How to Sell MORE BOOKS during the Holidays

5 12 2018

It’s the HOLIDAY SEASON already!

 Book Promotion during the Holidays is 

a Marathon Not a Sprint

Everyone is in a buying mood, 

so this is the perfect time

 to sell more books.

According to Google Trends, 

search terms related to “gifts” in the United States trend upward 

starting in early-mid November through Christmas Day.

Readers usually number other readers

among their friends.

So how to reach them?


Put the Holiday in the title of your book and make it stand out from the crowd by opposing the genre with the season.

It’s just before Christmas, 

and we share the regrets,

 hopes and best intentions

of a beleaguered manager 

after corporate tells him 

to shut his restaurant down.


It’s New Year’s Eve in New York City. 

Your best friend died in September, 

you’ve been robbed twice,

 your girlfriend is leaving you, 

 you’ve lost your job…

and the only one left to talk to

is the gay burglar you’ve

got tied up in the kitchen… 

oh, and 

P.S. your cat is dead.


Sites like VISTAPRINT can make your Christmas Cards for just 31 cents each.

4.) Send emails reminding readers that ebooks are the perfect gift that requires no shipping.

5.) Offer your print book at a price that keeps your book under $10 even with shipping.

    {You want to tempt gift givers to choose your books to widen the pool of readers receiving your novels.}


 Focus on Amazon. 

Emphasize links to your books on Amazon. 

Your prospective customers will already be shopping on Amazon, 

so make it easy for them to purchase your books by being where they are (on Amazon!)

7.) EVERYBODY is advertising on FACEBOOK

The fishing hole that everyone uses produces few big fish.  Think outside of the box.  Use Pinterest or Instagram.

8.) DO YOUR OWN 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS related to your book

Whether it is a themed giveaway, 12 questions whose answers win a prize, or just 12 jokes …

It will generate interest in your book and your prose.

The possibilities are limited only by your imagination

IWSG post: How Much Are You Willing To Invest In Your Dream?

2 01 2018 A JOURNAL:

If you want to write, you need to keep an honest, unpublishable journal that nobody reads, nobody but you. 

Where you just put down what you think about life, what you think about things, 

what you think is fair and what you think is unfair. 


You need to read. You can’t be a writer if you’re not a reader. 

It’s the great writers who teach us how to write.

Don’t tell me that you don’t have time to read.   

This is like a man starting up Mount Everest saying that he didn’t have time to buy any rope or pitons.


Write. Just write a little bit every day. Even if it’s for only half an hour — write, write, write.

Let the writer take up surgery or bricklaying if she is interested in technique. 

There is no mechanical way to get the writing done, no shortcut. 

The young writer would be a fool to follow a theory. 

Teach yourself by your own mistakes; people learn only by error. 

The good artist believes that nobody is good enough to give him advice. 

She has supreme vanity. 

No matter how much she admires the old writer, she wants to beat him.

What did Joss Whedon say?  “You either HAVE to write, or you shouldn’t be writing at all.”


“Start telling the stories that only you can tell, 

because there’ll always be better writers than you 

and there’ll always be smarter writers than you. 

There will always be people who are much better at doing this or doing that – 

but you are the only you.”


Becoming a writer is about becoming conscious. 

When you’re conscious and writing from a place of insight and simplicity and real caring about the truth, 

you have the ability to throw the lights on for your reader. 

He or she will recognize his or her life and truth in what you say, 

in the prose pictures you have painted, 

and this decreases the terrible sense of isolation that we have all had too much of.

Try to leave the Ivory Tower School of Writing — 

do not write about Man.

Write of A man … or A woman … 

trying to make sense of their lives, lost dreams, failed loves.

“Listen” to the stories of the lives around you.  

For it is in them that you will find the roots of your own novels.


Start writing right now. 

Don’t write it right, just write it –

and then make it right later. 

Give yourself the mental freedom to enjoy the process, 

because the process of writing is a long one. 

Be wary of “writing rules” and advice. Do it your way.

Ignore critics

Critics are a dime a dozen. Anybody can be a critic. Writers are priceless.

Go where the pleasure is in your writing. Go where the pain is.

 Write the book you would like to read. 

Write the book you have been trying to find but have not found. 

But write.


Learn to trust your own judgment, 

learn inner independence, learn to trust that time will sort the good from the bad – 

including your own bad.

Every writer knows fear and discouragement. 

Just write. 

The world is crying for new writing.

 It is crying for fresh and original voices and new characters and new stories. 

If you won’t write the classics of tomorrow, well, we will not have any.

How much time do you put into writing each day?


10 11 2017

“If you want peace, stop fighting.  If you want peace of mind, stop fighting with your thoughts.”

“Nothing can bring you peace of mind but yourself.”
 – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“The punishment of every disordered mind is its own disorder.” 
– St. Augustine

As I sat down at my laptop tonight, mulling over what to write for tomorrow’s post,

Anything I could write seemed trivial against a backdrop of  

church killings and molesting of children by those who felt invulnerable.

I heard one word murmur within my mind: “Peace.”

I wasn’t thinking of inner peace.  

I was thinking of what my writing friends might be interested in.

Perhaps the Great Mystery answered my question for me.

Don’t expect any great wisdom here though.  

I am not the Great Mystery.  I don’t have the job qualifications.

But I know that, like happiness, you cannot find peace by looking for it.  

Like happiness, peace of mind is a by-product of living not its goal.

Be true to you:

When we practice congruency, we behave similarly to the way we feel and

When the way we see ourselves and the way the world sees us is
the same, we are practicing congruency. 

Problems arise when we see
ourselves one way 

(for example, as a loving mother) 

but behave in ways
that are at odds with how we would like to see ourselves 

(for example,
neglect our children because we are too busy). 

Finding ways to keep our
inner ideals and the way we behave similar is one of the keys to peace
of mind.

Peace on the battlefield:

It is easier to be at peace when we listen to beautiful music, play with our pets, 

walk through undisturbed nature, and step away from the world.

But Life is a harsh  mistress.  

She draws you back into the chaos of conflicts with bosses, spouses, children, bills, ill health … 

the number of enemy troops you face sometimes appear endless.

Each battlefield we find ourselves on contains a lesson that will keep us from worse ones 

if we but learn it correctly.

Look for that lesson.  

Perhaps it is only to take ourselves not so seriously, to learn to laugh at ourselves 

(we will never run out of material!), 

to learn that some battles are not worth the collateral damage, 

or to find we should not fail to plan unless we plan to fail.

 Failure has negative connotations, but actually, everyone fails. 

 How can you improve or learn anything if you never fail? 

A healthy
attitude towards failure encourages bravery. 

It’s not you that is the
failure, instead it is what you tried that failed. There is a big

Listen to the Wake-Up Call of Loss

 To lose something we had taken blithely for granted is jarring.  

It should alert us to look for all the other blessings in our lives that really are so precious.


Those who hurt us have taken enough of our time.  Why invite them along in your thoughts for the rest of the day?  

They have to live in the world they make for themselves with their thoughtless natures.  

Forgive them, release them from the obligation they owe you, and you will find you have released yourself.  

Hate is like drinking rat poison, hoping the rat will die of it.

Think Outside of Yourself

Each person you pass or meet is fighting a battle no one knows anything about.  

Be kinder than you might be inclined to be for that reason.

Learn the Power of a Smile

 Whenever you are laughing or smiling, something interesting happens.

 Not only does something happen on a chemical level to make you feel

but it also stops all stress and negativity from entering your

 A simple smile can make such a difference.

 ‘Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our
power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our

 ~Victor Frankl


3 10 2017


“No one can build you the bridge
 on which you, 
and only you,
 must cross the river of life.”
–  Nietzsche
 “The true and durable path
 into and through experience
 involves being true … 
to your own solitude,
 true to your own secret knowledge.”
– Nobel-winning poet Seamus Heaney 
We live in a Pavlovian culture of constant feedback, 
in which the easiest and
commonest opinions
 are most readily rewarded, 
and dissenting voices 
most readily punished by the unthinking mob.
So when we write we must ask 
if we wish to be popular when read or to be true to what we feel is best in the human condition …
to be a pioneer or to be one of the herd.
To be a writer is to feel authentically, 
for that is the only way to write prose that touches the inner person of the reader.
Because whenever you think or you believe or you know, 
you’re a lot
of other people: 
but the moment you feel, you’re nobody-but-yourself.
 To be nobody-but-yourself – in a world which is doing its best, night and day, 
to make you everybody else – 
means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.

As for expressing nobody-but-yourself in words, 

that means working just a little harder than anybody who isn’t an author can possibly imagine.


nothing is quite as easy as using words like somebody else. 

We all of
us do exactly this nearly all of the time – 

and whenever we do it, we
are not authors but cookie cutters.

“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know. 

 So bleed that one true sentence, and go on from there.”

– Hemingway

We are modern Argonauts — 
The Argonauts 
(Ancient Greek: Ἀργοναῦται Argonautai) 
were a band of heroes in Greek
who in the years before the Trojan War accompanied Jason to Colchis in his quest to find the Golden Fleece. 
Our Golden Fleece is to write the best prose of which we are capable. 
So good fortune, 

my fellow Argonauts,

the prevailing winds 

are against us.  

But as authors, we know that it is the struggle that makes the adventure.


A Ghost’s Guide To Writing Success

9 09 2017

At Meilori’s, 

that haunted jazz club which is never too far from where dreams have died, 

I was playing chess with the ghost of William Faulkner.

The fog gathered near.  

The jazz murmured low in the shadows.  

The torches beckoned to all who wander lost in the dark of their soul.

I must have spoken that thought aloud, 

for Faulkner said low, “How do you know they are so lost?”

I smiled sadly, “On such a night, if they could be home, they’d already be there.” 

He returned my smile.  “Just so.  Just so.”

I asked, “Why weren’t you at the poker game last night?”

Faulkner snorted, “Hemingway gets too morose about November’s writing contest.”

“So you approve of NaNo?”

“Goodness, no!  It is a horrid waste of 30 precious days that will never come again.  

The dead know all too well how fleeting life can be.”

I nodded, “Mark Twain says each day is a coin we can spend any way we wish, but ….”

Faulkner finished with me, ” … you can only spend it once.

He sighed, 

“But have those contest participants bought anything of lasting value with those 30 coins?”

“So you agree with Hemingway?”

“No.  He lived a full life and should know Mankind has always looked for the secret elixir, the hidden keys, the lost path to success.”

Faulkner smiled bitterly. 

 “Not that they exist, mind you, but we want them to.  We live in denial of the simple fact 

that the true path to success, whether in writing or in any other endeavor, 

is paved with courage, imagination, and persistence.”

He blew pipe smoke into the shadows. “And it is a lonely road.”

I sighed, “For me it has been.”

Faulkner murmured,

 “So it is understandable that so many writers think they have found the key to becoming writers 

in this joint ‘group hug’ as Hemingway so colorfully and callously calls this contest.”

He frowned as I moved my knight in a move he had not foreseen. 

 “But the truth is as elusive as smoke in the night.  Sometimes you can smell it in the air, but it slips through your fingers.”

Faulkner took my knight in a move that this time I hadn’t seen coming and smiled,

 “But I can tell you and your electronic friends the simple secret to writing success.”

“It’s not nice to tease a struggling writer.”

“Oh, I am quite sincere.  The simple secret is this:

Write of an old thing in a new way.”

In response to my frown, Faulkner said, 

“The oldest lodestone to literature is the human heart in conflict with itself.  

From Shakespeare to Tennessee Williams that lodestone has been the compass that led the way to riveting stories.”

He tapped the chessboard with the stem of his pipe. 

“Only that is worth writing about, worth the agony, and the sweat of wresting something from nothing.”

Faulkner leaned forward, stabbing my chest with the pipe stem.

“Leave no room in your writing for anything but the old truths of the heart,

old universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed – 

 love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice.

Until you do so, you labor under a curse.

You write not of love but of lust,

of defeats in which no one loses anything of value,

of victories without hope and,

worst of all, without pity or compassion. 

Your griefs grieve on no universal bones, leaving no scars.

You write not of the heart but of the sex glands.”

He wrinkled his nose as if to sneeze.  

“When I was in Hollywood, Samuel Goldwyn would point out the latest hit to me and my fellow script writers

and say, “I want the same thing … only different.”

I smiled, 

“No stories of young boys or girls fated to save the world, no wallflower girl courted by supernatural heart-throbs, no ….”

Faulkner said, 

“Dare to save your character’s world in a way not seen before and with imagination not cookie-cutter formulas.’

I moved my last knight, positioning it to take his King.  “Checkmate.”

He tipped over his King and arched an eyebrow, “Only a callow soul takes advantage of the dead.”

The ghost of Mark Twain pulled up a seat and crowed, “Why I do that all the time!”

Faulkner snorted, “I rest my case.”


6 09 2017


 Cover by the talented Drusilla Morgan

My very first anthology inclusion came with STORIES FOR SENDAI:

A collection of inspirational short stories loosely themed around the
strength of the human spirit. 

All proceeds were donated to
GlobalGiving in aid of victims of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami.


Since then, I have been graciously accepted by other anthologies.

Some of those experiences were more rewarding than others.

I seriously considered to cease submitting to anthologies.

But then, I learned of 
The anthology editors, authors, cover artist, proof readers, etc. are all volunteers.  
The stories are donations by the authors.
All proceeds of the anthology will go to a charity 
that supports women who are survivors of domestic abuse. 
What a noble cause, right?
Last night, Mirren Hogan, one of the three editors,
(resident of NSW Australia, wife, mother, Food Person to dog, cat, and countless birds 
with advanced degrees in education and writing)
let me know my story was accepted!
Mirren writes urban fantasy, science fiction, and historical fiction.
My last anthology, like my first, 
will be to help hurting others.
Of course, nothing in publishing ever runs smoothly, 
so the original publisher can no longer handle this anthology.
Mirren, Jeanette O’Hagan and Christina Aitken 
are going to push on and publish the anthology themselves.  
Wish them luck.  
If you have any ideas that may help them, visit their FB page:

This great endeavor reminds me of the lyrics to Thea Gilmore’s song:

“Start As We Mean To Go On”

We’re gonna do what must be done
And start as we mean to go on
Well, we came to the party late
But we’re staying here to see the sun
And start as we mean to go on.

So we’ll start the meter running
We’re gonna start to count the cost
To see what we’re becoming
And not what has been lost.


What do you hope to accomplish 
with your fiction?


8 08 2017

There can be a real meeting 
between two people 
at the point where they 
always felt marooned. 
Right at the edge.” 
– Sam Shepard

Love and life are so difficult to define.  
Both are never singular.  There must be two.

Love is utterly singular to each person in each relationship at each
moment in time.
 We each love different loves, 
constantly navigating and
negotiating the infinite continuum of meaning 
with which we view each lover through eyes that may not even see us as we are. 
Sam Shepard‘s letters to his life-long friend, Johnny Dark
 explored love as a union of two sovereign alonenesses 
and a mutual awakening to dormant parts of each self.
 Both men belonged to “The Work”
a movement of gatherings based on the
spiritual teachings of George Ivanovich Gurdjieff, 
whose philosophy was
rooted in the idea that 
although our default state is a sort of waking
sleep, we are capable of waking up. 
In 1982, Shepard met the actress Jessica Lange on the set of the film Frances, in which he had a
supporting role. 
Lange earned an Academy Award nomination and won
Shepard’s heart. 
The two entered into an immediate and intense romance 
that effected, as Shepard wrote to Dark, mutual awakening.
What do you think?

Do we mostly live in a waking sleep
 from which only love can awaken us?
Can our dreams awaken us even more?


8 08 2017

There can be a real meeting 
between two people 
at the point where they 
always felt marooned. 
Right at the edge.” 
– Sam Shepard

Love and life are so difficult to define.  
Both are never singular.  There must be two.

Love is utterly singular to each person in each relationship at each
moment in time.
 We each love different loves, 
constantly navigating and
negotiating the infinite continuum of meaning 
with which we view each lover through eyes that may not even see us as we are. 
Sam Shepard‘s letters to his life-long friend, Johnny Dark
 explored love as a union of two sovereign alonenesses 
and a mutual awakening to dormant parts of each self.
 Both men belonged to “The Work”
a movement of gatherings based on the
spiritual teachings of George Ivanovich Gurdjieff, 
whose philosophy was
rooted in the idea that 
although our default state is a sort of waking
sleep, we are capable of waking up. 
In 1982, Shepard met the actress Jessica Lange on the set of the film Frances, in which he had a
supporting role. 
Lange earned an Academy Award nomination and won
Shepard’s heart. 
The two entered into an immediate and intense romance 
that effected, as Shepard wrote to Dark, mutual awakening.
What do you think?

Do we mostly live in a waking sleep
 from which only love can awaken us?
Can a brush with death awaken us even more?


2 08 2017

The news.

 It has none of the characteristics that make something worthwhile.

It’s not fun, it causes anxiety, it gives you a warped sense
of reality, 

and people who watch it are rarely going to do anything with the information they get.

Yet, watch it they do.  Why?

If we want our books to sell, 
we need to be able to answer 
that question.

The appeal of many books, ideas and actions boils down to six key factors –

1.)  A person-centered subject matter
2.)  The presence of patterns
3.)  The odd incongruity
4.)  A topic that pushes the buttons of hope or fear
5.)  Stimuli that engage our body or senses 
6.)  Thoughts that play to our psychological biases

 Rhyming idioms are catchy, attractive and appear truthful 

because they are easy to mentally process and their repetitive sound
appeals to our love of patterns.

Idioms that at first glance appear
contradictory stimulate our keen eye for incongruity.

Fiction is so engrossing because we are hard-wired
to detect useful information 

and while part of our brain knows that what
we are reading is make-believe,

 another part thinks the characters, and
events, are real.

Some aspect of our poor susceptible minds really thinks Hannibal Lector is out there. 


Have you ever left a movie feeling vaguely dissatisfied?  

You didn’t like the film but don’t know exactly why?

 Chances are, the movie failed in terms of story structure. 

is so ingrained in us that it sets up certain expectations for how a
story should unfold.  

When those expectations are defied, it leaves us
vaguely unsettled.

A story is a character in pursuit of a goal in the face of an obstacle or challenge.

How the character resolves (or fails to resolve) the challenge
creates the drama and human interest that keeps us reading or listening.




Readers will only know how the other characters are feeling through what your protagonist


notices and perceives—their words, actions, facial
expressions, tone of voice, body language, etc.


Slap your MC right out of the gate.   

It doesn’t need to be the main problem of the story,

but put something
on the first or second page that challenges him and makes the readers
start worrying about him.

 The difficulty or dilemma can be internal,
external, or interpersonal.


Introduce some opposition in the first few pages.  

Bring on a rival, an enemy, or a nasty villain fairly early to get things
moving fast and make your readers start biting their nails.


 Surprise gets our attention by defying our expectations. 

We’re wired to
immediately start figuring out what’s actually going on, 

the better to
gauge whether the smack we’re about to receive will be on the lips or aside the head.


 Science has proven that the brain uses emotion, rather than reason, to gauge what matters to us.

So it’s not surprising that when it comes to story, if we’re not feeling, we’re not reading.

 In a compelling story the reader slips into the protagonist’s skin and
becomes her/him –

feeling what she feels, wanting what she wants,
fearing what she fears.


Over 11,000,000 pieces of information dive-bomb our five senses every second. 

Don’t add to the reader’s input unless it is necessary. Bore the reader; lose the reader.


We access the universal only through the very specific.  The story is in the specifics.

“Dario had a hard day.”

There are all sorts of hard days. Is Dario a door-to-door salesman or a Roman gladiator?

Use the” Eyes-Wide-Shut test.”

If you shut your eyes, can you see it? If not, then neither can the reader.


Life is hard enough for your reader.  Give them a chuckle or two in each chapter even if your tale is a dark one.

It is always darker after a light has died than if it had never existed at all. 


If you care, it will carry over into your words.

Charlaine Harris stopped caring about Sookie 

and just continued to write the novels to keep her contract.

It showed.

However she redeemed herself with her Midnight, Texas novels.

Let’s hope her enthusiasm for those characters is not tarnished by the NBC series based on them.

For laughter and reflection:


18 07 2017

When Lucille Ball became pregnant,
 the network wouldn’t even let the show 
use the word “pregnant.”

How times have changed, right?

When baggy clothes would no longer cover Gillian Anderson’s pregnancy, the X-Files went full Sci-Fi …

and had poor Scully the victim of an alien abduction in the episode, Ascension/

this scene was so particularly graphic the network originally did not want to air it.


When Lucy Lawless became pregnant, the show’s writers went full-on mythic.

In a twisty episode that found Xena’s soul both in Hell and then Heaven, 

Xena meets her arch-enemy Callisto in both places.

Callisto touches Xena in a gesture of forgiveness.

Upon her return to earth, Xena finds she is pregnant with no idea how.

The mystery is solved when Callisto’s spirit

reveals in another episode she “gave” Xena the child to make amends for all the evil she did her. 

In the too short series, Life

Sarah played the feisty partner to the hero of the show. 
To cover her pregnancy, 
the show had poor Sarah kidnapped and held captive for most of the 2nd season.  
In the excellent series, PERSON OF INTERST,
Sarah played yet another feisty and unwilling love interest of a killer trying to turn over a new leaf,

No pun intended.  

To cover Sarah’s pregnancy that would not have fitted at all in the story-line …
Aw, you guessed … 
Sarah was apparently killed, then found to have been kidnapped

and held captive for most of the remaining episodes of this fine series.  
Notice Sarah’s baggy clothes in the following video
whose music was composed by the same artist who composes for GAME OF THRONES:


Although Melanie Scarfano was pregnant the entire 2nd season, she
still did a lot of her own stunts.  

And took ballet lessons to keep up her strength and balance.

My Stetson’s off to this trooper.

Writing for the second season began in the spring of

and Scrofano told executive producer and showrunner, Emily Andras, 

of her happy news in September of that year,
when she was not that far along. 

 “I basically blacked out for a month, so I’m hazy on the details,” Andras joked. 

Emily seriously added,

 “I went into Syfy and basically said, 

‘I need to do a
‘Fargo.’ I really want to have a pregnant superhero. 

I want to do a
Marge Gunderson. 

I think it speaks to everything that makes our show

And they fell in love with it.

It is a fine show that entertains with laughter and heart … 

not too many of those shows around any more.

Apparently, if you record this show on your DVR, Syfy is notified …

So even if you do not plan to watch it, please record it and play it in the background to up the ratings.

Support a new mother and her fans who love her.