“Letters from Long Binh” and “Soft Target” Reviews

I have actually found a little time to do some reading in addition to blogging, twittering, Facebook, website, and let’s not forget writing.   I wish there were more hours in the day.  I wanted to share with you two books that I really enjoyed: Letters From Long Binh: Memoirs Of A Military Policeman In Vietnam (Paperback) and Soft Target: A Thriller.  As always, your comments are welcome.

4* –  An MP’s View of Vietnam, February 28, 2012

This review is from: Letters From Long Binh: Memoirs Of A Military Policeman In Vietnam (Paperback) by Randy Mixter
This is a great story of a soldier’s time in Vietnam from a non-combat point of view. The author,Randy Mixter was a member of the military police. He sent letters home to his girlfriend (now wife) which he turned into this cleverly crafted volume. It also includes some of his wife’s letters to him. I found his stories to be very interesting as they were coming from the Military Police perspective. I was an infantryman in Vietnam and experienced the action in a different way.
Adventures such as finding a naked soldier with a prostitute take on added interest when the naked soldier puts on his uniform and is found to be a colonel! This memoir is stocked with stories that run the gamut of heartwarming to funny to sad. This volume should be on the shelf of everyone who has an interest in the Vietnam War.

3* – Soft Target – Good, but not as Good as Most of Hunter’s Thrillers, February 28, 2012

This review is from: Soft Target: A Thriller (Hardcover), by Stephen Hunter

Soft Target by Stephen Hunter follows the story of a terrorist attack at the Mall of America, the largest mall in America. The attack occurs on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, which is traditionally one of the busiest shopping days of the year. Mr. Hunter has written many exciting novels of this genre. Soft Target follows the pattern of his previous novels and engages the reader with carefully crafted characters and suspense filled events. One of the characters from his previous novel, Ray Cruz, is a key player in this one. Unfortunately, this novel is not as good as his previous books.

One of my disappointments in the novel was treating the shoppers in the mall as if they were sheep to be herded around by the terrorists. With all the ex-military people in our country, I would have used some of them to help end the terrorist threat. As a Vietnam vet and Concealed Carry License holder, I for one would have at least taken out a couple of them before they got me, and I know plenty of CCL Vets who keep their skills up and would have joined me as well.

Overall, I did enjoy Soft Target. Just don’t expect it to be as good as Hunter’s previous thrillers.

HAPPY READING!

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CONGRATULATIONS! And the winner is…

CONGRATULATIONS to Christopher Belton @ BeltonWriter for winning the signed copies of  MEANT TO BE and THE COUPLES.  Christopher, please contact me with mailing instructions (DM using Twitter).  As an added bonus all subscribers to this blog will receive a Smashwords coupon for a free download of MEANT TO BE.  Anyone signing up for the blog between now and the end of this month (February 29 – Yeah leap year) will receive the same free coupon for a MEANT TO BE download.  Sign up in the box one column over.

*****AUTHOR PARTICIPATION*****

   Platform badge author network

Fourth Writers’ Platform-Building Campaign

I am very excited to be participating in the Fourth Writers’ Platform-Building Campaign.  It is running now until March 17.  The campaign is the brain-child of writer and blogger, Rachael Harrie.  She states in her current blog:

“My Writers’ Platform-Building Campaigns are a way to link writers, aspiring authors, beginner bloggers, industry people, and published authors together with the aim of helping to build our online platforms.

The Campaigners are all people in a similar position, who genuinely want to pay it forward, make connections and friends within the writing community, and help build each others’ online platforms while at the same time building theirs.”

This is a super idea!  For more information and to enroll, click Fourth Writers’ Platform-Building Campaign.

* * * * *

I will also be participating in a Pump Up Your Book: Virtual Book Publicity Tour during the month of March.  I will be tweeting my locations on Twitter, so be sure to follow me @VillageDrummerF.  Visit Pump Up Your Book! for more information about virtual tours.

I will be blogging about both of these experiences as they take place.  Advice from anyone who has experienced these networking events is very welcome!

Happy Reading to All,

Richard Alan

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My Three Newbie Mistakes and the Blogs that Helped Me Past Them

I think many of you will relate to my story.  I’m sure I’m not the only new author who has committed the mistakes that I did.  When I decided to write a novel, I only thought about what I needed to do to write a manuscript.  I asked my wife to look into how we could self-publish.  I set a goal of writing four books in one year.  I’ve always been a good story-teller and many people encouraged me to write a book.  Naively I thought:

  1. My great story would translate into a great book on the first draft.  (It took a few drafts to become the great novel it is.)
  2. My wife would only have to fix the typos and spelling errors.
  3. We would be good to go for uploading it to be published.
  4. Our friends and family would buy the book for themselves and for gifts.
  5. Word of mouth would create frenzied buying; soaring my first book onto the bestseller lists.

I did say we were naive.  My first book, Meant to Be, was published by CreateSpace, Kindle Digital Publishing (KDP), and Smashwords in June, 2011.  (Carolynn will tell you how all that went in a future blog.)  I immediately began work on the second book in the “Meant to Be” series, The Couples (published Dec, 2011).  I also was making notes for book three as ideas came to me.  This activity was taking place during the weeks that Carolynn was trying to manipulate Meant to Be into the multiple different formats each publisher required.  By the time the first book was published, the second was completed.  Carolynn went into editing and publishing mode while I wrote book three (Finding Each Other, which will be available late Spring 2012).

Meant to Be and The Couples are beautiful novels about people who are striving to find their soul-mate; their life-partner; the person they are meant to be with the rest of their lives.  We are getting great feedback on both books.  People have told us that the characters are like family; they like them and want to know what is going to happen next.   Although the books are selling, they are not selling as well as we think they should.  We needed to figure out why.

I’m sure most of you have already spotted what our near fatal mistakes were.

  • Error #1 –  We had no marketing plan in place.
  • Error #2 –  Carolynn was the only one who read and edited the first book.
  • Error #3 – We did not sign up for a Twitter account.

I’m not sure which mistake was more egregious.  I can tell you the second error was easiest to correct.  The Couples was read by multiple people who made suggestions and corrections, in addition to Carolynn’s editing.  This will continue to be our standard operating procedure until we are able to afford a professional editor.

Neither of us had any experience  with marketing.  We did create a website and a Facebook page.   After that our search for knowledge began.  Carolynn and I began to read everything we could find online, and in print, about book marketing.  There is a wealth of excellent sources available.  We were amazed at how much helpful information this community shares.  Following are some of our favorites.  I will also update the blog roll with the various blogs we enjoy following.   These are not complete lists.  They are just the ones we seem to reference the most.  I’m sure I have missed a few and will update the blog roll as I find them.  By the way, we now have a marketing plan, a blog, and a Twitter account.

The helpful blog list:

I hope you find these sites helpful.  What other blogs and websites do you like?  Please share in the comments.

Richard Alan

 

Village Drummer Fiction