Sunday, January 31, 2010

Fans Beware!

A couple of years ago, I did a post on fans and how we should never forget that authors, actors, artists, sports stars, etc are all people too and should be respected rather than treated as property. The blog post was called "The Dark Side of Fandom".

This time out I figured I would cover an offshoot issue from this. One that affects fans rather than the those we are fans of. And that's the issue that there are people out there more than willing to prey on fans by passing themselves off as the stars we look up to.

Honestly, my naivete sometimes runs into the incredulous, but occasionally I get a clue. I don't think I would ever actually believe a star I met online would ever want to meet me in person, but there are those who might. I'm on a list for my obsession "Supernatural" (though season 5 may quickly drop me back into just regular watcher status - 9 out of 12 episodes having crap for scripts is NOT good. Waaaahh - but I digress...) and through several conversations and items/information that have been posted, this area of inquiry came up.

In the last several years there have been people who've shown up on Facebook and MySpace claiming to be Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles. They've massed a ton of followers, they've posted updates, and acted in everyway as if they're the real thing. Unfortunately, they weren't, but fans didn't know that, and there have been instances where these predators have tried to "meet" with some of those following them for mischief. Something that could be quite dangerous.

And while eventually these people get found out and closed down, more spring up. Jensen and Jared have stated before that they do not have or will ever have set ups in social networking sites. (With their schedules - not time!) Yet the trouble has become so prevalent that they've now been forced to do a quick video stating so to make sure fans become aware so they don't get preyed on!

It's just amazing to me that anyone out there would use someone else's name and fame to prey on others.

Some of the networking sites are even coming up with ways to try to safeguard us and the stars. Twitter now has a means for people to get a "seal of authenticity" put on their Twitter page so fans know they are the real article and not some poser. Not all stars are using this, as not all are used for preying on others, but it is definitely something to be aware of.

So be a fan! Follow the peeps you like, but be careful. Let's keep fandom, fans, and stars safe!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Marketing Experiment # XXX - 140 Character Quotes

Several months ago I got an idea for an online marketing experiment from something Rachel Caine (marvy urban fantasy and YA author) was doing using Twitter.

For her bit, she was linking a partial quote from the about to be released Morganville Vampires Book 7 called Fade Out and including a link to her LJ so readers could see the rest of the selected quote. (MV7 totally rocked, by the way!)

I decided I would try something similar, but with a Twitter twist. I would actually try to make the quotes fit into Twitter's 140 character limit as well as include a purchase url for Amazon or just the name of the book the quote came from depending on space. (Sometimes nothing as a couple of the buggers were too long!)

For each book, I went and hunted for 20 plus quotes from the beginning chapters. The plan was to Tweet quotes 3 times a day. Reason for doing it 3 times was because people aren't always on Twitter/Facebook at the same time the quote would be posted. The two different Twitter Utilities I use seem to only buffer about 100 Tweets, so assuming most others were about the same, I wanted to send enough of them out there to hopefully get included, but not so many I would seem to be spamming the netwaves.

I use two different utilities to check Tweets. At work I use TechHit's TwInbox. (TwInbox basically lets you create a folder for Tweets in Outlook and feeds Twitter into it. It also means I don't have to have any suspicious software on at work or an internet page up. :P) (I love that I can forward Tweets with interesting links via email automatically too to peeps I know who don't use Twitter. Somethings just have to be shared!) At home, I use TweetDeck. Tweetdeck lets me see feeds from Twitter, My Space, and Facebook, plus I can upload comments to all 3 at once.

So, armed with a week's worth of quotes for each of my four books - In the Service of Samurai, Vassal of El, Cross-eyed Dragon Troubles, and Willing Sacrifice - I set off on this mad marketing experiment!

Today is the last day of the fourth week. Since I included urls leading anyone who was interested to Amazon, I figured using my ranking #'s there for each book would let me know if anything happened at all.

I'm afraid to have to report that the impact of this experiment very well seems to be Zero~! But at least now I know. Of course there's always the possibility that the full impact, if any, is not yet visible. It's the biggest problem with trying any type of marketing for books as there are time when the effects are felt long after you've stopped pursuing that particular strategy.

In some ways too, I was probably preaching to the choir - most of those following me have probably already read some of my work. To get others on Twitter to see it I needed to use hashmarks like #ya #fantasy, but I don't think I thought of using those until well into week two at least. Doh. (hindsight is 20/20)

Now to think of something else to try!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

ABC's Marketing Genius

Since marketing is a part of the duties of an author, I like to keep my eyes open for what other people are doing even in other venues.

This particular marketing tactic of using multi outlets is something ABC has done before. In 2004, when Stephen King's Kingdom Hospital came out, they got with Hyperion books and put out a tie-in book called The Journals of Eleanor Druse: My Investigation of the Kingdom Hospital Incident. It was a great way for fans of the mini series to get a little more juice out of it, to give the experience another level and get more information.

Well, the same type of multi media experience for fans is being repeated again with ABC's new show Castle, staring Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic, but in some ways it is at a whole new level.

Castle is about a mystery writer named Richard Castle who through his huge stack of contacts gets permission to follow after Lieutenant Kate Beckett as she goes about her work in solving murders in New York City. Castle is an incorrigible free spirit to Beckett's very strict no nonsense personality, but does add a different point of view and knowledge base, so the team dynamic actually works (all to Beckett's chagrin) and more crimes are getting solved than would have without him. Meanwhile, Castle is using Beckett as the inspiration for new set of books.

So comes to life the character of Nikki Heat, who he will be using in his new series, the first of which will be entitled, Heat Wave.

In the show, we see Castle start and finish the book, as well as actually get it published. It has a cover, it has a dedication to Beckett, they talk of passages in the book. And here is where the beautiful part comes in - Hyperion actually printed a 'real' book called Heat Wave written by Richard Castle for viewers to buy!

The front and back cover is the same. The back cover has a picture of Nathan Fillion as Richard Castle for the author. And then, to sweeten the deal, they went a few paces further, which so totally makes the fantasy weave in with the show and bring the audience in.

The dedication of the 'real' book is the same as the one talked about on the show. There are actually passages in the book that are of things Castle learned during several of the cases in the episodes, or even things he brought to the table to help the police. (The discussion on all the varied names for a 'perp' for instance. Castle's acquaintance with an art thief he'd befriended on research for another book. Other little things like this.)

Better yet was the mention on the show (as Beckett is trying to read the new book - as she is a fan of Castle's - though this is something she would like him not to remember and is sneaking around to read the thing) of the 'hot' scene on page 103. Which in the 'real' book, is exactly where the romance heats up.

As a fan of the show, these ins and outs just tickled the heck out of me and shot my enjoyment of the series and the book by multiples. In New York they even did book signings with Nathan Fillion playing his character to sign books!

(As for the book itself, it's pretty good! On a personal level I wished they had not made it so close to the show (a reporter has tacked himself on to Heat's team to get the inside scoop on crime solving), but the mystery itself and all the awesome tie-in bits made it a total treat.)

This is a wonderful example of how to grab and give a treat to your fan base. That's some marketing ABC. Kudos to you!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Nostalgia Food

Monday I read at post over at (Yeah it was Chuck Wendig again) talking about needing to eat a good breakfast to get those creative juices flowing. For me, it actually threw me back thinking about breakfasts I used to have back in the day. That night, due to an odd set of circumstances that are not important here, I ended up on my own that night, so scrambling in the kitchen I set out to see if I had what I needed and took a trip into nostalgia land.

Come with me on a little journey...

Sometimes it is the simplest things that will stick with us and will poke at the old memory centers. Simple input that will transport us far and wide to places we've not been to in years. So it was with me Monday night as I partook breakfast for dinner.

This breakfast I only had occasionally and normally at Mamacita's house (my grandmother on my mother's side). My grandmother could burn water - yes, there's an art to that, and she had the skills - but there were a few things she could actually cook. And those that she did, she did well. My favorite of hers was her Asopao (chicken and rice stew), but that's for another day.

The first part of this breakfast was Puerto Rican coffee. We don't drink coffee made of water on the island, no sir. Our coffee is made with milk! (Once you grow up on PR style coffee, American coffee just tastes like bitter awful water. Eek!) Put a cup of milk in a pan and slowly heat it until the fatty part separates to the top. Skim off the fat and pour the hot milk into a coffee cup, add a pinch of instant coffee and sugar to taste and voila!

This is where Mamacita's genius came in. She would take pieces of cheddar cheese and drop them into the coffee. In the hot milk, they would get soft and melty. Make some toast, add butter. Take your prepared bounty to the table and sit.

The scent of coffee wraps around you like a comfortable sweater. Picking up a piece of toast, you dunk it in the coffee were it soaks up the smooth taste and mixes with the butter. Take a bite.


Follow this with a sip of the coffee itself. Mmmm.

Even better, take your spoon and fish in the bottom of the cup for a nice, melting piece of cheddar. Entice your taste buds into a mad frenzy with all these flavors mixed in together. YUM.

Comfort, warmth, and memories...


Try to think of something simple that transports you somewhere else. Share it. Indulge in it. Relive the past...

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Difference of Heart and Mind

Yes, I know! Been neglecting the blogging. Argh! Time just constantly seems to be running away from me. Will be trying to make a more concerted effort to post more regularly, but no promises. :P (Need a blood infusion from Chuck Wendig at He blogs every DAY! Dude!)

Anyway, back to the subject at hand - mind over matter, heart over mind, logic over illogic.

I've been having to see a number of specialists in the last few months as I've been trying to narrow down some overall health issues. Nothing life threatening just inconvenient. It's been like a mystery hunt, striking off possibilities one by one. (Was amazed at the difference in life it makes to be Vitamin D deficient! Holy moly!) Truly amazing how sometimes the simple things can totally create major havok! Eek!

So after some chest x-rays, then a cat scan, then some ultrasounds, it was decided I had some nodules growing from my thyroid nodes. Saw the thyroid specialist (Side item -- both times I went to see specialists for the first time in Nov/Dec it snowed in Texas! At no other time but on those days, and down to the hour before the appointments! Oooo!), who after doing his own lookie-see with his ultrasound rig at the office said he'd need to get samples of my little darlings to get tested for the Big C. (My Christmas Eve present. Hah!)

Okay...have to come back a week later. Going to insert long needles into my throat to get a sample of the little darlings. No biggie. They've done it hundreds if not thousands of times... Get a local anesthetic I will apply myself. Nothing to worry about...

Tick tock tick tock.

So I do some research. (Had done some even before I saw him the first time.) Nothing to worry about. Simple procedure. But...I've never had it done to ME before...

It's amazing how something you know is routine takes a whole other aspect in the panic of the heart/feelings when it needs to be done to you. It's a whole other ballgame than when it happens to the other guy.

The night before I'm bouncing off the walls and working like mad not to think about it. Heck, I can feel my pressure rising just thinking about it now and I've already had it done and it was NO BIG DEAL! (Could it be an age thing? A heightened sense of mortality? huh.)

Was originally going to go to work then go to the appointment, but a rescheduling request from the doc put it in the AM so I just decided I would skip work that day (also was going to meet some peeps I'd not seen in years for lunch so that just put it over the edge and I took the day off. Nice too as I then was able to spend 3 hours yakking at a Chili's. Had a blast!)

Ah, watch me digress. You naughty author you. Or is that just the fear talking? Anyway, I drove myself to my doom after applying the anesthetic cream to my throat and wrapping it in Saran wrap. (Hey, doctor's instructions! Not my idea, no way! I know I have no fashion sense, but Saran wrap as a clothing accessory? Get real.) (I did make the joke at the doc's office though, could not help myself. I looked so stylish! NOT. :P)

Bouncing like a nutjob inside my own skull, outwardly appearing mostly calm and sedate. Of course, I warned the nurse upfront I was nervous when I got taken to the patient room and she went to do the usual blood pressure test. 160 over 80. Not a surprise to me! She tells me how they do 20 or more of these a week, already did one that morning. I know she's trying to help me relax a little, but she does not understand... I know all this. I just makes NO difference! lol. (Mostly I feel like an idiot for the irrational fear, but still can't do a thing about it. Should have seen me on the first visit to the acupuncturist. Hah!)

I'll give the doc this, he definitely knew how to make the ordeal as easy for himself and the patient as possible. He made sure I closed my eyes before he did anything so you would never see the needle. The pillow beneath your shoulder to shoot your neck up to make an better working surface helps keep you from seeing too much too. I got one side of the neck better with the anesthetic than the other, but it was never more painful than having blood drawn, though I must say the sensation of him slipping it deeper once he got it in was funky. They also took ultrasound pics during the procedure as he was using that to see where he was going. Three stabs per globule. He hit a minor blood vessel on the last one which he explained would leave a bruise on my neck. No biggie to me (though I think he was unhappy at himself). I've had six inch long bruises from bad blood drawings once or twice. A half inch is nothing.

Out of there in a half hour. Minimum of fuss or muss. Yet I know if I had to do it again, I would most likely be freaking out deep inside just as bad as the first time. Familiarity would breed contempt, but I don't think I want to go through it that many times to get there! lol.

It's just amazing to me how even knowing better, I could not stop the fear from having a party. Bastard! (But I will probably use this in a story somewhere! No experience is wasted to a writer - none. Bwahahahahahaha!)
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