Monthly Archives: August 2012

My Cat Trained Me For Rejection!

October, a.k.a “I keel you”

I’m thinking quite a few cat owners–and feline haters–can sympathize with this after a brief explanation.  Meet my kitty cat, Tober (aka; October [official name of birth], Toby, Toby Woby, Tobies, Evil Kitty and Psycho Cat).  The phrase, “I heard a strange noise and all of a sudden my face was bleeding,” has been heard a time or two.  No my house is not haunted with evil-doing poltergeists from a secret Indian burial site under my home…that’s just the rumor we tell people who are attacked lest the local animal authorities be called in.

What does this have to do with being trained for rejection? I’ll get there. So my bipolar cat does not like to be picked up, held, patted, or anything else she has not previously approved of.  And even when she gets into her strange “polar” moods, I pat her with extreme caution (and sometimes were leather work gloves).  She’s like the Sour Patch Kids commercial…first their sour then their sweet, except she is the opposite: sweet then sour. Or attack!

I have had to work for the love of this cat, all six bittersweet years.  For the most part anytime I pat her she attacks my hand–while purring! It is all quite strange, yet everyday I stop to give her a 15 second cuddle (all she allows for before glistening claws emerge).  I don’t argue with the claws, but occasionally and quite infrequently she will give off a soft pur and look at me through contented eyes and let me have a 20 second cuddle. I cherish these times, yet I have had to endure years of prissy, diabolic feline rejection to be ecstatic during the times of momentary cuddly bliss and the feel of a cold, wet nose nudging against my cheek–without being impaled after.

My point! Because I do have one in a round-about-kind-of-way.  Today I received a letter from Iuniverse stating Barnes & Noble turned down (a more polite way of saying, “REJECTED”) the opportunity to place, “Be Still,” in their actual physical stores. Talk about major bummer and suffering through a metaphorical hanging of my psyche.  This has been my greatest fear, the biggest road block keeping me from publishing all these years: Rejection. It sucks. I’m no Patterson, Rice, or Wilde but dadgum I don’t deserve to be tossed in the rejection pile, and for what? “A narrow market,” according to them.  Sigh.

Guess you’re wondering how my cat ties in? Well, as I was reading this declination email first thing in the morning, I was feeling pretty bummed. Not a whole bunch of depression or self-defeat; nothing like that, but kind of upset nonetheless.  As I was thinking what I should do next, avoiding that pesky little word “loser” that kept trying to creep into my forefront thought, what to my wondering eyes should appear? Tobers, my bipolar, wound inflicting, cat jumped into my window and leapt onto my bed, then crawled on my belly and my rubbed against my chin.  I hesitated to pat her–you would too–but she just purred and poked her cold nose on my forehead. And I thought: Hell, if I could survive six years of rejection from own my kitty cat then I could push past this minor inconvenience.  Besides, after six years she finally came to me looking for a little attention and so will those opportunities, someday. Then she bit my nose and I felt all was right with world once again.

Dedicated to October who has a quirk for putting things in perspective. I’ve also decided to start a feline-rejection program for future authors. If you fear rejection, if rejection is holding you back, then contact me for your free two week trial of the feline-rejection program where you will be sent one evil kitty for a two week trial so you to can learn to accept rejection. (hospital bills, cat scratch fever, depression, desolation, and the fear of sleeping in the same room with this cat may occur as a result of use…just saying).

Thank you for indulging my insanity.

~~~~~~~~written by, Tania L Ramos, author of When I Thought I Was Tough &  Be Still.

http://www.TaniaLRamos.com

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An Author’s Mind

I spent much of today working on a video shoot with my family. I’ve written about it before, but to recap it is about what goes on in the mind of an author: sleepless nights, stalking by characters, even a late night character exorcism. All the fun stuff we authors endure on a daily basis.

The movie stars my daughter as Evan and my boyfriend as Ben, who are the two main characters in the book I am working on currently. What’s fun is that in today’s video shoot we buried my book, “Be Still,” and went into the story of Ben and Evan, with a fun cameo by Jack who was the hero in Be Still, and by an alien which will be my next book task. So I was able to incorporate some cheesy shameless plugs in there, but it’s my video and I am the director so I call the shots.

Today we turned Jorja (pronounced Georgia), my daughter, into a fairy, complete with fairy make-up and beautiful wings. She had us laughing so hard, and the words, “that’s why people don’t work with kids,” came in from the background. Outside of a few grouchy episodes she was truly a star.

My boyfriend who is playing the part of Ben, had the opportunity to sport his fire gear today. He looked pretty hot. Seriously–it is 101 degrees in the desert and he was sporting full turnouts and helmet…for over an hour. Talk about dedicated to the cause.

My son, the cinematographer, sound effects and special effects guy was his usual teenage attitudey self, because there was some special ops something sniper thingy, modern warfare clan something or other thing going on today and he was missing it. I reminded him that he was my employee–paid in food, electricity, and running water, though I think his main concern is electricity. No electric=no games.

Mom even jumped in on the action when we had to scrap one scene using green screen because the CGI was off, so we improvised to a scene in the kitchen. She was pretty good. I broke character because my daughter had me rolling, but we made it work. Mom has also done all the make-up on Jorja, so she will get double credits at the end. We will be shooting some great night scenes tonight and if there are no special ops missions on X-box then we should have a finished product by next weekend.

Why am I creating this video? I love playing with camera and effects and doing creative stuff like this. Plus, I thought it would be awesome to let the world know what goes on in my mind when I am writing. It’s not all wonderful all the time, especially when I wake up for my 3am pee session and can’t go back to sleep because my characters are haunting me. Is it just me? I really don’t think it is.

Stay tuned for, “An Author’s Mind.” If all goes right there will be an explosion in the end…

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I am Tania L Ramos, author of When I Thought I Was Tough and Be Still. I am a nurse by day (and sometimes into long hours of the night) and try to write my new book while promoting my other books. Somewhere in there I sleep.

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“A Life Interrupted,” Kristi Loucks

“A Life Interrupted,” Kristi Loucks

A Life Interrupted, by Kristi Loucks

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I had the recent opportunity to read this book by independent author, Kristi Loucks.  The story revolves around Jared who is kidnapped and held hostage by a Russian terrorist.  Jared was taken without warning, leaving behind his pregnant girlfriend and a handful of friends who worked with Jared on a special task force.  Life continues without Jared, though no one ever gives up hope, until one day he returns…that is when his fight truly begins.

A Life Interrupted had me crying in the first few chapters.  It was endearing to see just how much friends and family could endure, but also to follow the emotions of a hero who returns to discover the woman he left behind had been carrying his child when he disappeared. I was in full heaves at one point, not ever wanting to know what it would be like to be separated from those I love.

This book has a very strong emotional pull, but it also has some serious psychological warfare going on.  Not only was Jared physically tortured to the brink of death, but he was also taunted by news of those left behind.  When all is revealed about his torture and the history that led up to the kidnapping I was inline among jared’s friends to want the bad guy six feet under.  This book is a story of the unhuman strength one sometimes musters in order to make it back home, and of the love that doesn’t die when a lover and friend goes missing.

My only complaint, or peeve, about this story is that it was occasionally repetitive. Some scenes explained before were re-explained in detail later, and explained among all the friends after.  This didn’t take away from the story, but it did give that sensation of dejavu.  Also, there were many parts of Jared’s torture where my inquisitive mind would have liked to have more detail and be given more length into the story. I think the author missed on opportunity to engage the reader a bit deeper into this dark, brutal period.  I would like to have known more about what he felt and sensed, but again not knowing deeper details did not take away from the story itself and this is only one person’s personal opinion.

All-in-all I gave this book a 4 star review on Amazon where it is available for purchase on Kindle. I think if Kristi continues to write more books like this she will have a great fan following and will undoubtedly grow in her writing abilities.  I recommend this book for anyone who enjoys a good tear jerker with a bit of action thrown in.

“A Life Interrupted,” by Kristi Loucks

*****Review written by Tania L Ramos, author of When I Thought I Was Tough and most currently the award winning book, Be Still.  All views expressed here are the sole opinions of Tania L Ramos and do not reflect on the opinions of any other person.*****

Calling All Free Press

I now have three months of marketing under my belt, I think that officially moves me from laymen to novice.  Whatever the terminology is there are a few things I have learned along the way–yes some of this may be repetitive.  Free press is good press, even when it is sample press.  Think about it; when people are giving things away free do you usually try it? Whether you liked it or not many people do not scoff at swag.  Case and point: weekends at Costco for free sample day.  Can you really pass on a free sample of smoked honey bacon? Me either. And I also don’t pass on free memberships, free trials, and free press.

Now I’m not claiming to be some professional publicist or marketer, as stated before I am a novice.  However, i have tried almost every offer that has come my way.  If it doesn’t work then I’ve lost nothing but time, but odds are a handful of people were exposed to my book in that time.  Today I am going to talk about free press releases, so if you’ve considered hiring an agent to do this for you, hold your credit card for a minute and read this:

I have run the gambit of free press release sites and sites that charge.  Is there a difference? Of course.  Sometimes you do get what you pay for.  Free press release sites often have upgrades, but if you are as broke as I am then contributing monetary funds back into a dwindling deficit (I live in the states) isn’t an option I can readily afford.  If it is between paying a mortgage or buying a lofty press release package then I choose PR package, however as a responsible parent and sole provider of my family I must think in terms of meeting in the middle. Since Wells Fargo will not give me free occupancy I must settle for free press release.  I have thus far used four different free agencies, the one I like best is PR Log–as far as free sites go.  Granted there are hundreds of them, but you really have to research it all out.

Some sites do not let you enter links, pictures, or video without purchasing a package.  Other sites allow one of these features at the starving moocher level, and charge to upgrade from there.  I have found PR Log to allow all three even on their free service.  Disadvantages? Well, you have to write your own press release complete with snazzy caption to captivate the attention of the masses.  Is that easy? No way, but if you don’t get the results you want then you try again–FREE.  Another great perk that many free services do not offer is stats.  PR Log allows you to see the stats on your press release, this way you can see through trial and error what works best.

What I have noted is that having a catchy headline that pertains to something pertinent in the news or media is best.  Find a way to tie in your caption to the news. For father’s day my caption entailed my book being a great story about a father-son relationship. For Independence Day, my caption spoke of how the men in my story were always at battle.  My last caption spoke of Lou Gehrig’s disease in order to try and catch a new type of audience.  I have six releases out in all through PR Log and found that the ones sticking with the times and the one specific to a cause had the greatest amount and quickest views.

Does that help my sales? Not really, but that is hard to say since I can only check sales through Amazon.  I have not seen a huge spike in sales through Amazon after the press release, that doesn’t mean the book is not being purchased through Barnes & Noble, Chapters, Nook, or Ibookstore.  What I do see is a spike to my book website and personal website along with new hits to my book trailer.  I have tested this by not doing any other pr work the day before or after sending out a release, and “the survey says;” the spikes come within 48 hours of a press release.  Awesome.

Here is why I suggest a free release over a paid release if you are on a budget: paying for a service does not and can not guarantee sales.  If you write a crappy press release and pay $350 for it, its just a crap shot release that will not receive hits…but you paid for it.  And usually your $350 is good for ONE press release only. So unless you have the most amazing caption and press body then all the money in the world will not get you noticed.  Try using some free press sites first and see what caption, keywords seem to work best. Then if you really have to pay for a top notch release at least you will have some science behind you.

Also, many paid releases go to more agencies: bigger, better agencies.  But I still say without a great caption it just doesn’t matter.  If you are on a budget do not break the bank to get one press release out.  And if you feel the absolute need to do it, then wait for optimum timing. Wait for that perfect peak time when Venus aligns with the moon and the world is talking about Zombie Democrats and your book happens to be about zombie democrats.  Then all you have to do is capitalize on what is already selling itself.  Timing is everything.

So have I tried a paid site? As a matter of fact I have–in the name of literary-moneyless-indie author science. I purchased a medium sized package that wouldn’t break me or my family, which offered one week of releases: one free standard release a day as well as two premium releases in a week.  The premium releases allowed more links, one picture, and one video and was sent to more agencies than the standard release.  I did not do any free releases that week, and did the premium ones on a Sunday and then the following Friday to compare them with the stats of free press releases.

Drum roll……..

No difference at all. Same amount of video and website hits as free releases and again no spikes on Amazon.  In all fairness I can not say that some sites are better or worse than others. I did not try PRweb which is supposed to be the pinnacle of paid pr sites, but I also can not afford to take a risk anymore.  Free is just as good as paid, but I suspect if you wrote one truly astonishing release then maybe purchasing a bigger package and hitting a wider audience would be wise. My end statement is this: there is free out there.  It might not equal an immediate sale but it equals views and exposure and free exposure is as good as paid exposure.  In your arsenal of publicity and marketing should be a press release at least once a month if not twice a month.  Can you afford to pass up free?

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Tania L Ramos is the author of When I Thought I Was Tough and Be Still. http://www.amazon.com/Be-Still-Tania-L-Ramos/dp/1475913494/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1338647151&sr=8-1

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