Telemarketing works. If it didn't, companies wouldn't sink so much money into annoying people with cold calls. Since I've been freelancing for a living--which means working in a home office--I've had the dubious joy of entertaining all those telemarketing calls during the day.
Usually, I just hang up once I determine that, yes, it really is just a sales call for yet another product or service I neither want nor need. Sometimes, I like to have a little fun, though. This past weekend, I received a call from our internet provider trying to sell us a direct TV subscription that we neither want nor need. After my polite response of, "No, thank you. We're not interested," the telemarketer persisted: "What do you do for entertainment?"
I could tell she was puzzled, as though no person called had ever responded in such a manner or as though she wasn't familiar with the concept of reading.
"Yes, read. You know, like books."
Lately, we've been getting sales calls from DP&L (formerly Dayton Power & Light). I'm not exactly sure what they're trying to sell me, because I cut them off before they can get the conversation really rolling.
"I'd like to talk to you about your DP&L service."
"We don't use your electricity."
"You don't use DP&L?"
And then there's "Consumer Services," which wants my credit card information, fraudulent calls from Microsoft about a glitch in my operating system that will soon affect computer performance, and collections calls and subpoena notices for "Alan David," whoever that guy is. The thing is, if my computer is acting up, I'll make contact myself. If "Alan David" lived here, I would have turned the rotten fink in by now. And I'm content with my credit card, thank you very much.
Look, if it's really official and important, go back in time and send a letter. I'm more likely to open it, read it, and give it more than two seconds' attention. Otherwise, the calls do nothing more than suck up time and annoy me.
Which brings me to the very subject of marketing, which sucks up time and annoys me. I hired a publicist in May to do that sort of work, because (1) she's better at it than I am and (2) I loathe doing that type of work. I'm grateful that she's not the type to annoy potential customers by cold-calling people and that she genuinely enjoys her chosen field. So, if you think that my marketing has increased, you're right. If you think it's improved, let me know. If you have an effective marketing idea that can be accomplished on a shoestring budget, then definitely let me know and I'll forward the information to my publicist.
In the meantime, I've got work to do.
Yesterday Today Always Excerpt
Will a reckless moment from her past come back to haunt her?
Devastated by the death of her husband, Colin, in the London bombings on July 7, 2005, Katherine Murphy-Whithorn builds a wall around her heart determined to never let anyone in again. Settling in to a comfortable routine, her life becomes mundane, until five years later when someone from her rebellious past returns to the city and begins stalking her.
As the curtain falls on 2010 her first love, Jared Martin, walks back into Katherine´s life. Despite him being her first love, he must tear down the barrier she´s created to protect herself. Finally seeing a second chance of a life with him, Katherine couldn´t be happier until another cruel twist of fate strikes. The helicopter returning from the Alpha Ecosse platform, on which Jared is a passenger, ditches in the North Sea. Can he survive the ordeal? Will they get their chance for happiness? Or is fate still not done its dirty deeds? Katherine’s stalker may have his own agenda.
1st December 2010
The ScotRail service to Aberdeen pulled away from the platform at Stonehaven. The next stop would be his destination. As the train accelerated, the carriage swayed from side to side. The action reminded him of his mum rocking him after a bad dream. He drifted into a light slumber. When the compartment he was in crossed through a switch, it lurched waking him.
Less than thirty minutes to go. He settled back but was too excited to relax. When the Girdle Ness Lighthouse came into view, he knew he was almost back to the place he was born.
New, to him, construction dotted the landscape. Fresh graffiti adorned the stone parapets of the bridge over the River Dee. The Mitchell Tower at Marischal College, the clock tower of the Aberdeen Town House and the Salvation Army Citadel, vied for attention over the tops of the cluster of newer buildings.
He fooled the medical staff at the secure forensic unit in the south of England. After feigning rehabilitation, they released him into the community but he didn’t stay there long. He did a runner. He had unfinished business in the north east of Scotland.
Adrenalin coursed through him. Giddy with excitement, it was hard for him to remain calm. He shook his hands to try to stem some of the fidgetiness. Now, he was back in Aberdeen where it all began. How much of the city would he recognize? What changed since his departure?
Were the authorities looking for him yet? He would have to act normal so as not to attract attention. Stepping off, he adjusted his Fedora and strode across the concourse to the exit. Diesel fumes hung in the air and caught in the back of his throat. He coughed.
With the exception of the Union Square shopping complex adjacent to the railway station, Guild Street stayed more or less unchanged. Some of the storefronts in the granite buildings transformed, but overall, not a huge difference since he left.
The pavement ended at Market Street forcing him to cross over the road. He continued eastward. The location he sought should be nearby. He stopped for a breather – pressed his back against the building. The ships that supplied and supported the offshore oil industry occupied the available berths on this side of the harbour. Through a gap, the ferry to Lerwick and the terminal were visible on the far side.
The familiar Maritime Museum dominated the head of Shore Brae. Beyond that, the artery curved and became Shiprow. The cobbled road surface and pavement were difficult to traverse. Even the larger stones nearer the buildings were uneven. When he rounded the corner at Provost Ross’s House, another well-known building peeked out. He had come so far now, he couldn’t go back. He strode with purpose up the hill.
The Aberdeen Town House clock tower stretched above the roofline but that was the place he sought. Nestled between Henry’s Bar and the pedestrianized portion of Shiprow stood the As the Pages Turn bookshop.
When a customer exited holding a carrier bag emblazoned with the same signage as over the door, his heart skipped a beat. He hoped the establishment’s ownership hadn’t changed. That would defeat the purpose of his returning to Aberdeen.
The voices in his head only told him to come back. He had unfinished business with the woman with ginger hair – the one with no soul – who ran the retail outlet in front of him.
Now, to find a suitable place to wait and watch and bide his time until the moment was right.
YESTERDAY TODAY ALWAYS is available at amazon for pre-order for the kindle at myBook.to/yesterday-today-always
“Don’t let the fear of success hold you back...”
Interview with Nate Kincaid from “My Sexy Veterinarian”
by Bonnie Phelps
5 Stars: ‘I found it to be masterfully crafted, with thought, care, insight, and attention to detail—poetic prose that touch the heart and echo on the soul, full of deep emotion, abundant in pain and loss and, best of all, overflowing in joy and love.’
Nate Kincaid, wants to get out of debt and get his family off his back about his relationship status. The second means he needs a serious girlfriend, but after the death of his fiancé, he isn’t ready. No one knows about his nightmares—the ones that chase him into the dark places of grief. Dealing with debt means his fledgling veterinary practice must be
successful—business before anything else. Always. Maybe a pretend relationship would solve his second problem so he can concentrate on the first.
Full-time psychologist and part-time model, Lauren Royall, has the perfect life. As a therapist she helps people. As a model, her free spirit reigns. When Nate suggests she pose as his girlfriend, she accepts on a lark. Lauren senses his pain and wants to help. She hadn’t counted on falling for the guy or the painful memories from her past his situation evokes.
Let’s start off with some basics—name, age, what you do for a living, family, where
My name’s Nate – Nathaniel David Kincaid – when my mom was mad at me. I’m 35, live in San Antonio, and I’m a large animal veterinarian which means a lot of time outdoors. I’m the oldest of three boys, so I had to be the responsible one. Zach is a national champion team roper on the rodeo circuit and my baby brother, Josh, is a computer programmer. My mom and dad own a large cattle ranch in the Texas Hill country – just north of San Antonio – and that’s where I grew up.
What impression do you make on people when they first meet you?
I’m a stand-up guy, a regular ‘Mr. Do The Right Thing.’ Traditional, I suppose. In Texas you’re taught to tip your hat and hold a door open for a lady, help elderly people cross the street, and look out for your neighbors.
How about after they've known you for a while?
Because I look like a night club bouncer, people are surprised I’m a sensitive guy. Don’t tell anyone, but I write poetry.
Describe your ideal mate.
Kind, compassionate, loves kids, not afraid to get her hands dirty. Someone who wants to build a home. A woman who wants to make a difference in this world.
What was your first thought or impression when you met the person you fell in love
Lauren? Gorgeous. Independent. Kind of new-agey. Adventurous. Not my usual type, but there was something about her that pulled me in.
What would you change about the person you fell in love with?
At first I thought I’d want more of a homebody, someone I could count on to stay put. Once I got to know Lauren though, I wouldn’t change a thing because if I did, she wouldn’t be the woman I fell in love with. She is the things I was looking for—compassionate, loves kids, wants to make a difference—but she’s also things I thought I didn’t want—adventurous, spontaneous, a free spirit. Those qualities have opened me up to new experiences. She makes me a more complete person.
What would you change about yourself?
We both had some demons to slay. Mine was learning to embrace love again. With Lauren’s help, I’ve gotten there.
What's the most important thing in your life?
Family. They may be a pain in the backside sometimes, but they’re the people you can count on when life goes south.
Your thoughts on love?
Until Lauren, I hadn’t had much luck in that department. My fiancé died about 6 months before we planned to be married. I didn’t think my heart could take anymore hurt so turned tail and ran as fast as I could in the other direction if a woman started to get serious.
Your greatest extravagance?
Starting my own veterinary practice. Everyone said I should have joined an existing outfit, but I wanted to be my own boss. It was a risk and makes life challenging, but I’m glad I did.
Your quirky habits?
You could say I’m a neatnik. I like order in my life.
What quality do you like most in a woman?
Someone who’s grounded.
What trait do you most despise?
That would be high-maintenance women, followed by no sense of roots.
What are you most afraid of?
Losing the one I love. Been there, done that. Can’t do it again.
I’m a meat and potatoes guy, though Lauren’s teaching me to expand my horizons. Still not sure about that green stuff she drinks, but I at least tried.
What would you consider your perfect night out?
Sitting on my back patio gazing up at the stars. The kind of evening where the serenity pours in to a man’s soul. Close second, taking my favorite girl out dancing. Holding her in my arms. Moving together to the music.
Rumor has it that Bonnie began telling stories at a very early age. Photos exist of the author toddling around the corner of the house covered in mud babbling about magic rabbits leading her through the garden. Her parents were amused – until they discovered she had also walked across the newly poured cement patio – which only added fuel to the fire of her passion for writing. From then on, her active imagination continued to churn out plots and character sketches always wondering how different people would behave in similar situations.
Bonnie used her writing skills throughout her professional life as a fundraiser and marketer
for several nonprofits. She enjoyed the chance to tell and share the story of worthy
organizations. In the late 1980s, Bonnie authored a syndicated column in several California
newspapers in which she shared the experiences and misadventures of life as a wife and
mother. The jury is out on whether or not her children appreciated her candor. Because
Bonnie has romance in her soul, she also worked as a Wedding Planner for several years.
Absolutely loved it!! She craves anything sweet, revels in any chance to travel, and is
addicted to Ancestry.com. A native Californian, the author lives in Northern California with
Following up on an initial convention presence at ConGlomeration in April, I attended the 2017 Imaginarium the weekend of October 6-8. I registered and arrived with high hopes and not much information about the event. That'll teach me.
In short, I was disappointed. The event was held at the same location as ConGlomeration and competed with a well-publicized art festival in Louisville. Beautiful weather Friday and Saturday no doubt convinced potential attendees to spend their time outdoors, although Sunday's deluge didn't have the corresponding effect of luring people to the book fair. The vendor room was filled with vendors, but not with attendees.
A roomful of vendors trying to sell to one another doesn't go over very well.
On the bright side, the prize drawing for a basket filled with goodies and a copy of a book garnered about a dozen entries, so those will be added to the mailing list. Congratulations to Diana Wieczorek for winning the prize drawing! I hope you enjoy your copy of The Diamond Gate.
My friend Cindra kindly accompanied me on this adventure to Louisville. We explored downtown Louisville, enjoyed the Jim Beam urban distillery and a local arts and crafts store and the Frazier Museum before settling in the vendor room on Friday afternoon. We enjoyed our suppers at BoomBozz and El Torazo.
Event staff were friendly and informative, although registration was disorganized. I ended up with two name badges and Cindra had none, although they at least had record of her registration. We had a delightful conversation with Holly Phillipe of Seventh Star Press, who made us laugh with her anecdotes about filming a TV pilot Rayken Valkyrie: Saga of a Lionheart with actor Brock O'Hurn (most famous for his viral "man bun" video on Youtube) in the lead male role. I'll know to avoid Virginia creeper vines from here on out. Go HERE for the trailer.
I attended a couple of seminars, one of which only lightly touched upon the scheduled topic and presented very basic information. The other of which was interesting, but didn't cover what I thought it would. That'll teach me to assume. However, it did intrigue me with the idea of using a psychic in a future book. That's going to require some extensive research to make it realistic. A suggestion for organizers: indicate on the program whether the seminar is for beginning, intermediate, or advanced authors.
One prediction did manifest. I was warned that writers conventions primarily targeted people who want to write books, people who fuss over the same manuscript for years and never finish them. These people attend such events in the hope that something will magically inspire them to become published authors. We had one such extensive conversation with one such attendee. My repeated advice to her: finish the book, then send the manuscript to an editor.
Assuming the entire experience wasn't too awful, I hope Cindra will consent to accompany me to future events. She was wonderful company and didn't let my sardonic, cynical humor dampen her spirits.
This was the fourth year for Imaginarium. I have no information as to whether the poor attendance this year matched attendance in past years. The same organizer invited all vendors to return for the 8th Annual Kentuckiana Authors Fair in April 2018. I'm debating on that one. In the meantime, I'll spend some time trying to find other events that might welcome a fantasy and romance author with books to sell (and autograph).
In the meantime, I haven't given up entirely on the idea of exhibiting at book fairs. I just need to find the right venues. I won't return to ConGlomeration in 2018, because it's scheduled over Easter weekend. Therefore, if anyone in Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky knows of a book fair that might serve as a good venue, please pass on the word. I'd be most grateful.
The sage advice to authors is "write what you know." In order to do that, Dick Francis learned how to fly and earned his pilot's license so he could write authentically from a pilot's perspective. As a ghostwriter, I find myself using my own experiences to correct inaccurate assumptions made by clients in their plot outlines.
For instance, one client had his hero leading his military team through a cave system. They held hands. Wrong. I've been spelunking once. That was enough for me to enjoy the experience and know that it's not something I care to repeat. To be blunt, no one the spelunking expedition held hands, impossible to do when the experts instruct that one should always have three points of contact when crawling through a cave. I also informed the client that the darkness below ground is absolute; anyone traveling through a cave system must bring in a light source: if you're not wearing it, then you're carrying it.
Another client specified a certain kind of cartridge or bullet for her science fiction adventure. In the original draft, the guns emit the smell of cordite from gunpowder. However, the client did not want gunpowder--too old-fashioned. I then explained that something must compel the bullet--whatever its composition--from the chamber down the barrel and into its target. That requires some sort of combustive force. I ended up using an electrical spark to ignite the contained explosion that propels the bullet.
However, I'm not the one who imparts all the instruction. I learn from my clients. One client's historical novel relies on his diligent research, so now I know that the State of California had a Department of Education long before the USA did. His research and mine tend to supplement one another. Because of this client, I also know now of some of the more interesting sites in Prague, which I'd like to visit if I ever manage to travel to the Czech Republic.
The most entertaining part of "write what you know" occurs when I read a book in which the author obviously didn't conduct any research whatsoever. I read a romance in which the heroine raised alpacas and combed them, picking the loose wool from the combs. That might work for gathering cashmere, but that's not how we obtain alpaca wool. Three minutes of online research would have cleared that confusion. (By the way, we shear alpacas, much in the manner that we shear sheep.)
Livestock and farming tend to trip up authors with regularity, from hunky and bare-chested male characters baling and stacking hay to characters brand new to riding receiving tutelage in galloping their first time in the saddle. I recently responded to an author who decried the use of guns and saw no value in them except as blunt forces bullies used to command respect. "Don't confuse fear with respect," I cautioned and stated reasons why "the great equalizer" could come in handy.
Probably the most annoying of "write what you know" failures occurs in scenes depicting intimacy. When one sees my head tilting to one side and my hands turning the book, one knows that I'm trying to figure out how the lovers in the book did whatever it was they were doing. Simply put, the author's knowledge of anatomy could bear improvement.
"Write what you know" need not mean that the author must not write about what he or she has never experienced. It means that the author must conduct the necessary research for adequate understanding and to inject realism. If you're writing, then you can count on someone who reads your work to see the mistakes. Oftentimes, readers are generous enough to overlook small glitches; however, don't count on it. The more basic the error, the less forgiving the reader will be.
Hard boiled, scrambled, over easy, and sunny side up: eggs are the musings of Holly Bargo, the pseudonym for the author.