Tuesday, August 25, 2015

What's Your "Walk Up Song?"

Baseball has changed--a lot--since I played and coached. One of the things we now have are "walk up songs" for players. A relief pitcher may want something raucous played when he enters the game. A hitter will probably choose one of his favorite popular songs. Just for kicks, I looked up some of the Texas Rangers' walk up music. I was going to post them, but I really didn't recognize any, and rather than list some I hadn't curated, I'll let you look them up yourself.

Mine? I'll show my age and musical taste by saying it's John Denver singing, "Hey, It's Good To Be Back Home Again." Why? Because I like the easy rhythm of the song, I identify with the lyrics, and I liked John Denver's music.

Some writers like to listen to music while they write. I use Pandora for background sometimes, but mainly when a granddaughter has the TV going in the other room. Otherwise, I don't need background music. What about you? Do you like music going while you go about your daily work, whether at the office or at home? What would your "walk up music" be? Let me know.

Tweet with a single click: "What would your 'walk up music' be?" Click here to tweet.

For those who are curious about the question I posed last week, most people look first at Facebook, then Twitter. Blogs are at the bottom of the list.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Writing: Book Covers

For authors having a contract with a traditional publisher, the question of a book cover to go with their manuscript isn't a major one. The author may have some input (I have...thank you Thomas Nelson and Abingdon), but there's a designer or group charged with the task.

Now that many authors are self-publishing, the question arises: How do you get your cover designed? I asked three of my friends who are successful "hybrid" authors how they went about this.

A well-respected author and writing teacher gave me this response: "Find covers you like and email the author for his cover designer. Or search the internet for book cover designers and check their online portfolios. Don't pay more than $500 for a cover, unless it's highly specialized and you really need it."

 Randy Ingermanson went about it the way you might expect a PhD physicist to: He took a week to collect the names and sites of cover designers. He narrowed his choice to 20 people, then to five. "I ...then spent a long time weighing which would work best for me.  I finally chose one and he’s worked out extremely well."

The most surprising response came from Brandilyn Collins. She designs her own covers. "I’ve learned to be quite proficient in photoshop. I’ve also learned to do all my own interior layouts for ebook and paper, and the ebook conversions." You can see examples here (she did all except Sidetracked).

Before you ask, the cover shown above (for my novella, Rx Murder) was done by Dineen Miller. I think she did a pretty good job, don't you?

Tweet with a single click: "How do 'indie' authors get their book covers done?" Click here to tweet.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Your Preference For Social Media

Authors are told to have a presence on every possible social media site. The number of you who read this blog regularly has remained relatively small in comparison with some other methods for me to stay in touch with readers. Here's a brief survey that might help me. (And I'll be glad to share the results next week). Create your own user feedback survey

Tweet with a single click: "Which social media site do you go to first thing?" Click here to tweet.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Writing: Reviews

One of the first things writers are told--along with "avoid the passive voice" and "don't abruptly switch point of view"--is not to read reviews. When we talk with someone else, whether a neighbor or friend or co-worker or whomever, we put words out into the air. But when we write, those words might as well be chiseled in stone, because they're preserved on paper or electronically for anyone to read...and to judge.

I try not to read reviews, but at times I can't help myself. I received notification that my latest book, Fatal Trauma, had received some new reviews on Amazon, so naturally, I looked. Along the way, I saw a number of reviews from Amazon's Vine reviewers--these are people sent the book free of charge in exchange for an honest review. Some of them liked the book, some didn't, a few criticized the writing style. And I couldn't help wondering if they would have bought it in the first place, and if so, would the review have been different?

 Let me hasten to say that good reviews and comments about our writing stoke the fires of authors. But I have to admit that when I read a critical review, it sometimes gets me down.

What's your opinion about reviews? If you're a writer, do you read them? If you're a reader, do you leave them? Leave a comment. I promise not to get too depressed if you don't like this post.

Tweet with a single click. "What's your feeling about book reviews?" Click here to tweet.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Cell phones

I still remember when I got my first cellular phone. I was leaving for Chicago for an important medical meeting when I discovered that my father was to be hospitalized for a cardiac problem. I immediately rushed to the hospital, and after determining that he was doing fine, I assured him I was going to cancel my trip. Dad absolutely refused to let me do that.

We argued to the point that I thought it might trigger a real heart attack in one of us, and it very well might not be him. Finally, I relented, but purchased a cell phone to take with me. Those phones were about the size (and almost the weight) of a brick. They were cumbersome, but I could stay in constant touch when I had mine with me. And thus, the camel got its nose in the tent.

That was long ago, and since then cell phones have become a way of life. We talk on them, send text messages, read and send email, read and post Facebook and Twitter material, take and post pictures...and the list goes on. I understand how important it is for some people to have constant access to their messages, to be readily available for business or family reasons, but... c'mon folks. It bugs me to see a family sitting in a restaurant, the adults scrolling through messages and Facebook, the kids playing video games or chatting with friends. What ever happened to family time? For that matter, what ever happened to common courtesy?

Our society has encouraged us to build electronic walls that keep others out. And that's just wrong. Some people have love-hate relationships. I have a hate-tolerate relationship with social media. I post and read it because it's expected of authors. But I don't allow it to rule my life. And I'm sad when I see people who do just that.

Okay. I've sounded off. Now it's your turn. What's your opinion? I'd like to know.

Tweet with a single click. "Are cell phones taking over our lives?" Click here to tweet.