As my old pal, Yosemite Sam, would say, “Great Horny Toads!”
Not only did Serpents Underfoot get a great review from Literary Titan, it also earned the Gold Book Award for May 2021! How about that! I was not expecting that and I am honored by the award.
And also, a bit humbled. It sets the bar even higher for the third book in this series, titled Reciprocity. But, I am hard at work, making sure that each book I publish is just a little bit better than the previous book. I am not sure I will always achieve that goal, but I can promise my readers that I will always try.
While I served in the US Army Infantry, I never had the opportunity to work my way up and into the spec ops community. However, I have had the honor of being good friends with several men who did, several of whom I met through the martial arts. So writing the stories I love to right involves relying on stories from those friends, research, and my wandering imagination.
Check out this author’s interview published on Titan Literary after Serpents Underfoot received another amazing 5-Star review.
Serpents Underfoot finds JD Cordell facing a terrorist group that plans to detonate nukes on US soil. What were some sources that informed this novel’s development?
This story grew out of thoughts I have had about what it would be like to be a Spec Ops warrior. I served in the military and spent most of my time overseas. I served in the Army infantry, and when I enlisted, I scored high enough on the ASVAB test to get Ranger School in my contract. Unfortunately, when they discovered I had a slight speech impediment, they would not send me to Ranger School. There were going to let me out because they couldn’t honor their end of the deal, but I asked to stay. Hell, I could still shoot pretty darn well. So, I guess it is, at least in part, a fantasy about what might have been.
Combine that with a lifetime study of martial arts, the political climate at the time, my interest in Asian culture, and you have the birth of this story.
The rest is simply a bunch of “what if” questions. For instance, what if a soldier in Vietnam married a Vietnamese girl who saved his life? What if their son became a Navy SEAL, and what if his team uncovered a major terrorist plot? What if it involved high-ranking US government officials? You get the idea …
JD Cordell is essentially a composite of several people I have known and respected. While I was a bit too young to serve in Vietnam, I was old enough to have several good friends who did. One friend, in particular, served as a medic on long-range reconnaissance patrols in the region the first few chapters of Serpents Underfoot is set in. I also know a couple of former Navy SEALS, one of which recently passed away. He was actually an Underwater Demolition Team member and served in the Mekong Delta region during the Vietnam War. The UDT teams were essentially forerunners of the Navy SEALs.
History is often where you find it, sometimes even in old rocking chairs!
The story of this rocking chair essentially begins with the Barringer family for whom Barringer Road in Ilion, NY is named. The Barringers were one of Ilion’s wealthier families and lived in a mansion in the village of Ilion. They also owned a dairy farm out on Barringer Road. I assume the road was named Barringer Road because of the farm. However, the Barringers were not farmers, so they hired a family to live on the farm and work it. My great grandparents, Irving and Kathryn Klippel, worked that farm for years.
In fact, during the depression, my great-grandfather, Irving Klippel, would save the butter milk left over from the process of making butter, and try to deliver it for free to poorer families in Ilion with young children. While some would thankfully accept it, others would not. Since it was essentially a by-product and was often fed to pigs, many were scared to give it to their children, which was too bad.
My grandfather, Erwin Klippel and his brother, Wagner, helped work the farm for many years. After my grandfather married Eileen Gardinier, they moved into a tiny house farther down Barringer Rd, and he eventually went to work for Remington Arms because he wanted a more steady paycheck to support his family than working the farm provided.
My great grandmother, Kathryn Klippel, received several pieces of furniture from the Barringers including a very nice hand-carved oak bed and dresser which my brother, Dan, has in a guest bedroom to this day (The few times I have slept in it over the years, I had to sleep diagonally across it, because, back in the day, people were a lot shorter. Another piece of furniture given to Kathryn Klippel by the Barringers was this old Queen Anne rocking chair.
A historic home
The house my Grandparents moved into on Barringer Rd was built in the 1700s, and survived the Revolutionary War. It was tiny but we still had many great family gatherings there for Thanksgiving and Christmas. We all got quite adept at maneuvering through tight, crowded areas. I remember fighting for a spot on the couch to watch football games with my grandfather. This was when I became a Vikings fan … it was the Fran Tarkington era!
This is a relatively current picture of the house, but it hasn’t changed much. My Grandfather and his brother, Great Uncle Wagner, rebuilt the stone fireplace with stones they hauled back from the Ilion Gorge. And back then, most of the houses currently found on Barringer Rd were not there. When my mother was a little girl and growing up there, it was surrounded by woods, fields, and a pond they would skate on on the winter when it froze over. When I came along and got old enough, we used to ride snowmobiles in the fields behind the house.
You can’t tell because of the tree, but the only real difference in the house today, is that there was once an old wooden “fan” pattern decoration over the front door that also dated back to the American Revolution. It was taken down by the family who purchased this house from my grandparents. I am sure by then it was pretty-well rotted and needed to come down. It is still a bit sad.
The Old Rocker
My mother always told me that my Aunt Carol once rocked me to sleep in this rocker when I was a baby. I guess Aunt Carol would have been in her teens at the time.
Years later, I held my very first baby in my arms, sitting in that very same rocking chair. I was maybe 10-or-12-years old at the time, and the baby was Aunt Carol’s daughter; my cousin Kristine.
This picture was taken in my grandparents house on Barringer Rd. I still remember the old rocking chair with this fabric. Over the years, it has been reupholstered a few times. I seem to remember a blue and gold pattern, maybe a red velvet, and the floral print it currently has.
The foot stool doesn’t match the rocking chair. I vaguely remember a foot stool that did go with the rocking chair, but I have no idea what became of it. The foot stool that is currently used with the rocking chair was made by my great Grandfather Gilbert, my father’s grandfather. But, that is a story for another day.
So, here you go, Joy. Just for you. One more picture of the rocking chair. And this time, I am smiling!
I am a bibliophile and have been one since childhood. In fact, Biblio is my avatar name. Books were my favorite birthday gifts. A week before I got married I took the GRE test so I could go to Library School the following year. (I knew that I wanted to be a Librarian. But no, we did not get to sit around and read books all day.) Unlike some of my fellow librarians, I never had the urge to catalog my Golden Books.
With so many books and so little time, I’ve turned more into a tsudonko. (Tsundoku is acquiring reading materials but letting them pile up in one’s home without reading them. The term originated in the Meiji era (1868–1912) as Japanese slang. It combines elements of tsunde-oku, (to pile things up ready for later and leave) and dokusho…
If you are a self-published author, you are often on your own when it comes to marketing your work. There are many avenues to explore including review blogs, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, email lists, etc. In fact, it can sometimes be a bit overwhelming!
In my opinion, social media marketing is great for getting exposure. You can build a support network of other writers (#writingcommunity), gain ideas about target markets for your books, and promotes specials or giveaways. You may even sell a few books.
But I have come to a conclusion that people who spend a lot of time on social media outlets, are probably not book lovers or voracious readers. If they were, they’d be reading, and not Tweeting. So, I decided to try something new!
I decided to try creating a book trailer.
Videos do seem to be another great way to grab a possible reader’s attention and interest, gain exposure, and maybe even sell a book or two. Videos are easy to share and can certainly be used with social media. But, they can also be used on your website, uploaded to YouTube, emailed, shared on blogs, etc.
I started trying to do this myself, but quickly found out that there is a good bit to it. Access to appropriate royalty-free footage, editing software, having a script or storyboard, and a good soundtrack are all important and too much to learn all at once. Therefore, I enlisted the help of a video editor on Fiverr.com to help me get started. It turned out to be a lot of fun. You can view the results above, of course.
As part of this process, I did learn the importance of having a script and storyboarding your video to get your ideas in laid out and conceptualized before you go looking for royalty-free video footage, etc. I am also looking into getting some better video editing software. I think this would be fun to do yourself, but then, you also have to consider time and investment.
So, for my next project, a “coming soon” book trailer for my sequel to Serpents Underfoot, I will certainly still get some help from the experts on Fiverr.com, but who knows what the future may hold!
One thing is clear. Writing a book is only part of the battle, and in fact, may be the easiest part. Getting your book out there and getting exposure, building a reader base, driving sales, all while continuing to write additional books can be quite a challenge. Hopefully, somewhere down the line, the work pays off. You have to truly believe that the investment of all your time and hard work will pay off in order to keep chugging away and eventually be successful.
Just don’t stop trying!
There is some sage wisdom from some old martial artist that seems appropriate here. The founder of Isshin-ryu Karate, Tatuso Shimabuku, used to say it, but I am pretty sure it didn’t originate with him. The saying goes:
If you fall down seven times, get up eight!
My version of that is “I am to stubborn to know when I am beat, so I just keep going!” But, isn’t that the secret to success?
Stay tuned for future book video trailers. And for other blog posts and book reviews, click here!
Learning to market your book as a self-published author is an interesting and sometimes painful journey. There is so much to learn and so much to do. The book cover, the story itself, the categories and keywords, SEO, social media marketing, Twitter, Instagram. BookBub, etc. … and getting reviews. The list of things to do can quickly become rather extensive.
The reviews I get tell me my story is pretty darn good.
Of course, you always get a few bad reviews. Not everyone will like your book. That is just a fact of life.
However, most of your reviews have been 4 and 5 stars. Some of the reviews have been absolutely outstanding. So why is your book not selling a little better?
Yes. It does take time. When first starting out, you are not exactly Tom Clancy, Lee Child, or Vince Flynn! At least not yet!
You do have to keep plugging away at finding what marketing ideas work for you. There is no way you can do it all. You have to have a plan and then you have to work the plan.
About a week ago, while on the phone with Jim Kukral, we went through my book’s categories and keywords and at Jim’s suggestion, made some smart changes there. I learned about KDP Rocket and if you are a self-published author, I think this tool is indispensable.
We also looked at the book cover. Jim’s comment was that the book cover looked like exactly what it is … a first cover attempt by a newbie self-published author.
I must admit it hurt just a bit. After all, I was kind of proud of the cover. I mean, I designed it myself. Jim then suggested I take a look at other book covers in the same genre; essentially military action thriller.
I did this and his point became painfully obvious. A lesson learned. Jim explained the concept of “cover to market.” Essentially, this means your cover has to stand out in the market you are competing in. Kind of a “duh” moment actually.
So … back to the cover drawing board we went. And, about a week later, voilà! I must admit, I love the knew cover. It fits the genre and stands out among the book covers of my competitors. It gives clues to the story line with out being a “spoiler.”
In addition, many people I have shown the book cover to really like it. A few have not. But when I dug a little deeper, I realized this is not a genre they read very much of. That kind of clicked as well.
I would be happy to hear your thoughts on this new book cover.
I think there are several good lessons in this post. Self-publishing is an interesting new venue for aspiring authors. It is very cost effective when you are just getting started. But being self-published does not mean that you have to remake the same mistakes as everyone else.
You most certainly can if you want to!
And, we will all make our share of mistakes. However, there are legitimate experts out there who really love helping authors succeed and it does not have to be prohibitively expensive. Talk to a few people who know. Check out the competition. Learn about concepts such as “cover to market.” Check out tools like KDP Rocket. And always remember, it is not a sprint to instant success … it is a marathon where endurance and training count.
Thank you, Martha, for your thoughtful comments and great Five Star Review on Amazon.com. That makes 6 so far!
I continue to be surprised by the number of women who enjoy this book. I think Martha’s review shed some light on this for me. While it is a counter-terrorism-type, military thriller … which in my mind, would appeal more to men, woven through the story are elements of love, family, morals, loyalty, politics, deceit, and justice. It is not just about war. It is also about many of the things that made this country great!
Core American Values
A strong sense of family, a belief in God ( or for some, a higher purpose), love of Country, sacrifice, and a strong sense of right and wrong. I guess these things would appeal to a broader base. It is just pleasing to see so many different people enjoying the book.
So, My Shameless Plug
Christmas is just around the corner! I bet you have at least one reader on your gift list for which this book would make a great Christmas present! Get them a great book to curl up with and read on a snowy, winters day while sipping on a hot cup of tea, hot chocolate, a glass of wine, or even your favorite bourbon!
If you were to get them a copy of my book, Sophie and I would greatly appreciate it!