StatCounter

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Tuesday’s Tips and Tweaks


This week author Kimbra Kasch joins us with her tip. She’d a writer who grew up in an old Victorian house on Mt. Tabor, in a family with 9 kids and only 1 TV. so she spent her days reading and, later, writing. She loves books, maybe because she never got to pick any of the TV shows she watched but she’d run home after school to catch the last fifteen minutes of Dark Shadows...every day.)

Kimbra’s Tip on Marketing For Dummies…or at Least a Dumb Author

Marketing is just like anything else in life…it takes time to get good at it. But how can you get good at something when you don’t even know what it is you’re supposed to be doing. It’s like dieting. You can’t lose weight if you’re eating more calories than your expending but we don’t start out life knowing how many calories are in an apple compared to an ice cream sundae. So we have to do a little research to figure it out. That’s the same with marketing.

But first before you begin your research, you have to have a goal. So think about it. What is it you “realistically” want to do? I mean you can plan on selling 1,000,000 books but if that’s your goal, you just might have to be willing to make more sacrifices than you’re prepared to do. So really…think about it.

1)   THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU WANT TO ACCOMPLISH

(jot down some notes, ideas, thoughts and do a little graph or make a list)

PROS                            versus                          CONS


2)  SET A GOAL

(Now that you’ve thought about it, and made some notes, set a goal)

                GOAL: _______________________________________

3)  WRITE OUT YOUR PLAN
           
(write out a flowchart of what it is you want and how you’re going to get there)

And, it can be simple as Marketing Book – Start tweeting about my book

But, of course the more detailed and broad your plan is, the better your results will be. But, like I said, how can you do what you don’t even know? So, that brings us to number 4.

4)   RESEARCH

a)   Who are you writing to: adult romance, young adult paranormal, middle grade chapter books…Who is your target audience?

b)   Once you determine the answer to that, you can start researching your “market”

c)   How does your market buy their books (online, bookstores, book festivals)? What sites do they visit online? Which blogs do they read? What magazines do they read?

5)  CONNECT – NETWORK

This can be as easy as you want to make it or as difficult and time consuming as you can imagine.

a)  Join a writers’ group: Romance Writers of America, SCBWI, Paranormal Romance Guild, Willamette Writers, etc.

There is a group for every genre and age group from picture books (PB), middle grade (MG), young adult (YA), new adult (NA) or adult (A).

b)  Once you’re connected, get involved.

You won’t only make marketing connections by getting involved, you’ll make friends, which will be more valuable in life and along the publishing path.

6)  CREATE A STREET TEAM

For once, “using” your friends won’t be a bad thing.

It is going to be overwhelming if you try to journey down the path to publication and marketing all alone. You’re going to need people to help you to be successful in life and in writing so you might as well get used to the idea (I know, writers are introverts-usually). But your friends can review your releases, blog about your book and help you market to the general public. And there’s more than that, they can encourage you when you get a rejection, a bad review, or just when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

Blurb from “Demon’s Ink”

This is a romantic thriller but really it's about art but art that's more than anyone bargained for.

Drake and Bartos come to the Pacific Northwest, where they open yet another tattoo shop but Bartos has no trouble dealing with the competition because there’s nothing normal about his art. And he’s stealing more than clients from the local skin artists. He's stealing their souls.

Customers fall in love with Bartos Slinderman’s tats but end up paying the ultimate price for their purchase because unlike Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray, they can’t walk away from this art and it’s beautiful until the artwork takes on a life of its own...

But, when Drake meets Scarlett everything begins to change…again. He’s found something he never thought possible: love. And, it’s complicated. Now he’s going to have to make the choice of a lifetime—and beyond. Will he choose love or life? And, if he chooses love, he just might have to give up his soul.

Excerpt From “Demon's Ink”                           
                                                        DRAKE

Expectations can ruin everything. Like thinking my senior year was going to be something special. What a set up that was.

I should have known better than to get my hopes up.

Ever.

I’d never been lucky. No one in my family was. I was probably only six when I’d heard grandpa say, “We come from a long line of losers.” He was talking to my Dad. I don’t even know about what. But, now, I know I should have listened to him.

Dad had already gone to prison, leaving Mom and me worse off than ever. And we were never good but, at least while he’d hung around, she managed to act like things were okay. Now she wasn’t even trying to pretend. Really it was way worse than that; she wasn’t even getting up off the couch any more.

I’d come home from school to find her passed out. The first couple times it freaked me out. Seeing her face-planted in the front room and not knowing whether she was alive or dead, I didn’t want to be the one to find her like that, to turn her over, to have to check to see if she was still breathing but I did. . . and I had no idea if she was high or drunk. I didn’t even care because what difference did it make? She was out of it. That was all that mattered.

So, after Dad went to jail, I was completely alone until Bartos made me a deal I couldn’t refuse but that was later.

For weeks, I’d come home after class and make a sandwich—if there was bread—otherwise it was a bowl of cereal for breakfast and dinner, sometimes I’d eat it dry because the milk had gone bad.

I knew I was going to have to get a job if I wanted to survive and I’d started looking around but that was right before everything changed.

It was late one Thursday evening. I still remember because I was thinking, “Only one more day…” I just didn’t know how right I was.

I don’t know what woke me up that night. Maybe it was the smell, the heat, the sound of my Mom screaming. I really don’t know. But I opened my eyes to the thick burning haze of a room filled with smoke.

I’d gone down into the basement that night and fallen asleep.
Looking around, I already knew there were no windows. I was trapped.

Buy Links:
AMAZON,
NOOK
iBook
KOBO

You can find Kimbra on Twitter or see what she’s pinning on  Pinterest.
She’s also at:
Goodreads
Amazon Author Page
Facebook

Feel free to send Kimbra an email. She loves connecting with readers.


Thanks Kimbra, for dropping by and sharing that great marketing tip.


Don’t forget to check back next week for another author’s tip or tweak.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Put a Bounce in Your Writing

We’re writers and the saying is ‘butt in chair and write.’ So we sit down and write, sometimes for hours.

This is called a static unmoving situation and can translate into immobility of joints and tension on the muscles that support those joints.
I’m guilty of this and thought my stiffness was just part of getting old.

The biggest thing to help to prevent the stiffness is small breaks. I set a timer for every hour.  Then I get up and take a walk. You can also stretch, do a five minute workout, whatever works for you. as long as you're moving those joints.
This will help bring mobility back to the joints and stretch the muscles.

It’s also important to increase your activity when you finish writing; workout at the gym, take a yoga class or try Tai chi. These will help counter the time spent in one position, hunched over the computer.

You can also change the way you write. I know someone who uses a standing desk because of her back. There are other ergonomic desks you can try. Or use a fitness ball. It’s fairly inexpensive, helps with your core muscles and gets you moving a little more than a regular chair.
You can also buy fitness ball chairs. (Who knew?)
If you're using a ball, keep your feet flat on the floor and you should be at eye level with your computer screen.

Whatever works for you, but you still need to take those breaks.

I’m bouncing along as I write this blog. I actually prefer it to the standard chair. And my timer just went so I’m off for a short walk to get more coffee. Anyone want to join me?

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Tuesday Tips and Tweaks


This week author Irene Vartanoff joins us with her tip. Irene is a U.S. writer of women's stories, including superheroine adventure, contemporary romance, and women's fiction.

Irene’s Tip on Writing

What if you've finally managed to write a scene and it's off somehow? What to do? It's a nice scene, it's dramatic, your characters leap off the page, but there's something wrong.

First, ask yourself if the scene is necessary to the story. Necessary could mean several things: It reveals an important plot point. It introduces an important character. It shows an important development in the major relationship. Or it keeps the pot boiling as the relationship or situation develops.

Second, if the scene is necessary, ask yourself if it is being told by the right character. Whose opinion or reaction is crucial in this scene? Then ask if the scene is instigated by the right character. Is it something that flows from how you have defined that character? Or is it out of character?

I came up against this issue when I was trying to keep the pot boiling in my sweet contemporary ranch romance, Captive of the Cattle Baron. Baron and Addie have many scenes in which their emotions rise and their desire for each other rises, too. But it's a sweet contemporary, so there are strong plot reasons they can't fall into each other's arms immediately. This creates frustration, and frustration creates snappish, even caddish behavior.

When I first wrote this kitchen scene, I did it as instigated by Baron. A very good writer acting as a beta reader told me that made him into an abuser. I agreed. It was taking him down the wrong road, since he's the abductor and Addie is the captive. He already has power over her, so being a pig about the clothes she's wearing is really piling on. Criticizing a woman's clothing is in the repertoire of classic abusers, and I didn't want Baron to come off that way. But I needed to keep the tension high between him and Addie. Addie did her share in the scene as originally written, taking offense and pushing them into a spat.

So what did I do? I wrote a short scene from Baron's point of view, showing how frustrated he was with his life and thus paving the way for him to be in an irritable mood. Then I changed the kitchen scene and made it from Addie's point of view, showing Baron arriving obviously grumpy. All he does in the revised version of this scene is frown at Addie's skimpy outfit and then reply to her question. He doesn't accuse her of showing low morals by showing a lot of skin on a hot day. He mostly frowns and responds. Why does he frown? As the scene now reads, it's because she's another frustration in his life.

As for Addie, I decided that she would instigate the scene and it would be all about sexual frustration. She reacts to his mere glance. She takes offense at Baron's frown and blows up at him because she wants him and she can't have him as long as she's his captive.

I like the scene a lot better now that Addie is the one who escalates the drama. See what you think in this excerpt that shows the scene build up and then the spat.   

Excerpt From “Captive of the Cattle Baron
Baron was in his office, looking at geology jobs online, when he heard Miss Betty’s first call that lunch was on the table. He rubbed his face. His morning had started off great, kissing Addie. The rest of today, not so much.
Arguing with the ranch hands over details of the roundup wasn’t what he wanted to do with his life. The conference in Jackson Hole had given him leads for new geology projects with interesting employers, but he couldn’t take any of them, dammit. He had to stay here and run the ranch.
Run the ranch. Not him. The ranch hands ran the oiled machine his father had created. The ranch didn’t need Baron, but he was stuck here anyway, until J.D. got better, or until their parents decided to move back or sell up. Whenever that happened. J.D. had returned from the war a year ago. The outlook for his recovery and return to civilian life still wasn’t good.
Meanwhile, the days of Baron’s own life went by, and at age twenty-nine, the work he’d spent years training to do, geology, not ranching, was forbidden to him. Family duty was nothing but frustration.
“Boy, you eatin’ lunch, or what?” Miss Betty called again.
“Coming.”
***
Addie sat down at the table, and a few seconds later Baron arrived, his mind clearly somewhere not pleasant. After a casual glance at Addie, his gaze sharpened. His eyes examined her clothes. He frowned.
Suddenly conscious of how much skin the cami and shorts revealed, she asked, “Is there something wrong with my clothes? You’re giving me the stink eye.”
“Not much clothing in evidence,” he said, scowling.
“Last night I got the distinct impression you liked that,” she replied.
“What?” Miss Betty shrieked.
“All I did was kiss her,” Baron told his housekeeper.
“Excuse me, but there was a lot of touching going on, too, Mister-Holier-Than-Thou. There’d have been more if I hadn’t escaped.”
Baron’s face flushed red. “You responded. Don’t deny it. I could have had you if I’d pressed.”
“How dare you?” Addie cringed mentally at the show they were putting on in front of Miss Betty, but couldn’t stop. "This isn’t about my clothes. It’s about you being frustrated because I keep saying no.” 
“Set yourself down and concentrate on lunch,” Miss Betty advised.
Addie took an angry turn around the room. “I’ve lost my appetite,” she replied. “Excuse me.”
 
She left the kitchen.

Buy Links:

(Captive of the Cattle Baron is in Kindle Unlimited and available in paperback at):                                               U.S. Amazon http://amzn.to/1IkrG5y
 
You can find Irene at:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Irene-Vartanoff/773154459467433
www.irenevartanoff.com

Thanks Irene, for dropping by and sharing that great marketing tip.

Don’t forget to check back next week for another author’s tip or tweak.
 

Friday, August 21, 2015

Genre Stereotypes - ??

It’s time for our monthly group blog and Rhobin has chosen another interesting topic. This one has me thinking. Do you feel certain genres stereotype men and women? Why do you think that happens? How do you prevent it in your writing?

First I can’t speak for all genres because I don’t write or read sci-fi, paranormal or YA. I have read a few historicals. My opinion is that it does happen in most historicals. The books written about the Regency period or the 18th and 19th century are in a time period when men ruled. They controlled the politics, the money, the house and the women. Women had a subservient position in the house and society, most of the times. Are there books, where the women take charge? I’m sure there are and I’ll be interested to read what out historical authors say on this topic.
In romance and romantic suspense I don’t think the roles are stereotyped any longer. Were they ten years ago? Yes. But in today’s writing the heroines are strong women; detectives, mayors and doctors.  They are strong, confident and they may have their Achilles heel, but they are equal to their male counterparts. The men may be detectives, reporters, nurses and cowboys, but they respect the women and treat them as equals. At least the heroes do. It makes for great conflict and great reads.
In my own writing I love my heroines and I always make them strong. The men may also be strong, but if they want to win over their heroine they’re going to have to learn to compromise and accept her as an equal - a woman who is intelligent and knows what she wants. It makes for challenging relationships and I love it when the men ‘finally get it.’
I look forward to seeing what the other authors have to say on this topic, especially those who might write YA, paranormal or sci-fi. My opinion is that they also can write the h/h anyway they want and it’s not tied to stereotypes.

Please join me in checking out these other authors.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Book Recommendations

I finally managed to get some reading in and thought I’d share some of the books I’ve been reading.  If you like a romance in the style of Robyn Carr, try RaeAnne Thayne and Redemption Bay.  It’s a small town and RaeAnne and you love the characters, I have to admit, the dogs were my favorite. The conflict between the hero and heroine is well-developed. She’s the young mayor and loves her town but they need a stimulus with more jobs to help the town to come back to the thriving community it used to be. He’s there to see if the town would fit a new development project, but he was raised there, has no positive memories and has made up his mind before he returns that it won’t work there. She had a crush on him years ago but now she blames him for the decline of the town’s economy. It’s a fun read and I recommend it.

The Dead Will Tell: A Kate Burkholder Novel by Linda Castillo is a dark romantic suspense. It’s well written and had me up into the middle of the night finishing it. It starts with a murder in an Amish community about thirty years ago. Now its present time and people are being killed. Kate investigates and it looks like the people who are dying were involved in the murder many years ago. Who will be next? Can Kate catch the killer before another body is found? The plot is well crafted. It grabs you and you want to find out who and what. I also recommend this one.

The last one is Fatal Affair by Marie Force. It’s another dark romantic suspense. It’s well-written, well-developed characters and a plot that grabs you in the first few paragraphs and keeps you reading, unable to put the book down. Senator John O'Connor is found brutally murdered in his bed. The conflict between the hero/heroine spills into the story.  They shouldn’t be involved.  She’s a cop and he’s a material witness. It could compromise the case. But they can’t stop. The bodies keep piling up. Is it the congressman’s brother? And the family keep s telling lies. Another one I couldn’t put down and recommend.

What about you? Have you read any books over the summer you’d like to recommend?

Monday, August 17, 2015

Tuesday Tips and Tweaks


This week author Kathy Otten joins us with her tip.In between family, work and animals Kathy can be found at her computer weaving stories of laughter, heartache, and love for the crazy cast of characters swirling around in her head. 

Kathy’s Tip on Writing Body Language

As writers we are constantly reminded to show, not tell our stories.
Telling--He was angry. Show. How? Slamming of the door, swearing.
Refine it some more. How would a man show his anger differently from a woman? A child?

Take it to a deeper level as you more thoroughly define your character, incorporating the social environment surrounding your character and their backstory.
Think about how your character reacts to other characters, situations, conflicts and even their own emotions.

An understanding of body language is a key element in being able to show your story to your reader in a believable way.

As authors we should never tell the reader whether or not to like a character. In the same way we form judgments and opinions of people based on our interpretation of their body language, the reader too, forms opinions about our characters, based on the visuals the writer creates.

So what is body language?

  Body language is the non-verbal communication of feelings, attitudes, and moods.  It is shown through body posture, movement, facial expression, eye movement and position in relation to other people. It can be conscious or unconscious. 

Body language is partly inborn or inherited (and consistent among all humans) and partly environmental (dependent on society groups and cultures).

6 Universal Facial Expressions- Inherited rather than learned.
Happiness        Disgust                              Sadness 
Surprise            Fear                                  Anger

Our ancestors needed to be able to read the body language of not only other humans, but animals, in order to know whether to trust, defend or attack.

Women have a better perception and interpretation of body language than men, probably because they needed good body language perception to reduce their vulnerability to males and the threat not only to their own lives but their children.

Body language is also relative to age and gender. The frontal lobe of the brain, which processes the subtle nuances of facial expression isn’t fully formed until the early twenties, which is why teens sometimes misinterpret the reactions of teachers and parents.

The young also tend to display more obvious gestures because they are naturally energetic, uninhibited and subtle. While older folks are less energetic, adopt more modest postures and are prevented by clothing and upbringing to use less pronounced gestures.

Interpreting body language also depends on context. Someone could be rubbing their eye because of irritation, fatigue, disbelief, or upset. Crossed arms could indicate someone is cold and they are trying to stay warm, or they could be feeling defensive. Someone scratching their nose could indicate a lie or an itch.

In thinking about those reactions which are unconscious like breathing, like rapid pulse, or body temperature also remember that they must be taken in context. Think about seeing someone with a rapid pulse, breathing heavily and perspiring. Have they just returned from a run? Are they sitting at their desk at work? Maybe they are in an interrogation room at the police station.

While voice is not usually considered a part of the study of body language, as writers, he tone and pitch of our character’s voice is important.  It might be unconscious or conscious.  How might a person react vocally to a sudden fright or shock? What about while making love?

Consider the human tendency to lie, deceive, manipulate and pretend. Of course the degree of each varies with each of your characters.  Now think about two people making love when one hates the other, or the killer reacting with surprise at the death of his victim.

A person giving a speech before a large audience might unconsciously stammer or talk softly. In order to appear before the crowd as the confident person they are not, they might have to consciously remember to speak loudly and clearly.

Body language also involves touch, how we touch ourselves and others. How close to we get to people depends on our level of intimacy with that person.

Desmond Morris, Behavioral Scientist, Intimate Behavior: A Zoologist’s Classic Study of Human Intimacy , came up with the 12 Stages of Physical Intimacy.
1.   Eye to Body
2.   Eye to Eye
3.   Voice to Voice
4.   Hand to Hand
5.   Arm to Shoulder
6.   Arm to Waist
7.   Mouth to Mouth
8.   Hand to Head
9.   Hand to Body
10.        Mouth to Breast
11.        Hand to Genitals
12.        Sexual Intercourse

I’ve seen these steps used by romance writers as they develop the intimacy between the two main characters, but they actually reflect the level of our relationship between the people around us.

Think about people in your family, the people you work with, or strangers on the street. What level of intimacy to you allow with each person? What happens when someone jumps ahead to a level you have not allowed.
Danger! Danger! 
Stages 1-3 are what we use most everyday, making eye contact and having conversation with people. Moving into Stage 4 is the first step into physical contact. Allowing someone to touch us is makes us vulnerable. Which is why you can only be tickled by someone you trust.
How does your character interact with their environment?  Do they fiddle with the pens on their desk, smoke, twirl their glasses, fuss with their clothing?

The eyes have often been called the windows to the soul and writers use eyes to help show a character’s reactions. Without words the eyes can communicate strong emotion and likewise create strong reactions.

As you write, think about how your characters react to their environment, circumstances and other characters. Replace some of your speech tags and instead use body language to show your story.

Blurb from “After the Dark”
Months in the trenches of France have left Liam Gallagher wondering why he has survived when better men did not. His guilt intensifies when he returns home only to come down with the deadly Spanish Influenza sweeping the country. Once again Liam lives when thousands do not.

Now the only bright spot in his monotonous life is the time he spends each day walking with Rosalie Moretti. Their talks give him hope for the future, a future possibly to include this vibrant, loving woman. Until one dark, catastrophic afternoon, when Liam realizes the reason his life was spared has come down to minutes and his ability to perform one selfless act.


Excerpt From “After The Dark”

The warmth of Rosalie’s palm pressed against his free hand. Heat rushed to his cheeks, and between their palms, his skin dampened. He laced his fingers with hers. With the pad of his thumb, he traced the top of her hand. Her skin was so smooth. Were all women this soft, or had he just never noticed?

She tugged him forward, and loath to release his hold, he followed her up the steps.

He cast one quick glance over his shoulder toward the city livery and blacksmith shop. He should return to his beat, walk around the tank, and chase away the lads and lasses who’d come with their pails to collect the constantly dripping molasses.

But when he looked back at Rosalie, a secretive smile teased the edges of her full lips, as though she were aware of her own seductive power over him. And like a green lad, fresh off the boat, he allowed her to lead him inside.

Buy Links:
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00WDIJ6EI?ie=UTF8&tag=thewildrosepr-20&link_code=wql



You can find Kathy at:
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/kathyotten
FaceBook: http://www.facebook.com/kathyottenauthor
Website: www.kathyotten.com
Contact: kathy@kathyotten.com

Thanks Kathy, for dropping by and sharing that great marketing tip.

Don’t forget to check back next week for another author’s tip or tweak.