and delusions (including possible paranoia). They often hear voices and can sometimes be observed talking to themselves. The negative symptoms include mood, language, and motivation issues (including poor hygiene, odd emotional responses, and isolation). Schizophrenia is biologically based and is treated with a combination of antipsychotic medications and behavior management. The exact cause is unknown, but it is thought to have something to do with dopamine and possibly serotonin. Currently, there is no cure. People diagnosed with Schizophrenia are also often diagnosed with or suffer from symptoms of depression and/or anxiety as well. Substance abuse and suicide rates are higher than average in this population.

            Multiple personality disorder (Dissociative Identity Disorder) is a Dissociative Disorder (which also includes amnesia) and is caused by some extreme trauma like ritualistic sexual or physical abuse. To deal with the trauma, separate and distinct personalities are formed. Some symptoms may include headaches, severe memory loss, flashbacks, mood swings, unexplainable phobias, and depression among others. The treatment usually consists of long term therapy to deal with the trauma and integrate the personalities. This particular diagnosis has been surrounded by controversy for some time as to whether or not the condition actually exists. Several famous case studies were made into movies: Sybil and The Three Faces of Eve.

            So where do you get information on mental illness? If you are serious about it, invest in a Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV (fourth edition). It is the diagnostic manual used by clinicians. It includes the clinical code, name, and diagnostic criteria for each condition. They cost around $100.00 new, but I have seen them on Amazon in decent condition for $10 - $15. Talk to people who work with mentally ill patients. Most cities have mental health services that have educational information available to the public about mental illness. Also, I wouldn’t normally recommend this, but actually Wikipedia had a pretty decent explanation of both of these disorders when I looked. I looked because the staff member I was talking to said he got his misinformation from Wikipedia, so I wanted to check and was surprised by the accuracy of the descriptions I found there.

            So remember, when creating a character with a mental illness…do your homework!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Junior High Horror Story

            A million years ago when I was in junior high, I used to hang out with my three best friends: Laura, Jamie, and Joyce. Now our junior high didn’t have a cafeteria, so unless it was raining, we had to eat outside. The problem was that it also meant they had no kitchen, so they had to ship the school lunches in from somewhere else (I won’t speculate where). The “hot” lunches arrived at our school in foil covered aluminum trays that had been heated at some point and stored in insulated containers. They were delivered to our school and sat there until it was time for us to eat. The trays were divided into sections for the protein/carb, veggie, and dessert parts of the meal

            This process of heating the entire meal in those metal packs was not ideal. Everything got heated at the same time and somehow each section became its own loaf thing. For example, on Wednesdays there was the burger/tater tot loaf, the green bean loaf, and the canned peaches loaf. Even things that should remain cold were not like the salad loaf, and my personal favorite, the dreaded pudding loaf.

Now, my mother insisted that I needed to have a “hot meal” at school and try as I might, I could not convince her that she was wasting her money, and it would be cheaper and healthier for me if I took my lunch to school. “What good is it if I don’t eat it?” I cried, but she wouldn’t budge. So I spent most of my lunchtime sitting on the grass begging for food from my friends whose mothers let them bring a sack lunch. “Trade you half your peanut butter sandwich for my burrito loaf.” Oddly enough, they weren’t usually interested although they did occasionally take pity on me. Laura’s and Jamie’s moms always sent them with the usual sandwich, chips, and apple or some other sturdy fruit. Joyce’s mom, on the other hand, was special. She loved her daughter and always sent Joyce with some kind of forbidden snack cake. We were all envious of Joyce and even Laura and Jamie often tried to trade, but when it came to Hostess Cupcakes, their apples and chips had about as much value as my pudding loaf.

            Now this particular day was a beautiful, sunny one, and we were all sitting under our favorite tree. I was having a particularly hard time trying to trade because it was hot dog/French fry loaf day. I’m not sure what happened to the hot dogs during the heating process and transport, but they always came out green. No kidding, literally, the green weenie. Jamie had taken pity on me and had given me half of her smooshed peanut butter and jelly sandwich. We were chatting, secretly stealing glances towards Joyce waiting for the unveiling of the snack cake of the day. Joyce tried to be quiet, but you can’t hide the happy crackling of a snack cake wrapper. We all turned to find Joyce unwrapping Dolly Madison royalty…the coveted Raspberry Zinger. If you don’t know what that is, it’s a vanilla snack cake with cream in the middle. The outside is covered in coconut flakes glued on with raspberry jelly. Sigh.

            Of course we all started hounding Joyce for a bite of the prized pastry making our best trade offers, but she refused as always and started to savor the creamy coconut raspberry goodness right in front of us. Who could blame her? We all watched with rapt attention; our eyes following the smallest coconut flakes that fell silently onto the grass.

            About half way through the Zinger we knew it was a lost cause. Joyce would not share the tiniest piece, so we stopped bothering her and resigned ourselves to watching her enjoy it. When she started in on the second half, a large pincher bug (earwig) climbed out from underneath what was left of the Zinger and onto the backside of it. Laura, Jamie and I all saw the heinous creature, and in an attempt to save our friend, we all yelled and reached for Joyce at the same time. Unfortunately, she saw this as a last ditch attempt by us to gang up on her and take what was left of the Zinger by force. She did what any kid would do and shoved the whole thing in her mouth. Her cheeks could barely contain the last half of raspberry goodness and a little bit of coconut fell out as she smiled smugly at our looks of horror, thinking she had outsmarted us.

            The moral of the story is: Anytime you think someone is going to steal your Zinger, they may be trying to save you from eating a pincher bug.  

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Goodreads Choice Awards 2011: Horror Category - An Apple For Zoe by Thomas Amo

I was incredibly excited to hear that An Apple for Zoe by my dear friend and fellow author, Thomas Amo, is a semi-finalist in the Horror Category in the Goodreads Choice Awards 2011. Tom is an amazingly talented writer as well as one of the nicest people on the planet. He does so much to support his fellow authors that I am honored to be able to return the favor. He has been an inspiration to me and has been invaluable in my quest to be an indie author.

If you like the horror genre, you won't want to miss An Apple for Zoe. It's available on Amazon and stop by his blog for more information about his latest projects.

I would love to see An Apple for Zoe win for Best Horror novel! It is definitely worthy of the title. Please help out and vote! You can vote for the Best Horror category on Goodreads here . Vote by November 20th! Thank you!!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Thoughts From An Old Mining Town Cemetery

          We went to visit my in-laws today who live in the foothills of California in an old gold mining town. On the way out, we stopped by the cemetery. The kids both lost their minds still having childhood thoughts of ghosts and zombies stuck in their heads. I told them they could stay in the car and even lock the doors if that made them feel better, but there was nothing to fear in a cemetery. They were not convinced.

I love old cemeteries. It sounds creepy, I know, but I see those headstones and I wonder what their lives were like. What stories could they tell especially in this cemetery where many of those buried here were pioneers leaving everything they knew behind hoping to strike it rich in California during the gold rush of 1849. Were they able to find their fortune? Did they find happiness here or only heartbreak? I wondered about these silent souls as I stood amongst the family plots; old gravestones with the words worn down some barely legible, including some made of wood with the words “Unknown RIP.”

          What I found most disturbing was the number of graves for infants and children. Life was hard for adults in these mining towns during the gold rush days. It has been estimated that as high as 1 in 5 people died within the first six months of coming to California to mine for gold due to accidents, disease, malnutrition, and violence. Imagine how difficult it would have been for the women and children. There was one poor couple in the cemetery who lost all three of their children within a three year span. They were 9, 10, and 11 when they died. Two of them died in the same year. I can’t imagine the hardships these people must have gone through in such an isolated area.

Their birthdates were not listed on the headstones, but how old they were when they died in years, months, and days making it obvious how young many of them were when they passed on. Many of the family plots had several infants and children. While the gold rush in California was very profitable to some, many of the people who came to mine during that time barely made enough to live on.

On my way back to the car I saw my 13 year old daughter (who freaked out when we said we were going to a cemetery) with paper and a pencil making rubbings from some of the headstones.

“Hey, I thought you said this was stupid and creepy.” I said.

She looked up and said “Mom, he was just a baby. You’re right. It’s not creepy.”

Looking at her beautiful face as she made the rubbing of that baby’s headstone, I had a sobering thought. If I had given birth to her during the late 1800s in this tiny mining town, we would have both died, and my son would never have been born. I just wanted to stop off and look at an old cemetery. I had no idea it would make me think so much about my own life. I sat next to my daughter in that family’s plot while she worked and said a silent prayer of thanks for all the blessings in my life.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Where Will You Run? Book One of the Dìon Series

          My debut novel Where Will You Run? is the first book in the Dìon series. I am currently working on book two called Where Will You Hide? Several people have asked me for more information on the first book, so here it is. The story takes place in San Francisco and follows homicide detective Mari Lucas as she searches for her sister, Kerry, who goes missing from a locked psychiatric facility.

Mari took care of her younger sister, Kerry, after their parents were murdered. While Mari focused on her career in the SFPD, Kerry had her own run-ins with the law. Mari resented the fact that she was constantly pulling strings and asking for favors to get Kerry out of trouble. She felt as though her career had suffered because of it. Mari’s original plan was to join the police force, work her way up to homicide detective and eventually solve her parents’ murder. However, with the number of current homicide cases she was assigned to she rarely had any free time. She was a chronic workaholic and her personal life had suffered as a result. The relationship with her sister was all she had and that was strained.

When Mari gets a call about Kerry being arrested and taken to a locked psychiatric facility, she has finally had enough. Mari meets with her on the psychiatric unit, and Kerry is frantic. She tells Mari that she was delivering a package to the Collins building downtown. She went to the wrong office and overheard a conversation between two men who were talking about transporting humans. When she tried to get away without being discovered, she was pursued by the owner of the building, Christopher Collins. Kerry told Mari that she made it into the elevator right as Collins caught up to her. She said that Collins moved with unnatural speed and had fangs and threatened to find her. Mari was prepared. She had been told ahead of time that Kerry had been placed on the psychiatric unit for claiming that she was being hunted by vampires. For Mari, this was the last straw. Kerry had finally pushed her too far. Maybe Kerry really was crazy. Mari leaves her sister on the unit and begrudgingly agrees to look into Kerry’s claims.

Mari knew she had to keep any investigation of the city’s golden boy under the radar. Christopher Collins was a well known and well loved business man in the downtown community. He was best known for his charitable efforts with the homeless population. He funded a series of shelters for the homeless offering them not only a safe place to sleep and good food, but substance abuse treatment and medical care as well as job training and placement. The Collins building itself was a beautiful high rise right in the middle of the business district and housed the offices for his various business ventures. Not to mention the man played golf with the mayor. Going after him was career suicide.

Before Mari can decide on a plan of action, Kerry disappears from the locked psychiatric facility which, according to them, was not possible. Mari finds out Kerry’s disappearance is not isolated one. There has been a recent increase in missing persons’ cases especially among the homeless. Mari is forced to partner up with Raith Macrae, a detective from missing persons. Mari does not play well with others and writes him off as another pretty boy who gets by on his good looks and charm. Her attempts to keep him on the sidelines quickly backfire as she finds out that his playboy demeanor is just a cover. Raith Macrae has a darker side and appears to have his own agenda.

The situation quickly spirals out of control and Mari’s life gets turned upside down. When she gets in over her head, who can she trust? Where will she run?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Book Reviews - Adventures in Self Publishing

         Finally, for the last blog in this series I want to focus on reviews. Personally, I suck at writing reviews, so I have a lot of respect for people who volunteer their time to read books and then take the time to write about it. That’s where I am at now. My book has been accepted for review by four separate people. It’s exciting and scary at the same time. Most reviewers have disclaimers on their websites/blogs that say “I only give honest reviews.” That can be a little intimidating. Of course I only want an honest review. It’s okay if someone doesn’t like my book. But let’s face it, I want people to like my book. I especially want reviewers to like my book because then others may take a chance and buy it.

          I have seven 5 reviews on Amazon for my book already, and I love every one of them. Not just because they’re good reviews, but because I know the people who left the reviews meant what they said. There are people (including friends and family) who have read my book and never said another word about it. Did they like it? Hate it? I don’t know. They never said. Complete silence. Honestly, that makes me crazier than a bad review. It’s okay not to like my book. It’s even okay to say that to me. Maybe they think it will make Thanksgiving awkward. Not on my end. My feelings are not wrapped up in my book. I’m a big girl. My husband told me to ask them directly to leave a positive review, but I don’t want fake reviews. If you like it, say so. If you didn’t, say so. If you don’t feel comfortable leaving a review because you think I’ll give you the stink eye at family functions, then don’t.

          For me, negative reviews fall into one of two categories. The first category is crap - a negative review that is absolute crap and is thoughtless and cruel. The second category is constructive – that’s right, constructive. Sometimes a negative review can tell you something about your writing you didn’t know (or didn’t want to admit). Something helpful like overusing a particular word or phrase, punctuation or spelling errors, time or plot conflicts, formatting issues, character inconsistencies, etc. These reviews can help you improve your writing (although they can be worded cruelly as well). Don’t just write off a negative review especially if several people are saying the same thing. Be honest with yourself before putting it in the crap category.

For authors, it seems like so much emphasis is put on reviews, and for obvious reasons. If a book gets several bad reviews, it can have a serious negative effect on sales. Not to mention, it can be a little hard to hear. While I do have a thick skin, I’m not totally immune. Some writers I know say you’re not a legitimate author until you have at least one hater. They wear their one star review like a badge of honor. I like that attitude.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Adventures in Self Publishing - Twitter

            Twitter, Twitter, Twitter. Argh. I wrote an earlier post called “My Take on Twitter.” Going back and reading it I realize how quickly things can change. I have become more forgiving on Twitter. Some things I considered impersonal are really done in the interest of time and efficiency. For example, it bothered me when someone’s first tweet to me was about reading their blog or book. I thought that was pushy. I know now that that may be the only encounter I have with that person, so they are taking advantage of that opportunity. They are using Twitter to help market their product. Isn’t that what I’m there to do as well?

 My Twitter follows are exploding. I will soon have over 1000 followers; a feat that seemed impossible when I wrote that blog post in September. I had no idea it would take off that fast. I used to follow everyone back, but I’ve learned that I need to stay focused, and I have to be picky with my follows. I thought that was mean at first. I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but I am out there to make connections with other authors and readers. I don’t need break up advice, not talking politics, and I don’t want to see your naked pictures. Sorry.

            Even though tweets are limited to 140 characters, it’s amazing how much personality can shine through in so few words. I have met some amazing people on Twitter. They make recommendations for follows, retweet, make fun comments, ask how I’m doing, help push my blog and book, and I do the same for them. However, that hasn’t necessarily translated into direct sales of my book. I think that’s mostly my fault. I honestly don’t send out many tweets about my book, and I don’t push my book and blog the way others do. Mostly because I don’t have time to be on Twitter that often.

Enter tweet generator. In my previous Twitter post, I said that I didn’t like tweet generators because it made my Twitter feed look like one long infomercial, and I didn’t want to be a part of that. I’ve had to change my views. Now that I am following more people, the Twitter feed goes by so fast, that one or two book tweets a day just won’t cut it. Even if they are retweeted, they can easily be overlooked in a sea of tweets. When I was only following a few people, I could get on Twitter and go back in time and see all the tweets for the day. Now, I’m lucky if I can cover a few hours of tweets. In an attempt to get some control back, I recently downloaded TweetDeck to help manage my Twitter account. I’m going to set up scheduled tweets about my book and blog and join the infomercial. Stay focused – promotion and making contacts.

While Twitter has not translated into a lot of book sales for me, it has generated a lot of buzz about my blog. Honestly, this blog, which I got dragged into kicking and screaming, has been more fun than I thought it would be. I’ve been surprised to see the number of page views I’ve been getting and the majority of them are from Twitter. So the potential is there. I just have to find a way to tap into it. I would love to hear any comments or suggestions you may have. Thanks!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Adventures in Self Publishing - Facebook

I have a love/hate relationship with social media. I know social media is a huge part of getting the word out about my book, but it can be very overwhelming. There are so many social outlets, it would literally take a full time staff to keep up with everything out there. I have limited my exposure to Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

I have had a Facebook account for some time now thanks to my loving sister. I have to admit I was not happy about it at first, but it grew on me. Facebook is a good way to keep in touch with friends and relatives I don’t get to see very often. It’s nice to hear about what’s going on in their lives when we live so far apart. Facebook has always been a very personal place for me, and I have only accepted friend requests from friends and family.

With the publication of my book, my author buddy Tom introduced me to the #BNFF group on Facebook. This group is made up of an amazing bunch of authors who welcomed me with open arms. They understood the characters scratching to get out of my head, the late night writing sessions, the single-minded drive to finish. They also struggled with writer’s block, family issues, work responsibilities, and self promotion. I didn’t feel so crazy or alone in this process. If you haven’t found a close knit group of authors to talk to, I would highly recommend it. Soon, they started sending me friend requests. I didn’t see a problem with that. They are a great bunch of people I am honored to call friends.

However, I still wanted to keep my Facebook account personal. I know many people use this as another way to promote their book. I made an author page (I can’t say Fan Page, it makes me giggle) for people to “Like,” and I post information about my book there. I knew eventually people would find me. Sure enough I started getting friend requests from other authors outside of the #BNFF group and random people from Twitter. I panicked. I’m a private person, and I didn’t want these people I barely knew to see pictures of my niece’s birthday party. Honestly, why would they want to? Facebook is a place for me to be myself, chat with family and friends and not have to worry about pushing my book.

I know several authors have multiple Facebook accounts which I will have to consider for myself. The problem is time. If I barely have enough time to do one Facebook account, how can I manage two? Facebook and Twitter alone take up most of the time I have allotted for book promotion. I have a Goodreads account, but I’m rarely able to look at it or keep it up to date. I read a blog recently where the woman said that if you are putting yourself out there to promote a book, blog, etc. then you have to get passed any misgivings you may have about being approached online. You have to let people get to know you. I’m working on it.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Adventures in Self Publishing - Promotion and Sales

When I planned out this series in self publishing, I wanted to start at the beginning and proceed in an orderly fashion. However, since my brain doesn’t work in an organized way that’s not going to happen. I want to talk about what has been on my mind lately – promotion and sales.

Honestly, when I was writing my book, I didn’t think about publishing. Mostly because I was afraid I wouldn’t finish it like every other book I had started, so why think that far ahead? My sister, Melanie, and BFF, Shelbi, were so excited about the project, it kept me motivated. With their gentle encouragement (a.k.a. hounding), I was able to finish my first book, Where Will You Run? At the time, I was so proud of my accomplishment and the fact that Mel and Shelbi loved the finished product that I didn’t care if another soul ever read it. Then I thought about it. All that  work was just gathering dust on my hard drive. Was I really going to just let it sit there?

Why not self publish? I sent a copy of my book to a friend of mine, Thomas Amo who was a self published author. He liked the book and said I should definitely do it. Tom and his beautiful wife came by to help me upload my book to Amazon, she said with a knowing chuckle “Now you’ll be checking your sales all the time like he does.” I assured her that wouldn’t be me since I didn’t really care about sales. Boy did that change overnight. Having people buy my book was both exciting and scary at the same time. I did find myself checking my sales reports regularly and grinning at my Amazon page.

Reality soon set in though. After the initial boost from friends and family, the sales numbers quickly dropped off. Now I was left with the daunting task of promotion – something I have never been good at. (Here is why I wanted to go in order because I wanted to write about promoting on Facebook and Twitter first. Oh well…carrying on.)

The biggest problem for me is that I wrote a vampire/paranormal romance. While that doesn’t sound like a problem since that genre is hot especially with the juggernaut that is Twilight and also with the popularity of television shows like True Blood, it would make sense to strike while the iron is hot. The problem is the market is saturated with paranormal books. I can’t believe all the paranormal romance indie authors I have met on Twitter alone. In a genre that is filled with heavy hitters like Jeaniene Frost, Charlaine Harris, J. R. Ward, Kresley Cole, Kim Harrison, Keri Arthur, etc. (and that doesn’t even scratch the surface), why would paranormal readers want to take a chance on an indie book (or a bajillion indie books for that matter) when they have such an amazing collection of traditionally published authors to choose from. I don’t have an answer. In a genre dominated by well established, traditionally published authors, how do you get noticed in an ocean of indie books?

Again, I’m trying to be patient. I know it takes time. I am reading a lot of blogs on the subject of self publishing, and I am going to try some of their suggestions. I will start trying some of these and blog about the results. The first one is a recommendation to start local. Today I went to our Barnes and Noble since my book is also available on Nook. I met Lee and asked him if they had a program to help promote local authors to increase Nook sales. Lee just stared at me. I said “Did I stump you?” He said “Yes.” There were no managers available so he took down my information and promised to get back to me. If I don’t hear from Lee by Monday, I will be brave and go back. I have to start somewhere. I will keep you all updated. Thanks for stopping by!