Friday, February 27, 2015

No Shame

I was going to do a little shameless self-promotion today, because 'hey, why not?' when a thought occurred to me.  Why should any of us be ashamed of promoting ourselves - especially when it's for something we have every reason to be proud of? 

I worked my ever-widening butt off to get my book out there in the world.  It's a freakin' scary thing, but I did it.  And from the early results, I did a good job with Dying Embers.  I should be proud of myself. 

But even typing that last sentence up there made me want to crawl into a hole.  'No, no.  It was nothing. P'shaw.' 

Thinking about it now, I've done that most of my life for anything major I accomplished.  I pass it off as nothing important.  Particularly when it's someone else giving me kudos.  The other day, two gals I'm only kind of acquaintances with were totally excited about my book, and I got really uncomfortable over their praise.  Like I didn't deserve it.

I tell ya, Killer Friends, something about that is totally messed up.  Why shouldn't we be excited when we've done something?  Why hide our lights under a pile of bleh? 

So for right now, at this moment, I'm going to be proud of myself and celebrate my accomplishments, and if no one else likes it, they can go sit and spin.  

I PUBLISHED MY OWN BOOK!  SQUEE!

Now it's your turn.  What accomplishment would you like to celebrate today?  Come on, I know you can find something.  Out with it.  Be loud and be proud. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Trying uncomfortable things

Next month, I'm leading a "Muzzle Your Inner Critic So That You Can Hear Your  Muse" at the Florida Creativity Weekend.  I'm excited about workshop, but I'm also terrified.


It's part of my "trying uncomfortable things" kick.  


Here are a couple of things I've tackled:

I tried Zumba. I loved it! Unfortunately my feet didn't, which is one of the reasons I've been wearing a night splint since December…sigh.


It took a lot of tongue-biting (you have NO idea) but I got myself (and my dog) through a Therapy Dog Certification course.



I've also tried a couple of painting classes. I had a GREAT time, but there's a reason I don't paint. 

Evidence below:


This is my pal Kim Karalius. She's a much better painter. Her debut novel, LOVE FORTUNES AND OTHER DISASTERS will be out in May.

And next month, while at the Florida Creativity Weekend I'm taking an all-day Improv Acting class. What was I thinking?


Tell me Killer Friends: Have you ever taken an acting class? What uncomfortable things have you tried? What do you want to try? 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Spunky Old Broads

February is Spunky Old Broads month. I happened on this and I thought that's cool. This makes me laugh. This will be me one day. So I keep reading.
Spunky old broads are positive, fun, butt-kicking mature women over the age of 50 who refuse to sit back quietly and get old. They want excitement! They want a regret-free life! They want form fitting aprons! They want calcium supplements!
Wait. What?

...over the age of 50...

The hell?

I turn 50 this year. 

I am not old. Spunky, yes. But old, no. Although I did use the word 'cool' earlier, so...

When I think of spunky broads I think of the Golden Girls. Or Helen Mirren. Tina Turner. Katey Sagal - I loved her on the Sons of Anarchy. And the Goddess herself - Meryl Streep.

The Queen, who is still rocking her royal duties at the age of 88. Harriet Tubman and her incredible life which in later years contributed to the woman's sufferage movement. Eleanor Roosevelt who at the age of 63 became the 1st Chairman of the Human Rights Commission. Mother Theresa who's name is synonymous with charity and compassion and who was awarded a Nobel Prize. 

All of whom had spunk and who certainly kick butt. So, if they're the definition of a spunky old broad then I'll take the moniker and use it proudly.

Who are some of your favourite spunky old broads?

Friday, February 20, 2015

Marketing 101

Okay, not really.  I probably know less about book marketing than most of my published friends.  Still, I'd like to tell you a little bit about what I'm doing.  The jury's still out on whether any of this will work for me.

I ordered some really awesome postcards from Vistaprint.  Awesome rates, awesome turnaround time, and an awesome end product - with one little flaw that is entirely my fault.  When you look at the front and then turn it over to look at the back the way one naturally would, the back looks upside down.  Since this was my first time designing a postcard, it's a live and learn sort of thing.  Next order, I know to put the front image the other way.  I'll be mailing those out to a select few people and then putting them in with the print copies I send out.  50 of those cost about $13.

The print copies... Well, I ordered 10 for this first go 'round.  Five already have designated homes - Mom, MIL, and my three go-to gals.  Another one will get marched down to the local bookstore and given as a gift to the owner, with the idea that if she likes it, she can talk it up if she chooses, and if not, then no harm done.  I might also donate one to the local library, but so few people use it, I'm not sure if it would be a good ROI*.  With the remaining copies, I'll hold a Goodreads contest, and maybe a FB contest. 

I also created bookmarks.  I used my own ancient program - MS Image Composer.  If you've never heard of it, that's because it came pre-packaged with MS Frontpage website design software back in the late 90s.  I like it because I've used it for over a decade and it's easy for me (even if I lost some functionality when I upgraded my Windows - they're no longer compatible.)  Anyway, I created a front and a back, and then loaded them into the company's templates.  They looked good in the preview.  We'll see how they look when they get here.  If they're good, I'll be sending them out and sticking them in books I send out, and leaving them at various places, etc.  25 of those cost me about $17 (after expedited shipping).

Other than that, I've been trying to chat up the book online where I can - and where I won't be perceived as a pushy bitch.  I'm still playing with MailChimp to determine how to make an interesting newsletter readers will actually enjoy signing up for.  Every time I got to the site, though, I get frustrated with myself and walk away.  I'll conquer it eventually.

So, tell me, what types of marketing get you to buy a book?  Does swag really work for you?  If you win a free book, are you more inclined to read it right away and review it, or does it sit on your shelf gathering dust?  And if you're in the position to market books, what seems to work for you?


*ROI = Return on Investment.  For me, it basically means how many books will I have to sell from the marketing idea to cover the costs and make a little profit? 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

New releases, a contest, and another book in the works

So much going on!!

New Releases:

In case you missed it, THE HITWOMAN'S DOWNWARD DOG was released last Thursday. (If you missed it, it means you're not signed up for my newsletter. What are you waiting for?)


So many men….so little help.

Maladroit hitwoman Maggie Lee has never been one to ask for help. But now she’s found out that her niece, Katie, will soon be discharged from the hospital - making Maggie her guardian not just in name - and her semi-psychic friend Armani Vasquez has been kidnapped. Suddenly Maggie could really use some help.

While her crazy, but lovable, aunts are ready to help out with Katie, none of the men in her life are willing (or able) to lend a hand to save Armani. With both cops and bad guys telling her not to go after Armani alone, she knows the smart thing to do would be to listen to them. But Maggie’s not the type to abandon those she loves.

Even with Patrick, Maggie's murder-mentor and almost-lover, and her old friend Zeke out of the picture, Maggie’s not desperate enough to bring herself to involve crime reporter Jack Stern in her quest.

Armed with only Armani’s cryptic clues, and assisted by her snarky lizard, her dumb, but extremely loyal dog, and a one-eyed cat, Maggie decides to take on whoever's taken Armani.

Will the lack of human help prove to be her undoing?

Or will a special guy come through for her in the end?


Speaking of new releases, B.E. launched Dying Embers on Friday.

Which leads me to the contest…


CONTEST:

I'm giving away two ebook copies of DYING EMBERS. All you need to do is tell me how you feel about revenge in the comments before 12:01 AM PST on 2/23/15 and you're entered.

ANOTHER BOOK???

Yes indeed! I'm finishing up the third Matchmaker Mystery by the end of the month. My favorite psychic matchmaker, Armani is back and interfering with matters of the heart.

So go, sign up for the newsletter, buy a book, enter the contest.  Four out of five doctors recommend it.
(Well not really, but you get the idea!)




Monday, February 16, 2015

Guess what? It's Family Day in most parts of Canada today. Long weekends always mess me up. That's my excuse for being late getting this up. Also, Friday was my parents 50th Wedding Anniversary so I spent the day cooking and then celebrating, Saturday was Valentine's Day so I spent the day in a chocolate coma. And Sunday I spent recovering. That kind of carried over to today.

I managed to make breakfast!



Since then I've been proofreading the production galley for my next romantic suspense, EXPOSED. It's a mindnumbing, very necessary task. And it's taking me forever. Or so it seems. But once I hand it back I'll be notified of a release date and I can get the marketing ball rolling. And I can't wait to share this story.

To treat myself later I'm going to finally finish reading Toni Anderson's A COLD DARK PLACE, Book 1 in her Cold Justice Series.


What did you indugle in this weekend?

Friday, February 13, 2015

Why is Marketing So Hard?

I grew up knowing that Sales was in my blood.  My father was a salesman.  He could sell you on anything.  I like to think I inherited that gene, and it pretty much bears out even today when I try to sell something I really love to anyone who'll listen.  (Even when said product is no longer made.)  For instance, I still chat up Paladin Tools - even though they were bought out by Greenlee years ago and no longer make their signature orange-handled crimpers.  And hey, have you tried O&H Danish Bakery's kringles yet?

Hell, I was selling chairs to a volunteer at the thrift shop just last week.  (Yeah, selling something to someone who works in the store.  But hey, she was the one who told me she likes to refinish old furniture and there were these awesome chairs I thought would be perfect for her.)  But I digress...

Anyway, I sell stuff.  Every item out there is a product that can be sold.  It's widgets all the way down.  So, here I am at the release day of my very own product - Dying Embers.  I know this widget better than any other widget I've ever had the opportunity to sell.  I believe in this like no other.  And I'm stymied at how to proceed.

I think part of the problem is in our society, it's verboten to talk yourself up.  It's pushy.  And lord knows, we don't want to be perceived as pushy. 

Another part of the problem is it might be a widget or a product or a thingamabob, but this particular doohickey is 100% me.  I could sell tools because I didn't have a vested interest in the tool itself.  (The commissions, yeah, but the tool? No.)  If someone didn't want to buy the tool - even after I told them all the wonders of said tool - then it was no skin off my nose.  Move on to the next, and hopefully more enlightened, customer.  (I really did sell the best tools.)  Sure, their unwillingness to buy did reflect somewhat on my sales ability, but not on me personally. This time, if someone doesn't want to buy my book, it's a direct reflection on me.  And if they bought a tool they decided they didn't like, it wasn't my problem.  If they buy this book and decide they don't like it, they're talking about something that came out of me. 

:shudder:

No wonder writers have such a tough time marketing their books.  I mean, I have no problem selling other writers' books.  (BTW, fellow Killer Chick, JB Lynn's latest book The Hitwoman's Downward Dog should be coming out soon.)  I just have a problem selling my own. 

So, in the interest of improving my own marketing skills for myself, go pick up a copy of my first self-published book - Dying Embers.  It doesn't slice, dice or make Julienne fries.  It's doesn't have shiny orange grips or added torque.  It sure as hell doesn't get 34 miles to the gallon on the highway.  But it should be a gripping and enjoyable read.  It's cathartic as hell for anyone who's ever wanted to get back at their former boyfriends.  And it goes well with a half-gallon of double-fudge-brownie ice cream.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Release Day is Approaching!

Okay, I totally forgot that I said I'd fill in today* because JB is unavailable.  My only excuse is that this is release week for me.  In fact... and you heard it here first... my book is available for pre-order as of this morning.  (The official release date is Friday, so you don't have to wait that long.)

Good girls don’t play with fire.
Emma Sweet is tired of being a good girl. When she catches her husband cheating, she hits on the perfect plan to pay back all the men who ever broke her heart. Revenge isn’t as simple as seducing her old lovers and tossing a match, but watching them burn is deliciously satisfying.    
The one time in her life Agent Jace Douglas wasn’t a good girl, she lost her family.  Now she would rather run far and fast when it comes to fire.  Too bad for her, she can’t walk away from a case where fire is the killer’s signature.  Jace needs to face her fears and catch this murderer before the flames of her past—and the smoldering heat she feels for Detective Ben Yancy—reduce her life, her career and her self-control to ash.

 Right now, it's only available through Kindle, but soon it'll be available as a hardcopy.  All apologies to people with other types of ereaders.  I hope you'll be patient or will use Kindle for PC to enjoy my book.

When I picked my release date, I was thinking of Valentine's Day.  What better time to sit down and read about old flames, eh?  Then over the weekend, I realized it's also Friday the 13th.  Which tickles the hell out of my villain, Emma Sweet.  The phrase 'unlucky in love' comes to mind.  And I can hear her giggling somewhere in the back of my head.

Anyway, I hope you'll order my book, read it and enjoy it.  And if you do, please take a moment to leave a review somewhere. 


* All apologies to our Killer Friends and JB.  I was supposed to post this on Wednesday in place of JB's usual post, and according to my bad case of writer brain, yesterday was Wednesday.  Except it wasn't.  And I didn't realize it was Tuesday until last night. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Valentine's Day Thoughts

Valentine's Day is coming up on Saturday. Generally, after 29 years of Valentine's Days, not a big fuss is made around our house. Which is kind of sad, when I see it typed out in black and white. Sometimes we go out for supper, sometimes we don't. Cards are exchanged. I get flowers. I love, love, love getting flowers. I don't mind buying my own, which also happens.

I will not be heading to the movie theatre that night. Just putting that out there. I'll be taking in 50 Shades with a group of friends and discussing it later over drinks. Woot.

Oh, and chocolate. Any day where you get chocolate is okay by me.

But for some, I imagine this must be one of THE most annoying days of the year.  For some it might be sad. So, for those of you that struggle with this Hallmark holiday, here are some of the best tips I found on the net.

1. Get together with girlfriends. Have a spa day. Always a win-win.
2. Ignore it all together. This one combined with #5.
3. Go shopping. Nothing soothes like retail therapy. But with a budget. Because practical is sexy.
4. Throw an anti-Valentine's Day party. I waffle on this one. Sounds kind of negative. But fun at the same time.
5. Read a good book. This one gets my vote. 

Some of the worst advice I found:

1. Have a fling. Right, because nothing helps the old self-esteem meter like meaningless hook-ups.
2. Buy a new wardrobe. As in a whole wardrobe! Yeah, debt makes everything better.
3. Go to the gym. Unless you like to exercise. And sweat.  
4. Get a tattoo. Just, don't do it.
5. Watch a romantic comedy. Why would you do that? Watch those on a regular night. Watch The Game of Thrones or have a Blacklist marathon. 

What's your favorite thing to do on Valentine's Day?

Friday, February 6, 2015

Free Trip to Anywhere in the World?

A writer I follow on Facebook asked the following question the other day:

If you won a free trip to anywhere in the world, where would you go?

I didn't bother commenting, but I thought I'd talk about the question here with you.  Personally, it's a hard question for me because... true confession time... I hate traveling.  Oh, not short trips.  I like going for drives.  I just detest plane travel anymore.

I've always been interested in seeing Australia or New Zealand, for instance, but the thought of sitting on a plane for umpteen hours fills me with dread.  I sit for too long, my legs seize up so when I finally do get upright again, I'm a total gimp.  And my ass needs motion or my back goes squonky.  Plus, being jammed into an airplane with a couple hundred of my favorite strangers sends the hermit in my running.  Oh, I can do it, but it's not my idea of a fun way to start a relaxing vacation.

Don't get me started on airports.  What used to be a much less stressful event is now like walking into a nuthouse where the patients are running amok.  Are travelers always that rude in their day to day lives, or does the airport bring out the worst in people?  

And then there's the world turmoil.  Which makes me really not want to leave the confines of the good ol' U.S. of A. 

Although, if someone invented a transporter like they have on Star Trek, I might still consider going to American-friendly countries - like the UK.  All that history over there interests me.  I might even consider going to Germany to try and trace the family roots over there. 

Otherwise, though... meh.

So, my answer to the original question - where would I go if someone paid for a trip for me to go anywhere?  Convert the trip to cash, please.  I'll stay home and travel in my head.  Or when I get a bug for wandering, I might finally drive to see the graves of my ancestors around here.  That should make for two lovely weekend trips. 

Now it's your turn - where would you go? 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Could YOU pass a Good Citizen test?

This week, as we continue our class to become a certified Therapy Dog Team, Smudge had to take the American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen test.

During the test, I was thinking that humans should have to pass something similar.

Here are the basics of the test:

1. Accepting a friendly stranger - Humans should not ignore, run away from, snarl at, growl at or bite strangers.

2. Sitting politely for petting - Dogs should show no shyness or resentment. Humans should respect the personal space of those they are sitting with.

3. Appearance and grooming - Who hasn't had an experience where they wished a fellow human didn't spend more time on their grooming. (Or less…I'm talking to all of you people who douse yourself in perfume/cologne/aftershave!!)

4. Out for a walk - Right, left, about turn, stop.  Basically obey the commands of the handler. For humans this means obeying traffic laws, allowing people in an elevator to exit BEFORE you try to cram yourself in, and allowing whoever is NEXT ON LINE to move to the new line when  a cashier yells "next on line".

5. Walking through a crowd - Dog may show casual interest but not jump up when walking close to people.  For humans this means no throwing elbows, pinching butts, shoving, crowding, or stomping on feet because you happen to be in a hurry.

6. Sit down on command/Staying in place - A skill all humans should master, especially when seeing any kind of show. Sit and stay. Don't disturb your neighbors by getting up to go pee, get a drink, or answer your phone.

7. Coming when called - Basically: do what your told.

8. Reaction to another dog - Be polite. You can show casual interest, but when you're just meeting someone, exchange pleasantries and then move on.

9. Reaction to distractions - Keep Calm and Carry On

10. Supervised Separation - Don't panic when the one you love leaves the room (or your world). They'll probably come back. If they don't, someone else will surely be there to feed, pet and love you.

So what do you think? Could you pass a Good Citizen Test? 
If you have a dog, could he or she? (The link is here for a better explanation.)
Do you know people who couldn't pass the test?  (I do!)



Monday, February 2, 2015

February 2nd: Groundhog Day

It's Groundhog Day. Or the day before my husband's birthday, as it's known in our house. I can never remember which way it goes. But after extensive research I've determined if the groundhog sees their shadow on February 2nd it means a late spring. No shadow, early spring.

I know which scenario I'm wishing for since it was -26 C with the wind chill here yesterday.

February 2nd can also be known as Candlemas - a Christian tradition. How about this Scottish poem:
If Candlemas Day is bright and clear,
There'll be two winters in the year.
If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Winter has another flight. 
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Winter will not come again.
Apparently other animals have weather predicting skills. If a cat sneezes? Find your umbrella. If it's going to be a mild winter, black bears will sleep close to their den opening. If it's going to be a long, cold winter they will sleep far away from the opening. Although, I'm not sure who it is that goes out and checks these things. I just know it's not going to be me.

Then there's the traditional art of pig spleen prognostication and determining if the weather will be hot or cold, wet or dry. I'm not sure what this fellow does with the spleen and I don't think I want to know.

If I want to know weather conditions I check the app on my phone. So, what's the weather like in your neck of the woods? Do you predict an early spring or a late spring?