Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Hodge Podge – Google, Weather, and Promotions



 Madeline (M.M.) Gornell is the author of six award-winning mystery novels. Her current literary focus is Route 66 as it traverses California’s Mojave Desert. Madeline is a lifetime lover of mysteries, and besides reading and writing, is also a potter. She lives with her husband and assorted canines in the High Desert. For more information, visit her website or Amazon Author Page.



The original title of this post was “This ‘n That,” then I went for “Hodge Podge” and found out in its definition there’s something called “salmagundi.” http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/salmagundi. Who knew!

Then of course, I spent half an hour or so wandering around Google following tidbit to tidbit, instead of writing this post, updating my blog, or working on my next novel. Which oddly enough takes me to my cousin Frank, a wonderful song writer among many things, and we were sharing on the phone how much we like books—the look, the feel, the smell of them. We also like reading them (smile)—from there he wandered back to the days way back when he was writing his thesis, and searching though card catalogues, and library shelves. Which finally takes me to the point of this long paragraph. For me, Google (and equivalent search engines) are great for adding details that bring richness, color, and depth to settings and character personalities--without the time and energy needed at the library (though still close to my heart!). An example for me is doing the research for the fancy accouterments for one of my character’s idealized sports car driving experience/fantasy. I.e, Italian driving-shoes, driving-gloves, hat, etc. Was that fun! And I traveled the sports-car road without leaving my desk chair. Downside, for awhile there, a lot of driving-glove ads seemed to appear from nowhere on my various site visits…

We live way out in California’s High-Desert, and coming most recently from Washington’s Puget Sound, one of the attractions for us was sunny dry-heat weather. Well, this last summer dripped with humidity. And I hadn’t really comprehended how my writing was being affected. No energy, slow moving, brain-dullness. Indeed, I was a little worried, then it cooled off and dried up for a few days, and I felt a surge in mental acuity. So, the point of this piece of Hodge Podge is, if you run out of excuses why you haven’t finished your latest—blame the weather. Which takes me to setting (which includes weather) and what a powerful tool the weather can be for taking the reader there, action enabler or inhibitor, and character motivator.

Then there’s the “P” word, promotions. In my last post I cavalierly said I’d talk about my birthday revelations on the topic. I tried to tell myself I really liked doing all the P-word stuff, and for awhile it was definitely fun. Especially the part of meeting, engaging, and connecting with new people, mostly readers and authors. That part was lovely. (And I really enjoy talking to readers and authors on a one to one or small group situation, and even signings and promoting their books.) But talking about myself, saying what a great book I just published, all of that remains distasteful—but necessary sometimes--I’ve slowly learned. And I kept telling myself, I would gradually embrace, and get better. However, to this day, I haven’t embraced, nor gotten better. Bottom line that I finally accepted and internalized this last birthday was--I still do not like doing promotions—regardless of the necessity of doing them. So what does that leave me with? Books that aren’t best sellers, and a name only known by a few.

So can I say, so be it? I don’t know that answer yet. I do think though, that finally embracing the truth, has made me feel a lot better. And no, I do not have a marketing plan for my next title (smile). And my point in this last post segment is: The truth about your writing-self is sometimes not easy to figure out or accept, and once you do, what do you do then?

And my super bottom line point to this Hodge Podge rambling is, the writing life has all kind of paths, with crooks, and turns, and switch backs. And determining if you want to go to a certain place, then figuring out the best route, “ain’t”[i] easy.


[i] Reading Elizabeth Daly’s Henry Gamadge series and as was the convention then—“ain’t” keeps appearing.—annoyingly to my ear, but the word takes you right there to that period!

22 comments:

  1. You hit the ticklish spot for many writers. Promotion is an uncomfortable beast. One author said that the key to selling more books is to write more books!

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    1. I agree, Jackie, writing more books is the thought I'm keeping in my mind. And that's the part I love!

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  2. Promotion can be agony, especially the part where you approach bookstores, usually by email at their request, and they don't even give you the courtesy of a response, even a polite five-second, "No thank you." OK off the soapbox.

    Thank you for blaming the weather. We have had a dreadfully humid summer and I, too, had a hard time getting going. The few cool, dry days have re-energized me, though.

    Great post, Mad. Yep, this writing life is unpredictable--sometimes in very good ways! I'm trying my best to let go of expectations and just enjoy the ride. But it AIN'T easy!!

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    1. You can say that again, Bonnie--it ain't easy! Could be me, but I've had bookstore manager's actually be rude (and I'm not a pushy person). Fortunately, I later talked to several authors who did have signings there, and they sold few books. And bookstores buy your books wholesale (if you can get them to do that), your cut is small. Sigh. Like Jackie, said, keep WRITING!, and in your words, enjoy the ride!

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  3. Non-writers have no idea of the WORK and TERROR that goes into being an author. The writing can and is hard, but promoting the work is like venturing into outer space... a totally unknown region. But the internet has opened up avenues hitherto unavailable to us and we bravely go where that adventure leads us. Thanks for letting some of us know we aren't alone on our quest.

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    1. You're right, Gayle, it always helps me to no I'm not alone--especially when it comes to the "things" (to use your words) terrify me! And yes, thank goodness for the internet, allows me to be doing what I'm doing right now, talking to friends electronically. So glad to have computers and internet.

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    2. It's "know" not "no"...sigh and smile.

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  4. Since I know all you WinRs I can say one thing we have in common is that at our core, we're 'nice'. Many of us, particularly from an older generation, have been brought up to win friends but not influence people - to be modest, never to brag or crow about our accomplishments, to let our work speak for itself. Not exactly a plan for publishing success.

    Like you, I've struggled with how best to promote my books. We've talked about how many 'hats' we writers must wear. I've finally concluded that I have but one head, so maybe I should focus on what I do best and leave the rest to others. (hint: see the posts for my book release below).

    Have any of you considered hiring someone to do your publicity?

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    1. I like your thought, Miko "I've finally concluded that I have but one head, so maybe I should focus on what I do best and leave the rest to others." Trying to do it all sometimes can daunting. Yes I have on publicists--who want to plan, schedule, and tell me to do all the things I didn't want to do in the first place--that's why I wanted to hire them! (smile)

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  5. My biggest problem with promotion is the time it takes to do it right. I have hired people to organize some blog tours, but the last few years I've done it myself.

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    1. Marilyn, you're good at it! With just the right mixture of "take a read" why don't you, and just being your delightful friendly self. Since we've been to events together, I've marveled more than once at your abilities. And yes, time--seems to be less and less of it...

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  6. I love your meanderings...like the lovely, high desert wanderings of the characters in your books. Google is my addiction for procrastination. Weather is my prison...or siren. Promotions are... well I like them. I like promoting people (that's different than self, I guess), but I enjoy telling others about the accomplishments of talented people I know. I like to clue readers in on the best writing that's out there. (I almost wrote "glue" them in, but hey, that works too.)
    EVERYBODY! Buy and read Madeline Gormell's books! You will be drawn into a muted world of mystery and occasional mayhem.
    Okay, I do FB, tweet, email my own writings too, but like Miko said, to us of the older generation, BSP (blatant self promotion) feels like something that needs to be confessed.

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    1. Oh Jackie, reading your comment has warmed my heart and put a smile on my face! As it happens, you have "clued" me into many wonderful authors, and you do a great job at pointing out the aspects of author's writings that help you decide if this is a book you want to read or not. And thank you for the PROMO, you've made my week! And your last line is more than memorable, it's priceless, "BSP (blatant self promotion) feels like something that needs to be confessed" It's so wonderful, I plan on quoting...

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  7. Madeline this is such a great post. I think we writers write for all sorts of different reasons. I agree. Promotion is a bitter pill to swallow and I've yet to enjoy it. Your post helped me realize--and I'm nearing my birthday as well--that I'm just happy to write, hopefully publish, and just be happy with the status quo. If others are like me, I've had several different lives in a lifetime: from being a Peace Corps volunteer in my early twenties and knowing nothing to teaching college most of my life, retiring, and then deciding that writing would be a fun thing to do. So far, it's been great, but I think the best part of the whole endeavor is still the process. As long as I enjoy it, I'll keep doing it. Full stop. Thanks for getting me thinking about why I write and also your latest book is coming up on my Kindle and I'm truly looking forward to reading it. Reading and writing. It's a privilege to do both. Hugs your way from the Central Coast, Paul.

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    1. As always, Paul, I love hearing from you. And the thought my little meanderings got you thinking, which in turn have gotten me thinking some more, is music to my ears. You've added some needed perspective to my thoughts--and your thought, "Reading and writing. It's a privilege to do both." is now in the front of my mind. And hugs back "at you" as they say! (or used to say--I'm really behind the curve on the latest slang. I'm still dealing with "ain't")

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  8. Too funny. If you're behind, I'm back in the '60s with groovy. Take care and hope you can make the Christmas party this year. Would love to meet you in person. P

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  9. Maddie, I bet you are way better at self-promotion than you think.

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  10. Oh, Thonie, I sure hope so! One day my books will catch on (smile). Sorry I missed seeing you this year. Maybe next PSWA!

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  11. Great hodge podge, Madeline! Promotion is the hardest part of the writing experience for me. It's really difficult to tell people they should read our books because they're so good. LOL Add to the weather the act of moving. I just sold my house and I have too little time to do anything but pack and look for another house. Such is life.

    Marja McGraw

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    1. Marja, congrats on selling your house! What a year you've gone through...

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  12. Sometimes you have to accept that you write because you must and that is the most important thing. Selling your books, getting your name out there is the prime focus. It's hard, because everyone tells you this in not the way to do it, but once I accepted that I find the whole promotion thing stressful and that I should write rather than sell, I felt so, so much better. And I'm actually writing more.

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