Friday, July 21, 2017

Going to RWA

I have been busy packing for the RWA Conference in Orlando.
With the new rules on baggage, I'm limiting myself to one bag for five days. sounds tricky, huh? It is. I need three pairs of shoes and underwear along with nice clothes for the conference and one special outfit for when I speak on a panel on Saturday morning.
So here I am writing my speech about an invisible disability. The panel is about giving your characters disabilities and making them real. If you're going to be there, come and listen. We have lots of handouts.
I'm excited about going. I need the enthusiasm. I always learn something new or am reminded of what I've forgotten.
I'm also looking forward to seeing friends I chat with on-line. this year I have an extra task. My local chapter wants to host on-line classes again and I'll be asking for help. If you're interested in doing a class let me know.

Please follow, friend or like me. I love to hear from my readers.
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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Making Promo Fun? by Alicia Dean

So, I think we all agree, promo is a necessity, but sometimes a necessary evil. Like exercise, I think the key to sticking with promo is making it fun. (Don't get me wrong, I haven't figured out a way to make exercise fun :()

But, there are a few ways to make promo fun. I haven't tried all of these, but here are some thoughts about fun stuff to try AND some questions/thoughts about marketing in general.

1) Videos - Let your readers see you live and up close and personal. This is something I haven't done, but a weekly video chat on Facebook with your readers is a great way to promo. You can talk about your writing, read a short excerpt, ask them questions, talk about your life (just a little, not too much sharing). You can announce ahead of time and invite readers to join you.

2) What are you interested in, other than reading and writing? For me, it's Elvis, MLB, TV, NFL. Pick a topic unrelated to writing that interests you and write a weekly blog or Facebook post about it. You'll probably be more likely to write about it each week, because you love it. (Gardening, animals, scrapbooking, hang-gliding, etc)

3) Cross-Promo with other authors. Learning about other authors and sharing for them can be lots of fun.

4) Play games - maybe give away a book to one of the commenters. You can play games like, which of these lines is from so and so book. You can play games with other authors, let them share something on your Facebook or blog that readers can guess. Or, just have readers list their favorite book, movie, food, actor, animal, etc. Give away a book to one lucky commenter.

I wouldn't try all of these, it would be too time-consuming, but they are just some suggestions for potential things to do that might be more fun than pure drudgery. :)

A few questions/comments...

1) I'm starting to wonder about my Facebook Fan Page. It's difficult to get exposure/interaction, although the promo group Jannine and I run has helped to increase that a little. However, I wonder if maybe I should just use my regular profile page. That way, there would be a mixture of personal and book things. What are your thoughts?

2) I recently tried an Amazon ad, and I felt it was quite successful. I took Alison's advice and listed a ton of key words, searching for authors and books similar to mine. I also added key words as I went along. One tip I learned from a marketing expert I met in May was to bid a higher price, like maybe 75 cents per click, for more common key words so that when readers search that, your bid should make you float to the top. Have any of you tried Amazon ads? What was your experience like?

3) I've heard some discouraging things about Facebook ads. I was thinking of trying one, but what I've heard has put me off. I understand that the supposed price you are charged always goes up. You spend more money than you expect, and that your ads aren't necessarily getting the exposure you thought they would. I found it a little confusing with the targeting and such anyway. Do you guys know anything about FB ads?

Would love to hear feedback on any or all...thanks!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Help Us Choose Our First Line! by Jannine Gallant

It's that time of year when the Roses of Prose start thinking about our holiday stories. As we have for the last several years, we will be posting short Christmas stories throughout the month of December. The only common denominator is the first line. That's where we need your help. We've had a LOT of first line suggestions this year, and we want to narrow the pack to the ones our readers think have the most potential before the final vote. Please leave comments telling us which lines are your favorites. Listed in the order they were received:

1) It was done. And she would lead the Christmas Parade down Main Street wearing nothing but a smile before she did it again.

2) She couldn't wait for Christmas to be over. Last night she'd dreamed she was being chased around the kitchen by a diabolical gingerbread man with glowing, red-hot eyes.

3) Pulling this off would take a Christmas miracle.

4) The eggnog was definitely spiked.

5) There was something about Santa no one had ever told her.

6) Stuck in an elevator on Christmas Eve...

7) Red really was his best color.

8) The only Christmas card she'd gotten and it was signed "Your Secret Admirer."

9) Her effort to steal Christmas failed.

10) She never liked Christmas when she was a kid.

11) Naughty and nice were never a problem for her.

12) What would Santa think about her last move?

13) There stood Santa, naked except for his black boots and his hat hanging on...

There are some definite contenders in here that get the creative juices flowing! What do you like in a first line? Long or short? General or specific? Pick your favorite line or two and leave us a comment. We'll announce the winning first line when we get a little closer to Christmas. Above all, don't forget to come back in December to read our stories!

And now for a book plug since it is my day to post... My BORN TO BE WILDE series is still on sale throughout the month of July. Check out my WEBSITE for direct buy links to all retailers.

Monday, July 17, 2017

My Daily Writing Life by Betsy Ashton

We all get the same questions. What is your daily routine? Do you write every day? How do you budget your time? Do you like promotional activities? Wouldn't you rather just write and not do anything else?

In order, my daily routine. I rise relatively early and am at my desk by eight. I put in three or more hours writing or editing, depending on where I am in my book journey. Right now, I'm in the death throes of editing my serial killer novel, which I plan to have out in early fall. I have a big fall festival in mid October...

I work in relative silence, meaning no music or television when I'm editing. Unless it's golf or tennis. I can edit to either sport and only glance up occasionally.  I clear my desk to edit the old-fashioned way. Pen and paper. I can't edit electronically, even when I use Narrator and listen to my book read back to me. Keying my changes is an additional "edit" because I focus on each word. If the word/sentence/paragraph/chapter does not move the story forward, it goes into the parking lot, never to be seen again in the book.

When I'm writing, I can have music on in the background. If music plays an essential role in setting the tone, I note what I'm listening to so that I can go back and recapture the mood during the editing process. When I write a new piece, I push as many words onto the page as possible. I have to get it all out, even the backstory that will never see print. I have to know what my main characters carry in their pockets or purses.

I'm a 10-15 draft editor. Not the entire manuscript, but I rework many sections until I think I have it right. Only, sometimes, to be reminded by readers that I'm still not perfect, but they'll give me a hall pass.

During the final edits, I fact-check, sleep with the thesaurus, and am never move than two inches away from Chicago Manual of Style.

When I need a break, I take fifteen minutes to play on social media. I look at kitty videos, add pictures to Pinterest, transfer a pic or two from cell to Instagram, and throw out snarky comments on Facebook and Twitter. Fifteen minutes could turn into hours if not for the hour glass I keep in the bookshelf next to my desk.

Afternoons are set aside for walking to clear my head, short naps or yoga to refresh body and soul, and setting up and executing promotional campaigns.

I do not work after six in the evening. I don't go on Facebook et al after I leave my desk. My cell is nearby for emergencies, not for playing games or watching more kitty videos. I read at night.

My goodness, that's a boring daily routine, but it works for me. I fancy myself a professional writer and must keep to a regimen or I'll slip back into casual, hobby writer. Can't, because I always see to have a deadline looming, though.

I'm going to skip the promotional question for now. That warrants another post later this month.

Lastly, would I rather write and not have to worry about promoting my books. Who wouldn't? But until I'm as big as Diane Fanning, Patricia Cornwell, or David Baldacci, I'll work every afternoon to promote my books and generate interest. I hope.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

I Did it Again by Alison Henderson

As you may remember, a couple of months ago I redesigned the cover for Boiling Point, the second book in my female bodyguard series. I was never completely comfortable with the original cover and didn't feel it was consistent with the series brand. I was so pleased with the new cover for Boiling Point that it got me thinking about the cover I'd designed for the third book in the series and my current WIP, Child's Play.

I'd struggled to find the right images for that cover, too. In this story, the heroine goes to work undercover as a nanny for an Archaeology professor whose young niece is being threatened. I had settled for a background of a child's bedroom, but once again, I'd struggled to find a figure I liked. Encouraged by my success with Boiling Point, I decided to try again. 

Now that the first two books featured outdoor background shots of the settings, I thought I'd take another look for a snowy college campus scene and found several I liked. I also found a new image of a woman with a gun wearing boots (season appropriate!) that is quite similar in pose to the figure on the cover of Unwritten Rules. Then I put a couple of my favorite settings--one with a red brick collegiate building and one with gray stone--together with the figure and showed them to OG.

Imagine my surprise when he pointed to the photo with the stone building and said, "That's Blair Arch at Princeton! I lived in that dorm one year, and that's the window of my room."
Well, that sealed my choice. Now, I not only have a cover that continues the image of the series brand perfectly, but it features OG's dorm room! (It's the second floor window to the left of her left calf.) According to him, this represents every college boy's fantasy--a giant woman in high-heeled boots and a micro skirt, carrying a gun and appearing right outside his window. LOL

Here are the three covers for the series. I finally think I've got a solid, unified look that reflects the tone. Whew! If at first...

And on another positive note, the book is actually progressing rather well.

Onward and upward!

Friday, July 14, 2017

RWA Bound! by Christine DePetrillo

At the end of the month I will be attending my first Romance Writers of America Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida and I am psyched! I've gone to local chapter events and other writing conferences, but nothing of this magnitude.

Did I also mention that I've never been "away from home" by myself? Yeah, 40-something years old and I've never traveled alone.

You can call me a loser. It's okay. I agree with you. Why in the hell have I waited this long to go on a quest? Clearly, no one would entrust me with tossing the One Ring into the fires of Mount Doom. You thought it took Frodo a long time to make the voyage. Me? 40+ years people. 40+ years.

I'll know people once I get there and I've been to Disney World like nine times. I feel comfortable navigating my way around down there, but a part of me is a little nervous. I'm not going to lie to you. I'm a writer. I imagine scenarios. Like airplane problems. Getting lost. Terrorist attacks.

Or the worst... getting stuck sitting near a baby on the flight. Ugh. Let's hope that doesn't happen.

I plan to pack light and just take a carry-on bag. Summer dresses that I can roll up for easy, fuss-free packing. A pair of comfortable shoes and a pair of cute sandals. Maybe a set of Mickey Mouse ears.

Traveling alone should make for a streamlined experience, right? No one to worry about but myself. No husband who ALWAYS is the guy security wants to investigate further. "Step aside, sir." Every. Single. Time. But me? Who would find me suspicious? I'm sailing right through that check in.

I'm looking forward to the entire experience. Going a day early to bounce around the parks and get my Disney fix. Then I plan to soak in the fun of being around other romance authors and people who "get" writing. People who understand the dream.  People who, like me, enjoy weaving a good tale.

If you've gone to an RWA conference before, what tips do you have for me?



Thursday, July 13, 2017

So this is how other people live?

I have not been writing.

This is very odd for me. I am almost always working on a new story. But I've taken these first few days of July to decompress, get caught up on some reading, and put my brain in neutral.

The first thing I've noticed is time: when you're not working on a book, there's a lot of free time. I work full-time, so that's 40-50 hours out of my week that's taken. I normally spend 2-3 hours a day working on writing, and an hour or two thinking about writing. When I free up 3-5 hours of Brain Time, that's a lot of free time.

How am I using it? Doing some reading -- I read outside my genre, so I'm reading historical fiction and other books. That's hard, though. I nitpick them and find all the errors, mentally critique them, and end up skimming a lot. I'm just not much of a reader anymore, sadly. I'm a writer, first and foremost.

I'm also getting caught up on organization -- cleaning out files, re-doing some bookcases, etc. I'm also doing a bit of charity sewing (but it's too hot to do much of this).

All of this adds up to: I'm getting antsy to get started on writing again. I'm just not set up for passive entertainment (TV, books, movies). I need active entertainment (the kind I write and generate for myself).

I expect that by the next time I post (on the 26th) I'll be elbow-deep into a new manuscript. Let's see, if that comes to pass, I will have taken 10 days off from writing.

Sounds about right ...