Friday, November 6, 2015

Promotion items

Swag, promo, giveaways, freebies - most authors have some items they give away in order to promote their books. Science fiction and fantasy conventions often have freebie tables provided for this purpose as well as promoting conventions. When I first started thinking about promo items I took a long look at what was on freebie tables - and what quickly vanished off them. From what I could see, standard swag items from science fiction and fantasy authors were usually bookmarks, postcards, pens and pencils. What I heard from some science fiction authors was that promo was a waste of time - that one should only concentrate on writing good books because that was what would sell your books. Meanwhile I looked at the freebie tables and noticed what grabbed my attention, and what items made me follow up to look up a book. One thing I knew from my own experience was that promo items can remind you days later (when you're away from the convention and the dealers room) of a particular author or book that you wanted to track down.

Promo items differ from genre to genre. I heard a lot of suggestions from the romance authors at my publisher of promo items I never saw at a science fiction convention. When I started attending EPICon, which was a convention run by EPIC, an organization of electronically published authors of all genres, I saw a demonstration of what other genre considered great promo. Emery boards, balloons, fans, bags of candy, flashlights, rubber ducks, ribbons for convention badges, book cover buttons, notepads, stress balls and many more. Since these were advertising ebooks, there were also CDs and mini-cds with sample chapters and, in later years, free flashdrives in a variety of shapes. As an example of what is popular recently among romance authors, my friend J. Kathleen Cheney wrote a swag summary of her experience at Romantic Times in Dallas.

I've tried various items, but the ones I've stuck with over the years have been pens, bookmarks and postcards.

Not only do those work for freebie tables, but they also help fill up the space when I have an author table and they help draw people to the table. There seems to be something about free pens.

The pens are also useful when I'm not at a convention. My local bookstore isn't interested in bookmarks, but will take and give away my pens. My local post office is also happy to get pens. Black ink pens were the ones they preferred so that is what they all are.

Although pens themselves aren't something featured in my books (as a flashlight was when I tried using that as promo), I do try to have the colors reflect something in my books. The Crystal Throne pens are the colors of magic in that universe, while the silver pen for Agents and Adepts reflects a magic wand in one story. The stripes on the Michael and the Elf pen is similar to the stripes in the elf's cap on the cover of the book and the colors on the Talking to Trees pen call to mind those of a fall forest (well, they do to me).

Where does an author find promo material? You can often make and print out your own bookmarks, but after a while you'll start to want more professional looking material. There are several companies - all with varying price ranges and quality. Once you get on one company's mailing list, you'll start getting catalogs and samples from many more. I use Overnight Prints for my bookmarks and postcards and National Pen for my pens. I also have labels (book title and URL) that I get from Colorful Images that I put on the back of all my paper correspondence (especially my bills). Ask any group of authors and you'll get several more recommendations (feel free to add in the comments).

There is as well the more expensive form of promo. Tee shirts, mugs, messenger bags, baseball caps, etc. A few years ago, these were often freebie items. More often now these are considered a reward for your fans or patrons.

What type of promo do you give away? What types of swag do you pick up at conventions?

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

It's here, the cover for my forthcoming YA novel, UNDER A PURPLE MOON. Have you ever seen a purple moon? If not before, you have now.

This is beautiful.

No Love in the Garden of Eden...

Eden Rose has learned to deal with her mother’s criticism that she can do nothing right. What she can’t deal with are the arguments between her parents. To escape their angry words, she finds refuge in an old abandoned house. She always returns home, hoping her mother will love her one day, even though Eden’s not sure what the word love means.

Three other teens with problems also hang out at the Old House. Meeting Murphy, Toby, and Josh changes Eden’s world, and she begins to have faith in herself. Perhaps she can do something right, after all.

Thanks to the boys, she begins to understand the meaning of love. But will it be enough to save her broken home life?

Release date - March 15, 2016

$17.95 USA, 6x9 Trade paperback, 270 pages

Freedom Fox Press - Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C.

Fiction/Young Adult - General (JUV000000) / Girls & Women (JUV014000)

Print ISBN 9781939844132 eBook ISBN 9781939844149

$4.99 EBook available in all formats

Author Bio:

Most of the time, you’ll find Beverly Stowe McClure at her computer, typing stories little voices whisper in her ears. When she’s not writing, she’s snapping pictures of wildlife, flowers and clouds. She’s sometimes known as the “Bug Lady.” She’s not telling why.

Friday, October 23, 2015

FanDays 2015

Running late on my post. DOH!
All my plans went kaput when I popped off my tire trying a new way to go home in the middle of a giant storm. Yeah....
Been one of those months...

While I missed about half of FanDays due to work, I still made it in time to get a few pics. Yay!

My daughter had not made one of these triple layer flowers in forever. Someone saw it on the banner and asked for one. I think they are super cool!

Look at the awesome detail on her headdress. Fascinating!

Her weaponry and the buddy with her also had it going on!

Hawkwoman! Lots of nice detial.

See what I mean? Came out great!

The armor looks awesome!

Master Splinter and Raphael! Master Splinter is in the original comic style. Poor thing.

Talking of originals - here's the Penguin! Qack qack qack. (He looked awesome!)

A young Poison Ivy was hanging around too. Her necklace is super cool!

Pic my daughter sent me that Friday. She had my back while I was slaving at the day job. My bro came too, so he had her back. :)

Hope you have a great Wednesday!
While I missed about half of FanDays due to work, I still made it in time to get a few pics. Yay!

My daughter had not made one of these triple layer flowers in forever. Someone saw it on the banner and asked for one. I think they are super cool!

Look at the awesome detail on her headdress. Fascinating!

Her weaponry and the buddy with her also had it going on!

Hawkwoman! Lots of nice detial.

See what I mean? Came out great!

The armor looks awesome!

Master Splinter and Raphael! Master Splinter is in the original comic style. Poor thing.

Talking of originals - here's the Penguin! Qack qack qack. (He looked awesome!)

A young Poison Ivy was hanging around too. Her necklace is super cool!

Pic my daughter sent me that Friday. She had my back while I was slaving at the day job. My bro came too, so he had her back. :)

Hope you have a great Wednesday!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Secondary Characters

I moderated an interesting panel discussion at Archon 39 this past weekend. "When Your Secondary Characters Demand Their Own Stories", with panelists Jacqueline Carey, Adrian J. Matthews, Cindy A. Matthews, Henry Melton and myself, started with examples of just those times. At first, these seemed to point out the differences between "plotters" - those who plot out their stories beforehand - and "pantsers" - those who write by the seat of their pants with no initial plan. "Pantsers" had characters who seemed to wander into a story while "plotters" didn't allow their characters to stray outside their predetermined roles.

But, as the discussion went on, it turned out that there wasn't that much difference between the two sliding scales of writing. What mattered was the character. Some background characters could appear, speak their lines or carry a spear, and vanish in the next paragraph. A secondary character could stay in the shadow of the main character, never moving out of the role of the main character's best friend or supporting team. But then there are those, that due to either being so well developed or with such an interesting backstory, that somehow catch enough interest (either the author's or readers') that people demand that more be told. Cindy Matthews found it happened with just one throwaway line spoken by a character. Henry Melton noticed one secondary character had become so interesting that he realized that the story should be about that character, the father of the main character, rather than the son.

Several of my short stories in Agents and Adepts are due to my own "secondary characters want their own story" issue. While looking for a publisher for my first book, The Crystal Throne, I found my Fleet Ones, a race of talking horselike beings in that book, rather pushy in that regard. Renw's story of how he teamed up with an elf to become a scout was something I had to explore, as well as how Elin left the herd to learn magic. Elin even pushed his way into Talking to Trees.

Is this something you can plan? The panelists were divided on that. In order to make a story interesting, you have to have interesting characters. One way to make a character interesting is to mention details, such as what the character likes or dislikes, mannerisms, etc. The more details we know about the character, the better. The problem comes with knowing so much about the character that she or he takes over the story. The panelists did agree that, if a character doesn't fit a story, no matter how interesting he or she is, for the sake of the story it might be best to move him or her to another file to save for another story.

Patricia Wrede covers this dilemma well in her tips on writing about secondary characters.

What secondary characters are you aware of that have gone on to their stories?

Wednesday, October 7, 2015


Welcome October, one of my favorite months. So much is going on, such excitement in the air. Today I'm cross posting from my other blog If you haven't heard of INSECURE WRITER'S SUPPORT GROUP, take a look. You're all welcome to join.

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Awesome Ninja Alex J. Cavanaugh is the founder of IWSG. His awesome co-hosts for today are TB Markinson, Tamara Narayan, Shannon Lawrence, Stephanie Faris, and Eva E. Solar!

Our Twitter hashtag is #IWSG

Am I insecure? Doesn't that just go along with being a writer? We wait and hope for a contract. When we get it (yes, I have a contract for my YA contemporary novel, yay), we worry about getting the edits just right. We worry if anyone will read it once it's published. I say "we", maybe it's only me. So ...

I'm taking a lesson from my favorite baseball team -- go Rangers. They started the season so badly most people gave up on them from the beginning. I didn't even watch their games that much. But the team members worked together. The coaches worked with them, and in spite of one injury after another that sidelined some players for the season and others for many games, they never gave up. They worked hard. Every win was a victory. A loss made them more determined to make it to the playoffs.

Well, they did. They won their division, and it went down to the last game of the regular season. They never gave up. How far they'll go in the playoffs no one knows. But they achieved their goal.

I hope to be like the Rangers. Bring on those edits. I'm ready. And the rough sketch I saw of the cover is fabulous. My family will read the story. What more could a writer ask for?

So don't be insecure. Never give up.

Happy Writing!

Friday, September 11, 2015


I've found several new (as in "new to me") webcomics recently, so I decided this month to blog about the webcomics I follow and see if readers might recommend a few more.

First up is Girl Genius, a "gaslamp" (their term) comic set in a world where creative "sparks" are very inventive. Updated Monday, Wednesday and Friday. There's also a Facebook group. It's been nominated and won several Hugo awards. Several of the collected issues are available in paper.

Freefall is set on a colony planet with humans, robots, a wolf engineer and a humanoid squid. Updated Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Schlock Mercenary is about a group of space mercenaries. It's been nominated for a Hugo several times. Past issues are also available in paper form. Updated daily.

Phoebe and Her Unicorn I found on Gocomics under its previous title Heavenly Nostrils. A delightful story of a young girl who becomes friends with a unicorn. It's now available in newspapers and past issues were collected into two books, Phoebe and Her Unicorn and Unicorn on a Roll. Updated daily.

Unshelved is the activities of a group of library workers. Updated Monday through Friday and collected issues are available in paper.

Blind Springs is about spirits and the politics of those attempting to control magic. Updated Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

Breaking Cat News about three cats reporting on their world, has been picked up by Gocomics, which is going through the back issues. The artist has a Facebook page.

PS 238 is an elementary school for metahumans hidden beneath a regular school. Amazon has both the collected and the individual issues available in paper, so trying to find the collected issues can be interesting (I've found the term 'paperback' worked). This one I recommend starting from the very beginning, as the setup for the school is very interesting.

How to Be a Werewolf is yes, about werewolves. It just started this year.

The following comics have stopped, though the back issues are still online.

Digger by Ursula Vernon is for an older audience than her Dragonbreath series. The completed version won the Hugo award and is the tale of a wandering wombat and the beings she encounters. The collected issues are available in paper.

Gronk is the story of a small monster adopted by a woman and her dog. The fourth book should be out soon.

There are other comics I follow at Gocomics, but those are ones I followed in the newspaper before I started reading the online version of my newspaper. The universes of these webcomics are such much more interesting.

What are some webcomics you enjoy?

Wednesday, September 9, 2015


Are you a fast writer? Do you turn out one story after another, maybe several in one year? I know writers that do. Wish I could, but I'm slow. I mean really slooow. Take for instance the story I'm shopping around at the moment.

The story started out entitled SURVIVORS' CLUB. It's about four teens that help each other survive school and their families.

I started it in December of 2009. Yes, that was quite a while ago. Worked on it and worked on it.

My critique group read some of the chapters. Thank you, Cheryl, Beth, and Gail for your welcome comments and advice. Thank you, Kai, from another group for hanging in there with me and reading the whole thing, more than once.

So, month after month my characters led me along, sometimes telling me what to do, other times giving me silence and letting me figure out where they were going myself.

I typed. I revised. And finally decided I needed an expert eye to look the story over. I sent it to an editor for a critique. She went over the manuscript thoroughly. Boy, did she. Which is what I wanted her to do. Be honest. Be truthful. She evaluated each character, told me their strong points and also their weak points. She pointed out problems with the plot. The story I thought was perfect and ready to be submitted needed some adjustments.

In 2014, I started over. The characters were the same. I couldn't get rid of them because I really liked them. Each character's ARC was improved. Each one actually made a discovery about him/herself this time.

And, the title even changed. The old one just didn't seem right anymore. So SURVIVORS' CLUB became UNDER A PURPLE MOON.

I sent the story to a couple of publishers. One wasn't interested; the other one never replied.

I would not give up, because I really liked the story now. So I queried another publisher. They asked to see sample chapters. YAY! Of course, I knew that didn't mean a lot. But then, they wanted to see the whole thing. I took a breath. One step closer, but still facing reality.

They liked the whole story, but had a couple of suggestions. Ones that made good sense. I went back through the story, made a few changes, and sent the new version to them. Now, in September, 2015, six years after I started the story, I wait to see if it will be published. If they like it, wonderful. If not, I like it and will keep trying. Will let you know either way.

How about you? Are you a slow writer or a fast writer?

Happy Reading!