Three old-fashioned steps to publicizing a book

3-scroogesFREE1. Ask.

2. Ask again.

3. Apologize, then ask once more.

Learning by doing. That has been what’s been happening this week, trying to find 100 willing recipients to give a Kindle e-book of The Three Scrooges: A Christmas Parody.

Think of all the possibilities. Think of what the smallest adjustment could mean. I took this inspiration from Onyx and Alexa Aker, the talented cover designers. Here’s their thought process visualized:


This morning, I saw there have been 91 downloads. My wife Diana Star Helmer wished for 100. I’m sorry I don’t have a Christmas celebration to report yet.

Please, are there just 10 of you out there to download a free copy from an author wanting to share some holiday silliness? I’m grateful to all of you who’ve unwrapped your present. Is there one other Kindle person you could tell?

I started this quest for Diana on Monday, vowing to be straight-forward. One blogger asking one reader. No spammy “Dear INSERT NAME HERE” stuff. This author wasn’t craving space on a best-seller list or a boosted sales ranking. She wanted others to have the same fun she did in writing the book. That’s it.

All you authors out there, take heart. Don’t be afraid. People are good. You believe in your book. Believe in them, too. Tell them, honestly and sincerely. They may be too busy to respond, but the good ones understand. Don’t fear them.

The good people are many. They are quiet. Some might believe the good are invisible. But they are real. And not just at Christmas.

Habits, Creativity and Christmas: 3 great, FREE e-books

HabitsBookJamesClearHurray for James Clear!

I downloaded his two newest creations, Transform Your Habits and Mastering Creativity. Start the new year right with these titles.

In each guide, James writes in a friendly, hopeful and realistic style. He can talk brain science in a way that works for even me! I’m reading, learning and thinking: I’m eating vegetables and liking it. Instead of worrying how good for me it is, I’m grooving on how tasty this writing is.

The author offers so many step by step suggestions. Look at what can happen by taking just three steps, making three small, consistent changes.

CreativityJamesClearWhenever an author can start out with “Ten Things You Should Get Out Of Reading This…” I’m hooked. And Mr. Clear makes it clear. He delivers on every page.

Visit his website. Get his free e-books. Be amazed.

Meanwhile, speaking of creativity…

The giveathon continues! This is the first of five days to indulge in some holiday merriment: The Three Scrooges, a Christmas Parody. The free Kindle e-book awaits, along with calorie-free snickers.

3-scroogesFREECheck out Thursday’s blog for the story behind this story. Can you give the world a holiday gift? My author-wife Diana Star Helmer hopes so. Download. Read. Share. (Yes, please! Tell others. Invite everyone.)

Merry up your December NOW.

An author’s Christmas wish: How can you help? Just download and open your gift!


The grand cover and book design are courtesy of the talented Onyx and Alexa Aker. Their website details some of their many talents. We recommend them highly!

My wife and sometimes-co-author Diana Star Helmer offered just one wish for Christmas.

“I wish more people would have seen The Three Scrooges: A Christmas Parody,” she said.

This e-book was an amazement to me. She created a short comic tale, a picture book without pictures.

And why not? My mind animated the whole story upon the first reading. I envisioned those comic faces, the wild chases…all from a grateful imagination. In this DIY age, why not have do-it-yourself illustrations?

Back to reality. I asked, “How many readers did you want?”

She smiled. “I’d be happy with a hundred!”

That’s it. Starting on Monday, December 15, The Three Scrooges: A Christmas Parody will be a free Kindle e-book for five days (through Friday, December 19).

It’s a gift for all of you. To make it a gift for Diana, too, please share. Tell anyone. Tell everyone. I’d love her to see more than 100 downloads. I’d be thrilled to see her reach 1,000.

I had more than one author friend warn me. “You need to put the offer on one of those free e-book download websites. You’ll never get a huge response if you don’t.”

Or, we could stick to being old-fashioned personal. There’s no huge promotional plot or marketing blueprint connected to our idea. All that’s fueling this hope is the joyous fun that Christmas brings us. That, plus the belief that we are all connected.  Re-gifting is allowed.  Refer those toughies on your gift list. We love the idea that each reader could come, simply on the basis of “____ sent me!”

Sharing a fast, silly smile can be the antidote to holiday stress.  Not all gifts need to be wrapped.  Please, enjoy The Three Scrooges: A Christmas Parody all next week.  Your enjoyment will be the best gift I could imagine for one deserving author.

Michael ‘Sustainably Creative’ Nobbs’ comeback capped by The Beany #3

Beany-3Life does offer second chances.

Michael Nobbs performed an admirable feat in 2006 in creating issue #3 of The Beany…in which Michael travels from Snowdon to Barcelona via Scotland, drinks plenty of tea and draws a bit…

His self-published marvel is back, now in full color.

Michael’s third installment of his popular journal shows the restorative power of art. “Going out and drawing is a good way to help stop thinking about health issues,” he begins, explaining how creating can transport anyone from what-is to what-can-be.

Instead of a collection of picture postcards from his trips, Michael created his own drawings to accompany some great tales. It’s wonderful to collect his artful insights while experiencing someone who isn’t surrendering to chronic illness. Some of his gems?

“Every little drawing counts.”

“A few quick lines can make a drawing , and can be all you need to keep your eye in.”


“When you draw, you will not feel lonely.” (From Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.)

Simply having his “75 Ways To Draw More” conclusion is a huge bonus, the superb prize at the bottom of your artistic cereal box. This upbeat, encouraging list should kick anyone’s “but…”

I am a Beany fan, someone who’s savored all four issues. Additionally, I’m a delighted lifetime member of Michael’s “Sustainably Creative” website group. Read #3. Soon, you’ll want to be making your own illustrated tales for the holiday season. And beyond!


A yummy apple fritter and great dialogue? This bakery delivers!


Good food. Good people!

Some gifts aren’t under your tree. Some get delivered.

Leaving my favorite bakery last week, I opened the door for a silver-haired granny.

“Hello, would you like to go in?” I asked.

“I need some men!” 

“What did you have in mind?” I blurted.

“My husband slipped. He’s on the sidewalk.”

I pointed at two males waiting to leave. “I need help. Someone fell.”

They nodded and followed.

A half-block away, we found one man resting on his back. He looked like an inverted, shell-down turtle.

The three of us righted the fallen one.

My bounty that day wasn’t limited to a tasty apple fritter. You say you can’t create an interesting character who has a way with words? Take a moment and listen. Opening lines are everywhere!

Imagine Syndrome from ‘The Incredibles’ as your writing instructor

He may find a place in my collection yet.

He may find a place in my collection yet

Forget quoting famous authors (or bloggers).

I think an animated villain might get the last word on overused English.

Channel-flipping, I found that a new network, “Heroes & Icons,” is available in my area. I’m a free-TV fan.

The logo flashed just an H&I. Once I found the name, I thought I knew what the programming might be.

Or not!

Icons. As in, Iconic. Hmmm…

Batman. Followed by CSI?

Isn’t everyone an “icon” these days? Name the network “Wham-Pow TV.”

Listen to Syndrome’s prediction about everyone being “super.” This could be the same fate some worn-out buzzwords might face.

Choose carefully.

Words matter.


Thankful to remember what writing really is

TomMHSNewspaperMy first holiday present came via an e-mail from Mike Chiaverina, the talented high school journalism teacher.

Flashback to the 1978-79 school year. The place? Marshalltown (Iowa) High School.

There I am, part of a high school newspaper staff. “Pebbles.” (Sounds like the Flintstones published the paper!)

A swirl of names flash before me. Bonnie Klaas. Teresa Mulvihill. Jana Manz. Beth Squiers. Mary Pappas. Beth Smith. I’m the one without the fashionable hairdo.

On this Thanksgiving day, I’m grateful for the surprise kindness from an inspiring educator.

Most of all, I appreciate the reminder a vintage photo brings.

Without the Internet, without computers, without electric typewriters, people wrote. They published. They shared stories. I was there. I remember. It was possible then. It’s possible now.

Words matter.