Give Some Love to the Oxford Comma

The Oxford comma, such a controversial little punctuation mark. Why do people hate you so much? You’re very important. You help avoid awkward situations.

I love my two sons, baseball and TV.

I’d like you to meet my parents, Justin Bieber and Carrot Top.

I really like to eat sandwiches, octopus and chocolate.

I’d like to thank my sisters, Kanye West and Bob Saget.

I couldn’t have graduated high school without the help of my teachers, my dog and Robin Williams.

I went golfing with my dad, a sumo wrestler and a drag queen.

I had dinner with the Harlem Globetrotter members, Colin Mochrie and Lady Gaga.

So please, use the Oxford comma, so that I don’t have sons named baseball and TV. So that my parents are not Justin Bieber and Carrot Top. So that I’m not eating octopus and chocolate sandwiches. So that Kanye West and Bob Saget haven’t had a sex change so that they’re my sisters. So that my dog and Robin Williams weren’t my teachers. So that my dad isn’t a sumo wrestler and drag queen. So that Colin Mochrie and Lady Gaga didn’t join the Harlem Globetrotters. It’s just awkward.

The End of August Leaves Me With a Bittersweet Feeling

August 31st. Did all those months just pass by that quickly? I remember July was just starting. It’s been two months already! Of course, we still have another month of hot weather, then October will be more comfortable, but still warm. Just one and a half months until my sister is here, too. But you know, the end of August and the end of summer approaching leaves me with a bittersweet feeling.

The days are getting shorter, sunset is earlier, festival and fireworks season is winding up, and the whole summer culture is going away for another year. Winter is coming, which means cold days and nights, having trouble keeping warm inside at home, and a walk outside means cold hands. This is also my last summer in Japan, though I’m sure we’ll come back frequently, most likely in summer.

On the other hand, there will be less sweating, the return of some really good food, bed becoming a very welcoming place, and my sister will be here soon. And who can forget the hockey season? Looking forward to this season for the Edmonton Oilers.

In the future, if I become successful at writing, I may be able to take long holidays in summer, and we can pack up and stay in Japan for a month or so while our daughter is on summer vacation. That would be nice. Nice, but not very likely. But you never know. We’ll at least take a couple weeks, though.

Summer always seems to be my favourite time, even with the heat and humidity. So it’s sad to see it go. But at least we still have about two months of summery weather left, at least by Canadian standards.

How do you feel as summer ends?

Reddit Delivered Big Time

I had a simple question to ask on Reddit, and what I got was a great response. I’m not used to using Reddit, so I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of discussion there was because of this question.

All I asked was about fan-friendly fantasy authors, and I got a big list of them.  You can check out the comments here.

While I asked about which authors tend to communicate with readers well, answer emails, respond on Twitter, and so on, I was surprised to see some of the bigger fantasy names actually take part in this discussion. Janny Wurts responded. Some others, like Django Wexler, J. D. Hallowell, and Krista D. Ball were active. But then we had the biggest name of all. Can you guess? Brandon Sanderson!

You may be asking why I asked that question. Well, I have my reasons. Reasons that will be apparent in late October if all goes well.

1 Event That Will Help You Expand Your Readership: Meet and Greet

One thing I enjoy doing is discovering new blogs, commenting, and helping them out. I love my supporters, and try to give back in several ways. Well, a meet and greet is a great way to meet other bloggers. I’ve done it this month on here, but how about checking out another one? And for those of you coming across my blog from this meet and greet, I say hello! Come and stay a while. I hope you’ll find something interesting here.

Dream Big, Dream Often

imagesWhat day is it??!!  Meet and Greet Day!

Ok so here are the rules:

  1. Leave a link to your page or post in the comments of this post.
  2. Reblog this post.  It helps you, it helps me, it helps everyone!  So don’t be selfish, hit the reblog button.
  3. Edit your reblog post and add tags (i.e. reblogging, reblog, meet n greet, link party, etc.), it helps, trust me on this one.
  4. Share this post on social media.  Many of my non-blogger friends love that I put the Meet n Greet on Facebook and Twitter because they find new bloggers to follow.  This helps also, trust me.
  5. And if you leave a link and don’t follow me, how about ya show ole Danny some love?

Now that all the rules have been clearly explained get out there and meet n greet your butts off!

The Social Media post will publish…

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Watching the Hugo Awards

With all the controversy surrounding this year’s Hugo Awards, I found it interesting to watch the presentation of the awards on Livestream. If you want, you can watch it here.

The highlights were the multiple times they announced no winners due to a revolt against the Sad Puppies, a group of right-wing conservative science fiction authors who managed to nominate a bunch of hard sci-fi written by conservative authors who want nothing to do with female characters, gay and lesbian characters, or a growing international group of writers. Well, their efforts backfired, and several groups weren’t even awarded.

The big thing in these awards was that the winner, The Three Body Problem, by Liu Cixin, is the first translated novel to win the award. It was written by a Chinese author, and it looks pretty interesting.

Oh, and another thing, I loved the Dalek’s last line. Very funny. You have to see it.

What did you think of the awards, winners, and controversy?

Authors Answer 43 – Promoting the Book

It’s time to panic. It’s the indie author’s worst nightmare. It’s that horrific stage of publishing known as marketing and book promotion. This is probably the one thing that most authors dread having to do if they don’t have a traditional publishing contract. This time around, we have a reader question, from tlclark.

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 43: I would love to hear anything anyone has to say about book promotions and what route work best for them.

S. R. Carrillo

So far, the best promotional value I’ve found is in my social media presence and giveaways. Particularly, giveaways.

D. T. Nova

So would I, since I lack the experience to say much about them myself.

Linda G. Hill

Promoting my novel, when it’s published that is, is not something I’m looking forward to. It sounds like a lot of work no matter how it’s done. I did have one idea of my own however; there’s a book drive for the Alzheimer’s Society in my town twice a year. I thought about donating to them and perhaps volunteering to sign some books when they’re sold, with all the money from the sales going to the cause.

Allen Tiffany

This is a tough one because it is so big and the ways to be successful can be very diverse. The question is kind of like ‘how to be successful in life?’ That said, there are some things that you can do to help improve your odds. I claim no expertise in this field, but I have recently published a novella on Amazon, and I’m averaging about 3.5 sales a day over the last month or so, and sales are ramping. So all those are good things. But 3.5 books a day does not mean I have it all figured out. I don’t.. For what it is worth, I’ll share a few points:

First, it all starts with the basics: Great story, well told, and well edited. Also must have a great cover and an engaging blurb. You need to maximize your “SEO” features on Amazon as well as on all your Social Media platforms.

The one thing I do think I have done well is get mostly 5-star reviews from Amazon’s top reviewers. It was a time-consuming task, but I carefully hunted them down and engaged them personally, asking them to review my novel. About 15% have, and I now have 10 such reviews from top reviewers, to include Amazon’s #2 reviewer.

I’ve actually written an exhaustive article on all the other things I’ve done, what has and has not worked, etc., on my own blog. You can see it here: WWW.AllenTiffany.COM.

Gregory S. Close

I’ve had little luck with book promotion through Twitter or Facebook.  Certainly not sufficient to make the investment worthwhile.  Amazon sales and giveaways have provided some temporary bumps along the way.

I’ve found that the best type of promotion has been mostly unintentional.  There is a really great community on reddit (no, seriously, on reddit) that I discovered at WorldCon in San Antonio a couple of years ago.  It’s a great place to discuss the fantasy genre, very accepting of different viewpoints, well-moderated, and very supportive of indie and self-published authors (at least the ones who engage the community for more than just self-promotion).  I’ve probably gotten the most “high-value readers” from that forum.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

In my personal opinion, book promotion is the worst part of being a writer. Give me the self-doubt, the revision hell, and the rejection letters any day; trying to promote your book is both physically and emotionally painful.

I’ve gone a couple of different routes. The first promotion I ever did was a free e-book day; I made “Nowhere to Hide” free for 24 hours on Halloween. It was successful in the sense that a ton of people downloaded the book, but it was a failure in the sense that not one of those people rated or reviewed the book, which was what I was hoping for. Later I did a couple of Kindle Countdown sale days, each of which only saw a tiny handful of sales. After that I joined the Self-Publisher’s Showcase, which got me a couple of sales in the beginning but then died off completely. Eventually I did a Goodreads giveaway and had some modicum of success; I gave away five books and got four 4-star-or-higher reviews in return.

I have also, of course, talked about the book on multiple forms of social media and encouraged people to read the first chapter for free on Amazon. In general I have found that no method really worked in any significant way. The most sales I ever got were right after publication (when all my family and friends were buying it) and sales have been pretty abysmal ever since.

I hate to sound like such a downer, but I’m just telling the truth!

Jean Davis

So would I. Beyond the usual blog tour, local signings, twitter and facebook posts, and online giveaways, I’m all ears for additional ideas.

Eric Wood

I have no experience here.

Caren Rich

I don’t have any experience with book promotions.

Paul B. Spence

I’ve run limited-time offers of the first book for free in digital format. I’ve also run Goodreads giveaways for signed copies. What seems to be working best at this point is giving away free short stories to get people hooked.

H. Anthe Davis

I’m a big chicken when it comes to promotion, so I’m just going to listen to the rest of the crew here and resist the urge to hide under my bed.

Jay Dee Archer

I have no experience promoting books, but I have had experience promoting blog posts. While not the same kind of thing, considering books are much longer than blog posts, I think some of the principles do apply for both. A good social media presence can help, and does get me some exposure, but it’s not the best way. I’ve found that the best way is through word of mouth, sharing by readers, and making things interesting and engaging.

You see, I tend to have busy days when my blog posts are promoted by others. Applying this to books, you could give away some promotional book in exchange for reviews. Make sure they’re on Amazon, though Goodreads can help, too (at least from what I’ve heard). Another thing is to have interesting content that will keep people coming back. I have a very good group of loyal readers here, and the same logic can be applied to books. Give them little bits that hook them, like short stories or little snippets of your writing on your blog/website for free. If they like it, they’ll be more likely to buy your book, and if they like that, they’ll want to see more. Write your books well, and you’ll have loyal fans who can’t wait to see your next book. And those are the best people to have, because they’ll rave about your books and convince others to check them out.

Yes, there’s a lot of work to get your name and writing out there, but definitely take advantage of your readers ability to promote for you, and encourage them to write reviews.

How about you?

Are you a published author? How do you handle book promotion and marketing? Let us know in the comments below.

Blog Spotlight – The War of Memory Project

The next blog I want to talk about is another big commenter on here. She’s been in the top commenters many times, and she has quite the blog, too. She does lot of worldbuilding, which is something I love.  So, this week, it’s H. Anthe Davis’ The War of Memory Project.

warofmemoryThe first thing you see is that it’s colourful. A nicely done banner image, as well as an attractive background. I like how it looks. Very easy to navigate, too. The menu is straightforward, and you can tell that this blog is all about her fantasy series.

The menu includes About, Glossary, The Characters, The Maps, The Stories, and The World. Taking a quick look at the About page, it talks about the project, some contact information, legal information, and some resources she uses.

The Glossary goes through a lot of terms that you would be unfamiliar with, hence the need for a glossary. It’s all about various things that are in her books. Useful resource if you ever forget something. A lot of fantasy authors do this in their books. This one is available online.

If you click on The Characters, it takes you to the main characters of the books. There are also menu options for Minor Characters and The Gods and Spirits. What I love about this is that the main characters are actually illustrated! And there are useful charts for the Gods and Spirits, as well.

The Maps takes you to a series of maps that are used for the settings in the books. You can also see The Ancient World from the menu, as well as Utility Maps.  I find all of these fascinating, but the Utility Maps show things like climate zones, languages, and so on. It’s a great look into worldbuilding. There are a lot of maps, if you love that kind of thing.

Under The Stories, you can see pages for each of the three currently published books, along with cover art and links to purchase the eBook or print book. Her most recently published book is The Living Throne. But of course, you’d want to start out with the first book,  The Light of Kerrindryr. The final page gives you a very detailed Series Timeline, which is another useful resource.

The World is for those of you who love worldbuilding. It gives an overview of the world, as well as Magic, The Histories, and The Races. There’s a lot to read here. It’s great to read if you want to know how she developed her world.

There’s a lot to see here, and since I’m a big worldbuilding geek, I enjoy going through it and taking it all in. And of course, I love the maps!

Personal message to H. Anthe Davis

Thank you always for being a great supporter of mine, and for your work in Authors Answer. You always have something interesting to say. I feel that with both of us doing worldbuilding, we could have a lot to talk about. More worldbuilding to come from me, of course!

Obstacles in the Immigration Process

Well, it was bound to happen. We have our first problem with the immigration process.

We received an email today from the Manila office today. I guess that’s the good news. They got the application package. And they looked through it quickly. And they immediately told us they most likely would not approve it because they don’t believe I’ll be living in Canada.

When we applied in the beginning, they needed proof that I would live in Canada when the permanent residency began. Of course, permanent residency starts the moment my wife receives the visa while we’re in Canada, or the moment she arrives in Canada after receiving the visa. So, in either case, they need proof that I’ll be going to Canada with her or before her. They have that in the form of a rental agreement for where we’ll be living.  I guess that’s not enough. But, fear not, we do have something else. Proof of my flight to Canada! We have 45 days to get it to them in Manila, and once that’s done, they will resume processing the application.

I’m not terribly worried. This is just a little setback that can be quickly resolved.

Teuchi Udon Jiyuseki – Niku Udon and Maitake Tempura

Today, after nearly five years of living in this neighbourhood, we decided to try out the nearest restaurant to our home, Teuchi Udon Jiyuseki. It’s an udon restaurant that makes their own udon noodles. It’s very popular, but is only open for lunch between 11:30 am and 2:30 pm.

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The exterior is interesting. It looks like a log cabin.

One of the reasons we decided to go today was this:

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This restaurant is included in this year’s Michelin Guide for Yokohama, Kawasaki, and Shonan.

That’s right. It’s in the Michelin Guide for Yokohama, Kawasaki, and Shonan this year! We had to go.

My order turned out to be a lot bigger than I expected. First, I started with the dashimaki tamago, which is fried egg cooked in light soup. It was 200 yen.

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The egg comes with grated daikon radish.

My main dish was the niku udon, or meat udon. It came with beef, onions, fish cake, seaweed, and tempura batter, and was in a light soy sauce based soup. On the side were two pickles. It was 800 yen.

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Niku udon with a side of pickles.

And my final dish was maitake tempura, which is a mushroom called hen-of-the-woods in English. It also came with a piece of goya tempura, or bitter melon. It was 350 yen.

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Maitake tempura and goya tempura.

Starting with the egg, it was very good. I love this type of egg. It’s got an extra flavour from the soup it’s cooked with.

The udon was served at the perfect temperature. It wasn’t too hot. The noodles were handmade, and were not too soft, not too firm. They were just right. The meat was good, as well. I ordered the 300 gram serving of noodles, but it really filled me up.

The tempura was delicious. I’ve found that maitake is one of my favourite mushrooms, so I just had to have it. It was actually a special dish, which is not on the regular menu. It turned out to be very filling. It also came with a green salt, and I really don’t know why it’s green.

Overall, it was a very delicious and filling lunch. It was quite reasonable. It’s open for only 3 hours a day, and it serves lunch to a lot of local workers, so it gets busy around then. It’s best to go early, like we did. It’s also a small restaurant, so there aren’t many tables, and there is counter seating. I liked how it looked inside, very much like a log cabin.

The restaurant can be found in the Ishikawa area of Fujisawa city.

You can visit their Facebook page, as well. Apparently, someone working there (the chef?) can speak English.