Here you can follow the blow-by-blow account of my attempt to transform myself into a (regularly) published author.

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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Results of the April Promotion

I've been asked by a number of people if I was pleased with the results of my promotional effort during April. The answer is yes. Before I give more details, let me say that the winner of the afghan is Elaine Hull. SueAnn Crawford won a free book, and so did Wendy Nystrom.

There were 133 entries, made by 43 different people, in the contest to win the handmade afghan. My primary goal was well met, and that was to increase my visibility as an author. That happened for sure. I know that a number of people who did not previously know I had written books have now been introduced to my writing.

I also saw definitely increased sales in the one-to-one venue. In other words, people bought physical copies from me personally. Smashwords shows increased sales, but that may or may not mean anything, as those fluctuate quite a bit. Amazon sales were pretty much the same as any other month. I'm totally neutral about this result. Most people don't buy a book the first time they hear about it, so I'm confident that the increased visibility will lead to future sales. I also know that I need to get the next Anastasia Raven book finished to see a big jump in sales.

There was only one place where I was disappointed. I was hoping to increase the number of Amazon reviews of News from Dead Mule Swamp from 42 to 50. That 50 may be a magic number on Amazon, where they will give your book greater visibility. Or not. Amazon likes to do whatever they want and not explain themselves very much. At least I haven't had reviews purged as many authors have. I've made it to 48 reviews for that book. A couple more would be great. Have you reviewed it?

Am I on the best-seller list? No. But my sales rank is in the thousands rather than the millions, which frankly, isn't bad.

People have also commented on the amount of time it takes to make an afghan, and if that was worth it to me. This is a definite yes. I just like to make things. Sometimes I get that irresistible urge to play with yarn. This way, at least scratching that itch had a purpose.


Saturday, March 26, 2016

Author Promotion and Birthday Giveaway

Win this beautiful windowpane afghan, edged in the colors of your choice, on my birthday

windowpane afgan

In progress, made by me, finished size approximately 60" x 75"
Should be done by the end of April

Enter as many times as you like– here’s how
There are 2 parts to each entry: 1- do it, and 2- make sure I know you did it.

How to do it:
any of the following gets you 1 or 2 entries
      1 entry- share something about my books in a public place (Facebook, a blog, at your workplace, etc)
      2 entries- post a review of any of my books on Amazon, Smashwords, Goodreads, B&N, etc
      2 entries- buy one of my books, print or e-book

How to make sure I know you did it:
      Best method- email me at jhyshark@gmail.com
      2nd best method- leave a comment here, on this post
      Not so good method- tell me in person
      Totally unacceptable- assume I saw that you did something

Example: Buy one of my books, write a review and publish it on Amazon and Goodreads; result, you get 6 chances for the afghan.
Example: Buy a book, share a picture of you reading it on Facebook, you get 3 chances
(a previously purchased book would only get you one entry for the share).
Example: Buy two books, get 4 chances
In all cases you MUST tell me what you did and how to contact you- I have no way of knowing who buys my books online, and I may miss something you share.
Many other combinations, or types of sharing will count

You have until midnight EDT April 24, 2016 (my birthday) to create entries.
Drawing will be held for the winning entry on Monday, April 25, 2016.
      1st place- windowpane afghan
      2nd place- one book of your choice
      3rd place- one e-book of your choice


For all books by Joan H. Young visit Books Leaving Footprints

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Chapter 28 - Dead Mule Swamp Druggist

Dead Mule Swamp Druggist
After not getting much done (I didn't even have a whole chapter for the last writers' group meeting) I managed to get myself in gear today. I finished Chapter 27 and have also written 28.

Total words to this point, 37,800. I've thought all along that this would be the longest book to date, and now I'm sure of it. Hopefully, it will also be the best.

What I like most about this chapter is the character development of Adele.

Here's an excerpt from Chapter 28:

    ...we could tell, since she [Adele] couldn't cover all the words, that the writing was very similar.
    The timer on the oven buzzed brutally, and we all jumped. Adele knocked the cardboard box on the floor with her right arm.
    Cora hustled to turn off the buzzer, Adele leaned over to retrieve the box thereby uncovering the papers, and as she did I slid the lined sheets closer to me. Cora peeked in the oven.
    "Two more minutes," she announced. Then she hurried to look over my shoulder.
    "They match," I said.
    "I agree," Cora said. "But clearly, the writer is more mature in the letters we have. That makes sense."
    Adele had recovered the box and was upright again. "Oh, let me show you, please," she implored. She sounded like a child whose surprise had been spoiled.
    "You're right," I conceded. "We're stealing your show. But don't keep us in suspense any longer. We need answers."
    She seemed to pause again.
    "Seriously, Adele. Enough is enough." I said.
    Adele, at last, settled down to business. "For several years, the district ran a contest for juniors and seniors in high school. They were to enter a thousand-word essay explaining the basis for their faith. I was the local judge. That meant that in addition to choosing the top three to be sent on to district competition I had to type those essays in a specific format. The originals were kept by the church, and when a lot of old records were dumped I took them home rather than have them be discarded."
    "Whose entry is this?" Jerry urged.
    "See for yourself. It's on the last page." Apparently at last satisfied with her success, Adele handed the papers to Jerry.


You can find the first four Anastasia Raven Stories at Smashwords or Amazon




Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Chapter 26 - Dead Mule Swamp Druggist

Dead Mule Swamp Druggist
The book is moving along nicely. Conjured up a brain storm yesterday and filled in the missing plot elements to create the middle of the book. All the chapters are roughed out in a few sentences now.

The cover does need tweaking. The pills have to be capsules, so I'll work on that. I know, I know... lots of covers aren't consistent with the contents of the book, but that is one of my PET PEEVES. So it will have to be fixed. Not difficult.

The author enthusiasm encountered at the recent Authorpalooza event in Big Rapids has energized me. Maybe I can pick up the writing pace. That would certainly be a good thing.

Enjoy a piece of Chapter 26:

    "Whoa," I exclaimed, handing her the page I'd been reading. "I'm thinking younger. This passage is pretty hot."
    "Men never really get over that," Cora said with a smile. "But I see your point."
    We finished reading the letters we had copies of, but didn't find any further information that looked useful. I stared at Cora without speaking, and she returned my gaze.
    "We need help," she finally said.
    I was amazed to hear this from Cora.
    "What kind of help?" I asked.
    "Adele's kind of help. She stays on the front lines of events before they become history and pass into my domain. I hate to admit it, but we are similar except in our time period of interest."
    This admission led us to share a hearty laugh.
    "But, she can't keep a secret. Do we want everyone to know what we've found out?" I asked.
    "Roy and Wanda opened this can of worms. They'll have to accept the castings."
    Now it was my turn to be ignorant. "Castings?"
    Cora grinned impishly. "Worm excrement."


You can find the first four Anastasia Raven Stories at Smashwords or Amazon


Friday, December 18, 2015

I Can't Believe She Said That! The Art of Writing Dialog

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I am honored to be able to tell you that I'm appearing as a guest columnist at the Murder By 4 blog for writers this week. My article is about writing dialog, apparently one of my strong suits. At least my writers' group keeps telling me that!

Murder By 4 was selected as being in the 101 best blogs for writers by Writer's Digest in 2013.

Click through to read I Can't Believe She Said That! The Art of Writing Dialog.

Don't forget to sign up for the email newsletter (above), as I'll be sending a new one soon.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Picking up the Quest

It's always a challenge to pick up a project that's been laid aside numerous times. Today was certainly no exception to that.

After a long, long absence from working on it, I started to think again about finishing North Country Quest. This is the sequel to North Country Cache. It will complete the tales of my hikes on the North Country Trail.

There are four chapters done, and a few more partially done. That's a long way from completion. And yet... if I get busy, these chapters are not difficult to write. I just need to refresh my memory.

Today, I assembled all the chapters and partial chapters into one file. I listened to the tape journal for the hike that will be the first story in this volume, and went through the pictures for that hike, all to refresh my memories. Chapter one had been partially written, and I like how I began it, so now, I just need to build on that foundation.

Oh, and I looked up how to transfer all my tape journals to digital. Not difficult... just need to do it.

No cases were assigned to me this week for the insurance job, so I'm determined to use the time to focus on writing again. One day out of one is 100% so far this week!


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Chapter 21- Dead Mule Swamp Druggist

Dead Mule Swamp Druggist
Writing continues at way too slow of a pace, but at least it's happening at some speed rather than not at all. Chapter 21 done, and the next few are planned out.

And, you can see that I've improved the cover quite a lot as well. Maybe a few more tweaks yet.

Thanks to the new subscribers to the email letter.

Enjoy a piece of Chapter 21:

   "Right. And I don't recall that Ham was known for disappearing for long stretches of time," Jerry added.
   "Do you see this money as a motive for murder?" Cora asked. "It couldn't have been a huge amount."
   "We don't know that," Jerry said. "How many times have you read about people living in dumps who died with thousands of dollars hidden in the walls."
   "If he didn't have it really well hidden, it's gone now... into the hands of the dognapper Manny or Myron or whatever his name is. And I searched pretty much everywhere except a couple of outbuildings," I pointed out. "Of course, I didn't take the walls apart."

You can find the first four Anastasia Raven Stories at Smashwords or Amazon