Friday, September 27, 2013

And Now For Something Completely Different…

It was a very slow week for publishing news and a busy week for me with three books to format and a seminar.

So, I am giving you a different kind of post today and very different photos outside of the ones I post for inspiration. For those of you writing contemporary tales, one thing that comes up in a story at some point is what kind of cars do the characters drive? Because a car can say so much about a person, from social status to income level to personal tastes.

Need an idea for a car in your story? Trip down memory lane with me and see if one fits the bill. Or maybe the adventures I had with each one. Just don’t judge me!

My first vehicle, and the one I learned to drive on, was a 1969 VW Bus.
(Me at aged 3 with our brand new Bus.)

My dad had customized it for camping and we used to sneak people into the drive-in inside the built-in storage box. The thing had no guts and the only time it ever went over 65 was down a hill. I kept threatening to turn it into a dune buggy.

Next was a 1974 Ford Pinto. Very thankful no one ever rear-ended me.
(My cat Tiger inside the Pinto!)

After that, my mom sold me her 1978 Honda CVCC.

(It was so awful, I don't even have a picture of it! Imagine this brown...)

It was brown for a reason! And no AC. At the time, I was living in Arkansas, and I about died without AC.

Then at aged 21, I purchased my first pickup - a 1986 Mazda B2000!

It was a year old when I got it and had over 40,000 miles on it already. But it ran like a dream and towed a large U-Haul across country. Twice. I loved that truck!

Next came the Chevy Z-24. Not by choice though. My boyfriend couldn’t afford the insurance so I drove the Z while he drove my pickup. It was an automatic, which was weird for me - I’d only driven stick shifts. But it was the first car I ever got over 100 mph!

Long story short, my truck was traded in for something else and not long after, I and said boyfriend parted ways. What I really wanted to do was part ways with that Z! Still pining after my Mazda, I purchased another pickup - a 1989 Toyota.

It was basic, but I didn’t care - it was my first new car and I signed for it all by myself. That truck and I went through a lot together - slid off an icy overpass, broken windshield and side window three times, someone tried to steal the (bald) tires (ABQ police said it was a gang initiation), I backed into a ditch (farmer had to pull me out with his tractor), and I burnt out the clutch. (Worst smell ever!)

After eleven years, I really needed a new vehicle. By then, I’d fallen in love with Dodge trucks and we test drove both a Ram and a Dakota. My husband thought the Ram was way too big for me, but it came down to price - I could get a basic model Ram or a fully loaded Dakota. Easy choice!

(I couldn't find photos, although I have many, but this is what she looked like.)

She had a Bose stereo, a spray-in bed liner, and every extra I could throw on her. And with a 6 cylinder, 3.7 liter engine, she was fast and powerful! I felt like I was driving a tank, too. It was also a gas guzzler, and since I was traveling a lot for book signings, I spent a lot on gas. Since this was before gas prices went out of control, I didn’t care. I loved my Dakota!

Four years later, gas prices started to rise over $2.00. The truck also needed some work, as unfortunately Dodge is not the most reliable. It was with tears I took her in for something new, but I knew it had to be done…

Enter the Mazda Tribute.

After my first Mazda, I knew I could trust it. They only had two on the lot that were stick shifts, and since Mazda was the only one willing to deal, I picked the maroon one. That vehicle proved to be a trooper. The day after I purchased it, I went to Virginia Beach for a weekend of book signings and day one I did two things you’re not supposed to do with a new vehicle - I went way over 70 mph and I had to slam on my brakes on the Interstate and dive off to the side to avoid rear-ending the line of cars stopped ahead of me. (Can you picture me doing that? LOL!) She also had no guts, but the way I drove, I pushed her to have some.

Seven years later, I was approaching 200,000 miles. Yes, I travel a lot for speaking and book events! The Tribute still ran great, but I knew soon the time would come when she’d fail me. After months of test driving (I was in no hurry) I found my next vehicle - a 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe.

It was also a maroon red and fully loaded with every custom feature you could imagine - heated seats, killer stereo, sunroof, etc. The only downside was it was an automatic, but I already knew I’d never find another SUV that was a stick shift. The best part - I’d planned for this purchase and paid cash for the first time ever!

She’s also like a tank and very comfortable to drive. It won’t go 0 to 60 in four seconds, but it has something I have dubbed “turbo.” It’s like the space shuttle taking off - not fast, but as it gains speed, it accelerates very rapidly. I’ll pass a car and look down to discover I am doing 90 mph! (So, if you’re driving in NC and a maroon-red Sante Fe blows your doors off, it’s me!)

Those were all of my vehicles. Any one of them could fit with a character in your story. Or one of my adventures. If your character needs to spin off an icy overpass, just ask - I can give you all the gory details!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Essential Materials for Writers and Authors

For many of us, the Internet is where we do most of our marketing. We need websites, blogs, social sites, etc. However, we can’t totally forget the real world and the opportunities there to promote.

There are thousands of ways to market and a long list of promotional items to assist those efforts. Two things are essential though.

Business cards – As an author, you are now an expert and a professional. Cards are essential for any business owner. There are sites that offer free cards, but since your business card is a reflection of you, don’t go cheap. A business card should contain your name, your professional title, contact email and/or phone number, and website. Never put a physical home address on the card—P.O. Boxes or business addresses only. You can include your book cover, but every time you write a new book, you’ll need new cards. A logo, slogan, or basic design is a better choice.

Even if you aren’t a published author, a business card still benefits a writer. Instead of “author,’ you are a “writer” or “professional writer.” Hand out your card at conferences and conventions. Use it as a networking tool at every opportunity. With a business card, you will look and feel more professional.

Bookmarks – The most practical promotional item is a bookmark, because it serves a purpose. Even with the e-book explosion, most people still own physical books. A high-quality, two-sided color bookmark will get the most mileage. Your bookmark should feature the book’s cover art, synopsis, ISBN, price, reviews/blurbs, author bio, your website, and publisher information. Compact everything and keep it short. There’s only so much room on a bookmark and you want the text to be legible.

Most people won’t remember your name, let alone your book’s title, five minutes after they meet you. Don’t let them forget by handing out bookmarks. You can also leave them for patrons at libraries and schools or at the doctor’s office. Get creative and have fun!

Does everyone have a business card? Authors, do you have bookmarks? And do you actually take those items with you when you venture out into the world?

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Storm is About to Break!

Announcing a coming storm! Alex J. Cavanaugh’s third book in his best-selling series comes out Tuesday, September 17th. Comment on Alex’s blog this week for a chance to win a Cassa mug, mousepad, magnet, and swag! In addition, he answered my question regarding secondary characters below.


By Alex J Cavanaugh

From the Amazon Best Selling Series!

A storm gathers across the galaxy…

Commanding the Cassan base on Tgren, Byron thought he’d put the days of battle behind him. As a galaxy-wide war encroaches upon the desert planet, Byron’s ideal life is threatened and he’s caught between the Tgrens and the Cassans.

After enemy ships attack the desert planet, Byron discovers another battle within his own family. The declaration of war between all ten races triggers nightmares in his son, threatening to destroy the boy’s mind.

Meanwhile the ancient alien ship is transmitting a code that might signal the end of all life in the galaxy. And the mysterious probe that almost destroyed Tgren twenty years ago could return. As his world begins to crumble, Byron suspects a connection. The storm is about to break, and Byron is caught in the middle…

“CassaStorM is a touching and mesmerizing space opera full of action and emotion with strong characters and a cosmic mystery.” – Edi’s Book Lighhouse

“…mesmerizing story of survival, personal sacrifice, tolerance, and compassion. It’s a rare jewel that successfully utilizes both character and plot to tell a story of such immense scope and intimate passion…” - Nancy S. Thompson, author of The Mistaken

$16.95 USA, 6x9 Trade paperback, 268 pages, Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C.
Science fiction/adventure and science fiction/space opera
Print ISBN 9781939844002 eBook ISBN 9781939844019
$4.99 EBook available in all formats

On September 17, find CassaStorm:
Barnes & Noble
Amazon Kindle

What is your favorite secondary character in each of your books?

In CassaStar, it’s Ernx, a fellow pilot. (He’s also the only one to appear in all three books.) He's light-hearted and easy-going. In CassaFire, it was the dorky scientist Mevine. The young man was just a bunch of awkward nerves, and he was fun to write. In CassaStorm, it’s a character named Piten who went from a very minor character to a much larger one when I realized how important he was to the storyline. He has a cocky attitude, similar to another character I know...

Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design and graphics. He is experienced in technical editing and worked with an adult literacy program for several years. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Online he is the Ninja Captain and founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. The author of the Amazon bestsellers, CassaStar and CassaFire, he lives in the Carolinas with his wife.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Publishing Industry News, Meeting Fellow Bloggers, and Friday Inspirational Photos

Industry News

With the success of on-demand services such as Spotify and Netflix, publishers are looking into subscription services such as Oyster. There are many advantages to both publisher and author. According to the Music Industry Blog, “Book Subscriptions Offer a Much Clearer Path to Additive Revenue than Music.”

Have you ever heard of the site BookLikes? It’s been around longer than Goodreads and recently redesigned its platform. From the Huffington Post: “Inspired by Tumblr, we created service for book lovers but much more personalized than our previous trial. Instead of typical book-social site we came out with the idea of blog platform designed for book lovers.”

I also got to meet two fellow bloggers this week. Jo from Jo on Food, My Travels, and a Scent of Chocolate was down from Canada for her birthday week, vacationing in the area they lived in NC years ago, Cape Carteret. Jeff from Strands of Pattern was vacationing with his family on Topsail Island and met Jo and her husband for the day.

Since I was speaking to a writer’s group in Morehead City and only 20 miles away, I trekked down to Cape Carteret to meet them. I was pressed for time (when am I not?) and frazzled after giving my all to the writer’s group, so I’m sure they thought me a little off-kilter, but it was a delight to meet them.

I’ve been fortunate to meet several of my blogging friends over the years and hope to meet more!

And your Friday inspirational photos:

"Hiss, I hate you feather toy!"

"I love you feather toy..."

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Revealing Sacrifice HER

Title: Sacrifice HER

Author: Sheena-kay Graham

Goodreads: Sacrifice HER

Release Date: December 2013

Summary: When a city is at stake is the life of one sixteen-year old girl worth risking thousands? Deidra Moore goes on the run after escaping from a group of human sacrifices for Bane: God of War. She doesn't believe he exists and sees uncertainty in the scorching desert as a better alternative. But Faux City isn't finished with her and their leader Lord Brinn is ordered by Bane - through one of his maiden worshipers- to bring her back or face dire consequences. In the desert Deidra meets a wanderer named Kane and as feelings spark can they find a safe place to lead a new life before Lord Brinn and his soldiers catch up with them? Yet the question remains. Does Bane really exist and if he does what will happen if either side succeeds or fails? Told in alternating perspectives of both the runaway servant girl and the blonde strong willed leader.

Author Bio:

Sheena-kay Graham was never meant for a traditional job behind a desk. Her childhood career plans included becoming a ballerina, actress or someone who helped people. So naturally she decided to be a writer who writes from her bed. Yes, no desk for this Jamaican book lover. No matter if it’s reading, writing or using the get the gist. The love of the written word has always been with her leading to stories, novels, poetry and way too much fan fiction. This Christian woman can be found trolling Amazon online, in local book bookstores, watching movies on the big screen or in her bed, or reading/writing/on the laptop...again in her bed. Mainly writes YA fiction and is ready to unleash her creativity and wow potential readers.


Cover Designer: Langao

Monday, September 09, 2013

Ghostwriting and Co-Authoring

Not everyone is a master storyteller. Some can envision the tale but lack the proper words to convey the message. If you struggle with writing, don’t give up hope. You can always employ the services of a ghostwriter.

Ghostwriters take an idea and write the story. They work with the creator of the storyline, capturing the person’s intentions and visions, and write the actual book. The ghostwriter’s name never appears on the work; the originator of the idea receives the credit. Ghostwriters are often mid-list authors and the good ones guarantee to produce a marketable manuscript. It’s not cheap, but it is a possible option for storytellers who lack the proper writing skills.

Another choice is co-authoring a book. Two or more writers contribute to a book’s creation, pooling their resources. Unlike ghostwriting, all the writers receive author credit. A written contract between all parties is a must in this situation! Address issues of contribution and compensation before embarking on this journey.

Working with another author has distinct advantages. Usually one has more experience and can enhance the project with his or her expertise. With several authors, marketing efforts are multiplied because there’s more than one person promoting! In addition, established authors already have a fan base. You will reach a far greater audience than with a solo project, especially if it is your first.

Working with another author also spurs creativity. You are able to bounce ideas off each other and the story never grows stale. It requires teamwork and compromise, but you’ll grow and stretch as a writer.

- from How to Publish and Promote Your Book Now! 

Have you considered a ghostwriter or perhaps co-authoring a book? (The latter is a lot of fun!)

Friday, September 06, 2013

Busy Week, Interview, and Friday Inspirational Photo

Thanks for the encouraging words on my Insecure Writer’s Support Group post this week. I’ve been busy formatting books this week, plus I had a seminar to teach, but I’m taking steps to clear my calendar of stuff.

Today I’m at Tyrean’s Writing Spot with a short and fun interview!

And your Friday inspirational photo, which is available for purchase at my SITE:

"Web of Dreams"

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

The Insecure Writer's Support Group

It’s time for another edition of The Insecure Writer’s Support Group, hosted by Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh.

Be sure to stop by his site, as he has a BIG announcement about the group today!

At the moment, time and balance are my biggest issues. Right now I am a spoonful of peanut butter with about a loaf's worth of bread to cover. And I need to be spread in about one minute. I don't think it's going to happen.

I have obligations in so many areas, many of which I never mention here. I was taught by a wise group of business owners that the key is to diversify, but I've over-stretched what I can accomplish. It's time to cut out a few things, even if they make money. No use killing myself just for a buck, especially if it's something I no longer enjoy and it's stressing me out. Because if I chuck a few things, I'll have more time to focus on what I do enjoy. (And visit you guys more often - I know I failed big time this past weekend.)

Speaking - No way I'd give up public speaking. I love it. And it pays very well. The long drives to events might drain me, but the time in front of a room of people invigorates me. I give my all when I speak, and I enjoy seeing the spark transfer from me to them. Freeing myself of a couple obligations will give me more time to secure speaking engagements.

Book formatting - Call me whacky, but I love it. I'm a detail person and very organized, so this fits my personality. I enjoy formatting manuscripts for ebooks and print books and I have a good group of clients. Dumping a few things would give me more time to find even more clients.

There are other things I do that I enjoy. Being able to offer my photos for sale gives me great joy. (And sorry, I've been so swamped, I didn't get to upload any new ones last week.) I enjoy consulting. I don't do it often, but I always learn new things when I guide an author down the publishing path. I also have a major business obligation that requires time, effort, and knowledge, and with others depending on me to do my best, that one absolutely cannot suffer.

I also miss writing. Would love to write my own fiction stories again.

So my goal over the next month is to X out a few things, money-making or not, that are making me crazy. I'm beyond the Energizer Bunny right now. This Type A, never holds still kind of person has got to come down from spaz mode before I hurt myself. (My husband would be REALLY happy about that, too!)

As for the Battle of the Bands, Mama's Boys won hands down for their version of Mama Weer All Crazee Now.

Monday Summer Ross hosted the In Your Pants Blogfest, and this is my entry:

The Backworlds... in your pants.

Must be some big pants - LOL!