December 28, 2011

Interview with author Blaine D. Arden

The Forester

Blaine, welcome to Romance Lives Forever. Tell us about your latest book, including its genre. Does it cross over to other genres? If so, what are they?
It's called The Forester and it's a solstice m/m fantasy/romance. That answers the second part of the question. Yes, it does cross other genres, because it's a mix between mystery, fantasy, and romance.
The Forester is about Kelnaht, a cloud elf and Truth Seeker, who is caught between love and faith. He tries to solve a murder committed ten days before Solstice that reveals an illicit affair between two tree elves he desires more than he can admit: Kelnaht's former lover Ianys, who once betrayed him, and the shunned forester named Taruif, who is not allowed to talk to anyone but The Guide, their spiritual pathfinder. When Taruif turns out to be the only witness for the crime, Kelnaht has to keep Ianys from sacrificing himself and losing his daughter, while at the same time realizing he'd gladly sacrifice himself to end Taruif's loneliness. 
How do you come up with ideas?
Actually, ideas come up on me. Whether I'm visiting friends, working on a story or reading a submission call, an idea will just pop into my head. Mostly barely more than a scene or situation that begs to be turned into a story. I write them all down, though I have to admit some will be left forgotten, until I suddenly find myself thinking of that idea again, and I'll dig it up again. Or I'll be browsing through my notebook and stumble across one that just clicks, and I'll start expanding on it.
What is the single most important part of writing for you?
Enjoying what I'm doing. It may not always be easy to put words to the page, to suss out where my characters are going, but I enjoy finding that out. I enjoy the journey my characters take me on, the exploration of the world they live in. 
Where do you start when writing? Research, plotting, outline, or...?
I often start with a scene or a snippet of something that happens. The Forester, for instance, started with the image of a man desiring another who he sees daily, but is not allowed to talk to because that man is shunned. With that one, I just started writing, and while I wrote, ideas about things to come popped into my head. I noted them all in my program. So, basically, I was outlining and writing at the same time.
The story I'm working on right now, started with the image of a man walking through a crowd, bare chested, showing off his scar-tattoos and people turning their heads, except one man. I wrote it down and had to put it away. A month ago, I woke up one morning knowing his name, his occupation. And then I started to research scarification.
How many hours a day to you spend writing?
Between four and eight hours a day. I try to stick to some sort of work-day rhythm, while trying to remember to have lunch as well. At least, that's the idea, being a mother of semi-grown boys and running a household, it doesn't always work out that way.
Is your muse demanding?
I've never considered myself as to having an actual muse, though I have a couple of writing totems. I get ideas and I crawl into my characters' skins to tell their story, and those characters and story will stay with me at all times, whether I'm writing or not. My brain basically never shuts up, not even for a minute. So, in that respect, yes, very demanding.
What is the craziest thing you did as a kid, and would it ever end up in a book?
I wasn't exactly a kid, but the craziest thing I've ever done was phone all the chemical companies in my town to find that very cute guy I met and wanted to make a date with. It does sound like something one of my characters could do. And thank you for that plot bunny. *goes off to write it down before she forgets*
Of course, that cute guy, I managed to find him. He visited my work place during lunch wearing work clothes that had a multitude of chemicals spilled on them and I married him over twenty-one years ago J
What do you hope readers take with them after reading your work?
I always try to write diverse worlds, where sexuality doesn't matter. So, apart from hoping they enjoy the story, I like readers to feel a sense of hope that one day everyone will realize that diversity is a fact of life and love doesn't discriminate. Sooner rather than later.
List two authors we would find you reading when taking a break from your own writing.
Only two? Right now I'd have to go with Josh Lanyon and CJ Sansom.

Personal Info

If money were not an object, where would you most like to live?
Somewhere idyllic and rural in the UK. A nice barn conversion or sweet cottage, with plenty of space for friends and family to stay.
What song would best describe your life?
My life? For a long time I've been trying to figure out who I am, and even though I'm still learning new things about myself, the song I keep coming back to is 'I am what I am' (in the John Barrowman version). Because no matter who I am, it'll always be me, deep down, and nothing anyone else says it ever going to change that.
Picture yourself as a store. Considering your personality and lifestyle, what type of products would be sold there?
A store reflecting me. I like that idea   It would be a mix between geek, writer and semi-gothic items. Plenty of writer's goodies, like notebooks, pens and whatnot. But also gothic style clothing, especially platform shoes and boots, a magic the gathering collection, technological and computer gadgets and a lot of black and purple items in all categories.
Tell us an embarrassing story that has to do with a pet. If you have no pets, a story about a significant other will do. ^_^
As a child I had girlfriends with a dachshund living across the street. Now, as a child I was afraid of dogs. Having one of my own now, I can barely imagine it, but as a child? Petrified. Every time I went over there, the dog would start barking as soon as I rang the bell. It was as if the damned thing could smell me, smell my fear. It only did that with me, as far as I remember. So, one day, it was in the hallway when I entered. I was only wearing flipflops, and the damned thing bit into my big toe. I avoided dogs even more after that. And dachshunds? I hate those even now. *shudder*
If you came with a warning label, what would it say?
Very tactile and a perpetual hugger. Will try to keep you from leaving after a visit.

Fill in the Blanks

I love pizza with different sorts of cheeses and onion.
I'm always ready for visitors. I may be right in the middle of something, but I love visitors.
When I'm alone, I don't sleep well.
You'd never be able to tell, but I used to be very shy.
If I could teleport I'd be hopping around the world every week to visit friends.
If I had a halo it would be hints of indigo and lavender with some dirty brown and muddy forest green. And maybe some other colours thrown in. I have my faults.
I can never read bdsm stories before bedtime because it makes me want to do anything but sleep. ;)

My Booklist

Color Me a free story written for the M/M Romance Goodreads group for their Hot Summer Days event. This story can also be found in the anthology Don't Read in the Closet: Volume Two

Books Coming Soon

TheFifth Son, an m/m fantasy novella, to be released on March 9, 2012 by Storm Moon Press (Pre-orders are 20% off!)

Find Me Here

Twitter: @BlaineDArden
Blog:  (direct link, also accessible through website)

December 27, 2011

Roaming Body Parts

The late author Barbara Karmazin (affectionately known to her critique buddies as "Chainsaw") used to harp on "roaming body parts." What she meant was the tendency of authors to write such lines as:

His hand caressed her shoulder.
He dropped his eyes.
Her back pressed against the wall.
His mouth spoke her name like a prayer.

In the first instance, what else would he caress her shoulder with? His feet maybe? If the character doesn't have hands, or he's an alien and could be using tentacles... I suppose so. But for the most part, the hand is obvious. He caressed her shoulder is better.

He dropped his eyes and they went boing! boing! He can drop his gaze, but not his eyes. While we're on the topic of eyes... He also can't meet her eyes. (Where? In the park?)

Our heroine can press her back against the wall, or lean back against the wall, or simply press back against the wall, but is she holding her back in her hands and pressing it, or is her back pressing against the wall on its own? Be careful about letting body parts move on their own.

Which brings us to his mouth spoke her name... Unless he could also speak her name telepathically (I write SciFi; I know it can happen) then he spoke her name works.

I ran into this one recently and think it bears mentioning. "His mind remembered the incident." As opposed to his big toe remembering? Of course his mind remembered, again -- unless he's an alien who also thinks with his third left tentacle. If he does that, by all means tell us. Otherwise, it's safe to assume we know what body part is involved.

For more good ideas on how to handle this and other writing hazards, check out the Warrior Writers blog by Kristen Lamb. Her article on Dec 26th, 5 Common Writing Hazards is excellent.

What are some of the roaming body parts you've ... uh... encountered in your reading?

December 16, 2011

Book Addict Cassandra Carr

Cassandra's To Be Read Pile
My name is Cassandra, and I'm a book addict...
by Cassandra Carr

Is there a 12-step program for this? Because I might need it. If you look at the picture in this blog, you'll see my PHYSICAL to-be-read pile. I also have a Nook, which has *mumble mumble* books on it. Suffice it to say my TBR "pile" hovers between 200 and 250 books at any one time. Yes, it's a sickness, but I could do way worse.

People have asked me why I keep buying books if I already have so many, and the answer is surprisingly simple: because if I don't buy a book I know I want to read when it comes out I'll forget about it. I am a very busy author, workshop presenter, wife, and mother. Oh, and rabid Sabres fan. Now, of course if I didn't buy Sweet Addiction, book 6 in Maya Banks' Sweet Series, as soon as it releases in April 2012, I would remember to buy it later because Maya is one of my favorite authors. That and I can't freaking wait for Cole's story...

But what about all the debut authors I want to support? What about when I discover a new-to-me author? 

I will acknowledge that at my current reading speed it will take me about two years to read everything I own at the moment, and that's without buying any new books, which is never gonna happen. You know what? I'm okay with that. I like having a huge stack of books from which to pluck the very one I'm in the mood for.

How many books are in your TBR pile? Do you think I'm crazy? (It's okay if you do. My husband would agree with you.)

Cassandra Carr is a multi-published erotic romance writer who lives in Western New York with her husband, Inspiration, and her daughter, Too Cute for Words. When not writing she enjoys watching hockey and hanging out on Twitter. Her debut novel, Talk to Me, was released by Loose Id on March 22, 2011. Head Games, Buffalo Intimidators book 1, released on November 2, 2011 from Siren Bookstrand, Caught will release December 13, 2011 from Loose Id. For more information about Cassandra, check out her website at, "like" her Facebook fan page at or follow her on Twitter at

December 13, 2011

A Poor Man’s Guide To Shoestring Marketing

A Poor Man's Guide To Shoestring Marketing
with Bruce Jenvey

So you've just signed your book deal and you're ready to let the world discover you and make you rich and famous. Your work is done! Right?
This circus is just beginning! The truth is, the success of your book and the fame it will bring you depend entirely on what YOU do NEXT. Even the big guys have to promote their own work. The difference is they have a staff. And you… all you've got are your shoestrings!
I'm Bruce Jenvey, author of the very soon to be released, Angela's Coven, and we're going to talk about ways to get people to buy your book. Hopefully LOTS of people.
Now, I won't tell you that this is the only way you should promote yourself, or that, "I'm right" and this is your map to success. But I have been asked to share with you, a different way of looking at things and an approach you might find useful.
And just who am I? In previous lives, I spent 20 years in advertising, working on national ads and promotional materials for such clients as Pontiac, Cadillac, FTD, Mr. Goodwrench, Budweiser and more. I spent an additional 10 years publishing and promoting my own travel and history magazine and the branded products it produced. And now, we're going to steal some ideas from the major leagues that might help you launch your own successful book campaign right from your kitchen table!
Reality Check Time: You are not that wonderful. You need to clear your mind of any pretext, any fantasy you've ever had about 'making the grade' and 'stepping into the limelight at long last.' Yes, there are fellow authors you will meet who still believe in this fairytale, but take an honest look at their book sales and ask yourself if that's all you want out of this.
The truth is, no one is going to interview you, invite you to functions or book signings, or bow down to you because you are now a 'published author.' There're a lot of us published authors out there, all scrambling for attention.
The question is, who is going to get the bigger piece of pie? That said, let's start to build your Public Persona.
Step One: The First Thing I Did:
I established my own web page to promote the book. You need a base… a lair to work from. What was Frankenstein without his castle? Or Dracula without his? No one's that afraid of a guy building monsters in the back of a public storage unit or a vampire staying at Motel 6. You need your own Castle, your own domain name, not a freebie site that has some long address that eventually ends in your book or persona. You need your own!
There are lots of places that will sell you a domain and web hosting services all in one package and actually quite cheap. Perhaps the best known of those is All in one spot, you can research, request, and buy your domain name and arrange for it to be hosted on the web.
For those of you new to this: A domain name is a unique internet address you own such as, belongs to Dell Computers, belongs to the famous television network and so on. Once you have purchased a domain name, then you have it 'hosted' by a provider on the Internet so when people type in that address, they get your page. And yes, you're going to need one of those, too. You can get a web page built for you by a friend, a fellow author or you may be surprised at what you can do yourself with some of the basic tools the hosting company may provide for you.
Either way, getting a web page with your own domain should be step one. Why your own domain? Because it looks bigger and more professional. No one knows you're just the man behind the curtain, you want them to think you are the all powerful (but friendly) OZ.
Your new web hosting account should come with a good number of e-mailboxes for you to assign. You start using these immediately and stop using your Yahoo, G-mail or Comcast e-mail address for anything to do with your book. Set up one for yourself in your nice, approachable, friendly first name, and then at least one more for 'your staff.' It can be something like info@ or help@ or whatever best fits the persona you decide to create.
I realize you probably don't have a staff, but appearance is everything. Press releases, schedules, any correspondence should first come from 'your staff.' In those e-mails, you refer to yourself in the third person. Silly, I know, but it works! And then, they may approach the benevolent you. Follow? (Let me discuss domain name choices and I'll pull this all together for you, promise!)
What domain name do you choose? Make it one you can use for some time to come. If you're writing a series of books, choose a name that covers them all under one umbrella so you don't have to re-start and re-establish everything all over again when book #2 is ready. Think like: or Steven King could have used
But here's my own example. My first book is Angela's Coven, the story of a modern day witch practicing old world witchcraft who risks everything to help an aging rock star break his unfortunate deal with the Devil. She has the help of her long established coven. It was decided to make the coven itself the continuing character in the stories regardless of who was a member at any given time, either in prequel or sequel.My web page is and please, go check it out. We (really, I mean 'I', but 'we' sounds so much larger than just me alone, doesn't it?), we had some fun with the graphics (all stock photos from, and the traditional expectation as to what a witch's coven is all about. It gets a few laughs, but keeps the visitor exploring the page. They can 'Join The Coven' which is really nothing more than getting on our (my) mailing list. But it's the e-mail addresses that have proved most important.
You can write me, personally, at but all press releases, first contact letters, etc, are sent from the catch-all address of In the recipient's mail box, the sender shows up as The Coven. Now, when you're looking through a stack of e-mailed press releases from… Shiply, Gregor and Moore, among many others, doesn't getting an e-mail from The Coven kinda jump off the page at you? Seems it does! This is my lair, my launching point, my writers cave or evil castle. You need one, too!
One final word here, DO make certain your website's index page and description include all the important information for the search engines. You want it to include your 'umbrella name' (in text, NOT in graphic), your book title and your own name as author. Your log line (the one sentence description of your book's plot line) should be included, too.
Then, everyone, including your own provider will start telling you that you need some extra service to make certain you climb the search engines list. Personally, I never did and you can Google me, the book or Coven Books and see what you find. Last count, Google had about ten pages on me and yes, those are all me.
It takes time to climb the search engines, that's why you establish your web page first, long before your release date (that and those e-mail addresses). I searched my own keywords a lot, and then clicked on the search result. I also got my friends and family to do so. Within two weeks, if you searched Angela's Coven or Coven Books, it came up on Google's first page (started at like 20!). And as I did more, more got listed and as more got listed, I moved up the ranks and never paid anyone to do so for me.
Step Two: Participate By Doing "More:"
What type of 'more' things did I do? I participated in the Muse Blog Page when Lea put out the call for Characters to square off in duels and postings. They sounded like silly little things where you write a short piece as if it were coming from your prime character and then we either complimented or even slung good-natured barbs with other writer's characters. Apparently, a good number of people read that, but even if they didn't, it was one more thing for the web crawler software to find and group together with the small pile of stuff about you it's gathering… and growing.
Step Three: "Will You Be My FRIEND?"
These days, Social Media is also part of your Cyber Office. I truly feel you can't do them all well, so concentrate on the ones you feel you can do well. For me, that was Facebook and LinkedIn. My opinion only, but MySpace has sort of gone by the wayside with not enough interaction built into the system.
Yes, I have a MySpace page, two in fact; one for me as author and one for Coven Books. The only activity I seem to draw there is from trolling prostitutes telling Coven Books, (not ME, Coven Books) how they were drawn to my profile and want to be closer friends with me.
I never did Twitter as I believe that until I am more like Clive Cussler or Steven King, no one is going to want to hear my ramblings about being on the patio. And an account with 4 followers is worse than no account at all.
I think the same is true with a blog. By choice, I just don't blog. An unattended or outdated blog is worse than none at all. A poorly written blog that's boring because you did it in what little spare time you had is even worse. (Now you're telling people that not only don't you care enough to post something, but when you do post, it's boring stuff… probably like your book, too, ya think?).
Instead, I have guest-hosted on other people's blogs and then kept a link to the archived page. So pick your battles and throw what you can into those battles so you win!
I chose Facebook, and LinkedIn kind of happened. LinkedIn only pestered me from time to time with more and more requests from people I didn't know to join my network, or to join their network. Always accept! I may not have put a lot of time or effort into LinkedIn, but on the two occasions I have sent out an announcement to all my contacts, I have been surprised at the response I got.
Facebook has proved to be the biggest impact, though. I have my own page which I sacrificed to anyone who wanted to be my friend and I still use it to connect with family and old friends. I also started a page for Coven Books and then added one I don't push just for Angela's Coven. The Angela's Coven page is only there to direct people over to the Coven Books page. ALL three pages are open.
I've turned my privacy way down. While you have to be a friend or a member to post, anyone can see my stuff, read my page, see my photos… and it seems to be a good way of reaching people. Don't forget to 'like' your book page as an individual! That's how I got Angela's Coven on my favorite books page right next to Clive Cussler!
Other Facebook things I have done:
In my advertising days, I was once employed by a BIG agency and that group has continued to actually hold reunions. They have their own Facebook Group page and when I was asked to join, I did! And as I catch up with old friends from those days and hear what others are into, I of course, plant my own happenings with my book.
As your publishing process advances, you will have 'news' to share and I ask their opinion as ad people. "Here's my new cover, what do you think?" "Just got the revised version of the trailer, I like the end, what do you think?" Of course, all this stuff is also posted on my Coven Books and Angela's Coven pages and that's where the video link leads, etc. Even if they are not an active 'member' of my group, I get lots of lurkers!
I also did the same thing with a high school reunion group page. It was not intended as this at first, but has become a valuable resource in my PR campaign. It all started with reconnecting with a few old High School friends via Facebook.
Next, I was scanning old pictures from my annuals and posting them for a laugh. It built a following! It became Flashback Fridays and evolved into a group page for people (staff and students) who were at my small school when my class was there: classes 69-75. (I'm class of '72).
Still every Friday, I post 4 photos from the annuals and lots of people comment and far, far more 'lurk' and enjoy. Again, it's an open page. Membership is only required to post but not to see the pictures and read the comments. Of course, I occasionally work in the post about progress on the book, the release date is set, here's the new cover art… and did you see the trailer?
A note on trailers because someone asked:
Do you need a trailer? I say, yes, but only because it gives you yet one 'new' thing to introduce or comment about as you build interest in your book. It's also a good way to interest those who let's say… don't read too much, into at least considering your book, as the one book they may actually read this year. But trailers can damage your efforts as much as they can help you. Trailers should be brief, to the point and tease the viewer about what's inside. They should be like the movie trailers you see on TV. Aim for a minute, not two, three or more. The trailer should NOT be a brief summary of your plot line. It should be an introduction to the setting and characters, giving the viewer enough information so they can start to imagine the possibilities. I've seen some long tedious trailers that, when they were done, I no longer felt I needed to read the book… I'd just seen the movie.
Now, Let's Close This Section With Two Important Thoughts
You can build an online persona that reflects your work (remember, your work is MORE important than you!) through a web page and your choice of social media. You can do it very cheaply and still have lots of things on the search engines about you. This is why you start early. You do not need to sign up with people and give them money to post you here, register you there, and promote you. Remember this: The guys that really made a killing in the gold rush weren't the prospectors, they were the guys that sold the picks, pans and equipment to them!
Don't be afraid to let that foggy cloud of mist that everyone thinks is your staff surround you when it's convenient. You don't want to throw it in their face like, "I'll forward that to my staff" but you can say lots of things that imply things were done for you, either by a staff or by your publisher. Such things as: "I just got my first batch of cover art cards today!" (That's because you ordered them yourself from the printer!) "My trailer has just been released (by me), what do you guys think?" whenever I've needed to say something that sounded like I was tooting my own horn too much, let the staff say it.
On my Facebook group page, there are many postings that end in "—Admin" and then, I'll post something very shortly thereafter ending in "—Bruce Jenvey." That lets everyone believe there is more than one person tending to my pages and allows me to play the slightly embarrassed author. Also, these posts (and all my press releases) talk about me in the 3rd person. Not like Bob Dole used to, NO, NOT like Bob Dole! But they say things like "Bruce will be available for interviews on…" or "contact Bruce direct at…" all press releases and correspondence from the web site are signed: The Coven.
I recently had an exchange of e-mails with a Chicago area radio station's program director, all from The Coven and all talking about me in 3rd person. She had no idea she was really chatting with me! Image is everything!
What's A Target?
Once you have a Cyber Office space to work from and you've started to grow your online persona, you need to decided WHO you are going to target, and then HOW! I know, there are a lot of people out there with preconceived notions about this aspect. I'm not saying I'm right. But, I am saying, I'm different!
Let's take a current, not traditional look at your market including its past, its flaws and its new additions. This E-Book market has been around a while. There are lots of people out there who have been reading E-Books for years.
Bruce Jenvey
I call them, the 'Early Adopters' as they were first to buy the early devices and use them. They were there before the Kindle and they were buying E-Books when they were originally hard to find. Many of them were romance novel readers who traditionally consume a high volume of books so the per-book cost was a factor at leading them into the E-Book market. They know all about sites like Coffee Time Romance, Fictionwise, the various publishers, and lots and lots more. They are used to digging to find what they want and now know where to get it. All promotion techniques I have read for us E-Book authors seem to be directed at this market. All the papers I've ever seen, the how tos, the what to dos, are all based on a growing number of publishers all competing viciously for this one segment of the market.
In reality, the E-Book market has exploded in the past couple of years. Last year, Amazon sold more E-Books than paper books. The Kindle was the #1 gift last Christmas. As of early January, 2011, there were an estimated 4.5 million E-Book reading devices in use! This includes Kindles, Nooks, Sonys, I-Pads, other less popular units, and selected E-Book capable Smartphones. 4.5 MILLION! That's according to the Amazon site and I know that number has grown significantly since then.
The reality is ALSO, that the vast majority of these new users ONLY know how to log onto the Amazon or B&N site, pick a book, give it their credit card and presto, the new book appears on their device like magic. They have no idea how to manually download and copy a new book to their device. They have NEVER heard of places like CTR, Fictionwise or ANY of the many E-tailers. They don't need to. They log onto the Kindle or Nook site, they pick out a book and buy it and it appears like magic... over and over again. (Like the muscle-bound guy in the gym commercial that says "I pick things up and I put them down"...and that's all he can say.)
So the question is, why do we compete so hard, against each other, like Olympic athletes where the margin of victory is so narrow, for such a small segment of the marketplace when there is a mass audience out there who only wants to know your name? It's like fighting each other for scraps of food on a single acre of land when there's a whole prairie out there just waiting to be claimed.
However, that requires going mass media and to go mass media, you have to figure out what else you have to offer the public. Remember, they are not going to be impressed with the fact that you are a published author.Be The Tap-Dancing Party-Crasher!
Too many "amateur authors" are SO enamored with their new-found status of "published author" they think the world should recognize them. Not everyone will want to interview you because you are yet another published author. You need to have some entertainment value of your own. Your entertainment value SHOULD be in the research you have done to write your book in the first place. Set yourself up as an 'expert' on the topic and use your published book as your credential, NOT as your reason to be interviewed.
Promote your fantasy release at a
Renaissance Fair
So, what entertainment value do you have? I'm not talking about baton twirling or piano playing. I mean, what entertaining information do you have that others don't? What do you know more about than the average person? Well, what's your book about? Swashbuckling Pirates on the Spanish Main? Have you ever considered how many towns and communities across North America have local Pirate Festivals? There's even one in upstate New York! For several days, these communities go Pirate Crazy and if you've done your homework, you can provide information about Pirates that will add to their enjoyment, feed their fantasies and yearn to be printed in their local papers or heard on their radio stations.
It's a matter of doing your research and being there (via e-mail) before all their plans are set. And if you can schedule the release of your book to coincide, GREAT! Is your book about medieval times? How about Renaissance Fairs? Alien Invasion? You realize they celebrate UFOs in a lot more places than just Roswell, you know.
Be creative, but the important thing is not to come across as 'The Expert.' You don't want to burst their belief balloons, you want to put a fresh spin on it, or even feed their fantasies. Don't go to a Ghost Hunter's Convention and declare there's no such thing… or you run the risk of becoming one yourself!
One more note here:
Try first to do all these things by remote control, I mean by telephone or electronic connection. I remember reading a self-promotion advisory once that suggested you go to your local event (Pirate Festival, Renaissance Fair) dressed in costume as a character from your book. When someone asks you, 'why are you dressed like that,' you can give them your promo card. If this is the way you want to present yourself, fine. But how many people are you really going to reach in person? But a photo of you sent to a thousand people is going to reach a lot more. I mention this because of what I call the Myth of Book Signings.
Originally, Book Signings were a way for the public to meet an author and let the enthusiasm be contagious within a small crowd. They sold books this way in the days before easily accessible mass media. But to the Nuevo Author, they quite frankly became an ego stroke. It just felt so wonderful to have people line up for your autograph and tell you how wonderful your work is… and of course, how wonderful you are for creating it! Do the math, at any given book signing, how many people are really going to show for an unknown author? And with today's gas prices and hotel costs, you can't justify a 'book tour' where you meet and greet 10 or 12 people at a time!
Will I be doing book signings? You betcha! A FEW. (Trying to find one that will host an E-Book-only author is a challenge to say the least!) My plans do include a few book signings at Barnes and Noble Stores locally (See my web page for an updated list of scheduled events.) all tied to in-store promotions to push retail sales of The Nook e-book reader. Remember, there has to be something in it for the bookstore to allow you time and space.
The few people I will meet at these events are not worth the cost to go meet them. However the photos of me there (cropped and positioned properly, of course) will be invaluable on my social media pages! They will add considerable credence to my book and its value and their consideration to buy it. And that's what this whole thing is about, selling books!Put It All Into A Battle Plan… And CHARGE!
So, let's put all this into practical application. What am I doing to prove to you that this is a viable addition or alternative to your marketing plans? First, I've had my web page up and running for the better part of a year now and I have climbed the search engines. Second, I have a social media presence that seems to hit a lot of people (not everyone who sees your page makes the effort to 'like' it!). Third, I have branched that out into other pages and found creative ways to tell former workmates and schoolmates that I have a novel that will soon be released.
I've kept their interest by not bugging them, but by occasionally reminding them it's there with an update about trailers or cover art. So, these people are primed, they're telling other people, and the pages I'm using to tell them about it, are climbing the search engines, too.
Now, we are ready for that 'Entertainment Value' to kick in and we're going to tell it to the world:
My entertainment value is that I spent a lot of time researching witchcraft, the history of witches and also brought in some of my own personal paranormal experiences. I can tell you a lot about witches you never knew! And I have put this all into a document I can cut, paste, shorten, lengthen, and tailor to the needs of the media that might show an interest in me. My book is strategically set for release just 10 days before Halloween.
I put together a press release about this entertainment value. Now, remember a good press release will be short, to the point and involve multiple, short paragraphs. It should read so that the first paragraph should be able to stand alone if some media boss only has a few lines to fill. The following paragraphs just flesh out more, what you told them in paragraph one.
My press release quickly raises the question as to what they have planned for Halloween programming and suggest this might be a fresh alternative (to the usual guy they interview who thinks he's a werewolf or the guy who's a truck driver in what used to be Transylvania). Broadcast stations are always hunting for some special interest story this time of year that's different, fun, and as I promised them, fresh.
The press release is written from The Coven stating that Bruce will be available for interviews of any length you may need and the book is my credential to justify my position as interviewee. Included at the bottom are links to my web page, my You Tube link and an in-depth interview one of my fellow Muse authors granted me.
Next, I sent this press release to over 1,200 radio stations throughout the US and Canada. Where did I find over 1,200 radio station contacts for e-mail? Google! Why radio stations? With radio, you can easily be interviewed by phone. You can be recorded for later playback and even repeated if they liked you. There are far more radio stations than TV stations and Newspapers. In an effort to be 'different,' many of those radio stations are more relaxed in their pace and even their professionalism. It's a slower process and they aren't afraid to try 'different' things.
I sent these press releases out in late July and early August, hopefully long before they committed to a different direction. I have actually secured a small number of interviews so far as well as two TV interviews and two local public appearances. (Lunch at the Rotary Club counts as a public appearance.)
I know, there will be some of those interviews that may only reach 5 or 6 people at a time… small stations, small audiences but if you want to start a big forest fire, light a lot of little ones all over the place!
But it doesn't matter if I didn't get a single interview. I would do it again even if I knew right up front that the response would be zero. Why? Because I know there are over 1,200 more people out there now who have at least heard about my book than there were before.
Think about it:
Who at the radio station is going to get the mundane duty of clearing through the company e-mail? Even just the info@ or the contactus@ e-mails? Someone at least has to look at the e-mails coming into the local star DJ's box for him, right?
I'll bet you the person who gets 'stuck' with that duty is smack dab in the middle of my target audience! And right there in that endless list of requests and press releases from corporate places, is that one that says it's from THE COVEN. And if she reads it, she might click on the links and see my page and my trailer. Even if there is no way I'm going to get an interview, it may interest HER personally. She might even forward it on to a friend with a note about the book video. She might share it with the person in the next cubical and laugh. But that's how you start a forest fire… 1,200 little fires at a time.
And what will happen when they Google me to check me out? They're going to find ten pages of info from my web page, the Facebook page, my publisher's blog page, the comments made about the cover on the cover art page… it's going to immediately look genuine, different and could well land me that interview and if not… I got the opportunity to wow yet one more bored office person and enrich their day with thoughts about: "If only I could be a witch… what changes I'd make around here!"
Will it work?
The science isn't perfect, but the press release is the only thing I have issued that directly links to the You Tube posting. Everything else, all other postings for the trailer are on Facebook. So, reasonably, I should be able to look at my You Tube views as a measuring stick of my response.
I have looked at other writer's trailers and I've seen they've been up there a year, 18 months maybe and they have a hundred views, or less. Mine drew over 300 views in two months, half of those over just two weeks after I revised it to include the final cover art. In the meantime, take what you need from here, and from other presenters and just remember to be creative, inventive and above all else, confidently different!
Learn more about Bruce Jenvey: Facebook -- Website

December 11, 2011

An Interview with Georgina Lee

Georgina, welcome to Romance Lives Forever! Tell us about your latest book.
My latest book is actually part of my very first series. Though I am traditionally published under my real name, this time I wanted to offer some novellas that are really out of the box for me. Hence, The Twin Planet Series was born, of which latest is The Alliance.
Q: What is the genre, and does it cross over to other genres? If so, what are they?
The genre is sci-fi/fantasy romance. The characters aren't human, so I'm not sure if it's sci-fi or fantasy. A real niche genre, I know, but oh, what fun to write! Sci-fi fans would enjoy the series, and I know most romance readers would love it. After all, my characters have heart, yearn to love and be loved.
Q: What did you enjoy most about writing your first book?
I think it's the setting. The Catch, #1 in The Twin Planet Series, is set in a jungle on a distant world. Such a setting was so integral to the plot, I was thrilled to expand on it, and allow it to help develop some unique abilities of the characters, one of which was traveling by light energy stored within my heroine's body.
Q: Where do you start when writing? Research, plotting, outline, or...?
Because I have been traditionally published, an outline and synopsis is vital if you want to sell on synopsis and three chapters. So I begin there, but it's really rough at that point. Then I after I know the setting, basic plot, and characters, I start writing. Once the characters are speaking to me, I can finish the outline, and do some research and just let the story play itself out.
Q: What genres and authors would we find you reading when taking a break from your own writing?
I love Carl Hiaasen, I love Norah Wilson's Dix Dodd series, and LR Hall's mysteries or one of Carol Schede's stories. I don't read as much sci-fi as some may expect, but I am reading Hiding Space by Linda Andrews. I think I must therefore be a cozy or funny mystery reader. I want to be entertained, though, so any good book will do that.
Q: If I was a first time reader of your books, which one would you recommend I start with and why?
I would recommend The Catch, with the added recommendation to just relax, let your imagination flow and let the characters entertain you. Once you've read The Catch, read #2 The Lure. The more of the series of short novellas that you read, the more is revealed about a unique solar system, and its people, who love and live much as we do.
Q: What do you hope readers take with them after reading your work?
I would love for readers to see what was told 2,000 years ago. The greatest thing is love. Love redeems, forgives, gives pleasure and uplifts. Love conquers all.
Q: If money were not an object, where would you most like to live?
Anyplace warm!! I love the heat, and since I live in Canada, I don't get that for much of the year. I love palm trees.
Q: What song would best describe your life?
This is tricky, because I rarely listen to music. I really can't say. Classical music soothes, so any instrumental piece by one of the great composers speak to me most of all.
Q: If you were a tool, what would people use you to do?
Bash away at something. Heck, I'd be a hammer. There is a definite, primal, aggressive part to my personality.
Q: Picture yourself as a store. Considering your personality and lifestyle, what type of products would be sold there?
I would find housewares, calendars, fancy cheeses and wines, comfy furniture. Think some high end boutique mixed with a deli, and a Lazyboy section, and I'll be there browsing.
Q: If you came with a warning label, what would it say?
Hmm, let me see. How about: "Works mornings only. Do not expect much after lunch." Silly, but it's true. I'm by far the most productive early in the day.
Q: What is the one question you wish an interviewer would ask you?
I think I would like to have asked, "How does your childhood still influence you today?" I think we take with us all those things that happened to us during the early years. We can carve away at that shape, but never truly eliminate it. My early years were rough and rocky, but they made me who I am, and I like that person. I guess if you want to know more, you'll have to interview me again, hmmm?
The Time Star - a time travel (not in The Twin Planet Series)
Coming Soon
The Capture  #5 in The Twin Planet Series

December 5, 2011

Marketing – A Waste of Money or A Chance to Sell Books?

Marketing – A Waste of Money or A Chance to Sell Books?
by Nina Pierce

Unfortunately successful writers have discovered that writing books isn’t the only thing they have to become good at if they want their books to sell well. With publishers spending less time and resources on marketing, it’s now up to the author to do their own.

There are many ways and places to market yourself. In reality, it’s not about your debut novel or most recent release— it’s about you and developing your readership. There are some authors who swear by building a brand. In this day and age, with so many authors writing in so many different genres, I’m not sure the benefits or disadvantages of marketing yourself as a brand. So I’m going to leave that topic for another time. I’m simply going to touch on the basic ways for an author to market.

* Internet Website – The first place an author needs to establish themselves is in their own corner of the world wide web. An easy-to-navigate website helps readers find you and your books. Your website should set a mood for your readers. Don’t complicate it with music or fun tricks, those things may annoy and drive readers away.

Blog – This type of promotion isn’t for everyone. If you don’t have the time to blog on a regular basis (at least once a week) and promote that blog to invite people to read your posts, then this may not be for you. Group blogs are popping up all over the internet as authors are looking to save time, but still have a blogging presence. Groups of authors with similar interests blog once or twice a month without the pressure of a dedicated blog. The advantages of blogging are the permanent sidebar topics with links to your books, trailers and reviews. It also gives readers a chance to learn more about you through your posts. The disadvantage is the amount of time it takes to post and promote the blog.

Social Media – This encompasses Yahoo loops, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Goodreads, Googler+, Wattpad or any form of media that allows you to interact with others on the internet. The purpose of these sites is to give people the opportunity to build a community. It is NOT for continually posting me, me, me updates that will turn prospective readers away. Though some of that is expected, it shouldn’t be the sole purpose of your updates. Remember, you’re building relationships. Of course the disadvantage again is the time suck some of these sites require to keep up with your followers.

* Paper Products – Offers all kinds of paper products, (including bookmarks, business cards and cover flats), magnets, bookbags, pens, sticky notes and other miscellaneous products. With a high resolution copy of your book cover (available through your publisher’s art department), it is easy to upload designs and create promotional items. I highly recommend getting an email from a friend with “free” product offers (the cost of your items is in the shipping). There are also designs to choose from for creating author-specific products. This site is inexpensive and shipping times are reasonable. (The 21-day delivery often arrives within in 8-10 days.) – Provides the same services as above. As with any print product you need high resolution jpgs to create and order products. – This site offers all kinds of products, but with the benefit of having a design staff who will create unique bookmarks, flyers or brochures.

Chapter Samplers – These small books can be made using several different computer programs or can be ordered from the above companies. Readers often comment that this is one of the few paper products they really enjoy receiving. Not only does it give potential readers a sample of your current book, but a feeling for your voice as well.

In general paper products placed in goodie bags or on promo tables tend to get recycled. It doesn’t mean you should never have these items, but be judicious with what you donate to convention bags.

* Promo Items
Things that readers can put their hands on are often expensive. Whether it’s lip balm, chip clips, pens, foot files, combs, hand lotions, mirrors, pen drives or anything in between, the advantage is that they don’t usually get recycled before readers leave conventions. Your name, tagline and website addie go home with them. The disadvantage is not only the cost in the item, but the additional cost of shipping to conventions you’re not attending.

NOTE – Conventions and reader get-togethers often advertise for promo materials for their goodie bags. It’s an excellent way to get your name out there and book buying is all about name recognition.

* Advertisements
Ad space is available on review sites, newsletters and popular blogs for your cover or banner. Prices are usually reasonable. Many authors swear by these ads.

* Contests and Big Ticket Items
Many authors enjoy running contests. But you should be leery of the contest-bunnies who have no intention of buying books, but will enter every author contest coming and going. There are sometimes opportunities to jump into contests run by some of the bigger review sites which offer ereaders or multiple prize packages. The advantage of that is the cost to participate is usually very reasonable ($10 or $15) and with multiple authors there is a lot of promotion across different venues.

This list only scratches the surface of the marketing opportunities available to authors. It’s a juggling act to balance your income to your expenditures for marketing. Just know that there is no right answer. What might work for one author won’t necessarily work for another. Try different things until you figure out what works for you.

Award-winning author Nina Pierce is an admitted promo queen. She’s tried nearly everything at least once, and most things, two or three times. She spends convention season sending out materials in hopes that new readers will discover her books. You can check out her newest books at or follow her on her social media sites facebook  and twitter

You can thank Nina for these tips by stopping by and picking up a copy of her book, Charm Her! It's on sale right now -- only $.99 on Kindle. Here's the link:

December 2, 2011

An Interview with Xandra James

Reluctant Revenge
by Xandra James
Welcome, Xandra! Tell us about your latest book, including its genre. Does it cross over to other genres? If so, what are they?

First of all, thank you so much for having me here today! Right, my first book was released December first from Pink Petal Books and it's called Reluctant Revenge. It's a paranormal romance novella that, despite having otherworldly creatures, deals with something that many of us come up against - forgiveness and letting the go of the past. Of course, there's also a hot half demon, a sexy almost angel and mean, flesh eating vampires for your paranormal reading pleasure!

What do you enjoy most about writing?
I love the very first chapter of a new story when you have high hopes for it and just know this'll be the easiest story to write, ever! Then I also love the end of the first draft when you come to terms with just how hard it's been to write this story, and you go from disliking it for all the hassle it's given you, to loving it once more.

Where do you start when writing? Research, plotting, outline, or...?
I usually start with a first scene that I've seen the basics for in my head. I'm not really sure of the characters completely or their GMC, so I just write about three chapters carrying on from that initial scenario. Then I get stuck J and that's when I will go away, outline the general story and then either tweek the first chapters or re-write them completely. This seems to work for me as I don't actually come up with fully formed plots or characters, straight away. It's almost like I have to mind dump first of all, then I see what works and what doesn't and move on from there.

What did you learn from writing your first book? 
That first attempts are meant to be awful! Lol. The first book I ever completed was a category romance. Looking back, it had no structure and no real plot. I think I was just happy to finish the thing, at the time, and I haven't even looked at it since.

Would you consider self publishing?
Absolutely. Self-publishing has grown so much since I first became aware of it many, many years ago. I can't see myself (for the foreseeable future) stopping submitting work to publishers, but as another option to work alongside? Yes. As long as I do it properly and spend the time and money on doing it right.

How many hours a day to you spend writing?
Depends. If I'm on a deadline then I'll write all day, stopping only for caffeine. Other days, it feels like a drag to make myself sit there and write for 30 minutes. Although usually once I get over my procrastination (I'm the Queen of it!), I'll usually settle into writing if I'm not distracted. Writing every day is a good routine to get into, even if it's a couple of hundred words. I'm glad I usually do that now.

Is your muse demanding?
My muse loves deadlines and will very often only want to work hard when it's imminent. Of course, like me, she can be bribed with caffeine and chocolate so there's usually a compromise…

Are your stories plot or character driven?
Reluctant Revenge, if I had to put it in either category, I'd choose character driven. My second book, released in January, is more plot driven. So I don't think I specifically write a book to be a certain way – it's just a happy accident however it turns out ;)

How do you balance a life outside of writing with deadlines and writing muses?
By not doing housework (okay, that was more wishful thinking). I don't think I can say I balance it very well, I just do what needs to be done, when it needs doing. I'm not the most organized person in the world so I kinda take one day at a time.

What do you hope readers take with them after reading your work?
If they can lose themselves and escape into the story for an hour or two, then I'll be a happy writer.

List two authors we would find you reading when taking a break from your own writing.
Kerrelyn Sparks and Janet Evanovich. I love a little humour with my romance. They're my go-to authors.

Personal Info

A biography has been written about you. What do you think the title would be in six words or less?
Life, romance books, and hitting snooze.

If money were not an object, where would you most like to live?
Well if money were no object I'd live in Venice half the time and a castle in England the rest.

What song would best describe your life?
Carry On Regardless by The Beautiful South

If you came with a warning label, what would it say?
Please don't poke with a stick, she bites! 


Reluctant Revenge from Pink Petal Books, released December 1, 2011
Nash was bound to Sienna completely – by a blood connection and a deep desire. An Enforcer for the Supranormal community, he was obligated to protect his sexy assignment, despite her family devastating his world.
After being betrayed, Sienna falls into the arms of her surly protector; a demon with a secret of his own. But can she face her destiny knowing she's more dangerous than those Nash was protecting her from?

Fill in the Blanks

I love pizza with a can of pepsi.
I'm always ready for  chocolate.
When I'm alone, I am always on my laptop.
You'd never be able to tell, but I hate celery.
If I had a halo it would be crooked and dusty.

Books Coming Soon

Shadow Justice from Siren Publishing, coming January 2012.


Check out my website for details of giveaways and blog hops I'm involved in over the next couple of months.

Find Me Here

Blog: as above and