Sunday, November 22, 2015

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon Day 162 -- Hot Links Saturday

Hot Links Saturday -- Week's Top 5 Publishing Links

No time for commentary today, but here are my Top 5 links this week with some really interesting stories, including Harper Collins' new imprint focused on indie authors.  Enjoy!!

When the Sharing Economy Comes to Publishing 

Everything's Generic: Why Publishing Needs Tagging 

Why Authors and Publishers Should Embrace Automation 

HarperCollins is Courting Indie Authors

Self Published Books Account for 18% of U.S. Market 

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365 Day Blogathon Day 161 -- THE BIGOT LIST -- FREE

Free Fiction -- The Bigot List 

This is the first book in the J.J. McCall Series. A Bigot List is actually an intelligence community term for a list of people with access to super sensitive TOP SECRET investigations, operational information, and sources and methods. 

When cases go bad or get compromised, that list is usually the starting point to find out who's responsible. So, being on it is a catch-22 especially when there are spies lurking about. Such is the premise of The Bigot List -- but you knew that!

This is an announcement about this book's availability. 

In an effort to spread the love around, the J.J. McCall Novels will now be on sale at all ebook retail sales outlets. 

And it's now FREE on iBooks and KOBO. I would've made it free on B&N but they don't provide that option. And this book is no longer in Kindle Select so this will no longer be free, unless Amazon makes it perma-free. 

If you'd like to pick up a free copy on the iBooks and Kobo formats, click the links below. They are 99 cents elsewhere. 

B & N

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon Day 160 -- Craft Talk Thursday

Well, you knew you were going to get a video. Someday, my life is going to slow down enough that I can write the blogs I actually planned to write. 

But this is great short video with excellent advice. Check it out. 


Which one was your favorite. #1 is a key for me. You have to get some time between drafts. The more time the better. 

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon Day 159 -- Nite Notes

What's New Wednesday -- Gifts for Writers 

Nite Notes

Anybody ever get ready to fall asleep, and just when your brain is supposed to be settling down to go to sleep, your brain is waking up. And it never fails to come up with some "brilliant" idea that you swear you're going to remember in the morning and write it down then, but (if you're me), you realize you're over 40 and yeah, right? 

Well, this is a neat little gift for the writer in your life this year.   

Nite Notes is a lighted note pad that doesn't give off enough light to keep you awake, but more than enough to allow you to jot down the idea, within the lines, so you will be able to use the idea to write a book three years from I have done three times now. So, keeping your ideas is important. 

How does it work? When you remove the ink pen it automatically lights up.  And note the convenient writing surface. Cool, right?

Check it out. 

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon Day 158 -- Ad Talk Tuesday

Ad Tuesday Tuesday -- Guerrilla Marketing Techniques #1

The writing comes first. 

I'm way behind in my blogging  this week because I've been editing like crazy. I had two major deadlines coming up REALLY SOON--I'm editing a manuscript for another author and wrapping up edits on my own before mine goes off to the editor this week. I'm trying to minimize her pain and labor hours. So, the blogs I'm catching up on for this week will be short and sweet. 

One thing I was curious about was guerrilla marketing techniques or the more extreme techniques people use--beyond social networking and book signings--and what authors are doing these days. I remember, for my first book, the one I self published before it got picked up by Simon & Schuster, I spent hours and hours in Barnes & Noble putting my bookmarks and postcards into books of the similar genre as mine in bookstores all over the DC metro area. I must've gone to about 10-15 book stores and left hundreds of bookmarks. I was also get B&N to place my book on the shelves as an indie book--so, in those stores, I'd reshelve my books, placing them face out up front or on the tables close to the entryway in hopes that they would catch some attention. 

Did it help sell my books? 

Who the heck knows? I would say probably few if any. It was chick lit which was a tough sell in those days if you weren't established. 

So I wondered what authors are doing for "guerrilla marketing" techniques six years later since the market has changed so much. 

This article is one I thought was pretty interesting--placing a book that's not in stock at a store and seeing if people actually try to buy it. This is an old one, but check it out. 

I Planted My Self-Published Book on Barnes & Noble's Shelves... And People Bought It


Monday, November 16, 2015

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon Day 157 -- Motivation Monday

Motivation Monday -- J.F. Penn

I've been (loosely) following J.F. Penn's career since beginning my self-publishing journey. Not only is she one of the breakout self-published novelists but she also has a fantastic blog and a super informative video series that I frequently feature on this blog...because I listen to and watch them quite a bit. 

I thought it would be interesting to share how she began her self-publishing journey and eventually found success as a self published author. For those of us still clinging to our dreaded 9-to-5 jobs, this might provide a bit of motivation. 

There is life after... 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon Day 156 -- Anything Sunday

Anything Sunday -- More Outlining, Rewriting 

It's been a good writing week. I got feedback from my beta readers on my Valentine's Day romance and it was all good...even from the beta reader who would rather pluck her eyes out than read a shmoopy romance. She loves the J.J. McCall novels. So the fact that she could stomach the sweet romance really speaks volumes. 

I'm really excited about that project but not nearly as excited as I am about wrapping up these last two J.J. McCall Novels. I've spent my weekend outlining the last two books of the J.J. series. I got the main plot for one book done and about one quarter of the second book. I'm trying to ensure these are weaved together well and that all the necessary loose ends are tied up. 

What I found out today is just like I need a little break between writing books to kind of reset my brain to zero so I can think clearly about the plot for the next book, so I must do the same when outlining. My brain literally refused to create any more plot after a certain point. I forced out a quarter of the outline which will probably get rewritten once I get my brain back together. It fell apart a bit. 

I also rewrote the first chapter of the book. I've got several drafted but actually did some editing just so I could get back into the story and finish the outlines. Normally, I wouldn't edit until the entire book was finished. The rewrites are SO MUCH better than the first draft I wrote months ago. Dare I say my writing is maturing...AND a little space and time really does improve the quality of your rewrites. 

I'll start posting previews soon. Hopefully, it will whet your whistles for the next and final installments of the series. 

Have you seen Snoopy yet? I'm hoping to check it out this week. 

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365 Day Blogathon Day 155 -- Hot Links Saturday

Hot Links Saturday -- This Week's Top 5 Publishing Links 

Indie Author Violently Attacks Reviewer 

All I can say about this story is--Wow! If reviews drive you to violence and you're not writer enough to put the reviewer in your next book and kill them off there, then this business is probably not for you. I would never do this. I take all of my revenge in my books...there will be a lot of deaths in the last two of this series (no, not really). 

Indie Booksellers Power Anti-Amazon Book Club 

I find these articles interesting as if everyone operates in opposition to Amazon. But the idea itself in an interesting read. 

How to Build an Author Platform Through Email Lists

I've been reading this a lot over the past few weeks. If you're an introverted writer, like myself, this is the way to get your name out there and keep it out there. An author gave me this tip when I first started writing but I didn't actively build my list. If I could go back, it's the one thing I would do. 

Prolific Romance Fiction Writer Exposed as Plagiarist

I shared this on Facebook but I'm not sure if I shared it here. Incredible story. I've never seen such a bold and blatant effort from one author to steal another author's work. And then to ask for understanding? Puh-lease! 

8 Essential Things to Know When Marketing Your Book on Twitter 

Great marketing tips. Check them out. 

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon Day 154 -- Writing "Tips"

I saw this and thought it was funny...even though I almost burst a corpuscle. Prepare to grind your teeth.

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365 Day Blogathon Day 153 -- Craft Talk Thursday

As I dig into writing my last two thrillers in the SpyCatcher Series, I'm reading a lot more books and watching a lot more videos on the thriller genre. I want to make each of the last two better than the last. I love J.F. Penn's videos. She really does great interviews and her interviewees always share a lot of helpful information. 

Check out this video from Thriller Writer Jeremy Robinson. He shares a little bit about the craft and marketing...and publishing. All the good stuff. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon--Day 152 -- Das Keyboard

What's New Wednesday -- Das Keyboard 

So, you guys are probably already aware that I have a bit of a thing with techie toys. Well, it's more of a little habit...or, perhaps, a bank account draining addiction. One of those more than the others...probably the latter. 

Anyway, for a while now, I have been longing for a new keyboard. The one I have causes significant finger strain and is just a pain in the butt to type on. The keys get stuck. It's probably only a year old but it was time to go. 

At first, I went shopping for just the Hyundai of keyboards. Something reasonably price and function. I ended up with a BMW...6-series. I blame a lot of things on the decision, but never myself. 

I actually did a lot of research and found out that mechanical cherry MX blue/brown-switch keyboards were the best for writers and gamers. The reason why is that they are highly reactive to the touch. Unlike those spongy keyboards that only react when you press the thing down, the keys on mechanical keyboards are light under your fingers and very durable. 

Well, I watched a few YouTube videos, read more reviews than the law should allow and eventually picked my selection. 
My previous keyboard was a Logitech something or other. If you buy them, for goodness sake don't buy this one. It's horrible. I think I paid $30. You get what you pay for. Guess it doesn't look too bad but the keys were spongy and kept getting stuck...especially the space bar. It slid around the desk constantly. I'd pull it toward me and fifteen minutes later I'd be repeating the same motion. Just kind of a pain in the but to  type on. I really didn't need a bunch of fancy features, just a good typing experience since I spend so many hours a day typing--both for writing fiction and my day job, writing proposals.

Das Keyboard

My new selection is the Das Keyboard. German engineered (like the BMW), it's one of the best keyboards I've ever typed on. It doesn't cause finger strain. It's pweeeeeety...and a little sleek. Best of all, when you type you get that clicky sound that makes it sound like you're actually really busy and writing genius material. Not too far off from typing on an actual typewriter. Actually, it more like typing on one of those old clunky keyboards on the original apples and IBMs. You probably notice that it has no lettering on it. That was an accident. I ordered the Ultimate model (for writing and gaming bad asses who don't need no stinking lettering) instead of the Professional model (for the writing wimps) and was too lazy to box it back up and ship it back. So, I paid six bucks for lettering to stick on it...but I'm astonished by how well I actually know the keyboard. I may not use the lettering. And without the lettering I don't look down which means I type a lot of faster.

Another thing I love about this keyboard is that it is hefty. Weighs about 3 pounds so when you sit it on the desk, it doesn't move. With my old keyboard, I would start writing in on place and by the time I was done, the thing would be scooted half way across the desk without me even realizing that it moved. This sucker isn't going anywhere.

How much did it cost, you ask? Yeah, it wasn't cheap, but from what I understand, they last for a REALLY LONG time and so you will get more than your investment back in a few years. I've spent probably $200 on keyboards over the past two years. So, spending $130 (Amazon) on one keyboard that would last three times as long suits me just fine. They have a newer model for $169 but I wasn't willing to pay the extra bucks. I guess somewhere in my mind, I do have my limits.

So far, I'm loving it. I'll let you know how long that love lasts. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Free on Kindle! -- The Shadow Syndicate

Oh Happy Day!!

I'm making moves. One of them is to expand distribution for the J.J. McCall novels across all platforms. Preparing the files and getting them all uploaded and ready to has been an exercise in rectal gymnastics you will never fully grasp until you do it yourself. 

To that end, I'm giving every book in the Kindle Select program it's last hurrah in the giveaway. From now through December 15, all of my books (including my romances) will be available for Free on Kindle in alternating weeks--except The Bigot List and Situation Critical--both of which are ineligible because their days in Kindle Select are numbered. 

This is the week for The Shadow Syndicate. If you haven't read it yet, now's your last chance to read it for free. 

2015 Next Generation Indie Book Award Winner -- Multicultural Fiction


The FBI and Italian Mafia make strange bedfellows when a vicious Russian Organized crime figure, operating at the behest of Russian Intelligence, lands in The Big Apple. The henchman, infamously known as Mashkov, avenges the death of slain a Russian sleeper agent and accidentally hits the son of an Italian crime boss, sending J.J. and Task Force Phantom Hunter to the streets of New York.

They step dead into a burgeoning war between the Russians and Italians, while trying to dismantle the financial hub of a deadly spy syndicate working in the shadows.

Meanwhile, CIA Case Officer Grayson “Six” Chance lands in Moscow to capture a fugitive American with stolen White House intelligence before he sells it to Russian Intelligence—putting Six in a moral dilemma he may not be prepared to handle.

And when J.J. finally learns the truth surrounding her mother's death in the line of duty, her life may never be the same.

If you enjoy this book, you will love Book 1--The Bigot List (A J.J. McCall Novel) and Book 2 -- Situation Critical (A J.J. McCall Novel).

Monday, November 9, 2015

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365 Day Blogathon Day 150 -- Motivation Monday

Motivation Monday - Stephen King and How He Gets Inspired

Where does your inspiration come from?

Dreams. News events. Visual observation. 
This man needs no introduction--the great Stephen King. I always get juiced listening to his videos as I prepare to write. But check this out if you haven't already. It's worth the listen; he talks about about his ideas and how they fester and grow into creepy stories.

Ideas come from everywhere and they can strike at any time. The key is to write them down.

I dreamed J.J. McCall's name about a year before I figured out who she was or that she was the main character in a spy novel--but I wrote the name down and waited for the story. Same thing with one of my dreams. I woke up and wrote it down 4 years ago...this year it will make it into a dream.

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon -- Day 149 -- Outlining

Anything Sunday -- How I Outline

I'm all caught up on my blogs. Finally finished the draft of my romance novel and now I'm onto more new and exciting...writing.

I have BIG plans (mentally) to publish five books next year. Three novellas and the last two J.J. McCall novels. The only way I'll ever meet this goal is to outline all the novels, write straight through, and have a really good editor.

I think I now have all the ingredients to make it happen. So, I've just got do get the work done.

So what do I mean by outlining?

Well, my outlines DO NOT look anything like that picture on the right. There is no real formal structure per se when you look at them. It's more like a scene by scene summary. They always have a beginning, middle, and end. The end always has a hook that will move the reader to the next chapter. And the beginning always integrates the hook from the previous related chapter, so readers don't get lost in the story.

My scenes are always connected. If there is one mistake I've seen from new writers is that they don't write in the continuity from one scene to the other, and when you move on through the story, it takes a while to get oriented.

My outlines are usually dialogue-heavy or narrative heavy--usually not both. Depends on where the story is but sometimes I want to remind myself of the action. And sometimes I want to remind myself of the conversations that move the story forward.

What outlines help me to do is ensure that I am aware of PACING through the entire story. If you have pacing issues when you write, then you probably need to outline.

 If I write three plots -- one main and two subs, which is typical in my JJ McCall novels. I usually establish the pattern early in the books of how the reader will see those plots...this is just to help keep them oriented. 1,2,3, 1,2,3, 1,2,3, 1,2,3...and I try to keep all of the chapters the same length. The beginnings, middles, and endings, usually happen in the same rhythm. That method makes for "easy reading" especially when you have complex story lines, as I often do. The more complex your story, the better your reader will benefit from these kinds of patterns and rhythms.

 The most important thing about outlining is that you MUST allow yourself to take the story in another (typically better) direction if the writing bears that out. Don't feel compelled to stick to them if you or your characters think of something better. The best scenes in the J.J. McCall novels usually were not planned...and they weren't on the outlines. But what the outlines should do is help your productivity, so you have a place to start and end every day if your muse goes off on a bender (as mine frequently does).

Hope some of you found that helpful. Now, I'm off to finish up my J.J. outlines. New chapter previews coming soon!

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Saturday, November 7, 2015

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon Day 147 -- 7-7-7 Game with Joint Deception

Fiction Friday -- Joint Deception 

When I find my way out of this writing frenzy I will resume my hunt for authors to feature on Fiction Friday -- leveraging my memberships in Sisters in Crime and International Thriller Writers. 

Until I escape from this time crunch I will be sharing random things on this day. 

Now! On Facebook I was asked to do the 777 challenge (go to the 7th page
 of a current work-in-progress, go down 7 lines and post the next 7 full sentences). So, here you go.

Here are 7 sentences, 7 lines down from the 7th page of JOINT DECEPTION, A J.J. MCCALL NOVEL BOOK 4 (2016).

"Your CAT scan shows a severe concussion and some significant swelling in the cerebrum. I've been in touch with your doctor in D.C.; he'll monitor you closely. Headaches, dizziness, you can expect them for a few weeks, maybe months. We can give you medicine for the pain."

"Best news I've heard all day."

"As for your memory, I think it's important to hope

for the best but be prepared for the worst. We won't know more until the swelling subsides,"--he scanned the room before locking his eyes on JJ-- "But there is a very real possibility that your memory may never be better than it is today."

J.J. is coming...and it's gonna be good!