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Sun, Feb. 19th, 2017, 11:33 am
Happy Birthday!

Stormie would like to join me in wishing nodbear a Happy Birthday!

Sun, Feb. 12th, 2017, 04:07 pm
Book Marketing Basics

This past Thursday I had the opportunity to be the featured speaker at the Spokane Authors and Self-Publishers' meeting.  I spoke about the basics of book marketing.  For those who might be interested in what I had to say on the subject, here is my presentation.  It's been edited slightly, both to improve its readability and also to direct it to a more general audience.

Yours Truly at a previous SASP speaking opportunity.

Book Marketing Basics
           The last time I had the opportunity and honor to speak at a Spokane Authors and Self-Publishers meeting, I offered some observations on marketing.  I focused on using e-mail, having a web-site, blogging and being on various social media sites as ways to enhance one’s on-line presence, generate some publicity, and create an awareness of one’s book(s).
           Of course there is a lot more to marketing, selling books, than having a computer and being on-line.  We seldom talk about the more basic aspects of marketing and selling books; things such as price structure, distribution, cash flow, trade discounts, and more.  As self-publishers, we should realize that marketing books can be a different than for those whose books are published traditionally.
           To begin, let’s take a look at two average authors and see how they are doing with marketing their books.
           First we have the typical, perhaps stereotypical self-published author.  This is the individual who especially in the days before Print On Demand would, upon publication of his book, order 500, 1000, 2500, or more copies of his book. (Today, with POD, he can order as few or as many as he needs, as he needs them.)  The vast majority of these books now rest in his basement, a spare room, or even his garage.  He will have anywhere from a handful to a few dozen in his car… just in case.  If you visit local bookstores and other retail shops that sell on consignment, you might find copies of his book available for sale to the public.
He does signings, readings, and makes other author appearances, whenever and wherever he can, usually in the local area, and as time goes by, sells a few copies.
           Our second author’s books come to us via traditional or legacy publishing.  While he probably doesn’t have a large stockpile of books at home, chances are that his publisher or someone in the supply chain does.  His books are not only available locally, but you will find them in stores across the country and maybe even around the world.  His author appearances often turn out to be celebrity events.  People will wait in line to get in, wait in line to buy copies of his books, and wait in line to have him sign them… providing the event location hasn’t already sold out of stock on hand.
           If folks read books by these two authors, they might discover they are of equal readability, and that quite possibly the self-published book is the better of the two.  So why does the self-published author track sales individually or by the dozens, while the traditionally published author counts sales by the hundreds, or even thousands of books?
          More inciteful details followCollapse )
           Regardless of how you publish your book, everyone should know what the trade discount is, what the wholesale cost is, and what the production cost is.  Knowing these things makes it easier to understand how much you should be receiving in royalties, and how much you might be getting as de facto retailer, or as one or both middlemen.
           I hope this has been informative and helpful.  I make no claims of expertise on this matter, but simply say that this is how I have come to understand these things.
P. S. The Weekly Book Review will return later in the week, or perhaps get pushed back until next weekend.

Sun, Feb. 5th, 2017, 10:55 am
Weekly Book Review

War Bonds
Love Stories from the Greatest Generation

By Cindy Hval

(Reviewed by D. Andrew McChesney)
         Several years ago, Cindy Hval, a writer for the Spokesman-Review began a series of feature articles about couples who met and married before, during, or immediately after World War II.  Responses to these stories about members of our Greatest Generation were so positive that she combined thirty-six of them into a single volume.
         For a child of those of the Greatest Generation, the stories and pictures proved to be a nostalgic trip back in time.  I do not know any of those folks highlighted in the book, and it is quite probable that they did not know my parents.  (A later newspaper story did feature a couple who live directly behind us, and whose daughter was friends for years with my mom and sister.)  Yet the pictures remind me of one’s I remember from my childhood.  Even the way these couples met brings to mind family tales of how my folks met.  (Something about Dad going to look at a horse and meeting the woman he would marry!)
         Most impressive about all of these folks is that they stayed together throughout the decades.  Each of the stories features bits of wisdom from the couples on how to achieve that marital longevity.
         With members of the Greatest Generation leaving us at an ever increasing rate, Cindy’s efforts to help us remember their courage, their love, their dedication to the nation and to each other is truly inspirational.  This book is a great way to remember the best of our parents or grandparents.

Mon, Jan. 30th, 2017, 09:12 pm
Featured Speaker!

So Spokane Authors and Self-Publishers meets this coming Thursday, the 2nd of February.  Earlier this month I told the group's Vice-President that if she ever needed a speaker, I'd be willing to do so.  Evidently she did not have anyone scheduled for February so she accepted my offer and suggested I could speak then.  So I'm to be the speaker come Thursday.  Choice of topic was mine, and while I had several things I could speak on, I decided to talk a bit about the basics of book selling and marketing.  Not that I'm an expert or anything, but I think I have it figure out to some extent.  And from what I hear others say at times, perhaps I have it figured out a bit more than some.

Most of the time our presentations have to do with writing, publishing and marketing, but at times I think that gets to be a little routine and maybe even boring.  I've thought at times that a nice break from the routine would be to have a presenter talk a little about what they write about... I have a bit of a presentation worked out about the sailing navies of the late 18th/early 19th centuries.  I'd thought about doing that one this time, but recently we'd had some discussions about marketing and felt that I might be able to shed some light on it.  More than likely I'll try to post the gist of my presentation here over the next couple of weeks.

May of 2015, I think... Yours Truly providing a bit of information on character creation and development..

Hope everyone has a good week!

Sun, Jan. 29th, 2017, 10:33 am
Weekly Book Review

This week, a review of a book by an author I discovered on-line.
The Spider and the Stone

By Glen Craney
Reviewed by D. Andrew McChesney
         When I was a child, my father sometimes told me a story about Scotland’s Black Douglas.  In essence, English mothers would admonish their children to eat their oatmeal, lest the Black Douglas get them.  Supposedly, one time Douglas appeared, quickly stated he would not harm the child, but would be grateful for the oatmeal.  Thus I was aware of this legendary historical figure, but not at all familiar with him.  Having read Mr. Craney’s “novel of Scotland’s Black Douglas,” I am much more aware of him and events during the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries in that part of the world.
         In many ways, this book is a pseudo-biography of James Douglas.  It details his early confrontations with England’s King Edward I, also known as Longshanks, his possible unrequited love for Isabelle MacDuff, his sometimes rocky friendship with Robert the Bruce, and his life as a cross border raider.  The story also might be a micro history of England, Scotland, France, and the Roman Catholic Church at that time.  Most importantly it is an exciting and gripping story about a fight for freedom and the dedication of two people for one another.
         This book also details a society and class system that was much different than exists in that part of the world today.  Life in general was much harsher, with cruelty being the usual thing.  Those in charge or command had much greater power and often did not separate personal ambition from regional or national interests.  Also included are the Knights Templar, the Culdee Church, and a foretelling of the United States of America.
         I found it to be an entertaining, interesting and engrossing book to read, and I am looking forward to reading more of Mr. Craney’s works.

Sun, Jan. 22nd, 2017, 08:32 pm
Weekly Book Review

Time for another book review.  Here is another of a book by C. S. Forester, but for once, not one of his Hornblower stories.  As I understand it, this is the only Age of Sail/Naval Adventure story he wrote about the United States Navy.

(thought my painting of an American Frigate would fit well here)
The Captain from Connecticut
By C. S. Forester
Reviewed by D. Andrew McChesney
           In the second year of the War of 1812, the British blockade has the small American Navy and the young nation’s merchant fleet effectively bottled up in port.  During a winter storm and under conditions in which any sane seaman would prefer to be snugly moored, Captain Joshua Peabody takes the frigate Delaware to sea.  Even with the weather scattering the guarding British fleet, escape to the open sea is a near thing.
            The apparent lone American presence on the high seas enjoys a successful run of anti-shipping activity, preying on British merchantmen in the West Indies.  Delaware’s commerce raiding activities are brought to a halt, both by Royal Navy vessels in the area and the imposition of neutrality by local representatives of the recently restored French Monarchy.  At Fort-de-France, Peabody and his British counterpart, Davenant, spar diplomatically rather than coming alongside and exchanging broadsides.  As well, both find interests of a more personal and domestic nature.
            This is Forester’s only age of sail novel to focus on the early United States Navy.  As he does in the Horatio Hornblower series, Forester writes a neatly contained story that is both entertaining and easy to follow.  He ably contrasts the differences between the two services while pointing out those things that are the same.
            As with most of Forester’s works, there are technical details that might be questioned.  He discusses elevating screws for the guns, while at that time quoins would have been more likely for traditional shipboard cannon, although carronades did sometimes use screws.  Historical time lines also seem a bit vague.  Apparently much of the story takes place over a few weeks in the summer of 1814.  Peabody and Davenant agree that one will go to sea and wait the prerequisite twenty-four hours for the other to sail so they might finally engage in a ship to ship duel.  As Delaware gets underway, Davenant and Calypso race back into port with news of peace between Great Britain and the United States.  As the Treaty of Ghent wasn’t agreed to until Christmas of 1814, it would have been early 1815 before those in the Caribbean would have been aware of it.  Quite possibly, both hostile parties did remain in a neutral harbor for nearly a year, but it is not evident from the way the story is told.
            This story also points out an interesting situation.  With the Royal Navy being a large fleet, it is easy to assume that vessels and officers mentioned may have actually existed.  Nearly anyone with even casual knowledge of the tiny American Navy would recognize both Delaware and her captain as fictitious.  (If it is of any interest, a few years after this, the United States did launch and commission USS Delaware, a seventy-four gun ship-of-the-line.)
            Despite a few glitches, this is a very exciting, entertaining, and readable story.  It is a must read for aficionados of the age of sail, naval adventure, and the works of C. S. Forester.    The copy read for this review, ISBN 1-877853-30-5 is copyrighted 1997 by The Nautical & Aviation Publishing Company of America, Inc., the seventh printing occurring in August 2003.

Sun, Jan. 15th, 2017, 12:41 pm
Winter Survival

No, I'm not talking about being lost on the frozen tundra in sub-sero temperatures while miles away from any sort of civilization.  I'm merely offering some observations of practicality in those times when snow is on the ground and the thermometer hovers in the region below freezing.

View from the front porch.

First of all, dress for the weather outside.  So many times we dress for the indoor temps and then throw a coat on when we go out.  But is that really all we need?  What if we end up being in the cold longer than we expect?  If we travel by car, we should dress as if the car was going to break down and force us to walk.  True most vehicles today have excellent heaters and can keep one warm even if dressed for shirt sleeve temperatures.  Me?  I prefer to bundle up, especially as it will take several minutes for the engine and then the passenger compartment to warm up.  And, I don't have to run the heater system at the max.  All I need is for it to take the chill off.  And why do so many people refuse to wear hats when it's cold.  Perhaps it's from my days in the Navy when we were required to be "covered" when in uniform and outdoors, but I generally where a hat or cap anytime I'm outside.  I like something with a bill or brim, both to keep the sun out of my eyes or to help keep rain or snow from getting on my glasses.  Below a  certain temperature I like a stocking cap or watch cap, primarily to keep the tops of my ears warm.  And as it get's colder, I like the cap to help keep my head warm.  So it always amazes me to see people with the boots and the coats, and the neck scarves running around outside with nothing on their heads... including those folks with little if any hair.

Speaking of cars and other vehicles:  clean the snow off as best you can.  Every winter/every time it snows, I see folks driving around town with only small areas of the windows cleaned off for visibility.  Or I'll see cars covered in snow with the headlights shining through several inches of the white stuff.  I want to see where I'm going, hence I'll clean the hood the windshield, the side windows, the rear window, and if a sedan, the trunk lid.  While it doesn't effect one's visibility, I also try to clean the snow off the top as well.  Depending upon the snow's water content and the temperature, it's possible for a large chunk of snow to slide off at a stop or deceleration and cover the windshield, thus blocking that all important visability.  Of course I'll clean the snow from the head and tail lights too.  While light is often plentiful during snowy weather, a vehicle's lights allow others to see us better.  A layer of snow over them makes them less able to do that.

My truck is pretty well cleaned off and ready to drive.  I let some of the snow swept from the top accumulate in the bed to help add weight for traction.  Car across the street would need to be cleaned off really well before I'd want to drive it.

From all sources, it looks like our run of cold, snowy days is about at an end.  A so called pineapple express is due early in the work week.  It's supposed to bring rain and temperatures well into the 40s (F).  That should make for a lot of standing water, flooding if you will, and I think, a completely different set of problems.  Ones which in their own way are just as bad as those posed by the snow and cold.

Ah, but life goes on!

PS: Finished going through the manuscript for what I've gotten done on Darnahsian Pirates: One More Stone Island Sea Story a few days ago.  Now just have to enter the edits on the computer.  Currently reading The Bride Wore Dead by E. M. Kaplan, which is one of my Christmas gifts.

Sat, Jan. 14th, 2017, 09:52 pm
Weekly Book Review

Up next, a review of another of C. S. Forester's Horatio Hornblower stories.
Ship of the Line
By C. S. Forester
Reviewed by D. Andrew McChesney

            This is early classic Hornblower, the second novel written, and the second part of the larger Captain Horatio Hornblower trilogy.  Having salvaged some success from his recent secret mission to the Pacific, Horatio Hornblower now commands a ship of the line, HMS Sutherland (74).  His wife Maria is expecting, but Hornblower’s heart lies with his recent passenger, Lady Barbara Wellesley.  She in turn has married Rear Admiral Leighton under whose command he will soon sail.  Beyond the complications of his personal life, Hornblower’s career depends upon fully manning his ship.
            Sutherland and the two other ships of Leighton’s squadron sail to the Mediterranean, escorting a convoy of East Indiamen.  As the merchant vessels and their naval escort part ways, Hornblower, with Sutherland still undermanned, brashly raids the convoy for hands, justifying his actions upon a chance comment that all had volunteered.  When two of the three vessels arrive at the rendezvous ahead of Leighton, Hornblower is temporarily authorized to cruise independently.  He and Sutherland play havoc with French shipping and military operations in the Western Mediterranean, often resorting to legitimate ruses of war in order to accomplish his mission.
            After leading an ill-advised land based assault on Rosas, Hornblower finds Sutherland on the point of the spear as four French ships of the line make a break for the open sea.  Resolutely he takes his single vessel into combat with the four while waiting for the remainder of Leighton’s squadron to close in.  Assistance does not arrive, the results are predictable, and Hornblower is forced to surrender.
            While this volume has as much, if not more, combat and at-sea action as any of the books in the Hornblower saga, it once again is the character of Hornblower that is the most intriguing.  It is to C. S. Forester’s credit that the complex tale of a very complicated individual is told with straight forward simplicity.  Hornblower’s fear of failure, lack of belief in himself, and conflicting emotional attachments sometimes grate on the reader’s nerves, and yet make him all that more human.  Nor is the author without a sense of humor regarding Hornblower’s exploits in the Mediterranean.  Having left their clothes ashore in order to swim out and attack a French coaster, he and the entire raiding party are forced to return to and board Sutherland wearing nothing but smiles.  Following destruction of the coaster, its vengeful crew discovered and destroyed their clothing.
            Even as a part of the larger Captain Horatio Hornblower trilogy, this work stands on its own in many ways.  There are relatively few references to other portions of Hornblower’s career, and for once this reviewer cannot find any technical matters worth taking the author to task about.  Unfortunately this portion of the larger story gets short thrift in the 1951 movie starring Gregory Peck.  About two thirds to three quarters of that film cover the first book, Beat to Quarters, while the second two are squeezed into the final third or quarter of the motion picture.
            The recently read copy is one of a set encompassing the original Hornblower stories and currently in the possession of the reviewer.  All three are old, although it cannot be claimed that they are first editions.  Because of the time they were produced, no ISBN or price information is available.      

Mon, Jan. 9th, 2017, 08:27 am
More Snow

Warmed up a bit over the weekend... and snowed! We have another four or five inches.  Weather app on phone says we'll have snow for the next couple of days and then be back to colder temps.

Stayed home with a cold today. Main problem is my nose runs all the time and I spend all my time blowing or going for tissue. Hard to get anything done. Have heard from my co-worker and hardly any one there.

Pic taken yesterday as snow was starting.

Sun, Jan. 8th, 2017, 09:02 pm
Weekly Book Review

Generally I've been posting book reviews that I've written, going through my files in more or less alphabetical order.  Up next, however, I find a combined set of reviews that others have written of one of my books.  My first thought was to skip over it, but then I decided I might as well post them.  So here are a number of reviews for Sailing Dangerous Waters: Another Stone Island Sea Story.
Sailing Dangerous Waters

D. Andrew McChesney
Reviewed by Kate Poitevin

         Sailing Dangerous Waters picks up where Beyond the Ocean’s Edge left off. Equally well written, I continued to love/hate the characters accordingly, and was present as they explored and settled into the new world, made new friends and got caught up in the local politics. I was frustrated along with Pierce and his men as they strove to make ready to return to England.
         Mr. McChesney is a talented writer who can make you smell the sea air, feel the deck roll beneath your feet, and even duck and cringe and cover your ears at the sounds of cannon. He really must get that third installment out.
Reviewed by Sue Eller

         Captain Pierce misses his beloved Evangeline, and tries everything in his power to get back to her. He leaves Stone Island to return home, but his plans and hopes are thwarted by an enemy who should have been a friend. Pierce struggles to understand an unfamiliar government dynamic, uses all his diplomatic skills to try to get his ship released, and makes some unexpected friends along the way. Sailing Dangerous Waters continues the Stone Island Sea Stories as McChesney captivates the reader and draws him in to another thrilling adventure.
Reviewed by Gayle Pace
In the Stone Island Sea Stories, there are two books. This is Book Two and Book One is BEYOND THE OCEANS EDGE. Book Two, SAILING DANGEROUS WATERS is about the captain and his crew for the HMS Island Expedition. It's about their travels from another world and the problems they came upon and had to deal with. I would suggest reading the first book before the second. I guarantee the first sentence along with the cover will attract your attention. The setting is in the early 1800's. Comparing the settings, the differences and the similarities, of the two world will keep the reader totally entranced and very hard to let go. Mr. McChesney wrote a very easy to read book even though the crew and captain were quite different characters. The author puts you right on deck with the captain and the crew. He painted such vivid scenes and characters that they were so real. I'm not much of a sailing person, knowing very little about it, but the book was extremely fascinating. It entertained me as a reader as the HMS Island Expedition ran upon so many enemy ships and they were up to defending their own. I believe if the reader reads the first book then the second, the reader will gain more knowledge so that continuing into the second journey would be easier. Mr. McChesney wrote about Captain Edward Pierce and the sadness that was felt for his love that was lost. He wasn't about to betray his love for his country. If you love sailing stories touched with battle, history and love, then this story will fit right in for your reading on a cold evening. The bad thing I found about the book was that I wanted more. Hopefully there will be. I would recommend this book to everyone. Very entertaining. Writing was very well done. I was given a complimentary copy from the author for my view of the book. No other compensation took place.
Reviewed by Ashley Lemar’s, Closed the Cover
By Diana S. Gregory

         Sailing Dangerous Waters is the second book in the Stone Island Sea Story, written by D. Andrew McChesney. It tells the story of the captain and crew of the HMS Island Expedition and their journey back from another world and the trials they encountered just to get back to London. At first, I was a little hesitating to read this as it was a second book in a series; however, it grabbed my attention in the very first paragraph. I highly recommend this to anyone that loves a good period action book.
         With the setting in the early 1800's and with the similarities between the parallel worlds, there is plenty to keep an active reader mesmerized throughout the entire book. I was amazed at how easy it was to read and yet complex to keep interest in the captain and his crew. The imagery that Mr. McChesney was able to convey was outstanding-I felt like I was there on the deck and in the ports with this crew. It was beautifully written and even the non-nautical minded reader will be entertained, especially during the multiple times the HMS Island Expedition encoutered enemy ships and had to defend their position.
         The way Mr. McChesney was able to draw enough of the first story into this piece was perfect as the reader will feel satisfied with their knowledge of that story to continue with this journey of the HMS Island Expedition. It was especially refreshing to see the author convey the undertone of anguish that Captain Edward Pierce felt on several occasions for his lost love and his desire not to betray his love for country. The story ends leaving the reader wanting more and searching the book racks for the next book.
         Highly recommended
Reviewed by Miki Hope

This is a strange and interesting book about the travels of the HMS Island Expedition. This is the second in the series and I kind of wish I had read the first one before reading this. I think I might have caught on a lot quicker then I did. This is in part a historical novel of the time of the sailing ships in the 1800's I believe, at the time when England and France were fighting. This book begins in a parallel universe--one eerily similar to the one the HMS Island Expedition left behind. You cannot miss the similarities! If you or someone you know is a history buff you will absolutely love this fictional novel with more than a grain of truth in it.

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