Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Let's Talk Newsletters by Jannine Gallant

After listening to authors talk about their takeaways from various conventions, classes, etc., the one common theme I've noticed is everyone who's an authority on marketing recommends having a newsletter. Do I have one? Uh, no. I've failed miserably at this piece of the promo puzzle. However, that's all about to change. I'm taking the plunge.

Step One: The Mailing List. Here's what I do know...and it isn't a heck of a lot. You need to start with a mailing list. There are several online sites that allow you to collect addresses for free--up to a certain limit. I chose Mailchimp and created an account. Then I followed the helpful instructions they provided to set up the basic form to collect information, complete with double opt-out so you don't get into trouble for coercing people into signing up by mistake. I took the link they provided and added it to the front page of my website. Not so very hard, even for an old dog! I signed myself up, just to make sure it worked. Amazingly (at least to me), it did. I now had one person (me) on my mailing list. And as the weeks passed and I did nothing, that's the only address I did have. (sigh)

Step Two: How to get people to sign up for your newsletter. Obviously doing nothing has no effect...kind of like how your book doesn't sell itself. I decided to offer a reward to get people to sign up. I have a box of beautiful ARCs (advanced reader copies marketing teams send out to reviewers--not the final, final version, but pretty darn close) of BURIED TRUTH. This is the first book in my new series that will release on January 30, 2018. Marketing had leftovers, so my editor sent me a box. (I was thrilled!) Last week I posted on Facebook that I would draw one lucky winner from the pool of people who signed up for my newsletter, to receive an autographed copy. Proud of my cleverness, I sat back and waited for the signups to roll in. Let's just say I was underwhelmed by the results. I now have ten people on my list, and several are fellow Roses who were being nice! (double sigh) Alrighty, then. Obviously, my minimal efforts weren't producing results, so I contacted the marketing people at Kensington and asked them to spread the word through their social media channels about my, I mean prize. They were happy to oblige, so maybe I'll get a little more interest. At any rate, now is your chance. Click on this LINK to sign up for my newsletter if you'd like to get into the drawing. As of now, your chances of winning that ARC are pretty darn good! Contest ends on Sunday, Oct. 22nd, and the winner will be notified by email on Monday, Oct. 23rd. Sorry, but you must live in the US to win since I don't do foreign postage. ๐Ÿ˜ž

Step Three: What to put into the newsletter. So, let's assume I'll have a few interested readers eagerly awaiting my first newsletter. Or to be realistic, I'm hoping readers will at least be motivated to open it before chucking it into their cyber trash. That means exciting content to draw their interest. Obviously, I'll tell them about new releases, any books I might have on sale, and any contests my publisher is running. The basic stuff. (yawn) Since I'm a decent cook and make up my own recipes, I'll also be posting an original recipe or two in each letter. But what else? What do you like to see in newsletters? For those authors who already send one out, what do you do to catch your readers' interest? I'm open to suggestions, and I think this is a great forum to share information. Also, if you have some brilliant ideas to build mailing lists, please share. I know people have sign-up sheets at conventions and book signings, but what about online? Any helpful tips?

For more information on my books, check out my WEBSITE. Happy reading!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

What Takes You Home? by Betsy Ashton

Home. We define it in so many different ways. The place we grew up. The place we live now. An imaginary locale we wished we inhabited. It doesn't matter what you call home. It matters that you have one.

And, now that you have admitted you have a home, what calls you to it? Is it the memory of an event that makes you smile? Like that Christmas your Uncle Greg told stories of his days hitchhiking across the United States in search of himself? You roared until your sides ached. Of course, that was the same Christmas when his daughter Cheryl ate all the butter cookies and threw up on a pile of unopened (and never opened) presents. I'm not sure Uncle Greg found himself, but he was a wicked story teller.

Is it a smell? Marcel Proust's memory of a cookie is world famous. Does the memory of a smell draw you home? Your mother's cooking, burnt chicken on the grill, your grandmother's talcum powder, your father's pipe tobacco?

Or, like me, is the home you return to in your memories a place, not a house, but a place. For me, it's a place we called the compound, three trailers with a connecting platform, where my cousin Jerry and I wiled away the hours in our preteen years, vast, open spaces outside the chain-link fence that surrounded that compound. Hundreds of square miles of sage brush, cactus, jack rabbits, chipmunks, a dog named Duke, and two burros, Shorty and Fatso. Today, we'd never name a burro Fatso, because it's politically incorrect, but she was round. We didn't know any better.

The place that draws me back, the memories that are as alive today as they were over fifty years ago, center around those trailers, animals, and my aunt, uncle, and cousin with whom I lived every summer. The only child of a single, working mother, I was grateful for three months of absolute freedom to roam. And roam we did. We walked all over the high desert of Southern California. We lay on our backs in the sand and watch Air Force jets maneuver and leave contrails, those magical pathways that took our imaginations to the stars and back. We rode the burros when we got tired.

My cousin and I read voraciously. My aunt and uncle only had a small television set, three channels, all black-and-white. Not much choice if you didn't like game and variety shows, boxing on Friday night, or wrestling on Saturday. We didn't care. We read the library empty of books, many way over our school grade. We grew strong and sturdy, tan with blond streaks in our hair. We were free-range kids before any such term needed to be applied. We just were.

Because those days keep beckoning me, even though my cousin, aunt, and uncle have all passed, I feel compelled to return, perhaps because I'm the last one who remembers. NaNoWriMo is almost on us. I think I'll make this out-of-the-desert story my project.

What draws you home? And are you doing NaNoWriMo with me?

Monday, October 16, 2017

More Wine Coming Soon by Donna Michaels

Hi everyone,

It's Donna Michaels, and woohoo! I actually remembered to put up a post on my designated day. So sorry I missed it last month. My bad. I was very deep in my writing cave and it never even flickered through my mind.

Today, I'm thrilled to share the cover and blurb of my upcoming release, WINE AND SCENERY, Book 7 in my Citizen Soldier Series. It releases in two weeks, 10/30/17!

His quiet life is about to get a sexy remodel…

Sets aren’t the only thing Ryder builds when volunteering his construction expertise at the local theatre. A surprising friendship forms between him and a vivacious New Yorker. Working side-by-side with the visiting make-up artist whose ready smile and warm brown eyes slowly thaw the ice around his heart, he warms to the idea of acting on their attraction.

But when Sophia’s close-knit Italian family summons her back to the Big Apple, Ryder’s reminded of the past and how his ex-girlfriend chose family obligations over him. To make matters worse, he discovers Sophia lied about her family, because they’re the ones undercutting his bids and threatening his business. Did he give his heart to the right woman this time, or will he end up alone and discarded again, like last month’s scenery?


Thank you so much for reading,


Sunday, October 15, 2017

Together Again by Alison Henderson

If you read my post last month, you know OG and I recently traveled to Kansas City for his 50th high school reunion. Since this was such a momentous event, I thought I'd share some of my observations with you.

First, the trip itself. I've traveled several times since we moved to California, but OG hadn't flown in nearly four years. He was dreading it, and I was dreading it with him. Travel is always easier for me when I don't have to worry about how someone else is doing. I also wasn't exactly at my best. 

The morning we left, I had to get up at 3:30 a.m., so I didn't sleep at all. The night before, I had awakened at 3:05 and never gone back to sleep. The first night in the hotel, the air conditioner in the room came on every 20 minutes with the roar of a freight train, so--you guessed it--I didn't sleep at all again! By the following night, after the first party of the weekend, I had been awake for 70 hours straight. I was getting shaky and a little loopy. That night, I slept and returned to normal--or at least as normal as I ever get. The next couple of days were fine. I went to the art museum with my mother, spoke about indie publishing to a couple dozen of her friends, and met my sister's two new little dogs. However, the weekend wasn't about me. 

OG had been anxious about going for weeks. Two days before we left, he said he wished he'd never agreed to attend. He hadn't seen or spoken to anyone in his class in more than thirty years and wasn't sure he would remember anyone or they would remember him. I think his main worry, though, was how to explain himself and his life. Men in particular tend to define themselves by their careers, and he felt his was a disappointment. My feeling is, it isn't necessary to spill your guts to everyone you encounter at an event like this, but somehow he seemed to think people would be able to tell just by looking at him. 

Fortunately, a few months ago, his best friend from high school managed to track him down through my author FB page (of all things!) They've been emailing ever since, and we've gotten together with him and his wife twice--it turned out they only live a couple of hours away. They're wonderful people, and spending time with them made the whole weekend easier and much more fun for both of us.

From the first minutes of the first event, OG's fears turned out to be unfounded. I watched with great pleasure as he reconnected with former neighbors and his old football teammates. Everyone was happy to see him, and he obviously felt the same. People were genuinely curious about each other's lives, but without judgement, as far as I could tell. By age 68, they seemed to have gained the wisdom to simply accept and enjoy each other. I couldn't have asked for more.


Saturday, October 14, 2017

Top Ten Things I Love About Autumn by Christine DePetrillo

10. I don’t have to mop at a sweat mustache inhabiting my upper lip. I love summer but hate sweating.

9. It’s much easier to walk The Werewolf. He likes that I’m home with him in the summer, but he’s not fond of walking through the ‘hood in the heat. Even though I always walk him at the cooler parts of the day for safety’s sake, he drags behind me in the summer. As soon as autumn hits, the bounce is back in his step and we can speedwalk again.

8. Pumpkin spice. I’ll admit it. I’m a fan. I’ll try anything with the label “pumpkin spice” splashed across it.

7. Foliage. The colors autumn brings to the trees always astounds me. No prettier paintbox than the one Mother Nature provides.

6. Fires. I like to burn in my outdoor fire pit in the summer, but autumn is the best time to gather around the toasty flames on a crisp night. S’mores also taste better in autumn.

5. Apple Cider. Non-alcoholic. Alcoholic. I love ‘em both. I don’t drink beer, but I love me some hard cider. Currently Cinnful Angry Orchard is my favorite, but I’m open to suggestions if you have one.

4. Witchy time. Autumn calls to my inner witch. Spell-casting, manifesting, card reading… all of it is more “tuned” for me in October.

3. Pumpkin pie. My favorite pie. I make it with a maple syrup-walnut-brown sugar topping that I could almost eat just by itself.  

2. Edgar Allan Poe. Autumn is the time I often reread some of my Poe favorites. The Raven and The Telltale Heart are at the top of the pile.

And the number one reason I love autumn in New England is MEN IN FLANNEL. While I don’t mind a man in shorts and a tight T-shirt, a dude sporting jeans, a flannel shirt, and work boots is always preferred. There’s something so… huggable about flannel, don’t you agree?

Why do you love autumn? Or why do you not love it?


Friday, October 13, 2017

The happiest words an author can write

The End

I just finished my latest manuscript. It went pretty fast -- three months, 72,000 words. I did a bit of world-building for it (this is an angels and demons book and I create some rules for how things are run).

I incorporated some of the recent political shenanigans into the book, as well as some of our tragedies (shootings). I find that this kind of writing helps me cope with what's happening to America today. I'm still reeling from the right-turn our country has taken and the news every day shakes my faith in humanity. But writing is my Sane Place, where I can create scenarios that turn out okay in the end.

It seems like every time I start a book, I go flat-out for the first third; I somewhat stall at the middle third; then I got hellbent for leather on the final third. I think I see the finish line ๐Ÿ˜‰This book was no exception. I've learned to expect it when I write, but I still wonder during that middle third if I can move it along.

I have to do editing now, and go through and make sure it all hangs together. But that can wait. For now...

The End. Sweet music to my ears.


Thursday, October 12, 2017

When Your Flight Gets Cancelled Turn It Into An Erotic Story by Vonnie Davis

A year or more ago, I told you about our ill-fated trip home from our granddaughter’s wedding. Our connecting flight in Charlotte, North Carolina, was delayed for over an hour before our boarding gate was changed. We’d hiked from one concourse to another only to have our flight cancelled.

A storyline came to me. What if two senior citizens became much younger unattached strangers?

Sparks, sizzle, and sassy talk!
He doesn't do emotions...She's all about them.

Dental hygienist by day and a tattoo artist by night, Jazmine "Jazz" Archer is known for her penchant for flair and her sassy attitude. She estimates her wealth by her beloved family and friends. When a cancelled flight leaves her stuck at a hotel with a super-stuffy but outrageously gorgeous businessman who threatens her with a spanking, she's surprised to realize the submissive she suppressed so long ago is begging her to take him up on his offer.

Self-made billionaire Blake O’Hearn is as conservative as they come. He sure as hell shouldn't be attracted to the flamboyant female with voluptuous curves and curls that dance when she talks. But behind her bold manner lies a submissive crying for attention, and the Dom in him aches to give it to her. The only thing he can't give her is love.

What kind of research did I do about tattoos?
Isn't my butterfly beautiful? I got it for my 68th birthday.