Wednesday, September 30, 2015

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon -- Day 109 -- What's New Wednesday

Anyone who saw this before today and didn't tell me is on my list. I now own all of Apples' products except an iMac, Apple TV and these: Apple iPad Pro and Apple Pencil.

Having read Steve Jobs' biography twice, I cannot help but think he's turning over in  his grave now BUT man does that iPad Pro and Apple Pencil look like total and complete awesomeness for writers.

Check this out.


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S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon Day 108 -- Ad Talk Tuesday

Marketing Talk 

Keeping it short today because I'm pooped and I got my copy of Writer's Digest so I want to read. For the next 4 days I'll be in a writing frenzy trying to get this romance finished so I can get back to Book 4. I figured out the plot and am now dying to write it. 

Marketing News 

Publisher's Weekly published a great article about Book Marketing which is a must read so I'm sharing it here. Marketing has certainly evolved since I got into the biz and this article kind of discusses that evolution and introduces some new tools. 

Book Marketing 201 Marketing self-published books requires leveraging both new tools and tried-and-true strategies

A New Tool

Book Grabbr

So, this tool sounds like Bublish. You share your book on social networks...and those who grab your books share it...and they share it...and so on and so on. Whereas most services only track the initial click/share, Book Grabbr seems to track the entire pyramid.  How much is that worth to an author? I don't know. I mean, if there were some guaranteed readers it might be worth it but it sounds like once your book is in the tool, you're on your own. Also, it sounds a lot more expensive than most tools and it requires you to share your entire book on social media. I don't know how many authors have bought into this but it maybe worth the money for some people. As for me, $25 a month for ANOTHER tool is more than I'm willing to bite off each month but for those of you interested--check out the link and the video on the landing page.

Until tomorrow.

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Monday, September 28, 2015

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon Day 107 -- Motivation Monday

Motivation Monday -- An Author's Story 
I decided to post a video today from NY Times and USA Today Bestselling author Cassia Leo -- from practically homeless to best seller. Definitely a video worth watching!

Behind the Cover: Cassia Leo
She was almost homeless, but best-selling author Cassia Leo had nowhere to go but up after countless obstacles. Watch her story:
Posted by Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing on Friday, May 15, 2015


S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon Day 106 -- Anything Goes Sunday - #MdC3Con

Whew!

Sorry I'm late but talk about pooped! I attended the Creatures, Crimes, and Creativity (C3) conference for readers and authors the first time this year.

What a well put together event (some of the organizers to the right).

This was my first year attending this event in Hunt Valley, Maryland, but it was fantastic. Three full days of great workshops, discussions about books and writing, and keynote speeches from fantastic authors such as Heather Graham, F. Paul Wilson, and Andy Straka...and yours truly.  I was truly amazed at how gracious and welcoming all the authors were. Heather Graham was as down to earth was so down to earth and friendly with EVERYONE...if I had not been the introvert that I am I would've spent more time picking her brilliant brain.

They held sessions on everything from writing national intelligence and law enforcement realistically, writing diverse characters, writing in mixed genre, writing humor in murder mysteries, and just a host of other seminars. You can find the full schedule on the link below. There was something for everyone. And as an author, what I loved about this the most is that all exhibiting authors are asked to participate in panels. It's not just the star authors. So everyone gets exposure to discuss their work. Everyone gets to talk to readers and share their knowledge, no matter what level you are within your career.

All the meals were included in the fee so we ate heartily...and a lot. And I love the set up of the conference because it encourages everyone to get together to talk.

Heather Graham's keynote speech was fantastic...as was everyone else's but I was particular to her insights and observations about the industry since she's been in the game for so long. Great success and longevity. She held a workshop and gave away free books at the end. I snapped up one and will be curling up with it this week. Can't wait.

Mostly, I came away feeling as if I learned a lot about writing process and the industry in general. The sessions were all informative and encouraged a very rich dialogue from both the audience and the speakers so they felt less like panel discussions and more like roundtables.

I highly recommend this event to readers and writers alike.

Next year, the event will be held on September 30 - October 2, 2016! If you'd like to sign up to be an exhibiting author or attend as a reader or writer, sign up here.







Saturday, September 26, 2015

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon Day 105 -- Hot Links Saturday

Hot Links Saturday - Top 5 Publishing Stories 

German author will self-publish the English version of her latest Mirrorworld novel, The Golden Yarn, after refusing changes suggested by her American publisher

There's some awesomeness in this. Much has been said about what self publishing does for indie authors. Well, self publishing is even giving traditionally published authors flexibility and a new level of freedom. Don't like your editor's changes? Put it out yourself. Check out this story. Interesting indeed! 

No ebook sales are NOT falling, despite what publishers say 

Nun said. But it's an interesting read from Fortune. 

And from the Huffington Post...

11 Simple Reasons the Ebook Doomsayers are Wrong

I still love print books...but it's easier for me to read with a backlit Kindle. Because I'm blind. 

7 Ways to Write a Better Selling Book 

Good tips. Not much new but good reinforcement. 

Some interesting tips on Facebook, Thunderclap, and other activities. Definitely worth reading!




 

Friday, September 25, 2015

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon Day 104 -- Best of S.D. Skye -- Out of Order, Perfect Order

This is one of those pieces of advice that I preach but have to remind myself to follow. Right now, I'm working on Book 2 in my J.J. McCall Series. No kidding, every single day a new idea for a scene pops into my head, but they are scenes for the end of the book. I'm roughly in the middle. So, what happens is my ideas fill up my head while I hurry to catch up the story so I can write these GREAT scenes.

And then it inevitably occurs to me...why are you waiting? Why are you so focused on writing this book in order?

There is no rule that says you have to write a novel in any kind of order. You should write each scene as it comes to you. Keep in mind that scenes can be shifted around. If you're like me and use Scrivener, your novel is built in scenes and shifting a scene from one place to another requires little more than two mouse clicks.

So, go ahead and write OUT OF ORDER keeping in mind, that you can write nothing that can't be fixed later...and it all adds to the ultimate page/word count. Moreover, getting those great scenes out of your head will make more room for ideas in the scenes you've yet to write.

I started writing the book out of order and quickly got 5,000 words out of my head. I see smooth sailing from here!





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S.D. Skye 's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon Day 103 -- Best of S.D. Skye - Embrace Your Crap!

I'm a perfectionist to a fault. I absolutely HATE to make mistakes. From my elementary school days, I wanted to be right the first time. I wanted to earn straight A's in school. B's were depressing. C's unheard of. And I worked really hard to sustain my perfectionism over the years. I've carried that "do it right or die trying" work ethic with me through every assignment, through every degree, through every job, and every undertaking, even into writing.

When I wrote my first book, I was fortnately too stupid, inexperienced, and naive to know that I was writing crap. This blissful ignorance allowed me to finish my first draft in 4 months.

When I was done, you would have thought I'd written the next American classic.

And then came the critiques. O-M-G! You don't know pain until someone hates  your book. And I went through about 30 hours of labor giving birth to my son. That was nothing to compared to the piercing stab in the heart I felt when someone body had the audacity to "diss" my masterpiece.

I never let the criticism stop me from writing or discourage me from my goal of "authordom" but it shifted my perfectionism into 5th gear.

I refused to make a "mistake." So what happened, I finished my first book (which actually was  acquired by a big six publisher), and then went on to write the sequel.

I wrote. Hit a road block. Wrote. Hit a road block. Wrote. Hit a road block....and so on. What a God-awful cycle of uselessness.

Couldn't finish that book for the life of me. I was over two months in and not even close to finishing. With my first book, I was over the half-way mark at that same point.

So, I did what every writer does at this point. Drowned my sorrows in two pints of Ben & Jerry's and a fifth of Grey Goose. Then I took some time to read. Someone, I think Terry McMillan, had actually mentioned the book on her Facebook fan page. She told us aspiring authors to read Ann Lamott's Bird by Bird. A few other writers had recommended it as well, so I decided I'd just read a book on craft.

One chapter in that book saved my entire writing career. "Sh!tty First Drafts."

I started reading and I couldn't believe Ann had given me, Miss Perfectionist, permission to suck! Me? Suck? Really? And it's, like...okay?

YES!

Her message was pretty basic, write sh!t so you can finish your first draft. Then go back and clean it up.

I felt liberated. Freed. It didn't have to perfect on the first go 'round. And I have to tell you. I've learned more lessons on the writing craft from my rewrites than I EVER learned from writing a first draft.

So, now I offer the same advice to you. Embrace your crap! It's okay to write a sh!tty first draft. And it's actually, it's okay to write a sh!tty second draft. As I learned while writing my latest release, your 5th and 6th drafts can be pretty crappy too (although they should be better than the first). The point, my darlings, is to get the FINAL draft right...and learn everything you can to become a better writer along the way.

Have you learned to embrace your crap?


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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365 Day Blogathon Day 102 -- Repost: 3 Must Read Books on Writer Thrillers and Suspense Novels

Due to my hectic schedule this week, I'm re-running some of the most popular blogs on the site which may be old to some and new to others.

As for the GREAT JJ Giveaway, I think I'm going to go ahead and award to the FIRST person to leave a comment on the blog due to the "overwhelming" response (not). I'm guessing everyone who visits my blog already owns all the JJ Novels and don't need autographed copies and previews of the next two...except one LUCKY reader.

So, congratulation Jim Wyatt! You are the GREAT JJ GIVEAWAY inner. More details to come via email. 

Now on to the

Although I'm not new to the publishing world, I am very much new to the suspense/thriller genre. Just after I finished writing The Bigot List: A J.J. McCall Novel and started getting feedback from the Beta readers, I realized I might have some major revisions. While the readers said they "love, love, love" the story and couldn't wait for the next installment (and one of the Beta readers didn't know me), an agent had a less than pleasing reaction. He said that it was well written but it didn't have the same feel that other books of this ilk usually have. And so I really took some time to chew on his comments.

Fact of the matter is, I'd never written one. And understand that as someone who works in the law enforcement business, it is very difficult to read some thrillers, not because they aren't wonderful, entertaining books that shouldn't be on the NY Times Bestseller list, but because of the "eye-roll" factor. I can't tell you how many times it makes my eye-roll when people write FBI and CIA characters who operate so much differently from the people you've worked side by side with for almost 20 years. I can't control the "eye-roll" and it's hard to find books that don't make that happen. So, I can't say I'm a carnivorous consumer of the genre. But when I do find one that I like...I really like it. I just couldn't always figure out the why?

Why did the book draw me in? Why did I keep turning the pages? Why did I stay up until three am when I knew I had to get up at 5? Whyyyyy?

I'd written romantic comedies and romance novels that were page-turners but the stories were far less complex, involved fewer characters and they were written in first-person. If a reader empathizes and connects with the character, it's not hard to figure out why they want to find out what happened to them.

In this case, I couldn't write the book in first-person to get that connection so I had to figure out another way to make the story work. At first I was determined to "figure it out" on my own, doing several blind revisions based on the less than an ounce of knowledge I had about writing these kinds of novels.

#Fail

After that didn't work, I decided to get some help from the experts. I bought just about every book on writing mysteries, thrillers, and suspense novels that I could find and read all of them within a few days. Maybe a week. What I didn't know about the craft could fill Yankee Stadium. LOL  I had no idea how clueless I really was. Sometimes, you can't (and shouldn't) just wing it. Sometimes you need a little guidance to lead you in the right direction. Here are the books that gave me the most effective advice.



This was a really good book. I thought it might be a little dry and tough to choke down but I was very wrong. Entertaining and informative (or the other way around), this is well worth the money. It really hammered home the idea of ensuring each scene has some conflict. If everything is going your main character's way, there is no suspense. No, for the better part of your story, things my not go well. Even if there are small victories, the big ones must not be one until the end.






If there was one book that kind of hammers home the lessons of the above AND goes more into detail about the chapter and book structure AND characterization, this is probably it. I would recommend this book if your book buying budget is tight and you could only buy one. The tone is entertaining. The voice isn't preachy. It's a really nice easy read and I finished it in about a day.









Okay...so this isn't EXACTLY a book on the thriller writing craft per se. This is actually a book on writing screenplays if you didn't know. But what I loved about this is that he gives a great lesson how to make your unlikable heroes and heroines likeable. For example, why do we love bad guys like in the Oceans movies? Okay besides George Clooney. And Brad Pitt. And, well, need I go on? But the point is that these are people who steal for a living. So why do we connect with the characters, particularly Ocean, who has orchestrated this whole deal. Midway into the movie we find out he has a more noble mission--to save the wife he loves from a man who doesn't really love her so that he can love her. From that point on you're  totally rooting for the success of the heist--a crime. Save.The.Cat.

So these are my must-reads on craft. I bought a few others but these are the ones that really stood out as helping me make the best revisions.

What books on craft have helped you write/revise your story?













Tuesday, September 22, 2015

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon -- Day 101 -- Best of S.D. Skye -- Make it WORSE

Due to my hectic schedule this week, I'm re-running some of the most popular blogs on the site which may be old to some and new to others.

Don't forget the GREAT JJ BOOK GIVEAWAY!! Full details here. 

Just leave a comment on days 100-107 to enter (up to one comment per day). Win ALL 5 BOOKS OF THE JJ MCCALL SPY CATCHER SERIES. This includes the current 3 books AND Advanced Reader Copies at the last two books. You'll know how the series ends before EVERYBODY! Junior will draw the name and I will announce the winner on the site on Day 108.

This blog, with 3,000 views less than yesterday's, has the 2nd highest number of reads. Enjoy! 


Best Writing Advice #1

A  few years ago, when editing my first novel, I bought a book called Manuscript Makeover by Elizabeth Lyons. I didn't have a lot of money to spring for a freelance editor at the time so I tried to do as much as I could myself. But as a newbie to writing fiction, what I didn't and still don't know about writing could fill FedEx Field. So, I bought just about every book on the market because perfectionist that I am, I didn't want to miss anything. (Yeah, I was so naive). This one remains among my favorites and I refer to it often.

Anyway, one piece of advice in this book gave me a big "Aha" moment, probably one of the biggest in my writing career, and stuck with me like superglue. This single piece of advice has helped me  consistently craft page-turning novels.

MAKE IT WORSE! 


When you're faced with the choice between keeping your character in a "safe space" and intensifying the drama--intensify the drama. Ratchet up the pain! And look for places to do that scene by scene. And this works for any genre, not just suspense and thrillers.

I have a tendency to impose my own fears on my characters. You ever do that? When writing scenes you can physically feel the twinge, the discomfort. So instead of pushing through that pain and doing what I call "writing up" you "write-down" to make yourself AND the character more comfortable. Or even worse, you resist the ratchet in order to make the reaction more "realistic." Screw comfort and realism.They only make the book less exciting and less enjoyable for the reader, or as Ms. Lyons calls it--Flatline.

Don't let your stories flatline, rather take it to the next level. The worse you make it on your characters, the better you make it on your readers.

The practical lesson.

So, in this scene I was crafting for my very first novel, my character, a woman in emotional turmoil over a bad relationship break up a few days before, walks by a bedroom and sees a freshly showered naked Adonis toweling himself off; he's her client. I could write her walking by the room, all aflutter, containing her desire as she should--playing it safe. OR she could step into the room and see what happens. Well, at first I had her walking by the room all aflutter--boooring. But after reading Ms. Lyons' book, she walks in the room--and they go all the way. And this extreme action is the ONE scene about which I get the most "angry reader" emails.  

How could she do that?! 
I couldn't believe it! 

The reader bought into her turmoil, they bought into her drastic decision, and they kept reading to see how it would end. Then they got so emotional they wrote me an email.

My work is done.

hehehehe


Stay-tuned.  More to come.







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Monday, September 21, 2015

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon Day 100 -- Best of S.D. Skye -- Excite Your...Self?

Due to my hectic schedule this week, I'm re-running some of the most popular blogs on the site which may be old to some and new to others. 

Don't forget the GREAT JJ BOOK GIVEAWAY!! Full details here. 

Just leave a comment on days 100-107 to enter (up to one comment per day). Win ALL 5 BOOKS OF THE JJ MCCALL SPY CATCHER SERIES. This includes the current 3 books AND Advanced Reader Copies at the last two books. You'll know how the series ends before EVERYBODY! Junior will draw the name and I will announce the winner on the site on Day 108. 

Now, here's the most popular blog...as I read the title, it's probably due to "mistaken identity." :)

Yes, that's right. Excite yourself.

Okay, let me explain. After writing the first book in my J.J. McCall Series, some of the scenes left me a little flat. I mean, they were okay and certainly fit the story but I found myself wanting to put down my own story. And I figured if I wanted to put it down and stop reading, so would the reader. What do you do when you're less than thrilled about your own writing?

About this time, a video of an Ann Rice interview was circulating on the web (it's on YouTube) and she offered one of the best pieces of advice I've ever read from another author. Or maybe it was just timely. Anyway, she essentially suggested that we should read the scene and ask ourselves "What can I write to keep myself interested? What could I write to excite myself?" It sounds simple, but it's not when you're in the midst of your muck. Writers are not so different from readers, right? As a matter of fact, we ARE readers (or better be). If you write a twist or hook or make your character do something that keeps YOU from putting your book down, 9 times out of 10, it will do the same for the reader.

So when you get stuck on a lackluster or seemingly boring scene, think about what would make it more interesting for you...and then EXCITE YOURSELF!!




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Sunday, September 20, 2015

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon Day 99 -- Novel Spaces

Does your writing space matter? 

I'm not a persnickety writer by any stretch
of the imagination but I think the older I get the more it matters.

I've had a tough time settling my mind down from the 9 to 5 work lately. I mean, struggled like no other time in my writing life. I used to be able to shut it all off an get lost. But now it's harder to de-stimulate my brain. Friday I came home sat at in my living room for 3 or 4 hours without touching the remote control. Before I realized the TV wasn't on, the room was dark and it was bedtime. And my brain was just then quieting down so I could think like a semi-sane person. 

I decided to take advantage of my developments "dumpster days" (when they park two big dumpsters so we can get rid of our junk) and I cleaned out my 4th bedroom.

With an achy back, two sore knees, wrists, hands, and $400 spent at IKEA, Junior and I spent today turning the former storage room into what we call the "executive suite" (quiet room). 

The idea was to create the only room in my house without a television. A place to go, write, think, relax, nap, etc. For me, I suspect I'll be doing a lot of writing in there, especially on rainy days. It's on the top floor and you can hear the rain tap on the room. Now that I think about it, there will probably be a lot of napping. 

I'll share pictures when it's all finished. Nothing fancy. We bought a couple of side tables, a laptop desk, two cheap TV/bookstands, a couple of lamps, and spacious futon so that the room can double as a second guest bedroom (only when absolutely necessary--like most introverts, I don't host a lot of guests). 

I can't wait to see if it helps. If not, it should be a great place to sit. 





Saturday, September 19, 2015

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon Day 98 -- Hot Links Saturday

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



What I learned from Self Publishing

Very good article that says a lot of the same stuff other articles do but we need constant reminders. And YES to everything said. 

Lessons on Self Publishing from a NY Times Bestseller

More YES to it all. Interesting story...sounds a lot like mine minus the NY Bestseller part. :) (We must keep our senses of humor about these things.) 

What Your Favorite Book Genre Says About Your Personality 

Don't know if reading and writing both apply, but interesting insights, nonetheless. Mystery/Thriller and Romance for me...probably some truth. Although I wonder what it says about me that I read and write in both genres. I think it says I'm nuts. 

How do you determine how much an ebook should cost?

Interesting insights. Worth the read. 

Dear Self Published Author, Please do not Publish Four Books a Year 

Can I just call bullshit on this right now? So as not to leave any doubt about where I stand on the issue. I'd like to write an article titled "Stay in Your Lane and Quit Worrying about What or How Often Other Authors Write." How about that???  

What I can't stand in this industry are these over-privileged literary snobs who look down from their lofty perches on high and crap on other authors' work. If you don't like it, don't read it. Don't tell them how to time their publishing or put food on the table in their homes. 

If you CAN write four books a year,  by golly you should. If you have the machine to self-publish four books a year--go for it.  I would go nuts taking 2 or 3 years to finish one book. Two books a year is what it takes to keep me in a good writing rhythm and allows me to release my creativity and continuously get interested in new ideas. But if I was doing it full time, 4 would not be out of the question...because I have that kind of work ethic. Four of my hours working on a book are very different from 4 of another author's hours, and the author of this article doesn't take that into account. We are not the same. We have different rhythms, different work ethic, different talent levels. 

Those who can should. Those who can't shouldn't.  

Dear Self Published Author -- Do YOU!




S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon Day 97 -- The Great JJ Book Giveaway

FICTION FRIDAY



Can't believe I've been at this blog for over three months straight. I had doubts I'd make it to Day 100.
I did a blog talk radio interview the other day and I was telling the host that when I started this self-inflicted challenge, my goal was really just to get out of my own head and try to make social networking a habit...they way I've done novel writing. I wanted NOT writing a blog to feel weird...as opposed to the opposite. My blog audience averaged about 1,000 visit a month, mostly from tweeting old blogs. Three months later I'm up to 10,000 visits a month, tweeting new blogs every week. Not only that but it helps me to keep up with things happening in the industry, with new tools, and keep myself and others inspired (hopefully).

With my busy busy busy days--writing a romance, preparing to give a master class on writing realistic novels involving intelligence and law enforcement, and ensuring I have my marketing and swag together (see my new banner?)--next week I will probably be posting a best of, reposting the mostly highly visited blogs on my site.


THE GREAT JJ BOOK GIVEAWAY 

Get the first 3 books now. Get ADVANCED copies of the last two when they are completed--before (almost) anybody else!!

But because you're enduring that I'm going to give my faithful visitors, which hopefully include J.J. McCall lovers, a chance to win not only the three newly rebranded books below. BUT -- All FIVE J.J. McCall Books. They will get the first three books right away and they will get the very first Galleys of the next two books as they are completed. So they lucky winner will find out how the series continues and ends before anybody else in the world! (Except my Beta readers.)

The Rules.

To enter, leave a comment on blog days 100 to 107. You can leave one comment per day. Your name will go in the hat once for each day you leave a comment. So if you visit each day, it will increase your chances but you only need to leave one to enter. And my Junior will pick the name out of a hat--when the winner is announced they will email me and provide a mailing address. Very scientific.


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S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon Day 96 --Craft Talk Thursday

I must be excused from my absence on Thursday. I've had the week from hell at the 9-to-5. In my defense I started this days ago. I just fell asleep while writing it. Same thing happened last night. :)

Anyway, I just had this thought about writing the other day when I was talking to another writer about their project. They told me they'd been working on a book for a little over a year and hadn't made it past chapter 4.  They asked me for tips on how to keep going.

I do believe their are stages in the writing process. Everyone is enamored with Stage 1 -- With the Honeymoon -- they love their idea. They love the idea of Step 4 (not shown on this graph) publishing the book, sitting in book signings, and selling a million books. But you have to get through steps three and four to enjoy that. And the plain old ugly fact of the matter is once you get past the honeymoon phase this crap is HARD. But I think Steps 2 is the point at which you determine whether you are a true writer...or just a dreamer with laptop and publishing fantasies. The true writers endure all three steps over and over and over again, even when they don't realize all their wishes and dreams in Step 4.

True writers persevere. Are you persevering?


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Thursday, September 17, 2015

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon Day 95 -- What's New Wednesday

What's New Wednesday - Not Your Mother's Keyboard


The Gadget Queen strikes again. 

I just ordered a new keyboard and I thought it important to share because I'm cool like that. 

While I love my MacBook and use it faithfully (like right now), since my 9-to-5 hasn't been moved to Apple so I'm stuck with the PC and Windows. And I HATE my old keyboard. 

I've bought a lot of them. The ergonomic ones. The standard ones. The Mac one. I've tried everything. I think I miss the tap of the keyboard. I really like that sound. Makes me feel like I'm writing something...you know, like if someone passed by my home office, they would say "holy cow she's working!!" 

So, I was shopping for a writer's keyboard and I found a gamer's one for writers. You gotta check this out -- Steelseries 7G. 

"The 7G is actually a gaming keyboard, but it’s a worthy upgrade for writers. It’s a heavy, rock-solid keyboard high on technology and made with quality in mind. Its design is clean and has a minimal appeal to it, coupled with that design are features like USB and audio ports, gold plated switches and connectors, multimedia controls and an unrivaled lifecycle of 50 million keystrokes.
But here’s the real kicker for writers – the keys are made of mechanical switches and not membranes, what does it mean? Increased tactile response (you feel you’re typing on an advanced typewriter) and response time. Writing is an even greater pleasure when you have the 7G by your side." From iYogiBlog
Now listen...

I needed a cigarette after I heard this video. Don't judge me!  

No, really, I love the sound of it. So, I'm going to see if I like it. And since I spend SO MANY hours typing for work and typing for my other work, I feel like it's worth the $134.95 investment (on Amazon). I'll let you know how it goes. 

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon Day 94 -- Ad Talk Tuesday -- Bublish Update & The C3 Conference

Ad-Talk Tuesday

Bublish Update

So almost one week ago today I set up my profile on Bublish and created book bubbles to share excerpts of my books along. Some interesting things have happened this week so I thought it was worth an update.

Bublish Marketing

So, Bublish is the only marketing platform for authors, that I know of, that actually helps promote your work on social networks---at no additional cost. (yes, read that last line again). They have not only retweeted my tweets but they have created tweets on their own and tweeted them. If you look at the top tweet -- that's from the CEO of Bublish. And if you look at the bottom, that's the tweet that Bublish promoted it on its own. It was retweeted a few times and accumulated over 30 retweets.

Book Bubble of the Week

So they select one authors bubble to be Book Bubble of the Week which is why it gets so much attention, I believe. However, they retweet #bookbubble tweets several times a day whether you are a the bubble of the week or not.

Engagement Insights 

So the real question is -- does this really increase visibility? And, more importantly, does it increase sales?

My answer on the first one is certainly yes. My answer on the second is the jury is still out, but I do believe it has had some impact.


On the left, you see the Bubble views--those are the views of the actual excerpts.  In the middle is the view of author profile views -- so that's just the biography and the list of books. The last number is the click through rate to Amazon.

As you can see, the conversion rate is low...sort of. What I will say is this. I've definitely seen a slight bump in sales and when people buy they usually get all three books as opposed to buying one.

There has also been a significant uptick in the rate of pages read on Kindle Unlimited.

Can I attribute this to Bublish? I don't really know but do I think SOME sales and increased reads are a result of this? Sure.

At the end of the day, any increase in visibility is good and it's been less than a week. I will update again in a month or so after I publish more Bubbles and monitor the impact.

Creatures, Crime and Creativity (C3) Conference

So, I'm a featured local speaker at the C3 conference this year, which is held in Hunt Valley, MD on October 25, 26, 27th.



Heather Graham and F. Paul Wilson are headlining the event. I will be featured on Sunday -- when everyone's dead tired and ready to go home (just kidding). But it should make for an interesting presentation. I'm speaking on how to write realistically about Law Enforcement and Intelligence and Law Enforcement. Plus, I'll be sitting in on a host of other panels from writing diverse characters to the "care and feeding of authors."

See the description for my presentation below.

S.D. Skye – Speaking intelligently about national intelligence
S.D. Skye is a former Intelligence Operations Specialist/Analyst in the FBI’s counterintelligence program. As a senior intelligence analyst with the DIA, Coast Guard Intelligence, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence she will tell fellow authors how to write realistically about intelligence and law enforcement – and tell readers how to spot when a writer is just making it up.


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Monday, September 14, 2015

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon Day 93 -- Motivation Monday -- Self Publishing Success--And Fail

Motivation Monday


So, today I'm hard at work writing but I did find a few links about Self Publishing Success that I wanted to share for Motivation Monday. There's no formula--because everyone would be using it--but I do believe there are common principles successful people share in common. See the threads. Be the threads (that was corny, I know. Might explain a lot about my career lol). 

Do you fit the profile of success--or failure? Do you have what it takes? These blog articles might give you the push you needed (in either direction). 

How to be Successful in Self Publishing

5 Lessons in Self Publishing 

And failure...

I’m a self-publishing failure--I was hoping to become the next indie success story. Instead, I got a tough lesson in vanity.
This is a great article. It may be downer for some but for me I thought -- man, I'm not doing as badly as I thought! But the stark reality is we may never reach that place we want to reach. Then again, we may go so much further than we ever thought possible. That's only possible if you don't quit -- and this writer may have felt like it--but he didn't. 


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Sunday, September 13, 2015

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon Day 92 -- Anything Goes Sunday

You ever have one of those weekends in which you don't feel as if you accomplished much but you indeed got a lot done that will pay off later?

That's the kind of weekend I had. And I'm exhausted. Pooped!

I got nearly 8000 words in on my new romance novel that I'm writing for a joint book set with 15 other authors. It's due December 1 so I HAVE to finish that up. Fortunately it's short 30-40K.

I designed a new cover for my own 3-book set --the first three books in the series which include The Bigot List, Situation Critical and the Shadow Syndicate -- when my brain teetered out on writing.

It's below. Not bad. Definitely cheap (my own labor and materials). I used a free 3D cover maker and created the front cover and spine.


Now I'm a going to get some rest. Long week filled with annoying people and a lot of writing ahead.

But for all of you writers out there...please find some inspiration. Well, really it's more of a reminder that we all started somewhere. Enjoy!

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Saturday, September 12, 2015

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon Day 91 -- Hot Links Saturday

Top 5 Publishing Links


Indie Authors Should be Using Twitch 

Yet another author marketing tool on which I'm SURE you will have to spend lots of money. However, this one allows you to share excerpts of your book in the form of narrated readings! I don't know about you, but I HATE reading aloud in public. I might not might not mind recording once and then letting readers listen over and over. Twitch. Check it out. 

Authors Guild Says Most Writers Live Under the Poverty Line

If we lived on our author salaries alone, then yes. That's why many of us keep a death grip on our 9-to-5s. It never fails to amaze me why so many people are clamoring to get in this industry when the odds of making a full-time living from it are EXTREMELY low. I question myself every day. 

How to Use Facebook to Sell Books 

I'll be taking a harder look this one later. Most authors only WISH to have $3,000 to spend on marketing in a YEAR let alone one month as this author did. Even though the volume may not translate, the principles may. 


Love this. And there are others at the bottom of the article. Check it out. 

Plagiarism in the Amazon Self-Publishing Jungle

Interesting topic and most authors' greatest fear next to pirating. Does it happen? Probably. Worth a read. 



Friday, September 11, 2015

My Memory of the FBI on 9-11 (A Repost)

  My Memory of the FBI on 9-11...


Some people may read this blog and wonder why I'm so passionate about U.S. national security. The anniversary of 9-11 is a reminder.

I'll never forget.

I'd arrived for work at the J. Edgar Hoover Building in downtown Washington and suddenly came down with a splitting headache. So, I decide to walk to the CVS Pharmacy three blocks up Pennsylvania Avenue on 13th Street.

As I'm walking to the store I hear an explosion. I stop in my tracks thinking it must be construction...or at least that's what I hope. After leaving the store moments later, I see smoke billowing up in the area of the Pentagon.  I could smell it in the air. But again, I'm thinking construction--maybe someone went a little overboard.

When I got back to the office, my colleagues were hovered around a television set. Watching the news. The two towers were hit. The Pentagon--hit.

First, stunned silence and tears. Then, confusion. Running up and down the corridors to find out who knows what. Then--Rumors.

We heard that a 4th plane was circling Washington and that FBI Headquarters was a potential target. There had been rumors of a potential attack on FBI headquarters circling around based on some suspicious surveillance activity detected near the FBI and other government buildings in the months leading up to 9-11-2011. But nothing substantial--until that moment.

Some of my colleagues said run and get out of D.C. Others said they were going to stay and support the investigation--they knew one was coming and that it was going to be massive. As for me, my son was not even a  year old...and all I wanted in that moment was to see his face again.

Scared, pannicked, I got the hell out of there. But I returned the next morning and was assigned to work the counterterrorism task force. If you were a warm body and could put 2+2 together you were assigned to work it. In the days and weeks to come, the FBI would help the world put together the pieces of what had happened. And during the course of the investigation, they gave us all these pins in remembrance.

I cringe when I hear conspiracy theorists talk about what the FBI knew and didn't know. What the FBI could and couldn't prevent. There is not one person at the FBI who wouldn't have given their all to prevent that attack if it was at all in the realm of possibility. Not one person who slept a full night during the course of that investigation. So easy to criticize when you weren't there and you don't have a clue of what you're talking about. The U.S. Government consists of more than these stark white buildings spattered across the D.C. skyline, it's made up of people. American people. Patriotic people who work with purpose every day.

And in a strange twist, but perhaps not, I would spend five years working on the Joint Staff in the Pentagon not two years later supporting the Iraq Task Force and our soldiers in battle there. 

What I remember most about 9-11 was...it didn't matter whether you were white, black, Latino, purple, or green, democrat or republican, protestant, Jewish, or Catholic, or whatever.

On that day, we were all Americans. One people. Never more perfectly united...at least not in my lifetime. And nothing mattered more than protecting this country and keeping us all safe.

It's a feeling I'll always carry with me, no matter where I go or what I do. And it's why I'm so opinionated on this blog when it comes to matters of U.S. national security.

I'll never forget.

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon Day 90 -- More on Bublish

So, yesterday morning, I purchased my Bublish membership, set up my account and entered my first three books.

How'd it go? 

Not bad. It was a fairly easy process. After signing up and paying your $99 dollars (or it's FREE if  you only have one book), you fill in a series of screens with your author and book information, then you create your Bubbles and share.

Adding your book...

This, I suspect will be the toughest part for most authors, adding your entire manuscript to this site and not knowing whether it's safe or not. Given that other authors more prominent than I am are using it, I decided to let that fear go and give it a whirl.

To enter a book, you have to upload an ePub version of your book or you can use their editing tool to cut and paste your book in and create your ePub from within the program. I was nervous about that because of the formatting, so I just decided to use my new JUTOH program to create my ePub and it worked perfectly. It actually takes the cover that is part of your ePub version and it uses that to create your bubble, so you don't have to add covers separately. Once the book is uploaded, it lets you select as many excerpts as you want and write your "author insights."

Here's what my The Shadow Syndicate bubble looks like.



In addition to your book information, you create an author profile with your bio. For those who don't have websites, it's a pretty nice landing page to use for social networking. Reminds me a little of the author central page on Amazon except in no other platform that I know of do they allow you to add author insights or that personal experience. I even added my picture in there. How about that?




Will it sell more books? I don't know but we shall see!

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