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 - firstname.lastname@example.org
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
We have finally seen the old year out and the New Year in.
Every year since I began my writing journey, going on nine years now, I have kept a loose record of my expenses, and profits. This year I'm proud to announce I'm $600 less in the hole than I was the year before.
Keeping track of expenses and profits lets me see where I could have saved money and where were the best ways to make money.
I use excel spread sheets. Fellow authors here call me the spread sheet queen because I keep all sorts of records for my writing and other things like my house budget.
In 2018, I entered a couple contests and won an award in the Florida Authors and Publishers Association for my children's book , Sailing Away to Nod. It's a beautifully illustrated book and I need some reviews for it. I'm waiting for results in two more contests.
In the mean time I'm writing another novel, Gator Farm. It's a fictional story based on a real event here in Manatee County FL dealing with the poaching of alligator eggs. You would not believe how much you can get for an alligator egg and all the hoops you have to go through to do it legally. I'm hoping to have it finished for the Southwest Florida Writers conference in Port Charlotte in April. I have an opportunity to present my work in front of two New York agents. It's promising to be a huge event for the area.
Also in production for audio is Hidden Assets - Book three in the Green Lady Inn series. In case any one likes to listen on Audible, here is a sample of book two for you
Please leave a comment or ask a questions. I would love to hear from you.
I finally have a couple weeks off before the craziness starts again. I've had a busy December traveling from Melbourne to Daytona, the 'Villages' near Ocala and to Venice last weekend. I've mentioned going to events before and how important they are in getting noticed, raising your author platform and your brand. If readers don't know you exist how can they buy your books?
There is also an art to selling your books. There were about ten of us at the Venice Community Center December 15. Book sales ranged from 20 to 0.
What I noticed is that authors that have been selling a while have a spiel and patter down and they know how to attract readers.
I felt bad for the authors that did not sell anything. They are new and did not know how to engage the people walking past their table. One was knitting and the other was doing the crossword in the paper.
I love to help authors succeed and did try a bit to show them how to talk to passers by but I had my own books to sell. Next time we are together I will try to place them better and give them a bit more help.
We were all new authors once and have a lot to learn not only about the craft of writing but about the business of being an author.
Here are some of the authors at the Venice arts and Craft fair.
Remember to register for the Southwest Florida Writers Conference in Port charlotte in April 2019.
I'm always looking for the next best thing for my books. Last spring I decided to try audiobooks. A friend spent hours or should I say days recording Broken Branches - book one in the Green Lady Inn series. After trying to figure out the production end of it I gave up and went to ACX. They are part of Amazon. Isn't everything these days? I found out how really easy and not that expensive to produce an audiobook on Audible.
What amazed me was the terrific reviews that are on my Audible page for my book.
Here is one of the reviews.
"Normally I am not a listener of mystery novels, but this one sounded interesting so I gave it a try. Glad I did, it was so compelling I started and finished it within 24 hours. This story contains romance and mystery with a small supernatural twist in just the right proportions. Megan came to Salem to take care of her Grandma's affairs after her unfortunate death. While in Salem, she meets Mr. Right, discovers her family history, befriends several locals and finds herself trying to put the clues together to figure out who might have killed her Gram.
"The book was well-written, the mystery well plotted out and the characters were believable. The narrator did a fantastic job bringing the characters to life with just the right pacing and voices. Looking forward to listening to book number 2. "
It makes an authors heart sing to hear that someone liked there work.
After the success of my first audiobook I went on to Whispers in Time - Book two in the Green Lady Inn series. The reviews were amazing for the second book.
Another great review.
"Whispers in Time by Brenda M Spalding pulled me in from the very beginning. I so enjoy stories that have hidden things and ghosts. The author wrote this book with incredible imagery. I loved the mystery in the story, and how the old home was being renovated. The characters were also well developed. This book is the second in the series and a standalone listen. The narrator, Eliza Wethers did a great performance. She added to the book with her distinguishable voices for the various characters. I requested this review copy audiobook and have voluntarily written this review. I will definitely listen to more books by this author and narrator. "
I'm so happy that listeners are enjoying my books and the narrator I choose. My Narrator, Eliza Wethers, will be narrating and producing book three in the series, Hidden assets. It will be out in late spring.
I have just published book four in the series - The spell Box. I will look forward to making this an audiobook as well.
please sign up for my newsletters, ask a question or leave a comment . I'd love to hear from you.
It's finally here. I finished The Spell Box - Green Lady Inn Book four last week.
I had hoped to have it published in August to have it available for the 'season' down here in Florida but life got in the way.
So far it's only in paperback. I'll work on the Kindle version in another week or two.
I'm having my husband read it first to find any lingering problems. As I said in my last post the editing is crucial. It's taken me a while to not trust editors. They miss things too. My darling husband is a bigger control freak than I am and he will find any mistakes. I also want him to find any timeline problems. Since it's taken me over a year to write and with lots of starts and stops I want to be sure it flows correctly. I know my editor found two.
If you want to catch up on the strange happenings at the Green Lady Inn in Salem Massachusettes I have made the boxed set of book one, two, and three free for this coming weekend.
I will be away on the other coast in Melbourne for an event with the Authors for Authors group. Their annual book fair is November 17 - 18 at the Eau Gallie Civic center. It's a great way to meet other authors and do a bit of networking.
Thinking of networking if you are in Florida you shouldn't miss the Southwest Florida Writers conference. It will be held on April 13, 2019 at the Port Charlotte Cultural Center. I will be giving a workshop on social media marketing. I will also be available for one on one consultation that day.
I'm writing a new book just for the conference. It's working title is Gator. It's about alligator poaching. I've already killed a college student off in the first chapter. I wonder how many more I can kill off? I'm hoping to meet with an agent at the conference with my finger crossed that they will love it.
As always I'd love to hear from you. Ask a question or give me a review.
Editing for a self-published author is crucial in order to be taken seriously.
You need a professional editor. Someone who does it for a living not just your old English teacher or the neighbor next door.
My first novel, Broken Branches, was edited three times by three different editors. When my husband finally read it three years later he still found errors. In my novel Honey Tree Farm - for the Love of the Beekeeper's Daughter, he found thirty-eight errors. I had paid a friend who was also an author to edit it. Needless to say I never used her again.
I make all kinds of mistakes usually in spelling. I can even confuse spell check. I blame it on the fact that my mind is working faster than my fingers can type.
In my latest children's book, Hayden and Fred, I made an error in placing the text. On one of the pages I had to move the text a bit away from the edge of the page. I did that but forgot to move the text box down and cut off a word. My illustrator in Wisconsin noticed it after I sent her several copies to place in a store up there.
I rush to print, that is one of my great problems. As an author you need to slow down and make your book the very best it can be before you publish. It's a lesson I've learned the hard way and still have a problem with.
I was at an event when a customer pointed out an error in my very first children's book, Just Batty. I had spelled the same word two different ways in the same paragraph. I'd been selling the book for two years and not one person had told me or maybe no one noticed. It was my first book and so excited I didn't have it edited properly. Always order a proof copy and give it one last edit before you publish.
Not only is it good for you as an author but it helps all the other self-published authors out there.
For the past few months I have been running an experiment. I took three of my books, Blood Orange, Honey tree Farm, and Bottle Alley and listed them on Draft2Digital.
Draft2Digital publishes your eBook in most of the formats not just kindle. I promoted the heck out of these three books. I used social media, MailChimp and everyplace else I could think of.
I was really surprised by my results. I didn't do very well at all. Not nearly as well as I have done using the Kindle free promotions.
For anyone that doesn't know about the Kindle free promotions, here's how it works. You offer your Kindle free for any five days in a three month period. You are paid from the Kindle Global Fund for each page that is read.
In the month of September, I sold one book and my royalty was .37 cents. For the same month I promoted one of my books for free and received $18.32 before the free pages were added in. How did you get royalties on free book you ask? Readers who saw my free book also bought my other books. You can't do that with Draft2Digital.
I know it sounds crazy. Promotion and visibility is what sells books.
During the summer I also finished and published my fifth children's book in the Hayden series. Hayden and Fred is a simple look at how a caterpillar changes into a butterfly. It is available as a paperback and as a kindle. I'm rather proud of the Hayden series. It's written to help children explore their world and help endangered creatures.
I'm also almost finished with the fourth book in the amazing Green Lady Inn series. Hopefully that will be out before Christmas. I'm a little behind on all things. I had shoulder surgery this summer but I'm back to using all ten fingers now.
If you have questions about anything please leave a comment or contact me directly.
email@example.com I'd love to hear from you.
For the last couple weeks I have been fielding questions about Create Space shutting down and transferring to KDP direct publishing. Basically it's really very simple.
Create Space used to offer some extra services like editing and formatting that you could pay for. I know several authors that used those services and paid big bucks for it. I was able to use my networking and find those services for much less elsewhere.
I have been self-publishing since my first children's book in 2011.
In order to help my authors I needed to know how the new process with KDP Direct Publishing worked in comparison to Create Space.
My latest book, Hayden and Fred, was ready to go so I used that as my test to see how the new process worked on KDP. I can tell you it was so easy it was great.
You fill in the questions the same as Create Space and upload the PDF files. This is where it changed for the better. Before you can move on you have to use the previewer. It shows you exactly where you went wrong if you did and I did a bit. You correct the files and upload again until you get it right. Since you have basically already approved your book it is for sale on Amazon almost immediately, in about 24 hours. A lot quicker than if you have to wait three days to look at the digital proof, approve it and wait again for it to go live. I love the new streamlined process. You can order a proof copy if you want. I uploaded my files on Friday and my proof copy was in my hands on Monday and the book was already on Amazon.
The only drawback I see is for a novel or longer children's book. You must take the time to review your book cover to cover on the previewer before you approve it. But you can make corrections to your files and upload again even if it's already for sale on Amazon. The proof has not for resale written across the cover. I ordered two, one for me and one for my illustrator.
Then the question came about how do I transfer my previous titles to the new KDP site. Again easy. It's a three step process that took me less than five minutes.
I head from another author that was also very pleased with how smooth the transfer of titles was.
I'm working on book four in the Green Lady Series and will use KDP for that book as well.
If you have any questions or comments let me know.
I can tell you right now that it is not the authors that are profiting from self-published authors. Every day I get information in my email inbox about how to market, how to reach readers, do this on social media and listen to this podcast or take this course.
They all want your money. Believe me I've tried a few of them and it has not increased my sales one tiny bit.
Today I received a message about the changes that are coming to Create Space and how they are moving everything over to KDP Publishing. But guess what? They want to charge me $12 to listen to the podcast on Friday. It's not my fault they are changing so why should I have to pay to learn how they will handle my books?
This gets a little ridiculous when every time I turn around someone has a new theory on how I can improve my sales and they want to charge me for that information.
Every self-published author I know is struggling to get their book out there and to have people buy it and READ IT.
In my last post I talked about readers who store up all the free downloads from Kindle and never read the books. That drives me nuts. That's my rant for the day.
Please leave a comment or ask a question. I promise to not charge you for answering your question. All information is free here.
Oh by the way. I will be at the Barnes and Noble in Sarasota on Saturday morning with the Gulf Coast Sisters in Crime signing my books. IN the afternoon we are going to the Selby Library for a tea in honor of Agatha Christie's birthday. Should be loads of fun. Come by the B&N for a signed copy of my award-winning Honey Tree Farm - For the Love of the Beekeeper's Daughter or Blood Orange. Both books are set in the Myakka/Arcadia area of Florida and great reads.
From the active mind of Brenda M. Spalding