Cory Barclay's Blog

April 1, 2017

Author Spotlight: Mark Twain

Ernest Hemingway once said, “All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called ‘Huckleberry Finn.’ It’s the best book we’ve had.” Besides being an American legend, here are some other interesting tidbits about Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain.

1) He tried out two other pen names: W. Epaminondas Adrastus Blab, and Thomas Jefferson Snodgrass, before finally settling with Mark Twain.

2) He worked as an apprentice steamboat pilot as a young man, until the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861.

3) He got his younger brother, Henry, a job on his steamboat. But on June 13, 1857, 19-year-old Henry was killed in a deadly boiler explosion, devastating Twain.

4) Clemens’ pen name, Mark Twain, comes from a term signifying two fathoms (12 feet), which is a safe depth of water for steamboats to maneuver.

5) Served in a pro-Confederate militia, the Marion Rangers, for two weeks at the onset of the Civil War. When the Rangers learned Ulysses S. Grant was headed their way with a Union force, the group disbanded.

6) Twain became a friend of Ulysses S. Grant later on in life, and published the former president’s memoir in 1885, which became a best-seller and rescued Grant’s widow from poverty.

7) In 1864, Twain challenged a Nevada newspaperman to a duel, but fled before the fight took place to avoid being arrested for violating the territory’s anti-dueling law.

8) He based Huckleberry Finn on a real person, Tom Blankenship, who was a boy four years older than Twain when he was growing up in Hannibal, Missouri.

9) After finding success as an author, he made a number of bad investments and went bankrupt. When offered a chance to invest in a new invention, the telephone, he turned Alexander Graham Bell down.

Here is a list of more awesome free and bargain books: http://www.alwaysbewriting.com/my-lis...

And if you feel so inclined, you can buy my novel, Devil in the Countryside, here: https://www.amazon.com/Devil-Countrys...

Thanks so much for tuning in, and happy reading!

Cheers,
Cory Barclay
5 likes ·   •  0 comments  •  flag
Share on Twitter
Published on April 01, 2017 22:07 Tags: american-literature, author, author-spotlight, huckleberry-finn, mark-twain, writing

March 8, 2017

Author Spotlight: J.R.R. Tolkien

I'm going to start doing a monthly little "Author Spotlight" with fun facts about writers I like. Here's the first installment, with some little-known tidbits about one of my favorite authors, J.R.R. Tolkien.

* Though he taught at Oxford for 35 years, he was far from your typical professor: He often appeared at parties as a polar bear or axe-wielding Anglo-Saxon warrior and would chase his neighbors.

* He also often gave shopkeepers his false teeth as payment.

* He was a codebreaker during World War I. He also created a secret language to communicate with his wife (later becoming the basis for many of his invented languages).

* After the War, he worked at the Oxford Dictionary in charge of words starting with the letter W.

* Born in South Africa, he was once bitten by a baboon spider which many believe is echoed in his future work (think Shelob the spider, from Lord of the Rings).

* By age four, he could read and write fluently (and ultimately fluent in 19 languages).

* The Hobbit began unceremoniously one day on a blank piece of exam paper when he wrote the line: "In a hole in the ground lived a hobbit." The rest literally became history.

* Many of Bilbo's adventures came from his own experiences through Interlaken and Lauterbrunnen in the Swiss Alps.

* Gandalf's famous phrase "You shall not pass!" came from a commonly used World War I propaganda slogan.

And that's it for now. More "Author Spotlights" coming soon!

And for more free books, I've made a list of some of my favorite instaFreebie giveaways at: http://www.alwaysbewriting.com/list-o...

Finally, if you feel so inclined, you can buy my full novel at: http://www.alwaysbewriting.com/devili.... It's just 99 cents for a limited time, or free with Kindle Unlimited. It's called Devil in the Countryside, and is based on a real life werewolf investigation that took place in the 16th century.

Thanks so much, and happy reading!
-Cory Barclay
1 like ·   •  2 comments  •  flag
Share on Twitter
Published on March 08, 2017 00:37 Tags: author-spotlight, bilbo, gandalf, hobbit, j-r-r-tolkien, lord-of-the-rings, the-hobbit, tolkien

February 22, 2017

Review of Mimi Emmanuel's Holy Grail of Book Launching

It’s no secret that Amazon is the goliath of the book-publishing world. They control about 70% of the market, and for self-publishers, even more. Like Google, they can change their rules arbitrarily and flip the script for marketers, publicists, promoters, and even authors overnight, and there’s not a whole lot you can do about it. The last thing you want to do is piss off the giant, so it’s up to us (the writers) to stay on top of the rules and regulations of Amazon’s ToS policies.

Amazon is the source of many cottage industries coming into existence (such as newsletter promotion companies like BookBub), but that can all change on a whim. It seems that for every new promotion site that sprouts into existence, another three are snuffed out and forced to close shop—either for ToS violations, a lack of clients, or their stream-of-income strategies become obsolete and no longer viable.

I mention all this for one reason: relevance. Like many authors, I’m keen on reading the newest ebooks about book promotions, marketing and launch strategies, and tips and tricks in the publishing world. Each one seems to offer me new things to think about.

But not all ebooks about ebooks are created equal. First, you have to take into account when it was written. Is an ebook about publishing in 2012 going to be as relevant as something written within the last year? Probably not. That doesn’t mean the 2012 book is completely useless, but things change over time, and in the case of Amazon, those changes come fast and harsh.

That brings me to Mimi Emmanuel’s ebook, The Holy Grail of Book Launching. It was written and published in late-2016, so, at the time of writing this (Feb. 2017), it’s very relevant for today’s market.

First off, let me start by saying that the Holy Grail is one of the longer, most information-packed books about indie publishing that I have read. Its size can be a little daunting, but Mimi does a great job of lessening the overwhelm factor by splitting the book into three parts:
 Volume One lists the skeleton of the book—namely, the 10 essential steps that Mimi takes to launch her own books. Keep in mind that she’s a bestselling author in her own right, so it’s smart to heed her words.
 Volume Two dives into the nitty-gritty aspect of indie publishing. If Volume One is the skeleton of the process, Volume Two is the muscle and sinew that helps move everything. This is the longest part of the book, and goes into great detail about the former 10 steps, one-by-one.
 Volume Three is a case study section of friends and colleagues of Mimi’s who describe their own tips and tricks and launch strategies. It tells of different people’s successes—such as Chandler Bolt, Michael Hyatt, and Jenny Wagner—and how they got there. This is one of my favorite sections, because it adds information, while also showcasing Mimi’s wide reach of friends. It definitely validates Mimi (and her book) as a tried-and-true juggernaut of the indie publishing landscape.

The Holy Grail of Book Launching is chock-full of links and features that redirect to Mimi’s website for additional downloadable content. Some of my favorite additional perks are the “Step-by-Step Marketing Plan,” and “Promos I Love,” which are basically two 30-day calendars that describe Mimi’s exact approach to launching, from 30 days out, to launch day. Having these two calendars side-by-side, taped to your wall, is a good way of staying grounded and focused on your launch.

Another one of my favorite bits of downloadable content is the “200 Facebook Groups for Publishing Your Book,” and “100 Top Promo Sites by Alexa Rank.” These were put together by her Virtual Assistant and friend, respectively, but they are a greatly added benefit. These four things alone might be worth the price of admission, but the Holy Grail doesn’t stop there.

Mimi’s book shows you how to grow a support group or “street team,” who will help you in your launch from the background. She has a “Social Media Checklist” for you to use, in order to help grow your readership.

At the end of the day, Mimi Emmanuel’s book is all about focusing on your story (see: “Your Story is Your Legacy”) while helping you with the ingredients necessary for a successful ebook launch. Granted, there are quite a few typos and awkward phrases. It can be a little bit of a pain to have to download and unzip extra content from a third-party site (then again, she’s just practicing what she preaches—sending you to her site, getting more readers). And the book can be a bit overwhelming.

But with all that being said, Mimi’s launch strategy is tried-and-tested, it’s relevant for today’s rapidly changing ebook market, and it’s a great read. It’s also very hopeful and encouraging (while some other ebooks about publishing have a doom and gloom ambiance, this one does not). In her own personal story, Mimi seems to have been through hell and back, so for her to offer so much sage advice, and with such an optimistic attitude, is a great thing to see.

I rate The Holy Grail of Book Launching 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments! Have you read Mimi’s book? What did you like/didn’t like about it? What are your favorite ebooks about indie publishing?

Check it out! The Holy Grail of Book Launching: Secrets from a bestselling author and friends. Ultimate Launching Companion and step-by-step guide

Also check out my new site on publishing/writing tips: alwaysbewriting.com
1 like ·   •  0 comments  •  flag
Share on Twitter
Published on February 22, 2017 22:26 Tags: ebooks, indie, indie-publishing, mimi-emmanuel, publishing