Day 28 – Holidays!!!

Wow, I made it and posted everyday. I also got my reports written on time and today wrapped up work for two weeks! Big WooooHoooo, that means it’s holiday time. More about that in a minute. Now the serious stuff. I have made a commitment over the last month to blog everyday and at times it has been very difficult, but I now know I can do it. From here on I won’t be positing everyday, think you would all get bored of me pretty quickly, unless you actually want to see 365 photos of labradors – cause that I could do comfortably! However I will post more frequently than before – well it’s not that difficult to post more often than never – HA!. Not sure that was serious, but anyway you will be hearing from me again and more often!

Now for the holiday bit, can’t wait. Taking the husband and kids away to Sydney for a few days. No work, no school, no dogs! Well okay I will miss the dogs, but they will have a nice holiday too. You may have noticed I don’t post pictures of my kids. Last time we went on a holiday I solved this by taking a Goofy toy along and taking photos of him everywhere – much to the amusement of my children! So watch out for Goofy Goes to Sydney!!!

Until then keep writing and have fun!!!

Day 27: The Best Things Are…

What has been the best part of participating in the Author Blog Challenge? What are your suggestions for improving the next Author Blog Challenge?

Wow are we almost there??? It certainly has been a challenge to post a blog everyday, especially at this time of the year. In amoungst this I have had reports to write, curriculum documents to edit and prepare, work to assess, my own two kids and life in general. Yet I have still managed to post everyday ans read some. I wish I had more time to read other posts, but I will continue to work my way through. That is one of the great aspects, if you miss a day or someone’s post you can go back and have a look later. I certainly will!

It has also been great to make connections with other authors, gather advice about marketing and writing in general and basically celebrate the fact that we all have a passion for writing. I am looking forward to the shorter challenge at the end of the year. Once agian I will be writing reports. but it will be a welcome distraction. Hopefully by then I will be in the process of having my third book published! Fingers crossed.

So the Best things are: having the opportunity to feel like an author, to market and promote your own work amoungst people who understand the passion, learning from others and making connections.

Although it is almost time to wave goodbye for now,

Obi waves goodbye, Little Man Stitch watching his big pal!

I hope this group can continue to update and post new and exciting events for us all to share. Thanks for the opportunity!

Day 26: The Homework Goblin

What is/will be the subject of your next book?

My next book is called “The Homework Goblin” it is a beginner chapter book, not even remotely about a labradro. although there is a dog! Here is the introduction:

“Finished, at last” Jason puffed as he shut his folder and put his pencil away. He’d been putting it off all week. It was the hardest homework yet.  Finally Jason’s story had an ending, it was complete and for the first time this year it would be handed in on time. Looking at the clock on the wall Jason yelped with excitement.

“Still time to kick the footy before dinner” he said to himself.

He grabbed the ball and went to charge down the stairs, only to be stopped by his annoying older sister Lisa.

“So did you finish your homework or can we expect another phone call from Mr. Lovett?” she questioned with a strange gleam in her eye. Lisa just loved to see her little brother in trouble.

“It’s done! Get out of my way” said Jason

“Well, I just hope you put it away safely in your bag. I’d hate to see the homework goblin steal all that hard work” laughed Lisa as she pushed her way past and gracefully walked up the stairs.

Jason turned to watch her go. She stopped outside his room and looked at the homework sitting on the desk. Then she turned and ran her finger across her throat.

I am currently editing and have a very talented friend doing some illustration. Hopefully it will be ready for the publisher in the next few months. I would love to have my third book out early next year!

Day 25: The Big Three

Time for some shout-outs. This may mimic your acknowledgement page, but whom would you like to publicly thank for their help in creating your book or completing it to the point where it is presently?

I would like to make a big shout out to my big three. That would be My husband Ross and my two Daughters Maddy and Aijay. Without them I wouldn’t do any of the things I do. They make my life, hectic, overwhelming and of course complete. If I didn’t have them in my life there would be nothing to write about. They are my biggest supporters and my biggest critics. My two girls are in my Obi story and they love to have us read it to them. Of course they make lots of useful statements like:

“Mum we didn’t say that!”

“Mum Obi can’t talk,”

“Mum that’s silly!”

However they love it and take great pride in telling all their teachers, friends and friend’s parents that Mummy writes books and they’re in it!!! They also make demands now, so I have recently co authored a picture book with each. So look out for those in the near future. Maddy has ordered a sequel to Obi, which I am working on. She wants all the dogs involved, so lots more characters being written in. Aijay wants Stitch to have his own stories, so there may be a spin off series here! There will be lots of books we write together as well. I’m going to be busy for the rest of my life and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

As for Ross he puts up with me when I am in my zone of writing, and knows it’s not worth making conversation, just let me write. He also reads everything, eventually. I never put any pressure on him to do so, I try and avoid knowing when he is reading my books, then I don’t ask questions. He’ll tell me when he’s ready. He is also willing to be the butt of some jokes, particularly in the Obi book, he complains, but always has a smile on his face. It’s good to know I married to someone who can laugh at themselves! Not all the stories are true, by the way, although the book is written from Obi’s perception, so who knows.

There are lots of other people who help me with my books, my two (pretend) little sisters, Rochelle and Tam, other friends, family and associates. There are also my work colleagues, who know their dogs and possibly themselves will end up in a story sooner or later and they let me write them in willingly! Obviously the professionals I work with either independently or through the publishing company, but this is my opportunity to make a big shout out to my big three. Thank you and I love you with all my heart!!!

Day 24: Roll up, Roll up and…

If your goal is to sell books, you must view your book as a business. In what ways do you treat your book as a business? Where could you improve? What resources could you leverage to improve your book business?

As an author I want people to read my books, there is no point in writing if no one is reading. So everyone, jump on line and buy my books!

http://www.strategicbookpublishing.com/Ghostnapped.html

http://sbpra.com/ashleyhowland/

Okay so that was a gretuitious plug. Did it work????? Anyway do I treat my books as a business? Not really sure how to answer this one, in one sense yes. I certainly don’t give away my books. Although I might for a competition or for a promotion, where the result is that I sell more books. I haven’t given them away as birthday presents or anything like that. Much to the dissatisfaction of some people, who seem to think I should do this. There are some costs involved in publishing a book, even when you use a publisher. I’m also not going to spend thousands of dollars promoting and marketing my book That would be pointless, there is no way I will spend more than I have the potential to make. In that sense it is a business, where sensible business decisions need to be made.

Recently I sent a copy of each of my books into the Premier’s Reading Challenge here in South Australia. Now those two copies will hopefully end up as a donation. A donation that should result in lots of schools buying my books. That’s if they are accepted of course. So that type of thing makes sense to me.

I think the difficulty in thinking of your own books as a business is the emotional energy that goes into each and every word you write. The time, the patience, the criticism that you take to produce a book, make it more than just a business. It is part of you. SO maybe I just need to reduce the attachment and find more sales techniques. I really don’t know, I write because I need to. I have my books published because people enjoy them, I market so more people can enjoy them. I make connections and links to improve myself as an author, but also in marketing. There is still so much to learn. However for now, let’s just add one more sales pitch:

 

Roll Up, Roll up and buy my books, your kids, your neighbour’s kids, and you will love to escape into the mysteries of Ghostnapped and Obi the Super Puppy and the Mystery of the Red Mist.

And now for the compulsory picture of my beautiful boy – as if you wouldn’t want to buy this face!

Day 23: My Audience

I think I got out of order with the prompts. I missed one, which was describe your first book signing –  real or imagined. I haven’t done one yet, but I imagine my boys Obi and Stitch would make a special guest appearance. Pretty sure they’d be more popular then me, but if they help sell books I wouldn’t complain. Maybe my audience would consist of the following! Okay this is probably considered a cheap blog, but I bet you all had a giggle. By the way this is what we do when it’s too hot or raining!!!! Have a great day everyone!

Playing Chinese Whispers

Day 22: Obi in Hollywood

Thankyou to my student who did this photo for me!

Day  22

If a Hollywood agent were to come knocking on your door with an offer to turn your book into a movie and told you that you could call all the shots, who would you have direct and star in it? Write the first paragraph of Roger Ebert’s review of your film

Well for Obi the Super Puppy the main character would have to be played by my boy Obi. There is no other dog like him. If I was calling the shots I’d have my girls play themselves. They are both beautiful and hey, if it’s all my decisions, then I might as well cash in. They could start saving up for University!!!

If it was Ghostnapped then I’d need a young girl for Alex and someone for her younger brother. Not really sure who the latest child stars are. I would actually think both of my books would be best made into films by computer animation. So then it would really be voice over people.

Obi would need to have a very distinguished voice, so maybe someone like Hugh Jackman!!! That would be cool!

As for a film review, well for Obi that might read something  like:

Everyone thinks their dog is the best, the smartest and most talented dog in the world, Maddy and Aijay are lucky because their dog – Obi is a real super hero. Come and listen to his first adventure. Obi the super puppy has to find a way of protecting the entire Labrador breed from the evil red mist. This mist takes possession of toys and animals, with the one goal in mind. Eliminating the world of Labrador Retrievers. Join Obi and his friends as he strives to save the world!

Okay, maybe that needs work, but I think it would make a pretty good movie!!!

Day 21 Keep Trying!

What is the single best piece of advice you’ve ever received about the publishing process and/or would advice would you offer to a first-time author?

It’s not rocket science, the best advice I have ever recieved is keep trying. Rejection and other challenges are all part of being an author. No matter which way you decide to publish – through a publisher or self publishing. There will be ups and downs. There will be moments when you simply want to give up. So never quit! there is always a way to get you book published, talk to other authors, get feedback, make sure you books are edited and correct. Do everything you have to. Then once your book is published the same thing happens. You have to market your book, no matter who published it, you will have to do the leg work. So just keep trying. Make connections, ask for advice. Offer assistance to others, you never know where it will end up.

I am no expert and am still learning, but I know if I keep writing I will get more books published and if I keep marketing I will sell more books. So I guess my advice is to add learn from every experience to the keep trying. If you do that then it will eventually lead to success!

Day 20: It’s a Dog’s Life

Tug star – future companion hero

Today, as I am at work I thought I’d share a bit more about my amazing job.

I’d like to introduce you all to our future companion star – Tug (above). He’s Stitch’s brother and is going to make a world of difference to a family soon. He loves to play with kids, is great at shopping (even if you go to a butcher). Tug is cute, cuddly and absolutely perfect!

The students we work with get a great sense of satisfaction and self confidence from teaching their dogs to open doors, press alarms, anchor and lots more. Today I have some videos for you. The first is of my old boy – Obi opening the door.

http://youtu.be/hXiwKGYyltA

This can be very handy when you have your arms full of shopping bags. Just remember to never attach a rope to the fridge or pantry door! Just a side note here, when we first got our puppy Stitch, Obi thought it was his job to train him. So he was very helpful. Obi trained Stitch to nudge open the pantry and collect him a biscuit out of the box. Stitch would then give the biscuit to Obi and go back for one himself! Too smart, much to Obi’s disgust I put an end to that one. However Stitch’s strange actions does not end there. The next video is one of Stitch playing fetch. He chases the ball, but instead of giving me the ball he copies and kicks it back to me! Soccer star in the making!

http://youtu.be/ikn5cOAC8wc

Hope you had fun checking out my videos, there are a few others online at my YouTube channel, have a laugh and enjoy.

http://www.youtube.com/user/Ghostnapped?feature=mhee

 

 

Day 19: You Twit Face!

What are the three most important things you are doing to grow your platform?

My next character – Stitch!

 

What am I doing to grow my platform – everything! Well I hope I am, to narrow it down to three things that I hope are the most important, or rather effective. Here goes:

Number 1: I am here on the author blog challenge – connecting with other authors, learning about their promotion ideas. Spreading the word about other authors and hopefully having them do the same. Trading reviews, interviewing authors, being interviewed. Hopefully getting the word spread about both of my books. It’s a lot of fun, and hopefully effective.

Number 2: Trying to sort out my social media – that would be the You Twit Face Thing. My links are found on this blog and hopefully I have now connected my You Tube, Twitter, Face book Page with my blog. So I guess to the three above I can add this blog, LinkedIn and more recently Good Reads. Once again I am starting to gain friends and connections, all of which hopefully help me spread the word about my books.

Number 3: I have recently tried a few promotion sites. The first was Ask David  – see the links in my website role. Here people can add their reviews of my books and hopefully a new audience will see my books and decide to buy. I have also signed up for a trial on a new book promotion site that I discovered through LinkedIn. I will keep you all updated on how that works out.

The next phase: Actually getting out and about – approaching schools, libraries, etc. that is probably the next step for me, I have been asked to do a few, but with work and family it is very difficult to find the time. I am hopefully starting with my kid’s school and kindy, this will at least give me some practice. I am completely open to other ideas!!!

As I mention I have made some connections through this challenge, to read my review of Yassa by Jo Michaels check out my book review page (under my Ashley Howland page), I will hopefully do more interviews and reviews in the future. If you are interested or would like to review my books please let me know.

That’s all for now, I’m off to be a You Twit Face again!