Friday, February 27, 2015

Connecting With Readers on Blogtalk Radio

Connecting with Readers 
by Ellen Swenson, writing as Danielle Bova
Like many independent authors, I’m in the trenches.

Writers know that the creative process can go from exhilarating and dreamlike to nightmarish and feeling like you’re going to bleed. Sometimes these opposites occur on the same day, or even in the same hour. You work all day, and then pick each sentence apart. You put the same sentences back together again, (maybe the same way they were written the first time). You tell your significant other that you’re going to give up. They talk you down from the ledge, and tell you to get back to work already.

People you trust also read your work. Sometimes you find out who can be trusted when you ask for feedback and are flicked away like lint, but that’s another story. We need to treat such episodes as feedback of a sort. Each experience, good or bad, can be treated as feedback, not failure. Just keep going.

Tears of Paradox
You find a writer’s group that’s a good fit for you, and bounce ideas off of the members. (H/T Conservative Libertarian Fiction Alliance). You reciprocate by giving them feedback when asked. Your creation is close to your heart. Your characters seem like your children--even the evil characters. The world they inhabit seems real to you. You’ve found a wonderful artist to design the perfect cover for your book.

Finally, after numerous rewrites and editorial decisions, your book, an incredible achievement, has been published. Hooray!

Now it’s time to get into the trenches. In addition to writing your next book, you have the monumental task of connecting with your audience. That’s where I am.

Book two of my series has just been published. I am extremely proud of my achievement. So are my family and friends, who buy and read my books. Unfortunately, the rest of the world doesn’t know I’m here. This is a problem. How can I connect with my audience? The books won’t market themselves. I have to market them. It’s almost a full time job, but a very necessary part of gaining a following.

I’m far from an expert. I usually learn by trial and error, but I do have one tip for others who may be in the same boat. If you’re reading this blog, you’ve already discovered Storyfinds, a wonderful resource for independent authors. You probably have your own website, too.

However, there’s another venue available.  In addition to maintaining a great website and blog, and joining Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms, look into appearing on a web based radio program. It’s a great way to gain exposure.

The Notice
I found just such a platform on Blogtalk Radio. I appeared on the Writestream Radio Network, founded by Daria DiGiovanni. Daria’s entire network is filled with informative shows. One of my favorites is Writestream Tuesday, where Daria interviews authors about their books and their message. Each interview is inspiring, and I usually buy the books if I like the genre. Following is Daria’s write-up for my recent appearance on her show, where we spoke about my latest book, “The Notice.” 

Since my initial appearance last summer, I’ve been lucky enough to be part of a panel on Writestream Tuesday’s monthly “Shatter The Narrative” show with other authors and aspiring authors. Each appearance on Blogtalk Radio has spread my message to people who otherwise would be unaware of my existence. The shows are archived, and each can be accessed through my website. Opportunities to appear on other radio shows may present themselves after you take the initial plunge, so don’t hesitate!

If you’ve written a great book and you’re looking to get noticed, contact the Writestream Radio network. You’ll never regret it.

For more information please check out Danielle's website

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

How One Writer Let Her Story Tell Itself

Joanne Jaytaine
I would like to thank StoryFinds for once again hosting me on their blog. On January 23rd I wrote a little about what I write and how I started writing. Today I want to focus on characters, one in particular, and how he insisted on a different path than I planned for him. Payton’s Pursuit is book two of The Winters Sisters series. This book took an interesting turn before I even wrote a single word of the story.

Before I started writing The Winters Sisters, I created the story arch and did basic plotting for the series – yep, pantser all the way. I planned out the hero and heroine of the first three novels. However sometimes events don’t go as planned and your characters decide to go in an entirely different direction. What do I mean? In Chasing Victory the reader is introduced to Collin McBain and Morgan Kane. These two men are the ‘lab rats’ experimented on by Biotec. The plan was that the two military men would enter, serve their purpose, and exit left, or in this case, be killed off. The scene was perfect; Collin would go out a hero, a redeeming quality based on the fact that he is unlikeable up to that point. Except the instant his life was to end, he refused to go down. Not only wasn’t he going to die, but he decided to play a much larger role in the series.

Payton's Pursuit 
Pick up a copy of Payton’s Pursuit and read as Collin McBain, a ‘throwaway’ character takes on a life of his own and grows into a real hero.

Does that mean there’s still hope for Morgan? He’s still alive at the end of Payton’s Pursuit…


Payton started to pace the office floor.
“I sure hope we have made enough headway over the last two days. The last thing I want is to cancel my trip. I really need some time away, even if it means I have to take Collin with me,” Payton said.
“Stop pacing, Payton. Sit down; work on your breathing and focus. You need to create a mental picture of your barrier. Start working on finding your picture and calm yourself,” Victory said.
Payton settled herself in a chair, closed her eyes and started her breathing exercises. A few moments later, Collin entered the room. Victory placed a finger to her lips, which informed him to enter the room quietly. He did as instructed and sat in a chair across the room from Payton. Seconds passed, minutes, finally they melted into an hour. Payton remained sitting, eyes closed, breathing evenly in and out.
“How long does it take that man to get here?” She finally asked as she opened her eyes.
Payton found herself staring into the abyss of ocean blue eyes, and a breathtaking sculptured face, framed with short, light brown hair. Collin didn’t flinch a single muscle.
“What? How long—” Her words stopped when the room began to spin and unconsciously she reached for the arms of her chair.
“He arrived over an hour ago, Payton. Clearly you can focus on a single thing. Focus and put your barriers back up,” Victory said.
Payton tried and tried, but she continued to be distracted and a nauseous feeling started to override her system.
“I can’t,” she said, irritated at the fact that she was falling apart once again in front of Collin.
“Thank you, Collin. We will continue where we left off tomorrow,” Victory said.
“No problem.” He looked back at Payton one last time. “Sorry,” he said. “I feel a little guilty since I am feeling more centered and peaceful than I have all day.”

We are celebrating the one year anniversary of Payton’s Pursuit for the entire month of February. Stop by and enter to win an audio book, autograph book, or an Amazon gift card.


Sunday, February 15, 2015

If you love mysteries enjoy the Two Sisters and a Journalist series by Maddie Cochere

Murder Under Construction by Maddie Cochere
On a lovely spring day two years ago, I was waiting in my car for my sister to come out of her doctor’s office. At the time, I was writing what I thought would be the final book in the Susan Hunter series, Maple Leaf Hunter. I had no idea what I was going to write when the book was finished.

My sister was worried as I drove her to the surgeon’s office that day. To try to take her mind off the consultation, I jokingly told her I should write a series about two sisters who were weight conscious and solved crimes in their neighborhood. I’d pattern the two women after the two of us. We had a good laugh.

I couldn’t believe it when the characters and the story began forming in my mind while I waited for her. I scrambled for pen and notebook and began scribbling words. By the time her appointment ended, I had thirteen hundred words written of Murder Under Construction - Book One of the Two Sisters and a Journalist series.

I’ve been writing for three years now, and I’m still amazed at how ideas come so unexpectedly. I’m also amazed at how characters have a mind of their own and take my stories in directions I never intended. I’m always excited to sit down and write again, so I can find out where the story is going next.

I’m enjoying writing the Two Sisters and a Journalist series. Where Susan Hunter is beautiful, feminine, and fashion minded, Jo Ravens is more earthy and comfortable in her standard fare of jeans and t-shirt. Also unlike Susan, Jo is not a crier, men don’t swoon over her, and she doesn’t always act very lady-like. I promote the books as humorous mysteries.

In Murder Under Construction, Jo is thirty-two, divorced, and stuck in a rut. She wants a new career, and she wants to lose the sixty pounds she packed on after her divorce. Her knack for finding dead bodies points her in the right direction for a career change. Her sister’s exuberance for weight loss gimmicks enables both of them to try new, creative ways to shed pounds. When Jo crashes her nephew’s bicycle on a murdered girl at a construction site, her sister Pepper and journalist friend Jackie assist in helping to find the girl’s killer.

The second book, Murder is Where the Heart Is, was recently released on the same day as book number three, Murder Welcomes You to Buxley, and book number seven in the Susan Hunter series, Buckeye Hunter.

Murder Welcomes You to Buxley is a parallel story to Buckeye Hunter. In the books, I fulfilled a dream of having my main characters meet when Susan travels to Jo’s hometown of Buxley, Ohio to assist in the opening a Slimmers Weight Loss center.

If you like mysteries and humor, I hope you’ll try my new series. If you do, let me know. I’d love to hear from you!

Check out Maddie on her website, and follow her on Twitter

Friday, February 13, 2015

Are multi-author book collections a lot of work?

Are multi-author book collections a lot of work?  

By Mimi Barbour

Oh yeah!

Author Mimi Barbour
I’ve taken on the job as promoter for the three collections I’ve been in so far and it’s an overwhelming amount of work. But… when the book is successful, it leaves one with a huge feeling of satisfaction. About a month or so before the release date, I have to write to all the major promoters and ask them to hold us a spot on their sites without any reviews, live links, etc. and then make sure I follow through to send them the missing info when it becomes available.

All of them were helpful, supportive and worked with me so we’d be assured that our book would hit the big advertisers on the first week it was released. Very important!! Thank goodness that a couple of the girls assisted in setting up some of the other promos also. There’re just so many places out there nowadays, it’s hard to know which ones to use sometimes.

While I did my part, the others all took on different roles in making the book a success: formatting, Facebook ads and the big event, twitter blast, organising the publisher, working the cover, newsletters, blog posts etc, etc. There’s just so much to do.

Ten Brides for Ten Heroes
In the first collection, Ten Brides for Ten Heroes, we realized a number of important things: Not everyone is as tech-savvy as the next guy. Not everyone wants to work as hard or… hasn’t the time to put in the same amount of effort. Not everyone is as hungry to make it as big a success as possible. And I don’t just mean the money. Our goal was always to hit the list. Don’t get me wrong, all our authors were wonderful writers and great girls, but some were just overwhelmed by the amount of energy it took. This was the collection that I considered as my formal education. Boy did I learn a lot!! There’s something about 10 minds all sharing experiences that makes it so easy to walk away with a lot more knowledge.

In the second collection, Ten Christmas Brides, we reformed the group, losing some and gaining others. This go around, we had a mixture with one main goal. This time we would make the USA Today list and we did – twice. Unfortunately, we believed that the New York Time’s list was impossible and that they weren’t looking at multi-author box sets anymore. So we were certainly satisfied with our outcome… and our sales. What struck me the most—how incredibly supportive folks were! We felt blessed and still do.

Heart & Kisses
Now here I am again with a different set of fabulous authors in Hearts & Kisses. A 12-book, box collection for Valentine’s released Feb 10th. We’re pushing to our goals as hard as we can, all of us working together. All of us with the knowledge we gained from other bundles and most important, all of us having one heck of a good time in the process.

More information about Mimi Barbour can be found at her website. Don't forget to follow her on Twitter!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Allure of Steampunk

The Allure of Steampunk

Lara Nance

Author Lara Nance
So, what is it about steampunk that is alluring?

Perhaps you’ve thought about reading a steampunk novel? Now may be the best time ever. With its growing popularity, there are many new books out in this genre. Including my steampunk novel trilogy, The Airship Adventure Chronicles.

First of all, What is steampunk? There are as many definitions as there are people giving them. Here’s mine:

It’s a Victorian themed world, where steam is the power of the day, running everything from furnaces to automatons. There are iconic images that pop up in this world, such as: corsets (worn on the outside, of course), goggles, top hats, pocket watches, airships, an occasional octopus, and lots of gadgets made from clockwork parts.

People are flocking to steampunk. The last convention I attended, Steamcon in Seattle, had around 3,000 attendants. And that’s only one of hundreds of other conventions and events around the world. You can check out information about conventions and local groups at

What’s the allure? Speaking for myself, I think it’s the romance of the era. There’s adventure on every corner with airship pirates, mad scientists and clockwork monsters. Fashion is at the forefront with everything from bustled satin ball-gowns, to bustiers and fishnet hose, to leather, chains and studs.

Some people say steampunk is when Goths discovered the color brown…But the beauty of steampunk is that you make of it what you want. You can go for a genteel Victorian flavor or a leather bristling with weapons look. Or, a combination of the two. If you don’t want to create your own outfit, there are shops on the internet with everything you need. My favorites are and Etsy has a huge variety of folks selling their original steampunk jewelry.

Revenge of the Mad Scientist by Lara Nance
Inventions are key. You can invent a steam powered computer or a clockwork robot. Weapons are only as limited as your imagination, as long as you stick to the clockwork/steam scenario.

For the winter fashion shows I saw major fashion designers incorporate steampunk into their fall lines, Movies add steampunk elements that never existed in the original story (think Three Musketeers with its airships and corsets, even Oz had some goggles), TV shows focusing a segment on the steampunk culture (remember the Castle episode?). Take a look at women’s boots these days – you’ll see lots of buckles and retro styling.

Okay, you get the picture. Steampunk is everywhere.

In 2013, people said steampunk had peaked. But in my opinion, the culture is on the rise. A recent IBM analysis said steampunk is on the rise to emerge from sub-culture to mainstream. On-line games and series are coming out everyday, new cons are popping up everywhere, and new books are coming out with interesting steampunk characters and environments.

So, if you’re interested in writing or reading steampunk, the time is now. You can choose between a variety of base genres in which to incorporate the steampunk theme. Sci-fi, fantasy, romance or mystery/thriller. Add some spunky, resourceful, characters and a splash of imaginative adventure and you’ve got a steampunk novel. Adding a little hot sex only adds to the allure.  

Don’t forget the father of steampunk (in my humble opinion), Jules Verne. His book, Around the World in Eighty Days inspired my own stories. Books like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, are great examples of an imaginative high-tech Victorian era.

If you’re looking for movies, check out The Golden Compass, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, The new Three Musketeers movie, Wild Wild West, or Hugo. They’ll give you some great images of different steampunk worlds.

Some people argue whether steampunk is alternate universe or alternate history. To me, it’s both…or either. It’s what you want it to be. And that’s the beauty of this genre-- freedom to create an imaginary world, or simply say “what if” within the real Victorian world. You can add magic, or paranormal creatures, or stick with plain old humans.

This is a chance to unleash your imagination and take a new look at the world through a pair of goggles. Steampunk folks are some of the most imaginative people I’ve ever met. And they definitely know their history.

Oh, by the way, you’ll have to learn the proper way to drink absinthe, too.

I’m so excited to announce my newest steampunk tale, One Steamed Night. It’s part of the 1Night Stand series from Decadent Publishing. Madame Eve gets very creative in this fun adventure to give Mina the fantasy man of her dreams once she becomes disenchanted with the typical bar scene.
Here’s the link to buy: _____________________

Let me know if you like it. You can e-mail me from my website: Plus, if you sign up for my newsletter you’ll get news of upcoming books, and a chance to win some great steampunk jewelry.

Have you read any steampunk books? What are your favorites?

Thanks, Lara Nance

A Special note to Steampunk FANS: Lara is giving away 5 copies of her book Revenge of the Mad Scientist to 5 people. Enter our Steampunk Fan contest on our Contest Page for more details.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Welcome to the world of the New Jersey Ice Cats!

Welcome to the world of the New Jersey Ice Cats!
by Harlequin Author Anna Sugden

Harlequin Author Anna Sugden
As a reader, I love to know how books and stories are connected. So, I thought it might be fun to create a table of the players in my New Jersey Ice Cats series, to show what position they play and how they’re related.

Jake ‘Bad Boy’ Badoletti +
Dark hair, ice blue eyes
Maggie Goodman
A Perfect Distraction (Sept 2013)
Truman ‘Tru’ Jelinek ++
Dark hair, green eyes
Jenny Martin
A Perfect Trade  (July 2014)
Eisenhower ‘Ike’ Jelinek ++
Dark hair, green eyes
Tracy Hayden
A Perfect Catch   (Feb 2015)
Taylor ‘Mad Dog’ Madden +++
Dark hair, grey eyes
Lizzie Martin
A Perfect Party   (Nov 2014)*
Jean-Baptiste ‘JB’ Larocque +++
Dark hair, dark eyes
Isabelle Brandine
A Perfect Choice ** (early 2016)
Patrick ‘Paddy’ Mullroney
Dark hair, green eyes
Shayla Friel
A Perfect Lucky Charm*** (March 2015)
A Perfect Distraction
+ Jake grew up with Tru and Ike (and the other two Jelinek brothers,
A Perfect Trade
Kenny and Linc) and is as close to them as a brother.
++ Brothers
+++ Best Friends (along with Kenny Jelinek)

* A bite-size romance in the free anthology Tiny Treats: A Holiday Collection.

Soon to be a free download on my website.
** Working title - TBC
*** A bite-size romance in the Tiny Treats St Patrick’s Day Collection

Keep an eye out during 2015 as there will be other bite-size romances featuring Ice Cats players. There will also be news about more Ice Cats books and stories to come!

A Perfect Party in Tiny Treats: A Holiday Collection
Just Good Friends?
Ice Cats defenseman, Taylor ‘Mad Dog’ Madden wants more than friendship from Lizzie Martin. Much more. So when a Christmas party provides the chance to kick their relationship up a gear, should he take it or will he lose her completely?

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Meet Young Adult Romance Author PJ Sharon

PJ Sharon
As a contemporary YA romance author, I never imagined I would write a dystopian trilogy or anything sci-fi/fantasy related…and then Lily Carmichael came to me and wouldn’t leave me alone until I told her story. Such is the weird life of a writer, and the consequence of living in the hills and hanging out with “Preppers”. After many discussions with my neighbor friends about “end of world” preparedness, the Chronicles of Lily Carmichael rushed into my brain in trilogy form. I could clearly see the beginning and end of three separate books being needed to tell the whole story. In hindsight, I wish I’d made it a series. There was much more to the story as it unfolded, and could have easily gone on for another book or two.

WANING MOON sets the scene and shows what the world might be like in forty-five years—after a major pandemic has wiped out three quarters of the population, and a polar shift has the planet on the precipice of destruction. The question is, can Lily’s genetically enhanced healing ability save the world? It hardly seems likely when she can’t even save her uncle. Because of their blood ties, her abilities are ineffective in curing his cancer, and she’s forced to journey into the trading city to find the medicine he needs.

This first book in the trilogy chronicles that dangerous mission, partnering Lily with a mysterious drifter, 17 year-old Will Callahan, who is on a mission of his own, and whose secrets threaten to expose Lily to the Industry, an evil subsidiary of the government that would like nothing more than to exploit Lily, her brother, and their powers. Book one introduces a lively cast of characters, including Lily’s brother Zeph, a 13 year-old boy with the power to take life with a touch, and who Lily is sworn to protect. (You can read Zeph’s story, SOUL REDEMPTION, a short story free to download from Smashwords.) I loved creating the quirky characters who rounded out the story. Lily’s BFF, Garnet Perkins, the creepy town bully, Josh Johnson, and the loveable McKinley sisters, Maggie and Nora, the latter of whom Lily’s Uncle Sam is smitten with.  I had a blast writing the wolves, Bo and Pappy, who the ladies raised from pups and who have a special kinship with Lily and Zeph.

Waning Moon by PJ 

After WANING MOON, which RT Book Reviews called, “An action-packed read with a strong female lead,” I wrote book two, WESTERN DESERT. The second part of Lily’s story takes her and Will across a sun-ravaged and decimated U.S. on a dangerous rescue mission. I won’t tell you who they’re rescuing because of spoilers and all that, but many of the characters I grew to love (and hate) in book one, play essential roles in book two, as Lily and Will’s relationship evolves and the plight of the world reaches a tipping point toward annihilation. I did leave a bit of a cliffhanger at the end of book two, but so far, readers seem happy with where I left off.

Book three in the trilogy, HEALING WATERS, picks up at the end of book two with a wild ride of an escape scene that quickly moves the story through twists and turns before reaching the climactic battle for the planet’s salvation.  In this final installment, I wanted to make sure that Lily evolved fully, and that she was able to be true to herself in the end, even if her true nature reveals that, despite her special gifts, she’s only human.