Friday, January 31, 2014

Meant for Me by Faith Sullivan / Book Blast

I would like to give a big, warm welcome to Faith Sullivan, the author of the Take Me Now series and Heartbeat trilogy. All of which I plan to read this year! I hope you enjoy the excerpt below for her latest release, Meant for Me. I certainly did. ;)

Title: Meant for Me
Author: Faith Sullivan
Series: Take Me Now (Book Two)
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Age Group: New Adult
Release Date: December 10, 2013

BLURB:

Eric thought he had forever...before.

Divided between reliving the past and embracing his new life with Ivy, Eric fears that love will once again be ripped from his grasp. Having faith in the future is hard. So many things can go wrong.

Ivy is convinced that what they have is meant to be...but no one can escape the wheel of fate.

Her love for Eric and the life they're creating make every sacrifice seem worthwhile. Until she's forced to reveal the truth surrounding her delicate condition. Even if it shatters his hope.

Can they hold onto their newfound happiness or are events already in motion to keep them apart?

BOOK LINKS:


EXCERPT:

My boyfriend is so freakin’ hot.

I press my nose against the glass, peering out as he stops to take a break from cutting the grass around the garden center. It’s sweltering outside and he’s worked up quite a sweat pushing the lawn mower up and down the property. As a result of his labor, his white t-shirt is clinging to his chest in all the right places. I sigh happily, taking him in.

He has no clue that I’m watching as he picks up a water bottle and pours it over his head, forming a trail that trickles down the length of his body. I clutch the windowsill as I feel that all too familiar twinge between my legs. Being pregnant, my hormones are on fire and it doesn’t take much to get me going. So it’s no wonder a moan escapes my lips when he doesn’t stop there. Instead, he casually begins to strip in front of me.

My cheeks burn as he lifts his arms over his head, removing his shirt, elongating every inch of his defined abs. My eyes follow his v-shaped pelvic muscle as it dips suggestively below his belt buckle. My breathing becomes heavy as he stretches, causing his jeans to ride even lower on his hips. My pulse skyrockets as he proceeds to wring the water out of his shirt, flexing his glistening biceps against the rays of the setting sun.

I squirm against the window, forcing my knees together. My movement catches his attention and he glances up, meeting my gaze. A sexy grin slowly spreads across his face when he realizes the effect he’s having on me. My mouth is open. I’m literally panting for him. He shakes his head and chuckles softly. My heart clenches at how adorable he looks.

He’s not the kind of guy who flaunts his body, but for me it seems like he enjoys being on display. He runs his hands through his damp hair, tousling it before grabbing another bottle of water. He winks at me, tilting back his head and taking a long swig. He closes his eyes, his lips wrapped around the bottle, teasing me. He smiles when he’s done, beckoning me with his finger.

I don’t hesitate for a moment. I gladly leave the confines of his air-conditioned office and rush outside. He’s waiting, his eyes smoldering. He stands with his hands on his hips, watching as I approach. It’s unseasonably mild for October, and I step out of my clogs as I draw nearer to him. His gaze never leaves my face. It only intensifies, causing me to blush even more.

I get close enough to feel the warmth of his breath on my cheek, but I don’t speak. Instead, I run my hands across the wide breadth of his shoulders and down his heaving chest. My touch must be driving him wild because I can feel his heart thudding beneath my fingertips. His skin is so smooth and firm. He’s a man’s man who’d never dream of waxing his upper body, and a trail of soft, fine hair guides me to his belly button and beyond.

“How can I expect to get anything done around here with you touching me like that?” Eric asks, his voice all husky as I find the zipper of his jeans.

“Well, you shouldn’t be tempting me by getting naked in front of the window,” I whisper seductively as he grabs my wrist, preventing me from lowering his zipper and undressing him any further.

With my free hand, I start to remove my dress when he growls, “I don’t want anyone seeing what’s mine.” He scans the horizon for any approaching vehicles, but there are none to be found. “No one’s ever going to hear what you sound like when you come. Only me.”

 SERIES:

(Book One)


(Book Three coming April 2014)


BIO:

Faith Sullivan is an author of New Adult contemporary romances including the HEARTBEAT trilogy, the TAKE ME NOW series and the 9/11 novel, UNEXPECTED.  

AUTHOR LINKS:


QUESTION: Did you enjoy the excerpt for Meant for Me?


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Writing About: A Character with a Disease or Disability

When you have to write about a character with a disease or disability, there is a lot you have to know and cover in your story. Here is a list of tips that can help you to write about a character with a disease/disability:

1.    Do research

If you don’t have the disease or disability that one of your characters has, you will have to do a lot of research to understand it. What are the symptoms? How is someone diagnosed with it? How is it treated? How does the disease/disability affect those who have it physically and emotionally?

Research is so important because you want to get it right!

2.    Use others for inspiration, or use your own experiences.

If you have the disease/disability, you can use your own experiences, or if you know someone who has it, you can use their experiences. Ask them if they are willing to answer questions. Then absorb everything they say.

3.    Bring out the emotion

Being diagnosed with a disease/disability of any kind is always emotional. When a character is getting tests done, reveal their fears and let your readers in on their prayers. When they are diagnosed, show their denial, grief, anger, and finally how they cope with the diagnosis.

In one of my stories, a woman goes into shock after she learns she has breast cancer, and she has a hard time comprehending what the doctor is saying to her. Moments later, when she’s at home, she thinks her breasts betrayed her. Then she realizes her breasts are victims too.

When a character is learning how to walk with a prosthetic limb for the first time describe their frustrations and struggles so the readers can take those steps with him/her.

Photo by Chrys Fey

4.    What would you do?

If you don’t have experience with the disease or disability that your character has, look deep within and ask yourself how you would cope. What you would do if you found out you were going blind? What would you miss seeing the most if your eyesight failed?

5.    Be real!

One of the most important things you can do while writing about a character with a disability or disease is to be real. Do not sugar-coat what they are going through. Write about your character vomiting in the toilet after receiving a dose of chemo. Write about nurses changing his/her ventilator. Write about a wheelchair-bound character being helped into the bathtub. Write about the infection that is eating away at their body. In other words, write the “ugly” stuff! You don’t have to do it all the time, but doing it every once in a while to show what real people go through is a must!

6.    Inform your readers.

Try to give your readers information they don’t know about the disease or disability that your character has. How can it be detected? What are the statistics for how many people are diagnosed with it every year? Use facts, use tidbits from real stories, use the truth.

7.    Don’t pity your character.

People with cancer, or who are in a wheelchair, don’t want to be pitied. They want to be treated normal! Treat your character like a normal person too, even if other characters in your book don’t. When you show their weaknesses, also show their strengths. Balance their hardships with successes.

A character with a disease/disability can be exactly like any other character. Make them tough, witty, bossy, sarcastic, humorous, and even bitchy if you want. Let them love, let them cry, let them fight! 

8.    If your character is to be believed as real, everything they go through also has to be real.

Describe their MRI’s, their chemotherapy sessions and other things they have to go through, as a romance writer will describe every love scene. Sex is normal and natural. So yes, even describe their love scenes! 

Fight Back!
This was after I got my blood drawn.


9.    Look closely at the minor characters around them.

In real life, everyone is affected when someone they know and love is diagnosed with a disease or disability. Show how the minor characters react and cope too.

10.     View your story as a way to help others.

Looking at your story as a way to empower others will motivate you and help you to write the best that you can so that those who have the same disease/disability can relate, grow a positive outlook, and even get the courage to tell their own stories.

For my short story “Light in Total Darkness” soon to be published by the National Federation of Blind Writers, I created a blind character named Aurora, who she was inspired by Christine Ha, the winner of the third season of MasterChef. To write this story, I paid close attention to how she touched items to identify what they were. 


ADDITION: Instead of writing a story from the point-of-view of the character with a disease/disability, you can write from the perspective of a caregiver. (Or both!) Make sure to delve into the details of what they have to do every day for their job, how they cope with what they see and do, and what their lives are like when they are at home. Don't forget to mention the compassion they have for their patient/family member, as well as the stress they can feel. 

Thank you for your comment, David!


QUESTION: Have you written a story about a character with a disease or disability? How did you do it? What helped and inspired you?


SHARE: If there is anything you think I should add to this post, please tell me in my comments. There is only so much I can think of (I don’t pretend to be an expert) and I may have forgotten something. Thank you!


**In two weeks I will be discussing how to write about characters with personality/psychological disorders, so subscribe with your email so you don’t miss a single post! :)


Friday, January 24, 2014

Name the Day by Sherry Gloag / Book Blast

Title: Name the Day
Author: Sherry Gloag
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Astraea Press
Published: October 28th 2013

BLURB:

Renowned portrait artist, Samantha Brown is through with men. After dealing with an overbearing father and cheating ex-fiance, Samantha is not in the market for romance, of any kind. Give her a blank canvas, some paints and brushes and she’s in charge of her life. There was no room in her life for love, so why did she find herself giving in to Rafael Santini’s outrageous demand that she paint his portrait?

Satisfied with his upcoming marriage of convenience Rafael Santini isn’t in the market for love. So, how come he finds the pint-sized artist stirring up emotions he didn’t have time for?

An accident forces Rafael to re-evaluate his life and wonder whether he can teach Samantha the art of love.


BOOK LINKS:


EXCERPT:

Why couldn’t the stubborn man get it? She wasn’t giving him any favours at the expense of her other clients. In his case, money would not talk. Almost all her clients were well-heeled, but most understood the time restraints. After all, as she told each person, including Rafael Santini, who contracted a commission they wouldn’t want her to rush their painting and offer them a sub-standard product, would they?

“Give me the names of your clients and I will arrange to exchange places in your queue.” His unequivocal belief pulsed across the airwaves. Did the stupid man expect her to break the confidences of her clients?

“Tell me, Mr. Santini,” she asked in her most dulcet tone, “if I asked for a list of your clients would you hand them over, simply because I wanted something?”

“Don’t be stupid woman. It’s not the same thing at all. I’m a businessman.”

Would someone please save me from stupid arrogant men, Samantha offered in silent plea to the ether without expecting any response.

“I may not deal in electronics and communications systems, or equipment for the world of espionage, secret agents, and private investigators, Mr. Santini, but I do maintain a strict code of integrity and honour and customer confidentiality.”

“Why would you need confidentiality to daub a few colours on a piece of paper?”

Is this guy for real? Does he think insults and condemnation will get him what he wants?

“Let me get this straight. You want my agreement to let you queue jump the rest of my clients, who, incidentally have all signed contracts to be here on specified dates at specific times, and then you will be quite happy for me to go around publicizing the fact you are not only having your portrait done, but that you bullied, harassed and threatened me into agreeing to your terms? I don’t think so. Not to mention that in many cases the commission is usually a gift for someone special and total secrecy is not only expected it is essential.”

The silence at the other end of the phone was almost deafening.


BIO:

Best-selling author, Sherry Gloag is a transplanted Scot now living in the beautiful coastal countryside of Norfolk, England.  She considers the surrounding countryside as extension of her own garden, to which she escapes when she needs "thinking time" and solitude to work out the plots for her next novel.  While out walking she enjoys talking to her characters, as long as there are no other walkers close by.

Apart from writing, Sherry enjoys gardening, walking, reading and cheerfully admits her books tend to take over most of the shelf and floor space in her workroom-cum-office.  She also finds crystal craft work therapeutic.

Sherry loves to hear from her readers.  sherrygloag@gmail.com


AUTHOR LINKS:


Thank you for being a part of Write with Fey, Sherry! I am happy to have you!


QUESTION: What do you think of Samantha's and Mr. Santini's phone conversation?


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Words to Cut Out of Your Writing

In my recent post, How To Edit a Book, the second step says to “Cut it Out!” and refers to clich├ęs and passive voice, but there are words you should cut out of your manuscript too.

Here is a list of words I have accumulated over time from editors:

·         That

"That" is a word editors always warn against. “That” sneaks into a lot of sentences, but it’s not always necessary. Most of the time, you can delete “that” and the sentence will still have the same meaning but it'll tighter.

Example: She swore that it would never happen again.

Better: She swore it would never happen again.

·         Just, Only, Really

These three words clutter sentences. Once you eliminate them your sentences will be more assertive, and will sound better. With my own writing though, I do keep them in my character’s dialogue because these are words that people say all the time, I just try to limit them as much as possible. See . . . there’s that “just”! lol

Example: She just didn’t know what to do.   

Better: She didn’t know what to do.

·         Almost, Slightly, Seemed 

When something is “almost” or “slightly” it is boring! And if something or someone “seems” like whatever, you’re telling your readers there is a chance that they aren’t. But why?

Examples:
1.    Above the clouds, the sun was almost blinding. 
Better: Above the clouds, the sun was blinding.

2.    She was slightly mad. (Why not just make her mad?) 
Better: She was mad. (This is more thrilling!) 
3.    The world outside seemed quiet.                    
Better: The world outside was quiet. 

·         Perhaps, Maybe, Simply, Somehow

Natalie Goldberg, the author of Writing Down the Bones, says not to use modifiers, but to use clear, assertive statements to create more impact.

Example: She simply didn’t know what to do.

Better: She didn’t know what to do. (Do you see how much more assertive this sentence is? Taking out “simply” makes the sentence stronger.)

·         Absolutely, Basically, Actually

Once again, these three words clog sentences, and don’t provide extra meaning. If something is absolute, basic, or actual, you don’t have to add “absolutely”, “basically” or “actually”. Readers will get it; they’re smart. I will admit I use “actually” in dialogue, but I try not to overuse it.

Example: She was absolutely sure the killer had run into the woods.

Better: She was sure the killer had run into the woods. (See? This is just as absolute without “absolutely”.

·         Instead

Here is a word that I will admit, made me scratch my head when I heard writers shouldn’t use it, but when editors tell you to cut it out, you cut it out as much as possible! I’m sure I still have “instead” somewhere in my manuscripts, but there is far less than there were.

·         Now

If you are talking about the past and present it is okay to use the word “now”, but I’ve noticed in my writing that I used the word “now” often and it was unnecessary.

Example: Now stop it!

Better: Stop it!

TIP: If “now” is at the beginning of a sentence, no comma comes after it.

Avoid these phrases too:
·         sort of
·         kind of
·         a little
When describing something, readers don’t want “sort of” or “kind of”. They want to be sure! And they don’t want “a little”. They want it all.

Example: Her cut sort of hurt.

Better: Her cut hurt.




QUESTION: Are there any words you have learned to eliminate from your writing? Please share in case I have to cut them from my writing too! ;)



Monday, January 20, 2014

Online Marketing Symposium

Welcome to the first ever “Online Marketing Symposium”! Brainchild of Arlee Bird and hosted by Yolanda Renee, Alex J. Cavanaugh, and Jeremy Hawkins. Let’s give these four amazing bloggers a nice round of applause for bringing us such a remarkable opportunity to teach and learn.

The purpose of this blogfest is to share marketing ideas that worked for you or didn’t work at all. In doing so, you can help others successfully market their book or product.

For those of us who are just starting out, this is a wonderful way to gather bits of marketing gold that can help us to promote our books, or any other service we are offering. It can also warn us about those lumps of marketing coal that don’t seem to help at all. 


Since I am a first-time author I don’t have much marketing gold to offer. Actually, as a newbie, I have been struggling. I recently came out with my debut eBook, Hurricane Crimes, and I have been running around in circles trying to get my story out there. Meanwhile, my sales plummeted to the dungeons of Amazon’s ranking system.

Here is a summary of what I’ve tried:

I promoted on Goodreads by creating an event for the release, which did get me a wonderful response. Many of my Goodreads friends added my book to their TBR list and I am so grateful for that. I also made the announcement on my blog through an IWSG post, and thanks to all of you, I received many congratulations and a tiny spike in sales.

These are, so far, my most effective tools: Goodreads and my blog, where I can immediately connect with fellow authors and readers.

After that I made the announcement on my Facebook page. This gave me quite a few post likes, but it was my friends and family (just two, actually) who posted on Instagram and their FB profiles that garnered more of a response. Word of mouth is definitively an amazing tool.

While doing this, I orchestrated a blog tour. Some of my guest posts got a few comments and shares on FB and Twitter, but I am finding that many of them just remain at ZERO and don't increase my book sales. 

So far, the only blog that seemed to have an impact on sales was when I was a guest on Reading Between the Wines Book Club on January 5th and I offered a giveaway. The day my post went live I was at rank #693,685 on Amazon. Yes, really. I know, I know, that's sad. But the day after, I rocketed up to rank #178,960. Imagine my surprise, especially since my low ranking stopped me from checking it for a few days. My rank dropped after that, but it meant a lot of people bought my book January 6th and that is something! :D


Do you see that decline? Oh that was painful!

I have also heavily promoted through groups on Goodreads, Yahoo Loops, and discussions in other sites I am a part of such as She Writes. In the beginning, this seemed to work.

I have posted on Amazon forums too and received nada, which is probably because the majority of the people using these forums are other authors trying to promote their own books. So I would warn others that this could very well be a waste of time, as it was for me.

I also added my books to several book sites. Eight to be exact. After I created an account with ManicReaders.com I did notice a spike in Facebook visits. The other site that seemed to bring a smidge of hope to my promo efforts was Storyfinds.com. Hurricane Crimes was added to their Book Marquee feature and received some shares on FB.

Then finally came my five free days, which just ended on January 18th. I heavily promoted this because I’m not so much concerned about making money than getting my story in the hands of readers (or rather in their Kindles). To promote my free days I created an event on Goodreads, announced it on my blog and She Writes, submitted info about my eBook to many websites (only eleven actually posted something though), and shared the news on Yahoo Loops.


This is the picture I used to announce my free days on FB.

The results: By the time I had my free days my rank had dropped almost exactly to where it had been before the spike. I didn't even check the rank the night before my first free day, but that morning, before I even announced that Hurricane Crimes was free, I was at rank #7,273. All day it rose, much to my amazement. The morning of day two, it was at it's highest (or lowest) rank . . . #267. Hurricane Crimes reached #10 in the Top 100 Free Suspense books, making it an Amazon Best Seller (or freebie), which thrilled me to no end. It also cracked the Top 100 Free list for romantic-suspense at #22. After that, Hurricane Crimes clung to the low 400's, staying around #20 in the top free suspense books. Although I didn't make it into the top 100 Kindle books or #1 in free suspense books, I think I did good for a newbie. :)



This is so much better!

In the months to come I will be trying a few creative efforts on my FB page and blog. Thinking outside the box when it comes to marketing is the key. Instead of doing what all the other billions of authors are doing try your hand at something different. These ideas are the ones that can catch people’s attentions.

For more help, visit the hosts' blogs (above) for the list of people participating in this fest. Some of them may even give you chunks of marketing gold. ;)


SHARE: Your marketing tips.


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