XinXii Now Features Authors

I'm a bit under the weather today. My 17 houseguests (3 of which were babies) wore me out. Though I'm back in the office, I've yielded to the feeling that I need to take a day off so I'm posting something short and sweet. (If I feel better tomorrow, I'll start the "how to sell 20,000 ebooks series in less than 3 months.")

This will interest authors who are publishing, or thinking of publishing, with the English language platform of XinXii, the European digital publishers.

Breaking News

CEO Andrea Schober emailed me to say they had adopted another suggestion I'd made about how they could promote the authors on their site: featuring the authors so visitors could get to know them and hopefully be interested enough to buy their books.

They liked the idea so have started the "Featured Author" section on the frontpage of XinXii. I am humbled and flattered because they chose my author profile to begin. That's what the picture illustrating this post is: XinXii's Featured Author which, when clicked, takes you to my profile page.

Tips By Experts

Since XinXii is actively working to help authors with book marketing, they've got more changes planned. One already implemented is in the section Book Marketing for Authors where they support indie authors and help market their works. A new section Tips by Experts has been added.

This section will be constantly filled by the know-how and the great experiences of professionals. Every approved expert in self-publishing, the eBook industry, SEO, Twitter Marketing, Facebook Marketing etc. is welcome to participate with guest articles. The objective? Share basic and useful know-how and experience on how to increase eBook sales, readers, fan-base, etc.

Takeaway Truth

Selling ebooks should be a joint partnership between author and retailer and/or distributor. It's nice when you come across a retailer/distributor who seems to believe that too.

Happy Memorial Day

If you're traveling home today from the long holiday weekend, be safe.

Buckle up.

Don't drive under the influence of anything but intelligence and common sense.

Like we say in Texas, drive friendly.

Takeaway Truth

Happy Memorial Day!

Heroes and She-roes

Maya Angelou, one of my favorite poets wrote: "How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!"

Memorial Day, formerly known as Decoration Day, is a United States federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May.

Designed to commemorate men and women who died while in military service to the United States, Memorial Day was first observed as a way to honor Union and Confederate soldiers following the American Civil War. After World War I, the observance was extended to honor Americans who have died in all wars.

Though in pop culture, Memorial Day marks the start of the summer vacation, we should always remember those who served and sacrificed.

Takeaway Truth

God bless America, land that I love, and God bless the heroes and she-roes who purchase our freedom with their service.

Indie Book Covers

Ah! I'm sitting with my feet propped up. We are at our Hill Country home for the holiday, and I have 17 guests with 9 being children aged 16 months to 10 years. Yike! I'm tired.

I sneaked away a few minutes to post about my mini-interview on Indie Bee Covers, designers of top quality ebook covers for indie writers. Though they did not design any of my book covers, they were kind enough to ask my opinion of book covers.

I love their tagline: "Because everyone judges a book by its cover." That is more true than most people realize.

Takeaway Truth

Books are judged by their covers. With indie books, you must have a great cover. Anything that looks amateurish will cost you sales.

10,000+ Ebooks Sold!

On Tuesday of this week, I reached the incredible milestone of 10,000 ebook sales, spread over my 3 ebooks, in less than 2 months from the publication of the first one, Just One Look.

Two weeks after the first ebook went live, I published my second ebook, The Trouble With Love. One month after that, I published the third one, Still The One.

Fourth Ebook On Its Way

Tonight, I published my 4th ebook, Jane I'm-Still-Single Jones, another sassy escapist romance, perfect for a little vacation between the covers of a book, but more on that later. Now, I want to tell you about my 10,000 sales. All 3 books are on various Amazon Bestseller Lists. It's crazy, but the first ebook may break 10,000 just by itself by the end of the month or before.

Amazing, Simply Amazing

I've received a ton of emails asking: "How did you do it?" I'm tempted to say, "I haven't a clue!" However, that's not what anyone wants to hear. They want to hear step by step directions that they can follow to do the same. So I'll elaborate. But not now.

Now, I'm simply too exhausted to give you what I call my Ebook Golden Rules. Look for the first of several blog posts about this next week. It's been a long day of proofing, formatting, converting, and uploading. My new ebook should be live by Saturday. Next week when I return from the Hill Country, I'll upload it to PubIt for Nook, Smashwords, and XinXii.

I love ebooks. I can't believe I waited so long to become an indie author/publisher.

Takeaway Truth

Once you start publishing, you'll kick yourself because you didn't do it sooner.

Population & Census Facts

As a writer, I'm always doing research for one project or another. I love the little nuggets of information I find. I guess most writers are like this, and this probably explains why writers are so good at trivia games.

Here are some interesting facts about population. You can think of these the next time you hear something about the census.

10 Fascinating Facts

1. In 5000 B.C., the world population was estimated at 5 million.

2. Today, the world population is approximately 6.76 billion.

3. The world's population has been continuous growing since about 400AD.

4. In the 10th century AD not one city in Europe had more than 400,000 people.

4. Despite a long-term growth trend, there have been periods like the 14th century in Europe where there was probably more death than growth due to the Black Death, or Black Plague.

5. In 1610, the population in the American colonies was 350.

6. In 1790, only 5% of Americans lived in cities.

7. In London, the percentage of children who died before five years of age from 1730-1749 dropped from about 74% to about 31% in 1810-1829.

8. The fastest growth rate periods: during the 1950s for a short period, 1960s and 1970s for a longer period.

9. Since births outnumber deaths, the world's population is expected to reach about 9 billion by the year 2040.

10. The National Population Council estimates that more than 74 billion people have been born and died in the last 500,000 years.

Takeaway Truth

Research not only gives you the facts you need to write accurately, but also it gives you some good conversation fodder.

Meet Indie Author Lori Pescatore

This morning we're having coffee with a new Amazon friend Lori Pescatore.

Lori is like a super hero. By day, she's a mild-mannered preschool teacher and a wife and mom. By night, though she's still a wife and a mom, she's also a writer weaving stories incorporating romance, fantasy, and science fiction.

Lori said:  "Although I love all of these titles, I can now add published author to the list of things I can consider myself. I was proud the day I got married, I was proud the day I gave birth to each of my boys, (now grown men) and I was proud when I got my certification to teach.

Book Details

First, let me give you Lori's book details for the Kindle edition of her novel, which is the first of a trilogy, Human Blend which is also available in print.

Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 334 KB
Print Length: 234 pages

Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
Language: English

Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars (63 customer reviews with 62 being 4 & 5 star reviews!)


Laney isn't like other girls. She has special "abilities" that made her a prize for her captors, but she escaped. Now she's hiding in the small town where she found sanctuary. Though she knows it's dangerous, she forms a relationship with a local boy, and that's when everything begins to unravel.

Fun Questions To Break The Ice

Joan: Which do you prefer and why? Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet or movie version of West Side Story?

Lori: I prefer Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet because I have always been a fan of Shakespeare. I love his characters and the hidden jokes, and it is really literature that makes you think. I love books that challenge me.

Joan: What's your TV guilty pleasure? Why?

Lori: I love Vampire Diaries. Why? Uh, maybe 'cause the guys are hot, and it has vampires, enough said.

Joan: Name a book, any genre, that means a lot to you and tell us why.

Lori: My favorite book of all time is S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders. I love the characters in this book. My own novels are character driven, and her book has some amazingly colorful characters. Each one leaves you wanting to know more about them.

Down To The Nitty Gritty

Joan: How long have you been working at your craft? Please tell us something about your first published book, the journey from the idea that you wanted to write a book to finally writing one for which you received a publishing contract or decided to publish yourself.

Lori: I've been writing all my life for family and friends and finally decided to put myself out there with Human Blend in 2010. The idea came from just a thought of a girl on the run, and it took off from there. I had no idea it would turn out with these fantastical creatures and characters. I self- published just to test the waters and even entered the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards where I was a quarter finalist.

Joan: The book we're featuring today was what number book for you? 1st, 3rd, 7th?

Lori: Human Blend is not only my first published novel, but also it's the first novel I wrote.

Joan: Tell us something about this particular book that makes it special to you: either how you came up with the title or premise or what inspired it?

Lori: The book is special because it is a labor of love. It is a book I would have bought myself if I'd seen it on a shelf and read the synopsis. The characters themselves inspired the story as they took hold of my imagination and told the story.

The main thought was a girl on the run, from what, I did not know. I really just opened my mind up and let it flow from the character's point of view. As each character came on the scene, the more the voices grew. I can't really explain it. The characters' voices really developed the story. As they became more fleshed out, so did the storyline.

Joan: Did you publish with traditional publishers before this book? If not, did you ever consider going the traditional route?

Lori: I self-published because right now, the publishing business is in turmoil. Most agents and/or publishers are not really looking to sign new and unproven authors. There have been many self-publishing success stories, and I like the idea of having control over my own work. I first published as an e-book on Amazon and Smashwords, then created a print version using Create Space.

I even held a book signing in December of 2010, and it was an amazing experience. It has been less than a year, and I have 63 reviews on Amazon alone. My sales are increasing every month, so I'm pretty content with my decision to self-publish.

Joan: How satisfied are you with being an indie author?

Lori: My numbers have been great. I am very satisfied with being self-published, but that is not to say that if a big six knocks on my door that I would not give them a listen.

Joan: If they made a movie of your book, who would be cast to portray the characters?

Lori: Tough question. So many talent actors out there. I used model pictures when I wrote the character descriptions, and the only one who was an actor/singer was Jesse McCartney for one of my leads of Austin. The rest I leave up to your imaginations. Okay, maybe Paul Walker for Eli.

Joan: What are you working on now?

Lori: The second book in the trilogy, Earth Blend, which picks up where the last one left off. It will also give readers an insight to the new fantasy creatures created in Human Blend.

Joan: What do you now know that you wish you'd known when you started?

Lori: That time is relative. When it feels right, it's complete. Sometimes you tweak a book so much that it ends up nothing like what you planned. Make sure you know when to walk away and hit publish.

Joan: What advice would you give someone just starting out?

Lori: Invest in an editor. Well worth the price. I learned the hard way. My first edition was riddled with errors, minor ones, but they still made the book seem unprofessional. I've since hired an editor who fixed my mistakes and is working on the second book with me.

The Last Word

Joan: Is there anything else you'd like to tell us about anything?

Lori: I just would like to say thank you for the opportunity to talk about myself and the book and a huge HUG to all the readers out there. You make it all worth it.

Takeaway Truth

Thank you, Lori Pescatore, for sharing a cup of coffee and your journey with me today on SlingWords

3 Final Book Promotion Tips

Though I didn't intend these Book Promotion Tips to be a series, it seems to have become one. First was 6 Book Promotion Tips.

Second was last week: 5 More Book Promotion Tips.

Today, I present 3 Final Book Promotion Tips.

Remember why I'm doing this? Because published authors must promote their books in this fiercely competitive business.

Unless you're high up the food chain, the print publisher provides no support. If you're an indie author, you are your own publisher so that makes you your own publicist too. Remember my tee shirt design? Ask me about my ebook because the buck stops with you when it comes to promotion and publicity.

3 Final Book Promo Tips

1. Join professional organizations.

If you're eligible to join a professional writing organization, do so because you'll learn a lot from members who have far more experience in the business than you. Plus, it's wonderful to have friends in the biz. Of course, networking is always a result of memberships in organizations. Who can tell where a tip from a member might lead you?

2. Pay it forward.

Go to book signings of other authors and buy books. Tell the organizer of the signing that you have a book too. Be gracious and friendly and give them a card. Let them know that you'd love to participate in a group signing. Do NOT be pushy, obnoxious, and overbearing. If they like you, they'll call to set up a signing with you.

If you have a Guest Blogger, buy their book.

3. Post book reviews.

Post a review if you like the book. As a writer to writers, I encourage you NOT to post a bad review if you don't like the book. Here's why. No writer sets out to write a bad book. Sometimes, for whatever reason, the elements just don't come together.

Posting reviews is not cutting-edge journalism whether you do it on your blog or on Amazon. You're providing content with a goal of building an audience. But, you're also building karma. One day, that author you slammed in a nasty review may just repay the favor.

Sure, you can build an audience with snark, but you can also build one with graciousness.

I've noticed that the people who leave the best reviews on Amazon are authors because they usually point out what about the book is good. Seldom do they write negative, nasty reviews. Yes, they may point out an area where the author could have done better, but they don't post vicious remarks the like of some I've seen on bookpages.

The nastiest reviews seem to come from people who roam the internet looking for a hapless book on which to vent their spleen. If you check their other reviews, you'll seldom find a book they liked. In fact, after reading some truly bad reviews, one gets the idea that the reader didn't read the Product Description before purchasing the book because the elements deplored as pet peeves are mentioned in the Product Description.

There are 2 ways to have the tallest building in town. Tear down all the other buildings until yours is the only one standing. Build a taller building. For which do you want to be known?

I think good promotion amounts to sharing. You speak and share something you know. You write an article for a newsletter and share your expertise. You blog and spread the information you know. I share because I like to share. Information wants to be free.

Takeaway Truth

Perhaps, in the end, that's the best form of promotion: just giving to others, and enjoying the people you meet along the way. If you sell some books, then that's just a bonus.

Song Lyrics and Fair Use

Do you know what Fair Use is? In the United States, it's the principle that allows limited use of copyrighted material without requiring permission from the rights owner.

Fair Use is for purposes of review or scholarship. The issue of Fair Use is complex. Read more here if you want to learn more about this issue that's of great importance to writers.

When To Claim Fair Use

This is a sticky situation because a lot of writers think they can quote any material as long as they provide attribution. That's an idea that can land you in the kind of hot water that requires lawyers and deep pockets. Be very careful, and read up on the subject before you quote anything.

Song Lyrics

As much as we all love our music, it's natural that we'd want to quote it in blogs and books and such. Fair Use does not apply to song lyrics. If you quote a lyric, you must have permission.

Surprisingly, it's sometimes rather simple to gain permission to use song lyrics. Several years ago, one of my friends quoted a Bob Seger song and obtained permission for free if I remember correctly. She'd tried Seger after her first choice had named a mind-boggling fee to use one of his lyrics. Of course, now he might request a huge fee also. Things change.

No Under The Radar

There are some artists who will never agree to have their lyrics used in any way. They will also diligently pursue litigation no matter how small the fish is. Don't think you can publish "under the radar" because no one knows you. That's a myth in this age of web crawlers that can find anything with a simple Google Alert or something similar.

If you want to find out who owns the rights to lyrics, visit ASCAP, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. They are a performing rights organization which licenses and collects royalties.

Takeaway Truth

Professional writers need to learn the legal issues regarding what they publish in books as well as on the Internet.

Away From Work

A-traveling I go, a-traveling I go, high ho, the dairy-oh, a-traveling I go.

I'm still away from the office which reminds me of what American sociologist Charles Horton Cooley said: "To get away from one's working environment is, in a sense, to get away from one's self; and this is often the chief advantage of travel and change."

My Environment

My work environment is built around technology. Though I have my laptop with me, I have no internet access thus no email. I find this a curious situation since I so rarely am without technology. Even when I'm in our Hill Country house, I have internet access. However, I am enjoying the quiet here on the farm. Actually, I think what I'm enjoying is not having to prepare meals, do laundry, and cope with daily housework.

Takeaway Truth

I'm away from my environment, but I don't believe I've gotten away from my self. If anything, I've merely gotten away from the daily humdrum domestic chores, but that's enough to declare this vacation a success!

Writing Contests: Judge's Perspective

Reminder: I'm away from the office and without internet connection here on the farm. If you leave a comment, I'll get to it when I get back to a place with internet. Thanks! Joan

Here's today's post: Writing Contests: Judge's Perspective

I judge a lot of writing contests every year. Why? It's a way to help a writer who may be struggling with that whole "can I write or am I fooling myself" complex from which all of us seem to suffer. My heart goes out to people like this because I'm one of them too so I'm glad to light a candle for those stumbling in the dark.

When I first started writing, hardly any writing contests existed. I'd have given anything to get some feedback from "real" authors. You know, the people who actually had a book in print.

Now that I've written just about everything from newspaper and magazine articles to published novels, I feel I have some credibility so I volunteer to judge contests. Mostly, I'm asked to judge the romance genre though I judge other genres, even nonfiction, too. Each genre has its own characteristics, but good writing is good writing regardless of the genre.

Often I find myself burning the midnight oil in order to fulfill my commitment. Just recently I've finished judging two contests and have one waiting on my desk. Another couple will be arriving in the mail in the next few weeks. When you add that to my own writing, I'm, well, I'm swamped! But I wanted to share some insights with those of you who might be on the contest trail. Maybe this will help.

Who are the Judges?

Let's talk about the judges. Who are we? Hopefully, we are all published authors, editors, and agents. Of course, we all know why having an editor or agent as judge is a good thing. They'll fall in love with our entry and ask to represent and/or publish it. Right? But why published authors over unpublished writers?

Now, you aspiring writers out there, don't get your quills ruffled. I'm not saying you don't know how to write because you're not published. I'm just saying that published authors have been in the trenches.

We've managed to get published, but we also have submitted and been rejected countless times so we might just know a little more about what editors are looking for in a story and what separates a good story from a good story that will get published. So look for the contests that guarantee these kinds of judges.

Note: With so many successful indie authors now (I'm lucky enough to be one), I'll admit to thinking that some of these might have some good insight into writing contests too, but, for now, I'm talking about print-published authors because most have paid their dues and paid, and paid.

Why don't judges sign their names?

When I first started judging many years ago, I signed my name. I felt I should be willing to stand by my comments. I stopped signing my name after a couple of years. Let me reiterate that I always try to be objective and not let personal taste enter into the judging.

I give balanced comments and always find something good to say about even the most uninspired entry so it's not like I insult the writer with scathing, sarcastic remarks knowing the writer won't discover who I am. That's just not nice, and I'm a nice person. Ask anyone. So why did I stop being upfront about my identity?

Two reasons. The first reason was because I met a well-known author who told how her career was nearly ruined because she judged a contest and the entry had a strikingly similar plot line to a book she'd already sold and was in production at her publisher's.

When the author's book hit the shelves, the contestant immediately filed suit, claiming that the author had stolen her ideas. The author eventually triumphed, but it was a Pyrrhic victory taking years, ending her marriage, and costing her tons of money.

Burden Is On You

Publishers don't like law suits. They are more than willing to settle out of court even when the author is innocent of wrong-doing in order to avoid bigger legal wrangles that might drag on and on.

Sadly, this happens more often than you think. I personally know two authors who have been sued. In both cases, the authors knew they were innocent. One insisted on fighting back and did so at her own expense. The other's publisher insisted on settling, which rankled. Worse, the matter affected the author-publisher relationship. Ultimately, that author never sold to that publisher again.

Risk Is Real

In this country, anyone can sue anyone. The burden of proof is on the defendant, and the cost can be substantial. If you're unsure about the legal ramifications of anything you do as an author, educate yourself. If you question anything, find the definitive answer, before you publish the material.

Life is too short, people. I'm not alone in my unwillingness to risk hard-earned bucks, reputation, publisher relationships, and emotional health. That's why you don't see very many signatures on the judge's comment pages.

Don't Hassle The Poor Judges

The second reason I don't sign my name is that after a couple of years of judging contests, I got fed up with receiving rebuttals from contestants who wanted to explain to me why I was wrong, why I didn't know what I was talking about, why I was a loser, why he or she was a better writer than me, etc.

These are probably the same people who post anonymous, scathing reviews on Amazon and the like, which may well be the zenith of their creative writing abilities.

Takeaway Truth

Choose a contest wisely, and at least say thanks to people who have volunteered their time to help you.

Upgrades from XinXii

I had an email from Dr. Andrea Schober, the CEO of XinXii, the European digital publishing platform about which I've written in the past. My ebooks are on the English language platform of XinXii.

Andrea wanted to tell me about some changes at XinXii. What's really neat is that it's changes I had suggested several weeks ago that are designed to aid authors in increasing their visibility. I'm flattered that the powers that be thought they would be good changes to make.

3 New Things

1. They have changed the layout, so when you now click on an author name, you'll see the author page and bibliography. Additionally, each author can make use of his personal link and author badges for marketing purposes (see "My XinXii > Marketing").

2. I had suggested they move Biographies/Memoirs to Nonfiction from Fiction/Literature. They did this while integrating new sub-categories in Biographies.

3. They've removed the keyword box which had been stuffed with the names of other authors who, ironically, weren't published on XinXii. Writers had used the famous author name in hopes of luring readers to their books, likened to the famous author's work. XinXii is designing other functions to optimize the usability of XinXii. Those will be announced soon.

Takeaway Truth

One of the best things about digital publishing is the responsiveness of the publishers to suggestions when they have analyzed and found those suggestions credible.

Create Effective Affirmations

Though my husband can't get away, I've decided to take a little vacation to visit my brothers for the next couple of weeks. My older brother's farm is near a bayou in Louisiana that's normally a trickle, but this year hasn't been normal.

The Mississippi is supposed to crest near his location this week. I think he and his family and the farm are safe unless there's a levee break. The Army Corps of Engineers is sandbagging the levee north and south of that part of the state so, hopefully, all will be well.

I'm leaving you with interesting posts that will publish during my absence so be sure and check SlingWords every day.

By the way, Just One Look should rack up 5,000 in sales tonight, and my other 2 ebooks, The Trouble With Love and Still The One, are gathering momentum too. Thank you to all who supported me by buying my books. I appreciate each and every one of you.

Now, here's today's post: Create Effective Affirmations.

If you read my previous post on 5 Ways To Change Habits, then you may recall I promised to give you some tips on how to create new self-instruction, you know, those thoughts that bombard you all day long, every day.

Use Affirmations

One of the ways you can change your negative self-instruction is to use affirmations.

A lot of people try to work with affirmations to address a situation that needs to be changed, but, often, they don't understand the science behind how the brain works so they don't create an effective affirmation.

If someone wants to lose weight, he may create an affirmation that states: "I won't eat dessert." That kind of statement will never change anything except maybe increase one's desire for dessert because it doesn't take into account the way the brain works.

Using Brain's Modus Operandi

The brain can not act on a negative. It acts only on a positive. If you tell your brain "don't eat dessert" then the brain "hears" eat dessert. The negative gets removed. You must create affirmations with specific characteristics.

Present Tense

An affirmation is a strong positive thought so construct it in the present tense using positives, not negatives. I make good food choices. I eat for good health. I always choose food wisely, etc.


Your affirmation should be a strong positive statement that contains no guilt. Not: I make good food choices because I need to lose weight. But: I make good food choices for my good health.

Use Emotions

Add an element of the emotion you want to link to the changed behavior, i.e., "I make good food choices for my good health, and I am happy in the positive changes this brings about.


• pick one thing at a time to change
• carefully craft your affirmation
• write your affirmation on a 3x5 card
• write in a journal about why you want to change the behavior
• think about it throughout the day
• review your affirmation at bedtime

All this is cognitive therapy - using your brain power to recognize habits and behavior that do not serve you well and then taking conscious steps to replace that which doesn't help with something that improves your situation and your life.

Takeaway Truth

Change isn't easy, but it can be achieved if one uses effective tools.

Ladyhawke For a New Generation

This past weekend I watched Ladyhawke, a 1985 flick. I love this movie, but I hadn't seen it in a while. Since paranormal is so hot, this is a movie that needs to be remade or at least re-scored again.

I was drawn into the fantasy world of Etienne Navarre and Isabeau d'Anjou, two lovers cursed by the Cardinal whose love Isabeau had scorned. There's only one negative feature of this film: the soundtrack. If I had to use a couple of words to describe the musical score, I'd have to say: "it sucks." Big time.

This emotion-drenched story is so compelling, so well-acted by the young and beautiful Rutger Hauer as Navarre and Michelle Pfeiffer as Isabeau, but the soundtrack is so jarring and inappropriate for a love story that sweeps you away to medieval times. This movie doesn't just make you suspend disbelief at the fantasy story; it makes you fling disbelief into oblivion. The desperation and despair of the two ill-fated lovers is wrenching and believable.

People Behind Ladyhawke

Directed by Richard Donner, 7 years after he did the original Superman movie and 2 years before he directed the first Lethal Weapon film, the set of Ladyhawk was where Donner met Lauren Shuler who produced Ladyhawke. The couple subsequently married and remain married today. They were both honored with a double star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in October 2008. he shows why he's such an amazing director. The film was nominated for two Academy Awards and for several science fiction awards.

Edward Khmara wrote the story and the screenplay. (Writers, you can learn from Mr. Khmara's screenplay because it works on so many levels.) The Warner Brothers marketing department said the movie was based on a true medieval legend. Of course, Mr. Khmara, who created the story from his writer's imagination, took issue with that claim. He took his complaint to the Writers Guild Association and was awarded a cash settlement from Warners. However, the medieval legend claim had a life of its own by then.

Because of Ladyhawke, I decided to forgive Mr. Khmara for his other 1985 work, the horrendous Enemy Mine starring Dennis Quaid and Lou Gossett as a pregnant male alien. Mr. Khmara went on to write Dragon, The Bruce Lee Story, 1993, another of my favorite movies.

The Story

Ladyhawke had the tagline: Cursed for eternity. No force in Heaven will release them. No power on Earth can save them. The movie starred Matthew Broderick, fresh from his War Games star turn, as Philipe Gastone, a thief who escapes from the dungeon at Aquila. He's nearly captured, but Captain Navarre rescues and befriends him.

Navarre has been hunted by the evil Bishop's men for two years, ever since he escaped with Isabeau, the object of the Bishop's lust. Since the Bishop couldn't have Isabeau, he cursed her and Navarre. By night, Navarre is a wolf; by day Isabeau is a hawk. They are always together, yet always separated. Navarre wants Philipe help him re-enter the city so he can kill the Bishop.

The Cast

Broderick's character is am amusing distraction, but the real acting heavy hitters are Hauer and Pfeiffer. Rutger Hauer is so completely believable as the tortured knight in love with a woman he can only see when he's in the shape-shifting form of a wolf. Pfeiffer is electric as the Isabeau who loves her knight, but can only be with him as a hawk. Wolves and hawks mate for life, just as these two cursed lovers.

Hauer's role was three years after his mortality-conscious android in Blade Runner, another favorite of mine. Michelle Pfeiffer played Isabeau after paying her dues through years of television performances and 3 previous movies: Grease 2, Into The Night, and the infamous Scarface. John Wood, also in War Games with Broderick, was the evil Bishop of Aquila. He's so good that you instantly hate him. Leo McKern, the late Australian actor who some always thought was English, played Father Imperius the Monk. He set the whole story in motion by betraying a confession to the Bishop who then cursed the lovers. Naturally, he's the one who knows how to break the curse.

Introduce to New Generation

I don't know what would be required, but if someone were to re-score Ladyhawke and re-release the movie, I think they'd be surprised at the business the movie would do. The sweeping love story needs some kind of soul-stirring music like Carmina Burana or something like the Clannad cuts used on Last of the Mohicans or look at the Lord of the Rings Trilogy music. There are professionals who know far better than I how to score an epic movie.

Takeaway Truth

Some movies transcend their flaws. The epic love story Ladyhawke is such a movie, and it possesses the power to win a new generation of viewers.

5 More Book Promotion Tips

A couple of weeks ago I gave you 6 Book Promotion Tips because published authors want, no, need to promote their books in this fiercely competitive business.


If an author is high enough up the food chain, the publisher provides support. If a traditionally-published author is mid-list or below, then usually the publisher provides zip, nada, nothing.

If you're an indie author, you are your own publisher so that makes you your own publicist too. You might as well get a tee shirt that says: Ask me about my ebook because the buck stops with you when it comes to promotion and publicity. (Actually, The Write Way, my CafePress shop sells these tee shirts, water bottles, bags, buttons, etc.)

I'm all about helping my fellow writers because I truly believe that "a rising tide floats all boats." If you missed the guest blog by Jason Matthews Indie Authors: Better Keywords Sell More Books on Friday, go back and read it. Jason offers key advice for helping authors get eyes on their book pages.

5 More Book Promo Tips

Today, I'm offering 5 more tips, in no particular order, to help you with book promotion that can be done for print or ebooks.

1. Be an expert and write.

Does the information plot or the characters' careers, hobbies, or problems lend itself to organizations and niche interest groups that would be interested in having an article from you for their newsletter? Of course, the article would contain your bio and promo links.

For instance, does a hobby like coin collecting, knitting, or cooking with wine figure in the plot? Do the characters have occupations or hobbies that would have organized groups, i.e. a CPA, banker, or a marathon bicyclist or a Harley enthusiast.

Even their conflicts can lead to special interest groups, i.e., a character who has hereditary hemochromatosis or a character who is a recovering cancer patient or an adult with ADD.

2. Be an expert and speak.

All of the above can be network connections to speaking engagements too. Network your connections, and find organizations in your local area. Contact them and tell them about your book and how it relates to their special interest and offer to speak at a meeting because program chairpersons are always looking for new speakers.
If you are uncertain about speaking in public or on broadcast, start rehearsing now. Get someone to videotape you and view the tape. Get some credible opinions on your wardrobe, appearance, speaking voice, attitude, and what you say. There are a lot of companies that offer this service. You might even check high school, junior college, or college drama departments to see if you can get some low price help from them.

If you have print copies of your book, sell them and autograph them. (Make sure you clear this with the Program Chair in advance. Also, if you're buying your own books to re-sell and you didn't pay sales tax, you should check into your state's sales tax guidelines first.) Give a speech and pass out a printed promotion card.

3. Give away a printed promotion item.

Always have a printed something to leave behind so someone can look you and your books up later. Business cards, postcards, bookmarks, flyers. Pick what works for you. Depending on size, make sure it has, at minimum, your name, URLs, your book titles, and buy information. Carry these with you wherever you go.

If the printed card is large enough, add reviews of the book and a 1 sentence description (usually the marketing hook) of the book, and your contact info. (I recommend never giving out your home phone or home address. Get a post office box if you're going this route of promotion. Use your cell phone and an email address you don't mind using if it becomes the target of too much spam.)

4. Develop your platform.

One could argue that you should do this first. In the past, platform meant you, as an author, bringing your career or hobby expertise to your book. Today, it also applies to what you write. Do you write some particular niche area of a genre, i.e., I write funny, sexy romance so I'm building a platform around the concept of love, laughter, and passion.

5.Always carry a copy of your book, if it's print, or a reasonable facsimile if it's an ebook, i.e. a postcard with the book cover on one side and pertinent information on the other.

If you plan to carry this in your purse, put it in some kind of protective case or package so it doesn't get tattered and wrinkled. You want it to look professional when you hand it to someone.

Let people know that you have a book, but do NOT be obnoxious or pushy about it. If they ask, show them the book. If they ask if they can buy your copy, sell it to them with an even dollar amount like 5 or 10 bucks, something they're likely to have in their wallet works best.

Even better, give your book to them and ask them to post a review if they like it and to tell their friends about it. Sometimes good will is the best kind of promotion. After all, you can deduct that kind of expense as marketing so be generous.

With ebooks, when you're asked how to get a book, give them your postcard or business card. In fact, figure out some way to give them an incentive to follow through. For instance, give them your email address and tell them to contact you with their receipt and you'll give them a discount on your next book.

Takeaway Truth

Good will and generosity go a long way in building an audience and a fan base.

Another 1000 -- No! 2000 Ebook Sales!

Just One Look -- oh, dear, I bet you're bored at my exuberance over the sales. Don't worry, this will be the last post about the sales progress of my first ebook. In the future, I'll try to refrain from gushing about all this ad infinitum, but I'll quietly let you know when I hit those 1,000 markers.

However, I wanted to post one last time because I hope it will encourage some of you who are standing on the sidelines and wondering if you should try being an indie author/publisher.

I was thrilled when I told you that Just One Look had sold 1,000 copies in 1 month.

Then a week after that, I excitedly told you that my first ebook had sold another 1,000 copies -- this time in only 1 week. Then it made the next 1,000 sales in 5 days. Now, it has made another 1,000 sales in 3 days.

The Tally

That's right, since publication the last of March, Just One Look has now sold more than 4,000 copies! I hit the Amazon paid list of Bestsellers for Kindle/Genre Fiction/Romance/Contemporary; Romance/Contemporary; and Fiction/Literature. (Forgive me if I'm quoting those categories wrong. I should have copied it from the page I guess.) In fact, on the Kindle list I've fluctuated between 10 and 13; slightly higher numbers on the other 2 bestseller lists.

For a couple of days I was #93 I think on the top 100 of all Amazon books. That really made my day. Of course, these lists fluctuate by the minute I think. I've gone off the top 100 list and back on. If you monitor this kind of thing too closely, it will drive you crazy. Initially though it's a trip. I had to take screen shots and send them to family plus tell everyone I know.

Marie Force's Glom Effect

Suffice it to say that I think Just One Look is doing well, and I hope -- no, I pray -- it continues to do so. The glom effect as Marie Force calls it is pulling my other 2 books along nicely.

I should probably hit 1,000 sales with my second ebook The Trouble With Love perhaps by the end of this week.

To make life even sweeter right now, my third ebook Still The One which went on sale last Tuesday, has sold more than 100 copies in just 6 days. If this is a dream, I hope I keep on dreaming.

Moral Of This Story

If you have the rights to a backlist title, but you haven't done anything with it, now is the time to act. If you have a finished book that made the rounds of publishing but never sold -- and you still believe in that story -- now is the time to act. If you have a manuscript that you never submitted because conventional wisdom said it would never get published, now is the time to act.

Make no mistake, I work hard at this. However, if I can do it, you can too.

Takeaway Truth

I want to inspire others to try what I'm doing because, like I always say: "It's never too late to live happily ever after." And, being able to put your work before readers is happiness for writers.


Comedienne Carrie Snow said: "Technology... is a queer thing. It brings you great gifts with one hand, and it stabs you in the back with the other."

For all of us who were stabbed in the back this past week by technology, I hope your wounds are healing. Blogger went down and took posts from Wednesday through Friday to the cyber Bermuda Triangle. Hotmail was down. Comcast was out in a great part of the country. People were saying they got viruses on Facebook.

All this made us want to weep and wail and tear our hair out by the roots. Fortunately, most of us abstained from that. We just griped online and complained to friends and family.

Last night, I noticed Blogger had restored my posts and even my scheduled posts. Of course, I'd had to recreate the guest blog by Jason Matthews, a keyword expert, which had been scheduled for early Friday morning. Many of you checked back and found his post that published around 12:30pm CDT. The Link Love post from Wednesday showed up again too.

Takeaway Truth

The one great truth about life on which we can all agree, regardless of your socio-economic status, ethnicity, or culture, is expressed by a bumper sticker: "Sh*t happens."

Indie Authors: Better Keywords Sell More Books

Please welcome my guest star Jason Matthews, the author of two novels and three how-to books. I call Jason my friendly Google guru, and he's here to tell all of us authors how to use keywords to drive traffic to our books.

Jason's nonfiction books are of particular interest to indie authors especially Get On Google Front Page: 2011 SEO Tips, which is all about using keywords.

In His Own Words: Jason Matthews

Thousands of self-published books are uploaded to online retailers every day, according to Mark Coker of Smashwords. Many of these new authors are also creating blogs for their titles. That means, to succeed, Indie authors must stand out from an ever-increasing crowd. It's no longer enough to write a great story, but you also have to assist readers in finding your book.

The Answer

The answer, which eludes many authors, is to rise in search engine results for specific terms. Then new readers will find your book just by searching with Google/Yahoo/Bing or even in the box at Amazon. (Yes, Amazon is a search engine.)

Fortunately, this can be easier than you think. In fact, it can be a simple matter of using keywords wisely as well as knowing which terms to use and where to use them.

How Readers Browse

Face it, unless you're already famous, most book buyers won't type your name and book title into a search box; instead they'll type something descriptive of what they want like "historical romance novel" or "fantasy books for young adults."

Surprisingly, many authors use terms as generic as "ebook," "fiction" and "kindle" to accompany blog posts and book tags, terms too broad and competitive for helping with search engines.

Keywords can be individual words like "action" or "adventure," a set of words like "action adventure genre," or even phrases like "action adventure books for young adults." This is the difference between short and long-tail terms, targeting broad markets with heavy competition versus niche markets with less.

Best Practice

It's best to add both short and long-tail keywords to every site, blog, URL, book title, headline and description that have boxes for them, always ensuring that the keywords are related to the content of your book.

Your best keywords are relevant and being searched by lots of people with relatively low competition.

Make A List

Start by making a list of possible terms and phrases describing your book. Let this list be extensive because a few hours of initial research helps immensely in SEO efforts over time. You can include your name for branding, but the subject matter is most important.

Check Your List

Then go to Google's Keyword Tool External. There you can freely type in words or phrases and get data on how many times per month Google actually receives that request. Notice how slight variations can dramatically affect results, e.g. "action adventure novels" is about five times more popular than "action adventure stories." You'll also see a bar graph indicating competition from others using those keywords.

Then go to Amazon and type in your favorite terms (or tags) to see which books are on the first page of results. That's where you want to be!

Take Action

Begin by employing your researched terms into everything related to your book including retailer's description, tags, labels, blog posts, articles, interviews and more.

Blog regularly on these topics with the keywords, both short and long-tail, spread out among the headline, categories and text. Use those keywords for anything related. Over time, your book will make it to the first page of search results, and you will sell more copies.

Thank You, Jason Matthews!

Jason has been standing by on the West Coast, waiting to take comments and questions. If you leave either, I'm sure he'll get back to you soon. His book is available in print and Kindle editions. I'm getting the Kindle edition, and I recommend it to anyone who needs to gain more exposure for a published book.

Comments Now Open!

Takeaway Truth
Authors need to be as well-skilled in the business of writing as they are in the craft of writing. Using keywords properly can help you greatly.

(Note: We're off to a bumpy start this Friday since Blogger has been off-line for more than 24 hours. When it came back on, I discovered to my frustration that everything from Wednesday to this moment had been wiped out. Next time Jason appears, I hope things will go off without a hitch. Guess we can blame this on Friday the 13th even though I'm not a bit superstitious.)

Sharing Link Love

Let's share some Link Love today. I'm late with this because I'm suffering frequent power outages today.

Building Worlds

My friend Donna Maloy has started a new blog Building Worlds. Like her blog says: "with real or imagined history, new worlds and plants, magical and mythical creatures, real science, and fantasy," if you want to build a fictional world, Donna and her guests can show you how.

This week and next, her guest is my good friend Cheryl Bolen, the acclaimed author of eight Regency-set historical novels published by Harlequin Historical and Zebra. Cheryl possesses a wealth of knowledge about Regency society.

Writing 101

Another friend Grace Kone has started Grace's Mosaic Moments and is giving lots of good advice on Writing 101 for those new to writing. So if you're looking for some basic information about this writing biz, visit her blog.

Don't miss Jason Matthews tomorrow on SlingWords. I call him my friendly Google guru. He'll tell us how authors can use keywords to drive traffic to their websites and book URLs.

Takeaway Truth

When you know of a good website, pass the info around. Pay it forward.

Wicklund's In The Garden of Temptation

In the Garden of Temptation is one of the best books I read last year. The author Cynthia Wicklund told me yesterday that Amazon had emailed her and plans to offer it free in a promotion.

This Regency Historical is so wonderful that I want to get the word out. So click the link, and if it's free, buy it. In truth, it's only $.99 so I'd urge you to buy it anyway even if it hasn't gone to free yet.

I decided to reprint the review I did of the book last year when I read it. So tell your friends to grab this great book.

Hard To Believe

Readers, you'll find it hard to believe, but this evocative, emotional romance novel made the rounds of editors and agents for years without capturing a contract, as did the other 2 books in her Garden Series. They came close many times, and Cynthia finaled in Romance Writers of America's annual Golden Heart contest for unpublished writers, but the end result was a stack of glowing rejection letters.

Strong Belief

Writers sometimes believe so strongly in the worth of a story that they don't give up, and that's a very good thing for readers because In the Garden of Temptation is a gem worthy of a place on your keeper shelf.

Thankfully, digital publishing has created a way for writers who are outside of the traditional publishing box to reach an audience, and that's just what the talented Ms. Wicklund has done with The Garden Series. Let me tell you about In The Garden of Temptation, Book 1.

No Spoilers

It's hard to tell what this story is about without revealing some neat twists, but I'll try.

Adam Stanford, Earl of Ashworth, is a man who is honorable and above reproach. He's always done the right thing. Then he meets the beautiful — and married — Lady Catherine Bourgeault, the beautiful, young wife of one of the most disreputable men in England.

Stunned by a passion and a love that no amount of conscience can deny, Catherine and Adam risk everything for a few moments of stolen bliss. Unknown to them, every event from their introduction to the consummation of their love has been orchestrated by Catherine's evil, demented husband for his own dark purpose.

When Baron Bourgeault finally springs his trap, Catherine is forced to break Adam's heart in order to save him. The baron whisks her away to his crumbling castle in the country. As he sinks deeper and deeper into his psychosis, Catherine knows that her life, and all she holds dear, may be forfeit unless the power of redeeming love can save her.

Charged Emotion

I read this book while I sat in a surgical waiting room. My daughter was having her third surgery in 18 months, and I was a basket case who could hardly take the slow movement of the hands of the clock. A two-hour surgery turned into four, and continued. If I hadn't had this book to read, I don't know what I'd have done. I can hardly believe that Catherine and Adam's emotional journey captured my attention sufficiently as to calm my nerves and give me brief respite from worry, but it did. I devoured the book.

Bottom Line

This is the second novel I've read by Cynthia Wicklund, and it's truly another winner. I can't recommend her books highly enough. She has a way with women characters and the knack for presenting them as likable and honorable even when they may not be engaged in honorable actions. I understand these women, and I like them.

Her talent with characters extends to men. In Lord of Always, she took an evil man and made him the kind of man we'd all want in our lives. In Temptation, she takes an honorable man and makes him behave dishonorably, but we don't care! We still like him. We understand how he is in the grip of a love he never expected to feel. We see his battle with his conscience. Despite what he does, he's heroic.

I'm off to purchase the next books in the series. Book 2 is In the Garden of Seduction, and Book 3 is In the Garden of Disgrace.

Of course, I'm going to buy the Kindle Editions, but you can get them in other formats or Kindle for other apps. By the way, if you want your own Kindle, just click here.

Takeaway Truth

Until next time, remember, a good book is a little vacation from the cares of life.

Still The One: Now Live on Amazon

Still The One, my third ebook is now live and available for purchase! Again, I have priced this at only $.99 because I want readers to discover me and my novels. So tell your romance/chick lit loving friends to head over to Still The One.

Wow, that was really fast. I uploaded it yesterday at 4:14pm, and today at 3:15pm, it's up for sale. Both my first 2 ebooks took more than 2 days to go live. Maybe Monday is a slow day on the KDP so it doesn't take as much time.

Product Description

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to join love and laughter in this sexy romance with a chick lit attitude! Special low price for a limited time on this previously print-published book. Bonus Features too!

Burke Winslow stands at the altar, ready to marry his business partner in a marriage of convenience. The minister solemnly asks: "If anyone here knows why this man and this woman shouldn't be joined in holy matrimony, let him speak now or forever hold his peace."

A rain-soaked, bedraggled Ally Fletcher limps down the aisle and shouts, "Stop the wedding!"

What follows is a funny, sexy romp that proves when there's love, passion never dies, it just smolders away until you toss some gasoline on it. Burke and Ally discover a rekindled passion that threatens to scorch them when they find themselves locked in a marriage - - of inconvenience!

With a cagey grandfather pulling Burke's strings, and an equally cagey grandmother manipulating Ally, can these two battling lovers peel away the layers of the past and discover the truth about their love and passion? Will the truth free them or put them asunder?

Throw in a pretend boyfriend for Ally and a scorned business partner left at the altar, and you have a rollicking good time - - Texas style! Sassy, sexy, and funny!

Originally print published, reviewers said: "Curse the talented Joan Reeves when she keeps you awake all night with her latest comedic romance, Still The One, romantic comedy at its best." (InPrint)


Meet Joan Reeves
Excerpt from The Trouble With Love
Excerpt from Video Vixen
Excerpt from In The Garden of Seduction, Book 2, The Garden Series
Excerpt from Jane I'm-Still-Single Jones
Amusing Book and Author Trivia

Takeaway Truth

Welcome to my ebook revolution where readers and writers benefit from digital publishing.

To Print Or Not To Print

I finished my third ebook Still The One, another romantic comedy, and uploaded it to all the digital platforms. It should be available for purchase in a couple of days.

In the meantime, I'm cleaning out my office and staring at piles of paper that I've accumulated since the first of the year. Saving printed material for later reading is just an expensive way to procrastinate.

This clutter isn't as bad as it used to be when I was always printing articles and research in order to read at a later date. Seldom did I find the time to sit down and peruse all that wonderful information.

Reality Of The Situation

Last year, I finally faced reality and made the decision to find a better way to save all this reading matter. I stopped printing 90% of what I found and that saved paper. Paper costs for a writer can be huge even if, like me, you print on both sides of a page.

Without those stacks of articles facing me, I didn't feel overwhelmed and semi-depressed whenever I saw all that stuff laying around, waiting for me to "find time."

Add A Helper

A small Firefox Add On called Read It Later helped me conquer the paper monster. I save money on printing, reduce that overwhelm sensation, and still get my content saved to read. What's interesting is that I seem to get more of this content read too.

There are any number of applications that give similar solutions to this problem. Another one is Later This.

Takeaway Truth

Eliminate procrastination, reduce expense, and save a few trees with the help of good software applications.

Another 1,000 Ebooks Sold

Just One Look has now sold another 1,000 copies.

Last week I excitedly told you that my first ebook had sold 1,000 copies in 1 month. I can hardly believe it, but in 1 week, Just One Look has now sold another 1,000 copies!  Pinch me I must be dreaming!

Takeaway Truth

If you build it, they will come. Okay, I didn't build a thing, but I couldn't resist the line from Field of Dreams, one of my favorite baseball movies. Let me paraphrase, if you ebook it, readers will buy -- if all elements of the book package are good. (More to come on that later.)

Grown? I Don't Think So

If you are a child who frequently becomes exasperated with your mother when she says things like:

Drive safe and call me when you get there.

Put a coat on, it's cold out there.

Save your money and stop buying so many shoes.

Don't stay up all night playing that video game -- you need more sleep.

then this is for you so you'll understand why moms do these things that irritate you so much.

In Beloved, Toni Morrison wrote: "Grown don't mean nothing to a mother. A child is a child. They get bigger, older, but grown? What's that suppose to mean? In my heart it don't mean a thing.

If you're lucky enough to still have your mother or someone who is like a mother to you, give her a call and tell her you love her.

Takeaway Truth

Happy Mother's Day to moms everywhere -- the ones who gave birth, the ones who adopted, and the ones who took on the role by marriage.

6 Book Promotion Tips

Published authors want their books promoted. Ideally, they want them promoted by the publisher, but what if you are the publisher? Or what if you're an author in legacy publishing, and you're stuck in the middle or the bottom of the food chain?

Publishers give promotion to their A-List authors which is kind of ironic because those at the top of the heap usually sell without much promotion.

Indie authors of ebooks and print know they need to get eyes on their book pages, but they are stumped as to how to drive traffic there. What's a writer to do when all your friends and relatives have already been arm-twisted into buying your book and you find there's no sales growth?

Ideas Brainstormed For A Friend

A while back, an older friend who had published his memoirs through Lulu asked me how he could sell more books. In a perfect world, you'd retain a professional publicist to put together a national campaign using radio, cable, network TV, magazines and newspapers along with Internet to generate publicity for your work. Of course, in a perfect world you'd be rich so paying for all this wouldn't be a problem.

For all of us who inhabit the real world and don't have thousands to pay for a PR campaign, here are some ideas I came up with for my friend based on what I've done. Some you've already heard. Some are old school, but they still work. Some may surprise you, but the most surprising thing is that they can work as well for indie authors as for legacy-published authors. In no particular order, here they are.

6 Book Promotion Tips

1. Have a website and/or a blog that looks professionally done even it it isn't. In today's ebook world, I don't even think a domain-named website with its static pages is a necessity the way it once was when one can have a blog with a domain name attached.

Blogs are more dynamic and can be updated much easier than websites. Whichever you have, make sure you have buy links to make it easy for visitors to buy your books. You can create separate book pages with cover images and a small photo of you the author along with reviews if you wish.

2. Spread your URL. Make sure your URL is on your email signature  as well as on all print materials you use: business cards, letterhead, postcards, flyers, or other material to be mailed to libraries, bookstores, and fans. I print adhesive labels with my book title, a buy URL, my blog URL, and a line from a review. Then I stick one of these on every envelope that leaves my office: bills, letters, cards, promotion materials, etc.

3. Purchase an up-to-date media guide either in hard copy or an online subscription. Use this to target print media as well as radio, television (traditional and Internet) shows that book authors. Media guides can be expensive so see if you can find like-minded individuals and make it a co-op purchase to share the expense and the resource.

4. Send press releases to your local newspapers, press kits to local radio and television, and email press releases online. (In the past, I've blogged about how to do this and will cover maintaining a digital press release in the near future.)

5. Send review copies to credible reviewers and ask readers who praise you in fan mail or in person or bloggers you know who review to post reviews online. Use these reviews in your print materials and in your online promotion.

6. Be a local author. Every book has a geographical setting whether New York, Houston, or Small Town USA? Brainstorm ideas that you can use to gain publicity based on the local author angle. Often, it's easier in small localities to gain publicity than in large cities.

Takeaway Truth

Ideas used by the big guys can also be used by the little guys, and they're usually very effective.

Viewpoint Lessons from Raylan Givens

Old-school U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens is reassigned from Miami to his childhood home in the poor, rural coal-mining towns in Eastern Kentucky.

FX’s contemporary western, Justified, concluded its current season Wednesday night. All I can say is that everyone associated with this production is a class act. They all deserve Emmy's, Golden Globes, and any other acting award, writing award, etc.

Writers can learn a lot about viewpoint and characterization from the character of Raylan Givens.

A fictional character, as opposed to a real person, must be larger than life. Raylan, as portrayed by the remarkable Timothy Olyphant, is larger than life. He's a hero for today -- warts and all.

In the Thick of Things

Viewpoint characters are telling the story. They're always at the center of the action. Watch Justified. If other characters have done something, you'll see that Marshal Givens doesn't react to the event so much as he acts. His reaction is to take action. He sets events in motion. He doesn't sit around internalizing and stewing emotionally. He takes action immediately to avert disaster or change the expected outcome.

Risk Everything

Your viewpoint character, the protagonist, always has everything at risk. That's Raylan's job description. He puts his life on the line every day and risks everything including his chance to have a happy normal life, all in the name of doing the right thing. It doesn't matter what he personally wants or what he may personally lose. He honors his commitment as a marshal and his own internal sense of right and wrong. Belatedly, he has realized that to gain the woman he loves, he just might have to change. And change is just as difficult for a fictional character as it is for a real person.

Goal Focused

Your protagonist or hero is struggling to achieve a worthy goal against great odds which is the conflict driving the story. Raylan faces great odds in his quest to arrest felons, deal with white supremacists, bank robbers, crazy redneck relatives, and more. You think your family is dysfunctional? You ought to meet Raylan's.

All this creates enormous conflict - external and internal - for our hero. Yet, somehow, he always comes out on top through strength of will, persistence, or must plain orneriness. Maybe not in the way you thought, but that's what good characters should do: surprise you. Raylan never stops. He never quits. He keeps going despite anything and everything. He is the epitome of goal-focused action.


Your viewpoint character changes from the beginning of the story to the end. He or she is altered and thus able to live in the changed world - changed because of the story events.

Don't think that Raylan Givens - because he is a TV series hero - is unchanged by all he has faced. This has been on 2 seasons. He's not only changed from the first season to the second, but he's changed in subtle ways from episode to episode, like a book character changes from chapter to chapter.

If you buy the series on DVD and watch the whole season in one setting, the change is dramatic from beginning to end. You see his acceptance of living where he's been planted, and the gradual adaptation of the looser moral code that exists in Harlan County, Kentucky.You also see that he doesn't necessarily like what he's becoming or the image his boss now holds of him.

In being a character willing to do whatever it takes to put down the bad guys, Raylan has lost the ability to be just one of the guys. In a room full of people, he stands out the way a tiger would in a room full of kittens.

Yet, like all good complex characters, being normal, loving and being loved in return is what he wants. Trouble is he wants all that from a woman who couldn't give it to him the first time around. Yet he can't give up that particular dream. So history appears to be repeating itself. That's another internal conflict. What he most wants is what he can't have because he'd have to give up who he is to attain it.

Takeaway Truth

Whether you're creating a hero or just a character, observe real people and the larger than life characters in successful TV and movies. They can teach you a lot.

3 Things To Avoid When Promoting

Since I've got a couple of ebooks out in the world, I'm like all the other authors in wanting readers to discover my funny romances. Unlike many authors though, I don't want to do the online equivalent of jump in front of your face and scream, "Look, look, look at my book."

Of course, with new books, it's hard not to do that. In fact, in the first throes of success, it's impossible not to do that, but most of us pardon exuberance because we understand the excitement and emotion of getting a book in front of readers. This knowledge and my own fevered proclamations inspired today's blog.

One of my pet peeves is rudeness in writers. If you have a blog, you'll know what I mean. The writers who make the blog rounds, posting comments, telling you how great THEIR books are and dropping hot links within the comment like a caged gerbil suffering from diarrhea.

That, and witnessing a recent debacle on a discussion board, inspired today's Thursday3Some.

3 Things To Avoid in the Name of Promotion

1. Do NOT post the following on anyone's blog, a discussion board, or their social network wall or page: "Hi, my name is Ima Writer and I just published the most wonderful novel of all time. It's the best because it ignores all those cliches this genre is known for. I use a person of the opposite sex as the viewpoint character and defy all the conventions most books of this genre have. Here's the story line. Four long paragraphs later, "so buy my book at"

Honestly, I witnessed that and the fallout over a 48 hour period recently. Names withheld and genre not named to protect the tarred and feathered author.

2. Do NOT engage in slamming another author's book in order to promote yours as better. Yep. Seen that too often to count. If you're an author, NEVER publicly dis another author. You know how hard it is to write a book so why stomp on someone else's hard work? If you can't be successful without disparaging others, then obviously you don't deserve to be.

3. Do NOT take from anyone and everyone without giving something in return. Don't steal their words, rearrange them, and post on your blog. Send your readers to the originating site. If an author has helped you with solid advice, buy her or his book. If you frequent a website or blog that's helpful, click their PayPal button to donate or, again, buy a book. If you use shareware because it's good and helps you, donate.

If you have a blog to promote your name and your work, then give the people who visit your blog something of substance, as in good content. Give them information they can use. Sometimes it may just be a good laugh. Other times it might be a how to article that will help them. All the time it should be of value.

Takeaway Truth

Racking up good sales is important, but it's more important to help others. Pay it forward, not because you're looking for more sales, but because, succinctly put, it's good karma. And it will make you feel good too.

Author Suzan Harden: Ebook Business Plan

This morning I've got Suzan Harden, author of Seasons of Magick: Spring here for a Coffee Chat.

About Season of Magick Series

Welcome to Morrigan's Cauldron! But be careful what you ask for because this little Greenwich Village shop can deliver your heart's desire. Or your greatest nightmare.

Season of Magick: Spring

Tessa McClain's life has spun out of control. Thanks to her con artist ex, she's lost her job, her money and her reputation. Desperate, she talks her way into job at a local New Age shop. There's just one problem – Adrian Holloway, the hunky store manager. The last thing she needs is another bad boy in her life. But her body hungers to break her brain's ‘no men' rule.

After the death of his wife, Adrian abandoned his Wall Street world and found peace in the quirky Greenwich shop, Morrigan's Cauldron. Or he did until an April wind blew smart-mouthed Tessa McClain through the front door. While he's ready to take another crack at love, convincing Tessa may be more trouble than he bargained.

Let's Dish

Instead of serving Danish, we're going to dish about some of the things it takes to make it as an ebook indie author and publisher.

Suzan's ebook is a volume of Erotica. Since that's such a popular genre, and because Suzan's a good writer, I fully expect her book to fly off the cyber shelves.

Now, here's Suzan to tell you what she thinks is vitally important for anyone who wants a career as an indie author and publisher of ebooks.

Suzan Harden: In Her Own Words

As soon as I had an e-book up for sale, I was hit with questions. So, following Joan’s Takeaway Truths, here’s mine: Have a business plan.

“But why? Writing is art.” Um, no. Not exactly. Not if you want to publish and make money.

The minute you decide to publish, no matter the route you take, you’ve just become a small business owner. Which means you need a business plan.

It doesn’t have to be some fancy, perfect-bound 500-page opus. You’re a writer, not a Fortune 100 company. (Though I think J.K. Rowling may be considered both.)

My business plan is written in a $5 journal I picked up in a bookstore. My husband and his partners wrote theirs on a cocktail napkin. (Seriously. He still has the napkin.) Scribble it on the back of your kid’s detention slip if you have to, but have one.

First thing to write down? Your ultimate goal. Mine is to make a sufficient yearly income through my fiction writing to cover living expenses and put my kid through college should something unfortunate happen to my husband. I have the specific number in my journal.

Your goal can be anything your heart pleases. Write yours down. Now. Don’t stop to think about it.

How are you going to make that goal? Looks a little overwhelming, doesn’t it? Don’t think of doing it all in one chunk. Break it down. I estimate I’ll need at least ten novels and twice as many novellas through three different e-retailers to make X dollars a month.

Still have that drowning feeling? Break it down further. Start at the beginning. Do you have a completed novel? If not, how will you schedule time to finish? If the novel’s completed, is it edited? Are you planning to self-publish or will you submit the manuscript to a traditional publisher? Add additional steps to your plan for each track you plan to follow.

Make your little goals as specific as possible. My first two novels were literally written two pages a day during my lunch hour because I was practicing law full-time. Yeah, it took a whole year to write each one, but that tiny goal of two pages a day got me started.

Now, add in editing and marketing steps to your business plan. Regardless of the route you take, you will be required to do these yourself. If you go the self-publishing route, don’t forget cover art and formatting.

And now you have your very own business plan. Just remember your plan isn’t written in stone. Unless you actually did chisel it into a piece of granite. In which case, keep the chisel and hammer handy for alterations. At the rate the publishing business is changing, you may need a whole new plan tomorrow.

Readers, just in case you'd like to know, Seasons of Magick: Summer is Suzan's work in progress. She's aiming for publication in late summer of course.

Thanks, Suzan. I, and all my readers, wish you many sales.

Takeaway Truth

If you find this advice given by Suzan Harden worthwhile -- and, trust me, it is very good advice -- buy a copy of her book. If you don't read erotica, buy it anyway. After all, it's only $.99, and that's less than a cup of coffee.

(If you have a buck left, buy my book too! Since I've become an indie author, I'm shameless.*G*)