New Rock Polishing Toys – What Do You Think?

New Rock Polishing Toys!!

Gemstones fascinate me and are key elements in The Gemstone Chronicles fantasy adventure series I wrote. I’ve been looking for cabochon equipment for a while now and I lucked up upon a vintage Highland Park A-50 and a Rock Rascal Saw. The A-50 is mounted on a rolling cabinet and the saw is firmly installed on a nice little table. Check out the pictures below!

Rock Polishing Toys

Highland Park A-50

 

Rock Polishing Toys

Rock Rascal

 

Given the equipment hadn’t operated in a while, I had a bit of work to do on the machine. First thing I did was to replace the power cord to the A-50 motor. Once I finished that little repair, the motor ran perfectly. I discovered the water pump bucket was rusted through, but that didn’t stop me. I cut a 5 gallon plastic bucket down to size and it fit like a glove inside the original bucket. The pump discharge fitting was cracked and the hose wouldn’t fit properly, so I engineered a fix and it works amazingly well!

The Rock Rascal, as you can see from the picture above, needed a new power cord, too. Luckily, I learned a bit about electrical and electronic stuff back in my Navy days, so, like the cord for the A-50, it was an easy fix. Doesn’t make me want to be an electrician again (like I was right after I left the Navy), but it’s satisfying to make it work. Once complete, I op tested it and everything ran smoothly.

Rock Polishing Toys

I think I might modify the A-50 to add more wheels, but that will be down the road. For now, I’ll pick up various grit belts to use on the expanding drums and use a 6 inch wheel I received for Christmas on the Rock Rascal. Now, I just need a water source and return for the wheel.

The equipment package included a new 6 inch diamond blade for the Rock Rascal, a dopping pot, dopping wax, and cabochon templates. I’m all set now (or will be as soon as the new belts come in)!

What do you think about my new rock polishing toys? Personally, I can’t wait to see if I can make a cab or two and do something with all the rocks I found during my gemstone hunting trips. I might even be able to polish a sapphire or ruby once I get diamond belts for the expanding drums.

Connect with me: Like my new toys? Have advice for a novice rock polisher? I appreciate any comments and emails with tips and hints. I’m on social media, too. Find me at Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest, so don’t be shy! Say hello!

 

In Remembrance of USS Thresher (SSN593)

On April 10, 1963 USS Thresher (SSN593) was conducting sea trials after overhaul in Portsmouth, NH. Due to a series of unfortunate events, all hands were lost when the submarine sank. 129 sailors and shipyard personnel lost their lives that day. The incident led to a new emphasis on submarine safety. In this post, I want to pay tribute to the boat and crew, and the highlight the changes the tragedy brought to the submarine force.

Thresher1-Web

According to the National Geographic, Thresher was at or near test depth when the reactor shut down. Without the power of the reactor to provide propulsion, the boat sank below its crush depth. According to reports from the USS Skylark, a submarine rescue ship accompanying Thresher, sonar operators heard a sound like air rushing into an air tank. Thresher was no more.

The cause of the reactor shutdown has not been determined. The most prevalent theory is that a seawater piping joint in the engine room failed. The water from the failed joint sprayed the electronics and forced the automatic reactor shutdown (reactor scram). According to Wikipedia, the reactor plant operating procedures at the time precluded doing fast recovery startups of the reactor plant after a scram. We practiced that evolution many times during my years aboard USS Sandlance (SSN660). Procedures also did not allow pulling steam from the plant while shutdown to drive the boat to the surface.

Additionally, the other emergency system failure was that of blowing the ballast tanks to cause the boat to surface. Anyone who watched the movie Hunt for Red October will recall the scene where USS Dallas comes flying out of the water after blowing the ballast tanks. Thresher tried to do that, too, but the design of the system failed. Instead of pumping air into the ballast tanks and blowing the water out to provide the necessary buoyancy, the condensation in the blow lines froze and stopped the flow of air. Since the boat had no power and couldn’t blow the water out of the ballast tanks, Thresher was doomed. All US submarines now have measures to prevent condensation and subsequent freezing of the blow lines.

The tragedy, one of two for the US Navy’s nuclear submarine force (the other being USS Scorpion in 1968), led to the SUBSAFE program. Wikipedia tells us that SUBSAFE is the Navy’s quality assurance program designed to maintain the safety of the nuclear submarine fleet. It provides maximum reasonable assurance that the subs hulls remain watertight and can recover from unanticipated flooding. SUBSAFE only refers to the systems exposed to sea pressure or that are critical to flooding recovery. Tight controls manage the systems. SUBSAFE materials are subject to traceability of the source material back to the lots from the mine, the smelting and hardening processes, etc. The traceability ends at the installation in a SUBSAFE system.

Admiral Rickover also changed the reactor plant operating procedures to include a Fast Recovery Startup. This allows immediate restart of the reactor plant (as noted in my comment above). Boats can also withdraw steam to get the ship to the surface in the event of emergency.

The 129 sailors and shipyard personnel who perished live on in the memories of every US Navy submarine sailor. We were and are a better, safer service for their sacrifice and we honor them on this day. RIP USS Thresher. Shipmates, rest your oars. We have the watch.

Thresher2

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Nuclear Powered Aircraft – In Dawsonville, GA!?!?


Nuclear Powered Aircraft!?

Readers of my blog and The Gemstone Chronicles know that I spent a decade in US Navy riding submarines and recruiting. I was trained as a nuclear reactor operator, and still keep up with some of the news in the nuclear world. My lovely and adorable bride, Lana, introduced me to a very cool website atlasobscura.com. While browsing the site, I came across an article on a government research facility from the 1950’s in Dawsonville, Georgia. What does this have to do with submarines or nuclear power? Well, this research facility was used to test the radiation effects on various materials and the surrounding forest in an effort to build a nuclear powered aircraft! The map below, though kind of hard to read, shows the layout of the site.

Nuclear Powered Aircraft Site Map

According to our friends at Wikipedia, the site was the Georgia Nuclear Aircraft Laboratory (or AFP No. 67) and was run by Lockheed. The purpose was to test various military vehicles and the surrounding forest to assess the effects of nuclear war on the environment and wildlife and the do research on a nuclear powered aircraft. The site was closed in 1971 and sold to Atlanta as a potential site of a second airport. The topography wasn’t suitable for an airport, and nature has reclaimed much of the site. Here is a picture of the hot cell building.

Nuclear Powered Aircraft Hot Cell Bldg

With the secrecy surrounding the site, it comes as no surprise that most of the documents about what was done in the forest remains highly classified. And no nuclear powered aircraft came from the work. It does make me wonder, though, if some of the experiments led to materials used on submarines.

I did further research and found a lot of conspiracy stuff (not surprisingly) about the site. I also found claims of animals with interesting deformities and abnormalities. There are alleged sightings of deer with two racks of antlers, albino black bears, and other such creatures. In the research I did, one of the reactors on site was an open air (or naked) reactor that was hoisted into the air while operational and without shielding, allowing the radiation to blast the surrounding forest. Personnel at the site were in underground shielded areas during the open air testing. The picture below shows the site circa 1960.

Nuclear Powered Aircraft GNAL-Circa-1960-Web

The underground facility was supposedly six or seven levels deep, but who knows for sure. When the site closed, the entrance tunnels were collapsed and sealed. One of the remaining visible buildings is the hot cell, which is also sealed and surrounded by barbed wire fencing. The hot cell is where they placed irradiated materials for further study. The building was deemed to be too hot to demolish until the radiation levels subsided more. That might be another 30-50 years…

The area is now public land managed by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. There are plenty of hiking and biking trails, and you can kayak down the Etowah River that runs through the site.

As you can imagine, I have to take a trip up there to look around. It isn’t very far from where I live, so maybe next weekend might be a good time to go! When I do, I will be sure to post pics and do a follow-up to this post.

Oh, and just in case you were wondering, we never had a nuclear powered aircraft. The USAF did experiment with a reactor in a plane, but that was to test the shielding for the crew. The reactor never actually powered the engines. I do recall when I was in Idaho in the Navy, there was an experiment going on to convert nuclear power for space travel, though, but I don’t know much more than that.

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It looks pretty cool to me, but what do you think? Leave me a comment and let me know. You can connect with me on social media, too. I can be found on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, and Tumblr. You can also send me an email at bill@williamlstuart.com. And, if you don’t want to miss a post (including my follow-up to this one), subscribe to the blog!

 

Suzuki SJ 410 – My Ride in Idaho!!

In previous posts, I talked about my path to and through Naval Nuclear Power School. I was looking through some old pictures the other day and found some pictures of Idaho Falls, and it sent me down a path of remembrance of my days in Idaho Falls, Idaho at prototype. Remembering those days reminded me of the house I lived in (the Roy House – so named for our landlord Roy), the snow, the lack of sleep, the relief of completing my qualification as a reactor operator, and the vehicle I drove to Idaho – my Suzuki SJ410.

Suzuki

For those who don’t know, the SJ410 was a small 4WD convertible. Many may remember the Suzuki Samurai that came after the SJ410, but this was the predecessor.

When I bought my SJ410, I was in Florida at Nuclear Power School. I saw the small 4WD at the dealership and decided to buy one. If I remember correctly, I paid just over $5000 for it brand spanking new! As you can see from the photos, it was red and black (UGA colors) with a white convertible top. No AC (but who needs one with a convertible), a 59.4 cu in motor (not a typo), and a ton of fun!

After Nuclear Power School, I was assigned to S1W in Idaho Falls, ID. I gathered up my seabag and a few others things, and headed west. I remember arriving in Idaho Falls on February 14th, 1985 to about 3 feet of snow. As I turned to head toward my rental house, there was a Ford F150 stuck in a snow drift. I graciously pulled the F150 from the snow bank and never even locked in 4WD. The F150 driver was grateful- but somewhat embarrassed that my little Suzuki (which he had never seen before) had to pull him out.

Working 12 hour rotating shifts didn’t leave much time for enjoying the Suzuki in the snow and ice, but my roommate had a Mustang that just didn’t fare very well in the weather, so the Suzuki became the workhorse of our house. I took it everywhere and had to park it in the driveway as the Mustang was in the garage. That meant knocking the snow and ice off the convertible top everyday so the weight wouldn’t tear the top. Here is a picture of my SJ410 parked next to a snow drift. And yes, that was the depth of the snow next to the house!

Suzuki SJ410

When summer rolled around, the top came off, and I cruised as often as I could. As the second RO to qualify, I got to change to 8 hour shifts earlier than most, and I rode a lot. Top down and radio blasting, I had a good time in the few hot days of summer. Below is a picture of the Suzuki with the top down!

Suzuki SJ410

Alas, I had to depart Idaho and report to USS Sandlance (SSN660) in Charleston, SC. I remember leaving on August 18th and it was 32 degrees that morning. I was a newly minted Reactor Operator, had a sizable reenlistment bonus, and was headed back south. When I got to Charleston, I bought an Audi 4000S (my favorite car ever). My brother John drove the Suzuki to college and he brought my beloved SJ410 to a tragic end when he totaled it.

Suzuki Wrecked 1

Suzuki Wrecked 2

I left the Navy in 1993, after 10 years of service. I married the love of my life, the lovely and adorable Lana, raised an amazing daughter, Laura, and have been blessed with 2 extraordinary grandchildren, Aidan and Maggie. My post-Navy career is brilliant, I’ve written The Gemstone Chronicles fantasy adventure series, and generally enjoyed life. I occasionally miss portions of my time in the Navy (mostly the people), and will always have a special place in my heart for the first brand new vehicle I ever owned – my Suzuki SJ410!

What was your special vehicle? A sports car? A truck? Leave me a comment and let me know!

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The Battleship USS North Carolina (BB-55)

I wanted to take a break from my usual posts about The Gemstone Chronicles, books, and marketing, and talk about some US Navy history and the USS North Carolina (BB-55). Lana and I spent a weekend in Wilmington, NC recently (more about Wilmington in an upcoming post) and had the privilege of visiting the World War II era battleship USS North Carolina (BB-55). What an impressive ship it was, too!

USS North Carolina

According to Wikipedia, the North Carolina was the first in her class of battleships. The keel was laid in October 1937 and launched almost 3 years later in 1940. She was assigned to the Pacific Fleet and saw action in most of the major battles in the Pacific during the war. The ship had an impressive battle record and was only damaged once (by a torpedo) during her tour in the war.

USS North Carolina continued to serve through the balance of WWII before being decommissioned in 1947. Stricken from the Navy rolls in 1960, she was transferred to the state of North Carolina in 1961, the result of a campaign by North Carolina school children called “Save our Ship.”

Here are some vital stats for the ship:

  • 728.8 feet long
  • 108.3 foot beam
  • 33 foot draft
  • Ship’s complement 2339 (144 officers, 2195 enlisted)
  • 15 Battle Stars
  • American Defense Service Medal
  • American Campaign Medal
  • WWII Victory Medal

The ship has many more awards and much more history than I can do justice to in this post, so do a little research and discover all about it. But now, I want to talk about my impressions about the ship.

First, let me say that a 16 inch gun is one big pea shooter! I climbed into one of the main battery turrets and was duly impressed. The 5 inch guns seemed adequate to their tasks, and the anti-aircraft guns that lined the perimeter of the deck would have been intimidating the any aircraft that decided to challenge the might of the ship. The picture below is the forward main gun turret with the 16 inch guns.

Uss North Carolina (BB-55)

The picture below shows the 16 inch guns and the 5 inch and AA guns. You can also see the teak decks.

USS North Caolina (BB-55) Forward Armament

Though I didn’t take pictures, the wardroom was large, the officer staterooms were spacious, and the sailor’s racks actually had lockers for storage. I mention all of this because, as a former submarine sailor who didn’t have such spacious accommodations, it seemed luxurious!

There was a group of Air Force JROTC students touring the ship while I was aboard. I imparted a small amount of Navy information to them as we stood outside the Executive Officers office (and liberty chit window). I explained to them what liberty chits were and what liberty was, in general.

Lastly, as I walked the teak decks, looked at the massive armament, the huge anchors, and the launch areas for the seaplanes at the stern of the battleship, the submariner in me came out, and all I could think was what a big, noisy target the USS North Carolina would be!

I could certainly appreciate the bravery those sailors showed as the confronted the Japanese military during WWII, and it brought me back to my own Navy days. Thanks to all who served aboard USS North Carolina (BB-55) and the current USS North Carolina (SSN-777)! Bravo Zulu!!

USS North Carolina (SSN777)

Have you visited any Navy ship memorials like USS North Carolina? How about USS Nautilus in Groton, CT? What about other military memorials? Leave me a comment and let me know!

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Conspiracy Theories – 2 of my Favorites!!

Who doesn’t love a good conspiracy theory? Conspiracy theories have been around forever, but, now that we are so connected by the Internet, social media, and instant information, they have seemed to proliferate. Information makes it easy to connect dots and create conspiracies where none previously existed. For instance, I could say the story of The Gemstone Chronicles was based on the attempt at time and inter-dimensional travel allegedly conducted as part of the Philadelphia Experiment. It isn’t true (at least as the basis of my books part), and certainly not a conspiracy (so I say), but what about the experiment?

USS_Eldridge_DE-173_(1944)

USS Eldridge DE-173 (1944)

 

For those who aren’t familiar with the legend of the Philadelphia Experiment, in 1943, the USS Eldridge (DE-173) was outfitted with very powerful electromagnetic generators as part of an experiment to create a ship invisible to radar. The experiment was a test of Einstein’s unified field theory and was carried out at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. Versions of the story vary, but one of the most popular holds that the ship did disappear and was replaced by a greenish fog. When it reappeared, some sailors were imbedded in bulkheads, some disappeared, some experienced severe nausea, and still others suffered serious mental issues.

Another account says the ship disappeared and reappeared 200 miles away in Norfolk, VA. Allegedly observed by another ship in Norfolk, the Eldridge then reappeared in Philadelphia and traveled backward in time by 10 minutes. The US Navy, of course, denies the experiment ever occurred and the historical documents about USS Eldridge don’t indicate  any involvement in the experiment. The official explanation of any type of experimentation at the time was the Navy trying to find a way to make steel ships undetectable to magnetic mines (degaussing).

First, did the experiment occur? Secondly, did Einstein actually complete a Unified Field Theory as alleged and then destroy it because mankind wasn’t ready for it? Lastly, did USS Eldridge actually disappear and reappear after traveling back in time by 10 minutes? Who knows? But it makes for great conversation! And, in keeping with conspiracy theories, any information provided by the Navy is immediately suspect as part of the conspiracy!

Another of my favorite conspiracy theories is the Knights Templar. Again, I must provide a little background. The Knights Templar were originally a small group of knights that went to the Holy Land after the First Crusade to provide protection to pilgrims. The Knights expanded their numbers rapidly (perhaps for discoveries made while in Jerusalem). They eventually became the military arm of the Catholic Church and established a vast network of castles and lands throughout Europe. They were also the first international bankers.

The Templars grew so powerful and wealthy that most of the European monarchies owed them money. On Friday 13, 1307, the Templars castles were raided and the knights jailed as heretics. The charges of heresy were signed by Pope Clement V (at the alleged urging of King Phillip IV of France, who reportedly owed a huge sum to the Templars). Here begins our conspiracy theory. Did the Pope (who lived in Avignon not Rome – another conspiracy) and King Phillip truly conspire against the Templars? What happened to the Templar riches? Who knows? But, the story is great conspiracy fuel!

 

Conspiracy Theories Templr Cross

Templar Cross

 

Legend says that as the Templar Grand Master Jacques de Molay burned at the stake, he allegedly cursed both the Pope and King Phillip IV, claiming they would be dead within the year. Pope Clement V died a month later and King Phillip later that year. Coincidence or did the banished Templars have anything to do with the deaths?

Another part of this tale is there were supposedly Templar treasure ships at the port in France and these ships were loaded with Templar riches (yep, the ones mentioned above). On the morning of the raids on Templar properties, the ships were no longer in port. They, and their supposed loads of treasure, disappeared. According to legend, the Holy Grail made up part of the missing treasure. The Grail, found by the original Templars in Jerusalem, fueled their rapid rise!

Where did the treasure go? To this day, no one knows. Or do they? Some say the treasure went to Scotland, where the remaining Templars became Freemasons. Interestingly, the head of the Scottish Masons are Sinclairs (the Anglicized version of St. Clair – coincidentally, the name of a powerful French Templar). One only has to visit Rosslyn Chapel to see the cryptic carvings and decorations to wonder about the conspiracy.

Another legend is the treasure is in North America (ever heard of Oak Island?). Prince Henry the Navigator was thought to be a Templar Knight. Many believe he visited the New World long before Columbus. In fact, some believe Columbus knew exactly where he sailed when he reached the New World because Columbus used Prince Henry’s charts to sail. Interestingly enough, many of the depictions of the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria have Templar Crosses on their sails as shown below!

Conspiracy Theories Columbus Ships

Columbus’ Ships with Templar Cross sails

 

Still another theory says that the Templars eventually blended into secular society. Armed with their extensive banking knowledge and untold riches, they formed Switzerland! Why Switzerland? Simple, according to the conspiracy theories. The Swiss flag is a white cross on a red background – the opposite of the Templars, but certainly a clue to the real identity of the Knights. Just like the Knights Templar, the Swiss are renowned engineers and bankers. Awfully convenient, isn’t it?

There you have my two favorite conspiracy theories. I have a new one I am following now – the Georgia Guidestones. The guidestones will figure prominently in my next novel, so stay tuned as it develops!

What are your favorite conspiracy theories? Have you Googled the topic? If you do, ready yourself for some interesting reading! Once you do, leave me a comment and let me know which ones entertained you. Even better, which ones made you probe more deeply into seeming coincidences that may lead into a web of deceit, lies, cover ups, and shadowy characters!

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Connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or email me at bill@williamlstuart.com. And welcome to the conspiracy!! The truth is out there…

Beebop’s Submarine Days

One of the main characters in The Gemstone Chronicles is Beebop, grandfather of Aidan and Maggie and husband to Nana. In the books, Beebop is a US Navy submarine veteran. News flash! So am I!!

Okay, I admit it. I borrowed some of my own experiences as a nuclear trained electronics technician for Beebop’s character. In a tribute to him and to submarine sailors everywhere, I thought I would do a post about the US Navy’s submarine force and my old boat, a Sturgeon Class fast attack, the USS Sandlance (SSN660)!

We used to wear ball caps like this instead of the “dixie cups” that people often associate with sailors. Ball caps were much more comfortable!! Note the silver dolphins for the enlisted sailors. Officers wore similar ball caps, but their dolphins were gold.

 

ssn660sandlanceembroideredhat

 

My lovely and adorable bride (who was the inspiration for Nana in the books) gave me this drawing of my old boat as a present. Hand drawn by the artist, I got the first of 100 originals! Please forgive the quality of the photos.

 

 

USS Sandlance drawing

 

 

For those who don’t know about Naval traditions, there are a number of places where sailors become members of somewhat exclusive clubs. For instance, when you cross the Equator for the first time, you transition from a Pollywog to a Shellback. When you cross the International Date Line, you become a member of the Realm of The Golden Dragon. I never got to experience either of those while on the boat (although I have crossed both on airplanes), but I did get to something that is a bit more rare. The USS Sandlance did under ice operations and we crossed the Arctic Circle. That makes me a Blue Nose!! Below is my official Blue Nose Certificate.

 

Blue Nose Certificate

 

Submarine sailors are a different breed. They have to be able to handle being underwater for extended periods of time, with little to no communication with the outside world. They exist in a hostile environment where the hungry sea wants to crush the boat, where sonar (an inexact science) is the eyes and ears of the submarine, and nuclear energy provides the power and the ability to remain submerged. Sub sailors make their own water, oxygen, and, as long as there is food, can simply stay at sea. The friendships made on the boat can last a lifetime – even if separated by years and distance.

I spent 3 and a half years aboard USS Sandlance before departing for recruiting duty. I earned my Dolphins (Submarine Qualification Pin), got my Blue Nose Certificate, and learned that when the lights go out underway, it becomes so dark that it is disorienting. While I can’t say that I miss the boat (and that unique boat smell that can only be gotten rid of by using Gain detergent) , I do miss the people!

This last picture is me in 1989 when I reported to Naval Recruiting District Atlanta for recruiting duty. Note that I am wearing my Dolphins and my “rookie cookie” recruiting badge.

WLS-USN 1989

So, there you have a quick tour of my time – and the fictitious Beebop’s – time in the Navy. I didn’t dwell on the time I spent going to electronics school or Nuclear Power School in Orlando and Idaho, mostly because it was academic and boring.

Are you a sub veteran or know someone who is? If so, leave me a comment about your time on your boat. I would love to hear about your experiences!!

 

The Killing Depths by Martin Roy Hill – My Review

As some of you may know, I am a former submarine sailor and like to read novels about the Silent Service. My favorite of all time is Tom Clancy’s Hunt for Red October. It should come as no surprise, then, that I jumped at the chance to read Martin Roy Hill’s submarine based book The Killing Depths.

The Killing Depths Cover Martin Roy Hill

 

A Los Angeles class submarine called the USS Encinitas is the setting for the novel. The boat (and yes, a submarine is called a boat), is the first fast attack submarine to be coed. A NCIS agent has been airlifted to the boat to investigate the murder of one of the female crewmembers – originally thought to have hung herself. To add to the intrigue and suspense, the Encinitas is on a mission to stop a Chinese sub – recently sold to Iran – from ever reaching the Middle Eastern country.

While trying to find the Iranian submarine, more murders occur aboard the boat and everyone is a suspect. The investigator, Linus Schag, has a history with both the commanding officer and the executive officer. Tensions run high among them. In the escalating silent underwater search for the Iranian boat, and the efforts to stop a serial killer before he strikes again, the author weaves a suspenseful tale. I very much enjoyed reading this book.

To be sure, there were some inaccuracies that submarine veterans will notice, and the idea of a serial killer stalking the crew of a submarine was a stretch. The ultimate battle between the subs was a bit contrived, but overall I liked the book and the story.

Bravo Zulu Mr. Hill!

My rating: 4 stars!!

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Find Martin Roy Hill on his Amazon Author Page or his website and pick up a book or two. Please consider leaving a review, too!

 

 

Adventures in Self-Publishing (Part 2)…

As I promised in my first post about adventures in self-publishing, this post will talk briefly about book marketing. Now I am the first to admit that I am not a marketing guru (I am an HR and Management degree holder and have spent most of my post nuclear Navy career in Supply Chain), so the nuances of a marketing campaign are new to me. One of the things I can do well, though, is research. So I fired up the laptop and started looking. Here I go with self-publishing (part 2)!

What I found is truly mind-boggling. There are hundreds of thousands of suggestions, websites, blogs, and other sources of advice on how to market books and ebooks (including books and ebooks about marketing books and ebooks). There are sites that will do a full marketing plan (for a price), others that allow you to post a sample of your book on their site (for free unless you want them to do a marketing push for it), and still others that are completely free. How to choose?

I think an author has to decide why they are marketing their book and to what audience they want to entice. For me, the answer to the first question was pretty easy. I wrote the books for my grandchildren. Since they were already written, I decided to see if they would sell. The second question is a bit trickier. I wrote my books for a middle grades/young adult audience, but I tried to make them entertaining enough to appeal to all ages. So, whom do I target for any marketing efforts? That is the part that I struggled with then and am still struggling with now.

As for marketing methods, I chose to create a Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/TheGemstoneChronicles) and author pages on both Amazon.com ( https://www.amazon.com/The-Gemstone-Chronicles-Book-ebook/dp/B008WV90JQ/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1344955943&sr=8-2&keywords=Gemstone+chronicles) and Smashwords (https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/ugak9s911). Hard as it is, I’ve really tried not to become annoying to people as I talk about my book. I still want them to read it and like it and write reviews.

My research revealed many different marketing ideas. I don’t use them all, but I may try to incorporate some of them as I go along. I promise to provide updates on what worked, what didn’t, and lessons learned. And who knows, maybe I will find the right formula to propel The Gemstone Chronicles to the top of the bestseller lists!

part 2 THE-GEMSTONE-CHRONICLES-BRAG-for-Web 1

One of the best things about being self-published is I get to make great on social media. If you would like to connect with me, I can be found on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, and Tumblr. You can also send me an email at bill@williamlstuart.com. You can also subscribe to the blog so you won’t miss a post!