Category Archives: writing

NOTES FROM A TWO-TIME KINDLE SCOUT WINNER

Okay – as promised, here is a short guest blog entry from South Carolina author, Monte Dutton who has won a place in the Kindle Scout line-up not once – but TWICE in a row. The way I see it that demonstrates not only talent AND dedication – but it definitely tells me that Kindle Scout must be doing something right for this South Carolina gent.

Monte was kind enough to allow me to make a guest appearance over on his blog as well. Why don’t you swing on over and give it a read?

mug Dutton Monte 1_CL

HOW I PICKED UP A KINDLE AND BECAME A SCOUT

By Monte Dutton

            Kindle Scout. Or KindleScout. Everything has to have its own brand nowadays.

I’d never heard of it. I was fishing for a publisher. I had decided not to submit Crazy of Natural Causes to the publisher of my first two novels, The Audacity of Dope (2011) and The Intangibles (2013). I remain appreciative of Neverland Publishing LLC, for its investment in me, but it was time to move on. Rejection notices were piling up.

Thanks to Google, I discovered that Amazon had a KindleScout program that actually paid a modest advance for manuscripts that were selected (which “won”). I submitted Crazy of Natural Causes. I didn’t know what I was doing. The cover I submitted — I had never had to submit a cover before — was a photo of a Kentucky mountain scene that I had taken, with the title and author printed over it.

The opening stage is a 30-day period in which readers choose from the various offerings and nominate the ones they like. I don’t think it’s really all that significant, and that’s because Crazy won and it really didn’t get a huge number of nominations. I brought it to the attention of friends, associates and readers, but it stands to reason that Kindle Publishing isn’t going to take on a project merely because of populist acclaim.

In hindsight, I seem pretty smart.

Kindle Publishing offers many services that I needed. I am my own editor, and while time and experience have honed my skills, no one is really objective enough to be his or her own editor. I write a first draft, and then I pare it down, and then I add a little here and there, and then I edit it one more time to weed out typos, inconsistencies, and extraneous items. I’d say each draft gets progresssively faster.

My editors at Kindle Publishing helped a lot with Crazy of Natural Causes and even more in Forgive Us Our Trespasses, which marks my second success in the program. I’m trying to build my own “brand.” (A part of me deeply regrets the use of that noun.) I’m trying to make my four novels feed off each other. It’s not easy. I wasn’t the first to think of it.

If a publisher has no investment in me, it has no incentive to promote my efforts. The KindleScout program has provided me with services I’ve never had before. Crazy of Natural Causes has not been wildly successful, but it boosted sales of the previous novels, and the selection of Forgive Us Our Trespasses means that someone important at Amazon believes my work can be wildly successful.

Okay. Now let me give you a few paragraphs to convince you that you should read me in general and the soon-to-be-available Forgive Us Our Trespasses in particular.

Denny Frawley is an ambitious solicitor (known as a district attorney in many states) with political ambitions, a cocaine habit, an alcoholic wife, a scheming mistress, and several murderous cops working with him. His two children have been considerably influenced by dear old dad.

Hal Kinley, a lifelong acquaintance of Frawley, is a good cop who has oft been passed over for his goodness. His estranged wife is loving with one of Frawley’s minions. His son has fallen into the clutches of the Frawley twins and their own lawless cabal. Frawley hires Kinley as an associate, mainly just to keep an eye on his old teammate. Kinley becomes determined to bring Frawley down, partly in the name of decency and partly in the name of his son.

My latest yarn includes many other characters, side trips, and burning issues: drugs and sex; black, white, and Latino; law and order; crime and punishment; and, above all else, the corrosive effect of patronage. It’s quite frank. I think teens and young adults would get something out of it, but I also think their parents might not want to let them. This theme seems to run through all my fiction.

MonteDutton promo (1)

            I hope you’ll take a leap of faith and give my books at least a look and maybe a try. I wrote a good bit of non-fiction in a previous life, and some of those books are available on my Amazon page!

            My fiction writing (mostly short stories, reviews, and essays about writing) is available at www.wellpilgrim.wordpress.com. I write non-fiction, most often sports, at www.montedutton.com. I’m on Facebook, and on Twitter, you may choose among @montedutton (general), @wastedpilgrim (irreverent and political), and @hmdutton (literary).

 

 

Don't Give Up

THIRTY DAYS OF KINDLE SCOUT – DAY 28

Ah.

I’m 524 hours hot and trending and in between a night shift at work last night and a day shift that I have to travel to in an hour or so.

My eyes get any baggier I’m going to have to start shopping around for a forklift to keep them upright. Does anyone out there know of a source for eyelid Viagra?

wide eye

No, no more art films, please!

I got up this morning at 5am and wrote a guest-blog for the blog of a Kindle Scout double winner. He is working on a guest blog for my blog – (am I making any sense here or am I just typing blog-blog-blog over and over and over again?) and I still have to write up a quick blog for my own blog.

Frogs 2

Blog, blog, blog…

Blog.

I am getting tired and tuckered out.

I have got one day left of this merry-go-round and then I have to sit and wait. Or is that two days, counting the whole LAST DAY LEFT phenomenon?

Talk to you tomorrow!


PLEASE HELP ME win a Kindle Scout publishing contract by nominating my book and you can earn a FREE Kindle copy of my newest novel KELPIE DREAMS if the book is selected.

Yours in Storytelling,

Steve Vernon

 

THIRTY DAYS OF KINDLE SCOUT – DAY 27

Ah.

500 hours hot and trending!

1,524 page views.

I am still hot today. In fact, I am so hot that Smokey the Bear e-mailed me a paper bag and asked me to put it over my own face because “Only YOU can prevent forest fires”. I am so hot that Greenpeace has been picketing my bathroom mirror as being a primary cause of global warming. I am so hot that I can break a thermometer at ten long paces. The trees in my backyard are hoping for hound dogs and praying for rain. I wear Hawaiian shirts and Speedo swim trunks and call it winter wear – I AM THAT FREAKING HOT!

My book is doing pretty good today as well.
8)

This is the sweet time. I’ve got two three days left and KELPIE DREAMS is showing up in several of the Kindle Scout lists = including the YOU-DON’T-HAVE-MUCH-LONGER-TO-VOTE-FOR-THIS list. The system is working for me. Lady Luck is winking suggestively in my direction. Faith has begun her final aria and my heart is thumping to the tune of “I think I can, I think I can.”

Let’s take a peek at the orange bars.

March 1 2016

Kind of looks like a Florida orange sales report, doesn’t it?

That’s all I have got for you today.

At this point in the game I am most likely going to hang on for the ride.

Kelpie Dreams shows up prominently on the Kindle Scout front page, and that seems to be drawing some heat in my direction. I am also part of a March sales promotion and I’ve just sent out my newsletter this morning asking for a few more nominations.

By this weekend Kelpie Dreams will be sitting upon the digital desk of the Gods of Kindle Scout, awaiting their final verdict.

I won’t tell you that the waiting isn’t nerve-wracking – but I figured out an awful long time ago that writing is nothing more than waiting misspelled.

I intend to get back to work upon my next manuscript which has been patiently waiting through days of days of “I’m going to get around to it” excuses.

Wish me luck.

 

PLEASE HELP ME win a Kindle Scout publishing contract by nominating my book and you can earn a FREE Kindle copy of my newest novel KELPIE DREAMS if the book is selected.

Yours in Storytelling,

Steve Vernon

THIRTY DAYS OF KINDLE SCOUT – DAY 26

It is an absolutely beautiful morning here in Nova Scotia.

I’m going out in an hour or so for an emergency run to Walmart for an ink cartridge. I’m going to jog over, yodeling, in my sweat suit – it is that warm out there.

In between then an now I am going to have to figure out how to yodel. Anybody know of any good how-to sites?

🙂

While I was over at kboards this morning somebody asked a very interesting question about Kindle Scout.

“Can anyone figure out the hot and trending list on Kindle Scout?  I had a day of 360 nominations the next of 160 and neither of them had an hour of hot and trending.  I’m totally confused on how it works. – Signed Anonymous”

Now that is a VERY good question.

And no – he did NOT really sign it “Anonymous” – I’m just signing it that way for the purpose of the blog.

Here’s my answer.

Hey Anonymous –  I think you mean that you had 360 views – (the second chart on your campaign page).

Let me see if I can explain it to you.

I follow a link and come over and have a look at your campaign equals ONE VIEW.

I hit the nomination button equals ONE NOMINATION.

Think of it this way.

Let’s say you have decided to build a fund-raising campaign to raise money to save the rare blue-spotted-moose from extinction.

I come and stick my head into the arena where you are staging the fund-raiser and take a look in the door and think to myself – “Wow, I didn’t know the blue-spotted-moose was in danger of extinction” and then walking down the street to get a blue-spotted-mooseburger at the local Macdonalds.

That’s a view.

I walk right on inside to your campaign table and plunk down a five dollar bill and shout “HALLELUJAH AND SAVE THE BLUE-SPOTTED MOOSE!” – well that’s a nomination, and that’s worse MORE than a view.

Kindle Scout does NOT show us nominations. They keep those hidden behind the curtain. So maybe right now 520 people have taken a look at your book but HAVEN’T nominated it. In which case you DON’T show up on Hot & Trending.

In either case I am STILL going to Macdonalds right now and demanding a MacMooseBurger!!!

🙂

So here is a shot of the orange bars.

February 29 2016

That’s 476 hours on the HOT & TRENDING list.

And here is a shot of that blue chart below – that I haven’t shown before.

multiview February 29 2016

Those blue lines track all of the page views on my campaign. Every time that somebody takes a peek over there that blue line goes up a little. Now I am pretty certain that the Gods of Kindle Scout are smart enough to have some sort of a fail-safe mechanism built in so that it does not count the way-too-many times I peek over there, as well as having some sort of fail-safe mechanism to guard against me paying somebody to sit at home and view my campaign over and over and over.

Just the same – those blue bars show how often my page has been viewed.

That low point matches exactly with the one day that I had absolutely ZERO hours on the Hot & Trending list – HOWEVER – that great big spike of page views (which actually represents the results of my HeadTalker campaign ONLY resulted in a measly THREE hours on Hot & Trending.

Which means that out of ALL of those many folks who clicked on my HeadTalker that day only a few of them actually NOMINATED Kelpie Dreams.

I guess that the rest of them were way too busy eating moose-burgers.

🙂


 

PLEASE HELP ME win a Kindle Scout publishing contract by nominating my book and you can earn a FREE Kindle copy of my newest novel KELPIE DREAMS if the book is selected.

Yours in Storytelling,

Steve Vernon

 

THIRTY DAYS OF KINDLE SCOUT – DAY 25

Okay – so according to the Kindle Scout statistics counter I have FOUR DAYS LEFT and I am currently at the 460 hour mark on the HOT & TRENDING list with 1455 views to my claim.

Let me hereby announce that it would be wicked nerdy cool for me to actually hit the 500 hour mark on the HOT & TRENDING list.

Nerd

 

Understand that this STILL doesn’t guarantee ANYTHING except that I managed to convince an awful lot of folks to take a chance on Kelpie Dreams.

So let’s take a look at what Kindle Scout CAN do for a writer like me?

Or like you…

For starters they edit your novel if they feel it needs it. And let’s face it – most of us ALL need an editor. No matter how brilliant you think you are, no matter how natural a speller and how you have such an instinctive feel for proper grammar, no matter how wonderful your cat really thinks that you are – you need an editor who will take a look and say – “Whoops, you goofed there!” or “Wouldn’t this be better if???”

They get your book out into the public eye with all of the Kindle Scout promotional muscle behind it. That still doesn’t mean that you can sit back and have a cold beer and wait for the royalty checks to start rolling in. You still have to get out there and promote the book yourself – but if anything these thirty days have taught me – is how to promote Kelpie Dreams.

They also give you a $1500.00 advance – and I want to talk about this. I had somebody on Facebook a few weeks grab me by the digital shirt collar and complain about some author they knew who was upset because they bailed out on their contract and had to repay some of that advance money.

That’s something you need to consider. Kindle Scout DOES give you the opportunity to bail out if your book does not reach a certain sales figure – but that $1500.00 is part of a contract that you have signed – so obligations are going to be involved. Besides – I fully intend to give Kindle Scout their full five year run to try and make the Kelpie Dreams series a success.

The way I see it is that I have slowly improved my own sales over the last three years – but it took me that long to do it. So I do not intend to get all worked up and impatient if Kindle Scout does NOT sell me a bucketload of books right off of the bat. I intend to grab on to Kindle Scout like a summer tick on a hound dog’s ear.

I plan to be busy writing other books.

I am building something here – and that takes time.

I don’t expect instant success whether or not they accept me or not. Either way I am in this game for the long run.

Now let’s see those orange bars, shall we?

February 28 2016

So what am I doing right now to promote my campaign?

Well – a couple of links to my blog went live today over at the CARNIVAL OF INDIES page and I advise you writer-types to go and check that page out. Not counting my two measly blog links there is a LOT of wicked-cool up-to-date information for folks who are interested in books and e-reading and indie writing.

That’s all ready steered a bit of attention to my blog page and – who knows – maybe even another nomination or two.

Which doesn’t hurt.

You see, at the end of the day whether or not my book is selected for Kindle Scout I still have bagged myself an awful lot of attention for my indie writing efforts and there are a lot more folks who know about me and know about Kelpie Dreams and hopefully some of them will take a chance and pick up a copy when it does go live this spring.

So – if you are an indie writer with a rock solid manuscript and a good sales history and a knack for social media you REALLY ought to take a chance on Kindle Scout!

 


PLEASE HELP ME win a Kindle Scout publishing contract by nominating my book and you can earn a FREE Kindle copy of my newest novel KELPIE DREAMS if the book is selected.

Yours in Storytelling,

Steve Vernon

THIRTY DAYS OF KINDLE SCOUT – DAY 24

panic

Wow.

I am down to five days left – which I think means six days left, because there is always that last day where it says LAST DAY LEFT. Good thing mathematics isn’t my strong point.

It is coming down to the crunch time and I really ought to start letting go and making peace with this whole campaign – but right now the little orange bars calm me slightly, even though I know that H&T isn’t the only factor – or even the most important factor in my book making the grade or not. My past sales figures are DEFINITELY an important part of the judging process – and I am pretty sure that compared to most indie authors out there I truly suck. I sell maybe one or two e-books every day – which I am worried is going to weigh against me.

Still, what I am hoping is that the amount of time I spend upon the H&T and showing up on that Kindle Scout front page is going to bring me some new readers, folks who are already well-accustomed to the Kindle Scout scene. I am hoping that this new direction – away from horror and towards paranormal romance adventure – is going to work in my favor as well.

At least that is the plan.

Plan A

Oh man – does this mean I am going to have to learn how to spell?

In the meantime, you can read a lot more about me in a brand new interview over at the Speculative Fiction Showcase!

And lastly here is a look at all of those bright orange bars.

February 27 2016

That’s 441 hours on the Hot & Trending List with 1416 page views in total for all of you statistically-minded folks out there!

PLEASE HELP ME win a Kindle Scout publishing contract by nominating my book and you can earn a FREE Kindle copy of my newest novel KELPIE DREAMS if the book is selected.

Yours in Storytelling,

Steve Vernon

THIRTY DAYS OF KINDLE SCOUT – DAY 23

I swear I saw Chicken Little run by me just a minute ago, yelling out – “THE SKY IS FALLING! THE SKY IS FALLING!”

Well, maybe Colonel Sanders was in hot pursuit with a deep fryer in one hand and a well-honed Ginsu kitchen cleaver in the other.

KFC Killer

Before Halloween, before Friday the 13th, before Scream, before Saw, before Freddy – even before Leatherface – there was the Colonel…

Either way, the chickens have decided that it is time for some DRASTIC action!

KFC Counter-Killer

Which was what happened to me.

I had just got home last night and I saw that KELPIE DREAMS had fallen from off of the big orange train and was no longer HOT & TRENDING. So – I took action and fired off a volley of Facebook entries and Tweets. A couple of good friends of mine picked up the torch and retweeted and Facebook shares and by the time I got up this morning I was happy to see that KELPIE DREAMS was once more Hot & Trending.

Here’s the picture.

February 26 2016

So – for those folks without a magnifying glass or zoom button – I had 17 hours out of 24 on the Hot & Trending.

And – as I keep telling myself – at this point I have done pretty well, and those pretty orange bars are still not guarantee that my book WILL be accepted.

But I am hoping.

What ever happens I have reached an awful lot of folks who hadn’t heard of me before and I have written a pretty darned good book which will be published one way or another. I don’t want anyone to think that I am giving up – but I am doing my best not to tempt the gods of nemesis to strike my hopes down to the dirt for buying too heavily into my own P.R.

Wish me luck.

Babe Ruth

The one thing that I can tell you is that as you draw closer to the end of your campaign you will find that it takes LESS effort to get that orange bar back up there. Then too, there is also the fact that Kindle Scout actively promotes the campaigns that have two days or less left in their campaign – so I have that to look forward to as well.

Either way, I am glad that you folks are keeping me company as I draw nearer to the nervous Nellie nail-biting part of this merry-go-ride.

PLEASE HELP ME win a Kindle Scout publishing contract by nominating my book and you can earn a FREE Kindle copy of my newest novel KELPIE DREAMS if the book is selected.

Yours in Storytelling,

Steve Vernon

Writing Isn’t Rocket Science!

Let’s take a break from all of that Kindle Scout yelling, shall we?

Just the other day on kboards I read a thread where a writer said they were having a problem completing their work.

“I’m in a mess. I’ve got 4 novels started and at different stages between 15,000 and 30,000 words but I’ve lost confidence and have doubts about each of them.” was what this writer wrote.

I could empathize.

I had been stuck been before. Not too long ago. Stuck for a very long time.

So I wrote this reply and I thought I would blog about it here so that you folks who might likewise be suffering from a bad case of the if-it-isn’t-brilliant-I-can’t-write-it syndrome.

Remember – at the end of the day you need to finish one of those manuscripts. The thing that is most likely slowing you down is the thought that it has to be something brilliant. Tell yourself this. All that you need to do right now is to finish ONE of those half-finished manuscripts into first draft format.

And a first draft does not have to be anything more brilliant than a steaming pile of dog funk, wrapped in a second hand Tupperware container.

It doesn’t have to brilliant.

It doesn’t have to be wonderful.

It just needs to be done.

Figure out where you want the story to go and then run until you get there.

THEN – sit down and have a beer and smile contentedly. Go rake the lawn or go for a walk or listen to the cat complain that she doesn’t have enough fish in her bowl.

THEN – after you have given yourself enough time to breathe and feel comfortable, pick up that steaming piece of Tupperware and pull out a Popsicle stick and commence to sculpting.

Getting past the mid-ground is a little like getting over a hill and running on home. Right now you are on the wrong side of the hill and you are terrified about what might be on the other side of the hill. Oh God, you tell yourself – what if I get over there and there is lions on the other side of the hill. What if I get there and every single bully who ever picked on me in school is standing there and pointing at me and telling me that my writing sucks.

It’s fear.

You can call it boredom if you want to – but I will bet you a box of cut-tomato-tins-in-two Ginsu knives that it is nothing more than fear wearing a mask of creative ennui.

Grit your teeth and go for it. Remember that you are doing nothing more than stringing words together. It’s just like talking to yourself on paper. It isn’t rocket science.

Outlining might help you – but don’t get all hung up thinking it has to be a picture perfect outline. Just lay the bare-bones of the plot together. Look at your manuscript and decide that you want your hero to live happily ever after – once he has successfully out-wrestled the giant Tupperware Ginsu knife wielding Ennui – and lay a few perfunctory footprints down for that hero to follow and then go for it.

Try laying your manuscript in a pile on one side of your dining room table. Take a look at what chapter you left off at – say it’s Chapter 7.

Then take a blank piece of paper and write CHAPTER 8 at the top of it and then scribble yourself a note over what needs to get done in Chapter 8.

Chapter 8 – our hero needs to go and sharpen his own Ginsu knife.

Then take another blank piece of paper and write CHAPTER 9. Maybe you don’t what Chapter 9 needs to be. Well write that down. “I have no freaking idea what Chapter 9 is.”

Then blank paper out Chapter 10 – and write down – our hero needs to get lucky because every ginsu-knife epic novel needs a little gratuitous sex scenes in it.

Then just sort of rough track yourself towards the last Chapter, which is Chapter 13, where our hero does a high-spirited manly jig of victory over the Tupperware bones of his fallen foe.

This isn’t rocket science. Don’t try and impress yourself. Just give yourself permission to play and have fun. Finishing the first draft is the big part of the battle. Once you have that first draft, lying there like the bones of a gigantic Tupperware Frankenstein monster then you start to sculpt into something divine and wonderful – like maybe a glittering vampire.

I want to apologize in advance to any TWILIGHT fans who read that last gag – but I am an incurable wise guy.

Speaking of commercials…

PLEASE HELP ME win a Kindle Scout publishing contract by nominating my book and you can earn a FREE Kindle copy of my newest novel KELPIE DREAMS if the book is selected.

Yours in Storytelling,

Steve Vernon

THIRTY DAYS OF KINDLE SCOUT – DAY 22

Whew!

It finally happened.

I don’t have enough time this morning to be brilliant.

I’ve spent most of the morning putting together a brand new interview that hopefully will go live before the end of the campaign. I also was answering some correspondence regarding a storytelling appearance that I am setting up for next month, here in Halifax. As well I have a last minute pitch to put together for another local event – so everything is coming together all at once, as it usually does. Life just WILL not pay attention to your personal agenda.

So, let me fill you in quickly and remind you that if you are intending to launch your own Kindle Scout Campaign – and you really ought to give it a try – then be prepared to juggle.

🙂

I’m still on the HOT & TRENDING list. I do not how that is possible but somebody up there is looking out for me and hopefully this is all going to come together. I’ll know in a week or two.

I am going to feel pretty silly if this all goes to pot.

I currently have 400 hours on the HOT & TRENDING list and 1291 views. Any minute now I expect Monty Hall to step out and ask me if I want what is behind Door number one, two or three.

Monty Hall

No time to be fancy today. I’ll talk to you all tomorrow.

PLEASE HELP ME win a Kindle Scout publishing contract by nominating my book and you can earn a FREE Kindle copy of my newest novel KELPIE DREAMS if the book is selected.

Yours in Storytelling,

Steve Vernon

THIRTY DAYS OF KINDLE SCOUT – DAY 21

I am still hot.

I have that on good authority.

Kindle Scout tells me I am hot.

My bathroom mirror tends to agree.

Mirror Shot

All right – so what I really want to know is HOW do vampires shave?

It is Day 21 and I have EIGHT days left according to Kindle Scout. I know that the math does NOT work out – but however it falls I also know that sometime next week – say Thursday or Friday – I will be swinging in the breeze waiting to hear the final decision from the gods of Kindle Scout.

Right now I have a total of 376 hours on HOT & TRENDING and, according to the little orange HOT sign on my campaign page I am STILL hot today.

I also have 1255 views on my campaign.

February 24 2016

At this point I feel as if I have done everything that I can possibly do.

There are, of course, always options. I could throw money at this matter – but at this point in the game I have more than enough orange on that chart and I would be far better off hanging onto my money. If Kindle Scout DOES accept my novel I will need that money to help promote my novel.

Likewise, more social media posts would only be wasted at this point in time. The folks who follow me on Twitter and Facebook are doubtless growing a little weary of my daily obsession and I will need to talk to these folks when KELPIE DREAMS hits the market – one way or another.

I am going to continue my daily blog entry – just because I believe this will give folks a better idea on just how a Kindle Scout campaign works. With any luck I will be able to continue on into March discussing how a Kindle Scout release can effect an indie writer’s standing.

Let’s wait and see, shall we.

So what CAN I do now?

Well, I can write. And I have been working on a new project as well as plotting two other projects for the future.

It has been difficult to maintain my creative focus as of late. This Kindle Scout campaign has taken up an awful lot of creative time and energy – so at this point of the game I feel that I should warn you folks about the very real possibility of experiencing this phenomenon during your own Kindle Scout Campaign – if you choose to go that way.

A writer REALLY ought to remind themselves to keep their daily word count up and to not give way to the temptation of spending all of their time obsessing over Kindle Scout.

I can’t say that I have ACTUALLY followed my advice over these last few weeks – but it is good advice, nonetheless.

In the meantime, any shares or tweets or nominations are immensely appreciated. Even though I am NOT going to throw anymore money and/or much more creative energy towards this project does NOT mean that I’d be glad to see that big orange bar making machine stop too soon.

Let’s see what tomorrow looks like, shall we?

 


PLEASE HELP ME win a Kindle Scout publishing contract by nominating my book and you can earn a FREE Kindle copy of my newest novel KELPIE DREAMS if the book is selected.

Yours in Storytelling,

Steve Vernon