Monday, February 11, 2013

Is it ok to text during a meal with others?



Mobile Devices May Lead To Less Communication

50% of 18 – 29 year-olds think texting while having a meal with others is perfectly fine. Only 15% of 30+ year-olds thought the same. Source: A survey by The Center for the Digital Future at the University of Southern California, as reported by USA Today.

I think that you will start to soon see signs at public restaurants that say No Phones In The Dining Area. People are just so tethered to their devices that they think nothing to have it on the table during a meal with others. Years ago they had signs outside saloons saying you could not bring your guns inside. Times have changed for sure.

Interview With Self-Published Author Pat Ritter


1.                  What are the rewards -- and challenges -- of being a self-published author? There are so many – too many to quote. I’ve been writing and publishing books since 1988 when my first book ‘Closing The Gap’ – Link: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/52861was published by a traditional publisher and sold 8000 copies. At the time I thought how easy is this?Unfortunately after the ship sailed, I was left floating in a single boat in the middle of the ocean without oars.

Although I had experienced writing a book, publication, promoting, advertising and sales, I thought with this knowledge - I could do it myself. This was to be an interesting and adventurous journey with many ups and downs.

In 1990 I suffered a heart problem requiring an implantation of a pacemaker. This operation caused a life crisis, not only with my health but loss of a twenty year career. I fell into a DEEP BLACK HOLE of depression. Over time I subsequently pulled my way out.

This gave me an idea to write a book (my first attempt at self-publishing) about my life experience. I wrote and self-published ‘How Could This Happen To Me’ – Link: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/9221. I advertised, by printed brochure and sending them to hospitals in Australia - eventually 1000 books sold.

At forty-two years of age I commenced a new career as an alcohol and drug counsellor (I am an alcoholic – stopped drinking 13th January 1977). Whilst continued to sell ‘Closing The Gap’ via mail brochures; I discovered parents needed to become more aware of ‘drugs in our society’ to alert them if their child was taking drugs. I wrote and self-published ‘Parents – STOP – Be Aware Of Your Child – Taking Drugs: Link: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/67699.

Shortly after publishing this book I discovered young people in our local community experienced difficulties in goal setting; peer group pressure and similar life experiences. I wrote and published ‘Programme Workbook For Young People’ – Link: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/66114. This workbook I used in my work as a counsellor and found it was most successful for young people to meet their needs.

In 2000 I decided to have my own website: www.patritter.com.au. One of my ideas at the time was to write my books and sell them as electronic books from my website. It didn’t happen. Instead I promoted my website, advertising the books plus stories I’d written by distributing a monthly newsletter. At least I was reaching many people in different countries across the globe, particularly in Australia via e-mails.

In 2001, by chance I meet John McMullen, a celebrity in Queensland Harness Racing. I approached him to ask if I could write his life story. After some time he agreed. This was my first attempt at writing a non-fiction account of a person’s life. ‘Hollywood’ John McMullen Story’ – Link: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/7906I wrote and self-published. I might add at this time after I’d written any book I always printed 500 copies for sale. This book gained a national award.

Sadly in 2003, I lost the person closest to my heart. My wife lost her fight with cancer and passed away. In dedication to her life I wrote ‘In Remembrance of Bub’ – a tribute to her life can be downloaded free from my website. She was a wonderful human being and I loved her dearly.

After she passed away I was lost in grief and retired from the workforce to settle in retirement at Brooloo in the Mary Valley where I have lived for ten years. Through my grieving process a message kept repeating in my mind, I wanted to retire, to write fulltime. Subsequently I sat at my computer and began to write ‘Confessions of an alcoholic’ – Link: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/7688. Marketing and selling this book became an obsession via my website; mail coupons and local bookstores.

Self-publishing became far too expensive; particularly the cost of printing books; sales didn’t cover the cost of printing each book. For reasons unknown, I’d sell two hundred copies, which covered initial costs, however, sales diminished leaving the remainder still in their boxes in my office. Prices to produce far outweighed the cost consumers wanted to pay. I remember travelling to bookshops, peddling my books to the owner, almost pleading to take them, who admitted unknown authors didn’t sell. Something had to give. Either I needed to look at a better way to market my books or die in the process.

2009. Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords - my saviour. Mark created a website for Indie Authors, such as myself to publish their books world-wide. If it wasn’t for Mark and Amazon, I couldn’t tell you where I’d be right now. This gave me an opportunity to not only write books, publish but also market through these websites and other websites.

2010. I was having problems with what I wanted to write. For the past couple of years I’d attended a local writer’s group which didn’t comply with my writing. The members were judgemental and critical. An advertisement in a local free magazine about Pomona Writers Group caught my eye. At first I was a little sceptical joining this group because of my previous experience. I’m pleased to say I gave it a go and this led onward and upward with my writing career.

This group was totally different. If there is a model for a writers group, then this is the model. No judgement – write from your heart. Blood again burst through my brain and writing became a daily pleasure and experience. Weekly the facilitator gave us a topic to write, no more than 500 words when each members reads their story. At the end of each year I self-publish these stories into an ebook and named them OMR (One Minute Reads): Link: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/71550; https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/120881; https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/270499.

My family mean the world to me. Many a time my children ask about different experiences in my life. Subsequently, I wrote a memoir of my own life. ‘Dream Angel’ – Link: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/5928became my life story. The book is self-published as an ebook on both websites. I print about a dozen for friends and family members to give them one each as a Christmas present.

Over the years of my writing career I’d read about changing from non-fiction to storytelling. This was the direction I wanted my writing to go. I read somewhere it takes five years for this change. Whom ever wrote this information was spot-on.

My deceased father-in-law was a drover in outback Australian during the 50’s and 60’s. I went with him a couple of times on a droving trip and found the experience absolutely boring and brain dead. Around the camp fire at night he’d tell yarns of his experiences. After thirty years since I accompanied him on these trips I decided to write his story as an attempt at my first storytelling book. ‘The Drover’ came to life before me: Link: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/95766. This book is my best seller.

2011 I wrote and self-published ‘The Proposition’ (A Bundy Quicksilver Mystery): Link: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/246166. This book came about when I received two medals from the Commissioner of Police for service rendered. I served as a police officer in Queensland Police Service for twenty years before I retired on medical grounds (pacemaker). After twenty years in retirement I received these medals which prompted writing this book.

My rewards for being self-published are ongoing, unbelievable at times when I view the sales from ebooks purchased and downloaded from the two websites. Reviews pick me up when I read them to push me onto becoming a better writer.

2.                  What is your current book about and what inspired you to write it?  For many years I’d heard stories filtered through my family, about my great grandfather who was the instigator of ‘The Great Shearers Strike in 1890’; an event in Australian history which almost crippled the country.

‘The Shearer’ came about for two reasons. First, a couple of years ago I wrote and published ‘The Drover’ – Link: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/95766 which is selling off the map. Readers obviously love reading stories about outback Australia. So I thought I’d give them more outback Australian stories to read.
Secondly, information gleaned from my grandmother and aunt revealed my great grandfather (my grandmother’s father) was the instigator of ‘The Great Shearers Strike in 1890′ where shearers from across the country put down their shearing blades and went on strike for better working conditions and wages.
After researching the topic I discovered many ideas to write a story about my great grandfather’s exploits (fictional) because I never had the opportunity to meet him only listen to family stories.

I don’t know if similar things happen to other authors when they’re writing a book, but with me I am focused so much on the subject at hand I tend to dream about the story I’m about to write. In this case after I decided to write ‘The Shearer’ I started to dream about the scenes from page 1. This initial scene saw my great grandfather in the police cells at Cunnamulla Police Station. His right eye black and bruised, each muscle ached and sore from being beaten by the police.
He’d been arrested and placed in the cells. Escape was impossible. Similar scenes developed in my mind from day to day as I wrote the story. I actually placed myself in his shoes. If I may explain this in simple terms – it’s like writing on the seat of your pants, allowing the story to take on a life of it’s own.

In fact I love to write this way because it’s creative and energises my mind. After I write a passage for the day I feel terrific and want to write more but can only write so much each day, about 600 words.

This is my thirteenth novel, so I hope it will be lucky thirteen.

So far I’m happy with my writing. If there was some way to connect thoughts in our mind to a computer to record them at the time, would be a blessing, however, with no such instrument there is no other way than to sit at the computer and write. Use plenty of bum glue.

3.                  What role did research and editing play in how you constructed your book? Research takes up much of my time, particularly with ‘The Shearer’. Because the story is fictional, I need to discover what took place between 1880 and 1890 in early Australian history. Like for instance, when was the cast iron copper bought to Australia?

On my last holiday I was fortunate enough to discover a book at a newsagency in outback New South Wales; ‘On The Sheep’s Back’ which contains a history of shearing in Australia. Also, information gleaned from different websites came in handy. A visit to ‘The Shearer’s Hall Of Fame’ in Hay, New South Wales will no doubt help me overcome those times when a shearer clipped the wool with hand shears instead of modern day of power shears.

Editing is always an issue. When I write, I want to tell the story in my own words. Write the way I speak. I know I’ve always had a problem with the words being – back to front – at times and need readjusting to sound right to the reader.
Over time I’ve needed to find the right person to edit my work, I’ve fail to find the correct one who doesn’t change my voice in the story. When I write, I tell it as it flows from my mind, particularly the right side of my brain. Sadly I do receive negative feedback from reviews about editing; however, with 98% of readers excited about the story, there are only 2% who complain about grammar and spelling.

This is an area I must improve which I’m working hard on.

4.                  What advice do you have for struggling writers? In three words NEVER GIVE UP!

I love to write daily. If I don’t - I feel I’m letting myself down. Presently working on my 13thnovel, hopefully it will be lucky. Writing is a lonely task and if I have learnt anything from writing, it is to write from the heart, let your words possess the feeling as if you were explaining to another how you feel, show passion and a love for writing.

5.                  Where do you see book publishing is heading? Good question. I read from research, Indie Authors are climbing the ladder in the publishing world. Having tested the waters of traditional publishers and self-publishing; my preference is self-publishing.

Reason why I say this is because I am an Indie Authorand Self-Publisher - market and sell my own product. I have total control over the outcome of what I do. I can’t blame any other person if my book isn’t out there in the market place for readers to choose.

Writing, formatting, editing, self-publishing, marketing and selling is not easy, particularly when everything is based on doing it yourself. I love it. Daily I post a page from a book I’d written and self-published onto facebook in a group ‘keeping up with my writing’: Link: http://www.facebook.com/groups/142322619148826/. I’m surprised how many readers, read this page daily and tick ‘like’. If I haven’t posted the page by 7.30am – readers let me know.

Another marketing tool I use is posting the same page I post on facebook onto a website: http://www.mzawf.org/viewforum.php?f=49with a distribution of half-a-million viewers. Presently 68% are viewing my daily post.

Of course most satisfying of all are the sales from readers on the two websites, Smashwords and Amazon. Daily I check sales of each book to see which book is selling where and how many. It’s exciting and a dream comes true.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This blog is copyrighted material by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2013 ©

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