Summertime in Northern Michigan (sounds like a song title!)

If you’re not a computer.  If you’re made of flesh and blood and can read then you can tell from my front page that I just published a third novel, The Virus Conspiracy.  It was fun to write and I thank you for taking the time to explore my humble site.

But here’s the thing.

It’s a beautiful day, the sun is warm, the grass is green and it is smack dab in the middle of summer.  Go outside!  Don’t read my blog, go do something fun!  I’m going golfing in about an hour.  I’m not very good but it’s an excuse to see an old buddy.  When I come home I’ll probably convince Eve that we need to go to the ice cream store and get a cone.

It’s the end of July and already I’m worried about summer slipping away.  So, please…go camping, jump in the kayak, make a camp fire, roast some hot dogs, take in a ball game, go for a hike, ride your bike, visit the kids, visit your mom and dad, call your grandmother.  But, what ever you do: turn off the computer and go do something before summer is gone!

Spam and Russians

Anyone, well…any real person, who’s ever looked at my site and blog can tell right away that I’m not the type that loves to blog everyday.  Once or twice a month is fine for me.  My time is taken up with more important things in life than telling the reader what I had for breakfast.  So, it’s always nice when someone subscribes to the blog.  (“Subscription” is the term iPage uses for logging in so one can leave a comment.)  Sadly most, no, honestly almost ALL, ‘subscriptions’ come from autobots in the cyber world.

And, most of those are Russian.  I’ve even had some sites send long posts entirely in cyrillic script.  (Makes the spam hard to read for us ‘one language’ types.)  Other spammers have told me what a ‘wonderful’ site I have and they’ve been looking for months for the information I just gave them.  Sadly, I’m just hawking a couple of novels I’ve written, sorry…I’m not giving out too much earth shaking information here.

Don’t really know the point of all this.  I look at the web site traffic and see a couple of thousand hits a month.  I always wonder how many of those are real people and how many are search engines, autobots and Russian spammers.

The new book is nearing completion.  Final scene is coming together.  Then we’ll go into the editing mode, finalize and put together the cover art.  Hope to have it for sale on Amazon sometime in the late summer.  Hope everyone had a great 4th of July!

 

New Book!

I’ve been working on the next and probably last of the Jim and Eve books. I’m currently about two-thirds of the way through the story, this time a bit of an adventure involving antiviral drugs.  This one has been a bit more difficult to write, in fact, down right hard!  I thought it was going one way and just a few days ago it all turned around.  The characters in this story are more complicated, the story line more complex and there isn’t a historical flashback as in the first two.  I’ve changed the ending a time or two, it seems I’m settled on one thing and about a page in the story veers in a different direction.  Hopefully that’s about to end and we’ll get this book loaded on Amazon soon!  One thing I do enjoy is the research associated with being an indie author.  Who knew I’d ever gather so much useless trivia.  More about the new story later.

Winter blues….and white, and white and more white!

It’s been a difficult winter around here.  I’ve spent a lot of time and energy working with hospitals and rehab facilities, they are an amazing group of people who really do care about their patients.  For those readers who have been following the story you’ll be happy to learn my mother is back in her apartment and doing very well.  She’s somewhere on the order of 90% independent and doing well.  I must admit, this has kept me from enjoying the winter as much as I’d like.  I’ve missed a couple of hunting trips and a few ice fishing opportunities.  But, there’s always next year for that.

The record for snow received in January for mid-Michigan was set in 1976.  Last week, the snowfall for the month exceeded the ’76 record by an inch and a half.  That was with ten days to go in the month.  Since then we’ve received at least another two inches.  Some would say how terrible the cold weather has been, how much they hate winter and bemoan the fact that it’s only five degrees above zero out.  I understand, but I think they’re missing out on the beauty of winter.  Frankenmuth MI had a wonderful ice festival this past weekend with carvers from all over the world coming in to create amazing snow and ice sculptures.  Kids are playing hockey outside like they should and snowmobilers are pumping cash into the economy hand over fist.  The point is that it’s easy to see things negatively, not so easy to see the good.

Christmas week promotion!

Collingwood KindleHere’s the perfect chance to see if the new ereader Santa left under the tree is all you hoped it would be.  I’m running a promotion for THE COLLINGWOOD LEGACY!

The ebook version will be available on 27, 28 and 29 December for 99 Cents!  Download your version for virtually any ereader at Amazon, Barns & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, or any of the other distributors.

THE COLLINGWOOD LEGACY is a story of hidden treasure, a businessman slowly losing his business and his mind, a deceitful wife, and an innocent couple caught in a dangerous web of lies and murderous double dealing.   Only Jim and Eve can save them, and only a dog collar can save Eve’s life!

Michigan update

It’s been a crazy month.  Sadly, my 91 year old mother has ended up in a full time rehabilitation facility.  It’s easy to picture something from “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (great Jack Nicholson movie) but this isn’t like that at all.  The staff there is wonderful and the facility is as bright and airy as I can imagine possible while still being focused on their mission of rehabilitation.  HealthSource is truly a professional outfit and I’d recommend it to anyone needing full time rehab.  She is doing well.  My wife and I visit twice a day, which takes a lot of time but considering the sacrifices she’s made for me its a small one indeed.  In a truly amazing display of compassion my wife willingly visits each day as well.

Mom seems to be getting a little bit stronger but needs encouragement to continue working hard.  Lets face it, when you’re 91 hard work is not on your daily to-do list.  She’s trying though and I have high hopes she’ll be discharged in a month.

The entire thing is a bit stressful.  Thankfully, my wife has a mile of patience and has encouraged me to start another book.  So, a third installment of the Eve and Jim series is in the works.  This time, not so much flashback and a bit more of a new, third character.  The whole thing centers around avian flu and a cure found by Dr. William Beaumont (fellow Michiganders may remember the name from their history classes).  Dr. Beaumont, an Army doctor, was stationed at Ft. Mackinac in the early 1800s. In any case, this book is shaping up to be a lot of fun.  I’m anxious to see where the story leads me, the characters pulled a surprise this morning and I’ll have to rewrite a few earlier chapters!

 

The move home to Michigan…

Sometimes hobbies have to take a backseat to real life and sometimes real life sort of throws us a bit of a curve.  In early October, Eve decided to visit her father and help him drive his camper to Florida.  The plan was for her to be gone two weeks.  Just before she left we received an offer on our house in Oklahoma, not a great offer, rather low in fact, but acceptable and we took it.  I quickly went into the home repair mode and fixed most of the things on the buyers inspection report (the ‘stuff I want you to fix before I buy your house’ list).  There’s two ways to handle that list, hire the work done or do it yourself.  I’m cheap on principle so I did most of the work myself.  The stuff I couldn’t do, or was afraid to do (roof work mostly) I hired out or negotiated a waiver.  At any rate, writing, books, blogs, airplanes and consulting took a back seat to paint, hammers, plumbing, UHaul, packing, boxes, tape and more packing.
We closed on the house early, meaning we signed the paperwork we needed to sign and left town a week before the buyers did their bit.  It was a ton of work getting a four bedroom house’s furniture into a 26 ft. truck and 12 ft trailer but we succeeded and left for Michigan on 7 November.   Eve was driving the our Saturn Vue with our Harley Street Glide motorcycle on its trailer.   We reached Tulsa about rush hour.  Traffic on I-44 stopped and I found myself at a standstill, Eve soon stopped behind me.  Unfortunately, the south American woman without a driver’s license behind Eve didn’t.  She hit the motorcycle trailer at highway speed.  The impact was so hard it snapped the 2×4 side fences we had built and installed on the sides of the trailer through sheer G forces.  The bike was held in place with a motorcycle wheel chock.  The chock was bolted to a 2×12 piece of wood.  That wood cracked in half!  The trailer hitch on the car, made of quarter inch steel was bent up 30 degrees.  The trailer was totally destroyed, the bike severely damaged but thankfully it took the blow.  The car received only minor damage.
After 90 minutes with the police, fire and ambulance the trailer was loaded on a flatbed tow truck and bike and trailer disappeared.  We were free to go, but I told Eve I was done for the night and we stopped at the Hampton Inn across the road from the Hard Rock Casino.
The next morning we were on the road early.  I had my Sporty’s leather jacket, two guitars and Eve’s very nice, rich sound, McSpadden dulcimer in the cab of the truck as we didn’t want to pack them and they took a lot of room in the car.  Figured I’d need the jacket about Chicago.  Some thirty minutes later I pushed the acoustic guitar case over to give my elbow some room and it slid all the way across the cab.  “Something ain’t right!”   You guessed it, electric guitar, jacket and dulcimer were gone.  At the next gas stop I found a long piece of wire on the door, don’t know if the lock was jimmied or I left it unlocked but bottom line, “we was robbed”.
We made it to Michigan safely after that but the storage area was closed and wouldn’t open till Monday.  We ended up buying an extra two days with the truck and trailer, good thing as that hundred and fifty bucks was making my wallet bulge and hard to sit on.
We visited my mother first thing.  We thought she didn’t look well but were pretty focused on the truck and getting it off loaded.  Which we did on Tuesday.  (Monday was rain and snow, decided to let that day pass.)  While we were working on the truck we talked about Mom and that afternoon I called around and found a doctor for her.  Appointment was made for Thursday.  After 90 mins with the doc he sent her to the emergency room to see the heart guy there.  That doc admitted her after slowing her heart from 175 beats per minute to 100 BPM.  She has a blood clot in the lung, a bladder infection, atrial fibrillation, fluid retention making her legs look horrible with cellulitis.
She was released on the 21st of November, her 91st birthday.  Sadly, we had to take her by ambulance back to the hospital the next day.  Apparently she was bleeding internally. She’s in the hospital now but hopes to be released in the next few days.  She appears to have weathered the storm and should make a great recovery, not without some serious physical therapy, but a great recovery nevertheless.

Big news and Christmas story delayed

In the back of each of my books there is a little “About the author” paragraph.  It says something about “The house is for sale and they hope to move to northern Michigan soon.” Good news, the house finally sold.  We’re moving home in mid November.  Just in time for deer season (a Michigan tradition), Thanksgiving with family, UM vs Ohio, and snow.  I’m looking forward to fly fishing the Boardman and Betsie rivers, rabbit hunting, snow, slush and all that goes with winter, to visiting friends when we want to and not having to drive 1300 miles to do it.  So, we’re pretty happy.

Now the bad news.  I’d hoped to have my Christmas story published on 1 November.  But given that we’ve spent the last two months painting, doing yard work and otherwise making a big push to make the house more appealing to buyers I have fallen way behind in that effort.  Now, I’m spending my days packing boxes.  We’re doing a UHaul move so this is a bit of an effort!  Anyway, I’ll have to delay the Christmas story until next fall.

Final results of the free give away promotion

Okay, this is good, as a result of this promotion I’ve sold enough books to buy a new car!  Yup, a new Corvette…and here it is:

NewCar

 

 

 

So lets look at the final results.  First, we need to understand the distribution.  BIL is currently exclusively listed by Amazon, both in softcover and, via Kindle, as an ebook.  (The Collingwood Legacy is not.  Hence, it is available via Smashword, Kobo, Barns and Noble, etc.  Someday, when I’ve figured it out I’ll make an educated guess: exclusive to Amazon or not.)  Anyway, back to the grist of this.  There are eleven Amazon sites, e.g. Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, etc.  They are as follows:

• UK Kindle Store: United Kingdom (including Guernsey, Isle of Man, and Jersey)
• DE Kinde Store: Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, and Switzerland
• FR Kindle Store: France, Monaco, Belgium, Switzerland, and Luxembourg
• ES Kindle Store: Andorra, Spain
• IT Kindle Store: Italy, San Marino, Vatican City, and Switzerland
• Japan Kindle Store: Japan
• BR Kindle Store: Brazil
• MX Kindle Store: Mexico
• CA Kindle Store: Canada
• India Kindle Store on www.amazon.com: India

I’m prohibited from telling you the numbers downloaded at each site.  However, I will say that I was a bit surprised by the results.  By the end of the promotion Betrayal in the Louvre was ranked #102 on the list of Free Amazon Kindle books and #3 in Historical fiction!  (See attached)

scan0006

Now, at the risk of Amazon being upset, well north of two thousand downloads were made in the USA alone.  So the question becomes “How did that translate to sales?”

Honestly, I don’t know if I have a good answer.  Certainly some sales of the book have occurred, witness my new car above! 🙂  But not a great number.  Interestingly, nearly as many sales (as opposed to free downloads) have occurred in France than even here in the USA since the promotion.  I find that interesting because the book is in English, about a couple of Americans and not advertised there a great deal.  So, thanks to the French!  There have been a few sales of the next book, The Collingwood Legacy.  And, that was really the goal wasn’t it?  The people who enjoy reading an indie author tend to get their books from giveaways.  I would to, its the way the industry is right now.

Lets face it, an indie author doesn’t have a lot of cash to spend on advertising.  The only mass outlet is a free giveaway.  Paid advertisements, even if the author makes the decision to spend the coin, are expensive.  Until that author has a substantial following, and I believe, a substantial number of books to sell I really don’t see the return on investment.  I’m setting a goal of four books listed on line before I start spending any money on advertisements.  Lets keep in mind the original goals: 1)  Tell a good story for the family;  2) This is just for fun, not for profit;  3) Learn a little bit about the indie world and share it with others.

So, here’s the most important thing.  On the three nights of the give away Eve and I checked the Amazon site every couple of hours.  We were nuts, absolutely caught up in the excitement of watching the book rise in the rankings.  It was fun. Mission accomplished.

Two other amazing things happened.  One lady posted a review on the Amazon site saying that she would rank the book 5 stars because my bio sounded like I’m a guy it would be fun to sit and talk with.  How cool is that!?  What a nice person to write that.  Some may question her ranking a book before reading it to which I reply, “C’mon, let’s not get too serious over a free ebook.”

The second amazing thing was a note I received via this web site from a lady in England. She was a bit miffed about some misspelled words.  I’m truly sorry those mistakes caused irritation.  I wrote her back and told her how embarrassed I was, how much her feedback was valued and hoped she would forgive me.  Guess what…she wrote back, said she enjoyed the story and after she’d received my reply any additional mistakes she made simply made her smile.  So, I had two takeaways on that, first and most important, I made someone smile (mostly by looking like an idiot that can’t spell but hey, a smile is a smile) and two, I’ve got to go back and reread the book, correct any misspellings and replace it on Amazon.

One word about editing.  When a book is written it is read and reread a dozen times.  Misspellings are difficult to catch after the second or third time through because the mind knows what the word is before the eyes finish seeing all the letters.  Take this sentence for for example.  Did you catch that?  I’ll bet you missed the second ‘for’ didn’t you?  Enough said.  I’ll work harder. (Oh, and remember, no paid editors, this is for fun and I’m cheap.)

 

Update on free promotion

Here we are a day and a half into the free promotion of my book BETRAYAL IN THE LOUVRE.  The book promotion was advertised on the sites listed previously.  The give-away began at 0001 on the morning of 27 Sep 13 (one minute past midnight).  I checked status at 0745 AM on the morning of the 27th.  At that point 24 downloads had been made and the book ranked #8987 on Amazon’s free list.

I then checked all the web sites which had solicited my input when conducting a free ebook give away.  I found the book on only two sites of the 18 sites.  Only “Indie Book of the Day” and “BookGoodies” had the book.  Though to be fair, I cannot now find the book on Indie Book of the Day, nor the post from yesterday.  Its possible they didn’t have it at all as I’d not had my coffee yet when doing the search.  And, BookGoodies uses a link to the Amazon site.  Where that link is on their site I still don’t know.  I only found the book using the search function on the site.  But, as I said, no one promised anything, but the NUMBER of free ebooks listed each day by the sites is, shall we say, limited?  I wonder why they solicit free notifications, other than to gather email addresses of authors and attempt to sell them something.

On the upside, the promotion seems to be going well.  As of noon, 28 Sep the book had moved to #620 in the list of free books on Amazon, #14 in historical fiction and #31 in thrillers.  Nearly 500 downloads have been made as of now.

Thanks for your support and please leave your comments and be sure to leave an Amazon ranking if you’ve downloaded the book.  Thanks again!