Animation by Kayelle Allen at The Author's Secret

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Manic Scribbler's A-Z Challenge - A is for Apple

A is for Apple
Well duh, who doesn't know the significant role apples have played in the greatest love stories of all time?  Ancient mythologies and folklore, The Bible, Shakespeare, fairy-tales and arguably the most romantic film ever, Sleepless in Seattle have all featured apples.  You remember that poignant moment in Sleepless, when Jonah worries that he'll forget his mommy and his father tells him "She could peel an apple in one long, curly strip.  The whole apple."  Then later, Annie (Meg Ryan) hears Sam (Tom Hanks) on the radio and I'm willing that apple peel not to break as she listens to - but here, see for yourself:

In literature and in life, apples symbolise love.

So maybe that's why I chose to call my first published novel The Apple Tree.  One grows in Juliet's garden and when she begins to feel stirrings of love for Nicholas (whom she mistakes for a gardener) she suddenly realises how important that old tree is to her.

Julie watched him deftly pulling away grass and weeds to let the delicate blue heads find the spring sunlight and thought, he is a matter what else he might also be...first and foremost, he is a gardener.  But he handles these tiny flowers with all the reverence of an artist or even as if he created them himself.  She wondered if his earlier deprivation had been responsible for his love of gardens and flowers.  She leaned back against a mossy trunk to give him space to work and to watch him admiringly and soon became preoccupied with her own thoughts.  When he had finished, he looked around as if to seek her approval and smiled at her.

“When you begin work on our garden, will you promise to be as kind to our old apple tree?”  A sudden feeling of sentimentality overwhelmed her.

He smiled down at her.  “Given a half-way reasonable defence, I expect I could be persuaded, though as a physician you must know that it’s not a healthy tree.”

“Isn’t it?  No, I didn’t know that.”  The thought filled her with alarm.

“Would you like to outline its medical history?”

All of a sudden, the future of the old apple tree became very important to Julie.  “It’s where all the important things of my early life happened.  I took my first steps under its branches and it was where my mother used to love to sit and read.  I always knew I would find her there if nowhere else.  She made me a swing from one of its branches and I loved that swing.  And apart from everything else, it’s got something to do with today just feeling so special.”

“Say no more!  I never harm sacred property,” he promised.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Wednesday's Writer - Danita Cahill

Danita Cahill

I'm very privileged here today to have the multi-talented author, Danita Cahill as my Wednesday's Writer. Being an avid reader,I always like to try to get to know a little bit more about the inspiration behind the written word.  Here's what Danita told me when I interviewed her for this post.

Welcome, Danita.  First things first, what inspired you to write your first novel?

I had a nightmare about feral, red-eyed dogs chasing me along a fog-shrouded coastline (I grew up on the Oregon coast). About the same time, I gave birth to my second child. Six months later, my mom passed away. Those three life events swirled together were the catalyst for Mist. 

Three very traumatic and extreme events as well.  That must have been a very difficult time for you.  Did you know then that your genre would be romance?

I was a member of Romance Writers of America for years and attended various regional and national conferences. I also belonged to a local RWA chapter and an online RWA chapter. So, it was pretty much pre-ordained that romance would make its way into my stories! 

And is this reflected in the type of stories you like to read? 

I like to read stories involving relationships – the same kind of stories I like to write. The relationships might be between a man and woman, between a mother and child, or between a grandmother and granddaughter (Mist has all three). I like reading and writing about how people interact with one another. 

Me too - such an important part of modern fiction and romance in particular.  Has any part of yourself crept into the heroines of any of your romances?

A part of me creeps into every character I write. In the case of Mist, the heroine is loosely based on my mom, although Dianne Harris is a younger, hipper version. 

A lovely tribute to your mom - I'm sure she would be very proud.  What is the most desirable characteristic you've bestowed on the hero of your latest romance?

Kevin McCoffey – the hero of Mist – is tall, muscular and has a sexy southern accent. Definitely all nice qualities, but I think his most attractive characteristic is his desire to take care of others and keep them safe. Because of what happened to his dad when Kevin was a boy, Kevin now has a driving need to be a hero.

A nurturing man - my knees are melting!  Do you think you'll always write in the same genre and style or do you have desires to experiment and if so, in what way?

Whenever I write fiction, there will be some sort of love story involved. My current WIP (Work In Progress), called Daisies are True, is a story of love and magic. 

By day I am a freelance writer, reporter and photographer. As such, I also have non-fiction stories to tell, too. When Daisies is done, I’ll get crackin’ on a non-fiction project called Confessions of a Country Girl – Inspiring Stories of Growing Up Rural. 

That sounds like an interesting and ambitious project and I wish you the best of luck with it.  I hope you'll be using your own photographs as illustrations.  Now I'm intrigued to learn a bit more about Mist, with its short but very effective title.  Can you tell me a little bit more about the inspiration behind it?

I started writing this book a month after my mother’s death. It was my way of moving through grief and healing. When my grandmother died years ago, I got stuck in the grieving process and had a hard time moving forward with life. My hope with this thriller novel is that it not only entertains, but helps others push through the tough days, weeks and months after losing a loved one.

There may be evil red eyes in the mist, but there is also light at the end of the tunnel.

Here's the Blurb

It’s Thanksgiving, but the Roseland community doesn’t feel particularly thankful. Not when citizens of their Oregon coastal town keep disappearing. Is it aliens? A serial killer? Or a pack of evil, red-eyed dogs? Detective Kevin McCoffey is determined to solve the case.

When young, widowed photographer, Dianne Harris and her infant daughter find themselves face to face with the killer, Kevin races to yank them to safety. But is he too late? 

With help from both the town’s fortuneteller and the ghost of Dianne’s dead grandmother, Kevin and Dianne battle their own demons and their shared past history as they rush to save Dianne’s baby from the killer’s grip.

Excerpt from Mist:
I strain my ears to listen. The barking again. Is it getting closer?                 

Something else. In the distance. A crunching sound. What is that?
I check my mirrors. Search outside the windows. But the fog is so dense now, I can’t make out anything further than three or four feet beyond my vehicle.

The crunching is getting louder. Closer. My heart jumps into my throat. Perspiration dampens my palms. Is it the dogs?

I search my rearview mirror. Only thick white air. Nothing else.
Wait. What’s this? A light. Drawing closer. No, make that two lights. And still the crunching sound. Wet crunching.
Tires over a rain-soaked gravel road.
My heart settles back down. It’s an approaching vehicle, although not loud enough or heavy enough to be a tow truck. It crunches to a halt behind me. A door opens and closes. Footsteps.
Who could it be?
What if it’s the Roseland serial killer come to grab Megan and me? My heart beats staccato again.
The footfalls draw nearer. Not daring to breathe, I stare straight ahead. I don’t want to make eye contact until I know who it is and what they want.
A dark form appears at my window. I can see it with my peripheral vision.  The form bends at the waist. A face appears, so close that the person’s breath clouds the glass. My heart pounds harder.
“Excuse me, Ma’am. Do you need some assistance?”
The pattern of my heartbeats change from stark fear to something lighter, giddier; like the slap of a child’s salt-water sandals running over hard-packed sand. “Kevin!” Am I ever glad to see him. I can’t roll down my window without power, so I fling open the door.

It catches him in the shin.
“Sorry. Are you okay?”
Kevin holds his lower leg and groans.

“Oh, Kevin. I’m so sorry.”
“It’s…fine…really,” he says through clenched teeth. He lets go of his leg, straightens with a grimace and forces a smile. “Injuries are expected in the line of duty.”
Duty? Is that how he thinks of me now, as a duty?
“Are you alright?” he asks. “Your message sounded scared.”
Damn skippy I was scared. Still am. I glance in all three mirrors. The dogs and their red, glowing eyes are nowhere in sight. I don’t want Kevin thinking me a nut case, so I don’t bring up the dogs.

I feel safer with a cop nearby, although sitting here with my door ajar and Kevin standing outside in the open still makes me jittery. I keep my right hand tucked in my lap so he won’t see the bloody napkins wrapping my thumb. “I’m okay. I ran out of gas. Stupid, I know.”

“It happens all the time,” Kevin says. “I don’t have a gas can with me, but I’ll go get one and fill it. You and Megan can ride along so you don’t have to wait here in the cold. Besides, I don’t want you getting hit if someone drives up too fast. With this fog, I couldn’t see your SUV until I was right on top of you.”
Kevin on top of me. Now that conjures up all sorts of erotic images. My face heats. I clear my throat. 

“Thanks for the offer, but there’s a tow service on the way.”
I should tell him about the dogs. 
“No problem.” Kevin crinkles his chin and looks deep into my eyes. “You sure everything’s alright?”

I decide to come clean. “Well, there are these d…”           

Kevin’s cell rings. He pulls the phone from its holder on his belt and answers. Kevin holds his hand over the mouthpiece. “I’m sorry, I’ve got to go. You’re positive you’re alright?”

I look up into Kevin’s familiar gold-brown eyes. “I’m okay.” At this precise moment, with him standing guard, I really mean it.
He turns to leave. Stops. Hesitates. Spins back around. He leans down into my open doorway and kisses me full on the mouth. His lips are warm and firm against mine.
“Oh,” I say when he draws away. “What was that for?” My lips tingle where his lips touched mine. 
“For luck.” Kevin vanishes behind me into the mist. His headlights spear into the fog then disappear as he turns his patrol car around and speeds away.
Kevin knows I don’t believe in luck. But the kiss was nice. The lip tingling spreads, sending pleasant ripples through my body.
Very nice.

Wow!  I have to agree with that - very nice indeed.  What a great excerpt filled with drama, tension, humour and romance.  This goes straight onto my TBR list!

More about the Author:

Danita Cahill is a full-time, multi-published, award-winning freelance writer and photojournalist. At age 14 she sold her flute and bought a word processer to pursue her dream of becoming a writer. Danita lives in the Pacific NW on a small Oregon farm with her husband, two sons and their animals - a horse, several cats and guinea pigs, a herd of alpacas, and two dogs (thankfully neither dog has red eyes). Besides running children to and fro and caring for her gardens, critters and family, Danita stays busy working on magazine assignments and her next book.

Danita is a member of the Central Oregon Writers Guild, and the Willamette Writers Guild. She grew up on the Oregon coast        

You can read more about Danita at her Amazon Author Page
Mist is available as a print or e-book from

Thanks so much for having me here today, Lynette!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Neworking on a Budget (Part 2) by Tara Fox Hall

Following Jenny Twist's interesting post last week on free promotion and the value of networking, it's now the turn of Tara Fox Hall.  Over to Tara for her wise advice.

Tara Fox Hall
Thank you to Manic Scribbler for having me here today to talk about book promotion! Jenny Twist's excellent post on 3-17-13 covered many of the bases which are definite musts for promoting your book. I offer the following tips to build upon her thoughtful pointers. Some are free, and some are low cost.

***I want to add here that to successfully promote a book using her tips and/or mine will take significant amounts of time. Please be aware as an author you will spend as much time promoting as you do writing. There is only so much time, so budgeting your time well must be your first step of promotion!***

Top 4 paid promotions:

 1 – Cover Ads. A fabulous cover goes a long way toward snaring a reader. It’s the first thing a reader sees. When you can get your book covers out there in front of your audience, they are more inclined to pick up your work. The majority of the ads I buy are cover ads. Ads can be very expensive, but some sites like The Romance Studio have very good deals, such as the buy 1 get 9 Free cover ad deal they did for St. Patrick’s Day. This site also has other good promo opportunities like:

 2 – Being a featured author or other promotion at various review sites. Usually this is a small cost for a large return, in terms of blog parties you can join, live chats, or other perks you are given, like interviews, free ads, etc. I have met many of my fans at 24-hr Coffee Time Romance chats, or through daily book giveaways, and doing this will help you get a mailing list started. Be warned thought that some sites charge very high fees, so make sure you know what you are paying for is worth your money. Web hunts and parties are also great to be involved in, as they last for over a month and there is a lot of time for fans to stop in and enter, versus a contest that lasts only one day. I recently participated in The Romance Reviews 2nd Anniversary Party (free) and gave away a print copy of Promise Me. The winner got the book last week, has already read it, and just gave me a 5-star review on another review site!

 3 – Blog Tours. When I have a new book coming out, I normally book at least a few dates on various blogs. To launch my Promise Me series, I did intense blogging, where I was someplace new each day for 2 months. This really helped my series get off the ground. Blogging is a great tool, but it will eat up time quickly when you do everything yourself. There are companies online that cater to authors, like Heartfelt Promos, that will set you up for a very small fee with blog hosts for a tour. There are bigger companies that will not only book the tours, but also create prizes to give away, organize reviews for you, and create spotlight posts, so you will have to do even less of the work for a tour. Again, know what you are getting before you buy! Get feedback from other authors before booking. Blog posts must be creative, short, and adding a giveaway usually boosts hits/participation.

4 - Putting up a print copy of your work on Goodreads. I’ve done that for some of my books (such as the first and second in my series), and those books have gotten attention. I don’t do it for all books, as Goodreads does not let you contact those interested in your book in any way, or let you send anything to the winners except the book.

Top four free promotions: Jenny already touched on these, so I’ll be brief!

1 – Blogging and more blogging. Note that some bigger blogs like Night Owl Reviews are booked well in advance. Today is 3-17-13, and I just booked a day in late August, 2013, as they are already booked up until late summer. 

2 – Reviews. Get to know the major review sites, and make sure to follow all of their rules in correspondence. Be polite and respectful. Manic Readers is a good place to start: request reviews, book a blog, ask for an interview, etc.!

3 – Book signings. These are more about getting awareness of your book than moneymaking. Make SURE to put up signs that your books are available online as e-books, as many people think since they see you are there selling print books, you only have print books to sell. Have promo items like pens and bookmarks to hand out. (Vistaprint and 4Imprint are great places to get promo items as reasonable cost, but you can also create your own promo items, if you are crafty)

4 – Facebook, and other social media sites. All authors need a FB page, a website, a blog, and other ways to connect online with their fans. These take probably the most work of all, both to create and maintain, even if they are simple. Websites can be free, or you can go all out with major graphics. But there had to be something out there where people looking for your work can find it. Ideally, they should be able to Google your name and have your website come up first on the list. At least, they should be able to get some hits with your book titles together with your name. Goodreads and Manic Readers are also sites you must maintain an author page at, as well as a current list of all books. Goodreads will also give you a blog for free. 

Now get out there and PROMOTE!

Thank you, Tara - there's a wealth of really useful information here.

About Tara Fox Hall

Tara Fox Hall is an OSHA-certified safety and health inspector at a metal fabrication shop in upstate New York. She received her bachelor's degree in mathematics with a double minor in chemistry and biology from Binghamton University.

Tara Fox Hall's writing credits include nonfiction, horror, suspense, action-adventure, erotica, and contemporary and historical paranormal romance. She is the author of the paranormal action-adventure Lash series and the vampire romantic suspense Promise Me series, as well as other novellas. She also co-authored the essay The Allure of the Serial Killer, published in Serial Killers - Philosophy for Everyone: Being and Killing (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010).

Tara divides her free time unequally between writing novels and short stories, chainsawing firewood, caring for stray animals, sewing cat and dog beds for donation to animal shelters, and target practice.

For more information about Tara's literary works, click on: 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Wednesday's Writer - Marie Laval

My Wednesday's Writer is the hugely talented Marie Laval and I know you'll love what she has to say, so no more from me.  Let me hand you straight over to Marie.

Thank you so much Lynette for welcoming me on your blog today to talk about my second historical romance, THE LION’S EMBRACE, which was released by MuseitUp Publishing last month.

Little Time Bubbles

As writers we know how important it is to use the five senses - sight, smell, taste, touch and sound - to bring scenes and characters to life and immerse the reader in the story. The sense of smell is, I think, the most magical, powerful and nostalgic of all senses. A fleeting, ephemeral scent can make us travel back in time and bring people and emotions back to life - if only for a few seconds. It can make us smile or cry, it can be soothing or reopen old wounds. 

There are scents many of us can identify and relate to. A writer uses scents to give the reader a better, more intense feel for a particular place, time or scene. Some smells may be a little 'cliché' but still work: the smell of burning leaves which reminds us of autumn; orange peel, cinnamon and clove take us back to winter and Christmas whereas freshly-cut grass evokes spring and summer. As for flowers and plants, many readers will know the scent of roses, lilac, wisteria, lilies, to name but a few. A scene describing a walk in the countryside will feel more real if it includes scents, for example woods carpeted with wild garlic and bluebells or with damp, rotten leaves; a deep forest of fir trees with pine needles on the ground; the scent of grass and earth after a spring shower...

To help make characters unique and bring them to life we often give them a unique fragrance. As I mainly write historical romances I do confess to a predilection for certain fragrances such as sandalwood shaving soap for my hero (I do love the warmth and spice of sandalwood), and vanilla, rose, jasmine or orange blossom for the heroin. In THE LION’S EMBRACE, Harriet Montague’s favourite soap is a Damascus rose-scented soap – which incidentally is one of my favourite too! -  and in my current work in progress, my heroine is very liberal in her use of her orange blossom cologne, which in the cold, bleak Scottish winter reminds her of her native village in the Sahara.

Other distinctive scents can also help define a character, for example tobacco, cigarette and cigar smoke which cling to their clothes, or the smell of brandy, whisky or mint pastilles which lingers on their breath. And let's not forget leather...

Both the reader and the writer call on their own experiences to remember the scents described or mentioned in a story. And where the reader has no experience of a particular scent he or she will have to resort to imagination. After all, vegetation, climate, animals, seasons and festivals, foods and drinks vary greatly across the continents. When writing THE LION’S EMBRACE which is mostly based in North Africa, where I have never been, I had on a few occasions to use my imagination to describe what certain dishes, flowers or animals smelled like if I couldn't find out myself, although I did go to Chester zoo to get an idea about what lions and camels smelled like!

Perfumes can be associated with happy, traumatic or painful memories and the emotions some trigger are so personal they can be difficult to capture and communicate. To this day I cannot be near a woman wearing Guerlain's Shalimar without feeling my heart breaking. It was my mother's favourite perfume.  Ysatis of Givenchy will always remind me of the year I spent in Paris, or should I say of the year I wasted in Paris, trying to be clever and fashionable, and pretend I was someone I wasn't - so no great memories there at all. Food smells are incredibly evocative too. Tomato and garlic sauce, couscous, jam and freshly baked fruit tarts, especially apricots (we had an apricot tree in the garden), will always remind me of home. If I close my eyes, I can almost hear my mother - my wonderful, funny and loving mother - sing off-key in the kitchen.

So fragrances can be like little time bubbles or time machines allowing us to revisit places and moments in time, whether we want it or not. 


Arrogant, selfish and dangerous, Lucas Saintclair is everything Harriet Montague dislikes in a man. He is also the best guide in the whole of the Barbary States, the only man who can rescue her archaeologist father from the gang of Tuareg fighters that has kidnapped him. As Harriet embarks on a perilous journey across Algeria with Saintclair and Archibald Drake, her father’s most trusted friend, she discovers a bewitching but brutal land where nothing is what it seems. Who are these men intent on stealing her father’s ransom? What was her father hoping to find in Tuareg queen Tin Hinan’s tomb? Is Lucas Saintclair really as callous as he claims—or is he a man haunted by a past he cannot forgive? Dangerous passions engulf Harriet’s heart in the heat of the Sahara. Secrets of lost treasures, rebel fighters, and a sinister criminal brotherhood threaten her life and the life of the man she loves.

Does forever lie in the lion’s embrace?


It was a narrow valley where the river curved into a bend, secluded by thick bushes and reeds. After a quick glance around to make sure she was alone, she stripped and walked naked into the water. It was so cold it took her breath away. She gritted her teeth, clutched her bar of soap, and walked into the river until the water reached her hips. Getting rid of the grime and sweat of the past few days was worth the torture…
Holding her breath, she dipped into the water before standing and lathering soap over her body and her hair.
The light was changing. A transparent gold dust touched the hillside, the top of the trees. The sunrise streaked the sky with red, orange, and pink hues, reflecting into the river. She was alone in the world, in a bubble hovering between sky and water.
It was then she heard the growling. Stones tumbled down the hillside seconds before a male lion jumped onto the river bank, sleek and agile. It approached the river and started drinking. It hadn’t seen her. Yet.
Her heart thumping with terror, she ducked under the water very slowly, careful not to make any ripples on the surface. How long would she have to hold her breath? How long did it take a lion to quench its thirst after a night spent hunting? What if it saw her and came after her? Did lions, like cats, hate water? Her lungs started to burn, she felt close to choking. When she couldn’t hold on any longer, she popped her head above the water and took a long, long breath.
The lion had gone.
“You are one lucky woman,” a voice called from the bank.
Still breathless, she spun round. Saintclair crouched near the water, a knife in one hand, a pistol in the other. 
“How l-long have you be-been here?” she stuttered, her teeth chattering from cold and shock.
“Long enough.”
Had he watched her undress and get into the water? Actually, she’d rather not know.
She moved her legs and arms, numb and stiff with cold.
“Is it safe? Has the lion gone?” She looked toward the hillside.
“You’re safe. From the lion, that is.” He narrowed his eyes. “I, on the other hand, might just want to throttle you for disregarding my orders. I knew taking you with us was a mistake. I knew you were stubborn. I didn’t realize just how reckless, how stupid you were. You could have been mauled to death just then.” 
“I handled the lion perfectly well on my own.” She tilted her chin. Her heart had almost stopped with fright, but there was no reason to tell him.
He stood up, put his pistol in the holster on his hip, slid the knife in his boot, and walked toward the edge of the water. His face was so tense, his eyes so steely, that she recoiled. He was going to walk into the river, pull her out and…
“Damn it, woman, you were told not to leave the camp alone. You were warned about lions roaming this area. There are all sorts of dangers here—wild animals, snakes, scorpions.” He looked up towards the hillside. “Raiders.”
She swallowed hard, followed his gaze toward the top of the hills.
He shook his head.
“If that lion hadn’t been so old and half-blind, you wouldn’t be talking to me now.”
“It seemed pretty sprightly to me,” she muttered.
He snorted.
“Get out. You’re freezing, and your lips are blue,” he said without a trace of sympathy in his voice.
She shivered, nodded. “Only if you turn round.”
“It’s a bit late to play the prude,” he muttered, but he obliged and faced the other way.
So he had seen her naked. Well, he wouldn’t see her now. She covered her chest with her arms and walked to the shore. She threw a nervous glance in his direction before stepping out of the water, but he remained immobile, his back to her, as if he had been turned into rock.

More About Marie Laval

Originally from Lyon in France, Marie Laval studied History and Law at university there and developed a passionate interest in historical research and the study of ancient civilizations. The beauty and mysteries of the Sahara desert always fascinated her and provide the background for THE LION’S EMBRACE, a story of adventure and romance set in 1840s Algeria and England. Marie Laval now lives in Northern England with her family.  

THE LION’S EMBRACE is published by MuseitUp Publishing and is Marie Laval’s second novel. Her first novel ANGEL HEART was also published by MuseitUp Publishing.

You can find Marie at

Thank you very much Lynette for welcoming me on your blog today

And thank you, Marie for this interesting post and useful reminder of how to make our writing more immediate for our readers.  Best of luck with this fascinating new release.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Magic of Networking by Jenny Twist

This weekend and next I'm handing over my blog to my two favourite people, Jenny Twist and Tara Fox Hall who want to talk about something dear to any author's heart - promotion (and FREE promotion at that!)
So straight's Jenny.

I always assumed, rather naively, that once your book was accepted by a publisher all you had to do was sit back and wait for the money to roll in. Well, it doesn't happen like that. In order for a book to sell, the author needs to have a fan base, to get fans the author needs to be actively marketed. Even the best publishers cannot spend time and money marketing an unknown author. They will only do this for new books from authors who are already best-sellers or for those whom they believe have a really good chance of becoming best-sellers - celebrities writing their autobiographies, for example.
So is this a Catch 22 situation?
Not quite.
The answer is you have to market yourself. Ultimately books sell through word of mouth, so the more people you can get to read your book, the better chance it has of becoming well-known.
I have no money at all to spend on advertising, so all my marketing is through social networking and blogging. Don’t knock it! You wouldn’t believe how many people you reach through Twitter and Facebook.

Twitter: You are only allowed 140 characters per tweet. Make every character count. Put RT at the beginning, which is an invitation for your followers to retweet. Every retweet will reach all the followers of that tweep (Twitter-speak for one who tweets) who may themselves retweet you. See how this works?
Always put the buy-link of your book in there. For example, if you are tweeting about a review by all means put the review link in as well, but include the buy link whatever happens. People buy on impulse. Make it easy for them.

Facebook: Create your own author page and post all your book news there. Invite people to share a link when you’re doing a full-on campaign. Don’t forget to include the buy link!

Join author groups - Yahoo has dozens of them. So does Facebook. I have a master spread-sheet with all the sites I post on so I don’t forget any. I also bookmark all the sites so it’s quick and easy to post one after another. Be careful to obey all the site rules. Some have certain days when you’re allowed to post, some will only allow certain kinds of posts.
Every time anything happens that gives you an excuse to say something, tweet and post it. When a new book is launched, when you have a good review, when you write a blog. You are building your fan-base. Make them remember your name. And remember, if you want people to support you, you must be prepared to support them. Thank them for sharing your link. When they retweet you, reciprocate. You will make good friends who will always support you.

Reviews sell books. Send your book for review to any review site that seems to be appropriate. Again I keep a spread-sheet for each book, tracking where I sent it and the response. As you go along, you will find the sites that like your writing and you will end up with a golden list of those you are confident will give you a good review. Here’s a site with a comprehensive list to start you off:
Ask other authors to review your work. Offer to review theirs in turn.

Offer to do interviews and blogs. It's time-consuming, but it really does work. When I first started I used to prefer interviews because the blogger did all the hard work. All you had to do was answer the questions. Now I’d much rather write a blog myself on some subject that interests me. It’s more interesting for me than trotting out the same answers all the time and I think it’s more interesting for my readers.
Every time you do this, advertise it on the social networks. Post the link to the site and ask people to comment. Keep revisiting the site to respond to them.

Free downloads: Finally, there is one avenue I have only recently discovered that seems to work like magic. If you have self-published a book you can put it on free download every so often. Amazon’s KDP lets you do 5 free days every 90 days. Advertise it on all the free book sites and promote it like mad.
Only a fraction of the people who download it will read it. Only a fraction of those will review it. But an even smaller fraction, the golden nugget, will become fans. They will go on to buy your other books. They will tell their friends, who will tell their friends.

Stardom, here you come!     

About Jenny Twist

Jenny Twist was born in York and brought up in the West Yorkshire mill town of Heckmondwike,the eldest grandchild of a huge extended family. 
She left school at fifteen and went to work in an asbestos factory. After working in various jobs, including bacon-packer and escapologist’s assistant, she returned to full-time education and did a BA in history at Manchester and post-graduate studies at Oxford.
She stayed in Oxford working as a recruitment consultant for many years and it was there that she met and married her husband, Vic.
In 2001 they retired and moved to Southern Spain where they live with their rather eccentric dog and cat
Jenny's first book, Take One At Bedtime, was published in April 2011 and the second, the highly acclaimed Domingo’s Angel, in July 2011. Her novella, Doppelganger, was published in the anthology Curious Hearts in July 2011, Uncle Vernon, was published in Spellbound, in November 2011,  Jamey and the Alien was published in Warm Christmas Wishes in December 2011 and Mantequero was published in the anthology Winter Wonders in December 2011.  She self-published Away With the Fairies, an intriguing modern fairytale in September 2012.
Her latest novel, All in the Mind, about an old woman who mysteriously begins to get younger, appeared in October 2012.

All Jenny's titles are available from Amazon. Just click on the following links: Amazon US and Amazon UK

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Wednesday's Writer - Tessa Stockton

My Wednesday's Writer guest this week is the extremely talented Tessa Stockton and I feel very privileged that she agreed to come on my blog and talk about herself.  She's a fascinating person, as I discovered when I interviewed her and, to help get to know her better, I thought I'd share a few details with you before going on to look at her latest powerful story Wind's Aria.

Q: Tessa, what inspired you to write your first novel and did you always know your genre would be romance?

A: My first novel remains unpublished. It was inspired by a trip I made to East Africa. I cherished my time there and it inspired me to write a contemporary romance that blooms in Tanzania. However, after many attempts, I was unsuccessful in finding a publishing home for it. I still might revamp the manuscript and try again in the future, but for now I have my hands full with current works-in-progress. I was offered my first contract about four novels later with my political intrigue/romance title, The Unforgivable. I can’t really say I could “know” or predict that my genre would be romance. For one thing, the industry, as well as each individual path, is unpredictable. Yet, in my heart of hearts, that’s what I wanted. I’m an emotive creature and I gravitate toward relational aspects. That’s what excites me as a writer and a reader.

Q: I must say, The Unforgivable sounds extremely dramatic.  I see you describe yourself as a novelist of romance and intrigue - does this reflect what you like to read yourself and do you have specific views on what should and shouldn't be included in romance novels?

A: I chose the description of romance and intrigue because it’s comprehensive, covering a variety of subgenres. It does, indeed, reflect what I like to read as well as write. You see, I linger in anything from fantasy and paranormal to political intrigue and suspense/thriller. Anything goes. As far as specific views on what should and shouldn’t be included in romance novels, that’s the thing…I don’t care to be boxed in, so I don’t really have specific views. I want to be able to write what I write with a sense of freedom and creative flow—and I think other writers should, too, you know, do what’s right for them. It’s relative. Some of my work might be light and lyrical, other work dark and, hopefully, thought provoking.

Q:  I couldn't agree more. Has any part of yourself crept into the heroines of any of your romances?

A: In my first unpublished manuscript, yes, I think so. That’s probably why it’s not published—ha! But not so much thereafter. Except, I tend to have a cynical sense of humor and that comes out in my heroine’s mind/voice in my suspense/thriller, The Unspeakable. Also, I happen to like green beans—which she does. In Wind’s Aria, the heroine has a love of music, as well as horses. In that, we share a likeness. Honestly, I do attempt to create characters that I myself am trying to comprehend.

Q: Wind's Aria is a beautiful title.  What is the most desirable characteristic you've bestowed on the hero of your latest romance?

A: I like monsters who are conflicted, tortured souls. To me, that’s desirable. That’s the hero in Wind’s Aria. He’s a gorgeous creature, but he’s malevolent, and feared. Yet, deep down, he wants to be good—but it pains him, fills him with sorrow because he doesn’t know how. There is only one who can see the potential for him to be good and that is the heroine, Aria. He’s drawn to her because of it, not just because of the attraction.

Q:  He sounds fascinating.  Do you think you'll always write in the same genre and style or do you have desires to experiment and if so, in what way?

A: I always have the desire to experiment. I never know when an idea will hit me or where it comes from, but I usually will act on it or file it away for later. I do foresee writing mostly romances in the future, just in a variety of genres. My literary voices vary, as well, from first person narrative to third. The literary world is a wide and blank canvas for each writer. It’s an interesting and colorful place to dwell and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

I second that.  Let's now take a closer look at Wind's Aria.

Elected as the Songstress, Aria takes her place on the sacred platform to sing before every dawn. As long as she does so, peace and abundant life belong to her people. One morning, amidst a strange wind that brings with it a curse in its eerie howl, Aria loses her ability to make music. But the encroaching death that transpires isn’t her biggest tragedy. It’s that she adores the cause of her blunder, for he’s a magnificent winged creature who’s stolen more than her voice.

Excerpt One:
“Who are you?”
He pushed further back into the shadows as she strode closer. “Someone you need not know.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
When he didn’t answer, she sighed.
“What a strange, terrible day,” she mumbled. “Well, at least tell me your name . . .”
He stood, speechless, knowing he shouldn’t be there at all—conversing with a Meleyan—especially not their musical deliverer that he was set to doom the day after tomorrow.
A peculiar grumbling interrupted her insistence, to his relief.
“Sorry.” She patted her stomach. He could see, even in the blackened night, how her face turned a deeper shade of red than her hair. “I’ve forgotten to eat. I guess I’m hungrier than I realized.”
He plucked an apple from the tree he’d nearly become a part of and held it out to her. The girl approached tentatively. She reached for the fruit but recoiled when her fingers brushed his.
“Is touching me so horrible?” he asked.
Her jaw dropped open and her delicate brow furrowed. She inclined her head. “It . . . hurt.”
“How?” he asked, for her fingers felt good to him, soothing. Warm. He wanted to try again.
“I don’t know how to explain . . .”
“Hum.” Unsatisfied with the answer, he tossed the apple to her and watched as she crunched her teeth into it.

Excerpt Two:
Fog continued to dance around them covering most of his body, to her dismay. Just curious, she convinced herself. She closed her eyes and squeezed the bridge of her nose to concentrate . . . something that seemed hard to do at that moment.
“Feeling better?” The smooth notes of his words swam through her ears.
“Mmm.” She nodded. “I guess.”
He continued to stare.
Aria cleared her throat. “Um . . . can I ask you a question?”
“You may ask . . .”
“But will you answer?”
“That depends.”
“Oh. Well. How did you get to be so huge when all the Meleyans are rather small? And why haven’t I seen you before?”
“That’s two questions.”
He exhaled a steady stream of air, adding to the mist, as if deliberating.
Aria felt the strength of his breath, blowing strands of her hair across her face.
Slow, yet with precision, he lifted a lock from the curve of her mouth and rubbed the strands between his fingers. He murmured, “Soft and orange, like the petals of prairie-tails.” Then he bent and smelled her hair, closing his eyes. “And sweet like the honey of bees.” Again he held her gaze. The corner of his mouth twitched upward. “Do you have a sting?”
“I asked you a question first—”
“Two,” he corrected. Then he smiled.

About Tessa Stockton:

Tessa is a veteran of the performing arts and worldwide missions, having come from a long line of musical arts professionals. She loved seeing the world and absorbing the beauty of other cultures . . . an enriching life full of dance, music, faith, and interesting cuisine. Over the years, she also contributed as a writer/editor for ministry publications, ghostwriter for political content, and headed a column on the topic of forgiveness. Today, she writes romance and intrigue novels in a variety of genres.

Follow links:
Tessa's Website

Purchase Links - Wind’s Aria:

More titles from Tessa coming soon!

Sea God’s Siren
An accident left Syrena blind and only one can bring her healing. But the cost of abiding in his, Dagon's, aquatic prison in exchange for sight proves more than she bargained for.

Tree Lord’s Oracle
Arekel becomes the chosen of her world to stop the Tree Lord menace from expanding his domain of Deadwood. Embarking on the fretful task, the young maiden learns that she alone holds the key to destroying the Tree Lord’s malevolent heart. There’s just one other problem. She’s fallen in love with him.

Thank you, Tessa, it's been fascinating talking to you and learning more about you and I wish you every success with Wind's Aria and your forthcoming releases.