Saturday, April 4, 2015

Sal Conte Rides Again!

As some of you know, when I was in college (a long, long time ago, but that's a story for another day) I wrote two horror novels I was lucky enough to get published. The books turned out to be horror classics: Child's Play and The Power.  The books were published by Dorchester Publishing under their Leisure paperback imprint.  I wrote the books under the pseudonym Sal Conte. After college, Sal went into retirement (or as he likes to say, I tried to kill him) and I got on with my career of writing for television.

But as Sal also likes to say "You can't keep a dead man down," and Sal is now back with new horrific thrills for you. Yesterday, Friday April 4th, he released a brand new short story: Because We Told Her To. The early reviews are in and it seems Sal hasn't lost a step.  One reviewer called the new story CREEPTASTIC! another said: This story will leave you with chills down your spine.

Help me celebrate the return of Sal Conte by popping over to the story's Amazon page, reading the  five star reviews and grabbing a copy for yourself.  It's less than a buck, 99cents.  You can do that here: Because We Told Her To

I know some of you need a bit more persuading before plunking down your hard earned cash.  No problem, I've recorded a short audio excerpt from the book to entice you further.  Give a listen, and if that doesn't win you over, you've got no soul.

Seriously, if you like good horror, you'll soon be warning all your horror-loving friends to look out for The Twitter Sisters.  Go on, now.  Give a listen and then grab your copy.  I thank you, and Sal Conte does, too.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Happy Endings

I’m a sucker for a happy ending.  When Harry Met Sally, Pretty Woman, Silver Linings Playbook, are among my all-time favorite movies.  I think we’re all suckers for happy endings because we all like to know that no matter how bad things can be they can always work out in the end. 

But there’s a darker side of me, a side I don’t like to tap into very often.  That side says no matter how hard you try, no matter how good your intentions, things are going to go to crap in the end.  This darker side of me is author, Sal Conte.  Like me, Sal is a good yarn spinner, with a good sense of humor, but that’s where the comparisons end.  Sal is one dark SOB.

Sal has a new short story coming out on April 3rd, and I’m beating the drum for you to come out and support him.  Thousands upon thousands of you have read and enjoyed The Falling Angels Saga.  Boyfriend From Hell alone had more than 10,000 downloads last year.  That’s awesome and I appreciate it, but today I’m asking you to support the dark side of my brain—Sal Conte.  The new story, Because We Told Her To, is only 99 cents and from what my beta readers are telling me, it’s one helluva read.  Worth every penny. If you’re a fan of mine, please become a fan of Sal Conte as well.

I even recorded an audio excerpt to entice you over to the book's Amazon Page.  You can listen to the excerpt here:

Unlike in Silver Linings Playbook, Sal can’t promise you a happy ending.  But he can promise you a satisfying read.  In some ways that’s even better because it’s a promise he can keep.


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Creating Engaging Characters

When I read many of the self-published novels that proliferate today’s literary landscape, one glaring flaw that jumps out at me is the lack of character development.  Many newbie authors spend much of their time on the plot not realizing that plot should always be secondary to character.  Plot, to me, is like a car, while character is the driver.  You need the driver to get the car where you want it to go--where you want to go.  It’s the driver’s choices that make the trip pleasurable or harrowing.  The car is just the vehicle.
I noted for a fantasy writer recently that in J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of The Rings, it isn’t elves, and orcs and ring wraiths that make the story so engaging—it’s Frodo’s moral dilemma, or what I call his moral conundrum that propels the story forward.  When Frodo comes to realize the responsibility he’s been entrusted with the ring, he doesn’t want it.  It’s the weight of this and how he handles this and other responsibilities that really moves the story along.  It’s not the plot, but the characters choices that makes The Lord of The Rings so engaging.

In Stephen King’s The Shining, Jack Torrance surmises his family (wife, Wendy and son, Danny) are the reason he’s in the position he’s in—a broke, struggling, alcoholic writer.  Taking the job at the Overlook is Jack’s desire to fix his life, but his secret belief that his family is the reason for his woes (his conundrum) eats at him until it finally brings him down. Yes, Danny’s ability to see ghosts who might harm him scares the hell out of us, but it’s his father’s moral conundrum that propels the story along.

If you’re a newbie writer, or even a seasoned vet who may have forgotten, characters and their choices are the key to creating engaging work. It’s great having a Ferrari (plot) but without a good driver (character) it’s just another car.

Monday, February 16, 2015

My Brother, My Muse

Yesterday I talked with my older brother on the phone.  We talk just about every Sunday.  He and his family live in Virginia, while I live here in Southern Cal.  3000 miles has not kept us from remaining close. Growing up in New York City, my brother was an awesome big brother--annoying as hell much of the time, yet there was something solid about him that helped keep me grounded.  Yes, "solid" is the best word I can use to describe him.  You always knew what you got with my big brother.  He unashamedly marched to the beat of his own drummer.  When we were at the age where no one wanted to stick out for fear of being made fun of, my brother stuck out.   When all the kids wore Converse or Pro-Keds he wore what kids laughingly called skips.

I remember one time, back in the day, when sneakers were either black or white, my brother got a pair of red sneaks.  You couldn't help but notice them.  Kids may have laughed at my brother--I may have even laughed at him--but never to his face.  No one made fun of my brother. No one!  He received much respect for not being goaded or ridiculed into backing down from the things he liked. I was amazed at how comfortable he was in his own skin back then.  That comfort helped shape me, helped teach me not to be ashamed.  I don't know where Leonard Adolphus Van Lowe got it from, but I'm glad he had it.

A.D., the at times sinister, ghostly character in my up-coming novel, The Secrets of Love and Death was written with my brother in mind.  A.D., the first two letters of my brother's middle name. The book in some ways is a love letter to him.  Growing up, my brother was among my best friends. Over the next few weeks, I'll be talking more and more about him and about the new book.  I had a wonderful childhood because of him, and in the new book I hope to share some of that feeling with you. It is a romantic horror story, so I'll just be sharing SOME of that feeling, as my main goal is to keep you entertained. The cover art is currently being designed.  I will keep you posted about that as well.   I also have an audio clip I plan to share with you soon.

I hope you'll stay tuned for my journey to the publication of my next novel, The Secrets of Love and Death.


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

What's In A Name? We Shall Soon Find Out

In Shakespeare's play, Romeo and Juliet, Juliet says "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet." In the scene, Juliet is telling Romeo not to be hung up on names.  That may be true if you're a Capulet who has fallen in love with a Montague.  However, in titling your book, the name you choose can waylay your good efforts before they have a chance to get any recognition.  I'm not saying your title is the key to your book's success.  But just like professional looking artwork, and a snappy book blurb, your title is an important tool in getting your book sampled.  Titles may not matter to some people, but unless you already have a large following, your title is an important marketing tool.

I'm saying this now because after much haranguing over title ideas, my good friend and publisher (Chris Meeks of White Whisker Books) and I have settled on a title for my latest book.  I think it's a good title.  I think it's a very good title.  I'd come up with it over a year ago, but not for this book.  I had been sitting on it to use in my Hollyweird series.  I'm not great at coming up with titles, so when I do come up with a good one, I save it, even if I don't have a work to go with it just yet.

I don't think very many indie authors spend enough time on titling their works.  I see many new books with the same title as three or four other books--some in the same genre.  To me, this is a no-no. Unless your book is part of an ongoing series, I think it should have a unique title.  If you're not sure if your title is unique, just type your prospective title into Amazon.  If you see it's already been used, and used in the past few years, I think you should move on. I didn't know this back when I wrote Never Slow Dance With A Zombie.  I was new to the game, but I knew I wanted a fun, interesting title.  It took me over a year to come up with that title, and when the publisher (Tor) heard it, they new it was perfect. Many readers have told me the title alone has prompted them to pick up the book. Occasionally, I've seen in reviews, where readers have said they didn't like the book.  At least I got them to try it.  After that it's out of my hands.

Another thing about that title is if you go to Amazon and type in the words Never Slow.. my title will pop up.  There's nothing even close.  The title is not only provocative.  It's unique.  A year after my second YA novel, Boyfriend From Hell came out, another book with the same title came out. I was so upset, but there was noting I could do about it, aside from complain to my publisher. Even though I was first to market with the title, you cannot copyright a title. Fortunately, since my book is the most popular with the title, it shows up first. My advice to authors is to spend more time coming up with unique and provocative titles.  It may take more time to bring your book to market, but I think it's time well spent.

And now for the title of my new book. It was formerly called The Memory Giver.  I liked the title, but I had my suspicions it wouldn't stick.  It was unique, but not provocative enough. The new title is. Drum roll, please: The Secrets of Love and Death.  I hope you like it.  It's dead-on perfect for my new book, a romantic-horror-thriller.  And if you type it into Amazon, nothing comes up.  At least, not yet.  Is it a good title??? We'll soon find out.

If you'd like to read a little bit of the book (the fully edited version will be out summer, 2015), several chapters are available now on Wattpad under the old title, The Memory Giver.  Just click on the link.  I hope you enjoyed this post, I hope you like my title, and I hope you'll give my latest book a try. Thanks.  Peace.

Keep Reading-Keep Writing!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year!

I can't believe the year is coming to an end already. For many of us on the author end of the business this year saw diminishing returns for our work.  Meaning, many authors I know made less on their writing this year than in previous years.  If you're a reader, this has been a banner year, with the quality of self and indie published works increasing dramatically along with some great books brought out by the Big 5 publishers.  There's lots of good reading to be had.

I had an awesome year.  And, yes, I made less this year than in previous years, however, I wrote what I feel is my best book yet--The Memory Giver, a romantic/horror tale featuring two young lovers. I can't say I'm going to knock down any doors with this book, but I'm very proud of it nonetheless. The new book is still in editorial and will be out (hopefully) early next year, but 16 chapters are available free right now on my Wattpad page.  If you'd like to end the year (or start 2015) with a solid romantic/horror read click here: THE MEMORY GIVER.  I also dipped my toe ever-so-gently into self publishing with the December 24th publication of my funny, snarky novella I Want You Back! This is just a start for me.  At some point I plan to dive into self-publishing whole hog.  Look for more shorter works from me and my horror writing alter ego, Sal Conte, in 2015. For now, my longer works will continue to be published traditionally.

I'm going to end this post by sharing a post from author, Bob Mayer with you: 16 Thoughts for Authors/Publishing for 2015.  I feel all authors should read this post. While the piece is aimed at authors, readers also need to know what to expect in the new year.

Happy New Year, everyone.  It's an honor and a pleasure being a writer.  I'm so lucky that my job is sharing stories with you. I look forward to a fabulous 2015. and I wish the same for readers and authors alike. Peace.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

It's Not As Deep As I Thought It Was

I've finally done it.  After eight years, seven novels, three publishers, many rejections,  and much hand wringing, I've decided to dip my toe ever so gently into the swirling waters of self-publishing. If you've read any of my posts for indie authors you'd think I was a self-publishing machine.  Think again. This is a first for me and it is daunting.  The thing I feared the most turned out to be the easiest.  I'd heard nightmarish tales of the difficulties in uploading a book to Amazon.  I heard you needed to know how to write code.  I heard you needed a converting program.

After downloading a program to convert my ms file to mobi (the format needed for Kindle) and failing at achieving a satisfactory book to share with the public, I decided to just start the process of signing up to be an author on Amazon while I searched for another, more user friendly, mobi converter program.  I went to Amazon KDP and filled out all the forms--easy, added my tax info--easy, uploaded the cover--easy (I'd had a cover designed months ago), and arrived at the section where it says 'upload your book.'  I tried uploading the pdf  I'd prepared for the converter program. I got a message saying Amazon didn't accept pdfs.  It listed the accepted formats and low and behold, one of them was Word document.   What the??? What about all that very technical converting I needed to do?

Here's where it gets really strange: Throwing caution to the wind, I loaded the doc, waited for it to successfully upload.  Once the ms was loaded successfully Amazon asked if I'd like to see what it would look like in several different Kindle formats. I held my breath and started with Kindle Fire--perfect.  I scrolled my ebook through all the various formats and while some weren't so perfect, all looked pretty darn good.

Amazon then asked was I ready to publish. "No," I thought. "I'm doing something wrong.  It can't be this easy."  Yet after a few days of searching the internet and a conversation with my publisher, I discovered it can be that easy.

So here I am, friends, dipping my toe into the waters.  The ebook I'm publishing is a funny, snarky novella I wrote after the publication of Never Slow Dance With A Zombie called I Want You Back!  I'd been sitting on it for years.  Earlier this year, I polished it again, sent it out for an edit, and here we are. It's available for presale at $2.99 here: I Want You Back!  Why not pop on over and admire my Amazon page, but DO NOT BUY IT because I'm offering the same ebook here free: E's Website. You heard right, I'm giving the ebook away and I'd rather you try it for free than buy it.

Not to toot my own horn, but some of my books have been Amazon ebook bestsellers, and not in some obscure category, either.  And I've been nominated for the prestigious ALA (American Library Association) Award, so I'm no slouch. I even wrote a short film that was nominated for an Academy Award, seriously, the Academy Award--you know, the show that's on TV every year. But I digress. The free ebook is my way of getting newer readers to try my work. All I want in return is that you sign up for my newsletter for special fans.

Please take a moment to click on the link above, and stop by my wbesite where you can hear more about the ebook & newsletter, and sign-up to receive it in time to read during the holidays.

Now that I know how easy self-publishing can be, you will be seeing more shorter works from me published by me.  My longer works will still be published by White Whisker Books--for now.  I've dipped my toe into the self-publishing waters and they're not as deep as I thought they'd be. If you're considering self-publishing, do not hesitate as long as I did.  It's not as scary as it seems. Go for it!

If you'd like a short, funny, paranormal read, head on over to my website and give I Want You Back! a try.

Keep reading- Keep Writing!