Description: What and How Much

Snapshot Hazel Hart, for blog copyIn the first two books of the Pierce Family Saga series, my characters were on the go. Descriptions of surroundings could be brief. In this third book, much of the action in the early chapters takes place in Hidden Springs. Suddenly, the town and the people in it need more than passing thoughts. While mulling over how many and what kind of descriptive details to use, I came across an excellent Glimmer Train article  on the subject by Abby Geni.

As I read through the list of qualities for a good description, I compared the following paragraph from the rough draft of my novel-in-progress  and found it lacking in sensory details. In particular, I might add details that signal the general feel of the store (neat and well-kept or disorganized, bright or gloomy) that indicate the character of the proprietors.

General store description from Ambrose Pierce’s point of view:

Fletcher’s Emporium was straight across the street. As I crossed, I saw their door was open to catch what little breeze there was on this blazing hot August day. I stepped inside and stood for a moment to let my eyes adjust to the dimmer natural light within. Blinking, I looked around to find no one at the front of the store. There were some thumps and voices from the back, though, so I figured they were unloading freight and headed on back through the long center aisle. I was perhaps five feet from the door to the back loading dock when I heard Mr. Fletcher’s raised voice. “We’ve got a good life here. I hope Ava’s not going to mess it up for us like she did back in New York.”

Character description

One of Geni’s most interesting rules is to stay away from what she calls “police blotter” descriptions of characters. In my partial description of Hiram Pierce below, I manage to do that. However, I do make use of the “mirror reflection” which is an overdone technique. Hopefully, it works here.

Hiram Pierce considers his appearance:

I checked my clean-shaven reflection in the mirror, rubbing my hand across my smooth chin, and once again considered whether to grow a beard. I’d want a full one if I did it. No sense going halfway. But a full beard around a blacksmith forge could be a fire danger. Almost unconsciously, my hand went to my chest and the almost square four-inch area where the border ruffians had branded me with a blazing hot horseshoe. I shuddered at the thought of sparks catching a beard on fire, at the pain of the burn and the scar it would leave. The puckered flesh on my chest was ugly enough.

Change in point of view and overall progress on Hiram’s Boy

I recently changed Hiram’s point of view from third to first person. What sounded acceptable in third person doesn’t work as well in first. However, that is what revision is all about, something I’ll get to when I have a complete rough draft. I have sixty-five pages so far.

If you are a writer, I hope you find Abby Geni’s article on description helpful.

 

Beginning the third book

for want of a father final copy

Now that For Want of a Father is published as an e-book and I am waiting for the proof copy of the paperback to arrive, I have some downtime to start the third book in the series, Hiram’s Boy. I am testing out Bublish, a platform for getting the word out about my books. On this site, I am able to put rough cuts of my novel-in-progress online along with my comments about the process of writing the book. Please check out my profile page and tell me what you think.

For Want of a Father book promo May 27-29

for want of a father final copyI just got the e-mail from Amazon that the e-book version of For Want of a Father is live on Kindle. I have set a free book promotion for the Memorial Day weekend, May 27-29. While this free promotion is a “Thank you” to all of you who supported me during my Kindle Scout campaign, I hope anyone who enjoys frontier family fiction will take this opportunity to read the second book in the Pierce Family Saga series.

I’d love to hear from everyone who reads the book. Please come back to this blog and leave a comment about your favorite or not so favorite characters or scenes. Once more, get the book May 27-29 free.

My Kindle Scout Experience

for want of a father final copyYesterday, I received a survey from Kindle Scout asking for an evaluation of my campaign experience. One of the questions was whether I would recommend Kindle Scout to other authors. I would.

I chose to participate in Kindle Scout for several reasons: The possibility of an advance and a quick decision compared to traditional publishers, the opportunity to get some advance publicity for my novel, the ability to see where campaign views came from, and the follow-up announcement Kindle Scout will send to those who nominated For Want of a Father when it is published.

A Quick Decision

My campaign ran from April 1 – April 30. I received my rejection e-mail on May 12, which was within the turnaround time set by Kindle Scout. I appreciated the promptness.

Advance Publicity

I love to write and hate to market. During this campaign, I forced myself to do something almost every day to get the word out and ask for nominations. Fifty-four percent of my views came through my own efforts, and forty-six percent of my page views came from within Kindle Scout. I wish I knew the percentage of viewers who nominated the book in each case, but they don’t tell that in the statistics. However, many people saw the book who would not have done so if I had simply uploaded it without participating in the campaign.

Sources of Campaign Viewers

I have already mentioned that 46% of viewers came from Kindle Scout itself. Of the 54% that came from my own efforts, 17% of the traffic came from Facebook and only .05% from Twitter although I spent much more time on Twitter. During the last week of the campaign, I discovered Kindle Scout groups on GoodReads and KBoards. Both groups were supportive and together were the source of 26% of campaign views. This blog and my other blog, Seasoned Aspirer, accounted for 10% of the traffic. This knowledge is helpful as I go forward with marketing my books.

Follow-up Publication Announcement

I plan to publish the e-book version of For Want of a Father by June 1. The paperback will be available by June 30. Kindle Scout will send an announcement when the e-book is available. Within a few days of the e-book publication, I will be doing a free download promotion, so check back here and on Facebook for dates.

Thank you to all who supported me during the campaign.

Not for Them

for want of a father final copy

The word didn’t come at midnight, but at nearly noon instead. Kindle Press did not accept For Want of a Father for publication. I was disappointed but not surprised. After all, I have nominated half a dozen books by other authors for publication and only one has been accepted, so my reading preferences are not the same as the editors. Or maybe the non-acceptance was for another reason than whether an editor considered the book a good read. Reasons are not a part of the rejection message.

Even though my book was not accepted for publication, I did learn a great deal from the campaign process. I will be sharing some of those learned lessons on this blog in the days to come and also at the June 11 District 2 meeting of the Kansas Authors Club in Lawrence.

What happens next for the book? I will be doing a final revision of For Want of a Father and then formatting it for e-book and paperback publication. Projected publication date is June 30. If you nominated the book, Kindle will send you an e-mail when it is available for publication. I will also be running a free promotion during the launch and posting the dates on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you to everyone who nominated For Want of a Father during my Kindle Scout campaign. I appreciate your time and your vote.

Expectations and What We See

I used the tagline, “Fathers, Daughters, and Expectations,” for my For Want of a Father Kindle Scout campaign. As my character, Lucy, let expectations color her memories, my own expectations caused me to read what wasn’t there in today’s e-mails.

This is the second week since my campaign closed, and I have been checking my e-mail compulsively every half hour of so throughout the day, hoping to hear from Kindle Scout. This morning when I got up, the first thing I did was check my e-mail. I scrolled through the overnight messages until I saw it: Kindle Scout in the sender column. I barely noticed the “Thank you” in the subject line in my eagerness to get to the message. When I did read the first line of the message, all my eyes saw were the words at the end of the sentence: “was not selected for publication.” It was not until I got to the words “The author, (name,) wanted to. . . .” that I realized that the name was not mine and the book title was not mine either. It was a notification for a book I had nominated, not my own book.

We hear all the time about how we see and hear what we expect. This experience reinforced that lesson for me in my own life, and I will remember it as I write fiction. It’s such a great conflict creator.

As for expectations, now that I have received a notice at midnight, I won’t be able to go to sleep until after that tonight, expecting that the next Kindle Scout message may come then; this time one telling me about the acceptance or rejection of my own book.

Kindle Scout Campaign: Two Days Left

CJ_FWF twitter promo2 copy

After four weeks, I am tired of promoting. The Kansas Authors Club Convention theme this year is “Imagine.” I am imagining having the money to hire someone to do the promoting for me. An even better thing to imagine is getting that Kindle publishing contract, so here I am making a last push for nominations. The problem: Most of you wonderful people who will read this have already nominated me, and you can’t do it twice. However, if you didn’t get the free download of Cordelia’s Journey, Book 1 of the Pierce Family Saga, you can do so now through April 30. And if you suddenly think of anyone who hasn’t gotten the word about my Kindle Scout campaign, For Want of a Father, please pass the word along.

Stats update

As of today, my campaign page has had 226 views. Fifty-five percent or 124 of those came from those of you who saw my promotion and clicked through. Thank you.