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Adobe Photoshop CS6 Classroom in a Book (Classroom in a Book (Adobe))
Adobe Creative Team
Photoshop CS6 For Dummies
Peter Bauer
In the Shadow of the Master: Classic Tales by Edgar Allan Poe and Essays by Jeffery Deaver, Nelson DeMille, Tess Gerritsen, Sue Grafton, Stephen King, Laura Lippman, Lisa Scottoline, and Thirteen Others
Michael Connelly

Hog, a Dwarf, and Redemption –

The Thicket - Joe R. Lansdale

Joe R. Lansdale’s The Thicket grabbed me with the first sentence and wouldn’t turn loose.

 

As a cross-genre “mystery writer” I’m not big on fiction classifications. The Thicket, like most great books defies pigeonholing. Some would say “crime novel,” some “western,” others “thriller,” others still, “adventure.”

 

Regardless, The Thicket is nothing short of mastery. Character-driven story-telling at its finest, running a reader through the gauntlet of gut wrenching emotions with ease—poignant, gritty, tongue-and-cheek, and often horrific. Perfectly seasoned with Texas cornpone, this coming-of-age western tale is a delight.

Self-Published Writers and the Shiny Object Syndrome

DISCLAIMER: At one time or another I’ve been guilty of all the things I deride below.

 

Every now and then something hits me like a bolt from the blue and I can’t repress it. In an idea session at Starbucks with a long-time friend, the Shiny Object Syndrome came up and KABOOM!

 

S.O.S. –

 

Debilitating distraction caused by the constant bombardment of book marketing ideas from online marketing experts. In other words, reducing one’s focus to the attention span of a gnat accompanied by self-inflicted paralysis—also known as the Shiny Object Syndrome.

 

I’d venture to say that most writers, having self-published their first book, are full of hope at the prospects of seeing that book rocket to the top of the Amazon bestseller lists. When it becomes obvious that this phenomenon isn’t likely to happen all on its own, they fixate on DIY blogs/articles/manuals titled something like ”How To Market Your Book” or “How to Sell Your Book Online.”

 

While it’s true no one is as dedicated to the success of their work as the writers, themselves. It’s also true the search for effective marketing actions for new books often leaves even the most stalwart writers chasing their tails.

 

In the information age, the thirst for knowledge can be a dangerous thing.

 

Once the book marketing spillways are opened a flood ensues, and it takes a Herculean effort to keep from drowning. Unfortunately, misinformation abounds, and the sheer volume of data can easily overwhelm the most devoted researcher.

 

If you find yourself flitting from one book marketing tip to another as fast as the notifications pop up, and you never get any real marketing done, here’s a few clues from an old mystery writer who has “been there, done that.”

 

5 Ways to Avoid the Thousand-Yard Stare:

 

1.  Consider the Source – if you take book marketing advice, be selective. Make sure the advice is credible. Has the advisor actually sold a reasonable number of books using the advice they’re giving? Demand proof before you buy in.

 

2.  Focus On What Works – Find out how other self-published authors are marketing their books, and if those marketing efforts are effective—are they selling books. Ask for results.

 

3.  Dump the Allure of Overnight Success – The instant bestseller schemes are just that, schemes. By their very nature they’re doomed to failure.

 

4.  Plan for Book Sales – Develop strategic and tactical plans using proven marketing techniques that result in book sales.

 

5.  Persist – Stick to your plans for the long haul. See them through. While it’s okay to consider new ideas, don’t deviate once you’ve adopted a sound strategy. Persistence is power and will win out given time.

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Book marketing closely parallels the publishing industry, both self-published and traditional. Today, technology has abolished the barriers to publishing. The good news is anyone who wants to publish a book can easily do so. The bad news is that everyone is doing it—it’s a free-for-all, much like the gold rush days of yore. Exciting, isn’t it?

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Your input is always appreciated.

 

The mystery books Dark Side of Sunset Pointe and Flight of the Tarantula Hawk are available on Amazon. Grey Daze is due out later this year and Cut-Throat Syndrome will be released in 2015. Excerpts are up on the blog.

 

You may also check out the book trailers for Dark Side of Sunset Pointe and Flight of the Tarantula Hawk.

 

For more on Michael Allan Scott and the Lance Underphal mystery series, go to michaelallanscott.com

 

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Michael Allan Scott and a clickable link back to http://michaelallanscott.com/?p=2124.

Source: http://michaelallanscott.com/?p=2124

The March

The March - E.L. Doctorow If you have a palate for Civil War historical fiction, you won’t find a more engaging read.

The Wheelman

The Wheelman - Duane Swierczynski One Kickass Crime Novel

I had to put down one of Stephen King's long-winded tales, as well as a Dean Koontz self-absorbed Oddity because I didn't want to stop reading "The Wheelman." I'll get back to those guys later, but for now I'm going to hunt down the next Swierczynski crime novel—way more fun.

The Wheelman, Lennon crashes his way through the bank's front doors only to suffer a highly imaginative menagerie of violence, betrayal and pursuit. For the mute getaway man everything goes wrong all the time, yet he survives . . . or does he? You gotta read this thing.

Mr. Swierczynski (try to type that 3 times fast) crafts one hell of a crime novel. More than a noir mystery, his bizarre twists are the stuff of nose bleeds. All done with gritty characters worth following in a fast paced style that grabs you by the eyeballs and won't let go. He initially reminded me of one of my all-time crime writing faves, Charlie Huston. Yet he's unique beyond comparison.

You really gotta read this thing!

Blood Passage (Donaghue and Stainer Crime Novel #1)

Blood Passage (Donaghue and Stainer Crime Novel #1) - Michael J.  McCann Mystery of a Past Life

McCann tells us "There are more than 2,500 documented cases of young children who have reported memories of a previous life." Imaging how many go undocumented.

Enter the homicide detective team of Donaghue and Stainer. The pair are pulled into a four year old Chinatown murder by odd circumstances. A child psychology researcher has new testimony from the victim—a young boy named Taylor Chan. From there an enticing story unfolds.

Michael J. McCann keeps us turning pages with gritty realism, well-drawn action sequences, and multifaceted characters. His mystery draws us in, twisting and turning its way to unexpected revelations.

Blood Passage is at once a thought-provoking read and thoroughly entertaining. I highly recommend it!

Pattern Recognition

Pattern Recognition - William Gibson Gibson Turns Insight Out

Weaving an intricate tale from behind the eyes of marketing maven Cayce Pollard, Gibson creates a hypersensitive world of highflying corporate espionage. From New York to London, Tokyo, Paris and Moscow, Ms. Pollard, hired gun for Blue Ant, reluctantly searches the globe, for the reclusive creator of viral "footage".

Hot on the trail of the ubiquitous yet enigmatic "footage", Cayce ducks and weaves, dodging Italian thugs, Michelin Man phobias and haunting memories of a father lost in the 9/11 rubble. She wakes up from a drug-induced blackout to find herself held captive by a Russian Mafia Kingpin. More, I dare not say.

Spellbinding prose and intriguing characters in surreal situations are the mainstays of Gibson's unique storytelling. I highly recommend it!

KOP

KOP - Warren Hammond Dark Side of Lagarto -

Kop reads like a modern-day chronicle of Earth—gritty realism, cynical truth—only set on the ghetto planet of Lagarto. A captivating crime noir driven by a derelict Kop vacillating between blind brutality and a deep desire to make a difference.

Kop is a refreshingly honest approach to Sci-Fi. I highly recommend it!

The Terror

The Terror - Dan Simmons Enraptured by Terror

This is my first read of a Dan Simmons work. And at first, I was skeptical. In the beginning, The Terror seemed ponderous—potentially another too-detailed account of historical tragedy. Even the prose seemed cumbersome. Oh, how wrong could I be! This is a truly masterful work—one most authors can only aspire to. It wasn't long before I realized that the prose's period style was an integral part of the story—a stroke of sheer genius. Simmons immersed me in an unimaginable hell with such dexterity, that it became all too real. Talk about Hell freezing over . . . Add an elusive and monstrous beast that preys on the stranded sailors and you have intertwining metaphors of epic proportions. And in spite of all the misery, Simmons artfully manages to glorify the human spirit in the face of insurmountable odds. Then in a soaring redemption he snatches you from the jaws of hell in a mystical triumph. A truly magnificent accomplishment, not for the casual reader or faint of heart. I highly recommend it!

Harbor Nocturne

Harbor Nocturne - Joseph Wambaugh Wambaugh's cast of misfits keeps you engaged throughout. The master of police procedurals, he reveals the inner workings of a unique subculture in dress-blues—fascinating. It's obvious he knows his way around.

I didn't find this sordid little tale particularly mysterious or suspenseful, but I suspect that may not have been his intent.

Broken Pieces

Broken Pieces - Rachel  Thompson As a writer, I marvel at exquisite prose. And Rachel's prose dazzles, running the gamut from in-your-face to an angel's chorus—doing it eloquently. But this isn't just about her moving prose, it's about where Rachel takes you—her world.

It's a world of cages, flutters and tears of blood. It's touch and release, light and shadows, love and lovers and revealing her truth. A truth that isn't always soft and gentle and pretty, yet never fails to move you. I'm intrigued by her unique insights into the human emotions we all share: confusion and shame, loss and regret, fear and rage, love and lust—depression, perseverance and passion.

Gentlemen, so you know, I not particularly a Chick Lit fan, and in my humble opinion Broken Pieces is not that. However, we males would do well to learn from Rachel's revelations—to better understand how our behavior impacts the female psyche, and to appreciate how a contemporary woman loves and lives.

A brutal and brilliant memoir, fasten your seatbelts for this one – Author and Rachel Thompson fan, Michael Allan Scott.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft - Stephen King I recently purchased Stephen King | On Writing – A Memoir of the Craft.

No matter how you slice it, the man is a professional, knows what-the hell he's doing and as such, it behooves me to pay close attention when he writes about writing—impressive, to say the least.

First, producing a seminal book on writing is a stellar achievement, and not an easy feat, as Stephen King would remind us with the opening sentence of his Second Foreword: ". . . most books about writing are filled with bullshit." Yet, Stephen King has managed to shoulder his way onto an elite list with an incomparable reference for writers.

Personally, I was tickled to find that many of my writing routines are similar to Mr. King's and I agree with most everything else. (We all have our professional preferences.) I was also elated to discover his pearls of wisdom. You can bet I will put them to good use.

The only shortcoming is attributable to timing. On Writing was first published in 1999, long before the current Print On Demand/Self-Publishing evolution; and his advice on agents and publishers is outdated. Otherwise this is a timeless classic that belongs in every writer and reader's library.

Secondly, the method Mr. King uses to convey these pearls of wisdom is captivating, cloaking practical advice in a revealing glimpse into the man and his life. It's a man of honesty and integrity that will speak the truth about his personal life—too tempting for most to air grievances and/or pound a bully pulpit. Stephen King does not flinch, giving you both barrels of the bad and the ugly. Well Done! While from afar it may look like a bestselling author's existence is a dream come true, he lets us know his life hasn't exactly been a bowl of cherries. (But then, whose is?) Trust me Stephen, we all have our Bryan Smiths to confront. And the more fortunate among us have our Tabitha Kings.

I found myself not only agreeing with his astute observations on writing, but flat out liking the guy. This is a fascinating read for anyone—writer or not. As a result, I'm eager to read more of his fiction. Here's to Mr. King's continued success.

I highly recommend Stephen King | On Writing – A Memoir of the Craft.

More on this at http://michaelallanscott.com/stephen-king-revisited/

The Exorcist

The Exorcist - William Peter Blatty Kept me up all night. Had to finish it.

Johnny Got His Gun

Johnny Got His Gun - Dalton Trumbo Read this in my late teens, back in the counterculture days—the days of Vietnam. Draft age, at the time and was already convinced I didn't want to go to war. This book made the horrors of war abundantly clear. There's no glory in war for the soldier, regardless of the cause, God and Country, duty, honor, patriotism, whatever. Only deep regret at having taken the lives of others, or at losing yours. The book haunts me still—a true classic. This is a must-read for anyone in any country who is considering joining the military.

A Beautiful Place To Die

A Beautiful Place To Die - Malla Nunn A fresh voice. Prose that gently grips you by the throat and doesn't let go. The harsh realities of the '50s in South Africa as a backdrop to an intriguing tale of a conflicted protagonist. Well worth the read.

The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death

The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death - Charlie Huston Gripping prose, believable characters you can own, a gritty tale well worth the read.

State of Fear

State of Fear - Michael Crichton A real eye-opener, unless you already suspect or are one of the sheep being led to slaughter - a good story and great book.