Blood and other miscreants
struggle to move through capillaries.
A faux-wood kiosk shields
the bevy of people lined up
like candy bars in a vending machine
anxious to be selected.
Lifestyles clustered in a tumbler
seek purpose and motivation to face
the grind stone, rough and unrelenting.
A loud gum-chewer smacks and twirls
surveying tempting pastries.
I grovel with sullied thoughts.
The machine infuriates my needs,
clamors, but not for me.
Finally I reach another like me.
My heart palpitates seeking true weakness.
Caffeine, and whatever I adulterate it with,
is stirred, always clock-wise,
immediately drawing every sense erect.
Cautiously, I cradle the tin cup
up to my lips and tip ever so slightly.
-C.L.Swinney COPYRIGHT 2014 by CLSWINNEY
Blood, and other stuff in my veins, is lethargic. I negotiate a kiosk and lumber toward the bevy of people lined up like candy bars in a vending machine, some anxious and some fearful, to be selected. A myriad of lifestyles gather in a tumbler seeking a reason to punch the clock another day. A loud gum chewer smacks and twirls surveying temptation, while the rest of us grovel with sullied thoughts. The espresso gadget’s clamor infuriates my needs, since it’s not for me as it chimes for another. My time comes. My heart palpitates without the need for narcotics. Then caffeine, and whatever I adulterate it with, is stirred, always clock-wise, immediately drawing my palate erect. Cautiously I cradle my tin cup up to my lips and tip ever so slightly.
Dying Set Me Free.
I was nine when I died.
I trembled while lying in bed,
wide awake, suddenly the door opened.
He slithered in, fueling his needs,
and did the unthinkable by taking
his son’s life. Once I felt
his touch, my soul fled from
my body. I tried, but could
not stop it. I watched as the
carcass of my body gasped for
oxygen as the demon left my
sanctuary. My mother, she knew nothing.
I dared not mention such things.
Awake, or asleep, it always persisted.
When it ended, unknown, but I
was reborn, more evil, more angry.
I’m thirty-nine now. My soul
sleeps with the fishes, while the
mental war rages, even a generation
could not save. I lie in
bed, awake and trembling, searching for
the nine year old helpless me.
Can We Successfully Combine Drama and Humor in a Mystery?
The simple answer? Yes. I write two mystery series, and they’re both lighter with a little humor. There’s a great big “however” here. However, murder isn’t funny, by any stretch of the imagination. Therefore, the books contain some drama, too. I’ll never make light of a killing.
Back to humor, you can find some in the characters solving the mystery, and in some of the situations in which they find themselves. There’s so much drama in today’s world that I believe we need something to lighten our moods sometimes. Hopefully, that’s a need I’m addressing.
In my Sandi Webster series, she’s a female P.I., has a menopausal mother, employs a klutzy guy, and has a partner who always wants to watch her back — although he usually ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time. She frequently finds herself dealing with quirky or eccentric people. These traits often equal humor, and they’re traits I’ve found in people in my own life over the years.
I’ve worked in law enforcement (in a clerical capacity), part-time in a shoe store and a lingerie store, and for a state transportation department, among other jobs. Like Chris, I could sit down with you for hours and hours and tell funny stories. Of course, some are only humorous after the fact – like the time I had to search a Ladies Room for a bomb, with no training. There was, after all, a time when you wouldn’t expect to find a bomb in a john. Then there was the time a woman was turned down for a clerical job in law enforcement because she didn’t have the qualifications. Death threats followed, even though I’d only given her the typing test. Ah, those were the days.
My Bogey Man series features Chris Cross, who’s a dead ringer for Humphrey Bogart, and who manages to walk the walk and talk the talk. Bogart is his muse, his hero and his idea of how a man should act. That is, the Bogey he saw in the movies. He’s very good at rolling his lip under like Mr. Bogart did. Chris is married and has a step-son, and they sometimes remind me just a little of a modern Thin Man family.
Humor keeps most of the characters going. We need a good laugh in our own lives once in a while, and so do fictional characters.
In both series the characters and their lives grow and change over time. So do we. Time seems to pass slowly in a series. Occasionally that would be preferable in real life, although there are other times when we wish we could speed things along.
One new book in each series was released in March of 2014.
Death Comes in Threes is the latest Sandi Webster mystery. She has to face a longtime foe, although things seem to happen on his terms rather than hers. He wants to kill her, and of course, she’s saying, “Nope. Not gonna happen.”
Awkward Moments features the Bogey Man. Someone sent me a joke that said, “Awkward Moments: When you’re digging a hole to bury a body, and you find another body already buried there.” This short joke inspired a whole book. Imagine trying to bury the small body of a bird and finding bones from someone who was buried there many years ago. You just never know what you’ll find. Right?
So now you know a tiny bit about me and my books. If you need a little entertainment, I hope you’ll look for it with either Sandi or Chris.
Needless to say, I hope you’ll try Grey Ghost by Chris Swinney first, but don’t forget me.
Thank you for inviting me in as a guest today, Chris. I’ve really enjoyed speaking out a little.
**NOTE FROM ME (CHRIS). THANKS for coming on my blog and sharing your wonderful work. I wish you tremendous success and I’m here for you if you ever need anything.
So you want to know what it took to make the best sellers list on Amazon. Well, I’ll tell you (and yes for FREE).
The first thing you MUST do is write a good book. I don’t care how much you spend on advertising or how long you made #1 on the FREE list, if you don’t write a decent book, you will have a very difficult time making it on any PAID list. Having said that, if you spend time learning Amazon and the hundreds of book lists available to the consumer, you will begin to see there are certain categories that have fewer than one hundred books. So, if you write a book in that genre or sub-group, you should land on the “best sellers list.”
Nevertheless, here’s what I did. Prior to, and during the release, I did approximately five months of intensive marketing. All of it was directed to everyone who hadn’t already purchased my novel, Gray Ghost, or those who were considering making another purchase as a gift. I ASKED them to make a purchase on the same day. To magnify the effect of the Amazon analytic software (to demonstrate a lot of sales in a short period of time to increase the odds of making the list), I tried to get everyone to buy within the same one-hour time frame (12-noon).
To entice more buyers, I worked with the publisher and Amazon to get the Kindle price of the novel to .99c for a five day period (free option through Amazon but needs to be done by publisher unless you are an indie author, then you can make this happen with an email to Amazon). The paperback price remained the same. I would have liked to lower it, but the publisher said no.
I PAID for advertising for this event to coincide with the five day period the book was at .99c. These are the advertising groups/companies I used and what I paid them:
I used Goodreads ($10),
blogs, “Blog-Marathon” (free, time consuming),
Independent Author Network (IAN1, @authornetwork,$29.95),
DigitalBook Today http://www.digitalbooktoday.com/ ($20),
KindleBooksandTips http://www.fkbooksandtips.com ($20),
BookBub http://www.bookbub.com/ ($25)
Author Marketing Club (WLC, http://www.authormarketingclub.com ($19.95)
TOTALS: $134.90* It should be noted that accept BookBub and Digital Book Today, the others continue to advertise Gray Ghost, and we’re into month five on this budget…
I can’t give you the numbers of books sold for each advertiser because Amazon does not provide them to authors with traditional publishers and my old publisher would not provide me this data. Hence, I moved along and found a new publisher. I do know that you need to sell at least one hundred (100) books in a day, sometimes in an hour depending on the genre, to get on a best selling list. My book was ranked in the #200,000’s for paperback and #67,000’s for Kindle prior to the sale.
However, here’s the results:
Gray Ghost for Kindle made as high as #22 on the PAID Kindle list for Crime Fiction. It also made as high as #41 on the PAID Kindle list for Mystery. An unexpected bonus was the book STAYED on the list for almost a week, which seems to support that the advertising had a long-term effect on sales.
Unexpectedly, Gray Ghost for paperback also made the best sellers list. The book was full priced at the time ($12.95) and made as high as #87 in Mystery and #63 in Crime Fiction. This format, however, only lasted two days on the list. I suspect people were buying it because some enjoy a paperback and others were not realizing they were buying the paperback format. Either way, it was a bonus for me.
PRIOR to this event, I had approximately nineteen (19) reviews for the book (from date of release and four months into the project). After the event, I had fifty nine (59) reviews (from event to today). FORTY more reviews! This was an unexpected increase in reviews and as we all know, reviews on Amazon are crucial for exposure and sales.
During the event and for a month after, AMAZON began advertising my book to readers of Crime Fiction, Thrillers, and Mystery. I suspect their analytic software alerted them to a book selling well so they promoted it further. That’s the beauty of Amazon. They back the books that are selling to keep the sales going and to make more profit for Amazon. I also gained from this, as they were sending hundreds of emails out with “What’s Hot in Mystery” and my novel was the first on top of the list. That’s always a good thing.
I’m thankful my book made the best sellers list on Amazon, but it should be noted that it is entirely different to make the NY Times best sellers list. It’s a more competitive market and collects sales in at least five different markets. Totaling the numbers of books sold generates a list, and the NY Times publishes it. Indie authors make this list (Renee Carlino comes to mind), but the overwhelming number of authors making this list are in traditional houses, and when I say traditional houses, I’m talking about the BIG Five.
Whelp, I hope this info will help you in some way achieve your goals. My number one piece of advice is to write well and write often. you should also read a ton. All the hard work will pay off in the end. This is a very difficult business with lots of butt-kissing, cut-throat contracts, and people preying on would-be authors. Rise above it. There’s light at the end of a completed manuscript, story, prose, or poem. It’s your job to find it.