A Time for Courage …

 

Yes, courage is a strong word and conjures up a variety of images, but it can also be measured in different ways. For the purpose of this post it will be aimed at:

Free this weekend: 23rd/24th January

1. My latest marketing strategy.
2. My next scheduled collection of short stories.
3. Indie writer attitudes.

*

My latest marketing strategy.

I’ve already published my first book of this year, A Life of Choice: Part One, and I aim to have the second part published by April 2016. All is going to schedule with my other projects.

I said in a post last year that I’d stopped giving things away, but on a recent update of my catalogue I realised a word which carries international appeal is ‘FREE’.

Throughout 2016 I will promote a FREE title every month. On the weekend 16th / 17th January 2016 I set up The Welcome: and other Sci-Fi stories as FREE. My idea behind the move was to promote the title and my six guest authors.

During the weekend 23rd / 24th January 2016 I am offering A Taste of Honey as my first monthly freebie. To make things easier and more tempting to the international readership, I am using the new Amazon ‘preview/buy’ link.

*

My next scheduled anthology.

Collection - A Time for CourageApart from the heading of this post, A Time for Courage is also the title of my next anthology. It will contain my preferred number of short stories (12), in a collection which will be military-themed.

I had intended to open this new collection to guest authors, but with very little interest when I floated the idea last year, I went ahead with a selection of my own ideas. There may be one or two stories borrowed from another anthology, but I believe cross-pollination is good.

At the time of writing this article I have 10 stories completed and two more in the late stages of my editing process, so I’m confident of my target publication date of late March 2016.

*

Indie writer attitudes.

As a member of the Indie Author Support and Discussion (IASD) group, I’ve been instrumental in coaching new writers. No, I’m not the be-all-and-end-all when it comes to advice, but sometimes a little nudge is all a new writer needs.

Yes, I’ve been known to suggest that a ‘writer’ either works harder or finds another outlet, but I only do such a thing when I’ve worked hard to read past the first few paragraphs. On odd occasions it stands out when the person in question has an urge best kept to themselves.

We may be known as ‘indie’ but I like to think it stems more from the publishing aspect than the selfish, keep-it-to-myself attitude of some. I’ve only been a writer since 2007. I am not an authority on our craft, but I recognise when somebody’s heart is in the right place, and I will do all in my power to help. If my private offer is refused, I’ll back off – no offence taken.

IASD - globe (2)I’ve noticed at the other end of the scale we have a great number of new authors who have great storytelling skills, but they have little or no confidence in their ability. It may surprise those reading this, but I started like that, before realising the only person who could shout for me with any conviction in the early days – was me.

Authors with several titles are always asked for a piece of advice. I’m always open to take advice, but if I could offer a piece of advice to my peers it would be to lean on the rest of us. Yes, the first and general idea is ‘don’t give up’, but importantly, I believe having your work read, critiqued and read again are essential requirements.

We can’t judge our own writing, and anybody who shouts about how good their own work is will put me off the idea of reading any. Self-promotion is not about how good you think you are, but about letting people know you have titles out there. There is a big difference between self-belief and marketing.

I’m proud to be a member of the IASD, which in my opinion is the best writing group I’ve associated myself with, and I’ve been with a few. An honest opinion is never far away, but by the same token, it has to be sought.

As I said at the outset, this is A Time for Courage. We must work hard to produce a good story, and then edit, edit, and edit, before we ask for another person to give their views.A Taste of Honey

If you haven’t already tried my writing, here is A Taste of Honey, the title which is FREE this weekend.

Click on the cover to preview before downloading – if you like what you see:

As always, thank you for reading.

***

Advertisements

To Blog … or not to Blog?

There are many reasons for maintaining a blog, but before I offer my view, this is a good time to be honest.

Why do you personally have a blog?
1. Do you like to be a part of an international community of like-minded folk?
2. Do you like being able to air your opinions or grievances and occasionally receive support from others?
3. Is it simply a pastime and a regular part of your social life?
4. Are you perhaps particularly good at something, or have an interest in something and like to write about it?
5. Do you use your blog as a sounding board for thoughts and ideas, but also as a platform?

As I suggested in my intro, there are many reasons to blog, but it doesn’t make any difference if you’re honest about your reasons. The only way anybody will ever know your true reasons is if you tell them … and they believe you.

*

Why do I have a blog?
Before answering that question I’d like to say that I now have a blog for different reasons to those I had when I started.

For many years I haven’t been the social animal I was in my military career.

At about the time I took up writing I was advised to try writing a blog. I used it as a social connection, and as a means of learning about the internet and also aspects of writing.

It took me about a year to gain around 25 followers with my first attempt at blogging, so a couple of years ago I closed it down. I started again with a new theme, a fresh attitude … and a couple of books to my name.

My reasons for having a blog changed from social to business. I have a blog quite simply because it is one more way of promoting my books and my brand as a writer. The whole concept of ‘brand’ is a topic for another day, so I don’t want to get into it now.

This blog for me is a practicality. Since stepping down from my retail management role about three years ago, I only work three days per week to support my writing ambitions. I’m serious about my writing so I owe it to myself to conduct a strenuous and ongoing self-marketing campaign. I know there are many who don’t like the idea of ‘self-marketing’, and it may come as a surprise, but I count myself in that group.

Self-marketing for the indie author is a necessary evil. I’ve dealt with necessary evil in my life before so perhaps that’s why I can get over it and get on with the job in hand.

There is a nice side effect of having a blog, in that I have gained some social contact online now with a handful of other writers who blog. We don’t commit to checking each other out every week. We comment on each other’s words occasionally, which to me is more important. I’d rather have 10 genuine contacts than a few hundred names of folk who have registered their names purely so that they will attract attention for a mutual comment feed.

Along the way on this second attempt I’ve somehow managed to gain 140+ ‘followers’. Okay, maybe I have a figure displayed that suggests 140+, but I know I have an intermittent following. No, I don’t expect to be followed and not reciprocate, but there are only so many hours in a day for any of us.

*

Does the intermittent following bother me?
No. The reason it doesn’t bother me is quite simple. No matter how hard I try, I know I’ll never manage to maintain my commitment to writing and checking out 140+ blogs every week, or even every month. I’ve tried catching posts by email, and I’ve tried checking so many per day and so many per week, but it’s all far too time-consuming. There are also many who click the follow button on my site, but they blog about topics that hold no interest for me.

I do make an effort to repay any visit from those who are kind enough to check out my thoughts, like this post.

Sometimes I’ll find a post that captures my imagination or I’ll find a post that I didn’t know had been made, so I write a comment.

I’m probably not using my blog the way the ‘User’s Guide to Blogging …’ would suggest, but that doesn’t bother me. I’m an author, so my main interest is creative writing. I drive a car but I’m not a car enthusiast. I eat, but I’m not a lover of fine foods – it’s a necessary part of life. There are many things that we all do that become a part of our lives – for me the maintenance of a blog is one such thing.

*

Do I give anything back to my followers or occasional visitors?
1. I do try. Yes, in my main menu there are my book titles, but there are also topics which I hope will help to guide my peers. It took me a considerable time to learn many aspects of my writing craft so one of my personal aims is to help other writers in any way I can.
2. As I’ve said often before, I’m not an expert in the field of writing but I’ve gained masses of experience and read widely on the subject. When I see a fellow scribe whose writing is perhaps a little below par in one or two areas I respectfully offer some advice.
3. When I review a title I endeavour to get the word out there for the author, so apart from sharing the review as widely as possible elsewhere, I review on Goodreads so that it appears on the Homepage of my blog.
4. I may not write a post every week, but I make an effort to produce meaningful content. There are those that will consider this post an apology for not blogging ‘properly’, but I’m sure there will be others who find this a meaningful post – because like all I do, it is written with sincerity.

I’m presently working on a variety of projects, but I will get out there and visit a handful of blogs. If I cruise through my followers and find a topic I am in tune with, I’ll comment. On the other hand if the main subject matter is of little interest to me, I’ll move on.

As always, I am grateful for any visitors and comments.

***