Review: A Year in Burgundy

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I love this documentary about 7 wine-making families in the Burgundy region of France. I've seen it several times because it's like a mini-vacation through one of the premier wine-making regions of the world.

I saw it on Netflix, but Amazon also offers it as a DVD for sale and for Prime Streaming.

Directed by David Kennard, Primetime Emmy Award nominee for Outstanding Informational Series, Kennard also produced and directed well-known documentaries like Cosmos with Carl Sagan, We The People with Peter Jennings, and Joseph Campbell: The Hero’s Journey.

A Year in Burgundy is richly evocative of the cultural and historical contributions of the centuries-old Burgundian wineries. It's also a sensory experience that insists you pour a glass of good red wine--burgundy if possible--while you watch it.

What You Get

I tried to analyze why I keep coming back to this film. I think it's because it's such a loving tribute to the art of wine-making. These families who are born into the craft grow up surrounded by the grapes and tradition. Making superior wine requires dedication and, yes, love of what they're doing, but the rewards go beyond creating memorable wines.

The daily rewards of working in partnership with nature, watching the seasons change in the vineyard, carrying on a centuries-old tradition that continues to enchant and enrich, and producing a product that is remarkable sustains those dedicated to the craft, through good vintages and poor.

Takeaway Truth

The documentary creates a life-affirming viewing experience. There's just something about the film that makes you feel good so give yourself the gift of tranquility and watch this.

Love Blooms on Main Street

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Available today for Pre-Release Sales
Spring is in the air. Love is in the air. So that calls for a new Romance Collection release.

Love Blooms on Main Street -- and everywhere else too!

Today is the an informal all-day Facebook party for Love Blooms on Main Street Romance Collection.


This pre-release event celebrates the 10 captivating romance novels by 10 bestselling authors in the Love Blooms on Main Street Collection.

Video Book Trailer

Take a peek at the video trailer for Love Blooms on Main Street. Subscribe to my YouTube channel and drop by the Authors of Main Street Facebook party to say hello, and be entered to win a prize.


Add to Your Library Today

Available for only 99cents starting today at these ebook sellers: Amazon Kindle * Kobo * Nook * and soon on Apple/iBooks.

Takeaway Truth

New releases are so exciting. Join me at the Authors of Main Street Facebook page for prizes today.

Best Buy for Audio Books

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I love audiobooks. They make it easy to stay up with what's popular in fiction and nonfiction when you don't have much time for reading.

I've had 8 of my romance novels produced as audiobooks. (See Joan Reeves on Audible. You'll see my audiobook list at the end of this post.) In the process, I've learned something about how to get the most bang for your bucks when buying audiobooks.

In one word, the best buy comes from Audible because they offer a great membership plan.

Note: Leave a comment with your email on this post and be entered in the April Swag Bag Giveaway which includes an audiobook. 

To Get Most for Your Dollar, Join Audible

Audible offers several introductory offers for membership. Click here to Try Audible Now and Get A FREE Audiobook!. When the Audible membership fee goes to regular price, that's only $14.95 a month. Each month on the basic plan, you get 1 credit per month. If you don't spend the credit, it rolls over. For 1 credit, you can buy any audiobook, regardless of retail price. Now that's a deal!

Plus, there are special sales for members throughout the year--sales like BOGO or $4.99 or less sale prices. I stock up during the sales.

There are alternatives to paying high retail prices for audiobooks. I'm sure there are other audiobook sites with membership fees, but I'm most familiar with Audible which also offers another benefit to readers.

WhisperSync

Another benefit to Audible membership is WhisperSync. You can get the Kindle ebook edition of the audiobook you purchased for a reduced rate and switch back and forth between reading the Kindle book edition and listening to the Audible audiobook. It will sync to the farthest read point automatically.

You can check the ebooks in your Kindle library to see if they're WhisperSync enabled. Although all of mine are available through WhisperSync, not all Kindle books are. Learn more about WhisperSync here.

With Audible, you can download a book in just about any format so you can play it on your iPod or MP3 player, your Smartphone, computer, or even burn a CD and play it in your car or home if you're still listening to CDs.

Audiobooks Embraced

The popularity of audiobooks is growing by leaps and bounds. If you read my post last year about library circulation statistics for audiobooks and ebooks, you saw the staggering increase in audiobooks. In retail sales, there was a 20% increase from 2011 to 2012 even as all book sales declined during that same period.

Once audiobooks were enjoyed mostly by the blind. In today's world, audiobooks have risen in popularity because they make books accessible to anyone--people who love to read and people who are marginal readers. Plus, you can "read" an audiobook while traveling, commuting, working out at the gym, cleaning house, or weeding a flower bed.

Save Time & Still Be Literate

Time is at such a premium in today's world that readers often don't have the time to devote to their passion. Being able to listen to an audiobook allows readers to indulge their love of books. Audio books can take away the tedium of commuting, traveling, mundane chores and tasks, and entertain you all at the same time. When chitchat at a social gathering turns to the bestsellers, audiobook listeners can hold their own.

Takeaway Truth

About 5 years ago, a little more than 4,600 audiobooks were released. Fast forward a couple of years, and the audiobook releases increased to more than 13,000. It's only going to keep growing which is very good news for authors--and readers too.

Remember: Leave a comment with your email on this post and be entered in the April Swag Bag Giveaway which includes an audiobook.

Joan's Audiobooks

Jane (I'm Still Single) Jones

Just One Look

Nobody's Cinderella

Old Enough to Know Better

Romeo and Judy Anne

Scents and Sensuality

Still The One

The Trouble With Love

Hello, Pollen, My Old Friend

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I've been barricaded inside for many weeks, trying to hide from the dread spring menace: Pollen.

Ack! Itchy Watery Eyes

Unfortunately, Pollen finds me and attacks during those quick trips to the post office or grocery store. There's simply no way to hide from the culprit behind my itchy, watery eyes that defy the daily allergy medication and nose spray. Sometimes it's so bad that I feel as if I'm looking at the monitor through a veil of tears.

Lovely Pines Are a Pain

I guess that's not surprising given the fact that pine pollen can travel up to 1800 miles in a short amount of time. Did I say I'm allergic to pine? How wonderful that my townhouse is located in an area with 50' pine trees, and they're a lot closer than 1800 miles.

My allergist told me something very similar to what Robert Wood said: "As a country becomes more developed, allergy rises and rises. And the notion there is that in the more-developed countries, you may be getting less exposure to infections and germs and other things that may stimulate your immune system in a direction other than allergy. The more your immune system is kept busy by exposure to germs and infections early in life, the less time it can devote to things like allergy."

Takeaway Truth

I guess I better hang out with sick people more often.

8 Down & Dirty Promotion Truths

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These marketing tips are common sense, but that doesn't mean everyone incorporates them in a marketing plan or even takes them to heart.

8 Down & Dirty Promotion Truths

1. Putting a book out with no promotion sets the book up to fail.

Gone are the indie-publishing days when you could publish an ebook with no fanfare and have it shoot onto the bestseller lists. In today's competitive ebook publishing world, you must promote.

2. It takes more than one promotional medium to make an impact.

Unless you have a huge following hungry for your next book, you can't just use Thunderclap, or an ad, or a blog announcement, or a FB party on release day and see your ebook fly off the digital shelf. You have to begin promotion in advance, and you have to follow through on release day and beyond. It takes planning, organization, and participation by others like those who follow you on social media, friends, and anyone else you can recruit.

3. Relying on social media for selling a particular book isn't reliable.

Yes, social media helps build a community and increases name recognition, but it's not necessarily going to result in increased book sales. Build your social media community as one part of your promotion process.

4. Be selective with your social media community.

There are dozens of social media networks now. It's impossible to be on all of them and be effective on all of them. Choose 1 or 2 and grow your community there. Choose the social media that is most comfortable for you based on your available time and resources.

5. Enjoy your social media and other promotion activities.

Too often, promoting on social media can feel like you're pushing a 3 ton boulder uphill. Every day. If that's the case, then analyze how you're doing it and make changes.

6. Don't depend on social media to be your only promotion vehicle.

What are the other ways you can promote your book, your name, and your brand? Guest blogging, joining group blogs, attending Facebook parties, posting to the web pages that allow book promotion. There are many free venues available so make a list.

7. Purchase ads when you have the money to spend.

Be sure you buy ad space that gets results. You at least want sales that will pay for the ad. When you buy an ad, you want a venue with tens of thousands of subscribers so see if the advertiser provides circulation statistics. However, large numbers of subscribers isn't a guarantee of good results so ask other authors about their experience with the advertiser you're considering.

8. Make a written plan, incorporating all the various means of promotion.

Write it down: what you'll do and when you'll do it. Then analyze and record the results.

Takeaway Truth

The very best promotion tip is to find what works for you and change it as needed.

Thursday3Some: Against Her Will by Serita Stevens and Jo Schaffer

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Please welcome Serita Stevens and Jo Schaffer, authors of Against Her Will, available in eBook and trade paperback.

Meet Serita Stevens

Serita Stevens is an award-winning author, screenwriter, and teacher of writing. She has written over 30 published books and short stories. Some of her titles include the bestseller Book of Poisons (Writer s Digest Books), The Forensic Nurse (St. Martin s Press), The Ultimate Writers Handbook For Books And Scripts (Motivational Press), and The Transylvania Art Heist: The Chas Allen Story (2015).

Stevens holds a Masters Degree in Communications and Writing from Antioch University in London, England, and has taught at UCLA, USC, and Loyola Marymount University, among others. She is an active member of Women in Film.

Find Serita Stevens Online

Website * LinkedIn * Facebook * Twitter

Meet Jo Schaffer

Jo Schaffer is an author, speaker, and blogger who studied Arts and British literature in London, England. She is a founding member of Writers Cubed, a non-profit organization formed to promote literacy, and co-creator of Teen Author Boot Camp (TABC), the largest teen author conference in the United States. Internationally recognized authors who have presented at TABC include James Dashner (The Maze Runner) and Ally Condie (Matched). Jo is also involved in independent film.

Find Jo Schaffer Online

WebsiteTwitter * Facebook * Instagram

About Against Her Will

My name is Cassidy Connor and my parents hate me. Well, they can go to hell. After yet another fight with my manipulative lawyer father and Bible-thumping mother, I disappear onto Hollywood Blvd. among the other street kids. Or so I thought. The cops pick me up for a BS crime I didn't commit, and Dad announces the only way I can avoid charges is to voluntarily admit myself into Oak Dale, a psych ward for crazy teens. I don't belong there -- my parents are the real nut-jobs --but it's not like I have a choice.

At Oak Dale, everyone is going on about the kid who just killed himself trying to escape. How could they dump me in a place like this? I'm thrown in with my anorexic roommate, Erin; foster care system victim, Gina; and pyromaniac Tony. Guess he likes to light 'em up. All of us are unwanted baggage, here against our will. 

I quickly learn only the strong survive Oak Dale -- and some of us won't make it out alive.

When did you write Against Her Will?

Persistence is the key here. I started Against Her Will nearly fifteen years ago - -- when Serita worked as a nurse at a psychiatric hospital specializing in teens. I let the partial languish until my current literary agent, Italia Gandolfo of Gandolfo Helin & Fountain Literary Management, asked for a list of my works in progress. Immediately, Italia saw the potential in the book and teamed me up with Jo Schaffer, a writer who co-founded Teen Author Boot Camp. We finished the book based on my original outline, and Jo added her own unique style of writing.

What was the spark that gave you the story idea?

It was inspired by the events I experienced on the teen ward in the psychiatric hospital. Teen psych wards are often "throw-away" places for children whose parents can't handle them. I saw many kids who did not deserve to be there, but were admitted by parents who could not or did not want to deal with them. In reality it was the parents who needed the lessons.

Why do readers want to buy Against Her Will?

Teens will either identify with, or be fascinated by, the struggle of the characters. The book is very raw and real. The reader experiences the journey of being a "throw- away" teen first hand. Against Her Will is a story of how kids deal not only with their parents and the system, but with their own inner demons. Some won't make it through unscarred -- or alive.

Add Against Her Will To Your Library

Amazon * True North Publishing * B&N

Takeaway Truth

The weekend is coming at us. Better grab a good book and get ready to read.

2 Most Important Rules of Branding

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Let's talk about the 2 Most Important Rules of Branding. I've seen the following situation so often lately that I want to offer a bit of advice to new authors, either traditionally published or indie published as well as authors who haven't done much about branding but want to start.

Rule 1: Brand Your NAME Not a Title

Yep. That's the number one rule of branding. Brand your name, not a title.

Most people just starting out do it the other way around because they want to call attention to their new book -- and hopefully make sales.

If you expect to have a long career in writing and plan on publishing other books, then what happens to that website, Murder at Oak Ridge, or the social media accounts, Summer Romance, that you created using a book title? It disappears from the public's consciousness.

Doesn't Serve You Long-Term

Using anything other than your name, doesn't serve you long-term. Just ask me. This blog's name is a perfect example of that. Unfortunately, I've published the blog for so many years that I'd lose readers by trying to change it.

When your second book, possibly Mystery of the Pyraminds debuts, how do you effectively promote it on a website with another book's title? You're effectively asking readers who are inundated with book titles and author names to remember that your Facebook profile is Winter Romance, not Mary Smith.

You're asking them to remember to go to Murder at Oak Ridge to read about your new book, Mystery of the Pyraminds. Using anything other than your own name won't promote your next book or the one after that.

Rule 2: Make It Easy To Be Found

You see, that's the second rule of branding: always make it easy for readers to remember and identify you. A lot of effort goes into promoting via social media, website, and blog. Make sure you choose the right label to brand so the effort isn't wasted.

Now is the time to set up your website, blog, and social media accounts using your name.

Everything online should point to YOU, the author, not your book title, and all content should reflect who you are as an author and the brand you are establishing.

Takeaway Truth

Everything you do should be designed to  increase your name recognition -- not the title of a book. Your name is your brand so develop it carefully and with much aforethought.