Monday, November 23, 2015

Read my new novella for only 99 cents


I'm pleased to be a part of a boxed set that features some incredible authors in the paranormal and fantasy genres. HERE BE MAGIC features 8 magical tales from authors such as Rebecca York, Cindy Spencer Pape, and Veronica Scott.

My story in the set is a brand new novella titled GORGEOUS NIGHTMARE.

This story is not a part of my psychic detectives series, but it was written this year and inspired by my love of psychic-related mysteries. Here's a short synopsis:

Dakota McBride is doing everything she can to fit into her new life in Asheville while guarding secrets that could get her killed. An unexpected run-in with Tyler Jackson—her older brother’s best friend and her long-time fantasy—puts everything in jeopardy. Dakota is a woman being hunted by a deadly serial killer, and Tyler seems hell-bent on protecting her, same as he always has. Through dreams, he’s foreseen her impending death. What neither Tyler nor the killer understand is that Dakota doesn't need a protector. Heaven help anyone who threatens her now…

GORGEOUS NIGHTMARE is now available as part of the HERE BE MAGIC boxed set for only 99 cents! I'm fortunate to be included with seven other great authors, all of whom I admire. Grab this deal! You won't be sorry.

Buy the "Here Be Magic" boxed set now at
AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | KOBO | ALL ROMANCE EBOOKS | iTunes

Learn more about the boxed set HERE.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Long time no write

For anyone who might have wondered what happened to me, well, I'm still kicking around. It turns out 2015 has not been the best year for me, writing-wise, because of numerous personal reasons I won't get into here.

The good news is that I am writing again and working furiously to finish the fourth book in my Psychic Detectives series. Fingers crossed, that manuscript will be winging its way to my editor's inbox soon. It has been an interesting journey with many rewrites, so I hope Connor's story entertains you once it makes its way into the world.

I've also written a novella that, fingers crossed, will be released in November. It's not related to my Psychic Detectives series, but it follows the same theme. It features a hunky psychic working to solve a serial killing mystery. It's a little darker than anything I've written before, but I'm proud of it because it helped me get past a bad case of writer's block. It also might feature a cat because every story needs an animal in it, don't ya think? More on that novella coming soon.

In the meantime, Halloween is right around the corner. Ah, candy corn, pumpkins, and spooky and not-so-spooky costumes. It's probably my favorite time of year, or a close second, so I'm excited. Grab a book or scary movie, relax, and have a safe and happy Halloween! 



Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Written Fireside: Can't You See? Part 3 by Angela Campbell




Written Fireside: Can't You See?



Noah Hale is an author suffering from PTSD related insomnia, needing peace and sleep. All he wants is to be left alone. A certain little dog has other ideas.

Amanda Bell, a teacher, is grieving the loss of her sister, Rachel. Caring for her sister’s dog is comforting until a new neighbor moves in the other half of her duplex. Suddenly, the dog starts escaping her yard, running to the
man on the other side of the fence.


Part 1 by Lori Connelly 
Author of
 
Author of
 


Part 3 by Angela Campbell:


Hours later, Amanda had managed to clean the kitchen, the bathroom, and the living room, but she still couldn’t get the vision of haunted green eyes out of her head. Cleaning was always her go-to distraction when she needed to distance herself from bad memories or unwanted thoughts, but nope. Didn’t work this time.

The pain she’d seen glimmering beneath Noah Hale’s delicious green gaze had been easy to recognize because she’d seen it in her own eyes when looking in the mirror these past few weeks. Perhaps he’d lost someone, too.

A low whine caught her attention, and she turned around to see the small brown and white dog lying in the doorway, watching her. Wiping the sweat off her brow with the back of her wrist, Amanda shook her head and pointed the mop handle at Gertie.

“This is your fault. It’s your fault I can’t stop thinking about him.”

The dog’s eyebrows shifted anxiously as Gertie sighed and lowered her chin to her paws. Guilt tightened Amanda’s chest, and she sank to her haunches to pet the pup’s furry little head. Lord, Rachel had loved this dog, but Amanda had never had much time to spare for a pet. This was the first summer since she’d started teaching that she hadn’t traveled somewhere. Italy had been on the agenda this year — her once-in-a-lifetime vacation. She’d spent years saving to tour the streets long ago roamed by the likes of John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley. But one month before Amanda's plane was scheduled to take flight, that heartbreaking phone call had shattered everything. A massive pileup on the highway. Her little sister hadn't survived the impact.

The hot burn of tears threatened to spill again, but Amanda sniffled and pushed them back.

After helping her mother with Rachel’s burial expenses, there simply hadn’t been enough money left in the bank to go anywhere, and besides, she had a dog now. A dog she didn’t know how to properly care for, considering it had only been a week since Gertie had gotten into some raw yeast dough, which had led to days of explosive flatulence and projectile diarrhea. The veterinarian had given Amanda a chastising look before lecturing her on all of the foods that were bad for dogs. It had made her feel inept, had caused her to burst into tears right then and there, and made her question whether keeping Gertie had been the right decision.

“You deserve better, Gertie.”

Gertie whined and then licked Amanda’s hand as if to say “It’s OK. I don’t blame you. You can’t help being stupid.”

Amanda sighed. “I’m a mess. Let’s take a shower and go to bed — what do you say, girl?”

Woof! Gertie’s butt began to wiggle as she jumped to her feet and pranced around the hallway, knowing a treat was in her near future.

Amanda set the wet mop outside to air dry and then leashed Gertie for a short walk.

After a quick shower and changing into a pair of tap pants and a tank top for bed, Amanda brushed out her hair, wondering what Mr. Tall Dark and Sexy next door was doing right now. No doubt a man like him was enjoying a fun night on the town with someone as equally attractive. Meanwhile, here she was, getting ready for bed before ten o’clock with only a dog to keep her company.

“I lead such an exciting life, Gertie.”

Woof! Woof! Gertie tapped out her frustration at being made to wait for her treat, alternately watching Amanda prepare for bed and then running back and forth to the kitchen where her doggie biscuit awaited their new nightly ritual.

Smiling, Amanda followed the precocious animal into the kitchen, gave Gertie her treat, and then remembered to bring the mop back inside since rain was in the forecast. Click. Standing on the outside back patio, Amanda turned and saw Gertie pressed up against the bottom glass of the patio door — inside the house.

The dog had closed the door behind her! Oh, no. Please tell me I didn’t have the door set to automatically lock.

She gripped the doorknob and tried to turn it. Oh, yeah. It was locked.

“Gertie!”

Standing against the door, the dog wiggled its butt and grinned a tongue-lolling grin at her through the door.

***

Leaning back in his desk chair, Noah lifted his arms above his head and cracked his knuckles. Fifteen pages. Not bad considering the trouble he’d had getting started a few hours ago. It was damn hard to write when every scene in his skull tonight wanted to involve a certain gorgeous blue-eyed schoolteacher as the main character.

Snapping his laptop shut, Noah stretched his legs and smirked a little. Come to think of it, he’d actually been more productive tonight than he’d been in weeks. Maybe his new neighbor wasn’t so bad after all, not if she turned out to be some kind of muse.

Wiping a hand down his face, Noah pushed to his feet. What was he thinking? The woman hadn’t exactly been friendly earlier, and he’d picked up on that spark of — what? — disapproval when she’d looked him over. He hadn’t exactly been courteous either, so he supposed he didn’t blame her all that much.

Noah moved to the fridge and peered inside, grimacing at the lack of beer in stock. The sudden tap tap tap at his front door drew his attention to the clock. Not yet ten, but still, pretty late to be having visitors.

Frowning, he stomped to the door and glanced out the peephole. Not believing his eyes, he jerked the door open.

“Um, hi.” His alluring new neighbor stood on his front step dressed in, hell, hardly anything at all. “I’m sorry to bother you, but I got locked out of my house. I was wondering if I could borrow your phone?”
***
Find Part 4 by Jane Hunt on July 14!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Harper Impulse Fortnight: Feeling the love



In case you aren't aware, several book bloggers are celebrating all of the wonderful books being published by the Harper Impulse line — which publishes some of the best romantic fiction I've read in years. You can follow along on social media with the hashtag #HIFortnight to see all of the author interviews, Q&As, and reviews being featured through May 10. 


I'm incredibly fortunate to be published by Harper Impulse because there are some amazing authors over there. I know because I've read more than a few of the titles. In a perfect world, I'd have time and be independently wealthy enough to read all the titles. All of them! Because they are just that good. So, to join in #HIFortnight, I culled my Goodreads profile for some of the reviews I've done for Harper Impulse books and have compiled them here for easy access. Sure, I've gotten to know some of these tremendously talented folks, but my reviews are completely honest. I can't wait to read some of the other Harper Impulse titles still waiting for me on my Kindle, but until then, here are some for you to consider:



***

The Keepers: Sienna and Archer
I absolutely love this series by Rae Rivers. As a fan of all things paranormal, I’m glad to see a series based on witches with a fresh, new take. Sienna is a witch, and she has three gorgeous brothers as her keepers, or protectors. These two books reveal a passionate love between Sienna and Archer, one of her Keepers, and the rough times they must weather to be together. I’ve been anxious to read “The Keepers: Declan” but haven’t managed to find time yet. I need to rectify that soon!


The Songbird and the Soldier by Wendy Lou Jones
It’s hard to reveal why I enjoyed this book without giving away spoilers, so I’ll simply say this book is hauntingly beautiful, in the way it stays with you long after you close the book. It does feature a triangle of sorts, although I was rooting for Andy from the beginning. Ultimately, the heroine must choose between two soldiers, and her journey is incredibly emotional — you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll love this book.


All Wrapped Up in You by Sun Chara
This was a short novella that’s Christmas-themed, although I read it in August. In this one, the hero and heroine are married but going through a rough patch after Ellie leaves Peter because she doesn’t feel fulfilled in their marriage. There’s angst and passion, which always makes for a good read. Plus, I love a good story where the hero/heroine get a second chance at love.


Twitter Girl by Nic Tatano
As a journalist, I am pretty wary of reading books that feature journalists as characters because they are usually misrepresented, with authors constraining those characters to most people's stereotypes of journalists. Thankfully, that isn't the case here. The "Twitter Girl" is Cassidy, a TV reporter who is fired for snarking in public that a tornado improved a certain state's landscape. She's hired because of her following on social media to work for a politician, and while I mistakenly assumed the hero of this book was going to be the politician, I was pleasantly surprised by who the hero turned out to be. Mr. Tatano's writing style is easy and fast-paced and kept me smiling as the story unfolded. He also portrays a realistic journalist, with all her quirks, and Cassidy reminded me of some of my colleagues. Many of her tweets were hilarious, and I was truly sad when this book ended. It was a quick read, fun, and entertaining.


What Happens To Men When They Move To Manhattan? By Jill Knapp
I really enjoyed this book, which is weird because I am among the rare minority who never liked the “Sex in the City” TV series and this book had the same kind of vibe. Here, there are lots of young adults trying to establish themselves and connect with one another in the bustling metropolis of Manhattan, but the main character is Amalia, who is, thank God, very grounded compared to a lot of her friends. But Amalia isn’t without her faults, which also makes her very relatable as a character. I didn’t spend my young adulthood in NYC, but who didn’t make mistakes or endure heartbreak when they were in their early 20s? A lot of the dialogue was witty and fun, allowing for a quick read. I assume there will be more books in the series, and I look forward to reading more from this author.


An American Girl in Italy by Aubrie Dionne
First of all, I read this book in one sitting, which should signify how much it captured my attention. The romance was a little slow to build, but honestly, I liked that Carly and Michelangelo had a rough meeting and a lot of "cute" moments before emotions got involved. As Carly noted early on, most romcom movies start out that way, which shows how clever and self aware the author was in her setup. I really liked Carly--her insights into being a career-minded member of an orchestra were often humorous and always interesting. Michelangelo was an honorable and worthy hero, which I found refreshing. Overall, this was simply a fast-paced enjoyable read.


Christmas at Thornton Hall by Lynn Marie Hulsman
I read this book in July, so it doesn't have to be Christmas for readers to enjoy it. What great read! Juliet is a fun and feisty heroine — I giggled when she thought about rolling the potatoes she'd just purchased at a market in the dirt to appease her employer who preferred fresh and organic — and her journey is one a lot of people can relate to, despite the high drama around her. The author has a real talent for creating likable characters, even if you aren't sure you're supposed to like them, and the romance builds and has a good, rewarding end. If you love contemporary romances, romantic comedies or Christmas stories, give this book a try.


Santa Wore Leathers by Vonnie Davis
This was a fun book to read at Christmas! I admit it — the dog on the cover had me reading it before all the other seasonal titles on my Kindle! Einstein was a great doggy character.


Waking Up in Vegas by Romy Sommer
This book features one of my favorite tropes — a h/h waking up married without any memory of how it happened. Plus, it features a lovable, zany heroine named Phoenix (I love that name) who needs some convincing by Max, her new hubby, not to run. Max, it turns out, believes in love at first sight, or at least, his family does. And Max is a great hero. This book was simply a lot of fun to read.

Monday, April 27, 2015

If I can do it, so can you


Anyone who knows me knows that I love animals. LOVE them. Cats, dogs, rabbits, horses, wolves, bears, elephants, snakes...well, maybe not so much on the snakes, but you get the idea.

For the past year or so, I've gotten involved in animal transporting, which means I pick up some at-risk animals from my local kill shelter and drive them to an animal rescue group, where volunteers foster and then help find homes for these lucky cats and dogs who were only within hours of death. This past weekend, I drove six cats from my local shelter to a rescuer in North Carolina — and I made a video explaining what transporting is and why it's so important. Make no mistake here. I'm not the heroine of this story; that credit belongs to the folks who arrange to pull the animals and then take them in until the fur babies find a new home. I'm simply giving these critters a lift, and anyone can do that. Unfortunately, it was far too dark to film on my phone any footage of the actual handing over of these kitties, plus I'm not gonna lie. I was too exhausted to film anything at that point. But the video below should give you an idea of what the entire process is like. I hope after watching it, you'll consider donating money or time to YOUR local animal shelter. Or, maybe you have a few hours to become an animal transporter, too. It's totally worth the cost of gas to give a few animals a second chance at life. Trust me.

In the meantime, please do me a favor and spay or neuter your pets. It really does save lives.


Sunday, April 5, 2015

Grab some great fantasy YA books from Story Bundle

A while back, I had my friend and fellow author Nic Tatano here on the blog — or rather, his character Cassidy Shea aka "Twitter Girl" stopped by to chat with me. Nic is a great writer who not only has one cool fantasy book just released, but another one coming up soon.

Even better, one of his books is part of a young adult fantasy bundle right now. Check out his blog for more details on Story Bundle and how you can name your price for the books AND enter to win a Kindle or a $100 gift card.

Here's a bit taken from his blog about the story bundle in which "Destiny's Hourglass" can be purchased:

The young adult bundle is called "Crossing Worlds" and every book features a young protagonist dealing with amazing challenges in magical worlds. In my case, "Destiny's Hourglass" is the story of a teenage boy who can change the future with his mind. Yeah, I know the current trend is to write kick-ass girls, but I thought the guys deserved equal time. And, ya know, that Harry Potter kid seemed to develop a decent following.
Take a closer look at the Story Bundle here.

 And if you love fantasy YA, check out Nic's exciting Jillian Spectre series:

http://tinyurl.com/odgs9ry
http://tinyurl.com/pkbv8l2

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Still here, but, you know, busy...

Every now and then someone will email me or contact me through my website with kind words about one of my books. I was fortunate enough to receive one over the weekend — thank you Lisa P. — asking about the status of more books in my psychic detectives series. So, I thought I'd post a very brief update here for any of you who might be wondering. I've noticed a slight bump in sales for each of the books in that series, so thank you, thank you, thank you! And welcome to any new readers who've come here searching for information.


Yes, I'm still writing, and the book I'm currently concentrating on finishing is Connor's book in that series. I'm over halfway finished with it, and yes, I know, I'd hoped to be finished with it by now. For those of you interested (seriously, thank you for being interested!) please accept my apology for not writing faster. It truly has been a challenging year so far, and at the moment, the day job is demanding more of my time than usual.

This is pretty much my constant look these days (well, except I'm not near as sexy as Jensen Ackles, dang it)...


So yeah. That's it in a nutshell.

I really do appreciate all the new readers, and I'm definitely still writing. My fingers and my cat's paws are crossed I'll soon have more time to wrap up this book. Thanks for your patience!

In the meantime, here's something to make you smile!


Friday, March 6, 2015

Fun Friday: New releases from Lorraine Wilson!

It's been a while since I invited anyone to visit for my Fun Friday post. Since author Lorraine Wilson is celebrating not one but two new releases, including a freebie yesterday (Congrats, Lorraine!), I wanted to give her a chance to tell you all about it and her series, which I've read two books of and is a really fun read. Without further ado, here's Lorraine:

***


You know how it is, you wait ages for a new Chalet Girl release and then two come along at once ;-)

I wrote ‘Chalet Girl Plays Cupid’ specifically as a freebie giveaway. I wanted something fun to give to my readers as a thank you for all their support. The dedication reads ''For my lovely readers - thank you so much for your support, your friendship...oh, and for buying my books! Without you I'd be nothing x.’

The one part of being published that took me by surprise was how rewarding it would be to connect with readers - online via Facebook and Twitter and by email. When you’re having a bad day a reader telling you how much they’re looking forward to reading your next book can be just the spur you need to keep you writing. There is nothing more satisfying than someone enjoying a story I’ve created.

Hope you enjoy the freebie. Chalet Girl Plays Cupid is FREE everywhere. Get your copy here- hyperurl.co/3opy8z

If that wets your appetite there is another Chalet Girl release this month - 'Rebellion of a Chalet Girl’, publication date 26th March 2015, get your copy here- hyperurl.co/gz7je4



To celebrate having two releases this month I’m running a special competition. Enter for a chance to win a Lorraine Wilson Design Shoulder Bag made with novelty magazine cover fabric, a Chalet Girl book bag complete with signed copies of all 4 Chalet Girl Paperbacks!

Enter here - http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/6aa9629d12/


Chalet Girl Plays Cupid 
A match made on the slopes… 
After a messy break up that’s left her homeless, jobless and single, temporary chalet girl Emily needs a fresh start! So when best friend Holly asks her to help out before the start of the winter season at the exclusive Chalet Repos in Verbier, Emily jumps at the chance. What broken heart can’t be fixed by apr├Ęs ski cocktails?

Verbier seems like the perfect escape, until Emily meets super-sexy and darkly brooding winter athlete Jake. She’s meant to be avoiding men at all costs, but the spark between her and Jake is sizzling! As she finds herself increasingly left alone with Jake, Emily begins to wonder if Cupid has paid a visit to Chalet Repos…!

Rebellion of a Chalet Girl 
Always the Chalet Girl… 
Year round chalet girl Tash doesn’t do attachments—she’s learned the hard way that relationships of any kind never last. But when self-made millionaire and hit TV star Nathaniel Campbell arrives to spend a month at Chalet Repos, she’s tempted to reconsider her no-strings rule…

Tash and Nate may be from different sides of the tracks, but the connection between them is undeniable! And Tash soon realises that one hot night with Nate will never be enough. But can Nate ever think of Tash as more than a fling, especially once the truth about her past comes out? 
The Chalet Girls are back! Set in the exclusive Swiss ski resort of Verbier, winter playground of the rich and famous, ‘Rebellion of a Chalet Girl’ is the latest addition to the fabulous ‘Chalet Girl’ series.

Find out more about the Chalet Girl Series:

www.harperimpulseromance.com/authors/lorraine-wilson
www.facebook.com/LorraineWilsonWriter
***
Many thanks to Lorraine for stopping by today. You can learn more about Lorraine here: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Blog.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Marketing Mondays: Cooperative promotions with other authors


My friend and fellow author Cindy Spencer Pape has published more than 50 books and has been around the promotional block once or twice. I asked her to share her thoughts on book marketing in today's Book Marketing Monday post. Take it away, Cindy!

***
Cooperative promotions with other authors — yes, they work!

Promotion is the bane of most writers. On the one hand, many of us are thin-skinned and insecure about our work, but on the other, we have to be out there, telling the world how fabulous our latest book is. It’s tough, sometimes mind-bogglingly so.

After over 50 published titles, I’ve found that most promotions work…sometimes. I haven’t yet found that magic promotional bullet to catapult me into best-sellerdom. Some people read ads, some people don’t. Some follow Twitter, others don’t. If you can get help from your publisher, those promos probably work better than almost anything else I’ve tried, but most publishers have lots of authors and limited resources. You’ll get promoted if you’re already a best-seller, but it’s hard to stand out in the crowd otherwise.

Next to that, the best luck I’ve had is cooperative promotions with other authors. When readers see an author they like recommend another author’s book, they’re inclined to believe it. Promoting your friends on Facebook or Twitter isn’t seen as self-serving the way promoting yourself can be. Also, being cooperative gets you the reputation as being a “nice person” which doesn’t hurt either.

Blog-swapping (thank you to Angie for having me here today!) is one cooperative form of promotion that a lot of authors use. I’ll admit, after several years of intense blogging, I’m kind of burned out and only blog occasionally now. Special projects like this one, though, keep me out there in the blogosphere, without having to try to fill my own blog every day. Group blogs, where you only have to post once a month or so are another way of authors helping authors—and also a great way to make friends. The same goes for reader-author Yahoo Groups or Facebook Groups.

Generally speaking, if you’re kind to your fellow authors, they’ll be kind to you. And that’s probably better promotion than money can buy.

***

Cindy Spencer Pape firmly believes in happily-ever-after and brings that to her writing. Award-winning author of 19 novels and more than 30 shorter works, Cindy lives in southeast Michigan with her husband, two sons, granddaughter, and a houseful of pets. When not hard at work writing she can be found dressing up for steampunk parties and Renaissance fairs, or with her nose buried in a book.

Website: http://www.cindyspencerpape.com (http://bit.ly/ybxKjP )

Twitter: http://twitter.com/CindySPape

Facebook: http://on.fb.me/gjbLLC

***

Check out Cindy’s latest paranormal romance, Sea Change available now from Ellora’s Cave. http://www.ellorascave.com/sea-change.html
***

Monday, February 16, 2015

Marketing Mondays: A roundup of helpful videos

I'll be honest that I didn't have time to prepare much of a post today, so I compiled a list of helpful videos that have some great information in them for authors looking to sell their books to readers. Got a video you think has valuable information? Leave the link in the comments!


Blog tours can help you get your new release to readers. Here are some tips on starting a blog tour.



Here are some general tips that can help you make the most out of your overall plan.



Pinterest — is it worth using it to get your book exposure? And how do you use it to your advantage? This video has some great information.



Goodreads — love it or hate it, it's a huge community of book lovers. Here's an overview of Goodreads, some etiquette tips for authors on Goodreads, and how authors can use it to market their books.




Monday, February 9, 2015

Marketing Mondays: Using Wattpad to sell books!


Happy Monday! As I've said before, there's a lot I don't know about selling books, so I'm always reaching out to my author friends for advice to share here for Book Marketing Mondays. This week, the wonderful award-winning author Shawna Reppert graciously agreed to share advice from her experiences with Wattpad. In case you haven't checked out Shawna's books, I highly recommend her books Ravensblood and Raven's Wing. Great reads.

Without further ado, here's Shawna...

Wattpad as a Marketing Tool
by Shawna Reppert

When Mary Rosenblum, my indie editor, PR advisor and all-around writing-life coach suggested using Wattpad as a promotional tool, I didn’t see the point.  Give away a book for free online?  Isn’t that what we were told not to do?  Especially as she advised not to put up only teaser chapters.  (Wattpad readers are used to getting the whole story, even if the author stingily doles it out one chapter at a time.  They will get ticked off if you put up just teaser chapters with a buy link.  And one thing you never want to do is tick off readers.)

A year later, I was scrounging around desperately looking for something, anything, to get my writing noticed by more people.  I decided to look into this Wattpad thing and see what it could do for me.

Wattpad: The basics.  For those of you not familiar, Wattpad is an online writing community where people post their writing.  All kinds of writing, from scholarly article and polished fiction to fan fiction.  It is free to join, both for writers and for readers.  Anyone can sign on for free and the work you post there, but you still hold the copyright.  (An important note:  There are Wattpad-iike sites that will try to claim copyright forever over anything you post there.  Always, always, always thoroughly read the terms and conditions for any site on which you post your work!)

My game plan:  There are authors who put up the novel they are selling elsewhere (or plan to sell elsewhere) chapter-by-chapter, on the theory that the reader will become impatient and just buy the whole book rather than wait for the installment, or buy the book so that they have an official copy for their very own with a pretty cover.  (Or maybe even because they understand that a writer who makes money is a writer with incentive to continue.  Some readers are smart that way.)  I’ve met authors that have had success with that approach, but to me it felt too risky.

But because I pursued the traditional model of publishing for a long while before becoming a hybrid indie-traditional writer, and because it usually takes longer to get a book published than it does to write it, I had more novels in my ‘trunk’ than I had resources to indie-publish.  Even Kindle costs money if you do it right, with a professional editor and a good cover.  There was one in particular I was fond of, that was written to professional standards, but had a hard time finding a marketing niche.
Brother to the Wolf is one of those good, old-fashioned fantasy adventures with noble outlaws and unscrupulous nobles.  I happen to still love those old books, and I’m sure that there are others who do as well, but it isn’t exactly the latest hot thing in the publishing world today.  The novel is in many ways an homage to the Robin Hood tales, but it is an original-world fantasy with original characters.  I wanted to shape my plot without running roughshod over actual history.  (Not that that has ever before stopped anyone writing Robin Hood!)  I borrowed the set-up of my society from England about three generations after William the Conqueror, and spent a lot of time researching the culture and weapons of that period, so it has a historical feel, but it’s not actually historical.  The magic in it is pretty minimal.  If pagan spiritual were a genre, it would be in that genre, maybe.  But since there’s no shelf in the bookstore marked Pagan Spiritual Fiction, Brother to the Wolf remains without a neat marketing category.

In short, it was the perfect novel to sacrifice on the altar of Wattpad marketing research.  I signed up for Wattpad, and loaded chapter one that very night.  It got some hits.  I loaded chapter two the next week, and got more hits.  And so on.  The readership is not at NY Times bestseller level, but it is growing exponentially. 

Has it affected sales of my other works on Amazon?  Hard to say, since it’s early days.  Though I have noticed sales ticking up, and a tell-tale sign is that (until a recent PR blitz surrounding Raven’s Wing, the second book in my Ravensblood novel) the uptick pattern seems to lead with The Sword and the Kestrel, a short story I wrote that, of the things I have available on Amazon, is the closest in theme and tone to Brother to the Wolf.

At this stage of my career, any new people who learn about Shawna Reppert, author, in any capacity, is a victory.

Tips: 
  • Update regularly. I started by posting every Sunday, but found out I got more hits when I posted on Saturday afternoons. My new commitment to my readers is to post every weekend, so people know when to anticipate an update. And I know that they are waiting, because every time I announce an update on Twitter and Facebook, it leads to what I call The Pounce, where the chapter will get twenty hits or more in the first half-hour. The Pounce makes me feel like I’m not shouting my writing alone in a wilderness. Which leads to. . .
  • Promote your Wattpad stories on social media. There’s a ton of stories that go up on Wattpad each day, so people are unlikely to find yours unless you post on Facebook, Twitter (remember your hashtags!), and in forums you are already active in where the members have interests that predispose them to wanting to read this particular work.
  • For example, I announce updates to Brother to the Wolf on my own Facebook and Twitter (hashtags medieval, fantasy, pagan, Wattpad) as well as on forums for fans of Mythic/mythopoeic fiction.
  • If you are posting weekly, a mid-week reminder on social media can as much as double your hits.
  • Adding a pitch line to your update notice will also increase hits. An example from a recent update: Brother to the Wolf Chapter 14 is up! Gareth slowly heals from his wounds. But old enmities are not so easily forgotten.
  • Even an amateur cover is better than no cover at all, in terms of garnering hits. (Note: This advice does not apply to anything you offer for sale anywhere!)

Good luck and happy Wattpadding!

Follow her on Twitter: @ShawnaReppert

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Fifty Shades of — oh boy!

It has been a busy, busy, buuuuusy couple of months for me, and I brilliantly decided I would add to my busy-ness by blogging about some of the things that have been making me busy. Because, you know, I can’t afford therapy and blogging is free.

Shut up.

Anyway. I have to blur the line between personal and professional here for a moment to explain one of the things making me busy, because it involves the day job. I don’t really try to hide the fact I’m a journalist by day and romance writer by night. I work for a small magazine, which means in addition to reporting, I also handle social media, shoot video, take pictures, do graphic design, and so on. Small publication staffs are full of jack-of-all-trades like that. One of the things I enjoy doing are movie reviews. Movie geek, right here (points at self). Generally, my movie reviews are geared toward families because that’s our magazine's market. It’s fun. I enjoy it.

To make a long story short, I recently got assigned to cover all things “Fifty Shades of Grey,” the movie. The person who assigned it to me was very enthusiastic about it. He was hinging it on that degrading "mommy porn" label these books got slapped with whenever. My review is supposed to be "for moms" because, you know, men couldn't possibly want to see this movie AT ALL. I was told to contact the studio for production notes, for trailers, to stalk the cast, whatever.

“Cover all the 'Fifty Shades of Grey' things. Cover them all!” — That’s the gist of it.

I did contact my "friends" at the studios, the ones who handle all the marketing and often let me see movies for free before the public gets to see them and who invite me to press junkets. Predictably, I never got a response. No doubt those folks have been inundated with requests from media for this movie since January rolled around and it started blowing up.

I was busy, so eh, I just let it slide. Moved onto other things, such as preparing for the Oscars. As you may recall, I am partially insane and attempt to see all of the Oscar nominations every year. Yep. All of them. I'll be live-tweeting the Oscars this year again from our sister newspaper's account, so I have gotta squeeze in those movies when I can. This has also contributed to my busy-ness, as has reading books for a contest I agreed to judge, and you know, other life stuff.

So back to Fifty Shades.

I won’t go into specifics, but it was also suggested that I write my review from the perspective of someone “who writes books like that.” Wouldn’t that just be fun and different?

Oh boy.

Let me preface this by saying I have nothing against the Fifty Shades of books. Yes, I read them. I don’t think my books remotely fall into the same genre. Maybe I’m wrong or self-delusional. I don't know. I do know I don't write erotica. I generally don't read it either, so I can't even judge the genre based on these books. I'm smart enough to know that.

For what it’s worth, I liked the "Fifty Shades of Grey" books more than I didn’t like them. I had a tough time with the first book. Not gonna lie. Too much of it seemed almost plagiarized from “Twilight” – too many descriptions and passages almost word-for-word — and I seriously wanted to take a red pen and do some tightening on the prose. And the sex! Come on, after a point I was bored with so much sex that I just flipped past it. But as a reader, the book overall reminded me of the Harlequins I used to read in college, with the alpha male and the strong-willed heroine who turns him into a better man in the end. Say what you will, but EL James has talent at building chemistry between her hero/heroine. My friend loved the books and so I kept on reading. I read all three books and liked the next two vastly more than I liked the first for whatever reason.

I’m fortunate that I’ve never been in an abusive relationship, so I wasn’t overly sensitive to those domestic and sexual violence triggers, although I certainly can't say they're not valid. Christian Grey can be a seriously controlling bastard. Then there's the "It's pornography! You're going to hell if you read/see this" argument. And the "You're not a feminist" if you support it arguments. And "how can you support books that started as fan fiction and still call yourself a writer" argument. What can I say?  I suppose all the arguments are valid to a degree. It’s all about perspective, and my perspective is obviously different from a lot of people who read these books and outright hated them for (fill in the blank with a reason). I just didn't take the books seriously enough to see those things, I guess. I looked at them as a mostly enjoyable way to kill several hours. I also realize I just put a target on my back for saying all of that. Let me go grab my imaginary bullet-proof vest real quick.

OK, I'm back, and now that I'm protected, I'll be even more honest. I’ve been getting excited to see this movie with every trailer I sneak a peak at. Maybe it’s the movie geek in me, but I love seeing movies that are adapted from books, although I have never seen one that was better than the book, except maybe "Gone Girl," because I loathed that book but actually liked the movie. So like "Gone Girl," I think “Fifty Shades of Grey” might be the exception to that rule for me because I think a movie, by nature, will force them to tighten the story and eliminate all the cringe-worthy parts. And that’s why I’m getting excited to see it, although it will be hella awkward seeing it with my co-worker/good friend on opening night in a packed theater and then writing about it afterward.

Truth is, while I’m getting excited to see the movie, I’m also getting cold feet about writing a review for it, although I’m pretty sure I’m nailed into that at this point.

The book — and the movie, as it turns out — are very polarizing. No matter how I write my review, it will get comments. I will get emails from very angry people in my community blasting me for supporting the opposite of their viewpoint. There will be letters to the editor blasting me for writing it, period. I’m no green reporter. I’m an experienced journalist. I’m used to these things, have developed a thick skin about it, but for some reason, this one makes me nervous, guys. Because I am a romance writer AND a journalist, and ultimately, this review could affect my role as both.

So yeah, I’m nervous, but you know what? I’m not judging this movie until I see it. That’s kind of my cardinal rule about all the things. And when I sit down and write my review, you can trust it will be my honest opinion, good or bad, and it will be about the movie — not the book. It also won't be from the perspective of a romance novelist because, one, I wasn't comfortable with that and, two, neither was "the big boss" apparently. Whew!

And also, with people being beheaded, children starving on other continents, people suffering from diseases we haven't yet cured, and real violence happening every second against men, women and children somewhere, I'm not going to get too worked up over these books or this movie.

Know what I mean?

What about you? Are you planning to see the movie? Absolutely not? Tell me. I want to know! Are you a "Fifty Shades" hater or lover or eh, who cares?

Monday, February 2, 2015

Marketing Monday: Tips for making the most of Twitter and Facebook


I had a request for this topic, so today I thought I’d share some tips and tricks I’ve learned about using Twitter and Facebook for marketing on the off chance you don’t know about them. As always, this comes from my experience, so if you know better tips and tricks, please be a lovely human being and leave them in the comments. Thank you.

I'm talking specifically about advertising on Twitter and Facebook, not simply using them in general. That's a whole other topic entirely. In my opinion, advertising your book on Facebook and Twitter is probably the most inexpensive form of advertising you’ll find because both allow you to set specific parameters, including how much you spend, who sees your ad and exactly what your ad says. It is also fairly easy to set up, and I’ve seen some results from both. Then again, I have only ever used either to promote a special sale or discount. People like sales, so it's a great opportunity to test these as advertising methods.

To start, of course, you must have accounts on Twitter and Facebook. Let’s begin with some Twitter tips.


TWITTER

Before you set up your Twitter ad, I’d recommend testing a tweet by simply tweeting it out. For example, here’s one I have pinned to the top of my Twitter profile because it had decent reach when I first sent it out.


How do I know it had decent reach? Because I watched my Twitter analytics. Twitter analytics is a free tool and provided by twitter and you can see how effective your tweets are by looking at them. Simply make sure you’re logged into your twitter account and go to https://analytics.twitter.com




Some things I’ve noticed by browsing my Twitter analytics: The tweets I send out on Mondays get the most impressions. Luck? My fairy godmother? I have no idea why, but there it is. I'd see what days have the most reach on your previous tweets and schedule your ad for those days of the week. Most social media training states the most active users are on Twitter Mondays between 10 a.m.- noon ET, but this allows you to see if that's true in your case. Maybe it is. Maybe it isn't.

When setting up Twitter ads, make note of whether your test tweet has gotten much reach. If not, reword it and tweet a different one until you find one that seems to be effective. If you have a sale, use the hashtag #sale or #discount. A good rule of thumb on Twitter is to NEVER use more than three hashtags in one tweet though, but if you have a keyword you can hashtag, then by all means, give it a try.

Once you have a solid tweet, go to https://ads.twitter.com/ to set up your Twitter ads.

In the right corner, you’ll see Create New Campaign. Click on that button. You’ll see from the drop-down that there are various types of ads you can run. Do you want to gain more followers? Maybe, but I’d rather sell books, so I choose “Website Click or Conversions.”

You’ll be prompted to name your campaign and how long you want it to run. Then you can compose an entirely new tweet or select tweets that have already run.

I chose tweets that have already run and that I’ve seen through analytics are effective. Then you select Targeting. I chose United States and United Kingdom, but you can select or add any country you wish.

You can also add keywords to search, etc, based on any keywords that describe your book. What I personally have found effective is also targeting users of other Twitter handles — mainly celebrities with tons and tons of followers. So I select to target followers of Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Ellen Degeneres, Oprah Winfrey and others. Why? Why include all those celebrities who have probably nothing to do with your book? I'm sure you're thinking, That’s ridiculous, Angie, are you crazy?

Yes, yes, I am, but trust me. This works. Or at least, it has for me so far. The simple explanation is that these celebrities have millions of followers — at least a few of them like to read, right?

You also will be prompted and need to set up your budget. When I run a Twitter ad, I only spend between $5 and $10 and only run it for a few days at most. A good daily budget to use seems to be $2.50. It’s entirely up to you though. On the days the ad is running, I use NovelRank to see if I’m selling any books on Amazon since that’s the link I’m directing people to, but you know, it’s NovelRank, so don’t expect accurate sales figures from NovelRank. But NovelRank can at least let you know if you’ve sold any, so I do recommend it as an estimate. I have the NovelRank app on my iPhone and check it obsessively EVERY DAY, you know, maybe once a week. There’s also a website — http://www.novelrank.com.


FACEBOOK

Setting up Facebook ads is very similar. Underneath your profile page, you'll see a link to "Ads Manager." Click there to begin setting up a Facebook ad.

Then you want to select Create an Ad. You'll be guided through the steps, starting with the goal of your ad, which again for me is directing people to my book link on Amazon or another retailer. So I select to direct people to a specific URL and then paste in that URL in the field it gives.

Again, you will want to target the people you want to buy your books by choosing the countries you're targeting, putting in some keywords to target people who might actually buy your books. For example, in the keyword search field, I enter Kindle, romance novels, paranormal romance, romantic suspense, romantic comedy, and pets — because each of these apply to my books, so people on Facebook who like any of these things might conceivably like my book, too.

Once you have your image selected and your budget indicated, you can start running your ad.

Speaking of images, Facebook will reject your ad if the image you associate with it has too much text on it. So while a horizontal image is ideal, you can use your book cover alone or create a small horizontal graphic that features your book cover — but without much text. Basically, just make it appealing and use a photo you own the rights to and not a picture of Henry Cavill because you want click bait. That's just wrong, and could get you sued.

Another option is dark posting on Facebook.

Mwahahaha! Sounds ominous, right? Dark posting on Facebook means publishing a post that does not appear on your page’s timeline. Instead, these posts are targeted to a select audience of your choosing.

First of all, you have to be using the browser Google Chrome for it to work. If you are, go to Ads Manager and click Power Editor in the left column.

From here, you’ll want to click Download to Power Editor at the top of the page to download the accounts you want to manage.

Strata Blue has put together a list of very detailed instructions on what to do next so I'll point you to follow their instructions to try this out.


FACEBOOK INSIGHTS

I know. I know I've loaded you with a TON of information already, but I do want to stress the importance of Facebook insights if you're operating from a page and not a profile. Personally, I tend to neglect my page in favor of my profile, but you can schedule posts to run on a page and you can't on a profile (to my knowledge) so that's one thing in a page's favor.

You have to switch to your page to access Insights. Once there, simply click the Insights tab at the top of the page. You can see where most of your visitors are coming from, etc. What I find most important are the days and times my audience can best be reached. You know, since Facebook makes it so darn hard to reach people these days. These stats can help you schedule posts at the best times to get the best reach.

For example:

From this chart, I see most of my visitors visit my page on Monday around 2 p.m. ET. So if I really want to be smart and reach more people, that's when I would schedule an important post.

Again, I know it's lots of information, but hopefully some of it is at least helpful.

Until next time...


LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...