Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Talking with Jade M. Phillips about MER

Jade M. Phillips is here today to talk about her new young adult fantasy/science fiction novel, MER, published by Kith Books.

About the book:
In a land where the sea grows restless, the summer breeze turns to ice and sleet, and Mother Nature has plans of another sort, dark and supernatural forces begin to unfold, fighting to unite the broken prophecy. In the midst of a tangled web lie the Castlecrays, a family with deep tragedy and mysterious secrets, who are torn apart and forced on a treacherous journey. Coming from a time when kings rule the realm, knights fight for honor, and eminence is power, the children of Castlecray are thrown into an unknown magical ambiance where nothing is as it seems, and bedtime stories come alive right before their eyes. Sweeping from a land of severe and savage seas to the sparkling underwater spires of a magical unknown world, this is a tale of lords and ladies, knights and nobility, traitors and trolls, who are all intertwined in a weaving maze of conspiracy and deception. Amidst gallantry and guilt, love and loss, the Castlecrays find their fate to be in the hands of their enemies, of each other, and of their new mysterious  allies, the Wavekeepers—all vying to keep the balance between good and evil, land and sea, in a fight for the ultimate desire; the power of MER.

Jade, how long have you been writing, and how did you start?

I’ve been writing short stories, poetry, and music since I was in grade school, for almost twenty years now, but this is my first published novel. I started writing because of my best friend. She was really into poetry and that sparked an interest in me that never went away.

How did you come up with the title of your book?

This book has a secret. And I am going to give you some VIP information by telling you this...but if you couldn’t already tell by the title, its secret is Merpeople. The idea came from a couple different sources. First of all, my five year old daughter is obsessed with mermaids, so I guess there is always a mermaid floating around in the back of my brain. LOL!

Second, my husband and I were up late one night discussing the current trends in young adult fantasy books (my fave of course). We were talking about vampires and werewolves, zombies, and faeries, when I was like, “Wait! What about mermaids?” And thus: MER was born!

How would you describe your book in a tweet? (140 characters or less.)
MER, the new young adult fantasy series, is dark and magically gripping, sure to have you hooked!

Great! That's not easy to do. Do you outline, write by the seat of your pants, or let your characters tell you what to write?

A little bit of everything! I start with an outline, but as I go on the story and the characters take on a mind of their own. I am sometimes surprised on where the book leads me!

What is your favorite quote?

“Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” –Albus Dumbledore

That Albus was a wise man. How do you get to know your characters?

My characters are started with a vague idea, a thought in the back of my mind, a general age, sex, and a name. They then begin to develop personalities and traits on their own as the story progresses. I love how they sometimes say things that shock me! Haha!

Do you have a favorite of your characters?

That’s difficult because I love (or love to hate) all of my characters. But yes, I have a favorite. I’d have to say Quin. She’s a feisty, tomboyish ten-year-old girl who isn’t afraid to speak her mind; quite the contrary to the lady of nobility that she is expected to be. She cracks me up by always getting into trouble!

She sounds like my kind of girl. Which author would you most like to invite to dinner, and what would you fix him or her?

I would love to invite George R.R. Martin to dinner. Not only is he a fantastic writer, he is a great historian and fabulous person (from what I’ve seen of interviews). I would make chicken parmigiana, and hopefully not burn it.

What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)?

I am currently absorbed in Laini Taylor’s Days of Blood and Starlight, the sequel to Daughter of Smoke and Bone, in e-book format. I would HIGHLY recommend these books, they are phenomenal!

Do you have a routine for writing? Do you work better at night, in the afternoon, or in the morning?

I am a lover of routines, but since I am a mother of two little ones who aren’t in school yet, I write whenever I can! That usually means at night after the kids are asleep, or on my husband’s days off I hand them over and bolt out the door to Starbucks, as quick as lightning, to get my write-on!

Where do you prefer to do your writing?

Starbucks is okay when necessary, but I really enjoy writing on my back porch, where I can hear the birds and see the trees. We have these comfy sofa-like chairs out there and I just grab my lap-top and a cup of hot tea and click away on the keyboard!

Do you ever get writer’s block? What do you do when it happens?

I throw things and curse a lot...*crickets*.
Haha! No, I’m kidding. I take breaks. A good walk helps me to clear my mind of all the stumbling blocks and refresh with new ideas.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Read. I LOVE to read. I love to play video games and have dance parties with my kids.

What are you working on now?

I am working on MER (volume 2) the second book in the MER series. It is going to be fantastic! I get goose bumps just thinking about it!

Good luck with it, Jade, and come back and tell us about it when it's out.

                                                                MER book trailer

About the author:

Jade M. Phillips, aside from being an author, can play guitar, do a frighteningly accurate portrayal of a spider monkey, and has the unique and magical ability to vanquish entire armies of snarling trolls with a flick of her pen.
When she is not writing about mystical creatures and lovable characters, she’s having nightly dance parties with her kids, blogging about whatever tickles her fancy at the moment, and testing new recipes on the stove (which coincidentally, usually ends up testing her smoke detectors as well).

Jade M. Phillips resides in Arizona with her husband, two children, and her crazy cat, William Wallace Braveheart Fuzzy McFarland the Third.

Connect with Jade:

Facebook page
Goodreads author page

Monday, January 28, 2013

Talking with Jennifer Comeaux

Jennifer Comeaux is the author of Edge of the Past, the sequel to Life on the Edge. Both are contemporary romance novels geared toward the teenage audience, published by Astraea Press.

About Edge of the Past:

Emily’s skating career and personal life have never been more golden. She and her partner Chris have won every competition they’ve entered this season, and she’s found the man of her dreams in her coach Sergei. But when one of the biggest competitions of the year takes Emily and Sergei to Russia, Sergei’s past explodes into the present and makes Emily doubt everything in their future.

Scroll down for an excerpt from the book!

Jennifer, how long have you been writing, and how did you start? 

I started writing when I was very young! I had a very active imagination, and I loved writing stories. I wrote my first “novel” when I was twelve. As I got older, my fiction writing took a back seat to school-related writing, and I didn’t write anything of substance again until three years ago. I had the idea for a romance between a skater and a coach, and one of my friends kept bugging me to write the story so she could read it. I felt so rusty when I first started, but then the words just flowed! That rough draft eventually turned into my first published novel, Life on the Edge.

How would you describe your book in a tweet? (140 characters or less.)

Can true love survive the ghosts of the past?

Do you outline, write by the seat of your pants, or let your characters tell you what to write? 

I did a mixture of both for Edge of the Past. I had a very jumbled outline that I tried to follow, but many times I’d start working on a chapter and the characters would have different ideas! Even though I’m a very organized person in my day job as an accountant, I find that in my writing, I’m not a very structured plotter.

Did you have any say in your cover art? What do you think of it? Tell us about the artist. 

I love my cover! I’m very lucky that my publisher has an awesome artist, Elaina Lee, who is very receptive to feedback. She listened to my ideas and worked with me to create the perfect cover for the story.

I keep a running list of new names, and I even troll the obits for ideas. How do you name your characters? 

My main characters’ names just sort of came to me a long time ago. I liked the name Emily and thought it fit her personality. For many of the minor characters, I’ve been using the names of my friends’ children. The kids get a kick out of seeing their names in print!

If you could be one of your characters, which one would you choose? 

I would be Emily because I’d love to know what it feels like to be a champion skater – to feel like I’m flying over the ice. And she has a pretty amazing fiancĂ© too!

With which of your characters would you most like to be stuck on a deserted island? 

I would most like to be stuck with Sergei because, well...he’s hot, haha! He’s also incredibly sweet, generous, and caring, so I think he’d be great if things got rough on the island.

Tell us about your favorite scene in the book. 

My favorite scene in the book is one where Emily and Sergei get to spend some quality romantic time with each other after a rough couple of weeks. I love writing those romantic moments where I can really showcase the chemistry between them.

What song would you pick to go with your book?

I have a whole soundtrack for the book that you can find on my blog! One of the songs that’s closely tied in with the theme of the book is “Fall Away” by The Fray. The chorus of the song is “You fall away from your past but it’s following you.”

What are your favorite books or favorite authors?

a) as a child:
Judy Blume
b) as a teenager Francine Pascal. I read every Sweet Valley High book I could get my hands on! I also loved her Caitlin series.
as an adult: I’ve really enjoyed Tammara Webber, Rachel Hawthorne and Stephanie Perkins.

What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)? 

I’m currently reading Summer Swing by Delia Delaney on my Kindle.

Where’s home for you?  
Home is right across the Mississippi River from New Orleans in an area called the West Bank. It’s been my home all my life!

If you could take a trip anywhere in the world, where would you go? (Don’t worry about the money. Your publisher is paying.)

I would go to Sochi, Russia for the 2014 Winter Olympics. I attended the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, and it was such an amazing event!

What are you working on now? 

I’m currently working on the third book in the EDGE series! It will wrap up Emily and Sergei’s journey and also tell Emily’s best friend Aubrey’s story, as they all prepare for the 2006 Olympics. I also just finished a short story that’s sort of an epilogue to Edge of the Past. It will be available as a free download in early 2013!

Great! I know your fans are anxiously awaiting the third book in the series. I hope you'll come back and tell us about it when it's out.

Excerpt from Edge of the Past

Mom’s eyebrows were still raised as she returned to her seat. I stayed standing and tapped Sergei’s arm. “Can we talk for a sec?”

I led him away from the table to a quiet spot near the entrance. A couple of Canadian ice dance coaches passed us, and we swapped brief hellos. I retreated further into the corner and looked up at Sergei.

“What was your dad angry about?”

Sergei rubbed the back of his neck and let out a frustrated sigh. “He wasn’t happy that he left work and now you’re not skating.”

I laughed dryly. “So, now he has something else to hold against me.”

“No, it’s not you.” Sergei touched my cheek. “He doesn’t even know you. It’s just him...and the way he is.”

“When you said he’s not a ray of sunshine, you weren’t joking. He didn’t even shake your hand.”

“He’s never been good at expressing emotion.”

“I’m sure glad you got your mom’s personality.” I tugged on the end of Sergei’s purple tie.

He smiled and wrapped his arms around me, but I could feel the tension in his body. What else could go wrong on this trip? With two days left in St. Petersburg and three more in Moscow, I was almost afraid to ask that question.

About the author:

Jennifer Comeaux earned a Master of Accounting from Tulane University and is a Certified Public Accountant in south Louisiana. When not working or writing, she is an avid follower of the sport of figure skating, traveling to competitions around the country. Those experiences allow her to see a different side of the sport and serve as an inspiration for her writing.

Facebook page
Goodreads author page

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Book Feature: Normal, with Author Janet Bettag

Normal is the true story of the author’s survival and recovery from a ruptured cerebral aneurysm. It poignantly and humorously addresses dealing with altered self-image, finding ways around barriers, and appreciating the play of serendipity and synchronicity in our lives.

Welcome, Janet. You have a fascinating story. How long have you been writing, and how did you start?

Technically, I started writing when I was about 9 years old. I did a newsletter for a youth group of which I was a member, and I’ve been writing ever since. However, I didn’t really start writing as a profession until 2010 when I started working on Normal and contributing feature articles to a golfing magazine. Funny thing, the articles I was assigned to write were very loosely related to the sport. I wrote about charitable organizations that derived benefit from golf outings, profiled the chef at an exclusive golf club, and wrote about a studio that handcrafts knives, pens, and golf accessories. At the publisher’s request, I even did a fun piece on the best places in the metro St. Louis area to shop for holiday gifts for golfers.

How did you come up with the title of your book?

The working title of the book was Normal Is So Overrated because that’s the conclusion my brain aneurysm support group came to after much discussion. Trying to return to normal after brain trauma is like trying to eat broth with a fork…it just keeps slipping away from you. I shortened the title to Normal after the cover art was designed because I felt that word paired with the image most accurately conveyed how I felt at the start of my journey.

Do you have another job outside of writing?

Not at this time. I recently retired from a municipal police department after serving for 17 years as the police chief’s administrative assistant, so I could focus on my writing.

How would you describe your book in a tweet? (140 characters or less.)

Got #brain #trauma? Read #NORMAL. True story of #author’s recovery from a #bleed. Sample here: NORMAL on Amazon

Why did you decide to write this book?

Normal is a book I tried for more than a decade not to write. Then a good friend pointed out to me that telling my story might make somebody else’s journey a little less difficult. I started reflecting on that suggestion and realized that without the support of other aneurysm survivors I might not have made such a great recovery. There’s a more complete explanation in the book, but the short version is that I wrote Normal to give support and encouragement to other survivors and their caregivers, to increase awareness of the condition, and to help raise funds in support of aneurysm research focused on patient support, early detection, and prevention of ruptures.

Excerpt from Normal:

Chapter 3 – Ghost in the Mirror

“We are not human beings on a spiritual journey. We are spiritual beings on a human journey.”  –-Stephen R. Covey

Days and nights transposed themselves and faded one into the other. There was no distinction between dream and reality and only a thin curtain separated unconsciousness from awareness. A figure in a long, blue robe drifted across my field of vision. Were my eyes open? Was I seeing this phantasm or experiencing a fragment of some reverie?

As the fog of sleep lifted, I became acutely aware of the stranger walking silently through the room, seemingly unaware of my presence. Who are you? I arose and followed the figure down the hall and into the bathroom, but as soon as I stepped inside she vanished. Confused and frightened, I pushed aside the shower curtain. I was half expecting to hear the eerie, slashing violin notes from the Psycho shower scene and genuinely fearful of finding a maniac lurking there with a butcher knife.

The tub and shower were vacant. I was alone in the small room. Where did she go? Previously skeptical about all things paranormal, I didn't relish the possibility that I had seen a ghost; yet there seemed no other logical explanation.

While washing my hands I glanced up and caught my reflection in the mirror. I examined the cold and seemingly lifeless entity whose dull gray-green eyes stared back at me without a hint of recognition. Who are you?

The specter in the mirror was a startling and terrible vision. Staples formed a gleaming ‘C’ along a surgical wound above the left temple. A cross-stitch pattern of black sutures sealed an incision slashing across the neck. Approximately one-third of the head was shaved, exposing bare scalp. Mousy brown hair lay tangled, matted, and sinfully unwashed over the remainder. I quickly averted my gaze from this female version of Frankenstein’s monster who pretended to be me.

This was not the first time I had seen my own ghoulish reflection, but my previous glances were buffered somewhat by medications and my general lack of connection with anything outside myself. Somehow I didn’t know whether to be frightened, sad, or apathetic. That’s not me. I felt disconnected from the image staring blankly at me. Where am I? Simultaneously hoping and fearing that I would find the strange intruder, I wandered aimlessly through the house, blissfully unaware that something was amiss.

The next day I spotted the phantom again. The figure materialized in the bedroom just as I awoke. During the days that followed, she appeared to me more frequently. Eventually, she began haunting me elsewhere in the house. She never spoke to me, nor did I speak to her. I always followed her and she always vanished as though she had never really been there.

The encounters always ended the same way. I would follow her around until she entered one of the bathrooms and disappeared. It wasn’t as if she faded away. She was there one instant and gone the next. My awareness of her would dissolve the instant my eyes fixed on my own reflected image. Oddly enough, I don’t recall ever seeing the woman when there were other people present. It was as if she waited until I was alone and vulnerable to make her appearance. What had begun as curiosity became fear. Sensing some connection between the ghost and the face in the mirror, I became terrified that I was insane in addition to being brain-damaged. Thinking it was only a matter of time before I lost all concept of reality, I wasn’t about to tell anybody what I had been experiencing. In my irrational state, I was terrified that if I did so, I would be institutionalized.

About the author:

Janet Bettag is a career administrative professional and an award-winning writer. She is also a ruptured cerebral aneurysm survivor. Normal recounts with poignancy and humor the effort required to reconnect with reality and move forward in the weeks, months, and years following the life-altering event.

Her works include published magazine articles, short stories, book reviews, and paranormal fiction. Janet lives in O’Fallon, Missouri with her husband, Mike. She is currently writing a ghostly novel.

Goodreads author page

Friday, January 25, 2013

Talking with J.L. Petty

 About the book:

Set in the fall of 2001 and purportedly based on actual events. Michael Devoe, journalist for the New York Times, is the victim of the most compelling evidences of disappearances ever documented in United States History. After a plane crash, Michael disappears one night during an encounter with an unexplained supernatural force. Authorities report that his body was never found.

About the author:

J.L. Petty is an author of several short stories. She published her first book, Death and the Journalist with Solstice Publishing, February 14, 2011. Her stories range in contemporary horror, suspense, science fiction, and fantasy fiction. Over the years, she’s written for various magazines and has been featured as an author in several anthologies. Petty discovered her love of writing at an early age and started working as a contributor for The Virginian-Pilot newspaper. After working with the local newspaper in her hometown, J.L. Petty embarked upon a career in entertainment journalism and also worked for United States Congress. She is currently working towards a Masters degree and resides in Virginia.

J.L., how long have you been writing, and how did you start?

I’ve been writing ever since I was 9 years old. My mother is a schoolteacher and writes children stories. She encouraged me at an early age to express myself through words.

What do you like best about writing?

I think the best part about writing is the creative process. I get inspired to write through watching horror movies. Sometimes, I may have a nightmare and just jot down ideas on my note pad.

What’s your least favorite thing?

My least favorite part about writing is editing. Sometimes I type so fast on my computer, I may make a lot of spelling errors and may have to go back and edit.

How would you describe your book in a tweet? (140 characters or less.)

Death and the journalist, A thrilling piece of work.

How did you create the plot for this book?

I had a dream about it once. I thought it would be cool to write a story about a journalist who comes face-to-face with death.

Do you outline, write by the seat of your pants, or let your characters tell you what to write?

Sometimes, I will do a character outline before I even get started on a story because it helps me to organize my thoughts so that I can portray each character accurately.

What do you do to market your book?

Sometimes, I speak at events or festivals. I also do guest blog posts and interviews on the Internet or for different literary magazines. Recently, my work was featured in Screem Magazine.

Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.

My favorite scene in the book is the plane crash scene. Most writers struggle with showing vs. telling. It’s a lot easier to just tell a story but very difficult to paint a picture. It was good practice for me and to see the final outcome, I was extremely proud of myself.

Who are your favorite authors?

Michael Crichton and Stephen King.

How do you handle criticism of your work?

I usually enjoy all feedback; regardless of whether it’s positive or negative. I usually take it with a grain of salt. I look at my writing as art, and everyone will have a different opinion about it. I write for me. If I like it and am satisfied with the body of work, then I am happy. I think readers are entitled to their opinion, and I respect it. But overall, my opinion is what matters most.

Do you have a routine for writing? Do you work better at night, in the afternoon, or in the morning?

I don’t have a routine when I write. I write when I feel inspired. I work better late at night. Usually I write when I can’t sleep. I may drink a soda and eat junk food while writing at my computer. That area of my house is so junky.

Goodreads author page

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Libby Mercer Answers the Terrible Ten

Libby Mercer, author of Unmasking Maya, took the challenge to answer my Terrible Ten questions. She's a brave woman.

 1. One thing you couldn’t live without.

   The Internet. Sad but true.

 2. If you could only keep one book, what would it be?

   Gone with the Wind.

 3. Your last meal would be…
   Deep dish pizza from Pizzeria Uno (chain restaurant that nobody can understand why I
   love it so much) and my grandmother’s recipe for Coca-cola cake. Mmm.

 4. Would you rather work in a library or a bookstore?

   A bookstore (not that there are very many left). I’d love the excitement of opening
   boxes of new books on a regular basis.

 5. You won the lottery. What’s the first thing you would buy?

   Christian Louboutin heels!

 6. Would you rather be stranded on a deserted island or the North Pole?
    Desert island for sure.

 7. You’re given the day off, and you can do anything but write. What would you do?

   Honestly? Probably errands and/or housework. But if I decided to do something fun, I
   might go shopping (or window shopping) for clothes. It’s been too long since I’ve done

 8. You’re driven to a private plane and told it will take you anywhere your want to go.
   Where would it be?

   I’d go to London. I miss my friends there, and it would be so much fun to meet up with
   them again and go out on the town.

 9. You can be any fictional character for one day. Who would you be?

   I wouldn’t mind spending a day in Carrie Bradshaw’s (designer) shoes. I lived in New
   York for five years, but I never lived in her New York, if you know what I mean – the
   one where there’s an abundance of available men who are easy to snag and always a ton
   of fun things going on.

10. Where would your dream office be?

   It would be a nice room in my dream house, which would be in a quiet place, overlooking
   the ocean or maybe a forest – but not out in the middle of nowhere. I’d want to be able
   to walk to the nearest market.

About Libby:

Born and raised in the Midwest, Libby Mercer’s adventurous spirit kicked in after graduating from high school, and she’s since lived in Boston, NYC and London. San Francisco is the city that she currently calls home. For several years, Libby worked in fashion – first as a journalist and then as a shopkeeper. She also dabbled in design for a while. Even through the crazy fashion years, Libby never let go of her dream of being a published author, and has since developed her signature writing style, crafting quirky chick lit/romance hybrids. Fashioning a Romance was her first published novel, and Unmasking Maya will be her second. Libby has a third novel, The Karmic Connection, scheduled for release in 2013.

Facebook page
Goodreads author page

Scroll down for a full interview with Libby!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Talking with Libby Mercer

I'm happy to have author Libby Mercer here today to talk about her chick lit/romance novel, Unmasking Maya.

About the book:

Defamed, Disgraced and Displaced...

Fresh from a career-killing scandal, New York fashion girl, Maya Kirkwood, arrives in San Francisco to reinvent herself as a fine artist. She's offered the opportunity to create an installation at the Silicon Valley headquarters of a hot new tech company. Fabulous, right?

Not so much.

She can't stand Derek Whitley - wunderkind software genius and CEO of the company. Hot as he may be on the outside, inside the man is a cold, unemotional, robotic type. Way too left-brained for her right-brained self.

As Maya and Derek get to know each other, however, their facades begin to crack. She catches her first glimpse of the man behind the superhuman tech prodigy, and he starts to see her as the woman she used to be. But is this a good thing? Once that last secret is revealed, will it bring them closer together or will it tear them apart?

Welcome, Libby. Tell us how long you've been writing, and how did you start?

I’ve been writing for almost my entire life! I penned my first “book” at the age of seven. A picture book called Big and Small. It’s a gripping tale that goes something like this: “Apartments are big. My dollhouse is small,” and “Dad’s hat is big. Mine is only little.”

You had talent from the start. How would you describe your book in a tweet? (140 characters or less.)

Fallen fashionista Maya finds refuge in the tech world. Cold, robotic Derek is immersed in his own world. Will their two worlds collide?

Do you outline, write by the seat of your pants, or let your characters tell you what to write?

I’ve always said I’m a seat-of-my-pants kind of writer. I think rather than allowing the characters to tell me what to write, the story takes charge and writes itself. In any case, I’ve never been able to stick to an outline. I’ve tried, but the story always goes off in a completely different direction.

Have you ever bought any books just for the cover? Did you enjoy the book(s)?

Absolutely. I’m a sucker for fabulously bright and pretty covers. I’ve done this a few times and usually I enjoy the book. Not always, though.

When you start a new book, do you know what the entire cast will be?

Definitely not. Since my stories are pretty much based on romances, I always have a vague idea of what my main characters will be like, but I make up everyone else as I go along.

What would your main character say about you?
She would probably tell me I’ve got a sadistic streak! I haven’t given her an easy time of it, but what can I say? It wouldn’t make for an interesting read if she’d had a charmed life with no complications.

Very true. Tell us one weird thing, one nice thing, and one fact about where you live.
I live in San Francisco, so there are a lot of weird things to choose from! I’ll go with the park/plaza in the Castro district where nudists regularly congregate. Fact: it’s the first (and I think the only) non-beach clothing-optional park in an urban American setting.
One nice thing about San Francisco is that it’s very non-judgmental. If I wanted to, I could walk around in my pajamas with messed up hair or fully decked out like a Klingon with the makeup and everything. I might get an amused smile or two in the Klingon costume, but I wouldn’t get any attitude or nasty remarks for that or for looking like I just rolled out of bed.

What’s one of your favorite quotes?

To be honest, my favorite quotes are about as far from profound as you can get. They’re the ones that make me giggle, like this one from the movie, Daddy’s Dyin’...Who’s Got the Will? Two of the sisters are fighting and one of them says: “Chisel off that makeup and you’re looking at nine miles of bad Texas road.” I just think it’s the most hilarious insult. Tee hehe.

If you could take a trip anywhere in the world, where would you go? (Don’t worry about the money. Your publisher is paying. )

I have always wanted to go to the Caribbean. I’ve heard such lovely things about it: the relaxed atmosphere, the fact that you can stand knee deep in the water and still see your feet… Plus, I love the food! Sigh. Someday…

What are you working on now?

I’m writing a rancher romance, but of course it’s got chick lit elements. Texas cattle rancher wants his enterprise to “go green” so he brings in a sustainable farming expert – a woman from Northern California (who also happens to be a vegetarian) to help him transition the ranch. Romance ensues. I’m having a lot of fun writing it, but the amount of research involved is insane!

Sounds great. Good luck with it, and stop back when it's done and tell us more about it.

About Libby:

Born and raised in the Midwest, Libby Mercer’s adventurous spirit kicked in after graduating from high school, and she’s since lived in Boston, NYC and London. San Francisco is the city that she currently calls home. For several years, Libby worked in fashion – first as a journalist and then as a shopkeeper. She also dabbled in design for a while. Even through the crazy fashion years, Libby never let go of her dream of being a published author, and has since developed her signature writing style, crafting quirky chick lit/romance hybrids. Fashioning a Romance was her first published novel, and Unmasking Maya will be her second. Libby has a third novel, The Karmic Connection, scheduled for release in 2013.

Connect with Libby:
Facebook page
Goodreads author page

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Robin Sanders Guest Post

Robin L Sanders is the author of An 8-Track to 81 Chapters--Experience Limited, a young adult, fantasy novel, available on eBook at Lulu.

Given unlimited resources, how would you change the publishing world?

I would totally make a couple changes to the publishing world.  Many traditional publishing industries are declining while self-publishing authors and eBook industries like Amazon, Lulu and iBooks are rising in profits by the minute.

Although I truly hate writing query letters to established publications that vomit rejection letters by the forest load, I do admire their skill in marketing.  Traditional publications can save an author a good amount of time by doing everything else for them, such as marketing, copywriting, purchasing ISBN numbers, printing, book covers and etc., while the author’s only job is to write.  An author may lose his or her freedom when it comes to writing and the royalties wouldn’t be all that worthwhile depending on how popular the book is.

As a solution I would definitely try to make printed hard copies a bit affordable. Prints are very, very expensive and I feel that the prices can be a bit unfair at most. Another thing I would change is the cost of an illustrator for a book. I definitely believe without a doubt that many industries under pay their artist while the author receives a large subtraction from an overpriced fee in their royalty check.

The royalty fees are definitely unfair which that of course should be raised to at least a fifty percent rate for the author and not fifteen to twenty five. If they want to give an advance, then they should lower the rate but nothing lower than thirty five percent.  Another thing I would definitely change is the mandatory need of literary agents in order to be accepted in the traditional publishing industry. Literary agents require a good percentage of your income as well as a great deal of ass kissing in order to get things done but in my opinion isn’t worth it. I know that agents are here to represent you and negotiate your contract but what’s the point if they only go to the same publications?

Self-published authors may have the freedom to do whatever they please but a ton of work would be necessary in order for them to stay alive. Not only do they have to find an editor, but purchase an ISBN, copyright protection, hire a professional editor, an illustrator for book cover if necessary, printing services, an agent and etc...sounds like a lot of work. On a positive side, depending on how hard they work, the profits in royalties would increase over time.

One solution that would help is to create a small business that would benefit self-publishers to copyright, create an ISBN and copy edit their work for an affordable price that range somewhere around $400USD. I think this would attract a lot of self-publishers and maybe some traditional ones as well. Virtual book promotions like Createspace and Lulu are indeed a bit too steep but there are other affordable and professional ones that could absolutely pin point the exact market the authors brand is catered to.

In conclusion I would absolutely make some changes in the publishing world.  In my opinion I think the industry definitely needs some improvement and adjustments.

An 8-track to 81 Chapters - Experience/Limited

When a Social Studies teacher assigns a special project to six high school students, (Richard, Shelly, Nathan, Charles, Morgan and Britt) they receive a lesson that may indeed change lives of many worlds. As they work on the problems set before them they come to realize that the typical real world issues that each student had been dealing with doesn’t look all that bad. As the unlikely group of misfits explores the project, they discover strengths that they were completely unaware they had. 

For seven whole days they stay in a mysterious book unlocking puzzles, fighting demon-possessed statues, creating bonds with a memorable cast of characters and fighting a villain who controls the powers of the heavens. Mr. Hutchenson, a professor of social studies at St. Cardinals, is a man who plays a large part within this story, but just as the kids have to discover that, so does the reader. These six kids work on finding that strength by not only fighting the enemy, but the enemy within.

Buy Now @ Lulu

Monday, January 21, 2013

Liebster Award

The Liebster Blog Award is given to upcoming bloggers who have less than 200 followers.  The purpose is to get to know them, since we think they deserve it. The word "Liebster" is German and means favorite. I am honored to have been nominated for the "favorite blog award" three times recently, by K.K. Cook (The Kooky Bookworm), Leti Del Mar (Words With Leti Del Mar), and Carmen Stefanescu (Shadows of the Past). I would absolutely nominate all three ladies for the Liebster Award, but since they beat me to it, I'll nominate eleven others. 

In order to accept and participate there are some steps:

1.    Tell 11 things about yourself.
2.    Answer 11 questions from the blogger who nominated you.
3.    Nominate 11 bloggers who have less than 200 followers.
4.    Post 11 questions for those who will be nominated by you.
5.    Get in contact with those 11 bloggers in order to inform them that you nominated
       them. we go...

Things About Me:

1.    I collect snowmen, Santas, hearts, and books.
2.    I have two sons, one daughter-in-law, one dog, two granddogs, and two grandcats.
3.    I love trees.
4.    I am addicted to Pinterest.
5.    I would be lost without my iPhone and laptop.
6.    When I was a child, I wanted to be an artist, but I suck at art.
7.    I’m mathematically illiterate.
8.    My most prized possessions are my gazillion photographs of my sons.
9.    I have fibromyalgia.
10.   My biggest phobia is public speaking.
11.    If I were independently wealthy, I would travel, read books, and employ a full-time

11 questions:

(Disclaimer: Since I was nominated by three ladies, instead of boring everyone and answering 33 questions, I'm answering some from each of them. I hope that isn't cheating.)

1.    What is the funniest book you've ever read?
Stupid And Contagious, by Caprice Crane.

2.    What was the best childhood book you read as a kid?
       From The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E.L.

3.    Who taught you to love books? 

       Charles Hazelrigg, my college English Lit professor.

4.    Which book are you waiting in agony for this year?
 The Unexpected List, by Chrissy Anderson.

5.    Favorite movie/TV show based on a book(s)?

       It’s a tie for Pride & Prejudice or Princess Bride.

6.    How did you come up with the name of your blog?
       I love southern sayings, and one of my favorites is “a blue
       million,” meaning a lot of something. I also love books, so
       what could be better than a blue million books?

7.    Who’s your favorite author?
       Robert B. Parker (famous) Dennis Hart (Indie).

8.    If you could swap the place with a famous author who would this be?

       Nora Roberts. I’m in awe of her ability to write so many books with so many
       different characters.

9.    If you are a writer, too, which do you prefer best: writing on the blog or writing
       your book?

Definitely writing a book. I can be more creative, and I can talk to my imaginary

10.   How do you feel when rejecting a review request from an author who asks you

I started my blog intending to do reviews, but I quickly realized I just didn’t
       have the time for it. So when someone requests a review, I feel really bad about
       saying no. As an author, I know how important reviews are, and I hate to turn down
       other writers.

11.   Why did you get into blogging?

       I started my blog with the intention of helping other authors promote their work
       and introducing books to readers.

The blogs I'm nominating:

1.    Tricia at Authors To Watch
2.    Ms. Doran at Broad-minded Books
3.    Cynthia at The Writing Whisperer
4.    Brandi at Twisting Your Mind One Word At A Time
5.    Joss at Joss Landry's Blog
6.    Jennifer at The Relentless Reader
7.    Glenda at Book Reader's Heaven
8.    Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews
9.    John Pretty Sinister
10.   Simone at Better Read Than Dead
11.   As The Crow Flies (And Reads!)

11 Questions for the blogs I'm nominating:

1.    Why did you start blogging?
2.    What is your favorite genre to read?
3.    What fictional character do you most wish were real?
4.    Describe your dream office for writing.
5.    Name one thing you couldn’t live without.
6.    If you could only keep one book, what would it be?
7.    If you could magically transport yourself into any book, which one would you choose,
       and what character would you be?
8.    Do you have any phobias?
9.    What is your biggest pet peeve?
10.   Describe yourself in five words.
11.   Who is your favorite well-known author and your favorite rising star author?

Deborah Brown's Crazy In Paradise

About the book:

Dying in the middle of the summer in the Florida Keys is sweaty business.

 Welcome to Tarpon Cove. Madison Westin has inherited her aunt's beachfront motel in the Florida Keys. Trouble is she's also inherited a slew of colorful tenant's - drunks, ex-cons, and fugitives. Only one problem: First, she has to wrestle control from a conniving lawyer and shady motel manager. With the help of her new best friend, whose motto is never leave home without your Glock, they dive into a world of blackmail, murder, and drugs.

Excerpt from Crazy In Paradise

I tried to speak to Dickie about the arrangements when I first arrived in town. He told me firmly that he only took instructions from Tucker Davis and he wasn’t allowed to discuss any of the final details. I wondered why the secrecy, but he was so nervous I didn’t ask any more questions. He told me not to worry; he had worked hard to make everything memorable.

I appealed to him, “Don’t family members usually participate in the planning?”

But he was very clear; Tucker Davis’ approval was the most important thing to him.

I took a deep breath. Later, our family would create a lasting tribute to Elizabeth showing how much we had loved and respected her, and how we would deeply miss her. But for now, this would have to do, I guess.

I glanced up and saw a man who looked to be in his 60’s walking to the podium. He was well-worn, beer-gutted with dirty looking grey hair, and dressed in jean shorts and a tropical shirt that looked as though he’d worn them for several days.

“Hey, everyone,” he said into the microphone. “My name is…” he paused, “well, all my friends call me Quattro.” He held up both of his hands in a two-handed friendly wave.

He was missing his middle finger on his right hand and his thumb on his left hand. Brad and I glanced at one another and laughed. I mouthed “Quattro” at him and waved four fingers. He turned away, biting his lip.

“I told Dickie I’d speak first because he worried no one would come up and say anything and it wouldn’t look right. I told him don’t worry so much.” Quattro slowly scanned the crowd. “I reassured him there were a few people here who could think of something nice to say.” He ran his fingers through his hair and scratched his scalp.

“Elizabeth was a great old broad. Too damn bad, she died so young. She seemed young to me. Hell, I’m only a few years younger. You know she checked out in her sleep, and in her own bed. How much better does it get than that?”

I looked around. A few people were nodding their heads in agreement.

“Now that she’s kicked the bucket…” He paused. “Well, everyone knows there’s no bucket involved.” He laughed at his own humor. “Have you ever wondered what the reward is?”
He waited as though he expected an answer. “Hmm, I’ve no idea either. Damn, it’s hot in here. You’d think a funeral place would turn on the air conditioning.”

“Yeah, I’ve got sweat in my shorts,” I heard someone say. A few others voiced their agreement.

“Keeps the smell down and all,” Quattro continued. “I know when it was a drive-thru the air worked good and sometimes the place was downright freezing.”

I saw a few people sniffing at the air. Were they sad? Or were they disappointed they couldn’t smell hotdogs and fries?

Dickie Vanderbilt stood off to the side, staring at his shoes, and picking at his rather large tie tack in the shape of a flamingo.

“But back to Elizabeth. I called her Betty once and, boy, she got mad.”

Mother sobbed loudly, which I knew was actually laughter. People turned to stare. 

I wrapped my arm around her shoulder and pulled her close. “Mother, please. This funeral is bad enough.”

Her body shook with laughter. I gripped her tightly. “Oww,” she whispered.


Behave yourself, or I’ll keep squeezing.” I shifted again on the bench, having a hard time sitting still when my legs kept sticking to the wood.


Elizabeth was good to a lot of people,” Quattro continued. “Too bad she won’t be around to do any of us any more favors.” He looked around and rubbed the end of his nose.

I stared wide-eyed at him wondering if he was about to pick his nose.

“The truth is, I’ve run out of stuff to say. I know she wouldn’t have wanted to die so soon, but the problem is we all think we’re going to live forever, and we don’t. So, ‘God Bless’.” He waved and walked away from the podium.

About the author:
Crazy in Paradise, is my debut novel, a Florida Keys mystery, which makes the reader laugh, cry and cheer...

My personal ad would read:

 Since all great journeys start with a single step, I'll have on a cute pair of shoes.

 Crazy. Ice cream loving. Redhead. 5'2", long legs. As an avid exerciser, I get to the gym every five years or so. I hate being tricked by that stinking raisin in the oatmeal cookie when my heart was set on chocolate. And it's totally acceptable for me to be mildly annoying when it makes me laugh. South Florida is my home, with my ungrateful rescue animals, where Mother Nature takes out her bad attitude in the form of hurricanes.

Connect with Deborah:
This is an amazon exclusive book.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Marti MacGibbon's Eight Ways...

Eight Ways to Reduce Stress and Increase Bliss

by Marti MacGibbon

Life is precious and fragile, so why spend time stressed out and anxious about the future or past when you can be serene and steady, living in the present moment? Make an action plan to counteract negative thinking and resulting negative emotions that can drain you of energy and joy. When you practice any or all of the following strategies, you can build your enthusiasm, sense of purpose, and fun. You’ll notice you’re more relaxed, more productive, and more optimistic as you apply the following techniques:

Exercise Daily. Physical exercise reduces stress, counteracts depression, and pumps up your energy. Design a personal program that works for you. Whether it’s a walk in the park or a fiendishly brutal MMA-type workout, be sure you’re consistent. If your plan is three, six or even days a week, stick to it. And consult with a professional trainer for best results. The point is that when you’re building your muscles, you’re building your brain, and a strong brain and body will result in greater self-confidence, better health, and greater bliss!

Socialize, in Real Time, With Real People. Avoid the tendency to isolate. It’s so much easier to get stressed out when you’re all alone, and trying to connect with others on your phone, i-pad or computer can only take you so far. Humans need social contact. When you attend meetings and parties, go out for coffee, take a fun class, or even stroll around a museum, you get outside your own head and most likely begin to feel more creative, happy and confident.

Do Something Nice for Somebody. This works best if you do the good deed without expecting any credit or recompense. Let somebody go ahead of you in line at the ATM, grocery, or gas pump. In traffic, let another car merge or make a turn. Open a door for someone, hold the elevator, take time to acknowledge someone of lesser status. Give someone a sincere compliment or praise. Pay the toll for the car behind you. These simple acts of kindness can slow your frantic pace momentarily and give you a chance to get centered. And there’s always the “karma” factor: you feel good when you do good.

Set Aside Time to Meditate. Daily meditation is proven to relieve stress and anxiety while promoting both mental and physical health. Mindfulness meditation is simple and practical. Practice your “now” awareness: you do this sitting, lying down, or even while taking a walk in the outdoors. Focus on the present moment, observing your body, mind and emotions. Refrain from judging, but simply observe each thought or sensation. Allow your senses to record your environment as you relax, breathing slowly. A quick way to begin is to close your eyes, then as you slowly inhale, say, “I am,” and slowly exhale, say, “…relaxed.” Try repeating that statement in sync with your breathing.

Engage in Positive Visualization.
The conscious practice of positive visualization is a powerful and effective way to lift your mood, improve your outlook, and increase your confidence. Athletes, artists and entertainers utilize this amazing tool to accomplish goals and increase skills and ability. Visualization works best when you’re totally relaxed. When you visualize, picture yourself in the desired situation, and “act out” the scene carefully, paying attention to each desired detail. You can turbo-charge this by consciously allowing yourself to luxuriate in a strong positive feeling as you guide yourself through the visualization.

Use Positive Self-Talk. Instead of allowing a negative inner monologue to influence or even dominate your emotional life, apply layers of super-positive, self-enhancing statements that will effectively counteract the negative default programming. Use mantras — quick, alliterative phrases that will pump you up and keep your focus optimistic. When I quit doing hard drugs and started my journey back from homelessness and PTSD, I used the mantra, “There’s hope after dope!” Another simple mantra is, “Thank you!” Encourage yourself, be your own best friend and keep a pep talk going through challenges and stress.

Remember to Have Fun. Laugh, play games, joke around and make sure you allow yourself plenty of time for celebrating each and every one of your accomplishments, as well as those of your friends. Practice the art of not taking yourself too seriously. Even when you’re working or doing something serious, cultivate a sense of fun and enjoy the moment. Appreciate other people and give them credit for saying something funny or contributing to a fun vibe or experience.

Harness the Power of Gratitude. Make a gratitude list and read it to yourself daily. Take care to acknowledge and thank people around you that you may be taking for granted. Think of all the good things, nice words, help, money and love you’ve received in life up to this point. Who has taught you, encouraged you, made you laugh, listened to you, and employed you? Breathe in and appreciate the fact that you’re alive. Anticipate and express gratitude for all the promise that life holds for you. Gratitude increases exponentially as you use it, and as you find more and more things to be grateful for, you’ll find yourself wanting to pay it forward to others, completing the gratitude circle.

Never Give in to Fear: Laughing All the Way Up from Rock Bottom, the enhanced edition of this darkly funny, dramatic memoir, describes an emerging standup comic’s drug-fueled descent into the underworld, escape from human traffickers, homelessness, and ultimate redemption. With brutal honesty, humor, and clarity, the author vividly describes her experiences as she rides her downward spiral: a near-miss with a notorious serial killer, a series of tragically hilarious misadventures in the California drug world, and a terrifying account of imprisonment at the hands of Japanese organized crime, to name a few.

This revised and re-edited version contains three additional chapters that introduce readers to quirky characters, insights into standup comedy, resilience and recovery, and deliver an inspiring message about healing, hope, and courage to change.

What readers are saying …

“Marti MacGibbon shows readers just how rough the road to redemption is in her gritty memoir of addiction… Her raw, honest, casual, funny voice permeates every page… A dark yet inspiring look at conquering addiction and regaining hope.” –Kirkus Reviews

“Marti’s natural humor and storytelling help balance out the book into a symmetrical tale of both hurt and healing. Never Give in to Fear is a book everyone needs to read. This is not only a book about the danger of drugs, but about the power of the human spirit.” –San Francisco Book Review

“Her narration is funny—she can laugh at her old self, even as she shows the reader the terror and loss she felt in the past… Honest to a fault… captivating from the very first sentence. A memoir that offers hope, even in the worst of times, Never Give in to Fear is a terrific read.” –Claire Foster, Foreword Clarion Reviews

“It’s amazing that Marti MacGibbon survived her harrowing life and had the guts to recount it… not too preachy, the author’s candor and sense of humor keep the pages turning.” –Suzanne Daly, the

Never Give in to Fear: Laughing All the Way Up from Rock Bottom
Genre – Biographies & Memoirs
Rating – R
Buy Now @ Amazon

Connect with Marti MacGibbon

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Frederick Lee Brooke – Life as a Writer in the Old World

Life as a Writer in the Old World
by Frederick Lee Brooke

Some people move to California, where the weather is warm. Some people pick up stakes and move to Texas, where the jobs are. I moved to Europe to teach English. I didn’t have a grand plan. I didn’t know I was going to stay for the next 20 years.

After a few years of teaching in France, Germany and Switzerland, I was promoted to manager of a language school in Basel, Switzerland. I immersed myself in the world of small business, selling language courses, meeting with customers, hiring and training teachers.

The language training business is a very satisfying one. People come in as total beginners, and after a short time they have basic speaking skills. They can use their new language skills to order food in a restaurant, talk to a doctor or dentist, or complain about a phone bill. After a year or more, they have learned enough to get through a job interview in the foreign language, or conduct a meeting.

People often learn a language because of a relationship. So we often have the satisfaction of knowing we are helping people communicate with friends and loved ones as we teach them a language.

But after more than 20 years in the business, despite the satisfaction of knowing we were doing important work, something was missing for me. Day after day there were the same squabbles with customers or staff who didn’t like the rules. Every day there was the same pressure to improve quality while cutting costs. Every year we would add up the numbers and figure out the profit or the loss.

I always wanted to write fiction, and I started writing my first book, Doing Max Vinyl, in 2008, while still working full time running my language school. I wrote mostly on weekends and during vacations, while the family was out skiing. It took two and a half years to write, and I discovered that I was happiest when I was working on my manuscript.

After spending almost a year trying to get an agent interested in Doing Max Vinyl, I discovered the new world of publishing independently on Amazon and Smashwords. It was a great feeling to have finished Doing Max Vinyl. As soon as my first book was available I started writing the sequel, Zombie Candy. In Zombie Candy there is a long sequence that takes place in Tuscany, a part of Italy where I love spending time. Now I’m working on the third book in the series.

I’ve been able to quit my job running the language school in order to devote most of my time to writing. Of course, there has been some belt tightening in our family with this decision. But I think life is too short to stay in the rat race permanently. Instead of adding up the numbers at the end of every week, month and year, now I get to play with language and concoct stories out of my imagination.

It doesn’t matter where you live, as a writer. What matters is where you go in your mind, when you are reading or writing. Now, all the borders and boundaries come down when I start my work every day.

Believe me, I am aware of how lucky I am.

From the author:

I write books because I love playing with language, on the one hand, and creating characters and seeing what crazy things they will do if you set them free. I've spent more than 20 years living in different European countries such as France, Germany and Switzerland. I speak French, German and Italian, and I've been learning Turkish for the last five years just for fun.

My books are mysteries, for lack of a better word. Doing Max Vinyl is about a computer recycling con man, while Zombie Candy is about a serial adulterer who happens to love zombie movies. In both books, Annie Ogden, a recently returned Iraq War vet who is having trouble adjusting to civilian life, gets personally involved in taking down these world-class jerks. I like a book with a good dose of humor, and the humor can come from the absurd situations people find themselves in. The world we live in is an absurd place, and you can either laugh or cry about it.

When I'm not writing I'm usually reading. I like to write book reviews. Of course I love it when people review my books, too. I like to cook and sometimes post recipes on my blog. Zombie Candy contains most of the recipes in the book in an annex at the end. I also like to hike and travel and learn about other cultures.


Buy Now @Amazon
Genre – Mystery & Thriller / Horror
Rating – PG13

Monday, January 14, 2013

Guest Blogger Holly Worton on Social Media

I'm happy to have Holly Worton as my guest blogger today. Holly helps authors sell more books by using social media to build their author platform. She also writes a personal development blog at Ready To Bloom. In this post, Holly answers the question most authors ask:

How can an author stand out in the crowd in social media?

I often get asked how authors can stand out from the crowd on social media. The “author platform” is the big buzzword these days, and every author knows they need a platform...even if they've been putting off getting started. So if most self published (and traditionally published) authors are on social media, what can you possibly do to stand out?

You may have noticed that Amy started a campaign called “Authors Are Weird Too,” because it’s the new authors, especially the new Indie authors, who need support. To me, standing out in the social media crowd is all about embracing your “weirdness.” And by weirdness I mean your USP, or unique selling point.

There are three main questions you need to get clarity on so you can make sure you stand out from the crowd: Who are you? Who are they? And where are they? If you don't know the answers to these three questions, your social media efforts are likely to be a waste of time.

Who are you?

Start out by Googling yourself, to see what's already been said about you and your books online. Set up regular Google Alerts so that you're notified each time your name (or your books' titles) are mentioned. Scott Cook said that, “A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is – it is what consumers tell each other it is.” So it's vital to know what others are saying about you.

You are your brand, and your consumers are your readers. The thing is, if you're a new author, readers have yet to understand what your brand is all about. If you like horror novels, you know you'll probably like Stephen King. And you wouldn't buy one of his books expecting a steamy romance, would you? That's because his brand has been clearly defined over the years. 

This is something that you've got to start working on as an author. Ask yourself some questions, and make notes of your answers. What makes you unique? What makes your books different?

What do friends/colleagues/readers/family say about you? How would they describe you to someone else? How do these qualities show up (or not) in your writing? How would others define your writing?

Do you have a tagline? How would you describe the overarching theme of your books (or the books you've got planned)? How do you want to be perceived as an author?

Look at other authors in your genre, and see how they brand themselves. What do their bios say? What's their tagline? How do they use social media? Make note of what things you have in common with them and how you're different. Focus on the differences: what makes you unique. Be sure to express that on your website and on your social media profiles.

If you don't already have an official bio written for your website, do that now. Your bio is something that can be adjusted as you clarify your brand, but you've got to start somewhere, and your first version of it doesn't have to be perfect. Writing your bio can be very helpful in getting clear on your personal brand as an author, and it's important to project a consistent image of yourself on all of your social media profiles.

Next, create a tagline for yourself. You may or may not decide to use it on your website, but it's a great way of defining yourself and your writing in a brief phrase.

The most important thing is to be your authentic self on social media: don't hide behind a mask. Be who you really are, not who you wish you were. The authentic you will always be more powerful and attractive than a fake version of yourself, and you'll be more likely to stand out from the crowd.

Who are they?

Once you're clear on who you are as an author, focus on your readers. Who are they? If you haven't yet published your first book, who are your potential readers? Who are you writing for?

It's important to narrow it down to a clearly defined group. Some people are hesitant to do this, but the more clearly you define your reader, the easier it will be for you to stand out from the crowd. Certainly, people from outside your target market of readers will purchase your books, and they may like them, but there's a core group of people who are most likely to enjoy what you write.

Let's put it this way: would you rather be a big fish in a small pond, or a small fish in a big pond? You're more likely to be successful if you choose the former, and you're more likely to get positive reviews online for your books if you clearly identify your readers.
So, who are your ideal readers? What are they like? How old are they? Are they male, female, or both? What's their income? Profession? Religion or spiritual beliefs? Are they into politics, and are they of a particular political preference? What are their problems in life? How might they define themselves?

What keeps them awake at night? What beliefs do they have? What are their aspirations in life? Who are their role models? What do those role models have that they want? What's most important to them in life?

And, most important: what other authors do they read? What are their favorite books? Favorite genres? Write down all of the answers to these questions, as it will help clarify who your ideal reader is and what they're like.

This may sound silly, but it can be helpful to create your ideal reader on paper, as if they were a character in one of your books: give them a name and write about them in the first person, using your answers from the questions above. When you're getting started on social media, imagine that you're speaking to this person: post things that might be of interest to this ideal reader.

Once you become more active on social media, you'll start engaging with others, and if your message is clear, you'll attract more people like your target reader. These are the readers who are most likely to read (and enjoy) your books. And by engaging on social media with a target reader in mind, it will help you stand out from the crowd. Which leads me to the final question...

Where are they?

Your target market of readers is already out there. You just need to find them. Think back to your ideal reader. Where does this person hang out, both online and offline?
Start with where they spend time offline. Do they regularly go to the gym? Are they into meditation groups? Fishing? Sports? If so, which sport? Are they crafty? Are they a member of a knitting group? What's the point of all this, you may be asking? It's all about helping you get clear on where you can find your ideal reader, because in order to reach your readers, you need to know where to find them. And knowing where they hang out offline can help you get clear on where they spend time online.

Then ask yourself where your ideal reader hangs out online. Are they on Facebook? Twitter? Pinterest? Instagram? Google+? Reddit? LinkedIn? Goodreads? YouTube? Are they big readers of blogs? Which ones?

You've probably read all about how the biggest social media sites to be on are Facebook and Twitter, and how your blog is an important part of your author platform. But in reality, you need to focus on where your target readers are hanging out online. If you're a romance writer, your readers probably aren't discussing the latest juicy book covers on LinkedIn. If you're a travel writer, your readers are likely to be on Pinterest and Instagram, where they can follow people sharing images from their travels. If you're writing a personal development book for corporates, your readers won't be baring their souls on a Facebook page. 

Does that make sense? Find out where your target readers hang out online (and just as important, where they aren't spending time online), and focus your efforts where they're most likely to be. That's the best way to stand out from the crowd. You've identified your small pond, and now you're ready to make friends there.

I hope that clarified how to stand out in the social media crowd. There are no secret tricks. You just have to embrace your own personal “weirdness” and get clear on what makes you uniquely you, both as a person and as an author. Then clearly identify your target market of readers and where they hang out online. Focus on those types of people and on those places.

You know how a lot of authors feel like they have to get involved with social media for marketing purposes but don't know where to start? Or even worse, they set up a bunch of accounts and start tweeting and posting random things without even knowing what they're doing? Don't let that be you. Get clear on who you are, who they are, and where they are, and you'll be a lot more successful in your social media efforts.

Holly Worton owns a company called Tribal Publishing, which helps authors plan and implement their online marketing and social media strategies to achieve their business goals. She also blogs at Ready To Bloom, a personal development blog, and she's working on a book by the same title.

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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Excerpt from The Look of Love

I hope you enjoy this excerpt from The Look of Love by Bella Andre, New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of the contemporary romance series, The Sullivans. Be sure to read on to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including special romantic swag baskets for each book, an iPad Mini, Kindle Fire, Nook Color, and Kobo eReader, and Amazon and iTunes gift cards!

Enjoy this excerpt from Bella Andre's The Look of Love...

Chase almost missed the flickering light off on the right side of the two-lane country road. In the past thirty minutes, he hadn’t passed a single car, because on a night like this, most sane Californians—who didn’t know the first thing about driving safely in inclement weather—stayed home.Knowing better than to slam on the brakes—he wouldn’t be able to help whomever was stranded on the side of the road if he ended up stuck in the muddy ditch right next to them—Chase slowed down enough to see that there was definitely a vehicle stuck in the ditch.

He turned his brights on to see better in the pouring rain and realized there was a person walking along the edge of the road about a hundred yards up ahead. Obviously hearing his car approach, she turned to face him and he could see her long wet hair whipping around her shoulders in his headlights.

Wondering why she wasn’t just sitting in her car, dry and warm, calling Triple A and waiting for them to come save her, he pulled over to the edge of his lane and got out to try and help her. She was shivering as she watched him approach.

“Are you hurt?”

She covered her cheek with one hand, but shook her head. “No."

He had to move closer to hear her over the sound of the water hitting the pavement in what were rapidly becoming hailstones. Even though he’d turned his headlights off, as his eyes quickly adjusted to the darkness, he was able to get a better look at her face.
Something inside of Chase’s chest clenched tight.

Despite the long, dark hair plastered to her head and chest, regardless of the fact that looking like a drowned rat wasn’t too far off the descriptive mark, her beauty stunned him.

In an instant, his photographer’s eye cataloged her features. Her mouth was a little too big, her eyes a little too wide-set on her face. She wasn’t even close to model thin, but given the way her T-shirt and jeans stuck to her skin, he could see that she wore her lush curves well. In the dark he couldn’t judge the exact color of her hair, but it looked like silk, perfectly smooth and straight where it lay over her breasts.

It wasn’t until Chase heard her say, “My car is definitely hurt, though,” that he realized he had completely lost the thread of what he’d come out here to do.

Knowing he’d been drinking her in like he was dying of thirst, he worked to recover his balance. He could already see he’d been right about her car. It didn’t take a mechanic like his brother, Zach, who owned an auto shop—more like forty, but Chase had stopped counting years ago—to see that her shitty hatchback was borderline totaled. Even if the front bumper wasn’t half smashed to pieces by the white farm fence she’d slid into, her bald tires weren’t going to get any traction on the mud. Not tonight, anyway.

If her car had been in a less precarious situation, he probably would have sent her to hang out  in her car while he took care of getting it unstuck. But one of her back tires was hanging precariously over the edge of the ditch.

He jerked his thumb over his shoulder. “Get in my car. We can wait there for a tow truck.”

He was vaguely aware of his words coming out like an order, but the hail was starting to sting, damn it. Both of them needed to get out of the rain before they froze.
But the woman didn’t move. Instead, she gave him a look that said he was a complete and utter nut-job.
“I’m not getting into your car.”

Realizing just how frightening it must be for a lone woman to end up stuck and alone in the middle of a dark road, Chase took a step back from her. He had to speak loudly enough for her to hear him over the hail.

“I’m not going to attack you. I swear I won’t do anything to hurt you.”

She all but flinched at the word attack and Chase’s radar started buzzing. He’d never been a magnet for troubled women, wasn’t the kind of guy who thrived on fixing wounded birds. But living with two sisters for so many years meant he could always tell when something was up.

And something was definitely up with this woman, beyond the fact that her car was half-stuck in a muddy ditch.
Wanting to make her feel safe, he held his hands up. “I swear on my father’s grave, I’m not going to hurt you. It’s okay to get into my car.” When she didn’t immediately say no again, he pressed his advantage with, “I just want to help you.” And he did. More than it made sense to want to help a stranger. “Please,” he said. “Let me help you.”

She stared at him for a long moment, hail hammering between them, around them, onto them. Chase found himself holding his breath, waiting for her decision. It shouldn’t matter to him what she decided.

But, for some strange reason, it did.

Bella Andre ©2012.

About the Author:

New York Times
and USA Today bestselling author Bella Andre has always
been a writer. Songs came first, and then non-fiction books, but as soon as she started writing her first romance novel, she knew she’d found her perfect career. Known for “sensual, empowered stories enveloped in heady romance” (Publishers Weekly) about sizzling alpha heroes and the strong women they’ll love forever, nearly all of her novels have appeared on Top 10 lists at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple and Kobo.

Her books have been Cosmopolitan Magazine “Red Hot Reads” twice and have been translated into nine languages. Winner of the Award of Excellence, The Washington Post has called her “One of the top digital writers in America” and she has been featured by NPR, USA Today, Forbes, and The Wall Street Journal. She has given the keynote speech at Book Expo America on her self-publishing success and has sold more than one million books.

If not behind her computer, you can find her reading her favorite authors, hiking, swimming or laughing. Married with two children, Bella splits her time between the Northern California wine country and a 100 year old log cabin in the Adirondacks.

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The Sullivans are on tour with Novel Publicity. Follow along for your chance to win amazing prizes. We’ve got special romantic swag baskets for each book, an iPad Mini, Kindle Fire, Nook Color, and Kobo eReader, and Amazon and iTunes gift cards. WOW!

You’ll also get introduced to this amazing contemporary romance series via excerpts as well as interviews with and guest posts from New York Times and USA Today best-selling author, Bella Andre. You’ll definitely want to learn more about the family that has captured the world’s heart.

All the info you need to join the fun and enter to win amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment–easy to enter; easy to win!

To Win the Prizes:
    •    Purchase any of the Sullivan ebooks by Bella Andre for just $4.99 (optional)
    •    Enter the Rafflecopter contest below or on Novel Publicity
    •    Visit today’s featured social media event (that’s where the HUGE prizes are)

About The Sullivans:

In this sexy, emotional and funny contemporary romance series, each member of the Sullivan family will eventually find true love…usually where he or she least expects it.

Get the eBooks via Amazon USAmazon UK, Barnes & Noble, the iBookStore, or the Kobo Store.

Audiobooks are also available for the first five in the series (with more coming soon). Plus, keep an eye out for paperback editions coming from Harlequin Romance starting Summer 2013.
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