Tuesday, January 15, 2019

BookBub ads!

Authors, be aware, a listing on BookBub is a gamble. Yes, they have a great reputation. But they charge outrageous for that reputation. However, paying for an ad on the high-and-mighty BB, despite what most authors believe, does not guarantee success.

I recently paid $900 for the privilege of a listing with their 'New Release' ads. I was shown a chart by BB of the average number of downloads (sales) for their ads. According to their chart, the average number of downloads for my genre would be over 30, 000! That number made me salivate! What an honor to be selected!

What I was not told was that the chart did not include the New Release ads. Just a minor slip. Oops.

It was tough to scrap together that $900. But hey, BOOKBUB! Authors are raving about them, right?
Everyone I chatted with on my FB writer's groups said to go for it. They said it would be well worth it.

For ads on other blogs I usually pay about $50. If I am not giving away a book on the ad, I usually almost break even.

So my BB ad cost EIGHTEEN TIMES what I normally pay for an ad. But I remembered the chart and the average of 30, 000 sales!

The reality was my book was downloaded just over 100 times. That means I made just over $140 back for a $900 ad. My book did a royal belly flop on the biggest stage. It was a bitter lesson.

Somehow BB's highly touted vetting system had failed. Either my title or cover, or both, killed my sales.

The lesson I learned was to test my book through the smaller blogs. And that is lesson that all authors should heed.

It is time to pull my book out of publication on kdp, and repackage it with a new title and cover. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Buried Treasure

The island touching the letter S in Sea, is Bornholm.
Gold coins were discovered on the Danish island of Bornholm in the 1960s. The coins trace back to the French royal families who founded the Knights Templar.

That discovery of gold has ever since created rumor and speculation about treasure.

Before the king of France slaughtered most of the Templar order, the Templar fleet and most of their riches, vanished.

Some say they escaped to Scotland; others point to the mysterious Oak Island, and say that is where the treasure ended up. In the film National Treasure, they make the case that the riches ended up in the USA. It is a great story.

The only facts that can be proven, are these:

1.) The founding members of the Templar tunneled for nine year beneath the Temple of Solomon, and found something that the pope paid a fabulous amount for.

2.) The Templar returned from Jerusalem with tremendous knowledge, and built Chartres Cathedral and many other fantastic buildings.

3.) They helped the Danish king capture rich trading routes along the rivers of Russia. *I believe the Danish flag, the oldest flag in the world, which dates to this period, is a Templar tunic turned sideways.

4.) The Templar built five churches in S. France, and five on the Danish island of Bornholm, that when connected with lines on a map, form a five-sided star. Why? You tell me.

5.) The king of France slaughtered the Templar on Friday the 13th, thereby creating the belief that the day is bad luck.

AFTER A RECENT VACATION ON BORNHOLM, I began work on a series of detective novels involving the Templar story and treasure. What would happen, I ask, if the artifact that the Templar dug up beneath Solomon's temple and sold to the pope, got out to the world? What if it turned up in LA, found by an unsuspecting widow. And after being attacked by thieves trying to get the artifact, the widow hires a bare-knuckles kind of detective to find out what the thing is, and what she should do with it. Enter my first book in the Detective Series: The Templar Map.
Book two, The Killer Trap, is out in paperback now. The Kindle edition launches this Saturday. Book three will be available in February. Buy book one here:  The Templar Map

You can get book two of the Detective Series, here: Book Two, The Killer Trap

Thank you. Check out my site.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

A New Christmas--At Home Depot

A City Christmas
Kevin R. Hill

   It was the day before Christmas, and I was stuck with an eight-hour shift at Home Depot, or Home Cheapo, as the laborers in the parking lot call it. 

   My Little Hitler boss, a bean pole of a lesbian, with tatts across her neck, met me and assigned an aisle for me to straighten. I mean, I wasn’t even on the floor yet, and she found me in the break room. She must have been waiting for me.

   I just nodded as she dished out my chores.

   That’s what a job is, right? They pay us to pretend we care about the work.

   I was on my knees in the tool corral, surrounded by power tools, wondering if the tweeker up the aisle, who I had my eye on, was going to run out with a Milwaukee combo kit, and add some excitement to my day.

   Then a man spoke behind me. “Excuse me, sir, can I barrow a hammer and some nails?”

   I laughed and climbed to my feet. “I’m sorry, buddy, but we don’t—

   It was his smile that silenced me. He stood about six-foot-four, with wide shoulders and jailhouse tatts on his hands.

   “The guys in the Christmas tree lot gave us these pieces of wood to make a stand for our tree.” He held up two pieces of wood.

   I’ll tell you, I wait on a lot of people during a shift. But this guy stopped me in my tracks. His eyes had the look of a soldier after a horrible battle. He had nothing left, but was asking, so softly, for help.

   Beside him stood a Somoan woman and three boys. One of the boys carried a three foot tall tree that was shedding needles. The branches on one side were bare, but that boy held it like it was a life-raft.

   Something touched me. I don’t care what you say. As I looked at that family, I knew that tree was what made them gather. It was something they shared. It wasn’t something to be controlled with Home Depot’s rules.

   I took the wood strips. “That’s a nice tree. Let’s lay it down and see about making a stand for it.”

   The boy looked at his father. “In the aisle?”

   The father smiled and nodded.
   Several customers stood waiting for help, but I rushed away and grabbed a framing hammer off the shelf, along with a box of nails. Home Depot could afford it.

   Most of the kids I see with family are busy laughing and playing and running around the aisles. But these three boys stood silently and watched as I crossed the planks into an X, and hammered.

   When I finished, the smallest boy, about five years old, picked up the tree and let it stand. A smile came to his lips as he touched the tree.

   “We want to thank you, Sir,” said the man.

   I raised my hand, but the man caught my forearm in a vise-like grip. “Thank you,” he whispered.

   The boys walked away with the tree. Behind them walked the man and woman. They stopped before leaving the tool corral, and the woman hugged him and buried her head in his chest.

   That's why I work at the Depot. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Great Adventure!

For a decade I hitch hiked across Europe. In Switzerland I picked apples at the foot of the breathtaking Alps. In Germany I lived in a tent beside the Rhine, and taught English at the Berlitz School.

Cause for deportation?
But that wasn't enough. My back pack took me to a kibbutz in Israel, where I ran a bar, and was ultimately told to leave the country after I cut down a tree for Christmas. How could I have known it was a diplomatic gift from Australia, and one of only three in the country?

After Israel, that back pack carried me to Africa, where I hitch hiked, and paid to ride atop supply trucks. Through Egypt, Sudan, and into Kenya I went, searching.

In Kenya I was offered a position writing for a newspaper. This article convinced me that African journalism wasn't for me.
Granted, it was a slow news day in Kenya. I understand there was a deadline for copy, but this article should not have made a high school newspaper, let alone a national magazine.

I had been given a sign.

At certain times situations arose that allowed me to see how I had changed. I remember arriving in Kenya after weeks of travel atop trucks in Sudan, eating around campfires, squatting in the dirt with the driver and truck boys, eating with my hands from a pot. In Kenya, at the first restaurant I saw, I ordered breakfast. The waitress set my food on the table and hurried away to bring cutlery. In a moment she returned with a knife and fork, but I was eating with my hands. I froze because of the woman's shocked expression.

I remember refusing to enter a hospital because a man was sweeping blood out the front door.

How powerful and strange it felt to be in desolate Sudan one day, filling a water bottle in the White Nile, looking out for crocodiles, and then to be in Scandinavia the following day. The contrast, the difference in culture, language, terrain, climate, people, mentality, was almost too much to bear. Culture shock struck me hard.

I had lived wild and free for months, always moving, traveling, surviving on rock hard dates and water that smelled of purification tablets, for weeks, clinging to ropes as I slept, the truck bouncing and shaking. In the span of one day, I was standing on hill in Denmark, snow falling, the entire world silent, as flakes melted on my face.

Africa changed me. Part of me is still there, captured in sweaty little police station where I was forced to watch a fat policeman beat an eight-year-old boy.

It captured another part of me on a dusty road in Sudan. The truck I was riding on slowed. Through the dust I could see something ahead. Another truck, carrying passengers atop, had driven off the road and tipped over. Injured people lay strewn about. Some were trapped, half crushed. Victims moaned and cried for help as we passed.

Part of me remained there, screaming for my driver to stop until my voice broke.

I tried to stay in Scandinavia. But I was different. When I spoke to friends and described Africa, or Israel, my tales met a look of disbelief. The pain that look brought, always accompanied my silence.

For months I could hear the faint calling of my pack, like the voice of a sexy, tempting ex lover, sitting at the end of the bar, her presence arousing sweet fantasies.

This time my pack, my longing, my searching, carried me to Yucatan, the land of the Maya. There, in a forgotten fishing village, I found an abandoned house, shoveled out the sand of hurricanes past, strung up a hammock, and moved in.

I found the shell of a spear gun buried in the sand. Using metal found in the street--a car antenna--and parts bought in Cancun, I rebuilt the gun. Soon I was swimming to the reef, shooting lobster and the best snapper in the world.

Travel articles appeared. On a portable, manual typewriter, I pounded out a novel.

Writing opened a new chapter of my life. It became my therapy, my drug. When taken daily I no longer needed to roam. I was creating adventures on paper.

Friday, October 14, 2016

The treasure in Mom's home repair.

Mom's sprinklers stopped working. The California sun quickly turned the green lawn into parched dirt.

Now my eighty-three-year-old mother has to fight with the hose and risk a fall, just to water her dirt.

I soon got a call about fixing the sprinklers.

The thought of repairing the sprinklers, and specifically, of returning to the house where I grew up, depressed me. That house was full of ghosts, memories of a wild, smothering childhood. Sometimes I got ill when I visited.

But, to the sun-baked, stucco tract house, I went.

The first day I spent tearing out the old control box for the sprinklers. It was wired into the same 1956
electrical receptacle as the refrigerator, the coffee maker, the radio, the toaster and the blender.

While I stood in the flower bed and twisted wires together, memories of my sisters and I ran about, shouting and waiting for the ice cream man, rushing to swim in a neighbor's pool. And a memory of me sat across the way, parked on the dark street with my first date. 'Working on the night moves....'

Night moves? Well, that's what I like to believe. But actually, I was too nervous to move.

When I finished the control box, I reached into the hole where the sprinkler shut off valve is located. When I turned the valve I felt it break. It would not turn off.

An easy replacement of an anti siphon valve, just turned into 'Mega job.'

I would not be able to quickly escape the memories and mistakes that house represented. I thought about a neighbor boy and I hiding in the garage, terrorizing the house across the street by shooting bb's at their screen door. We were great snipers!

How we laughed, hiding and covering our mouths, each time the bb struck and the woman rushed to the door to see who was bothering her.

I went inside and found my mom sitting at the kitchen table, leaning over a book, a clothes pin holding the pages open. A stack of books stood on the table beside her.

The options were few, and I explained each. She decided to replace thee broken valve with a quality brass valve.

Yep, "we'd replace the valve." That meant me digging up the dirt with a pick axe, and her reading, all cozy with warm tea and toast spread with jam.

I did moan and gripe a bit. But as I have aged I've managed to put things into perspective. I thought about my mom, and how she devoted her life to her family, and worked in a male-dominated field every day, then came home and studied, earning eventually, a masters degree and far better pay for her family. She took my sisters and I from the projects to a safe, clean home, with a yard.

That was why I was repairing her sprinklers.

For years I fought against the house and the memories. I imagined them being terrible. And for years I traveled the world. In new places there is only possibility. I was not shoved into the box of what people remember about me.

As I sat in the dirt, my hands muddy, spreading pvc glue on white pipe, I realized that at some point over the years I shifted the way I thought about the house.

I even laughed as I wiped my hands on a rag, because I wondered if that was what it meant to truly grow up. My beliefs about this house were formed when I was a child. My adult, however, reevaluated and allowed me laugh about the whole thing. Mostly.

After about ten trips to the hardware store, I finished the sprinklers and shoveled dirt back into the holes, removed the top from each pop up sprinkler head and cleaned it.

Mom stood in the sun, her bare feet on the walkway, and shaded her eyes as I demonstrated the watering system, spraying water over her dead lawn, which would soon be growing back to its former glory.

She clapped and laughed.

Inside the house she presented me with a bag of books to return to the library. Together we drove there, and I held her hand as we walked up the walkway. I was free.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Allowing Love

Mom is now eighty-three years old. I used to visit to do maintenance on her house. But as time passed I came to understand that the maintenance was an excuse to be with her.

Now when I pop over I hold her hand. It is how I feel close. I want to believe there will not be an era of my life without her.

By holding her hand we share the moment, and I don't think about watering the trees, fixing the toilet, or mopping the floor. Instead, I simply share the moment with her, share a moment of love when the world does not intrude.

During the years of misunderstandings and arguments, of laughter and shouts, I realized that she was going through a time that Native Americans honor, a time of releasing the world.

Now I try to honor that. I can't ask her to stay, or to think about me and my needs. No, I can only allow her to live her personal journey. That is why I hold her hand. That is when there is only love. I will always hold her hand.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

My Yucatan Timeout

Is it possible to be in love with a place?

Years ago I took a timeout from life in the US, from the nine-to-five grind, and threw it all to the wind.

Yes, I did something that forever established me as the wild one in my family.

I pulled my nose off the grindstone ('Oh my God! How could he?'), and took a timeout to heal from a divorce, to rebuild my life with inner, spiritual work, and do what I needed, what I knew to be the truth for me.

I found a simple Mayan village on the Caribbean, found an abandoned house to live in, carried water in a jug, slept in a hammock, the surf whispering in my dreams.

Imagine letting go of the city stress and instead walking quiet village streets, calling to friends who roll past on creaking bicycles, sandals flopping the hot, sandy asphalt.

The inner work I did there in my shell of a house, geckos darting about the walls, fleeing a cat who often came to visit, a frog residing in the toilet tank, set the tone for years to come. I remembered who I was. I scrapped off the crust, so to speak, of who I thought other people wanted me to be, and found that happy person inside--that jumping, laughing child I lost along the way.

As I work to master the craft required to be a novelist, my village keeps popping up. It became the setting for my latest book, The Mayan Case. And it brought me great pleasure to share with my readers the joy of my village.

I prefer not to think of myself as 'the wild one' in my family, but instead as the authentic one. Is that not what we all should be, what is in our heart to become, what we love, instead of what Mom or Dad wants us to be?

So, I call on all of you to be your own Wild One, and shake off the wants or perceived wants of others, and look in your heart and decide what would really make you happy and keep you in joy? And that is what you need to be doing. That is Truth.
Somewhere, your village is calling ....