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Saturday, July 30, 2016

Reaping Rewards One Encounter at a Time


In the solitary world of a writer's life, praise will get you everywhere.

"Oh! I know you! ... er, well, at least I know your books! Love them!"

I can be bought. I have a price and it's humiliatingly low. Praise. Basking in it is the author's equivalent of a dog rolling over, paws skyward, belly up, and tail wagging. "Oh! Yes! More please!"

At the Bookstock book and author festival in Woodstock, Vermont, I was lucky enough to be the recipient of such praise. A husband and wife strolled by and the wife recognized the cover of The Troubles. I introduced myself and the rest of the encounter shall live on in my memories in the "Instant Replays of Happy Life Events" category. 

If you're a reader of my blog, you know I do the hard work of reaching out to readers in as many ways as possible. Spending gorgeous summer days at hot and dusty horse shows, cramped encampments of vendor tents, and festivals of every calling is what I do. I didn't know being an author was going to lead me to these events, but I'm there chatting and signing for hours without a break. I'll confess: Some days are longer than others.

So, we chatted and traded home town stories and favorite authors. I mentioned books I discovered through my book club and she said she had recommended mine to hers. One thing led to another, and we'll be scheduling a Skype book group session soon. She left, excited to have met me and even more excited her book group will be getting signed copies of my books. I watched her leave, infused with energy and refreshed. The rest of the day flew by.

When I started this journey, I dreamed of encounters like this. Now I'm getting them. 


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Level Best Books: Best New England Crime Stories

Level Best Books: Windward
Best New England Crime Stories


Oh joy!


My short story, Giving Voice, will be included in Level Best Books Windward anthology. 


Their website describes this collection the best:


"Level Best Books publishes an annual anthology of Crime Stories set in New England each November. Well-regarded by readers and reviewers, stories published by Level Best have won the Agatha, Anthony, Macavity, Derringer and Robert L. Fish (Award for Best First Short Story presented at the Edgar® banquet) Awards and have been recognized as “Distinguished Mystery Stories,” by the editors of the Best American Mystery Stories series. Level Best also publishes the winning story from the Al Blanchard contest every year.


Founded by Skye Alexander, Kate Flora and Susan Oleksiw, Level Best’s goal is to publish the highest quality short fiction produced by crime writers either from or with stories set in the six New England states. From the beginning, the anthology has contained tales from established as well as previously unpublished authors."

This is the first year the publishers opened submissions to authors outside of New England, and the competition to earn a coveted slot was tough. I'm thrilled, humbled, and more than a little intimidated to be included.

(A link to the story behind the inspiration of "Giving Voice" is here.)

Stories and authors that made the cut include:


“The Burren” by Christine Bagley
“Tainted Image” by V R Barkowski
“A Good Lard Crust is Hard to Find…” by Mara Buck
“Bagatelle” by P Jo Anne Burgh
“Grateful Touring” by   Sarah M. Chen
“Tinkle Tinkle” by Frank Cook
“The Haunting at the Orleans Inn” by Daemon Crowe
“A Glutton for Punishment” by Sharon Daynard
“God of Money” by Stephen Doyle
“The Case of the Burqa-ed Busker” by Gerald Elias
“The Boston Post Cane” by Kathy Lynn Emerson
“Daybreak Dismay in Dallas” by Sanford Emerson
“Careful What You Wish For” by Kate Flora
“Three Sisters” by Kimberly Gray
“Murder at Midnight” by Janet Halpin
“Giving Voice” by Connie Johnson Hambley
“The Allagoosalum” by Jill Hand
“Yemaya’s Revenge” by Lisa Lieberman
“Family Business” by Cyndy Lively
“The List” by Ruth McCarty
“Mendicants in the Median” by Peter Murray
“The Ridge” by Rick Ollerman
“Cheap Medz” by Alan Orloff
“Fresh Start” by Anita Page
“Dead Weight” by Dale Phillips
“An Old Man’s Regret” by Verena Rose
“Seals” by Erica Ruppert
“The Mountain” by Harriette Sackler
“Snow Devils” by Brenda Seabrooke
“Look Away” by Shawn Reilly Simmons
“Clean Windows” by Gabriel Valjan
“Daddy” by Lilla Waltch

Friday, July 15, 2016

A2R Marketing: Bugs and Books



Sometimes this marketing thing is a blast.

I love trying different ideas to reach readers. I’m a little guy trying to market in the big bad world against deep pockets and robust promotional machines. The relentless marketing effort can be a slog, so changing it up once in a while is what I need to keep me and my peeps fresh.

Over one year ago, I launched a bug dedicated to Jessica Wyeth, horses, and my books. 

A bug? Yes. A geocaching travel bug.

Jessica Wyeth's Travel Bug
Geocaching consists of boxes hidden in public places. The boxes may be as big as an ammunition box or as small as a lipstick tube. Inside, a journal to log a find may be joined with trinkets of all sizes and values – from key chain fobs to rare coins. Caches are listed on Geocaching.com and estimates state over one million boxes are in the United States alone. Once a muggle finds one box, the quest for more treasure is on.

A travel bug is designed to travel from cache to cache and it’s fun to see where a bug has been and to decide what new place to bring it. Some wander happily around the globe and others have a mission. The bug I created is dedicated to finding unique equestrian locations.



This map shows Jessica’s bug’s travels. Bug started in a cache near Jessica’s childhood home of Hamilton, Massachusetts. From there, Bug has traveled to New Hampshire, Quebec, Ontario, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New York. While I’ve been busy tapping away on my stories, Bug has traveled over thirteen hundred miles. Oh, and the horse thing? Sometimes, Bug ends up near bridle paths and equestrian centers. The kayak place in Quebec has me stumped.

This is where I confess to having a smattering of nerd in my DNA. I think this is really freaking cool.

So, you ask, how does this equate to marketing?

Bug and Book prior to launch
I can see the data of when and where Bug has been spotted or moved. Via Amazon’s author services, I can see when and where my books are sold. I get a kick out of lining up the data and seeing why sales happened. I’m not talking about a hundred books being sold, in fact, I’m pretty excited to see a clustered few, but when I see action in a part of the country I don’t have a large presence in and trace it back to Bug, I geek out. For a little bit of effort a year or so ago, I created an evergreen promotion. One fan who discovered my books even wrote a review and posted it on Goodreads. She loved the serendipity of discovering my books via geocaching and was intrigued enough to read “The Charity.” Oh, she loved the book, too. So, Goodreads Reader, if you’re out there and sampling this blog, I love you, too.

I’m not suggesting you go out today and buy a travel bug tag and sprinkle the universe with tchotchke. In fact, I’d recommend against it. I struck on something that fit for me. I love hiking, have long been a geocaching fan, and was going to launch a travel bug anyway just because I think they’re fun.  



Bug's page allows folks to post pictures and they definitely have fun with this. This boy was out hiking and caching in Ohio with his dad when he came across Bug and another pal. Next thing Bug knows, she’s in New York! 


Bug in a dinosaurs mouth? Gotta love it.



Seriously, how many layers of wow can you find?
I have never met this geocaching photographer,
 but somehow I know we'd get along great.















Maybe one more. I'm offering a reward. Read on!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Writers Groups: Worth the Trouble?

Joining a writer's group or not is your business. I really don't care if you do or don't. What I do care about is if you're happy with your choice. My first reaction to being involved with a group is don't.

And then I realized I belong to three.

A little bit of history here. Early in my writing life, I attended workshops and conferences. Consistent advice was to join a group. Read. Comment. Listen. Revise. I did and ran myself ragged following the advice of a lot of people. Some I respected. Most I didn't. My writing suffered, time management went out the window, and productivity wallowed.

For me, what I needed to develop as a writer was time alone on my mountaintop. In the years that passed, I enjoyed a robust career. My confidence bloomed and my skin toughened.

Newburyport Writers

The first writers group I joined focused on networking with others engaged in all aspects of the written craft and the writing business. Corporate bloggers, editors, ghost writers, publishers, journalists, mystery authors, traditional and independently published, wanna-bees, marketeers, and more. You name it, this group has it, and our meetings knit our commonalities and scratched our common itch--whatever that may be. Our monthly potluck dinners are informative, connective, and time well spent.

The years passed and relationships formed. My periscope was not up, so I was surprisingly pleased when I was approached by two writers' groups and invited to join. One is a critique group focused on the craft, the other is a business group focused on branding and business best practices. The members of both are women for whom I have a great deal of respect. They are accomplished in their own right with deep skills and experience. And they are willing to share and wanting to cultivate. Wow.

As fate would have it, their timing was perfect. I had hit a rough patch and stalled. The two new groups are forcing me to be accountable and to stretch for more.

These groups work for me. They fit. I wish you the same.

What about you? Are you in a group or do you prefer to go it alone?

Monday, July 4, 2016

BOOK LAUNCH: Amber Wolf by Ursula Wong

Beginnings are special and sharing in a book launch is terrific fun! Today's post marks a first for Out of the Fog Blog.  Here I'll feature new books on their publication date. Have a book ready to go out into the world? Contact me on Twitter (@ConnieHambley) and I'll feature you and your book here!

So, read on. 





WW II Novel Depicts Partisan Resistance in Eastern Europe

Chelmsford, Massachusetts/ June 29, 2016 - Amber Wolf, a novel by Ursula Wong, is released by Genretarium Publishing.

Rich with scenes of Lithuania, Amber Wolf tells the little-known tale of a people struggling for their freedom against great odds. After substantial research and using new source material, Ursula Wong has distilled the turmoil of 1944 into the saga of a family torn apart by the Soviet occupation.

Synopsis:  When brutal Russian soldiers invade 1944 Lithuania, they ravage the countryside and the people. After her mother is murdered, young Ludmelia Kudirka flees to the safety of the forest. Vowing vengeance, she joins the partisans who trade pitchforks for guns to fight the mighty Soviet war machine in a David-and-Goliath struggle.

Amber Wolf will be released for sale by Amazon on 4 July in print and Kindle, with ebooks available now from Barnes and NobleKobo, and the iBookstore.

Additional information is available in Ursula Wong’s recent interview in the Lowell Sun. 






Known for her portrayal of strong women, Ursula Wong is also the author of the award-winning novel Purple Trees. A retired computer engineer, Ursula’s stories have been published in the anthologies Insanity Tales and Insanity Tales II: The Sense of Fear. Amber Wolf is her second novel.







###
CONTACT:
Ursula Wong
508-423-6700

A media kit and photos are available on request.

Visit Ursula’s website, Reaching Readers, on www.ursulawong.wordpress.com



Friday, July 1, 2016

Bookstock!

Bookstock Literary Festival


Bookstock Literary Festival
Date: Friday, July 29 to Sunday July 31
Time: 9 am to 5 pm
Place: Woodstock, Vermont

MISSION

Bookstock supports the cultural richness and diversity of the Upper Valley and celebrates authors and poets, both established and emerging, from our region. New England is home to many talented writers representing diverse genres, from national Poet Laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners to emerging young writers and those who have found their compelling voice at midlife. Bookstock encourages appreciation for good writing and other artistic endeavors by introducing residents and visitors of all ages to writers, musicians and artists in an intimate setting.

LOCATION

Most events take place in historic buildings around Woodstock’s lovely Green, within three minutes’ walk to the center of Woodstock village, with its unique shops and superb dining.  In addition, ArtisTree Gallery in South Pomfret, hosts the opening reception, as well as the UnBound exhibition of book art. Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park hosts a writing workshop and presentation. Bentley’s Restaurant holds a brunch reading Sunday morning.