Monday Mayhem – The calm

It’s the calm before the storm. At least, I’m trying to remain calm. The next three months are going to be a doozy.

I’ve been so focused on LOVE GAME, it’s easy to forget that EASY BAKE LOVIN’ (March 6) and PLAY FOR KEEPS (April 3) are following close behind.

How can you help?

#1 Buy the book. I know that sounds trite, but it’s true. Publishing is a business, and if these books don’t sell, my publishers have no reason to publish additional titles from me. Even if you don’t read romance, consider buying a copy for a friend, or to donate.

#2 Tell people! Talk about it. Suggest a title to your book club. No amount of paid advertising can match the power of word of mouth.  That’s a fact.

#3 Be a ripple: We are so inundated with images these days, it takes a minimum of seven visual impressions. If you see one of my books mentioned on social media or one of my posts somewhere, please share it with your friends (if you feel comfortable doing so). That’s a ripple.

#4 Review. Customer reviews on Amazon, B&N, and GoodReads are vital for an author. I’m not talking ego gratification. Many authors don’t even look at their reviews because, good or bad, they can impact writing productivity. Why do we ask for them? Because other readers look at them. So do book promotion sites. Some sites won’t allow an author to buy advertising unless they have a minimum number of positive reviews. So, even if it’s just “Hey, I really liked this book.” please  review.

#5 Tell the author. Not just me, but any author whose work you enjoy.  A letter, and email, a facebook post, a tweet – doesn’t matter if you tie note to a carrier pigeon (though I would probably make Fodder remove it from the bird’s leg). Writing is hard. This business can be brutal, and no one is immune. With each book an author places a little piece of their soul on the page. If you like something you read, tell the author. Even the biggest names have bad days. Make someone’s day.

I’m asking for your help. I need your help. Please and thank you.

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Monday Mayhem – Because you’ve gotta have friendssssss

I believe it’s important for every woman to have a close female friends. Wether it’s one, or a dozen, makes no difference. The strength and resilience of female friendships is something I try to incorporate into every story I write.

The friends you can text with random questions concerning bodily functions. Those who will hold you through the worst times and cheer you through the best. I have a few I lose contact with for months or years, but when we do get together, it’s like no time has passed at all. I have some I talk to every day.

I’m lucky enough to have two groups of friends who are integral to my life:

The first is simply known as The Cabinet.

These are my closest advisors. The ones who knew me in those halcyon days before everything we did went digital. We’ve been friends since we were teenagers and will be in each other’s pockets when we go to our graves. They pre-date the husbands and kids, and have outlasted the parents in some cases. Fodder knows better than to even think about contradicting the word of the cabinet.

Smart nieces and nephews know that inviting and/or allowing Aunt Moogie’s rowdy friends to come to the festivities results in more fun and quadruple the presents! Here we all are at my nephew’s wedding + my mother the photo bomber. <3

The other group you’ve heard me mention a number of times, because without them, I would not be a writer. Period. End of story.

They are my Super Cool Party People.

This is an ever expanding group of women drawn together by a common love, and bound together by unwavering support. We are scattered all over the globe and came to each other later in life (for some of us), but that doesn’t make our bond any weaker. My life would truly suck without them.

Love Game is the start of a new series that features three women: Kate Snyder, basketball superstar and all-around champion at life;  Millie Jenkins, the PR spin master who’s better at sorting out other people’s problems that thinking too hard about her own; and Avery Preston, Feminist Literature and Women’s Studies professor who harbors a secret desire.

I hope you’ll get a chance to meet them all. LOVE GAME goes on sale in just two weeks! And, in case you missed my gushing, you can read a couple of great pre-release reviews here and here!

Amazon ~ Apple ~ B&N ~ Google Play ~ Kobo  ~ Powell’s ~ Books-A-Million ~ The Ripped Bodice

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Monday Mayhem – Ramping up!

Gang, we are t-minus 29 days until LOVE GAME is released into the wild, and boy-howdy things are happening. Big things. Wow things.

In case you have somehow managed to miss my spastic whooping, this happened this week:

Yes, Publishers Weekly gave my book a STARRED review! If you want to read the whole thing, you can find it here.

I admit I cried a little when I read it. Not just because they liked my book, but because they got it. I wanted to write a book where two stubborn, strong-willed people fell in love and neither of them had to make themselves less so they could have more of a relationship.

I’m particularly proud that they caught the strong feminist streak that bonds the three female friends in the book.

Feminist is a word I had to grow into, but now I find it fits me like a glove. Maybe that’s one of the perks of becoming a woman of a certain age. I am so over apologizing for being awesome. Like Kate, Millie, and Avery, I am a strong, accomplished woman with opinions that matter, and a voice that carries. I no longer feel the need to explain or tone down my feminist tendencies.

I just hope the world can handle us.

Both LOVE GAME and PLAY FOR KEEPS are available for pre-order at every outlet imaginable (Target! Walmart!) and will be in stores February 6th and April 3rd. Be watching for a call to action here.

Avery’s story, DOUBLE PLAY, is shaping up nicely!

I’ve started reading for BINGO, have you?

I admit I’m not being very strategic, but since I can’t give myself a prize, I figure I can flit around a bit.

How about you? How is your new year going thus far?

 

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Monday Mayhem – I challenge you…A challenge revised

I’ve created a reading challenge for us to start in the new year!

As some of you may know, I’m named for my grandmother, Margaret (famous for hula dancing with Don Ho at the Polynesian Palace).

They called her Grady, and there was little Grady loved more than a good game of BINGO. Don’t get me wrong, Lawrence Welk and Miller High Life (the champagne of bottle beers) were right up there, but Grady loved to play some bingo.

So, I thought in 2018, we could play some book bingo!

You in? Click to download this PDF version of the game card, and play along. I’ll make only one rule and a vague promise:

Rule: the book must be read in 2018. No counting previously read material.

Promise: The first person to BINGO will get a bookish prize. The first to cover their card will get an even better bookish prize.

Sound like fun? Start scouring your TBR lists!

ETA: I realized that Something Sporty was on there twice. I created an alternative grid if people want something…less sporty…click here. But, if you want to stick with the original, you can read both Love Game and Play For Keeps and have them covered! Just sayin’…

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Monday Mayhem – Attitude of Gratitude

An attitude of gratitude. I hope you all know how very grateful I am for your support and encouragement. Lord knows, I probably don’t say it often enough, but I am. Writers write the stories they want to tell, but when we connect with at least one other person…that’s golden.

So, in case I haven’t said it lately, THANK YOU.

I appreciate you more than words can say. And I have a lot of words at my disposal. 🙂

This holiday season, I am taking part in the Attitude of Gratitude giveaway sponsored by my beloved Brinda Berry.

Brinda has gathered nearly fifty authors and we are GIVING AWAY books as a way of showing our gratitude for our readers. This is a great way to discover new-to-you authors, so don’t miss out!

<3 Mags

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Monday Mayhem – Life in the Stereozoic Era

As many of you know, Fodder has been collecting and refinishing some 70s-80s-era stereo compenents. Last week, this sweet Sansui setup moved into my office.

We aren’t complete troglodytes. We hooked up a bluetooth hub, which means I can stream my iTunes playlists through my awesome receiver. Say what you want about the new compact speakers, but there’s nothing as resonant as good, old-fashioned woofers and tweeters.

I have to have music on to write. Probably because I grew up in a house that was never quiet. I have a playlist I put on as I write. Some of these songs provide inspiration for certain characters/story lines, others I simply like. Of course, being a romance writer, I named it Sexytimes. He’s a sampling on the songs on the list and some of the books they helped me write:

 

All I Want Is You                   U2 (Play Dates)

All of the Stars                        Ed Sheeran (Love & Rockets)

The Blower’s Daughter         Damien Rice (Flip This Love)

Chasing Cars                           Snow Patrol (Long Distance Love)

Falling Slowly                         Kris Allen (Double Play – WIP)

Just Breathe                            Pearl Jam (Easy Bake Lovin’ – 2018)

More Than This                      Roxy Music (A Bolt From the Blue)

Songbird                                   Eva Cassidy (A Will and A Way)

Turn Me On                             Norah Jones (Going Deep)

Secret Garden                          Bruce Springsteen (Love Game – 2018)

Long Long Time                      Linda Ronstadt (A Ring for Rosie – 2018)

Lilac Wine                                Miley Cyrus (Feel My Love-WIP)

How about you? Can music trigger memories or spark creativity in you?

 

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Monday Mayhem – The definition of…Sanity

The old saying about the definition of insanity really resonates with me. You know the one I mean – it’s usually attributed to Einstein, but no one really knows who said it first. Doesn’t really matter, it’s about as true as a sentiment can be.

I’ve been all over the place this week, trying new things. Some have worked, others are still works in progress, but I’m throwing things out there, hoping something sticks.

 

PLAY DATES has been released into the wild. Thank you all for a) buying it and b) the awesome reviews. They really do help, and I appreciate them all – good and the bad (I admit I tend to skim over the ugly).

There was a big special on SEDUCING STEVE this week. Thank you so much for helping me spread the word about it. It was fun to trot the yummy red-head out again.

I’m knee deep in my next project and loving it so far. I’m dictating most of it, and having a good time simply trying to be a storyteller. I’ll put my writer cap on later, and make it all spiffy. Right now, I’m just going with the flow in hopes of ramping it up in time to hit NaNoWriMo in full stride.

In the meantime, we can all look forward to seeing LOVE GAMES on the shelves in February 2018. Have you pre-ordered your copy(ies)?

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Monday Mayhem – All I Ask of You

It’s PLAY DATES release week!

Colm and Monica’s story will be available on Tuesday, so expect to see me posting all over the place this week. If you want to follow along on my release week adventures, here’s where you can find me:

Today: Here, of course!

Tomorrow: Janice Hardy’s Fiction University, #KBooksChat Contemporary Romance chat on Twitter (1PM EST).

Wednesday and Thursday: Just Contemporary Romance

Saturday: 2-3pm Octoberfest – Fall into Romance party on Facebook (prizes!)

So, yay! A new book! Remember when I  said I was reading that book about asking for what you need?

Well, here’s my big ask:

  1. Buy the book. This is actually the best thing you can do for any author. Even if you don’t read the genre, or think the story may not be your cup of tea, consider buying a copy for a friend.
  2. If you read the book, please-please-please consider leaving a review on Amazon or another online retailer. Reviews help authors in a dozen ways, not the least of which is helping other readers decide to give a book a try (or not). I’m not asking for a good review, just an honest one.
  3. Recommend the book to your local public library for procurement. Not only do authors earn royalties library purchases, but they help us reach new readers.

Thank you so much for all of your support and encouragement. The release of PLAY DATES is just the start of a wild six months. I’m so glad to have you along for the ride!

 

 

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Sara Megibow knows I am beyond blushing

This week, I have a guest star on my blog…literary agent Sara Megibow!

*cheers*

*applause

*lets loose with one of those those piercing whistles that make people cringe*

Sara did a fabulous interview with another one of her clients, Emmie Mears, about what happens once an author signs with an agent. Not long after that, we got to talking about how the experience of working with an agent can be different for those of us who are beyond the first blush of publication. Those emails evolved into this thesis we like to call a blog post.

This is Maggie and Sara’s story, and we’re sticking to it:

Sara: In April 2015 Maggie Wells sent me a query letter for LOVE GAME – a sexy contemporary battle-of-the-sexes romance starring two mature, confident, hot protagonists. LOVE GAME releases Feb 1, 2018 from Sourcebooks Casablanca and we’re so excited! Maggie is a slush pile query success story with a bit of a twist.

The twist is that Maggie’s query letter included a bio outlining her experience as a previously published author with novels from Turquoise Morning Press, Carina Press, Cleis Press, Harlequin, and Kensington. Working with an established author brings a different strategy to the table so Maggie and I wanted to share that experience.

Maggie: Back in 2014, I made a conscious decision to try to take my writing career to the ‘next level’. We all know that we have different paths and everyone’s mileage varies, but for me, the next level meant cracking the print market and wider distribution. I had already been published on digital-first platforms by publishers ranging from small press to Big 5, but the digital revolution in publishing has been a roller coaster ride. More established authors were going indie. Small press publishing rose and fell. Many authors were opting out of traditional publishing altogether, but I wasn’t ready to take it all on myself. I decided I wanted a partner to work with me as I moved into the next phase of my career. I needed an agent.

I’ve heard the arguments for and against, the success stories, and the nightmare scenarios, but this seemed like the right decision for me. I researched the agents I wanted to work with carefully. Not only do I look at how they handle books similar to those I write, but I studied their interaction with the publishing world at large via social media and blog posts.

In other words, I stalked them, but in the most professional way.

I knew that searching for an agent, then shopping the manuscript for a publishing contract is a lengthy process. I had a project I’d earmarked for querying—the book now known as LOVE GAME—knowing it might not see the light of day for years. Then, I made a list of my top choices of agent, and began the process. Less than a month after sending the first queries, I had an offer of representation from Sara – who happened to be number one on my list. Needless to say, I was somewhere beyond giddy.

Sara: Thanks Maggie! You’re so sweet –I was giddy too!

In the query slush pile I see submissions from debut authors to New York Times bestselling authors – platform is neither a deal-maker nor a deal-breaker for me. Regardless of platform, I have to love a book in order to offer representation. In the case of LOVE GAME – wow! It’s SO good and funny and sexy – I can’t wait for readers to love it as much as I do!

Maggie: Thanks, Sara! I’m excited for them to read it too!

Sara and I have had some pretty frank discussions on where my career was/is, how we can maintain momentum, and how we might push forward. I think this has been one of the most beneficial aspects of working with Sara.

We are a team. She knows when to step up, when to rein me in a little, and when to just let me do my thing. That may be where working with an author who has some publishing industry experience differs from working with a new author.

Sara:  We do make a good team, don’t we? 😉

As Maggie’s agent my job is to make her more money than she would have been able to make on her own. An author’s money comes from advance, royalties and subsidiary rights deals so we talked a lot about these things on that original phone call.

First, like you said above Maggie, you asked how to “maintain momentum.”

To that end, we made a list of the books/series Maggie wanted to write and made a plan to write and sell them. It worked! In addition to LOVE GAME, we have Maggie’s PLAY DATES series launching in October 2017 from Kensington Lyrical. PLAY DATES is a trilogy of contemporary romance novels starring hot single dads. The release of these digital-first titles was strategically planned to keep momentum going while waiting for our print release of LOVE GAME.

Second, Maggie, you asked me about “pushing forward” and how to “take your career to the next level.”

Maggie’s previous books are amazing! They are ebook-only or ebook + POD so for us “pushing forward” meant increasing her market penetration by landing a print deal with a major publisher (done! The LOVE GAME series will have its exciting print release from Sourcebooks with extensive bookstore and library distribution). Taking Maggie’s career to the “next level” also meant inking those profitable subsidiary rights deals (done! The entire LOVE GAME series was sold to audiobook for simultaneous release).

Now let’s flip the tables. What does a previously published author bring to the table for an agent?

To start with, Maggie already had an understanding of publishing processes. Like she said above, LOVE GAME was earmarked for querying knowing that it would be a while before release. This demonstrated to me that Maggie understood the traditional publishing production timeline. Understanding publishing processes up front meant she could focus right away on writing those delicious books. Debut authors experience a steep learning curve (rightfully so!) when going through their first production cycle and Maggie didn’t have that hurdle.

In addition to her understanding of the traditional publishing process, Maggie had an established brand (sexy, contemporary romance starring mature protagonists) and a robust social media presence.

Maggie: But even with my previous experiences, Sara has provided a wealth of in-depth knowledge about aspects of the business.

Sara: When we originally talked about LOVE GAME I was able to discuss format, distribution and subsidiary rights with an eye toward profit. But, you’ve been a major player on this team too, Maggie  – we are stronger together because your experience adds to mine.

Look at what you’ve done in terms of networking with other authors and your brilliant Margaritas Facebook Page and social media plan. Do you want to talk about that? These are great examples of YOU bringing value-add to the relationship.

Maggie: By the time I started working with Sara, I had stopped chasing the social media trends and settled into what works for me. I use my Facebook reader group for interacting with readers, and Twitter to chat with other authors. I maintain my own website, blog weekly, and have a steadily growing newsletter list. All of these things can be a boon to an author, but also take time away from the writing. Sara is great about providing marketing support and brainstorming, but mainly she helps keep me focused on the most important part of marketing my work—writing the next book.

Sara: YES! Writing the next book is a huge piece of the profit strategy. Our goal is to make money on books… then write more books and make money on those books too!

Maggie: It all comes down to time, knowledge, and access. I think those are some of the most important assets an agent can bring to an author.

Sara:  “Time, knowledge and access.” These are three big reasons why authors DO choose to sign with agents.

Time: An author pays their agent 15% of monies received (from advances, royalties, subrights). My time investment as an agent includes tasks like editing, submissions, strategy, tracking payments and royalties, answering questions, being a liaison between author and publisher, organizing marketing, negotiating contracts and selling rights to audio publishers, foreign publishers and Hollywood, etc. I want to be worth that 15% an author gives up so I keep me client list small and focus on being “value-add.”

Knowledge: An agent’s knowledge of the publishing business is a tool for making money for their clients.

Access: Many publishers still only accept submissions from agents. Also, opportunities for subrights deals (audio, translation, Hollywood) heavily favor agented authors.

Maggie: What are some of the traits (aside from that ‘gotcha!’ manuscript) that you appreciate most in a client?

Sara: 90% of my clients came to me the same way you did, Maggie – through the query slush pile. You’re right – I’m looking for that “gotcha manuscript.”

Once we get past the amazing-manuscript-offering-representation phase I appreciate a client who is professional (example: turns in books on time) and kind (example: says thank you to our hardworking teammates).  Professional and kind go a long way in this business! I hope a client has a social media presence, although it’s not a deal-breaker if they don’t. I do, however, expect them to keep an updated website once we ink a book deal. Finally, all my clients are passionate and I appreciate that trait because it inspires me.

Maggie: In short, the author + agent relationship has been a revelation for me, even though I came into it as an experienced author. Having a partner like Sara by my side has expanded my career horizons—not just because I made it past a ‘gatekeeper’, but because she helps me view each project through a wide-angle lens. While I am focused on writing the next book, Sara and I are planning next steps beyond typing ‘The End’ in a manuscript.

Thanks so much for joining me here, Sara. I love being on Team Megibow and having you on Team Awesome!

Follow Sara on twitter @SaraMegibow

Learn more about what Sara is looking for here: https://www.publishersmarketplace.com/members/SaraMegibow/

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Monday Mayhem – Old Dogs and Happy Goats

This weekend was the annual Diamond State Romance Authors writing retreat! We rented a lovely house on Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs. Here was my writing view from the deck:

This time, I didn’t have a deadline pressing on me, but I had a couple things I wanted to work on. Like many of my writer friends, I’ve found myself struggling with the words over the summer, so I was also looking for some new tricks to jumpstart the old motivation.

Most writers will classify themselves in one of two ways: plotter or pantser. Plotter is pretty self-exlanitory. Those writers plot each bit of a book before they even begin. Pantsers write by the seat of their pants.

I started out as — and still naturally identify as — a pantser. But my career has moved at such a pace that I find I am selling books to publishers based on a synopsis of what I think future book will be. If I leave it up to my pantsing tendencies, I tend to veer off course from that synopsis, so I’ve evolved into sort of a plotser.

Adding dictation to my bag of tricks has also changed my writing style. I found I needed to have a pretty good sense of what I was trying to accomplish in that scene before I could speak it. Which meant, I had to do some *gasp* plotting.

This weekend, I took my first steps toward becoming a full-fledged plotter. The fabulous Brinda Berry showed me an awesome template she’d started using. I bought the book (FOOL PROOF OUTLINE) and downloaded that template.

In one afternoon, I’d done over 3,000 words of story outline, character worksheets, and scene plotting for a new project. Here’s hoping this new trick will work for this old dog.

In other news, Kelli Reep and I saw a goat riding in the back of a truck on the way home.

 

Welcome to Arkansas.

How about you? Did you learn any new tricks this week?

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