Thursday, November 27, 2014

Master Koda Select Publishing - Black Friday Event

Sometimes the holidays can be a depressing time. Kim Mutch Emerson and the gang at Master Koda Select Publishing have found a way to boost my spirits. Each year they host a big giveaway on Facebook to celebrate books and life. It starts on Friday after Thanksgiving and goes throughout the weekend. There’s plenty of chances to win all kinds of prizes (including a $100.00 gift card), but the best part is joining in the fun. Laughter lifts the heaviest heart and they excel in laughter. Meet me at the party and see what I mean.

A Special Bull is FREE - 11/27 through 12/1

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I have decided to give thanks to all of you and give away my latest e-book "A Special Bull" on Thursday 11/27 through Monday 12/1.

An excerpt from the book:

    It was hard to sleep in the quietness of the country, or rather the loudness of it.  The frogs and crickets serenaded one another during the entire night, only to quiet down when the hunting dogs started to howl near the light of dawn. Might as well get up, Alyssa thought.  No rest for the weary or the wicked.

    She made her way downstairs to the kitchen and was greeted with a hug along with a cup of her favorite Hawaiian Kona coffee.  She was impressed that Jeff remembered as it was such a small detail. The little things are what endeared her to him in the very beginning and she was thankful that he was still so conscientious.  

    Ever the perfect host, Jeff whipped up some organic, egg salad sandwiches for both of them.  Alyssa loved the care and thought that he seemed to put into everything – from raising the chickens, cows and pigs on what he viewed as his little piece of heaven to making everything he could possibly make from scratch, right down to the bread and mayonnaise.  

    “So how did you sleep?” Jeff asked.

    “The frogs were a bit loud, but I slept a little,” she replied.  

    “Ready to start the day?”  he asked.

    “Sure. Off to the feed the critters, right?” she responded.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

So Much to be Grateful For - Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving just brings out the sentimental fool in me.  I can't help it, I get this way every year around this same time. It is a time for reflection for me and a time for me to list everything I am grateful for over the past year. 

Here goes:

I am grateful that I was able to "retire" this year and follow my dreams. These dreams included writing, hobby farming and traveling across this wonderful country of ours.  

  • On the road this past summer, I saw a lot of very  cool things, did a lot of cool things in some very cool places and learned so much about the National Parks and National Monuments that we as a nation should be proud to call them our own. Some highlights can be seen HERE.
  • In writing, I published three e-books and garnered some new readership.  I have met a ton of fellow indie authors and have enjoyed the camaraderie that we have shared this year.
  • And on my hobby farm, I welcomed some new faces to our humble homestead and also said goodbye to a few.  You can see them HERE.

I am grateful for my family.  When I need a shoulder to cry on or words of encouragement or help to "pull myself up by my bootstraps", I know that I can always depend on my family to be there for me.  I love you all!

I am grateful for the disappointments that have come my way.  For without them, I would have "coasted" on some things that I really needed to work on.  It was the disappointments and things that did not go my way that gave me the energy and confidence to persevere through a few very personal issues.  I still have work to do, but I have seen progress.

I am grateful for social media.  I have met and become "virtual" friends with many people this past year.  Social media has helped me to be less reclusive and has allowed me to "put myself out there" a little more.

I am grateful for good health.  As I get older, aches and pains are more frequent visitors, but I know that many people my age have it far worse.  I can get up every morning and take care of my farm animals.  I can walk miles a day around the farm and not get (too) winded. My motto this year has definitely been "use it or lose it".

I am grateful for all of the readers of my work.  Thank you all for giving me a chance as a newbie writer and for leaving such wonderful reviews on my e-books.  It warms my heart and soul to have such a generous and supportive audience.  There are no words to fully thank you for your kindness.

And lastly, I am most grateful for just being alive. There have been a few instances in my life where I could have died - from choking on a quarter when I was a child to almost getting hit head-on by a drunk driver in high school to getting food poisoning so bad that I was in the hospital on IV antibiotics for a week. Yes!  This is the thing I am most grateful for  -  to have another day to live and to enjoy the beautiful things in this life.

What things are YOU grateful for this past year?

Happy Thanksgiving to All of YOU!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Power of FREE

When I began this journey to become an author over a year ago, I just wanted to write.  I did not give much thought to who would actually read what I wrote.

I mean, let's face it, getting people to read your writing is difficult at best.  There are so many "good" authors out there that it would take thousands of years to get to all of the books that are available.  Many readers do not want to give a new author a chance and summarily dismiss them and their prose.

Which led me to this thought.  If I want to get readership, why not offer my books for free?  With this thought, over the past year, I have only focused on marketing my e-books when I have a free promotion going on through KDP Select.  KDP Select allows the author up to 5 days each 90 days for a book enrolled in the program to be listed as free, but the book must only be marketed on Amazon, not anywhere else during the 90 days.

Since my main goal when I began this venture was to write and get eyes on my writing (not to make money from it - although that would be a nice bonus), I have gone one step further.  I pulled one of my e-books from KDP Select and listed it on Smashwords.  This in turn placed it on Barnes and Noble, iTunes and several other markets.

Once it was available in these other markets, I asked Amazon to match the free price.  Initially, I received much push back from them and after several email requests, I gave up on Amazon matching the price.

Then, I got a brilliant idea.  I asked some fellow indie authors to click on the "report a lower price" icon on the Amazon page for my e-book.  Within a day, I received an email from Amazon stating that my book was now permanently free on Amazon.

You are probably wondering why I put so much effort into getting the title listed for free everywhere, right? The reason is plain and simple - readership.

After my book listed as free on Amazon, it was downloaded over 200 times in the first day!  From that, I received one new review.  Each day, more and more readers have downloaded the book. My little e-book has been in the #1 and #2 spots for the past week in its category:

Fade to Gray

After this, something unexpected and amazing happened. 

My other titles that are not free started getting purchased. This may be a fluke or just plain good luck, but I have started to garner more readers from this one simple act of offering one of my books perma-free on Amazon.

Have any of you done this as well?  And what have your results been?


Thursday, November 6, 2014

Book Review Spotlight  - Rainbow by Scott Pixello

Rainbow by Scott Pixello is a sweet, heart-tugging tale of a unusual calf born minutes before her mother dies. This is not a story of loss, but one of love - love for a pet, love for family and love of the right things in life.

The story opens with Jess, an 11-year old girl and her father (a widower) working on their cattle farm during calving season. Two heifers go into labor at the same time and Jess must help deliver one of the calf's in the barn while her father works with the second heifer in the field. Once Jess helps with the birth and the mother cow dies, her father comes into the barn to discover that the calf that is born has two heads. Normally, two-headed cows do not live very long, but Rainbow defies the odds and flourishes.

Throughout the book, the depiction of farm life and the details of the harshness of that life are spot on. Jess and her father work sunrise to sunset taking care of their farm and their prized cows, only to be indebted to the bank, to friends and to family.

With unwavering love and devotion, Jess defends Rainbow and does whatever she can to stress to her father how important it is to her that they keep Rainbow with them on their farm. A series of events near the middle of the book show how cruel, conniving and ruthless some people can be when there is money to made from the exploitation of animals. But, through it all, Jess and her father keep their heads held high and the ruthless people get their just rewards.

Many parts of the book were hilarious and I could honestly see this story as a movie. The story was well written and the characters were perfectly developed. Overall, Rainbow was a very enjoyable read.

I would recommended Rainbow to young and old alike. It is good, clean fun and one of the better indie books I have read this year.