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Interview over at Promotional-101 For Authors

Saturday, May 2, 2009

You have been invited to share your promotional experience with others.

Your Name: C.A.Milson

1. Where you are from and where are you now? I grew up in Brisbane Australia. I now reside primarily in Samara Russia although I travel internationally a great deal.

2. How did you get started writing? I first discovered writing when I was in grade 9, when I attended Kedron State High School. Instead of reading a book and writing a report on what I thought about the topic, I decided to pen a short story. In about 2 hours I penned a short sci-fi story, which was my first attempt at the world of writing. The story received top marks from my English professor, who also encouraged me to continue writing. That was the first and seemingly last time I put pen to paper.. That was until the summer of 1989….

3. What do you do when you are not writing? When I am not writing I spent a lot of time working as a Recruiter and spend a lot of time blogging about The Chosen, as well as about my upcoming novel, Bloodline of Darkness.

4. What would readers like to know about you? I am pretty much the same as everyone else. I have hopes and dreams, triumphs and tragedies.

5. What inspired your first book? The inspiration for the first novel came from a hobbytex picture my mother had on the wall in her apartment. In 1989, I was living in Melbourne at the time, and once again I found myself writing. My first short story was titled “Shack of Evil”, a 9 page story based on the character Jamiesonn. The story idea came from a Hobbytex picture my mother had on the wall of her apartment.

6. How many books have you written? The Chosen was my first full length publication. The Chosen was written after I laid the foundation for the short story titled “Shack of Evil”. After I wrote Shack Of Evil, I went on to write an additional 25 short stories, all of different genres, including a childrens story. That original story later become the base for what is now the trilogy of The Chosen, Bloodline of Darkness, and Prophecy’s End.

7. What are the titles of your books and what genres are they? My debut novel is titled The Chosen. I am working on Bloodline of Darkness currently. Both are Supernatural Horror.

8. How do you decide on that topic or genre? Why are you specially qualified to write about this topic? I was not automatically drawn into horror, but after reading stories by H.P. Lovecraft and Misery by Stephen King, I knew that I wanted to write novels that would entertain and scare the audience. But like some beginning writers, I had no idea how to get storyline past the seemingly impossible short-phase and also written in the third person context. I have studied different theologies about the supernatural throughout my life and I have always been fascinated of what possibilities would lay in other spiritual worlds, so my writing maintains a basis of the cliched “good versus evil” and the “what-if” scenarios without coming across to heavy.

9. How do you manage to keep yourself focused and on track when you’re writing a book? When I actually get focused on writing, different scenarios pop into my mind, and where I want to take a scene, so I write it exactly as I see it. Like, at the moment, I am writing the third chapter of Bloodline, and so far the main character has had a series of dayvisions, where he thinks that the world around him is real, then he wakes up, to later find out that he is in another nightmare..

10. Do you write to make money, for the love of writing or both? I write because that is my first passion in life. It may sound cliched, but I was born to write. Sure, to have an international best seller would be a bonus, but that is not my motivation. Never was. I am the first to admit that back in the 90’s when I fantisized about the lifestyle, the famousosity, the big wads of cash, the hollywood parties, and all the rest that goes with mega-celebrityism that did seem like a fun thought… I guess maybe at one time or another all of us have entertained those thoughts, but that is not what writing is about. Writing for the sole purpose of “I’m getting paid a million to write this” would not be as fun as writing for the pleasure of creating alternate worlds where anything you dream can exist

11. What are some traditional methods of marketing you have used? Which were the most successful? Being one who has been in marketing for 14 years, I have seen nearly every form of marketing known to man. In my time I have done sub campaigns and promoted everything from concerts to land investments, and I have to say that this, promoting a novel, is something I was so unprepared for. I took it for granted initially that when a book comes out, it would get on the NYT list, and so forth, but that is not how it is. Apart from the PR’s that I have sent out to various newspapers (which don’t seem to work), the only things that have gotten attention are the posts I put on Social Networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook.

12. What are some unique methods of marketing you have used? Which were the most successful? I once had some ads on free classified sites like Gumtree but that didn’t attract much attention. The most successful is when I blast bulletins on Netowrk sites or am on other blog sites. On days like that I see the number of hits soar, expecially in December. I just hope that those hits have also turned into book sales 🙂

13. Do you sell through a website? If so, what’s the address? If not, why not? My works are available through most online retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Amira Press, just to name a few. Best way to see what list of retailers stock The Chosen, just google my name “C.A.Milson.” I think at the moment I am on some 4,000 websites.

My personal websites are: and

14. Where can people order your books? The Chosen can be purchased from

15. What format are your books – e-book, print, audio etc? E-book and paperback

16. Will you write more books? Absolutely! My intention is to complete Bloodline of Darkness by February, and then Prophey’s End sometime in 2010.

17. What do you have in the works now? Bloodline of Darkness.

18. What does the future hold for you and your books? Next for me is writing Bloodline of Darkness, which is the second in the trilogy in the life of Alex Manning – A man who is put in the middle of a spiritual conflict he otherwise wants no part of. Bloodline of Darkness is set seven years after The Chosen. Alex has forsaken his powers to live a “normal” life, and the forces of Tartarus have arisen to harvest the souls of humans and plunge the world into darkness. Alex once again must stand and save humanity but can he overcome the ever present darkness that also reigns in his own heart?

19. What was the most successful thing you did to promote your books? Blogsites

20. What was the least successful thing you did to promote your books? Newspapers

21. Tell us about your most recent book. My first novel is called The Chosen. It is a Supernatural Horror, set in modern times. It is the story of Alex Manning who is “The One”, well actually Alex Manning is a nice guy, with anxiety attacks who has visions. He doesnt know he is “The One” until he gets wrapped up in the investigation of the Jamiesonn house. Then he is drawn neck deep into betrayal, battling demons, freaky scary ghosts, and falling in love again tossed in for good measure.

22. What makes this book special to you? This book is the first one that I have seen to be published. From the orginaly concept in 1989 til now has been close to 20 years. That is an externity, and a life-long dream come true. So naturally this first one will always be something to tell my children when they get older.

23. What sort of comments have you gotten about the content of the book? I have had many comments from people, mostly congrulatory, but naturally there have been the odd one who has slammed what I write.

24. What makes this a book that other people MUST read and WHY? This book defines a new era in horror, dare I say? I explore the boundries of horror and bring a new change to the world of supernatual fiction. Imagine a world beyond our own where Dark Forces reign, and only one mortal stands in the way of their enslavement of humanity. The Chosen, Bloodline of Darkness, and Prophecy’s End follow the life of Alex Manning. A hero called to stand for humanity and face a destiny that he wants no part of.

25. What people NEED to read this book and WHY? Anyone who loves horror, the supernatual and action should read this book. Do you like ghost stories? What about horror? Gothicism? Mysticism? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you need to read this book. J

26. What sparks your creativity? Any tips to help others spark their own creativity? Music usually gets me going. But my advise to any aspirign writer is find something that sparks that creative grey matter in your brain and go from there. Start with an idea, build life into a character to make them appear as real as anyone else. Build on their character with real thoughts, dreams, hopes, failures, fears, delusions. When I am writing a character, I “put myself in their shoes” and think, “Now what would I do if I was..” Visualization helps. I find that when I am listening to my music collection on the laptop, I just write for hours at a time.

27. What do you think motivates people to become authors? What motivated you to get into this unusual industry? I would like to believe that people become writers for the love of writing. My motivation was simple. I am a creative person and I write based on what inspires me.
28. Tell me about the most unusual things you have done to promote any books? “Win a date with me!” Of course, in the history of bad ideas, that was about the lamest 🙂

29. If a potential reader thinks that your book wouldn’t interest them, what would you say to convince them to buy? I’m thinking something better than “Its the greatest book ever.” Give me something more specific 🙂 I would say something along the lines of “Have you seen Hellraiser? Or works by Clive Barker? Stephen King? Seen LOTR? Ever seen any of M. Night Shymalan’s work? Okay, if you have then you will like this.”

30. Why does the topic of your book interest you? Why would it interest potential readers? Give us a hook to reel in new readers. I have always had a fascination with the Supernatural, and if anyone likes to watch the true ghost stories, then this will be right up your alley. Now, for those who have watched docos on Ghost hauntings, about a ghost terrorizing a house or a person, The Chosen can be compared to that, except, imagine a Supernatual Force that does it on a much larger scale!

A Day In The Life Of………

A Mystery Shopper and Recruiter

About a month ago now, my wife and I were hired to recruiting mystery shoppers in certain countries for the launch of the Apple IPhone.

My first thought of this project was that it would be easy. Of course, that was furtherest from the truth as we were met with one complication after another, whether it was technical problems with the website, to answering simple questions that were readily available online… (And of course, not to forget the person who liked to send a message every 5 minutes with questions like “where are you? I am waiting for you to come online!” and “Hurry up. I need to go out!”).

Recruiting is not an easy thing to do in any business, and this is no different. Now, dont get me wrong, I do not mind answering questions and replying to emails, but when one spends 12 to 15 hours a day recruiting, answering questions (to the likes of what I mentioned above) is not something that I particulary enjoy.. Especially when it cuts into time for myself and time for my writing and book promotion.. Both of which I have VERY little time for these days 😦

Still, virtual recruiting has advantages. I dont have to go to an office and fight traffic everyday, and I have got to meet some really nice people online. Both perks of the job..

One thing is for sure, Virtual Recruiting sure beats the days when I had to do telemarketing!!! (More on this later)

Which brings me to my next point. Mystery Shopping (Names below have been changed)

Mystery Shopping. Some have asked me what the heck is that? Well, to put it in the simplest terms as I can. Mystery Shopping is a research tool used by many businesses to measure customer service. It is designed to see if product placement is carried out at a level that is expected. Unfortunately this is not always done, as in the case of Apple IPhone.

Anna and I elected to do the assignments in Samara and Novokujbyshevsk. Doing both areas was a definate conflict of time.

The assignments in Samara were straight forward enough, although the placement for IPhone at the selected stores was not as the client would require. Here is the run down on what happened:

We would enter the selected store, and firstly look to see if the IPhone brand was displayed, either with a large wall poster or IPhone Display. In most cases, the best that the stores could offer was the product was either in a case display cabinet, unable to be used for demo purposes, or they have no product available at all. Worse yet, not one place we visited had any sales material of the IPhone, and most sales associates had no clue when it came to giving us a demo. (Although one individual, Retvek, showed the only professionalism we had seen all day!).

Our first stop was Megafon in the downtown. Walking into this store was the exact same as going to a bank. You stand in a queue and wait for a teller. I wont go into full details on each assignment, but let’s just say that of the 6 locations all over Samara, this took us all day to get done as we had to wait for a tram or buss to go to the area we needed.

Okay, onto day two of assignments. Our only assignment was in Novokujbyshevsk. Simple? Not really. Novokujbyshevsk is only about 50 kms from Samara, however, the best way to get there is by train. So off we went to the train station. Upon arriving at the station we had the joy of waiting an hour for the right train to go to Novokujbyshevsk. When it finally did come, we spend the next 90 minutes on the train, then once in Novokujbyshevsk, we had a 20 minute wait for a taxi-bus to go into town. Needless to day, travelling 3 hours for a 50 km trip I was not impressed with at all!

Well, what can I say about Novokujbyshevsk? I think with all due respect, and not to offend anyone, Novokujbyshevsk is a town that is on the borderline poverty, and for anyone in this town to be able to afford an IPhone would literally cost them 4 months salary (or more). (Granted, that is taking into account if an individual happened to forego the basic living expenses such as food, power, and rent). Obviously Apple did not think to much when it came to product placement. They should have targetted cities where people could afford such luxuries. Not small towns where the streets are pretty much deserted at 3 o’clock in the afternoon!

Novokujbyshevsk reminds me of a town that one would see in a b-grade horror flick… you know the one I mean here… Hardly anyone on the streets apart from the local teenagers, old buildings where blood sucking vampires lurk, and tumbleweeds rolling down the main street…. Now if you can imagine this, that is how I would describe Novokujbyshevsk. In Samara it is common to see homeless dogs, but not in that town. In Novokujbyshevsk it is common to see stray cats…. Hmmmm, makes one wonder just what they put in those hot dogs 🙂

Needless to say, we did our assignment and higtailed it out of there before the sun set (Who knows what could happen.. especially in my imagination 🙂

So for a simple assignment, the trip took 5 hours travelling time, there and back. And then when we got home, I had the fun of catching up on the dozens of emails I had not replied to the day before. (Not to count the ones for my book, which I Still have not managed to get around to replying to yet!)

Now for something completely different, I thought I would add my own review of a PS2 game I played recently, which is, a recent release (I think).

The Simpsons for PS2.

Okay, without adding the walkthrough details, this game is pretty cool. There are 16 levels in this game, with all characters based on the tv show. Each level has hidden objects and missions, and some levels have the added fun of a mission within a mission.

It takes a bit to figure out what you are meant to do in some levels, but in all this is a cool game for young and old alike.

Although this is not normally the type of game I would play in my down-time, I would recommend this for anyone who is a fan of the show. Watch for the Dance Off with God on level 16 and the cool end scene. There are cameo appearences by itchy, Scratchy and Matt Groening. Highly addictive, and the scenes are just like watching the tv series. The graphics are well down and alhough it makes numerous references to upcoming games and tv shows, I would play this again.

Bitten By Books Carnival Winners:
Bitten By Books Haunted Bloggy Carnival was a huge success with thousands of dollars in prizes given away to contestants by some great authors.

I want to thank the following people who have each won a copy of The Chosen:
Merici Habib
Rachael D.
Theresa Dell
Jennifer Savage
Amber Katze
Jean Delehant
Sena Sagani
Carrie Parker

Your copy of The Chosen is on its way!

Finally, to do my own take-off of Jerry Springer here, I will add my Final Thought:

Balancing life as a Husband, Recruiter, Mystery Shopper, and Writer certainly is a challenge. I have come to understand the challenges other recruiters would feel in similiar roles, and certainly, Performance Based Recruiting is something I should know already, considering I used to work for Lou Adler (And got to meet the guy on one occasion when he was in New Zealand), but alas it seems the older I get the more knowledge I seem to loose :-).

Must add a note to self : Learn to relax more and not feel responsible for the needs of a company when family needs come first 🙂

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