Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Social Media Marketing and Solicitation

Some advice for Novelists and other Entrepreneurs alike: 


First thing’s first: Get a brand. For example, my brand is the Little Political Italian Girl from Philly. This is my identifier and it works in my favor; people remember who I am which bodes well for the purchasing of my books.

Now, onto the nitty-gritty: I see a lot of unfitting behavior by authors (and other entrepreneurs); enough to warrant this post in the hopes that I may help a few of you navigate the minefield of selling your projects online. 

As far as authors are concerned, many don’t get it: Our Novels are our offspring. We nurture them - we spend a lot of time researching and learning to get them just right. We sit with them all night long, losing sleep so that we may birth them just right so that they are ready to go out into the world and (hopefully) be enjoyed by others when we decide to share our soul.

It’s hard getting others to understand this, so forget about that.
Having said that, onto bad reviews: When you receive a bad review, don’t use Facebook or any other social media platform to complain about it. Leave it alone and don’t shout it to the world!

Firstly, use that less than illustrious review as a wake-up call to instruct you to self-improve. After all, we’re always self-improving, otherwise, we remain stagnant.

And DO NOT – I repeat, DO NOT -- use your pages to criticize your readers, accusing them of “being too stupid” to understand the meaning and context or your book!

Yes! I’ve seen this and much worse! I’ve seen Facebook pages rife with post after post of a Novelist whining resentfully that their readers are much too illiterate, uninformed, and ignorant to understand their novel. After seeing such accusations, I took it upon myself to read a chapter or two of these particular books, and I can tell you, the writing/stories were in fact not good. Usually these books come from “authors” who produce book after book: One cannot churn out book after book and expect to create a masterpiece. That’s not how it works.

So best case scenario when complaining publicly about a bad review and the audience who’ve read it? The author may be guaranteed they will not receive any further reviews. Worst case scenario? Readers will shun an author’s books all together; nobody wants to buy books from an author who refers to their readers as “idiots”, and behaves poorly, unable to handle a little constructive criticism. It’s amateurish.
Also, you should be using Instagram, Twitter, Facebook Live, and even the dreaded Snapchat (see below under Entrepreneurs on how to maximize your Insta-posts). You can also use Goodreads as a way to give books away via contests, but I’ve since given up on those – the winners rarely post reviews or read your book.


Now, onto my other various entrepreneur friends. I’ve seen many of you complain on Facebook (just like authors) that no one is buying your products. You do not want to do this! If potential buyers suspect that no one is interested in your wares you can probably count on the fact that customers will not be lining up to purchase what you have. You may get a few pity buyers who generally happen to be friends, but you will scare away a theoretically budding lucrative base of clients who might otherwise be interested in your merchandise.

You want to jettison the complaints of unmoved merchandise all together and simply post pictures and descriptions of the merchandise, explaining the value in buying it. There is no reason to let others onto the fact that no one is buying your goods. As mentioned, if no one is buying, it’s a turn off to potential buyers.

Some social media advice: Forget Facebook (all right, not entirely; use Facebook for what it’s worth), and hop onto Instagram using colorful headlines that are sure to grab peoples’ attention, and be sure to use hashtags that fit your merchandise as well as tagging purveyors and other vendors – this could potentially help get you noticed.

You should also invest in a website, and every time you post a pic and description of your work be sure to list your website as well (that goes for your too, authors!)
Hope this helps! If you should have any other questions, please do ask, but I must say that I’ve mapped everything out here for you. Good luck!


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Sad Fate of Huston Chapman

The Sad Fate of Huston Chapman

Many of you may not be familiar with the name Huston Chapman. He played a small but fair part in the aftermath of the Lincoln County War.

Huston Chapman was an attorney hired by Susan McSween on behalf of her late husband, Alexander McSween, who was killed July 19th, 1878, on the final eve of the 5-Day-Battle in Lincoln County, New Mexico.

Because the Dolan Faction considered Mr. Chapman to be a continuing nuisance of that war, Dolan had conceived that, should the man be “silenced”, the old feud would be over. Many may be familiar with James Dolan as one of the major players on the opposing side of the Tunstall Faction’s Regulators, and one of the primary instigators in Tunstall’s death, kicking off what would become known as The Lincoln County War, officially ending with McSween’s death.

On the fateful day of his own murder, Huston Chapman was in Lincoln County on business when he had an unfortunate run-in with Jesse Evans (ringleader of a gang called "The Boys", a vicious party of rustlers hired by the Dolan Faction to war with the Regulators) and several other men who were all involved in, of all things, a peace-pact with the Regulators. Huston Chapman suffered from neuralgia, a painful ailment of the face, and was in great discomfort and bandaged up as he strode down the Most Dangerous Street in America. A man by the name of Billy Campbell, dangerous and chief herder to Dolan, stopped Mr. Chapman, demanding to know who he was and why he was there. Chapman, having no healthy sense of fear, and being in a particularly foul mood, refused to humor the man, briskly stating his name and the fact that he was there on business.

The crowd of warring gangs were drunken from celebrating by this point, and Billy Campbell pulled out his gun and demanded the ailing man “dance” for the crowd. Huston Chapman again refused to humor the man, shook his head, and declared that he “[Didn’t] propose to dance for a drunken mob.” Campbell didn’t like the attorney’s tone, and warned him to watch his lip before harassing the man further by ripping the bandage from Chapman’s face. Chapman had lost his patience completely and growled that he wasn’t scared of these men, that he was familiar enough with them to know they’ve tried to frighten him before. Chapman then demanded to know if it was Dolan he was speaking with. Jesse Evans piped up and said it wasn’t, but it was a “damned good friend of his.” It was then that Dolan, who had been standing by, fired his pistol while Campbell’s fired near simultaneously, felling Chapman, who gasped, “My God, I am killed!”

Billy Campbell was ecstatic, excitedly exclaiming that he swore he’d kill Chapman, and now he’s done it. The men went on to continue celebrating and figure out what to do with Chapman’s body, which lay burning from gunpowder in the street.

As many of you may be unfamiliar with Huston Chapman’s story, you may also be just as unfamiliar with the reaction of the notorious brigand Billy the Kid, himself now leader of what remained of the still feared Regulators. If Billy was not quite shocked that these murderous, hard-case types could do something so cold, he was, at the least, disgusted.

Dolan had ordered one of his men to put a pistol in Chapman’s hand so that they could claim Chapman had pulled first and had been killed in self-defense. Dolan’s man was wise enough to decline, but Billy, seeing an opportunity to slip away from the volatile crowd and remove himself from yet another killing that could be pinned on him, offered to place the pistol.  Once safely away from the crowd, he rode hurriedly past Huston Chapman’s body, still smoldering, with his best friend, Tom O’Folliard. He never had any intention of putting that gun in Chapman's lifeless hand.

It was Huston Chapman’s death that Billy used to initialize a parley with Governor Lew Wallace, wherein Billy issued a testimony against men in the Dolan Faction for a chance at having his name cleared; Billy helped secure quite a few jail sentences. But this parley would help seal Billy’s fate absolutely, as the young outlaw skipped town when it was made clear Lew Wallace planned to wash his hands of Billy once the Governor got what he needed. Lew Wallace was called to Lincoln County to clean up the streets, and with Billy’s help, he did just that, at least technically. When Billy had left town after being discarded by the governor, Wallace was displeased. With Wallace's failure to keep his end of the bargain, forcing Billy's hand, any chance of Billy receiving amnesty was wiped from the slate. This also probably played a part in Lew Wallace's decision to eventually publish the infamous $500-dollar reward for Billy’s capture after a posse, gathered for the Kid, accidentally murdered Deputy Sheriff James Carlyle in White Oaks. Wallace ultimately decided offering a reward was the only way to get rid of the Kid for good. 

Spot where Huston Chapman was shot and killed in Old Lincoln, NM, on the Most Dangerous Street in America (Photo taken by Nicole Maddalo Dixon)

Author of the Bandita and Billy the Kid Series, available via Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Visit my website: Nicole Maddalo Dixon, or find me on Twitter: @NMDixonAuthor 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Where Did Billy Get the Gun?

Where Did Billy Get the Gun?

I am often asked many questions about Billy the Kid. There are so many interesting things about his short life and short, fierce notoriety that people to this day, over 130 years later, are still enthralled and riveted by the young outlaw. One of the questions I am asked oh so consistently is: Where did Billy get the gun?

Where Billy got the gun during his last, great escape from the courthouse in Lincoln County, NM, has been the subject of debate for years. Someone leaving it for him in the privy is a myth that has been perpetuated in film as much as in legend. But where did he get that gun? The answer to this question is much more logical and simpler than the romantic folktale that someone left it for him in the crapper.

See, Billy himself said where he got the gun; he got it from Jim Bell, the very deputy he shot and killed while making his grand escape. And common sense tells us that, had someone left a gun for Billy in the privy, then surely they would have come forward eventually, eager to tell the tale of how he (or she) sneaked into the outhouse to leave the piece that would set the Kid free.

Billy, being a notorious firebrand, was shackled to the floor in the Lincoln County Courthouse, sequestered from the other prisoners for being too “dangerous”, making a 24-hour watch period necessary. Billy was wily, see? (He had made quite a few jailed escapes before.) We know these days that Billy, though quite formidable in truth when cornered, was rather affable and well-liked. This, together with his slight build and smooth, youthful face, also made him dangerously disarming. Pat Garrett, the sheriff who brought the Kid to the courthouse after capturing him at Stinking Springs, warned deputies Bob Olinger and Jim Bell not to underestimate the Kid and take him for granted, and to keep their eyes on him at all times before he left Lincoln for White Oaks on business.

While Olinger was a real, well-known nasty case of a man who bullied the Kid, Jim Bell was pleasant and treated Billy kindly. For this reason, Billy had no intention of murdering Jim Bell when he planned his escape. In fact, Billy had no intention of killing anyone. But wisdom tells us that plans do not always go according to, well, plan.

Billy put his plan into action on April 28th, 1881, after waiting for Olinger to take the other prisoners to the Wortley Hotel for lunch. The Wortley resided (and still resides) across the street from the courthouse. Prisoners were held at the courthouse since Lincoln County did not have a decent jail house.

Once Olinger was out of the way and Billy and Bell were alone in the courthouse, Billy said that he needed to use the privy. This was a necessary component to his ruse, of course, since Billy was shackled to the floor. Bell unpinned Billy and escorted him to the outhouse. After waiting a reasonable amount of time (or perhaps Billy actually used the facilities), Billy emerged and both he and Bell headed back to the courthouse and up the narrow staircase towards Billy’s “cell”, the Kid ahead of Bell.

This was Billy’s opportune moment. In those days, handcuffs were made one -size-fits-all. It’s been noted that Billy had smaller hands than his wrists, which is the proposed reason he was able to slip his left hand from the cuff. With his right hand and its added weight from the freed cuff, he brought the iron down on Bell’s head intending to knock him out or render him dazed, probably with the hope that a fall down the staircase would help his cause. It was at this point when he most likely grabbed at Bell's gun. Bell, surely stunned, kept his wits about him, and as he fled to warn Olinger, Billy yelled after him, telling him not to run and to keep quiet. Billy wanted a calm, discreet escape from Lincoln; he wasn’t looking for bloodshed. Not only would that have been unwise as it would raise an alarm, but it also would have been unlike Billy, as he wasn’t the type to shoot a man without reason.  Billy would not have killed Bell, but would have forced him to remove his leg irons at gunpoint so he could make his quick getaway. 

So, as things went awry with Bell refusing to heed him, Billy shot Bell (the original pierced wall in the courthouse from this incident has been plastered over. The “bullet” hole that is there now is a recreation as visitors kept inquiring after it.) We know that Billy regretted killing Bell, his having said, “It wasn’t a matter of wanting to kill Bell, but having to.”

The alarm now equally raised by gunfire and by Bell as he made his way outside of the courthouse where he died, Billy shuffled to the armory, legs still shackled together, and grabbed Olinger’s loaded shotgun as he now expected the lawman to come running any minute. Directly, after hearing the gunfire, run Olinger did! Olinger raced from the Wortley to the courthouse only to find himself face-to-face with his own shotgun as Billy leaned outside of the courthouse window of his soon to be former cell. We all know the infamous, gleefully chilling greeting Billy gave Olinger, “Hello, Bob!”, before blasting him, shredding Olinger’s face and chest. Fatefully, Bob had learned that Billy had killed Bell, too, before he expired, as a Lincoln resident by the name of Godfrey (Gottfried) Gauss yelled to Olinger, “Bob! The Kid has killed Bell!” Olinger then replied, the last words he would ever say: “Yes, and he’s killed me, too.” If Billy was sorry for killing Bell, he had no qualms about executing Olinger.

Before you feel too sorry for Bob Olinger, it’s interesting to note that his own mother knew him as a devil, saying, "Bob was a murderer from the cradle, and if there is a hell hereafter then he is there."

Interesting fact: Godfrey Gauss was John H. Tunstall’s cook. The death of Tunstall would ultimately lead Billy to this moment, and then of course to his own eventual demise.

Billy, ever the charismatic young outlaw, addressed the crowd who had gathered around the courthouse, explaining himself and the reason for the death of Bell. Here is where he first expressed his regret in killing the young deputy, and telling the crowd he now only wanted to leave Lincoln peaceably, beseeching them to allow him to do so lest he must spill more blood.

During an hour or so of joking and chatting regular-like with the residents of Lincoln, Billy’s old friend Godfrey procured a pickaxe and horse for Billy after Billy ordered he do so. Billy was able to pry one ankle free, but the other iron would not give, and so when Billy went to mount the horse, the swinging leg iron spooked the animal, bucking the Kid off. Billy laughed about it, got back onto the mount, then took off into Baca Canyon, now called Salazar Canyon. Salazar Canyon runs through the Capitan Mountain chain.

Billy stayed with his friend Yginio Salazar, where he again recounted the tale of his Great Escape.

In Book III of the Bandita series (when it becomes available), I recount this act. But for a fun taste of Billy’s earlier exploits in accurate, novel form, you may want to consider purchasing the first two books in the series, available in print and eBook through Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Bandita Bonita: Romancing Billy the Kid, Book I

Bandita Bonita and Billy the Kid, The Scourge of New Mexico, Book II

Warning: Violence and adult situations included.

If you want to see photos of my visit to Old Lincoln and the inside of the courthouse, you can visit my website: Nicole Maddalo Dixon

*Illustration of Billy (Still Riding High) by Bob Boze Bell, True West Magazine

*Bob Olinger from Legends of America
*James W. Bell head stone from uk.pinterest.com

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

About the Bandita Series: For All Demographics!!!!!

    About the first two books in the Bandita series:                                                                                          
    I receive a lot of PMs from people who want to purchase these books. I want to make sure I let those of you who are considering buying the books know that these are not your typical western novels.                                                                                                                                
    This is a contemporary, progressive story. The series is basically comprised of modern situations set against the backdrop of the American West. There is sex, violence, and Oh My God, cussing.
    The events surrounding Billy the Kid are accurate, but the circumstances are complex. So please don't expect novels in the vein of the average western book.                                              
    This series was written with the idea of crossing different genre demographics rather than being confined to the western genre.                                                                                                        
    I wrote this series so that anyone could read them, not just thought who are interested in the Old West.                                                                                                                                          
    They are available through Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and are available for Amazon Kindle and NOOK as well as print.                                                                                                

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A Quick Difference Between Assembly Novels v. Philosophical Novels

I noticed a post by an author who is upset that many eBooks cost $.99. She went on to point out how much effort and work is put into writing a book, and I can personally attest to that. I don't generally respond to those posts directly, but it does bring to mind a caveat that I'd like to impart here: If you purchase a book for $.99 (and I can understand the appeal), you may be setting yourself up for failure. You may also get lucky, but in most cases, you're more than most likely not going to get a quality read.   
True authors put a lot of heart and soul into their books, not to mention a ton of research, philosophy, and a generous understanding of the human condition. Being an author is a lonely existence, and that is what you're paying for when you see a decently priced book or eBook.
That said, those who self-publish and charge $.99 know that many people will choose to buy those books over a substantial read, and those who buy them will think they've gotten a bargain, but they are often disappointed; you get what you pay for. If you want quality writing, you should expect to pay more. I have to admit that it is frustrating knowing that I, and other authors like me, are forced to compete with those authors: with those who churn out books knowing that undiscerning readers will purchase them over a book that is a few dollars more. A good writer knows their value and price their works as such.  
I know some self-published writers who have great talent, but they are few and far between, and in most cases they don't publish books one after the other for the simple reason that a good story takes time to plan out.  Even self-published authors should agree with this blog post. They, too, have to compete with authors who churn out books like they operate a grist mill.
Readers... Please keep that in mind the next time you're looking for a good read.