That's Millicent above, our resident Argiope aurantia (or, more commonly, the Black and Yellow Garden Spider). Millicent maintains a tidy two bedroom, two bath web above our box hedges, and is easily one of the best neighbors I've ever had (though not the first neighbor to subsist entirely on a diet of insects).
I'm careful to leave her web alone when I trim the hedges, because everyone deserves a place to live regardless of the number of their legs.
Reviews are Pouring In!
The most recent installment in the Markhat series was reviewed last week on Big Al's Books and Pals site.
Mr. Tuttle has a talent for developing his characters with dialog that I really appreciate. I love the banter and self-deprecating humor that he excels at. I also like the elements from our world that he weaves into his unique fantasy world of human characters along with wand-wavers, undead, trolls, banshees, soothsayers, and vampires. I am not quite sure what to make of the slilth, but I like what he did with it at the end of the story. I am laughing right along with Stitches. I also have to laugh at the Brown River Bridge clown patrol, they add an interesting touch to Rannit’s unsavory population.
Which means I did exactly what I set out to do, this time.
You can read the entire review from the link below:
The Five Faces review on Big Al's Books and Pals
In other writing news, the new Mug and Meralda should go out for proofreading next week. Which puts the release of the book just a few weeks away!
Frank's Marketing Tips for AuthorsIf you read any online writing blogs or discussions, one of the first topics you'll encounter will be that of marketing your new book. There are mobs of new authors out there who appear to be convinced that the only thing standing between them and a stack of money high enough to climb and roll down is some uber-secret marketing plan.
Don't believe me? A cottage industry has sprung up overnight on Amazon alone, as hundreds of how-to books appear, each with titles like How to Make a Million Dollars Overnight Before You Even Finish That Pesky Novel or 100 Sure-Fire Tips and Tricks to Reach Best-Sellerdom and Quit Your Day Job and Show All Those Nobodies in the Crit Group That Grammar Doesn't Matter After All So Ha.
I'd be a lot more impressed if these sure-fire can't-miss tell-all books weren't mostly written by people I've never heard of. I'd be even more impressed if many of them were longer than 15 pages, or contained fewer than half a dozen formatting and grammar errors on the first couple of pages. But hey, what's a fewe spellinging errorz between budding billionaires, right?
No marketing efforts can do more than temporarily boost sales of a bad book. And even good marketing plans can't propel goods books instantly into the sales stratosphere -- for every best-seller, I believe there are ten or a hundred equally good books languishing in the weeds, left behind out of caprice, not incompetence.
But of course there are actions and strategies any author can undertake to make the most of a fickle and ever-changing market. And since I'm a generous sort, I'll give my tricks and tips away for free (although donations are gladly accepted, after all, Millicent above needs a new central air unit).
Thus, I give you Frank's Marketing Tips and Tricks for Authors. Use them with care, lest ye summon down a furious plague of reviewers and movie producers!
1) Branding is crucial to the success of your marketing efforts. Not the kind of branding done to cattle in Westerns, though. Don't make that mistake no matter how many hits the YouTube video is likely to get.
2) Keep readers engaged with a series of high-profile crimes and arrests. Strive to have your booking photos featured on The Smoking Gun website at least once per quarter, and right before every new book release.
3) When using the Tweeter, maximize your content with lots of hashtags, abbreviations, and acronyms. HEY #AGHTY & CPHY @ASJESDF,#LOLOLOL SPDER/GHTY says what mere words can't.
4) Constant blatant self-promotion is ineffective and annoying, except when you do it. Automate Twits and book-face posts to remind readers to buy your new book every few minutes, or you'll be lost and forgotten by all.
5) Invite bloggers to blog on their blogs about your blog and then blog about their blog concerning your blog.
6) Google yourself. Pull the blinds down first, you pervert.
7) Always approach editors and agents from behind, while wearing cork-soled shoes, or they'll hear you coming and you'll struggle to force the chloroform-soaked rag over their mouth.
8) Book signings are a powerful way to reach and build an audience. Bookstore owners are busy people, so don't waste their time by asking permission before you set up a table and start signing. An attitude of quiet self-assurance and a pair of burly roadies named 'Big Mike' and 'Butcher-knife' are all you need to establish your presence.
9) Receiving a bad review is part of any author's life. But you're not any old author, so respond to a poor review with calm, professional mercenaries, who can be found for hire in the pages of Soldier of Fortune magazine.
There is a 10th tip, but it is so powerful and potentially dangerous I must wait and publish it in my own upcoming how-to book, which shall be entitled Writing For Big Bucks: How to Command Financial Mastery of the Publishing Industry With Only Two Small Ice Cubes, the Shinbones of a Hamster, and a 42-syllable Sanskrit Word Spoken Beneath a Total Eclipse, Part 1 (available in October for only $39.99).
Finally, the Inevitable Ice Bucket Challenge Video
I leave you this week with a video.
I was challenged by my wife to undertake the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS research, and of course I agreed, because this is Mississippi in late August and a bucket of ice water poured over one's head is a thing devoutly to be wished for.
There's another reason, too. My Mom died of ALS three years ago, and I believe I can say without reservation that I've never seen anything so cruel and so devastating as ALS. Every dollar raised by the Ice Bucket Challenge is a blow against the disease, and for me, that's a very good cause indeed.
Donations can be made via www.alsa.org.
Below is my video. Please note the appearance of the large fused ice-chunk, and the velocity at which it contacts my formidably sturdy skull.