Thursday, September 18, 2014

On Writing What You Know



They say write what you know.  This doesn’t mean you can’t write about unicorns because you don’t know one.  By the way, I do know a few unicorns and if you want to write about one I’ll introduce you.  But I digress. What this means to me is write about people you understand; write about emotions you understand and can relate to. This rule is not meant to be taken literally. It does not mean to write about J who borrowed your favorite jacket and then sold it for drug money.  Sure, you can write about this literally, but what’s more interesting is to write about the person’s emotional state when they borrowed your jacket knowing they never planned to give it back.  Write about your emotional state when you discover you’ve been duped by a friend.  This is what I believe is meant by writing what you know.

With my latest WIP, however, I’ve seemingly moved backwards and gone somewhat to the literal stage.  While The Memory Giver is a ghost story, at its heart it’s about the unlikely romance of a pre-teen boy and girl.  Anyone who’s seen my WIP on Wattpad (If you’re interested GO HERE) knows chapter one begins when a girl rescues a boy from some bullies. This really happened to me--literally.  When I was in the eighth grade, I really did get rescued (in a sense) by a girl.



Susan was new to the neighborhood, but had quickly earned a reputation for herself as one of the girls not to be messed with.  Not by girls.  Not by boys.  Not by teachers.  Susan was the first girl I knew who smoked.  I’d often see her sitting on her stoop, a cigarette dangling from her lip like a card shark, as she talked a-mile-a-minute.   The way that cigarette could hang there without dropping off was a fascination to me.   While other young girls who smoked put out their cigarettes before they got into the neighborhood, Susan smoked right in front of her own apartment building. 

She had scars on her arms, and one on her upper lip from fighting, I guess.  I’d never seen Susan in a fight, but I’d heard about her beating up boys.  Her prowess only added to her mystique. Beneath the scowl and the scars and the cloud of smoke, Susan was cute.  She was no raving beauty, but who was back then.

I was in the accelerated learning program, and somehow Susan was placed in my class.  She didn’t look like she belonged there, but no one was going to question her presence.  One day in home room three of the popular boys were teasing me.  I can’t remember why.  I’d known these guys since 6th grade. 

“Stop messin’ with my boyfriend,” Susan said.  She seemed dead serious.

The entire class stopped what they were doing and looked at her.  Susan was a girl of a few words.  She’d had very little social interaction with the class until then.

“Who?  Eric?” one of the boys said, as if she’d just told a joke.  

Susan stood up.“You got a problem with that?”

Needless to say, no one had a problem with me being Susan’s boyfriend. The teasing stopped.   I couldn’t figure out why she did it, why she came to my rescue.  Even though I was glad the teasing stopped, it was embarrassing having a girl stand up for me.  Then, to my surprise, after school, Susan appeared by my side.



“Hi, boyfriend,” she said with a big smile.

“Umm. Hi.”

“Were you leaving without me?  Aren’t you going to walk me home?”

“Umm.  Sure.”

Things went back to normal after a few days, but I never forgot Susan, and I used this incident as a springboard for my latest.

This writing from my past is actually a first for me.  I can’t say I’m growing as a writer, although I can say my material is getting closer to home. In part II of this post I’ll talk about my older brother, the other person my latest is about. 

Write what you know means to write about the people and emotions you understand enough to explore. You can also write about amusing or interesting situations you’ve been in.  Just don’t take the adage too literally and start writing about you and your three friends in high school who all like the same boy.  That may be interesting to you, but it will bore us readers to tears.  Use the adage judiciously.

Are you writing what you know?  I’d like to know.

Keep Reading-Keep Writing

Friday, September 12, 2014

Thanks Wattpad!




Todya I received some exciting news.  Wattpad has selected my WIP The Memory Giver as one of their featured books this month starting today 9/12. The book will be on their featured book list for the next several months.  That means that during that time my new work will be exposed to many more readers.  How cool is that?

If you don't know about Wattpad, it's a community of readers and writers where we authors can expose our works or as in my case, works in progress to readers to get their opinion and/or approval.  So far the response to The Memory Giver has been outstanding which is why I believe It's been chosen.  This is a great honor for me, as it allows new readers to become fans of my work, so...

Thanks, Wattpad!


If you're not aware of The Memory Giver, my latest novel in progress, it's a romantic horror thriller.  If you'd like to know more about it please click here for The Memory Giver page on my website.  If you'd like to shoot on over to Wattpad and start reading go here: TMG Wattpad. If you sign up to follow me on Wattpad you can receive the latest chapters or updates right in your mailbox. If you're a fan I'm telling you it's my best book yet.  The language and subject matter are a bit stronger than my earlier books. That's because I'm writing it with my horror writing alter-ego, Sal Conte.  And Sal has a foul mouth. Seriously.

When you read it, please leave comments.  Those who leave several will be chosen as beta readers when the entire novel is ready for publication.  So, there's a reward for commenting. I believe the book will be coming out in December or January. Leave comments and you'll be the first to get a copy in your hands.

That's all for now.  I hope everyone had an awesome summer.  I did.  I've been writing The Memory Giver.

Keep Reading-Keep Writing.
E

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

How Are Your Summer Sales?


It's been a month since I posted about my summer sales experiment.  I thought I'd take a moment to catch you up.  I know I said I was going to recap after two weeks, but I was still gathering information. If you'd like to read the initial post go here: Summer Sales.

As of today, July 30th, I've given away just over 8500 books.  Most of the books were given away at the beginning of the promotion. I gave away 6200 between June 18th and June 30th. I did two paid promotions in June advertising that the first book in the series was now free.  I spent around $100 on June promotions. Not a lot to begin stimulating stagnant sales.

I don't want to bore you with numbers, but I can tell you this: as I said earlier, the freebie has stimulated sales across the franchise.  My rough estimate is we sold between 200-250 books in July. While I haven't reached my goal of 750-1500 sales during the slow summer months, I am selling books during the toughest time of year to sell books. You may recall my May sales (before the experiment) across the franchise were below 100 books.  At the rate I'm going I will sell around 600 books between June 18th and September 1st.

The lesson here is to not sit pat and watch your sales dwindle.  Do something to stimulate them.  If that thing doesn't work, try something else.  For me, 600 books in 2 1/2 months is not a lot. But when I started this experiment my sales were in the toilet, so it looks like the experiment is working.

Another thing, always keep writing.  It may be that next book that propels you into the Kindle top 100. Stop fretting over the books you've already written and write a new one.  One more thing you should know:  Sales seem to increase right after promotion periods, and fall off dramatically when you're not advertising. However, if you run too many freebie promotions you will lose effectiveness. I suggest you keep all your promotional activity over a one week period, then stop for a while. I'd say at least two weeks.  And don't throw a lot of money at it.  You want to make sure you're revenue is higher than what you're spending to advertise.

I'd love to hear how your summer sales experiments are going--or any ideas you might have to stimulate sales. Let's share the information. Please write me here. Now I'm going back to work on my latest; this one is a romantic horror/thriller The Memory Giver. This is the big one, the top 100 seller, I can tell  ;-) You can read more about it here, and even download a free audio presentation of the book's prologue as well by clicking on the book title above.



Have a safe and enjoyable rest of your summer. Keep Reading-Keep Writing!

E  

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Stir Things Up to Boost Summer Sales


It's no secret that summer represents a sales challenge for authors. People travel, take vacations and spend more time outside.  This translates to fewer hours in front of the computer shopping.  Two years ago I was caught totally off guard by the summer sales doldrums.  In March of 2012 both Boyfriend From Hell and Earth Angel landed in  Amazon's top 10 Children's and YA ebooks.  Both books were selling well.  In May and June with no promotion I still sold 500 books, no sweat.  Then July hit and--SCREECH! the bottom fell out. Man, was I depressed.  Sales eventually returned in the fall, but summer was brutal. Last summer (2013) I made sure to have some promo activity (a sale or contest) throughout the summer to help keep sales from slipping too much.

Fast forward to 2014.  I must admit to you this has not been a good year for me.  The final book in The Falling Angels Saga, Falling, was delayed from debuting in November of 2013 to March of this year. It was totally my own fault. I missed the holiday season because I got side-tracked on a TV project.  Despite lots of promotion the new book did not sell well.  That was a first for me. Another first, sales across the entire Falling Angels franchise were in free fall, falling from 500 to 400 to less than 100 books a month by May.



By mid May, knowing that summer was coming, I knew we had to do something.  My publisher (Chris Meeks of White Whisker) and I had been putting our heads together since March with new promo ideas.  We'd see small blips during the promo periods and then sales would go flat again.  So I approached Chris with the radical idea of making Boyfriend From Hell perma-free.  In a long email, I made a compelling argument on how we needed to breath new life into the franchise by creating new fans.  While Chris didn't respond to the idea of perma-free, he did think making Boyfriend From Hell free for the summer was worth a shot.  Heck, we weren't selling any books anyway.  The giveaway began on June 18th, ten days ago, and so far things are going very well.

As of this morning we're up to 6200 free downloads.  More importantly, we're selling books across the franchise.  The final two books in the franchise have been priced at $5.99, a bit more than I would have liked, but surprise, surprise, they're selling.  At the start of the promotion no book was ranked below 100,000.  Heaven Sent and Falling were hanging out around 350, 000.  I don't have exact sales figures, but I know we've sold over 100 books in the 10 days.  Not great, but far better than where we were. Here are my rankings as of this moment.

Boyfriend From Hell (free): #194 in the free store #1 Teen Horror

Earth Angel ($2.99): #40,562
Heaven Sent: ($5.99): #52,987
Falling: ($5.99):  #65,903

Every book in the franchise is now selling.  Every book has been ranked under #100,000 for the last 5 days. I feel as more new readers get around to reading the free books they've downloaded that trend will continue.  If we give away 10,000 free books, and five percent of those readers convert to sales across the franchise (500 readers Xs 3 books), that's 1500 sales during the slow summer months.  If two and a half percent convert, that's 750 sales. Not great, but a lot better than I'd been doing.  It also represents 500 new hard core fans for my next book.  I'll report on my progress in another two weeks.

Boyfriend From Hell is now Free

I know many authors don't have 4 books available and can't afford to give one book away for three months. The idea is not to do what I did, but to do something daring.  Change up your promo patterns.  Hold an oddly interesting contest, package several chapters and give those away. If you try something and it doesn't work, try something else.  But don't stand pat.  Summer sales doldrums can be brutal.  Have fun while trying to think your way out of it.  Oh... and if you haven't read Boyfriend From Hell--guess what?  It's now free.

Keep reading-Keep Writing!




Monday, June 16, 2014

An Update from Sal Conte



Hello my Peeps. It's me, Sal.  My "Pal" E. has allowed me to use this platform to talk to those of you who haven't yet started reading our writing collaboration, The Memory Giver.  What's the matter with you people?  Do you realize I haven't published a word since 2010s short story, The Toothache Man, and before that, nothing, nada, not one word out of me since the 80s.  Most of you were little babies back then, am I right? So if I'm writing now it must be because I have a whole lot to say.  It was back in the 80s that E. left me for dead, but I promised I wouldn't go into that here, and I'm a man of my word.  What I do want to say is The Memory Giver is turning out to be a fun collaboration.  It's a nice combo of our styles:  creepy horror with some light-hearted romance and a kick-ass thriller.



Chapters have been going up on Wattpad Sunday evenings for a few weeks now.  Many of you don't like to read in short busrts, so now's a good time to jump in as there's a nice chunk of story up there just waiting to be read.  It's enough for you to get a sense if you want to stay with it or not, and after you've read it, I'm sure you will.



Just click on the WATTPAD link, sign up and you're all set to follow along.   If you download the FREE WATTPAD MOBILE APP you can easily follow along on your phone or tablet.  What's more fun than creepy horror all summer long?  Free creepy horror all summer long.  Sign-up now.







Monday, June 2, 2014

FREE Horror All Summer Long

HOT FRIGHTS IN THE SUMMER TIME

Here's the book description of my latest work.  Scroll down and find out how you can get it free.

Adrian “A.D.” Dawson.  Loving son and brother.  Deceased. 1972-1986

Amazon_cover
When Turtle Dawson’s 14 year-old brother returns after being dead for two years, he brings with him fond memories of the old days, and a chance at redemption for the entire family. But there's something different about A.D., something dark and sinister, and if Turtle continues to do as A.D. tells him, he could wind up in a world of hurt, or worse, he could wind up dead himself.

Is Turtle’s once loving older brother a giving spirit? a vengeful ghost? or is he something else all-together? That's what overweight and under-confident Turtle must to discover.  He needs to find out soon, lives are at stake, including his and that of his very first girlfriend, Rita Calderon.

And who or what is the Teddy Bear?

Written in my typical page-turning style, The Memory Giver is a sweet, romantic thrill-ride. Like most memorable tales of horror, this book is rich in character, and is as much about redemption as it is about the spooky stuff.

Looking for an unforgettable, horrific treat? Read on, dear reader, read on.

**Book Blurb**

The mist played against the moonlight like dust motes in the air, yet these motes hung with deadly purpose.  The mist drifted toward him, a slow moving cloud.  As it neared, the room grew even colder. Turtle hunched the covers up around himself to keep from shivering.

“Close your eyes,” the voice in the mist whispered.  “Close your eyes and remember the good times.”
The chilling mist was hanging just in front of him now.  

“Okay,” Turtle said softly.  A part of him wanted to run.  This was ghostly stuff and he was afraid of ghosts.  Yet the comforting words relaxed him.

Turtle closed his eyes and shivered as the mist split into two wishbone-like streams, travelling up his nostrils.  He breathed in deeply, a wintry chill stinging the membrane in the back of his nose.  It burned, oh, how it burned.

In the vein of  Stephen King's The Green Mile, The Memory Giver is a tale filled with the magical wonder found in memories. It's a story of  love, loss, adventure, horror, and ultimately revenge.

The Memory Giver will be available in chapter-by-chapter installments on Wattpad  beginning Monday June 9th, 2014--FREE.  The freebies will run all summer long. To follow along, go to Wattpad.com now. Under the "Discover" box at the top of the page, type in The Memory Giver. That will take you to my page where you can follow along. 

The beauty of launching our latest  WIP on Wattpad is you can leave comments, suggestions, or tell us how you think we're doing.  We're offering it for free hoping you'll read along, tell your friends.  And when the fully edited novel comes out next winter, We'd love for you to grab a copy.

To help whet your appetite for this romantic, horror, thriller, I've made an audio recording of the prologue in two parts.  Yes, I did it myself, so don't look for Lawrence Fishburn. It's crude--you can hear a few slips and background sounds.  But isn't that part of the charm of a work in progress? You can download part 1 of the prologue now: The Memory Giver Download    Or listen to it right here.  It's fourteen minutes, so grab a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and enjoy the latest by me, E. Van Lowe and my horror writing alter-ego, Sal Conte, read by me--E.



On the recording, I mention that part II will be on iTunes.  It won't be because I couldn't figure out how to get it there. Instead, it's right here.  It's only about 10 minutes.  If you don't have much time, just listen to part II. Download : The Memory Giver pt 2 Download,  or listen here:


Monday, May 12, 2014

It Could Have Been A Horror Story



It's no secret that horror author, Sal Conte, has no love for me.  The way he puts it, I left him for dead on a beach in Malibu California, as detailed in his October, 2011 guest post on my blog: A Few Words From Sal.   Sal has tweeted about my neglect, as well as his distaste for me, saying quite openly that I took his career away from him and he plans on getting it back.   As the summer draws near, and Sal's latest project gets closer to its launch date, I'm sure we'll be hearing more from Sal.  His feud with me is good marketing. The ironic part of all this is that Sal Conte is my horror writing alter-ego.  Yes, I am Sal, and Sal is me.



Last December I got the idea that Sal and I should write a book together.  Writing with the side of my brain that hates me could have been a horror story, but so far, the book is coming along splendidly. The good news for you is I've decided to release the book this summer in chapters on Watpad for FREE.  Throughout the summer I'll be downloading chapters for you to follow along.  If you're not already a Watpad member, please click on the Watpad link, and after you've signed up, follow me: E. Van Lowe.  Watpad will alert you each time I post an installment.

I created a little video to introduce readers to me, Sal and the book.  The book is entitled The Memory Giver.  I'm billing it as a romantic, horror thriller. Please take a look at the short video below , then follow the link in the video to my website where I have a neat surprise for you.