Friday, December 18, 2009


Ready to Fly Off to a Caribbean Island for Christmas?

A Magic Santa brings Caribbean Christmas Joy

Marti Bell is facing the prospect of a very unmerry Christmas. Reluctantly, leaving her married lover she travels toward ice, snow, and judgmental family until a magic Santa sends her to a surprise destination in the warm waters of the Caribbean.

Wherever Island would be a winter paradise except the only place to stay is the beachside cottage of romantic globetrotting photographer Cliff Holmes. Cliff wants to unwind and treat Marti to a little romantic Caribbean Christmas fun but she’s determined to stay in the warm ocean and out of hot water. 


  “Not only is the setting sensational, the hero will sweep you off your feet…this is one story I can read every Christmas season. …a great happily ever after story.”
A “You Gotta Read” from You Gotta Read Reviews. Reviewed by Roberta

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Celia Yeary's Successful Booksigning Party

Welcome Celia Yeary, Texas romance author!
Celia’s come to tell us about an unusual book signing she hosted for her first book.
When my first print came out, I thought an author should have a book signing. But I’d attended a few, and the concept made me nervous. I’m not shy at all, but I knew I’d have a difficult time sitting there, looking perky and cute (I’m not), somehow enticing passers-by to stop (I would feel “on stage.”) Not for me, I thought. I’ll have a book party at my house, instead.
How did you get the idea for a party?
I’m glad you asked, Amber, because other authors might want to try my method. An author who grew up here still visits her mother in the family mansion in the Historical District. She’s written three thick historical novels, and with her latest, she came home to have a tea party in the mansion in order to sell and sign her books. Well, of course, it was a grand success. I thought, if she can do it, so can I. My home is certainly not a mansion, but I do have a nice home, and I enjoy having groups here for various functions.
How much planning went in to it?
Not much, once I worked out the plan in my head.
Who did you invite and what did the invitation say?
First, let me say that I know a lot of people. I’ve lived here many years, my husband taught at the university, I taught at a private military boarding school, and I’m a member of several groups in town. This helps if you want to try a party. I didn’t want to be crass and hand an invitation to someone personally, making that person feel obligated. Instead, I used a Word document and wrote:
“I invite you to purchase my book at a slight discount. I will pay the postage. If you wish to do so, send $12.00, and I'll order the book for you. This is a two-dollar discount and I will pay the postage. Then, I will send you an invitation to my house for a Tea Party to pick up your book!” (I added the title, genre, my address, e-mail, and phone number.)

I made a Word document, two invitations to a page, printed it on pink paper, and cut in half. For a month, I took a few each time I had a group meeting of some kind. I placed the bright pink papers on a coffee table, and entry table, a desk, and during the meeting, I’d point  out the invitations and move on. I never looked to see who picked one up or who didn’t.

The checks and cash started coming in. I sold forty books. Then I had my party. Everyone
wanted the book autographed, so I did that before the party--very time-consuming.
One woman bought six books--to give five away to close friends. One bought four--for her daughters. Fifteen more people wanted the book, and even though they missed the party, I gave them the same deal. Now, I'm on my third order.

I love that you got the money ahead of time, so there was no handling of filthy cash and checks and you just had a good time.

That’s right, plus I didn’t have outstanding payments, and if a person prepaid, I knew she wanted the book. I say “she,” but three men bought the book, too! You didn’t ask, Amber, because you’re a polite person, but I’ll tell you about the money I earned. This is the most profitable way to sell a book. Yes, it’s a little work, but worth it. After I paid for the shipment and the shipping, I earned about $3.50 on each book. I would have made more, had I charged the full retail amount. Now I know I could have and every one of those buyers would have purchased a book. But I felt happy that I gave each one a little gift. Now, they’re waiting for my next one.
How many people came to the party?
Thirty-five people came. I delivered to the few who could not make the party. Three women brought their husbands, and one woman brought her teenage son who likes to write.
Can you tell us about the cost factor?
The party cost about $25. I went to a huge discount warehouse and bought pretty blue paper plates, napkins, and plastic cups. The menu consisted of Texas-shaped pretzels, assorted nuts, homemade chocolate-chip cookies, pimento cheese spread (I make this), and Texas-shaped crackers. Oh, and peach iced tea.
What are you writing now?
Several things, but this is the way I write. I never start one manuscript and write until I’m finished. I think of something else and go off in a different tangent. My currents projects are an historical love story, A Life Worth Living, set in 1918 when the Great War ended; a short western historical romance titled Painted Rock Canyon; and a short, light romance tentatively titled The Nanny and the Pro, my first attempt at an Inspirational story.
Thank you so much, Amber, for the guest spot on your successful blog. I’d love to give away a pdf of my newest release, Showdown in Southfork, a short novel for the Wayback, Texas Rodeo series for The Wild Rose Press to one lucky visitor.
Celia Yeary sometimes calls herself The Accidental Author. She only wrote science research papers in college, and adds—that was many years ago. She began writing in 2003, just “playing around,” and before she knew it, an 80,000 word novel had appeared in her files. Now, she’s addicted, just as she became addicted to playing golf at age forty. Celia and her husband travel, visit grandsons in far-away Michigan, participate in university, church, and community events, and enjoy their Texas Hill Country home.

Find Celia’s book and Free Reads at       

Celia's Contest
(Contest ends Saturday 12/12)

Leave a comment to win.a .pdf of Showdown in Southfork, 
Celia's short novel Showdown in Southfork,
(The Wild Rose Press's Wayback, Texas Rodeo series)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Part 2: Now You Need to Get People to Visit Your Book Author Website

Welcome back Phyllis Zimbler Miller for Week 2.
Last week you offered tips for an author's website. What's next?

Blogging can be a book author’s best friend (after Twitter, which I’ll explain below).  First, don’t groan.  You’re a writer, so write.

A blog on your website is even better than a standalone blog because all that fresh content (and you will commit to blogging at least three times a week) makes the search engines like your book author website better.  (Full disclosure again:  I didn’t know this when I first started blogging so my book’s blog is separate; it’s at

And blogging is one reason to have a book author website before your book is published – it’s a great way to start the author-reader relationship.

If you are a nonfiction author, it’s pretty clear what you’ll write blog posts about.  Whatever your book topic is on.

And if you are a fiction author, don’t despair.  There are all kinds of things you can blog about – from recipes of your book’s locale (Thailand perhaps) to actual detective techniques (for mystery novels) to writing strategies.

Great, you’re blogging.  Now you have to get people to read your blog.

While Facebook (where you can have a group or fan page for your book) and LinkedIn are two of the most effective social networking sites, Twitter is the goose that lay the golden egg in my opinion.  Why?  Because, once you learn how to use Twitter effectively, it is the easiest way to get in front of people interested in your topic in a non-invasive and genuinely helpful manner.

Again, if you have a nonfiction book, you share information related to this topic, including information that does NOT come from you.  And you answer questions on this topic if you can.

If you have a fiction book, you interact with all the other fiction authors on Twitter and share writing tips, publishing tips, and your worse nightmares (your books aren’t available at the Borders author panel).  Through your tweets you share with others and become a real person to them.  And if they read fiction they should be interested in checking out what you’ve written.

One of the biggest pluses of Twitter (besides the 140-character limit for each tweet and not having to open email to read the message) is that you get only 160 characters for your bio and only one hot link.  (Currently LinkedIn has three hot links available in your profile and is there even a limit on Facebook?) 

Upload a good headshot of yourself (not your book cover – people like to interact with people, not inanimate objects), write an interesting (truthful) bio, and link to your website or blog. 

Then start slowly, learning as much as you can about Twitter etiquette and how to tweet worthwhile information for your followers.  (Do NOT -- unless you wrote a cookbook -- tweet what you ate for dinner regardless of whether you see other people tweet this.) 

One final word of caution that has to do with your website, your blog and your outreach efforts:   
This is NOT a three-month project 
of book promotion and you stop after three months.  
This is a three-year project or more of promoting your book.

Commit to the long haul, to continually learning new strategies, and to keeping an open mind about new possibilities, joint ventures, and new ideas.  Remember, you’re sharing your hard work with the world because you believe in what that hard work produced.  Now you just have to make it easier for people to learn about your hard work and want to partake of it.

Thanks Phyllis, for all your advice. 

Phyllis Zimbler Miller (@ZimblerMiller on Twitter) has an M.B.A. from The Wharton School and is an Internet business consultant whose power marketing website is
Her company builds book author websites and provides other book marketing services.

Download now her free report on 
“Power Marketing’s Top 3 Internet Marketing Tips” 
and check out her company’s information package
“What You Should Know About Marketing-Driven Websites” 

Sunday, November 22, 2009

An Author's Website = One Purpose: Get People Interested in Your Book

Welcome marketing expert Phyllis Zimbler Miller.
Phyllis is visiting this week to to talk about author websites.

Have you every clicked through to a book author website to find yourself totally confused?  Is the book fiction or nonfiction?  Is it for sale yet or not yet published?  What does that gorgeous sunset picture have to do with a book on the federal justice system?

How many nanoseconds do you think someone who doesn’t know you will stay on the site before clicking away to someone else’s site where no guessing games are required?

And the solution is NOT to just have a book page on a book site along with hundreds of other book authors. If this is the only place to get advice about your book, you may be helping the sale of other books rather than your own.  Why you ask.  Here’s why:

Have you ever wondered what can happen when you tell someone your book is on Amazon or give out the link  The person who has good intentions to buy your book gets to Amazon, gets seduced by something else on offer on the home page, and no sale for you. 

Or the person gets to the home page and can’t remember how to spell your name or your book’s title and, again, no sale for you because, let me tell you from personal experience, the search engine at Amazon is NOT the sharpest tool.

I hope by now I’ve convinced you that you need your own book author website and that you need it to be crystal clear to a first-time visitor what you have on offer.

Let’s look at important elements your book author website needs in order to be a marketing-driven website.  (You do want to SELL your book after all, don’t you?)

But first, in full disclosure mode, I need to state that when my novel "Mrs. Lieutenant" came out in April 2008 I did have a website for it at  Yet the website at that URL now is a new website done by my business partner and younger daughter Yael K. Miller after we started building WordPress websites for clients.

And that experience leads me to my first point:

•    If at all possible, have a book author website that once up you can control yourself and make changes at the drop of a hat.

If you suddenly get a phone call from your local Borders that the store would like you to join an author panel happening in two days’ time, you want to be able to post that information on your website besides doing other publicity (which we’ll discuss in Part II of this post).
Other top points:

•    Collect email addresses at your website so that you can send out update information to your fans (including that Borders author panel).
•    Provide an excerpt of your book – encourage people to sample your wonderful prose or your brilliant business ideas.
•    Provide book group discussion questions.
•    If appropriate, provide a lesson plan for studying your book’s material in high school or college.
•    Have very clear contact information on the site.
•    Last, but certainly not least, have a very clear BUY button. And if the book isn’t available yet, make that very clear also.  (This is when collecting email addresses can enable you to later send out a publication announcement.)

In Part II we’ll discuss marketing methods to get people to your marketing-driven website.

Thanks Phyllis for being so honest about promoting. I'm looking forward to next week's discussion.  

Phyllis Zimbler Miller (@ZimblerMiller on Twitter) has an M.B.A. from The Wharton School and is an Internet business consultant whose power marketing website is  

Her company builds book author websites and provides other book marketing services.  

Download now her free report on  
“Power Marketing’s Top 3 Internet Marketing Tips” 
and check out her company’s information package 
"Marketing-Driven Websites” 

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Stress Relief for Writers and Readers

This is the time of year there's a lot of talk about stress and stress relief.
Maggie Toussaint offered some suggestions to keep your life in balance.

I'll like to offer a few simple exercises to help you relax during the

  1. Reverse the effects of hunching over a book or keyboard with this back bend.

Roll a towel or small blanket and place under your chest about breastbone height.  Experiment for the best location until you feel very good. Try placing the roll along your back bone. Also under the knees can be relaxing. Relax on the floor and breathe, allowing chest to open. Take slow deep breaths. (Very flexible? Use a rolled yoga mat.) This is sometimes called the modified Fish Pose.

2. Rock and Roll the tension out of your back and shoulders. 

Lie down on the floor. Use softening protection for your back if needed.
Bring your knees up towards your chest. Breathe slowly in and out through your nose as
you allow your lower back to relax and flatten. Keep your neck and head relaxed.
Continue as long as you like without falling asleep.

Still holding onto your knees, begin to roll from side to side. Gently, not too far in each
direction, massaging the spine. (If you’re not completely comfortable, stop and add
another blanket.) Keep breathing, slowly rocking side to side.

As this becomes easier, use your hands to move your knees in a clockwise circle. Begin
with smaller circles and let the circles become larger. Feel your lower back flattening
and stretching as it relaxes. Reverse the circle and keep breathing.

Continue as long as you like. Then change to a back and forward movement rolling from
head to the base of your spine. Hold your opposite ankles or move your hands under
thighs and rock as long as it feels good, massaging your entire back and spine.

To come to a sitting position, cross your legs, grab your opposite big toes, and rock up,
pulling on your toes. Or roll to one side and get up slowly.

Find some quiet time, lay on the floor, put your feet up the wall or on a chair, and BREATHE. 

When I teach yoga it's always clear the hardest part for most students is learning to relax. The progressive relaxation (savasana in Sanskrit) that I taught scientifically teaches your body to relax.

Amber (Amala) Polo, MS, RYT, is an Integral Yoga teacher trained at the
Satchadananda Ashram in Buckingham, Virginia. Amber has studied with
teachers throughout the country, taught in the Florida Keys, and offers classes
and workshops in the Verde Valley of Arizona near Sedona. 
She is also a published author.

Amber's CD combines gentle words teaching relaxation with peaceful background music. 
The CD and MP3 downloads are available from
MP3 downloads also available from Amazon and iTunes.

Leave a comment about stress release for a chance to win a demo disc of 
Relaxation, One Breath at a Time.
Contest Closed.
Congratulations, Kitty!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Publicist Deborah Riley-Magnus Tells Us "It's Only a Meatball!"

Welcome Deborah Riley-Magnus, publicist and writeaholic,

With all your marketing and advertising background tell us something that newly published authors (or soon to be published) need to know that isn't usually talked about.

I’d like to start with a riddle. What do you get when you start with an artist who went into advertising, spent 20+ years in marketing and PR, radio and television … then became a chef … and though it all wrote like a madwoman?

You get a publicist with eclectic views on problem solving, a sense of humor and a hunger to not only tell stories of her own, but get the word out about wonderful stories other authors have written. 

You get me. A person who likes to cook inside and outside the kitchen.

Something I’ve discovered is that most new authors simply can’t grasp the positive nature of the huge shifts happening in the publishing industry today. Everything from cutbacks in what a traditional publisher will do to market an author to what Wal-Mart will do to sell books, can easily seem ominous. It’s sent many writers into a frenzy of desperation, leaping at vanity presses, self publishing, e-publishing, and indie publishing (all wonderful, viable options) only to discover that writing a book and getting people to buy it are two different universes. And guess what, those authors with the big publishing house contracts are learning the same lesson you just learned.

The first thing authors and soon to be published authors need to do is stop panicking, stop dissing the literary agencies, book sellers and publishers and open their eyes. New and exciting publishing opportunities are opening and developing, evolving and peeking up all around us. It’s like having a tarot reading, when that death card shows it’s face it means two things: the end of something and the beginning of something else.

Not only the industry gets to be creative at riding this unpredictable tide either … so do authors. We can close our eyes in terror and hope for the best, or we can throw up our hands and see the joy and promise of the ride.

Think hybrid … think outside the box that holds the box … think unique. Possibilities abound and with the shifting paradigm comes a freedom to experiment with marketing approaches we’d have been told simply wouldn’t work a few years ago. Yup, they do work and I’m trudging those new, unexplored avenues everyday for my clients.

To have written a novel, done the research, polished the plot and characters and not gone that extra mile to identify specific marketing paths to reach the audience for your novel is no longer acceptable. So many authors gripe at me when I say these things, explaining that all they should have to do is write. The world has changed and only the brave who change with it … or better yet, take part in reforming it … will find success.

Think of your writing as a business. Of course, that’s not a new concept, but really … a business. Have a product (your book), a platform (what makes you and your book visible and interesting to buyers), a business plan (controlling any and all expenditures) and a lot of balls. Balls to juggle silly, not what you were thinking although a strong commitment and bold attitude is important.

Juggling is a performance entailing illusion, timing and creativity. It involves distracting the audience and focusing them where you want them to look. It’s not quite slight of hand but it is a show. You are the performer when you get your book published, make no mistake about it. And your performance as a marketer will have a huge hand in whether you disappear into the din or dazzle and succeed.

There, I’ve said all the things most authors cover their ears not to hear. The success of the industry and your book is in your hands.

What’s the best way to handle marketing in a down economy?

It’s not brain surgery, it’s only a meatball!

Marketing in a down economy should be looked at the same way as marketing in a strong economy. No one should overspend for marketing. Ever. No one should accept mediocre or less than sterling marketing packages from any media, no matter how the bank balance looks.

I’m always amazed when people seize up because of the economy. If they’d been approaching their marketing correctly and efficiently in the first place, they should continue to do so now. We just won’t be making the stew with Black Angus tenderloin, we’ll be using sirloin or chuck, cooking it longer and watching the seasoning more carefully to get the same results. Don’t use the economy as an excuse to feel defeated. Writers get enough of that elsewhere. The key to a down economy is to be successful in spite of it. Use your money wisely, get good advice and have a powerful message.

No budget? There are hundreds of ways to get the word out. Press releases can be sent out on free online services. Targeted phone calls take little time. Social market your butt off. Tell everyone you know from your dentist to your vet to your mailman and old college friends that you’ve written a book. Everyone knows someone, don’t ever forget that. With every mention your circle of influence grows. Talk to local radio stations and book stores. Get a buzz going. A smile, a few connections and a good platform can sell a few cases of books each time the author does an appearance.

Tough economy or not, good planning and creative, effective approaches are standard requirements. There are experts, books and programs everywhere to assist. Don’t be one of those authors who think this stuff isn’t for them. Be one of those authors who laughs all the way to the bank. Tomorrow you’ll start writing your next book while they’re still grousing over what they don’t want to do. Paralysis is the worst enemy. After courageously writing a book and getting it published, why go all coward about blaring your horn? Toot away! If a down economy means people are buying fewer books, then you need to make SURE your book is the one purchased.

Talk about your book(s).
My books?  Not “How to Market for Authors”, that’s for sure, LOL. In addition to handling publicity for my various clients, I have several writing projects.

For years I’ve run a successful writing website. It features and promotes published and unpublished authors with interviews and sneak peeks of their work one week, and fanfiction the next week. I also have my author’s site which I struggle to keep updated (just like I advise my clients) and a blog which I update twice a week.

I am working on the first of a Paranormal Romance series, the book entitled Cold in California, and I’m also developing a cookbook entitled Who Says Vampires Don’t Eat: Recipes for the Loving Vampires in Your Life. The cookbook is a tongue-in-cheek exploration of the emotional, psychic, mother-in-law, teenaged and nosey neighborhood vampires every cook deals with. It’s interspersed with narrative and filled with my recipes.

My goal is to market both books together, bouncing the publicity ping from one to the other. I’ll be doing cooking demonstrations at author events and hopefully selling both books in tangent. Just as Cold in California is a series, so will the cookbook be. I’ve already begun testing recipes for further Vampires Don’t Eat cookbooks focusing on young people surviving away at college, bachelors, entertaining and kids. I’m having a blast!

I love your marketing plan! And definitely will come to your book signings.Thanks for stopping by to talk about the elephant and the meatball.

Deborah Riley-Magnus has a twenty-seven year professional background in marketing, advertising and public relations. She is a voracious writer, producing pieces weekly for various websites and working on several novels. Her business, Magnus Consulting, focuses on unique and original creative problem solving for her clients who are primarily authors. A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, she currently lives, works and writes in Los Angeles, California. 


   Contact Debbie at:
Magnus Consulting
Publicity - Marketing - Promotions 
19009 South Laurel Park Road  #2 -  Los Angeles CA 90220
(310) 637-1424  - C (310) 779-1046
(website under construction)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Val Pearson from You Gotta Read Reviews

Welcome Val Pearson, book reviewer from You Gotta Read Reviews,

Tell me how you started reviewing books?
I've been reading books forever.  I started reading reviews to books and totally disagreed with some of the reviews I had been reading so I googled review sites.  My first stop was Simply Romance Reviews (which is now out of circulation).  I noticed a sign on the side that said I could sign up as a reviewer.  I noticed that the books were provided to you free of charge and my first thought was "What?  How come I have never heard of this before?"  So I contacted Julie, and asked if I could possibly be a reviewer even though I had never written a review before.  The answer was yes and a reviewer was born!

I see a lot of review sites are looking for reviewers. What are the qualifications to become a reviewer? What are the benefits?
The qualifications are simple.  You have to have a love for books and respect for an authors work.  We have an outline of the types of information we need to include in a review and all the sites I am on, it's mandatory not to bash an authors work.  Regardless of if you like the book or not, there IS something good in the book, FIND IT!  Reviewing is totally opinion based and your opinion is surely not going to be everyone's opinion.  It's all subjective but every review I have ever written, I stand behind 100%.  The benefits are many.  You get to read the latest and greatest books.  You find yourself speaking with your favorite authors and watch their work grow the longer you are a reviewer.  Of course, the books are free and who can beat that huh?

Are reviews edited?
 On some sites, usually the bigger review sites, yes the reviews are edited.  On small ones, no they are not.  I depends on which review site you are visiting.  On the smaller sites (which are usually the quickest turnaround) there simply is not the manpower to be able to have every review edited.  Reviewers are all volunteers and most of the staff are volunteers.  We do our jobs for our love and passion for books.  We don't get paid and sometimes that is something that a lot of authors forget.

How long does it take to get reviewed?It varies from site to site.The bigger sites take longer to post reviews and for good reason. Their reviews are edited and sent back to the reviewer if there are any elements missing from their review.  The smaller sites spell check of course but not much editing takes place. Like I said before, the manpower is simply not there to be as detailed as they would like.

I love the way You Gotta Read rates books. Instead of stars you use:
  • You Gotta Read - Our highest rating - very few books will earn this award
  • You Need To Read - Excellent books that don't quite meet Gotta Read
  • You Want To Read - Good books to read, these are the average reads, still a good book
  • You Could Read - Books that you might want to think about before purchasing
  • Leave It On The Shelf - Books that just didn't measure up - hopefully you'll never see this one given
Do you and other reviewers read a lot of books that never get reviewed because the rating isn't high enough?
All the books we read do get reviewed. The question is, will it get posted. Generally, if the rating is a low one, it will not be posted but the author will be notified and sent the review for their own use. We all feel that reviews are subjective. What I may think is a wonderful book, may not be such a great book for another reviewer. It's not fair for damage to be done to an author's reputation just because of one poor review.

What's your general feeling about the quality of the books sent for review? Going up, down or about the same since you began reviewing?
On the most part, I think the quality of books is pretty much staying constant. You do get the books that you wonder how an editor let a book through with so many grammatical errors but then you also have your books that are exceptional. I do see more books that have been poorly edited that I have ever seen before.  I am not sure if it is the influx of ebooks hitting the market or a lack of available time to edit the book but this problem really bothers some reviewers I know. I can get past this most of the time and I will usually let the author know that there were several mistakes in the book and hopefully they can catch the book before it goes to mass market distribution.

Any tips on getting reviewed (or getting a good review) besides writing a great book?
My suggestion to authors is try to be patient but when enough time has gone by, by all means, check on the book to make sure it has been reviewed or just check on the status of the book.  The blurb is especially important to reviewers checking out your book for review.  It's our one chance to take a glimpse of your book and in five seconds or less, we know if it looks like a book we want to read.  Another point I really can't make enough is when your review is posted, PLEASE leave a comment about your opinion of the review or just a simple thank you to the reviewer goes a long way.  The authors who pick apart our reviews seem to be remembered in a negative light far beyond that one review.  If a reviewer feels a appreciated by an author, believe me, the reviewer will want to review more of that particular author's books.  A little kindness goes a long way.

Are you also a writer/author?
I am not yet an author.  I do like to write but when I look back, I always find fault in my writing.  I want it to be perfect but somewhere between my brain and the paper, I lose what I want written down.  I will one day day be a writer but for now, I enjoy reading and getting ideas on future books.

What your most recent favorite book?
I couldn't possibly pick only one book.  I have become familiar with so many wonderful authors and their work.  My absolute favorite genre is romantic suspense. I've just read Awakening Allaire and Avenging Allaire by Margie Church as well as Rebecca Vickery's Surviving With Love and Looking Through The Mist.  Destiny Blaine is also an author that is an automatic read for me.  There are so many more I couldn't possibly list them all.

Do you ever just read for fun?
Sometimes when I feel overwhelmed by reviewing so many books, I do stop and read for fun.  I just feel more freedom when I read for fun.

OK, my time is about up but I would love to invite anyone who loves to read to reach out to one of the review sites and sign up to become a reviewer.  There are so many sites that need your help reviewing books.  Regardless of your experience with reviewing books, whether it be extensive or someone who has never reviewed books before, we need you!  You can be trained to write a review.  You will find that you benefit so much from letting others hear your opinion and the authors really do appreciate the time you take to review their work.  I would like to invite you to stop by our site, You Gotta Read, If you would like to be a reviewer, on the right sidebar are details of where to contact us.  Give it a shot, we would love to have you!

Thanks Amber for interviewing me.  I love your work and look forward to reading more of it!

Thanks Val, for taking time from reading to stop by.

Last year Val reviewed two of 
my short fiction romances
And Roberta recently reviewed  
Christmas on Wherever Island  
my short holiday novella and gave it a 
You Gotta Read.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Maggie Toussaint's Advice -Balancing Writing and Life

Welcome Maggie Toussaint, romantic suspense author and yoga teacher.

How does a writer balance all the parts of life and keep writing and publishing goals on track?
   When you hear the word balance, specific images come to mind. Maybe it’s a teetering seesaw, or a tightrope walker, or a blue heron standing on one foot. For each of these examples, adjustments are made to achieve a balanced state.

   Our lives and publishing careers often conflict, sending hapless writers into a tangle. Given that confusion, I ordered my priorities, with the most important coming first: family, church, day job, writing, friends, promotion, volunteering, and housework.
   Did you notice where writing came in? Number four. Three other things take priority. I’m lucky to get ten to twenty hours a week for writing and promotion. Once I understood what was reasonable given my “load,” I wasn’t frustrated about the hours I wasn’t writing.
    In addition, I take time for myself, wasted time, if you will. This time, while not directly productive, relaxes my mind and body. The healthful benefits spill over into every segment of my life.

How do you do it?
   I know writers who carve writing time out of sleep time or out of lunch time; neither of those works for me. My optimum writing time is right after breakfast. Armed with that knowledge, I hoard that time for writing my first draft.
   I set reasonable word count goals per week and later, chapter edits per week. I accept that life interferes, and I won’t get all my mornings to write. And I also know that some days I’ll have an extra chunk of time, and I’ll exceed my weekly writing goals. Those are very good weeks.
   Respecting the time when I am most productive keeps my momentum going in my work in progress. I record my progress by day so that at the end of the week, I see how realistic my goals were. If I’m constantly missing the mark high or low, I make adjustments to the next goal. That keeps my expectations in line and gives me a visible endpoint.
   I also have a writing friend that I report my goals and results to on a weekly basis, she does the same for me. There’s no judging of performance, just lots of positive reinforcement for moving forward. And having that accountability keeps me on task.
   Playtime is important. My play activities include yoga, music, time spent outdoors, pampering myself, and reading. Of these, yoga is the most important to me.

Can you offer suggestions to keep the mind clear in order to write and set priorities and stick to them (most of the time)?
Prioritize your responsibilities. Know your writing mindset. Accept the time limitations to your writing schedule. Guard that writing time like a precious jewel. Hold yourself accountable to your goals.
Take time for yourself, time that relaxes and rejuvenates you. Find a way to release tension. Yoga is a huge part of my wellness plan, along with meditation. Discern what gives you that “ahhhh” moment and incorporate that into your weekly life, if not daily life.

For me, writing fiction is like stepping into another world. While one part of my mind loves marketing and promotion, they become addictions and take over. How do you balance promotion and writing to keep the present and future?
    The first step is to recognize you are writing for publication and not solely for yourself. Authors who publish with small presses, as I do, assume a large part of the burden of promotion.
    When a book releases, I restructure my priorities so that promotion comes on par with my day job. I consider it that important.
    There are a few weeks before and after the release when my ten to twenty hours of writing time goes exclusively to promotion. Again, I view this as necessary to generate awareness of the product. But once that initial push goes by, I ramp back to splitting promotion and writing time, with the writing time percentage inching up with each week that passes.
    My study of yoga comes into play here as well. Acceptance of who I am at each stage in this process (I am writer; I am a promoter) helps affirm my choice and keeps me grounded.

Thank you for reminding me that the answer is “more yoga.”
   Listening to my mind and body helps me balance writing and promotion. I gain perspective of the bigger picture, the world in which my family and friends live. I want to exist in both worlds, so I divide my time accordingly.
   Finding that perfect blend, that unique, balanced mix of life and writing is my ongoing goal.

With the holidays coming up many writers are going to be manic and discouraged. What tips can you offer?
   Each holiday season I struggle with balance because there is so much extra to do (gifts, cards, parties, visits) in an already busy schedule.

   Here’s how I cope. I need to have “down” time, to be apart from the festivities. I decorate the house for the holidays, but I don’t get insane about it as I once did. I keep the level of effort reasonable, and I guard my writing time to the best of my abilities.

   Even though there are more activities during the holidays, take time for pampering. Soak in the tub with a good book instead of watching the news one night. Schedule a facial or other body treatment. Sample holiday foods in moderation.

What is your latest release?
    My cozy golf mystery titled IN FOR A PENNY. In the book, accountant Cleopatra Jones wishes she’d gone to work instead of golfing when her wild approach shot lands on a dead banker. The police believe her best friend did the deed. Of course she didn’t so Cleo sets out to prove her innocence. There’s sizzling romance from the sexy golf pro along with family gymnastics with two teenage girls, an ex-husband, and Mama. How could anyone forget the woman who thinks up menus like Spickle Fish Lasagna? And let’s not forget the dog co-star, Madonna, who is the spitting image of my short haired St. Bernard granddog.

What are you working on now?
I’m working on a romantic suspense. Realtor Roxie Whitaker and security expert Sloan Harding meet when a tree falls on his house. While Roxie struggles to stabilize her business, Sloan searches for his missing inheritance. Sparks fly, but his wild past and her determination to establish a museum in a building his father is accused of torching, put them at odds. Someone else wants that lost fortune, someone who will stop at nothing. This work is tentatively titled Tempest in a Teapot.

Thanks Maggie for being my guest on Wordshaping and your wise advice for writers and just about everybody else.

A scientist by training, a romanticist at heart, loves to solve puzzles. Whether it’s the puzzle of a relationship or a who-dun-it, she tackles them all with equal aplomb and wonder. Maggie’s cozy mystery from Five Star, IN FOR A PENNY, is about a terrible golfer trying to save her best friend from a murder rap. Her three other published works are romantic suspense books, one of which won Best Romantic Suspense in the 2007 National Readers Choice Awards. Her day jobs include freelancing for a weekly paper and leading a yoga class. Visit her at Toussaint


Contest question: Rafe Golden, the golfer in the book was styled in the vein of which international professional golfer? Here’s a huge hint: in golfing circles he’s known as “The Big Easy.”

To enter, send an email to 
with the word “Contest” in the subject line. 
The winner will be randomly selected on October 31.
Contest Closed
Congratulations Molly!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Bess McBride- The Truth About Writing in an RV

Welcome Bess McBride, romance author and chronic traveler. I've been trying to catch up to you for a long time.

Now that I've got you here, tell me what it was like to write while living in an RV?
I thought it would be much easier than it actually was. When I first began writing, I had a house and an office of my own...with a door.  But when we sold the house, moved into the RV and hit the road, I found that I still felt the need for a "desk" to stay organized, so I used the dining table that is common in most RVs. However, that's not a particularly moveable item of furniture in a small space, so that meant I had to write in the living/dining/kitchen area. And I discovered I was only able to write when I was alone. What I did end up doing was scheduling my writing time for when I was alone and late at night after my significant other had gone to bed.

How long were you on the road?
I thought we were going to be on the road forever...that certainly was my plan. But in the second year of living and traveling on the road, the economy took a dive, and my significant other found it difficult to find work. Since neither of us is of a retirement age, I decided to give up the life, settle down again for a while and return to work full time, which I have. It's actually much, much more relaxing though I have little time for writing and promoting.

Since you worked as well as traveled, how did you balance your work, writing life, and promotion?
As part of the traveling life, I wanted to work for the National Park Service in a summer seasonal capacity and then "hang out" in a warm lovely climate near the beach in the winter. During my summer seasons at Glacier National Park, I took the late shift...that is...from 1 pm to 9 pm, and I was able to write in the mornings and late at night after my significant other went to bed. And I was able to write on my days off which were not the same as his.  It didn't do much for my love life, but I got a lot of writing done!  :-)  In the winters when I didn't need to work, I had all day to write and promote while my significant other worked his 40 hours a week. However, now that I've returned to a 40 hour, Monday through Friday work week myself, I am struggling for time.  :-)

What did you like best about being a traveling writer?

All the new experiences and places I saw that I was able to incorporate into my writing. Traveling keeps me from being stagnant.  I've traveled all my life, and I love traveling, though I'm thinking several trips a year should be enough for me!

What was a lot harder in an RV?
I wasn't able to write while we were actually on the road from one place to another. Just checking routes, looking for overnight accommodations, gas and food, and settling the pets every night was taxing enough.  I was exhausted at night, plus we like to go out and eat somewhere in the area we were in and drive around in our car for a bit to see the local sights.

On the road, did you do all your research online or did you have a "library?
One of the most important rules of traveling in an RV is to travel light to keep gas prices down and stay within the maximum weight limits of the RV. I stored most of my books, even those on writing, in storage. I did have some books with me, but not as many as I would like.  And in an RV, there really isn't any spare space for a bookshelf. I did most of my research on line, and in fact, I still do. My only writing books are generally "how to write" books.

What's your advice for writers who want to take off in an RV for a life of writing?
The most important thing to know is that unless a writer is already successful (which means different things to different people), but in this case, I'll define it as able to pay their bills and rent and gas and insurance with their advances and royalties, I would suggest that they have another way to make a living. I've only met a few people who traveled and wrote, and those folks were retired and had independent incomes. I have a small income as a retired military member, so that allowed me to pay my bills.

The other thing to know is that internet coverage is spotty on the road. Many RV parks may not even offer wireless connections, and if they do, I found they often were unreliable.  I always had a back-up modem on my phone to tether my computer to, although it is dial up. I've had to use it many, many times during my RV traveling days.
I'm settled in an apartment now and enjoying the thrill of flushing a toilet and an office of my own.I might tackle RV living again in the future when I make more in retirement, but until then, a cruise to the Caribbean or a tour of Europe might just be what I need to keep my traveling toes warmed up!

Thank you so much for the interview, Amber!!!

Bess McBride was born in Aruba to American parents and lived in Venezuela until her family returned to the United States when she was 12. She couldn't fight the global travel bug within her and joined the U.S. Air Force at 18 to "see the world." After 21 wonderful and fulfilling years traveling the world and gaining one beautiful daughter, she pursued her dream of finally getting a college education. Armed and over-educated, the gypsy in her took over once again, and she embarked on a full-time journey in a recreational vehicle to look for new adventures and place settings for her writing. She is the author of On a Warm Sea of Love, A Train through Time, A Sigh of Love, Caribbean Dreams of Love, and A Trail of Love. A Penny for Your Thoughts is due out in 2010.

Visit Bess McBride's website
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On a Warm Sea of Love!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Mark David Gerson - Guided Meditations for Writers

As a yoga teacher who specializes in teaching people to relax, I recorded a CD that relaxes the body with the side effect of freeing the mind for creativity. I would love to hear about your guided meditations for writers.

First, how can guided meditation help a writer?
Meditation is a valuable tool for getting us in the "creation zone," for moving us out of the stress and anxiety of our everyday lives and into the natural place where creation can occur with ease. It's not a replacement for the rest of our lives, but a practice for more mindful — and creative — living.

Although each of the ten guided meditations on The Voice of the Muse Companion: Guided Meditations for Writers is keyed to a particular purpose — getting out of judgment, acknowledging the power of our writer-selves, aligning with our vision for a piece of writing, for example — their deeper goal is to get you into a place and space where any and all of your writing can flow more naturally, freely and spontaneously. (The 2-CD set opens with a general track of inspiration and instruction and then moves into my studio recording of each of the meditations scripted in The Voice of the Muse book.)

How can writers enhance their creativity?
1. Recognize that there are no rules in creativity. Your page is blank for a reason. Creativity is not about formulas and repeating what’s been done before. It’s about invention and individuality. Be yourself and free yourself to express that individuality on the page—without
second-guessing, self-criticism, or judgment.

2. Read. Anything good. Often. For fun. Don’t feel you need to analyze what you read. The more you read, the more you will absorb other authors’ techniques, successes, and failures. The more you read, the more you will intuitively know what works and what doesn’t—in their work and in your own.

3. Write. That’s what a writer does. It doesn’t matter what you write as long as you’re writing. And as long as you’re writing, you’ll be stretching your creative muscle and honing your craft.

How did The Voice of the Muse come about?
The Voice of the Muse was also not consciously planned. I wrote many of its inspirational vignettes originally for
myself, longhand in my car, at a time when I was feeling stuck in my own writing. It was only a few years later,
when The MoonQuest was with an agent, that it suddenly occurred to me that I might have enough material from those jottings to put into a book. I did, and an early version of The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write

Do you have any additional advice for writers?
Trust the story, even if you don’t yet know what it is.
Trust your innate creativity. Take it word by word and allow your pen or the keyboard to spell out the story for you. Allow yourself to be the passenger on your creative journey, not the driver. … If you can begin to believe that your story always knows best, you’ll never go wrong.

Mark David Gerson is author of the five-time award-winning novel The MoonQuest and an award-winning book book on writing for writers in all genres and all experience levels, The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write. He has also recorded The Voice of the Muse Companion, a 2-CD set of guided meditations for writers. Mark David's essays on creativity, personal growth and spirituality reach readers in more than two dozen countries. He is currently working on a screenplay adaption of The MoonQuest and a sequel to the novel.
To learn more about Mark David Gerson and his work, visit his website and Voice of Your Muse Blog.

Read/hear a Free Excerpt of  

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Clover Autrey Writing a Little Bit of Everything!

Welcome Clover Autrey, ParaNormal Romance reviewer, Fort Worth Examiner columnist, article ghostwriter, and adventurous fantasy (with lots of romance) author.  

I guessing other writers want to know how you got the gig with the Fort Worth Examiner.  
How did you approach the Examiner?

I was interviewed by another writer working for the Examiner for my own books, so I knew a little bit about it, and then when one of my RWA chapter mates mentioned they were looking for writers in our area I thought I’d like to do it. I had to write sample articles and that was that. I’m the Romance Novel Examiner over Fort Worth so I get to interview and get to know other romance writers. It’s great fun. I approach writing the column with what readers, instead of what other writers, would want to know. Basically, I let readers get to know an author and her books. The exposure hasn’t been bad either. My own website views increased dramatically.

Sounds great. Maybe I’ll see if my local paper needs an online column. Now, what about ghost writing for cash? That sounds even better.

I was very fortunate to get this job. I happened to know a friend who knew the company owner and knew I could write. I’m under contract to not disclose what articles I wrote, but I can say they are similar to what you’d see on Wikipedia—just short 250 word articles. I make $10 to $20 per, pumping out around 40 articles a month. Nothing to eat bon-bons over, but for a second job I can do around my kid’s schedule while in my PJs, it’s a win-win.

Aside from the heavy duty research for each article on the most random of things, I learn a great deal about making every sentence count and how to write in an active, not passive voice, which has carried over into my fiction writing

What the differences between writing fiction/fantasy and writing for a newspaper?
Tone and perspective. When I write a column or article, I write as myself and use both a conversational and confident tone. I’ll let you in on a little secret. In person, I’m quite shy and will generally hold back, but when I’m seeking someone to interview and during the interviews, the shyness has to float away.
With fiction all traces of Clover Autrey is shrugged off and everything is written from a character’s point of view. But that’s not a hard transition at all, since all writers do that whether they write in other formats or not.

Tell me about PNR (ParaNormal Romance Reviews). How is writing reviews different?
The best part about reviewing is free books and reading new authors. I try to be very honest and remember that even though I have a writer’s baby in my hands, I’m not writing reviews as a favor to them, but with the reader in mind, so I am very careful to first, not give away the ending or any surprises in the book and second, not praise a book that clearly doesn’t deserves it. That said, I also won’t trash a book. Criticism can be written in a kind, honest manner without tromping all over a writer, while at the same time letting readers know it isn’t exactly a top pick. There really is an art to writing reviews. Anyone can definitely tell by tone alone which books I absolutely gush over and which, reviews, though still good, aren’t gush-worthy.

Thanks, Clover, for visiting and sharing your secrets.

Upon Eagle’s Light is the first in Clover’s Eaglekin Series. Eaglekins are able to share a mind link with an eagle and are being hunted for their special abilities to be used as assassins.
Chase the Wind, the second book in the Eaglekins series, will be released May, 2010. It introduces the Wind Riders, an elite cavalry, whose young leader has to follow an Eaglekin he distrusts to save his brother.
She is also the author of The Sweetheart Tree, a Civil War time travel romance. 

Clover’s Website 
Win a one-of-a-kind Eagelkin inspired necklace.
Visit Clover's blog to learn how to enter for a 
chance on this beautiful hand-crafted necklace.

"Be prepared to be completely swept away"