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Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Authors Can Create a Series to Sell More Books

    The driving force behind a successful author’s revenue stream is usually a popular fiction series that he or she created. A series in many cases can account for the majority of book sales for an author who may have several to many titles in a bibliography. There are essentially three elements to writing a good series and creating just one suspense-filled novel out of that collection can go a long way.

 Capturing the Reader from the Start of the Series Is Important.

    The first book of the series must be a page-turner, or else everything will fall by the wayside. The first installment doesn’t have to be a full-length novel―it can be a novella or short story―just something exciting enough to get the series started and captivate readers. The first few chapters could start off with a kidnapping for ransom scenario or a disappearance and/or murder mystery. An author has an abundance of ideas for a good storyline to choose from.

Crime Fiction Series

 The Length of a Series Is Also Important.

    The more novels in a book series, the better. There’s no magic number of books for an author to have in a given series, but if the first installment is a success both critically and financially, it only makes sense that an author would add more stories to the mix. My most popular series to date has three books total, and I plan on adding more stories to it in the future. Some authors can have their entire catalog centered around one book series, and if I had to do it all over again, I would’ve focused on building upon my most successful series instead of writing various titles with different characters and themes.

 The Price of the First Book in Series Is Vital to Attracting Readership.

    The price of the first book in a series is crucial to an author’s success. Some authors make the first book permafree as a ploy to hook their readers. Others may offer a discount to readers, depending on the length of the book, but the majority of authors prefer to offer a discount as opposed to free. I don’t believe in making any of my books free for an extended amount of time because I’ve learned that customers value books more if they pay for them. However, there’s nothing wrong with offering the first book at a discount because it’s a good way to garner readers, and if the first book is a hit, they will pay regular price for the subsequent titles.

    In conclusion, new authors should focus on crafting a series instead of single novels. The path to consistent sales month after month is quicker once the first, second, and third installments become popular, and the Amazon algorithm will help boost sales even more by increasing the number of visitors on an author’s sales page.

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Who Is Mark Stephen O’Neal?

    I grew up on the southside of Chicago in the 70s and becoming a writer was undoubtedly the furthest thing from my mind at that time. My fixation with baseball grew while watching the Cincinnati Reds win two World Series championships, and I was determined to be the best baseball player I could be and possibly make it to the majors someday. However, that dream began to die a slow death when I realized that I wasn’t as good as I thought I was at the start of high school. I was cut from the frosh-soph baseball team my first year and never went to tryouts again―my confidence was shattered as I was a very shy kid who didn’t like to come out of his comfort zone. However, I still loved the game and played in the neighborhood league until I turned eighteen. My love of playing baseball died completely when I struck out five times in one game the final year of playing organized ball, and that pivotal moment made me wake up to the fact that my focus had ultimately shifted in another direction.

High School Baseball Player

    College and girls became my new focus, and I wandered aimlessly during that time frame trying to discover my true purpose in life. Two schools and six years later, I graduated college without honors and bounced around from job to job for many years afterward until I found a career that suited me as a paralegal. I also found my newfound passion for writing during that period as well. Long story short, I found my purpose through prayer and renewed faith, and this, in turn, totally turned my life around.

    So, who am I today? I haven’t let COVID-19 kill my passion for life or writing, though I’m a tad bit more reclusive than I used to be. I like my job as a paralegal, and I love being a writer and creating stories that center around my hometown of Chicago.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Drama Sells When It Comes to Writing Fiction Novels

    Think about one of the most exciting books that you’ve ever read―you didn’t want to put the book down from the opening paragraph as each chapter painted a cinematic picture full of drama and suspense. There were characters you loved and rooted for as well as characters you hated and wanted to see them get what was coming to them. New authors can hit the ground running and create a potential bestseller by applying three basic rules to writing their first novel.

 Create Conflict.

    The most important aspect of writing a novel is to keep readers on edge, and the best way to accomplish this goal is to stir up conflict with the main character as well as the supporting cast. For example, let’s say that the main character named Johnny is a successful night club owner and is happily married, but he’s also a womanizer and likes to have a little fun on the side. An author can construct a narrative centered around Johnny getting caught by his wife cheating, and everything will ultimately come to a head when the other woman sends the wife nude photos of him making love to her. Every chapter leading up to the climax must contain excitement and tension that keeps readers entertained from start to finish.

Love Triangle

Try to Generate Controversy in as Many Scenes as Possible.

    There’s an art to holding a reader’s interest long enough to finish a novel―generate as much controversy as possible without wasting any scenes in the book. Each chapter should have a purpose in moving the story along or telling a backstory and shouldn’t just be a throw-in scene to give readers a breather because an author runs the risk of losing the audience altogether. Another example is the wife’s best friend confronting our protagonist Johnny in a restaurant having dinner with his mistress and threatening to expose him by telling his wife what she knows. This, in turn, adds another layer to an already thickening plot.

The Main Character Must Have Something to Lose.

    The main character should undoubtedly have something to lose in the story―as in the case of Johnny―who has everything to lose once his wife finds out about his philandering ways. When the inevitable happens and Johnny’s lies are exposed, his wife will kick him out the house. Once he reaches this crossroads in his life, he will then either find a way to reconcile with his wife or lose everything that he cherishes in a divorce―it’s at the author’s discretion as to what direction to go in.

    In conclusion, an author can have all the markings of a good book if these three steps are applied. Conflict and controversy are the key ingredients in moving a storyline to an explosive climax, and if an author can consistently apply this formula to writing fiction, the sky is the limit to his or her potential for success.

Friday, June 10, 2022

Surging Gas Prices in 2022: What Does the Future Hold for the U.S.?

      2 Esdras 16:19

 “Behold, famine and plague, tribulation and anguish, are sent as scourges for amendment.”

     There have been more than two hundred thousand drivers (fifty thousand stranded drivers in April alone) stranded in the country this year due to empty tanks and soaring gas prices according to an article written in the Washington Post. As the national average of gas reaches $5 per gallon, people are now starting to make difficult decisions about basic living expenses. Chicago gas prices are off the charts―they are as high as $6.69 per gallon for regular and almost seven bucks for premium in some parts. I only live a few miles from the Indiana border, so I save as much as a dollar per gallon and thankfully so, because it takes $90 to fill up my tank.

Soaring Gas Prices

    So, the question of the day is: what does the surging price of gas mean for consumers? Well, for starters, rising prices will inevitably lead to more extreme food shortages as truckers won’t be able to stay solvent due to their fuel costs. And, if gas prices continue to climb without stabilizing, prolonged food shortages will lead to famine, and famine will ultimately lead to anarchy.

   The most expensive gas in the country is located in Mendocino, California―Schlafer's Auto Repair is selling regular gas for $9.60 for a gallon, according ABC30 News in Fresno, California. Americans will need to prepare themselves for the worse case scenario as hyperinflation continues to plague the country and limiting one’s driving is only a temporary fix to this ever-growing problem at the pump.

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Is America Ready for a Cashless Society?

    The Great Reset is happening right before our eyes, and many people are too blind to see it. Humanity is on the brink of World War III, famine and pestilence are practically in full swing, and crime and murder rates are off the charts. The beginning of 2 Esdras Chapter 15 is playing out like the opening scene of a movie, and we’re in the beginning stages of a cashless society. Once check writing becomes completely obsolete, it’s only a matter of time before cash is eliminated from circulation. I liken this situation to a frog being placed in a pot of water and the heat being turned up ever so slowly to the point that the frog doesn’t realize it’s being boiled alive until it’s too late. So, what are the ramifications of having a cashless society? Things are only going to get worse and here’s why.

 A Cashless Society Means the End of Small Business.

    There are still small businesses that rely heavily on cash because they can’t afford the fees associated with credit card terminals. For example, takeout restaurants and convenient stores that aren’t franchised, barbers and hairstylists who have their own shops, and currency exchanges will suffer the most; and only the strongest businesses will survive a reset like this. Venues like concert halls or sporting arenas have already implemented credit and debit card only events, and this will inevitably trickle down to other businesses in the not so distant future.

Cashless Society

 Cybercrime Will Increase.

    Once cash becomes obsolete, there will be a significant rise in cybercrime in the underground economy. The days of selling drugs and illegal guns or prostitution will be a thing of the past, but there will be a dramatic increase in credit card fraud and individual bank accounts being hacked. The common criminal will either adapt or become extinct as the dark underbelly as we know it will evolve into something much worse.

 There Will Be Sedition Among Men.

    As the price of gas and food continue to rise, there will be a steady decline in the economy. Food shortages across the globe are starting to manifest, joblessness is on the rise, and homelessness is at an all-time high. Society is on the brink of collapse and doing away with the dollar will send the country into an economic tailspin. Once this happens, there will be civil unrest, murder, and mayhem everywhere.

    A cashless economy is equated to a locomotive with no brakes hurtling to destruction. The stage is set for a complete collapse of this system―the perfect storm if you will. People can sense that the end is near, but nothing can be done to stop it.

Five Ways Authors Can Perfect Their Craft in Writing

     The only experience that I had in writing before I wrote my first book was a creative writing course taken in my first year of college ...