Archive for October, 2019

Living from the Inside Out


 

JOYOUS LIVING

This is a guest blog from a Swedish man who writes under the pen name, Fomtriok.  I find his writing to be profound and insightful, even more so than published books I’ve read on the human condition.  I’ve included his short bio at the end of the post.  Enjoy!

There is this disposition that some people have, but most people lack.  If one does lack it, it is the simplest thing in the world getting it back.  Because everyone had it once.  It doesn’t really demand an outward action to get it back, but it rather demands the courage to step out of line and accept having it.

Let us get started.

Children – they live their lives from the inside out. They start focusing on one thing, then they start trying to understanding one thing; playing with, lifting up, measuring, biting, fumbling with – one thing.  And then they move to the next. Part by part they get to know their own selves, their room, their house, their universe.

Most adults, however, live their lives from the outside in. They start out by simply acquiring some locale in which to live.  Thus, they start with the shell.  And they start with a schedule that is empty of activities. Then they ask themselves, ”What do I put in this shell of a house? In this shell of a schedule?” And one by one, they start filling the house with objects, and possibly even a family.  Gradually, they start filling their schedule with activities, musts and obligations. From the outside in.

That is no way to live life. That life is unnatural. It is a mere imitation and parody of life. It is the life of a machine.  People who live like that often find themselves unhappy and ask themselves, “Why am I unhappy?”  The question is ironically a manifestation of the very problem. They ask themselves, “What do I lack? What is it that I have not yet put into my life, or schedule?” So they try to add even more things, or activities, to fill the void, and “fix” what they assume is the problem; that a certain thing, or event is lacking.

But they are doing it all wrong. It is not so much that they add things, but rather how and why they add things.  The underlying problem – sickness even – is that they are living from the outside in: They add things only after careful consideration.  That is not life. That is work.  Life happens when you turn the whole thing upside down, and start from the inside.  Then you won’t even notice whether you are adding or removing things, because all that consumes your attention is primal and unaltered curiosity.

Those souls who drive the world forward, in the small or the big sense, never abandon the way of the child.  They never stop living their lives from the inside out. They never stop focusing childishly and joyfully on the small “toy” – on that singular point of interest.  They could care less whether others perceive their curiosity as weird or normal.  And only from that standpoint do they gradually work their way outwards into the unknown, constantly playing, constantly putting together and taking apart; disassembling and reassembling, over and over, in an infinite loop.  Until the whole room has a role in the game.  And then the child starts over.  With a new room, or the same room from an entirely new perspective.  From the inside out.  And the game is on again.

That is a true life.  It is the only life that is happy and free.  It is simple – even when it is complex.  It is irrelevant whether your point of curiosity might be pottery, or explaining a complex scientific phenomena.  It is still an utterly simple life.

When you are a child, there is no arrogance.  You do not drag others down with cynicism. Nor do you let cynics drag you down.  You merely play.  At the end of the day, that is all life is; a vast playground for us to fill with meaning.

My name is Oscar Herrgård. I am Swedish.  I am interested in meeting fascinating and kind people, who think well, but also act and don’t just talk.

I want to share my story.  This journal is simply one of my windows to the world. Already long ago I decided that the only life I want to live, is one where I wholeheartedly dedicate myself to solving some of the greatest challenges in our world (most importantly climate change and socioeconomic unfairness). Life is simply wasted if you don’t spend it doing what is most valuable to you. Don’t become; Rather be. Don’t want or plan; Rather be. Incorporate your ideals in the small detail here and now. That is how you move mountains.

 

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I’d Like to Meet Jack Reacher


MIDNIGHT LINE

Copyright 2017 By Lee Child

You probably know Jack Reacher from the movies, but have you ever met him on the printed page?

I stumbled upon the Jack Reacher novels while looking for a good book to read in a Palm Beach sundries shop.  As a science fiction/adventure/thriller fan, I’m surprised it took me so long to discover the Reacher novels and their brilliant author, Lee Child.

In the character of Jack Reacher, Child has created one of the most compelling protagonists in contemporary fiction.  First of all, he doesn’t look anything like Tom Cruise.  Cruise is a shrimp in comparison to the character described in the novels.  Reacher is an ex-Army Military Policeman, standing six feet five inches tall, in top physical condition, with hands as big as sledgehammers.  He’s a decent looking guy, but nothing to write home about, aside from his size.

Something in Reacher’s past keeps him riding buses and drifting from town to town in search of something.  That something usually turns out to be someone in need of help.  Reacher’s involvement with the something always leads to mounting trouble and extreme danger.

While Jack Reacher is a tough guy who can stand up to six guys at once, he’s also a good Samaritan.  In The Midnight Line, the first novel I had the pleasure of reading, Reacher takes an aimless stroll past a pawn shop in a small Midwestern town.  In the window, he sees a West Point class ring from 2005.  It’s tiny; a woman cadet’s graduation present to herself.  Why would she give it up?  Reacher is a West Pointer too, and he knows what she went through to get it.

Reacher tracks the ring back to its owner, step by step, down a criminal trail leading west into the deserted wilds of Wyoming.  All he wants is to find the woman.  If she’s OK, he’ll walk away. If she’s not, he’ll stop at nothing until the situation is rectified.

I found The Midnight Line to be an engrossing tale enriched with interesting, believable characters.  The story kept me absorbed all the way through to its satisfying ending.  I’ve followed up with Child’s penultimate book in the series, Past Tense.  It’s a unique story that begins a bit slowly with Jack Reacher visiting a small town to trace his roots.  The story veers off in an unusual subplot that unfolds at a remote hotel and merges with the main plot in an explosive, thrilling climax.

The prose and dialogue in both books flow in staccato, muscular sentences, much like Reacher’s speech pattern.  It’s cool, once you get used to it. Occasionally, the characters sound too much alike, with Child’s hyper intelligent voice seeping through.  This is a minor gripe.  I find Child’s prose eminently readable, enjoyable, and interesting.  The author packs his story with enlightening background information which relates directly to the story.  I heartily recommend the Reacher series to action/adventure/mystery fans everywhere.

After reading both novels, I’m left wondering what drives Jack Reacher?  It’s not money.  He’s comfortable living off his Army pension.  While his life is lonely, he isn’t looking for love.  Women are attracted to him, but he’s only capable of forming brief relationships.  In Midnight Line, one of the women Reacher is helping wants to bed him.  She’s a beautiful twin-sister to the woman they are searching for.  She’s unhappily married to an emotionally distant husband.  Reacher could easily rationalize having sex with her, but he won’t do it.  He has integrity.  He has a code of honor, maybe resulting from his military background, but he’s hardly a goody-goody.  Reacher is not afraid to break the rules or think outside of the box when confronted with difficult situations.  He’s resourceful, observant, and downright ingenious at times.  He’s a leader, in a lone-wolf, non-conformist sort of way.

Reacher may sound like a big cliche, but somehow, Lee Child breathes life into the guy.  He may be strong, but he’s deeply wounded emotionally.  He doesn’t fit in, and he can’t settle down.  But unlike so many contemporary protagonists, he isn’t haunted by his past.  He doesn’t spend a single minute feeling sorry for himself.  He’d rather get on with his life, help someone else, solve a mystery, or whatever he does in the books I haven’t read yet.  Granted, there’s a strong tendency towards avoidance going on inside this man, but it’s hard to hold it against him.

Reacher is street smart and highly intelligent.  He’s seen too much of the dark side of human nature, but it hasn’t made him cynical.  His attitude is always upbeat.  He communicates with tongue-in-check humor occasionally laced with irony.  He doesn’t judge.  He acts and reacts, sometimes with tact and diplomacy, sometimes with blunt force.  Yet, he never looks for a fight.  To get what he wants, Reacher always tries diplomacy and straight-forward-honestly first.  If the people he’s dealing with refuse to listen to reason, they usually wind up in various stages of disrepair when they choose violence as a solution.

So, what drives Jack Reacher?  I don’t know.  Maybe I’ll find out if I read more of his books.  Maybe not.  For sure, I’d like to sit down and have a long chat with this intriguing fellow.  I know this much, if nothing else: it’s hard not to like Jack Reacher, and I can’t wait to tag along with him on his next adventure.

David Gittlin has written three feature length screenplays, produced two short films, and published three novels.  Before quitting his day job, he spent more than thirty years as a marketing director building expertise in advertising, copy writing, corporate communications, collateral sales materials, website content/design and online marketing.   For more information, please visit www.davidgittlin.com

 

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Micromium Has Gone Audio


MICROMIUM WEB RES 4

Copyright 2018 David Gittlin

My third novel, Micromium: Clean Energy from Mars, is now available as an Audio Book on Audible.comAmazon.com and iTunes.

It was great fun doing the project. I want to give a shout out to my writer/musician friend, Joe Canzano, for inspiring me to do the project.  Also, thanks to my narrator, Caitlin Willis Frizzel, for doing an excellent job of bringing my characters to life.

Special Offer: Get a FREE Micromium audio book by following these easy steps: Go to the Micromium page on Audible by clicking https://tinyurl.com/yar5hmsk. Listen to the five minute sample (optional). If you like what you hear, contact me through my website at www.davidgittlin.com. The first ten people who contact me will receive a promo code and instructions for downloading a free Micromium audio book. Be sure to send me your email so I can send you the code and instructions. I will NOT use your email to send offers or promotions. I DO NOT keep email lists for promotion. (I hate spam, and I’m sure you do, too).

Synopsis: The year is 2038. Earth’s biosphere is on the brink of destruction from the effects of global warming and pollution. The World Energy Council has awarded a lucrative contract to a major US corporation to mine a precious ore discovered by the first manned mission to land on Mars.  One kilo of Micromium can power a large city for a year without environmental side effects.  A few grains of the ore can fuel a car for a year or longer.  Micromium promises to provide clean energy to a thirsty planet far into the future.

When two people die in a mining accident on Mars, the World Energy Council sends Commander Logan Marchant and a crack team of astronaut specialists to investigate.

Confronted with a lack of cooperation from the mining colonists, the investigation is further complicated by Logan’s growing attraction to the team’s beautiful and brainy geologist.  While tensions and tempers rise, Logan and the audit team make one shocking discovery after another, until the investigation leads them into mortal danger, and ultimately, to a surprising conclusion.

“A fun science-fiction thriller with both unique and familiar concepts, MICROMIUM delivers a satisfying story with memorable characters you don’t mind spending time alone with on a desolate planet, millions of miles from Earth.”

Joshua M. Patton, IndieReader.com

“Versatile in its imagery, characters, and storyline, Micromium: Clean Energy from Mars will take readers on a journey throughout the galaxy. With scenes ranging from intense and scary to action-packed and awesome, the novel will never cease to wow readers. The pages of this easy-read will fly through readers’ hands while its story and characters remain in readers’ minds.”

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars, bookreviewdirectory.com

David Gittlin has written three feature length screenplays, produced two short films, and published three novels.  Before quiting his day job, he spent more than thirty years as a marketing director building expertise in advertising, copy writing, corporate communications, collateral sales materials, website content/design and online marketing.   For more information, please visit www.davidgittlin.com

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Can the Cold Case of Book Marketing Be Solved?


How Do I Cost Effectively Market My Book Online?

ONLINE MARKETING

onlinemarketinginstitute.org

Comparatively speaking, writing a novel is the fun, easy, first step of the self-publishing process.  The second step, creating an attention-getting book cover, offers its own unique set of challenges.  However, the most intimidating and difficult undertaking, to most authors, is the third step—marketing.  The word strikes terror in many authors’ sensitive little hearts because they want as little to do with the outside world as possible.

The most intimidating marketing question is: “Where do I begin?” Guess what?  There is no tried and true answer.  Like they say in the movie-making business; “Nobody knows anything.”  You have to experiment and determine what works best for you and what doesn’t.  And you have to use your creativity, just like you did when you wrote your book.  In this blog, I’ll let you in on some of the advertising methods I’ve tried and the results I’ve had.  I’ll try to save you time and money.

There are more than seven billion people alive, but how many of them read regularly? Better yet, how many of them are looking for your book? Answer: None—Zero—Zilch—hence the need for marketing. Obviously, I found it useful to shove this thought into the darkest corner of my creative attic upon beginning the journey of writing my first novel.

As I neared the climactic scenes of my first draft, I noticed it became harder to write. After a good deal of soul-searching and hand wringing, I diagnosed the problem.  My writer’s block stemmed from the nagging thought that it was almost time to say goodbye to my family of characters and their world.  I left them with a heavy heart in a rich, far-from-perfect world far superior to my ordinary life and the terrors of self-promotion.  Inevitably, we all reach the point where we realize there’s no choice except to let go and face the music.

So, after completing your final re-write and the inevitable tweaks that come afterwards, it’s finally time to upload your book to online retailers.  Next, you announce it on your blog, your author website, your book’s Facebook page, and your You Tube channel.

Now what? Gulp…

This is the seriously hard part—driving people to these outposts in cyberspace.

Let’s take a look at what has worked for me and what hasn’t.

E-Zines

To promote my first novel, Three Days to DarknessI started by placing an ad on Book Daily.  According to the website, your book is featured for one day per month on Book Daily’s E-Zine. Your first chapter is e-mailed to a combined audience of 25,000 readers (many of them authors). They e-mail your chapter to a subset of readers by genre on three consecutive days during the month.  With each exposure, your book is piggy backed with five competitive books.  The ad costs $49.00 per month.  I sold two books the first month.  Looking back on this from subsequent experience, maybe I should have hung in there for a few more months.  But six dollars in sales versus a cost of $49.00 per month didn’t make sense to me at the time.  So, I cancelled the ad.  You might have more success than me with this method.

Facebook Ads

I’ve experimented with ads on Facebook.  I’ve racked up tons of likes and very few sales.  In my humble opinion, paying for ads on Facebook is a total waste of time and money for self-published authors.

Press Releases

I’ve created and distributed press releases on PR Web with a target audience of 30,000 journalists and bloggers. The idea is to drive traffic to your websites and generate publicity on major news sites and search engines.  You can participate at various cost levels starting at $99.  The more you spend, the bigger the audience.  I participated at the second highest level at a cost of $289 per release.  (The highest level currently costs $389).  To add interest to the releases, I created a book trailer video. (A simple book trailer without actors will cost anywhere from $250 to $300 from a reputable company).

Bottom line, I could not relate any book sales to my press release adventures.  Honestly, I don’t think relatively inexpensive press distribution companies can effectively impact major news media outlets.  They boldly claim that they can, but I I don’t believe them.

Experience has taught me that it simply costs too much money for independent, self- published authors to reach news publications like the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times and similar publications in major metropolitan news hubs.  These are the media you have to reach to get any action.  You have to hire a very expensive PR firm to break through.  There are very expensive news distribution services you can use, but in many cases, you have to be a legacy publishing house, or an accredited book critic, or PR firm to have access to these services.  So, save your money.

Book Trailers

A word about book trailer videos: they’re nice to have but they aren’t essential to your marketing campaign.  When I first started marketing my books twelve years ago, the pundits all said that you were dead in the water if you didn’t have a book trailer.  As it turns out, this is baloney.  Book trailers are a nice addition to your marketing package, but they aren’t powerful generators of sales.  I made trailers for my first novel and my second one, “Scarlet Ambrosia–Blood is the Nectar of Life.”  I had fun making them and they didn’t cost too much.  The second trailer was better than the first because I learned from the first project.  But here’s the thing: if you have a limited budget, use it where it will do the most good.  I’m getting to that.  Stay with me.

Audio Books

If you can swing the cost, make an audio version of your book.  As you are no doubt aware, people don’t read as many books as they used to.  Audio books are getting more popular every day.  I used ACX to make the audio book for my third novel, “Micromium: Clean Energy from Mars.”  I liked using ACX and they are part of Amazon.  I signed an exclusive agreement with them, which means I get a bigger royalty (70%) on each audio book sale.  With this agreement, your book is automatically uploaded to Amazon, Audible, and iTunes.  The downside is, you don’t get exposure on sites like Hoopla, Overdrive, and Bibliotheca, which serve libraries.  ACX offers a non-exclusive agreement wherein you can distribute to any platform and get a 25% royalty.

If you hire a narrator for your audio book, which you can do through ACX, a good one will probably cost you between $100 and $150 per finished hour.  Your narrator does the narration and all of the production work.  You direct them and approve the finished product.  I had a great time making my audio book with an amazing woman who did a fabulous job.  In addition to doing voiceover narration and production, she travels the world singing in a choir and performs solo as a soprano.  I found her through ACX.

Paid Reviews

When you launch your book, you want to have a sufficient number of positive reader and editorial reviews available on retail sites and Goodreads to convert browsers into buyers.  Unless you have twenty friends and a handful of book critics ready, willing, and able to post glowing reviews, it makes sense to purchase a few of these.

There are a number of sites available for these services.  I have found the best and most reliable site for reader and editorial reviews to be indiereader.com.  Check out their website.  I bought reader reviews and an editorial review from them. I’m 100% satisfied with their service, reliability, and results.  I’ve also used midwestbookreview.com for fair, reliable, and less expensive editorial reviews.

Amazon Advertising

Sponsored ads on Amazon.com are the most effective marketing tool I’ve used so far.  If you have a limited budget, this is where to spend it.  The ads are easy to create.  You set your daily budget, write your copy, set your campaign dates, and off you go.  If the ad doesn’t work, you can scrap it and try different keywords.  You can see which keywords are working and which are not and adjust accordingly.  Best of all, you can see how many books you’ve sold and how much it has cost you to sell those books.  There’s no baloney and no guesswork.  And, let’s face it, most of the books people buy are sold on Amazon.  To create a campaign, sign in to your KDP account, select the book you want to advertise, click on the three dots to the far right of the book, and select promote and advertise.

I hope you will find these tips helpful.  I wish you all the success in the world, and keep writing.

David Gittlin has written three feature length screenplays, produced two short films, and published three novels.  Before quiting his day job, he spent more than thirty years as a marketing director building expertise in advertising, copy writing, corporate communications, collateral sales materials, website content/design and online marketing.   For more information, please visit www.davidgittlin.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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