Monday, April 21, 2014

HAPPY RELEASE DAY TO... Claire Ashgrove!

Please welcome Claire Ashgrove to the blog today! Claire's new book, Before the Storm, releases today. Here's wishing her many,
many sales.

Thanks for being here today, Claire. Would you please share a short bio about yourself?

Building on a background of fantasy game design, a fascination with history, and a lifetime love of books, award-winning author Claire Ashgrove brings to life action-filled, passionate journeys of the heart. Her paranormal series, The Curse of the Templars, marries the history of the Knights Templar with the chilling aspirations of the most unholy--a must-read for speculative fiction fans. She also writes as the National Bestselling Author Tori St. Claire and historical romance author Sophia Garrett.

In her non-writing time, she’s runs Finish The Story, a full-scale editing house co-founded with Bryan Thomas Schmidt. She lives in Missouri and enjoys cooking, studying ancient civilizations, and spending downtime with her two sons and too-many horses, cats, and dogs.

Wow! I'm exhausted just after reading your bio! But back to the interview...Do you consider yourself a shy and/or introverted person? 

Not really. I don’t particularly like to initiate a conversation with a stranger, but I’m completely comfortable carrying on a conversation if it’s initiated with me. I’m probably less introverted than a lot of authors, although I wouldn’t say I’m the “life of the party” by any means.
 
What’s the hardest part of this business for you?
Marketing and Promotions. There’s so much time required to simply plan a marketing or promotions push, and lawdy, that time drives me nuts. There are so many other things I could do: edit for my editing company, write, work with the horses, play video games with the kids… things that I enjoy far more than planning dates and strategies. I also have never been someone who’s entirely comfortable “selling myself,” and sometimes promotions feel like pushing me, or my books, at people. Which makes me a bit uncomfortable. Though once it’s said and done and things like blog tours are in swing, I love doing them and connecting with readers and new-to-me bloggers! (And those who’ve worked with me since the beginning too, of course!)

Tell me about a time that you had to step outside your comfort zone either in your writing career or in your personal life?


You know, this sounds really silly, but what first comes to mind happens fairly regularly—having to pick up the phone and call a stranger. Like… calling a store to see if they have something in stock. I hate doing that. I would much rather drive all the way around town checking different places and striking out than make a phone call to ask. Unless, of course, it’s someone/someplace I communicate with regularly. On a publishing level, having to reach out to successful authors for endorsements is extremely uncomfortable.


I totally understand the phone thing! I hate that, too. What’s one tip you could share with shy and introverted people that’s helped you?


Truthfully, when it comes to publishing, I know there’s a huge fear of ‘rejection’. Be that from agents/editors, from reviewers, from other authors even. The fear often grabs that there’s something about us which makes us more prone to stay in our caves and keep our necks safe from harm. But really, when it boils down to everything, these people are humans, just like you and I. Even better, we’ve all been there, and we all know what it’s like. Editors know that sitting down for a pitch can be paralyzing if you’re shy, and a simple remark like, “Pardon me, I’m a bit nervous” isn’t something you need to hide. Put it out there. People will respond, nine times out of ten, with empathy and compassion and do whatever possible to put you at ease. Just don’t let your fears get the best of you. If you don’t take the chances, you’ll never know the possibilities.


Would you please share a short blurb of your book and where my readers can buy it?


Halle Rhoads has a terrifying gift--she can kill with the fury of the storm.

She should have known that kind of power wouldn't go unnoticed. Thrust into a world full of dark magic with a handsome stranger who claims he can teach her, she struggles to master her abilities and stumbles onto a dangerous truth. She's a windwalker, the chosen vessel of the ancient dragons who once ruled the world. Many will stop at nothing to possess the power in her blood, should they discover her secret. With necromancers hunting her and Halle's closest allies guarding secrets, mastering her magic becomes a matter of necessity.

But accepting her destiny is altogether different. For doing so means she must sacrifice everything.



Your book sounds fantastic. Where can my readers find you on the web?

Claire Ashgrove Website

Untamed Spirit Blog

Twitter

Facebook

Buy links:

Thanks for a great interview, Claire! Good luck with the rest of your blog tour!



Monday, April 14, 2014

Writing Process Blog Hop

I love reading about other authors' writing processes, so I'm happy to share mine in this blog hop. Many thanks to the lovely Kate Curran for linking to my post here. You can read about her process here. And if you're looking for an emotional, tear-jerker love story, you must check out her newest book, Falling For You...Again.

What am I working on?
I tend to work on several projects at once (probably why I'm so slow in getting out new releases...). Right now, the main book I'm working on is a follow up to my very first book, Borrowed Stilettos. This new book will be the twin sister's story--this is a challenge, because in Borrowed, Ava isn't an all-together likable character. She's very shallow and selfish, so turning her into the heroine of her own book is kind of difficult. But I think when readers learn why she is shallow and selfish, they'll come to love her as I do.


How does my work differ from others of the same genre?
Every author has his or her own unique voice and style. My heroines tend to have my quirky sense of humor, which can get them into trouble sometimes. I also like to write heroes I could truly see myself falling in love with. Some romance novel heroes are awesome to read about in a book, but would I really want to have a relationship with someone so arrogant, so cocky, so...whatever? I like to make my readers laugh, cry and fall in love along with me.

Why do I write what I do?
While my books are all contemporary romances, some of them are light and funny, and others are more angsty, dramatic and emotional. Some of them are really, really spicy, and some of them (Her One-Night Prince) have no sex at all. My books are varied just as my reading habits are--I don't have a favorite genre to read. Although I am a bit partial to serial killer novels (if I thought I could write a good one, I'd give it a try. Maybe someday...).


Recently, I wrote and released something completely different. The Checklist Diet is my first non-fiction book--it's basically a compilation of the advice I give my personal training clients (I've been a personal fitness trainer for 10+ years). 

How does my writing process work? 
My process is a big, fat mess. I listened to a Jane Porter workshop once called, It's My Process and I'll Cry if I Want To. That pretty much sums it up for me. I am a pantser when I write--which means I don't write from a plan but from the seat of my pants. But I always get stuck about halfway through the book. So stuck that I usually move on to another project for a while. 

Each book goes through countless drafts and revisions. I never really know who my characters are until I've written the first draft. In fact, sometimes I don't know them or really enjoy the writing process until the 3rd or 4th draft, when my story starts to look and feel like a book someone other than me or my mom would like to read. LOL. That part of the revision process is really fun. Sometimes, when in the middle of the first couple of drafts, I will read parts of my published novels to remind myself that I've weathered this storm before, and I can weather it again.

All that said...I really want to become more of a plotter. I think if I could plot out my books beforehand, my first drafts wouldn't be quite so hideous, and the revisions process might be a little less likely to make me want to jump off the nearest cliff. I keep taking workshops and classes, hoping for the magic elixir that will turn me into a plotter. I haven't found that elixir yet, but I'm hopeful. I'm taking a class right now from Margie Lawson's website--Story Safari. So far, I'm loving it. Will I be able to actually write this marvelous book I'm plotting? I will keep you posted. :)

You can find me on the web:
http:rebeccajclark.com
This blog or my other one, Life is a First Draft
Facebook 
@RebeccaJClark on Twitter

The Writing Process Blog Hop continues. Next Monday, check out Ana Kenley's process: 


Ana Kenley writes young adult romantic suspense. Ana is a member of Savvy Authors, YALitChat, and Young Adult Romance Writers of America. She has lived all over the country, and enjoys imagining which neighbor is hiding a dark, mysterious past.
You can connect with her here:

The link for her blog is: Ana Kenley - YA Romantic Suspense Author

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

What to do when you're stuck and the words won't come...


by Regan Walker

Author of the Agents of the Crown trilogy
www.reganwalkerauthor.com

As writers, we’ve all experienced that unfortunate time when the well of words dries up and we sit staring at our computer feeling stale. To me it comes midway though the story as in my current release, Wind Raven, the 3rd in my Agents of the Crown, a seafaring pirate romance. Argh! I think when that happens. I’ve hit the wall—again.


So what to do when that occurs? First, I should tell you I’m a pantster—I do not have an elaborate plot all drawn up when I begin. (I envy those people.) Usually I have an idea for the characters and the beginning. The rest is magic. So, I thought to share what I do to help me get writing again. Perhaps you will find one of these helpful. And I’d love to know what you do!

1. First, I go back and edit the last few chapters, sometimes I go all the way back to the beginning. Along the way, I pick up new ideas, so when I hit the end of what I’ve written the next words sometimes just flow, along with the next scenes.

2.Sometimes, I just force myself to stay at my computer and put words on the page, saying to myself I will come back and fix whatever is wrong tomorrow. Surprisingly, I find I have less to fix than I’d first thought. It doesn’t work all the time, but when it does, I pat myself on the back for being willing to slog through the difficult parts.

3.When I can, I might skip to later scenes, maybe even the end if I have a thought of how I want to bring the threads together. Often those out of place scenes fit in just fine with I get to them.

4.Since I’m an author of historical romance, I might dive into the history a little deeper to see if any ideas come to me. My stories are driven by history and real historic figures so this can give me an idea of a new scene or a new character.

5.I go to lunch with one of my critique partners and tell her where I’m stuck. She may suggest an idea that has me saying, “Yes! Great idea.” And then, when I get home, I can’t wait to begin writing again. I always take pen and paper to those luncheons so I can capture the idea as we are discussing it.

6.I might read a book. Somehow diving into an absorbing romance written by someone else takes me out of the stuck place. It works like greasing the skids. But I don’t reach for this too often as it takes me farther away from my own story.

7. Lastly, when all else fails, I take a break. I take a walk with my Golden Retriever, go shopping, listen to music (which often inspires scenes), or I bake (yes, I love to bake; you can see a few of my recipes on my website). There’s always Facebook, and email too, but I do those most days so they aren’t much of a break.

The point is to do whatever you can to move past the blank page—past that place where nothing is coming to you.

I would love to know what you do when you hit those rough places, so do share!

You can buy Regan's new book on Amazon
and Barnes & Noble!


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Writing Smackdown

Author's Note: Wow. It's been a long time since I last posted or had anyone else post. Oops. I promise to be better...

So, I'm participating in Savvy Authors/Entangled Publishing's Smackdown. It's a week-long basic training to work with Entangled editors in getting a novel ready to write and finish for NaNoWriMo in November. A friend of mine did this last year, and she said it really helped her learn how to write faster. Oh, and she also got a contract with Entangled. :)

When I first signed up, I was planning on working on a current novel, the first in a planned series of three. I know the characters, their GMC, the plot, etc. Well...yesterday, Savvy sent the participants an email letting us know that this had to be a brand new story, one that we haven't started writing yet. 

Yikes!

So, I went to Plan B, which was to work on Book 2 of aforementioned series. Now, all I knew about this story was the basic hook, the characters, and their GMCs. I usually don't write synopses until I've written much of the first draft as I'm mostly a pantser. I spent an agonizing day yesterday trying to figure out what the hell my characters were going to do to get from Point A to Z. But I finally did it, and turned it in just a few minutes before the midnight deadline.

Well. The editors assigned to my team read the synopsis this morning, thought it was a nice idea...but it didn't really fit the line we are trying to write for. It was too sweet and smalltownish for the sexy Indulgence line.

Dammit.

I quickly brainstormed a new idea that might fit better and ran it by them, asking if I could write another synopsis. Yes, as long as I turned it in by midnight tonight.

Shit!

So I spent all day today brainstorming and starting a story from scratch. Then wrote a synopsis for it. Usually, I have an idea in my head for a few weeks/months/or years before I even take pen to paper and start fleshing out the characters. But today, I came up with an idea, characters, GMCs and wrote a friggin synopsis. All in one day. :) And I LOVE the story I came up with. I'm so excited to write this book.

I'll find out tomorrow if the editors like it. I sure hope they do. I'll definitely keep you posted.

Let the Smackdown begin.



Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Q & A with author Jess Buffett


Thanks for being here today, Jess.
Would you please share a short bio about yourself?

Hmmm, what can I say about myself...I was born and raised in New South Wales, Australia. I married my high school sweetheart and we live on the Central Coast with our two children. I am absolutely a hopeless romantic who loves stories about true love that sizzle with a happy ending (which is probably a good thing given what I write). I'm a huge fan of M/M and M/F romance—anything with hunky men in all their glory, whether they be Shifters, Vampires, Cowboys, or the boy next door. I'm a firm believer in soul mates, happily ever after’s, and in love at first sight, but that sometimes people need a second or a third for the brain to catch up. 


Do you consider yourself a shy and/or introverted person?

Yeah. I really can be. People might be surprised that I struggle to get myself out there. That I sometimes worry over something as simple as a post on Facebook, or asking someone to help.


In what ways has being shy or introverted hindered your writing career?


I have trouble getting out there and noticed. Whether it be by email or PM, the first time I ask someone if I could be on their blog or even send a friend request, I get nervous. I’ve only just gotten comfortable enough to ask, and even then it is usually by posting something in a general forum, not directly.


In what ways has being shy or introverted helped your writing career?

I’m not sure if it has helped with my writing career, but my writing career has helped me not be so shy anymore.


What’s the hardest part of this business for you?

Advertising. When The Kayan’s Mage was released, I had a lot of friends help me out with the promo so I was lucky, but then I realized it was everywhere which is kind of the point. But the whole time I kept waiting for someone to say “would you quit it already!” And asking for help was really hard. Thankfully there are so many nice people out there willing to offer help. 


Tell me about a time that you had to step outside your comfort zone either in your writing career or in your personal life?

It probably covers both, but when I told people I was writing, and even more so I was writing M/M. Opening myself up like that to people who knew me was pretty scary.


What’s one tip you could share with shy and introverted people that’s helped you? 

Make as many friends with other authors as you can, no matter how out of your comfort zone that is. At the end of the day they will be the ones who stand by you, understand you, and help you when you need it. Just make sure you are never too busy to return the favor.


Would you please share a short blurb of your book and where my readers can buy it?

Hunter Clan 2 – Riley’s Vampire Prince will be out May 22nd:

BLURB - Riley McLeod has never gotten over the loss of his family to murderous Vampires, and often hides behind his sarcasm and carefree attitude. So imagine his shock when he discovers he is not only mated to one, but his mate is the Prince of the Vaucluse Coven.

When Caleb Vaucluse arrived at the Hunter Clan, he never expected to meet his mate. His joy soon turns to devastation when he learns that Riley fears him. Caleb struggles to get passed Riley’s defences and prove that they are meant to be. Unfortunately just as they come together, pride and old wounds prove hard to overcome for the pair, and threaten to tear them apart for good.

As an enemy is revealed and more questions are raised, Caleb and Riley have choice to make. Do they keep their pride and stand alone, or stand together and embrace the love fate gave to them?


Where can my readers find you on the web?

Author links:

http://jessbuffett.wordpress.com/

http://www.facebook.com/jessbuffett05

http://www.bookstrand.com/jess-buffett

http://www.goodreads.com/Jess_Buffett

https://twitter.com/JessBuffett


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Do you read romance ebooks? 
Then you'll love this sale.

99 cent blow-out!
May 1-3, 2013
Bouquet of Books Sale 



More than 150 books are on sale in every romance genre, including my most recent release, SHAMELESS!

Click here to find your new favorite books.

On sale for .99 at

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Social Media for Shy Writers


by Regan Walker

What is it we shy writers have in common? We aren’t comfortable being “out there” promoting ourselves
and we’re happy being at home alone with our books and our writing. And perhaps some of us are not so comfortable with social media in general. Not “tech savvy” as one of my author friends says. But we can’t afford to remain ignorant. And, if we have trouble promoting ourselves, would the same be true if we were talking about our children or our grandchildren? Perhaps not. So, why not consider your books your children? After all, you endured pain to bring your stories into the world just like children and you love them. I’ve no doubt about that.

These days, publishers expect you to promote your own books. You can’t afford to bury your head in the sand and just hope your new “child” will sell. You have to show the world why they should buy your book. What makes your novels interesting? What research did you do to write them? What is so fascinating about your characters?

I suggest the minimalist approach for a romance writer just stepping her toe into the world of social media. Here are my short steps to what you might want to try at first as you step one toe in the water at a time:

1. Pick your name. Decide what your name and persona you show to the world will be as an author. You don’t want a Facebook page that is full of your personal life. So, assuming you have a pen name, that will be the name you use to set up Facebook and Twitter author accounts, the two I recommend you start with. You can still have a separate personal account where you share family news but best not to combine them. 

2. Get a good picture taken. I suggest a professional picture—a headshot. I like the ones with dark backgrounds highlighting the author’s face, but whatever you do, keep it uncomplicated. It will be the photo you use for all promotion, Facebook, blog tours, etc. so make it a good one. 
3. Get an email address that has your author name in it. You want publishers and other authors to recognize your message as coming from you. I have five email addresses, each for different purposes. The one I use with my editor and publisher and with my website has my author name in it. 
4. Set up a Facebook account. It’s not hard. Facebook has lots of help in the short steps to your new Facebook identity. Try starting here: http://www.facebook.com/help/345121355559712. Once you have an account, you can “upload” a picture and banner picture. It is not hard to do this and online tutorials are available. Here’s my Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/regan.walker.104
Once you have an account, you can search for and connect with other writers, even friends and those who support your writing. There is a “search” box on Facebook to do this. Once you’re connected with others, watch what they post and see what you find interesting. Sometimes it’s just a pretty picture, or words of encouragement. 
The point is you are making friends one by one in the cyber world. And to make friends you must be a good friend, encouraging and complimenting others. Also, comment on the posts of others; let them know you agree with them or like their book cover or just found what they said helpful. That will “introduce” you to them. Eventually, you can do your own posts. On Facebook, pictures are better than just words alone. 
Do not over post or over promote. And don’t post where you and your husband are having dinner unless it is really interesting and others would want to know. A post or two a day—at most—is enough. I have “unfriended” people on Facebook and “unfollowed” people on Twitter who overpost. 
5. Set up a Twitter account. Again, there is a lot of online help to tell you how to do this. You can start here: https://support.twitter.com/articles/100990-how-to-sign-up-on-twitter#. If you are not yet published, describe yourself as an aspiring writer and active reader, perhaps indicating the genre you like. Then you can search for those interested in the same genre. “Follow” everyone who “follows” you so you’re connected. Then watch what people post. Eventually you can use Twitter to promote your work but in the meantime, look at the Tweets you find helpful and why—that will tell you what you’ll want to Tweet when you get around to it. Here’s my Twitter: https://twitter.com/RegansReview
6. Even before you have a book published, I recommend setting up an author website. You’ll need a domain name that can be had for about $10 for the first year. Make sure your name is in it. Mine is reganwalkerauthor.com. There are sites like Weebly.com (the one I used) and Wordpress.com that have premade, beautiful design templates all done for you and very user-friendly tutorials on how to set them up. And you can get your domain name through them but I got mine at Register.com. Best of all, Weebly and Wordpress are free. Might be a Saturday project but you can do it. Of course, if you can afford to pay a technical type to do it for you, great. But I like the fact I can update my own site—and it’s free. Here’s mine: http://www.reganwalkerauthor.com

Publishers want to know you have a presence on the Internet… that if they publish your book, you have some ability to promote it.
7. Join some email loops. If you’re a member of Romance Writers of America or other writers’ group, they’ll have an email loop that will have your inbox full of their chatter. You can see what’s of interest to you and delete the rest. Your local chapter will also have a loop. Join them and be an active participant. One I recommend for romance authors is Savvy Authors. They are very supportive of aspiring and new authors. 
8. Should you have a blog? Ok, I left this till last because I know for most shy writers and busy people this is the most daunting. The premade website designs usually come with a blog option, making it easy to add one. Before you consider it, however, decide what you would do on a blog. Would you promote other authors? Would you post interesting articles for readers? authors? What? Every blog has a personality. 
I have an author blog connected to my website that basically just shouts out “news.” My real, working blog is my Regan’s Romance Reviews site. I had this blog long before my first book was published. I love helping other readers of historical romance find the good ones. My site  is dedicated to doing just that. It’s a labor of love. Yes, you can see my books on the site but that is not its main function and my followers and the 4000 folks who look at my blog each month are looking to find something of interest to them. If you don’t want to do a blog on your own, you can always go together with a few other authors to do one together. There are many of those and it makes it easy to share the work. 
9. Appear on the blogs of others. Even if you never have your own blog, you will want to be on the blogs of others to promote yourself or your books, but you have to find something to say more than “buy my book.” Comment on the posts of others; be encouraging. Develop some interesting posts of your own. I am a member of the Beau Monde Regency authors chapter of RWA and they have a blog—not to promote books but to provide information on the Regency era. I have made good use of my research for my novels by writing articles of interest on Regency Theatres, Valentine’s Day in Regency London and most recently, The Last Revolution in England—the Pentrich Rebellion of 1817. When the Beau Monde blog posts one of my articles, I “Tweet” it and post a link to the article on Facebook. 
I hope this has helped you. While none of it is new, I tried to provide some simple steps that will get you “out there” to tell the world why they should want to own your books!

* * * * *

Blurb for Against the Wind:
 A night in London’s most exclusive bordello. Agent of the Crown Sir Martin Powell would not normally indulge, but the end of his time spying against Napoleon deserves a victory celebration. Yet, such pleasure will not come cheap. The auburn-haired courtesan he calls “Kitten” is in truth Katherine, Lady Egerton, a dowager baroness and the daughter of an earl as elusive as she is alluring. She flees a fate worse than death. But Martin has known darkness, too, and he alone can touch her heart--as she has touched his. To the English Midlands they will steal, into the rising winds of revolution.
Available now!

Regan's bio: As a child Regan Walker loved to write stories, particularly about adventure-loving girls, but by the time she got to college more serious pursuits took priority. One of her professors thought her suited to the profession of law, and Regan realized it would be better to be a hammer than a nail. Years of serving clients in private practice and several stints in high levels of government gave her a love of international travel and a feel for the demands of the “Crown” on its subjects. Hence her romance novels often involve a demanding Prince Regent who thinks of his subjects as his private talent pool.
Regan lives in San Diego with her golden retriever, Link, whom she says inspires her every day to relax and smell the roses.
Find Regan on her website, blog, Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads.