stevemedcroft.com
26Aug/170

Succubus: a supernatural suspense thriller

Succubus: a supernatural suspense thriller

Logan Baker was just doing a favor for a dying relative, but when he enters a mysterious, fenced-off desert compound, he falls under the spell of an alluring but frightening entity calling itself Constance. Sick from her influence, his relative now missing, and with someone trying to burn his entire life to the ground, Logan's favor puts him in the fight of his life.

Available now:

Amazon Kindle

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14May/180

Short Stories – Release One – Christopher

Christopher_small2

CHRISTOPHER

by Steve Medcroft

 

Christopher knew they would be coming for him soon.

He sat on the wooden porch in front of the trailer with his back to the door. His head throbbed. He wore threadbare Ninja Turtles pajama bottoms and nothing else.

The television in the room behind him was left too loud as usual. It was tuned to a re-run of a five-year old episode of Saturday Night Live; two actors as mentally-challenged children annoyed a group of adults at a dinner party.

The trailer-park was dimly lit by the yellow light from the lamps out on the main road and the flashes of blue thrown through his trailer's doorway by the television. Christopher tapped the last Marlboro Lite out of a soft pack he had taken from Father's jacket pocket and fished a purple Bic lighter out of the front pocket of his pajamas. He held a flame to the tip of the cigarette. He lingered on the first draw and filled his lungs with the sweet smoke. He exhaled with a sigh. His head dropped with the weight of the past few moments. He noticed a three-dot spatter of blood just above the waistband of his pajamas, wiped it with his thumb, then put his thumb in his mouth. It tasted like a penny.

A car with an ill-tuned exhaust passed by on the street and he looked up again. Cool air tickled his skin. He shivered. He realized he hadn't felt anything in the last few minutes, like his mind was an appendage that had fallen asleep and it was just getting its feeling back.

Christopher knew his life had just changed in an irreversible way. He also knew that it was inevitable. His fourteen years of living led up to this one moment of fatal violence. He knew that from this moment forward, he would live a completely different life. A second life. He wasn't sad about this fact. He wasn't happy either. It just was. It couldn't have been avoided from the moment he awoke to who he who he really was, the day he figured out the difference between the existence he was living and the existence he was supposed to live.

*****

"Hon, are you okay?"

Christopher recognized the voice. He'd seen and heard her through the kitchen window. She was a hunched, overweight, chain-smoker who always wore flowered housecoats and ran a daycare out of her trailer for the toddlers of park parents who worked during the week. Her trailer sat cat-corner to his. She stood in her doorway, lit harshly by her sharp porch light. He took another pull on the cigarette. His body started to vibrate, to buzz as she lumbered across the road. She hesitated at his bottom step and she looked him over. Her breathing was labored...

 

Read the entire story on STEVEMEDCROFT.COM...

Read the entire story on MEDIUM.COM...

Listen to the entire story on my ANCHOR.COM PODCAST

1May/180

Regaining Momentum in Fiction

When life gets in the way and you have to set a fiction project aside for a while, it can be tough to pick it back up again. Writing is sometimes a game of momentum. Here are a quick of couple of ideas for how to get the creative flow back when your project has been on hold.

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26Apr/180

What kind of editor do you need for your novel?

To produce salable work when publishing independently, it is important to hire a professional editor to make your book its best. But did you know there are four different kinds of editors? Knowing which kind your book needs is key to getting the most out of your investment. I learned the hard way and share with you my journey here.

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20Apr/180

Sucking at Amazon ads, round two

The tougher the job, the greater the reward - George Allen Sr.

Where is my river of money, my shower of Benjamins, my riches in royalties? I did, after, write a whole book and send it into the Amazon machine to be served up on Kindle's around the English-speaking world. Don't I deserve my reward!

When I took my first run at an Amazon campaign to promote my novel Succubus, I failed to generate any results (I wish I was being hyperbolic - I mean no results). I made some tweaks to the wording and placement of my ad and sent it out into the world for a second run. The result? More of the nothing. In fact, less of nothing.

The campaign was programmed to run for ten days with a $10 per day budget. Amazon could have taken $100 of my hard-earned dollars, but apparently chose not to. Because the problem was not that people did not click my ad or that when people did click my ad, they failed to convert into readers of my book. The problem is that the ad wasn't even served by Amazon.

Over the ten-day run, Amazon served the ad (impressions) only three times. Three times! Which is actually less than the number of impressions my first ad triggered (the ad I 'fixed' for the second campaign). Of course I generated no clicks. No-one saw the ad. It never had a chance to be judged, to draw the eye, to encourage someone to want to at least look at the book's page and ponder for a fraction of a minute if they wanted to download a sample.

I don't understand how this happens. And God knows there isn't a human being at Amazon I can call and ask (there isn't, is there?). I want to know what to try next. Should I change my pricing? Should I target a different keyword/category? Should I change my title? My book cover? To find some hint at what to try for round three, I turned to the all-powerful and all-knowing multi-colored Artificial Intelligence behind the curtain of my computer screen - Google.

It's about the motherfudging keywords dummy!

The first article I read covered the basics of what the Amazon ad campaign program is and reinforced that I at least set my campaigns up right. But it didn't really have any deep insight drawn from experience of how to make the system wake up and recognize your ad. It did have this helpful suggestion though - As a general rule of thumb, I’ve found that impressions and clicks can be hard to come by, so more keywords is better. You never know which keyword might turn out to be a surprise winner, and you can always pause under-performing keywords from your campaign once you have data.

For my second ad, I targeted the category of which my book is listed (Supernatural Thrillers). This seems to suggest that targeting keywords, and a broad set of keywords, might get the ad served. Those keywords need to be relevant though. Otherwise, the ad will not resonate with the potential reader.  That led me to this Amazon page regarding keywords for Mystery and Thriller authors.

Back to the campaign. I duplicated campaign number two. There's no need to change the ad because in order to test the ad itself, I have to get it served. My focus this time around is on how to get impressions. Then I can pivot to converting impressions to clicks and clicks to sales.

In the new campaign setup, I paid more attention to the keyword section. Honestly, I am slapping my forehead about it this but I thought you could only choose one. But you can, in fact, select multiple keywords.

Amazon presents you with a list of suggested keywords (keywords tied to your category and, I assume, book description). It also allows you to create your own keywords. The theory I'm testing here is that I need to target the ad to a broader potential pool of readers (as identified by the keywords they are searching in), but not too broad as to waste impressions on readers who are not looking at anything even remotely related to my fiction. That led me to develop a keyword list ten words and phrases deep. Most related to the content (Succubus, Supernatural), but I also added some of the top supernatural thriller author names. I figure if someone is a Dean Koontz fan, they might be open to my book.

I really do feel like I'm stumbling to try and figure this stuff out. And I consider myself a reasonably smart person. The fact that I am only figuring out keywords as part of the ad campaign process the third time through is embarrassing. But I'd rather share that I am dumb and just learning than pretend I have all this stuff figured out because I am writing this for the next person like me, someone who is trying to figure things out for themselves and just on the front end of a lifelong journey to create and share their art.

This campaign will run for two weeks. I will post results after I get them.

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20Apr/180

Tennessee Honey – after writing