Masters Magic: Slipping Away

There was a time not so long ago when you could sink into the Masters telecast much as you might sink into a favorite armchair, allowing it to enfold you, leaning back and giving yourself up to two days of pure golf, virtually free of advertisements and exemplifying the very best the grand old game has to offer.

Alas, no more. At least, not really any more. It’s true the sportsmanship and the brinkmanship and the weekend fire is still there. The colossal ups are still there, and the dreadful downs, especially on the back nine.

But you can’t sink into it anymore. It can’t enfold you. Because the vaunted “limited interruptions” announcement by dear old Joe Ford is no longer quite accurate.

Oh sure: there are probably still only three major sponsors (although in Canada they used to be joined by luminaries like dry cleaners and lube shops; thankfully, those days seem to be gone). We still don’t see that many ads, especially by comparison with, say, The Open. But they intrude every ten minutes or so, instead of once an hour. And they’re joined by a lot of other stuff as well.

For the past several years, somebody—Augusta National? CBS?—seems to be terrified that we might be getting bored. To prevent that, they throw up leader boards and logos and extended re-encapsulations by Jim Nance, and excessive nattering. Just in case you missed all the action. Just in case you haven’t got PVR or any other recording device. Just in case the beauty that fills your eye is insufficiently arresting.

So now, it’s difficult, if not impossible to sink into the ambiance, drink in the beauty, listen to the crowd roars, revel in the excitement. You can still try to do these things, just as you can still watch your favorite try to make a run or keep his head (and his lead). But you’ll keep glancing at your watch. Because every time the host or CBS intrudes, you’re brought back to the real world.

No longer can you just forget your cares for four or five hours, and immerse yourself in a different world, a world of beauty, grace and sportsmanship. Now, each intrusion reminds you that it’s the weekend and you should be mowing the lawn, or cleaning out the garage, not—Good God!—watching television.

I’ll probably go on watching each year, just as my parents always did. But it’s not as magical as it once was, and if they go on working at keeping me interested, the Masters will one day lose its magic entirely and become just like any other tournament. And that will be a pity.


Testing Amazon’s Giveaway Program

Like other writers, I’m always trying new ways to build an audience. I’ve run several giveaways on Goodreads (in fact, I have two running right now, Return to Kaitlin and The Money Tree ).

Recently, Amazon started to run a similar program, open to anyone in the US. They take care of the shipping for you, and I decided to give it a whirl for RTK, so offered two copies, setting the odds at 1:300.

The strangest aspect of this little program was the silence, which was thunderous. On Goodreads you can at least track how many people have signed up to win a copy. On Amazon, not a peep. I thought no one had even seen the offer, much less signed up for it. Once I’d set up the giveaway I heard not a word: no cheery, encouraging message; no summary of daily progress; nothing. In fact, when I forgot the start and end dates on the damn thing I had the devil’s own time finding out any details. It was then that I discovered I’d omitted any description or book blurb at all.Facebook Ad, Return to Kaitlin

Slightly panicked, I decided to run a little Facebook campaign for the five days remaining. I’d been wanting to test the image at the right with the target group Grumpy Old Men. In the event, it pulled less than 1% interest. I choose to believe that’s because grumpy old guys don’t read, but maybe it’s just not a compelling ad.

Whatever the case, I had by this time become convinced that the entire thing was a bust, and was waiting for Amazon to confirm this. Imagine my surprise, then, when they told me 343 people had signed up, and that Courtenay C. was the lucky winner. Romance writers, of course, will have a different experience, probably finding 5,000 interested readers panting for the winner to be revealed. But I was moderately pleased with this result. The idea is to get one’s name out there, so in a modest way, this filled the bill.

In addition, it’s remarkably trouble-free in that Amazon does everything for you. I may give it another whirl some time. And if I do, I’ll add a sentence or two of sales blurb.

A modern Christmas story–free of charge

Owen's DayIn view of the time of year, I’d like to give a shout-out to my first novel, Owen’s Day. It’s the story of a man who gives too much, a rather reclusive man, and the family and city who come to know him after he does a very brave thing.

I recall having a terrible time defining Owen, while I was writing this novel. I had set out to write a story about the anti-Scrooge, about someone who gives and gives and gives. I was trying to figure out why he does that and for a long time I was in the same position as one of his friends: “I know people who throw money and gifts around to compensate for being obnoxious, but Owen isn’t like that and I don’t know why he does it.” Like her, I just wanted to throw something at him. But the effort was ultimately quite rewarding because he’s a good guy, just a misguided one.

Owen’s Day is set in the period from late-November through to Christmas, so this is the right time of year for it. And here’s the best part: you can read it for nothing on your e-reader and if you decide you’d like to give it as a stocking-stuffer, you can buy the paperback.

You have a couple of options to get the e-book. You can click on the orange-green button on the right and join my New Releases group. Or, if you don’t want to join a group, the link above will take you to the book page with a list of all retail outlets carrying it.


Goodreads Giveaway for “Knock”

A Knock at the Door
Today is the first day of a blitz Goodreads Giveaway for A Knock at the Door. While giveaways usually last a month, to give the offer time to percolate throughout the Goodreads system and the author’s audience, this one ends on December 20. If you’d like a free copy of the paperback itself, by all means head on over to the Goodreads site (you’ll find the signup link on my home page, too) and put your name down.

Publication day: A Knock at the Door

balloons244Here at last! A Knock at the Door is now up and running and available for purchase on Amazon. Other retailers will, I hope, follow within a couple of weeks. Right now, I’m just trying to get the little book moved out of the “facts of life” category (don’t ask; I have no idea) and into—oh, I don’t know, bedtime stories or humor or chapter books. But regardless, you can find the paperback here and the e-book here . All you need.

Want more details? You’ll find plenty on the Amazon books pages or you can stay on this site and move a few pages over.


Cover Sketch for A Knock at the Door

knock-cover2Here’s a sketch by artist Ivan Zanchetta of the front cover for my collection of stories from the world of letters. To see a larger version, just click on the image.

A Knock at the Door will be out in paperback and e-book in November 2015. Ivan provided the cover for Return to Kaitlin, earlier this year. I love his work.

Included in this volume:

  • The Story of NIGHT
  • The HALF-Trained L
  • The QUIET Strangers
  • PIGEON Panic
  • The Beginning of BOUGH

Any thoughts on this cover? I’d appreciate your feedback! It might help in finalizing the cover design.

* * *

November 4: read an excerpt here.


Book Promotion: An investment that goes on and on . . .

One thing I’ve learned during the past few months of setting up and promoting my site: it’s a black hole for time. I subscribed to Nick Stephenson’s course, Your First 10,000 Readers. Nick’s a stand up guy, in my opinion, with valuable ideas on promotion and an ethical mindset. But he uses videos for everything. They take hours to listen to and hours to implement. If you’re interested, here’s his Facebook page.a million ways to spend

Promotional spending can also be a black hole. Sensible people create a budget, but I never have time for stuff like that.

However, I like to look out for freebies, like the Author Marketing Club’s free submission program to free sites (what’s not to like!). This is for Kindle ebooks only. You can also get a paid ad in their daily newsletter. This I’m not so crazy about because the AMC logo is all you can see above the fold in your inbox. You have to scroll down to find the listed books. In my view, Jim Kukral (another stand up guy) would do better to reduce the logo size so that at least half of any featured book can be seen at once.

With the volume of new books being publishing annually (I’ve heard the number 30,000 being thrown around), promotion is a growth industry. New sites offering free or paid advertising crop up all the time. I tried the automatic submission program at Book Marketing Tools, which submits to about 30 sites in roughly half an hour. This worked moderately well for me (I promoted my novel Owen’s Day, which is currently free in e-book). However, the tool costs $14.95 for one submission and while it certainly saves time, I’m not sure the results warrant the new price. But I have to pay with the feeble and sickly Canadian dollar, which translates to more than $20. This may affect my thinking.

A number of promotional sites become available once you’ve gathered a certain number of reviews: The Fussy Librarian, (which has got so grand you can’t find the book submission page any longer), and the big guy, Book Bub.

To my way of thinking, (and I’m still trying different sites and programs), one of the best deals around is the BKnights promo vehicle on If you’re not already a member of fiverr, you might want to join. You can buy everything under the sun for $5 on this site. Bknights is fast, offers several different options and, for me at least, worked well. It’s best for free e-books rather than paid.

All very interesting, and more sites crop up from word of mouth all the time. For the writer trying to build a name or brand, it’s best to build a little bit of promotional activity into your daily schedule, and be judicious about your spending. This is an investment for the long haul. 🙂




Return to Kaitlin: Goodreads Giveway

I had a lot of fun with a giveaway for my last book, The Money Tree. This time, the contest runs until publication day, after which ten lucky readers will receive a free copy. Sign up on Goodreads.


Goodreads Book Giveaway

Return to Kaitlin by Helen Yeomans

Return to Kaitlin

by Helen Yeomans

Giveaway ends June 15, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to Win