Thursday, September 29, 2016

What Does an Author Do Between Books?

By Lynn Crandall

About six months ago, I released the final book in a five-book series. It was exciting to see the conclusion. It had been a fun but intense endeavor. I basked in the moment of no deadlines. 

It was more than a moment of basking, but not much. For the first time in years, I was not working on a book or any kind of writing. I had plans for more stories, but nothing in the works. I thought this was a good thing. Life had been full of work, family issues, illnesses, deaths, and moving from a house my husband and I had raised our family in. I thought a pause to refuel and just be would be the perfect way to live for a bit.

Very quickly I became agitated. I needed to be productive, produce another book. Urgency in me made me squirmy and on edge. I couldn’t relax. Whatever I was going to write next, I needed the process of it to begin. Now.

What does an author do between books? I read the title of a blog post that asked that question. It really resonated with me.

I had a plan. I was going to catch up with communications and promotions. I was going to read for pleasure, something that had taken a back seat for a while. I was going to enjoy chilling and walking and biking. I sat with my agitation and allowed my muscle memory of producing to ease. But the need to write a book didn’t lessen. In fact, in the space between books, I clarified, once again, my desire to continue writing.

I also missed my characters from the series. I loved writing their stories. So I wrote a short story that was loosely connected to the series, titled Finding Finn. That was so much fun, I want to do more shorts. But not right now. I’m chapters into my WIP and loving these characters just as much as the ones that have gone before. I haven’t decided yet if it will be a single title or a part of a trilogy, but it feels very natural and very good to be back into producing. I know I can’t take a year to write this new book, publishing just isn’t like that for writers like me. This book is more complex than ones I’ve written before, but even if I could take a year to write, I wouldn’t be able to or want to. My inner drive won’t let me. And my inner drive is helping me do what I love, so I’m not complaining.

So what does an author do between books? The answer for me is prepare in my head for the next book before the release of a book. Take a more leisurely pace for a few weeks (maybe less), then write the next book. It’s what makes me happy.

Do you have healthy strategies for the space between books? As a reader, do you patience to wait for a next book from a favorite author?

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Back of the Store

by Caragh M. O'Brien
When I worked in a bookstore, I was in charge of the romance section, which was way in the back of the store.  It was a big, well-lighted section, but it was basically invisible from the front of the store, and readers had to trek their way past all the cookbooks, self-help books and dictionaries to find their love stories.
“Why?” I asked my manager.  “Why are the romances hidden?  Why not move one of our most popular sections to the front of the store?”
His answer was simple.  “Romance readers are determined buyers. They’ll find their books wherever we put them.”
This was pretty eye-opening to me, na├»ve and sunny child that I was.  It bothered me, too, like my section was getting dissed, or my romance readers didn’t deserve the convenience of easy-to-access shelves.  Yet my manager was right about the determination.  Romance readers do go wherever they must to find their books, and there’s no such thing as the back of the store online.
Caragh M. O'Brien is the writer of The Vault of Dreamers and other YA novels.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Do you believe in love at first sight? by Cheryl Bolen

Is there such a thing as love at first sight? Though I write a lot about falling in love, and have always been interested in the process of falling in love (even when I was a little girl), I don't have much personal experience about the phenomenon of love at first sight.  

Sure, there were lots of guys I worshipped from afar in my preteens and teens, but those guys never noticed me, so I don't know if my distant admiration could have ever turned into love.  

Of all the guys I dated before I got together with The One, none of them had ever ignited that all-consuming spark on first sight. 

I met The One my freshman year of college shortly after my 18th birthday. There was zero attraction on my part, nor do I think he was attracted to me then. Since we both worked on the college newspaper, we became friends. During that first year of friendship, I came to admire him. I was impressed by his intelligence. I was awed by his academic prowess. (He's the one of us who always made A's.) I came to realize what a great guy he was by the way he talked about his family. There is that old adage that you can tell what kind of a husband a man will be by the way he treats his mother. But still, there was no romantic spark.

During my sophomore year of college (in the late sixties) I started to fall in love with The One. He was the editor of the student newspaper, so he was basically my boss. I was jostling a couple of other boyfriends at the time and because of my attraction to the fellow who would become the father of my children, I dumped them. Luckily for me, he was becoming attracted to me, too. We started staying at school late, after the paper wrapped and after the others left. Just the two of us. We liked being together. One night when he was walking me to my car he got up the courage to ask me to be his date to a big formal at the college. I nearly hyperventilated.  

We've been a couple ever since.
Me--the 20-year-old bride--and The One

So, from personal experience, I feel the best love stories are friends-to-lovers. Surprisingly, I've only used that trope a couple of times--in Love in the Library (my nerd hero book) and in Christmas in Bath.  

I still like reading about falling in love at first sight. I used it in my first book, A Duke Deceived. Have any of you ever fallen in love--the lasting kind of love--at first sight?—Cheryl’s newest release is Only You, a Georgian novella that was formerly in the Ever My Love anthology with a prologue by Kathryn Le Veque.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Is There a Better Marketing Tool Than Your Cover?

Your cover is the first thing the reader sees and...inevitably...the book's first impression.

I took the opportunity to poll readers during a recent mega-bookstore signing I attended with over a dozen other authors (six of which were romance). Because I truly wanted the information, I offered those who would fill out the questionnaire chocolate (always works) and the chance to win a store gift card. Out of the 25 readers I approached only one turned down my request.

The first four questions required a "yes", "no" or "sometimes" response. The last question gave them three lines to express their opinion. Here are the questions I asked:

1. Is a book's cover important in attracting your interest?
2. Do you collect bookmarks, trading cards or other material branded with covers?
3. Do you look for the author, book or book cover on social media (e.g., FB, Twitter)?
4. Do you follow authors on social media or through newsletters?
5. How often do you feel authors should promote their book on social media and are you drawn to the promotion?

The results:

Q1: 19 yes, 2 no, 3 sometimes
Q2: 12 yes, 11 no, 1 sometimes (note added by respondent: "if they're pretty")
Q3: 11 yes, 3 no, 10 sometimes (this stat surprised me)
Q4: 18 yes, 6 no
Q5: The majority of the respondents said that anything more than once per day was overkill. Three said that if they see the cover more than once in the day they skip past it. Four said they don't pay much attention to the cover unless they're attracted to it because the "KNOW" it's a sales pitch.

Once the questionnaire was completed, I asked each respondent to look at a single picture and give me their impression. The only thing I asked was: "Would you stop scrolling through FB or Twitter to to look at this picture?" Twenty-one of the the 24 said, "yes".

The picture?
Over the course of the past couple of weeks, I've devoted quite a bit of time to creating book-centered memes and engagement on both FB and Twitter related to these memes has increased significantly. I've quickly come to realize that while I might get a few likes, comments, and engagements out of my cover and buy link, far more people are stopping to read the meme. Traffic on both my website and blog have increased.

Here are a few of the memes I've made over the last weeks, both to promote a specific book and myself as a writer. All memes were created using nothing more than Powerpoint and a good stock photo site. And, all memes contained my website address but no buy links or sales pitch.

I thinks, as writers, we need to find new ways to engage our readers. And, if the standard cover, blurb and buy link isn't doing it, we should find other avenues for promotion. Even something as simple as a meme.

With two books coming out in October, I know I'll be busy promoting over all my social media. I plan to keep the cover promo to twice a day during release week, and then supplement with colorful artwork. I will keep you posted on how well it works.

Until next time, stay happy, stay healthy, stay well read.


Friday, September 16, 2016

THE CALL plus 30!

This month marks the 30th anniversary of my first contract offer, commonly known as THE CALL. (I could say I was only a teenager at the time, but that would be a lie.) The long-awaited call came from an editor named Tom at Dell Publishing. I'd just contracted for a second book with a second editor, Jennifer, when Dell closed their romance line. The change of editors and publishers became the norm throughout my career. (The subject of agents would constitute a whole 'nother post.)

Since that first sale, I've sold books to Meteor/Kismet, Harlequin/Silhouette, Kensington/Precious Gems, Wildside Press, Cerridwen Press, Samhain Publishing and finally for myself. Gotta love the age of technology and digital ebook readers!  I really enjoy the freedom of Indie publishing, although it does take a lot of time and patience.

My latest release, ZACK'S RANCH (Bridleton #3) is a combination of all the things I love to write about and have always loved to read. My cowboys are heroes in every sense of the word and my heroines are strong, intelligent women. There's a ranching dynasty featuring a proud, loving family. And in this book, there are also wounded veterans whom I believe deserve as much respect and support as we can offer. Mostly, it's a relationship story with a thread of suspense that makes life a little more challenging.

I don't mind answering questions about writing or the publishing industry, so feel free to ask anything. Just post a note in the comment section at the bottom of the page.

One of the quirks of being an Indie author is being able to control the price of my books. For the month of September, I'm offering ZACK'S RANCH at a discounted rate of $.99 on most online bookstores. If you're feeling lucky, there's also an Amazon Giveaway where you can enter for a chance to win a digital copy.

As always, readers are welcome to visit my website and sign up for my monthly contest and newsletter. I'll supply links in my signature line for my website, newsletter, Facebook and Twitter. Hope to see you there;-)

Until next time, take care and keep reading!

Hugs, Becky
MailChimp Contest/News

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Book of your Heart by @MaddieJames

I've often heard authors talk about writing the "book of their hearts." I have one of those books. It's not the first book I ever wrote, nor is it my bestseller. But it is the book I became the most connected to, the most engaged with as a writer--and it is the book that will always remain in my heart as my favorite.

I conceived the idea when I knew very little about the business of writing. I was simply entralled with the story rolling about in my head, and the characters that appeared, and then finally the research I conducted to put the details all together.

The book has undergone a number of iterations. It has been published by two publishers and now independently by myself. It's had its day in the sun. It's still "the book of my heart." I became haunted by the story, and probably a little obsessed.

Haunted by the Outer Banks

About twenty years ago I insisted we take a family vacation during spring break. The children were young, probably about six and eight years old. I needed to get away from school and my teaching job, and the ocean was calling me. Haunting me, perhaps. Odd thing, though, I’d never been to the east coast. That didn’t slow me down or stop the haunting feeling about going there. So, off we went.

I chose Nags Head because the name of the town had always intrigued me. Once we were there, I was simply entranced with the area, the people, the food, the laid-back atmosphere. That was our first trip of many. Even after my husband and I divorced, I found ways to get there. The kids and I once went by ourselves, saving yard sale cash for the trip. I traveled with my parents and my sister and her family a few other times. And in the past couple of years, I’ve even taken a solo trip, all by my lonesome. Ocracoke Island was part of my solo trip destination. I love the feel of the place and having only spent day trips there in the past, longed to relax in its laid-back, no stop-light, barefoot all summer, read on the screened-in sunporch bliss, and watch the sparkle from the harbor.

Edward Teach aka Blackbeard called Ocracoke Island home for some time. Around 1718 he wreaked havoc over the eastern coastline and then finally was beheaded in a battle at sea. The Governor of Virginia had ordered him stopped. Losing his head was the thing that did it. On the islands you can find many references to the infamous pirate and I was fascinated by the pirate folklore that surrounded the Outer Banks. So, I decided to dig in, read more, and write my own version of the legendary pirates that lived there.

My series titled Soul Mates: The Legend of Blackbeard’s Chalice stems from what I’ve read and discovered about the islands and the pirates who roamed near there, particularly, of course, Blackbeard. Entranced, is the first book born out of that research, and is truly a book of my heart and a story that had to be told. Jack Porter resides in the time of Blackbeard in 1718. Claire Winslow lives in present day. Blackbeard’s Curse separated their spirits across time. Finding the chalice--a historical relic made from Blackbeard's beheaded skull--will help them reunite. Can they find it?

Entranced is this book of my heart. Originally, the title was Night Kiss. The another published did not like that title, and changed it to The Curse. When I self published, I came up with Entranced. I still call the book Night Kiss in my head when I think of it--and sometimes I wonder if I should change it back.

You can read more about Entranced and the Soul Mates series here on my website. I invite you into my world of pirates, history, intrigue, suspense, time travel, and some paranormal elements. Perhaps Entranced will touch your heart too.

Do you have a book of your heart?


Maddie James writes romance – but don’t try to pin her down to one genre. From edgy suspense to flirty contemporary romance to darker erotic titles, she just wants to silence the people in her head. Find out more at

Check out my recent releases:


Friday, September 9, 2016

I was a reader before I was a writer by Jan Scarbrough

Sometime after second grade and by the time I discovered Black Stallion books in the fourth grade, I started loving to read. My ninth grade teacher Mrs. Neff encouraged us to buy and keep books. You can see I have many of them in my library today.

Mrs. Neff also introduced me to the joys of creative writing.

By the time I went to college, I decided to become an English teacher because I loved reading and writing. Flash forward many years—I’m currently a technical writer by day, and at night I write romance novels.

Sadly, because of time constraints, my reading time is often limited to my lunch hour on my iPhone. But, don’t you love Amazon’s 1-Click option? I collect many books that way—326 books in all according to my account info.

Do you have a “To Be Read” list? Here is my list.

  • Mountain Spirit: The Sheep Eater Indians of Yellowstone by Lawrence Loendorf and Nancy Medaris Stone (research)
  • If you can Keep it: The Forgotten Promise of American Liberty by Eric Metaxes (reading a chapter at a time during lunch)
  • Three Sisters, Three Queens by Philippa Gregory (downloaded recently)
  • The Angel’s Share by J. R. Ward (downloaded recently)
  • Money Loves You by Blair Robertson (want to re-read)

What are you reading? If you write, do you think it’s hard to find time to read?

Thursday, September 8, 2016


By Kathleen Lawless

Have you ever wondered what happens to all those writing ideas that never see publication?  Maybe they were scribbled character sketches, a high concept premise turned into a synopsis, or three chapters that fizzled into nowhere.  I can't tell you how many of those are lying around my office, on paper or disc or USB sticks.

Wouldn't it be comforting to think that there's a massive hard-drive in the Universe where writers are free to browse?  To exchange a plot that didn't work for one that will.  It would be nice to think that lightbulb moment, or those pages weren't wasted. 


Maybe our outtakes are on the drive as well.  Those massive chunks of words we ruthlessly cut in order to tighten our story might be of use to someone else who's lost for the exactly right word. 

I've heard it touted that there are no new ideas anyway.  That it's up to the creator to take a well-used idea or popular myth and spin it into something fresh.  I've been to brainstorming session where several writers have come with similar ideas to flesh out.  They've left the session with completely different storylines.  No on would ever know the same 'what if' was the basis.                                 

So what's your take?  Is there a Universal Intelligence Bank where writers make deposits and withdrawals?  Or are your ideas yours and yours alone, all springing forth from that part of your brain that never seems to run out of ideas.                                                                                                       

Wednesday, September 7, 2016


“The one who got away” is a common theme in romance novels.  The man from the past.  The woman he hasn’t seen in many years. Sometimes this bleeds over into the secret baby theme, where for one reason or another she never told him he was about to be a dad.  Usually she doesn’t want to be a burden.  Or she has some other noble reason why she feels it would be better to go off to have a child alone.

Image result for free heart 

Sometimes a misunderstanding separates a couple, especially if they were very young when they were together.  Maybe one goes away to college or off to war, and the Mom or Dad hides the letters or doesn’t let the child know their lover has called.  (This would be increasingly difficult for the interfering parent to pull off these days, what with social media and texting.)

Sometimes one of the lovers misconstrues something they see, or something they overhear, and believe that their partner doesn’t want to be with them anymore.

Sometimes an interfering parent decides the partner just isn’t good enough for their child, and threatens or blackmails the lover into going away.

Many of these situations could be resolved with a simple conversation, but not all. In the face of young love, though, sometimes the partners simply aren’t mature enough to avoid jumping to rash conclusions.

Sooner or later, especially if the former lovers come from the same town, they end up in the same place again. It could be years or even decades later.  Sometimes they’re bitter and mean to each other.  Other times they just avoid each other because they still remember the hurt of the break-up.  Eventually, though, because it’s a romance novel, they manage to muddle through the explanations of what went wrong and even live happily ever after, or so we assume.

There are probably as many variations on the theme as there are authors to write it.

But what happens in real life, when someone suddenly stumbles upon a person they used to date way back when?  I’m sure there are many variations on that theme as well. 

This happened to me recently, and I’m afraid there won’t be any big, dramatic story attached.  The fact that there was never a big, traumatic break-up probably helps…just a gradual drifting in the different directions in which our lives took us.  But it was a very pleasant experience, discovering that the man in question actually remembered who I was, that he’s had a happy life, and that he’s happy that I’ve also had a happy life.  With no secret babies or interfering parents involved!

Have you encountered a past romantic partner, say at a high school reunion or something along those lines?  Has anyone reunited with their former partner?  Or do you just swap photos of your kids and grandkids and call it a day?

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