Guest Post: ‘The Rain Dancer: My Life: The Dyslexic’ – The Story behind the Story by Alan Scott

Introducing author Alan Scott who shares the story behind his book.

Hello, my name is Alan Scott, I am 52 years old, and I am Dyslexic.

I read a book called the Dyslexic advantage by Dr Brock L. Eide & Dr Fernette F.Eide, and for the first time ever I read something about Dyslexia that was not negative.

In its opening pages it quotes a press release (2004) from a top business School in England whose headline was “Entrepreneurs five times more likely to suffer from Dyslexia.” The subheading went on to ask “What makes Sir Richard Branson, Sir Alan Sugar and Sir Norman Foster special?”

The book goes on to say – in light of the tremendous success enjoyed by these entrepreneurs it seems rather odd to describe them as ‘Suffering from Dyslexia’.

After finishing the book, I started to think back over my own life and how being dyslexic had impacted on it. Then during Lockdown, as I stared out the window, I finally found decided to write about experiences.

I wasn’t sure what I was going to write but I did know I wanted to challenge people’s thoughts on dyslexia, the world around them and what society expects of them.

Now, as an author I can go on for hours about how wonderful my latest book is. However, sometimes it’s the reader who can summarise the best. Below is a review on Amazon which I think sums up ‘The Rain Dancer’ perfectly.

“This is not your usual novel with twists and turns, and a plethora of characters finding their way to entertain your bored mind. This is a trip into the author’s mind and a chance to see the world through his eyes, the view, that is quite unique because the author is dyslexic. Alan is a sharp observer of life. I think you’ll appreciate his perspective.

I read or listen to lots of books that I really enjoy at the moment and then I completely forget about them the next day. This one was a little bitter and sour to read but it made a mark. I keep on thinking about it. Isn’t this an attribute of a book worth reading?”

If you do decide to read it, I would be very interested in reading your honest thoughts and if it did make you think about life slightly differently.

Thank you to author Alan Scot for sharing his story. You can find him over on Twitter and ‘The Rain Dancer: My Life: The Dyslexic’ is available now.

Guest Post: ‘Food, Family, Friends, & Football: An Introduction to The Winning Ingredient . . .’ By Kelly Swan Taylor

Introducing Kelly Swan Taylor who shares the story of her upcoming novel.

My upcoming contemporary novel is a story of unwavering friendship through loss and triumph and was born out of a love of baking, family traditions, and (of course) my passion for sports. It’s as eclectic as I am and holds a special place in my heart. And I hope it will in yours.

Each fall, for a while now, I pull out my recipe book and prepare for a long season of baking from Halloween through Christmas. What started with a simple (well, not really ingredient-wise) gingerbread recipe turned into at least a dozen different varieties of cookies, now carefully placed between wax paper and packaged inside colorful tins. I tie them with a bow of red and white baker’s twine and ship them off to friends and family. This tradition is my personal version of a bakery and became the catalyst for my debut young adult novel.

As a former laboratory scientist, recipe experimentation is what fueled my enjoyment of baking. That, and sharing the unique results with others. This is something my protagonist, Mia DeSalvo, and I have in common. Bringing new life to old family recipes keeps these cherished memories alive. And it does help to have a wonderful treasure trove of recipes from which to choose. I’m lucky in that department. From my Slovak great-grandmother’s apple streusel to my grandmother-in-law’s “Oatmeal Crispies,” my cookie tins are overflowing.

But it was the stories that my husband told about his Sicilian roots and warm dinners around the Italian table growing up that prompted me to create the DeSalvo Bakery. It was inspired by my husband’s great-grandmother, Antoinette DeSalvo, who immigrated to this country in the early 1900’s. I will never forget my own experience visiting Italy a few years ago and feeling the comforting warmth of delicious food and drink, including sampling several cannoli in each city.

Of course, no sweet teen story would be complete without a fun group of tight, loyal friends. I chose to huddle them around the emerald turf of a football field. While I hadn’t initially intended for football to play such an integral role in the novel, I couldn’t imagine my own high school or college experiences without it and loved the instant action and drama it brought to the story. Whether as supportive teammates or dedicated fans, participating in sports emphasizes teamwork, dedication, and goal setting — all wonderful lessons for the young and old alike. And, while the teenage characters take the lead in this story, the diverse multi-generational cast is included and respected as an important part of their world.

Finally, there is a distinctly American feel to The Winning Ingredient that was intentional. And it isn’t just the all-American football theme. It is scattered throughout the book, from the school’s name and mascot to the hard-working people, who care about their community. The story is a shout-out to immigrant families who own small businesses and came to this country to achieve a dream and share their legacies. Their many recipes and traditions are now weaved into the fabric of our one flag. And I couldn’t forget the essential Gold Star and Blue Star families of our military, who sacrifice so much to keep us safe and allow us the freedom to achieve our dreams.

The Winning Ingredient by Kelly Swan Taylor will be available from the 22nd of September. You can find Kelly on Twitter and for information check out her website.

Guest Post: ‘A Teen Assassin with a Heart of Gold’ by Dan McKeon

Introducing author Dan McKeon who shares the story behind his writing journey and book ‘Wonder Rush’

“I think we figure out who we are based on our life experiences and the different people that impact us. People who come in and out of our lives shape who we are, even if we don’t realize it.”

This quote from my debut novel, Wonder Rush, sums up Wendy Lockheart’s struggle. She is a seventeen-year-old girl fighting to discover who she truly is and the adult she desires to become. Wonder Rush is a coming-of-age tale under the most extreme circumstances. A story about a girl with no identity of her own. A girl fighting for not only a stable home, but for survival.

Abducted at birth, Wendy was raised by an agency of assassins. She was never given a name of her own, but was bounced around from one foster family to the next, assuming a new identity each time. She was brainwashed, tortured, psychologically manipulated, all to carry out the will of “the agency”—a group of assassins that communicates with its teen operatives using randomly flavored, encoded sticks of Wonder Rush Happy Funtime Bubblegum.
After carrying out a hit on an alleged drunk driver, Wendy suspects corruption within the agency. Her ultimate betrayal makes her the agency’s next mark. As Wendy uncovers the agency’s twisted intentions, she realizes she must destroy the organization that shaped her in order to discover the person she truly wants to be—that is, if they don’t kill her first.
I began writing Wonder Rush with a seed of an idea—what if the unassuming new girl in school was secretly an assassin? What a perfect cover. Who would ever suspect a sweet, innocent girl? As the concept took shape, I was inspired by my own teenage sons and their individual journeys into adulthood. I recalled the struggle of personal growth I experienced at that age, and I wondered how much different that road to self-discovery would look if a person never had an identity of her own to begin with. It was that underlying universal theme of identity that got me excited about this story. It is what elevates it from a high-octane thriller to something deeper and more meaningful.
I did not write Wonder Rush with a target age group in mind, and I think some of the best stories transcend age. Upon completion of the novel, I understood it fit best under the young adult category, given the age of my main character and the coming-of-age theme. However, what has made me happiest about the release of this book is the overwhelming connection it has made with teenagers, young adults, and mature adults alike. I think we all remember that internal conflict we felt when we balanced the thin line between childhood and adulthood. We may not relate to a teenage girl killing people in various and sometimes gruesome ways, but we can all relate to that child fighting to do better, to be better, and to grow into an adult that she can take pride in.
My initial spark of interest in creative writing came during a film analysis class I took while I was an undergraduate at Villanova University. It was the first time I realized that film was more than just entertainment. It was a literary and visual art. I learned all I could about screenwriting. I read books, attended seminars and workshops. I ultimately enrolled in a Professional Screenwriting course at UCLA. I complete four screenplays over the years, but I always wanted to write a novel.
I found the rigid structure of screenwriting to be beneficial in novel writing. Additionally, the visual storytelling nature of writing for the screen was beneficial when painting mental images and developing characters in Wonder Rush. I enjoy the more flexible nature of novel writing, but I will always appreciate my screenwriting roots.
Through my journey to publish Wonder Rush, I discovered the great difficulty in getting books into the hands of readers. There are literally millions of books published each year worldwide. Even though the reaction to Wonder Rush has been overwhelmingly positive, it is still a herculean task to deliver it to a wide audience. I am so grateful for bloggers and indie author advocates like Lee Hall for giving new writers an avenue to reach the readers these books deserve. There are some amazing stories out there, we just need to find them. I hope you all find Wonder Rush, and I hope you have as much fun reading it as I had writing it.

You can read more about ‘Wonder Rush’ here and Dan McKeon can be found over on Twitter

Guest Post: Excerpt of ‘Killer Coffee Beans’ by Shaun Young

Author Shaun Young shares an excerpt of his soon to be released book ‘Killer Coffee Beans’

Via Shaun Young’s Twiiter

Guatemala Countryside – 6:09 P.M. (7:09 P.M. Kansas City)

Sabi followed Vane through the front door of the house, out to the porch. She placed herself in the rocker then watched him. Vane cradled the gun in her lap then crossed her hands over it as though she was trying to hide it. Sabi leaned against the post next to the steps facing her.

“Go ahead. Who is Sabi and why does he need to hide at my house?” She asked while lazily rocking in the chair.

“Okay. I’m not sure where to start.”

“Why don’t you start by telling me why a guy that drifts in and out of British accent. Sometimes sounding European and sometimes sounding American is in Guatemala? And why that guy is lugging around all this computer equipment?”

“If I answer questions for you will you answer questions for me too?”

“We’ll see. Get started,” she said as a light breeze blew her hair moving it gently.

“Okay. I was staying at a resort on the coast.”

“I knew that.”

Sabi shot her a look, telling her not to interrupt him with his eyes before he continued. “I’d only been there a few days. Before that, I was in Bolivia, before that, Sierra Leone and before that, Togo.”

“Togo? You’re making that up.”

“No, it’s a real country. Look it up. It’s in Africa on the west coast, very small. Nice on the coast, but when you get inland a little, there’s not much and it’s a lot warmer. Anyway, you are starting to get the picture. I’m always moving. I’ve been home three times in the last two years. I go from one hotel to the next.”

“Why?” She asked. She had stopped rocking and scooted forward in the rocker.

He held up a finger, “I’m trying to explain. I’ve never told anyone this story. I have one friend that knows parts of what I do and other than that, it’s my boss and Momma.” Sabi stopped talking, moving from the post he was leaning against to the opposite side of the steps. He sat down leaning back against the other post. “I was educated in England then went to university in America. America is where I received my degree in international finance. My dad was a big wig in the Ministry of Finance at home.”

“Where’s home?”

“Oh. Turkmenistan. So I get home, dad gets me a good job at the biggest bank in our country. In less than two years, dad is convicted by the government for a bunch of crap. Basically dad was on the take. The trial is like the first one ever in our country to be televised. Within a week of his conviction, I’m fired.”

“I guess I can understand that, but it doesn’t seem right.”

“I knew it was coming. There was a lot of talk at work during the televised trial. Not much I could do about it. So I’m out of work. The government took everything from my Momma and dad. Momma moves in with me and I’m now the man of the house with no way to support her. Two weeks later, I’m down to next to nothing in money. A guy shows up in front of me on the street, asking if I want a job in international banking. “Sure,” I say. He tells me to be in front of my building the next morning at nine and someone will pick me up. I’m out there a little early, waiting and right on time, this limo pulls up in front of me and this man tells me to get in. I get in, there’s another guy in there. I’m thinking he’s interviewing too when the first guy hands me a hood and tells me to put it over my head.”

“You get into a limo and they want you to put a hood over your head?” She says not really asking a question.

Sabi nodded his head. “Yeah. So, I have to wear this hood the whole time. And it wasn’t really an interview. Basically, the guy tells me that he was friends,” Sabi used his hands to make air quotes as he says friends, “With my dad. He says he will give me a job and he’ll make things easier on my dad. He says Momma will be taken care of. And he will even make sure my two brothers are able to stay in school, one in England, one in America. I have to do what he says.”

“Shit. I thought I got dealt a bad hand. Go ahead.”

“So it turns out, this guy is a big-time opium smuggler. He needs to be able to launder his money now that the government threw all his contacts in jail. I spent about three months, traveling all over the world to conferences. I learned how to catch money launderers. Then I came up with a system to use, to beat their system of catching people like me. One of the things involves me moving all the time. Hence, I’m in your country.”

“Okay, that explains why you’re in Guatemala, but not why you’re at my house.”

“You don’t think I’m a bad person after hearing that, do you? I did what I could to help my mom, dad and brothers. I never planned to be involved in something like this.”

“No, I don’t think you’re bad. You’re not doing good things, but…” Vane shrugged her shoulders.

“I know. Sometimes I’m not happy with myself. I don’t like what I’m doing now, but I don’t know another way out. Momma. My brothers and dad. I didn’t want to steal the money, but I don’t know any other way to get out and save my family.” Sabi hung his head down between his knees.

He started sobbing quietly and turned away from her. Vane moved from the chair and knelt behind, him placing her hand on his back. She rubbed his back in a circular motion, “Sabi, you’re not a bad person.”

“You don’t understand.” He said between sobs, his shoulders heaving up and down. “I haven’t had anyone to talk to in so long. Always being careful what I say. Looking over my shoulder. This is the first time I’ve been able to let my guard down with anyone in-” He trailed off, trying to remember the last time he openly talked to someone.

“You want to take a break for a little bit? I could tell you my hard luck story if you’re interested…

This is an excerpt of ‘Killer Coffee Beans’ by Shaun Young which will be released on August 1st. You can find more information via Shaun’s Twitter.

‘Wonder Rush’ by Dan McKeon – Review

An immersive and suspenseful teen spy thriller with some darker edges, a positive message, originality and depth…

Dan McKeon delivers an immersive and suspenseful tale of one teen assassin who has always followed orders and never questioned those giving them. When things don’t go to plan ‘Wendy’ finds herself facing a rabbit hole of questions as she deciphers what’s good and bad while coming to her own conclusion. It’s part- coming-of-age part-morality check as the ‘agency’ giving the orders begin to reveal themselves as not so reputable.

Through the multiple missions and names she takes ‘Wendy’ begins to realise even if you eliminate bad people, there will always be someone else innocent effected by it. That is without mentioning if the target even is bad in the first place.

“Even those who do bad things have people who care about them, and their loss effects them…”

There’s a certain depth to that morality where choice and accountability of one’s actions make you as a reader question everything. It’s immersive and dark sometimes – death always is but our main character keeps things light hearted and you find yourself rooting for her because she is a force for good. You can give a person all the assassin training in the world and try to engineer out all human elements but they are still human and perhaps that message is at the centre of a great story that I took my time reading.

While there are plenty of concepts that are original and they merge with others that we’ve seen before in spy thrillers; it’s always the abandoned warehouse for a meeting point but the bubble gum idea is genius and of course fun. Although there is some violence there isn’t anything too graphic so I’d recommend this book to older teens and above and to anyone who enjoys a spy thriller with a difference. Highly enjoyable.

5 Stars – This Review First Premiered via Reedsy Discovery

Weekly Ramble #116

Since 2018 I have read and reviewed 120 independently published books. The pillar that holds my authoring and blogging brand together is reviewing other authors books and to begin with it drew some very favourable results – blog follows, new readers, author friends and even sales for my own works. Those things drove me initially because they are good things for me but then I realised slowly that I wasn’t just doing this for me.

While I would never ever consider myself some kind of hero for reviewing books, I now do it for greater reasons than just personal gain because in all walks of writing it’s the ‘everything else’ after that makes this whole thing worthwhile. Some of these things can come unexpectedly and that might be the true power of writing. Over those years and books reviewed I’ve forged a level of trust from you and from a wider social media following all driven by a desire to make authoring and writing better. As independents in this social media age we are representing future generations of wordsmiths who will enter this arena someday, an arena where gatekeeping is slowing diminishing, it will probably never go away fully but we can at least improve things. Amazon have given anyone a platform to publish, but it is our responsibility to make sure it is represented well. These days you don’t have to be ‘someone’ to get any type of acclaim in writing. While agents and big publishers look to hold on to how things were, times are changing for the better. Anyone who has written something can now be successful instead of someone else deciding that.

Authors reviewing fellow authors books makes the indie scene better for everyone. I have said time and time again that reviewing others’ works will also help you but don’t expect a direct return, don’t feel entitled because you reviewed a book and want something back because ultimately what you’ve done will benefit us all – you’ve made this journey better for everyone.

Author’s Spotlight: Lee Hall Interview

Hello friends and followers. Today I would like to share a very recent interview about writing that I did with awesome fellow blogger Dr K. Make sure you like and subscribe!

Dr. K's Waiting Room

Lee Hall, author of Consistent Creative Content, the Order of the Following series, and others

1. First, introduce yourself a bit. What is your name (or pen name) and where are you from?

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Lee Hall and I am an independently published author from the UK. Indie publishing to me means that I have self-funded my own books from scratch all the way to publication.

2.Next, tell us a bit about your most recent work. Is this your first published book? What is it about and what genre would you classify it as?

My most recent release and seventh book, Consistent Creative Content, is a non-fiction guide for indie authors and bloggers. This part-memoir part-guide lays out my journey as an author and blogger which is full of advice and experiences. Basically stuff I have learned over many years from…

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Book Promotion Results: June 2021

While the majority of things in writing can be subjective, most authors will know the struggle of trying to market and sell their work. The sheer variety of ways to try and market books these days can be quite daunting but I reckon I’ve got a decent grip on it. Follow me as I lay out my latest book promotion efforts with a hope it helps another wordsmith…

Aim/Background Info

What is book promotion some of you ask? Well for the beginner and to me book promotion is any method that is used to sell books. This can be through a price reduction, paid advertising, free advertising and even less direct advertising like a social media presence. There are so many ways to promote a book and most of time I tend to combine these methods.

Firstly and quite importantly when it comes to promoting a book its good to have something to aim for or at least a reason why you are promoting a book. While sales is normally the main priority, this time I had another aim alongside that – more on that in a moment.

The book I would be promoting this time around was my very recently released self-help authoring and blogging guide book ‘Consistent Creative Content’ and on June the 26th it would be discounted to 99 cents (regular price $3.99) for that day only. My methods of advertising would be a paid promotion via book promo site Robin Reads and I would also be leveraging my social media following across a few different platforms. After the book’s initial release the sales have began to drop off to almost zero so a little advertising will hopefully jump start things.

Let’s break that down into three factors.

Time an important factor when it comes to promotion. One day only for this promo adds urgency for potential readers to buy a book on the day.

Price From $3.99 to $0.99 is quite a jump and adds a level of extra persuasion for potential readers.

Reach – Using a paid advertising package via a book promo site and my own social media following meant that I could reach more potential readers on the day.

Combining these three factors should result in a positive outcome for any book being promoted although different books have different circumstances to face such as rating and genre. You’ll also notice the book cover for ‘CCC’ is professionally designed and a beginners tip: potential readers do judge books by a cover so invest in a professional to give a book the best chance of selling.

Second Aim

For this promotional run I had another aim and that was to push ‘CCC’ up the Amazon charts so it could get a little more visibility and hopefully a few more ratings because my intention longer term is try and secure a BookBub Featured Deal. A few more ratings would increase the chances BookBub would say yes and their Featured Deal Advertising package is basically the holy grail of advertising. For me to get this book featured by them would be the dream as it would reach so many more readers. I consider this promo run a partial stepping stone towards a bigger picture.

You can read more about a BookBub Featured Deal here.

Background Statistics

As you can see the blue bar represents the launch of ‘CCC’ which gradually tailed off into June.

And then June had a few sales but then things became pretty sparse so it was time for some promotion!

The Results

On June the 26th and for one day only Consistent Creative Content was discounted to 99 cents from the original price of $3.99. Here are the results:

Sales in 5 territories and even some further sales all the way into July. A good promotion will keep a book visible and selling for some time after. A great book promotion will pay dividends even months later.

Chart Movement

The best chart movement came from the US and these numbers were in the high thousands at the start of the day. They are super competitive charts so to see these numbers improve was awesome.

It wasn’t until the next morning that I checked Amazon to see ‘CCC’ in the top 4. Fantastic!

It would have only taken a few more sales to hit best seller but that’s for another day perhaps.

Factors for Success

I’ve shared my aims and the basic details of the promo but what are the finer details? Here’s what I did/what happened during the promo.

Social Media and Visuals

Using Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and this blog I spread my social media coverage wide and shared this book banner. Book banners make for a nice additional visual that should hopefully enhance the cover of a book.

I also shared a visual representation of some recent reviews and spread that around the platforms.

Specifically on Twitter I took advantage of the #shamelesselfpromosaturday hashtag and combined with 11k followers that helped spread the word significantly.

In general, social media is a hard arena to sell books in, especially as the platforms tend to notice you sharing links and things. This always makes for a challenge. You can read more about getting better results at Twitter here and you can read more about selling books without dropping the link here.

Reviews/Ratings

‘CCC’ already had some reviews and ratings but it really needed a few more, especially if I want a BookBub featured deal, they need to see recent review progress. Reviews serve a book for the purpose of promotion more than anything and some very needed reviews arrived right on time…

And on the day fellow author Ellen Khodakivska released this awesome review!

Reviews also started appearing over on BookBub which is vital for the long term and very much appreciated.

Concluding Thoughts

This ‘stepping stone’ promotional run succeeded in helping ‘CCC’ climb the charts and get some much needed visibility. Having paid $60 for the promo via Robin Reads the royalties are at a loss currently but I paid for this promo using the previous months royalties so I’m taking it as a win. To be able to put money back into to promotion after making it from a book is the stuff of dreams.

Remember its all about Time Price and Reach. If you can get those factors right then hopefully sales will come in. This time around I didn’t break any records but I jumpstarted my sales slump and positioned myself for a better chance to convince BookBub to say yes.

I’m not particularly interested in making a huge amount of money in authoring and this book I have written is to help others more importantly. Hopefully this post helped a fellow wordsmith and you can read so much more about book promotion via the resources section or alternatively you could buy Consistent Creative Content which is currently $2.99 or less in some places and is full of guides like this one.

Thanks for reading and next stop BookBub…. or I will at least apply for their featured deal….

Consistent Creative Content: A Guide to Authoring and Blogging in the Social Media Age by Lee Hall

Thank you to fellow awesome blogger Clemence for this wonderful review of Consistent Creative Content…

Dreamed Worlds

Consistent Creative Content: A Guide to Authoring and Blogging in the Social Media Age

Consistent Creative Content: A Guide to Authoring and Blogging in the Social Media Age by Lee Hall

Genre:Writing, Non-Fiction.
Pages: 135
Publisher:Lee Hall
Rating:4.50 stars (Goodreads)

Summary:

Best-selling indie author and blogger Lee Hall shares his journey of experience in this part-memoir part-guidebook that aims to inspire and inform budding wordsmiths at any level. From the basics of blogging and authoring all the way to advanced social media methods and marketing; this book is filled with good practical advice, top tips and effective strategies. You’ll even find some never before shared resources to help navigate your way to authoring and blogging success in the social media age. Subjects include:

Basic and advanced blogging;
Basic authoring and a publishing overview;
Social media for authors and bloggers;
Book marketing and the art of indirect selling;
Book promotion strategies. Including worked examples;
Book reviews;
Building your own turning…

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BookTube Review of Consistent Creative Content

Very recently on here I mentioned that authors and bloggers should give themselves more credit for what they have achieved. Many of us are out there every day trying to make today better than yesterday and this can cloud our judgement a little to how much we have achieved on this path. To me, its incredibly important to thank those who have supported my efforts because the majority of my success is because of that support.

The concept of authors or creatives supporting each other is something I wholeheartedly believe this world needs more of and you’ll find that is the core message in most of my endeavours on social media. Authors are united by their struggle to find reviews for their works and so when I see another author showing support I am more than happy to showcase that. For this post I would like to share a very recent review of my most recent release Consistent Creative Content by fellow author Ellen Khodakivska.

You might have seen me reblog the written review by Ellen but she has also created a Booktube video review of the book – this is something nobody else has ever done for my work. Her kind words and the effort she has made to create a video is something I very much appreciate and that work deserves to be recognised. You shall find the link to Ellen’s review by clicking on the Tweet below along with a few more things.

If you have recently followed this blog or left a review for one of my works, thank you.

Ellen’s YouTube/BookTube Page

A recent review of Ellen’s book ‘Josef the Writer’s Cat’

Ellen’s website

You can buy Consistent Creative Content here