Letters Never Meant to be Read: Volume III Interview with Author BL Teague

 

Letters Never Meant to be Read: Volume III is here!
https://amzn.to/2TpetX6

Marc D. Crepeaux, founder of RWM, interviews Author BL Teague. Bryan contributed four letters to this volume and is sure to write more in our future. Bryan discusses his writing style, upcoming projects, his life struggles, and even reads a letter titled “Dear Mike” from the collection.
Bryan is also working on a few novels, a novella, and a short story for an anthology.

Follow Bryan at:
https://www.bryanteague.com/
On Twitter:

On FB:
https://www.facebook.com/bryan.teague2
On Wattpad:
https://www.wattpad.com/user/BryanLTeague
On AllPoetry
https://allpoetry.com/Bryan%20T

Follow Marc:
https://marcdcrepeaux.com/
On Twitter:

Letters Never Meant to be Read Series:

We’ve also updated the covers and interior for a 2nd edition re-release of Volumes I&II which can be found here:
Volume I: https://amzn.to/2Dz3SV4
Volume II: https://amzn.to/2OGi7s2

If any of the letter writers want to be interviewed by Marc D. Crepeaux and A.M. Hounchell on our LettersandBooks channel,
Leave a Comment Below!

Stay tuned for Letters Volume IV writing contest!

As we post our publishing push for the holiday season, check out our completed and upcoming titles.
New Book by RWM! In the Mist of Fire by Nathalie Grabinski :
https://amzn.to/2FhXX8s
Contractual Obligations also has a new Audible Version:
https://amzn.to/2Fgt1W1
Stop That Wedding by Melissa Klein:
https://amzn.to/2qIM6WV

Join us, submissions are always accepted for publication!
https://lettersandbooks.com/

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Letters Never Meant to be Read Volume III and other Rusty Wheels Media Releases and Announcements

 

RWM and Lettersandbooks.com would like to thank all that contributed to Letters Never Meant to be Read: Volume III and announce that it is now available!
Kindle version:
https://amzn.to/2PPJYuC
Paperback version:
https://amzn.to/2T5Uqgu

We’ve also updated the covers and interior for a 2nd edition re-release of Volumes I&II which can be found here:
Volume I: https://amzn.to/2Dz3SV4
Volume II: https://amzn.to/2OGi7s2

If any of the letter writers want to be interviewed by Marc D. Crepeaux and A.M. Hounchell on our LettersandBooks channel,
Leave a Comment Below!

Stay tuned for Letters Volume IV writing contest!

As we post our publishing push for the holiday season, check out our completed and upcoming titles.
New Book by RWM! In the Mist of Fire by Nathalie Grabinski :
https://amzn.to/2FhXX8s
Contractual Obligations also has a new Audible Version:
https://amzn.to/2Fgt1W1
Stop That Wedding by Melissa Klein:
https://amzn.to/2qIM6WV

Join us, submissions are always accepted for publication!
https://lettersandbooks.com/
https://marcdcrepeaux.com/
https://amhounchell.ninja/

Follow us on Twitter!

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Letters Never Meant to be Read- Writing Contest Update

Hello Letter Writers,

I want to thank you all for participating in this ever-growing contest which ended May 5th. I am very happy to report that we received over 150 submissions. Our judges will be hard at work reading your secrets; letters that include your wonderful memories, your funny moments, and your terrible tragedies. Your love, loss, and life.
The winners of the contest will be announced May 31st, 4pm EST LIVE on the Facebook Page for Letters Never Meant to be Read HERE. Please like and share this page so we can make it a celebratory event. I will read the winning letters and announce EVERYONE who are nominees that will be accepted into Volume III. The 3 winners will receive a check promptly after the contest results are announced.
I will also GO LIVE throughout the month on FB to read letters from VI and VII, laugh, and talk about the project as a whole. I have done this twice already with a fun result.
Speaking of, Volume III will include those who both win the contest, and those who are selected as nominees. For that effort, you will be contacted throughout the summer with contracts, photo requests, bios, and other small items that go into making this great publication. We always respect the privacy of our Letter Writers and will tailor your submissions accordingly. This is a great way to get a “byline” into your credits if you are a budding or established author, which some of you already are.
We are ALWAYS accepting submissions even though the contest is over. 3 or more gets you royalty payments, 1 gets you a free book. Submissions for Volume III ends June 1st.
Besides sending letters, the best way to support this project is to buy the books (I try to make them as cheep as possible), tell your friends, write reviews, and share on your social media of choice.
You can always pal around with me on:
Letters Facebook OR MDX
I will not accept bribes 
Thank you so much for supporting this project with your words and pieces of your soul. It has been my dream for many years and you are making it come true.
For projects past, and this precious book. Let there be many more in our future…
 
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“Dear Benefactor” from Letters Never Meant to be Read: Volume II YouTube Reading and Script

 

 

Dear Benefactor,

 

Here I give you a great opportunity to continue on an age-old tradition of supporting the arts. No, I am not a charlatan, although I could be if I had no guilt at all. No, I am not a beggar. It just seems plain to me that I could be doing better for myself, better for the world with a change of station. If only I didn’t have this weight of impending disaster over me. This impenetrable cloud that follows, darkens my existence by stealing my time and thoughts away from my writing. Worry and debt have formed great men, but I have served enough of both to occupy a lifetime. Some find hardship and poverty to be inspiration for their best work. I have had the right amount of these disasters and I simply ask for assistance in continuing on to the next great phase.

It may seem by the opening that I am not accomplished, a loser perhaps. This is not true; I am a gentleman by the old sense. I am a person of letters and books. I am well educated, addicted to ambition as well as accomplishment, and have risen up to a certain level despite my poor pedigree. But winning in these games has not come without cost. I find myself mooring over the smallest of expenses and checking my accounts far too often.

Even a small amount of patronage would give me a little respite. I will not dawdle with this given time though. I will write and produce in such a way that you have never seen. I will be the most prolific, the unstoppable. I will be the creator of many worlds and people, for you. The small gesture to my potential will seem dainty in comparison to what I will build. Then, as time continues and I add to the pile of record, our achievements, I will undoubtedly garner interviews. Books will be written about me, about my undying tenacity, about our legacy. Only then will I divulge the real truth about you, about the goodness in your heart, about your care and generosity. I will put you upon the pedestal of time and you will be known.

If you are uninterested in the investment of legacy, then perhaps you would like companionship. Perhaps you want both, are like myself, want it all. I can offer you the sweetest of gestures, the most passionate rhythms this Earth has to offer. I can see you as you were, long ago, past those still pretty eyes, into your youth. I can look at you in wonder, your naked body on display for me, caress your hair and forgive the small tolls that time has ungratefully taken on you.

I can be your best lover, your secret in revenge against the world that has been so ungrateful. I can last long or be as hasty as you please. All of your fantasies will come to fruition, all you have to do is ask. No, tell me, say the words, and I will be whoever you want. Say nothing, and I will be myself, your everything. I do not care if you are dying, we all are. I do not care if you aren’t as pretty as you once were. I can see through the wrinkles and the grief. I am unassuming and I know no age. I span time with humor and delicate forethought. Think of your most dangerous desire, the one you fear would bring you public shame if it ever got out. Tell me. I won’t even bat an eye, only smile, and give it to you.

Please don’t think of me a tramp. Yes, I am taken, you might be too, but not in those moments. No one has all of me, but you can. He may have left recently, or long ago. Use me to parade around in defiance. Show me off to your cohorts, travel with an escort. I can speak another language. In a tuxedo, I am quite dashing. We all play roles; let me play one for you.

Is it not the same when I clock in an out? When I go away in uniform, am I not leaving them behind too? Those that I love, that are close, they need provisions. I go and get them to ensure a future. It does not matter who I am when I am away, as long as I return unscathed. It does not matter how I secure a future, but that I do. Besides, one cannot judge another who brings happiness and enlightenment into the world. I will bring you passion and joy, and you will allow for our enlightenment.

Of course, we don’t have to be lovers in the physical sense. You could simply be my publisher, my editor, my muse. I can scribe love letters to your heart’s delight. Our torrid love affair can be only in the mind, on sacred parchment that historians will marvel over. While I toil away in joy, creating a collection of books and thoughts, we can span great distance with touching moments of bliss caught on record. You can provide needed expenses, and I, a mountain of dreams.

I will still want you though, I must warn you. I am a romantic, if you have not already guessed. I will desire for your body along with your pretty mind. If that physical connection is not your choice, tease me with my own desires of the flesh. Play games, wring out of me the most desperate and sentimental words from my wet cloth. I will be loyal.

If you have found any errors in these words, good; you are doing well already. Please, beg my forgiveness. If they are filled with mistakes, let these words serve as an example of the cloud that is looming. I write in haste, eager to slip away from the bankers and the phone calls. I can assure you, I am not expensive compared to what most use their money on these days. I am not a spendthrift. I will use what is given to me by your delicate hands for one purpose and I will never appear ungrateful. I will get the cloud away from my back and write as if every day I shall perish by midnight.

Do send something soon though, a message that you are at least thinking about my offer. I am an optimist and I think fondly on tomorrow. If not, I will soon be beaten down by the doldrums of a petty, debtor existence. And while I will not give up on my dreams, I will become bitter by their making over such a long, hard road. By securing a more comfortable route now, I will ensure the necessity to pay it forward one day. I will reach down as you have here and offer a lifeline to another dreamer. I beg you to give me something more to admire about tomorrow.

I hope you are well and in good health. I hope the spring sun shines upon your face and, by morning, you have cup of tea for me and a story to tell when I arrive. Write soon.

 

-Marc

 

Send in your own letters HERE

 

“Girl in White” from Letters Never Meant to be Read: Volume II

Special thanks to all our Letter Writers for the New Volume! Go ahead, write your own Letters and send them in. We dare you…

Here is a fireside reading of “Girl in White” by yours truly with my trusty companion.

 

 

Girl in White,

I was walking in the cemetery with my dog, Maggie. We are caretakers of sorts. Unofficial titles, of course, but the dead see us every day. I tip my hat and make notes. I am not afraid and I like the quiet. It is actually a nice place with hills for calf muscles and names to remember.

We were nearly a mile into our ritual. The heat of the day was still in full effect. The sun blazed off the tar walkways. That was when my dog stopped pulling, about a mile in. She’ll pull in the beginning, want me to run. Today wasn’t a running day. Today was a talking on the phone day. Same shoes, different activity.

That’s what I was doing when I saw you. You were sitting there with your legs sprawled, wearing a white shirt and some kind of shorts near the stairs that led down a row. I could tell you had dirty blonde, mid-length hair with thick, black mascara that had to be running. You waved to me and voiced hello.

I thought it strange to see someone else alive in this place amongst the dead. You don’t see a lot of movement in a cemetery. My dog does get distracted by the occasional squirrel or bird, but you don’t see a lot of human movement. You don’t think you see human movement anyway, or certainly wouldn’t want to. That is not why we go there.

You waved and I waved with my only free hand which held my phone. I waved with my phone. I’m sorry. I didn’t know if you were trying to get my attention or if you needed something. Maybe you just wanted to talk. The phone call I was on was important and couldn’t wait. I’m sorry if I left you there all alone with the dead.

I still wonder why you were just sitting there in the cemetery. Sometimes I see workers but not very often. Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Christmas, I can sit on my porch, drink my coffee, and watch the well-wishers drive in, take their moments, and drive out. I don’t gawk at them. That would be disrespectful. I do notice them. I wonder if they ever notice me watching over the place. I wonder if they know that I would report any vandals, that I don’t let my dog on the grass, except at the very top where there are no graves. There’s just an empty field there for future sadness.

You were the only other person alive for miles and I brushed you off with a half wave of my phone. I am so sorry. I should have at least said that I would make another round and then we could have a chat. I would finish up my conversation, come back, and we could talk about things for a bit. If I had just said that, the person who was on the phone wouldn’t have minded at all.

Maybe we could have gotten along somehow. You seemed pretty but in distress. Perhaps we could have walked together. Since Maggie wasn’t pulling, you could have had a turn leading her. You could have tried her out and I could have rested my arm as we had our secret meeting. I should have at least stopped and asked if you were alright.

You were the only one amidst the sprawling mementos of the dead. I thought that anyone there who was just sitting, and not at any particular grave, surely must have been lost. I was marching somewhere with my companion. We had places to be. We had exercise to get in and phone calls to receive.

Twenty years ago, without the contraption, I would have no doubt stopped and heard your entire life story, the way you wanted to tell it. I have that effect on people. They spill their guts all over the floor and ask me how it looks. I tell them they’re okay. They feel better. I feel interested. Twenty years ago, we could have learned something about each other. Instead, I was on the phone.

I walked around and tried to stretch my neck to see if you would stay put. I wanted to see if you heard my mental note that I would be back. ESP doesn’t always work. Must be all the Wi-Fi and cell signals. I lost sight of you over the hill. I went back to the top, back to the grass that I could let my dog walk on, and we made a good jaunt of it, another mile perhaps, maybe more.

My conversation ended and I made a B-line back to where you were. I had the sinking suspicion that you wouldn’t be there, that I missed my chance. I went, circled around and around, looking for you in that white shirt amongst the shiny tombstones, weather-beaten memories, and perfect grass.

I couldn’t find what I was looking for. I couldn’t find you. I circled around and around, searching, hoping, and whispering. I went back up to the top of the hill to gaze down, see if you went somewhere else to find shade and wait for me. My eyes darted for you; maybe you were checking out another grave or family plot. I couldn’t see you anywhere. I looked over my shoulder to see if you were following me but my neck doesn’t turn the way it used to. Not since they cut into me.

I wanted you to be there. I wanted to take that walk with you and learn all about your life. Then, maybe we could have gotten into some trouble. Maggie wanted water but she was still game for whatever and we could go farther. Dogs have a way of suffering for the sake of adventure. If I went five miles more, she would still go on without complaint.

We went to the old side of the cemetery. The one with big oaks and bushy cedars, the side with more shade. I thought if you were waiting for me, you would be over there. You weren’t. I headed for the parking lot of the community pool which sprawls a half a mile away to the west with no luck. I thought I saw a white shirt down the street, at the bottom of the hill, at the dog pound next to the place that sells monuments and tombstones. Engravings just for you.

When I got there, it was just a man loading his car. I got nervous. When I looked back up at the cemetery, the hills, again, I searched for movement. I searched for any sign that you were still there, that you were still waiting for me. I saw nothing but the glinting stones and fake flowers in rows.

I started to panic and cry a little on the inside with the heat. I didn’t want to give up. I marched down the main road and headed for the cow pasture, trekked up the side road with those houses and bamboo. I thought the cows would know where you went but a calf just ran from me like she hadn’t seen a man with a dog before. The older heifers just stared.

There was one that was browner than the others and stood by itself away in the pasture and the small-rolling hills of the thick green grass. I thought it may know where you went off to. Then, I realized why he was standing by himself. It was the bull. He was staring in the distance, picking out his next cow to mount and inseminate.

Is that all I am? Is that all I’m doing?

I stopped halfway down the road and thought about going back to the cemetery. I thought about marching back to where you were, and if you weren’t there again, we would trudge right up to the top and wait. I turned around and Maggie followed, only to take five steps and turn around again. Instead, I thought you might be on the main road, so I continued on.

You weren’t on the main road.

When I cut back up on another side street that parallels my house, Maggie thought we were going home. I wasn’t ready yet. I was still looking.

The wide angle of the cemetery appeared before us again, and again I looked for your movement. I looked for your white shirt. I couldn’t find you.

I cut in front of my house and headed towards town. Maybe someone there would know where you went. Maybe they had seen your face too, maybe someone there was helping you. Maybe you were walking and I could give you a ride or we could go together.

I wanted to know you. I wanted to love you. I wanted to cause problems and find solutions. I wanted to take your problems and make my life complicated. I wanted to wipe your tears, if that’s what those were.

Why weren’t you there?

I made it all the way to the community garden, turned around and headed back. I asked my distant neighbor if he saw anyone that looked like you. He thought I was crazy. He made me repeat where I first saw you. I witnessed goosebumps form on his neck. I could tell he wanted me to go away. My enthusiasm was disrupting his watering of the ferns and trimming of his mums. He didn’t want to have anything to do with it. He was perfectly fine in his house which was built farther down the road from the cemetery than my house was all those years ago. He didn’t want me to bring anything to his side. Not while the sun was going down and the ferns needed their water.

After I gave him the scare, I figured the only thing I could do was go home. But while we were there, Maggie had sprawled all over his cool grass. Did you know that dogs don’t have sweat glands like us? Did you know they have to pant? Maggie is faster than me but in an all-day race, I would win over the ability to sweat from my pores.

I walked home in sadness which turned to fear. I was afraid that you weren’t real. Maybe you were a ghost. That’s what my distant neighbor was scared of, that you were an apparition who lives in the cemetery. That you would follow me down to his house and give him the night terrors. If you are a ghost, I want you to know that I was not afraid. I’m not perfect, but I have not been so evil that a ghost would turn on me.

We could have a conversation, you could tell me your stories, your history, and I would listen. Then, over some tea or coffee, I could tell you mine. You could learn what it’s like in this era, be baffled by our advances and technical savagery. Mystical wonders of the modern mind. You could see it all. I could show it to you.

My head hung low until I got within eyesight of the cemetery again. I only hoped that you were there after all and you weren’t hiding from me. Is that it? After I was rude to you, did you dive behind some tombstones and wish for your own death? Did I just not see you there in your family’s row?

I looked some more but I had to go through the routines. Dogs like routines and she needed water still. I felt bad on both fronts. We went inside. I made sure her bowl was full and went to my porch which overlooks the grounds. I took out binoculars and searched for you. I looked in the place that I saw you the first time. You weren’t there. My eyes became strained as the sun faded from the horizon. I was upset.

At that point, I wasn’t afraid of you being a ghost, or a vagrant, or a drug user hiding from the cops. I was afraid you were never there at all. That I shrugged off a figment of my own imagination. I just wanted to prove that you were real. I wanted to prove to myself and the world that I was not going crazy, not yet. That I had not slipped from the rope. I wanted to know that you weren’t imagined because that scares me more than anything else.

Please, be there tomorrow.

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Write a Letter or three of your own Submissions Here!

 

*Contains affiliate links, can’t be poor forever

Results of Amazon KDP Free Promo Days- A Case Study for Letters Never Meant to be Read

 

These are the results of a previous post where I outlined a multi-faceted marketing plan in order to jump start my Amazon KDP Select Free Promo Days- A Case Study for Letters Never Meant to be Read. 

My plan was based on the guidance and know-how of  Dave Chesson at kindlepreneur.com and listening to and exploring the world of Derek Murphy  on his YouTube channel and his website Creativindie.

If you missed my setup for this promo, please review the Case Study so the results make sense. There were several small tasks that I did to get ready for the marketing plan to make my page better, etc.

It’s always good to review the goals in order to gauge results:

KDP Select free days for Letters Never Meant to be Read were 4/21-4/25.

Goals: Garner more Reviews and Interest in the Project (Fans and Writers).

 

In the marketing plan, I spent 

Total KDP Free days Promoters: $165.99

Pre-KDP Free days FB ad: $80

Budgeted for FB and Amazon During and Post (5 days after) KDP free days: $200

Total for this promotion: $445.99 + Ongoing $75 Twitter campaign from yourbookpromoter which adjusted tweets for the KDP free days= $520.99

 

Starting Point. Here is the data on the Amazon rankings as of April 20, 2017, one day before the promo:

Author Rank: 157,720 (obscurity).

Letters Kindle Version: 389,652 (not even the top pages of my categories).

Letters Print Version: 188,476 (just OK)

 

Some Results:

Below are the results of the free books downloaded which equal 3,839 free downloads, 2.9K on the first day.

Campaign Results during

 

Interestingly, my Kindle Unlimited numbers weren’t too shabby either during this period with 821 KENP total:

 

KENP During

 

0 Paperbacks sold During this period.

 

Is this good? I don’t know what I would compare it with since Letters Never Meant to be Read is such a unique book.

What I do know is that nearly 4K readers decided to add it to their collection and this can’t be bad. Some of them may end up reading it on the beach this summer and review later, who knows? Thank you if you took a chance on us!

I also got #1 in my fav 2 categories which work best for this book:

 

More results: Now let’s see just what happened after. I can say that I made it as high as #32 in free in all of Amazon at one point.

 

Amazon Kindle Rank overall

 

We have been hovering between 25K-50K overall and never falling off the first page in my main category. Paperback sales have not been altered at all so I am not going to show the graph because it is sad.

 

Here is the after results for Kindle Units Sold since the promo. Nothing to write home about and I CERTAINLY will not get see any return on investment at this point:

 

After purchased units

 

Here is KENP after the promo:

KENP After

 

New Reviews Since Promo: 2 (Hopefully this will go up as people read what is on their virtual shelves).

Letters Received from New Writers for the Next Volume: 1 (The Best Number).

Author Rank Now: 34,290 (not as obscure).

Letters Kindle Version Rank: 54, 807 (WAS 24,227 yesterday).

Letters Print Version Now: 1,339,909 (insert sad-faced emoji here).

 

Well, Now What?

I would first like to thank everyone who paid attention to this case study and I’d love to hear about your results with your own projects as well.

I would also like to thank all of OUR new readers who are scoping this out right now at LaGuardia Airport or sitting by the pool on a cruise somewhere. The thought of them keeps me going.

Was it worth it? Sure, I suppose. I spent a lot of time and $500, but it’s always worth a shot. This is also part of a larger plan and experimentation. If I run this with the new Worked Stiff Book, I am bound to get wildly different results.

I also was not looking for a one shot wonder or anything. I wanted more reviews and more letters coming in. Those numbers are just not there yet but I know that it will take time.

My confidence in the Letters Project as a whole has not wavered.

I am disappointed that Worked Stiff: Short Stories to Tell Your Boss was delayed and I didn’t get it out during this promo which may have helped its initial sales.

I am running test Amazon ads right now which I will take a look at in another post.

Soon, I am going to go into a LESS MARKETING mode, just write, and get the next volume ready, the best marketing there is.

I am happy with the results in that  a decent number of people downloaded the book. I just hope 10% of them read it and review on the beach later this summer. That will give me a lot more juice when I run Facebook ads later.

Next time, I will break up my promo days into 3, then 2, something that Dave suggested.

Perhaps Dave and Derek can shed some light on these numbers so I can stop scratching my head like a weird dragon.

If I missed something here, please let me know.

If anyone else has any help, comments, or guidance, I am all ears and strawberry licorice.

 

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A Day in the Life and the Premier of Worked Stiff: Short Stories to Tell Your Boss

This book is a salute and celebration of the Modern American Worker. Generations of unrecognized heroes who wash our cars, mow our lawns, bake our bread, douse our fires, take our garbage, teach our kids, grow our food, build our houses, mend our roads, and defend our freedom.

The American Dream is still there for all of them, hidden in plain sight, riddled with confusion and abandonment.

In an America full of unemployment, late fees, foreclosures, bankruptcy, and loss of hope…

There Are Consequences.

This short story collection includes some of the pale misery behind faults in the American Economy. Find a cab driver who lost his way, a down and out executive who stumbles onto a Voodoo curse in New Orleans, a nurse who pays the price for rescuing a man once thought loved, and a horrific, dystopian future. Discover new hope after cancer. Follow a paratrooper to manhood as he approached the deadly ground. Help the underemployed win at a game where reality TV meets nature at the crossroads of technology.

The stories in this collection contain clues, breadcrumbs dropped along a path to help you on your way.

Can You Find Them? 

 

This short story collection was a while coming but I am overall happy with the results. Between pulling teeth over the cover design, hiring an editor, and editing AGAIN on a 60 inch TV in a hotel in Tennessee, this has been quite the ride. How did it begin?

It all started this past fall when I was underemployed. Isn’t that how all mischief starts? I feverishly wrote before the light of day. I tested on the phone to unsuspecting victims. I was posting these and other stories on my blog. All because I read Miracle Mornings by Hal Elrod and Steve Scott and went off to the races every morning, writing whether I cared to or not. I am NOT a morning person, despite my military background, but I became one with coffee and anger.

 

 

I wrote a few of the stories while out on a case (I moonlight as a Private Investigator). I did some first drafts with Dragon Naturally Speaking, but most I crafted before anybody could get to me and ask for anything.

The first  in this series Worked Stiff: Poetry and Prose for the Common was an unusual 2nd book to put out. Yes, weird after Country Noir Modern Waste but that’s what a year in Russian school at the Defense Language Institute will do to you. Utterly demoralizing.

If you are interested in poetry, great art, or political treatise without picking sides, Poetry and Prose for the Common is good. If you are interested in selling books, it was not. What was I thinking?

Well, I was thinking about art and I am glad that was the first in the Worked Stiff Series but man was it difficult. Think layout is hard? Try adding stanzas and full page digital artwork into the mix.

Really though, I cut my teeth on that baby. And, after the first edition of Letters Never Meant to be Read, I can pull any project together.

So, naturally, a children’s book would be next, right? No!!!

I am actually working on a psychological thriller with A.M. Hounchell which I need to get back to. I will also be pulling together the next Worked Stiff: Crime Always Pays. Or, something to that effect.

Short Stories to Tell Your Boss was difficult because of editing and more and more editing. Why? Well, when you edit a novel or novella, you have mostly one POV and one tense. Short story compilations are tough and I found myself having to edit one story and taking a break before starting on another. This is after I hired an “editor”. I had to fix his mistakes too. There is no brevity as in a poetry book either.

I made the final cuts while in Tennessee, in a hotel, on active duty, plugged into a big flatscreen. That was so helpful and I am never going to edit any other way. All the mistakes were HUGE and it really helped me when I needed to read out loud.

I needed to get this out before I could move on. I know my writer buddies out there feel the same way at times. The cover design was a terrible process but I am satisfied enough for now and I can’t wait to see the print version.

I wanted this release to coincide with my KDP free promo days for the Letters Book but I hit a snag back there. This process has been a lesson in patience.

I am going to go for ACX tonight. I usually meander around awhile before doing the Audible version, but not this time.

Do tell if you see anything glaring and I sure hope you like it. My dog Maggie and I just got done with a long run and there is nobody home, and nobody will answer my calls of joyous celebration. So, I am sharing the release with you in this quiet way, for now.

Slow and Steady wins this one. May your night be wonderful and filled with dreams of paratroopers, android sex, and black mambas.

 

 

Book Review: Nine Parts Bluster and Other Stories: A dark fantasy anthology by A.Z. Anthony

 

I first ran across A.Z. Anthony on Twitter and wandered over to his blog where I found him in the midst of releasing a story a month. He did this in four parts, one each week, and I got caught up in his writing style and unique setting. Every week for awhile, I would be in the same place, waiting, and Anthony’s stories would be there to let me escape to a far off land, play games of power, and fight.

Description:

Nine Parts Bluster and Other Stories is a potent mix of madness, myth, and murder, with a sprinkling of black humor.

A monster of legend stalks the shadows, surrounded by rumors as abundant as the slashed and torn corpses it leaves in its wake. It’s wonderful news, assuming you’re Senesio Suleiman Zhao, famed monster hunter, Champion of the People, and murderous egotist.

It’s the place of lesser men to fear the dead as Harper conquers the scared mountains of the ancestors. Honor be damned, there’s glory at stake.

Jao has always tried to do right by others, but the time for that is long past. When his brother and companions are murdered by bandits, there’s only one recourse: a feast.

A classical education at the imperial capital has taught Chen a great many things. What it hasn’t taught him, however, is to lie, cheat, and steal. A shame, then, that he’s working for the biggest liar, cheat, and thief this side of the empire.

 

Where are we Anthony? Singapore? Mongolia? Is the year 2136? Is it 1872? I don’t know and it doesn’t matter. Anthony creates a world that is here on Earth, in the East somewhere, or is it? Yes, his characters reference the West, but again, it is of little importance because he is so convincing that you already know. You already have some idea of your time and place and everything from there will be glorious.

Like Economy of Words? I thought I had a handle on that aspect of my writing until I read this short story collection.While the author doesn’t describe every facet of setting, the vivid direction is there for the taking.

He never says when we are either, not directly. He doesn’t have to. Somewhere off the Silk Road perhaps, an Imperial Land that has either reverted back to crude weapons, or is stuck in time.

I can’t get enough of this brave, disastrous, and comical duo in Nine Parts Bluster. Senesio is the perfect mix of charlatan and hero while Chen is a happenstance boulder.  I want to follow these two on every adventure from now until the end of time. Yes, I could be summoned to quest after quest in my armchair. I would walk along the path of danger, hardship, and riches with this pair any day, all the while laughing with my popcorn, still ready with my sword on standby.

Like Characterization? Anthony spends all his writer money on just that:

“Senesio had a way with words, to be sure. He shaped the hopes and dreams of men like a potter did clay. And like clay after it was fired, what Senesio promised was prone to shatter.”

The author’s action scenes and monster are great in this. I do not want to give anything away here,  but the way men die in this and Sensio’s reaction tells the reader so much.

In Respectable Work, the author jumps back to the duo’s first meeting. The action scenes are quite stellar and the origin story is there for the taking:

“A second knee caught him (in) the chin and he stumbled backward, spitting blood and what might’ve been a tooth.”

My favorite by far is Kiss of the White Mistress which had me entrenched in the protagonist’s inner and external battle. Again, the author’s ability to work magic with less is seen here. It is all characterization:

“He smiled at the pale chunks of white mistress floating in the simmering stew, and for an instant, in that shallow hell of a prison, he could swear the stew smiled back.”

This story was intense and deep. It had me up swilling Merlot last Saturday, turning pages and dreaming of a nightmare.

In the Garden of Giants, he describes a troop in almost another world that could be its own series as well. This story really brought out the author’s sense of narration. It made me feel like he was an authority, an old man of sorts that I could count on for a good tale.

What I didn’t like:

Found some minor editing flaws. No big deal but some people care when they stumble upon Indie material.

I am confused by the cover design. It markets like a horror feature yet the work is much deeper than that. While some aspects of the stories revolve around death and a body count, it makes me wonder if melee is the true purpose, or, an interesting side-effect of the characters and their decisions within this realm.

A.Z. Anthony would do best by writing a full-length novel including Senesio and Chen immediately and selling this book for .99 cents or free. That is likely the tactic here. All of these stories are available for .99 cents on Amazon. I WANT MORE! Now that he has released all of these in one collection, a fan like me only has one thing to buy. But, I was considering doing the same thing with my short story collection for marketing and funnel purposes. He did pretty much post everything on his blog, something I tried with my hopefully soon to be released short story collection as well. I had mixed results from my posts and we shall see when it comes to sales.

 

5 Stars

 

How this book effects my writing:

While I am here toiling away with the mostly real and dark, A.Z. Anthony is creating a convincing, dark world of his own. I twist reality while he creates one.

Really, Anthony reminds me what it is like to read for pleasure again and be entertained. My wife watches these Chinese recent release, action/fantasy shows that I get sucked into from time to time.

A similar hint of lore is there. His writing is so deep but he uses less. How? I appreciate Anthony’s presence, his word choice as a narrator, and his economy of words.

Follow A.Z. Anthony on Twitter

A.Z. Anthony’s Blog

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amazon KDP Select Free Promo Days- A Case Study for Letters Never Meant to be Read

 

 

 

My last book Letters Never Meant to be Read has had me in a fever.

Yes, book marketing can take over your life, if you care to let it, and this has been quite the puzzle. My Kindle Free Promo Days start tomorrow 4/21. What to do?

I listed all of the tasks I have done leading up to the free promo. Will it work?

I don’t just want to sell copies of the Letters book, I also want Letters to come in for the next edition. Basically, I want it to be a thing. Also, because I believe in the project, I want it to be a thing sooner than later. When people read the book, they generally like it, which only adds fuel to my crazed fire.

I realized that I was throwing money away at Facebook and Amazon ads after listening to and exploring the world of Derek Murphy  on his YouTube channel and his website Creativindie.

I reviewed his work Book Marketing is Dead: Book Promotion Secrets You MUST Know BEFORE You Publish Your Book on the last post and have implemented some of his tactics with regards to the Amazon page for the Letters Book.

I hired two people on Fiverr to help with the sales copy. The first was good, the second was better, almostfreemoney. She gave me new keywords with analytics, categories, and better description copy.

Part of the new description copy included a spot for a quote from the book. This put me in a panic because I couldn’t decide. I knocked a few around, but ultimately settled on a few simple phrases that better describe what it is because the work is unconventional. I am still not happy with the description, but apparently it includes the necessary keywords for the robots. I hope.

The cover? People love the cover so I think I am good there. I like it too, but that doesn’t matter. I have received many compliments from NOT JUST FRIENDS and FAMILY, so all is well, right? I hope so.

Before, when I ran Facebook ads, I’d get a 2.5% click rate and about a 10% sales rate from there. Well, when you get 1346 Button Clicks out of 57,000 impressions, you should get some sales, right? I am no math wizard. Is that good? Am I a moron? Yes, probably in this realm.

Hell no, that is not good and it leaves me squeamish when I look at my sales rankings, the Commander of My Life right now. Here is a great article on those monsters.

The idea is that if you get your sales ranking up and people like and review your book, the ever-knowing Amazon robot will nod in your favor and start pitching your book for you. Plus, it helps to be at the top of your categories. My categories are easier that most, being a niche book, but I have clenched my teeth when I get into the top 20, only to be faded away. It is like a slow death, really.

Which leads me to reviews. These are really important as well, and I have a 10% review rate on queries sent out to reviewers. Not good either and very time consuming. I need at least ten reviews, which shouldn’t be hard, right? Wrong.

Again, following the direction of Derek, I devised a plan:

KDP Select free days for Letters Never Meant to be Read are 4/21-4/25.

Goals: Garner more Reviews and Interest in the Project (Fans and Writers).

One week prior: I ran FB ads with new copy and fiddled with the description and categories (some more). I found a blog post that discussed having Createspace keywords different from Kindle keywords. Duh? Why didn’t I do this before? I did this.

My Amazon affiliate links are all good too btw.

The FB ad at $20/day for four days generated again a 2.5% click rate with only two sales. What? I did better before I tinkered, so what then? I don’t know, moving on.

Luckily I stumbled onto kindlepreneur.com from a Google search and found a quote from Derek Murphy on his site so I knew I was in friendly territory.

I found Dave Chesson. He was in the military, like me, and I have gone back to his site like 20 times since. I used his Amazing List of Kindle Free Days Promoters , even downloaded the preferred list went to work with the form fill.

I used the following Kindle Promotion Sites:

Freebooksy.com    $40

Pretty-Hot.com  $25

eBookasuarus.com $10

bknights on Fiverr  $6

Book Bongo $29.99

Robin Reads $55

*I did a few other easy and free ones, but these are the bulk and the ones I paid for. There are some that are difficult to navigate.

Total KDP Free days Promoters: $165.99

Pre-KDP Free days FB ad: $80

Budgeted for FB and Amazon During and Post (5 days after) KDP free days: $200

Total for this promotion: $445.99 + Ongoing $75 Twitter campaign from yourbookpromoter which will adjust tweets for the KDP free days.

Will I win? Am I wasting my money? Will I get more reviews?

Stay tuned.

Time will tell. I will write another post as a result to this campaign. I at least wanted to “do some things right” and give this project a fair shake. If people truly hate it, I will continue with Volume II and press on.

This Letters project is unique because the candle burns at both ends. I want nothing more for readers to enjoy the letters, the first examples, but also Send In Their Own for future publication. Because I and my alter ego who runs Rusty Wheels Media, LLC. believe in profit sharing, it’s a Win, Win for everybody.

Incidentally, my KDP Free Days coincide with World Book Day on April, 23rd. Will that put me in good running? Who knows.

I also wanted to coincide the release of my KDP free promo days with the Kindle release of Worked Stiff: Short Stories to Tell Your Boss. A great plan, right?

Except I am having trouble with the cover design being late from Fiverr (you get what you pay for).

This is not my first business and I have had minor success. This is certainly the most challenging and the most rewarding. I love writing and reading books but I have to tackle book marketing.

If anyone who may be reading sees any flaws in my little endeavor to spend money and make something out of nothing, please comment below. Also, if you notice anything that I could adjust with my overall marketing of my books and myself, please, feel free to comment. I could certainly use the help and insight from any veterans of book marketing out there.

I am smart, but only kind of smart when it comes to this game. At times, I feel I am stumbling around, alone in the dark. Other times, I feel like I am drinking from a water hose.

Of course, all of this takes away precious time from what I really love, Reading and Writing. Still, it is a game, and I like to win. I will play this one until I do.

Thanks for your input!

-The Apprentice