Google Analytics

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Managing a Facebook Book Page

I created a page for Amapola Press well over a year ago. It sits there, unpublished. I am still vacillating about it. I do not want to be responsible for yet another social media account.

So, why then, would I start a FB page for The Mistress?

Insanity, perhaps…

Actually, the truth is that this too is an experiment. After I wrote The Mistress, I found I wanted to write other stories (The Bloody Trail of Disenchantment). Until written, this page is the equivalent of a slight push.

It is a daily reminder to myself, and an implicit promise to my readers that I fully intent to deliver.

It serves other purposes. I don’t want to compromise my personal profile – which is to say that I want to keep it at below 200 friends. This may sound silly, but it’s my distinct preference. The only people on that account are family, extended family, and real-life friends (some from elementary school!). I make new friends all the time, but I do not wish for worlds to collide.

My family and friends are supportive of my writing efforts, and those who care follow those efforts, but it is not required.

Writing may be a huge part of my life, but it is the business part. It deserves its own space and place.

But there are more pressing reasons to do it this way: it opens up exposure to your work and the blog. For marketing reasons alone it is worth the effort. Of course, you’ll have to do more than just try to sell books – and if you follow any of the best-selling authors, you’ll realize that they rarely sell their work.

I am not a best-seller yet, so I’ll have to put it out there more often than the greats, but without engagement, it will come to naught. Amuse and engage and they will come.

And though #hashtags are relatively annoying, inasmuch as some people overuse them and render them idiotic, they are helpful here. For those getting their feet wet on SEO, this is a good way to test their acumen as they learn their marketing trade. 

Easier said than done, but like writing: just do it! Practice.

Make no mistake, self-publishers must learn how to promote their work and it changes fast. Facebook Pages offer you diagnostics that tell you immediately what is working and is not. This makes it a learning experience if you pay attention to what you are doing.

If you have an idea that can be broken into a series of status updates, you can draft them and schedule them to run later – so you have some management tools to help you run the page without it running you. You need no additional apps to do this (helpful for those of you starting out and wanting to keep it simple).

It’s probably a better choice to do an author’s page or a page for the publisher, but for me at this very moment, it’s a concentrated effort to see if (and how) it affects sales for the one title. This may change, but this experiment is new and it is too soon to declare it a success and change its parameters.

In the meanwhile, I’m using the MistressBook page to tease my readers with possibilities as I research the topic and find ways to make it fun and sexy.

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Mistress Has Come!

The Mistress has come!

A little over a month ago, I was writing almost every day, little pieces not connected to any specific story. The idea was to try to get something on paper or on screen, as it were. Also, these little bits were character studies for archetypes that I am likely to use later.

Practice! Practice!

Then, I started writing a story that somehow became a Valentine for my readers… I am not sure when I decided that I’d publish it for Valentine’s Day. It was a challenge and I love a challenge.

Perhaps, as writers, we ought to issue challenges to ourselves every once in a while -- it'll scare the wits out of us and makes us rise to the occasion by meeting the challenge head on!

In The Mistress, a woman recounts an incident she witnessed as a 12-year-old and adds bits and pieces she has collected over 30 years to complete the canvas in her mind. Then, the night before she writes her story, her Momma tells her a key piece that completes the puzzle.

It’s a short, only 10,001 words, but those ten thousand words include love and sex, betrayal, lies, anger and tears, regret and resilience. Questions remain, I suppose, but the story of that specific day is there, bare and naked in ten thousand and one words.

You may buy your copy here: – Amazon Kindle Store - Smashwords - CreateSpace for paperback 
(which will also be available at Amazon later this week)

The e-book will be available at all major online retailers, 
from Apple to Google Play, will be coming soon.

UPDATE: For those of you who'd like to follow the action with this title, you may like our Facebook page here:

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Mistress is Coming!

For a few days, I tried writing bad dialogue long hand. Why bad dialogue? Because bad dialogue happens! I hate writing advice that demands that your dialogue be tight and breezy and all sorts of authentic but which does not also mention that bad conversations happen all the time.

Awkward conversations, non sequiturs, bad jokes, flattery that falls flat. That’s right! You know it, I know. What about bad pickup lines? There is not a woman—nuns wearing their habits in public included—that has not been subjected to a bad pickup line at least once in life.

In honor of St. Valentine’s Day, I’ve begun working on a piece. The working title is The Mistress and it explores some modern ideas of romance, with a relatively jaundiced eye (I admit it).

It is meant to be a short story, but I’ll let it run higher in the word count if it seems necessary to tell the story. Mostly it takes place, or at least comes to a head, at a bar. It draws from several years of stories that have been fermenting in my head, though I was not necessarily looking to do anything with the knowledge.

Would you like to read about the story of the man and the story that influenced the project? Visit the Temple of Doom (opens in separate tab) for details. It’s probably not at all what you expect…

I am not sure what triggered it last, the ideas that flow through this story; it may have been the news of a broken marriage that caught everyone by surprise. It may have been poetry long forgotten. It unleashed questions, mental images of things I have seen and heard, and curiosity.

Mostly it has fueled curiosity about love, sexuality, commitment, and the courting of these ideals in a digital age across a couple generations.
The goal is to have a completed story by Valentine’s Day – which is special to me but only because it was my original due date but I showed up 2 months early because apparently I yearned for legitimate holidays.

Besides, if you are going to bill a story as a powerful tale of betrayal, what better time to release it to the collective unconscious than on a fake holiday dedicated to phony up romance.

For the record, I truly believe that Valentine’s Day is just like Mother’s Day – those who have the subject of the “holiday” in their lives and honestly love do not need a Hallmark reminder, they cherish and honor that love every single day.

The Mistress is my Valentine to the world.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Writing as Therapy and Vocation

I have been doing some reading – mostly about writing. I have also been doing some writing, though nothing that I intend on publishing. I’ve gone Jungian (well, I’ve been courting an archetype and doing a dance with it).

It is an exercise in torturing this one character (not a specific character as much as a type). It’s not a hero, but wouldn’t feature as the Big Bad in a story either. The character is a study in red herring – a distraction, an interruption to muddle a journey for the hero of the piece.
A trickster, a jokester, a minor demon in a pantheon of gods and demigods, this character is more an archetype that I am toying with it so I can use it later.  It’s not always the same person. I use a variety of influences for an infinite array of annoying little rats. They pop their pin heads into the action and turn it into a bizarre circus -- and then there's panic, fear, self-loathing, and horror.

The idea is that I need to keep writing even if it’s not something marketable. I am honing my skill because practice makes better (perfect is a fantasy).
In the middle of a blizzard, I could contemplate ways to castigate while I waited for the ice cream I made earlier to harden in the freezer. This is awesome, considering we started the year in the midst of a plumbing emergency.
I tried to document the emotional toil of that adventure, but I found it was stressful though hardly interesting. The problem, in my estimation, is not that the scene lacked drama but rather that I was too close to it. It was too soon to look at it with clinical detachment.
You can imagine how leaving the Food Goddess with a kitchen without a stove and a fridge transcends the totality of Greek tragedies!   
While there was some stress involved, I believe I met it with enough levity that it dulled the inner fanfare and the virtual Greek chorus of keeners. 
A person who imagines a virtual Greek chorus of keeners who, in my head, goes from the solemn and turns into a funky tribal dance will always have trouble depicting serious drama. Apparently, I can find jocularity everywhere I go, no matter where life takes me.
Ultimately, the Snowmageddon they promised us didn’t affect us – there appears to be less than a few inches on the ground. My first batch of ice cream was a disaster, but as soon as we go out to get cream and some fruit, I’ll try again. 
We have sprung a leak from the skylight over the stairs on our landing. This may lead up to a whole new level of drama and an opportunity to write about the dangers inherent in that! The likelihood, though, is that I’ll find a way to have the contractor’s pants fall off as he reaches the top of the ladder, and mooning us all in lacy thong… 

It may not make for something I can package and sell, but it is awesome therapy and it keeps me writing and learning and surviving. The odds are someday I will use all of it. For now, the writing serves me well: my sanity demands it.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Camels Do All The Work

I didn’t know anything about leaving cookies for Santa—he was an adult and could get his own snacks! As a kid growing up in Puerto Rico, though, I did gather handfuls of grass every fifth of January.

The sixth, Orthodox Christmas or the day of the Epiphany, is the date that allegedly the Magi reached the baby Jesus. In Latin American countries, the Three Kings bring gifts to good little boys and girls – much like Santa does – and much as they did for another child many moons ago.

The tradition is to leave a handful of grass for the camels. I insisted on water too. My grandmother objected to the fact that I insisted on using her good china for this, but she did not want to break the fantasy.

She did not understand why I’d go through the trouble and then not leave anything for the Three Kings, “They are traveling very far to bring you toys.”

“But the camels do all the work!”

She’d just let it go, because every once in a while she’d see no end to the argument and no point in trying to reason with me.

This year we may not celebrate the way we wish we could, as resources are limited and we are in the midst of a situation at the house – the tail end of drama that involves exploding pipes and dead appliances.

The whimsy is still within us and we will feed it later, when we can afford to do something adorable.

Right now, I have one of my journals open and I am documenting the events of the last week or so. I have tentatively titled the journal “The Gift” as a personal nod to O. Henry and in hopes I can be as prolific as he was . . .

. . . or, at the very least, that things settle soon and we can go have a drink at Pete’s Tavern! 

I plan to roll with whatever 2015 throws at me.

Whatever our future holds for us, here’s hoping you all have a year full of fantastic surprises and in which you lack absolutely nothing. And if life throws plumbing emergencies and all kinds of chaos, write it down and torture one of your fictional characters with it (and then laugh and laugh when Amazon reviewers accuse you of hyperbole). 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Even the Sorrows are Gifts

I don’t mind admitting that it has been a brutal year and I am certainly glad to see it go.

There were good moments. Some great, in fact! But, at the same time, it has been an uphill struggle for a better part of the year and with little to show for it.

This year felt like being stuck in a bad marriage to a traveling salesman: cheap, boring, with enough simmering resentment to fuel bad poetry.

I exaggerate, of course. I am a writer. I have an inherent need to dramatize, to tweak, and then to give it a noir shine…

If I simply told you that there have been some challenging months where all I did was apply for dozens of jobs (full time and freelance) and got little yield… Who cares? Everybody has a period like that. But a bad marriage to a traveling salesman? You’ll remember that!

So, yes, there have been lean times, but also awesome opportunities, creative surges, and hope that everything will balance out in the end.

At the end of this strange year, I am grateful for freelancing to keep me afloat, creative juices to keep me writing, and great friends who make the journey so much more fun.

I’ve pulled some shorter works from the online bookstores (the works still exist in compilations). I have reformatted every book and added updated back matter to all.

For those interested, there are a few new covers:

I also reformatted the cookbook (e-book version only) and I think flows better. It is slightly re-edited, but the recipes remain the same.

The biggest update has been in reference to the Food Goddess blog. I have created companion pieces for some of the entries (it started with the piece about butter). I’m still working on the updates to the blog itself, but you may find new and fantastic curated boards here (you can click on each image to link to it):

Happy holidays to those who celebrate and here’s hoping 2015 brings us all health, fortune, and more joys than not! And the sorrow? Make art out of the sorrows!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Managing Bookmarks

In my research, during my travels, and as part of different ongoing projects, I will sometimes come across articles, blogs, books, periodicals and other resources that I may not need immediately but will at a later time.

With Chrome and other browsers, you can type in a word into the address bar, and get a list of relevant bookmarks and possible search options. To match your bookmarks, it is contingent on you making sure the search terms are part of the link’s name (because the thing you are looking for may not always be part of the URL).

I know somebody who literally collects bookmarks “for future reference.” There is nothing wrong with this, but if you do not curate your lists, you will make it virtually impossible to find what you need. Ever.

I have hundreds of bookmarks! If I need something, I cannot open each and every link. That’s not efficient. And you know after the first dozen, if you managed to stay focused that long, you’ll lose your train of thought.

The best thing, I find, is that if you use good SEO in filing and naming links, you’ll need not spend much longer than if you Google it.

At the moment, I have folders on Writing, Business & E-commerce, E-book Marketing, Learning, Research (General), and Resources (Art, Cover, Fonts). There are more, but not all writing-related.

Each new project I start gets its own folder, so that I can refer to my personal repository of data when I need it. I also create a document with links (but am not as consistent about maintaining it).

I have also created Pinterest secret boards of links that I will use as research for current and upcoming writing projects. I’ve written about these, and suggested that you may release these after you publish (for fun, for book clubs, as part of the ongoing conversation with your readers).

If you prefer to synch your data, you can save bookmarks to Google.  

For a few minutes every once in a while you can be your own sexy librarian.

I find it particularly helpful to review my bookmarks from time to time – create new folders, move links, check the viability of sites and content, etc… Clean house!

Sometimes in managing your links, you will find new content to bookmark. You can let go of the lessons you’ve already mastered.

Do you have to do this? Of course not! It is, in my opinion, an excellent aid to help you reach clarity in your search for inspiration and help you feed your creativity.

This is also possible in the midst of chaos. It’s just a different experience and a whole new story. 

How do you manage the variety of articles, sites, artifacts, blogs, pieces of art or music that you use for each book?