WeekendCoffee WooHoo

bookofweekIf we were having coffee today it would be all about the contest.  “What contest?”  The weekly Cover Wars contest.  I don’t know why, but I chose not to proselytize here last week when the contest was starting. I don’t know why.  I guess I thought I had a lot of followers from here already and I posted about it outside of weekendcoffeeshare, but I just didn’t feel right about talking “vote for me” here.  Ah, but the week is over and my cover won!

One of the perks of winning:  A CURSE THAT BITES DEEP is the book of the week!

A little background: This competition is hosted by a book marketing site called Author Shout.  They offer a lot of author and book services and when you purchase marketing from them, they promote the heck out of your book on social media.  Every week, they have a free “Cover Wars” competition … they put up a batch (usually 10-15) cover photos and people vote for their favorite.

Sure, I think my novel A Curse That Bites Deep has an awesome cover, but I also know, this is WAR.  I enlisted the aid of my FaceBook friends and tweeted and posted on several mailing list groups I belong to.  The key to this contest is repeat votes … people can vote once every 24 hours.  I was able to gently pester my friends enough every day for seven days to get the win.  I’m always amazed at covers that get less than seven votes.  I mean, even if I was totally not going to win, I’d make sure I got at least seven votes, right?

So please excuse me for tooting my own horn a little this morning.  After all, it IS an awesome cover for an awesome book.

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Thomas Fenske is a writer living in North Carolina.  More information on his books can be found at http://thefensk.com

Weekend Coffee Research

Public domain image, royalty free stock photo from www.public-domain-image.com

If we were having coffee today I’d have to hurry because I’ve been busy researching and want to get back to it.  Book three in my Traces of Treasure series has been off to a slow start and I am finally making some progress.  I’m pretty much what they call a “pantser” in my writing.  Well, a total pantser just starts writing, as if by the seat of their pants, going wherever the story may take them.  I’m not that hard-core. I have the germ of an idea and I cobbled together a basic outline based on that idea.

But at this stage of the story, early in, I tend to get bogged down in simple details.  I want to set the stage just right, and possibly set up for future action.  Working in the past (the story is set in 1983) is tricky and I am in a somewhat unfamiliar locale.  Limited resources prevent me from traveling there so I use a combination of Google maps & Satellite views and USGS topographic maps to help me.  I’m lucky on the latter because I can get USGS maps from the past.  Most of my action takes place in far West Texas so things don’t change too much.  But they do change, so I rely on the topographic map to keep me in the time frame.

I used to buy the maps for some location work.  Ironically, one of the characters in my first book did the same thing, spreading them out on the floor with a huge magnifying glass and a big lamp.  Now, you can get those same maps in PDF format.  I have to say, zooming the PDF gives one a much better view than any magnifying glass.  Awesome details emerge.

I found something so interesting, I had to write to the actual ranch I identified in the PDF to get some clarification.  I hope they write back.  They should.  It’s a big operation and they have their own web page and had detailed contact information.  It’s a working ranch so I’ll have to be patient.  It is funny where research takes you.  Their web page had a history of their ranch and it was a fascinating look into a place I’d never heard of before.  But it was a typical story too, one small piece of history that helps to fill in an overall sense of time and place.  Really interesting.

It feels really good to be actively writing again.  Getting excited about this story.  I think it is going to rival the other two in suspense and mystery.  I had to take off so long because of my eyes, then got lazy because of that downtime, it’s been tough to start up again.  Today was the first day I felt like I was really back.

 

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Thomas Fenske is a writer living in North Carolina.  Yes, a writer.  And he’s writing.  I promise.  More info: http://thefensk.com

Breaking the Code

img_6284If we were having coffee today, I think I’d have to break into my annual moaning session about marketing.  Yes, the books.  Again.

If you have ever aspired to be an author you really need to be aware of the biggest pitfall: Marketing.  I joked in a facebook writer’s group not long ago … writing a novel is hard.  Editing/revision is even harder.  Marketing kicks me in the …
Well, you get the idea. Now, if you are talented enough or lucky enough to attract the notice of a big publishing house, they do all that for you.  Oh, I imagine even then you have to do quite a bit yourself.  But as an indie author or an author from a smaller publisher, the mantle of marketing responsibility falls on your shoulders.

Marketing is a special skill I am still struggling to learn.  I actually worked in publishing for over twenty years, but it was mostly in IT.  Now I sort of wish I hadn’t treated all those marketing people like lesser beings.  To be fair, we IT hacks generally treat everybody as lesser beings.  Still, now I regret it.  I could use some help.  In an irony of ironies, sure, I could buy help but I really need to sell some books first so I can afford it.

There is another irony at work here too.  Writing.  Most of the type of marketing I am talking about involves writing.  I have published two novels and written three others that are in various stages of revision.  I used to be intimidated by a novel’s length but now I find that hammering out a ninety thousand word novel is not that big a deal.  What’s hard, is a two hundred word book blurb.  Sheesh.

So here I am, on a Saturday, when I am supposed to be chipping away at the third book in my series but I’m struggling to, once again, revise my Amazon book blurbs. Succinct, catchy, to the point.  Sell the book.  It sounds so easy.   There is no shortage of advice on-line, some of it is maddingly contradictory.  Mention names, don’t mention names, ask questions, don’t ask questions.  “Short” is the common suggestion.  Okay.

I first encountered this when I got my original book contract.  I blinked at it for quite a while.  They wanted me to supply the blurb.   Uh, uh, uh … I managed to cobble out something.  It was awful.

One impressive thing about having a book on Amazon is the fact that if you register as the author, you can revise your own book description.  I am on what is probably the fourth major revision of my first novel’s description.  Sure, I use the same one on my web page.  If I think it is good enough, I poll the other vendors like Barnes & Noble to change … but you have to ask.  Same with my publisher’s website.

So this is what I’m doing today … One day I’ll crack the code.  I’ll be able to tell because I’ll maybe start selling some books.
Here are the amazon book links … click read more at the bottom of the description to get the whole thing.

How did I do this time?

The Fever
A Curse That Bites Deep

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Thomas Fenske is a writer living in North Carolina.
More evidence of his lack of marketing skill can be found at http://thefensk.com

Giveaway!

How about a new giveaway for the new year?

I’ve partnered with TomeTender Book Blog to give away a signed copy of both of my novels  … so you have two chances to win
thomas-fenske-banner

Enter the Giveaway

These books follow the story of Sam Milton and are inspired by a Texas legend — you’ll find mystery, romance, danger, and a touch of the supernatural.

… a riddle, an obsession, & a curse …what could possibly go wrong?

More info on the books can be found at www.thefensk.com … there are giveaway links there too.  Don’t forget to reblog!

WeekendCoffeeShare-Update

img_6284If we were having coffee today I’d have to tell you I am very happy to see you.  Last week I talked about my upcoming eye surgery on my cataracts, so I thought I should give you a little update.

It is nothing short of amazing.  And that’s just one eye.  Of course, my right eye was my dominant eye, it always has been, but I’d been depending more and more on my left eye, although I knew it was rapidly deteriorating too.  The doctor suggested I have the right lens removed from my glasses but I actually think I function better without that … since my left eye, even corrected, is pretty bad.

I was just standing on the front porch.  There is a small store across the street from us.  I can close my left eye and see the small, lit “OPEN” sign clearly.  If I cover my right eye, I CAN’T EVEN SEE THE SIGN.   That’s uncorrected.  I can see that there is a store there, as I can with most other big things.  It is like looking through smoke and haze.  Understand, this eye is about 50% better than my right eye had become.

I had become pretty used to my deteriorated vision.  I was still driving up to two weeks ago, depending on the weather and the light conditions and how my eyes seemed to be functioning at the time — some days I could see better than on other days.  Since the surgery, my wife had been reluctant to let me drive again, but I told her, really, I can see so much better than I could even see two or three months ago.

The new situation is not without its adjustments and pitfalls.  I still have what they call “floaters” … including one I was calling a dragon’s claw, shifting back and forth just out of my central vision, a bit like a hair on an old projector lens at the movies.  It has diminished over the last several days, now more like a spider or fly, dancing around.  The doctor said it is not uncommon and should likely fade over the next couple of weeks.  The nature of my eyes precluded a complete adjustment … although the eye tested at 20/20 for distance, I still need enhancement to read.  Although this seems a minor adjustment, it is actually more than I anticipated.  I’ve worn progressive lenses for almost 20 years … basically trifocals without lines.  I used to joke they were like being young again.  Now, I don’t need glasses for distance but have to relearn what I used to do years ago before the progressives and keep reading glasses handy.  I haven’t had to do that in a while and it is different now with things like tablets and smart phones.  I’ll know more when I have the other eye complete.

But considering I struggled to even see the screen to type last week’s dispatch, I can see the screen clearly now with minimal strength reading glasses, although I think I’ll need to take it easy because even now I can detect eye strain as my left eye struggles to help. Not complaining, mind you, as I know this is temporary.

Eye two scheduled for early December.

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Thomas Fenske is a writer living in NC.  Find out about his novels The Fever, and A Curse That Bites Deep at http://thefensk.com
He really needs some sales to help pay for all these related medical expenses!

WeekendCoffeeShare-Giveaway

 

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obligatory ghost-cat picture for halloween

If we were having coffee today, I’d suggest you enter my Halloween Giveaway.

“Giveaway?”

Well, I’d explain, I just finished yet another lackluster Amazon giveaway.  They are easy to set up, Amazon handles it all, but I’ve had mixed results with them.  Sure, I’ve picked up twitter followers with some, have had a lot of entrants, but none of them have attracted as much attention as I’d hoped.

The way the Amazon giveaways work is that you buy the prizes up front and they take it from there.  It’s a lazy-man’s giveaway.

“Oh, a perfect fit for you,” you might say .

Right.  I had an extra copy left over … from the last giveaway.  They give you the option of running another giveaway or getting a gift code for that copy.  So, I decided this time, to get the gift code.

And here we are.  I have this gift code for a kindle copy of my latest novel, A CURSE THAT BITES DEEP.

Here’s the deal … either comment here or leave a comment on my web page.  I’ll take the names and throw them into a hat and pull one out and if you win, I’ll send you the gift code.  Not as easy as Amazon … and maybe more depressing.  But here we are …

Either comment here on the blog or on my web page (blog or web page comments only) indicate that you are interested in this Halloween giveaway … I’ll draw from the entries early on November 1.  I’ll announce the winner on the blog.

WebPage comments:– just click >>. HERE
Or comment below.

Feel free to reblog or share.

Thomas Fenske is a North Carolina writer.  His latest novel is A CURSE THAT BITES DEEP

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Weekendcoffeeshare-Video Tales

 

img_6284If we were having coffee I’m sure I’d eventually end up talking about the video.  “Video?  I thought you were a writer,” you might ask.

Then I’d explain that there is a lot of business to being a writer and videos are one of the newer things.   “Oh, you mean like movie rights?” You might ask innocently.

No, not movie rights, that’s another thing entirely.  Getting started in this business requires a lot of outside work that does not include writing.  Some of it does, though, like this blog.  Having a blog is part of a writer’s business, and thankfully, it includes writing.

I think every writer goes through this.  One tends to see the dream of being published with a limited vision, like looking at the world through a paper towel tube.  The concentration is on words and revision and editing.  Once the contract is signed there is a new harsh reality to actually having a book published:  you have to help market the danged thing.  There is a LOT of competition from other writers, especially in the world of independent writers.  A new author must master a number of different new skills, like blogging and tweeting to get the word out.  Website design is another skill.  Of course, if a writer has deep pockets, they can pay someone to do these things for them.  The idea is to get yourself noticed ahead of all the others.  Sadly, you are just one of many.

“But what about the video?” you’d ask, thankfully getting me back on track.

Video trailers are one of the latest things.  I paid for my first one, one for my first book.  I was really late in the game for that one.  It’s not bad, a little funky.  It was cheap.  You get what you pay for.  I was going to pay the same people for a new one.  I had an idea and thought I’d work up something to more explain my idea.  Decided to use Power Point to see if I could work out my idea.  I’d never used it before.  I’m fairly technical but I had never really had a reason to use it.  Microsoft bundles it in with Office … so it was there.

It didn’t take too long for me to realize that I could actually use this.  A book trailer is generally text based, so why not?  What I wanted to do required specific timing … visual effects that were timed with a specific musical score.  This presentation software had functions that facilitated that.  It took some time, especially to fine tune the timings, but I managed to work it out.  Then I found out it would even export a video file.  That’s a little funky, and it messed up the timing a little but I anticipated some of the blips and re-edited and managed to work through them.  I’m sure I could use some other video tools but I already had this and gave it a shot.

Is it perfect?  Naw.  Is it okay?  I think so.  It introduces the story and builds suspense and introduces the mystery.  The music is raw and edgy but I think it fits the video nicely.  Check it out here … tell me what you think.

https://youtu.be/DZu48lyY-Tc

Note: replaced link with newer version. 

Thomas Fenske is a writer living in North Carolina.  His latest novel, A Curse That Bites Deep will be published October 1 — presales of ebooks are available now.  More info at http://thefensk.com

Judgement day