Recently, I had the opportunity to interview with Grant from Written Word Media (https://www.writtenwordmedia.com/) about my latest creation, Angels in the Rough. It was a surprise to see so many interesting questions. One of them had to do with a particular scene.
I don’t even have to stop and think about this answer! I was working with two of the characters, Joan and Annie, who are both a little frustrated with their romantic situations. I was remembering the way one of my sisters used to slam around the kitchen when she was mad, and we’d kid her that she was acting like our grandmother, who used to wash dishes and stack them into the dish drainer so hard that you could hear the clanking all the way through the house. Of course that kind of kidding only made my sister angrier. And that’s what happened to poor Joan as she tried to make herself a calming cup of tea. The stove wasn’t working, and in her anger she showered herself in cold water from the kettle, and then miss-stepped and actually fell down onto the kitchen floor. When Annie comes in right after that, she can’t see Joan on the floor because she’s on the far side of the table, and Annie also slips in the water, pulling both the table and the tablecloth down on top of her. Just as she lands, and discovers that she’s got company, their friend Bernice walks in and discovers them. I don’t know if that ever happened later in my sister’s life, but Joan gave me a great way to revisit those days and create a comical scene which still makes me laugh!
Annie, Joan, Helen, and Bernice reunite in this story, which takes place at the end of 1944. Joan, while waiting for her War weary fiancé, Dick Thimble, is stricken to learn that he may not have survived his injuries. While trying to manage through the uncertainty, she loses her job and has a shocking showdown with the ever-present maddeningly attractive Gloria Marini, who has not yet given up her quest for Dick’s heart. Annie, who tries to help Joan navigate the roaring emotional sea, is injured herself when tattered electrical connections cause an explosion in her shop. Her frightening experience brings about renewed vision in the girls’ lives, who begin to see the reality of life’s fragility. Just as it appears that the holidays will bring little cheer that year, surprises bring about a dazzlingly Joyful Christmas Celebration!
A few weeks ago, I started working on filling in gaps in my earning schedule with online resources. I was stunned to realize that after I’d filed my application for Content writer or Social media Expert, I would receive an offer to work as a neurosurgeon! I’ve also received notification of jobs in other lines I had no idea I was qualified for, including radiation therapist, mentor for overseas volunteers, drug counselor–I could even be a truck driver!
What’s Going On?
I jest, of course. The job suggestions come directly from popular job search engines like Glassdoor, Indeed, FlexJobs, and Zip Recruiter. History has it that job searching used to be done via newspaper ads and people in offices at personnel agencies. Then, due to the superior power of automation, real people agencies fell off the industry highway. That was an unfortunate development.
As a younger person, I often sought the assistance of what were called Temp Agencies. They could patch you up with a secretarial, receptionist, even sales position between gigs that kept the rent paid. A temp agency was powered by a few humans who made contact with small to large caps who had regular demand for replacements in their offices on a temporary basis. Doesn’t that sound nice? Of course the Temp Agency played the role of middle man, which became a bad word at some point. The middle man was paid to match the insatiable needs of busy companies with the limited supply of workers, a kind of mini-economist. A small percentage was charged for the service. The portion of that fee that came from my take home did not bother me. I loved that I could call up Sue or Bob Goodfriend and say, “What have you got for next week?” knowing they knew what I could do. I guarantee you, Bob never said, “Okay, Cece, how would you like to perform cardiovascular surgery next week?”
People Job Searching Please!
I’m not saying that it’s not entertaining to receive those emails from the superior search engines. Today, one of them informed me that Such and Such company really wanted me to help develop their company, but that I’d have to bring my own truck. But it’s not entertainment that I’m seeking when the electric bill has grown almost as tall as the mortgage and my underfed dog looks as if he’s considering doing something unseemly. I’ve got nothing against bots as a general rule, but please bring back the people in Human Resources!
Authors struggling to sell books are getting to a new era. While the task of converting books to cash for indy authors remains a do-it-yourself activity, at last there is reliable, intelligent, and newly available information–and it’s free! Making a living as an author is only a vaguely attainable objective for many of us. Yet we claw away at it daily, even when just the day before we said, “Forget about it!” The enthusiasm yo-yo is not surprising. Many of us have invested a lot of very tough-to-afford dollars in folks absolutely sure they were going to bring in lots of sales for us. Yet in many cases, those folks met with similar, if not identical sales failures as we did.
However, some of the successful book promoters have now opened their doors and begun to share some very valuable advice and tips that they have worked hard to gather throughout their own field experience. And they’re offering it to us for free.
Wrestling with the First Step
One of the best and most comprehensive ever courses on the Basics of Digital Marketing that I have experienced is being offered by BooksGoSocial.com, at https://booksgosocialtraining.thinkific.com/ This course is a fantastic, broad-based course that takes about an hour to 75 minutes to go through. It offers a great deal of information which is especially helpful to folks looking to figure out where and how to start expanding their social media footprint. Below is an example of a list discussed by Laurence O’Boyle of BooksGoSocial. In the actual video, he expands on the many steps involved in the “7 Pillar” Digital & Social Media Marketing Plan and many, many other helpful step-by-step procedures an author is well-advised to undertake. While it is one of the best and most helpful outlines for setting up one’s social media that I have seen, surprisingly, it is absolutely free. Also free is a Certification one receives upon completion.
Addressing Specific Elements in Promotion
Two extremely important elements in successful book sales are the cover, and the description of the book. All one need do to confirm this is go to Amazon, a book store, or a library, and see what attracts you. The Book Cover. And to confirm your interest, those few short sentences that tell what the book is about, the Book Description.
The book description has to describe your book, but it needn’t go into superfluous detail, and it shouldn’t include facts that are only interesting to the author. It needs to take an honest but intriguing piece of your story and amplify it with just the right amount of interest and excitement. The book description is essential for important pages such as the Amazon Author page, book descriptions on your sales page, and when creating ads.
But while many of us are skilled at developing our plots and characters through the actual story, switching over to the one-two punch of media marketing can be overwhelming. It’s often completely beyond our skillset. We don’t actually find out just how inept we are until we try to do it ourselves. Many authors will agree that it is a completely different skill. Yet, it can be learned. This is addressed in a beautiful, very comprehensive article on the BooksGoSocial.com website for Free.
This is a rare offering, as it takes on this tough problem and gives actual advice and instruction on how to go about achieving your powerful and eye-catching description. For example, my first effort with my novel was indeed descriptive:
Four ladies seeking romance during World War II, as they prepare for the coming of Christmas, The Call to Serve is Book I of the Serve Series about Friendship and Love in the 1940s era. Okay, so it says what it is. And so what?
With the help of Mr. O’Boyle’s BooksGoSocial, my description now says:
If Joan Foster had known that true love was just around the corner, she might have packed more than one dress. And the calculating redhead in her
perky fascination would not have been about to take him away.
Maybe the second one does not fully describe the book, but as the article explains, that’s not actually the object. The description I ended up with for my first book in the series now offers me a fantastic model for all future descriptions.
In “How to Create a Book Cover that Sells your Book,” James Blatch and Stuart Bache created a marvelous hour-long webinar, at no cost to authors. It’s no secret that a good book cover sells a good book. This fantastic webinar not only gives invaluable advice from these best selling authors and designers, but actually goes through the process of creating a beautiful cover in Photoshop! It was a lucky coincidence for me that the creation of the particular cover in the webinar was for a book within one of the genres in which I write. For any writer, though, this webinar is spectacularly helpful, packed with ideas and information about what works and helps to make a good book into a commercial success. Although I confess I have a long way to go before I master the various steps, at least I know what the proper steps are. This is extremely important, and it’s information not found elsewhere. The webinar is available until 4/19/2019 at this link but after that date, a journey to https://email@example.com should provide the same as well as more information.
Good News & Hard Work
If you create your own cover and write your own book description, chances are good that these resources will prove extremely helpful! Most importantly, these articles and resources provide a kind of set of instructions which takes the guesswork and general feeling of being lost in the slush pile out of creating these elements. Of course, they won’t create the material for you. But if you corral your own creative and tasteful talents, you can take advantage of a great opportunity with this information to really improve not only your book cover and book description, but also your sales outlook. And that’s good news!
After many years of editing for others, Cece Whittaker began to write and independently publish her own material, much of which relies on a happy combination of multi-generational memories and imagination. Her World War II romance series, starting with The Call to Serveis available in ebook, paperback, and on Audible.com.
I wanted to see if current best-sellers were worth all the hoo hah, and I was so excited and happy to see that in fact, they are! If you have not enjoyed one of Ms. Macomber’s books yet, I encourage you to do so.
Love Letters, a Rose Harbor Novel, is a multi-perspective story centering on the activities of bed and breakfast owner/operator, Jo Marie. Ms. Macomber incorporates Jo Marie’s story of wonder and intrigue, even possible romance over her “handyman,” Mark, with the ongoing stories of two other parties. Interestingly each of the three stories are themed with letters; two with written letters, very pivotal and meaningful, and one more social media-oriented. Maggie and Roy struggle, survive, and then really struggle over perhaps the most challenging catastrophe that can occur in a marriage. And Ellie and Tom, and ultimately Virginia and Scott, about whom I will say no more, try desperately to find common ground in a surprising and then shocking set of circumstances, during which the reader can’t get to the next page quickly enough!
A wonderful so well-composed story that I was truly sorry to see it end, although it seemed there might just be another one to follow. I highly recommend this lovely piece of work, which brought me up from a low time and helped me appreciate and greatly enjoy the value of our contemporary literature!
Tucked inside the memories of the War years Christmases is the fundamental struggle for resources. Probably most remembered and challenging of those resources at home was that of sugar. As one of the very first food items to be rationed, sugar quickly became a coveted and very protected provision. The Sugar Book, as the ration book was known, contained stamps allotting each person one-half pound of sugar per week. This practice went smoothly at first, but as time went on, while there was no argument that each person was entitled to his or her half-pound, there was no guarantee that the store they visited would have it available to sell. Frustrated with their predicament, home cooks learned to work around the sugar shortage by employing the variety of commercially produced items by manufacturers whose sugar resources were not rationed.
Such items included marshmallows, pudding mixes, gelatin mixes, and condensed milk. Additionally, cooks were successful in their creative use of molasses, honey, and maple syrup, among other sweet liquids. A wonderful resource by Joanne Lamb Hayes, Grandma’s Wartime Kitchen, lists a large collection of actual recipes created in the sugar deprived era.
Rising to the occasion
Among my favorites; Whipped Honey Icing, created by bringing 2/3 cup of honey to a boil, and pouring it over 2 stiffly beaten egg whites, combined with an eighth of a teaspoon of salt. (Hayes 2000) Today, this might satisfy both the crowd trying to reduce cholesterol as well as those trying to stay away from sugar. I can only imagine how delicious that might be, perhaps glazing a slice of fresh pound cake!
Ironically, most sources agree that a sweet roll, as my mother calls it, was not at all uncommon for breakfast in those early 1940s. But usually they were more like doughnuts, which, while sweet and wonderful, required very little sugar either in the batter or as a frosting. What I wouldn’t give for a batch of home-made doughnuts in my kitchen today!
Some homemakers found success in creating caramels and other candies by repurposing purchased marshmallows. When chocolate was available, it was also possible to fashion a type of chewy brownie that would later become the preferred type for many across the country.
This year, when I looked at my cannister, filled to the top with white granulated sugar, and my three pounds of butter, neatly stacked inside my refrigerator, along with vanilla, nuts, eggs, milk, and anything else I might possibly need, I felt such gratitude. Writers are rarely creatures of affluence, but in that moment, as I prepared to make my Christmas treats, I felt filled to the brim with riches, and appreciation for the brave and caring men and women who sacrificed everything for us, back during World War II, and still today.
For writers, one the most pesky problems is creating a solid, working book description. Once we’ve finished the book, outlined it, fleshed it out, tweaked it, had it edited, and gotten it ready to read, the last thing we want to do is go back and create it all over again in 300 characters or less!
But like it or not, it’s essential. Who’s going to start reading a book if they don’t know what it’s about? It also provides you a jumping off point as you try to design your promotional materials, and, if you’re lucky, presentations on your book. I’d like to share a few methods I fall back on for achieving this step, just in case it has become a stumbling block for you.
Method One – Build as you Go
One of the best ways to approach a description of your book is to do it while you’re outlining the original. That is not to say it must be complete at that stage, or even accurate. But the best road to a completed objective is a good starting point. And if you have written something already during the planning stages of your story or book, you’ve given yourself an alternate plan or map to completion of both the description of the book, and the book itself. If your path changes mid story, and you decide to takes things another way, all you have to do is edit the original description. Editing is a lot easier that starting with an empty slate.
Method Two – Use Examples as a Guide
Another way to do it is to read other descriptions online that you find really compelling. Try to analyze the point at which you become most interested while reading the description. For instance, in the cover description of Courtney Walsh’s Things Left Unsaid, it says, “He wasn’t this person anymore. He was clean. He was sober. He ate kale.” As soon as you read it, you’re amused, at least to some extent. This guy had overcome something and was maybe struggling to maintain. It sounds interesting, and it’s short and sweet. Patterning our descriptions after another can make the work less painful sometimes.
Method Three – Meditation
Maybe the least frequently used method is to simply meditate on your manuscript. Is it a self-help? If so when you first decided to write it, what were your objectives? This book will lift you to levels of confidence you never knew you had! Or maybe, “Math was never your friend until now!” For novelists, sift your mind back to when you were first grabbed by the inspiration to write the book. When I wrote Love in the Victory Garden, I remember thinking about the struggles, even of every day meals, and I included, “Abbotsville struggled with too little to eat, and not enough to do to stop thinking about too little to eat” in my description. I think it brings images to mind and maybe interest along with them.
As we go on, of course, we come up with our own methods of getting the description just right. And while it’s a necessity, and often forced to fit within an impossibly short framework, it can be and often is the best advertisement for our work. Thanks for reading & feel free to offer feedback.
How does the Love come about in this Victory Garden?
Abbotsville struggled with too little to eat, and not enough to do to stop thinking about too little to eat. The winning solution was to do for others, and the girls certainly made the effort. But why did that redhead always have to torment Joan? Afterall, she’d lost the battle for Dick Thimble’s attentions—hadn’t she? And why didn’t Harry write to Helen, for that matter why didn’t Annie hear from Sylvester? What was going on with those soldiers who were stationed in Florida—or were they? If Bernice had been accepted into the convent as a postulant right away, she would never have had to try to understand those feelings she’d had watching a mother with her baby, or that letter from Henry. Worst of all, where in the world was Monsignor Kuchesky? In 1944, many worries and anxieties were soothed in the peace and loving comfort of the church, and in doing for others. This story picks up characters from The Call to Serve and advances their lives through that frightening summer of 1944 and beyond. Available on Amazon.com and here: https://www.cecewhittakerstories.com
And a little about the Author:
Cece Whittaker lives and writes in Southern New Jersey. Her recent novels, The Call to Serve (Christmas story), and Love in the Victory Garden, are romance, humor, and love-filled stories set in 1943-44. She draws on her happy childhood and multi-generational memories to create her romance novels, presented honestly and through a Christian heart.
It’s been established over the years that while the holiday season is a wonderful time to be with family and celebrate the blessings and gifts we’ve shared over the years, it’s also a well-known stress builder. It’s not just the internal expectation that hits folks, but more the lack of planning, being caught unaware, potential cash shortfall, and even the visits ones doesn’t want to make but feel obligated to do. Writing lists and putting together a schedule works for some folks, but for many, it’s just another source of anxiety, particularly when the accomplishments required don’t occur by the scheduled days.
A lack of pacing, not to mention the often-corresponding lack of funds, is usually at the bottom of holiday distress. That is not to say it comprises the whole ball of wax, but let’s say, it gets the ball rolling. It’s the root of the anxiety and continues to intensify things as other bits and pieces get picked up. How can this whole mess be avoided? How does one enjoy the holiday season and really have that Merry Christmas?
Easy Answer, Cheap Solution
While there are no doubt many who espouse the alcohol solution, or the exit-the-rat-race philosophy, the answer is actually healthier, cheaper, and ultimately happier. When pacing is involved, a body must be rested. If not physically rested, at least emotionally rested. This happens with temporary escape. Winding down, as mothers call it. Definitely the Calgon bath. But if you’re not a bath person, why not indulge in the common escape of the story?
Watch an old movie where Christmas is utter bliss, while slowing down your mile-a-minute self-demands. Have a hot chocolate or a cup of coffee. Or for an even more engaging revitalization, find a book online among the awesome array of books at places like Kobo, Barnes & Noble, or of course, Amazon. Sit and read, or even listen to a funny, happy, exciting, romantic, or whatever kind of story you enjoy—often for only $3 or less! Once you’re there, you’re happier, you release some tension, and you can better focus on what you still have to do without all the noise and nagging of anxiety.
Reading for Family
If you’ve got little ones, there’s nothing finer for their sweet memories than listening to a parent or older sibling read a Christmas book, filled with special love and holiday promise. Traditional favorites like The Night Before Christmas never grow old, but beautifully illustrated new books are also available online, often for only a few dollars.
Whichever way you choose remember that managing emotional health can carry you into and throughout a holiday season with a better outlook, healthier emotional balance, and a Merrier Christmas!
It wasn’t until I was writing romance that I realized what an amazing and thorough escape this genre could be. For many people, it’s almost a daily medication. I’ll be honest, I always thought of the romance novel as having the typical plot: boy meets girl, boy wants girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back. But what a surprise I had coming—and I thought I was the first!
While I cannot help adding large tablespoons full of humor to my mix, other authors like Esther Erman (Just One) include unique and touching, historical dimensions. Others, like Alethea Williams (Joy That Long Endures) use international roots and historical perspective as well to add color and intrigue. Then there’s Penelope Marzec’s hilarious Daddy Wanted, which adds an element of adventure and what I call “goodness” to the protagonist’s character.
For me, and maybe it’s because I’m lazy after a day of writing, I prefer to listen to my stories as opposed to reading them. When I looked into stories that were read aloud, I was surprised to see how many other writers had chosen to read their own books! What fun! I did it because I’ve always been a performer. (Next time out, I hope to make a better show of it, as at times during my reading, it sounds like I’m on Quaaludes.)(Which I’m not!)
But the market is filled with refreshingly new designs in the romance field, and because of our awesome shopping opportunities, you can now scan the titles for your interests within the field that you might enjoy, including Christmas Romance, Historical Romance, Religious Romance, Comedy Romance, and a whole barrel of other specialty styles.
I hope you find something good—books are the best!
Cece Whittaker lives and writes in Southern New Jersey. Her recent novels, The Call to Serve (Christmas story), and Love in the Victory Garden, are humor and romance-filled stories set in 1943-44. She draws on her happy childhood and multi-generational memories to create her romance novels, presented honestly and through a Christian heart.