Friday, December 30, 2016

The Week in Link 12/30/16: Carrie Fisher, Rogue One, Emma Watson


Welcome to the weekly roundup of links for fellow writers and nerds.

Book Marketing and Branding
How Authors Can Use Content Marketing To Sell More Books With Pamela Wilson
20 Types of Evergreen Content that Produce Lasting Results for Your Business
15 Best Blogs for Indie Authors to Follow
How to Create a Pinterest Showcase for Your Business

Fantasy/Horror/Sci-Fi
Hear Emma Watson Singing BEAUTY AND THE BEAST’s “Something There”

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Webinars and Online Training For Authors


I love webinars. Being able to learn from professionals without leaving my home. I don't often have the courage, at conferences, to ask questions but I have little problem doing that over the computer. With online training, you can learn whenever and wherever you want.

How can you find these webinars and training tools? 

Many authors and other publishing professionals host webinars or guest on them. Follow brands to learn about any webinars they're involved in.

Bublish 
Their webinars are often about book marketing. Sign up for their newsletter to learn more about them. I use Bublish the most. Their webinars are really informative.

Tailwind
On their Facebook page, they do live videos where they talk about what's working on Pinterest and Instagram.

Alliance of Independent Authors
Every year, they do Indie Author Fringe, a free online conference where authorpreneurs talk about the path to being a successful author.

Some authors have YouTube Channels where they give writing and marketing tips. Just search for writing or book marketing.
Jenna Moreci
The Creative Penn

Online Training (Paid)
Writer's Digest
They probably have one of the largest collections of webinars for authors, covering all things publishing related. There's also Writer's Digest University. I've used both and found the resources useful.

Mediabistro
These courses aren't live but they're useful. They cover writing and marketing, among other things. I lean towards Mediabistro for online writing and marketing course. No particular reason. They're not better or worse than Writer's Digest. I've done some of their in-person workshops and enjoyed those. That's how I was introduced to the brand.

Gotham Writers
I've never done online courses with Gotham Writers but I'm familiar with the brand. The have some good in-person classes in New York City.

Some authorpreneurs often start their own online courses.
The Creative Penn
The Book Designer

Podcasts
Many of the above-mentioned brands have podcasts you can listen to on any device. My favorite is The Creative Penn, I know shocker.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. If you have a favorite online training tool, please comment below!

Monday, December 26, 2016

Mixing Black and White with Color Photography


Being a photographer is like being an author. There are a lot of photos out there, I mean a lot. It's difficult to take unique pictures. Nearly every category in photography is saturated. My photos are on sites like Shutterstock but it's hard to get them seen above the millions of other images for sale. I've been trying to figure out how to make my photos stand out. Last week, I experimented with filters.

This time I'm working with black and white photos.

I don't often do selective black and white in photos because it takes some time. The results are amazing. Having only a part of the image in color really enhances the subject.

I fix and enhance the images in Lightroom then open them in Photoshop to create the color/B&W effect.






I think, for my photos, flowers work best for this kind of editing. 




Friday, December 23, 2016

The Week in Links 12/23/16: Blogging, Yuri On Ice, Pokemon


Welcome to the weekly roundup of links for fellow writers and nerds.

Book Marketing and Branding
Instagram Stories' gift to you: Holiday stickers - CNET

Fantasy/Horror/Sci-Fi

Writing, Publishing and Bookishness
Six Essential Book Descriptions

Nerdy

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Holidays and The Merging Worlds Series


In my stories, I don't put a lot of emphasis on holidays mostly because they're post-apocalyptic. The characters aren't going to stop and celebrate when they're so focused on surviving. Actually, they might. Holidays are something solid when the world has been turned upside down.

Would characters in The Merging Worlds series celebrate something similar to Christmas and New Year?

I didn't feel the need to develop a religious system. A few overseas beliefs are mentioned but you never learn what's practiced in the characters' home country. You don't learn if the characters buy into those beliefs. I envisioned my main country practicing something similar to Christianity. Their "Christmas" might be like ours.

It might be worth it to add a holiday in Book 4. Jael winters are brutal. It's cold and half the land gets buried under snow. People are stuck close to home for about five months. The characters need some happiness to keep them from killing each other. A "Christmas" in the middle of the cold months would be a nice bright spot. I'll think about it.

If something like Christmas existed, how would the characters celebrate? 

They're all well-off because they're old. They've spent many, many years gathering wealth. They'd have to make their own gifts or do a fair amount of traveling to buy something.

Shade Harrellite would be really festive. She'd sing Christmas songs all month even though her voice sounds awful. She'd buy a lot of gifts but they'd embarrass the reciever. Everyone would hate opening presents from her. Left on their own, her family wouldn't do any big celebrations. They'd buy each other gifts but no party, no special dinner. Shade would force them to celebrate. Everyone would enjoy themselves because Shade has that effect on people.

Divine Mathews is a part of a different family and he loves any opportunity to spoil them. He'd buy almost everyone a mountain of gifts. By the time Christmas hit, everyone would already know what they got from him because Divine's a push-over. Josephine wouldn't need to read his thoughts, she could charm the gifts out of him.

Josephine Royal would spend a month talking about other cultures that celebrate something similar to Christmas. By the new year, her family would want to kill her. She doesn't cook often but she, Mauve and Kaige would be elbow-to-elbow every evening fixing way too much food. She'd try to incorporate dishes she learned from other cultures.

Bel Steyne would spend the entire time angry. To him, the holidays would be an excuse for his family to act more like wild animals. He'd spend every day screaming himself hoarse while everyone ignores him. He'd be that shield preventing his family from tearing a part the house, making sure they aren't poor after the holidays.

Aliceanna and Blae Carlton would try to get drunk. They can't but they'd fill the house with alcohol because it would make Bel angry. They'd unleash their arsenal of tricks on everyone and end up breaking something. Blae would burst into the kitchen, offering cooking tips simply to be annoying. Aliceanna would hang decorative handmade signs with holiday-themed insults on them. They both would make fun of people buying gifts then get something super sweet for everyone.

Mauve would be bouncing off the walls and Kaige Prysn would enjoy the season because his sister, Josephine, was happy.

How would your favorite characters celebrate the holidays? Would they?

Visit My Books to find out more about The Merging Worlds Series!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Art in Photography


Some experimenting goes into making art. Sometimes you have to walk outside of your comfort zone. Recently, I wrote a short story where the main characters were regular humans, not something I do often...or ever. It was difficult but it stretched my writing muscles.

I'm also experimenting with my photographs.

If you're following me on Instagram, you've seen some of my photos with Photoshop filters added to them. They give the photos an extra kick.




Here are my latest edits.












Don't know if I'll continue to add filters to my photos. I'm sharing them on Instagram to see how they do. So far, they've gotten more likes than my other photos, not including the ones with books.

Follow me on Instagram to see more of my photos!

Friday, December 16, 2016

The Week in Links: 12/16/16: Star Trek, SF/F/H 2016, Nintendo


Welcome to the weekly roundup of links for fellow writers and nerds.

Book Marketing and Branding

Fantasy/Horror/Sci-Fi

Writing, Publishing and Bookishness

Nerdy
Pokemon Go Was the Biggest Google Search of 2016

Photography and Design
New-York Times’ Best 2016 Books Covers Selection

Want to see your post in the next The Week in Links? Email me at audendjohnson@gmal.com. The post needs to be published between today, 12/16 and next Friday, 12/23.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Grail (Le Fay #3) by Realm Lovejoy



Title: Grail (Le Fay #3)
Author: Realm Lovejoy
Genre: YA Fantasy

A hero has fallen, and darkness threatens a splintered Camelot. In the midst of turmoil, the last hope for the kingdom is Morgan le Fay. Morgan is both feared and revered . . . and currently in prison for treason.

In the wake of King Uther’s tragic death, the wicked Mordred is closing in on young King Arthur, and the boy king turns to Morgan for help. Freed from her imprisonment through his order, Morgan searches for a way to protect him. But she is still an outcast, and no one believes her suspicions about Mordred.

To save King Arthur, Morgan must reach the greatest Royal Relic in the world—the Grail—before Mordred does. It’s a journey that will challenge her in ways she’s never been challenged before. Traveling deep into a land of darkness, she will need to overcome the ghosts of her past to find her true power.

Can Morgan defeat Mordred and save King Arthur? And this time, can she defend Camelot without destroying herself? In this third book in the Le Fay series, author Realm Lovejoy reveals secrets from the past as Morgan’s epic journey unfolds.
Praise for Le Fay Series, book 1: "Camelot meets Hogwarts meets Panem in this intriguing, well-written beginning to a planned YA series."--Kirkus Reviews

Previous books in the series (click on images for Goodreads links):

 

Most of Realm Lovejoy's books are on sale this week from 12/12-12/16 for 99 cents! HENGE, the first book in the Le Fay series, is free for a limited time!
 | Amazon |  



Footsteps sound across the marble. I swallow and get back to mopping, watching the marble and wood patterns beneath become shiny with the cleanser. It’s a small relief to be surrounded by beauty after being locked in my closet room. I study the depth of the wood grains, the slices of gold and sparkling black marbles.

The steps stop in front of me. A clearing of the throat.

I grab the handle of the bucket, preparing my leave. “I will be out of your way,” I say briskly.

“Morgan?” the voice says.

I halt, meeting eyes with Lancelot.

He looks a bit older too. The grays in his eyes more somber like the ancient temple rocks I saw in Avalon, stained with mist and forgotten by man. There’s a welt over his left brow that wasn’t there earlier.

The space between us seems defined as the light rays slice past me, toward him. We stand there with dust glinting in front of us for what seems like minutes.

“Sir Lancelot,” I say, straightening. “I’m in your way. Excuse me.”

“Morgan,” he repeats.

I tighten my grasp on the handle, worried as to where this is going. I push away the memories of him.

“I’m sorry,” he says, not taking his eyes off mine. “I didn’t know what to do. I saw you in the cafeteria serving the food and I… well, I froze up with shock. I heard about the parole thing. I didn’t know you’d be… doing work like this.” He shakes his head. “What am I saying? I’m glad you’re alive.”

“Thank you,” I reply stiffly.

“I wanted to see how you’re doing.”

Having someone want to “see” me seems worse than being invisible.

“This is how I’m doing,” I say, motioning to the mop and my work—the shiny floor.

The glossiness ends at the halfway point between us, like a dividing line. He moves his foot, the boot coming a smidgen closer.

“This is… not acceptable,” he says.

I tense even more, afraid to know what he means.

“This,” he says again, pointing to the mop, the bands, and my terrible jumpsuit. “You are so much more than this. The Cabinet is crazy to have someone so gifted waste away.”

“Lancelot,” I blurt out, terrified by his care and where it has led to before. “Don’t pity me. Just move on. Forget about everything—about me. That’s what everyone else is doing.”

“Nobody will ever forget about you. Right now everyone is desperate to feel safe and normal. I admit even I’m desperate and tempted to jump into denial. And you. I’ve never seen you like this, not even in prison.”

I snort. “Jumpsuits weren’t my thing, exactly.”

He points at my face. “I mean, your eyes. You have dead eyes. It’s not like you to meekly mop and serve food quietly while keeping your head down. What happened to your inner fire?”

I open my palm to observe my burn wounds with a bitter smile. “I’m a little burnt out, I guess.”

“At least you still have your morbid sense of humor,” Lancelot comments.

HENGE Book Trailer:




Realm Lovejoy is an American writer and an artist. She grew up in both Washington State and the Japanese Alps of Nagano, Japan. Currently she lives in Seattle and works as an artist in the video game industry. CLAN is her first book. You can find out more about her and her books at realmlovejoy.com




Monday, December 12, 2016

Pinterest for Authors


Every now and then, you, as an author, have to audit your social media accounts. Marketing takes a lot of time and you don't want to waste yours on something that no longer works. Or, your account may not be working the way you expected so you need to change how you use it.

I think I'm due for another audit.

You probably heard this before, images really work on social media. It's not surprising my Pinterest and Instagram accounts get the most engagement.


Outside of Instagram, Pinterest is one of my favorite social networks. I use it to gather images to help me picture my dark fantasy worlds. I also find images to inspire scenes and stories. It's also a place where I gather photography and design inspiration. I don't do this to promote myself. Pinterest is a research tool.

Recently, my engagement rate shot up, like a lot.


A couple of months ago, all those arrows were pointing down. Should I start being more purposeful in how I use Pinterest? What I'm doing now is working. Why would I need to change anything? Although engagement has increased, follower rate is pretty low in comparison. My most popular pins aren't my designs or blog posts. Right now, the site isn't helping my content.

Checking out my analytics, I should make Pinterest a part of my marketing plan. You should know who'd buy your books. I'm reaching my audience on Pinterest.


First off, how did I increase engagement?

Scheduler
Maybe a month or two ago, I started using Tailwind- a scheduler for Pinterest. The free trial lets you schedule 100 pins before you have to pay. In one session on Pinterest, I can pin about 5 or more images. Instead of pinning them right away, I scheduled them, which gave me about a week's worth of content. It seems posting more often increased engagement. People love fantasy artwork.

Check out Tailwind's Facebook page. They have some good videos about what works on Pinterest and Instagram.


If I want to turn Pinterest into a marketing machine, what do I need to do? 


Six Powerful Ways to Market Your Book on Pinterest
"...it’s important that you stay focused by regularly driving Pinterest users back to a web page where they can easily buy your book. It doesn’t matter if you drive them to your website, your book’s page on Amazon, or another bookstore website or blog -- as long as it includes a seamless and easy way to buy your work."
I'm pretty bad at this. All my blog posts have images. I should just share them on Pinterest but I don't. I need to get better at that. Also, when I post images on Flickr and DeviantArt, I should share them on Pinterest as well.

3 Ways to Use Pinterest to Promote Your Book
"Using keywords in the description will help make your pins visible on Pinterest’s search results pages. If you have a young adult fiction book, for example, make sure to place “young adult” in the description."
Another thing I don't do often enough. I don't add my own descriptions to the images. I don't know how search friendly my account is.

Pinterest for Authors: A Beginner’s Guide
"People come to Pinterest to learn something, whether that something is baking the best chocolate brownie or writing a bestseller. They also come for the great visual aesthetic, which is why you will want to master pin-worthy images."
That's good to know. I have quite a few guide/tip blog posts similar to this one. Seems like these types of posts do well on Pinterest, as long as they're accompanied by an eye-catching image.

In general, it seems Pinterest is a good partner for a blogger since it can increase website traffic. It may not sell books directly but it may drive people to this blog which is just as good.

More Resources:
Pinterest: 6 Top Tips for Pinterest for Self-publishing Authors
The Ultimate Guide On How To Use Pinterest For Marketing

Friday, December 9, 2016

The Week in Links 12/9/16: Nintendo, New Movie Trailers, Gift Guide


Welcome to the weekly roundup of links for fellow writers and nerds.


Book Marketing and Branding
D. Cohn: Help! My Social Media Marketing Isn’t Working!
How to Stay Motivated When Blogging Isn’t Easy
10 Posts You Need to Read Before the End of the Year

Fantasy/Horror/Sci-Fi
Greg Berlanti Giving LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS the Remake Treatment
New FANTASTIC BEASTS Exhibit Opens at Warner Bros.
War for the Planet of the Apes Premieres a Dark and Moody Trailer Speculative Fiction in Translation: 9 Works to Watch Out for in 2017

Writing, Publishing and Bookishness
Are small publishers doing all the hard work for the big ones? How Color Affects Mood


Want to see your post in the next The Week in Links? Email me at audendjohnson@gmal.com. The post needs to be published between today, 12/9 and next Friday, 12/16.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Author Spotlight: Meet Eden Royce



Think a small-town girl who grew up around rootworkers and hoodoo practitioners might have a new take on horror?

Eden Royce is descended from women who practiced root, a type of conjure magic in her native Charleston, South Carolina. She’s been a bridal consultant, reptile handler, and stockbroker, but now writes dark fiction about the American South from her home in the English countryside.

She is the recipient of the Speculative Literature Foundation’s Diverse Worlds grant for 2016.

She also writes a regular feature for Graveyard Shift Sisters, a site dedicated to purging the black female horror fan from the margins, where she interviews black female authors and reviews their latest work. Eden is one of the founders of Colors in Darkness, a place for dark fiction authors of color to get support for their projects.

When she’s not writing, Eden loves roller-skating, watching quiz shows, and perfecting her signature dish for Masterchef. Learn more about Eden’s brand of horror on her website edenroyce.com.





Pull up a rocking chair and sit a spell. Soak in these twelve tales of Southern Gothic horror:

A woman’s search for her mother drags her into the binding embrace of a monster, a witchdoctor’s young niece tells him a life-altering secret, a man’s beachfront home becomes the site of his worst nightmare, an investigator who knows how to keep a 100% confession rate….

These are stories where the setting itself becomes a character—fog laced cemeteries, sulfur rich salt marshes—places housing creatures that defy understanding and where the grotesque and macabre are celebrated.

Spook Lights is a collection of short horror stories by Eden Royce, who was inspired by the rootworkers—Southern hoodoo magic users—she grew up around. 

Her Southern Gothic horror stories employ the use of the macabre and the ironic, to explore the ideals of the American South, along with a few spells from her great aunt, who was a local rootworker. 

Also used in the collection is the Gullah language, a vibrant mix of English and several African languages formulated from the first slaves brought to the United States, still spoken today in certain parts of Charleston, South Carolina and her surrounding sea islands where Royce grew up. The language is rare to hear now, and Royce hopes this collection will renew interest in the heritage of the Gullah-Geechee people.

Those fascinated by the mystique of the South, will appreciate these tales of the Holy City at its darkest. Many readers will find the descriptions of the lives of people of color, under represented in horror fiction, a refreshing take on the genre.


Monday, December 5, 2016

Food in a Post-Apocalyptic World


What can you eat after the world ends? No grocery stores. Trade will be cut off. Even if people have electricity, it won't be available everywhere so...no refrigerators. In The Sciell's Legacy (working title), Book 4 of The Merging Worlds series, the world has ended and now people are trying to survive. How do they keep themselves and their families fed? I've been trying to figure that out.

It's useful to know about real world food even when you're creating a fantasy world. For my stories, I don't recreate everything. Things like apples and rosemary exist.


10 Foods That Will Last Forever In The Post-Apocalyptic World
"Rice has long been a main food source for more than half of the world population. The hearty grain will continue to keep humanity strong and well-fed in the event of a disaster."
 16 Indestructible Foods That Would Outlast The Apocalypse
"Unopened bottles of wine or other distilled spirits can be stored for up to 30 years or more. Some alcohols tend to age and acquire a taste improvement over time, but still require proper storage."
Money in a Post-Apocalyptic World
"Not too far back in our history, spices were worth their weight and more in gold. Egyptians were buried with their spices. Roman soldiers used to be paid in salt."


Water Purification
"Boil polluted water for four minutes. (Make sure it’s a rolling boil) It’s slow, but it works, and can be done anywhere there is fuel for a fire."
Forever Autumn: A Post-apocalyptic Survivor’s Favourite Time Of Year
"Hawthorn trees and hedgerows are also awash with their bright red fruits by late September. Haws are most often turned into jams and jellies, which can then be stored to provide sustenance throughout the long winter months, but you can also eat them raw from the tree."
Another Useful Video


Preserving Your Own Food
"You’ll only going to be able to grow food for part of the year and are going to have to preserve most of that food for use in the colder winter months."
More Resources:
Grains: A Growing Guide

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Week in Links 12/2/16 Netflix, Writerly Gift Ideas, Barnes & Noble


Welcome to the weekly roundup of links for fellow writers and nerds.

Book Marketing and Branding
The Ultimate Guide to Creating an Instagram Profile Everyone Will Want to Follow
7 Tips for Improving Online Sales Using Social Media

Fantasy/Horror/Sci-Fi
Resident Evil 7: Hands-On With Four Hours of Horror and Survival
Bookseller’s Picks: The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Books of December 2016
The Fate of the Tearling: An explosive ending to our feisty heroine’s story

Writing, Publishing and Bookishness
4 Books to Survive the Apocalypse (and Other Disasters) Christmas Gift Ideas For The Writer In Your Life
Barnes & Noble Opens New Concept Store With Restaurant

Nerdy
Netflix finally lets you download shows and movies to watch offline

Photography and Design
Bookstore Design Hotel in Tokyo

Want to see your post in the next The Week in Links? Email me at audendjohnson@gmal.com. The post needs to be published between today, 12/2 and next Friday, 12/9.