Quiet in the Wilderness: Signal Boost THE BIG RED BUCKLE

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Buy The Big Red Buckle

Humanity has survived environmental and atmospheric calamity and begun to move out into the stars. Sport still plays a vital role in our day-to-day affairs. The Big Red Buckle recounts an episode of a single-stage endurance race held between two shield volcanoes on a Mars that is slowly being terraformed. Participants must run and soar over 1,500 kilometers while the solar system watches.

For Marco Aguilar, just being at the starting line represents the culmination of two years of careful preparation and training. He aims to win the Grand Martian Traverse, and take home The Big Red Buckle for himself and for native Martians.

The more I read about it the more I understand that an author can expect a slump in sales some time around the middle of January. That is when the Holiday bills start showing up. When people have less money because they have new gym memberships to pay down. The list of reasons why this happens are extensive, but it happens.

But, here we are, just over a month after The Big Red Buckle released the book has flatlined on all the Amazon lists. What is an author to do? You got it, signal boost.

Here are the details

Welcome to my Twitter signal boost. I want you to tweet about The Big Red Buckle.

To be eligible for the contest your tweet must include these two things.

  • the hashtag: #dancingonlift
  • a link to this blog post

Your tweet can contain anything else you would like. Crazy paragliding photos or trail running images are a bonus, so be entertaining. Boost my signal as well as your own.

The contest will run all day long January 31st, 2014 (MST) – that’s midnight to midnight.

February 1st I will pick three random winners (you’ll need to follow me on twitter @feetforbrains, to get your prize).

The first winner will receive a signed, printed version of The Big Red Buckle and Joulupukki as well as two limited edition cards of the cover work.

The remaining two will receive signed copies of the first run of the book.

I’ll pay shipping unless you’re outside the US, in which case, shipping is on you.

You can tweet as many times as you’d like, but only the first one will count.

And that is how it is done. The idea is to get the book in front of new eyeballs, and break the January slump. Marco needs new sponsorship money to afford a fancy new photobioreactor suit. I’d like to see Marco climb back up the “Paid In Kindle Store” and meet a few new readers.

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Writer’s Tool Box: Twitter

I’ve been pitching a panel to a number of Science Fiction/Fantasy conventions which will discuss the “tool boxes” of a variety of writers. I think about these sorts of things a lot, probably too much. This admission is probably just a mea culpa of my character. I love tools! I love to tweak tools, I love to make tools, I love to adapt tools to a task.

Part of my approach to writing professionally has been to test tools, with the intent of optimizing my turn around time for any particular project. Figuring out what works best, what will be sustainable, has been a wonderful part of the experience of learning to write. I’ve posted about these sorts of things in the past, but this is the first in a a blog series I’ve titled “Writer’s Tool Box”.

Using the blog as a repository I intend to further refine my tool box while sharing my observations with you. Suggestions are welcome, this is an open discussion. Comment rules still apply (trolls will be soundly thwacked), but I’m really interested in hearing what you do.

Twitter

The first installment is an open discussion of a social media utility that a lot of authors make regular use. Twitter has been around for a while, and it an excellent means of communicating with readers, of finding new readers even, and, perhaps most interestingly, for keeping up with writing goals. I use Twitter and the #1k1hr hashtag to stay on target with my writing goals and remain accountable to my readers.

#1k1hr

Accountability, especially when you’re an Indie who sets and manages his own writing goals, can quickly become a moving target. Unlike traditional published authors my deadlines are completely up to no one but me. So, I can sit down to my computer and imagine that I’m not in the mood to write. That I can make up the words later. That I can simply push the my arbitrarily determined, self-assigned deadlines out just a little to compensate for a word slump.

But down that road lies doom. I came to this realization during 2013 NaNoWriMo when, after an impressive burst of wordsmithing (7k words in a weekend) I entered the next week drained and unsure where my story was headed. Quickly, my lead evaporated before my very eyes. It was sad, I cried a little. I was endanger of losing because I blew my word load.

By the time I tracked down a tissue and blew my nose, however, I knew where the solution might lie. The answer is pacing and regularity. I did not do all that pre-work, writing outlines and character sketches, creating a project burn down schedule and a back story for my story, so that I could go nuts, lose my pace and bonk hard less than a fifth of the way into the race.

This realization was accompanied by a suggestion that I try using NaNoWriMo word sprints to stay on task. I did and I cleared November 28th a confirmed winner.

So what do I do the other eleven months of the year? I’ve got a very hectic schedule and lots of demands on my time. Sound familiar? But I can usually cram in an hour here or there during the course of most days. And my writing tempo allows me to knock out about 1,000 words in the space of an hour if, and only if, I know where my story is going.

When I have a fresh pot of tea and a little time I will sit down and write. Aral, my youngest son and primary responsibility, knows that when I’m “getting my words” he has to self-entertain for a while and he even looks forward to this time these days. In order to ensure that I stay on task through the whole hour I usually tweet something about the #1k1hr I’m soon to attempt.

And then follow this up when I hit my target.

These daily exercises make me accountable, in bite sized pieces, which remain easily achievable. My readers know that I’m writing and sometimes they encourage me which is very helpful. I wake up each morning thinking about what I need to write next, both to stay on target with my ultimate release date as well as each section of the story.

Writer’s Tool Box: The Problem with Facebook

“The problem with Facebook is that it’s keeping things from you.” Yep, that pretty much sums it up. If you’re reading this on Facebook right now, know that you’ve almost won the lottery.

My recent experiences with Facebook promotions was a less than stellar example of the grift that is Facebook. This guy does a very good job of explaining the internals of why this media outlet will never work out for creatives and independents.

Yeah sure, I’ll still use FB as a social site for an author presence, but my expectations have been summarily reduced. Otherwise, it’s little more than a corporate shill that hasn’t figured out how to monazite its products correctly. That is why I’m not going to do much more to develop my author presence in this social network. Ultimately, it will cost me more to get views that will likely never turn into sales, than other social networks where the views and the sales are far more likely to occur.

Also, buy my book.

Writer’s Tool Box: OMG Vellum

OMG

OMG

Have you been wrestling with formatting crap in your ebook publication tonight? Guess what, in about 30 minutes I turned my manuscript from a struggle to a dream. Previously, the table of contents was not working. KDP split several front papers including the copyright page and the single line dedication. Word for Mac would not embed fonts so any time there was a font size change the whole thing went wonky. And adding an “About the Author” page was ridiculous.

I can’t recall where I heard about this Mac resident application by 180g, but it had been something I’ve been wanting to try for a little while now. Holy cow! I am so glad that I did.

Feature request guys, integration with CreateSpace please! Yeah, I imagine that this might lead to a few additional hoops to jump through, but oh how I crave that ease for the print version of anything else I write. Seriously, this is well worth the money.

If you’ve already bought the ebook on Amazon wait about 12 hours and the new and improved version should download to your favorite reading device. If not, go take a look at the preview tomorrow morning. What a difference, and so easy. This application is being added to the regular workflow for any publication in the future.