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The Productive Writer


Book V of the Locket Saga: In the Shadow of the Millpond is nearing completion!

I am looking for help in two areas. The first is that I would like you to check out my book’s description. Do you like it? Even more important, how would you change it?

 

Fifteen-year-old Lacey Mayford has been infatuated with Matthew since she was a little girl, but Matthew doesn’t see her as anything more than a little girl cousin. How can she convince him that she is not only not his cousin,.she is also growing into a beautiful young woman.

In the frontier town of Pittsburgh, PA near the turn of the century,  Matthew Thorton is blamed for Luther Hannibal’s murder because of an altercation that Matthew had with the man over some stolen furs. As a half-breed Indian, Matthew seems to have a chance to defend himself so Lacey with the help of a teacher at the Pittsburgh Academy, Felix Grackle, look into other suspects who could have killed Luther Hannibal. At the same time, Matthew’s father Luke and Luke’s best friend Jacque Pierre is looking for whoever it was who stole the furs because they believe that this person might have something to do with Luther Hannibal’s murder.

A  vigilante group heightens the danger. They are seeking to do everything they can to avoid a whiskey sales tax that has been imposed on them from stealing the US mail to tarring and feathering US government officials attempting to collect those taxes.

Will Lacey be able to clear Matthew’s name? Will Luke and Jacque Pierre find the man who stole the furs? Will the vigilantes stop the Whiskey Rebellion without bloodshed? The truth is far more sinister than anything that anyone could imagine.

 

What do you think of this description? Would you read this book? What do you think would improve it? Now that you’ve checked out the description, check out these book covers. Which book cover do you think best fits this book?

 

 

Which Book Cover Do You Like Best?

Comment below about which of the following seven book covers do you prefer that goes with this description? Which one is best? (Please refer to the book cover(s) you prefer by the corresponding letter).

A

A) In the Shadow of the Millpond

A) In the Shadow of the Millpond

 

B

B) In the Shadow of the Millpond

B) In the Shadow of the Millpond

 

C

c) In the Shadow of the Millpond

c) In the Shadow of the Millpond

 

D

in-the-shadow-of-the-millpond-03

D) IN the Shadow of the Millpond

 

E

in-the-shadow-of-the-millpond-04

E) In the Shadow of the Millpond

 

F

in-the-shadow-of-the-millpond-06

F) In the Shadow of the Millpond

G

G) In the Shadow of the Millpond

G) In the Shadow of the Millpond

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Which is your favorite? Which book would you be likely to pick up? Please share your answer in the comment section below! Please share with your friends! Please help me make this the best book of the Locket Saga!

 

As Author Cygnet Brown, Donna Brown is the author and publisher of historical fiction series The Locket Saga. which includes When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues, and, A Coward’s Solace, Book III of the Locket Saga,  Book IV of the Locket Saga: Sailing Under the Black Flag! Her next book Book V of the Locket Saga: In the Shadow of the Millpond will be out later this year!

.For more information about Cygnet Brown and buy her books, check out her website at http://www.cygnetbrow.com

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In December of last year I wrote two small books. One was Using Diatomaceous Earth Around the House and Yard and the other was Help From Kelp. I wrote both books because I wanted more information available to my readers about these two substances and how they can help reduce the effects of harmful toxic chemicals in our daily lives.

Here are two sources about the value of kelp that scientists are currently investigating.regarding kelp helping save the environment.

Help from Kelp the Office of Aquaculture http://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/aquaculture/homepage_stories/18_help_from_kelp.html

and

Help From Kelp Measuring radioactivity from the Fukushima Plant in California’s coastal waters http://seagrant.noaa.gov/News/FeatureStories/TabId/268/ArtMID/715/ArticleID/221/Help-from-Kelp.aspx

To get a FREE copy of Help from Kelp beginning tomorrow Click here

 

Here is yet another article about growing kelp. It seems as though  kelp has definitely been growing in popularity. https://suffolktimes.timesreview.com/2016/07/69235/north-fork-kelp-could-become-the-next-big-commercial-crop/

Today, this book is selling for just 99 cents, but beginning tomorrow for the next five days, (Tuesday-Saturday) I will be making Help From Kelp FREE to on Kindle. After the FREE promotional, the price of the book is going up to $4.99.

 

If you would like a copy of my other book, Using Diatomaceous Earth Around the House and Yare, I have made this book permanently free to any e-reading device. You can get this book at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/617019

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Donna Brown is pastor at Faith in God Church  1 1/2 miles south of Brandsville, Missouri on Hwy 63. Sunday services are at 10 am and Wednesday night Bible Study at 6:30 pm.   As Author Cygnet Brown, she  has  published a nonfiction book: Simply Vegetable Gardening: Simple Organic Gardening Tips for the Beginning Gardener

She is also the author of historical fiction series The Locket Saga. which includes When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues, and, A Coward’s Solace, Book III of the Locket Saga. The next book Book IV of the Locket Saga: Sailing Under the Black Flag will be out in the near future.

Her most recent publication were two booklets Help From Kelp and Using Diatomaceous Earth Around the House and Yard. Available in paperback

.For more information about Cygnet Brown and her books, check out her website at http://www.cygnetbrow.com .


bookshelf

Whether you’re writing a fiction book, a nonfiction book, an article, a persuasive letter to the editor, locating a good recipe for a special mean, or even just an informative comment in a blog post, there will be times when you will need to research a topic.

Probably the most important thing that you need to know when doing research is to know exactly what you need to know before you begin so that you do not get bogged down reading research materials and end up going down rabbit holes along the way which steals valuable time.

Begin with a goal in mind

Know specifically what you want from your research.

It used to be that when we had to research information from books, we would have to wade through hundreds of volumes of books to find the information that we were looking for. Now, we can simply go to the internet and within minutes we can find the information we want in minutes rather than hours or even days. However, there is so much information out there that it is easy to get lost on the information highway. That is why it is important to

For instance, in my upcoming book: Book V of the Locket Saga:  In the Shadow of the Millpond, I wanted to describe a keelboat, so I needed a good description of one. Rather than just type “keelboat” into the search engine, I typed in “description of keelboat”.  This got me the specific information that I was looking for. Even when I am doing macro-research, I try to get as specific as possible. When  I wanted to know more about “Pittsburgh” rather than typing just Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania” I typed in “Early History of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania” that way I didn’t have to wade through a bunch of travel information relating to modern Pittsburgh.

Use Reliable Information

A lot of the information we can find on the internet is simply not true. Much of what is there is either opinion or is meant to sway us toward a specific way of thinking about a specific topic. Information on the internet is often sensationalized. Rumors can be toted as fact. Headlines can be purposely misleading to increase the article’s ability to go viral. How can we separate the truth from the sensationalism?

The most important consideration is to “consider the source”. Wikipedia is often a good place to start research, but it should never be the final authority regarding information that you find online. Most of the Wikipedia articles have good reference links to follow regarding the information provided in the article, and if there isn’t one, then the information might not be accurate.

Some of the best articles online come from government (.gov) or university sites (.edu) sites. (Unless you’re a conspiracy theorist, then this information is suspect too.)  Organizations that specifically deal with your topic are also great resources. If I am dealing with a historical question, I might go to a historical site. I may even go to nongovernment and educational sites as well. For instance, if I am writing about a certain civil war battle, a great resource could be a re-enactor website where the re-enactors have included their research of the topic. Asking questions of the administrators on these sites are also possible.

First-hand  accounts recorded on the internet are also great resources. Many diaries of specific individuals, both famous and not-so-famous are available online. These first-hand accounts, however,  can be limited and speculative on the part of the eye-witness so therefore should never be considered the ultimate authority. I always look up at least three sources and try to include the eye witness account whenever possible and first-hand accounts offer depth that other sources cannot possibly offer. For instance, I used an eye-witness account of the Boston Tea Party when I wrote Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues. According to one of the participants of the incident, dressing as Mohawks was not planned ahead of time, but because some of the men were afraid they would be recognized, they covered their clothes with blankets and blackened their faces. Then someone said something like, “Hey, you look like a Mohawk.” The story then became that they dressed as Mohawks.

I Cut and Paste My Research into a Word Document

Once I found the information I want for my project, I have learned that it is important to record at least the part of the article where I found the information on a word document. Usually, I cut and paste the information and then get the URL for the website page where I found that information and paste that onto the document as well. This way I have a ready reference if someone questions my accuracy or I want to go back to that article to get more information that I didn’t feel that I needed right then, but then decided that I did. I find that this works so much better than bookmarking websites when all I want is a few lines of information from that website. I mark the document ORIGINAL RESEARCH so that I can idstinguish that information from my own writing based on that research.

This way too, I can do all of my research in just a short time. I can go online, find what I need for that day, record the information word for word and then go back later, mash up several different accounts of the same thing and incorporate it into my story and have that same information available for any other book or article that I want to write about the subject.

NEVER Plagiarize

Once I have cut and pasted my research into a document along with the URL, I open another document and rewrite the information that I obtained into my own words before including them in my fiction. When I add it to the actual story and in the case of the Separating Fact From Fiction Chapter at the end of the book, I pay careful attention, during the editing process., I edit the information even more to avoid any appearance of plagiarizing.

IMG_8330 final copy

As Author Cygnet Brown, Donna Brown  has  published  several nonfiction books including Simply Vegetable Gardening: Simple Organic Gardening Tips for the Beginning Gardener, Using Diatomaceous Earth around the House and Yard, and Help from Kelp.

She is also the author of historical fiction series The Locket Saga. which includes When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues, and, A Coward’s Solace, Book III of the Locket Saga,  Book IV of the Locket Saga: Sailing Under the Black Flag is also on sale now!

.For more information about Cygnet Brown and buy her books, check out her website at http://www.cygnetbrow.com .


bookshelf

When I was in college, I had to do a lot of research for school papers. Because I had to write one every week, and because I had a lot of those papers to write, I learned to do it efficiently. Now that I am starting to research my next book in the Locket Saga, I am using what I learned back in college to make the most of my researching time. Here are a few ways that I do that.

Use Your Research Time Effectively

  1. I research as specific a subject as possible. For instance, in the latest work that I am researching for Two Rivers, I have Andrew going south on the Mississippi River on a flatboat. Because I learned somewhere that the word millionaire was first coined in Natchez, Mississippi, I thought that I would check out that city as Andrew’s destination rather than New Orleans which I knew was also a port of call. But Natchez, Mississippi still wasn’t specific enough. Not only did I need to limit the city of choice, but I needed to limit the time period on or before 1803-1806. So I limited my research about Natchez Mississippi to the time period of prior to 1806.
  2. I do Macro-research before Micro-research. Macro research is a term that I created meaning general research about a specific topic. For instance, when I googled Natchez and looked at the history of Natchez before 1806, I learned that Natchez was named after the Natchez Indians, that it was first ruled by France and then by Spain and then transferred to the Americans in 1798. Well to do society built a town up on the bluff, but the men who ran the riverboats worked along the river in the rough part of town called ‘Natchez-Under-The-Hill. When a flatboat docked, the river men aboard would find entertainment at the taverns and brothels set up along the river. I learned that when they docked in Natchez, the men sold their boats and walked north along a dangerous tract called the Natchez Trace.
  3. I use Macro-research to discover what Micro-research I need to examine. Based on this general information, I looked deeper into Natchez-under the Hill and Natchez Trace. I learned that certain highway men frequented the area. One I discovered started after my story began so I didn’t include him in my story, however, another one—Samuel Mason– had led a gang of river pirates during this period so I examined his story more deeply. I discovered however that his story actually ends shortly before my book begins, but I am going to include it anyway because it is such an interesting aspect of river-boating.
  4. Next, I determine where in the story the research will be used. One of the reasons that I find that I have to outline my books has to do with the fact that I plug research into specific parts of the story. Because I have a general outline written and have the book divided into chapters, I am able to plug the research into a specific part of the book. This way I don’t have to go through a bunch of notes to find the information that I need. I have already included it.
  5. In addition to plugging the information into the book to be edited later, I post the information into another document specifically about that subject. Since I have already researched the material, it is easy to reuse that research. For instance, when I was writing A Coward’s Solace, the information that I wrote about Lucy Flucker Knox I made into an article on Hubpages Check that article out here: An Unsung Heroine: Lucy Flucker Knox. https://1authorcygnetbrown.wordpress.com/2016/07/29/2416/  Here’s another one I did about The Boston Massacre:  The Boston Massacre—Powder keg of the American Revolution http://hubpages.com/education/The-Boston-Massacre-Powder-Keg-of-the-American-Revolution/  Including your research in online articles improves your credibility in facts relating to your novel’s subject matter.
  6. I personally have not yet done this tip, but I have known several people who have done this. They use the same research used in their fiction and write a nonfiction book with the same information. Currently, I include a section in the back of my novels called Separating Fact from Fiction which explains the true story behind my fiction. I started doing this after someone criticized my first book by saying that “some of the women were too modern” and that “cocoa did not exist in Colonial America”. The criticism about the modern women revolved around Mrs. Hiller who was a real person but fictionalized. (She really did all the things I wrote about) and though cocoa back then was not “ditched” as it is today, it did exist, but it was brewed like coffee and was much more.
  7. I also save research discoveries for future books. Sometimes I’ll come across information that I hope to use in a future story. For instance, when researching Natchez, I learned some of the story about the first steamboat trip that occurred in 1812 that went from Pittsburgh, PA to Natchez, MS. I was going to have Andrew meet the love of his life during Two Rivers, but decided that I couldn’t pass up this information. It connects so well with other aspects of the Locket Saga especially the Natchez Pittsburgh connection.

Be specific with your research, use macro-research to determine micro-research, plug research into the story immediately to save time, and utilize your research in more than just your fiction to make the most of the time you spend researching your next book.

IMG_8330 final copy

As Author Cygnet Brown, Donna Brown  has  published  several nonfiction books including Simply Vegetable Gardening: Simple Organic Gardening Tips for the Beginning Gardener, Using Diatomaceous Earth around the House and Yard, and Help from Kelp.

She is also the author of historical fiction series The Locket Saga. which includes When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues, and, A Coward’s Solace, Book III of the Locket Saga,  Book IV of the Locket Saga: Sailing Under the Black Flag is also on sale now!

.For more information about Cygnet Brown and buy her books, check out her website at http://www.cygnetbrow.com .


blue skies

When the sun sets on one project, it rises on others.

Working on Final Edits of yet another Tome of the Locket Saga

Now that Sailing under the Black Flag is out and available for general purchase and I have the templates that I need to do my marketing projects, I can again focus on moving onto other projects. The writing process doesn’t end when a book is launched. The process just continues on with more writing projects. One of those projects is Book V of the Locket Saga: In the Shadow of the Millpond. I finished the second draft of this book last summer and am currently working on my final editing process.

When doing this final editing process, I work from macro-issues such as story continuity down to micro-issues such as getting rid of passive language, and ensuring that I am using the right punctuation and spelling.

I learned that by editing in this order, getting the story line right, and then fixing more detailed problems like getting the right word or punctuation, I am not editing material that I will eventually edit out anyway. This is a time saving devise that often gets overlooked in fiction writing, but this can literally save days of work over the course of the editing process.

Starting New Research to Keep the Series Going

In addition to working on this final editing process, I am starting research for Book VII of the Locket Saga which has the current working title of Two Rivers about two cousins who in 1803 take different rivers. Andrew Mayford takes the Mississippi southward to Natchez, and Isaac Thorton takes the Missouri westward with the Lewis and Clark expedition. Not only will they be going in different directions physically, but the paths they take will take them in different directions philosophically as well.

Thinking about another Garden-Based Book Project

Another project that I was talking to my brother about today was the idea of sustainable gardening. This concept goes deeper than organic gardening and even deeper than permaculture in that the focus isn’t just on the plant life, or the domesticated animals that are brought to help sustain the humans living on an acreage, but focuses on the life cycles of every organism including micro-organisms. The idea is based on the premise that the earth is not just an inert pile of pulverized rocks that will function with chemicals pumped into it but is a living breathing organism in its own right.

The idea includes the idea that human beings don’t have to destroy the earth in order to sustain himself, but can work with nature, recycling all of his wastes back into the soil and benefiting all creatures in a symbiotic relationship.

IMG_8330 final copy

As Author Cygnet Brown, Donna Brown  has  published  several nonfiction books including Simply Vegetable Gardening: Simple Organic Gardening Tips for the Beginning Gardener, Using Diatomaceous Earth around the House and Yard, and Help from Kelp.

She is also the author of historical fiction series The Locket Saga. which includes When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues, and, A Coward’s Solace, Book III of the Locket Saga,  Book IV of the Locket Saga: Sailing Under the Black Flag is also on sale now!

.For more information about Cygnet Brown and buy her books, check out her website at http://www.cygnetbrow.com .

 

 


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Saturday I went to an event called Waterford Heritage Days in Waterford, Pennsylvania. At this event they demonstrated the ways that the Indians and early settlers used to do things. Three blacksmiths were there as were groups of various re-enactor groups. One of those groups was the 8th Pennsylvania regiment of the American Revolution. What made this group particularly interesting to me was that I researched them and presented them in the third novel in the Locket Saga: A Coward’s Solace. I enjoyed talking with the re-enactors, especially one named Mark who was an older gentleman.

The (the original, not the re-enactors) 8th Pennsylvania Regiment was formed in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania and if you remember was at Valley Forge and went to Fort Pitt where the first American treaty with the Delaware (or Lenape). My main characters went with them to Fort Pitt.

We shared a lot of information back and forth. It was as though we were talking about old friends that we knew. I remember when we were talking about Ebenezer Denney. He said he had only read about Denney in a book that he had read. I furnished details about his life because I researched him for my most recent book-Sailing under the Black Flag. He didn’t know that as a young boy he had been at Fort Pitt and hand taken a message to Carlisle about Indians attacking. He also did not know that Denny had, for a short while, been a member of the crew of a privateer before joining the army. Mark told me that Denney had been the first mayor of Pittsburgh and I learned from someone else that Denney had been the one who laid out the streets for Waterford.

Denney had not been mentioned in A Coward’s Solace, and he had a cameo role in Sailing under the Black Flag, but you’ll see him again, I assure you in my next book: In the Shadow of the Millpond. If you didn’t know, Sailing Under the Black Flag just came out in paperback and on Kindle and, if you haven’t read A Coward’s Solace, what are you waiting for?

If you would like to learn more about the 8th Pennsylvania Regiment of the American Revoultion, check out their webpage at http://mtbumc.org/8thpa1776/index.html

Emails to Booksellers

A couple of weeks ago I bought a list of 800 plus independent booksellers around the US. This list included the name of the contact person, phone number, the email address, and state where the bookseller was located, but that was all. It didn’t mention any specifics so I would have to contact the book sellers to find out more information before I would be able to approach them about buying my books. In my first email, I will have to ask the process this bookseller uses to obtain books and I wanted to know how I might be able to help them sell my books.

So far the email I have sent out has not reaped any results, but I still have some more to send. If I still don’t get any results, I will try again.  IMG_8330 final copy

 

As Author Cygnet Brown, Donna Brown  has  published  several nonfiction books including Simply Vegetable Gardening: Simple Organic Gardening Tips for the Beginning Gardener, Using Diatomaceous Earth around the House and Yard, and Help from Kelp.

She is also the author of historical fiction series The Locket Saga. which includes When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues, and, A Coward’s Solace, Book III of the Locket Saga,  Book IV of the Locket Saga: Sailing Under the Black Flag is also on sale now!

.For more information about Cygnet Brown and buy her books, check out her website at http://www.cygnetbrow.com .


success sign post

Last Tuesday we discussed what I did during the past six months and lessons I learned through the process. As I view the hits and misses, don’t think that I am getting down on myself for the misses. Knowing what isn’t working is as much of the process as knowing what isn’t working.

Last Thursday I explained a new system for not just making goals, but for achieving my production and marketing goals. I determined that my big goal for this quarter is to organize my business by creating a marketing system where I can easily track what I have done and what I need to next. During these next several weeks, I will be working on other writing projects (I still have books that I am writing) but my focus here will be about creating marketing content during my production time that I will share with you during these next several months.

I have found that the most effective way that I can divide my day is that I use the morning hours to do creative things and in the afternoon, I do marketing. For instance, I write these blog posts in the morning when I am most creative. Because I am most creative in the morning, this quarter, I am using some of the morning hours to develop reusable (but personalized) emails and other forms to make marketing easier. The idea isn’t to create busy work for myself, but to create better organization in my own system. The less I have to keep in my head, the more effective I can do what I need to do to promote my books.

I will be discussing marketing templates that I am creating. These templates are meant to improve the publishing and marketing aspects of the business. The intention is to make it more streamlined while at the same time maintaining my personal touch. By having these templates in place I will be able to quickly script emails and phone calls as well other forms of communication.

During the next several weeks, I will be communicating (more than once with most of them) with bookstores, libraries, radio blog hosts, radio talk show hosts, reviewers, other authors and other blog writers. These templates will also help me keep track of what I have already shared with each individual or business.

In the afternoons during my marketing time, I will actually use these templates either in emails or as phone scripts. These templates will help me not only figure out what works, but will help me figure out what I need to do next in the process if anything. In addition, the templates will help me keep track of the information that each contact has been given.

IMG_8330 final copy

As Author Cygnet Brown, Donna Brown  has  published  several nonfiction books including: Simply Vegetable Gardening: Simple Organic Gardening Tips for the Beginning Gardener, Using Diatomaceous Earth around the House and Yard, and Help from Kelp.

She is also the author of historical fiction series The Locket Saga. which includes When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues, and, A Coward’s Solace, Book III of the Locket Saga. The next book Book IV of the Locket Saga: Sailing Under the Black Flag will be out in the near future.

.For more information about Cygnet Brown and her books, check out her website at http://www.cygnetbrow.com .

 

 

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