RSS Feed

Category Archives: Uncategorized

Five Greatest Silent Films

It’s one week until my “silent film horror” book comes out! And yes I highly suggest you click here to see the “Jazzy Pre-sale Gifts.” Click, I dare you.

Anyway, sales hat off: as part of my research for Flickers I watched a large selection of Silent Films. These were the five that stood out for me.

1. The General


I knew little about Buster Keaton before writing this book. Everyone talks about Charlie Chaplin. He is brilliant. But Buster Keaton is his equal. Today we live in a world with giant budget special effects and grandiose 3D spectacles. But nothing tops the live on the scene “real” special effects of this movie.
2. Nosferatu

Dracula! Well, not Dracula because they were trying to avoid copyright issues when they made this movie thus they called it Nosferatu. Bram Stoker’s widow won the court case and had every copy of the film destroyed. Except one. It was shipped to the US (where copyright had lapsed) and the movie was release there. Luckily for us, it lives! It lives! So many of these scenes will look familiar because so many horror directors paid homage to this film.
3. The Kid

Charlie Chaplin made better movies. Deeper movies. But boy…this is just so much fun.
4. Metropolis

It’s one of the first and greatest science fiction epics. And I have no idea what’s going on sometimes. But the grandeur of imagination comes across.

5. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

Okay. This is like a nightmare inside a nightmare inside a shadowbox full of nightmares. Artsy. Gutsy. Scary. It sticks with you.

There are, of course, many more brilliant films from that age. Educate me! Leave a comment to tell me which ones I should have included.

Art

Originally published at http://www.arthurslade.com.

Advertisements

Writers: Using Giveaways to Build your Newsletter/Email List

Posted on

One of the latest “trending” theories on book promotion is the idea of creating a newsletter/email list so that you can communicate directly with your fans. Part of the reason there’s been a movement towards this is that Facebook and Twitter are so “busy” now. If you post on your own Facebook “like” page about 16% of your “fans” will see the post. You need to pay to “boost” the page to the rest of your followers (Clever move, Facebook). And I’ve seen numbers as low as (or even lower than) 5% of Twitter followers see a tweet. Like I said, it’s busy out there.

So an email list is a way of reaching out directly to readers. And more writers are catching on to this (which is why there are so many pop-ups and email boxes on writer websites these days). I’ve experimented with pop up boxes on my website with some success. But you have to drive traffic to get sign ups and that can be difficult and time consuming. And frankly, I like writing books instead.

My most recent attempt is to use a giveaway to encourage fans (or potential fans) to sign up. With the generosity of my publisher, who gave me five “adventure” books to giveaway, I ran two contests. One was with Rafflecopter where people could enter to win but if they joined the email list they’d get an extra entry. I ended up with 88 entries.

I ran the exact same “Adventure” prize a few months later, but this time used the KingSumo Giveaway Plugin (on WordPress). I had read a rather amazing (and somewhat alarming) account of one person using the app and getting 200,000 email addresses. Read it here. Of course, I didn’t expect to get that many. The way KingSumo Giveaway works is that in order for people to enter for the prize they need to sign up to your newsletter. That’s made clear on the contest rules, so it isn’t a surprise when they get an email from you. And it’s also made clear that they can unsubscribe at any time. The clever thing about KingSumo is that if someone enters the contest then they receive a special link that they can email, Facebook, or tweet. And if other people click on that link and enter the contest, the original entrant gets more entries (3 in the case of my last contest). It’s a way to reward people for sharing the contest. In other contests every time you share it and more people enter then your odds of winning go down. This gives each entrant a way to stack the odds in their favour. And it can help build buzz about the contest.

The key is to pick a prize that will attract the type of people who would be interested in your writing. So I didn’t give away a Cadillac. Or two hundred golden ducks. Instead I gave away the Adventure Prize Pack that you see above.

And here were the results:

So 175 people entered. Because several of them shared that magic link there were 229 entries in total. And one person won (and I tell you, he was overjoyed!). I imported all of them into my newsletter list (I use Mailchimp) and ended up with 103 new subscribers (the other 72 were already subscribed). I sent them all a “hello” letter and explained that they were welcome to unsubscribe, but also mentioned how hilariously funny my Somewhat Clever Newsletter is (click here if you want to find out for yourself). Three people unsubscribed. Since my biggest month of signups was just under 100 people, this was a success in my books.

One caveat, I did spend $75 on Facebook ads. So that cost, added to the cost of shipping books, makes this whole experiment about $100. Or a dollar per new subscriber. Next time I’ll skip the ads and see what happens. (Actually speaking of next time; I am doing another giveaway at this moment: A Writing Critique Giveaway, contest ends April 8th, 2016).

Anyway, that was my experiment with KingSumo Giveaways. Thanks for tuning in!

Art

Pro Writing Critique Giveaway

Posted on
Well, I’m giving away a writing critique session with moi. Yes, you could have my scribbles on your text! Just click the image above for more information. Or click here. Contest closes April 8th, 2016.
Best of luck!
Art

My Editor Says These Two Words I Use Make Kitties Cry

Posted on
The short of it:
My editor finds an innovative way to point out my repetitious writing habits.
How it began:
 
I handed in draft number umpteen (that’s an understatement) of my 1920’s horror novel, Flickers. A short time later (geologically speaking) I received the edited version all marked up in Microsoft Word. All was well and I even laughed when I came across this:
So I dutifully changed it to this:
Then a few pages later this appeared:
Another uproarious laugh exploded from my lips. Exploded, I tell you! This is the kind of back and forth authors love with their editors. And on the next page I found this:
Aha! Game on, I thought. Game on! So for fun, I changed it to this:
 
And the next one I changed to this:
But something horrible happened. The kitties kept coming. A calvacade of crying kitties. 

 
A cry of pain strangled itself in my throat. The horror! The horror!
There was only one logical response:
 **No editors were hurt in this process. 17 kittens in total cried. Only one author was slightly damaged.
More fiction, zaniness & stuff at:
This post make you laugh? Help an author out by sharing it. Click on any of the links below:

Share on Facebook*Share on Twitter*Share on Google+*Share on LinkedIn*
Send Email to a Pal

Mad Max: Fury Road … an understated movie teaches a writing lesson…

Posted on

*minor spoilers follow

Totally Understated

Totally Understated

Mad Max: Fury Road is an understated movie. Oh, I know, I know it’s perhaps the greatest action/car chase/things-blow-up movie in existence. But it’s also very understated and that serves to make it more powerful.

One of the things I think about when writing is the relationship with the reader. Am I telling the reader too much (IE the ol’ show don’t tell rule). Am I trusting the reader to put two and two together (and make four, of course) or am I not trusting them and telling them too much backstory (again!)? Readers become more engaged if they are allowed to participate in the story. To not have every scene and emotion handed to them. As writers we must give them space and just enough information to figure out for themselves what the character is feeling. We must keep the story tantalizing.

That’s one of the brilliant aspects of Mad Max: Fury Road. Charlize Theoron’s character, Imperator Furiosa (love that name), has a disability. She is missing an arm. But the director doesn’t give us a long shot of her missing arm and dwell on it. In fact we see her several times before we get a hint that she is using a prosthetic. And even once it is clear that she is missing an arm no one makes a note of it. In fact it’s a non-issue (and makes her cooler because of her metal arm). No boring forced dramatic back story. We just know that she has been scarred by some past event and has risen above it. We are allowed to come to that conclusion on our own.

Max himself has a back story. We are told in frightening micro-second flashbacks that he has lost his family. But we aren’t hit over the head with a long backstory. He doesn’t stop to shout out “My family is gone and that’s why I’m so messed up.” Again, the viewer is allowed to come to that conclusion.

The world they live in is a dystopian world. Again, there isn’t a long dramatic voice over telling us all the horrible things that happened to make it that way. We are just thrust into the world as it is and have to figure out the rest for ourselves.

Throughout the movie we are given just enough information to flesh out the characters or the background of the world we are inhabiting. But not once are we slowed down from our pursuit of the story.

And what a relentless story it is.

Art

How to Sell 10,000 eBooks in Fifty Months!

Posted on

Well, my total eBook sales across all platforms is now 10, 016 copies. I’m happy to have reached this magic milestone and have now ordered a yacht for my backyard. All hands report on deck! Or perhaps I should write about about how to sell ebooks for the YA and Children’s market. It could be titled: How To Sell 10,000 Copies in Fifty Months!

All kidding aside I’m glad that this ebook adventure has been (sometimes) a tidy little addition to my regular income. All of the books that I’m selling are either out of print editions that I’ve re-issued in various countries or collections of new work (for example my short stories). And the work I did at the beginning of this experiment has paid off. Basically, I don’t have to lift a finger to keep that income trickling in.

If you’re curious about reading this adventure from the beginning click:  beginning.

Oh, why don’t we look at the handy dandy chart?

It does look a bit like a patient who has flatlined, doesn’t it? Except for that little burst of life at the end there. To quote Monty Python: I’m not dead yet. I think I’ll go for a walk. The basic story to the graphic is this: when I started selling eBooks in 2011 you could give away free books then when you switched your book back to being paid it would (sometimes) rocket up the charts. That’s why there are those two big mountains at the start of the chart. But in 2012 Amazon changed its logarithms so that this “trick” didn’t work as well. And from that point on the books sold whenever someone stumbled across them. The smaller “mountains” are when I lowered the price to 99 cents and the book gained a bit more traction then went back to selling 10-30 copies a month again. And that’s why the graph begins to rise at the end. One of my books (DUST) was on sale and briefly went up the charts. The graph will drop back down again this month. I’m certain of it.

I have 16 different books for sale and the majority of my sales (90%) have been to Kindle. Dust has sold the majority of the copies (6500). I think that’s because it’s a book that crosses over from YA to adult reading and the majority of ebook sales are to the adult market. And it has the most reviews.

The Hunchback Assignments are in second place. My self published versions are only sold in the UK (because publishers in other countries own the erights). The four books have totalled 1600 in sales. That’s a tidy sum over time for very little extra work on my part.

Anyway, as I said, I’m pleased to have reached this milestone. And it’s still my experience that in general books for younger audiences sell a lot more copies in paperback than they do eBooks unless they are able to attract adult eyeballs online. I do plan more experiments in the future, including a How to Write Kid Lit book and other “manual” type books to test out that part of the market.

Until then…tally ho!



Art

Last Minute Ideas

10696429_10152754157107049_586393073130346433_n

 

So this is my second day in the office as WIR at the Regina Public Library (WIR stands for writer in residence–I like the acronym…it sounds like things are whirring around me). I’m here every Wednesday from 1-9 PM.

My day started out with the two and a half hour trip from Saskatoon. This is office time, too, because I listen to audiobooks as I travel. Today’s book was a BBC version of the Foundation trilogy by Isaac Asimov. It…ummm…sounds very ‘70’s at times but certainly captured my attention and is classic science fiction. I was reminded that when Asimov pitched this series he’d already set up an interview with an editor (I guess you could do that in the old days) and was on the bus on the way to his appointment when he realized he had no ideas to pitch (nothing like waiting until the last minute). He happened to be reading Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire and thought, why don’t I pitch a series of novels about a galactic empire that is in decline? That’s what he pitched and that’s what the editor bought. And the rest is history. Or psychohistory…for those who’ve read the books.

It’s an example of how sometimes the big ideas can come at the last minute and from a simple concept. It’s the work of the writer to find those ideas and turn them into a story that readers will want to read.

One more note: I took the above shot on the way down. There was an overwhelming abundance of clouds in the big blue sky. The STOP sign is important. Is it telling you to STOP what you’re doing and start writing? Or is it telling you to STOP and look around and capture the moment?

Technically it was telling me to STOP and LOOK before turning onto the highway. An important thing to remember.

 

Art