Tuesday, October 22, 2013

How to Achieve 'Top Tweet' Status

Since I have teenagers, I knew last week was the PSAT for juniors. This gave me an idea to tweet yesterday about my SAT vocab novel, BLOOD MOON. Here is what I tweeted:

Did your child wilt at the sight of the PSAT last week? BLOOD MOON - fun way to prep 4 the SATs:

I had used the #satprep hashtag before, thinking this would be a way to connect with kids or parents who are thinking about studying for the SATs. The #homeschool hashtag I've tried also, because I am hoping that some homeschooling types might think of my book as a tool for their child for non-traditional SAT study.

Typically, when I use a hashtag in one of my Twitter posts, I like to click on it to see what other kinds of tweets are using it, or if anyone is using it at all. That's when I noticed this:

Somehow my tweet was selected as the "Top Tweet" under the #satprep hashtag! 

I didn't know what that meant or how I was selected, so I did some research.

2) Up until April this year, Twitter used to support an account called @toptweets where my tweet would've appeared for all the world to see. 

3) Oddly enough, although the algorithm info I've found on Twitter's own website claims that "Top Tweets are Tweets that lots of people are interacting with and sharing via retweets, replies, and more," my tweet has had no RTs or replies from anyone other than myself. 

Right now, I'm just coasting on this additional bit of self-promotion. Not sure if my post will keep this 'top tweet' status for long or if this will produce any sales. I'll let you know what happens, if anything, in a future blog post. As of now, I see NO benefit to me at all!  No sales that I can see and no increase in twitter followers.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Apparently I Have a Knack!

Currently, I am in the middle of reading Laura Hillenbrand's book Unbroken. I happened to pick up this book because the pastor at my church included it in a sermon about six weeks ago. The book is the true story of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic athlete who ended up as an airman during World War II. Not only does he survive a plane crash into the Pacific, he survives weeks of drifting in a life raft and then ends up in a Japanese POW camp.

As I got deeper into the book (very good, btw), I thought, "This would make a great movie." So I searched on IMDB to see if maybe someone had the same thought I did.

Ta-da! Unbroken is coming to a theater near you in December 2014!

This seems to be my fate as of late. Out of the last 4 books I've read, 3 of them are being turned into movies. And, no, I didn't realize any of them were headed for the big screen when I chose them. I am not sure what that says about my ability to pick books. Maybe it says nothing. However, I suppose it gives me a bit of insight into how difficult the life of an agent must be.

An agent ends up with hundreds, if not thousands, of books to read. Out of the pile, the agent must find the gem. How do you describe to people out there what a 'gem' is exactly?

I have quite a few book samples on my Kindle. Whenever I hear about a good book, I typically head to Amazon to see if I can download a sample. If the sample is good enough, I will buy the rest of the book. Generally, I will know if I like a book within a few pages. Sometimes it takes a whole chapter to get the feel for where the story is headed and if I like the writing style.

Now that I think about it, though, maybe my taste is very middle-of-the-road. If the books I'm choosing are books worthy of movie-dom, maybe it is because I am a reader who is your average person. Who knows?

Perhaps Hollywood studios should have some 'average Americans' give input about what books they have enjoyed and get a consensus about what would make a good film. Just like product developers get input from consumers about new products! Now that would be a fun group to be a part of. Rather than let a small handful of powerful people in the movie industry tell us what we want to watch, ask the viewers!

Hey, Hollywood, I'm available if you're looking for an opinion!

Friday, October 11, 2013

TV Shows - Hit and Miss

I am here to report on what I've discovered this year with a few of the new tv shows. A couple of misses for me, but hopefully at least one show that I will stick with for awhile.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - Not for me. Gave it 2 episodes. 2nd episode was worse than the first. Bye-bye! Reasoning: some bad actors, contrived plots, didn't really care about anyone, unclear overall goals.

Hostages - Not for me. Gave it 3 episodes. Not worth my time. Bye-bye! Reasoning: plot holes big enough to drive a bus through, once you roll your eyes about a dozen times during an episode can you really continue to spend time watching it?

Sleepy Hollow - Liked it. Have watched 4 episodes. Only 1 episode was below average, other 3 kept my interest. Reasoning: likeable leads (Abby and Ichabod are great actors), clear goals, some mysteries that are hinted at but left for later reveals, good atmosphere, fun times with Ichabod adjusting to modern life.

Those are the only 3 shows right now that I have given my time to. I am sure there are a few that I have missed, but I know there are some upcoming that I want to see. (Almost Human, I'm looking at you...)

What shows are you enjoying? Do you disagree with my assessments? Let me know!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

What I Like to Read

For an author, I think I'm a little bit weird when it comes to reading. I don't really read in the genre I write. At least, not that often. The last few books I have read were a mix of regular suspense and non-fiction.

My non-fiction reading as of late has all been focused around North Korea. Although I just picked up Laura Hillenbrand's book "Unbroken" about a World War II vet who ended up in a Japanese Prison Camp. But if you read a good book about prisoners in North Korean prison camps, let me know...

I think some authors would find it strange that I don't read in my genre (paranormal suspense). For me, I think it helps to keep my plotting purer. I don't head down a path that is familiar or 'expected.' I write what I want to write. I don't care if it's unusual or different than the books already out there.

If I read every werewolf book available before I wrote Blood Moon, perhaps I would have followed a plotline that 'fit the market' rather than what worked for me.

This can be a problem, though, because maybe my books don't fit in a category. I know that was true when I was looking for an agent for my book, The Little Black Box. A mind-controlling black box that makes people commit suicide...uh, what now?

I did get a few requests for the first few chapters. One agent asked for the whole thing and had very complimentary things to say...but no one decided to sign me and try to sell the story to a big publisher. Was it too weird a concept? Maybe. But these are the stories that come out of my head.

After taking a break for a few years from my writing, I am diving back into some old projects. Currently, I am reviving an idea I had for a 3-book series about strange things from outer space and a Navy petty officer who finds herself caught up in the middle of it all. I think it's a fun idea. Since I was in the Navy for 6 years, perhaps this would come with a built-in selling feature...who knows?

One thing I won't be doing is reading science fiction or military thrillers to see if I'm doing it right. If this book is too weird for the regular publishing world, I can just publish it myself in this day and age. Let the book speak for itself. Right?