Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Friend - Karen Wiesner

Please give a warm welcome to Karen Wiesner, today's Friday Friend.

Karen is an accomplished author with 85 books published in the past 13 years, which have been nominated for and/or won 114 awards, and has 13 more titles under contract. Karen's books cover such genres as women's fiction, romance, mystery/police procedural/cozy, suspense, paranormal, futuristic, gothic, inspirational, thriller, horror, chick-lit, and action/adventure. She also writes children's books, poetry, and writing reference titles such as her bestsellers, First Draft in 30 Days and From First Draft to Finished Novel {A Writer's Guide to Cohesive Story Building}, available from Writer's Digest Books.

Her previous writing reference titles focused on non-subsidy, royalty-paying electronic publishing, author promotion, and setting up a promotional group like her own, the award-winning Jewels of the Quill, which she founded in 2003. Jewels of the Quill produced two award-winning group anthologies per year published by Whiskey Creek Press from 2005-2011. All were edited by Karen and others.

Additionally, Karen is a member of Infinite Worlds of Fantasy Authors and World Romance Writers. Along with her writing, Karen enjoys designing Web sites, graphics, and cover art.

Congratulations on the publication of the fifth book in your inspirational romance Family Heirlooms Series! Please tell us about your featured release, Shards of Ashley.

In order to reconcile her past, she must face the terrible truth she buried long ago...and, in doing so, she gambles with her heart and the salvation of her own soul. 

Ashley Savage grew up in a troubled home with a competitive, pampered sister and an abusive, ridiculing mother who played at being a Christian when she needed to...and led Ashley to more addictions than one child could handle. As an adult, Ashley tells herself she's put the extreme fears of the past behind her, but she spends most of her time repairing the crumbling wall holding back the horrors she's not willing to face ever again. She's become a woman against the world. 

The one man who has the annoying habit of getting through her defenses is Jay Samuels, a military chaplain and soon-to-be pastor. Much as Ashley wants to leave him behind like she believes she has the rest of her past, Jay is ambitious to a fault where she's concerned. He hears only what he wants to hear--and he doesn't want to hear that she doesn't love him as much as he loves her. 

But even Jay doesn't realize the extent of all she's buried deep inside her own subconscious...and what keeps her from giving herself willingly to the God she knows is drawing her inexorably to Himself, to the one place she can't run, where she can no longer hide... 

What's next in the Family Heirlooms Series? Could you give us a peek?

Worlds Collide, Book 6, will round out the series with medical missionaries Marcus Samuels and Keiko Oichi. But I fell in love with so many of the secondary characters in my Family Heirlooms Series that I came up with book ideas for two of those characters from Glass Angels, sold them as non-series novels, but then realized I had a lot more tales to tell that connected with but didn't really fit in as part of the first series. The Friendship Heirlooms Series was born. Here's some more information:

Return to the quaint little town of Peaceful, Wisconsin, from Karen Wiesner's award-winning Family Heirlooms Series, where you first met and fell in love with these colorful, lovable friends. Now you can read the stories of those secondary characters in an all-new spin-off series. Nuggets of faith can be passed down as heirlooms from friend to friend, heart to heart, soul-mate to soul-mate.

Clumsy Girl's Guide to Falling in Love, Book 1 of the Friendship Heirlooms Series

Coming December 2012 (with clumsy girl Zoë Rossdale from Glass Angels, Book 4 of the Family Heirlooms Series)

Michael's Angel, Book 2 of the Friendship Heirlooms Series

Coming July 2013 (with LeeAnn Wagner from Glass Angels and Shards of Ashley and Michael Fremont also from Shards of Ashley)

Four more books will follow with secondary characters from the Family Heirlooms Series. Check out this upcoming series (including back blurbs, cover art, and details) here: 

Karen's websites:

If you would like to receive Karen's free e-mail newsletter, Karen's Quill, and become eligible to win her monthly book giveaways, send a blank e-mail to  

An excerpt from Shards of Ashley:
© Karen Wiesner

Chapter 1
Jay Samuels knew exactly where to find his girlfriend. Not in the waiting area, eager to throw herself in his arms the minute he deboarded the plane and appeared. No, Ashley would be in the gift shop, trying to convey blaringly that picking him up was an afterthought. She'd act like coming to get him from the airport (twice a year or so) was a major inconvenience to her. Maybe it was. Maybe he'd prefer to have her tackle him with enthusiastic love. But he'd always delighted in Ashley's mystery, her unfathomability.

He smiled eagerly, making his way around other passengers in the tiny La Crosse airport. Even knowing he and Ashley would spend the entire week he was on leave butting heads, he couldn't wait to see her. Since she'd moved to La Crosse when she was seventeen, he'd had to take charge to get what he wanted. She never made it easy, never fell in line with his plans, without a good argument. He had a big one on his hands tonight, but he was up for it. He was spoiling for it.

Still grinning, he entered the gift shop and saw her immediately. A woman as elegant and breathtakingly gorgeous as Ashley Savage was hard to miss. She wore an utterly feminine, utterly sophisticated, expensive business suit that she couldn't have imagined even touching a decade ago. The suit she wore today was in shades of pink, a floral print, with a form-fitting jacket that followed her exquisite curves and a little skirt. Three inch pumps showed off deeply tanned, mile-long legs. She was five-ten, only a few inches shorter than him, but taller than most women, especially in the heels. As usual, she wore her waist-length, champagne blond hair in a twist at the back of her head. Wisps hung around her delicate face. He had the feeling she thought tying up her hair the way she did made her unapproachable and unattractive to men. She couldn't have been more wrong. While she didn't need the make-up she wore, he had to admit she applied it with an expert hand. She looked completely natural, as if she wore no cosmetics at all. He wondered if she had any idea how beautiful…and intimidating…she was to men. Heck, she probably intimidated women just as easily. But he expected that was her goal. She didn't allow anyone or anything to get to her.

An ache started inside him that he knew would only get stronger with every minute they spent together in this short time. Does she have any idea what she does to me? For him, no other woman could come close to her. That had never been what she intended, of course, and he'd well known it after they graduated high school and started independent lives. She'd purposed for them to become separate from each other in every conceivable way.

She'd met rich-from-birth humanitarian Amanda Grant, who'd hired Ashley at her interior design company and taught her the ropes. In a very short time, Ashley had obviously learned a lot from her mentor--she'd mastered how to dress and talk properly, but she'd also designed her own style and it was worth gold. Amanda's clients had fallen for Ashley left and right, and she'd become a success in every sense of the word.

Since then, Jay had to concede that what they'd shared no longer fit--she'd been right about that, in not so many words. He'd ceased to harbor any more illusions about befriending someone who'd seen so much pain. Plain and simple, friendship could no longer satisfy him. Not when he'd seen her strength, the way she'd picked up the pieces of her shattered life and rebuilt herself from scratch. Wanting their relationship to move into something more romantic had become a priority to him, but she hadn't made it easy for him. To this day, getting anything from her was a never-ending battle, but a worthwhile one that he hadn't and wouldn't tire of, not when she allowed him to be with her despite “the inconvenience.” I never made it easy for her either. Just the opposite. I was hell on her when we were younger--just because I enjoyed our sparring so much. Unfortunately, he couldn't deny that he still derived pleasure from that. But sparring wasn't all he desired anymore.

Jay's hands clenched. He loved her, wanted her. While that desire felt old and familiar, the torture in his longing was new and nearly unbearable. The feelings between them used to be so light and fun. The last time he'd come home… Being with her constantly wasn't enough. Having her next to me, allow me to touch her…the ache to kiss and hold her won't be satisfied until she belongs to me wholly. At the time, he hadn't been sure how to make that happen. He'd wondered countless times what she would do if he told her the only future he could envision beyond being a chaplain and a minister outside the military was all about her. If his life didn't include her forever, he wasn't interested. This time, he'd discover one way or another what she would do when she learned he'd already taken a step into a permanent life with her. He planned to ask her to take a step of her own.

Looking at her guarded face now, he already knew the answer to that. She saw him standing here, aware he was watching her, but she wouldn't admit it a moment sooner than she willed. She wanted to make him wait for her. That was all right with him. Her control issues had given him a chance to look at all he'd missed for months on end.

In a calculated move, she glanced up from the magazine she was perusing, pretended she'd just now realized he'd arrived, and murmured, “Oh, you're here. Let me pay for these, then I'll take you home.”

She dropped another fashion magazine into the basket she carried. Jay followed her to the checkout counter, stepping right in front of her just before she got there. Her expression was irritated, just as guarded as before, and it should have reminded him of something hard as ice or stone. Ashley's intentions to keep everyone away no longer worked on him. Everything about her spoke of soft femininity to him.

“Not exactly the hello I was hoping for,” he said under his breath. He pressed up against her, and she glared at him.

“Can I help you?” the clerk called pleasantly.

Ashley stepped around him, effectively dodging his embrace to put the basket on the counter. Undeterred, Jay put his arms around her from the back. She stiffened defensively, but he held her a little tighter. He put his mouth right against the shell of her ear while the clerk went about the business of tallying her purchases. Breathing in her expensive, mesmerizing perfume, he murmured, “I'd rather not go to my parents' right away.”

“They miss you.”

“I miss you.”

Impossibly, she stiffened even more. He nuzzled her neck, becoming increasingly intoxicated by the scent and feel of her so close. He wanted to get out of here. Now. I need to be alone with her. This wasn't the time or place, but he couldn't get himself to back off. Instinctively, his counselor brain started to analyze both of their actions, but he shook off the need to do that with her. When he was home, he wanted to relax and enjoy his time with her.

She paid and took the bag the clerk handed her. Gently, she nudged him away, turning to ask, “Have you gotten your luggage?”

“Nah.” Seeing Ashley had been his first and last thought when the plane landed.

She led the way to the baggage return across the lobby from the gift shop. When they arrived and watched the bags coming through, she said, “I have to drop off this fabric sample book with a client and then go back to the office…”

He didn't care to hear the list of things she'd prepared to keep them apart. He slipped through her defenses and put his arms around her while she was still talking.

“Jay,” she started in alarm.

People milled around the airport. Others sat in the waiting areas. The two of them weren't the only ones embracing. Though he knew she hated displays of public affection, he didn't care if every person here was looking. Her gaze scolded him again, but he recognized she wouldn't stop him. When he took her face in his hands, he noticed that her eyes looked red. Crying? Ashley? Never. More like she isn't getting enough sleep, what with working fourteen plus hour days seven days a week.

Eyes the color of a dark forest shifted to his mouth skittishly, and Jay's pulse soared. She wants me to kiss her. He didn't hesitate. His lips covered her soft, full mouth, and, in that moment, he remembered what heaven tasted like. She didn't struggle despite an initial protest that faded away almost as if forgotten. He pulled her against him, molding her sides, bringing her yet closer as he deepened the kiss. This is how I know you feel the same, Ashley Savage. You need this physical connection as bad as I do. How did I survive so long without seeing you?

As much as it was possible for Ashley to soften, she did, fueling his hunger and hope. He had to have this. Her “errands” would keep them hopping until he made his aggressive bid to take her out to dinner. The reservations had already been made. He didn't dare admit that his baby sister, Samantha, and her fiancé would be dining with them tonight. Ashley wouldn't be able to argue once it was too late. Somehow he'd have to convince her to attend Sam's wedding on Saturday, too. But that was a battle best put off until the very last minute. Getting her to agree to dinner and spending time together at her condo after dinner were all the skirmishes he could handle tonight.

She broke the kiss abruptly, gasping for breath as she insisted a little desperately, “You're going to miss your luggage.”

“Miss you more.”

She looked up at him in confusion as he swooped in for another kiss. What was confusing? He loved her, wanted to immerse himself, body and soul, in her. When he delved his fingers into her silken hair, he felt her body responding to his. He'd concluded long ago that the warrior woman was a kitten under the surface, a kitty craving love and affection--but Ashley would never ask nor take what she really wanted from him. Sometimes I think she just goes along with all this because it's her way. To put up and shut up. To offer no resistance and hope it's over soon. Not because she wants it. Because I want it. If I didn't make contact…she would let it go. Let me go.

The thought was more than a little uncomfortable, but he'd never been able to shake it, not when the conclusion was borne from her unwillingness to let him past her defenses further than a grueling inch at a time.

The fact was, he was losing control. The anchor he'd had since he and Ashley's relationship became romantic hadn't been a bit reliable of late. Since the last time he came home, each encounter with her in his arms, he accepted that he was in danger of drowning in what he wanted with this woman.

He turned just enough to see his sea bag on the luggage return. He scooped it up as if he'd willed it into his hand. His arm still around her, he led her out to the parking lot right out the front door.

“Why do you do that?” she demanded. “In front of everyone.”

He could hear that her teeth were clenched around the mutinous, whispered words. Jay grinned, looking down at her. “Nothing I like better than driving you crazy, babe.”

Read more:

Thanks so much for being our guest today, Karen - and we wish you continued success in all your endeavours!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Color me Green

Each spring as the trees around my house break their long winter dormancy, I marvel at varying hues of green. I become jealous of photographers, who can record colors as the sun moves higher in the sky. I envy painters, who can add a dab of this or that, spin their brushes, and mimic Nature on a canvas. How can I, a simple lover of words, recreate for a reader what I see so vividly all around me?

I was gifted an old PMS ink selector by my local print shop. The colors, five up on a side, have numbers that are linked to the formula that creates each color. No silly names, like those in retail paint stores, but still, no names.

My Flip Dictionary lists seventy-two words under ‘Green.’ Spruce is accessible, although needles on the spruce trees in our farm’s windbreaks have more than one color. The new needles are pure baby spruce green. They’ve not baked in the summer sun or been covered with hoar-frost on a sub-zero winter morning. Older, weather-tested needles are thick and dark, true spruce green. Then there are the dying needles, yellowing slowly from base to tip, no longer useful to the only tree they’ve ever known.

Niagara Green. I think of Niagara as the falls. Billions of gallons of foaming white and blue water crashing down hundreds of feet. I don’t get green, except possibly from the economy-supporting money local restaurants and motels make off honeymooning tourists and the occasional over-the-falls-in-a-barrel daredevil.

Parrot has me stumped. I think of parrots as raucous, multi-colored birds perched on a one-eyed pirate’s shoulder.

Emerald is easier. So is olive, and lime. I can look up Myrtle in a plant identification book.

Leaf green: That’s ridiculous! There are so many shades of green just in the Brassicas in my garden. Broccoli green is different than cabbage green and cauliflower green, not to mention all the various kales and Brussels sprouts.

Dark green. That color in the crayon box.
Hunter green. The green in camouflage.
Bottle green. German beer bottles.

Clair de lune sounds like the greenish, witch-y, I-can-drive-without-headlights-at-midnight glow generated by a full moon at perigee.

Envy green. Not in the 64-ct crayon box.

Eau de Nile. Anybody know what color green this is?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

What's in a Name?

Samuel Clemens used a pseudonym, so did Charles Dodgson, Mary Ann Evans, Eric Blair and David Cornwell (amongst others).  Some writers have used several – Eleanor Hibbert’s best known pseudonyms were Jean Plaidy, Victoria Holt and Philippa Carr, but she also used several lesser known ones - Eleanor Burford, Elbur Ford, Kathleen Kellow, Anne Percival, and Ellalice Tate.

Writers used pseudonyms for a variety of reasons:

Sometimes their name is well-known in another sphere: if your name was John Kennedy or George Bush, you might want to change it.

It might be too common – John Smith or Mary Taylor for example.

It might be inappropriate as a writer – the name Paige Turner comes to mind.  It might be genuine but it sounds too contrived.

A real name may be difficult to spell or pronounce – which could create difficulties if someone is looking you up online or trying to ask for your book.  

Sometimes writers use different names for different genres; sometimes a woman might want to ‘disguise’ herself as a man.  The Bronte sisters did this when they first submitted their manuscripts, fearing that women would not be taken seriously in the male-dominated Victorian world.  But then so did J.K.Rowling, because she thought young boys might not want to read books written by a woman.

There can also be times when a writer wishes to take another name because of their ‘other’ careers.  A doctor might not want his/her patients to realise he/she is a paranormal writer; a first grade teacher might not want the parents of his/her children to know he/she writes erotic romances or horror stories.

I use a pen-name.  Why? 

Not for any of the above reasons, but simply because I don’t like my real name!

I hated my first name from being a child.  No-one I knew at school had the same name, and I longed for a what I considered a more ‘normal’ name like Anne, Margaret or Elizabeth (hardly surprising, therefore, that these were the names I gave my heroines in my very early stories). 

My surname is still that of my ex-husband.  I kept it when my daughters were younger for their sakes, since it was their surname, of course.  They’ve now both changed their surnames because of marriage, so I suppose I could have changed mine since I dislike it.  But (a) it’s how everyone knows me and (b) it’s too much hassle to change my bank accounts and other ‘official’ stuff like that.

When I wrote my early novels (in the 60’s and 70’s), I used my first name combined with my mother’s maiden name (which is actually my middle name – another grumble there, since I hated having a surname as a middle name, but that’s another story!).  Trouble was, that surname had a fairly unique spelling, so of course it was frequently spelt wrongly!

Fast forward 30+ years to when I re-entered the world of fiction writing, and decided I needed a different pen-name.  Paula was an obvious choice as a variation which I preferred to my real name (and which, in fact, several people actually call me).  I toyed around with various surnames – but people who know me well understand why ‘Martin’ eventually won.  One friend did suggest, however, that I should have called myself ‘Sheena Martin’ – no prizes for working that one out!

Maybe I should have chosen a more ‘unusual’ name but at least my pen-name is easy to remember, easy to spell and easy to say.  And I’ve now got used to signing it on the first page of ‘His Leading Lady’ too!

Monday, September 12, 2011


Okay, first of all, as anyone who knows me will tell you, having me write about procrastination is pretty hilarious, simply because in life, I don’t do it. My Type A personality won’t let me. When planning my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah, I created a timeline that started six months to a year before I actually had to start, just so I wouldn’t miss anything or stress about the potential of missing something. As editor of my Temple’s newsletter, I’m famous for riding anyone (especially my Rabbi) who misses the deadline, and when explaining to new contributors how important it was to turn something in on time, I told them that if they were sick, make their spouse write it for them and hand it in.

So, why am I writing about this topic, and more importantly, why did I actually VOLUNTEER for this one? Because apparently my writer self hasn’t met my other self yet. And while I don’t procrastinate in real life, as a writer, I have found so many ways to procrastinate that it’s a wonder I get anything done at all.

I don’t procrastinate on deadlines for my published or soon-to-be published things. I hate making people wait for me almost as much as I hate waiting for others, so when my editor tells me to do something, I do it right away. But on my work in progress? Oh, boy. I sit down at the computer and open the document and before I can even start to type one word, I think of something else to do. So I do it—laundry, making a phone call, etc. Then I return to the computer, reread what I last wrote and type a sentence or paragraph. And then stop to check my email.

Email should only take a few seconds to check, except that I’ve joined a bunch of writer’s loops and I get lots of emails throughout the day from them. The loops are necessary because they have a lot of important information on them. Plus, they’re a great way to market myself and my work to other people. But sorting through the emails takes time away from my writing, so I’ve tried to delete anything but the most important ones. I’m hesitant to use the digest method because I’ve never done it before and I’m afraid I’ll either miss something or spend a longer amount of time sorting through everything. My critique partner emails me her comments on my work and her chapters for me to look at, so those I try to read right away, even if I don’t act on them.

I go back to my writing, only to be distracted by Facebook, the biggest timewaster of them all! Through Facebook I’ve also joined writer’s groups and have my author page. Some of the groups have huge numbers of people, who post constantly. There are blogs to read, comments about my writing to answer and myriad ways to get distracted, especially when my own writing is not going so well. But again, I’ve found Facebook and its groups to be helpful to market my books and blog and website. I get a lot of comments about my writing, which gets my name out there, which hopefully sells my books. It just requires a lot of self-discipline to stick to what I’m supposed to do, when I’m supposed to do it.

I’m not sure why writing lets me procrastinate as well as I do. Maybe because I’m not happy with my story right now and the amount of work required fixing it is daunting. Maybe because my brain is tired (or my body) from lack of sleep and stress. I will say that now that I’ve printed out the first (horrible) draft and started to look through it, I’ve found parts that are less horrible than I thought and they’re inspiring me to go back to it. Slowly.  In the meantime, I’ve got email to check, Facebook comments to make and oh, Twitter to consider!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Welcome to Sylvia Ney

Today's Friday Friend is Sylvia Ney, a wife and mother of two living in southeast Texas. She taught in public schools for seven years and left to become a stay at home mom after the birth of her first daughter. She has published newspaper articles, photography, poetry and short stories. To learn more about her, please visit her blog:

Loving Your Villain

It’s vital the author know their protagonist intimately or the readers won’t relate and they won’t fall in love with your story. Most writers understand this and have become adept at creating memorable heroes worth falling for.

Yet the villain tends not to receive any love. “But he’s not supposed too,” I hear you silently shout. “We’re not supposed to sympathize with them. They’re the villain—they don’t want your pity, they want your respect, your fear. But sympathy? Villains scoff at sympathy.”

They also tend to make you—the writer—forget that they were supposed to be multi-faceted at all. We want them to be evil. We don’t want to love them. We just need them for conflict and then they fail (maybe even die).

Why should you become devoted to the antagonist? Especially after everything that character has done to others?

The answer is simple: if you don’t love your villain, your writing will show it. Your antagonist will have one side: EVIL, and become the stereotypical bad guy because you didn’t spend enough time getting to know his other side. Your writing will fall flat.

So, how do you create an effective villain?

1. Even Villains Have A Good Side — Remember that no one is all good or all evil, unless your villain is a demon and you’re writing horror. Of course, a demon with a soft side might be interesting as well.

2. What is the Villain’s Motivation? — Take a look at your antagonist. Do you know his family? Does he have siblings? What are his dreams? What does his mother think of him? What is his guilty pleasure? What does he fear? Why does he act the way he does?

3. Don't Overdo It — Don't get "villain-happy;" make your villains as evil as they need to be for the storyline, but no more than that; otherwise, they will either ring untrue or they will take over the story, distracting from the hero, heroine, and original plot.

4. A villain’s Demise — your villain must get his punishment in the end; if he simply disappears, then you've given the villain too much power. Take away his power and give the reader the satisfaction of closure for all the evil that the villain put your hero and heroine through. This doesn't necessarily mean that the villain must die, but he should suffer in some way for his actions.

5. Villain as the Hero — Of course, some villains can become very successful main characters. You may find yourself so attached to a villain that he warrants his own story. Or you may have a “bad boy” hero.

“Do not hesitate to give your hero lusts of the flesh, dark passions, impulses to evil; for these dark powers, fused with their opposites – the will to good, the moral impulses, the powers of the spirit – will do to your character precisely what the opposite powers of fire and water do to the sword blade." - William Foster-Harris

In my story “Broken Angel” we realize the protagonist is far from the savior he appears to be. Many authors use similar tactics for their lead. The whole point is to spend some time with your antagonist. Let him tell you all about himself, get to know him and don’t stop until you absolutely love him as much if not more than your protagonist. 

Because once you love your antagonist, something funny happens—you want your readers to love him too. And you’ll make sure they do.

Who are your favorite villains or less than perfect leads?

Thanks so much for being with us today, Sylvia, and for such an interesting post about villains! 

Link to Sylvia's story 'Broken Angel'

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Promotion = PR & Marketing!

Selling You, Selling Me! Where do we start?

Book Marketing! Call it what you will! Authors now have to learn the basics of PR (public relations). Strange words those, are they not. So how does PR work when it comes to selling books?

If you’re a famous person (celebrity) then you’re laughing, literally. Celebrities employ PR companies to sell them and to sell their products (off-shoots of celebrity status). These PR gurus sell the whole celebrity dream to adoring fans. It’s their job, it’s their mark of professionalism, and the best PRs are always one step ahead of those trailing in their wake!

A lot of authors have always gone the way of local radio slot here, a local TV interview there, and have sought a mention or two within local book review pages of county magazines and newspapers (UK). A few brave authors have sought publicity via national newspapers, mags and TV, but those slots have dwindled over the past couple of decades. Those national radio/TVslots have been given over to celebrities. Say no more! 

In the wacky world of published books, fiction books, editors and literary agents alike are now facing crisis after crisis. How has this happened? Good question. What happens when one buries one’s head in the sand in hope that whatever will pass by unnoticed and not affect the status quo? Well, the Internet came along and with it e-books and you know what, publishers laughed, and publishers ridiculed the very idea of e-books.

They said, “Oh really, funny-ha-ha, what fool is going to read an electronic book?” 

And here we are, e-books are big business. And yes, Indie/small publishers, the forward-thinking ones jumped in with both feet back in the early nineties and embraced the idea of electronic books and they are, the early birds, ahead of the game and will remain so.

“No No NO,” said the big publishers come the twenty first century, “we can learn from them and turn their success to our advantage. We have the clout, the money, and the big-named authors.”

Then came Amazon. “Whoa.  What’s this,” said the big publishers. “This is unfair advantage, the little chaps are in with a chance to thwart our World domination.” But, a few of the big publishers thought, Ha, ha, we can use this to our advantage, too.

Like hell they can. They make mistakes left, right and centre. They set up author/reader forums to entice readers and usually the forums are flooded with aspiring authors. These same big publishers tell authors the best way to know what excites their editors is to purchase as many of their books as possible. Which means, read their books but don’t bother sending them yours! These same big publishers talk authors into handing over novels to be published as e-books in new and exciting e-book lines, of course, with meagre royalty return. They wildly exaggerate on promises that if your e-book sells well, the mother company (trad house) may look more favourably upon your next submission to them. They publish thousands of backlist novels and publish them as e-books, no overheads, no running costs and usually overpriced for in-house monetary gain. They even resort, in some cases, to subsidiary vanity publishing. We all know what that is. And if you think VP is the domain of small publishing houses, think again, the big boys are at it, too.

SO! How do we, as small cheese, lure hundreds and thousands of book-reading mice to our books? Good question. Do I have the answer? Probably not!  I do know, however, that one can over do blog tours and drive bloggers away. I know that glowing book reviews on Amazon are mostly ignored and bad reviews are taken notice of: see my blog post re How is Your book doing on Amazon

However. I do know that we as authors have to create a brand image. How to do that is the leading question.
a)      Do blog tours work? 
b)      Does helping other authors work?
c)      Does seeking publicity via Twitter, Facebook etc., work?
d)      Does the act of joining blogfests to up followers in hope of book sales, work?     

Did any of the above help sales of your books?  I don’t know. You tell me!

Take a) I haven’t done a blog tour. I’m convinced more than one or two outlying blog visits do more harm than good, for both author and blog hosts. My belief on this issue stems from over-saturation of same thing, rather like a needling TV advert that pops up so often you’re tempted to zap the remote to blank the screen.  Do I want to be noted for this? No thanks.

Take b) I’ve enjoyed helping other authors by purchasing their books and posting reviews on my blog and, at Amazon. Now I’ve learned people don’t bother reading reviews. Hmm. There seems little point plugging for reciprocal reviews of my books

Take c) I think Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms are places for procrastination, posting tripe, making fools of our selves whilst trying to flog our wares, and basically a waste of time. I’d rather be writing next novel. Fans expect output!!  

Take d) re blog followers, yes you’ll get a few extra book sales with followers. But don’t ever think sales of books will equate to number of followers. If you want sales to soar put your face where it counts. Put your face in reader forums, talk to readers and gain fans. Treat author forums as places for exchanging experiences and gaining likeminded writer friends, but always, always look beyond inner circles of writers, because out there in reader-land is where your real audience is. Go find readers, the people who love the genre you write, and your books will roll off the bookshelves!!! 

Am I doing the latter? Sure I am. I’m book marketing savvy. My romantic historical novellas are available on Kindle and are selling extremely well with barely any reviews, no blog tours, mere advertising on my own blogs, and book trailers on Youtube and Amazon. I’m flirting with readers, and having fun with fellow authors. And, now here's the thing, I'm writing instead of wasting time on Twitter, Facebook etc. I'm getting books to my public!  

Ha ha, forgot to say: every chance you get put a link to your blog/s and post urls to book trailers, they are an excellent tool for catching the eye and imagination of readers.  

See my book trailers: The Highwayman's Mistress  & Her Favoured Captain.  Keep your book trailers short, choose music appropriate to story, and keep it simple: avoid bells and whistles re fancy effects, especially for romance novels.