Jeanne Owens, author

Blog about author Jeanne Owens and her writing


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Fable – Tuesday Use It In A Sentence #tuesdayuseitinasentence

She thought the adventurous stories her grandmother used to tell about her youth had been nothing but one fable after another, but while going through her things after she passed, Julia found a hidden journal and photos squirreled away in a hidden compartment of a desk that proved they had been true after all.

This post is part of the Tuesday Use It In A Sentence prompt, “fable”:

https://stephaniecolpron.wordpress.com/2020/10/13/tuesdayuseitinasentence-fable/


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The Medium – Stream of Consciousness Saturday #SoCS

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Jack and Jen stood in the living room of their new home and heaved a sigh. It had taken a few weeks but they had finally finished unpacking everything. Jen took a look around the room, making sure everything was where it should be – photos on the walls, books on the bookcase, knickknacks on the shelves and in the curio cabinet, Fluffy’s dog bed in the corner, … With a nod of approval, she collapsed on the couch. Jack joined her a moment later.

“Finally,” Jack said. “I though we’d never finish.”

“I know. But we did. And now, this place can finally start to feel like home.”

“Yeah.”

It was getting late, so the couple decided to retire for the night. As they left the living the room and were heading to bed, a small figurine in the curio cabinet turned slightly toward them.

In the middle of the night, Jen woke up, thinking she’d heard footsteps outside the bedroom door. Heart pounding, afraid someone had broken in, she roughly shook Jack’s arm to wake him, then told him what she’d heard. He shook his head, sure she’d just dreamed it, and was about to tell her that when Fluffy jumped down from the bed and ran to the door. Then he heard the footsteps outside the door, too, clear as day. 

Jack hurried to the door and yanked it open. Fluffy ran out into the hall and towards the living room while Jack peered up and down the hall for who was walking around. To his surprise, no one was there. Confused, he checked each room along the hall, but found no one. He then made his way towards the front of the house to check there. When he got to the living room, he found Fluffy sitting in front of the curio cabinet, staring intently at it. Some of the figurines had be turned around inside it. One of the photos was hanging cockeyed on the wall, as well.

Stunned, Jack called out for Jen to come see it. When she arrived, she gasped in shock. “What’s going on, Jack?” she asked fearfully.

“I don’t know, Jen. I know what it looks like, but it can’t be. Can it?”

“Surely not,” she replied, but finding it hard to discount her eyes.

The couple returned to bed but found it hard to sleep. The next few days found more strange happenings. More things moved around. The sound of footsteps continued, along with the occasional whispered voice. Even an odd shadowy figure began to be seen.

When Jen awoke one night to see the indistinct figure of a older woman standing beside her, she screamed. The figure vanished as Jack awoke with a start and Fluffy sat up at the foot of the bed, instantly alert.

Jen tearfully recounted what she’d seen, and Jack decided they had no other choice but to do something about the problem.

The next day, Jack did some online research and made a few phone calls. The following day, a middle-aged woman arrived at the house. Jack let her in and introduced her to Jen as Linda, a local psychic medium he’d asked to come take a look at the house and possibly tell them what was going on. Jen started to tell her what they’d experienced but Linda held up a hand and walked purposefully to the living room. Jack and Jen followed.

“This room is where the majority of the experiences have been, correct?” Linda asked as she placed a hand on the curio cabinet.

Jen nodded but explained that things had happened throughout the house. She and Jack then led her around the house to let her get a feel for the whole place. Then they returned to the living room.

Linda took a seat on the couch, closed her eyes, let her breathing slow and her senses reach out around her. She began softly asking questions of whatever might be there.

After a few minutes, she opened her eyes and looked at Jack and Jen. She gave them a small smile. “You have nothing to fear,” she told them. “I have sensed no evil here, only the presence of one spirit. She tells me her name is Martha, and she used to live in this house. She didn’t mean to scare you. She was only trying to let you know she was here. She asked me to tell you that she’s happy to have you living here with her, as she’s been lonely and she likes you, and she hopes you will stay.”

Jack and Jen released breaths they didn’t realize they’d been holding. Relieved to know there was nothing bad in the house, they agreed to try living with Martha as long as she kept activity to a minimum, believing they could handle a little minor spiritual activity once in a while.

As the medium took her leave, Jack and Jen thanked her for her help, and Linda told them to call her if they ever needed her help again. Jack didn’t think they would, but he said they would if they did. Linda gave them a smile that seemed genuine but for some reason also made Jack feel a little uneasy, then drove off.

As Jack watched Linda drive off, he shrugged, thinking he’d imagined things, and he and Jen headed back inside the house.

Things in the house were peaceful for Jack and Jen from then on, with only a little ghostly activity from Martha now and again.

At least, for a while…


This post is part of the Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt, “medium”:

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS Oct. 10/2020


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Excerpt from A Goddess Awakens

I haven’t been working on my WIP book for a good long while. I’ve been wanting to get back to it, but one thing or another has kept me from it – life in general, maybe some procrastination, …  

Anyway, I’m hoping to start getting back to working on it soon, and thought I’d share a small snippet from it, both for you all to enjoy and as a way to try to get me more motivated. So here’s the last bit that I’ve written on my WIP, A Goddess Awakens:

*****

Althea met Raven, Tarn, and Wren for breakfast in the dining area of the Golden Crown Inn. She had slept fitfully, her worry over Loren’s visit to the elves keeping her awake until the early hours and then invading her dreams. She was relieved, though, that her dreams had been free of Aerith for a change. 

The priest and two mages had secured a table at the far end of the dining room and had already ordered breakfast by the time she’d arrived. Althea tried to stifle a yawn as she took a seat across from Tarn and reached for a piece of toast and jam.

“Long night?” Tarn commented.

“I didn’t sleep well.”

“It wasn’t Aerith, was it?” he asked with concern, given the goddess’s growing attempts to take control of the swordswoman.

Althea shook her head and took a bite of toast. “No. She actually left me alone.”

“It was Loren, wasn’t it?” Raven said knowingly. “You were worried about him.”

“Yes. I can’t stop thinking about him going to visit the elves alone, after what he said about how they might react to him. I even had a nightmare about it.”

“At least Aerith wasn’t influencing you or anything, though,” said Wren. “That’s good, isn’t it?”


“It was a nice having a normal nightmare for a change and not having her even show up in a dream, let alone try to use a dream to control me.”

Tarn tried to hide a worried look by stuffing a piece of toast in his mouth, but Raven noticed and frowned slightly. Aerith’s influence on Althea had been steadily growing, and she reportedly had been appearing in her dreams, at the very least, almost nightly. Yet now she didn’t show up at all? That didn’t sound all that good to the mage, and apparently not to the priest either. The goddess may be up to something, possibly about to try something new to control Althea, Raven reasoned as she stared into her cup of hot tea with a small frown that went unnoticed by the others.

“I just hope Loren will be okay,” Althea said softly as she lifted her mug of tea to take a sip. “I wish I could have gone with him. We’ve been partners for so long and have been through so much together, it feels strange for me to be left behind while he goes off to do something potentially dangerous.”

“I’m sure Loren will be fine,” Wren said as she grabbed a piece of toast from the central plate on the table. “He’s an elf. He knows what to expect and what to do, and can take care of himself. And Anju is with him. Don’t worry so much. He’ll be back with us in no time.”

“You’re right, Wren,” Althea said with a small smile of gratitude as she took another piece of toast. “I guess I am worrying too much. Thanks.”

The sound of heavy footsteps running into the dining room and an anxious voice calling Althea’s name grabbed the group’s attention, as well as the attention of everyone else in the crowded room.

 


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Capture – Tuesday Use It In A Sentence #tuesdayuseitinasentence

He sat at the library table and watched her from across the room as he always did, wanting so much to go talk to her but afraid to; she’d captured his heart from the moment he saw her weeks ago but he had no idea what to do to capture her heart in return.

 

This late post is part of the Tuesday Use It In A Sentence prompt, “capture”:

https://stephaniecolpron.wordpress.com/2020/09/24/tuesdayuseitinasentence-capture/


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The E-Collar – Stream of Consciousness Saturday #SoCS

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Lucy set the cat carrier down and shut the front door. Then she took the carrier into the living room and set it on the couch. A little black cat mewed from inside the carrier as she rummaged in her large purse.

A tortoiseshell cat wandered into the living room and over to the couch. She looked up at the carrier and asked the black cat, “How did it go at the vet, Salem?”

“It wasn’t too bad, Patches,” Salem replied. “I don’t remember some of it, for some reason, but Mom says my big boy surgery went well. So I guess now I’m a big boy.” He purred a little at the thought.

Patches seemed to smirk as she said, “Oh, yeah, you’re a big boy now, Salem. Do you even know what happened during that surgery?”

Salem stopped purring abruptly, not liking Patches’ tone. “No. What?”

“Don’t you feel pain in a certain location?”

“Yes, a little. They gave me some drugs, I think, to dull the pain.”

“Think, Salem. What’s in the area where you’re feeling the pain?”

Salem focused his attention on the location where the pain was. After a couple of moments, he realized what Patches was referring to and understood finally what had happened at the vet.

Salem began yowling from the carrier, upset at what he’d been put through, and Patches watched in amusement.

Lucy then found what she was looking for in her purse and pulled it out. It was a clear, plastic E-collar that the vet had given her to put on Salem to keep him from messing up the stitches from his surgery. Patches saw it and her amusement grew.

Lucy opened the carrier and took out Salem, who squirmed in her hand and yowled more. She put him in her lap as he continued to struggle, and with minor difficulty managed to fit the E-collar around the black cat’s neck. Then she set him on the couch and took the carrier away.

Salem sat on the couch, miffed at his situation and biting at the collar as he tried to figure out a way to get it off. Patches laughed at him.

“What’s so funny?” Salem asked grumpily.

“You look like a satellite dish, Salem. Or a lamp.”

“Ha ha. Very funny, Patches. How about you do something a little more comforting, huh? I mean, I did just have you-know-what done.”

Patches jumped up on the couch, went over to Salem, and leaned against him. “I love you, lamp,” she quipped.

Salem rolled his eyes. “Shut up, Patches,” he replied.

Photo is from my Pinterest

This post is part of the Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt, “collar”:


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Sharp As A Tack – Stream of Consciousness Saturday #SoCS

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Jenny opened the backdoor and stepped outside, calling for her poodle puppy Shasta to follow her. The little apricot puppy did as asked, barreling out the backdoor after her owner. Jenny’s boyfriend, Michael, followed after them. Jenny had said that poodles were a smart breed, so he was curious to see just how smart the energetic fuzzball was.

It was a pretty, sunny Autumn day, and a light breeze was blowing through the trees. Occasionally, a red or yellow leaf would drift to the ground. Jenny stood in the middle of the yard as Shasta ran circles around her, eager to play.

“Shasta,” Jenny called. “Come here!”

Shasta continued to run around Jenny while letting out small yips of excitement.

Michael chuckled from the back porch.

“Shasta!” Jenny called. “Come! Sit!”

Shasta stopped running and looked up at Jenny, her head tilted quizzically to one side.

“Shasta, sit!” Jenny repeated firmly, pointing to the ground in front of her. 

Shasta stared at Jenny again, then sat down. Her rear had barely touched the grass when she spotted a squirrel in the yard by the back fence. Shasta instantly took off after it, her little barks echoing across the yard as she ran. The squirrel jumped the fence and scurried up the nearest tree. Shasta stood at the fence, barking up the tree at the squirrel.

Jenny heaved a sigh and shook her head.

Michael laughed and said, “Oh, yeah, she’s as sharp as a tack, Jenny!”

“Stop laughing, Michael,” Jenny replied. “She’s still a puppy and we’ve haven’t been working long on her training. Just you wait. I’ll have her doing all sorts of tricks.”

At the fence, Shasta was jumping up and down, trying to figure out how to get over the fence and get to the squirrel. Michael saw her and snickered. “Sure,” he told Jenny. “I’d like to see that.”

They turned and started to head inside. They didn’t see Shasta spot a pile of junk not far away that was leaning against the fence and start to make her way towards it, intending to climb up it and over the fence.

As Michael and Jenny started to head inside, Jenny called for Shasta. Shasta paused on top of the first piece of junk, gave the squirrel in the tree a brief look of longing, then ran off to follow Jenny inside.

 


This post is part of the Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt, “sharp”:

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS Sept. 5/2020


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Inexpensive Small Business Marketing Tips For Authors

I recently completed a free online class, Small Business Marketing On A Shoestring Budget, and I thought some of the tips would be useful for indie authors who want help with marketing on the cheap. After all, indie authors are a type of small business, right? And most of us can’t really afford to pay a lot for marketing, and many of us have to do it ourselves. So I thought I’d share a few of the tips from the class for any indie authors who might be interested. There was a lot of information, but I’ll try to focus on what can be of use to indie authors most, especially about getting noticed.

Now then, let’s get started.

The Purchase Decision Cycle

One of the key things to keep in mind when you try to develop a marketing approach is the Purchase Decision Cycle. This is the decision-making steps of a potential buyer. To be effective, your marketing approach should deal with each step of the Cycle:

  1. Notice: this is when a potential customer becomes aware of a product or service that might fill a need or desire
  2.  Consider: this when weighs their options and considers things such as if your product might be better than a competitor’s, if the company is trustworthy, if you can offer a better deal, etc.
  3. Purchase: this is when they finally buy an item or service. Keep in mind this is only halfway through the cycle.
  4. Experience: this is when the customer uses the item or service and determines how good it is.
  5. Repeat purchase: if the customer had a good experience, they will come back again and again, leading to:
  6. Refer: this is when the happy customer refers you to their friends and acquaintances, and the cycle starts over.

Getting Noticed

The key to getting noticed is selling yourself. This can be one of the harder things for indie authors to do, but also the most important. Some of the key things you can do to get noticed include:

  1. Create a brand identity: this isn’t just making a brand logo and tag line. You want to put them everywhere you can for instant recognition: website, business cards, packaging, letterhead, newsletters, etc. Also, create an automatic email signature with your logo and contact info.
  2. Contact everyone in your personal contacts – friends, family, acquaintances, etc. – and promote to them. They’ll spread the word to people they know.
  3. Position yourself as an expert: this can be done in a variety of ways. Blogging, of course, is one way. You can run your own blog and share informational articles. You can also guest blog on other blogs. Other ideas include teaching a free class and talking about what you know (for example, as an adult education class at a community college), or offering a free class at a local library, club, school, etc. Be sure to bring marketing material to the classes you teach. You can also consider writing a column for a local paper or magazine, writing an e-book, or being a guest speaker.
  4. Send out press releases. This can establish credibility because the message comes from the news media. It will also reach a large number of people. If you send out the press release yourself, it’s free.

Leverage Others

This is about working with marketing partners to find new customer leads. This can be done in a couple of ways. One way involves two businesses agreeing to promote each others’ businesses, in a sort of “barter exchange”.  The other way is forming a network of businesses to work together on marketing campaigns. Ideas of partnership promotions that indie authors could do include promoting each other on websites, email newsletters, social networking pages, sharing samples, marketing material, etc.

Place-based Marketing

Place-based marketing is just what it sounds like: billboards, signs on buses and park benches, etc. But that can cost a bit, and this is about being budget-friendly. So think about more cost-effective means, such as displaying posters in a store, signs in windows, slipping a card inside a book, putting a sticker on your car, etc. It’s all about getting noticed, right?

Word Of Mouth

Word of mouth is probably the most effective marketing method. This is because it creates a message that is highly targeted and also that is heard and believed because it comes from a known and reliable source. If a friend recommended a book to you, you’d be inclined to read it, right? To effectively use word of mouth as a marketing tool, you need to give people a reason to speak highly of you. Your customers need to be incredibly satisfied with you, enough that they will want to share their experience with others. So your book should be worthy of recommendation.

Networking

Networking is another great marketing tool. It allows you to meet other people in your field and introduce yourself to them and share contact information. It’s all about introducing yourself to others instead of selling to them. You can find leads and partners this way.

Encourage Others To Spread The Word

Build up a list of advocates for your business, or in this case, your books. This can be satisfied customers, friends, family, acquaintances, people you’re networked with, social media followers, etc. Encourage them to spread the word. For example, send them an email that’s ready to forward and ask them to share it (or on social media, create a post and ask them to share it). If you want, you can include a special offer for those who spread the word. You could even encourage them to add their own personal experience to make the message more effective.

Viral campaigns

Create something that is so entertaining or so interesting and informative that people feel compelled to share it with others. This can be anything from an entertaining photo to an interesting article or story to a funny or captivating video.  For videos, be sure to encourage sharing at the end and optimize it for SEO. Post the video on YouTube and/or your own website and promote the video.

Website

A website is almost a necessity nowadays, even for authors. And websites can be created rather inexpensively with some online services that offer low prices (or even free), such as Weebly, Wix, Homestead, and Yola. Make sure you pick one that will let you optimize for SEO, though. SEO is quite important for being found during online searches. You can even use your website to host a blog, which will also help greatly in your marketing and also with SEO. If you want, you can even design your website to be able to sell your books yourself.

Blog

When you host a blog, you want people to read it, so you need people to be able to find it. One way of doing that is to post comments on other blogs. You can also guest post on other people’s blogs. Be sure to include a link back to your blog on your guest posts, and make sure that your comments can link back to you. You also want to include social media sharing buttons on the posts on your blog so people can share them with others. Consider also submitting your blog to different blog search engines or even syndicating your blog.

Social Media

There’s no denying the power of social media in today’s world, and that makes it a great tool for authors. It can be used as a networking tool and a marketing tool. You can create a page for your author brand and use it for marketing purposes to the general public. Also, many social networks have groups for a variety of things, including groups for authors. Some groups are just for discussion, but some will also allow some marketing. Some of the more popular social networking sites to consider using are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat, and YouTube. You don’t need to join them all at once, since using them can be time-consuming. Start with just 1 to 3 at first and see how it goes and if you might want to join later. Also, be sure to take into consideration who your target audience is and which social media sites they will likely be using the most.

 

There was a lot more in the class that I could have included, but in the interest of keeping this relatively short, I just tried to highlight some of the main points. I hope this information has been useful and that it will help you in your marketing endeavors. Good luck!


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It’s A Library – Stream of Consciousness Saturday #SoCS

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He stepped into the living room and stared in surprise. The walls were covered with bookcases filled with to overflowing with books. Books that wouldn’t fit on the bookcases had been stacked on the floor. He shook his head in amazement, then noticed that even the coffee table and end tables were covered with books, as well.

“Uh, Suzie?” he called.

“Yes, Robert?” she called from the kitchen.

“Don’t you think you have too many books?”

“Nonsense! There’s no such thing as too many books!”

“Are you sure? I’m getting a bit of a Hoarders vibe from all these books in here.”

“Don’t be ridiculous, Robert. You know it’s not hoarding when it comes to books. I’ve just created my own library. Now be a dear and bring me the cookbook for Italian dinners, would you? The third bookcase on the left, fifth shelf.”

Robert’s eyebrows rose briefly, then he shook his head slightly and made his way over to the bookcase for the cookbook. She was quirky, but he couldn’t help wanting to find out more about her.

 

From my Pinterest

Sheska’s home, from Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. Image found on Google Search. My apartment could easily look like this if I’m not careful 🙂

 

This post is part of the Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt, “more than a hundred” – write your post inspired by something you have more than a hundred of in your home right now (in my case, I chose books, which I do have more than a hundred of, I’m sure):

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS Aug. 29/2020