Sorry for not being here for a while. It's been a rough few months.
After the Southwest Florida Writers conference last April, I decided to check up on how my grandson was doing with is homeschooling. I'm having a moan here.
His parents were supposed to be doing it. My Hayden was in the third grade and couldn't possibly do it on his own.
Sitting down with Hayden one day I discovered that he was six months behind in his work. At that point I took over his homeschooling. We worked together everyday and finally finished.
I was also put in charge of the 2020 Southwest Florida Writers Conference. It was now up to me to recruit the agents and editors from New York to come to the conference. Getting them to say they would come was the easy part. Having them return the signed contract was the hard part. There was also the local faculty to round up and get contracts back from. We would be having workshops and I had to try and make up the schedule. Needless to say it did my head in, but it's organized now and I think it's going to be great.
In July, I ended up in the hospital. I was having terrible stomach pains. I got three different answers. Can anyone tell me how I could gain seven pounds in a week on nil by mouth? I'm fine now that goodness.
Back to homeschooling at the end of August. We switched to Connections Academy which is accredited and a lot harder.
Well that was my summer.
Along the way I had my book, Blood Orange, made into an audiobook. I've put the first chapter up on YouTube. https://amzn.to/2GbzRap I'd like you to listen to it and tell me what you think. I also have a free giveaway going on with Kingsumo. I have free codes to giveaway for Blood Orange on audio. I only have 50 to give away to enter to be one of the first 50. I'll also include the first chapter of my new work in progress, The Alligator Dance. Set in Florida. Click here to enter https://kingsumo.com/g/iszowq/blood-orange
Like many Indi authors I have tried all kinds of ways to increase my sales. I've tried Social Media, spending hours posting to Facebook and Twitter. I've spent more than I could afford with pay for click ads on Amazon and Facebook.
I've published paperbacks, eBooks and now audio books and still not getting very far.
I listened to a Webinar the other day by Amy Collins on how to get into libraries. I have had moderate local success with local libraries picking up my titles but I want more.
What Amy Collins said made great sense to me. It's all in the distribution. We have all been using Amazon's Create Space and now Kindle Direct Publishing for years. Amazon want's you to be exclusive with them. Book stores and Libraries will not buy books from Amazon as a general rule. Why? Because there is no returnability of paperback books.
Amy Suggested that to get into stores and libraries you need to be with three companies - Ingram spark, for paperback books, Draft2digital for your eBooks, and Find a way voices for the Audiobooks.
I spent the greater part of today working with Draft2Digital to upload three of my books to their service.
Now I have to work on the audiobooks. I need to take them out of Amazon's Audible exclusive contract and have them moved to Find a Way Voices.
It's not easy being an independent author but I have news for you. Even if you are with one of the big Traditional publishing houses you still have to do your own marketing.
This coming week I'll be making up notices for libraries the way Amy Collins said to do it. One of the big things was to tell the libraries what distributers have my books.
In the meantime click on the links below and checkout two of my books.
Honey Tree Farm - https://books2read.com/b/bP5R8J
Blood Orange https://books2read.com/b/bP5R
Please leave a comment or ask a question. I love to hear from my followers
I love to read independently published book by local authors. some are not that good but once in a while I come across an exceptionally well written and engaging book.
I put off reading The Inner War, by Gerda Hartwich Robinson because I get handed so many books by new authors. I hate to tell an author that I didn't like their book. I'm so happy I don't have to do that this time. The author told the story of being a child in Germany during WW II.
Often we only think of the Holocaust and the terrible things that the Jews were forced to endure.
Gerda's story is about a non Jewish child and what she and her family had to go through to survive and the emotional scars it left.
Everyone who reads this will feel the trauma of hearing bombs dropping, planes flying overhead bringing death and destruction. Wondering if they would be alive when the all clear sounded.
Her writing is heartfelt. She brings all the drama of the war and it's aftermath to life. After arriving in America her suppressed emotions cause her physical pain.
She discovers that her physical pain is related to her troubled past and through the help of an understanding mental health rehab center she is able to deal with her unresolved emotions.
I don't often like to read memoirs but this is one I can recommend to everyone. I can't praise the author enough for laying her soul bare in this wonderful hard to put down book.
Please leave a comment, ask a question. I would love to hear from you.
I have not had much time over the past few weeks to catch up on my blogging to my readers. Sorry about that. I was working hard on putting the first Southwest Florida Writers Conference in Port Charlotte last weekend.
We had almost two hundred people attend the conference. There were ten agents from NY along with editors, publishers and our own local faculty to deal with. We had a few glitches but all in all is was a great event.
This was the second time meeting agents and I'm still learning from them. This time I was able to send in fifteen pages ahead of time for the agent to go over and critique. Believe me that was scary.
I spoke with three agents and got different feed back from each of them. I will take what they said to heart and try to incorporate their comments to the book I'm working on. The good thing is two of the agents want to see the finished manuscript.
If any writer is serious about their writing and getting an agent I strongly advise you to go to writers conferences and meet with agents.
I was lucky enough to meet with them casually at a dinner the night before and get to know them as people. It made it a lot easier to sit across the table from them and discuss my book.
In February I was on a cruise and met with agents from the Seymour agency in NY. It was the first time I had met any agents and believe me it was a lot better than sending hundreds of query letters out that no one even reads.
That said being a sucessful author is more than just putting words on paper and hoping for the best. It's a craft, an art that you have to learn. You have to take advise from people that know what they are talking about.
I learned so much from all these agents. You have to learn how to write a pitch. The very first agent I spoke to shot me down in flames. Everyone felt sorry for me it was so bad. But I learned that I didn't pitch my book I gave her a synopsis and that is not what she wanted. I spent the next three days honing and revising my pitch. NY Times Best Selling author Don Bruns sat with me in one of the ships lounges and over several drinks I had a pitch that impressed four agents on the trip where they were interested enough to ask for me to send them my book.
I know have six agents and a publisher interested in my as yet unfinished manuscript.
That my friends in the value of going to conferences and meeting face to face with agents.
Don Bruns told me he met his agent at a conference sitting in the hotel bar. They struck up a conversation and the rest is history.
Check out writers conferences in your area and go learn from them. Maybe you'll be on the times best seller list some day.
Please leave me a comment or email me - email@example.com
,When I was on the cruise with the Seymour agency I was told that I needed to have my book reach eighty pages. My books are usually in the novella range of forty-five to fifty thousand words. This is going to be a challenge.
The Alligator Dance is about a real event last year in Manatee County Florida. Nine people were convicted on RICO charges to do with the illegal poaching of alligators eggs. Yes, poaching alligator eggs. Now you would think we have plenty of alligators and so should have plenty of eggs. Wrong. The fashion trades demand for hides for purses, belts, shoes and so forth is driving the need for more and more hides.
Louisiana is the main producer of hides for this trade. Double what Florida does.
There are only thirty permits issued by the state of Florida each year for the legal collecting of alligator eggs. The price for each egg varies but can reach $100. If you figure that each nest contains 30 to 80 eggs you can see why poachers are trying to cash in.
My book is romantic suspense. It's also fiction with some facts thrown in. I have a park ranger that happens to be a Seminole Indian, Seth Grayson. His partner in catching the poachers is Liz Corday, a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission law enforcement officer. Along the way they discover that the laws of attraction know now boundaries.
I'm on my way to a Sisters in Crime meeting so I have to get a move on. I'll tell you more about The Alligator Dance next week when I figure it out. Sixty thousand words to go.
Please leave comments, ask questions or contact me - firstname.lastname@example.org
don't forget to register for the Southwest Florida Writers conference, April 13, in Port Charlotte.
As authors we are all looking for that agent who will get us that big deal.
I just returned from a cruise with the Seymour Agency to the Bahamas. You might think it's a strange way to find an agent but oh so much fun.
I found out about the cruise from Angelina Assanti the President of The Florida Authors and Publishers Association which I belong to. We sailed out of Miami to the Bahamas on Monday and returned on Friday. It will take me days to recover. I have so much to catch up on.
I met these two officers and they were kind enough to let me have a picture with them. I spent way too much money shopping but oh well. This may only happen once.
You are all probably wondering how I made out with the agents. The first night one of the agents had a casual pitch session which I totally blew. The agent was not at all impressed with my pitch for The Alligator Dance my new novel that is still in progress. I was shot down in flames and totally depressed. Lucky for me a couple kind people came up to me and expressed their sympathy and said that they were interested in my book. I spent two days refining my pitch while attending the different workshops. Did I say this was a working trip? I had a lot of help from friends old and new and finally got my pitch down.
On the last day, the agents held a pitch fest where we each had five minutes to pitch our book to an agent. I got over my stage fright and pitched to five agents and one publisher. They all requested that I submit my book to them when I finished it and one asked that I make it a series and submit a proposal for two more books.
I'm going to need your help when I finish my novel. I will need beta readers to read and let me know if the book hits all the right spots or if it's totally dreadful and make some suggestions. The book will take a few months to finish and then has to go to an editor. I'm hoping to have it finished by fall. If you are interested in helping me I'll send you an attachment with the PDF of the novel. If you are one of the beta readers and send me your input I'll see that you receive a free copy of the book when It's published.
Here is the pitch I gave.
Two people charged with protecting the environment have to put aside their primal attraction and risk their lives to stop poachers from decimating alligator nests in a Florida State Park.
As always I'd love to hear from you and if you wish to contact me use my email
Hi folks, sorry I haven't been here for a while. So many things going on and so little time.
I've been working the Southwest Florida Writers conference to be held in Port Charlotte, April 13. More agents to meet and workshops to attend. If interested you better sign up now as time is quickly running out.
I've published two new books for authors. They are listed on the authors page with their covers and links to their Amazon page. Linda Eskin is a very dear phone friend who lives in New Hampshire. She's completed her fourth book with me. Ali Goebel is from Sarasota who wrote and illustrated her first book. I hope you will take the time you look at them.
I've also been working on my new novel and after a couple title changes have settled on The Alligator Dance. You can find the first chapter at the end of this blog. It's about alligator egg poaching in Florida. Yes it's a real thing. The main character is a handsome park ranger that happens to be a Seminole Indian. Reading this book will surprise you with the information about the Seminole culture and the illegal trade in alligator eggs.
The big news is that I'm going on a cruise with the Seymour literacy agency to the Bahamas. Along with meeting agents there will be reps from Hallmark and Netflix. I have my fingers crossed. Who knows maybe I'll have my paranormal mysteries on the Hallmark Channel.
As always please leave a comment or contact me via email - email@example.com
now for the first chapter of - The Alligator Dance
The Alligator Dance
“Remember, I’ll be back in two hours. If you’re not here I’m leaving without you,” Carl yelled at the men in the back of the truck. He was fed up with this early morning shit. The sun was barely up, but the heat and humidity were already oppressive. Carl was a good ol’ boy from Bartow, picking up odd jobs as they can around. The drop-off point was on the southwest side of the River Bend State Park. The men would have to climb a fence into the protected and posted nature preserve and be out of the park before eight o’clock that morning. Visitors hiking to Gator Basin could be coming along the two-mile stretch of road any time after that. Six men jumped off the truck. One of the men, Dr. Melendez, was a biologist. For some reason, the boss thought that having a biologist along made their raiding of the alligator nests more or less legal, but Carl knew there was nothing legal about what they were doing.
“Yeah, yeah,” grumbled Cody, a tall, well-built charmer with sun-bleached blond hair. He didn’t need a reminder. He’d taken this trip with Carl before and would much rather be at the beach surfing. The six men deployed out along the bank of the slow-moving branch of the Myakka River- heading for an area known as Gator Basin. The spot was an anomaly for attracting over a hundred alligators of all sizes to its deep depths. They had to be careful, quick and quiet so they didn’t draw the attention of the park ranger. The duty ranger had a way of turning up when least expected.
The men trailed off along the river bank-leaving Cody alone. He could see them off in the distance, poking around and occasionally stopping to fill their plastic containers.
Cody was the youngest of the crew. He was only working for Carl to help pay his way through college at USF. He needed the money. His football scholarship only covered so much, and his parents couldn’t help. The men were not very friendly and considered him an outsider. It was ok because he didn’t like them either. Cody’s Spanish was getting better, and he understood when they were making fun of him. He was graduating early next year because of the extra classes he was taking this summer. He would miss the friends he had made, but he was anxious to get on with his life. Cody hated working for Carl and knew what they were doing was illegal as hell.
Cody would like to be able to eat more than Top Ramen five nights a week. Last time out he got five hundred dollars. Not bad for a couple of hours battling the mosquitoes and heat, not to mention watching out for snakes and gators. He located a mound of leaves, and dirt and plant vegetation which was three feet high and about six feet around, Cody hoped to find thirty to fifty eggs inside. He got paid for each egg he turned in to Carl. Cody took a quick look around, checking to see if momma gator was close. He didn’t see anything, so he began to uncover his prize.
With his back to the water, Cody knelt to dig down to the eggs. “Momma you sure buried these down far enough,” he grunted as he dug with the short spade. Suddenly he realized that the world around him had gone silent. The birds had stopped chirping. Even the insects had stopped buzzing around his head. The hair on the back of his head stood up, and a chill raised goosebumps on his arms. Then he heard it. The low growl of momma alligator rumbled through the still air, and she was not happy.
Almost instantly as the thoughts raced through his head, excruciating pain raced up his leg. The gator was crushing his calf above his work boot with her sharp teeth filled jaws, dragging him through the mud, down to the water. He tried to grab anything to hold onto to save himself. Cody screamed, but the others were too far away. He prayed to God and knew his life was over.
“Did you hear something?” Hector asked. He stood over an open nest and looked in Cody’s direction.
“Nah, keep going there is another nest right there,” another man told him.
“I swear I heard someone calling,” Hector insisted.
“Probably one of those crazy birds or something. Come on we’ve only another half hour before we meet Carl. I’m getting eaten alive by these bugs,” Manuel complained.
The men finished destroying twenty nests, robbing them of the alligator eggs. On their way back to the pick-up spot they passed the section of nests that Cody had been raiding. “Where’s that smart-ass college kid?” Hector asked. Looking around he saw the open nest with the exposed eggs. Drag marks and blood in the mud led down to the water. Hector made the sign of the cross and hurried to catch up with the others, “Madre Dios,” Hector whispered. He had liked the smart young kid. He picked up Cody’s bucket of eggs and the spade and carried on to the pickup spot.
Now that Hidden Assets - book three in the Green Lady Inn series is in production I'm learning more about how to promote it and also how to let listeners have a little sample. Whispers in Time, book two in the series, focuses on an art theft at the Longstreet Gallery in Salem Ma. It seem that the Green Lady Inn attracts more than it's share of trouble and guests that are not who they say they are.
Listen to the first chapter of Whispers in Time. Book one and two are available on Audible. I'd love to know what you think and leave a review.
Here is the link to Broken Branches, book one, on Audible. https://www.audible.com/pd/B07BMHT747/?source_code=AUDFPWS0223189MWT-BK-ACX0-111674&ref=acx_bty_BK_ACX0_111674_rh_us
From the active mind of Brenda M. Spalding