Monday, October 15, 2018

Conference Tips!



I just returned from the Georgia Romance Writer's Conference, Moonlight and Magnolias. I enjoyed basking in the glow of other writer's talent. It was an amazing experience. I thought I'd write some things I learned about going to a Conference.

1). Volunteer. Conferences take a lot of man (woman) power. I always sign up to volunteer to do something. It's a great way to get involved and to make friends.

2.) Be friendly and ask questions. I always assume that everyone there knows more than I do about writing, about publishing, about life. I want to soak up as much as I can. I like to ask questions and get to know people. And not just the writers and editors. I made friends with the lady in housekeeping and she bought my book.

3.) Networking. I picked this conference because I knew some of the other writers plus my editor would be at this conference. (That and I had tickets and a deadline!)

4.) Workshops. I've been struggling with a certain writing flaw and I went a workshop where they talked about the very thing missing from my writing. The information alone was worth all the time, effort and money I put into the Conference. Attend workshops!!!

5.) Dress comfortably and appropriately. It was FREEZING in those huge halls. I wore long sleeves and sweaters and still had to drink hot water to keep from slipping into early stages of hypothermia.

I had a great time, I made some friends. I heard some amazing speakings, writers and industry professionals. I was inspired. I felt validated. I felt understood. It gave me courage to continue writing.

What tips would you add?

Monday, September 17, 2018

The Opposite of Clean Is Not Dirty

Yesterday I saw a tweet on Twitter that saddened me. One author claimed that she didn't like the term "clean"to reference romances without intimacy, claiming it implied books with sex in them are dirty.

I didn't respond because I flipped away for a second and it was lost. Twitter is a fast game. So I want to write my response here and I hope she'll see it and understand.

The opposite of clean is not dirty.

The opposite of clean is free from...

Have you ever had a practice and said, "Whoah, that was a clean practice," meaning free from error? I have.

Clean romance doesn't mean we think intimacy is dirty between two consenting adults. It means a book "free from intimacy." I write clean romance because I like to give my characters their own space. I am not judging anyone else for writing intimacy in your books. So, please, don't think we're prudish, or judging you. We're not. At least, I am not. It's just my personal preference.

Friday, August 31, 2018

My Writing Process

I have a weird writing process. In the 'biz, there are two types of writers. "Pantsers" who write by the "seat of their pants" and "Plotters" who make extensive outlines and character sketches. While I think about my characters a great deal, I don't ever write an extensive outline and although I like to discovery write, I can't be completely open ended or I'd go crazy. Hence, the hybrid term: plantser.  I like the term because it sounds like I might be plantsing through the pansies or something.

Anyway, usually I start with an idea, a premise, a character or even a title. And I plant it like a seed in fertile imagination watered with fiction and non-fiction alike. And I start my first draft. I call this a discovery draft and on bad days a crap draft.

I write about 20,000 words, exploring the world, and characters. Then I show it to my husband to see if my idea shows promise. Thumbs up, I continue.  Thumbs down, I can it. For now.

After my surely brilliant work of 20,000 I ask myself, what am I trying to say? What is the book about? Now I start to think. Writing looks a lot like staring out the window. But I also think about my book, my plot and my characters when I'm not doing anything that requires great mental energy: in the shower, while driving on errands, while punching a weighted bag (I wrote a lot of Baker's Dozen in my head while hitting the bag and listening to U2 in the basement of our house in St. Louis.) Exercise for me is a great time to "hear" my characters. My body is busy, but my mind can wander.

Most often I write dialogue first. I think it's my years of theater training, or perhaps because until sixth grade I hated wearing my glasses and depended largely on my auditory senses to gather information about my world. (I was as blind as a naked mole.) Whatever the reason, I write a scene in dialogue first, then go back and fill it in with setting and description. Details bring a story to life. The right details at least.

People ask me where I get my ideas. Well, they come from all over. I wanted Andy Baker to be a marital artist. I took Tae Kwon Do for a semester in college and loved it. All those hits on the bag in my basement was Andy's character getting stronger. When I wrapped my hands, the make-out scene in the workout room was born.

Hugh/Christiaan was born from an Imagine Dragons song. I had the idea of him, but I heard "Demons" and I was like, that's his essence. He's afraid of letting Andy inside because of what's there. Also "Monster." He's afraid of what he'll become and Andy, although she's tough, keeps him from going off the edge.

Publishing a book is scary. It's letting the reader (you) into my dreams. I'm giving you a part of my heart, my hopes, my fears. Writers face all sorts of rejection before we get published. It's encouraging to hear people enjoy my book, because it means we share the same dreams.  If you like action, adventure, romance and comedy then you'll enjoy my books.

What else would you like to know about writing?  Would you like to know the nuts and bolts of getting a manuscript published?

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Balancing Life

Photo Cred: Monica Brown


Balancing your family and work is tricky at best. As a writer, I am plotting one manuscript, writing another, and editing yet another all while promoting the most current book. How do I balance that with all the demands of a wife and mother? One word: Prioritize.

When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I ask myself is what time shall I take my nap. Just kidding. Mostly. Actually nearly every week for several years, I write a list of priorities for that week, sometimes by the day. Anything with a deadline has priority, and anything not done will be moved to the next week. (I've had some things that have moved from week to week for several weeks until the items just fall of my lists completely.)

The one thing I prioritize is family time. This comes in the form of family scriptures and family prayer. Family meals get tricky with busy evenings, but we try for them.

I also prioritize my personal time to refill and recharge. Every morning I spend fifteen minutes in personal spiritual study/meditation and prayer. I also exercise daily for physical and mental health replenishment. I find if I don't do these things, I am not nearly as effective at wifing, mothering or writing.

The last thing I prioritize is time with my husband. He works a demanding job. We both volunteer time to our church. Making sure we connect is a priority. As a couple, we also take time to read the scriptures and pray every day. We also make sure we have a weekly date. Often the "date" is my husband reading my latest WIP and giving me ideas.

If I make sure I prioritize properly, then everything else falls into place nicely. Anything falling off the list, falls off the list.


Monday, August 6, 2018

Top Ten Tips for Fighting Discouragement

I asked my most ardent fans (my daughter and my husband) what I should write about on my blog and my daughter said I should write about encouraging others to keep writing. I feel like I've learned a lot in writing for the past ten years, and I'd love to share.

Writing, and almost any other creative endeavor is a long process. From the spiritual creation or idea of it until its execution and finished product can take months if not years. Keeping going during that time can become a challenge. Here are my tips to stay motivated.

1. Remember why you started in the first place. I am a storyteller. I always have been. I'm horrid at asking questions but learning. But I think of funny scenarios. I'm the dreamer. Someone tells me a detail and I create a story. I don't write for the royalty check. I don't write to be famous-- although that would be nice. I write because I believe fiction can heal. I write because I believe we all need to safely escape. I write because I want to create happiness for others.

2. Don't listen to the critics and the nay-sayers. There are weak-minded people who will always tell you what you can't do. These people have little imagination and I think they are cowards. Be the brave person who defies the odds, who conquers the mountain, who stands at the top and yells, "I did it!"

3. Find your tribe. This is so important to me. I love finding like-minded people who have the same goal. They will lift you up and remind you about your number one reason for creating. Communicate with your tribe, bear your soul to them let them lift you up.

4. Encourage others. No matter where you stand on the platform, you can always find someone to encourage. Creating isn't a competition or a race. It's a shared experience. And someone can always use an uplifting word.

5. Share you talents. Don't hide your candle under a bushel. Share to me means two things: one, let other people see your work and two, teach someone else how to do what you are doing. You'll be surprised how much you grow from either one of these two exercises. Musicians don't wait until they can preform the Moonlight Sonata before they play in public. "Swans on the Lake" is a concert piece as well as "Für Elise."

6. Just keep going. I lived in Switzerland in my twenties. True story time. Once, a friend and I were painting a bathroom for service in the back of hairdressing shop. While we were painting, a man came in to take a shower. I glanced at my friend, my eyes widened as this man started revealing flesh. "Just keep going," she said. We never would've finished the bathroom if we'd let every little thing stop us. Thankfully, he only took a "spit" bath, but the lesson is still the same. "Just keep going." Don't let anything stop you. Create through good times, through hard times, through sad times, through happy times. You'll be surprised what comes out when you do.

8. Get feedback from the right sources. One of the most discouraging thing for me at the beginning of my writing was rejection without a response. Why was I getting rejected? I wished they give me some clue as to why my work didn't meet their standards. It really couldn't be that "My story didn't resonate with them." I knew that was code for something else. I just didn't know how to decipher agent/editor-ese. At a writer's conference, I found out that there were contests I could enter and I could get feedback from judges who were agents, editors and other novelists. For a mere $25 entry free, I could find out why they would reject my manuscript. That was money well-spent!

9. Ask for help. I'm religious so this is something ingrained in me. I believe that God is a Creator and he wants us to be like him. When I am stuck, I ask Him for help. If you're not into praying, you can ask the universe, the Cosmos or a paid professional.

10. Believe in yourself and in what you are doing. Everyone has a unique perspective on life. If you don't believe me, just ask my kids who started the fight and they'll both give you different answers. You have something unique to give, something that no one else has. Give it, give it generously and it will come back to you generously. You are needed. Your art is needed!

What other tips help you fight discouragement?

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Publisher's Giveaway

Want to win one of two $50 Amazon gift cards? Click here to go to The Wild Rose Press Instagram Hop where you can follow twenty authors in various genres of romance. Click here. For all rules see the posts. Good luck!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Top Ten Ways to Boost Your Creativity


It's the middle of the book. You have a smashing beginning. You have a dynamic and surprising ending. But somehow you got lost in the muddle in the middle.  Here are ten ways to boost your creativity.

10. Watch a movie in your genre. Movies can inspire you with twists and turns, characters. Even awful movies can inspire you to do something better.

9. Read a book. When the creative juices in your brain start to flow under the hand of another writers work, you'll start to image things for your book too.

8. Go back and reread the passages that excited you, the ones which inspired you to write it in the first place.

7. Go to a museum, a park, a restaurant and just observe people. Why do they do what they do?

6. Play with children. Kids are uninhibited in their play and ideas.

5. Exercise. I wrote many characters while I was walking. Moving the body moves the brain.

4. Draw. Drawing helps release the right side of the brain.

3. Listen to music. I've found character motivations, their life logo all inside a simple song.

2. Free write emotions. One of the best exercises I read was where I just wrote what I felt. Pure. Raw. Emotion.

1. Listen to other writers talk about their work. On line, in person. Creativity is contagious.

Friday, July 6, 2018

How to Use Social Media to Reach a Wider Audience

In preparing for this blog post, I reread my notes from a webinar from Jane Freidman on promoting your book.  I think a lot of authors are baffled about how to reach beyond their own sphere of influence and reach untapped audiences. I'm going to list a few ways to use certain social media tools and build a platform. Now with anything, this takes time, it takes work and constant vigilance. I've seen some great progress as I've used some of these tools. This is what I do. Others may disagree. I will also rate their shelf life ie how long you can still get likes, views etc.



Facebook

Facebook is still my number one go-to for platform. I've had that account the longest. I have the biggest audience still. However, when it comes to book promo, blasting my book on my Facebook feed over and over again may not create sales and in fact, may lose me a few friends. Why? Because everyone who is my friend who wanted to buy my book has already bought my book and just harping on it over and over is tedious and annoying. Does that mean that Facebook is dead and I can't use it? No!! (Probably if you are reading this, you saw it on Facebook). Shelf life is about a few days. And for social media, that's pretty good.

How to use Facebook.


*Exciting events about my life. 
*My big events, like book releases, praise for your book. Not a hard sell of my book on Facebook. * * I operate a private Facebook groups of my closest friends who don't mind hearing about my success. These wonderful cherished few (I'm up to about ten consisting of my closest dearest supporters and family) are the people I give the most attention to (in theory) for their support of my efforts.
*Facebook book or author page. Then share everything from your author page to your private page for more views/likes etc.
*Facebook is constantly changing the algorithm on how to use their platform, but for now, the more people who comment on your post, the longer it stays in their feed. Ask questions and reply to keep up conversation and keep it in their feed.
*Live feeds and "story" will be prioritized in their algorithm. So if you are gutsy or have fun information to share, try the Facebook Live (from a smartphone only) or add to your story.

Instagram

Instagram is my number two choice for social media. Shelf life is about a day. It's a picture-based, hashtag-heavy (searchable by hashtags) platform that can only be used from a smart phone. Sorry, I tried posting from a laptop and it just didn't work. 

How to use Instagram

*Unlike Facebook, you can follow people without their permission. 
*There is a feed post and a story like Facebook. However, in Instagram, everything is in chronological order of when things were posted by the people you follow.
*You can control some privacy like I have my settings where only people I allow (certain followers) can view my "story" and I post more personal stuff there (pictures of my kids etc) utilizing my feed for food, events, fun stuff and book promo.
*If you want other people to view your feed or images/videos you post, you have to be public. This is the only way to gain new followers who don't know you.
*You can categorize your posts with hashtags (#). For books some popular ones I've found are #booksofinstagram #instabooks #writerslife #writersofinstagram etc. These post are categorized with other "tagged" pictures for IG users to find and like.
*You can post up to 1 minute of video in your feed and nearly unlimited live footage in your "story".
*Stories stay for 24 hours. But your story can be saved to your profile.
*Access your story by clicking on your profile picture. This will take you to a place where you can either search your photos on your phone or you can take a picture with the IG camera.
*You can write, add stickers, add bi-modal polls and other effects with the IG camera.
*I'm still learning how to most stuff, so I'll update as I gain more knowledge.
*There is now IGTV too, which is a little orange icon next to your messages
*Oh, yes, you can also message people and message them about what you see on their stories. Or you can just make comments below the image itself.
*To stay relevant you should be posting every day to every other day. Fun stuff. Hahah!

Twitter

Twitter has such a short shelf life--a few hours maybe for best results unless someone picks it up. Twitter can be good or bad. Of all the social media, Twitter is the scariest for me because if you say something stupid, it has the biggest potential of getting way out of hand, because of the ease of "retweeting" and the proliferation of what you write. However the potential to go big, I probably see the smallest results from Twitter. However Twitter is a great way to reach out to celebrities and other writers, agents and readers. I've never used it on my phone and refuse to download the app because I don't want it taking over my life. "Tweets" or posts come like a firehose if you follow enough people and it can be really distracting.

How to use Twitter

I should've labeled these, how I use X because I'm sure there is someone out there who is better at this than I am. However, this is what I do. I use a social media manager for Twitter because it moves so fast that it's hard to remember to Tweet everyday.

*A post or a "Tweet" is like 240 characters long. So you have to be brief. If you want to rant, you'll have to link to it on a different platform. 
*You can post GIFs, images, links, videos and any combination of those.
*Retweeting. If you like something you can RT something by clicking a retweet button. I usually say something original in the tweet so that it's now my own post, such as "Yes, this!" or "I agree!"
*Your Twitter account gives you analytics of how many "impressions" you receive from a certain Tweet. Impressions are how many people actually saw it. Then it gives you how many reactions. Reactions can be: media views, likes, retweets, etc.
*Find followers by following people who usually follow you back.
*A social media manager like Hootsuite can help you schedule Tweets so that you're not wasting a lot of time monitoring and posting Tweets.
*Post often. The secret to Twitter is that each post only lasts a few minutes before a slew of new Tweets overtakes your post in the feed.
*Thank people for following, for retweeting, reach out and comment, like and retweet to make friends. It's supposed to be social after all.

Blog

Some people thing blogs are a little passé these days. Although I think they hit their hay day in the early 2000's  I still believe having a blog presence never hurts (Unless it's distracting you from writing, which it is today!) And it has an amazing shelf life. If you create good content, people will be coming back for more and sticking around to see what else is there. 

How to use a blog 


*Content is king. Be helpful, be entertaining, be interesting.
*Create content that is "evergreen." In other words create posts that people can reference over and over again.
*Write about your platform. If you're a historical writer, write about history, costumes, customs etc.
*Post often. Ask people to share.


Website

This is your most important web tool from whence everything else springs. This is your hub. This is where you do your hard sell. Try to get people to come here and partake of the well springs of your creativity. This should represent you and everything you stand for.

How to use a website

*Add a smashing bio. This bio should reflect your character. The bio should have a call to action. "Follow me!" or "Subscribe to my newsletter."
*Speaking of newsletter, you should have one. I'll talk about that more in the next category. Have a place to subscribe.
*Show an image or avatar. People like to see who is behind the novel.
*Extras. Give, give and give some more. I have playlists, recipes, extra scenes. You can add all sorts of things to keep interested readers busy, and clicking around to find more.
*Make it uncluttered and organized.
*Make it relevant. Add images that reflect what you do. Don't confuse us with pictures of something irrelevant.
*Book covers, backstories, chapter ones, freebies.


Newsletters

If you are still reading this far, you're in for a treat! Actually, I'm just saying that to see if you're still paying attention. I guess you are. Newsletters are one of the most important tools for the budding and established author. Newsletters connect you to readers in a personal, real way. Collect emails at signings, on your website, through friends and referrals (forwards). This is your direct market. You can hard sell these people and they'll enjoy it. And if they don't, they should take themselves off their list. You only want serious fans here.

How to use a newsletter

*Announce sales, promotions, events, releases, book covers reveals, anything you want
*Thank your readers
*Reward your readers with bits of content, timelines. Publishing is a long and tedious profession. Keep them entertained between book releases.
*I add a excerpt of my work in progress.
*I talk about what victories and progress I've made.


I still have more to share on how to get the word out there, but this is all I think I can write in one sitting and probably more than you can read in one sitting. Anybody have any questions?



Thursday, July 5, 2018

Being a Creator

Creating is more work than consuming 


Ask anyone who creates. A movie can take months of filming with work on costumes, set design, script all before the camera rolls, then there's the editing and special effects, all for a flick that lasts less than two hours. Just watch an Lord of the Rings bonus features and you'll see the colossal effort of many people.

Writing is a special kind of creation 


While it takes little more than a computer and some ideas--a small investment comparatively speaking--writing does require a whole lot of time. And that's where people get stuck. My best years of writing were when my kids were little, our schedules were more free and no one had to go to school in the morning. I'd write late into the night and let my kids eat cold cereal for breakfast as I pried my eyes open in the wee hours of the morning--around nine a.m..

How to be a Creator


Have a vision. Creative beings start with a vision, what they want to accomplish in their creative session. This may be in the form of an outline, an idea, or a desired outcome. Having a vision is essential to creation. 

Give yourself permission to be creative. We live in a logical world. What we do must bring results. Creativity doesn't usually come with a huge monetary reward. But creativity brings us a different payout: happiness. Often we forget it. And sometimes we worry. We worry no one will like what we create. Look at children who are natural creators, look at how happy they are. They aren't worried about whether anyone will like what they create. They create because it comes from their heart. Dismiss worries, eye rolls and critics. CREATE!

Brew your thoughts. Creators have to have time for their thoughts to ferment. To others it may look a lot like daydreaming. 

Exercise your creative muscles. Let your mind wander, imagine what if, create space in your life to think about fun things. Sometimes I use pockets of time when I'm doing chores, driving or other mindless activities to ponder things I want to create.

Create. Now do it. Carve out time to move into fruition all your ideas. At first they may not all work out, but as you practice, it becomes better.

Share. I heard a story about a man who'd written nearly twenty novels but had never shared them with anyone. This story makes me sad. I create to share. To inspire. To heal. 

Last, be patient with those who are creative. If you are married to a creator, bless you! You know how chaotic creating can be. My house is usually messy, my life littered with little pieces of paper where I caught a spark of passing creativity. My life sometimes gets placed on hold while I work out some inspired thought. I want a sign that says, Forgive the mess, I'm creating today.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

My Advice to Aspiring Writers

Why Write?


Writing brings your dreams to life. Or your nightmares. Depending on what you are writing. When I first started dedicating time to writing ten years ago, I read scores of books, mostly from the library, about writing. So here's the short list of my advice for aspiring writers:

1. Write everyday

You may say, every day? And I'll say, every day. If you start making excuses, it's easy to get out of the habit. Now, I didn't say you have to lay down a bazillion words that day. But you should write and keep in the habit of writing every day. On Sundays, I write letters to loved ones instead of working on my story.

2. Learn the craft

I think too many people assume you either have writing talent or you don't. Writing can be learned. Check out books from the library. Read articles and blogposts on line. Do everything you can to improve your skills. I enter contests for feedback. 

3. Don't try to publish too soon

When you've worked so hard to write a book and you've finished, the first thing you should do is celebrate. Writing a novel/book is hard work. Finishing one is a miracle! Then you should let it sit, at least two weeks, before going back over it again. Have patience with your work. Make sure it is in the best possible shape before sending it out to the world.

4. Don't wait too long to publish

This may sound anti-thetical to #3, but don't wait for perfection either, because it ain't gonna happen. I think you'll know when you are ready. Don't give up, but don't keep putting off something until "it's perfect." Be patient, don't be a perfectionist.

5. Don't be jealous of others' success

The green-eyed monster of jealous is an awful creature. He steals your happiness and your energy. Don't let him do it. Be happy for others. Celebrate their success. You cannot become what you secretly despise. Bitterness doesn't make friends.

6. Be patient with your success

Writing and publishing take a long time. It's not an overnight success for most people. Work to build your audience, your fans. Be gracious and generous every step of the way. When you do reach success, mentor others. There is room enough for us all.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Why I write comedy

Why I love to write funny books

One dark January day after I had my third child, I was in the throes of Post-Partem Depression. Mix baby blues with the grays of January and you get a terrible color. Thankfully, we had a family tradition of going to the library on Saturdays. While there, I was browsing the Young Adult fiction and I came across a book, a third in a series. I had read the first book previously and wasn't impressed enough to pick up the second. However, I opened the third book and started reading and it was pure yumminess. It had a light-hearted love story, fun action-adventure and comedy. It was like eating after a fast or melting shaved ice on your tongue during a hot day. It was delicious to me. It hit the sweet spot in my brain. I was so rude to the people who came to dinner that night. I literally opened the door with the book in hand, waved them in and went back to reading.

It was healing

To me, laughter is healing. Fiction connects us with people, with humanity. Even more than film, fiction in book form gives us compassion. It helps us to see the world from a different point of view, experience a different life. Walk in the proverbial shoes of someone else. I lived another life between those pages.

And I wanted to do that for other people.

Books change us

Do you have a book you reread often because it is just so well-written that even though you've read it a thousand times it still makes you feel something? I have a list of my favorites. Princess Bride is one of them. I love it because it is again, the comedy, action-adventure and it has a love story. 

What is your favorite funny lines from Baker's Dozen or from any other book?

What's a book you love that you read and reread?

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Ten things you can do to help a writer friend

Ever wondered how authors get the word out about their books? The answer may shock you: it's you! Doing a few simple things for your author friend can help promote their book with little effort or time on your part. And since you are such a good friend, you'll want to help *wink*. Even if you haven't bought book, there is something you can do! I've made a list of small and simple things you can do today help authors in big ways.

Little time, no money

*Go to Amazon and mark all of their reviews as helpful. This helps those who have reviewed to earn more "cred."

*Do the same thing on Goodreads. If you don't have a Goodreads account, you should get one ;) Click here. Goodreads is a great place for readers to hang out and discuss and review books.

*Add your friend's book on your Goodread's shelf or in a list, group. This helps get the word out about the book. Plus me posting it to Goodreads is self-promotion. If you do it, it's helping someone find a book they'll love.

*Write an Amazon review. If you've bought the book, even if you didn't buy it from Amazon, you can write a review (up to once a week on non-Amazon purchased items). Reviews should be honest and as short/long as you like. Even a simple "I liked it" will count. In the algorithm, the number of reviews count more than what's written. 

*Sharing is caring. Like/share/comment on writer's posts on Twitter, IG, Facebook. This gives the writer more visibility because all of your friends can see your comments.  

*Request your friend's book at your local library. Not only is it a purchase of your friend's book, (thank you!) but it also increases awareness of the author. Most people are willing to check out a book because of the low-risk involved before they buy a book. I was able to fill out a form on line for my local library. *Warning* It may require a phone call.

*Recommend friend's book. Nothing is more persuasive than a recommendation from a friend. Word of mouth goes a long way!

*Join their newsletter. Then, if you feel generous, forward their newsletter to other readers. It's an easy, non-intrusive way to help spread the word. (Find my sign-up on my website here.)

*Comment on their blog.

*Take pictures of yourself reading the book to share on social media. Social media is one of the best methods of getting the word out. Selfies reading the book on Kindle or paperback would be awesome. Tag the author. A few helpful hashtags #amreading #reader #booklover #books etc.

I have to say a HUGE thank you so much to those friends who are already doing this! You are amazing and the best! I am forming a team of people who can  help me spread the word and possibly earn rewards like Amazon gift cards or swag. If you'd like to be a part of this team, let me know and I can add you to my private Inner Circle, called the Z-Pack. I have a private Facebook group for special opportunities like helping me chose titles, character's names etc and have Facebook LIVE events.

Comment below with anything that has helped you or a suggestion I missed.

Monday, May 21, 2018

How to handle rejection, bad reviews and bad news

Not everyone is going to love my books


There are some really good highs as a writer. One of the best moments is when I received my first full request from an agent. I literally screamed when I saw it. Scream so much, my voice hurt. It was a sign that I was finally getting closer to my goal. The second best was receiving my contract for my first book. I was so pleased, I called my family and friends and let them know. Then when the reviews started coming in. Even people I didn't know loved my book. It's so gratifying to find other people loving the characters I've fallen in love with, too.

But there are some lows.

Not everyone is going to love what I write. I recently received a rejection from an agent who I queried with the book that was accepted for publication last year. I laughed of course but rejections are a lot easier to take when you already have a publication. I also received a less than stellar review this week. Hey, all reviews have merit, but man, it hurts. 

How to stay positive


For me, it's all about perspective. Persistence. Letting go. Keep going. I may rant for a few minutes, but I don't let it hurt me or bring me down.

Celebrate every victory


The person who wrote the bad review wasn't my friend or anyone I knew. That means my book is getting out there beyond my friends. That's a victory! I now have another review! Yay! Every victory is worth celebrating and those victories will help us see that what we are doing is important. 

What are some ways you stay positive?

Friday, May 18, 2018

Meet the best friend

The best friend excerpt from clean romantic suspense novel Baker's Dozen on sale for $2.99 until May 25. Buy here.



Carla Vehemia is the daughter of a wealthly manufacturing tycoon in St. Louis. She likes lower-class men and supports Andy in her vigilant-ing. 


Sweat dripped down Andy’s brow as she tucked into a corner of the dojo to undress from her Master’s gi at the end of class.
“Thanks for a great session,” Carla said over the din of kids preparing to line up on the mats. “Going for dinner?”
“I have something to tell you,” Andy said when she had finished tucking her pants into her bag.
“You finally applied for the CIA?” Carla’s deep brown eyes lit up. Her dark skin contrasted with her white uniform. Only Carla could still be feminine in a gi built for a block.
“No.”
“How far did you get last time?” Carla asked, admiring her luminous black hair in the wall of mirrors behind a row of chairs surrounding the perimeter of the dojo.
“I decided on careers I was qualified for and placed them in the Job Cart. But that’s not what I was going to tell you.”
“Next time, hit the Apply button.” She smoothed her soft curls with the palm of her hand, her perfectly placed lipstick unsmudged by her physical exertion. “Hey, when do I get my BMW back? Was it in the sting op for that car repair shop? I read your blog this morning. Amazing.”
“Thanks,” Andy said. “Yeah. Sadly, it’s no longer in perfection condition. Jack jimmied with the powertrain; the drive shaft is broken. It’ll probably get confiscated as evidence, now.” Andy wrinkled her nose. “It was my fault. I got a ride instead of insisting we go to the shop. Sorry.”
Carla shrugged. “Daddy will buy me another. Scott wrecked the McLaren 650S he got for graduation, and he didn’t even get into trouble. But of course, he is the golden child so he gets away with everything,” Carla said, still focusing on herself in the mirror. “Now, what did you want to tell me?”
Andy leaned closer as Carla faced her. “Somebody detected my disguise,” she whispered.
Carla’s glossy lips parted in surprise. “Nobody recognizes you, ever. You even fooled Sandra.”
Andy smiled remembering her first test run. Dressed as a FedEx man, she delivered a package to Sandra at work. Disguised in a short red-headed wig and prosthetics, Andy had a fifteen-minute conversation with her about begonias. Sandra never suspected. Andy was that skilled.
“Who was it?” Carla asked, her perfectly shaped brows gathered in a furrow.
“Some guy,” she said, tugging her yoga pants over her spandex.
Carla leaned close. “Was he cute?”
Andy didn’t reply. She wrapped up her belt and stuck it in the bag, slipping on her shoes.
Carla continued through Andy’s silence, giving her a sly smile. “What scares you more? A guy noticing you or him seeing through your disguise?”

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Meet the Heroine

More excerpts from my clean romantic suspense novel Baker's Dozen

Meet Andy Miller, an investigative journalist in my clean romantic suspense novel, on sale for $2.99 until May 25, 2018. Buy link here.


Men lie. They lie about how many women they’ve been with, their alcohol tolerance, and the size of their, uh, paycheck. Which was exactly what Jack, sitting across from Andy Miller, was lying about.
He tapped his coffee mug with the tip of his finger, stretching his lean body against the booth at Ronney Dell’s. “Ninety grand this year alone,” he claimed.
Closer to fifty grand, according to his secretary. Though maybe he was taking into account all the vehicles he had sabotaged before fixing which weren’t on the books.
But Andy didn’t contradict him. Instead, she demurely batted her lashes and smiled into her shoulder. “Ninety grand,” she cooed, snapping her gum. “I don’t believe it!” she said.
And that was the truth.
Andy brushed back the bleached wig of her “Mary Lou” persona covering her natural brown hair. Brown as the Mississippi mud, her dad always said. She fingered a necklace just above the plunging neckline of a tank top and Daisy Dukes combo. Oh, the depths she sank to for a story. But to avenge poor, old Mrs. Wheyland, it was worth it.
“It’s been all this overtime, you know.” He gave her a crusty smile. It had been too long since he’d seen the inside of the toothpaste cap.
“Are you going in to work tonight?”
She wanted one more peek at Jack’s books. Something was amiss, something more than the sabotage. After doing some research on how much small repair shops made, she wanted to recalculate the figures.
“I’m just about to finish up your BMW. Want to come?”
She nodded. “Watching you work gives me such a thrill.”
Andy smiled in anticipation of sharing all seventeen of Jack’s dishonest dealings with her ten thousand Twitter followers @BakersDozen. And if there was a bigger story in the books, it would be the cream on top of all the corruption and scandal. Lies à la mode.
“Let’s go.” He tossed his head.
He gulped one last swig of coffee. Andy slid from the booth, arms jangling with bracelets, her stiletto boots nearly entangling in the table legs. At the register, Jack patted his back pockets, then his shirt pockets, and swore.
“Forgot my wallet in my other pants. Mary Lou, will you?”
Andy flashed a tight smile as she did some mental math. She had paid for dinner five of the six times they’d been out. If this had been a real date with a real boyfriend, Andy would have left him to wash dishes for their meal. At least Jack was a tax deduction. She slid her wallet from her red weekender tote. “Sure, hon.”
“Last time, I promise,” he whispered in her ear. This was the only truth he’d uttered their entire relationship. He didn’t even know how true it was.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Meet the Hero

Here are excerpts from my clean Romanic Suspense novel Baker's Dozen on sale $2.99 until May 25th. Buy here.


Hugh Donaldson is an undercover agent. But for who, that is the question.



The tattooed man slapped his hand on the counter and leaned toward her, pointing to a sticker on the bag of chips. “The price tag says two forty-nine, not three forty-nine. Are you stupid or something?” he said. 
The young clerk’s face flushed red as she realized her mistake. “I’m sorry. I’m not sure how the mix-up happened. Let me void the transaction.” 
She fumbled through the keys at the computer. The man sighed and set his foot down heavily. 
“I’m sorry,” the cashier said again. She squinted at the screen, fully absorbed, her fingers unsure, as she typed on the keyboard. 
While the clerk was distracted, the man lifted a pack of gum from below the counter and slid it into his pocket. “This is taking too long. Just forget it,” he said. “I don’t need the chips.” 
“I got it,” she said at last, tossing a strand of hair behind her ear and ringing up the chips again. “It worked.” 
“About time,” the man said, plopping down some cash. 
The clerk handed him his change. 
“Idiot,” he said, not quite under his breath, as he left. 
When Hugh stepped up to the counter, he laid down his two hot dogs. “Want him to pay for that?” he asked. 
She glanced up from ringing up the hot dogs, her face still red. “For what?” 
“He just stole a pack of gum. You want him to come back and pay for it?” 
The clerk smiled and nodded her head. “Yeah!” 

“I’ll be right back.” 
“Who are you the police or something?” 
But Hugh was already out the door. He approached the man as he opened his car. “Hey, you going to pay for the pack of gum?” 
The man opened the door and arched an eyebrow at Hugh. “Excuse me?” 
“You lifted a pack of gum inside. And I think you owe the clerk an apology. You were rather rude.” 
“Not going to happen.” The man ducked into his red Camaro. Hugh caught his door before he could close it. The man yanked at the door. 
Hugh held firm. “You will go in, pay for the gum, and apologize to the store clerk.” 
The man jumped to his feet and puffed out his chest as he faced Hugh. “You gonna make me?” He whipped out a gun from his waistband. He pointed it four inches from Hugh’s nose. 
Hugh smiled slightly, amused. “A gun? You think you’re going to shoot me? I only asked you to do the right thing.” In a flash, Hugh knocked the gun from the man’s hand and joint locked his arm, forcing him down, immobilizing him. Still controlling the man’s arm, Hugh trapped his face against the black tar of the parking lot with his foot. “Are you going to apologize?” 
Before he could answer, sirens blared and blue and red lights of two police cars splashed over Hugh and his captive. The store clerk approached him. “I didn’t know what to do so I called the police,” she said. 
“Brilliant,” Hugh said under his breath, lifting the thug from off the ground. 
“What’s going on here?” the first cop asked, approaching with caution unsure who was the good guy and who was the bad guy. Hugh released the thug to two officers but a third grabbed Hugh. The clerk hurried over, talking fast. 
“The other guy pulled a gun on this guy,” she said, pointing first to the man and then to Hugh. 
“Yeah?” the officer said. He opened a pad of paper and wrote down what the clerk said. “Why’d he threaten you with a gun?” he asked Hugh. 
Hugh sort of shrugged, still held by the officer. 
“He was a real hero,” the clerk continued with shining eyes. “First, he spotted the man shoplifting a pack of gum, but then when he confronted him, the other guy pulled out a gun. This guy disarmed him completely.” 
The officer turned to Hugh, eyebrows raised. “He lifted a pack of gum, and you were going to stop him?” 
Hugh gave him a short nod. 
One of the other cops interrupted the questioning after they cuffed the man and escorted him to the back of the police car. “Looks like we picked up a winner. Driving a stolen vehicle, has four warrants for his arrest here in Missouri. Two in Illinois.” 
The interrogating officer returned to Hugh. “I guess we owe you some gratitude for stopping him. But you shouldn’t have confronted him. You never know if you’re going to come across a hardened criminal like this guy. Still, I am glad no one was hurt. Next time leave it to the trained professionals.” 
“I’ll remember your good advice, sir.” Hugh glanced over to a man in a suit watching outside his car. He had a huge grin on his face. 
The clerk slipped Hugh his hot dogs. “They’re on the house,” she whispered to him. Hugh remembered his hunger and grabbed the now cold dogs. 
“Thank you,” he said to the girl with admiration shining in her eyes. He bowed to the officer. “Am I free to go, sir?” he asked. 
The cop arched an eyebrow at Hugh. “I want your number in case we need to ask you further questions.” 
Hugh nodded and gave him a number, then joined the man in the suit who had his elbows resting on the roof of his Mercedes and an open car door. Antonio laughed at Hugh as the cop cars departed, lights flashing, sirens whupping

“You sow chaos wherever you go,” Antonio said, with a slight Italian accent, shaking his head, his lips drawn up in a smile. 


Saturday, May 12, 2018

How to write a review

I'll be honest. I wrote my first review for a book last year. I had no idea how important they are to authors. Thank you, thank you, thank you to all of my friends who have written reviews! You are rockstars!

Why do authors need reviews?

New or unknown authors need reviews because no one has heard of them. While they may be your friend, not many people will know about their book unless you tell them about it. Also distributers like Amazon give more weight to items that have more reviews.

What is a review?

A review is where you read a book and write your honest feedback.

How do I do that?

It's really not hard to write a review. Someone had to teach me and I was scared the first time. If you have an Amazon account, log in and click on a book you like (or dislike) then click on the reviews. There's a gray button on the side that says "Write a Review." Click on it. The star rating will come up. Choose the star power you want! Next, it will bring up a line for you to write the essence of your review. Use power words like, Thrilling plot! Or Great read.

Next write the review. You don't have to be a wordsmith to craft a great review. Name the genre, because that helps with the search algorithms, and then say what you liked and what you didn't like about it. It's important to write honestly. Bad reviews can help the author as much as a good review. Don't worry about hurting the author's feelings. I promise you, after years of writing, we've developed thick skin. And plus, you may have a suggestion that will help them grow as a writer.

What not to write in a review?

Do not trash the author. Even if you wish you had the hour of you life back that you spent reading the first several chapters before you threw it against the wall in frustration. Being rude is never cool and has more of a reflection on your character than on their talent. You can however give feedback of what drew you in or turned you off.

What are Amazon's rules for writing a review?

Amazon has strict rules for writing a review because they are so important to selling books that Amazon wants to maintain their integrity. Here's the link to their rules.
If you don't want to read all the legalease, it basically says authors cannot:
1. Require someone to write a review
2. Pay for a review. They can however give you a free copy of their book to review. However you must disclose this.
3. Authors can't tell you what to write, ie: tell you to write a positive review.
4. Lie.

Where can I write a review?

The most popular places are Amazon and Goodreads. You do not have to post it on Social Media if you don't want to. Of course if you have an awesome reviewer blog, then go ahead!

Word of mouth goes a long way!

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Why write clean Romantic Suspense?

A few years ago I went to a Romance Writer's Conference. During a pre-pitch session, we had to distill our 90k word novels into a few catchy phrases that would attract the attention of an editor or agent. Most of us were newbies, doing this for the first time (pitching face to face with industry professionals--no pressure!) and there were mentors who had been around the block. As we went around the table, we explained our genre so they could get a feel of what our pitch should sound like. I said something like this, I write clean romantic suspense. A woman across from me sneered at my suggestion and was asked me who would buy my book. I gave my opinion that women wanted sex-free books that were well-written and fun to read. It was probably the first time in my adult life that another adult mocked me for my beliefs. I was a little shocked, but stood my ground. And I still stand by it. There is a market for clean reads. It's a growing market. Lots of people may want to read some that's a little more explicit, but there is a huge market for good clean reads.

What am I working on this May?
I received an R&R from an editor for Swiss Mishap--a clean contemporary romance about a girl who heads to Switzerland for her internship. I am working on changing first person present to third person past tense. (yeah, it's tedious stuff. Sometimes what we do as writers isn't very glamorous). I hope to have that edited and back to the editor before summer so I can focus on Andy Baker 2. The Z-pack (see below) can help me work out some kinks in the first draft.

What's going on in May?

Sale for Baker's Dozen $2.99 May 11- May 25th. If you or your friends have been procrastinating buying the book, now is a great time to buy. (Tell your friends) Amazon link here.

I will also do another Amazon paperback giveaway in conjunction with the sale so stay tuned for those details as well. (Updated with link here!)

As always, you can stay more up to date in my monthly newsletters. I am going to be sending those out at the 3rd of every month. You can sign up on my website. The newsletter includes excerpts from my current work in progress as well as fun information. Follow me on Twitter or Instagram. If you want to be part of my inner circle of people who go the extra mile to help me promote my career, I have a private Facebook group called the Z-Pack (because, you know antibiotics anyone?) you can join. Just let me know and I can send you an invite.

Lastly, I am planning on overhauling my site and merging my blog and website so that I'm not splitting my traffic. Yay!

Thank you so much for everything!

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Top Ten Things To Do in Paris

Top Ten Things to do in Paris
Louvre
Eiffel Tower lunch
Versailles
Cooking class with French Chef
Sacre Coeur
Notre Dame
Catacombs
Musee d’armée
Saint Sulpice
Arch de Triumph

Things we did but wouldn’t do again

Riverboat ride along the Seine

Places to Eat
Nicolas Flammels (of Harry Potter fame)
Breizh cafe (Best Crêpes in town)
Angelina’s (Cute little café)





Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Three chances to win Baker's Dozen Book Giveaway

UPDATED: Here's a new link for an Amazon giveaway.
Ends May 18 at midnight PDT.

Have you been wanting to read Baker's Dozen and what reviewers have called "a great weekend read," "a page-turner," and "light and fun read with suspense and romance" for free? Here are three ways to win!!

1.Enter my paperback giveaway! Like my Amazon author page and... Voilà. You only have from now until March 19th to enter so hurry fast!

***Only US residents 18 years or older can apply.

2. Also my friend Amy Martinsen posted a great review and giveaway on her blog:www.goawayimreading.com Also running until 3-19.

3. And the last is this giveaway on the romance reviews.


Saturday, March 3, 2018

Romance Reviews Giveaway!!

http://www.theromancereviews.com


A bunch of romance authors are doing a giveaway March 1-31st. If you'd like to participate, click on banner and create a log in for over 70 giveaways!! Over 70 romance writers. Something for everybody.

Participating authors
ME! (of course)
 Joanne Guidoccio
Donna Hatch
Peggy Chambers
Pam Bazemore

And many, many more!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico has been on my mind ever since hurricane Maria hit the island last year. Rob and I went for his birthday of 2014 and we loved every minute of it!

Recommendations for travel.

Walk if you can. If you are constantly in a car, you'll miss wonderful moments. Like this bike tied to a palm tree we saw on our walk.


















Top Ten list for Puerto Rico
Saint Cristóbal
El Morro (bring a kite to fly on the green)
Walk around downtown San Juan
Fajardo (Where we had the fish pictured above)
Horse back riding in Fajardo among the sugar cane
El Yunque National forest (the only rain forest in our National system)
Beach in San Juan Condado
Shopping in downtown San Juan
Eat fried plantains in downtown San Juan
Stop off the side of the road to see a waterfall






Saturday, February 10, 2018

Top 20 LDS Romance Authors

Just in time for Valentine's Day! Find your romance match! Whether you like historical romance or modern day romance, there's something here for everyone! Clink on the author's name for their website and the title for the Amazon link. (Note: Some fell into more than one category, so I placed them where I thought best!)

Historicals


1.  Collection of authors
Regency House party

2. Author: Jennifer Lunt Moore
Title: Miss Leslie's Secret

3. Author: Julie Daines
Title: Havencross 

4. Author: Donna Hatch
Title: Unmasking the Duke

5. Author: Marsha Ward
Title: Mended by Moonlight

6. Author: Shaela Kay
Title: A Heart Made of Indigo

7. Author: Jen Geigle Johnson
Title: The Nobleman’s Daughter

LDS Romance


8. Author: Laura Walker
Title: When the Clouds Lift

 9. Author: Renee Savage Clark
 Title: Love, Jane

10. Author: Teya Peck
Title: See Me For Me

11. Author: Nichole M. White
Title: Unspoken Words

Sweet Adult Romance


12.Author: Rebecca Blevins
Title: Keeping Christmas

13. Author: Annette Luthy Lyons
Title: A Taste of Home: A romantic Christmas Novella

Series Romance


14. Author: Heather Brown Moore
Title: A Night in Grosvenor Square

15. Author: Jennifer Stewart Griffith 
Title: Legally Wedded: A marriage of convenience

16. Author: Rachelle Jolley Christensen
Title: Billionaire's Stray Heart

17.Author: Amberlee Day
Title: The Science, the Sea and the Billionaire

Sports and love


18. Author: Traci Hunter Abramson
Title: Chance for home

19. Author: Carole Malone
Title: Fightcard Romance Ladies’ Night

YA Romance

20. Author: Christene Houston
Title: A Heart So Broken


Bonus Author: Laura Cherrington Johnston

Title: Between Now and Never

Clean Romantic Suspense


Bonus Author: Shuanna S. Gonzales
Title: Dark Days of Promise



















Friday, February 9, 2018

Homemade Pizza Crust Recipe


Looking for something to make for dinner? It's national Pizza day, so I thought I'd share my homemade crust recipe with you!



4 c. flour (Sometimes I substitute one cup of white flour for wheat flour.)
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. oil
2 Tbs. sugar (one for the water and yeast)
1 1/2 c. of warm water
1 packet (2 1/4 tsp.) yeast


Measure three cups of flour into a bowl, add, salt, oil and one tablespoon of sugar. Add one tablespoon of sugar to warm water and yeast mixture. When yeast has bubbled and fermented, add to flour mixture. Knead in remaining cup of flour. Let rest for ten minutes to an hour. Spread on greased pizza pans, add sauce and cheese.  I bake mine at 475 for ten minutes! Enjoy!

PS This is a picture of my daughter's first attempt at pizza. She did pretty well, I think! Let her know how well she did in the comments or comment with your own pizza crust recipe!

Friday, February 2, 2018

Top Ten Fun facts about Switzerland

Switzerland is mostly known for mountains, cheese and chocolate. But there is so much more!


The country abbreviation is CH for Canton Helvetic
The currency is the Swiss Franc or abbreviated CHF
They have four national languages German, French, Italian and Romansh
There are 26 cantons or states that make up the confederation of Switzerland
Swiss flag is a square not rectangular
It's a neutral country although they send out paid soldiers called mercenaries
They have a direct democracy
8 million people live in Switzerland
Neither Napoleon nor Hitler invaded Switzerland in their European takeover
They are not part of the EU


Top Ten Thing to Do in (French-speaking) Switzerland

Gruyères
Ever since I was a little girl I wanted to go to Switzerland. I was lucky enough to live there for a few months during my twenties. Recently, my husband and I returned and compiled our top ten list of things to do in mostly French speaking Switzerland. One of course thinks of mountains, chocolate and cheese when they think of Switzerland. And beautiful Heidi-like pastoral mountain sides. but there is so much more! Here's a link to my top ten fun facts about the neutral country in the heart of Europe. Without further ado, here's my top ten list.
Callier chocolate factory
Dents du Midi
Cheese






Einstein's house in Bern

Bern:

(German speaking)
1. Einstein's house
Fresh chocolate Bern
2. Shopping in historic Bern for fresh chocolate






Fribourg:

3. Trudge up 365 steps of the Tour of St. Nicholas to the tower
Tower of St. Nicolas Fribourg
4. Cross La Sarine's medieval bridge in Bas Ville



La Sarine










Vevey:


6. Les Trois Sifflets for fondue
Museums





7. Also walk around the lake to the Fork at the Musee d'alimentation and the Charlie Chaplin statue. I believe he's buried there.



Montreux


Châteux de Chillon
8. Chateux de Chillon










9. Chocolate train, cheese factory in medieval  Gruyères.
*Seasonal jazz festival, Christmas village Fete de Vingerons, also Christmas chalets with live nativity.
Gruyères













Geneva:



Jette d'eau
10. Jette d’eau Genva
Bonus: Cathedrals 
Shopping


THE SWISS MISHAP is nominated for the Swoony Awards

Did you know these awesome people created an award just for clean romance?  It's called the Swoony and now you get to voice your vote fo...