The Droppington Franchise

I’m flashing my curtains at you – did you see it?

If you’ve read my novel Droppington Place, you’d know that flashing the curtains is how Penrose, the sawdust copy of  an obscure 16th Century playwright, lures Byron into the world of Droppington Place.  It’s a paper world, hidden from time, from which Byron and his middle school friends Hailey Shen and Kyle Rodriquez must escape before they, too, become paper.

If I may be blunt: it’s a pretty good book.

Continue reading “The Droppington Franchise”

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.

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Five Years to Independence: Year Five – the Year of Independence

So, here we are at Year Five, the Year of Independence. This is the goal, the island to which we’ve charted our five year course, the one thing we’ve focused on and worked on and planned on.

So, like, what is year five?

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Crows are Smarter than People, but don’t Sizzle

I have proof! It’s true! They are way smarter than I am!

See, I’d seen an ad during the Super Bowl, like, four times, for the McDonald’s Cheesy Bacon Fries, and each time I thought to myself “dang, that’s cool!”

Now, my darling, wonderful wife is out of town, and I find myself with a day off (please don’t tell my wife I did this – she’ll have the I-told-you-so of a lifetime, and I’ve already given her so, so many. It’s safe to post this, because she never reads my stuff. If you don’t tell her, we’re cool).

So, It’s a lovely day at the harbor here in Ventura, and there’s a McDonald’s just a few blocks away. I don’t feel all that hot from an abusive weekend in Las Vegas (being volleyball parents isn’t quite what it’s cracked up to be),  and, hey, I mean, it’s McDonald’s, right?

The first challenge is that the Cheesy Bacon Fries come in a box with a knife and spork.  Uh oh, the gullet says. This could be danger. Then I crack open the box.

So, when we were in Montreal, we discovered a Canadian dish called poutine – fries, cheese curds, brown gravy, and meat, all piled onto a plate. It is heaven on a cold day.

Ronald’s version doesn’t have the brown gravy, but it’s the same thing.

The first taste is really great – man, warm salt and fat. Kind of bacony, a little bit potatoey, and a strong dose of cheesy.  Even as I chew it, I’m thinking this is not a very good idea.  Kinda of like eating the cake that’s been out on the counter for a couple of days. It might be okay. Might.

So, about the crow. He flies up and takes station on the lamppost, right above my car. He looks at me with that look that crows have – inscrutable, but intriguing.  He wants a fry. He’s scared away all the pigeons, and the seagulls haven’t spotted the McD bag yet.

I make sure he sees me waggle a bacon-encrusted cheesy fry out the window, and give it a toss onto the grass. He dives on it the second it’s down.

Now, seagulls are smart. Once, my daughter and I played fetch with one.  We  had found a golf ball on the beach, and tossed it into the sand down next to the waves. A gull swept down, scooped it up, and dropped in right in front of us. I threw the ball again, and the bird brought it right back. We played like this for maybe 15 throws, until  he dropped the ball way out in the water and flew away.  Huh. Game over.

But seagulls will eat just about anything. You can make them explode with Alka Seltzer tablets – but please, please don’t. I can’t think of a more awful way to die.

This crow however, perhaps ponders a more awful demise in eating the cheesy bacon fry. He holds it in his beak and stares at me with disdain, his black eye asking “how could you?”  He hops onto the back of a bench, the fry firmly held in his beak, and looks thoughtfully out to sea.

The arrival of a flock of seagulls startles him, and he bolts out over the harbor in a stunning show of aerial mastery. He swings over me, the cheesy bacon fry wagging in his mouth, and then out over the water.

With every sign of intention and purpose, he drops the cheesy bacon fry into the bubbling waves, and off he goes.

What does this story have to do with writing books? Everything, my friend, everything and more.

If you , like me, publish your own work (my books are at Smashwords) there’s a huuuuuuuuge lesson here:

I bought the McDonald’s Cheesy Bacon Fries, knowing full well that it was just a box of salt, fat, and a strange orange semi-liquid cheese.  No, I couldn’t eat them, because, well, ick. But I gave McD’s my money for the experience. It was all sizzle, and surely no steak.

It’s the sizzle. It has to be the sizzle – sizzle so alluring that it makes you buy a product you really know you shouldn’t have, just because, well, because there’s so much sizzle!

On the health side, I’ll fly with the crows.

But on the marketing side, I’ll take a page from McDonald’s!

Please don’t tell my wife.

Hashtags of sizzle:

#McDonald’s #authorsoninstagram #droppington place #marigolds end

“Magic,” She Gasped.

Magic She Gasped Little Black2

“Magic,” she gasped.

Say it again: “Magic,” she gasped.

Tell your friends to say it: “Magic,” she gasped.

It’s a mantra, unless that’s the bat-shaped fish. Whisper it in your sleep.

“Magic,” she gasped.

What is it? What does it mean? Why should you care?

What makes a Subaru a Subaru? Actually, Subaru puts a comma in their statement – a comma with which I have never agreed. Love, it’s what makes a Subaru, a Subaru. What does that second comma do? It makes a clause out of “it’s what makes a Subaru,” which isn’t a clause at all. It equally makes a clause out of “Love a Subaru,” which is a clause, but  is so widely separated by the non-clause that you have to remove the non-clause to see it, by which time you’ve simply beaten the whole darned thing to death…and doesn’t make me what to buy the car because they have trouble with punctuation.

“Magic,” she gasped. It’s a mantra, or manta. Or Banta if you’re into Star Wars.

I was trying to come up with a way to sell my book, and the only catchphrase I could think of was “buy my book.”

Hmmm, lacks a little something.

Hailey, one of the characters in my novel, Droppington Place, has a fascination with magic – just to point out that there, right in that sentence, is the proper use of commas to separate a clause – which causes her to utter the mantra/manta/banta phrase. Several times throughout the story she gasps the word “magic,” in what I sincerely hope is a running joke.

So, you see, sometimes your characters can give you a hint on what’s special in your work.

But, here’s the dealio, the thing, the bomb, the cat’s pajamas: What happens if you Google search “murder, she gasped”? Well, probably nothing yet, because I just loaded the tags.

But eventually, my impatient friend, you’ll go to either Phineas Caswell’s home page at, or to his Smashwords Droppington Place page.

If you simply Google Phineas Caswell, whose name appears beneath the logo, brings you all manner of Droppington Placey options.

Is this marketing genius? Does Procter and Gamble sell soap?

Or is it simply some degree of self-delusion that I’m making progress in marketing my book? Self-delusional like a fox!!!

Already, the pieces are falling into place…bwahahahahah.

You, because you’re a friend, can actually skip all the marketing hype and get Droppington Place by simply clicking HERE. When you get there, type in this Coupon Code: NJ38D, and you can get the book for free!!!

Why, that seems almost like…

“Magic,” she gasped.





Marketing with Castanets



Let’s be clear: I don’t like castanets. Those clickity-clackety chips of annoyance can only be played by Spanish ladies with fingers like hummingbirds. I can play a bunch of things: flute, guitar, piano, Pandora – but, those nasty little wooden clackers of doom must be powered by voodoo or something. Hate ‘em. Even that clattery little noise they make sets my nerves on edge… sounds like somebody playing a skeleton. However, they do pave the way for a lame pun. If you know me, you know I love those.

Anybody’ll tell you that it never all comes in one package. Instead of wishing for a ship to come in, wish for a procession of small boats… a flotilla of good-news-bearing yachts.

If a ship comes in, that’s only because you won the lotto, or Raspy Crackers won  the third race at Del Mar. It doesn’t happen. If you think that your ship’s gonna come in… well, my friend, I hope it does.

In marketing, you don’t want your ship to come in. Stay out there, my seafaring friend, cruise around, spread the word.

Think of all the one-hit-wonders you’ve ever heard of – folks who made a killer splash all at once, but then were gone. Pet rocks. A dozen rock ’n’ roll bands that you can’t even name, but their song was pretty cool.

One ship. One big hit. A ton of cash today, but, tomorrow?

The fisherman that drops the hook is planning on bringing in a big fish. I’m gonna make a killer pile of dough on this baby. If the fish goes vegan, or saw what happened to cousin Wally in these very waters just yesterday, the line comes up empty.

The fisherman with the nets routinely feeds his family because he brings in many small fish over time. His plan is to score many, many small hits. The aggregate effect is the same, if not better, than his single-hit brother. Sure, the brother makes the occasional big buck, and laughs at the net-gathering sibling. But the folks at the bank smile at net boy, because he is constantly in there, making his deposits.

It’s not unknown for a tuna to wander into a small fishing net. At first the fisherman thinks it’s the score of a lifetime…we’ll eat for a year! But then the reality sets in: the net is torn, and the ability to gather tiny fish is lost.

You’ve read about those companies that make a nifty niche product, and one day find themselves approached by the likes of Costco or Walmart. Their production model changes, their business model changes, their focus changes, as they ramp up to meet the incredible demand of the super retailers. The dollars are nearly huge – our ship came in!

But next year, the big retailers turn away to another supplier, and the customer base, the loyalty, the little fish, are gone. Filing for Chapter 11 is seldom pleasant.

Your marketing, then, might do well if you consider casting nets… oh, there it is: castanets! My humble apologies.

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.

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.

Book Publicity: We’re Getting Somewhere Nice

BS at Sea 1

If you’ve been reading the chapters of my book, MARIGOLD’S END, you’d know that I’m releasing it one chapter at a time onto this site. You could figure it out by reading my posts, of course, including this one, but I’m trying to make you thing “dude, I should be reading that book instead of playing Candy Crush Saga.”

Not that I have anything against Candy Crush Saga – in fact, I’ve given up all on-phone video games for Lent – or your reading habits. None of my business. Nope. Nosiree Bob.

So, there it is.   Where is this going, you wonder. And well you should, for I do, too.

Here’s where: Chapter 5 is now on the site. My boy Phineas, 12 years old in 1706, is taken to sea against his will by his seafaring Uncle Neville. He’s had a narrow escape with murder (committing it), nearly been drowned, suffered through near-terminal seasickness, and now has learned about the superstition surrounding a “Jonah.”   Ah, but the deep blue sea holds more adventure for our young man – he’s about to meet Taylor, a slightly older, terribly well educated sprout of a fellow, and Louise, the granddaughter of the King of France.

If you aren’t reading along, you’re missing out.

And don’t be expecting me to come on here and tell you the whole darned story – not going to happen, mate. Nope. There’s a big ending, but I can only hint about that.

Here’s the hint: it’s big. Another hint: it’s at the end.

You’re a writer. You know how it goes. The world doesn’t necessarily come looking for your book. You have to coax it, wheedle a little here and there, to generate interest and talk. Buzz. You gotta build the buzz. Sounds like a bumper sticker.

Your publicity should be gentle, but persistent. Nobody likes a showoff, and most people don’t appreciate self-aggrandizing fanfare. So you have to be nice, and, like me, terrifically humble. Okay, brilliant is in there, too. Did I mention brilliant?

You don’t have to read my chapter, but take a page from this forum (as you know, only the humbly brilliant refer to their soapboxes as forums) and think about being nicely, humbly persistent in publicizing your work.

Notice that the word ‘marketing’ hasn’t shown up anywhere in this…oops, there it is… because you and I, we no longer market our work. We publicize it.

Good luck in your publicizing efforts, enjoy the chapter, and be nice.


Marketing Ploy: Chapter Added


Okay, no lies here. Only the straight up truth. Something inside says to publish the chapters of this book, one miserable week at at time, until the book is laid completely before you. So, submitted for your approval, MARIGOLD’S END, Chapter 3. You’ll find it over there, on the left, under the title MARIGOLD’S END, the Novel. See how it works?

So, why publish chapters of the book. Once you’ve read it, you’re not likely to buy, like, a dozen copies. Maybe you could – they make great Christmas presents and passable doorstops – but no one is holding their breath.

No, it’s something more fundamental than marketing. What is the WWW if not the marketplace of the world. What is the Internet, and the ability to publish whatever, whenever, if not a way to float ideas, to share thoughts, to trade our works of art with one another?

In Shakespeare’s time, he published his own work through a publisher, hoping that it would sell. But more than just hoping for a little quick cash, a little Elizabethan jingle-in-the-jeans, he had to write, had to publish, had to share his words.

You’re a writer, you understand. You do the blog thing as a way to express yourself.

More, this is marketing. While I want you to read this book, and  DROPPINGTON PLACE, my next book, I really want to impress in your mind that my books are good and entertaining and worth the paltry shekels one shells out for them. I’m not marketing these books, but their children.

Which, according to gorilla marketing, means I’m not marketing at all, but publicizing.  You, John or Jane Q. Public – isn’t it weird that John and Jane have the same middle initial? It must be Quincy – are not being marketed, but are reading a fine piece of publicity. No pictures, please.

So, go on over and click on MARIGOLD’S END, the Novel, and breeze through Chapter 3. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Oh, and enjoy the publicity. No pictures, please.