Monday, January 23, 2012

On Giveaways and Contests

Do book giveaways and contests really generate sales? These days, everyone wants something for free, so it seems like a great way to advertise, without breaking the budget. The only problem is, if you’re constantly giving from your own blog, facebook page or via twitter, you may only be reaching the select few who either follow you or stumble upon you during an internet search for something completely unrelated.  

I’m not going to pretend to know anything about this – there are many more successful writers out there who I’m sure have had different experiences. I do know, however, from my own experiences, that the best form of advertising seems to be “word of mouth”. Readers like to talk about books; they grow attached to the characters, connect with their emotions and relate to themes. Even if the book is science fiction, written about possible events far into the future, with bizarre creatures, readers still manage to find the human element and latch on to it.

There’s nothing in the world like hearing: “Oh, I bought a copy of your book because my sister read and it and loved it.” I encourage my readers to pass their paper copies around to friends and family. Maybe those that borrowed didn’t purchase my first book, but there’s a possibility they might purchase the second.
Now, back to the topic of book giveaways. I’ve entered several, and won several. Most of them were by Indie writers, and I must say, I have yet to receive one I didn’t enjoy. Book giveaways are an excellent way to discover new writers, especially those you may not come across on the best sellers list in your local bookstore.

So, why not take a chance and enter a few? You have nothing to lose and it won’t cost you a penny. Currently, there’s 31 Days of Giveaways happening at The Blog! S.M. Boyce. Why don’t you click on over to discover 27 fabulous authors, 31 books and a few little extras guaranteed to make this cold January a little bit warmer. Each book is available to be won for 10 days, so it’s not too late to check it out. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

You say it's your birthday!

It’s my birthday – and I’ve reached that milestone of 40 but still feel as though I’m floundering away in my 20’s, wondering if I’m ever really going to grow up, have a mature outlook on life and be able to write with confidence and grace. Maybe when I’m 60 I’ll be able to say I’ve achieved some of these goals.

Anyway, this post isn’t meant to be about me – it’s about the way I choose to celebrate my birthday. Every year, on my birthday, I send my mom flowers. She’s the one who deserves the congratulations, the praise and the warm wishes. After suffering through nausea, swollen ankles, heartburn, weight-gain, mood swings and unnatural food cravings for nine plus months, I arrived – an adorable bundle of joy. Even though I was a couple of weeks late, kept her up at all hours of the night, deprived her of sleep and took away all her freedoms as an individual, she loved me before she even got to know me.

My sister holding me - I don't seem to have a baby picture of me with my mom. 
My mom introduced me to my first loves in life: imaginative play, books, movies, and music. As a teenager, she bribed me to do the laundry by offering me a new book to read every weekend. We spent countless hours watching classic movies such as “The Sound of Music” or “My Fair Lady”. She rarely told us to turn the music down – quite often she would be the one to turn it up, providing we were listening to Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison or Meat Loaf. Without her influence, who knows what might have happened?

Without fail, she is the first person I turn to when I need advice. Whether I’m cooking, removing stains, writing a book or trying to figure out my own children, my mom’s insights are always welcome, even if I don’t acknowledge them in the moment. She has a wealth of knowledge, family traditions and bits of insights that come from being aware and accepting of the world around her. I like to think I’m a bit like that – open to new ideas, and accepting of everyone.

I don’t think celebrating my mom once a year, on Mother’s Day, is sufficient. When our children are young, we shower them with gifts and privileges on their birthdays, letting them know how much we love and cherish them. As an adult, I think it’s important to return that love to our own parents – and what better way to do that than to acknowledge them on your own birthday?

So – Mom – from my heart to yours, Happy Birthday.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Writing Resolutions

Here is my first blog of 2012 and I wanted to come up with something fabulous, something that would really knock your socks off, and make you all want to come back for more. The pictures would be astounding, the words inspirational and the content unforgettable. The moment I sat down at the computer, the gears in my brain ground to a halt and anything worth writing slipped through the cracks in the floor boards, scattering like little grains of salt.

This isn’t a new phenomenon for me. I’ll think I have something worth sharing, but then when the time comes to jot it all down, the words just seem to evaporate. Still – I plough forward, moving onwards, knowing that I can’t have a stagnant blog, and perhaps, if I just keep hitting the keyboard, something salvageable might leave itself on my screen.

I flip though various pictures on my camera, thinking there must be something in the jumble of images to motivate me. After all, I did take them with the intention of sharing a few digital memories. There are so many, I can’t even imagine what possessed me to take them all. Before digital photography, I wouldn’t have bothered taking ten pictures of the same subject, hoping to get the lighting just right. Sometimes, I wonder if perhaps all these electronic devices might hinder us in our attempt to live life to the fullest. Sure, we have fabulous pictures to look at – but whoever is taking the photos is sitting on the fringe, looking in and not really participating in the moment.

My blog tends to be a snapshot of what I’m thinking at any given moment. And like my collection of pictures, I worry each entry will become a repeat of the previous, with only small tweaks, in an attempt to make it just a little bit better. I treat it with the same care as my all my writing, shaping each thought into a paragraph that gently leads into the next, luring the reader to continue to the end (at least, that’s my intention).

This year, my only resolution is to try hard not to repeat myself – no matter what I’m writing: a new novel, a newsletter article, entries for this blog or even Facebook or Twitter updates – I hope to be able to find something fresh and creative within me each and every time. After all, if anyone is taking a peek at my work, I owe it to them to provide quality entertainment, and I owe it to myself not to post substandard drivel.