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Posts Tagged ‘Kindle’

Imagine My Surprise!

The last thing I was expecting on Friday (which was also my birthday) was an envelope in the mail filled with a roll of award stickers to place on the covers of my Separation of Faith copies. Guess I’ve been a little distracted lately … ūüôā At any rate, when I saw the words “2011 Award Winner,” I immediately went in search of the specifics. And I soon learned that this amazing little novel has now placed as a Bronze winner in the 2011 Readers¬†Favorite Awards¬†in the category “Fiction–Realistic” (http://tinyurl.com/6hz6z77¬† ). (First¬†place continues to be¬†elusive–but¬†still possible!)¬†Every little bit of achievement¬†helps along this winding path–and I love the bonus award stickers!

Here’s a link directly to Amazon, in case¬†anyone is interested in checking out Separation of Faith (available in hard cover, soft cover, and Kindle) in more detail– http://tinyurl.com/6hqwgrj¬†. The story has an underlying mystery that¬†takes the reader on a suspense-filled ride¬†filled with illicit love, deception, hope, and redemption, with a plot twist no one ever sees coming! Please let me know if you decide to give the¬†novel a try!

Chemo/Hair Update

Friday I developed a reaction (like a sunburn on my chest, neck, and cheeks)¬†to one of the chemo drugs and was put¬†on Benadryl for two days. That, of course, made me feel sleepy and weird, but otherwise okay. And I’m much better today. Supposedly, the first week after the chemo is when the most¬†side effects¬†are likely to take place, so I’m learning as I go which of those effects will be mine during the three weeks between each of the six treatments. Fortunately, my doctors seem to have remedies for most of the issues, and I’m hopeful that we won’t have to worry about¬†too many of them.

Yesterday I had planned to have my hair taken off,¬†since I know¬†the whole¬†head’s worth will be gone shortly. But even though my daughter was with me in the hair salon where I’ve been going for eleven years, I wasn’t ready and couldn’t go through with the buzz cut. I did have two wigs shaped and styled, however,¬†and they look absolutely fabulous! So that gave me a boost of confidence for when my hair is gone. My guess is that I’ll get¬†my courage up for the buzz cut sometime this week. Once that happens, I’ll post a photo or two of me in my “new” hair, marking the first tangible point on this fresh journey-within-a-journey.

Meanwhile, ¬†tomorrow I will return to my Write-A-Thon¬†objectives and will update you on the progress shortly. Hope you’ve all had a wonderful weekend!

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No … This Isn’t About Me

Not yet, anyway. ūüôā The author’s name is John Locke (www.DonovanCreed.com). He’s a 60-something baby boomer with big dreams, sort of like me. But there’s a major difference. As of June 21, he has¬†self-published seven novels (Donovan Creed, the¬†detective, is a recurring character), plus two unusual western novels (by his own definition), and now a how-to book titled How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months!¬†(http://www.amazon.com/Sold-Million-eBooks-Months-ebook/dp/B0056BMK6K/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=books&qid=1309223049&sr=1-1). And those five months were all in 2011! Here’s the link to this week’s news about his historic accomplishment: http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/bookselling/article/47669-john-locke-hits-1-million-on-the-kindle.html

If you’re a struggling writer out there who’s just happened upon this blog, or if you’ve been following¬†this Journey since the blog launched on November 4, 2009, there won’t be any surprise in this news:¬†I purchased Locke’s How I Sold …¬†book for my Kindle within moments of reading two days ago about the man’s success.

Locke does not present himself as a great novelist–a refreshingly realistic perspective, especially since I’ve recently read a couple of best-selling novels, which were published through one of the big six mainstream traditional houses and which I could not believe ever saw the printed light of day. Locke does believe he’s a good writer, though, who’s become a better novelist over time as he’s crafted seven Donovan Creed stories for a relatively small, carefully defined,¬†“niche” audience (the “niche” being a key element of the “system” he presents in How I¬†Sold¬†…). And, even though I don’t think I fit into Locke’s description of that niche,¬†my curiosity was definitely piqued. So, a few minutes ago, I ordered two of his Creed novels–his earliest and his most recent, in order¬†to experience his writing growth. ūüôā¬†After all, the books are only¬†99 cents on Kindle (another key part of his “system”).

But the most important aspect of discovering Mr. Locke (for me, at least, and I suspect for a whole bunch of you as well) is that, until a few short months ago, he was in virtually¬†the same position¬†that I (and many of you) are in now–where we’re only selling a handful of books, despite back-¬†(and bank-) breaking¬†promotional efforts. He was languishing along with us in the ever-growing quicksand field of self-published authors, taking solace only in his unflagging determination and the encouraging legitimacy¬†conveyed by his readers.

One¬†significant difference between where he was and where I am was that his body of work is much larger than mine, due, as I learned at the end of his How I Sold …¬†book, to his goal of¬†completing a new novel every¬†eight weeks. In one of the messages I wrote to him after finishing his book, I suggested that,¬†whatever method(s) he uses to create¬†a novel every eight weeks¬†might be a great subject¬†for his next how-to book! I already know that I’m taking way too long per book, but I’ve been working with the goal of producing a book each year. The idea of cranking out six per year never even flickered through my head. In fact, I’d be happy with¬†a novel every six months. Would I buy a book by¬†Locke that explained¬†how¬†he creates a new novel every eight weeks? Especially since that book would undoubtedly be priced somewhere between 99 cents and $5? Well … let me think.

At any rate, in less than six months, John Locke went from selling dribbles of his books on Amazon and other sources to being the first self-published author (and only the fifth or sixth author of any kind) to break through the 1 million book level on Kindle.¬†And this wasn’t just by happenstance. He created a plan–a “system”–which he follows faithfully. And then, when his system actually worked consistently, he took a little time (a few¬†weeks, apparently) to write a book that captures that system for the rest of us, in case we’d like to give the concept a try.

And that’s exactly what I’m going to do! I’ll use Locke’s system for the nonfiction work in progress, hopefully due out on eBook by early fall, and then again for my next novel (which I’ve decided will definitely be a sequel to Separation of Faith–http://tinyurl.com/3tljkpc).

“Isn’t that going to be sort of risky?” you might ask.

Au contraire! “What do I have to lose?” is the question circling around me. What would any of us risk losing, compared to where we are now?

Imagine this: thousands of self-published authors–even tens of thousands, perhaps–suddenly experiencing wild success through eBook sales! Sure would be hard to marginalize that statistic or question the validity of authorship when paired with such soaring numbers of happy readers!

I’ll definitely keep you posted on what happens–and please let me know if you give¬†Locke’s ideas a try yourself! From the beginning, I’ve been saying that there’s enough room in this dream for all of us!

Suddenly, the lyrics from an old boomer song by Buffalo Springfiled have begun rolling through my head: “There’s something happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear.”¬†That song spoke to a whole generation in the 1960s and early 70s¬†about huge and very serious changes taking place in the country. Although clearly on a lighter, much smaller, and far less dangerous scale, I do believe there’s a revolution underway in the publishing world today. And¬†I would like to be on the leading edge. How about you? ūüôā

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Topics in This Post:

  • Separation of Faith Places Again!
  • Book Club Update
  • Book Club Promotion to Come Soon!
  • Long-Awaited Promotional Trip to Kettle Falls Just Three Weeks Away!
  • Fascinating and Helpful Tips from Bestselling Author Harlan Coben
  • Photo Gallery of Happy Bookers Book Club Meeting in Atlanta on April 19, 2011

Separation of Faith Places Again!

Yesterday I learned that Separation of Faith has placed in yet another contest! Yay! This time the award is an Honorable Mention in the San Francisco Book Festival¬†competition! Last month the novel was runner up to the grand prize winner in the Los Angeles¬†DIY Book Festival and, shortly before that, the novel made the first cut in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award.

There are definitely elements of Separation of Faith that make the book/story contest-worthy (one of those elements being the extraordinary editorial quality, thanks to the amazing professional editors who worked so hard with me toward that important objective). Still, a first place contest award continues to elude the novel. Nonetheless, I remain both grateful for the wonderful things that are happening and unendingly hopeful about what I believe awaits on the path ahead. There are ten (I think) contests still in process, and I will, of course, post updates as soon as they come in.

Meanwhile, I’m giving myself permission to celebrate for a minute or two. ūüôā

Book Club Update

At the end of this post is a complete photo album that captures the incredible visit I had with the Happy Bookers Book Club in Atlanta three weeks ago. The memories of that trip remain tantalizing for me as they linger. In addition to viewing the photo album, you are invited to read the comments posted by those amazing women following our meeting and my subsequent post on April 19 (https://cherilaser.wordpress.com/2011/04/19/atlanta-book-club-event-was-today/.

In preparation for that book club event, I shipped to Atlanta a box full of material collected and developed during my research for Separation of Faith.¬†The items included photos taken while I was in Kettle Falls, Washington (a primary location in the novel), as well as my notes, outlines, sketches of period fashions in the 1940s, and so forth. These are the sorts of things that have become interesting to readers who have finished the book, because I don’t have to worry about giving away any of the story’s secrets and surprises.

The photos that show all of us gathered around the table looking at “stuff” are capturing the moments after our wonderful lunch.¬†Book club members were seeing the research material for the first time. Many thanks to Lynn Henderson, her great camera and photography skills, and other book club members who picked up the camera to make sure Lynn was in some of the pictures!

Book Club Promotion to Come Soon!

As we speak, I’m in the process of moving (house and office). Although I’ve said this many times before, I’m fully committed to never relocating again … ever! The move will be competed¬†by this time next week. In fact, one week from today, I will wake up in my new place. Hurray!

One of the top priorities when I start working in my new home office on May 21 will be the announcement of my book club promotion! Details are still being finalized, but in short, the promotion will offer the opportunity for book club members and me to actually meet one another, as we did in Atlanta. So, if you belong to a book club, I will have news for you very soon!

In advance, I encourage you to read the Happy Bookers’ comments following our April 19 meeting and my blog post that night¬†(https://cherilaser.wordpress.com/2011/04/19/atlanta-book-club-event-was-today/). I will be happy to¬†arrange a connection between your book club and theirs, if you’re interested in learning more about their reactions to Separation of Faith. You’re welcome to email me directly at claser58@gmail.com.

Long-Awaited Promotional Trip to Kettle Falls Just Three Weeks Away!

As mentioned previously in this and earlier blog posts, Kettle Falls, Washington is a primary setting in Separation of Faith. (How that came to be, since I live in New Jersey, is a great book club story!) ūüôā¬†In addition, the novel has been endorsed¬†by a former Miss America (Carolyn Sapp, Miss America 1992), an amazing and incredibly impressive woman who grew up in Kettle Falls.

Each year (for the past 75 years), Kettle Falls hosts a huge festival during the first weekend in June called “Town & Country Days.” The event draws people from the widespread Spokane area and is a great source of pride for the residents of Kettle Falls. Sothis year the festival will feature a book for the very first time (to the best of local historians’ recollections)–and that book is Separation of Faith!

My dearest friend Elaine (since my 41-year-old daughter was a 2-year-old toddler) will fly up from San Francisco on June 1 and meet me in Spokane (after I fly in from New Jersey). We will rent a car and make the 90-minute drive to Kettle Falls. June 2 will be a touring-around day that will include visits to independent booksellers, and then the festival will run from June 3-5.

Elaine and I–and 200 copies of Separation of Faith, along with T-shirts, book bags, etc.–will be in a booth that is already being featured in the Kettle Falls local area press coverage. And on Saturday afternoon (the 4th), Separation of Faith (and I) will be on the entertainment program that follows the parade.

All of the festival’s committee members, as well as the local reporters, with whom I’ve had the pleasure of speaking, sound as excited as I am that this too-fun-for-words event is actually coming together. I will be blogging live from the day Elaine and I arrive in Kettle Falls (on June 1) until the festival is over on June 5. Photos, and hopefully video, will be part of the posts.

So …¬†stay tuned for a little slice of the dream to be realized!

Fascinating and Helpful Tips from Bestselling Author Harlan Coben

On April 26, Jessica Strawser, of Writer’s Digest, published an article about, and an interview with, bestselling author Harlan Coben.¬†Mr. Coben has become a contemporary master of the hook-and-twist novel, and his latest work–Live Wire–became available yesterday (May 12).

Since my novels always contain a plot twist that no one sees coming, I was immediately drawn to¬†Strawser’s article and interview (http://www.writersdigest.com/article/harlan-coben-shares-novel-twist-tips/), especially since I’m currently trying to figure out what that twist will be in my third novel. After reading Coben’s answers, this moved to the top of the pile of things I want to share with you.

Highlight points that really hit home for me (as I struggle along with each of you to travel the path to the Dream) include:

Coben: ” … Writing is one of the few activities where quantity will inevitably make quality. The more you write, the better you’re going to get at it.” (Me: This sort of dovetails into a quote I saw recently from thriller writer Barry Eisler–“The highest profit margin activity an author can engage in is writing.” If you’re someone like me who’s trying to promote a book, or books, while also writing another one, both the Coben and Eisler comments certainly help with priorities. Every time I find myself asking “what’s more important today?” I now fall back on these answers.)

Coben: “… it’s much more important that the character’s real than likable. Likable is not really as important as real.” (Me: This was a point made repeatedly by members of the Happy Bookers Book Club. They told me that the characters all became real to them, and they expressed very strong emotions about each “person” in the story, even those who were despicable because their “despicableness” came through as being highly believable.)

Coben: “… So there is usually a theme, and you do need that character that people care about … Otherwise,¬†I could give you the greatest [plot] twist in the world, but if you don’t care about the characters, you’re not going to follow it.”

Coben: “… There are a lot of writers who would love to take my place. And I know that the only way that good things continue to happen for me is to write, to get your butt in the chair and to write.”

Coben: “… You can skip the TV show you’re watching, you can wake up an hour earlier, you can write during lunch–you always have time to write. If your life is so full of other things that you don’t have time to write, then writing isn’t a priority and you’re not a writer. There’s nothing wrong with that, but face that fact. Don’t tell me you don’t have time to write.”

Me: Got it! Guess I’d better get busy! ūüôā

Please check out Jessica Strawser’s¬†entire article for more of Coben’s fascinating perspective: (http://www.writersdigest.com/article/harlan-coben-shares-novel-twist-tips/)

Hope you’ve found something helpful and/or of interest in this post! And please take a moment to look at the Happy Bookers Book Club photos! Also, have an absolutely¬†wonderful weekend! See you soon!

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This week the publishing industry sizzled with the news that bestselling author Barry Eisler turned down a half million dollar advance from St. Martin’s Press for his latest book, in lieu of self-publishing the book.

“He did what?” you ask.

I know. For all of us “wannabes” out here, making a decision like that one sounds like pure insanity! And Eisler’s unprecedented choice has sparked animated dialogue across the world of writer discussion boards. He explains his reasoning in a fascinating conversation with his friend and fellow author Joe Konrath (http://barryeisler.blogspot.com/), which I highly recommend reading for any writer who’s chasing the Dream. (The conversation is quite long, but hanging in there will pay off with a ton of insightful information.)

Basically, and in a paraphrased nutshell, Eisler’s decision was based¬†upon his belief that signing away his ebook publishing rights would, in the long run, cost him a lot more money¬†than half a million. You can check out all of the¬†details behind this rationale yourself through the above link. But the point that loomed beyond all of the resultant noise in the publishing community was the burgeoning significance of the ebook technology when paired with the increasing relevance and acceptance of high quality self-published work.

Of course, none of those advancements would be possible without ereaders¬†(Kindle, Nook, etc.), and that’s what I want to talk about for a minute this morning. Given the fact that¬†I was a super-latecomer to the importance¬†of the social media world and the associated tools and technology, there will be little surprise in hearing that I was also¬†one of those¬†writers/readers who felt umbilically connected to the physical elements of books.¬†There was just “something” about the sensation of the cover and pages against my fingers, the smell of a book upon¬†opening for¬†the first time, the sense of satisfaction when¬†placing a book I’d finished¬†reading on my bookshelf, along with the dozens of others already crowded into that space.

Please don’t misunderstand and think that there was some sort of block in my head against advancements in technology. If you’ll search this blog site for “netbook,” you’ll come up with a number of posts where I wrote about the value of my “mini” and how the small size and portability enabled me to complete my second novel several months sooner than I’d anticipated. And last Christmas, when I received the glorious gift of an iPad, I thought I’d surely arrived in heaven. I also thought I’d solved the ereader¬†issue with the iPad after acquiring the Kindle app in conjunction with the iPad’s own bookshelf. What I would soon learn, however, is that the glory of the iPad is that it’s actually a full computer in a tiny, relatively inexpensive package. But it’s really quite large–heavy and combersome–when the screen¬†is being used to read¬†a book.

Consequently, when I (an author of two novels struggling to reach readers) was asked¬†if I owned a Kindle (or some other ereader), my typical response was, “No I don’t,¬†and I doubt that I ever will.” But I found myself growing increasingly uncomfortable with that answer¬†once both of my novels¬†became available on Kindle and the rest of the ereader options–and then especially ill at ease during a speaking engagement recently when several individuals in the audience began asking operational questions about the Kindle.¬†Many in that group believed that they had to own a computer in order to have a Kindle, and thank God I at least knew that wasn’t true. But beyond that point, I was an idiot.

So, for the sole reason of educating myself and no longer putting myself in the position of looking and sounding uninformed on such a critical element of my own professional field, I broke down and bought the newest Kindle (six-inch reading device with free wifi and 3G. (Go here to read about all the feature details: http://www.amazon.com/Kindle-Wireless-Reading-Display-Generation/dp/B003FSUDM4/ref=sa_menu_kdp32.)

And then, within a week of receiving my Kindle, an amazing thing happened. I was converted as a reader. My resolute need for the tactile experience of feeling the paper¬†as the pages turned was replaced by the¬†fact that I was reading more.¬†My tiny little¬†Kindle fits in every handbag I own, without taking up space or adding any noticeable weight (at a mere 8.7 ounces). After needing an extra bag¬†to lug around the mega novel I’m currently reading (Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes–nearly 600 pages) while sitting in waiting rooms for a series of doctor appointments recently, I ordered that same¬†novel for my Kindle–ordered and paid for the book right on my Kindle, and within¬†a matter of seconds, the entire 600 pages had been downloaded and were ready to read. Now, a week later, I’ve read 67% of the book (according to my Kindle tracker).

And … I can read with one hand–that’s holding the Kindle and turning the pages, all with one hand–while scarcely feeling as if I’m holding anything at all. There’s no “power up” time. Just flip the switch to “wake up” the Kindle, and there’s your book. The pages turn with the gentle press of the page-turning¬†“bar.”¬†And if you turn the wifi off (which you don’t need to have on in the first place,¬†unless you’re buying something else from the Kindle Store), the battery charge will last for an entire month.

For some reason, I also seem to be reading faster. I don’t know if that’s because the font size can be adjusted up or down, or because reading has just become so completely effortless. But the number of words I’m reading per minute is definitely on the rise.

And now the stack of “real” books on my bedside table awaiting my attention will all soon benefit a local hospital or shelter, because each one is going to be on my Kindle very shortly. I can have about 3500 books on my Kindle, if I so desire, not to mention newspapers, magazines, games like Scrabble, card games, audio books, and more. And the fourteen books currently on my bedside table–retail prices ranging from $14 to $27, or an average of about $20–can all be brought into my Kindle for less than $100.¬†(This assumes, of course, that each of¬†the book’s publishers has been savvy enough to enable the ebook option.)

And someone–either the traditional publisher or the self-publishing author–is making a lot more money on the ebook version that the one in print. There’s virtually no distribution cost, and the royalty percentages are 2-3 times higher than print royalties. (Link to the Eisler-Konrath conversation earlier in this post for more specifics on the money end of ebooks and how that influenced Eisler’s decision to pass up the half million dollar advance. I don’t know. No matter what he says–and I do understand his perspective–I still sort of choke when saying that an author passed up that kind of money, whatever the reason. Plenty of controversy there, for sure!)

As sort of a shallow sidebar topic, there are all sorts of fun and extremely inexpensive accessories for the Kindle (and other ereaders) that allow each of us to personalize our reading devices. I fell for the Kindle cover with the built-in reading light. And the “bling¬†girl” in me went absolutely crazy for the protective and decorative “skins” offered by a company called DecalGirl. My Kindle is white, but I’ve dressed things up, as you’ll see in the pictures¬†included in this post. The “skins” are easily peeled off and saved for reuse to enable variety, and they really do¬†add a lot of pizzazz, if you’re into that sort of thing.

The most important part of the experience, though, is the reading. And because of my Kindle, I’m doing more¬†of that at a faster pace than ever before in my life. Gone with the Wind and hundreds of other books that same size can be with me at all times, enabling me to read whenever there’s even a five or ten minute period of dead time in a day.

Real books–the way they look, feel, and smell–will always¬†hold a special place in my life and heart. And my copies of many classics will remain on my bookshelves forever. But as a reader–and especially as a writer–I’m more excited about what I’m reading (the number of books I can get through in a month) than I ever dreamed I would be. For once, I’ll actually be able to¬†finish bestsellers while they’re still current. And no less important to me is the fact that the more I’m able to read, the more my¬†own writing will continue to improve.

So, if you’re one of those who’s starting to think about jumping into the world of ereaders, fear not! “Real” books will always be there for you to savor, no matter what you might hear being predicted. But if you’re looking for the sheer power and ability to get a lot of reading done, way beyond what you’re normally able to¬†accomplish, go ahead and make the leap! You won’t believe how much fun the reading world is in here!

————————————————————————————————————–

P.S. (after the original post): One of my blogging buddies (Jacqui at www.worddreams.wordpress.com) asked me about the setup, wondering if getting up and running is complicated. The answer is that the whole process is quite simple, and there are very few steps involved.

You need to charge your Kindle, which only takes a few hours. (I plugged it in to charge overnight, but the thing was fully charged before I went to sleep.)

Amazon will already have your account information for all purchases (books, magazines, newspapers, etc.),¬†unless you want to change a payment method. (You don’t need to worry about a shipping address, of course, because everything you buy will go directly to your Kindle in a matter of seconds!)

A very small booklet is enclosed in the Kindle package that introduces you to the operational buttons and the basics. And the list of Menu options on the Kindle screen is not very long. Exporing each one will lead you into the rest of the things you can do with your new little miracle device.

The most important part of the setup, though–buying and downloading your first book to read–will only take about two minutes–maybe even only one! You’ll spend most of your time¬†browsing through¬†the Kindle Store, going absolutely nuts over what is now available to you!

If you decide to enter the Kindle world, please let me know. I’d love to hear about your experience(s)!¬†

  

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