Tag Archives: plot

But Where Are the Readers?

After publishing, the real hard work begins. Post a link to your newly published book and you’ll get the obligatory responses and purchases from select friends and family. But there are well over three million books in publication, ready to be purchased or downloaded at any given time. What makes yours stand apart?

Of course you’ll need a social media presence, but be ready. Despite social media interaction, which may devour hours of the day, you may receive one or two, Hey wanna book swaps? Great to at least get ratings, maybe readings, perhaps a solid review, but those are few and far in between. Not to mention you are either buying their book or buying yours and gifting it to them. I’ve had sales off FB and Twitter, and lots of to be reads off Goodreads. Most of those well intentions come from other authors looking for reciprocity.

Where do you get the readers? The following? Some companies offer marketing. I have tried several and gained several new authors as followers. But where are the readers? Your best bet is book bloggers, but good luck getting on their reading list any time soon. The good bloggers are backed up at least nine months. I have tried independent small marketing firms, mostly because I like to support the Mom & Pops out there. However, I have been burned by a few of those and recently disputed a fee through PayPal for one such company claiming they will publicize my book to over 15,000 readers on their blog and even more across social media for $14.99/month. I paid and never heard from them again.

Being listed as a writer on Facebook, I quickly realized that I am now targeted for sponsored ads relating to writing, editing, publishing, and anything interconnected to the industry. I look through the ads, do my research, read the comments, look for reviews and find that most authors are greatly displeased with these services. After all, they can only guarantee exposure not sales. Writers have been targeted by pop-up companies and services in mass this year. Authors are a consumer targeted group.

Then there are free books. Many authors boast, and rightfully so, about giving away 10,000 books on a KDP free day. It’s all for exposure and the cost (but no profit) of gaining exposure. And somehow, and this is just me, I feel like the adage: Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? I know those readers too. Many only look for free books and will not BUY anything indie. Many readers download free books from unknowns and don’t read them (bless the ones that do AND leave reviews…they are few). One friend shows me her Kindle with hundreds of free downloads, but she admits to rarely reading them, and often erases them to free up memory to download new free books. I ask why she downloads them and she proudly says, “I really do have good intentions.”

baseball1Writers beware! You will pour your heart and soul into birthing characters, plot, and story line. Some writers have only a family following. Some have a very small dedicated following. The greater majority sell under twenty books. This is in no way meant to be a downer but an insight into a whole new world that will take your hope and dreams and make you work harder than you ever thought possible. Many writers give-up, because marketing can consume your day, which in turn means you aren’t writing, which causes a bit of writer depression. There is a vicious cycle that consumes even the brightest of eyes. Those that succeed do so by sticking with their talents: write, publish, market, repeat. As Tom Hanks said in a League of Their Own, “If it wasn’t hard everyone would do it. The hard is  what makes it great.”

The best advice I have come across to date to sell more books is: WRITE MORE BOOKS.

If you have any great advise for indie authors or have a service you’d like reviewed, leave a comment below.

Tania L Ramos RN BSN

Follow me on TWITTER and FACEBOOK or visit my WEBSITE

Advertisements

I Didn’t Think I Would, But I Did

So many people kept telling me how amazing the FX television show American Horror Story was. I wasn’t convinced and managed to never watch one episode. Besides, there isn’t much quality programming on television anymore, so I gave up watching several years ago, and began delving deeper into reading … and daydreaming (an occupational hazard).

While perusing through my Netflix one day, I saw that American Horror Story was now available to watch. It took a few months before I finally succumbed to my peeked curiosity.  The first episode (pilot episode) ruined it for me, because most of it came off as more of a soft-porn program than anything else.  There were three scenes which all made me think, “What does this have to do with anything?” And though the sex through infidelity is crucial to the plot, it seemed over played and more of ploy to add in the “sex sells” element.

I didn’t watch anything beyond that for a while. The following week, I gave the second episode a go, because someone at work said it gets better.  Since I have told that to several readers about my book, I felt it was only fair to watch the next episode. Whew, only one strange sex scene. Very strange.  But I wasn’t sold, and didn’t feel compelled to go on with the series.

The same nurse asked what I thought and I gave my opinion. She said I really had to watch the entire series to really get it. I rolled my eyes and said, I’ll watch the next episode, but if it sucks, I’m out! The third episode was decidedly better, and the cheesy sex scenes were omitted.  After the third I had to watch the fourth until I was sucked into the story line.

12 episodes later I was pleasantly surprised with the story and how it unfolded. I thought to myself, “That is how stories need to be written (minus the unnecessary smut).  Draw you in, hook you, twist the plot, and make you say, ‘I never saw that coming.’ ”

Would I recommend the series? Maybe. If you like gore and a good plot then yes. If gore isn’t your thing then absolutely not. But based on the factor of how everything tied in together, how it twisted and left the viewer in suspense, how the character’s developed over the series, it might be good viewing just for reference into plot building and characterization. I give the series 3 out 5 stars, but did learn a lot on how to plan for a book with twists and turns.

American Horror Story is an FX series.

Tania L Ramos

Influences We Are

I try and write on a daily basis, but this last week has been about as crazy as any. Then I did an iOS update to the iPad which wiped out four chapters of my scifi book. I didn’t complain, I put it on my things to panic over right after a crappy paycheck because I was sick and missed 24 hrs of work, after burst a pool pipe, after a car accident, but before unpaid bills.  See the priorities there?

The person who did have the biggest fit I have ever seen was my daughter who uses my writer pad app to jot down words.  I was unaware of her “future” book she had saved on there.  The kid is five yrs old  mind you.  So she told me (demanded?) that I sit at the computer to write her story again.

So I sat down and wrote it out for her verbatim.  I must say this: The kid is talented. Not only can she draw like a champ, but the kid has serious imagination. And not only does she have a creepy imagination (I’m so proud), but she gave her story a beginning, middle, climax, and cliffhanger end. She left it open for the “part two,” in her own words. Then she says, “Now put it on the internet and tell me my level (rank).”

Tear.

JORJA’S STORY: The Monster in the Window (copyright 2013, reproduced with permission from the author. yeah, I did ask.)

There were two kids, a boy and a girl, brother and sister. His name is River and her name is Jorja.  They were sleeping and it was dark, so they didn’t see the monster come into the window.  River heard a noise and woke-up his sister and they ran out of the house. Far away from the monster.  They got lost in the woods and cried, but they had each other so they were okay and ate berries.

Years later the mom, her name was Tania was had another kid.  When he turned 9 years-old, she tied him to the bed. He cried because he did not want to be tied to the bed, but she told him, “I am keeping you safe from the monster so he won’t take you.”

“What monster,” he said.

“The one that took your first brother and sister,” she said.

He told her to let him have one more day without being tied up, so she let him. That night he ran away to find his brother and sister.  He found them in the woods and they were still little kids.  The three of them found the monster and vanquished him [yeah, her word not mine]. They went back home to their mommy and she was crying.

“Don’t be sad,” River said.  “We are now home.”

She gave them a big hug, but she thought she saw a shadow moving outside the window.

****************************************************************

That was my daughter’s story. It was all her and those were her words.  Despite the fact that she used a little author intrusion, I think it was brilliant.  I told her I would publish it to my blog and she could follow her rank here. 😉

Jorja's 1st attempt at art (age 5)

Jorja’s 1st attempt at art (age 5)

The moral of the bigger picture is this: Influences we are! What are you teaching those that watch you even when you think they are watching Spongebob?

 

 

 

 

 

Tania L Ramos

Facebook.com/TaniaLRAmosbooks

Getting to the Point

Fifteen chapters in to my latest book, and I feel like I am on a major role here.  Except at chapter fifteen of my last book, I was rapidly reaching a major turning point and all signs pointed toward approaching the climax.  In this book, I feel I am still searching for the turning point.

Are there differences? I suppose there are. In Be Still the chapters were longer, whereas in this untitled book, the chapters are relatively short.  I also started Be Still with a major catastrophe, so the story started on a sort of climax then hit major lows followed by highs.  In the new novel, it starts with a razor blade, very dark and progresses at a slower pace. I also have to contend with a bit more of a back story  in this new book.

I know it’s not just me, because I’ve read so many other blogs and spoken with many other authors, but to me writing the first chapters is like listening to a long-winded friend set up the scene to an even longer story.  I just want to shout, “Get to the point already!” Which is exactly how I feel writing this story.  I want to get to the climax already. I’m so excited to get to the point and tell this.

This is the point where I get frustrated, it seems.  That pinnacle point of building up the story and the characters.  The work load and brunt of story telling.  But it’s also the point where I have to make the story compelling so readers need to know more.  Still, I can’t wait for the big crash of the orchestra drums to mount as I finally let the characters explode in their momentous (and devious) twist of the plot, so readers say, “I didn’t see that coming.” And I finally have my readers captive to the slippery slope of the next twist, and I stand high on my tower of books and let out a maniacal, “muahahahaha.”

evil-ol-tip-maniacal-laugh

Tania L Ramos

Cherishing the Tangled Webs I Weave

Every now and then this happens, and really hate when it does.  I call it writer’s ADD.  It’s that time when in the middle of writing one book another idea embeds itself into my mind.  It doesn’t always happen while I am writing, today it occurred during my drive home from work (I decided not to spend the entire day at work by the way, so I can come home to my beautiful daughter).  So there I was sitting on the horrible intersection at Hesperia Rd and whatever intersects Victor Valley Community Hospital, at a four way intersection.  This is one of those busy interections with a four way stop, and inevitably all four cars come to the stop at the same time, so nobody knows who goes first, and you end up sitting there for five hundred hours doing the stop and go thing…same as all the other cars.  I usually put my hand over eyes so people know I’m not going into the intersection, though I feel that some people think I’m just being so defensive that they think I am going to be that kamikaze driver who pulls through with her eyes closed, thusly making all other motorists stop.  It’s a brave idea, but far too brave for me.

What’s the point of my four point intersection story? The point is that in the middle of my internal dialogue between characters on the story I am working on, and while hiding behind my hands at the intersection, this new Hunter Hays song started playing on my satellite radio and in the middle of the hustle and bustle the characters arguing in my head fell into an entirely different story line.  I don’t even know how it happened, but they were, falling into some new sorted plot about people who can’t live without each other.  Now, I think it had to do with the words of the song, mainly, but when I started developing the plot further I thought, “Wow! Very uniquely Benjamin Button.” Of course it has nothing to do with, “The Curious CAse of Benjamin Button,” but it did have that oddly, “what if,” type of feel.  Not quite science fiction, not quite general fiction but some beautiful medley of the impossible being met with a, “perhaps.”  Okay, so it is very difficult explain, but something worth taking a gander at.

Now this why I have taken years to finish a book.  because in the middle of one novel idea comes something even more grandiose and wonderful, which makes me want to ditch my current project to take on the better idea.  The current idea. the fresh and inspiring idea.  Darn you creatively ADD mind for finding inspiration in even the smallest of things, like an intersection with some country song playing on the radio.  So, what I have to do is come home and type the idea in a  very skeletoned state just so I remember the premise of the idea, so I can get back to it.  Except these characters seem to have very alpha personalities and are quickly out shining my current, amazing characters.  What a tangled web my mind weaves.  I mean if my thoughts were spider webs, my mind would look like Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion complete with spider webs, cob webs, and dust bunnies, not to mention strange voices erupting from dark places.  Its all so very macbre and Hitchcock-ish…but I do cherish every sinister moment of the tangled webs.

Heart and Soul

     I’m frustrated! So very frustrated.  I have a book waiting to be edited, another book I am working on, and a million ideas in my head.  On one hand, I want to move on with my new book, it is about a man who’s girlfriend breaks-up with him after about eight years, but during that eight years he helped in raising her daughter.  He was even there for the birth.  The story follows his struggles to fight for any kind of rights to continue to stay in the life of the daughter he loves as his own.  But it also follows the heartache and emotions of the eight year old who doesn’t get a say in the matter, and truly loves the man she knew as a father all those years.  It’s about the bonds we make with people, and how some bonds affect more than just two people when the ties are severed.  I’m seven chapters in, but I stopped to edit my book that I sent in for publishing.  Except, I can’t move on with that book until I get the money for the edit.  I’m in a dilema here.

     On top of all that, I have to start thinking about returning to work, which sucks.  Not because I don’t like to work, but because for a solid year, writing was my work, and I love it.  I love nursing, even though the medical system is grossly flawed; I love what nursing is supposed to be.  Okay, imagine yourself at a job you really like, then for one year you do a job you really love-yourdream job-then you go back to the job you just really like … it blows! It makes the job that you really liked seem like the worst job on earth.  I want to write.  It’s in my blood.  It’s in my head all the time, morning, noon, and night.  I stay up nights monologuing my characters.  I hear them speak, I see them move, I know how their voice sounds.  Okay, now don’t rush out to 5150 me, because it does kind of resemble schizophrenia, this I am well aware of.  But I’ve had te opportunity to meet other writers who feel the same way, so it’s not just me, or most writers suffer from writer’s psuedo-schizophrenia.  It’s awesome.  No really.  To be able to see this entire fictional world and be able to write it down for others is nothing short of amazing.  Especially when it is mystical. 

     Ther are several scenes in my book, “Be Still,” (yep, another shameless plug) where I described a world of a man in a coma and what he sees.  He is caught in a struggle in a world between life and death (this is only a part of the book, there’s more to it).  My favorite parts of the book revolve around these enchanting, mysterious, colorful scenes, because I can make them anything I want.  It’s creativity so nothing is too much or too little.  I get to share what is in my head, and that is a fabulous job, even if i sound a little whacky when talking about it.   It would be stupendous if this was what I could do for a living.  Then I could say I am living up to my fullest potential (research Maslow’s heiracrchy of life).

     I suppose I’ve teased you with what my book is about, so let me give you the inside jacket version (no, really, this is my jacket):

     Holly Rose Silver died at only 3 days old, leaving in her wake a shattered family: Shannon and Jack, her parents, and Travis, her older brother.  Shannon immediately became withdrawn from the family, harboring a dark, inner secret.  Jack committed the ultimate form of betrayal in the eyes of his son, by abandoning the family and delving into work.  Years later, to the exact day of Holly’s death, Shannon was killed by a motorist—under peculiar circumstances.

    Jack hid bleak facts of Shannon’s death from his son, the only family he had left, in an attempt to preserve her memory.  As years passed, the relationship between Jack and Travis became estranged and a new woman entered Jack’s life­­­: Dr. Christina Kriss, a young, quick witted, redhead who became a friend and confidant.

    When Jack learns he is dying, he attempts to restore the relationship with his son. As Jack struggles with living, an unlikely friendship forms between self-proclaimed archenemies, Travis and Dr. Kriss. After a serious accident, Travis finds he must make the harsh decision whether his father will survive on life support or be taken off and left to die.  Meanwhile, Jack is thrust into an enchanted world somewhere between life and death where he is reunited with his dead wife and daughter—but not everything is as spectacular as it seems.

    This emotional story follows the journey between a son seeking the truth and resolution from an absent father before it’s too late, and a father caught between living and dying, who must mend relationships on both sides while confronting his own guilty demons.

                           ****                  *****                *****              *****           *****              *****                 *****

     I like to write about the things I see around me; real struggles from real people.  Now this book isn’t based on any real person or family, but as an EMT and nurse I have been caught in the middle.  Many nurses and medical professionals will be able to relate to the nurse in this book, but so many other people can relate because we have watched a loved one die or be on the brink of death.  I wrote this to capture the point of view from family, the man dying, and a friend.  There aren’t a lot of twists and turns; it’s not a mystery or thriller, but it does have some startling aspects and truths.  I can’t tell you how much of my heart and soul is in this piece.  I can say, it was exhausting going through the rollercoaster of emotions.  And there is one part, and only one, where the son finds the truth and must battle his emotions, where I can honestly say, that is all me.  I wrote that on the day I found out horrible news; the worst news, which devastated my family.  I wasn’t facing a death of a familymember, but at one point it hurt that bad.  I pulled out my computer and found where my character discovered the truth, and in that chapter I added in two pages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance (research Kubler Ross stages of grief).  I personally went through them all, and what Travis (my character) felt, is exactly what I felt.  That particular chapter is very personal to me, and is very much an insight into my soul and how i felt that awful day. So I can honestly say, I poured my heart and soul into this book.  This is why I stressed out so badly about reading my review, because it was a judgement of my heart.  My next book has the same effect on me, because I have seen and lived the circumstances of my characters.

     I was once asked why I didn’t write about about Paris, New York, or exotic places.  My answer: because i haven’t been there. I can’t write things I don’t know.  What I do know is heartbreak, romantic love, motherly love, devastation, regret, remorse, sorrow, joy, delight, and hope.  These are the things I have to offer.  I can only hope that what I write will touch someone in a positive way.  My books are general fiction, but they pose questions, and if I did my job correct, I was able to give at least one answer.  So, okay, I am going to get off my soapbox now and play on Facebook.

     Thank you again to those who have followed me, or read my posts.  And to the RN who commented on one post I would like to say, thank you,  it feels amazing to finally follow my dream.  I don’t think it is too far off from nursing.  I may not be tending to medical duties, but hopefully I’m still helping mend people.

Editorial Review

I have been on pins and needles waiting for my review.  I have thought the worst, assumed worse than that, and felt plain awful, sitting in miserable anticipation.  For over a week i have paced my room, reread my book, and judged my writing on a strict fallacy of notions.  While at Barnes and Noble yesterday (perusing books on Marketing), I received an email saying my review was complete.  On a sad note, it wouldn’t download to my phone, so I had to wait three hours before getting home to read it.  I was nauseated with the anticipation.  After picking my son up from school, I ran my motherly errands then drove home.  I shluffed off my dinner making priorities and handed the kids a bag of bread and lunch meats then ran to read my review.
First off, I love how the editorial review is done.  They have a list of questions to be answered in different categories.  First they cover if the title is relevant to the story, and not only do they answer that, but they also quote areas from the book that are relevant.  They review the concept, the plot, characters, communication, location, technique, genre, and so many other points.  I am pleased to announce that I passed most of these with flying colors.  In fact, I was near tears when I read some of the comments.  I can’t express just how exciting and endearing it is to read a good review from a “real” editor.  I have waited my entire life to read that.
Was it all good? Not exactly.  I seem to lack in the field of getting into the correct point of view (POV), something I don’t remember learning in school.  Yet, in the back of my mind I always knew POV was important.  Okay, my rational was that when you read you want to know what every character is feeling, right? Not true.  When a person reads, they want to feel connected to the character and be able to embed themselves into the emotions of a character … not every character.  Of course, POV can change from scene to scene or chapter to chapter.  The point being, when you read about the arguement at the diner, you want to only be in one person’s perspective so you can feel what they feel and bond with that character.  Sounds easier said than done on my end.  But, i understand what the editor means and it does make complete sense.  I tried doing that in a new chapter of a new book I am working on, and I have to say …. it’s so hard to break life long habits.
This morning I received another email from my personal editorial consultant saying he would like to set up an appointment to speak with me regarding my review.  It’s a question and answer thing, and of course, I have a million questions.  Too bad I also have a hideous sore throat.  The suggestion for me is to go through a developmental editing process where POV can be honed in on, then it will move to content editing and quality review.  The entire process will take about three months, and that doesn’t include my time to make the changes.  So my hopes for an April release might be a bit romantic, especially when I go back to full time work next month. Yikes! The cost for my lack of POV ethics is a whopping, $5,500.oo, give or take a few hundred.  Ouch! After my hectic year of lawyers (I had four), my bank account is down to red numbers.  I really want to pursue this process, but I’m afraid I may have hit a financial brick wall.  My future is grossly impeded by lack of funding.
Everyone is telling me to find a way to come up with the money, but I can’t think of one way to do that.  Oh, and did I mention if I work through this bump I may be up for an Editor’s Choice recognition. Yeah, that is something pretty sweet and not to be scoffed at.  My first independent book can receive some kind of recognition and sets me up for future recognition, too. I mean, it is worth paying the cost to bring this novel to the brink of perfection it deserves in my opnion, but getting this work out there will cost me over $8,000 when all is said and done.  That means, if i profit $2.00 per book, in order to break even I would have to sell 16,000 books.  According to iuniverse the average book sold in 2010 was 1,000 copies.  I’m sure Patterson, Grisham, and Nicholas killed the Bell Curve, so the average among us novice writers is far less than 1,000.  Wow! I hate thinking in logic sometimes.  But, Editor’s Choice!!! I want this badly, and not so much for the public recognition as much as for the thought of knowing people outside my home (the people who have to say it’s good) think my work is note worthy. Anybody who has ever held onto a manuscript to avoid public condemnation, in way of a critique, knows exactly what I am talking about.
All in all, if I had the money to spend, I would.  I guess I have all the time in the world to come up with it though.  Since this is an independent publishing house, I am in charge of my destiny, which means things move forward when I say they do.  That means this book can be in perpetual limbo for years, but I sincerely hope that isn’t the case.  Anyone want to donate to a good cause please send money to my Paypal account.  I wonder if that would really work?
So to continue with my review of the Iuniverse process: I give them two empowering thumbs up.  They are very effecient and friendly.  I have to say they are on top of things so far, and offer the tools needed to make things run smoothly.  I half anticipated they would ge my book, say okay here’s some areas to work, and push it through because they have no vested interest or they were a scam. I thought the review might read like this, “it’s a good book.  Get more into character.  Suggest some editing fo grammar.”  What I received was the exact opposite.  The review was indepth and full of feeling as well as informative.  I received a top notch review, which alone was worth the price of the package I paid for.  Cudos to iuniverse, you guys have really lived up to the standards you speak of.  I know I am at the beginning of the process, but so far this is a compay I would strongly suggest using.  More to come as I get there.