The RhymeCatch Art Installation

This art installation was one I created in the early 1990s at Simon Fraser University where I studied second year visual arts. The location of it was in the campus area called the quadrangle.

In this installation, named “RhymeCatch,” I created three figures made from the plastic coated green wire, the kind they use in chain link fencing. Each figure has another element or two added to it.

Figure 1) Baby in the treetops, is a baby, with a soother in its mouth, laying in a see-through plastic cradle hung in a tree. This was referencing the nursery rhyme/lullaby:

“Rock a bye baby, on the treetops, when the wind blows the cradle will rock, when the wind blows the cradle will fall and down will come baby cradle and all.”

I always thought, as a child and even now, that this was a strange lullaby which puts a baby in harm’s way and lets it fall. Rather than thinking of it as the metaphor for falling asleep, instead, it haunts me as something I interpret as both frightening and prophetic, falling from innocence perhaps?

Figure 2) Little girl hiding, is identified by me as a girl, but in fact, the figure is androgynous and could be a little boy or little girl. In retrospect, I am probably identifying it as me. She is hiding behind a tree in her rubber boots, a child’s game and yet  a game with primordial roots. What do we do to survive? We hide and we seek. Yet, in our modern society, I would argue, to survive we also hide “ourselves” and then become seekers of our true selves.

 

Figure 3) Young girl reading, is a young adult (again, androgynous), reading a book for young adults from the 1950s that I found and covered in clear plastic glue so it would survive the weather and viewers could read over the shoulder of this figure the text. The day I took the photos of the installation some unknown person had left a plate with cookie crumbs by it as if the figure had just finished eating a cookie. I was thrilled at this interaction and addition!

The passage that the book starts with that the viewers could read starts with a dialogue between two young adult characters:
“Aren’t the Russians terrible?”
“They certainly seem to be making things as difficult as possible.”
“Sometimes I think that we should just drop the atomic bomb and have it over with.”
“Maybe they have an atomic bomb too.”
It goes on to wonder if Stalin is as bad as Hitler, etc. and is a capsule of the cold war era.

Like the baby in the treetop I was surprised to see a book for young adults with such frightening ideas in it but was also glad there was an open dialogue, whether you wanted to agree with the points of view in the book or not. I essentially included this book as I had been very active in the peace movement for the disarmament of nukes, but also, at the time of this installation, we were heading towards the first Gulf War (Canada did participate in this) and I would eventually create a collaborative theatre piece/video about that, and would decide I did not want to bring children into this world.

The installation as a whole really is about the threat to innocence. The loss of innocence and how human beings try to protect (their people) like crazy and in the process often bring about more harm. This is really a piece about our own craziness. Can it be solved by dialogue? We will find out, because we seem to be at that crossroads yet again.

I also want to say that I loved the aesthetics of this piece. Both the medium and the chosen site have a harmony that people responded to. Note that in the photos, when the sun came out, the shadows of the winter trees mimic the wire of the figures. Likewise, on the cloudy day, photos of the branches of the trees against a white sky mimic the wire of the baby figure that you can see through the plastic.

I was very satisfied with this piece and when I found these photos of it I realized I wanted to show people. I did not want this for my own ego as you might think, but because I could see that the ideas were timely in this Trump world which is now on the brink of more global disasters, this time climate change as well as nuclear war and distrusting our old cold war enemy, Russia. And, I realized that this theme of protecting innocence is still one I am working with to this day and may very well be important to reflect further on. So, I am adding it to my blog, which goes out to some via email and also will go out on social media. Maybe someone will get something out of it?

I am a writer and I don’t consider myself an artist, but I have long since loved to use visuals to help and inspire me to write. Whether it is to add photos and graphics to a blog post or to add elements in my book, like the Loteria cards depicted and created at the beginning of chapters in my book, The Happy Hammock.

I found the art installation photos because I am currently moving, and so scanning a lot of my older works, but I realized the subject is timely to not only what is going on in the world, now,  but thoughts and themes that I am now writing about.  There are coincidences that seem very serendipitous. Remembering this piece not only allowed me to see it with fresh eyes, but reminded me of the importance of innocence as a theme.

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Blog to Memoir: Growing Up Alzheimer’s

Many people ask me if they can turn their blog posts into a book. Yes! I say, great idea.  Ultimately the book won’t and shouldn’t look like the blog post, but by God it can give you several chapters of raw to polished materials depending on how you like to write your blog posts. The great thing about blogs is you are often writing what is happening in the moment, so it is fresher, filled with details, feelings and passion that you may not get if you left it until later.  Certain parts of The Happy Hammock can be seen in past blog posts.

This blog post is going to be the first of a series that could be called learning by doing.  Ever since writing The Happy Hammockback which is really a memoir (although we called it a based on true story for a number of reasons), I have been helping others complete their memoirs more. Don’t think I don’t read other people’s teachings on how to write memoirs or go to their courses, I do. I am always researching. But, there is nothing like doing, as well as teaching, to make you feel like you can call yourself an expert.

While I am writing the second book of The Happy Hammock memoir, there is another aspect of my life that only those close to me know about. I want to write about it, and even need to write about it in the hopes it will help others. This is my family’s history of Alzheimer’s through three generations of women, as I have experienced it and continue to experience it. No, I have not been diagnosed with this disease myself, yet, but the signs have crept up to my eldest sister, nine years older than I, and tapped her on the shoulder.  So, this is the story I want to tell in these blog posts, as well as talking a little bit about the blog to book, or blog to memoir process.memoir-writing-process-steps-1-638

I am going to switch to italics for the memoir post part and stick to regular text for the writing process part. So, I am going to share my process, as far as I know it. This is how I often start, and how I started this time:

  1. I had an idea of writing about all three generations of women, my grandmother, mother and now, my eldest sister. This is painful because she is the sibling I am closest to and I am currently seeing her gradual sinking into the abyss that is Alzheimer’s as if it is the slowest of quick sand.
  2. I come up with a working title. Often I keep it but not always, but it does help keep me on track. The title for this: Growing Up Alzheimer’s.
  3. Then I write a list of scenes, events, stories, snatches of dialogue, images, thoughts, worries, interactions.
  4. I try to order the above in chronological order not because that is necessarily the way it will end up in a book form, but I need to know what order things come in. A memoir writer needs to pay attention to transitions for different periods in this the family history, and different stages of the writer’ awareness, and not confuse the reader.  Most people don’t realize that for books, or long-form anything (I started as a playwright), the art of transitions is EVERYTHING. But that comes later in the game. Now, blogging now, is about generating material.
  5. I start a scene that may or may not be the beginning of the book but is the beginning of a blog post. And so it begins…

Growing Up Alzheimer’s –  Post 1

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“Granny Horner is having a bird again.”

My eldest sister, age 14, almost a decade older than I, announces to us. My brother, second oldest, two years behind her, and my other sister, five years after him, and me, the baby, the unexpected love child, two years later, all rapidly exit the small lakeside house on Osoyoos Lake to stay out of the line of fire.  We love coming up to visit the lake, but Granny Horner, Marjorie, my mother’s mother, is sometimes hard to take, and Ralph, my grandfather, mostly blends into the background.

“Having a bird” as my siblings called it meant she was on a bitching rampage of unhappiness and blame. She can be loud and to me, at five years old, scary as hell. She’s skinny and doesn’t smile a lot. She is the opposite of “Nice Granny,” my father’s mother who we adore. Nice Granny is chubby-curvy, loving, generous, creative and everything you could want in a grandmother. Marjorie is not. And, I didn’t know her well. I remember in her lake house I found a beautiful colored tin, empty, probably once held fancy cookies. It had bright blues, reds and gold geometric and decorative designs like an Easter egg. And, it was a cylindrical tin with a dome top. Beautiful. My five year old self was attracted enough to pick it up and she caught me with my hands on it.

I was terrified that I was in trouble when she caught me handling the tin, afraid she was going to “have a bird,” but that didn’t happen. Instead she saw I was enamored with it and offered it to me. I took it home and for years kept all my tiny, shiny treasures in it, from thimbles to plastic animals to rhinestones that Nice Granny gave me. That was one of the few moments I remember Granny Horner distinctly, and thankfully it was a nice moment. She was then on the verge of Alzheimer’s, though we didn’t know it. 

husky gas osoyoosIt started when Ralph was moved, at the recommendation of his doctor, to a full care home. Ralph complained of pain in his legs and he had trouble walking.  After his death I would find several medals he had won for his long distance running.  I didn’t know, no one had told me he had once been an accomplished runner. Marjorie went to visit him every day. The problem was she would get lost driving there pretty much every time. My parents found this out later because the man at the gas station had to give her directions to the care home every day. Often, he had to do it more than once on the same day. My dad liked to tell the story how the gas station guy would send her off having showed her on the map and told her the turns only to see her minutes later driving back to the station in her old Ford still confounded.

Back then, they simply said, “She is losing her memory.” And so she was. I never heard anyone say the word Alzheimer’s. It wasn’t a common parlance then and this loss of memory wasn’t intensely studied. They just tried things out. When it was clear Marjorie also needed full time care they “tried things” on her too, namely electric shock treatment. Yes. Horrors. They did this to my Granny and my mother knew. They told her that after shock treatment she seemed to get better for a time and then reverted back.  How long she “got better” was not really discussed. This “treatment” was eventually abandoned. 

electroshockThe lake house had been long since sold, Ralph had passed away, and Granny was located in another town, at another long term care home closer to my aunt’s summer home.  It was many years before me and my second oldest sister T and I saw her at that summer cottage. She was in a wheelchair, having been taken from her home for the day by my aunts. Her hair was completely white, she had glasses and I wouldn’t have recognized her. At the adults coaxing, T and I went up and greeted her. We said, “Hello Granny,” as the adults told her, “These are your grandchildren.” To which she answered, “I remember you, you were all against me! You plotted against me!” We were quite mortified. Even when she was having a bird, she had never been paranoid or crazy sounding. We stayed away until they took her back to the home. She had clearly entered the dementia delusional phase, beyond memory loss which I would later find out can manifest as ugly or sweet, angry or docile, funny or tragic. 

This is my post for today. Any thoughts, comments, personal stories or questions, please speak up, I’d love to hear.

Flash Fiction Writing Prompt helps with Writing Procrastination, sort of.

Some people ask me, do you procrastinate on your writing?  The answer, sure all the time. I wrote a book, Writing with Cold Feet, on this and related subjects. But, I go through the procrastination phase quickly. One of the ways I procrastinate on my writing is doing other writing (than the stuff I’m supposed to be doing). I always get back to the stuff I’m supposed to be doing but sometimes I seem to need a break. Yesterday the other writing was my first forrage into Flash Fiction (how’s that for alliteration). I accepted the below Indies Unlimited challenge. Read below and if you have an interest, enter, soon (Tuesday April 10, 2018 deadline) or just go and see what I wrote and what others wrote… Then get back to your writing.

Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Little Dog – Big City

Photo copyright K. S. Brooks. Do not use without attribution.

Photo copyright K. S. Brooks. Do not use without attribution.Use the photograph above as the inspiration for your flash fiction story. Write whatever comes to mind (no sexual, political, or religious stories, jokes, or commentary, please) and after you PROOFREAD it, submit it as your entry in the comments section below. There will be no…

via Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Little Dog – Big City — Indies Unlimited

Ten Ways to Grow Your Writing

Someone told me to check out this blog from a painter stating ways to grow yourself as an artist.  (https//chrisgallego.wordpress.com/2017/11/25/5-unusual-habits-to-keep-you-growing-artistically/). I decided much of this applied to writers as well but I added a few of my own thoughts and came up with ten ways to grow your writing, remembering that there is no way to separate the writer from the writing. If the writer grows, the writing can also grow.

1. Write Crap

Yes, give yourself permission to write crap. There is a reverse psychology in effect here. The freedom to not write well tends to give you permission to try things, to go on creative impulse versus trying for perfection. And as Annie Lamott observed everyone writes shitty first drafts. It is natural for any artist in any field to produce a body of work. Some or even a lot of it will be crap so that some or even a lot if it will be good and some may even be great, but keep writing. Also, I make my students do an exercise to consciously try to write badly.  Three things usually happen when they do this. They use clichés and repetition, and go so far over the top with it that it becomes good. They notice that it is not easy for them to write poorly and thus, prove to themselves that they are better than they thought at writing well. They produce a great piece of comedy.

2. Get in Over Your Head

If you feel you are over your head and in a mess with your writing project, you might be exactly where you need to be. Taking risks is brave and will make you grow. You do want to challenge yourself. You can’t do that without feeling over your head. You need to go through it. 99% of what you do as a writer is process not product. It is a messy process and often an overwhelming process if you are truly challenging yourself. It is also a temporal art. Unlike the painter we cannot see the current whole in one view, we have to read and reread, write and rewrite. Wholeness is difficult to grasp, so being over your head is allowing the process to be what it is, a process before it is “declared” a product.

3. Read Bad Writing as well as Good

Reading bad writing reminds you what makes writing good. You will notice more about things to both avoid and include in your own work when you read bad writing, more so than when you are perhaps overawed by good writers. A good writer can freeze you into feeling too small and imperfect. This is ego and in your head. But also, when you are judging bad writing as bad, test how much is your judgement, notice where there is craft even in what you considered bad writing. Notice that you may have the notes to make something better. If it is really bad, give yourself permission to not finish it but be forever grateful of the experience, and then used that saved time to work on your own writing, gratefully.1medium_writingadvice_writerswrite

4. Get Lazy

Writing can be work, hard work, but it needs to be half play too.  If it isn’t we burn out.  The muse likes your effort but if it is all effort and no play then the muse can get turned off too. Sometimes you need to walk away and get lazy.  Don’t, for god’s sake, tell yourself you are having writer’s block. If you have been trying and it is not coming together that’s not writer’s block that’s pushing too hard. Take a walk. Consider those wonderful “Ah ha” moments, they happen at some other moment when you are laughing with friends, or generally goofing off.

5. Rearrange Your Writing Space

Have you put any effort into your private writing space?  We cook in the kitchen. We sleep in the bedroom. We take care of our bathing and toiletries in that room. Do you have a writing space? Do you like it? Do you give yourself nice things to look at? Does it have light and a window? Writers need light as much as painters. Do you have some words that inspire posted in your writing place? Words that remind you of who you are? For years I had a question, “Do words change reality?” and a cartoon with a character that said, “If you want to say something smart, think of something really dumb and write the opposite.”  I hope one day in the future to have the courage to take my desk and plunk it down in the best spot in the apartment or house and I won’t care if it is the living room or dining room or in an alcove at the top of the stairs.

6. Write in Other Places

After number five, this may seem like a contradiction, but you sometimes need to write away from your special designated spot and sometimes you have to. Writing in other places can mean other cities, other situations, maybe with someone else sitting writing across from you. Or, yes, it can mean in your local cafe or the cafe across town, or the cafe you always dreamed of writing at in Paris. Does it change your writing? Are you more inspired or less? I like writing retreats. I have been trying to figure out why I like writing in Mexico for years and I have lots of answers and none of them need to be real, I just need to know that it is a good place for me, but not the only place either. You should be able to write everywhere, so prove it already.

7. Go to Beginner Writing Classes

There is a famous, talented actor I know that went repeatedly to beginning acting classes long after his success, because the basics of any craft need to be renewed. Once they are ingrained it gives you a lot more freedom and ability to write without fretting. But, believe it or not, we forget things. So, don’t take the attitude of thinking there is nothing more you can learn or relearn. It is okay to learn again, and for some of us it is fun to share in a group. We are so often distant in time from our readers, that it is nice to share immediately, hot off the press in a writing class.

8. Don’t Write Everyday

1_500I know lots of people say, write everyday. But, I bet even those people don’t. What they mean is have a writing discipline. Plan your writing days and your days off. When a project is getting to the wire, the deadline is nigh, or just when you are on a hot streak, you may well find yourself writing everyday to get it done. But not everyday, all the time. Know that this is true so that you don’t feel obsessively stupid, or not a writer when you are not writing. Remember you will have a process and a writing discipline. You can churn it out when you want to and need to.

9. List All Your Own Deepest, Darkest Fears

Especially when you are uninspired, go to your most vulnerable place. The places you don’t want to show the world. Peter Shaffer did not write Amadeus from the point of view of Mozart himself, but from his contemporary Salieri who was a mediocre composer. Shaffer said he did this because that was his deepest, darkest fear that he would just be a mediocre writer. Make a list of your own deepest darkest fears, about your writing, about your life, about anything and everything that makes you feel naked and vulnerable. Have you written anything about these yet?

10. Write Faster

I myself have come full circle, from writing fast so it was both practical and not fully finished, to slowing down and getting hung up on the details, to realizing that career writers need to write fast and edit (with help) later. Learning to write fast can be your best friend and it means you are not letting the perfectionist in you take the wheel but some other right brain gremlin that knows how to fly.  You can learn how to write fast and well, but only if you let yourself write fast.

My final note is from the original blog post that I referenced: “Quit killing yourself trying to become a great painter and work relentlessly on becoming a badass editor” After you have written fast, you and your editor can have fun polishing BUT I think what Chris Gallego means is that you learn, to begin with, not to put everything and the kitchen sink in your work, you will streamline and that should be the goal to make your writing process efficient.  If you focus on that, good will come, but you also need to focus on continually growing.

Let me know which ones serve you and how it goes.

LAUNCHING THE HAPPY HAMMOCK – .98 CENTS FOR LIMITED TIME ON KINDLE… CHECK IT OUT!

Happy Hammock – Book Launch Partay!

Really looking forward to launching my book, The Happy Hammock very soon and you are invited! Can’t come? You can find the paper book online at Amazon now (not the ebook yet).

If you like parties, come – it’s in Burnaby, BC, and some prizes involving Mexico for sure! Dec 3rd, 4:30, 1899 Rosser Ave in the cafe:

And:

 That’s right join us in Mexico for the Writing Retreat, &/or the launch there. More info here! Or contact me using the contact page or vswwriting at gmail dot com.

Kindle Scout Final Post… the results are in…

First of all, so sorry it took so long to do this final post. Lots to do in my life. And lots more to still do. When you are an author there is always more you can do.

The long and the short of it, Kindle Scout did not accept my book. BUT… they didn’t accept my book buddy Ben Muse’s book either –I talked about him previously, the author who had his Kindle Scout campaign simultaneous with mine. Ben’s book Matters of the Heart was in the Hot & Trending list almost every day. I thought he was a shoe-in. So, if you think you have a shoe-in, maybe not. We never know what goes on behind closed doors with publishers and we never have.

YET I REMIND YOU THE KS EXPERIENCE IS A WIN-WIN!!

I gained readers and a following and it forced me to market aggressively. And, I have yet to self pub and get the extra bonus of clicking the thank you letter button (see below). That is for later this month!

What was learned

For me, I knew I was sneaking in a non-fiction genre into a fiction pool, and so ended up like an under cover cop that was busted and thrown out of the biker bar. My sense is that Kindle Scout is looking for only books that…

a) fit a genre mold perfectly
b) are well written
c) have an author with some marketing savvy
d) have potential to be a series or are already planned as a series.

Not a series person? Amazon has other imprints that are looking for one-off novels, having just talked to an editor at Lake Union, their more literary imprint.

A QUICK REVIEW

Things that worked and I would recommend:

  • KBoards.com Writer’s Café see my previous post here that lists the posts to read etc.
  • Steve Vernon on Kboards who gives a shout to all to vote and will put your book on his list if you ask nicely! Lots of my votes came from Kboards
  • Your Email Signature see my previous post here that shows an example
  • Make your campaign link obvious on all your blog sites and VERY important list the link as both under graphics and in text form so they see the entire correct link – this is important for social media that automatically converts it to an image, you should add the link twice.
  • Facebook Groups for Book Promos
  • Develop mentors and relationships with those authors that are doing better than you. They will post it somewhere you don’t know about and may not have access to.
PLUS…Your Outgoing Thank You Message – and How it Works

These are two examples of outgoing messages from Ben Muse and then Me — Which do you think is more effective and why?

I think they both have merits but you decide. REMINDER:  They send this when you are not chosen AND a second time when you decide to self pub on Kindle BUT>>>>You have to actually click the button on your (old) KS campaign for it to send to all your voters. Yes your campaign page stays up for quite awhile after the campaign so don’t lose your account log-in.

FINALLY, MY Numbers

These are the figures and data that the Scout Campaign tracks for you. NOTE:  VIEWS, NOT VOTES are tabulated.  To understand some of my take on these numbers you can look at my previous posts or do your own analysis.

Would I do it all again. Yes, and better too.

Hope you learned something and if you did, please leave me a comment or subscribe or both!!

 

 

No News is Good News? Kindle Scout – In Review Limbo

This is Kindle Scout Campaign Info Post #6
Well the last day of my campaign was September 28th and we are now here in October 10th. I have heard of people getting decisions from Kindle three days after their campaign ended but they actually don’t give a stated time you will get a decision by. This means I am in Kindle Scout Review limbo.

Below is a screenshot of my nominations (yes I nominated my own book the same way a politician votes for themselves). I also nominated someone whose book went on campaign the same day mine did, Ben Muse’s Matters of the Heart. Why? I’ve never met Ben before, online or otherwise. But I nominated him because he asked me to and said he had nominated me (that’s a neat way to network and get nominations). I am happy to nominate other authors, especially if their work looks good and I am proud to stand beside them. Also, now I get to see if his decision will come through before mine or at the same time, etc.


As you can see Ben’s book is also in Review. Ben’s book was in Hot and Trending for his whole campaign so I think a shoe in and he certainly didn’t need my vote.  However, books are rejected that have been in H&T a great deal so not necessarily an absolute indicator. My mentor Martin Crosbie, in typical Martin fashion, was one of the first authors I know to try Kindle Scout with The Dead List when the program first came out two years ago.   He was accepted and you can see here how I was given a copy of his book, however, I just went ahead and bought it (’cause that’s what I like to do for friends). You can see another author’s book, Harvey Church, The Last Friend who was selected whose campaign was listed before mine and is now selected.  I also don’t know Harvey but like his campaign page and can tell he is an old hand at this. I have looked him up and sent a message but have not yet made a connection.

I said I was going to share my numbers and graphs but decided that it is best to do once after the decision is made.  That way you can say, okay that’s what a successful campaign looked like or an unsuccessful campaign.  I will also give a better review of what I will do next time having learned my lessons. Meanwhile I have to get the paperback of The Happy Hammock ready as even if I am offered a KS contract I can still be allowed to publish a paperback with full rights retained (KS just retains ebook and audio book rights).

It’s really time to get back to writing and editing. That should take a bulk of any writer’s time. So, until the word comes down, happy writing.

Hot and Trending! LAST DAY QUICKIE

I am on my LAST DAY OF KINDLE SCOUT CAMPAIGN and finally achieved the Hot & Trending List! Phew!
NOMINATE HERE: https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/6RZV8XHY3K9H
In case you don’t know, this is what it looks like (you can click on the picture to take you there or use the link above):

 

Why did I get into the Hot & Trending now?

Two things I attribute to getting into H&T.

#1) Help from my mentor Martin Crosbie , already mentioned in previous posts. He remembered a closed site on Facebook that would be helpful, so posted it there. Big jump into H&T at that point.  It really helps to have people with influence who believe in you, especially ones with big networks and degrees in marketing. Dude, I owe you lunch/brunch/dinner etc.  You always make me realize that I have a lot more to learn about marketing books.

#2) The other factor is one I mentioned before and learned on kboards , that was that people troll Kindle Scout for new books but wait until the last few days on a campaign to nominate so they only have to wait a few days for their nomination to refill. They only have three nominations so if they are always nominating people at the end of campaigns, they can get more free books rather than waiting 30 days if they nominate at the beginning of a campaign.

Frankly, I believe it is number one that was the catalyst factor and number two is a by-product as the trollers only nominate people they think will win so they can get scout points (Scout Leadership Board) and also get your book and potentially other books free.

I will let you know if I received a contract or not, and in either case, take you through the numbers at the end of the campaign.  Also, I will go through all of what I learned too. What I would do again, what I wouldn’t do again, as well as what I should have done and didn’t (or should have done much sooner). In any case, my next campaign will be better!

Signing off!

K, a.k.a The Happy Hammock

NOMINATE HERE: https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/6RZV8XHY3K9H

 

#4 post Kindle Scout Campaign – Pace Yourself

Thanks for nominating your local grateful author!
Nomination link: https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/6RZV8XHY3K9H

One thing I have learned is you cannot maintain an ongoing intensity of a KS campaign and have a normal life for thirty days in a row. I feel like I am on the ropes in the battle. I have important deadlines this week and start presentations and teaching next week and have much preparations to do.

The Latest

After Gary started plugging the book on twitter, my numbers took a nice up turn and then a sharp downturn on the weekend. I am not sure if this is typical but I have limited myself from asking for nominations, not wanting to wear everyone out. And, one to one personal connections are a slow, slow way to campaign.

KBoards

I turn to the kboards Writer’s Café (sign up for a free account first) and looked at three posts entitled:

The Top Secret Diary of a Kindle Scout Prepper.
https://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,245964.msg3540478.html#msg3540478
I had read this post before but I cruised it for new info – not much new but I still recommend it.

Kindle Scout experiences & Nomination Requests (MERGED)
https://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,213112.msg3558495.html#msg3558495
This post has merged all kinds of questions and answers about Kindle Scout.

My Book Wasn’t Accepted for Kindle Scout, Now What?” Thread
https://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,243477.msg3557696.html#msg3557696
This thread had a lot to do with…

Your Outgoing Thank You Message – and How it Works

This is a heartening post to prepare for the worst and how not being accepted really isn’t the worst outcome – so how can you capitalize on it. This has everything to do with the message that KS allows you to craft and will send to people telling everyone who nominated you exactly when you will be on Amazon (self-published) because that is nearly everyone’s second choice. You can read the details yourself but some quick recommendations are:
1) You have to actually click the button on your (old) KS campaign for it to send. Yes your campaign page stays up for quite awhile after the campaign.
2) Look for the discussion about Hidden Gems ARC service – I will be checking this out and reporting back.

The Numbers

Checking the numbers against others, and my numbers are good (55 – 400 views a day). This is sometimes double what ones that were chosen received, BUT, big BUT here, they are numbers of views. Remember they don’t reveal the number of nominations in process, just the number of views. And still haven’t gotten onto Hot and Trending yet. Which means, perhaps, that my cover and tag line are drawing people in but not necessarily making them nominate me (wa, wah). My split of my network to KS visitors is 90% Kindle Scout and 10% my network. I have to up the count percentage that comes from a network… I think.

The KS Flaw

But I have been also been told that regular seasoned readers that go to Kindle Scout site to get free books wait until the very end of your campaign to vote so they can chose ones they think will get in and also so they don’t have to wait long to open up another nomination spot. This is a flaw that Kindle Scout has not yet remedied.

What I can’t change but would do differently

The subtitle of my book (How to Escape the Cold and Live in Mexico) is quite visible on the cover and is meant to be humourous and quirky but could be taken literally as a How to book and may be a turn off for people. I should have done a cover with a new subtitle just for KS. This I will consider next time I campaign.

Meanwhile, I have 16 days left! And more in my bag of tricks…

MORE TECHNIQUES COMING UP

First, I am speaking at the Golden Ears Writer’s and Readers Fest on October 1st (unfortunately three days after my campaign ends), but was interviewed by a local Maple Ridge newspaper for it, which went really well. I do not know if they will print my campaign link but it will be printed before the campaign ends, but they have it, and I will let you know if they do.

Duh, Your Email Signature

One can forget the obvious. Change your outgoing email signature to include your nomination link. Mine now reads:    PS – BTW if you haven’t already will you take a look at and nominate my book, “The Happy Hammock” on kindle scout: https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/6RZV8XHY3K9Hfor a publishing contract. If chosen you will get a free copy! Thanks!

The Groups

I mentioned before that I have been signing up on Facebook Groups for Book Promos. So I will start actually putting together a post and posting it this week and next to al those groups. To get the latest of these sites, put in a search under groups using “Book Promotion” as your keywords. When you go to one page often another bunch are advertised at the side too. Here is a screenshot.

Keep you posted!
Kathrin

We’d love you and your peeps to consider nominating The Happy Hammock to get it on the Hot &Trending list so please click the link, AND if you like it, please share this link on your Facebook page or other fave social media: https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/6RZV8XHY3K9H
All nominators will get a FREE book kindle copy from Amazon if it is chosen.
Don’t have a Kindle? Download a Kindle app on your phone for reading eBooks using Play Store (android) or iTunes (iPhone).

#3 Kindle Scout Campaign – The Genre Conundrum

Hope you had a great long weekend and are back and ready to learn about KS and hopefully share this experience too if you are interested in writing and publishing fiction. This is blog post #3 of my Kindle Scout experience. For those of you not caught up you may want to go back to the beginning post here, where I kick off on a journey to get a Kindle Scout publishing contract via a 30-day, ready or not, campaign.

During days 3 – 6 (over the Labour Day long weekend), as I watched my numbers slink downward, I think I am finding out something that the big publishers have always known and we hated them for it, but here it is. Book wise, anything outside the expectations of a genre is hard to get off the ground. Follow this. I have my book as a fictionalized memoir—remember that only fiction is accepted by Kindle Scout—and you only get to choose 4 of the five big genres and numerous sub genres from KS selections, and I am defying the rules of some of those genres.

The genres are:

Romance, Mystery & Thriller, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Teen & Young Adult, and general Literature & Fiction.

Why did Amazon Kindle Scout choose these ones? Because these are the genres that make money on Kindle eBooks and are dominated by independent authors currently, as in over 50% of the Kindle eBooks in these genres are produced by independent authors who don’t work with publishers or agents.

The four genres I chose are these:


Really this is 2 categories and 2 sub categories.
The two broad categories are Romance and general Literature & Fiction

The Romance genre has expectations that a heroine is going to meet the man of her dreams… etc. In my version, she has already met him and it is their journey together that is the focus of the story. While there is a wedding forthcoming, it is not mentioned at the beginning and it is not the focus of the story. You are rooting for this couple to make it through their trials and tribulations and it is mostly humourous and sometimes profound. In short, not your typical romance fantasy fiction, more chick lit for wiser women in their 40’s. I think this is a market for the future, given aging demographics, but what do I know.

Make no mistake this is an awesome book and my beta readers loved it but 95% of the people on Kindle Scout are outside my network and have genre expectations. Martin Crosbie of Book Doggy book promotions, and a great author himself,  endorsed the book on his Facebook page as a surprise and delight saying it was outside his genre but…

Full post here:

Like Martin, we’d love you check out The Happy Hammock AND if you like it, not only nominate it but share this link on your Facebook page or other fave social media: https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/6RZV8XHY3K9H
All nominators will get a FREE book kindle copy from Amazon if it is chosen.

My style best suits the Chick Lit unofficial genre where there is a humorous first person banter by the female protagonist. But again, this may be lost in the readers of Literature & Fiction section since that humourous kind of banter is not associated with literature fiction.

Okay, maybe I am genre-doomed but I have 23 days left, and my friends, I am a fighter!

And, as I said in the first blog post , there are no downsides since the campaign will open you up to new readers.

TACTICS used and coming up:
Kboards

I promised to talk about the kboards.com last post since I knew about them but really had not used or checked out all the resources there. It’s an awesome reader and writer forum board site and had I known I would have checked them out a long time ago more thoroughly. In their writer’s cafe you find those successful indie authors who really know how to play the Kindle publishing success game. They come from all over, mostly the English speaking countries and beyond, and they are very helpful. Steve Vernon posts a daily list of authors running Kindle Scout campaigns and their days left encouraging others to vote for them – nice to get The Happy Hammock on that one. It is just sheer good will among authors here. There is so much to check out on the site that it is almost overwhelming so digest a little at a time. Thanks to writers like Bill Hiatt who showed me where to go to make a skookum signature with your book covers in it, you will have all your questions answered by the true experts who try, and often succeed, in making a decent living as indie authors.

Emailing

So I know from using an email list service, Mail Chimp, that some of my email list did click on the campaign page link. Though I did have other links (Mexico Writing retreats, etc.) and you don’t want to nag too much, as every time you do you will get unsubscribes. So like all campaigns you have to have a multi platform strategy, and space out your emails.

Social Media

I am pretty much stuck on the big three, FB, Twitter and LI (a little bit Google +). I have only recently started learning and ramping up my twitter and the also the VSW (Vancouver School of Writing) twitter account, which is posting my blog also. Since I am pretty much a FB girl this is all new to me so I rely on some advice from Gary Bizzo. Gary and I are going to try some twitter strategies in the next little while and see how they work and let you know. Gary has about 485K twitter followers but they are not necessarily readers of fiction, they are generally entrepreneurs, so we will see if we can pull off a spike of views to my campaign page. KEEP you posted here on that and Gary’s blog too.

MORE Upcoming tactics:
  • Have not touched the FB book promotion groups yet but will at some point- have been busy subscribing to many
  • I have yet to go to other lists and network groups
  • I have yet to get my handout cards sent to me and flaunting them at upcoming talks, courses and to people I meet.

I think the big trick is successfully asking people to send via their social media to their friends to get a broader multiplied audience, as in: You tell two friends and they tell two friends and so on, and so on… Like Martin and some of my friends have done… thanks friends!

ANYONE WITH MORE STRATEGIES PLEASE SEND THEM IN TO ME AND I’LL TRY THEM HERE SO WE CAN ALL BENEFIT!

Please share this blog and share the nomination link if you haven’t already, if you are so inclined and like my book page and excerpt.

https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/6RZV8XHY3K9H
All nominators will get a FREE book kindle copy from Amazon if it is chosen.
Don’t have a Kindle? Download a Kindle app on your phone for reading eBooks there.