Happy 68th birthday, Camp Latonka!

Happy 68th birthday, Camp Latonka!

Today (Friday, 6/28), The No-Campfire Girls is being promoted on The Fussy Librarian, an e-book website that can be found here:


Yes, there's a connection! I don't normally ask you--um, more than once a week--to buy our books. But half the proceeds of this novel continue to go toward the effort to support Camp Latonka, the Missouri Girl Scout facility where Emily camped and then worked for many years. It's listed as a young adult adventure, but I think it could be fun for adult readers, too--and at least the cost is fun, at 99 cents on e-book and $5 in paperback.

If you don't want to subscribe, The No-Campfire Girls can still be found at the same price at, among other places, here:

It's been awhile since I've been able to give Friends of Camp Latonka a donation, and Scout camps continue to get shut down across the country. Please spread the word to everyone you know, especially if you happen to know former Scouts Taylor Swift, Gwyneth Paltrow, Susan Lucci, Abigail Breslin, Dionne Warwick, Katie Couric, Martha Stewart, Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, Dakota Fanning, Barbara Walters, Venus Williams, and Sheryl Crow. They could probably use a fun read, right?

Fifteen year old Beth Hamlin is horrified to discover her beloved summer camp must go without campfires this year, due to the fire hazard from a drought. But Beth isn't one to just sit (or swim, or boat, or horseback) around. When her new cabinmate, Cassidy, claims a local Cherokee can do a rain dance, she jumps into action.

All they have to do is trick the Camp Director into letting Running Creek do the dance, avoid the local bully and a flying arrow or two, and keep from getting caught plotting with Cassidy’s firefighter father on a forbidden cell phone. With luck southern Indiana will get a nice, soaking rain, and Camp Inipi can have proper campfires again.

But when things go horribly wrong, the whole area is endangered by a double disaster. Now Beth and her unit may be the only people who can save not only their camp, but everyone in it.

After Action Report

During the Avilla Freedom Festival my family and I heard two good bands, met a lot of people including a new writer, toured a car show, and ate some really, really good food (for which I paid in another way later).

What I didn't do was sell a lot of books.

I still got 'em.

It would have been nice to at least break even ... but on the other hand I did sell some books. I've been to a few author appearances in which not a single copy was bought.

The important thing is to learn from experience, something some people are better at than others. Personally, I kind of suck at it. Still, here are a few conclusions:

Just because you tell people where you'll be doesn't mean they'll show up. Partially it's about the busy world we live in; partially it's a lesson in promotion. I hit the promotion hard, with social media, a press release, invites sent through Facebook and Goodreads event posts,  a newsletter entry, and enough related blog posts (five!) that I was worried about driving people away.

When I say driving away, I don't mean the car show.

I can confirm, as a result of all the work I put into publicity, exactly two sales. Not only that, but we had no new sales of my newest book, Coming Attractions.

Part of the problem might be the time of the year, when people are outside doing summer stuff instead of being online and/or looking for books. A few weeks ago I also heavily publicized a TV interview I did, which showed not only all of our books, but also blurbed our http://markrhunter.com/ website. The increased website visits? Barely a blip, and sales remain flat.

Okay, so, 'nuff complaining. What can we take away from this experience? That writing is a horrible way to make money? That the art of writing had better be its own reward, because nothing else is guaranteed? That you can't reach people through social media as much as you used to? That people walking around at a summer festival will give you odd looks when they realize you're selling books?

All true.

My sister-in-law Cathy, on the right, had a bit more luck with her jewelry. That's Emily on the left, and my camera-shy brother Jeff took the photo.

I'm going to explore other promotion options in the future, and I'll continue trying to get the word out where I can, because you don't just give up when you have a few bad turns. In my mind, two rules remain as true today as when I first started writing:

1. You must deliver a good product. Yes, sometimes bad books become best sellers, but usually quality tells. There's no shortcut: Put the work in, from the moment you fire up your laptop through revision, editing, and polishing. People might not buy my books because they don't care for the genre, but I never want someone to walk away because of the quality.

2. You must love writing. Again, occasionally we see "overnight sensations", people who get a hit with their first swing. Most authors--by a huge margin--never earn enough to make a living at it. If you're looking for a way to supplement your income, there are a vast number of easier and healthier occupations. Complain all you want about submitting or promoting, but if you don't love the writing, don't bother.

If I'm going to keep doing it--and I am--last week won't be my last setback. But I'll keep going, because nobody ever bought a book that wasn't published.

Besides, that fair food was really, really good.

Bacon, lettuce, and fried green tomato. Yum.

My Subcsonscious Still Hates Book Signings, but My Conscious Is a Fan

 I've been on edge recently; more stressed than I usually am this time of the year. There are a few reasons, but one cause became apparent while I was going through old blogs, and came upon this one from five years ago. (Never mind why I was going through old blogs.) I always enjoy author appearances, once I get there and everything's set up. But from the time I sign up for one until things are set up, I'm a walking, shaking pile of anxiety.


Why My Subconscious Hates Book Signings

I’m sure some writers approach public appearances with the confidence of TV’s Richard Castle, who swaggers into every room like he has the world by the keyboard. Then again, maybe not … Castle seems to have become a bestselling novelist without ever actually writing. In other words, he’s every writer’s dream.
I, on the other hand, have to actually pound away at the keyboard to produce a manuscript. Probably I’m more representative. If that’s true, then most writers approach book signings with no confidence at all. What’s worse? That no one will show up, or that they’ll show up to point and laugh at your temerity in thinking you actually deserve any sort of success?
Like most things, the anticipation is worse than the reality. (Not with dentists. Oh, not with dentists.) Still, as I approach the next book signing, I can’t help thinking: Is somebody going to finally call me out?
Dude, you suck. What makes you think people will actually want to read your books?
“Hey, I’m published!”
So was Hitler.
“That’s just mean.”
That’s my subconscious talking. But my subconscious assures me real people will show up and say the same thing.
It used to whisper, “You’re a horrible writer!” Finally, after a few decades, I came to accept that I was actually a pretty good writer. Then it started whispering, “There are millions of good writers! You’re a little minnow in a big sea. You’re so pathetic that even your subconscious can’t come up with a cliché that doesn’t involve little fish in the ocean.”
Other times it gets bored and switches: You’ll never write full time! You’ll die at a keyboard, working two full time jobs and never taking the time to vegetate on the couch with chips and dip.
“Oh, yeah? Well, my wife and doctor won’t let me eat chips and dip anymore, so there!”
Nice riposte. Use that in your imaginary Pulitzer speech.
Is it any wonder, then, that I hate promoting myself? Okay, I have a book signing coming up. (at the Avilla Freedom Festival this time, June 20, 21, and 22.). So why can’t I just yell it out, rather than writing some long article about it? “Hey, be there! I’ll have all my books!”
You’re pathetic. That’s your own home turf, what are you worried about? Try having a book signing in Chicago, see who shows up there.
“You’re my subconscious, you just called yourself pathetic.”
I know. It’s pathetic.
You can’t win when you take on your own subconscious.
By the time June 20th rolls around I’ll be too worried about the details of the signing to let my inner voice bother me. I’ll sell some copies of my various works, go home happy that anyone bought any at all, and go back to work on my next book project.
Then the voice will start whispering again. But you know what? I’m a good writer, by gosh, so I’ll ignore it … at least, until it’s time to send in the next manuscript. 
And hey, I DID sell that book to a State Senator!
 Oh, the blog with all the details of the upcoming appearance is here:

The Avilla Freedom Festival press release

I sent out a press release about the Avilla Freedom Festival appearance; it may seem silly, but silly is what I do best:

News Release
Local Author to Appear at Avilla Freedom Festival

            A local author will make his second trip to the Avilla Freedom Festival this year, along with some of his family.

Mark R. Hunter of Albion will man a booth at Vendor Alley along with family members, June 22-22. The vending booths open at 4 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and they plan to be there from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday. Although Mark can’t be there the entire time due to work commitments, signed copies of his ten books will be available. The booth will also be manned by his sister-in-law Cathy Hunter, who sells original jewelry, along with other family members.

Mark R. Hunter, along with his wife, editor, and sometimes co-writer Emily, have ten printed works. His most recent is Coming Attractions, a romantic comedy about efforts to save an Indiana drive-in movie theater. The year before that Torrid Books published another novel, Radio Red. Set in Michigan, it’s his first published work not connected in some way to Indiana.

Together the Hunters specialize in not specializing, as their books cover several genres. Mark Hunter’s solo works are romantic comedies and a short story collection; he and Emily worked together on books covering history, humor, and young adult fiction. Together they’ll have copies of ten books available at the Avilla Freedom Festival, at prices discounted for the event.

The Avilla Freedom Festival’s website is: http://www.avillafreedomfestival.com/


I actually struggled with it quite a bit; it's not your normal book signing thing, what with us sharing a booth and me not being there the whole time. (Also, I'm not sure how much Emily is going to be able to attend; both our work schedules are crazy in June.) But I'm kind of hoping that even if I don't sell a huge pile of books, people will still stop by and check out Cathy's jewelry. I've got one of her paintings hanging up at my house--artistic type people run in the family.

Books In the Rain, Or: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

One of an author's responsibilities these days is to help promote and sell his work. This is assuming they actually do want to sell their work--many writers still write just for the joy of writing. Personally, I'd like to have my joy and sell it, too.

One way of promoting is author appearances, and/or book signings. With the exception of last year, I've done at least 2-4 every year since my first novel was published in 2011--one time I was involved in two group author appearances on the same day. Not only that, I've done them in numerous places: Stores, art galleries, libraries, fairs, my daughter's garage sale, and, yes, a fish fry.

Some were more successful than others. You'd think I'd make few sales at a library, what with them having so many books for free. But, maybe because that's where book people go, our appearances there have done pretty well.

So, even though like many writers I get social anxiety, I've dived into many unusual places in my attempts to spread the word that, yes, I write books. If you think about it, the most unusual is whenever we moved outside for a book signing. My very first appearance was on the Noble County Courthouse square, during what they call a First Friday event.

But it doesn't make sense to go outside for a book signing, does it? I mean, it's really playing the odds, especially during a Midwest summer: You spit in Mother Nature's face, she's likely to spit back at you, and by spit I mean torrential rain and page-tearing winds.

Books are not waterproof. You people who bought Kindles? They're not waterproof, either.

So, after some consideration, I decided not to do outdoor book signings anymore. Indoor author appearances, fine--all for 'em. But going outside just seemed unnatural somehow, like fixing your toaster in the bathtub. Every tried that? Don't try that.

Then I heard that my sister-in-law was looking to restart her fair booth, which she used to sell  homemade jewelry, and the idea presented itself: Suppose we supported each other by sharing a booth?

I've been outside before, you see.

Yes, before you ask, it was my idea.

And that's how I ended up with my next book signing being, yes, outdoors. The details are here:


But the short story (see what I did, there?) is that we'll be at the Avilla Freedom Festival on June 20, 21, and 22, although I'll only be able to be there myself for part of the time. The way I see it, I'll happily follow my brother and sister-in-law wherever they go, because we can support each other's efforts and have a little family time.

Even if it's outside.

So my conclusion, in the end, is that sometimes it's good to take a few risks and put yourself out there--literally--as an author. And hey--nobody ever died from a little inclement weather.

Besides, those plastic totes will hold a lot of books, and they're waterproof.

Aren't they?

It's not like we haven't already been to the Avilla Freedom Festival!

Find all of our books at:

Movie Review: Godzilla: King of the Monsters

I'm the last person who can be called on to write a fair review of a movie with the word "Godzilla" in the title.

The Godzilla movies were my third childhood fandom (after the Oz books and the original "Star Trek"). One of the earliest movies I remember going to see at the theater was "Destroy all Monsters". (It must have been a re-release, since the original came out when I was only five.) On TV, the best Saturday nights were when a Godzilla movie was part of the late-night Double Creature Feature.

So let's face it: I'm a Godzilla fanboy.

In this sequel to 2014's Godzilla we again encounter Monarch, a mysterious secret group that, since the fight involving Godzilla five years before, has expanded into a SHIELD-like international agency, complete with giant aircraft-carrying super-planes. Although Godzilla itself has disappeared, they're monitoring numerous slumbering beasts of similar size--beasts that are soon awakened by a terrorist cell bent on protecting the Earth from ... other humans. Thirty story monsters are, it seems, very eco-friendly, not to mention they'll cut down on the overpopulation problem.

To me their plot was a little sketchy on both logic and outcome. Still, it results in exactly what we paid to see: Godzilla comes out of hiding to deal with with the situation.

As with "Destroy All Monsters", Godzilla shares the screen with a whole crowd of skyscraper-sized monsters, including Mothra, Rodan, and the three -headed King Ghidorah, which here functions as the super-villain of the piece. If you're at all a Japanese monster movie fan, just seeing those names together is cheer-inducing. The movie makers recognize this, and unlike the previous film, we get plenty of monster-on-monster action ... um, in a totally non-sexual kind of way, mind you.

Still, the human cast gets plenty to do, even if a large part of it is explaining and dodging. Kyle Chandler and Vera Farmiga do well as a divorced couple whose expertise is needed in the crisis, and I especially liked Millie Bobby Brown in her first movie as their young daughter, who takes matters into her own hands more than once. Otherwise the cast is fine, especially Ken Watanabe, Ziyi Zhang, and Bradley Whitford. Of course, not everyone will make it out alive, monster or human.

"But mom ... can't we keep him?"

The effects? They done good. I almost miss the fun of guys in rubber suits and obvious models, but these days people crave something that looks real, and they get it. For me the most shiver-inducing moment was a Godzilla appearance accompanied by Bear McCreary's reworking of the original Godzilla music ... somebody needs to buy me that score for my birthday.

My Rating:

Entertainment value: 3 3/4 out of 4 M&Ms. I had to subtract some, because the villain's plot was just a bit ... questionable. But I didn't go for the plot, and I'll bet I'm not alone in that.

Oscar Potential: 2 out of 4 M&Ms. Sure, it should get some Oscar attention for things like effects and music ... but it won't.

Author Promotion and Facebook Advertising

I had a bit of free Facebook advertising that was about to expire, so I had them "boost" a post--the one that gave a link to my recently aired interview with a local PBS station. I realized only later that the post actually linked to my blog, which itself gave the link to the interview. That's a lot of links to ask someone to follow!

(The actual interview link is here:)


To add to what I hope is not the confusion, the post FB is boosting is not from my regular FB page, but from my author's page, which is here:


My thinking at the time was not that it would expose people to my author's page or blog. It was more that this particular post would take them to the interview, which includes talk about our books and has a link to the web page at http://www.markrhunter.com/*, which--of course--has links for ordering our books. I've been flailing with what to do about promotion; as you all know, there's nothing I like better than blowing my own horn, and as you also know, I can sometimes be sarcastic.

I hate asking people to buy our books; but I want people to read them, and read future books, and the future books won't happen if people don't buy the present ones, so--there you go. Don't let anyone tell you there's such a thing as the perfect job.

Anyway, now I'm wondering exactly what this extra advertising does. Just put my post up with the same algorithms more often? (And what the heck is an algorithm? Sounds like math.) Do the same people just see it more? Do people on my friends list who don't usually see my posts get a look at them? Do people not on my list see it? What exactly happens?

I dunno.

I'll have to see if I get any kind of response before deciding to budget my own advertising dollars toward future efforts. But, worry as I might about spamming my friends, I do have to make those future efforts.

What kind of luck have you had with selling online, and is there a platform that's worked better when it comes to promotion? I've been thinking of doing some advertising on Amazon, not that they need my money.

 Always be closing.
*Ahem--yes, I could have written this without throwing in those links, but I try to think of them as an opportunity rather than an annoyance.

50 Authors from 50 States: Sleeping Bear Dunes: Rich in History and Relaxatio...

This is on my list of places to visit now! It's not far west of where I set Radio Red--beautiful country up there.

50 Authors from 50 States: Sleeping Bear Dunes: Rich in History and Relaxatio...: Every summer I looked forward to spending the week at a cottage on Little Glen Lake with my family. Our car was crammed with suitcases, ga...

Arts in Focus interview is online!

Here's the interview!

(So you won't be confused like I was, Arts in Focus is a half hour long show with two fifteen minute segments, and I was in the second segment. Not that the first one wasn't interesting, but I forgot--and panicked when the show started with someone else.)


 Tell all your friends! And enemies. Heck, tell everybody.

Overall, I think it went pretty well ... could have smiled more, but I was too busy trying to think. Naturally, we really hope this interests people in checking out our books.

Find all of our books at:

PBS interview airs tonight at 7:30

I got confirmation that the PBS interview with me will air tonight at 7:30 p.m. Indiana time, on PBS39's Arts In Focus program. That should be channels 13 and 713 on Mediacom here in Albion. In addition, there will be a repeat airing on Explorer Sunday, 10:30 p.m. Sunday on channels 39 and 39.4.

The link to the episode should be up on the PBS39 Facebook page Friday:


Thanks to Production Assistant Lizzie Britner for providing me with that information. I'm working some overtime the next few days (If you watch the first airing, you'll probably see this before I do), but as soon as I have time I'll put the direct link to the episode up on my own social media. Hope it goes well!

Arts In Focus interview airs June 6th!

Hey, guess what? Actually, the headline kind of spoiled it: My interview with the Fort Wayne TV station, WFWA PBS39, will air Thursday, June 6th. Their Arts In Focus webpage is here:


Their schedule is also up on that page: Looks like it's going to air at 7:30 p.m. Indiana time, on channel 39.1 ... but TV Guide has it at 6:30 p.m. on Mediacom's PBS channel 713. Um ... check your local listings?

Well, if you miss it or don't live nearby, I'll put up the link when the interview is posted on their website. I hope many people will be able to watch it when it airs, though.

We're very excited. Of course, "excited" can be both good and bad because, after all, I haven't seen the actual interview, myself. How will it be edited? Will they use any of the photos I sent them? Did I have a nervous tic nobody caught that can't be edited out?

I've never considered myself a good public speaker--heck, that's one reason why I took up writing, to begin with. But if it is a disaster, I can comfort myself with the knowledge that watching disasters unford is exactly what attracts many people to their favorite shows, anyway.

Find all of our books at: