Saturday, December 13, 2014

Tracking A Shadow Xmas Promo

Now through December 25th... Happy Holidays!!
5 Star Reviews: 
R. Weir did an amazing job pulling this thriller together. I love mysteries to begin with, but when a story can continuously keep your attention, and cause you to lose sleep, because you don't want to put it down... Now that's good.
Jarvis Mann, private detective extraordinaire, has a way about him that women can't resist and and men can't stand. He's good at what he does, and I can't wait to delve into more of his cases still to come.
I have to say, Weir really hit it out of the park with "Tracking a Shadow".

Sunday, November 30, 2014

KDP: The Final Steps

We now come to The Final Steps of KDP Select. This includes setting up the rights to your book and the pricing and royalties.

Verify Your Publishing Territories

The options here are: Worldwide rights - all territories
                                       Individual territories - select territories

I can think of no reason to choose anything other than Worldwide Rights unless there is some question of ownership of your story.

Set Your Pricing and Royalty

    Here is a step you need to think through thoroughly. Pricing is strictly a personal choice. But for an Indie author, especially a new one, I don't recommend pricing above 2.99 for you full sized novel. For Novella's and Short Stories 99 cents is a good price point. Once you have established yourself pricing can go higher, but Amazon has lowered customers expectations on pricing so much where everyone is looking for a bargain, where 99 cents and free books rule the market. Also there is no option to set the price permanently for free. You must do this via Kindle Countdown deals once the book is published. I plan on discussing this in a later blog post.

KDP Pricing and Royalty

You have two options here, 35% or 70% Royalty.

Seems easy as of course you want to get the largest of the two. But there are two factors here to understand and consider:

If you price your book at 99 cents you can only do the 35% Royalty option. To use 70% the book must be $1.99 or higher.

If you are able to use the 70% option you will also have to pay Amazon a download fee for each book purchased. For a text only book this will be very small and you definitely should choose 70%. But if your book has lot's of graphics and the file itself is many megabytes in size you may want to weigh what those fees will be, as the 35% option does not require you to pay a download fee.

After choosing your pricing and royalty, you can make your book available on Amazon sites all over the world. Choose Set Price Automatically Based on US Price for each of these countries. Uncheck any countries you don't want to make the book available to purchase.

Kindle MatchBook

If you have a printed version of your book available on Amazon, this allows users who purchase the printed copy to get a discounted or free eBook version. Check the box and set the price. I would suggest giving those that paid for your printed version the eBook for free since they likely paid a higher price for it.

Kindle Book Lending

This allows users who have purchased your book to lend it to their Kindle friends and family to read for 14 days. For a new Indie Author I would suggest allowing this as you want as much exposure to your book as possible.

Now check the box next to: By clicking Save and Publish below, I confirm that I have all rights necessary to make the content I am uploading available for marketing, distribution and sale in each territory I have indicated above, and that I am in compliance with the KDP Terms and Conditions

When satisfied with your choices I would click Save As Draft and then carefully review Steps 1 and 2 again. When all looks good click Save And Publish. Your book is now up for review by Amazon. This process can take 24 hours or so before your book is live on their site. If there are any problems or errors they will email you on what needs to be fixed. When correcting those errors you'll need to click Save And Publish once more and it again will take up to 24 hours before the book is live.

Congratulations you are a published author on Amazon

Enjoy the feeling and let all your friends and family know, so you can get some sales and reviews. Now the hard part begins, Marketing your book. Good Luck!!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Channeling Jarvis Mann

Sorry I haven't posted much in my blog for a while, as I've been busy working on the next Jarvis Mann Detective novel. The first draft is finished, going through the editing process now, getting it polished enough to send to my beta readers. Working in the writing during nights and weekends since I work full-time to pay the mortgage and put food on the table, leaves little time for blogging. But I will get the final part of the KDP blog out in the next week and future blog posts in process published more consistently.

Been busy promoting my current novel "Tracking A Shadow" with more promos over the next 8 days. I've had some pretty good sales and hope to see more. Additional reviews from those sales are showing up, all of which have been four or five star, which I'm grateful for. The book is 99 Cents through the End of November. So if you haven't purchased yet, now is a good time. I love hearing opinions on the story from anyone who has read it.

If you've read my book and you think it worthy, I'd appreciate a nomination here for one of The 50 Best Indie books of 2014. This can be a big boost to sales for a new author trying to get his product in front of readers, as there are so many great Indie Authors out there.

THE 50 BEST INDIE BOOKS 2014: Nominations

Friday, October 3, 2014


Has Jarvis Mann bit off more than he can handle, both as a Private Investigator and in his personal life. One murder turns into two and before you know it Jarvis is a suspect, with the authorities breathing down his neck, a crime kingpin sticking his nose into the investigation. One woman and then a second are vying for his affections, leaving Jarvis torn on the proper path to take. Can he track down the shadow stalking his client and find personal happiness that seems to elude him.

Review: I stepped out of my reading zone on this one. If you love a good suspense or detective novels this is a good one! You follow Jarvis as he struggles through life, and his latest case turns into much more then he anticipated. The author creates wonderful characters and the story will suck you in and make you stay up to finish. Pay attention to the details and see if you can solve the case before the ending. If you love detective novels this one is a keeper. I will step over my mental line and read R Weir again

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

KDP: The Next Steps; Details, Details

So you have the novel written and with the proper formatting that will work with Kindle Direct Publishing. Now it's time to log into your KDP account and begin giving Amazon the info needed to publish your eBook.

First you'll need a KDP login. If you have a current Amazon login you can use it for KDP. If not go to the site ( and create one. Once logged in since this is your first book you'll need to create it. Under the Bookshelf tab click "Add New Title".

Note: If you are uncertain on any of these choices you can click the "What's This" hyperlink to open a box for more details.

The first option for enrolling into KDP Select. Essentially you have to commit to list your book on Amazon and only Amazon for 90 days. If you have no plans to publish anywhere else, then there are benefits to enrolling. Be sure to read all the guidelines. This is a personal choice that you will need to decide. For my short story and novel I did do this for the first 90 days. After the 90 days is up you are free to publish on other eBook sites or enroll again for another 90 days.
  • Check the Box: Enroll this book in KDP Select if you want to join
Section 1: Book Details
  • Book Title: Enter the title of your book
  • Subtitle (Optional): Use this if it's a series to more easily identify your book series
  • Check the Box if it's part of the series
  • Edition Number (Optional): Again if it's part of a series, give it a number like Book 1 and so on
  • Publisher (Optional): Leave blank unless you have a publisher
  • Description: A description (book synopsis) of what your book is about. You have a lot of room here (4000 characters), so use as much of it as you can. Look at other descriptions to see what others have created. You want it to catch the readers eye and is generally the third thing about your book that readers notice after Title and the Cover, so it's very important Much like your book I'd have this written out in advance and run past your beta readers for feedback.
  • Book Contributors: This is crediting you the author and anyone else you want to single out for your work. Click Add Contributors, enter info into all the fields and click Save when done
Section 2: Verify Your Publishing Rights
  • Either the work is in the Public Domain or you own the rights. Choose one here
 Section 3: Target Your Book To Customers
  • Categories: Make sure you select the proper category of your book as you only get two choices. If its Sci-Fi select it and the proper subcategory. Mystery choose that. Again look at books similar to yours to get this correct as it's essential for helping users searching Amazon to find your books
  • Age Range (Optional): If your book is targeted for Adults or Children set it here. There are minimum and maximum settings. Be careful using this as it may limit your audience unintentionally. Again look at similar books.
  • U.S. Grade Range (Optional): Here you can set the grade level for the reading. There are minimum and maximum settings. Be careful using this as it may limit your audience unintentionally. Again look at similar books.
  • Search keywords (up to 7, optional): This is for the Amazon search engine. Here you can put in 7 keywords or phrases to help users find your book. If it's a Mystery book, enter Mystery. A Cooking book enter Cooking. Use all 7 of these for the best results. Think about these choices carefully. Separate each entry with commas
Section 4: Select Your Book Release Option
  • Two options here. Either I'm ready to release my book now or make my book available for pre-order. Choose one
Section 5: Upload or Create A Book Cover
  • A critical step here. Make sure you have a quality book cover to upload. I strongly suggest getting a professional to create your cover unless you have graphic skills. It needs to be in JPEG or TIFF format. Use the highest quality file you can. A minimum of 625 pixels on the shortest side and 1000 pixels on the longest side. For best quality, your image would be 2820 pixels on the shortest side and 4500 pixels on the longest side.
  • Click Browse image, find it on your computer and upload it. You will see a preview of it on the screen
Section 6: Upload Your Book File
  • Select a Digital Rights Management (DRM) option: You can apply DRM to your book or leave it open. This is personal choice. For a new author I suggest not using DRM. But it would leave your book open to digital theft, though DRM can be removed with some tools
  • Book Content File: The most important step, uploading your book content. Click Browse, find the file and upload it. Once it uploads it will convert the file which can take a few minutes. Once it completes you then have the option to view it in the Kindle viewer online. I would suggest spending time looking through each page to make sure the formatting looks correct. If not you'll need to go back to your source file, fix it and then upload again.
The final steps on this page are "Save and Continue" or "Save as Draft". I would suggest doing "Save as Draft" for now, as Save and Continue begins the process of submitting the book for approval, which can take 12-24 hours. Wait to select "Save and Continue" when you are sure the book is ready, especially for someone new to the process.

My next blog post will go through the next page of steps in KDP, which is Rights and Pricing.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Promo: Tracking A Shadow is 99 Cents from 9-27 thru 10-3

PROMO PRICE 99 Cents on Amazon 9-27 thru 10-3
In this unique case for him, Private Detective Jarvis Mann is hired to discover who is stalking his female client Emily White in the Mile Hi City. Eluding danger coming at him from all sides, while balancing the affections of two sexy women, each with their own agenda, Jarvis must track down the stalker that is elusive as a shadow.
Pickup this eBook for only 99 cents while you can...

Friday, September 19, 2014

My Experience with Kindle Direct Publishing

Love them or hate them, Amazon is a powerful online retailer, selling more electronic books than anyone else,. They have earned this with their powerful online presence and low margins. But they also created programs and tools for Indie authors that are easy to use, with lots of features to make uploading your book to their servers very simple; to a point. I'm going to cover my experience with using their Kindle Direct Publishing model for eBooks.

First you need to get your document formatted correctly. There are many books out there that cover this, and even templates you can purchase or a formatting service that will expensively covert your work. I've found with a couple of tweaks I can do this myself to get the document just right for KDP. I use Word, which works fine, but you need to setup the Styles for the document with certain settings, depending on what part of the book you are working on.

  • Single spacing should be used
  • Don't use tabbing to indent paragraphs or it will indent too far
  • Enable Show/Hide Command (Ctrl + *) to see extra spaces, tabbing and other hidden formatting symbols and remove them
  • Keep font size to Times New Roman 12 or something similar
  • Create and save your own Style pages for Chapter Heading, Main body of text. Title Page and Copy-write page and so on. Format them to what works best.
Body of Text Example:
Right click a current Style page from Home Tab and select modify
Give it a name and then change the font and pt size to what you want
Click Format and Paragraph-Set Paragraph settings for Indents and Spacing:
  • General-Alignment left
  • Indentation-Special First Line 0.3
  • Spacing-Line Spacing Single
Set Paragraph settings for Lines and Page Breaks:
  • Remove checkmark on Window/Orphan Control
  • Remove checkmark on Keep lines together
You'll then want to create a Chapter Heading Style, just be sure to choose a large font size, center it with no indentation. Then select the Style page you want to use before typing and it will be automatically formatted. Play with it to find the right one for you.

Once you have your document written, save the file as a Web Page Filtered (HTM/HTML) format. Then you can use the Kindle Previewer program Amazon provides to open the HTML file and see how it will look on the variety of Kindle devices Amazon sells. Be sure you still keep the original DOC or DOCX version for editing.

Depending on the version of Word you have, the steps may vary some. I'm using Word 2007, 2010 and 2013, and they are basically all the same. Pre-Ribbon versions of Word maybe different. It may take some time but once you find the right configuration you can carry it over to your next novel. At least until Amazon throws you a curve and changes their conversion techniques.

The novel is written and formatted, so it's now ready to upload to the KDP site. Next posting I'll run through the steps, as there are many of them, so you can publish your eBook.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Facebook Author Event

I will be participating in this Facebook Author event both Saturday 9-27 (9AM Denver Time) and Sunday 9-28 (12PM Denver Time). This is an event where readers and authors can meet up to talk, check out new books, genres and authors, have the opportunity to win prizes from the donation authors and play lots of silly games in the process. You can ask questions and learn all my deep dark secrets. If you have some time stop in and say hello.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Becoming Jarvis Mann PI

Of the 5 people who've read my Jarvis Mann PI stories, OK maybe it's little more than 5, they ask me if the character Jarvis Mann is actually me in written form. Well my answer is a definite, Maybe!

The cliche is "You write what you know." In the case of Jarvis that is true. Since my stories about him are in the first person I become Jarvis while writing. I see, hear, feel, speak and react as him. Describing through his eyes all that he is experiencing, his inner most thoughts and emotions.So there are things about him that are similar. Examples are:
  • Jarvis grew up in Iowa, as did I
  • Jarvis now lives in Colorado as do I
  • Jarvis likes the finest in fast foods (oxymoron), as do I
  • Jarvis is a big Green Bay Packers fan to be revealed in next book. My bio picture tells you I am as well
  • Jarvis has a witty personality. Many comment I have a odd sense of humor, though some in my immediate family don't think so some times!
But there are many difference as well:
  • Jarvis is a Private Investigator. I'm an IT professional full time, Though at one time I wanted to be a police officer
  • Jarvis drives 1969 Mustang Boss 302. I drive a slightly less exciting Toyota Corolla and a Honda Forza Motorcycle
  • Jarvis is much more of a ladies man. I was much too quiet and shy in my single days to ever be a ladies man
  • Jarvis is in his mid-thirties, while it's been a couple of decades since I was that age
I pull some of my life experiences into my stories, as I'm sure all writers do. I try to use real life locations when it's appropriate. The people in the story are made up, designed to fit the story. Some aspects of my characters may be similar to people I've known through the years, but nobody is a carbon copy. In some ways Jarvis is me, but mostly he isn't. The common denominator between us is, we are flawed, with weaknesses and some bad character traits. While he also has some strengths I wish I had, as I live vicariously through him. I will be exploring more of these strength's and weaknesses in future novels already in the works

Jarvis Mann is not me, and I'm not him. Yet we are one in the same on the printed page.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Title of the Story Is...

Coming up with a title is generally for me not all that hard. Not that I've written hundreds of stories through the years, but I always seem to have the title come pretty quickly to me. With my latest novel "Tracking A Shadow" I struggled a little with the title. Next to the cover, the book title is the first thing a potential buyer will see. And I had several ideas for titles come and go for this novel. When the framework was developing in my mind "The Stalker" was the basic title. But it really didn't fit quite or feel right. I then went through many others:

Mind over what matters
Body and No Soul
Track the Shadow
Behind the Shadow
Beyond the Shadow
Underneath the Shadow
Separate Lives
The Game of Distraction

These are the ones I wrote down, but there were many others that rolled through my head. Finding the right theme or the tone was difficult, maybe because of the twists in the plot. I didn't want to give too much away but give an overall feel to what was happening on the pages. The Shadow was really Jarvis being somewhat clueless on what was really going on, while attempting to track down the evidence, bringing it out of the darkness.

I also wanted a title that stood out and wasn't used before. A simple Google search didn't find another story with the same title. I wanted it to be unique to stand out and be first when someone searched it. (No that's not the case as of yet, but close to the top). Hopefully I succeeded in creating an interesting mood of mystery with the title and the cover, which translates when the reader reads the story.

Do others out there struggle with their book titles as well? Is the title as important as the cover when drawing potential readers?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Tracking a Shadow-Now Available on Amazon Kindle

Tracking a Shadow, my new novel with Jarvis Mann PI working a stalking case of a Beautiful Woman with many twists and turns. It is available today as an Amazon eBook for $2.99. Stop by and pick it up today at the link below:

Never knowing where his next case will come from, Private Detective Jarvis Mann is thrilled when his voicemail is lit up by the sexy tones of a lady looking to hire him. Successful business woman Emily White with girl next door looks, is certain someone is stalking her and wants Jarvis to track down the elusive shadow. Even with three suspects, an ex-husband who lives to play softball, a sexist pig ex-employee and a mystery man who he encounters with painful results, Jarvis believes it’s all in Emily’s head until a killing in her home convinces him otherwise. Further complicating matters a powerful business man and crime boss becomes involved muddying up the case, leaving Jarvis the prime suspect in the brutal beating of one of the possible stalkers, threatening to put his PI career on ice. Navigating through each twist and turn in the case, and the affections of two desirable women both with an agenda, Jarvis uses dogged determination and razor sharp wit in Tracking a Shadow that moves across the Denver landscape with each shift in the sun.

Also available for free for the next several days in my short story "The Case of the Missing Bubble Gum Card", where Jarvis helps a young man track down a missing stolen and valuable Ernie Banks rookie Baseball card. See where Jarvis Mann PI is brought to life. It's available as an Amazon ebook and on Smarshwords in various other formats (Nook,Kobo, iBook and PDF) for free over the next few week.

Thanks for reading and I hope everyone is having a great day...

Saturday, August 2, 2014

A Break: My Trip to Lambeau Field

I took 10 days off with family to take a trip to Green Bay for the Packers Shareholder Meeting. Being a shareholder allows me the privilege of sitting with about twenty thousand of my closet friends in Lambeau Field to learn how successful the previous year was and what the coming year holds for the team. I enjoyed this immensely as I got to see a legendary stadium that was in perfect shape, looking as if it was just built yesterday. It was a trip of a lifetime the wife, daughter and I will never forget.

But more importantly it gave me a chance to get away from work, writing, and stop interacting on the various social networks. It was 10 days completely away from all of it, which was fabulous. Reinvigorated I'm now ready to get back to the work in front of me. It really is important to step away for periods of time from all of these tasks and come back with a clearer head. I've had two large breaks over the last couple of months that I really needed. And I'd suggest strongly to everyone to do the same when feeling run down, short on energy and ideas. Take a break from it all; no 9-5 working, no posting on social networks and no writing. Disconnect from the information highway as much as you can, even if it's just a simple overnight trip to a hotel out of town with a loved one, a day or two in the mountains where cell signals don't exist or just a nice long ride on a bicycle or motorcycle to have a picnic somewhere. You will find a new perspective that will charge up the creative mind to new limits.

So back to the tap, tap on the QWERTY keys picking up where Jarvis Mann left off...

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Real and the Imagined

With all works of fiction the people are not real and any resemblance to real people living or dead is purely coincidental. But what about places and businesses. Some of the locations in my soon to be released new novel Tracking a Shadow are real, like Boone's which is a sports bar near Denver University. I've been there before, eaten their food and drank their drinks. I even went there years ago when it was called Fagan's. A friend owned it at that time and we often stopped by after our softball games for chicken wings and refreshments. Is there a standard rule of thumb of when to use real places and when to use fictional ones?

In my stories I try to use real locations as much as possible from the Denver metro area. Streets, neighborhoods, houses and businesses. It's where I live and adds a genuine flair to the narrative. I use made up locations when it houses the bad guys, or when Jarvis has negative connotations to blab on about, or if horrible events happen like murder. I keep it as real as possible, but then the imagined fills out the story. In the next novel I'm working on there is "The Hustle" in Greeley Colorado, a gentleman's club, and "Eddie's Bar" that is a run down watering hole in South Denver. Neither are real, as both are run by criminal elements needed for the plot. Using real businesses in those settings wouldn't work. An established business would take offense if I stated a shady loan shark owned it and used it for his illegal doings.

So for the writers out there when do you use the Real and when do you use the Imagined?

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Creating a Cover-Finding the Right Mood

So I'm at the stage where I needed to get a cover created for my new novel "Tracking a Shadow". I didn't want to be cheap but couldn't afford to spend a ton of money on the cover. I solicited ideas on how to find someone to create a cover. I received ideas to use sites like which is very inexpensive, all the way up to expensive services costing $500 or more. One of my Circle friends on Google Plus mentioned where you put in bids for various types of work, giving a description of what you are looking for and a price range of what you are willing to pay. Within a very short time, no more than a day I had offers from 18 or so people with various skill ranges offering to create my cover, all of them providing examples of covers they had created through the years. Weeding through the offers, some I tossed out right away, narrowing it down to 4-5 choices. Using Elance's messaging functions I interviewed each of them until I found the person with the talent and style I was looking for. No more than a day later I had 9 cover mock ups from her to go over.

That was when the internal struggle began. You see I'm not a visual person myself per say. The cover isn't what I look for in a book. It's the description of the book, the synopsis and genre that will sell me on a book. But everyone agrees the cover is the first thing you see and you if you grab them with it, they won't explore further. So even though I had an idea of how I envisioned the cover I needed to reach out to my peers in the social world to get opinions if what I had envisioned jumped out at them. So I posted on Google Plus and Facebook for feedback from those who cared to comment and to my the beta readers who had read the novel. Of the original 9 covers there were three that most liked the best. Of those I had my designer do another batch with some modifications which she had back to me quickly, 9 more variations to ponder. The reactions I had to those were very positive and nearly all liked the same one, which coincided with one of the two I liked. Now to decide which one to be the final one?

The cover final choices came down to one major difference, either the woman was standing looking pretty and sultry, the shadowy man behind her with a knife, or she was huddled on the floor in fear the same shadowy man behind her. Some of my peers thought the pretty sultry style looked too romantic and would give the wrong impression of what the story was about. The huddled woman gave more of a mystery feel to it. For me it was a toss up but I went with my gut and choose the sultry look with the stalking man behind her. I'd lived with this novel for nearly a year and I wanted to have the balance of sexy and scary on the cover, as that is the mood I believe comes across in the book. Either would have been very good and I wished I could have two covers, one front and one on the back, but one is all they give you. It was a matter of finding the right mood and hopefully I did. Time will tell.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Free Today and Tomorrow-The Case of the Missing Bubble Gum Card

In advance of the release of my new novel Tracking a Shadow, get the short story FREE that introduces Private Eye Jarvis Mann in The Case of the Missing Bubble Gum Card, where Jarvis helps a young high school student track down a valuable missing Ernie Banks trading card in the streets of Denver Colorado. Enjoy a good detective story, enjoy some biting humor, enjoy characters that make you think and smile, then you will like this short story. Get it today (6-26) and tomorrow (6-27) FREE on Amazon in eBook format and look for in the coming months on Amazon Tracking a Shadow where Jarvis Mann tries to find out who is stalking his sexy female client.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Ha Ha: Humor in the Story

I noticed the bulges as both had guns, the first in a shoulder holster under the sport coat, the other in a belt holster covered by his hanging shirt. Both approached slowly trying to size me up, as I had been of them. I wished I’d pulled my gun out of the glove box when I’d gotten out of the car. It was a little late now and saying “Excuse me gentlemen while I get my gun” would not likely be met with joy on their part.

I'm a funny guy I've been told. Well by people other than my wife and daughter have said this. Apparently they've heard all my jokes already. But in my writing I like using a sharp wit with my main character Jarvis Mann. With even the craziest things going on around him, he cracks a joke to defuse the situation, even at his own expense. In the parking lot of a shopping center he tries to crack the intimidating stone face of two men trying to drag him off against his will. This is crucial to mask his fear and in this case distract his opponents.

“What can I do for you gentlemen?” I asked, seeing there was no one around to notice us. “If you’re looking for a good deal on a TV Best Buy is the place to shop.” Sometimes I couldn't help myself with stupid humor. “Or maybe you need some cat food. You both look like cat owners to me.”

No humor for me makes for a boring story. I need a few laughs within the violence and action, rounding out the storyline. Releasing some of the tension in the room is important. I like the idea of bringing a smile to a readers face.

“I think you two got your wardrobes mixed up,” I said. “Shouldn't the cowboy hat go with the cowboy boots, and the Rockies cap with the sneakers? I call out fashion faux pas.”

Or maybe my wife and daughter were right all along... :-)

Do you use humor is your writing and how do you incorporate it?

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Write, Edit, Promote, Sell, Write Again

I haven't posted on this blog in over a month. After some responses received from questions I asked in various Communities it became clear I had to bear down and get my novel finished. I needed more written work out there to sell. No blogging, no social networks (well maybe a little!), no promoting; just write and edit. Bang the keys and drain the batteries on my wireless keyboard. It's completed now and in the hands of my beta readers. Feedback so far has been positive. The follow-up to The Case of the Missing Bubble Gum Card is in the home stretch. After incorporating their feedback I'm hiring an Indie Editor to polish it up, will get a cover designed and Tracking a Shadow will be ready for publishing.

So the Circle of a Writers Life will begin again.Write, Edit, Promote, Sell and Write again. Somewhere in there I have to work at my job, spend time with family and do chores around the house. This is the day to day routine of an Indie Writer. I'm excited and dreading at the same time what is ahead. It could be great, it might be terrible, I'd be happy with something in between, but I'm ready to face it. At the same time the follow-up to Tracking a Shadow is started, an outline for the book after that already forming. The series for Jarvis Mann PI is on track, our thrilling adventure together transforming from the inner mind to bits and bytes. The work never ends. Back to work...

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Free on Amazon: The Case of the Missing Bubble Gum Card

My eBook short story The Case of the Missing Bubble Gum Card is free on Amazon today and Sunday (4/26-4/27)

Please download, enjoy and let me know what you think. I've received one 5 star review and any other reviews on Amazon would be appreciated. All thoughts on the story are welcomed and encouraged on this blog as well. Here is a quick synopsis of the story:

Jarvis Mann was a Private Detective, whose business thrived on the mundane, paying the bills following cheating spouses, getting in the middle of messy divorces and working for the Fat Cat Insurance companies running down false insurance claims. But one day on his office steps a young man coaxing with the simple word “Please” convinces him to help on a Winter’s Sunday afternoon to find a missing valuable Ernie Banks Rookie Bubble Gum Card. With a dry sense of humor he drives the Denver streets from door to door, friend to friend, until a clue leads to a surprising discovery, a young man’s personal pain and his friends selfish act, teach Jarvis a life lesson that will shape him with new hope and resolve.

A follow-up novel with the same lead character is in the works and should be available later this year. The tentative title is: Tracking a Shadow

Private Eye Jarvis Mann is hired by his latest client Emily White to find an elusive Stalker she fears is trying to harm her, but finds out there maybe more than one man involved. While Jarvis deals with his own love life complications, caught between the affections of two different women.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Any Good Marketing Tips for New Writers

You've got the story written, and now it's published in one format or another, what do you do to get the word out there to people and get some sales? My new eBook short story is out and I've done the usual things, posted on Google Plus in various communities, on Facebook on every book group I can find and sent to friends to see about getting the word out to all their friends I've received one good review on Amazon but so far I haven't gotten much sales traction. What other types of marketing has worked for you to get some sales? Any other tips you can give a new Indie Author trying to navigate this competitive market?

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Writers That Inspire You

With the posting on Amazon of my new short story I wonder from others out there who are the writers that inspire you? Most are probably big name writers, but maybe there are some lesser names out there that you read as well. And do those that inspire you cross over into the genre that your own writings branch into?

For me Robert B Parker, Ian Fleming and Robert Ludlum have been the most influential. Someone that isn't quite as well known that I enjoy is Chris Orcutt and his Dakota Steven's novels.

How about you....

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Case of the Missing Bubble Gum Card now a Amazon eBook

My 8400 word short story "The Case of the Missing Bubble Gum Card" is now an eBook on Amazon for .99 cents. Here is the link and the synopsis of what the story is about.

Jarvis Mann was a Private Detective, whose business thrived on the mundane, paying the bills following cheating spouses, getting in the middle of messy divorces and working for the Fat Cat Insurance companies running down false insurance claims. But one day on his office steps a young man coaxing with the simple word “Please” convinces him to help on a Winter’s Sunday afternoon to find a missing valuable Ernie Banks Rookie Bubble Gum Card. Driving the Denver streets from door to door, friend to friend, until a clue leads to a surprising discovery, a young man’s personal pain and his friends selfish act teach Jarvis a life lesson that will shape him with new hope and resolve.

Monday, April 7, 2014

New Updated Cover for Short Story

Ok after all the feedback I received I had my friend update the cover incorporating some of the suggestions. Let me know if you think this is better?

Friday, April 4, 2014

Tools to Get the Job Done

I've learned to write effectively one needs the proper tools. Here are some of the ones I've found that are essential for me to be productive.

The first and maybe most important is a stable, solid, patched and malware free computer. I'm an IT/Network Admin by day and I know from experience if your computer crashes constantly, is dog slow and is malware ridden, then wipe it and start over or buy a new one. If you work mostly at home get a modern desktop computer and a large monitor, 24 inch or larger. Two screens is even better for multitasking. Need to be mobile get notebook, or even better yet a clam-shell device with touchscreen tablet and detachable keyboard. I have a Dell Inspiron desktop for home and Asus Transformer T100 for when I need to be mobile. Whether Windows, Mac or Linux you can't get the job done if the machine can't handle what you need to throw at it. And this can't be a computer you share with the kids or you'll never be able to use it as they'll be playing Minecraft on it it constantly.

Next is MS Word. Microsoft gets a lot of grief about it's products, but Word, at least in the Windows world is the gold standard. It used to be flaky and unstable, Word 95 and 97 crashed frequently making for lost work. But I've found since Word 2007, up to the current version 2013, that it is pretty rock solid. The easy to create Styles makes for custom formatting you can easily save as custom templates. It's review tools for Spell Checking and Thesaurus help correct mistakes, though I find the Grammar functions to be annoying. And don't for forget to turn on the Show/Hide function  (¶ icon). And if you use Beta Readers Track Changes is a must.

Scrivener is the next software package I use. It can be used for all of your Word Processing if you'd like, but it's not as full featured as Word in many ways. What Scrivener does that is light years better than Word and what I use it for is creating outlines for your stories and allowing you to organize your thoughts. Create Chapter Synopsis, Character and Places descriptions, a Corkboard to post cards to type out ideas when they come to you. Stuck on what name to use for a character, there is a Name Generator with variables to help you come up with the perfect character name. Many other features as well that I'm still learning. But the best part is it's really inexpensive for what all it does. You can buy it for $40 or less, has very flexible licensing that allows you to install it on any computer in your household and comes in Windows or Mac versions.

To help with editing and cleaning up my work I use a web tool called Autocrit. This is a paid web service, though they have free options as well with limits, where you can copy your text and it will analyze it and create reports looking at key areas to point out potential problems or mistakes. The most important reports I use are the Overused Words, and Repeated Words and Phrases. I can't tell you how often I overuse the same words in my writing and don't even realize it. I don't take everything the report says as gospel, as there are certain reasons to overuse or repeat certain words or phrases. But it is an effective tool clean up some of the clutter.

To store your files and give you access from anywhere, use a cloud service to save your documents. Whether it's Dropbox, OneDrive (formally called Skydrive), Google Drive, Box or any other cloud storage service, you need one so you can get to your files from any computer. Many give you gigabits of space for free. But be sure you keep local backups as well, either on your PC or Notebook, or on a external device hard drive or flash device, as Cloud Services can fail and lose data too. Be sure you have backups of your backups so you don't lose any work.

Now I'm a Windows user, so many of these are Windows based tools, though some cross over into other platforms. Mac and Linux have great tools too, so if you use those operating systems find what works for you. None of these will do the work for you, but you can't do your writing efficiently without them. I'm interested if you have other tools you use to help you get that manuscript finished?

Monday, March 31, 2014

eBook Cover for my Short Story

Here is the cover for my Short Story that I plan to have as an eBook on Amazon soon. Let me know what you think....

Jarvis Mann was a Private Detective, whose business thrived on the mundane, paying the bills following cheating spouses, getting in the middle of messy divorces and working for the Fat Cat Insurance companies running down false insurance claims. But one day on his office steps a young man coaxing with the simple word “Please” convinces him to help on a Winter’s Sunday afternoon to find a missing valuable Ernie Banks Rookie Bubble Gum Card. Driving the Denver streets from door to door, friend to friend, until a clue leads to a surprising discovery, a young man’s personal pain and his friends selfish act teach Jarvis a life lesson that will shape him with new hope and resolve.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Editing Journey

You have that first draft written and it took forever to finish. The hard part is over, or is it? Now you've got to proof read and edit, fix plot holes and inconsistencies, shape your characters and locations so they are three dimensional; getting the manuscript a little more polished and closer to where it should be. So how do you go about it and is it harder than knocking out the first draft?

Do you edit, reread your work while you write? Or do you just hammer out the first draft and then rewrite afterwards? Do you go to family or friends for guidance? What about Alpha and Beta Readers? Do you have them and how did you find them? Do you offer them some compensation? How many Alpha Beta readers do you use on one piece? And what about professional editing. Is a professional editor necessary for Indie Authors? What can you expect to pay for professional editing services?

I'm asking more questions than I have answers for because I'm still new to this. It is very hard for me to chop up, throw out and rework something I already spent a great deal of time on. I want to be as independent as possible and be able to do it all myself, but of course I can't. I have to find people to help me get on the right track if I've gone off the rails. I've learned that family isn't the way to go and I need someone outside my personal circle to give feedback. So far I haven't used Alpha readers, but have found a few Beta readers, and they have been helpful pointing to things I can't see having lived in the project for so long. It's a long trek to reach that satisfactory The End.

Comment and let me know how your editing journey typically goes...

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Social Connection for Authors

So for me the hardest part of writing is the social aspect. It's that part where I feel I'm begging people, saying look at me I'm a writer. Like a child jumping up an down and acting out to get their parents attention. Whether it's Google+, Facebook or Twitter, it's a necessary evil, or maybe I should say necessary source to build an audience, but goes against my natural instincts. Of course if no one reads what I wrote that bums me out to. :-)

How much of your time do you spend posting and monitoring in social media? Do you feel it takes precious time away from your writing? Do you find it's difficult to disconnect once connected? What are your tips for doing it efficiently? Do you have someone assist you like a family member?

Early on I'm finding this on par with the writing, work and personal balance I'm struggling with. The social interaction can be very addicting and I find I must put time limits on how long I spend on it or it can consume me. If only we didn't need sleep I could do it all....

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The process of writing

Where do your ideas come from? Do they come from everyday life experiences or that active imagination you've had since you were young! Do they come from other writers, TV or movies? I must say for me it's a little of all of these and that active imagination has been their since my youth.
Once you have an idea what is your process for getting it on paper? Do you outline the story before writing, or just write it out? Once I have an idea I for one like to just write and see what comes out. I have a rough outline in my head but much of it develops as I write it, then I outline as I go. I'm curious the process of writing for others as well.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Finding time to write

One of the biggest issues when you work full-time and have a family is finding time to write. Even more challenging for me as I find it difficult to write while other people are around, either in the same room or coming in to ask me something. I really need to isolate myself to be able to concentrate properly on what I'm doing; no TV or music on, no coming in to ask me something and no dog wanting my attention. Once I get a thought process in place and that flow is interrupted it's hard to get it back. Another concern is I'm ignoring my family while writing. The largest amount of time I have open to write is on weekends, for its difficult during the work week as I'm mentally too tired. The weekend is for spending time with loved ones, doing fun things together and recharging for the next work week. So it's finding that open hour or two each day to write that can hold me back from completing the task. Where does everyone find the time, motivation and inspiration to write?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

New Short Story Soon to be Published on Amazon

This my first post about a new short story soon to be published on Amazon. The Case of the Missing Bubble Gum card is about PI Jarvis Mann working with a young client to help him find a valuable missing Ernie Banks baseball card. This leads to surprising conclusion where Jarvis learns about true friendship. I hope to have this on Amazon real soon.

R Weir