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In April 2014, I mentioned the creative aspects behind the cover art for our novella, Genesis: Call Sign: Wrecking Crew Slice of Life .   ...

Video courtesy of @jcallenbooks

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Latest Lessons I've learned

First lesson be sure to mention your co-author at every opportunity especially when doing your social media profiles. They tend to get quite testy. It doesn't matter that the blasted thing wouldn't let me say I'm a co-author or co-owner in the drop down menu.  Hey, I was still learning the ropes when I did LinkedIn... it never registered that they changed and that the profiles could be edited.  Kind of busy doing other things here. Issue now resolved.  David hasn't learned much about computers but he is learning how to work his phone. 

For those that don't know, David and computers do not get along.  He feels they are only good for target practice - C4 on them can't hurt either. On the other hand his spouse has a computer.  Now the plan when I was down in Houston doing the book signing, was for me to borrow his wife's computer... no joy. The Internet stopped working - or maybe it was Mr. Murphy doing his best to get in the way.  It slowed me down but did not stop me.  A FedEx Kinko's store was not far away and that's how I accessed the Internet but really quickly -they are pretty proud of their per minute usage rates. Office Depot was a big help with the stand-up poster for the book signing too.  The real kick to the rear-end was trying to do a Podcast with Deena Rae.  We had it set-up for the Wednesday before Thanksgiving via Talk Shoe since I wasn't sure about doing Skype on someone else's computer... not that I actually had access to Skype there as it turns out.  We dialed the number - input the required information.  No Deena for over a half hour.  Turns out Talk Shoe failed to tell her we were even there. 
So we rescheduled the Podcast for 18 December 2013. I got Skype on my computer. I found a microphone. The plan was to put David on speakerphone. "Best laid plans of Mice and Men..." - Deena couldn't hear him at all. I could barely hear him. So I did my best to relay questions. The problem is/was I'm not Deb nor am I, Larry (Call Sign Wrecking Crew characters). I had my hands full with hearing Deena's questions and answering them. My tongue kept getting twisted. To top it off, my speakers were making everything tinny and she was getting reverberation on her end.  Deena assures me that she will work on the sound side of things. The podcast will be posted on Bluebonnets, Bagpipes & Books  in the near future, so be looking out for it or you can just 'follow' via email.  Deena has also been working on a book for aspiring authors, so be watching for my future posts on that as well. 

CSWC Wings of Eagles
As many of you know, we published book 2, Call Sign: Wrecking Crew (Wings of Eagles) in late September. We sold some books at our book signings.  Some were given as gifts.  All were autographed... so imagine my surprise when I discovered our books being sold as used on Amazon.  I couldn't and still can't see anyone who purchased books directly from us selling them used. Only one online print book purchase was registering. I knew who purchased that one.  So I queried Amazon. They basically referred me back to Create Space who assured me that no pirating was going on.  After talking to members of my inner circle it was decided that this might just be a marketing ploy.  They act like an outlet mall. Apparently some people don't pay attention to the retail price... they just presume if it is used it is marked at a lower price.  Buyer beware on that. I've also been assured that books sold through any of the Amazon Marketplace vendors should result in royalties for us.  I certainly hope so because they just don't know how the "Wrecking Crew" rolls. The results are not pretty. 

My advice to everyone reading this - monitor the books being sold and their prices. Find out what the list price is... then go from there. Used does not necessarily mean cheaper. Authors monitor your Create Space channels for royalty payments. 

Lynn Hallbrooks
co-author to David McKoy
co-owners of Call Sign Wrecking Crew, LLC

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Veterans Day Weekend

For those who are not in the know, David McKoy and I are both veterans of the United States Military.  We both go to the VA Medical Centers near us. Not only that our main characters are all veterans from different branches of the service. We support military and veteran causes, as much as we are able. So in honor of Veterans' Day (and the other multi-holidays coming up) we have placed Call Sign: Wrecking Crew (Storm Warning) on sale for 99 cents. I cannot guarantee that all the locations we are selling it on have changed over. 

Also this month, I am going to Houston to meet up with David to go over book 3, tentatively named Call Sign: Wrecking Crew (Scimitar Brotherhood) and hopefully for a book signing event. Since we never really had a book launch for Call Sign: Wrecking Crew (Wings of Eagles)  we decided to do a Rafflecopter for a $25 Amazon gift certificate.

A quick anecdote: 

David: Got a business call today.

Me: Yes?

David: They wanted concrete right away.

Me: Really?

David: Yes, I told them we are novelist. They said, "What?" I told them that we write books. "Oh" Click. 

Me: *Laughing out loud* We'll we do kind of sound like a construction crew. I keep telling Manta that we aren't. 

David: *Heavy Sigh* Just thought you'd like to know.

Me: I did but I still think it's funny.

Hope you enjoy visiting our sites and have a Happy Veterans' Day Weekend. Rafflecopter will begin midnight U.S. Central time on 11/8/13 until 11/12/13 midnight. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Lynn Hallbrooks
co-author to David McKoy
co-owner of Call Sign Wrecking Crew, LLC

Thursday, October 24, 2013

My First Book Signing

Welcome to IVD 2013
My first book signing was an awesome experience because of the people that were with me at the Indie-Vengeance Day event and the people I met. 

Hearty Breakfast with Justin

The day started with a group of us gathering at IHOP. I met people face to face whom I had been chatting online with via Facebook and/or twitter for the past couple years. Yes folks, there are real people behind those avatars and they do eat. By the time everyone arrived we were stretched from the far wall to the door to the back room. After our hearty breakfast and paying our bills we got in our vehicles and headed to Half-Priced Books up the road and over a piece. 

Lynn and Tracy comparing notes
Amber: Sign this please.
That store is about a city block wide and half again deep. I kid you not. I had 4 boxes of books plus other things I thought I would need. I carried in one box and saw some of the other authors using shopping carts. Oh yeah, why didn't I think of that. I get in the room and my good friend Tracy James Jones already had our table staked out.  Up on stage like the Divas we'd like to be. Just kidding - honestly it is the first place she saw to put the books but it worked well.  I could look over the group and see their smiling faces. I also helped direct traffic when I wasn't busy signing something.

Lynn, Tracy, and Charity
We had lots of folks milling around. Some would come in just to see what the heck was going on. Others were looking for a particular genre, I had the honor of pointing them in the right direction. Some came to cheer us on - thanks family and friends. Some picked our brains like Jackie Smith, debut author. Somewhere in the middle I benefited from the collective knowledge of an established author who was like the Lone Ranger - he helped out but I didn't know who he was under that mask. Seriously, Tracy and Charity knew him and that was good enough for me. 

Lynn, Sreya, and Tracy
James, Lynn, and Tracy
After the crowd thinned out we had time to take some pictures with each other. While we're on that subject, I'd like to say a Texas sized thanks to my fellow authors for allowing me to share their pictures with you. Maybe some day my camera will decide to let go of the pictures it is holding captive. Unfortunately, with so many authors, only so many cameras, and so little time, I didn't get to talk to or get pictures with everyone. That's okay, I have my memories aided by their shared pictures. This was a day that will live forever in my heart along with my new author family.
My author family from around the globe and my heart
While I plan on doing more book signings, I doubt there will ever be one that tops this one. 

Thanks again Amber and Scott for allowing me to join in with y'all. Huge thanks to Half Priced Books for providing the portal to knowledge and fun.

Have a great one!

Lynn Hallbrooks

Thursday, October 17, 2013

My Two Cents Worth

My plan for today was to check email then do some reviews. I know I'm backlogged on those and I apologize to those awaiting mine. Your further patience is requested while I get this overwhelming thought out of my head. 

Many of you know that the Call Sign: Wrecking Crew series is political and military. Those are David McKoy's areas of expertise and as a rule I don't talk much about politics. Mostly because I don't know enough about the subject.  I do know about the effects it has had on me and people that I interact with. 

In the email this morning was an article sent out by military.com that talks about veterans et al that won't be receiving their benefit checks come November 1, 2013. You say well I'm not a veteran or survivor how does that affect me? Simple, veterans et al are consumers and bill payers. For some the VA check is their only source of income. For me, it is the only source of income save for what is earned through book sales... which actually goes into the company. From my direct deposit account, I also get money direct debited for life insurance. Now I won't be able to pay them. If enough people can't pay their bills then those companies won't be able to pay their debts...including their employees. Those employees can't pay their bills then how in the world is anyone going to have money for luxuries like books. I know some feel that books are a necessity but not everyone does. If this cycle keeps going then we will have NO economy and NO government to bail us out or pay us benefits. Then what? 

So authors and publishers, if your sales have dropped or are non-existent this might be your answer.  

What can we do? Other than let our Representatives in Washington know how we feel and if they don't listen get rid of them...not much. 

That's my two cents worth. I'm getting off my soap box. By the way, I have contacted my Representative and given him my two cents worth. 

Have a great one!

Lynn Hallbrooks
co-owner of Call Sign Wrecking Crew, LLC

Update: After I finished and posted this, I noticed that the gridlock is temporarily resolved. However, the basic premise I outlined above is still true and possible. Thanks for taking the time to read this. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Being An Author Isn't For the Faint-hearted

Alvin from Chip-wrecked
Is it me or does everyone expect to be an instant success at this self-publishing independent authoring thing. I've been doing it for the last couple years and I can honestly tell you it is not for the faint-hearted. It takes discipline and the courage to keep at it each and every day. There is no baby crying allowed. You don't like how the words fall together then change them. Stop worrying about what others think. If you know in your heart it is the best you can do to capture what your characters are trying to tell you then listen to them. Sure they may try to steer you into a whole new direction... let them. Unless they are like Alvin of the Chipmunks then maybe you need to keep a watchful eye and re-direct them from time to time. 

I'm not saying don't let others view your work and make suggestions. I'm saying that if you have a legitimate reason for what you are doing then let it stand. Take the lumps if they come but don't compromise the big picture. 

Once you have the book written, proofread, formatted for different versions, and published it, you can't stop there. You have to take it to places where it can be seen. I recently discovered Bublish as a new way for readers and authors to connect. It is definitely different. As usual, I had a bit of trouble... you see they currently only take e-pub files. I figured out a solution to my problem.  I remembered I have our book on Smashwords premium. So I downloaded our books as an e-pub and then went to the download section of my computer when it was time to attach them. 

Don't forget about Goodreads. Once upon a time, I think the books actually drifted over from Amazon but that wasn't the case with our two latest books. So I had to enter them manually. Most important thing to have here is an ISBN. That's where Smashwords was most helpful. When I published our books there I requested a free ISBN. Simple now when I need to find our ISBN for other things, I  go to the ISBN manager from our Dashboard. 

I'm still in the process of getting all our books out there to be seen. I also put together a website for Call Sign: Wrecking Crew (Wings of Eagles) and one for myself to feature all of our books, current and future. I even created a new Facebook fan pageI will also be at a book signing event with several of my fellow indie authors. So be looking out for the details on that.

Have a great one!

Lynn Hallbrooks
co-author to the Call Sign: Wrecking Crew series with David McKoy.
co-owner of Call Sign: Wrecking Crew LLC

Friday, July 19, 2013


I don't believe Smashwords is a household name like Amazon or Barnes and Noble but it should be. They give buyers an opportunity to download to Kindle, nook, Sony, Diesel, Apple, and Kobo devices. You can even buy the book once and download it to several different devices.
SW logo
Smashwords logo

Smashwords has awesome deals especially during the month of July and one week in March. Authors can sell their books for a discount or totally free while availing themselves of monetary sales from other vendors. 

If you are an author and have heard horror stories like it's hard to get on board. That can be true. It is difficult but not impossible, you just have to play by their rules. Once you do, your book is available for multiple devices.

If you're a reader, I highly recommend you go there for the awesome deals on multiple genres. Now is a great time to go there because there are so many FREE books.

In case you are wondering, yes Call Sign: Wrecking Crew (Storm Warning) and Many Is the Dream are both on there. Coming soon will be Call Sign: Wrecking Crew (Wings of Eagles) which picks up where Storm Warning left off. Hint, hint, if you've wanted to get Storm Warning now is the time and the price. You'll definitely need to read it before Wings of Eagles.

Another great thing about Smashwords is they support Operation eBook Drop for our troops overseas. We are participating members of that wonderful organization as well. 

Hope I've helped make your day a little better. Have a great one!

Lynn Hallbrooks
co-author to David McKoy

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Breaking free

I'm coming out of my cocoon. I've been wrapped up inside my book cocoon working my way out by type -retype - think - rethink and run through it all over again.  I finally broke through late last night. Right now Call Sign: Wrecking Crew (Wings Of Eagles) is being beta - tested. 

Many thanks to Jennifer Lockstedt and Justin Woods for all their hard work on our cover art.  David feels it is a great representation of what's inside the book. 
CSWCWOE cover art by Jennifer Lockstedt & Justin Woods
Cover Art 

Now that you've gotten a preview of the cover, I'll share the synopsis with you.

Short version
Will the warnings be heeded, so the fearless Eagles can triumph over Evil? Or will Evil win this round?
Longer version
Recognizing that evil knows no bounds, Eagle Protective Service Incorporated, an elite company, employs and trains members to protect or destroy. They do whatever is necessary to get the job done. Call Sign: Wrecking Crew is an integral part of this company. They put their unique talents to excellent use. When put to the test, will their best efforts be enough? Or will Pandemonium reign supreme?
With the first book, I lived alone and did the best with what I knew then. I've learned so much over the last couple years from fellow authors and many different blogs. 
But now that I live with a very active family, I  understand why so many authors go to a remote location when writing. When you have real life going on all around you it is hard to concrete and put forth your best effort. Even putting myself on a social media hiatus didn't stop daily living from interfering. 
I also understand why famous authors hire publicists to run their social media. If they didn't we might not ever see another book come from them. 
The next step of the book process is to take what the beta reader sends me and incorporate as much as possible. We want this book to be as high of quality as we can make it. As it is, I think I've vastly improved from the first book.  However, I'll let you be the judge of that when it comes available. 
For now I'll try to catch up on social media in between doing my daily chores. 

Have a great one,

Lynn Hallbrooks
co-author to David McKoy

Thursday, April 25, 2013

I Love Indie Authors

I really do love independent authors because I never know what to expect. I'm serious there is a lot of talent and imagination out there. Don't get me wrong I also love reading my favorite authors who are traditionally published as well. It's just that in the last couple of years I've read more indie than non indie authors. 

This may stem from the fact that I'm a poor, but thankfully not starving, indie author myself. I freely admit that I do get free books whenever possible.  I do fully intend to write reviews on all that I have read and will read as soon as I possibly can. That being said, whenever I get a gift card now, instead of going for the more expensive traditionally published authors, I prefer to support my fellow indie authors. 

I've read books by indie authors that have made me laugh, cry, mad, and/or sad in all the right places. There have even been  books where I stayed up almost all night reading. In the process I've learned that there is no really wrong way to tell a story. On the other hand, formatting issues including multiple typos or incorrect word use etc. are very distracting to me as a reader. I'm sure it is true for other readers as well.  So if you, the indie author, discover that you have formatting issues then be kind, fix the issues, and then update it on Smashwords or Amazon.  

Let me tell you what I know about updating on Amazon from experience both as an author and a reader. As an author, when I've updated our book, I make sure to let them know. They send me an e-mail saying that they will review the update. If they deem it major changes, they'll push out updates to all customers who bought the problematic one. Now as a reader, I'll get an e-mail, (maybe) to tell me about the updates. E-mail or not, all I have to do is go to Manage My Kindle and follow the simple instructions for Updates. If you don't know already you can access Manage My Kindle by going to Your Account (under your name) on the upper right hand side when signed into Amazon. 

One more thing I've recently discovered, the Kindle version of our book does have the Tweet that you've read... and Rate... this book. That makes me think that Amazon does that with all the books processed by them. What I don't know is if it goes in their data banks or only on twitter. Many moons ago when I discovered that other books had this option, I began to use it. It serves a three-fold purpose, one to let the author know that I've read their works and how I felt about it. Two, I let others know about a book they may not have known about. Three, I can access it to remember when I finished the books. You know some review places like to know that information. 

Did I mention I love indie authors! Because of this I love to help them too. Hope I've been of help to someone today.

Have a great one!

Lynn Hallbrooks
author of the Short Story, Many Is The Dream
co-author of the Call Sign: Wrecking Crew series with David McKoy
co-owner of Call Sign Wrecking Crew LLC

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Have eBook Will Travel

For those that may have missed it, I broke my thumb back in December. It was a silly accident with long term negative consequences including many trips to the VA Medical Center. There was a benefit to this though.

Amazon Kindle Keyboard 3G
Let me back up a minute to explain. June 2012, several generous people got together and sent me a Kindle for my birthday. I love it very much. It contains over 400 books, mainly independent authors. I learned about the books and some great bargains through some form of social media. 

As you can see, Kindles are lightweight, and great when you have a cast on your hand. It has dual page controls which means you can flip from either your left or right thumb. Considering my right thumb was incapacitated for a while that was a wonderful thing. 

An eBook means you don't have to lug around several books in case you finish your current one. This is very helpful, especially on the long train rides to and from the VA. It meant when I finished one body of work, I could quickly switch to another. Let me tell you something, that's very convenient when you have to wait over an hour for an x-ray or to see the doctor. There were times when I had nothing protecting my thumb and thus it was difficult for me to lift heavy things.

The books oftentimes helped to transport me to other places watching other people in more desperate situations than my own. When reality came back into focus, I counted my blessings instead of tears. 

The downside was, I didn't always have time to do my book reviews before starting another book. Yesterday, I finally caught up with all my reviews on Goodreads. That was when I noticed that Smashwords was having their annual Read An eBook Week.  I took a moment and put Call Sign: Wrecking Crew (Storm Warning) in the mix. Later on, I got some great bargains for myself and my Godson. 

So fellow readers, if you have an e Reader that could use a few more books, please take a moment to check out Smashwords and see if you can help change the world around you. 

For my fellow authors, if your book is on Smashwords, and you haven't already done so, go to the Read an eBook section and follow the instructions for authors on the left hand side. A few clicks and a decision later, your book can be available to transport people to your world. 

Have a great one!

Lynn Hallbrooks