Monday Mayhem – Ask and you might possibly receive

This week I started reading a book called THE ART OF ASKING by Amanda Palmer. It’s an interesting book – part memoir, part self-help.

The premise is that we don’t ask people, particularly our friends or family, for the things that we need. Our society values self-reliance, and often views asking for help in the same vein as begging. In other words, asking has a shameful connotation.

This is ironic considering that one of the first things you learn in any type of sales job whether it’s taking orders at McDonald’s, or selling insurance, or selling any type of product or commodity, is that you don’t get if you don’t ask. Maybe it’s this connection to sales that make us view asking in the more negative light.

Anyway, I’m horrible asker. I’m definitely control freak. I live and die by my calendar. Collaborative work makes me a little bit crazy because not everybody has the same type of work ethic I do. If the world would just bend to my way of thinking, everything would be so much easier, but it doesn’t.

That leaves me with few options. I either work myself into the ground trying to do it all, or I let things slip through the cracks, or I learned to ask for help.

I’ve gone the first route before, I’ve been living the second one for a while now, and now I’m working on the third. That’s why have challenged myself to ask for something every day. It could be small or large, but it has to be something that I wouldn’t have asked anyone else to do for me last week.

For example, I did a couple of twitter threads, designed to spark interaction with other authors or with potential readers. A few of my good friends hit the little heart icon on twitter to like my tweets to let me know that they’ve read them, and were feeling what I said. That’s awesome. But the point of me doing these types of discussions is to cast a wider net. So, I asked my friends if they would consider re-tweeting the first tweet in the thread, rather than simply liking it. This shares it with their followers on twitter, which adds another ripple to the stone I tossed out into the conversational pond. They were kind enough to re-tweet my threads, and agreed to do so whenever they saw me engaged in a similar activity on Twitter.

The next day, I asked a different friend who is proficient in Microsoft Excel, if she would help me finish a project I had started in a spreadsheet. Pretty simple project, but a tedious one, which involved gathering information from a number of websites on each of my books. Nothing time sensitive, just something I like to have as a convenience. She said she was happy to help, and I sent the file along.

Yesterday, I was in my local Barnes & Noble, eyeing the spot on the shelf where LOVE GAME would sit come February 2018. (!!!!!) As I was wandering, a woman stopped to ask if I needed help. It turned out she was the store manager. I confessed that I was stalking the shelf space where my book will go, and then proceeded to ASK her if the store did any promotions for local authors. We talked for a bit she took my card, and I know to get in touch with their outreach manager to arrange possibly appearing at a group signing.

Not bad, so far.

Asking is not easy for many of us. Sometimes we have to get to a point where something is important enough to us that were willing to sacrifice our pride/ego. I guess I am edging up to one of those points. I have two new series launching in the next six months. I want them both to be successful.

I can’t do it all alone.

I need your help.

As an asker in training, I’ll probably be practicing on you here on my blog and in my FB reader group, The Margaritas, just I am practicing my dictation by speaking this post rather than typing it.

I hope you’ll help me out. As always, I’m happy to reciprocate in any way I can.

This is today’s ask: A WILL AND A WAY is on sale for $0.99! Will you help me get the word out?

Please tell your steamy-romance-lovng friends? You can use any means you’re comfortable with using – social media, word of mouth, text stalking, or simply buying one for a friend. Right-click and steal this graphic, if you want. Here’s the link to my publisher website. It will direct them to the retailer of their choice: http://www.kensingtonbooks.com/book.aspx/33189

How was that for an ice-breaker?

I thank you in advance. I appreciate all you do.

(This post brought to you by Desdemona Dragon. Sorry for any typos. We’re still learning!)
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Monday Mayhem – Ripples Needed, Apply Here

The Diamond State Romance Authors met this weekend. As usual, spending time with my writer friends recharged me.

This month, we talked about every author’s worst nightmare – PR and publicity.

Most people don’t realize that almost all book promotion falls on the author. My publisher will promote the book through their existing networks (which are admittedly much larger than mine), but there’s no campaign to speak of, and almost no advertising beyond the occasional boosted post on social media. Once, I was lucky enough to have my book included as part of a print ad in a trade publication, but that was mainly a matter of lucky timing.

But mostly, it’s up to us to flaunt our work. Not an easy thing to do for people who prefer to spend their time writing the next story.

So, yeah, promotion a vital skill for an author to master. And one that stymies me every time. You see, there is no magic formula. What works for one book may fall flat on the next. A catchy cover can help, but that only goes so far.

Word of mouth is everything.

Kelli Reep of FlyWrite Communications talked to us about how to maximize the ripple effect needed for marketing success. We’re so inundated with information and images that it takes a minimum of seven impressions for something to register with most people. Which means I am tempted to do this and go back to my keyboard:

   

   

I threw an extra in there for symmetry and good measure… But that probably isn’t going to do the trick, huh?

I have a new series starting this fall and my first mass market paperback release coming in 2018. Man, do I want them to be a success. I mean, I want all of my books to connect with readers, but the Love, Unexpectedly series from Sourcebooks will be my first shot at being on shelves in major retailers. This a pretty big deal for me. I confess, I occasionally go to visit my spot in our local Barnes & Noble:

So, yeah, I’m going to have to get better at this marketing and publicity bit. I’m hoping I can count on you to help me. To be my ripples. And I’m asking you in advance to forgive me, as I blab all over the place about these books.

After all, an author has to do what an author has to do, right?

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Monday Mayhem – Birthing a book

Two weeks ago, A BOLT FROM THE BLUE released into the wild. This was a super quick labor – only about thirteen months from conception to birth. Since I am traditionally published (meaning I sell my work to a publishing house, and their team then takes over the editorial timeline and production), this can be a relatively long process.

It’s always fun to see non-writers reactions when I talk a little about the behind the scenes. It’s shocking to discover how many people think you just write a book and put it out there. With the advent of self-publishing, that is certainly possible, but if you’ve read one book that has been released without benefit of an external editor you’ll most likely agree that it isn’t preferable.

With BOLT, I was dealing with a publisher and editing team I have worked with on 5 previous publications, so it was easy for us to press the accelerator.

Here’s pretty much how the timeline played out:

I sent a synopsis to my editor on March 6, 2016, and she submitted it to the team at Lyrical Press.

On April 26, 2016, my editor said, “Yes!” Contract talks began, and I hunkered down at my keyboard to magically transform the synopsis to an actual 60k+ word manuscript.

Typing, typing, typing, typing….

May 9th – I was informed that expected delivery date on BOLT was July 1, 2017 for an April 2017 release.

Typing, typing, typing, typing….

May 23rd – sent the first chapter to the fabulous Julie Evelyn Joyce for critiquing.

Typing, typing, typing, typing….

Also on May 23rd – Publisher requests completion of Cover Art and Publication Information forms. Because I have sold the rights to this book, these forms are my last and only chance to give input on the look of the book and the message conveyed in the cover copy. Most people are surprised to find out I do not have the final say in any of that kind of stuff.

Typing, typing, typing, typing….

On June 13, I received the official contract and signed it. Wooot!

Typing, typing, typing, typing….

Sent the full manuscript for to Julie Evelyn Joyce for wizardry June 15th – she sent it back June 26.

Spent days eradicating excess instances of ‘just’, ‘that’, ‘it,’ and other favorite words from what was a 67k word manuscript.

Delete, delete, delete, delete….

July 1, 2016 – Sent 66k word manuscript to marvelous Marci, my editor at Lyrical Press.

July 5, 2016 A WILL AND A WAY releases – promo ensues.

Received the first round of edits August 7, 2016. She requested an added scene toward the end of the story.

Typing, typing, typing, typing….Send to Julie…Back from Julie…delete, delete, delete, delete….send back to Marci August 14th.

Second round of edits arrived on the 16th. Back to her the 18th.

Another round of edits from the line editor on September 2, 2016. I returned them on the 4th with some notes and questions. Marci shot them right back, and I went at it again.

Manuscript sent to my esteemed editor again on September 7th. She repaid me by sending the whole enchilada back in galley form (proofing for minor corrections only) on the 8th. I passed the hot potato on the 9th, and we put the book to bed.

Then, I ran away to the beach.

September 15th, the cover art fairy visited with this:

I squealed, then got down to writing the first book in the Play Dates series.

Typing, typing, typing, typing….

Typing, typing, typing, typing….

NaNoWriMo starts – more typing, typing, typing, typing….

November 22, 2016 – LOVE & ROCKETS releases. Promo madness ensues.

Typing, typing, typing, typing….

December 1, 2016 – Final formatted digital copies of BOLT landed in my inbox. I cooed over them, checked for any hiccups in the front/back matter. And then, the wait for April 4, 2017 began.

In the weeks around release, authors step out of their caves long enough to do some social media schmoozing and guest blogging (Read & Watch 2017, Just Contemporary Romance, and later this week, Fiction University).

The publishing industry is about as unlike what you see on TV. There’s no publicist, or even publicity budget. We arrange and pay for most of our advertising ourselves. We are not making big money. In fact, most of us make less than a dollar on each book sold.

That’s why we annoy our Facebook friends with incessant reminders that, yes, the book is available now, and yes, we desperately need reviews. That’s the biggest thing readers don’t really know.

We NEED reviews.

Not for ego-gratification, or self-flagellation, but because they allow us to leverage better marketing for our books. Seriously. There are many, many places where we cannot BUY advertising with our own cash money unless we have a certain number of reviews on Amazon or GoodReads. Most of my books do not have even the minimum, so I am BEGGING you. Please consider leaving a review in a public forum.

They don’t have to be essays or even a paragraph. I am not asking you to sing my praises. I just need an honest review on the book itself that says, “I liked/didn’t like this, because XXX”

And that’s one book’s journey to publication in an extremely long and picture-laden nutshell. I think I’ll go have a nap now…

Kidding! Kidding!

I can’t nap…I have 5 more books coming at you in the next year.

Brace yourselves!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Monday Mayhem – Take Cover!

Lightning is about to strike again!

My 33rd (!) publication – A BOLT FROM THE BLUE – will be released into the wild this week.

****

True love, like lightning, never strikes twice—or does it?

As a free-spirited young woman, Hope Elliot was desperate to escape her snobbish high society family. So she ran off to Paris, where she lived for twenty-five years. Now widowed, she’s come home to settle her family’s massive lakefront estate. But before she can put her mother’s house on the market, it needs a major renovation. Enter master electrician Mick McInnes, a traditional guy who’s about to turn her life upside down . . .

Aside from the fact that Mick is hopelessly attracted to his latest client, Hope represents everything he doesn’t want in a woman. She’s ridiculously rich and adventurous, yet she doesn’t seem to know much about the real world. Besides, his policy is to never get involved with clients. But he can’t seem to resist the Chicago heiress’s sizzling advances—and soon enough finds himself in her bed, feeling like a teenager once again. And like teenagers, the two of them will just have to convince their families that opposites can not only attract, but they can also make the perfect match . . .

****

Those of you who followed my fan fiction may recognize the heroine in this story. Hope was one of the first original characters I ever created.  I loved her backstory so much, it seemed a crime not to give her a second chance at love.

If you believe in second (or third, fourth, or fifth) shots at love, I hope you’ll give A BOLT FROM THE BLUE a chance.

It will be available tomorrow, April 4, 2017, but you can always pre-order through your favorite e-tailer and it will magically appear on your preferred app in the AM.

Thanks again for all of your support and encouragement. It’s been a very up and down year, but you’ve been here for me all along, and I appreciate you!

Amazon ~ Apple ~ Barnes & Noble ~  Google Play Kensington ~ Kobo

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Monday Mayhem – I’ve been up, down, all around…

I’ve been feeling completely unmotivated lately.

For most of this year, actually.

At first, I didn’t worry about it too much. I’d finished another NaNoWriMo in November. December had been its usual whirlwind, but with the special added bonus of a software conversion and move at the day job. Then January came, and I ran out of patience with the life I’d been living. Cue another big life change…

Is it possible I used up whatever motivation I had focusing on getting out of one day job and into the new one? Because, I don’t seem to have anything left for the writing. I’m even writing this blog post late because I am so daunted by the thought of facing this damn blinking cursor that I will do endless loads of laundry to avoid it.

It’s a phase, I know.

At least, that’s what I tell myself.

I can’t leave all those plot bunnies lingering in their hutch indefinitely. Something’s going to start to stink in there.

Every author knows the ebb and flow. Some stories pour out like water. Most are prized out with pliers. Genre fiction writers have been on a roller coaster ride for the last half-decade. As the authors who drive most of the revenue in the industry, we’ve been expected to produce more, faster, better, and cheaper than ever before. And we’ve answered the call…but at what expense?

My first book was published in 2011. Next week, my 33rd (A BOLT FROM THE BLUE) will hit the digital bookshelves. Crazy, huh? I’ve written and sold 33 novels and novellas in 6 years. Numbers 34-37 are already written and awaiting editorial. I’m scheduled for release through number 38 in the fall of 2018.

I should be riding high, right? I ought to be psyched. But mostly, I just feel tired. Like Madeline Kahn in Blazing Saddles tired.

This weekend, Fodder and I hit the flea markets and excavated some awesome old albums. I came home with this fabulous Barry Manilow double album. And while Sally may not appreciate my rendition of Weekend in New England, I totally understood where Barry was coming from when he sang about Tryin’ to Get the Feeling Again.

There are times when I worry that I’ve fallen out of love with writing. Moments when I wonder if I could just walk away from it—leave all those bunnies in the hutch to battle it out until all that’s left is one single killer rabbit of a story with nasty, pointed teeth living in a deep, dark cave.

But I won’t. I can’t. So, I’m still meditating every night. I started doing yoga again. Mainlined Grace & Frankie season 3. And, hey, look—I just wrote a 500 word blog post whining about not wanting to write.

I just…need to find a way to get my storytelling groove back. I’m hoping the Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass album I scored for $2 will help.

 

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Monday Mayhem – Fresh Starts

I’m still working on finishing the draft of Easy Bake Lovin’ (Play Dates #2), but with the start of the Build a Book 365 day challenge I gave myself permission to play with one of the Silver Fox ideas I have rattling around in my head.

Meet Leonardo Sbaraglia. He doesn’t know it, but he’s currently serving as my hero inspiration. I promise, I will try to do him right. Ahem. I mean do right by him.

Finding photographs of heroes and heroines who fit the images in my head is not always easy, but I knew the minute I saw him, he was my man. More specifically, the man to model my hero, Dominic Mann on.

I’ll be sharing pictures of people who remind me of my characters as the year progresses. We have a lot of books coming in 2017-2018. I hope you’re ready to meet them all!

How about you? Do you picture famous people portraying the heroes and heroines as you read? Care to share some thoughts?

News and notes:

In case you missed it, LOVE & ROCKETS received another fabulous 5 star review! This one from Epilogue Book Blog. Check it out!

Also, GOING DEEP (Coastal Heat #1) and A WILL AND A WAY (Worth the Wait Romance) are both on sale for $0.99! Tell your friends!

Snowed in? Give LONG DISTANCE LOVE a shot. You won’t regret getting to know Jack and Ellie better!

 

 

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Monday Mayhem – The heart of the matter

Welcome 2017! I’m making an effort to start the new year off with positivity. So far, it’s been pretty easy since I’ve been in my favorite place (home), with my favorite person (Fodder), doing my favorite things (a little writing, a little reading, making some chicken salad, taking a nap). I’m really good at napping. And, as my new author shots prove, hanging off lamp posts:

2017 marks my fifth year of blogging. Yep. If you check the sidebar, you will see that I type the truth. The archive dates back to January 2012.

It’s pretty much been five years of my checking in once a week or so and babbling at you. Well, I plan to continue to do so, but I do think I’m going to make a couple of minor tweaks. I still plan to let you know what I’ve been up to over the course of the week, share writing news, and dish out a little personal TMI, but I want to try to make my posts more topical.

2016 was a year of upheaval for me and for many people I know. Like many, I turned inward. I spent a good deal more time in introspection, trying to sort out what’s important to me, and how I plan to proceed in the midst of the social-political chaos that’s swirls around us now.

In the coming months, you’ll probably hear more from me on more serious topics than those we’ve discussed before. These are the bits of me that have been stealthily weaving their threads into my stories without me really realizing it.

I’ve stopped telling people that I write contemporary romance with a lot of kissing and stuff. Of course, I do, but that’s not what I think is at the heart of my stories anymore. You’ll probably be hearing a lot from me about my ‘core story’ in the coming months. By core story, I mean the common themes that you, as a reader, can expect to find in any Margaret Ethridge/Maggie Wells novel.

 

But before I start telling you what I think they are, I’d be curious to know what your expectations are when you open one of my books. I’m not looking for flattery (though I am open to it), just your initial reaction/expectation when you hear that I have a new book available.

I look forward hearing what you have to say, as well as sharing my thoughts with you, but for now, I hope that your 2016 at least had a happy ending, and here’s to a passel more happily ever after in 2017 and beyond!

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Monday Mayhem – Sprinting

It’s going to be a bust week!

First off…did you see this?

a-bolt-from-the-blue

Pretty, huh? Mark your calendars for April 4, 2017 or pre-order now at your favorite e-tailer!

Secondly, FLIP THIS LOVE is on sale for $.99 this month!

Nothing draws a magnate like a steel magnolia...

Third – I’m giving away this adorable journal to one of my newsletter subscribers. If you aren’t on my list, enter your email address in the space on the sidebar >>>>>

img_1832

FOURTH!!! I’m sprinting to hit deadlines this week. I’m polishing up RANSOMED HEART (Silver Foxes #2, 2018) and scrambling to complete a novella for submission. Wish me luck!

And fifth – If I’m not downing a fifth of something boozy by the end of the week, it’ll be a miracle.

How about you? What’s happening in your corner of the world?

 

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Cover reveal!

It struck like A BOLT FROM THE BLUE! Here’s your first peek at the awesome cover art for my next Worth the Wait Romance coming in April 2017!

a-bolt-from-the-blue

True love, like lightning, never strikes twice—or does it?

As a free-spirited young woman, Hope Elliot was desperate to escape her snobbish high society family. So she ran off to Paris, where she lived for twenty-five years. Now widowed, she’s come home to settle her family’s massive lakefront estate. But before she can put her mother’s house on the market, it needs a major renovation. Enter master electrician Mick McInnes, a traditional guy who’s about to turn her life upside down . . .

Aside from the fact that Mick is hopelessly attracted to his latest client, Hope represents everything he doesn’t want in a woman. She’s ridiculously rich and adventurous, yet she doesn’t seem to know much about the real world. Besides, his policy is to never get involved with clients. But he can’t seem to resist the Chicago heiress’s sizzling advances—and soon enough finds himself in her bed, feeling like a teenager once again. And like teenagers, the two of them will just have to convince their families that opposites can not only attract, but they can also make the perfect match . . .

A Bolt From the Blue – April 4, 2017, Kensington/Lyrical Press

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Monday Mayhem – Fielding curveballs

So yeah, busy, busy week!

Received first round edits on A BOLT FROM THE BLUE from editor and she LOVED it! Yay! Always such a relief. Particularly this time, because I had to turn this story around so quickly. The only other person who has seen it is Jewels, and we all know she’ll say anything for a PayDay bar.

As with every manuscript, I had one word in particular I abused until my intrepid editor screamed for mercy. This time, I was enamored with the word ‘it’. We won’t talk about how times I had to rework it.

lightning_bolt_by_nagwolf-d31yg3c

The back cover copy isn’t officially official, and there’s no cover art yet, but here is a sneak peek at what they’ve cooked up so far:

True love, like lightning, never strikes twice—or does it? 

As a free-spirited young woman, Hope Elliot was desperate to escape her snobbish high society family. So she ran off to Paris, where she lived for twenty-five years. Now widowed, she’s come home to settle her family’s massive lakefront estate. But before she can put her mother’s house on the market, it needs a major renovation. Enter master electrician Mick McInnes, a traditional guy who’s about to turn her life upside down . . .

Aside from the fact that Mick is hopelessly attracted to his latest client, Hope represents everything he doesn’t want in a woman. She’s ridiculously rich and adventurous, yet she doesn’t seem to know much about the real world. Besides, his policy is to never get involved with clients. But he can’t seem to resist the Chicago heiress’s sizzling advances—and soon enough finds himself in her bed, feeling like a teenager once again. And like teenagers, the two of them will just have to convince their families that opposites can not only attract, but they can also make the perfect match . . .

Then Wednesday, the big news about my new deal with Sourcebooks broke in Publisher’s Marketplace:

Sourcebooks

Whoo hoo! Danny and Kate will be coming to you digitally and in mass market paperback next fall! Just in time for college football season!

While I was celebrating the announcement, I couldn’t help thinking about how happy my mom would have been to hear that some of my books will be shelved in brick and mortar stores. Thursday marked six months since her passing, and while I try not to dwell on sadness, I’m all too aware that I am still grieving.

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It has been quite a year. More downs than ups. It seems that all year long my family and friends have been dealing with hefty doses of sadness, topped with mountains of worry. But through it all, we laugh and tease and do what we can to lighten the load a bit. There are days, and then there are days, you know? But, as Mom would have reminded us, this too shall pass. On her repeated instruction, I’m trying very hard not to let my little heart grow weary.

Throughout the week, I’ve watched the Olympics. While I’m not crazy about NBC’s coverage, I never tire of hearing the athletes’ stories. I have also been working on a magazine article and a short story I hope to submit for an anthology. It’s a bit of a cat and mouse caper, and I hope it plays out well.

This week, I clean house because company is coming! Be on the lookout for photos of our antics next Monday!

What’s on your agenda this week?

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