No Errands for Fools

This is a very simple post. Not because we are simple people, my writer friend (although there is an argument in my household about my side of that equation), but because what you and I do is NOT simple. Not by any stretch of the imagination. As they say in France, it’s very difficult.

Continue reading “No Errands for Fools”

A Penny at a Time

Here’s something you hadn’t thought about. Think about this: you’re a writer, you know how it goes. You live in words. A well chosen word is worth a thousand pictures.

If you’re like me (you have my pity) you find yourself working more and more on the tiny keyboard of your phone. It’s so easy to just jot down ideas.

However. Howevuh. How Ev Er.

Continue reading “A Penny at a Time”

Smelling Like a Duck

If it looks like a duck, and floats like a duck, but doesn’t smell like a duck, is it a duck? Or is it a decoy? A fake duck? Perhaps a wannabe duck.

You’re a writer – you know how it goes. You pour your heart and soul into your work, you polish every single word, and then you launch it out into the world. But… how?

Once I was in a restaurant and the waitress asked me what I wanted. I told  her I’d been thinking about the turkey sandwich, to which she replied “and what did you decide?”

I used to think that the difference between writers and folks who thought they’d like to take a stab at writing is that writers write. I still believe that to be true, but perhaps not as thoroughly true as I once thought.

Suppose you wrote your brains out, but shoved all your work into the furnace and sent it up in flames? If no one reads it, did it have meaning?

Obviously it did to you, but only to you. You’re a writer – you have a story to tell. If you don’t tell it, or if you tell it only to yourself, well, are you a writer?

It’s  a long way to get to the point that we must publish. My books are at Smashwords – yes, that was a shameless plug, but it illustrates a point.

Once upon a time we would hawk our words to agents who would hawk our words to publishers who would bring our words to the world at large. In Shakespeare’s time, Will had to hawk his words to his publisher – there was no agent – and together they hawked his words to the world.

I’m thinking that Mr. Shakespeare’s paradigm has returned, now that the writer’s world has turned into a Wild West of Self Publishing.

I found this great website, run by Joanna Penn, called the Creative Penn.  Her site is full of good ideas and great tools and is generally a lot of fun to wander about. While I don’t know Ms. Penn, and only recently discovered her site, I believe there is a lesson there for us all.

You, my writer friend, and I, unless we are to be mistaken for decoys, or wannabe ducks, must actively, and intensely, pursue the task of hawking our words to the world. It’s up to you and me.

Unless we do that, I believe that we are deceiving ourselves into thinking that we are somehow successful authors for having published ourselves. While that is truth, it an incomplete and rather shallow truth.

You, my friend, and I, must embrace the fact that if we do not actively market our work, we do not, in fact, smell like a duck.






#writersofinstagram #bookworm #bookstagram #writing #booklover

Keeping Chin-ups

Remember when you were a kid, and you had to do chin-ups at school? OMG, that was the worst thing ever! I always cheated and took a little jump up, so I always got a count of at least one.  That second one was murder. And the third? Forget it. Same with push-ups. To this day, when I think of push-ups, I see the unmoving gym floor swim before my eyes…

And so it is with marketing your own novel, as I am marketing mine. Which novel(s) do we speak of? Why, Droppington Place and Marigold’s End, of course.  You’re a writer. You know how it goes.

Marketing is all about getting people to pay attention to you. You could make YouTube videos – tried that. You could make your own website – mine is right here:  You could make podcasts or something.

Whatever you do, you have to somehow drive traffic to it. That’s the key, the thing, the line over which you must cross to become the next Stephen King or J.K. Rowling.

So, I’ve been posting oodles of posts about the famous pirate Blackbeard on my site (see the shameless marketing plug above). In particular, I’ve focused on his most notorious ship, Queen Anne’s Revenge. Beyond that cool name, there’s just not much information available about her, which I take as a personal challenge. Why?

Okay, sit down – you’re not gonna believe this. My next novel deeply involves Blackbeard. Whoa! Huh? Did not see that coming, right? Blackbeard was born in 1680. My character Phineas Caswell, hero of Marigold’s End, a Phineas Caswell Adventure, was born in 1694. Both were sailing around the Caribbean at the same time, 1706… See? Those gears are a’turnin’,right?  Blackbeard was 26 – in command of privateers or something, right? And Phineas… well, I leave it to your imagination to link those guys together. Or, actually, to MY imagination…

Anyway, I just ran a Google search on the phrase Queen Anne’s Revenge. My website didn’t show up on the first page, or the third, or the seventh. I gave up on Page 15, certain that I’m just not out there in the world. In fact, my site would appear, if I could find it, after “great snacks for the kiddos” and “cool dog names.”


Just like in middle school, in gym class, it’s all a question of keeping one’s chin up. Someday. Someday I’ll cross some magical line and come up on the first page of a Google search. And then the angels will sing, and the heavens will open up, and somebody will click through, visit my site, and buy my books.

Or, I could win the Powerball. The odds seem to be about the same.



NOW We’re Getting Somewhere!

You’re a writer, you know how it is. You write your book. You push it to agents. Nobody wants to represent it because, well, maybe it’s not that good of a book. Maybe it IS good, but not marketable. That’s what Disney told me.

I had an agent tell me “you should publish this yourself.”

Did so. Well, published this book instead: Droppington Place. But then I sat down and rewrote the book in question, which I have yet to push out to the agently world. That book is this book: Marigold’s End.

Boom – did you see how I did that, there? You notice that here, in the top quarter of my post, I’ve already pitched two products. Boom. Huh? You, my friend, have already been marketed to. Zimzam, what was that? What did it take?

That’s Gorilla Marketing at its best.

Okay, so, contrary to the Gorilla Marketing tenet of “do no work,” I did a little bit of work, and now have something to show you:

“Wha… what’s happening?” you exclaim, your mind a whirl of sudden marketing impact. Boom, two books, zimzam, a website, just like that. Whoa. Sit down, my friend, lest you explode or something.

All right, all seriousness aside, if you have a minute, click on the link – there it is again. Open it in a new window so that you don’t miss any of my glorious words here.

Why is this a big deal? Because, if you publish your own book, you are responsible for marketing it. You need a website to give yourself some bottom – make yourself available for your readers. And, unless you yourself are a web designer, this can be a challenge.

I gave up trying to be a web designer as well as a marketer, an author, a technical writer/illustrator, a videographer, all in addition to being a loving husband and father.

First was Open Element, which gives you free, open-source web design software, with templates that seem to be “responsive” – you know, works well on cell phones as well as desktops. But the software is so so so so so very hard to navigate, and the stuff it seems like you really need? Well, that’s in French, you see…

Next came, Serif, a British company that makes a terrific web design suite. It’s quite inexpensive, but not yet quite up to the challenge of responsive web design.

Then came Google Web Design, which worked for a minute, but I couldn’t figure out the language to navigate their templates… OMG, my website looked ghastly! Like a commercial for Google!

However, GoDaddy, who carries my hosting, has a nifty WordPress plug-in. As above, boom, zimzam, etc, now is a nice, responsive website, looking equally cool on desktops, tablets and phones (marketers take note: that was yet another link).

Brag about the site though I should, I’m passing on to you, my valued reader, that WordPress seems to be really good at making a responsive website. That means that you don’t have to be.

One little nasty surprise does seem to come with a WordPress plug-in: the SSL certificate. If you haven’t got one of these, your WordPress site actually scares viewers away with a big warning that your site is not safe. I paid $75 to get my certificate. If you don’t pay the $75, you appear to the world as a creepy underworld scum, out to steal passwords. Seems as if there’s a piratical side to fighting pirates that just might be worse…

But you, my marketing self-publishing writer friend, that’s the big news for you, should you be looking for an easy way to build a backend for your authorial effort.

To those who were paying attention, I dropped Phineas Caswell as my nom de plume, and have published both novels under my own name. Not such a big deal for you, but a whopper for me!

Gorilla Marketing – Again


If you’ve read earlier posts here, you’ll know I’m developing a theory called “gorilla marketing.”

It’s really quite simple: you don’t do anything, and people beat a path to your door.  Usually they bring loads of cash, and things turn out great.

Well, you don’t do nothing, actually. You do some stuff – you know, little marketing things that get people reading you and believing in you and eventually giving you the oodles of cash.

So, here, without any ballyhoo or marketing phrasing, is my pitch: the second chapter of my novel, Droppington Place, is posted on the web, here. It’s totally free.

Read it now, as the price is sure to go up.

Take out your marketing pencils, kids, and let’s just do a little analysis.

Interesting proposal – check.

Product offering – check.

Call to action – check.

Free offer – check.

Dude, it’s all there, and we haven’t really done any work. See how easy this was?

Now, for you to do your part. This involves oodles of cash, so you might want to take some notes…

Just to recap: Chapter 2 of Droppington Place is now ready to read, and you got a nice, healthy sampling of Gorilla Marketing in action.

Wow. What a great day!

Pass me a banana, would you?



Always Be Marketing


You noticed in my last post how I cleverly mentioned the name of my second novel, DROPPINGTON PLACE? Well, did you notice that I just mentioned it again? Boom. Right past you, there, huh? That, my friend, is marketing.

Well, actually, it’s not, because you are the only one reading this post. But, if I had, like, a million readers, boom… see?

Here’s another one: I put Chapter 14 on MARIGOLD’S END, my first novel, on the Pages part of this website. Huh? Did you see that? Huh? Right there.  Boom.

The theory we’re testing here is exposure. Repetition. Repeating the name over and over. If you look over my posts, you’ll see a preponderance of pirate pictures. Ah, another part of the theory.

If the theory of repetition holds true, when I finally get MARIGOLD’S END pried out of the hands of my stalled editor and published, there will be a line of people waiting to buy it. It will virtually be a line… or maybe a virtual line. Maybe a hypothetical line. Maybe a line of one. Me.

But that’s the gamble of marketing, upsides and downturns. Read the chapter. Leave a comment. Boom. You are marketed.

The Unlucky Chapter

Chapter 13

Thirteen. There’s no 13th floor in the building. You’re counting the nickels in your piggy bank…10, 11, 12 oh please don’t let there be just one more…ah, 14. Chapter 13 of my book MARIGOLD’S END is released on my site..

Hey, wait, that’s good news. I know you haven’t been keeping up, but I can tell you, if you had, you would not see the change of events coming in Chapter 13. No sirree, this guy would have hit you right between the eyeballs.

A little background…this is against my principles, but I like the story. 12 year-old Phineas Caswell, the son of a missing colonial American sea captain, is dragged to sea against his will by his seafaring uncle. Phineas learns about sailing ships, and a little bit about the lore of the sea.

He actually learns a lot about seasickness, meets a manta ray face-to-face, gets goaded into climbing to the top of a mast, and finds himself in perpetual trouble with the ship’s one-handed sailing master.

But that trouble is nothing compared to the adventure that slowly unfolds around him. When the sailing master takes over the ship and uses her to chase pirates, Phineas finds he must fight for his very life. Nearly drowned, kidnapped by awful cutthroats and given as a prize to the most depraved pirate in Port Royal, he has only his wits and his stalwart friends, Taylor and Louise, to bring him to safety. We hope.

The new chapter, Chapter, gulp, 13, finds him running through 18th century Port Royal, Jamaica, from the vicious Red Suarez and his henchmen, Maldonado and the purple man. He’s bumped into a great tattooed fellow as wide as he is tall, and who can mean nothing but trouble for the young lad…

There, now. You’re up to speed. There’s good seafaring stuff in there, if you’ve an interest in learning about the great age of the fighting sail. Or if you’re interested in viewing the summer of 1706 through a pair of twelve-year-old eyes. Or if you’re interesting in some great writing.  Whoops…now I’ve really said too much.

Anyway, don’t forget, Chapter 13. Other there, under Pages. You won’t regret it.

Avast, yon Reader!

Scary Pyrate

Nothing says nautical mayhem like the word “avast.” Right out of the box you know the words that follow are coming from seafaring devil, a maritime monster, a nautical ne’er do well. This is because good guy pirates and Navy types don’t use the word.

You’re probably one of those Navy types, or perhaps a good guy posing as a pirate in order to accomplish some secret mission – don’t worry, we won’t tell – so we must digress:  According to Merriam-Webster, avast means to stop – avast pulling on that line, mate. Avast talking like silly pirates, ye scurvy wingnut. Arrgh.

Why ever have we found the word Avast in our headline? Why, yes, you guessed it, Chapter 12 of MARIGOLD’S END, A Phineas Caswell Adventure, now has its own page. It’s over there, to port ye might say, below MARIGOLD’S END, The Novel.

In Chapter 12, Phineas is taken to The Tavern, the headquarters of Red Suarez, who is the self-proclaimed pirate king of Port Royal. While that sounds a trifle trite, the chapter itself is quite alive with daring-do and an escape that simply goes awry.

What’s going here, you ask? Well, my friend, this is Gorilla Marketing at its best, but this might be better. For a minimum of moola, youm , my writer friend,  have been marketed. Bang, just like that. Boom. You didn’t even feel it, and yet, ka-slap, you have my message in your head. What is the message?

Dude, it’s in your head, okay? Do I have to spell out e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g?

So, go tell everyone you know…we’ll wait… to hurry over to this site and read that chapter. Leave comments, praise, and oodles of cash… somehow… and have them tell their friend, who is probably you, to read it again.

Avast! Ye have been marketed, ye scurvy swab!

Here’s what’s odd: I began the tale of Phineas Caswell several years ago, in the hopes of exploring the world of merchant sailing in the year 1726. He started as a nine-year-old way back when, with the first name of Jim. Since that first version he’s changed names, aged three years while losing twenty, and finds himself with a dark and difficult past, an uncertain future, and a penchant for falling into the sea. My, how we’ve changed!

You’re a writer, you know how it goes. Your characters tell you about themselves as they progress. If you’re lucky, you have the wisdom to let them… elucidate… and not go crazy over the lack of control. The story gets out eventually, either theirs or yours. If you’re lucky, it’s theirs.

Enjoy the chapter.

Avast reading, ye swab.

Shameless Marketing

BS Closeup

Go ahead, say what you will. Get it out of your system. Shameless, tasteless, bad form, bad ‘cess to it. Fie on thee. There you go. Are you through?

The cause of this invective, as you well know, is that I put together a cute little video about a model sailing ship, announcing its YouTube launch on a sister page, Droppington Place.

Nobody watches it, but, well, as you’re the only person reading this post, low ratings are no shock to me. Rather a low par for a very lonely course. You’re a writer. You know how it goes.

So, there were some little cranky-making nits and gnats in the movie – not enough to stop a would-be Steven Spielberg like myself, but perhaps enough to make a would-be watcher say dude, what was that?

Although no one has watched the move, there is still the profession to be honored. Plus, one never knows.

Hours under the cinematic hood resulted in this: TA DA!!!

Hey, you say, I didn’t watch the other video, but this video sure looks the same.

You, my hyper-critical friend, are only halfway right. Yes, the majority of images are the same. But, there are some pretty big deal changes.

Some of the images are taken from other photography sessions – one shows even an incomplete ship. Ho HO, did not see that coming, did ya?

But, here’s the shameless marketing part – one of the images, a 7 second segment, shows the cover of my novel, MARIGOLD’S END. The cover features the same ship model, dramatically blowing up in the background.

Genius, I know.

AND, if you look carefully at that one shot of the crew on the deck, some joker cleverly inserted the face of yours truly in the background. Oh, so clever.

Say what you will, this is a great example of cross-platform marketing.

If somebody ever watched my video, they might wonder about what that dramatic book cover is.. about… and Google MARIGOLD’S END, and, bang, zoom, the circle remains unbroken.

Not only that, but the casual reader of Droppington Place, and there is only one of those, now has a link to the video, which leads back to the book. Ah, the web, the web…

Obviously, with only one reader and no video watcher, the full effect of my marketing tour-de-force has yet to be felt. But give it time…-150-200 years or so, and then we’ll have something about which to converse.

So, the video is here: Black Swan by Zvezda, and the launch article is here: Hello, Hollywood!

Zoom! You, my writer friend, have been mar-ke-ted… see how easy it is?

Next I think I’ll write a song…Marigold’s End, the Theme from Marigold’s End, the Phineas Caswell Adventure.

Now that’s a catchy title!

I’m likin’ it!