Inspiration

Sometimes all it takes is that one perfect song to get you going—to get you writing that short story, or that novel. Other times it takes a good long stroll, or maybe a vacation, or last night’s dream to inspire you to write. But as writers, we must write even when we aren’t inspired to. Even on days when we think we don’t have time to write—we make time to write…anything. A sentence, a paragraph, a page, or a chapter. Because it is from writing every day that we are able to start a story and finish it.

I came across this short, but inspiring clip of authors sharing some invaluable advice on writing. Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the video:

“Write a story for yourself.”
“Investigate on what your truths are and have faith in it.”
“Let the audience that’s meant to find it, find it.”
—Wally Lamb

“Write every day.”
—Diane Hammond

“When you have writer’s block—write. That’s how you unblock.”
“No book is written. Every book is re-written.”
—Ridley Pearson 

“Read. The more you read, the better you write. Write. Keep writing because the more you write, the better you write.”
—Anthony Horowitz

“Trust yourself. Write exactly what you think you want to write.”
—Lee Child

“If all else fails, just keep trying.”
—Graeme Base

“There’s one thing that all writers have, that you have…your voice.”
—Dennis Lehane

“Write what you know. Write what you believe in.”
—Robert Crais

Here is the link to the video:

Happy writing!

The Opening Line

Writing is an art. We begin with a blank canvas—a white sheet of paper on a notebook, or on a computer screen. Using our imagination, we paint with our words, describing people and things, evoking emotion, and creating dialogue. We compose sentences filled with words we’ve carefully picked to help tell our stories. But before our stories can be told, we must first write that one line…the opening line that starts it all.

The beginning.

The first sentence that we write has to be good. Actually, it has to be great. We rely on this sentence to grab and engage a reader—make them curious—make them keep going until soon, they’ve turned the page.

I picked five random opening lines from some of the books in my little bookshelf. I’m sure that many of you have read these books. I do believe these are great examples of what an opening line should be. They are all unique, powerful, and engaging.

1. It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.
1984, by George Orwell

2. It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York.
The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath

3. It was love at first sight.
Catch-22, by Joseph Heller

4. When Gregor Samsa woke up one morning from unsettling dreams, he found himself changed in his bed into a monstrous vermin.
The Metamorphosis, by Franz Kafka

5. It is always like this: The best parties are made by people in trouble.
Away, by Amy Bloom

Add to this list! Leave me a comment below and write down a couple of memorable opening lines from your favorite books.

Have a great weekend!

A Fun Afternoon

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It was an honor to be part of the The Noe Valley Authors Festival last Saturday. I had a great time meeting other local authors and learning about their books. I also met people from the neighborhood who stopped by my table to purchase books, while others simply came by to ask questions about writing and publishing. I was happy to answer their questions and even share some tips.

The festival was three hours long. It was enough time for us to meet and greet folks and sell our books. It was indeed a fun afternoon. I can’t wait to join other author events in the near future.

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Check out the list of authors who came to the festival. Take your time and click on the links below. I’m sure you will find something that will interest you. 🙂

Author: Michael Alenyikov
Books: “Ivan and Misha”
Winner of the Northern California Book Award
Finalist for the Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction
Awarded the 2013 Gina Berriault Award from San Francisco State

Booklist
Word madness is a hallmark of the writing: lyrical descriptions of place, time, and events; touches of the bizarre; everyday humor; and a love of New York from Brighton Beach in Brooklyn to the gentrifying East Village delight with their clarity and detail. Written with sweetness, compassion, and great beauty, this book will have broad appeal to lovers of short fiction and literary writing.

“Ivan and Misha” is the Great American Russian Novel told as Chekhov would tell it, in stories of delicacy, humanity, and insight. From Kiev to Manhattan, Brighton Beach, and Bellevue, Michael Alenyikovsky lays out a series of compelling arguments for brotherhood between brothers, between lovers, between men from an old country. Alenyikov confronts big subjects–illness and madness, sex and love in the age of AIDS, Old and New World values, a fallen wall, the metaphysics of survival, the march of generations.” — Carolyn Cooke, author of The Bostons and Daughters of the Revolution

www.michaelalenyikov.com

Author: Michelle Cannon
Books: “Ben Not a Puppy!” and “Remember When?”
cannonbooks.org

Author: Marie D’Abreo
Book: “Beautiful: A girl’s trip through the looking glass”
http://amzn.com/0991528506

Author: Peter Gabel
Books: “Another Way of Seeing” and “The Bank Teller”
Available at Folio Books
3957 24th Street, San Francisco

Books also available on Amazon

Author: Tom Graves
Book: “Twice Heroes: America’s Nisei Veterans of WWII and Korea
Interviews and 98 portraits of men and women who fought for America while their families spent the war in internment camps.

National Japanese American Historical Society
1684 Post Street, San Francisco
(415) 921-5007

Kinokuniya Books
1581 Webster Street, San Francisco
(415) 567-7625

Online: www.TwiceHeroes.com

Author: Chester Hartman
www.prrac.org
To order books, email author at: chartman@prrac.org

Author: Kathleen Knowles
http://www.boldstrokesbooks.com/Author-Kathleen-Knowles.html

Author: Sheppard Benet Kominars
Book: “Portal Poems: Perspectives on Aging”
Senior Years Are the New Frontier in the 21st Century. The moment you pass through this portal, finding a new compass to navigate is a task that must be initiated. Portal Poems offers valuable insights into this new territory in which the Old Rules have changed and new ones need to be discovered. What better way than through the poetry of someone who has lived it?

You can purchase Portal Poems online through GoodSheppardBooks.com and the Kindle edition is now available on Amazon. www.portalpoems.com

Author: Richard May
Book: “Ginger Snaps: Photos & Stories of Redheaded Queer People”
Available at Folio Books
3957 24th Street, San Francisco

Author: Mary Jo McConahay
Book: “Maya Roads: One Woman’s Journey Among the People of the Rainforest”
www.mayaroads.com

Author: Rebecca P. McCray
Book: “The Journey of the Marked”
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GV3D7J6

Author: Vincent Meis
Book: “Down in Cuba”
http://www.vincentmeis.com
https://www.createspace.com/4267959
http://www.amazon.com/Down-Cuba-Vincent-Meis/dp/0615812201/

Author: Sara Oletti
Book: “The Kitchen Book for Girls Who Think They Can’t Cook”
http://sarabetholetti.com/

Author: Dan Richman
http://cunningcrowbooks.com/

Author: Bruce Rogers
Book: “The Orchid Whisperer”
www.theorchidwhisperer.com

Author: Julianne Victoria
http://juliannevictoria.com/books-2/

 

Bookstores, Books, and Blogging

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Hi everyone! Lots to celebrate…

I just learned that today is my three-year anniversary with wordpress! Pretty sweet.

Another reason to celebrate: HIGH and Goodnight World are NOW AVAILABLE at Folio Books in Noe Valley, San Francisco! If you’re in the area, pop in and pick up a book or two. Tell them I sent you. 😉  Lovely bookstore, lovely staff.

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And another reason to celebrate…Valentine’s Day is tomorrow!

Happy Love Day, everyone!

 

Bird & Beckett Books & Records

I am thrilled to announce that my novel, HIGH, and my children’s book, Goodnight World, are now available at Bird & Beckett Books & Records in San Francisco. Definitely one of the coolest bookstores around. You get that cozy feeling as soon you walk in, and you can’t help but pick up a book or two and curl up in a corner, while jazz music plays in the background. Great staff too!

If you’re in San Francisco, you can purchase my books at Bird & Beckett Books & Records in Glen Park.
653 Chenery St
San Francisco, CA 94131
b/t Carrie St & Diamond St in Glen Park
bird-beckett.com

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Giveaways and Twitterviews

They weren’t kidding when they said that writing a book would be the easiest part—marketing would be the hardest.

So as you know, I recently tried KDP Select. I recommend it to any new authors out there. Just remember that because you’re giving away your book for free to thousands of people, it may not always end up in the hands of people who necessarily like your genre. But that’s the risk you have to take. Overall, I think it’s a great way to get your book out there, especially if you’re just starting out as an author.

Goodreads giveaway:
A couple of fellow-bloggers and authors have highly recommended Goodreads giveaways to promote my novel, HIGH. So a month ago, I decided to try listing my first Goodreads giveaway. I was hoping to at least get a hundred people to enter to win a copy of my novel. I was surprised last night to learn that 846 people entered! The contest ended today, so three winners have already been picked, and I’ve already sent out their copies of HIGH.

Ever since I listed the giveaway, I’ve noticed a small spike in ratings and reviews. Sales hasn’t been spectacular, but it’s better than it was before.

So would I recommend Goodreads giveaways? Absolutely. It’s free and effective.

Rafflecopter:
Have you heard of Rafflecopter? I just learned about it about a month ago during my HIGH Blog Tour. It’s an easy way to run a giveaway. I tried it during one of my Blog stops, and the experience was definitely painless and fun.

Yes, I’d recommend it.

Twitterviews:
Let me start by saying I am still getting used to Twitter. I honestly don’t know how to use Twitter to advertise my book properly. So if you have any tips, please share. I’ve posted a few things here and there, but that’s about it. Sometimes, I even forget I have a Twitter account. Anyway, I’m working on it.

So because of my poor Twittering skills, I decided to try for a paid advertising service for a twitterview.

What is a twitterview? It’s a live interview done via Twitter. Followers can ask the author questions, etcetera. The idea is that it’s supposed to attract more readers and followers. $75 later, I gained 3 new followers, and no added sales.

Would I recommend it? It depends. It may work for others. Unfortunately, it didn’t for me. I say, save your money.

And so, the marketing journey continues. I still have a lot to try and learn along the way. I’ll keep you posted on how things go.

In the meantime, have you tried any of the above marketing services? How was your experience?

Any other marketing suggestions?

 

 

My KDP Select Experiment

Whew! My HIGH Blog Tour is over. So was it worth it? Well, all I can say is I’m glad I did it. I’ll write another post about the experience another time. For now, I’d like to write about my experience with KDP Select.

I’m sure that most of you are familiar with KDP Select. If you’re not, it’s basically a program for writers that Amazon launched not too long ago. It gives writers the opportunity to list their eBook for FREE for five days within a 90-day period—but they have to agree to sell their enrolled book(s) exclusively only through Amazon.  Some people don’t like this exclusivity, others don’t mind it. After researching online and reading success stories from other authors who have used KDP Select, I decided to do my own experiment and enrolled HIGH in the program in January of this year.

The Advantages of KDP Select 

I’m a new author. Aside from my blog followers, my family and close friends, no one else knew about my novel, HIGH. Other authors have said that giving away their books for free for one day, two days or even five days, have helped increase their sales later.

I wanted more sales. Most of all, I wanted more readers. So as much as it made my family cringe knowing I was about to give away my book for FREE—I went ahead and did it, and hoped for good—if not great results.

My First Try

A lot of the articles I read suggested that a two-day promo was better than one. But for some reason, I couldn’t do it. I was too nervous about the FREE promotion that I decided to try it for one day.

I picked February 20th, a Wednesday. I set my alarm for 7:30 a.m., and by 8 a.m., I checked to see how many units were “sold”. I was hoping for maybe ten or twenty. My eyes grew big when I saw: 192. When I checked amazon.com, I was completely surprised to see this:
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I checked my status obsessively throughout the day, and I must say the experience was exhilarating.

By 10:30 p.m. I “sold” 740 units! This was my ranking at the end of the day:
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For a first try, I thought this wasn’t bad at all.

The next day, I waited to see if my sales would improve. It didn’t.

My Second Try

I decided to do the FREE promo again for HIGH, this time on February 23, which was a Saturday.

By 2:30 p.m., this was my ranking:
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At the end of the day, I was pleased to see a total of 1644 units “sold”. When I checked Amazon, I was thrilled to see this:
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The Results:
After my second experiment with KDP Select, I began receiving more reviews on amazon.com. I also noticed that my sales improved—not by a whole lot, but it was definitely better than before.

So would I do it again? Sure. The most important thing for me right now is to gain new readers. KDP Select has helped me do that. HIGH is now in the hands of  2,384 new readers. I think that’s pretty fantastic.

There are other perks to enrolling in KDP Select. Click here to learn more.

Have you tried KDP Select? How was your experience? Would you recommend it to other new authors? 

New Friends in Old Montreal

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Am I really here? Because the lack of sleep and the temporary jolt from the caffeine this morning have left me wondering if I conjured all this up in my head. It’s possible. But my doubts fade fast, and everything becomes real as soon as the cobblestones touch the soles of my shoes, and we walk past narrow streets surrounded by historical buildings, and I hear Chad’s voice.

“This is it. This is Old Montreal,” he announces, spreading his arms. “This square is ‘Place Jacques-Cartier.’”

I inhale slowly, soaking it all in. I step forward and backward, my neck twisting and turning, memorizing every corner. I feel an instant connection to this place. Something about being here grabs me and infatuates me. I begin taking mental pictures of the narrow alleys decorated with rows of artists and vendors. I start imagining myself dining at the sidewalk cafes, sitting there with Chad during the summer, spring, winter, and fall. I get this strong desire to take off my shoes and walk barefooted on the cobblestones as if I have found my new home. But I leave my thoughts and emotions to myself. Instead, I look at Chad, who is watching me with a smile that melts me away.

How did I get here?

—HIGH by Corey M. P. (Chapter 4, New Friends in Old Montreal)

Available now on amazon.com.