Saturday, July 27, 2013

Last Post on this Blog

Hi everybody!!

I'm REALLY excited to write this post!  Why???  Because I have a VERY COOL New Website with a new integrated Blog on it!!  I hope you'll stop by to check it out and let me know what you think.

Happy Reading!!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Marketing Advice for New Authors

I’m doing my best to do at least one post each week on my blog and luckily I’ve gotten several message this week from authors who are just starting out.  The consistent theme has been: do I have any advice for them?  I am no expert on marketing, and I want to preface this post with these are the things that have made an impact for me.  I’ve learned tons about marketing and publishing in the last couple years, but I KNOW I still have lots to learn.  If any of you have advice for other authors that I didn't include, PLEASE share the love and leave a comment with your advice!!

1. Personal connections.  Every friend I have on Goodreads or Facebook gets a personal message from me.  I’m more interested in getting to know a hundred people who read my books and loved them than I am in connecting with a thousand who may or may not be excited to hear about my latest release, a review that brought tears to my eyes, or a message from a girl in Sri Lanka who did a book report on one of my books for school (yes, that one made me feel as cool as Cat Woman!).  Writing is very personal for me and I like the idea that the people I connect with are people I want to know and who want to know me. 

2. Book Covers.  Okay, true confession here:  I am in the one tenth of one percent of the reading population who RARELY looks at a book’s cover.  Every book I’ve read for the last two years has been based on a friend’s recommendation, a goodread’s group read, or an author I’ve met on-line who I think is fun and I’m anxious to see if their personality came through in their writing.  For the other 99.9% of the population, a cover is CRITICAL.  Make sure it looks as good when it’s the size of a quarter, as it does when you’re looking at it stretched across your screen.  The bulk of the people who see it, will see it when it is the size of a quarter.  It’s got to be dramatic enough to catch and make them want to read your synopsis and peruse your reviews.

3.   Meet other authors in your genre.  They’re just like you and me.  They have families, jobs, community commitments and they write because they love it.  If you read one of their books and a character or scene moves you, tell them.  Of the books I’ve read in the last two years, every story that brought tears to my eyes, made my heart race or made me want to throw my kindle across the room resulted in a message to the author.  Most have become close friends and exceptional sounding boards for ideas.    

4. Edit.  If you’re on a tight budget and can’t afford a professional editor, find one that you can trade with.  Offer to help them market their editing business, offer to recommend your friends to them, do whatever it takes to make sure you publish a polished book.  There are thousands of readers out there who will overlook spelling and grammatical errors (yes, I think these people are angels on earth), but there are nearly as many who will be sever in their critiques / reviews.  A well edited book with a great plot and characters is one readers will gladly recommend to all their friends.  

5. Get to know bloggers, not just at a superficial level, but get to know them.  Bloggers are the unsung heroes of the independent publishing world.  They routinely take a chance on an unknown author, devote hours of their personal time to read and review a story then publish to the world their opinions.  Word of mouth is THE BEST advertising any author could ever hope to have.  Experienced bloggers have a substantial group of followers, know how to insert tags in their posts, and if they fall in love with your story will more than recommend your story, they will advocate for you! 

For any authors out there who don’t know where to start, John Locke’s book: How I sold a million E-books in 5 Months is the best $3 you will ever spend.  When I was just starting out it was recommended to me.  It is full of exceptional marketing ideas.

I hope this has been helpful.

Happy Reading (And Writing!)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Interview with Drake from the Touched Series!!

Drake and I have been working on scenes in Centaur Redemption (Book 4 of the Touched Series).  Since I get him all to myself most days, I asked if he wanted to pop by for a chat today.

Tell everyone a little about yourself, Drake.  My name’s Drake Nash, I’m twenty-four years old, I work for my father’s construction business, and I was born a pure-blood Centaur.

Wow, nice lead in.  How do you feel about being a Centaur? Hmm, a tough one.  I’ve always been a Centaur.  How do you feel about being a human? 

Touche.  Tell everyone what you thought about Camille when you first saw her.  A lot of thoughts were going through your head with your betrothed standing next to you.  Right, well, you cut to the chase don’t you?  Could we go back to the last question?  No? Okay, well, formerly betrothed.  Bianca and Gage are happily together now.  I suppose I should try not to get gushy on everyone, but it’s safe to say that not only did I forget how to breathe; the earth forgot how to rotate when I first saw Camille. 

Awe, that's sweet.  What’s the first thing that pops into your head when I say Camille’s name to you?   When I first met her, my first thought was she was an apple; a very red, delicious, sweet, beautiful apple – the Forbidden Fruit.  Now when I hear her name the only thing that comes to mind is: Mine.

Back in Blood Debt, how did you feel when Bianca and Camille were first becoming fast friends?  Are you kidding me?  I was betrothed to Bianca and I wanted Camille, male Centaurs don’t get to choose who they marry.  I had already been chosen by Bianca.  The fact that the two were becoming friends was about as welcomed as having a brand new bed of nails delivered to replace my mattress – strange and uncomfortable. 

When Bianca and Camille told you of their little conspiracy plot, what were you thinking and how did you think it would play out?  It was the equivalent of being thrilled to have vanilla ice cream on a hot summer day and then someone sits down with a bowl of Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey and says, “Here, why don’t you try this.”  I was thrilled with my vanilla ice cream, a little smug to tell you the truth.  Then just the idea that I might get one small spoonful of Chunky Monkey was worth letting Gage have my whole bowl full of vanilla.   

I know it was tough when Zandra took Camille.  The book doesn't really say anything about what you were going through.  Care to share?  I was a wreck.  Camille and I had done the unthinkable – we had planned an un-chaperoned meeting the night she was kidnapped.  When she didn’t arrive at 10pm I worried she may have been delayed.  By 11 pm I was furious with myself thinking our plan may have been discovered.  At midnight I realized she wasn’t coming.  The next morning I wracked my brain until I could come up with a good reason to call her brother Brent.  That’s when I learned she had been kidnapped by her grandmother.  For two solid months, thoughts of Camille consumed me.  The day Gage called and said we were all going to Zandra’s to bust Camille out was the first time I could breathe in two months.

I know you would do anything to be with Camille, but did you ever think about something happening to her to keep her from you permanently? *Rolls eyes*  You mean like finding out a marriage had been arranged by her grandmother, to my best friend, Gage?  

Yeah, okay, bad question.  Are you happy with how things turned out between yourself, Camille, Gage, and Bianca? Is there a word stronger than “Yes?”  Maybe, “Hell Yes!”  If there is, substitute it!  Bianca should never have chosen me, she and Gage were meant for each other.  I can’t imagine a life with anyone other than Camille and not to give away any of the story in Centaur Redemption, but she is mine now.

Do you regret anything?  Many things.  I regret accepting Bianca’s betrothal to begin with and putting my friendship with Gage in jeopardy.  I regret that I didn’t spend more time with Camille on the yacht when I had the chance.  I regret not following Camille home from lunch the day she was kidnapped.     

In a perfect world, what would happen with you and Camille? The world will never be perfect, but it’s pretty close to it right now.  We escaped from Zandra’s house, we escaped an onslaught of Centaurs, we fled the country with our family and we're going to make the Centaur Council understand the Lost Herd can't be hunted any longer.  

Sounds like a tall order.  Good luck with the Centaur Council!  Thanks for stopping by, Drake!  If any of you have any questions for Drake, feel free to post them in the comments and I'll make sure he gets a chance to respond.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Know what you want and get it!

So it’s been a REALLY long time since I did a blog post.  I know, I know.  I am going to do better.  For someone who can write thousands of words about people who don’t exist it’s a tough thing to write a short post to let you know what’s going on in my life (at least anything  you’d find interesting).  Most of you who follow my blog also follow me on Facebook, so you know what an awesome time I had at UTopYA last weekend. 

It would be too hard to come up with one single event that was my favorite part of the weekend, but I
thought I’d do a post with a little moral to the story – You’ll never get what you want if you don’t ask for it!

Let me start this with I’ve been on this awful diet.  I have a serious aversion to vegetables, shhhh don’t tell my kids because I’ll never get them to eat what they’re supposed to.  Basically for two meals per day, every day, I eat (drink) vegetables.  This is quite an accomplishment for someone who has avoided them for the last forty years.  I also cut my Mountain Dew intake down from 6 sodas a day, to two.  Although I seriously dislike it – I do like that my energy level has gone through the roof.

All day last Friday I had had two vegetable shakes (eeewww) and six glasses of water.  Needless to say, I was ready for some massive calories for dinner.  Eight of us got together to have dinner at Boundry in Downtown Nashville.  For anyone reading this post I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this restaurant, and if you go there ask if Rob G. can be your server - keep reading and you’ll find out why. 

The server came to take our drink order and I was thrilled at the opportunity to have some real caffeine.  I asked for, you guessed it – a Mt Dew or a Mellow Yellow.  He politely told me neither was available and offered the list of sodas they did have.  Without allowing the utter disappointment to show on my face I said, “If you can score me a Mt Dew or a Mellow Yellow there is a really good tip in it for you.”
Back to the moral of the blog post – if you want it, ask for it.  If you want it bad enough, incentivize the person to help you!  Would you believe the waiter “found” me a Mt Dew!!!  Can you say: the best service ever!!  Dinner was great, the food was good, and the conversation was fantastic!  The seven ladies I went to dinner with (Stacey Marie Brown, S.M. Boyce, Jen McConnel, Amanda DeWees, Kris Kindel, Charlotte Abel and Christie Rich)
are all authors and were a wealth of knowledge on promotions, cross-promotions, social media, etc, and there was no shortage of funny stories! 

It came time for the desert menus and when I saw what was available, I was disappointed.  Again, the cool part of this awful diet is the fact that I can have a HUGE amount of calories for one meal per day.  I told the waiter I’d been hoping for a warm brownie with vanilla ice cream.  He empathized with me but sadly brownies weren’t on the menu.  I handed the menu back to him and declined desert.  I don’t think I pouted, but I may have mentioned that the kitchen likely had cocoa.  *smiles*  

Would you believe he found me a warm brownie with vanilla ice cream???  We later found out he sent someone to a restaurant a block away to get it for me. The ladies at the table thought this was a hoot, I thought this was the BEST SERVICE I HAD EVER received. 

Then I got to thinking, the same holds true in life, if you want something, you’ve got to go get it.  If you can’t get it for yourself, find the person who can get you what you want and convince them that they should get it for you!  Yes, the picture of the eight of us has the FABULOUS brownie and ice cream in front of me!!

Happy Reading!


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Stock up for Summer FREE Bestselling E-Books  Free ebooks for Kindle and Nook

Summer is here and it's time to fill up your ereader with books for relaxation! And what better kind of books than the FREE best sellers you've heard so much about.

Several of your favorite authors have joined together to offer free copies of their best selling novels. Visit from June 6, 2013 to June 10, 2013 to pick up kindle and nook versions of these must read books. Paranormal, YA, Fantasy, Contemporary and more. Titles may change daily. Check back all week so you don't miss any of these fabulous ebooks.

Authors featuring free books on one or more days include:

Nancy Straight
Charlotte Abel
Leia Shaw
Laura A.H. Elliott
Amy M. Jones
Christie Rich
Andrea Heltsley
Aria Grace

Monday, May 27, 2013

Character Map for the Touched Series

I got the funniest message today regarding Blood Debt, Centaur Legacy and Centaur Rivalry.  I'll paraphrase, but it was in essence - "Could you possibly put more characters in this series?"

There are a few secondary characters not shown in the map, but each of those play into the parallel stories.  Most of you may already know that there will be five books in the Touched Series.  Each of Camille's half-brothers has a parallel story told in a single book.  Camille and Drake's adventures are seen through the entire series, but each book focuses on one of her half-brothers, too.

In Blood Debt you met Bruce and Hannah.  Bruce's story was shortened because this was the first book in the series.  

In Centaur Legacy, Beau won Lacey's heart.

In Centaur Rivalry, Brent had to choose between his betrothed and a human who surprised everybody.

Centaur Redemption, everyone will get to meet Ben and the final book (so far still untitled), you guessed it - Bart finds his future.

Well, the short answer to the question today?  Yes.  The last two books in the series will have a couple new characters.  Below is a character map of the key characters in the Touched Series.

Thanks to all of you who have recommended the Touched (and Destiny) Series to your friends!!  You have no idea what a feeling it is to hear from someone who was recommended my series by one of their friends.

Keep the questions and comments coming in.  As I get them I'll do my best to answer them for everyone right here.  

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

What inspires me to write?

I get asked a lot by family and friends:  What inspired you to write?

I wish I had a real sexy answer like, "It came to me in a dream."  or maybe "I always knew I wanted to write novels."  Sadly, neither was the case.

It was the combination of two events.  Event one:  I used to work with a lawyer who I had a great deal of respect for.  We were working together one afternoon when he set a pile of papers on the table in front of him that I had written.  He looked me square in the eye and said, “Mrs. Straight, you are one of the most compelling writers I’ve ever met.”  Keep in mind, what he had just read was work-related and a FULL TEN on the boring scale.  His compliment was unexpected and flattering, so I filed it away.  

The second event was when I finished reading Stephanie Meyers’ Twilight Series.  She was able to elicit every major emotion I had felt in my life, in just four books.  When I put Breaking Dawn down, I was wholeheartedly inspired and I began writing.

Now that you know how I got my start, let me tell you about what inspires me every day.  

Readers and bloggers who go out of their way to tell me they’ve read my novels and loved them.  A post on my facebook page, a message through goodreads, a comment on my blog or a tweet takes maybe thirty seconds worth of effort but gives me hours (sometimes days) of inspiration.  

I want to tell you about my very first fan because no matter how many times we chat, I’ll never let him forget how much he means to me. 

Shortly after I published my first book, Meeting Destiny, I joined goodreads.  I think I had sold maybe twenty-five books over a six month period.  I was still very new to the site and I was surprised when a friend request came in from Charles Young.  This was followed by a message saying he had read Meeting Destiny and loved it.  

Charles was my very first fan and I still message him regularly.  If any of you have ever sent a message like the one I received from Charles to a “Rookie” author, I can guarantee you will never comprehend the lifelong impact your simple act of kindness has made (or will make) in that author’s life!  

When a story moves you, let the author know.  Since that day, I’ve met many readers who have gone out of their way to brighten my day – every single message has been an inspiration and is the reason I write for hours after my family has gone to bed.  

Charles, if you’re reading this blog post, thank you, again.

Happy Reading!