Shelia Bolt Rudesill's Blog: Ruby Red's Reflections - Posts Tagged "books"

In the late 50s I aspired to follow in the footsteps of John Beresford Tipton, Jr. If the name rings a bell you are most likely retired or about to be. If you’re much younger or need a reminder, Tipton was a fabulously wealthy man who gave away one million dollars, every week, to a total stranger on the popular TV series, “The Millionaire.” The recipient was always in financial need and was both surprised and grateful when the cashier’s check arrived. In my very early years I vowed to be a just like him.

As a nurse, I never made it to Billionaire Land. But someone else showed me another way. A modern-day Tipton—a woman who rose from rural Mississippi poverty to become the only Black billionaire. Yes, I’m talking about Oprah Winfrey. Oprah, like Tipton, is a philanthropist—someone who wants to make the world a better place through charitable deeds.

I often wonder if Oprah started out with the dream of becoming a humanitarian once she achieved fame—or if she was already those things when she had nothing. I surmise that she evolved from a caring child who wanted more from life—for herself and for others. Some would say that she’s been blessed. I don’t know about that. I always wanted to be a mother yet I’m childless. Does that mean I wasn't blessed? Or that you weren't?

To say that Oprah was blessed kind of makes me cringe. I think deep down inside we all want to be a philanthropist. We want to make good, have a home, have a dog, and we want to share what we have with others.

Oprah has inspired the heck out of me for a long, long time. She made me proud of my meager education that gave me forty-five years of doing what I often loved to do so much that I felt guilty accepting a paycheck. And since I retired, Oprah gave me the inspiration to create stories about people burdened with unreasonable hardships—the same people with whom John Beresford Tipton, Jr. shared his wealth.

I didn’t go to school to learn to be a writer. I don’t have any of the coveted writer’s credentials, but I’ve been blessed by some beautiful people who have dealt with some pretty rough times. These people echo through my stories.

I call my writing engaging. To me it’s the same thing as doling out million dollar bills. My writing is just as strong a calling as nursing. Hopefully my stories will, as Oprah reiterates…make a difference.”

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One of my favorite movies is How About You starring my favorite actress of all time Vanessa Redgrave. When the resident, played by Ms. Redgrave, expects the substitute caretaker at an Irish retirement home to prepare her a proper martini every evening, I saw myself some twenty or thirty years in my future. Eccentric? Surely not me. Bossy? Never. Entitled? Well maybe…why not?

In my first novel Child of My Heart, my protagonist, Annie Lancaster, is self-effacing until her new best friend tells her that she’s entitled. It takes a while before Annie fully understands that concept and when she reaches that point there’s no stopping her. When I wrote that story Annie was me or maybe I was Annie. I struggled for years to believe that I was good enough to deserve the desires of my heart. Since then I’ve discovered Eckhert Tolle, Oprah’s Life Class, and Mike Dooley’s Notes From the Universe. All three boost my ego and tug at that last standing little thorn in my side that allows me to doubt my worth or think that I don’t deserve more and sometimes that I don’t even deserve what I already have.

We’re all entitled to every dream we’ve ever dreamed for ourselves. Recently I realized that I’d been practicing what all my “spiritual advisers” taught way before I knew about any of them: Creative Visualization. When I was fifteen I took a summer job at Woolworth’s in Miami. My family wasn’t poor, but I remember my mother always wanting a better life and newer or finer things. I was attracted to two cut glass perfume bottles. I purchased those bottles when I collected my first paycheck. If I remember correctly they were about fifty cents each. They were beautiful and I still have them all these years later. I clutched them to my heart and knew that I would always have enough. I guess I was manifesting my future without knowing it. Because I’ve always had enough.

Will my novels reach the top? Yes they will…as long as I write from my heart and keep moving forward. One thing I’ve learned is this: If I think my novels will be successful, they will. If I think they’ll fail, they will. It’s up to me, not my fans.

Whether I think I can or I think I can’t, either way I am right….

How about you?
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Today was quite the ordeal (especially for my husband, Bud) but I survived to tell you about it. I had a stress test lasted for 5 hours. Bud thought he’d be allowed to stay with me so he didn’t bring his laptop or a really good book. Poor guy BORED and BANNED.

Okay no news is good news, I learned that from Bud's mom. I had a routine physical last week and all was great except my EKG showed that my heart wasn't getting enough oxygen. Ah, that's why I'm sleeping more and don't have the endurance I once had. So, my good doctor arranged for a stress test "Right away!" I think he may be a doctor who takes care of too many well patients or else he just returned from a seminar on interpreting EKG rhythm strips. He was so excited to make a preliminary diagnosis of Coronary Artery Disease and sure enough of the diagnosis to let me know that there's probably a cardiac cath with stint placement or maybe by-pass surgery in my near future. Yeah! The next day when he saw my labs he called to say that just maybe I should carry around a little bottle of NITROGLYCERINE just in case I feel an attack coming on.

Back to today. I’d been NPO since midnight. I was first injected with dye but because of my mitral valve prolapse I wasn't allowed on the treadmill, so had to have a drug stimulate my heart instead. But before that I had to drink water and have a 20 minute scan where I wasn't allowed to move AT ALL or the scan would have to be repeated. Don't you just love it when a waiter tells you not to touch a hot plate and that's the first thing you do? At least in restaurants you just get burned--not a punishment of having to cook your food all over again. Well, I laid very still even though I really wanted to have a coughing spasm from post-nasal drip. Didn’t matter. The scan didn't work because a loop of bowel showed up where it wasn't supposed to be. I was given an ultimatum: go home and come back one day NEXT week or drink more water and hope it would weight down my intestines so they wouldn't interfere with my heart. (Don’t worry I was a nurse for 45 years and I can’t figure that one out.)

I chose to drink more water and start again. This is where my theory, well, Norman Vincent Peale’s theory really took a front seat. My positive thinking worked and we got a proper scan. Next I was injected with a stress solution—a drug that stresses my heart without stressing my lungs. It took about 15 minutes and I was monitored very closely by an RN. Then Bud got to take me out to lunch. I’d been instructed to eat a HEARTY meal and drink a BIG cup of coffee and I did.

Back to the clinic for the final scan. Made it through with flying colors—no more post-nasal drip! After the scan while I was waiting for my final EKG I developed chest pain an irregular heart rate, dizziness, and tightness in my chest so I couldn’t go home and had to wait for a DOCTOR to look at my new EKG and you can probably imagine that I just might need open heart surgery RIGHT AWAY. The doctor looked at the EKG and asked if I felt worse than I do when I exercise. “No,” I said and he responded then “Go home and we’ll be in touch.”

All day I did some praying and some creative visualization too. Now I know why I’d been addicted to Pintrest all week—I recalled all the bright and beautiful things I pinned there. I went to Europe and Africa. I snuggled with BIG CATS and tiny kittens, and I saw a time-lapse of pollination. The thing that made me the happiest was watching the beautiful bats sticking their heads into flowers much the same as humming birds do. I do love bats.

So while I wait for what’s next in the story of my heart, I may write a book or paint the bedroom or travel around the world in my mind. And I’ll take you with me. And my heart, no matter how broken, will always know you!
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The games of the XXX Olympiad are over. The athletes have run faster, jumped higher, shot straighter, and spun more beautifully than ever. We laud the medals. To some the gold is everything. To some the bronze is gold, and to some the silver is utter failure. It’s almost as if some of these silver medal champions have finished dead last. After all, they’ve worked their whole lives for GOLD not silver!
Are starred book reviews the same? My husband and fellow author, Bud Rudesill, prefers three and four star reviews. He thinks they are more honest. He thinks it proves that the reviewer has actually read the book. Do our friends and families give us five star reviews because, well, because they don’t want to disappoint us, lose our friendship?
Most of my “friends” don’t read my novels because I’m a nurse and a regular person. Nurses and regular people don’t write novels and if they do their novels have to be juvenile and I don’t mean juvenile like a children’s novel. How can a regular person write WAR AND PEACE or EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE or THE POISIONWOOD BIBLE? That’s why I appreciate reviews from people who don’t know that I’m a regular person, from people who see one of my books on Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, Pintrest, or Tumblr and let the story speak for itself.
When my first book reviews started trickling in from strangers I felt a gold medal hanging around my neck. I’d done my work. I’d run my sprint and won—just like my “brother” Usain BOLT. Perseverance is the name of the game! As a scientist must publish or perish, an athlete must practice to triumph, and a writer must promote to prevail. I love my gold medals and my silvers and bronzes, but more than that I appreciate my readers.

Postscript: My inspiration for this blog came from Rick Bylina’s blog this morning. ( Rick has read and reviewed many books, one of them mine. Today he explained his theory of rating books by the star system. There’s a lot to learn from Rick so check out his blog and his 5 STAR, GOLD medal novels.
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The book launch of Cutter’s Bizaar and art show of related paintings. Bud Rudesill's musings:

"Tomorrow we begin moving our show to the gallery.

Like a general on the eve of a deciding battle I rethink my strategy, review my preparations, and wonder if there is anything more I could
have done to prepare. I ruminate on how the event will unfold. There are elements of my plan I couldn’t accomplish, and elements of my plan that may yet fall short of my expectations. I believe nothing of great importance will be missing. I am confident I have done everything I was capable of doing to materialize this dream, and the key people who have helped me arrange for this auspicious event have worked diligently.

This project is a decade in the making and I have been seven months in the detailed planning of the finale. Will Friday be the end of a project or the beginning of a rise to a higher plane? It will at least be a grand celebration of some of my best artistic accomplishments, and I shall be celebrating with some of my best friends as well as all who wish to join us.

It’s silent right now, except for the roar of anticipation in my mind."
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Published on October 19, 2012 18:04 • 67 views • Tags: art, artist, book, book-launch, books, paintings-oil-paintings, reading, show, writer, writing
These past few months have been filled with apathy, as in a lack of interest in writing. Maybe that’s not entirely true; I am interested in writing but I just can’t get any words on paper. It’s not writer’s block though, it’s the antibiotics. They have stripped me, hopefully, of the creepy bugs in my lungs but they have also stolen my creativity (A couple months ago I blogged about not feeling well and the fun of diagnostic testing. Bottom line: COPD, Bronchiectasis, and mycobacterium avium complex lung infection. BTW, I’ve never smoked! I’ll be on three antibiotics for one year. The good news is that I’m on the mend!).

While waiting for my creative juices to return I’ve done a bit of reading: "South of Bixby Bridge" by Ryan Winfield, "The Secret Scriptures" by Sebastian Barry, "Whispering Tides" by Guido Mattoni, and am just barely into Stephen King’s, "11-22-63". I’ve also read more than a few blogs, interviews, and articles mostly relating to book promotion.

Writing is much more fun that promoting it. After all, writing is right-brained and promoting it is left-brained. I learned from a few writers that the way to sell books is to create a fan base. That can be done by networking on the social media sites—Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Goodreads, Pintrest, LinkedIn, Reddit to name a few. Of course it helps to have a blog and a webpage, oh, and an Amazon Author Page and a Facebook Author Page! In order to draw attention to and increase traffic on these sites the writers have resorted to giving a lot of books away. I guess everyone likes to get something for nothing and if enough people read and enjoy these free books word of mouth creates the fan base? Yes, I’m asking a question. I’m skeptic.

Joanna Penn, author of The Creative Penn Blog, has sold over 40,000 copies of her first two self-published novels Pentecost and Prophesy. My new idol, Terri Giuliano Long, has sold over 100,000 copies of her first indie novel "In Leah’s Wake". This is exciting because "In Leah’s Wake" is literary fiction! Of all genres literary fiction has the smallest audience due to the fact that it doesn’t contain zombies and werewolves. In general, literary fiction focuses on the subjects of the narrative…to create introspective, in-depth character studies of interesting, complex, and developed characters. This is what I try to accomplish in my writing. Perhaps literary fiction is too deep or too dark or too slow for the average reader. Unfortunately for Terri and me, the most popular books today are genre fiction and the best sellers are Romance.

Barbara Waite, author of "Elsie – Adventures of an Arizona Schoolteacher 1913-1916" repeatedly offered her non-fiction book for free on Amazon and is proud to say that her novel is currently #60 in print books for Western/Non-Fiction and has remained #1 in Kindle Western Non-fiction memoirs since April 2012. But she offers this advice: “My most negative reviews come after a give-away. It seems that ‘free’ translates to free to be very negative in return.”

Another marketing tactic is Loyalty Transfer. That was John Locke’s marketing strategy and coming from a man who sold a million eBooks in five months, you better believe it works. I read "Bixby Bridge" simply because I saw an advertisement on Facebook that touted more eroticism than E.L. James’s "Fifty Shades of Grey". I wanted to explore the acceptable ways to write about sex in the different genres—a topic my writing group had touched upon last month. The protagonist in "Fifty Shades" is all about sex. That’s apparently what she thinks about 24/7 (disclaimer: I have not read this book. I did read the first 60 or so pages on Amazon and was told by someone who adored the book that, “there was sex on every page.” Psychology Today Magazine (March 2012) published "BDSM: Fifty Shades of Grey Unplugged, Turning up the heat in bedrooms and raising some eyebrows." It seems everyone has hopped on the Fifty Shades loyalty transfer bandwagon.

But all these tactics only work if the product is good. On page 5 of "11-22-63" King writes, “I stroked a big red A on top of his paper. Looked at it for a moment or two, then added a big red +. Because it was good, and because his pain had evoked an emotional response in me, his reader. And isn’t that what A+ writing is supposed to do? Evoke a response?” I agree Mr. King, That is what A+ writing is supposed to do—evoke a response.

To sum things up, first I need a product that evokes an emotional response from my reader (I’m pretty certain I’ve accomplished that), next I need to promote in every way possible, including giving a lot of books away and coming up with a unique “gimmick” even when I feel like my head is on a chopping block!

So, here are the results of my Amazon Give-Away this past weekend: My Amazon Sales Rankings went from between 588,000-870,000 to between 804-1,782 overnight (of course the latter numbers reflect “free” sales only). All four of my novels made it into the top 30 of Amazon’s Top 100 Free Book Sales of the day and one, Child of My Heart, topped out at #20. I’ve given away 1,000 books. Is this the start of something big or did I simply sell my soul?

Winners of my Baggage or Transmutare paperback give-away contest:

Sue D., Sahaxapawah, NC
Sharon G., Pittsboro, NC
Vanessa V., Hillsborough, NC
Barbara L., The Villages, FL
Carolyn H., Troutman, NC

Congratulations to the winners! They all chose Baggage.
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Ruby Red's Reflections

Shelia Bolt Rudesill
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