Tag Archives: Jill Archer

Marissa Doyle, Author of SKIN DEEP, on the Magic of Cape Cod (#selkie #fantasy #GoodreadsGiveaway)

My guest blogger today is Marissa Doyle, author of the YA paranormal historical series the Leland Sisters. She writes “stories with heroines finding out who they are, their strengths and purposes, and where they belong in the world.” Her latest release is SKIN DEEP, a fantasy for adults. She’s here to share more about the book and its setting, beautiful Cape Cod. Welcome, Marissa!

Thank you for letting me be a guest on your blog, Jill—it’s a pleasure to be here!

I grew up reading books where the setting was almost a character in its own right. Books like The Secret Garden and A Little Princess are probably what turned me into an Anglophile at age 9, because they painted such vivid pictures in my mind of what it was like to see a garden come alive in Yorkshire, or to live in London as both a privileged and then a poor child. So of course, now as I write my own stories, setting remains extremely important to me: I want readers to experience that same “you are there” feeling that I once had when I opened those books. Which is why I set my newest book, Skin Deep, in a place I know and love deeply: Cape Cod.

Cape Cod, beaches, selkies, fantasy, books, Marissa Doyle, Skin Deep

Cape Cod – Ostervile Wianno Regatta

Skin Deep is a paranormal romance featuring a selkie (seal shape-shifter) hero and a heroine who discovers that she somehow imbues the quilts she sews with magic…and an evil entity bent on destroying the selkies and claiming my heroine’s abilities—and her very identity. Obviously with a selkie hero my story needed a sea-side setting, but it also needed a setting where magic would somehow be more believable, more real.

So what’s so magical about Cape Cod?

For one thing, it’s very much a place between worlds–a long, slender, curving peninsula jutting out into the Atlantic, a land that is constantly shaped and changed by the sea. In geological terms it is a “terminal moraine”– more or less just a very large pile of sand and gravel marking the southernmost edge of the last glacier to scrape down from the north—which means that it is, geologically, ephemeral—it came to be just 16-20,000 years ago, and in a few thousand years, it will no longer exist.  In terms of written history, though, it’s old. Some enthusiasts like to claim it was first settled by Vikings and was Leif Ericsson’s Vinland (probably not); but it was visited by many explorers before the Pilgrims made their first landfall in America here before choosing to move on to Plymouth. It was a fishing and whaling center for centuries before it became what it is today—a summer resort area whose population swells dramatically in the summer months with visitors from all over the world.

But what I think creates Cape Cod’s magic are its contrasts.

Think of beautiful white sand beaches that can be lapped by gentle wavelets in the morning and pounded by furious storm waves that night. Or clear golden sunlight (there’s a very distinctive soft golden tinge to Cape sunlight—it was a popular place for late 19th century American Impressionist artists to visit) that can be drowned within minutes by the thickest, grayest, wettest fog you can possibly imagine. Think of acre upon acre of salt marsh that looks dead and brown until you walk across it and see the hundreds of birds, the strange plants like sea lavender and horsetails, and the fish and crustaceans lurking in the threaded channels cutting through the marsh that ebb and flow with the tide. Think of enormous dunes looming above endless tidal flats, towns that teem with people in July and are nearly deserted in January, quaint 17th century saltbox houses one street away from modern palaces of glass and steel. Contrasts all…

and what is contrast but a subtle form of conflict, the engine that drives all stories?

I tried to make use of these contrasts when creating my semi-fictional Cape Cod setting for Skin Deep and use them to highlight my characters’ struggles, both internal and external…and had a lot of fun in the process. Cape Cod can be a magical place indeed…but magic can be light and dark.

Cape Cod, beaches, selkies, fantasy, books, Marissa Doyle, Skin Deep

More about Skin Deep

After a painful divorce, Garland Durrell looks forward to settling into her home on Cape Cod to make the quilts that are her passion. On the first morning of her new life she finds a man and a small boy washed up on the beach, both badly wounded. Since the town chief of police is strangely reluctant to help, Garland takes on the care of the mysterious pair who don’t seem to remember what happened to them–and feels her own heart begin to heal.

Alasdair does remember. He and his son Conn are the last of the ruling family of selkies from the waters around the Cape, locked in a decades-long struggle with an evil that threatens all, selkie and human. He’s not sure if he can trust the lovely, blue-eyed woman who takes them in until he touches one of her quilts and feels the magic she’s sewn into it…and the emotions that he never thought he’d feel again.

But the evil entity that stole Alasdair’s sealskin and left him for dead quickly senses both his presence and Garland’s magic, and is determined to destroy one and possess the other. Only Garland and her quilts, made with a power she barely believes she has, can save them all from destruction—if she can avoid being destroyed first.

More about Marissa

Marissa Doyle graduated from Bryn Mawr College and went on to graduate school intending to be an archaeologist but somehow got distracted.  Eventually she figured out what it was she was really supposed to be doing and started writing.  She’s channeled her inner history geekiness into young adult fiction: her award-winning books Bewitching Season, Betraying Season, and Courtship and Curses (all from Henry Holt Books for Young Readers/Macmillan) blend history with magic and romance. She also writes contemporary and historical fantasy for grownups, including By Jove (Entangled Publishing) and now Skin Deep. She lives in her native Massachusetts with her family, including a pair of bossy but adorable litterbox-trained pet rabbits, and loves quilting, gardening, and collecting antique fashion prints. Oh, and coffee.

Goodreads Giveaway

Marissa is currently giving away ten copies of SKIN DEEP through Goodreads. For more details and to enter, click here. For my complete giveaway rules, click here.

Thank you for guest blogging today, Marissa!


What story element do you struggle with most? (+ 5 Writer Resources)

In the U.S., tax season is well underway. My returns are thankfully filed, but the process of gathering receipts, etc. for the woman who helps me prepare them always reminds me of various things I spent money on throughout the year. The list below is NOT a list of things writers can deduct. (Ask your accountant about that). It’s just a thoroughly incomplete list of various resources you might find helpful.

In no particular order, here are some things I thought worth my $$$ in 2015 (keep in mind I didn’t publish anything last year; I’ve already lamented about that here so moving on, but it explains, in part, why this list is so thin):

  1. Book cover design: Way, WAY back in the beginning of 2015 I had Amber Shah at Book Beautiful design a cover for me for “Dream, Interrupted.” Although I didn’t use the cover, I loved it and would absolutely work with Amber again. She was fast, did great work, and was really nice to work with. I’m currently working with another cover designer for Pocket Full of Tinder, but that’s because I wanted an illustrated cover for it. (More info on that designer later). In any case, it never hurts to have 2-3 awesome service providers you can go to in case one has a scheduling conflict. There are a lot of great cover designers out there!

  2. Goodreads Ads: I stopped running Goodreads ads because it didn’t make sense for me to continue until I had another book to promote. But I plan to create an ad later this year for Pocket Full of Tinder. I like that authors can link to a brief excerpt or a giveaway. (All this said, I’m sure I’ll explore additional ad options for B4).

  3. Bewitching Book Tours: I’m obviously a fan of Roxanne Rhoads! Although she helps authors who write in all sorts of genres, she specializes in paranormal blog tours. If you’re a new PNR author, check her out here.

  4. Functional Nerds: Singer/Songwriter John Anealio and Author/Blogger Patrick Hester host SF/F focused podcasts every week on books, music, and technology. They are funny and down to earth — plus their guests are great. I’m woefully behind but (somewhat) recent episodes I loved were: Episode 245 with Fran Wilde, author of UPDRAFT, and Episode 237 with Naomi Novik, author of UPROOTED. Like what you hear? Back them on Patreon here.

  5. Various and sundry non-fiction guides2015 Guide to Self-PublishingMailChimp for BeginnersCreateSpace and Kindle Self-Publishing Master Class

Obviously, a meager list. But YOU can help me flesh it out in the comments below!:-)

I’m HOPING my next post will be a joint mother-daughter post. My older daughter took some great pics in Cape May a few weeks back and I’m going to experiment with having her write part of a future post.

Pocket Full of Tinder Update: I haven’t written the last chapter yet. I moved to internal revisions to really understand the totality of the novel – what the heck I’m trying to say – before writing that final bit. One of the BIGGEST things I struggle with in every novel is the mystery element. I love mysteries but for some reason, those subplots don’t come naturally to me. It’s almost always the #1 I have to beef up during revisions.

Have you filed your tax returns?

Any resources or recommendations you want to share?

Writers, what story elements do you struggle with the most? 

Readers, what are you reading?

Are you a fan of the beach during the off-season?

Java Junkie, coffee lover, Christmas tree ornament

What does this picture have to do with taxes, resources, recommendations, or challenging subplots? NOTHING! But who doesn’t love a Java Junkie? This is one of my favorite Christmas tree ornaments. (Yes, I know it’s April. But it was snowing only a few days ago so why not continue the seasonal anachronisms?)


Susannah Sandlin: In Praise of the “Possum Cop” (WILD MAN’S CURSE)

My guest today is Susannah Sandlin, a.k.a. Suzanne Johnson, whose romantic suspense WILD MAN’S CURSE releases TODAY!!! Suzanne is one of my online author pals. She has a great blog and her book series always sound intriguing, including this latest one, which is set in the Louisiana bayous. She’s here with more info on her game warden hero, an excerpt from Chapter 1, and a chance to win some amazing tour-wide prizes (5 $10 Amazon eGCs and 1 $50 Amazon eGC). (The winner of my March newsletter is also listed below). Welcome, Suzanne!

Susanna Sandlin, Suzanne Johnson, Wild Man's Curse, romantic suspense, Louisiana

“Dangerous jobs call for a special kind of alpha”

Okay, let’s get this out of the way early. Wildlife agents are the stuff of great romantic heroes. People might want to call them “possum cops” or the old-fashioned “game wardens,” but I’m here to tell you that they have dangerous jobs that call for a special kind of alpha. And it’s pretty damned sexy.

Don’t believe me? Talk to the hero of my new novel WILD MAN’S CURSE, Gentry Broussard. It’s the first in a new series, Wilds of the Bayou, that follows a team of wildlife agents as they work and find love in the far corners of rural Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana. Terrebonne is the second-largest parish (county) in the state, and is more than 50 percent water, with an inhospitable climate and a big-hearted, but stubborn, people, most of whom are well acquainted with a shotgun.

How did I settle on wildlife agents for my new romantic suspense series? It’s been brewing for quite a while.

Not being a fishing or hunting (or even hiking or nature-trail) type myself, I didn’t even have the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries on my radar until about ten years ago, when Hurricane Katrina slammed into New Orleans and I fled at the last second to what turned into an unplanned 62-day exile.

I watched TV coverage of my decimated hometown with millions of others, reacting in sorrow and disbelief and eventually anger over the squabbling between the state and federal officials over whose jurisdiction it was to do what and when. Meanwhile, people were dying.

Except those who were saved by the real first-responders. Some were other Louisianans who didn’t ask permission; they just rode in on their boats and started plucking people out of harm’s way. Joining them were Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries agents. I don’t know how they got in so fast and managed to bypass the red tape, but they arrived in an army of boats, got things organized, and got to work while the governor and feds were still finger-pointing.

At that time, I’d never even thought of writing novels. But fast-forward a decade and last summer, as I watched the Katrina 10th-anniversary coverage, I thought again about Louisiana’s “game wardens,” as they used to be called. I started to do a little research on them and realized these were men and women of hero status. They needed a series.

Here are a few things I’ve learned in the course of writing WILD MAN’S CURSE:

Wildlife agents in Louisiana receive paramilitary-style training that’s among the toughest to be found anywhere, and quite a few agents come from military backgrounds. They’re fully-empowered law enforcement officers (yes, they can even arrest you for speeding). And if they’re part of the enforcement division, like the team in my series, they have additional rounds of training to be able to work in harsh environments (in snake-infested water in a hundred-degree swamp, for example), enforce state laws, and take part in homeland security missions. Probably because of their extensive training, they prefer to be called “wildlife agents” to “game wardens.” Their most dangerous encounters are with two-legged wildlife.

Since Katrina, LDWF enforcement agents have become Louisiana’s official first-responders in water search and rescue. Because agents came under gunfire while helping evacuate stranded citizens after Katrina (something that brings shame to this New Orleanian, at least), officers are now equipped with high-powered, long-range rifles in addition to their standard Sig Sauer .45s. (I have been most sternly informed that they do not use the term “assault rifles” because they don’t assault anyone. LOL.)

Agents rarely (and I suspect this is true of other law enforcement agencies as well) use their official radios other than for the most brief and banal communication. They use cell phones. On the part of wildlife agents, poachers and other illegal hunters had taken to monitoring the radios and making sure that wherever the agents were, the wrongdoers were somewhere else. Wily poachers.

Because of the type of terrain they have to cover and the conditions in which they have to work, agents are equipped with all kinds of “big-boy toys.” They drive black extended-cab AWD pickups, but also have different types of boats and all-terrain vehicles. They’re also heavily armed—because most of the hunters, fishermen, and rural dwellers with which they deal are also heavily armed. Plus, in a large rural parish, they’re the ones most likely to be chasing a poacher and stumble across somebody doing something much, much more dangerous.

Finally, sadly for my hero Gentry, male agents (well, I guess female agents too) aren’t allowed to have facial hair. I’m not sure what the rationale is, but Gentry sure did grumble when I made him shave off that sexy stubble!

So that’s the scoop on Wildlife-Agents-as-Romantic-Heroes. Don’t you want one of your very own? What’s your theory on the no facial hair? Clean shaven=more professional? Safety issue?

Excerpt from WILD MAN’S CURSE, Chapter 1

The bones said death was comin’, and the bones never lied.

Eva Savoie leaned back in the rocking chair and pushed it into motion on the uneven wide-plank floor of the one-room cabin. Her grandpere Julien had built the place more than a century ago, pulling heavy cypress logs from the bayou and sawing them, one by one, into the thick planks she still walked across every day.

She had never known Julien Savoie, but she knew of him. The curse that had stalked her family for three generations had started with her grandfather and what he’d done all those years ago.

What he’d brought with him to Whiskey Bayou with blood on his hands.

What had driven her daddy to shoot her mama, and then himself, before either turned forty-five.

What had led Eva’s brother Antoine to drown in the bayou only a half-mile from this cabin, leaving a wife and infant son behind.

What stalked Eva now.

The bones said death was coming and, once Eva was gone, the curse should go with her. No one else knew the secrets of Julien Savoie and this cabin and that box full of sin he’d dug out of the bayou mud back in Isle de Jean Charles.

Might take a while, but sin catches up with you. Always had. Always would. And the curse had driven Eva to sin. Oh yes, she had sinned.

She’d known her reckoning would catch up with her, although it had taken a good long time. She’d turned seventy-eight yesterday, or was it eighty? She couldn’t remember for sure, and the bones said it didn’t matter now.

On the scarred wooden table before Eva sat three burning candles that filled the room with the soft, soothing glow of melting tallow. She’d made them herself, infusing them with the oil of the fragrant lilies that every spring spread a bright green carpet over the lazy, brown water of the bayou. The tools of her ritual sat on an ancient square of tanned hide passed down through generations of holy ones, of those blessed by the gods with the ability to throw the bones.

A small mound of delicate chicken bones, yellowed and fragile from age, lay inside the circle of light cast by the candles. Daylight would come in an hour or so, but Eva didn’t expect to last that long. Death was even now making his way toward her.

She leaned forward, wincing at the stab of pain in her lower back. Since the first throw of the bones had whispered her fate two days ago, she’d been cleaning. Scrubbed the floor, worn smooth by decades of bare feet. Washed the linens, folding them in neat piles in a drawer at the bottom of the old pie safe. Discarded most of the food in the little refrigerator that sat in the corner. Dragged the bag of trash down the long, overgrown drive past LeRoy’s old 1970 Chevy pickup that she still drove up to Houma for groceries and such once a month. Left the white bag at the side of the parish road for the weekly trash collection.

She’d spit on LeRoy’s truck as she passed it because she couldn’t spit on the man who bought it. He was long gone.

Now the cleaning had been finished. Whoever discovered her raggedy old body wouldn’t find a mess, not in Eva Savoie’s house.

A few minutes ago, with the old cabin as clean as she was capable of making it, she’d thrown the bones one last time. Part of her hoped they’d read different, hoped she’d be granted a few more days of grace.

But the bones still whispered death. Eva accepted it, and she sat, and she waited. At least the girl, Celestine, would inherit a cleaned-up house. The girl, Antoine’s granddaughter, knew nothing of the secrets, nothing of the curse. Eva had made sure of that….

Eva waited for her heart to fail—that seemed to be her most likely way to go. As she rocked she noted each steady beat, biding her time for the instant when the thump-thump-thump would falter and her breath would catch, then stop. She reckoned it would hurt a little, but what if it did? The curse had doled out worse ends to those who came before her.

She’d doled out worse herself.

The buzz of a boat’s motor sounded from outside the cabin, faint but growing louder. Wardens on patrol already, most likely.

The boat’s engine grew louder, finally coming to an abrupt stop so near, it had to be right outside her door. Silence filled the room once again, until through her bones she felt the thud of someone jumping onto the porch that wrapped around the cabin. The porch formed the platform on which the house sat, linking it to the spit of land behind it when the water was normal. When storms blew through, it provided an island on which the cabin could sit or, if need be, float.

As heavy footfalls crossed the porch, Eva struggled to her feet. Every pop and crackle of her joints knifed streaks of pain through her limbs as they protested the cleaning they’d done, followed by the sitting.

Prob’ly a game warden, checkin’ on her. Too bad he hadn’t stopped a little later, after she was gone. She didn’t like to think of her body having to bake in the hot cabin for days before anyone found her.

But the curse was what it was, and the bones said what they said.

The knock, when it came, was soft, and Eva reached the door with the help of a sturdy cane she’d carved herself. Opening the door, she squinted into the glare of a flashlight that seemed almost blinding after the soft light of the candles. She peered up at a young man with eyes that gleamed from beneath the hood of a jacket. He was not a game warden, and it was too hot for a jacket.

“Who are you?” Her voice cracked. She knew who he was. He was Death.

“The devil come to pay you a visit, Eva.” The man’s voice was smooth as silk, smooth as a lie, smooth as death itself. “And you know what the devil wants.”

She knew what he wanted, and she knew the only way to end the curse was to deny him.

She’d been granted no easy passing by the Savoie curse after all, but she would die today.

The bones never lied.

Susanna Sandlin, Suzanne Johnson, Wild Man's Curse, romantic suspense, Louisiana

Copyright Sellingpix c/o DepositPhotos.com

More about WILD MAN’S CURSE

While on an early morning patrol in the swamps of Whiskey Bayou, Louisiana wildlife agent Gentry Broussard spots a man leaving the home of voodoo priestess Eva Savoie—a man who bears a startling resemblance to his brother, whom Gentry thought he had killed during a drug raid three years earlier. Shaken, the agent enters Eva’s cabin and makes a bloody discovery: the old woman has been brutally murdered.

With no jurisdiction over the case, he’s forced to leave the investigation to the local sheriff, until Eva’s beautiful heir, Celestine, receives a series of gruesome threats. As Gentry’s involvement deepens and more victims turn up, can he untangle the secrets behind Eva’s murder and protect Celestine from the same fate?

Or will an old family curse finally have its way?

Amazon     Barnes and Noble     Book Depository     IndieBound

Susanna Sandlin, Suzanne Johnson, Wild Man's Curse, romantic suspense, Louisiana

More about Susannah

Susannah Sandlin is the author of the award-winning Penton Vampire Legacy paranormal romance series, including the 2013 Holt Medallion Award-winning Absolution and Omega and Allegiance, which were nominated for the RT Book Reviews Reviewers Choice Award in 2014 and 2015, respectively. She also writers The Collectors romantic suspense series, including Lovely, Dark, and Deep, 2015 Holt Medallion winner and 2015 Booksellers Best Award winner. Her new series Wilds of the Bayou starts in 2016 with the April 5 release of Wild Man’s Curse. Writing as Suzanne Johnson, Susannah is the author of the award-winning Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series. A displaced New Orleanian, she currently lives in Auburn, Alabama. Susannah loves SEC football, fried gator on a stick, all things Cajun, and redneck reality TV.

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More about Susannah’s Giveaway

Susannah is giving away one $50 Amazon eGC and 5 $10 Amazon eGCs. To enter, click here for the Rafflecopter form. For Jill’s complete giveaway rules, click here. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited.

Jill’s Quarterly Newsletter Winner

MARTINA R. won my March giveaway (Fireball Laser Cut Wood Earrings or a $10 eGC to Book Depository). Martina, I’ll be in touch! Everyone else, THANK YOU for subscribing! The next newsletter will likely be a bonus one with some background info on the cover for POCKET FULL OF TINDER. Interested in subscribing? Sign up here.

Congrats, Suzanne, on the release of WILD MAN’S CURSE! Thank you for guest blogging today!


#Writers: Do you name your chapters? (also: Pocket Full of Tinder update)

Very quick post. I’m nearing the end of Pocket Full of Tinder (yay!!!) and I want to get back to it. Plus, this weekend is Easter and next week, my kids are on Spring Break, which means less writing time for me.

[added later: I left my original intro to this post in here so I could laugh at myself. “Very quick post” = 1,700+ words. Guess I had more to say than I thought. There are headlines to help you navigate this beast and questions for YOU are in red.

Read my post. Enjoy your spring!!]

What have I been up to?

Pocket Full of Tinder – the aforementioned ms. I haven’t yet written THE END, but it’s in sight. Always an exciting time. This book will probably need more internal revisions (before I hand it off to an editor) than any previous book. But that’s okay. I have a revision process that I like. It’s the initial draft that’s always the hardest for me.

(WARNING: some meandering ahead…)

So, a few thoughts about structure for beginning writers or readers who enjoy behind-the-scenes type stuff:

Most of you have heard my “do as they say, not as I do” speech. It applies here sorta. The best advice everyone gives about writing is DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOU. Excellent advice. But kinda general. The trick is to try to learn as much as possible about ALL the methods out there and then pick and choose what works for you. Fine.

Structure generally – if you are BRAND NEW, you should at least be familiar with these concepts: three act structure, hero’s journey, and GMC (goal, motivation, and conflict).

Structure specifically – When I first start plotting, I write GMC for main characters, a rough synopsis (which almost invariably ends in a way the novel WON’T, but it gets me started), some work on the BIG LOCATION of the novel, and a quick description of chapters. Obviously, it’s a fluid, dynamic outline – more of an organic skeleton with all sorts of interconnected, moving parts than a rigid, inorganic, metal scaffold.

Chapter Names

I’ve mentioned previously (maybe here? definitely elsewhere) that I name my chapters. In the past three Noon Onyx books, we took out the chapter names because my editor felt like they foreshadowed too much. I agreed, but I love chapters with names. I’m toying with leaving them in for Pocket Full of Tinder.

[Writers: do you name your chapters? Readers: do you like chapters with names or do you even notice that?]

The chapter names I love the most add another layer of meaning to the story (yep, it’s a thin veneer) but I love it when the name of the chapter gives readers a little clue as to the chapter’s meaning or purpose or when it IS a warning of what might lie ahead.

But sometimes, chapter names are just descriptive sign posts. Sometimes, I think of chapters in the same way I think of movie scenes. (Back in the DVD days, if you wanted to watch a particular scene in a movie, you could load your DVD into the player and pull up a list of scenes in a submenu).

Revising Tip You May Have Never Tried: Label your chapters. Your label can be perfunctory, but it will give you an immediate idea of what the chapter’s purpose is in the story. And if you are struggling to name it… examine it more closely. It probably needs more work. Or maybe it doesn’t belong there. Maybe it belongs somewhere else. Or maybe it needs to be deleted entirely.

Writer Blogs

I follow Chuck Wendig’s blog (most of you probably do too; his language is often colorful but he’s hilarious). The other day, E.J. Wenstrom, one of his “Five Things I Learned” guests said (in the context of much other good advice) that, “Writing a book is a hot mess.” Ain’t it though? I laughed out loud. Pocket Full of Tinder is a hot mess right now. It is one stinking pile of poo. But I will shape that mass of steaming tauri merdam (is that even right? I have no idea. “Track down woman who helps me with my Latin” is #2,097 on my To Do List) into a GREAT NOVEL come Halja or high northern mountains!😀

As an aside to my aside, I also follow Scalzi’s Whatever blog (his writer guests share their “Big Ideas”), The Qwillery (Sally interviews debut SF/F authors and also some cozy mystery authors), Suzanne Johnson (who helps me keep up on new releases and shares interesting thoughts on writing and publishing; her new book Wild Man’s Curse comes out on April 5th — go pre-order!:-) ) I also started following Magical Words recently (don’t know how I missed it before; GREAT posts by Faith Hunter, Diana Pharoah Francis, et al.) There are others I follow too… don’t have time to look through my in-box. Will try to do more comprehensive list later about people I follow as both reader and writer.

[In the meantime, if you have a great blog you follow for writer advice or new release info, please share in the comments!]

Final thoughts on structure/chapter names/my chapters:

Now that I have four tables of contents in front of me, I can see the general structure I follow for each Noon novel (although Dark Light of Day, as the first, doesn’t follow my “formula” as closely).

In the first third of the novel, I set everything up. The central question, the main characters, Noon’s assignment, hopefully some thematic elements. These scenes are always in there:

  • Introduce Noon to the reader
  • Her assignment
  • Preparations
  • Leaving

The trick with each novel is to make each of these scenes feel different. I don’t want the books to feel like repeats. Here’s a comparison of the “intro” scenes from the first three books:

Dark Light of Day

Chapter 1 “Winter Garden”

Noon was introduced as a character with fire magic whose touch instantly kills growing things and whose mere presence threatens them. Because of its destructive nature, Noon hates her magic and dreams of living a different life, becoming a different person.

She feels young, even a bit immature. But her reluctance to embrace herself comes from a good place. Noon wants to heal people and grow gardens. And if her tone sounds grumpy or rebellious… well, I think defiance can sometimes be a good thing.

Fiery Edge of Steel

Chapter 1 “Carne Vale”

A carne vale is a demon execution. Noon’s grudgingly accepted her magic, but she’s still a pacifist at heart. She’s honestly not sure if she can kill in cold blood, even if it’s a rogare demon, which are “the worst Halja has to offer… the lawbreakers, the criminals, the unsanctioned sinners…”

Noon doesn’t feel – as much – as if she’s the victim of fate or things beyond her control. She’s still headstrong but she also recognizes that she has duties and obligations to fulfill. A minor theme of Fiery Edge of Steel was noblesse oblige (or optimus obligatus as it’s called in Halja).

White Heart of Justice

Chapter 1 “The Gridiron”

The most immediate thing I wanted to establish was how much Noon had changed since the first book. The Gridiron is an underground sparring area where St. Luck’s MITs are trained. I opened with Noon in the midst of a fight with Ludovicus Mischmetal (a.k.a. Vicious), who knocks one of her teeth out.

After defeating Vicious, Noon calmly picks up her tooth, pockets it, and asks if she’s still on track to be her school’s pick as the upcoming Laurel Crown Race contender. If she wins the race, she’ll have a say in her future. Noon feels super strong, but also aware that she is a cog in a bigger wheel.

Other quick updates

Pocket Full of Tinder Cover

In the works! Which is also very exciting. My cover artist sent two preliminary sketches to me last week. I might do a bonus newsletter sharing them and other cover thoughts in the future. I’m still mulling over cover reveal options. You all know this is my first time self-pubbing so I need to work out the logistics of pre-pub promo, pre-order links, etc.

The bottom line is that covers are fun and I’m really happy with the direction Pocket Full of Tinder’s is heading in and I can’t wait to share it with everyone!!

Newsletter

In the meantime, if you haven’t signed up for my newsletter, here’s the sign up link: http://eepurl.com/bAzF7n. The March edition went out already, but I’ve been sending links to it to those people who’ve signed up since. (Will probably do that again next week).

My March giveaway is a pair of fireball laser cut wood earrings + a small SWAG pack –OR– a $10 eGC to Book Depository (winner’s choice). Newsletter subscribers who share via social media or who email me their favorite quote from the books get an extra contest entry. The last one I received was, “The demons’ll get me one day.” (Bragging rights to you if you remember who said that and in which book).

What else have I been up to?

Last weekend, we dyed Easter eggs while it was snowing out. (The Northeast’s weather couldn’t have been weirder, huh?)

Those are snow flurries, not flower petals blowing about in the wind!

Those are snow flurries, not flower petals, blowing in the wind!

My husband’s getting ready to become a beekeeper… Bzzzzz….. (more on this later… maybe)

"NO BEES, NO HONEY; NO WORK, NO MONEY" (Um, I'd better wrap up this post soon!!)

“NO BEES, NO HONEY; NO WORK, NO MONEY” (Um, I’d better wrap up this post soon!!)

I missed celebrating National Puppy Day, which is kinda nuts since I have a puppy! In honor of it, and the movie everyone’s buzzzzzing about (haha, couldn’t resist), here’s a picture of Tug:

Batman v Superdog

[Are you going to see Batman versus Superman? Who do you think would win in a fight – Batman or Superdog?]

And here’s a final picture my younger daughter took. If you celebrate Easter, have a happy one! If not, best wishes for SPRING!!!

"NO WINTER LASTS FOREVER" Winter might be coming soon on HBO, but here in Maryland, it's OVER!! :-D

“NO WINTER LASTS FOREVER” — Hal Borland. Winter might be coming soon on HBO, but here in Maryland, it’s OVER!!😀


Rachel Rawlings: HallowRead 2016 and her Maurin Kincaide #UF Series

Today’s guest is UF author Rachel Rawlings. Rachel is from Baltimore and, for the past four years, she’s organized HallowRead, a book festival and mini-con for fans of paranormal, UF, steampunk, and horror. She’s here to tell us a little bit about HallowRead 2016 (it’s never too early to start thinking about Halloween!) and her Maurin Kincaide series. Do any of you live near Baltimore? Interested in going? I know I am!:-)

Welcome, Rachel!

First let me start out by thanking Jill for having me on the blog! I’m thrilled to be here talking about my other passion besides writing – HallowRead Book Convention.

HallowRead is a mini-con for fans of Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Steampunk and Horror themed around Halloween. In fact, as you already may have guessed, it’s name is a mash-up between my favorite holiday and my favorite pastime. This is our fourth annual event and man, have we come a long way. Lightning struck in January of 2013 while driving through the Fort McHenry tunnel and I knew I had to find away to make this event happen. That fall we had our first con.  From running from one banquet room to another setting up tables our first year in Ellicott City, Maryland to attracting talent like Darynda Jones and last year’s keynote speaker Kami Garcia, HallowRead and I have been very fortunate indeed.

This year we’re taking HallowRead on the road, moving from our former host town of Ellicott City to another haunted and historic town – Havre de Grace, Maryland. Situated on the Susquehanna River just at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, this quaint waterfront town is steeped in history from being raised to the ground by the British in the War of 1812, to losing the vote to become the capital of the United States by one ballot, a film set for the Netflix series House of Cards, to being the last place Edgar Allan Poe was seen alive before his mysterious death in Baltimore. Sounds perfect, right? With bed and breakfasts, restaurants and shopping all within walking distances, we couldn’t agree more. In fact, the town will be an active participant, in a throw back to our first year we are going to hold activities in different venues throughout the town.

From engaging author panels where book lovers can listen to their favorite authors talk about their books and writing process, to writing workshops, a book signing, ghost tours, awesome swag bags filled with goodies and more, we certainly have something for everyone to enjoy. HallowRead is a nonprofit event (5013c), focusing all our fundraising efforts on the arts. This year we will be donating our funds to organizations like LASOS who help children whose first language is not English learn to read and prepare for school, the Harford Library System, and the Opera House restoration in Havre de Grace, which will provide a much needed mix use presentation house for the Arts and Entertainment District of Havre de Grace.

We’re excited about HallowRead 2016 and can’t wait to see you there!

More about HallowRead

Multi author event with various activities throughout the weekend including Writing Workshops, Ghost Tour, SteamPunk Author Tea, Author Panels, Book Signing, Paranormal Investigation and so much more. Hang out with your favorite authors in our new host city, the haunted and historic town of Havre de Grace, Maryland!

Local Maryland author of dark urban fantasy, Rachel Rawlings, had a crazy idea. Create a book convention for genre fiction and hold it the weekend before Halloween. Haunted and historic Ellicott City held a special place in her heart so there was no other place to take her first ever convention. The town welcomed her and HallowRead with open arms. Each ticket sold helped raise money for the Ellicott City Partnership- a coalition of residents and business owners for the betterment of the town. HallowRead raised money for projects like rain barrels which help reduce the sediment and contaminants running into the Patapsco River and fund grants for projects like Paint Main Street which helped small business owners get a much needed fresh coat of paint improving the moral and overall appearance of the town.

Rachel is excited to take the convention on the road for 2016 and raise funds for Harford County literacy programs and the local library system! One ticket, whether it’s a $10 paranormal investigation or the full monty ticket makes a difference for the town and the wonderful people who call it home, something Rachel is extremely proud of.

http://www.HallowRead.com

More about Rachel’s

Maurin Kincaide Series

The Morrigna
The Maurin Kincaide Series
Book One

Free  at    Amazon    Audible    BN

I’m Maurin Kincaide, a psychometric, and until a few days ago I was working for Salem’s Preternatural Task Force as an interrogator. I cracked more cold cases and got more confessions than anyone else in the department. Of course that was before I traded in my badge for an ancient Celtic sword. Now, I’m the Special Liaison for the Council, the governing body of the Others, and I take my orders from witches, werewolves and vampires.

I didn’t just make a career change though. I’m not the same person I was before. I’m stronger, I can heal from wounds that would kill a normal person. I’m developing latent psychic skills at a breakneck speed. Oh yeah, and it would seem that a Pagan goddess has taken permanent residence in my body and mind. Crazy thing is, I’m starting to feel normal, like this is who I’m supposed to be.

Of course, there are those who don’t agree. Morrigan and her sisters for example. Actually, I’m pretty sure they’d like nothing more than to see me dead. And if I can’t stop them and the demons they’ve raised, they just might get their wish.

Witch Hunt
The Maurin Kincaide Series
Book Two

Available at Amazon    BN   Audible

Maurin Kincaide is back in this action packed follow up novel to The Morrigna. No longer a member of Salem’s Preternatural Task Force, Maurin is the new liaison for The Council, governing body of Others. During what should have been a routine meeting with her former Captain, Maurin is brought in on a murder investigation.

Three dead witches, three cryptic clues, no sign of the killers and the Salem coven is losing allies within the Council. If Maurin and her unlikely partner Captain Matthison can’t stop the killers, the Witch City might be without its namesake.

Wolfsbane
The Maurin Kincaide Series
Book Three

Available at  Amazon   BN   Audible

Given the choice between her sister’s wedding and witnessing the challenge for Alpha of the Salem pack, Maurin knows exactly where she’d rather be. Smack dead center in a pack of snarling werewolves wearing eau de filet mignon.

Until Francesca takes off the morning of her wedding. Being her sister’s keeper will not excuse her from her job as the Council Liaison. Torn between obligations to a family she’s avoided for almost a decade and the Council of Others, Maurin has less than twenty-four hours to set things right.

Bloodbath
The Maurin Kincaide Series
Book Four

Available at  Amazon   BN   Audible

Bodies are piling up and all signs point in one direction. Rogue vampire. Except things aren’t always what they seem, especially in a murder investigation.

With her current relationship on the rocks, her father playing match-maker and her neighbor tossing his hat in the ring, the body count isn’t the only thing on the rise. Maurin is neck deep in magic, mayhem and murder.

Can she catch the killer before the killer catches her? One things for certain, when hunting vampires there will be blood.

Ill Fated
The Maurin Kincaide Series
Book Five

Available at BN

Some things are destined to end in death. After the first attempt on her life Maurin wasn’t scared. Hell, she was almost flattered. But someone put a price on her head and things are getting complicated. Trouble is brewing in the fae courts and it’s spilling over into Salem. The UnSeelie Dark Guard have answered the call for her head on a platter and people closest to her are disappearing.

Can Maurin master court politics and find her missing men before someone claims the bounty on her head?

More about Rachel

Rachel Rawlings was born and raised in the Baltimore Metropolitan area. Her family, originally from Rhode Island, spent summers in New England sparking her fascination with Salem, MA. She has been writing fictional stories and poems since middle school, but it wasn’t until 2009 that she found the inspiration to create her heroine Maurin Kincaide and complete her first full length novel, The Morrigna.

When she isn’t writing, Rachel can often be found with her nose buried in a good book. An avid reader of Paranormal/Urban Fantasy, Horror and Steampunk herself, Rachel founded Hallowread- an interactive convention for both authors and fans of those genres.

More information on Hallowread, its schedule of events and participating authors can be found at www.hallowread.blogspot.com  and www.facebook.com/Hallowread.

She still lives in Maryland with her husband and three children.

It looks like HallowRead 2016 will be on October 21-23. If you will be anywhere close, put it on your calendar! Thank you to Rachel for guest blogging today!


More Thoughts on Gozer the Destructor (#PuppyDestruction)

Facebook reaction to Tug’s destructive tendencies has been along the lines of “Holy Crap!” (I know Jen; her comment made me laugh). Another friend asked if we had a crate. (We do, but we only use it at night.) In any case, this isn’t a post about best practices for training your dog. It’s just a post about pets and how we love them and sometimes aren’t sure if we’re raising them right.

We adopted our last dog, Clipper, before we had kids. Both my husband and I were lawyers working in Baltimore and we lived in a row house. Our next door neighbor became a very good friend. She was a waitress in Little Italy and she would come over during the day and let Clipper out and he would play in the backyard with her dog, Shadow. Clip chewed stuff too – the knob off of a dresser and some door trim in the kitchen. There were probably other things. I don’t remember because it was a while ago. Maybe it’s selective memory (many times, I still feel as if Clipper was the Best Dog Ever and Tug is the Young Whippersnapper trying to take his place), but Tug seems more… feisty. And, heck, maybe he is. Dogs have different personalities same as people, regardless of their common breed characteristics.

This time, with Tug, we still use a crate. He sleeps in there at night, but spends his days (when he’s not outside) in our kitchen. We bought baby gates for the doorways, which has been interesting. It’s been years since I’ve had to hurdle in my own house and I’ll admit I even fell over one the other day. (Yeah, it was awesome. Thankfully, I wasn’t holding a cup of coffee!!) I’ll also admit that, when I’m in some other part of the house or out of it, I occasionally leave Tug in the kitchen instead of putting him in his crate and THAT’S when he becomes GOZER THE DESTRUCTOR.

Oddly, most of the stuff he’s destroyed is easily fixed. I have spackle and paint and Home Depot has the wall trim (it’s not like the trim in our old house, which was 100 years old). The Lifeproof case did its job and I can read the digital version of April’s RT Book Reviews. The couch I’m a bit miffed about, but to be fair, my cats had already done a number on it (why, oh why, won’t cats use the scratching posts you buy for them??)

Amy asked if Tug’s a hunting dog. No, although if he had a proper trainer, I’m sure he’d be great. But he’s a family dog. And Craig doesn’t hunt birds. He was interested in some of the training techniques for hunting dogs – and anyone with a lab knows how they LOVE to feel like they’re a helpful member of the pack. So he bought a copy of WATER DOG and has been working with Tug, using some of the techniques suggested in there. Me? I mostly train Tug to fetch by taking him out back with a cup of coffee (in a mug with a lid!) and a ball. I throw. He fetches.😀

Here’s one other Gozer the Destructor story, which I didn’t document because I was too furious, although it looked like a crime scene that should have been documented. At the time, I was pleasantly watching the election coverage (who am I kidding? I’m sure I was horrified at what I was hearing, but this isn’t a political post). I was sitting on the end of my couch with a glass of red wine (yeah, you know where this story is going, right?). I don’t know what set Tug off – the cat? Something someone said on TV? Ha. – but he went nuts. Jumped on me, fled behind my end table, got wrapped around the light cord, pulled it off the table, it came crashing down on my drink… Red wine splattered EVERYWHERE. On me, the table, floor, lampshade, him. Ugh. Believe it or not, I got it all cleaned up. (We have dark carpet and a good stain remover).

If nothing else, these pet challenges make good story fodder. I don’t want to be too much of a spoiler, but Pocket Full of Tinder opens with Nova getting in trouble for chewing up something in Noon’s dorm. Poor Nova! She’s a good girl too.

That’s it for today, folks. Lest you be worried that I’m suddenly going to be filling your in-boxes with daily posts, I’ll tell you that my next probable post will be a guest post next Thursday.

HAPPY SATURDAY, ALL!


Puppy Pictures!!!

I promised earlier in the week I would share some puppy pictures. I think most of you know, we added a new dog to our family, Tug (i.e. Tug Boat, Tugonaut…) Like most puppies, he’s been a handful: gnawing on wall trim, chewing our couch skirt, shredding magazines (my RT Book Reviews! Before I even had a chance to read it!!), eating socks (I will spare you a picture of those – ew!), crunching an i-phone (turns out, Lifeproof cases aren’t Tug-proof, but the phone is fine!). Below, pictures of Tug’s carnage… and a few of him out in the woods. He’s a good boy. He fetches well and the whole chewing thing won’t last forever.


And I couldn’t help including this beautiful one of Ginger. He is the sweetest kitty. My older daughter took this. (Couldn’t find a picture of Nutmeg to include this time.)

Ginger
Have a great weekend, everyone!


Pocket Full of Tinder (Noon Onyx #4) Newsletter Update – Last Chance!

If all goes well with Mail Chimp, I’m going to be sending out my first quarterly newsletter this week. This is your last chance to sign up before it goes out! If you don’t, you’ll miss out on all the good stuff and will have to find one of the subscribers and beg them to share it with you.😀

Newsletter

What’s going to be in the newsletter?

  • UPDATE: Pocket Full of Tinder
  • SNEAK PEEK: Frigore Luna, a new Haljan holiday
  • FIRST LOOK: Map of St. Luck’s
  • WHO SAID IT? Match the Quote to the Character
  • BE AN AMBASSADOR: 3 Awesome Things You Can Do
  • CONTEST: Fireball Laser Cut Wood Earrings or a $10 eGC

The update will give readers an idea of what to expect from book #4. I also share my draft back cover copy (still working on it; it may change; I’m worried it might be too confusing/complicated). The sneak peek is a behind-the-scenes look at a new Haljan holiday I created for B4 based on two real world holidays. There’s also a map of St. Luck’s campus and a fun quiz where you can match characters and quotes. Finally, there are three ways you can help me spread the word about the series (do one, two, or all three!) and a contest exclusively for newsletter subscribers. Further dets are in the newsletter.

Sign up Here

What’s the difference between this blog and my newsletter? See this post.

I’ll share some puppy pics, maybe some “On the Fly” pics, and what I’ve been reading and watching soon. So stay tuned and, in the meantime, happy reading and writing!


Secrets of Successful Virtual Book Tours: Interview with Roxanne Rhoads (#BookMarketing)

Today, my guest is the fantastic Roxanne Rhoads. As many of you know, Roxanne helped me to organize blog tours for all of my Noon Onyx books, as well as cover reveals for my second and third books. She was wonderful to work with. Her book, SECRETS OF SUCCESSFUL VIRTUAL BOOK TOURS is currently on sale at Amazon for $0.99. It’s a great overview — perfect for new writers considering their promo options.

After reading it, I asked Roxanne a handful of questions about virtual book tours, teasers, graphic designers, review copies, multi-author events, and how authors can support their local booksellers while promoting their books online. Her answers are below, along with an excerpt and TWO giveaway chances: one through Goodreads and one via Rafflecopter. Questions? Feel free to ask in the comments. Welcome, Roxanne!

Roxanne Rhoads Secrets of Successful Virtual Book Tours

Do you have any specific advice for authors who have already toured with you?

Stay visible, continue to network, and keep your social media up to date. I spoke with one author who has tried it all, ads, promotions, sales…she said the thing that worked best was to stay present. Remain visible online, keep interacting on social media whether you have a new book or not.

Author interviews, excerpts, and contests are a mainstay of virtual book tours. Your book points out that the most successful blog tours also include guest posts with engaging content and visuals. You mention “teasers” in particular. Can you share a few examples from past tours?

I am working on a Pinterest board featuring teasers, here’s the link:

Can you recommend a few graphic designers and/or programs or applications that authors can use to create these?

Canva is a good one for teasers, they have some fun templates to work with. If you want to make a collage Pixlr Express has a nice collage feature I use for putting together scene images.

Eva Talia is a Bewitching partner who offers discount graphics services for Bewitching clients.

You advise authors to provide a review copy. Is piracy a legitimate concern for those authors who share digital copies of their book with potential reviewers?

It seems like many people don’t see the value in digital content. They don’t even think it is stealing to share eBooks, music, movies…if it is not a physical object it’s not “real” and they don’t want to pay for it.

For authors, I think piracy can be an issue no matter how safe they try to keep their eBooks. There is always a risk. The sad thing is that some pirating seems to stem from the bookstore sales sites. If someone buys your eBook and returns it, that’s when you need to start checking pirate sites. Pirates will find a way no matter what.  I had a book end up on a pirate site and the only place I had posted it so far was Amazon. I hadn’t even sent any copies to reviewers yet. There’s no way it could have been leaked through an outside source.

Authors need the book reviewed, which means they need to get it into the hands of reviewers. Stick with trusted bloggers and reviewers to minimize risk. You can also add water marks and password protects to pdf review copies.

The sad fact is that digital content gets pirated and no matter how diligent we are it still happens.

I love that your book ended with a reminder that in-person events aren’t a thing of the past. What are some of the things authors might do to support local booksellers while they’re touring?

Always talk to local bookstores about live events. Many local stores are happy to support area authors. Authors can also work with local bookstores for author meetings and multi-author events. Some stores will even partner with authors to sell signed copies of books.

Kim Harrison is a great example of an author supporting a local book store. She partners with Nicola’s Books in Ann Arbor, MI and signs a bunch of her books that the book store sells both in store and online. If readers and fans can’t attend one of her live signings she points them to Nicola’s to order a signed copy.

Speaking of in-person events, I think the ones that are the most fun are those where authors join forces with other authors. Is there a blog tour equivalent? What sort of events do you and/or other blog companies offer that bring authors and readers together online in one place at one time?

Multi-author Facebook events are a great way for authors to join together and do a live online event. Each author gets a block of time to chat, do giveaways, play games, etc. Multi-author blog tours that coincide with Facebook parties can offer the best of both worlds. Online convenience and real-time event interaction. Bewitching offers custom packages for groups of authors wishing to set up this type of event.

Can you tell us more about Fang-tastic Books?

Fang-tastic Books started out as my vampire book review blog, though it now focuses on all types of books including paranormal romance, urban fantasy, horror, and cozy mysteries with paranormal elements. It is where I really started focusing on book blogging, reviewing, and paranormal book promotions. I started the blog in 2008 and have been running it ever since. My review quotes (often listed as Fang-tastic Books) are on covers and in the front of many books including those by Juliet Blackwell, Chloe Neill, and Annette Blair.

BBT has been in business since 2010. Do you occasionally add new services? Is there anything new you’re considering adding to your menu of services for 2016?

Bewitching is always trying new things to see what works, what draws in readers. Twitter parties, Facebook events, live video chats, chatrooms, our magazine, book swag creations and the radio show… some things we keep, others don’t seem to work so we move on to something new.

For 2016 I have some ideas I am tossing around but nothing solid that I have firmly decided on yet. I will say one option I am considering, is adding is the creation of Thunderclap campaigns.

I am always open to discussing options for custom tour packages or ongoing PR services.

SECRETS OF SUCCESSFUL

VIRTUAL BOOK TOURS

Excerpt

The world of publishing is continuously evolving thanks to technology and the Internet. It is now easier than ever to publish a book. But with the growing number of new books being released every day it is also harder than ever to get your book noticed in the crowd.

If your line of thinking includes “If I publish it, people will buy it,” think again.

Indie publishing requires a dedication to self-promotion. Gone are the days an author hermits them self away to write, then hands the book to the publisher who does all the leg work for promotion. Even NYT Bestselling authors and those with contracts through the big publishers still have to do a certain amount of self-promotion.

There are many ways to promote:  social media, advertising on popular websites and blogs, print advertising in trade magazines, attending reader oriented conventions and events…but one of the best ways to get your book out there and build name recognition as an author is through a virtual book tour.

In this Quick Tips for Authors Guide, you will learn why a virtual book tour can be an author’s most effective marketing tool.

Roxanne Rhoads Secrets of Successful Virtual Book Tours Amazon Sale

More about Roxanne

Roxanne Rhoads has been working in the world of online book promotion since 2005. She has worked as a freelance writer, author, book reviewer, book blogger, editor, self-publisher and book publicist. She has a unique advantage of knowing how multiple sides of book publishing and promotion operate.

Roxanne understands how book bloggers work and what they want to make their jobs easier while also understanding that authors need promotion to be streamlined, easy, and less time consuming.

Roxanne shares some of her knowledge in her latest release, Secrets of Successful Virtual Book Tours.

More about Secrets of Successful Virtual Book Tours

Are you considering a virtual book tour?

Not sure where to start or exactly what an online tour will entail?

Roxanne Rhoads, book publicist and owner of Bewitching Book Tours, shares her virtual tour expertise in this Quick Tips for Authors Guide.

Secrets of Successful Virtual Book Tours will guide you in utilizing the best marketing tool available a virtual book tour, which can create online exposure for your book, jumpstart your book sales, help build your author brand, and expand your network.

In this guide you’ll learn:

  • what you should do before a tour
  • the components of a great author website
  • the best social media outlets for authors to utilize
  • tips for building your author brand
  • how to write great guest blogs
  • what to expect from an online book tour
  • the secrets of successful book tours
  • how to schedule your own virtual book tour

And you’ll receive in-depth details about what to do during a virtual book tour to guarantee success.

Amazon | BN | Kobo | Scribd | iBooks | Smashwords | Inktera | Createspace

Giveaways

Roxanne is giving away a Bewitching Book Tours Release Day Blitz or Cover Reveal (winner’s choice) and an ecopy of her book Secrets of Successful Virtual Book Tours at the end of her tour. For the Rafflecopter form, click here.

She’s also running a Goodreads giveaway. See the widget below to enter that giveaway. For my complete giveaway rules, click here.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Secrets of Successful Virtual Book Tours by Roxanne Rhoads

Secrets of Successful Virtual Book Tours

by Roxanne Rhoads

Giveaway ends March 28, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Roxanne Rhoads Secrets of Successful Virtual Book Tours Banner

Thanks for the interview, Roxanne! Wishing you and BBT the best!!


Ann Gimpel: How do you manage your time online?

Paranormal romance author, Ann Gimpel, is guest blogging today about online time management. Her Rx? Read this blog, of course!! 😀 Start with this post: Ann has some good tips for dealing with internet distractions and maintaining balance in your life. (You can do something else after you’ve told us what it is in the comments :-) ) Ann is also here to let everyone know about her recently released box set featuring shifters, UNDERGROUND HEAT. More on that below. Welcome back, Ann!

Underground Heat Banner

“No matter how much you do, you never really feel done.”

Thanks so much for inviting me to visit your blog.

Today I’ll write about the Internet and time management. Maybe a good starting point would be that the Internet can be the biggest time hog imaginable. You know how it is. You log on to look for one thing. Two hours later, you’re sifting through a bunch of other stuff and never did get to the original thing you’d set out to do. In the meantime, there went two hours a writer could have been, well, writing. Or at least editing, or plotting out their next story. Or marketing…

Don’t get me wrong, the Internet is probably one of the most creative and powerful inventions of modern life. I’ve watched it evolve from its infancy when only those who could code could use it. It was painfully slow then, so an even bigger time-pig.

How to marshal the power of the Internet so it can work for you and not against you? All I can tell you is what’s worked for me. I usually write in one of two places. I make certain my iPhone is nowhere near either of them when I’m working. There’s something about its dings, vibrations, and other assorted sounds that gets me going, sort of like Pavlov’s dogs. Even if I make a decision not to peek and see who wanted me, it still breaks into my flow enough to disturb my writing process. Sure, I could activate its Do Not Disturb feature, but why have it close to me if I’m going to do that? Temptation is always less tempting if you have to get up to get to it.

I also make sure to have things like Outlook fully closed. It’s not helpful when the latest e-mail materializes on the top right quadrant of my screen. The problem got worse when I switched to Windows 8 and their “seamless” Internet interface. If I didn’t have it turned off, it would alert me to texts, PMs, e-mails, and every other time anyone does something with my name anywhere in it.

When I’m done with my writing day, which means either I’ve finished edits an editor sent me, or I’ve gotten at least 3000 words written, then (and only then) do I let myself wander around the Internet. I’m as guilty of brain-drift as the next person, and I can waste a whole lot of time if I don’t rein in my tendency to “just look up one more thing.”

That tendency to get snapped up in cyberspace is doubly seductive when I’m marketing. I’ll just do one more thing, I promise myself. An hour later, I’m posting a comment somewhere. More than anything, I think the marketing aspect of writing is what can truly eat you up alive—and drain you. No matter how much you do, you never really feel done. I try very hard to limit myself to an hour most days for marketing; two if I have to write a guest post or an interview. I make that goal maybe 50% of the time. The other days, I do more.

Lastly, there’s an addictive quality to being settled in front of a screen, which is why it’s important to have several hours a day you do something else. The screen life can start to feel more “real” than the rest of your life, and that can be the beginning of a fairly large disconnect that doesn’t bode well for flesh-and-blood relationships. This last paragraph could segue into another thousand words or more, but this seems like a good place to stop, so I’ll rein in the psychologist part of me.

How do you manage your Internet time, or do you? For those of you who write, does your life feel balanced? Why or why not?

Ann Gimpel Shifters Box Set

More about Underground Heat

Underground Heat is an action adventure, paranormal romance boxed set containing three full-length books. It’s the entire Underground Heat Series:

Roman’s Gold

Once respected members of society, shifters are running for their lives. Devon’s been a cop for a long time. He has shifter blood, but not enough to change into anything. His latest assignment is Kate. From the moment he sees her, he can’t get her out of his mind. But she’s the enemy he’s sworn to eradicate. As he tracks her, the line between hunter and hunted explodes into fiery attraction. If their passion doesn’t save them, it’ll doom them forever.

Wolf Born

Max leads a dangerous double life in a futuristic California that’s almost out of resources. If Audrey could finesse it, she’d go to work helping the shifter underground. The only sticking point is Max. She’s been in love with him forever. If she joins the underground, she believes she’ll never see him again—but that’s because she has no idea he’s the head of it. After a second attempt on his life, Max faces critical choices. He can’t believe Audrey’s behind the assassination attempts, but everything points her way. Will he follow his head or his heart?

Blood Bond

Head of the shifter underground’s security force, Johannes has his hands full. He’s the most compelling man Daria’s ever met, but he’s also stubborn and arrogant. Her cat thinks he’s their mate, but if Daria had her way, she’d run hard the other way. Just her bad luck, a series of lethal attacks keep her square in his gunsights. Johannes is desperately attracted to Daria, but anything beyond sex isn’t part of his life plan. He has his reasons. They’ve served him well, and he’s not changing them now.

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More about Ann

I’m basically a mountaineer at heart. I remember many hours at my desk where my body may have been stuck inside four walls, but my soul was planning yet one more trip to the backcountry.

Around the turn of the last century (that would be 2000, not 1900!), I finagled a move to the Eastern Sierra, a mecca for those in love with the mountains. Stories always ran around in my head on backcountry trips, sometimes as a hedge against abject terror when challenging conditions made me fear for my life, sometimes for company.

Eventually, the inevitable happened. I returned from a trip and sat down at the computer. Three months later, a five hundred page novel emerged. It wasn’t very good, but it was a beginning. I learned a lot between writing that novel and its sequel, and I’ve been writing ever since.

In addition to turning out books, I enjoy wilderness photography. A standing joke is that over ten percent of my pack weight is camera gear, which means my very tolerant husband has to carry the food — and everything else too.

How do I manage my internet time? I’m sure it surprises no one to know I don’t have a set plan. A lot depends on how the writing is going. If it’s going really well or really horrible, I tend to interact less online. That’s because I’m either writing or AFK. But I’m not actively promoting anything right now and that changes everything. You know what is the biggest “time hog” for me? Research. Without a doubt. I waste more time burrowing into the Black Holes of Internet Minutia than anyone else in the universe.

Thanks for a great post, Ann!


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