Book sales haven't been great this month; I simply haven't had the time or the health to push as much.
Nevertheless, as today is the last day of the month, I checked CreateSpace and Amazon for sales.
And I found that someone in Germany has actually bought an e-copy of Confessions of an Average Half-Vampire!
My first international sale! Cool!
And the book is apparently offered for sale as a POD there as well. I had no idea. Really. No idea.
Okay, it was ONE sale. No big deal. Except for me.
(PS. The book has not been translated, so it's an English-speaker who bought it -- just in case you were wondering.)
(PPS. Yes, I have a German surname -- although my German ancestors came to the US over 300 years ago. Perhaps the German name helps.)
Okay, it's been a week of a week, and I'm a bit grumpy. Let's do something fun to cheer me up, okay?
Carmi at Written Inc has been too busy to post his photo theme for this week, but let's do a writers' game anyway, shall we?
I've picked a photo which I think has great story possibilities. I'm going to give my story a title and add a single line. Then it'll be your turn. In the comments section, you post your own titles and single lines of stories. Here's an example from last week to give you an idea.
Here's my photo for this week's game:
Title: Kelpie's Island
Single line: "Whatever you do," Maggie told the girls, "don't cross the path once the tide has started back in."
(Click on the pic to enlarge.)
Your turn. Share your own titles and single lines in the comments section.
(Pssst. Lots of sharing will cheer me up.)
At the end of the year, our school librarian cleans out extra copies of the books of the month. By next year, he'll no longer need 30 copies of Half-Vampire in the library, so he lets teachers take copies for their classroom libraries. By the time I got to the library, most of my books had already been snatched up. I took these four copies.
Look how well-worn they are! Kids have been reading these things!
*sigh* I feel so real now. :)
Earlier this week, I asked my readers to vote on their favorite book blurb for Becoming Brigid. I had hoped that between blog buddies and tweeps, I'd get lots of feedback.
And I learned a lot; I just didn't learn what I thought I'd learn. See, I thought I'd learn which book blurb caught people's attention the most. I didn't learn that at all. Instead I learned the following:
1) If over 100 people view a blog post with a poll, fewer than 10% of them will actually bother to vote.
2) People who do bother to vote will nearly always pick the first option they read.
How I learned the first of the two is pretty obvious. The second, however, took more effort.
You see, on the blog, nearly everyone who voted or commented chose option #1, which I thought was clearly not the strongest of the three. I wondered if I were totally wrong or if people were just picking it because it was first. So I put the three options into PDFs and took them to school. I told two classes of 7th graders that I needed their opinions, and I gave them little slips of paper to vote for their favorite. I told them they could not discuss their opinions until after the vote, as I didn't want them to be influenced by their friends' choices. (In case you're wondering, I had them do this during planner check time, so I was not wasting teaching time, as they would normally have been reading then anyway.)
As I suspected, they were clearly influenced by which blurb came first. The two classes were much the same in ability level, yet 5th period, which had option #2 presented first, voted mostly for option #2, and 6th period, which had option #3 presented first, voted mostly for number 3.
Here are the grand totals:
Blog: 7 votes total, six of them were for option #1, which was presented first. That's 85%
5th period: 34 votes total, 10 for option #1, 21 for option #2 (presented first), and 3 for option #3. That's 29% for option #1, 61.7% for option #2, and 8% for option #3.
6th period: 30 votes total (we had several absent kids that day), 8 voted for option #1 (26.6%), 10 for option #2 (33%), and 13 (43%) for option #3, which was presented first.
This was all very interesting, but not particularly helpful with regard to my selecting the actual book blurb.
Blog reader and champion beta reader of mine, Tempppo, however, e-mailed me some thoughtful comments, and I may e-mail my English teacher buddy from another school, who was a super alpha-reader for me for this ms.
Well, it's been a while since I've been able to play this game -- since picnik.com went dark in April. But thanks to picmonkey, I can put text on photos again, so we can try this.
Here's how it works: Carmi Levi has a fabulous blog called Written Inc. And every week he has a photo theme. Most participants post photos that fit the theme, but on my blog, we go one step further and at a title and a single line of a story that fits that pic and the theme. Here's the last one we did, back in April.
So, let's try this one more time!
Carmi's chosen theme is "far from home."
Here's my photo that fits the theme:
My title: Culture Shock
My single line of a story: Zeke thought the Italians had great taste in floral arrangements, but he found their hotel beds rather cramped and stuffy.
Your turn! Think of a story to go with the photo and theme. Then post your title and single line in the comments section.
Readers, I SERIOUSLY need your help!
I have never had so much trouble with a hook/blurb before! Becoming Brigid is to the stage where I must get it into a proof copy. But to do that, I need the blurb to go on the createspace website -- and the Amazon website, and the back of the book. The trouble is, I can't seem to figure out how to change it on createspace/amazon once it's set.
That means it's got to be good right from the start.
I've fiddled with book blurbs for this book for almost a year now, and I'm still not set on "this is it!" for anything.
Below are three options (although I'm open to tweaking any of them). Please vote for the one you think is best.
You can vote in the comments section (especially if you want to suggest a tweak), in the sidebar poll under my profile icon (if you'd like to remain anonymous), or you can tweet me (@lisamshafer)your vote/thoughts (if blogger doesn't happen to like you today). Your opinion really matters, even if you don't consider yourself much into YA books. Just let me know which hook/blurb catches your interest the most.
Here are your options:
Pepper Kircy has plans for her future: a handsome husband, a degree in nutrition, and thousands of followers in the blogosphere. Unfortunately, that future is currently clouded by her lack of dates, possibly brought on by her geeky, ghost-hunting father. Or that she wears a "nearly-A" bra. But Pepper's plans never included Dougal. He's too short and probably too old to be her date to Homecoming. And he makes her question her perfect future -- as well as what shethought was her past. But he actually seemsinterested in her; he whispers poetry and calls by her real name, the one she never uses:Brigid. Dougal’s tempting. Tempting enough that Pepper can’t get him out of her dreams. So, in spite of all his weird talk about mysterious portals and the Stone of Odin, she could really like this guy. Maybe even enough to change her precious plans. If he just stop trying tokillher....
Pepper Kircy has an embarrassing father who hunts ghosts, a neighbor who owns a mortuary, and a crush on the interesting new guy at school who just happens to be an actor in a popular movie series. Could he possibly be that perfect future husband who'd make her life plans work out?
But Pepper's plans don't include Dougal, the enigmatic and strangely attractive guy who seems to know way too much about a past Pepper doesn't remember. He's too short and probably too old to be her dream man, but he's tempting enough that Pepper can't get him out of her dreams.
So, in spite of all his weird talk about mysterious portals, Celtic deities, and a stone that's been missing for decades, Pepper could really like this guy.
If he'd just stop trying to kill her....
Pepper Kircy's plans for the future include a traditional family with a handsome husband -- even if she hasn't found anyone with potential to fill that role just yet. They don't include the ghost hunting her father enjoys or her continued failure to fill out anything more than a "nearly-A" bra.
And her plans certainly don't include Dougal, the mysterious guy from the fantasy faire. He's too short and probably too old. He confuses her with an ancient Celtic goddess. And he insists that her past includes a heck of a lot more than she can remember.
Still, Pepper can't seem to get Dougal out of her life -- or her dreams. So, in spite of all his strange talk about portals and missing stones, she could really like this guy.
I noticed today that someone had purchased a copy of Confessions of an Average Half-Vampire from the CreateSpace expanded distribution program (which means I pay for this service so I can make less money -- go figure). This made me think it had to be a library, so I checked. Look at this! The Herriman branch of the Salt Lake County Library now has a copy of my book! And it's checked out! And four people have placed holds on it!!!
I feel so validated as an author. :)
Sam at Falling Books has reviewed Confessions of an Average Half-Vampire today on her UK blog.
I'm quite pleased with the results (even if she did think this was some kind of warm up for Twilight -- ugh -- and missed that Eric does indeed show up in mirrors, just with translucent skin).
Here's her review: Confessions of an Average Half-Vampire is an entertaining novel that is perfect for younger readers who want to start reading the paranormal genre. It all starts with the all-too-lovable main character, Eric Wright. He is not an ordinary teenager, he is a half-vampire trying to find the right place for him in a world that can never accept him. Everything starts to go down hill when he could not control his bloodlust and bit his friend. A very close friend. A girl who wants him to become a vegetarian. With his health getting worse every day, will Eric find someone that could help him without getting killed in the process? I think this book is perfect for those who are not quite old enough to read the Twilight novels. It has the most interesting range of characters that I'm sure many readers can relate to. Eg: the awkward stage when you don't feel that you fit in, worried about being accepted by friends, etc. The characters will definitely grow on you! And so will their adventures. The book is full of action! Yes, the action is just so....wow....it had my heart racing! You will want to read the sequel as soon as possible. The book does follow the cliché vampire line: burned by the sun, pale, not showing in mirrors, etc. But I had no problem with that because of the gripping story line! This is definitely a book that I would recommend to young people, like right now!
Overall, I think that this is stunning book with a really exciting plot and humorous dialogue! I can't wait to read more of Lisa's works.
I still have no freakin' clue how to upload a video onto a blog, but Bookshelves of Doom had this on her blog today and it needed to be shared. Bookloose.
Watch it and smile.
(Yeah, I know; they mispronounce JK Rowling's name.)
A month ago I posted my interest in the then-upcoming Dark Shadows movie.
Well, yesterday, for the first time in my life, I actually went to a movie on its release day. Of course, that movie was Dark Shadows.
Now, to prepare, I'd checked out a couple of different sets of DVDs of the old soap opera from the local library, for, after all, I'd last seen the show before I started kindergarten, and my memory of it was understandably mostly "dark" and "shadowy." (Okay, baaaaad pun.) Thus, I was prepared to find differences, so bemoaned on the internet, between the old soap and the new movie.
The main difference, of course, was humor. The Depp/Burton creation is funny -- and genuinely creepy or scary in a few parts. There is also more actual violence. The old soap was mostly eerie and foreboding. Like the vampire in the old Bela Lugosi Dracula movie, Barnabus was never really shown in the messy act of sucking out blood. Depp goes around with blood streaked down his face in several parts of the movie, although the actual killing is still downplayed enough for PG-13.
There were changes to the storyline, too. Angelique, the witch, comes from England, instead of Martinique, as in the original tale. She also kills Barnabus' parents, while in the original version, it's Barnabus' own father who traps him in a coffin to keep him from harming people and because he cannot stand to put a stake through his son's heart. In the movie, Angelique puts Barnabus into the coffin. In the soap, a lunatic lets him out; in the movie, construction workers find him accidentally.
The acting is tons better in the movie, too -- especially for the female roles. But, then again, the soap hung onto traditional, passive roles for women (who had to be rescued or otherwise acted upon), while the movie utilizes the early bits of the 70s women's movement to make the females tons more active and interesting. (On meeting Victoria Winters, Elizabeth Collins asks her, "Do you believe in the equality of the sexes?" Winters answers, "Oh heavens no! Men would get out of control!")
And as for straight-up vampire sex appeal? Well, it's Johnny Depp, for crying out loud! Of COURSE he's sexy!
It is my sincere hope that at least a few of those silly women lusting after sparkly little Edward will have a look at a vampire that looks like a vampire and still find him as appealing as Lugosi was in his day. :)
At any rate, THIS longtime vampire fan LOVED Dark Shadows. In fact, I'm planning to go back to see it again!
And suddenly it was ten to seven! Argh! I should be LEAVING the house at 10 to seven, not still getting dressed!
Grab pink shirt and blue capris (warm day ahead).
Didn't I wear pink and blue on Friday??? I did! It was the other pink shirt, but it's the same shade as this one. Not good.
Grab white shirt, throw it on. Brush hair.
Argh! Pink bra! I can't wear a pink bra under a white shirt!!!
Friday night was my first time visiting a book club that had read my book. Well, okay, it was my first time outside of school book clubs. With adults. Even if the adults were my former students.
Hey, but they read Confessions of an Average Half-Vampire for their book club and invited me to speak. That counts for something, doesn't it?
I tried really hard not to turn into Teacher again, but all of us just sort of fell into our old roles from years and years ago. Fortunately, no one actually raised their hand for permission to speak. :) But they did want me to do all the autographs in the traditional green pen. :D
I got some interesting feedback, too. Shane and his wife found my titles difficult. (Fair enough. I can see their point.) Everyone liked the prologue with the M 'n' M costume. One gal (who had never been my student) brought the candy as a snack. Cute. She also liked that Eric's best friend was a wheelchair user. Erik (a former student, not Eric the half-vampire) felt that Patrick needed more development. They were all interested in the sequel.
It was interesting to discuss the book with adults. However, it may have been more enlightening if I could've been a fly on the wall and heard what they might have said without me obviously in their presence. Still, I think they were pretty honest.
I gave out bookmarks to everyone and a tee shirt to the hostess. Overall, it was pretty fun.
Hey, if anyone else in my general area decides to read the book for a book club, I'll be happy to show up! Really!
Most of my photos didn't turn out too well, but here's the hostess of the event, her eyes accidentally turned vampire-red by the flash:
(Note: I know she LOOKS about 15, but she's not underage; I promise. She has a son who's in 9th grade.)
And here's a former student with a probable future student:
Pinterest amuses me.
It's not as time-consuming as blogging or tweeting, and I pick up followers without even trying. I really like the visual aspect of it, and it actually had become a good place to post idea-starters for my writing.
(Of course, I follow my niece with all her wedding plans and kitties, so that part is getting a little inundating for me.....)
It's no surprise that one of my most popular boards is "Just Funny," which has nothing to do with my writing, but has a very broad appeal. (It's also been the ONLY place where I've had to delete nasty comments, as two women did NOT like the fact that I posted a pic making fun of girls who think that they're too special to prepare for the future.) You can check out my sense of humor here. My newest pin is of Max's blue LTD flying over the supermoon last night. :)
Equally popular are my boards about Creating Nerissa's Style for my WIP, The (Dis)Appearance of Nerissa MacKay, whereon I pin pictures of things that look like Nerissa might wear, and my Steampunk board, which is just a general collection, as my steampunk ideas are all very much in the earliest stages. Both boards have 63 followers.
Coming in right behind those two is my Celtic board, where I pin things related to Becoming Brigid, which is in editing stages. This board has pictures of places that actually inspired the story, like The Ring of Brodgar in Orkney. There are 62 followers for this board. C'mon over and have a look at what I've got posted.
Then, with 61 followers, is my Vampire board, with lots of fun stuff, only some of which matches either of my Half-Vampire books. Most recently, I pinned pics of vampire hunting kits. :) And naturally I have photos of Johnny Depp as Barnabus Collins. (Mmmm...)
Last night I created two more boards, one about castles (as Nerissa lives in a castle -- plus, I just freakin' love castles!), and one about eerie/cool/odd places that might be good to use as story settings at some future point. Here's the Castles board. And here's the Places and Spaces board.
Pay me a visit and see if anything catches your interest!
Once upon a summer, I went to Europe with two of my cousins -- second cousins, actually: Tom and Kathy. Tom was my junior by a year, and we'd been pen pals (because in those far off days, people actually wrote letters). His sister Kathy was finishing up med school and taking a break to visit her folks in Spain.
Have Eurrail Youthpass, will travel -- at least in those days. We hopped trains and sat in the aisle on our suitcases if it was too crowded to get seats. We stayed in youth hostels or rooms let out by families who would meet young people at the train stations to see if they wanted rooms. Sometimes we ate like kings -- like when a family Kathy knew in Milan cooked for us. And sometimes -- like when we arrived in Granada on a three-day weekend and everything was closed down except a bar that sold rolls and a peddler who sold frozen yogurt -- we went hungry.
But Tom and I could speak Spanish and Kathy could speak Italian, and we got by just fine, even in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland (as I'd been there before and could manage the essential words in German).
It was, very possibly, one of the highlights of all of our lives. And the song that played that summer in every country in Europe, on every radio, was Righeira's "Vamos a la Playa."
So, as my Spanish 2 classes sing every day anyway (to hear the beauty of the language outside their grammar exercises), and as the unit we're just starting includes stories about traveling across Europe using youth hostels (and giving vocabulary words on toiletry essentials and packing), I knew the song for us right now was "Vamos a la Playa." The kids, especially the 8th graders, love its annoying synthesized beats, even though I've warned them it'll stay in their heads worse than Rebecca Black's "Friday."
And indeed, this Friday was the day I was to tell them all about my trip with Tom and Kathy across Europe, battling ants in Spain and figuring out the prices on the subway in Munich -- right after we sang, of course.
But late Thursday night, after several months of my not hearing from him, Tom called. It seems that Kathy had finally lost her battle with breast cancer and had passed away last week. Tom had called to let me know.
Choking up a few times, he told me of her last few hours, of how he tried to revive her, of how beautiful her cemetery plot is. Then he tried to be polite and ask how my little corner of the world was going.
I updated him on my family and school. And then I said, "Tom, can you guess what song my Spanish classes are singing this week?"
There was silence on his end for about half a second, then he said, "Vamos a la Playa." It was not a question.
And then Tom laughed.
For another 30 minutes, Tom and I reminisced about that summer -- and he kept laughing.
So, Friday, when I told my 8th grade Spanish class about the trip Tom, Kathy, and I took, I also told them that Kathy had died. They were respectfully quiet for a few seconds, until one boy pointed out that it was a good thing their liking the song had made Tom laugh.
I'm not sure, but I think those kids sang with a little more enthusiasm than usual Friday. It was probably the strangest tribute Kathy could have received. But perhaps it might have made her laugh, too.
"Vamos a la Playa." Not quite the song for a funeral. But certainly for a memory.
Here they are up close (on a slightly wrinkled dishtowel -- sorry about that).
The design idea was mine (notice that's the same blood splatter as is used on the book covers?), but it was computerized and refined by the talented Zach Romero at Creative Graphics in Murray, Utah. (He's the same guy who designed the tee shirts for me.)
In case you can't tell, they're double-sided, with Half-Vampire on the front and Half-Vampire Family on the back.
Okay, I'm not going to lie; these weren't cheap. I paid $200.00 for 500 bookmarks. This means I've got to use them wisely as advertising. I haven't quite decided all the details yet, but I think I'll hang on to most of them until I'm ready to release All in the Half-Vampire Family, so I can advertise both books at once.
But, in the meantime, I'm feeling swag-happy. :)