How Important is Branding to an Unpublished Author or Published Author?

Website Author Banner

Branding, we’ve all heard of it. Products such as Tide with the large orange bottle, McDonald’s and those unforgettable golden arches, and then there is Chili’s and the green jalapeno pepper, to name a few. These and many more can be found in nearly every town, on TV, and on the web. Each of them has one thing in common: the use of color, shape, or item represents the company and products they sell.

How does this relate to an author, published or unpublished?

When a publishing house prints a book, the covers are unique to each book, but have you noticed that no matter how many books an author publishes with that line, the font of their name is (usually) the same? If the book is part of a series, regardless of what number it is, the main title will be the same, for example, the Harry Potter series.  The colors change from cover to cover, but the font remains the same.  This allows fans to find it when scanning the shelves of libraries and book stores. Think about it, do you read each and every name on the cover when looking for your favorite author, or do you allow your eyes to find the size, shape, and ever familiar font of the authors name to know you’ve found what you were looking for?

Did you know you don’t have to be a published author to develop your brand? I established mine before I began querying.

Let me tell you how…

In 2010, upon the advice of those around me, I started a blog. The point of blogging was to help me improve my writing skills. The experience taught me how to engage an audience and receive feedback and participation through comments. And while I was nowhere near ready to publish anything I wrote, I did build a following. The more I shared my experiences, the more people followed my blog. I also established connections via popular social networking sites, such as Twitter and Facebook.  Visitors to my blog connected with me online, and online connections started visiting my blog. It was months before I upgraded my online presence ‘picture’ from a downloaded image of a heart and book to being brave enough to show my face.  And wouldn’t you know it, the moment I put my picture up, my following on all platforms increased!

Without realizing it, my face became a part of my brand. No matter what social networking site I am attached to, you’re going to find the same picture, same name…easy recognition.

Next came creating a brand, or theme, for the books. The Butterfly Memoirs series is a Contemporary Romance novel that features interracial couples dealing with real life issues. I knew from the moment I started writing my covers would not have the typical Man/Woman embarrassing or half naked. I like symbolism in my stories and I carry that theme in my covers. The series covers will always consist of two main elements, a butterfly to symbolize the female character as well as the image of something that represents the male character in the book.

As for the series itself, I have a logo of a butterfly imprinted into a wax seal that says ‘The Butterfly Memoirs’ and my name, thus branding the series. So anytime you see my picture, logo, or book cover, you’ll know it’s me.

Though you may not be writing a series, you still need to build a brand for yourself and for your audience. Here are a few simple tips, and the best part, they don’t cost a thing!

Branding your online image:

Here are a few tips on taking an author picture without spending a lot of money. Remember, your picture introduces you to your readers. As they say, a picture says a thousand words!

  • Photography equipment: If you can’t afford a professional headshot, take advantage of the features of your digital camera or cell phone camera.
  • Setting: Plain back grounds or simple settings work best. The key is to engage with the reader, not have them wonder where you were when the picture was taken.
  • Wardrobe: Keep it simple! Use solid colors that compliment you. Keep away from strips and patterns because they are distracting. Ladies, keep that jewelry simple, guys, don’t forget to shave or tighten up that hair cut! (Of course, if grungy or over the top is what you’re going for as your ‘persona’, have fun!) *TIP: If you study my picture, you’ll see I wear a butterfly ring that is facing the camera and not away. I am pulling my book/series brand into my image. It’s subliminal branding!
  • Posing: Be comfortable! Don’t try some awkward pose that will translate pain in your eyes though your lips are smiling. Be natural, focus on the camera, and imagine you’re looking directly at your reader. Keep your mind clear…negative thoughts will translate through your facial features no matter how hard you try! Sell yourself!
  • Editing: When done, upload your picture and crop it to take out any blank spaces, once again, the focus should be on you. Readers want to know who YOU are. Off centered images with dead spaces are distracting as well as poor lighting.
  • Sharing: Now that you have your picture, share it with the world! Post it on all of your networking sites so readers will recognize you, no matter where they are! Most people recognize and remember faces before names. If you have one picture on Facebook, and another on Twitter, and yet another on Google+, fans will be unsure if it’s you. Keep it uniform! If at any time you change or update your photo, be sure to change it on all of your sites. **Ignore the urge to change it up every few weeks! Even though your name may be sitting beside the image, people recognize faces before names. Again, it’s branding! After all, McDonald’s doesn’t change the color or shape of their golden arches!**

Branding your style as an author:

  • Your writing style and the way you give voice to your characters is a part of your brand. Read books from two of your favorite authors. Notice how the authors writing style/voice varies from one another, yet, when you read more than one of their books, each of their stories have a similar tone, speech pattern, or even use of particular phrases that distinguishes their writing style from someone else’s. So should yours.
  • Interactions with fans on social media can make or break you. How many times have you come across offensive, political, or highly opinionated posts or tweets that have offended you or left you with a sour taste in your mouth about the commenter? Everyone is entitled to their opinions, but beware of using your social presence as a showcase for your opinions. Readers now have access to you online and will pay close attention to what you have to say. Make your post count. There are times to joke; there are times to be professional. There are times when your fingers need to be still on the keyboard and you avoid addressing a comment, even if it stings. The last thing you want to do is turn off a fan due to your political views or personal feelings. Instead, use your online presence as a way to build your fan base, sharing information about you, your books, and upcoming projects. Fans these days love author/reader interaction. As Indie authors, we have a chance to do what many NYT Bestsellers can’t…talk to our fans on a regular bases. Readers love it!
  • Make your online presence known. Websites are the home base of your brand, the place where a reader can be directed and learn everything about you. This can be done one of two ways: 1.) pay for a professional website or 2.) Take advantage of free website tools and build your own. Sites such as WordPress.com, Blogger.com, and Wix.com, to name a few, offer free blog hosting. (I’ve used all three, and WordPress, which hosts this blog/website, is by far the best!) All you have to do is create an account. This takes time and patience, but can be an educational and rewarding experience. Keep your site professional with links to all of your social networking sites, products (remember, your book is a product), and any merchandise (free reads, etc.) The more work you put into it, the more people will be drawn back to it to see what’s new. Don’t publish content and step away. Website maintenance and fresh information is a must in order to keep your readers coming back. Your website represents you 24/7, even when you are not online. Content should include: a picture, a well-written bio, (remember, you’re an author. It should be free of grammatical errors. If you have a poorly written bio, readers will hesitate to purchase your books because they feel they will be written the same way), all sales links and links to social sites where they can find, follow, or contact you. Your site should also include information about your books (book blurbs), and a sample of your work for them to read.

I know it sounds daunting and like a lot of work, and believe me it is! The point of all of this is you’re a writer and it’s what you love. In order to be successful, you have to put in the work. Marketing and discovering your brand is all about knowing who you are and how you want your writing perceived. By the way, I’m not telling you something that I haven’t done. Everything you see on this site was done by me and it took weeks! But it was well worth it! J

#WriterWednesday- Interview with Dianne Harman!

Today I welcome author, Dianne Harman. Grab your coffee, sit back, and get to know her!

Dianne Author Pic

Welcome, Dianne!

What inspired you to write?

I’d always wanted to write but I didn’t feel that I had enough credentials, you know, the how many workshops have you attended, how many writing groups are you in – and then my husband gave me Stephen Kings seminal book, On Writing. It gave me the freedom to just do it.

What genre do you write? Did you choose it, or did it choose you?

I really struggle with that question because I just don’t have an answer. My first book, Blue Coyote Motel, has been called a romance, a mystery, a thriller, a travel story, Americana, Alfred Hitchcockian and Twilight Zone like. Other than a basic premise and a couple of characters who immediately fit in the book, the rest evolved.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

Blue Coyote - Dianne Harman for ad2I generally split my time between writing, marketing and editing and re-editing.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I sit down and write. I have a very general idea of what the plot is and where it’s going, but what I find is that the characters begin to take over the story and tell me where it’s going. It’s fun because I get to read a novel while I’m writing it!

Are your stories based on experiences based on someone you know, or are events in your own life reflected in the characters/stories you write? Can you share and example?

I think if writers were honest, and if they’re writing contemporary fiction, there is going to be an element of their experiences in the novel. Two examples come to mind.  In Blue Coyote there is a scene where Jill treks to the Mani Rimdu festival in Nepal. I did that and it was one of the more interesting experiences in my life. In Tea Party Teddy, the main character is a composite of many of the Senators and Assemblymen I came to know when my husband was a California Legislator.

Do you have any suggestions to help new authors become a better writer? If so, what are they?

Edit, edit and re-edit. Ask people to be Beta readers and ask for feedback from them. We often are so caught up in our slant of the book that we miss things that will make it better. There’s a tendency not to share our writing, kind of like what if someone said your firstborn was ugly, but it’s critically important to get feedback.

Are you self-pubbed, indie pubbed, or traditionally pubbed?

Tea Party Teddy by Dianne Harman ebooksmI am self-pubbed. A mentor of mine was very strong about self-publishing since he had lost a lot of money because he had gone with a publisher. I have complete control over everything and I make more money.

What are your current projects?

I am in the process of re-editing books two and three in the Coyote series as well as the sequel to Tea Party Teddy. I’m about halfway through a boomer novel about women and what they deal with as they begin the second stage of life, plus I’m playing with doing a series based on one of the characters in Tea Party Teddy, a private eye who has captured my imagination. But ask me tomorrow, it will probably change as something new captures my interest!

Connect with Dianne on these links!

Twitter     Facebook     Google+     Goodreads     Smashwords     Amazon     Email

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!

MJ

About Me     Twitter     Facebook     Google+      Goodreads     Linkedin     Email

 

#WriterWednesday- Interview with Chicki Brown!

This week I am happy to introduce you guys to one of my writing mentors, Chicki Brown! I met Chicki at Writer’s Workshop that was held at my local library in 2010 when I started writing. Chicki was kind enough to take me under her wing and bring me into her critique group, introducing me to several other very talented women. She guided me as I floundered around, trying to find my writing voice and style. This was just about the time she self-published her first book, Have You Seen Her? I’ve had the privileged of watching Chicki continue to grow as an author, friend, and mentor. So grab that cup of coffee and take a few moments to get to know Chicki Brown!

My Author Photo 

What inspired you to write?

Honestly, it was pure boredom. At the time I worked on a job that was so slow that I was desperate to find something to do to keep myself awake. When I’m bored, my mind wanders, and the idea for a short story about an interracial couple popped into my head. I hadn’t written anything in two decades, but once I started I couldn’t stop. That short story turned into a four-hundred-page manuscript I entitled, Lyrics. I never published the story, because it required too much work to make it publisher-ready.

What genre do you write? Did you choose it, or did it choose you?

I write contemporary romance, women’s fiction, and inspirational romance. There are the genres I read, so I suppose they chose me.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

 I get up around six AM, make a cup of tea and go through my e-mail and check my online sales numbers for the previous day. Next, I go to my social networks and respond to messages, retweet for followers and post book promos for the day. That all usually takes about two hours. Around eight o’clock, I’ll shut everything down, make my second cup of tea, read my Bible or daily devotionals and pray before I start writing.

For the rest of the morning I write/research, break for lunch then write until I have to break to fix dinner. After dinner I watch TV or read until I crash, because by then my brain is so fried I’m useless.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

This probably isn’t all that interesting, but I have to work with music. Complete quiet stifles my creativity. Vocals are distracting when I’m writing, so I listen to smooth jazz, New Age or classical instrumentals. When I work out in a public place, my headphones are standard equipment.

Are you a pantser or a plotter?

I am definitely a plotter. My normal process when I begin writing a new book is to start with a general outline, fill out character profiles for each of my main characters, find photos that represent what the characters look like, where they live, what they drive, etc. and create a collage. This helps me to keep everything fresh in my mind. Recently I even purchased a copy of Scrivener, a well-known writing software program to help me with my plotting ways.

MJ: I must say thank you again, Chicki, for staying on me about the panster thing! I remember numerous conversations on the phone and in your car about why I should stop flying by the seat of my pants and plot it out! When I did, I really did see a difference. Now I can’t write any other way!  J

Are your stories based on experiences or someone you know, or are events in your own life reflected in the character/stories you write? Can you share an example?

I have included some childhood memories in my stories and have thrown in a character or two based on someone famous. For instance, in Have You Seen Her? Dani Reynolds recalls happy days as a young girl with her family in Atlantic City, one of my father’s favorite places to take our family when I was young. In Hot Fun in the Summertime, Kinnik was loosely patterned after an infamous former video dancer who made a name for herself by sleeping with famous rappers and music moguls.

Do you have any suggestions to help new authors become better writers? If so, what are they?

I talk to a lot of aspiring authors online, and the main point I always try to stress is that being a published author is a business and it is a LOT of work, particularly when you are self-published. They will need to learn how to go from creative mode to analytical mode, from artist to businessperson in order to do the necessary e-book formatting, marketing, promoting, accounting tasks. As authors we thrive when we’re in the creative zone, but the business tasks can’t be ignored.

Getting the story down on paper is only the start. They need to learn as much about the craft and about the industry before they jump out there. Things are changing in the publishing industry at the speed of light, and if they don’t know what’s going on, someone will inevitably take advantage of them.

If they understand the basics of their genre and sub-genre and the basics of how the publishing business works, they will have a much better chance at success.

MJ: Great advice! Yes, being aware that being an author is more than just writing, it’s about marketing and selling your product (yes, once it’s published, it’s a product!) and time management – and that’s before you add in real-life responsibilities – is something every aspiring author needs to know. Learning that too late can make the dream of becoming a published author turn into a quick nightmare! Thanks for the warning! J

Are you self-pubbed, indie pubbed, or traditionally pubbed?

After trying to go the traditional route for almost ten years, I made the decision to self-publish. Back in 2008-2009 I had been following the rise of electronic publishing and was fascinated by author Joe Konrath’s Great E-book Experiment (http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2009/08/great-ebook-experiment.html.)  The more I learned about his success, the more I wanted to try it for myself. I released Have You Seen Her? which was actually the sixth book I’d written, onto Kindle in 2010. It became my bestselling book up until the release of Ain’t Too Proud to Beg.

What are your current projects?

 I had an idea about writing a family story about a large family with several sons. As I began searching online for pictures that represented my idea of each of the sons, I ended up with eight men that looked similar enough to be related. Eight was too many, so I cut it back to six and decided that each brother would have his own story.
The patriarch of the Stafford Family is a successful doctor who wanted all of his sons to follow in his footsteps. Three of them went into medicine. The youngest has just finished college with an undergraduate degree focusing on pre-med courses, but is still undecided about making medicine his life. Only two of them went against the grain – Greg, who became an on-air television host and Marc, who went as far from traditional medicine as he possibly could.

A Woman’s Worth, the first book in the series, is Marc Stafford’s book. He is a personal trainer and raw vegan who lives in Las Vegas.

AWW REVISED COVER

When Marc comes home to Atlanta for the first time in four years for a family celebration, he meets Gianne Marvray, a woman who hijacks his heart. He soon discovers she’s recovering from a catastrophic illness and that she is his father’s patient. I can’t tell you too much more without giving spoilers. J I anticipate a late summer release

Where can readers find you online?

Blog      Twitter     Facebook     Amazon Central Author Page     Pinterest

Thank you so much for stopping by!

MJ

#FeatureFriday: New Release! Unexpected Admirer by Bernadette Marie

For the lovers of Bernadette Marie’s series, Aspen Creek, the wait is over! The second novel in the series, Unexpected Admirer, is out today! Check it out!

Unexpected Cover

The bright lights of stardom are sometimes too bright.

Jesse Charles, the chart topping, pop-sensation has fallen head over heels in love with small town biology teacher Melissa Mathews. However, not only does their age difference worry her, she’s a widowed mother of a young son who needs her attention. But her unexpected admirer isn’t one to give up so easily. He’s willing to give up everything just to make them a family and settle in her home town—but his manager and mother have a different opinion.

Jesse will have to convince Melissa that he can be the perfect husband and father before he loses her—and loses his career over stories circulated by the easily persuaded media.

Excerpt:

A crowded arena on a weeknight was not where Melissa Mathews wanted to be. She’d spent her day teaching thirteen-year-olds the fundamentals of biology, attended a staff meeting, and drove an hour to Grand Junction. She was beat.

But when she looked over at her son, who stood next to her, his grin as big as the sun, she knew she’d recuperate. After all, it was her fault they were standing with thousands of people who chanted Jesse Charles’s name. She’d won the tickets to see the pop star on the radio. The show had been sold out for months, and she didn’t have the funds to take her son anyway.

It was a mystery to her why he even wanted to go. Jonah was a huge Jesse Charles fan, but Melissa wasn’t. Oh, he seemed to be a fine role model, but between her son playing his music morning and night and the kids at school incessantly talking about him, Melissa could care less about the man.

And the night was just beginning. No, she couldn’t have just won some general admission tickets. She won the whole package. A nice dinner at a local restaurant. Front row tickets to the show. And what would a night like this be without meet and greet passes for later.

Jonah was in heaven.

Melissa was in a teenager-fueled hell.

Jesse Charles paced back and forth in his dressing room. He’d been performing since he was ten, professionally since he was fourteen. However, stage fright was a real thing and he had it bad.

His assistant, Bryce, was busy taking notes and talking on his cell phone in the corner. He’d thought his manager would take the time to fly to Colorado to catch the show, but again, he was busy with his own, fantastic life.

Jesse let out a sigh. His career was nothing less than spectacular. He was the number one recording artist in America, and the world had taken note.

But at twenty-five, Jesse Charles was tired.

Melissa fidgeted with the backstage pass around her neck. The woman at the radio station had told her to keep it under her shirt. She’d seen people mobbed over them. It was killing Melissa to have it pressed against her skin, but the last thing she needed was to have it ripped from her neck. Jonah hadn’t been happy about tucking his in either, but he’d done it. What did it matter anyway? He was going to meet his idol. All Melissa could hope for was to be in bed before two a.m. and that maybe Friday would be quiet for the middle-schoolers she’d have to teach—but she knew better than that.

The lights in the arena dimmed, and the crowd around her went wild. She looked over at her son. An enormous smile permeated his lips. He hadn’t been so happy in a very long time. Melissa owed him this night. She put her arm around him and gave him a squeeze just as the arena filled with lights of all colors. A whine of a guitar pierced her ears, and from the center of the stage in a smoke-filled cloud, Jesse Charles emerged in all his glory.

She had to admit, the atmosphere was infectious. Girls swooned and screamed. Jonah clapped his hands and sang along with the songs she was familiar with, but she didn’t know the words. Never would she have expected to enjoy herself, but among Jesse Charles’s fans, she was happy too.

The show was loud and spectacular—and never ending.

Melissa looked down at her watch for the third time. The show was moving into its second hour, and the man hadn’t taken a break. He’d sung and danced the entire time—he had endless energy. She, on the other hand, was exhausted.

Melissa scanned the crowd. She was sure she was the only person aware of the time. She looked back up at the stage, and at that moment, she was sure her eyes connected with Jesse Charles’s. The very moment hit her.

She diverted her eyes. Certainly he was that good of a showman to make the entire audience feel as though they were the only ones in the room.

It wouldn’t be long before she’d be right in front of him, shaking his hand. But that was all for Jonah. She wasn’t interested. She was sure he’d say hello, sign a picture, and move on to the next person. Yes, that would be how it would go. She told herself there really hadn’t been any eye contact. Thousands of scantily clad girls screamed his name. If he had seen her, it was probably a look of disgust for someone so average in his crowd.

Jesse Charles went about belting out the song of the moment. He danced his way to the side of the stage, motioned to someone, and without missing a beat, he was back at center stage making the crowd go wild.

A few minutes later, Melissa felt a hand on her shoulder.

“Ma’am, would you mind coming with me?” An enormous man with a security shirt was standing next to her.

“I’m sorry,” she yelled over the music. “Did I do something wrong?”

“If you wouldn’t mind just coming with me.”

He was trying to guide her away from her seat. “My son!”

She reached for Jonah and grabbed hold of his arm and then quickly picked up their coats.

As she followed the man, another security guard stepped in behind them. Jonah moved up closer to her.

“Where are we going?”

“I don’t know.” She reached out for the man in front of her as they headed toward the side of the arena. “Sir, where are we going?”

“I’ve been asked to take you backstage.”

Melissa let out a breath. “Is this for the meet and greet?”

“No.” The guard narrowed his gaze on her.

“Oh, we have passes.” She pulled the pass from under her shirt.

“No, ma’am, this has nothing to do with that. Mr. Charles would like to sing to you. He’s requested you on stage.”

Certainly there was some kind of mistake. The radio station hadn’t said anything about getting on stage.

Her heart pounded faster than the rhythm of the song blaring thought the arena.

Jonah had grabbed hold of her hand. “Mom! He wants to sing to you!”

“I don’t like this.”

The men were leading them down a corridor The music was muffled, but as they turned the corner, she could see the stage and Jesse Charles was only a few feet in front of them, performing for thousands.

“What if I don’t want to do this?”

The security guard gave her a shrug.

Jonah stepped between them and looked up at her. “Mom, this is fun. Go.”

When did a ten-year-old tell his mother what to do? But then she noticed the glimmer in his eyes and the smile that still turned his lips up at the corners. She couldn’t let him down.

She handed Jonah her coat, straightened her clothes, and ran her fingers through the wild curls which went every which direction. This had to be some kind of a joke for the superstar. What a mother wouldn’t do for the joy of her child.

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Interview with Doug Simpson!

Today I introduce you to fellow 5 Prince Publishing author, Doug Simpson.  Besides being the only male author with 5 Prince Publishing (for now!), he also takes a totally different approach to storytelling.

Launch Day for 5 Prince Publishing Author Doug Simpson!

Welcome, Doug!

What inspired you to write?

That is not exactly a short story, but here goes.

Over thirty years ago, my wife introduced me to one of America’s almost-lost miracle-men. His name was Edgar Cayce. He is regarded by many scholars in the field as America’s legendary mystic. Edgar gave over fifteen thousand psychic readings in a self-induced, trance-like state. His trance state was so deep that, in the early days of his amazing medical readings, a group of doubting Doctors performed their own sadistic experiments on him to prove he was duping his clients. One Doctor took his pocketknife and slid it fully under one of Edgar’s fingernails. He never reacted and there was no blood. Another sadist poked a hatpin right through Edgar’s cheek. He never reacted, but there may have been a drop of blood. But, as you can imagine, when Edgar came out of his trance state, all hell broke loose!

As amazing as the medical readings were, it was Edgar’s life or reincarnation readings that seized my attention.  Some two thousand real live individuals, or their guardians, requested approximately twenty-five hundred life readings where they were given information on a few of their previous incarnations, specifically those ones which were significant to their understanding of the reasons for their souls selecting the particular bodies that they resided in, in their current incarnations. Reincarnated souls that appeared in Edgar’s readings went as far back as the days of Adam and Eve, and included the souls of Mary Magdalene, Thomas Jefferson and Martha Washington, to name just a few.

If you are curious, visit my website at http://dousimp.mnsi.net and you can access the articles I have written on these three historical characters, and many others.

After years of researching the Edgar Cayce readings, I ‘had’ to verify my beliefs so I enlisted the services of a licensed hypnotist and experienced four past-life regression sessions, uncovering a number of my past lifetimes.

Now one hundred percent convinced of reincarnation, I commenced to write my reincarnation articles in 2010, using the Edgar Cayce readings. I parlayed my knowledge and experience and, with some helpful guidance from the other side along the journey, wrote my first novel, Soul Awakening, Book I of the Dacque Chronicles. It is a work of fiction but was inspired by a series of actual events. Probably all of the major events reported in Soul Awakening have been experienced by me, by individuals I know, confided to me or individuals I know, or were revealed in the Edgar Cayce readings. Four of the incarnations uncovered by the characters in Soul Awakening are my actual past lifetimes, right down to the name and location.

 What genre do you write? Did you choose it, or did it choose you?

I guess we have to call it mysteries, but it also touches on spirituality, paranormal and fantasy. Apparently it chose me.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

I am retired, so I am able to write whenever I have free time and am in the proper mood.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

Whenever I get stuck or do not know where the story is going next, I am convinced that I am sent the answers from souls on-the-other-side. It has happened many times now, where I wake up in the morning with solutions I had never even imagined before I went to bed.

Are you a pantser or plotter?

Definitely a pantser! I have not written a book yet that concluded where I planned it to. Somebody always kidnaps the story on me.

Do you have any suggestions to help new authors become a better writer? If so, what are they?

I consider myself a totally unorthodox writer so I would never try and tell others how to write. The one piece of advice I would pass along is do not get discouraged by rejections and criticism and instead make them feed your determination to improve and succeed.

Are you self-pubbed, indie pubbed, or traditionally pubbed?

I am now traditionally published by a fairly new but determinedly progressive publisher out of Colorado, called 5 Prince Publishing.

What are your current projects?

Last week I forwarded the completed manuscript for Soul Connections, Book IV of the Dacque Chronicles, to my editor at 5 Prince Publishing, and immediately commenced writing Abandoned Soul, Book V of the Dacque Chronicles.

Want to know more? Connect with Doug at the following links:

 Twitter      Facebook      Google+      Goodreads     Blog     Website     Email

SoulAwakening-Cover5PP-Final (2)Soul Awakening 

Soul Awakening is a spiritual mystery/romance story involving the discovery of reincarnation and the past lifetimes of a group of individuals. It is a work of fiction, but was inspired by a series of actual events that were experienced by the author or other individuals known to the author. It involves the apparently accidental, though actually orchestrated by Divine Intervention, meeting of three total strangers, and their ultimate discovery that they shared previous lifetimes together. It includes episodes of spirit communication, messages from God, past-life regression sessions, Guardian Angels, past-life recall in the awake state, and Soul Attraction, which is the reincarnation of groups of souls together, in more than one lifetime, in order to deal with uncompleted Karmic connections from previous lifetimes together.

Launch Day for 5 Prince Publishing Author Doug Simpson!Soul Rescue 

Dacque LaRose, the protagonist in The Dacque Chronicles, is a very unusual Good Samaritan who has been selected by the Heavenly Powers to assist Them in rescuing deserving souls in need of rescuing, no matter whether they still reside in human bodies or have departed from their human residences when the body passed away. Dacque’s soul has earned this exalted position as God’s helper through his exemplary actions and clean living throughout his numerous previous incarnations, as well as his current lifetime. To assist Dacque in carrying out these noble duties he has been bestowed with unique powers in this lifetime, powers which allow him to see and converse with spirits as well as receive direct messages from the Heavenly Powers.

Soul Rescue is the recounting of Dacque’s latest adventure where he is directed to the local children’s hospital to locate and assist the earth-bound spirits of five children stranded for many decades. Dacque is rewarded with three touching personal relationships throughout this adventure and a totally unanticipated surprise at the conclusion of his Heavenly assignment.

Soul Rescue is a fictional novel inspired by a series of actual events.

 

Soul MindSoul Mind 

Dacque LaRose, a genuine good-guy and Good Samaritan, was accustomed to being visited by and communicating with disembodied spirits as he carried out his occasional assignments received from the Heavenly Powers. His latest spirit visit went miles beyond anything he would have ever imagined. The spirit of a former acquaintance and recent murder victim joined Dacque one morning on his favorite park bench and asked him to assist in solving his murder as the local authorities were getting nowhere, through no fault of their own but due to a lack of any substantial evidence in the case.

Dacque had absolutely no idea how he could be of assistance in solving a murder, but he was accustomed to receiving his Heavenly assignments one installment at a time so he knew the steps he would be expected to follow would appear in due course.

Dacque’s new assignment proved exciting and educational as the spirit of the murdered acquaintance gladly explained to Dacque and his detective friend the inner workings of the Soul Mind or subconscious mind.

Support and Sacrifice in a Relationship: When Dreams Are Not Your Own

(This was originally posted on The Butterfly Memoirs Blog on 8/7/12)

I found this article the other day and had to share: (for the full article, click the link below)

‘One of the key components of a relationship is the support that two people provide for each other, yet it is typically one of the most overlooked aspects of choosing the perfect mate. A relationship that is built upon mutual support will overcome just about any obstacles that two individuals encounter along the way.

Lack of support in a relationship can surface in many ways. It can be something as simple as a failure to be sympathetic when a mate has had a bad day at work, to the major support that is required when embarking on a new business endeavor or during life changing events. 

Support can take on many forms, but in the broadest sense, it is the willingness of two people in a relationship to lift and encourage each other to be the best that they can be. It is also the willingness for each of the individuals to be there for each other through both good and bad times.’ (For the rest of this article, visit WorldVilliage)

Looks. Personality. Goals. Sexual Attraction. All are important during the beginning stages of a relationship.

Over time, personalities clash, good looks fade, and the intense sexual attraction experienced in the beginning can simmer.

In A Heart Not Easily Broken, finding a supportive relationship is one of the key things that aids Ebony’s decision to ignore the color of Brian’s skin and focus on building a relationship.

“He’s persistent, that’s for sure. He kept after me even when I told him no. And he is a hard worker, not a slacker at all. He doesn’t use his love of music as an excuse not to work in the meantime. He’s very realistic about what he wants and is supportive of my dreams. That’s what I love most about him.”– Ebony Campbell when talking about her boyfriend, Brian Young.

It is because of this supportive and loving relationship, the two of them are able to make it through the tough trial they face.

So, do you support your significant other?

Do you go out of your way to help them reach their dreams? How important is it to you that your mate support your life goals? Be it a new job, a life changing career, or the decision to move away from their family and closer to yours. How important is it to you that you have their support in return?

MJ
 


#8Sunday- A Heart Not Easily Broken- Changes

Events in Ebony Campbell’s life have lead to drastic changes in her daily activities. No matter how much she tries to hide it, those close to her know something is up. Sometimes a  secret isn’t as hidden as you think…

Excerpt: 

Brian was right, Ebony had changed. Her hard work and dedication to her job were nothing new. But once he left, she started working harder than usual.

She ate, slept, worked, and talked to him when she could. But when it came to Kaitlin and me…

I could understand why she avoided us. After all, we were spending time with our boyfriends while she waited by the phone. And the three months without sex thing…damn.

####

BUY your copy of this Amazon Bestseller for $3.99 today! For REVIEWS, SAMPLE CHAPTERS, and LINKS of all formats…all with just ONE-CLICK! 

For more Sunday Samples, check out these other authors! Weekend Writing Warriors

Let’s Talk About It!: Women as Entrepreneurs

With today’s economy, jobs are scarce. No matter what the news reports as the number jobs available, you and I know it’s different when you walk outside your door. You can’t help but think, ‘Really? Where’s that at?’ Over the past few years, I have heard and seen countless numbers of friends who have lost their jobs due to company downsizing, budget cuts, and various other reasons. They have had to fight for unemployment and take jobs with major pay cuts in order to make ends meet. Or worse, if they still have a job, the amount of hours worked is cut drastically, reducing the amount of their take-home pay.

Let’s be real: having skills outside of just having a degree is what it takes to make it today.

Being able to make a living performing services no one thinks about and owning your own business while doing so is how many people are finding a way to pay their bills. Skills such as auto mechanics, auto glass technicians, artists, musicians, landscapers, maintenance, you name it, there’s probably a very talented and traditionally unemployed person who has the skill, could not find work with a big company anymore, and decided to open their own business.

Entrepreneurship is nothing new. Women have been entrepreneurs in jobs you may not have thought of: beauticians, cosmetologist, seamstresses, daycare providers, caterers, party planners, beauty consultants (Mary Kay, Avon), the list goes one.

And, in the case of Yasmine Phillips, Fashion Consultant.

Yasmine comes from a family of entrepreneurs. Her parents have owned a Bed and Breakfast Hotel for several years. They put her through college to get her Business Degree in the hope of having her take over the business when they retire. For the past three years, she’s been in charge of the second Phillips’ Family Inn, and has been responsible for training her brother, Brandon, to manage the third location that will be opening soon. She’s good at her job and loves working for her family.

But, hotel management is not what she wants to do with the rest of her life.

Like most of use, she aspires to do more than follow in her families footsteps. She has goals of owning her own business and helping women dress to look their best, no matter what the occasion. She gives back to her community by participating in the Dress for Success program for underprivileged woman looking to enter the job market, as well as private consultations for clients of the hotel where she works.

When Yasmine approaches her family with the idea of starting her own business, the results are not what she expects. Their lack of support leads her to having to rely on herself to see her dream to fruition. The choices she makes introduce the possibility of a future she’d given up on.

Jaded, Book Two of the Butterfly Memoirs, Available March 2013 from 5 Prince Publishing

 Autumn landscape

A devastating breakup leaves Yasmine Phillips in shambles. Unable to trust another man with her heart, she focuses on the one thing she can control—starting her own business.

 When her computer crashes, taking months of hard work with it, she must rely on computer genius Zachariah Givens to save her. A complete opposite of men from her past, she doesn’t expect the passion that ensues. But just as she finds happiness, she learns the truth about the other women in Zachariah’s life.

Get caught up before the next book comes!

Book One of The Butterfly Memoirs, A Heart Not Easily Broken! 

BUY your copy of this Amazon Bestseller for $3.99 today! For REVIEWS, SAMPLE CHAPTERS, and LINKS of all formats…all with just ONE-CLICK! 

Book Review: When Noonday Ends by Carmen DeSousa

When Noonday Ends coverFor all of you Carmen DeSousa fans who have read Land of the Noonday Sun, you’ve already meet and fallen in love with one of the supporting characters, Tom Turner, the best friend of Chad Wilkinson. As you know, Tom was not left in a happy place.  Per fan request , Carmen wrote another novel, just for him, and the fans!

In Land of the Noonday Sun, readers we meet several secondary characters that leave you guessing as to ‘whodunit’.  The writing is so masterful that it’s hard to decide who’s the real bad guy. Just when you think you’ve figured it out, some plot twist pops up sending you in another direction, or the character you thought was the bad guy ends up being saving the day. In this case, that was Tom (okay, that was a mini spoiler, but believe me, there’s enough unmentioned characters to keep you guessing!). Saving the day left him with a broken heart and alone. Not to mention a memory that will haunt him for the rest of his life.

Which brings us to When Noonday Ends, the second book in the Nantahala Series.

Tom Turner is an attorney just out of law school and in the process of getting his feet wet. He doesn’t have a long list of winning major cases under his belt, and quite frankly, would rather be doing something else than be an attorney. But as most of us have done in our lives, we follow the dreams our parents set before us and  look longingly at the job or dream that would make us happy. For Tom, it’s getting back to nature and doing the one thing he did as a college student in the summer: be a white water rafting guide at his best friend, Chad’s business, or better yet, hike the Appalachian Trail. Anything to get away from the memory that haunts him.

Who knew the opportunity to escape his life and find love with come with representing a beautiful woman who’s charged with attempted murder?

Weird, huh?

Once again, Carmen has written a story filled with colorful characters mixed with a beautiful back drop marred only by murder, mystery, longing, desperate decisions, and family secrets. If you love suspense, romance, and happy endings a character has to work for, pick up a copy today. You’ll be glad you did!

My rating: *****

Genre: Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense

Heat Level: ***(Just enough to get the heart racing and stir your imagination!)

Violence: PG

*** SPOILER ALERT!!! If you haven’t read Land of the Noonday Sun, you may want to stop here, buy it, then come back. You have been warned! *insert evil laugh here… 🙂 ***

Prologue

Sitting at the rear of the courtroom, Tom Turner’s mind wandered. One person after another approached the judge, claiming their innocence. He hated doing this, but the law firm where he worked required all new attorneys to accept hardship cases. To get your feet wet, they’d said.

Like his father before him, he’d chosen a career as an attorney. And for once in his life, his parents were actually proud of him.

Still, most attorneys spent their days off golfing. He couldn’t stand golf, but he’d give anything to be kayaking right now. Often he thought of changing careers, as his best friend Chad had done. He had thrown away four years of medical school to manage an outdoor store he’d inherited from his parents. Tom had always thought that it had been a stupid decision, but now he wondered. His best friend was married to a beautiful woman, had a son, and could kayak every day if he wanted.

What Tom really wanted was to take a few months off from life and hike the Appalachian Trail. After the year he’d had, he needed some time away from life—all life. But then, his parents would be disappointed, and he’d miss his niece, Samantha. His sister had been one of the wildest women he’d ever known. But since she’d had Sam, she’d finally settled down and was trying to be a good mother. Being a single mother wasn’t easy, and Michelle needed him. If only to give her at least one night a week to unwind.

Tom threw his head back and closed his eyes. Just the smell of the courthouse was grating on him today. The oil they’d used on the old wooden floors was giving him a migraine.

“No contest, Your Honor.” A soft country voice roused him from his brooding.

Tom forced his eyes to focus on the woman standing in front of the judge. It couldn’t be. The smooth blond hair, that beautiful country voice. Brandy? He shook his head to clear it. Brandy was dead; he’d shot her more than a year ago.

####

Yep, you read that right, he killed someone!!! To find out what happened, read Land of the Noonday Sun. If you’d rather get straight to Tom,  buy When Noonday Ends.  But I tell you, both stories go hand in hand. Happy reading!!!

Now available in print and eBook formats:

 

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

iTunes

Amazon UK

3 Books

***For more information about When Noonday Ends, Land of the Noonday Sun, and other books bestselling books by Carmen DeSousa, visit her blog!***

New Release by Carmen DeSousa!

While Carmen does not write “Christian” books, she does share her characters’ Christian beliefs. Her characters are real people who come with real flaws; no perfect people allowed.

 She characterizes her stories as modern-day fairytales, as they are overflowing with romance, mystery, suspense, and of course, tragedy. After all, what would a fairytale be without a tragic event setting the stage? All of her novels are sensual, but not erotic, gripping but not graphic and will hopefully make you cry, laugh, love, and hope.

Her first two novels, She Belongs to Me and Land of the Noonday Sun, have reached bestseller status right alongside Nicholas Sparks, J.D. Robb, and other great authors. Her third novel, Entangled Dreams, is now available.

All of her novels are standalones; however, she does link each of her stories with a little surprise. If you read out of order, you’ll never notice. But if you read in order, it’s fun.

Carmen loves talking about all things books, so please connect with her via one of the links below.

Website

Twitter

Facebook

Goodreads

Interview with Denise Moncrief!

Today I welcome another talented author with 5 Prince Publishing, Denise Moncrief, as she shares a bit about herself, her writing process, and wonderful advice for aspiring authors!

Denise Moncrief author pic

 Welcome, Denise!

What inspired you to write?

I began devouring every book I could get my hands on in high school. I’ve been a prolific reader ever since. All of that reading has fed my imagination. For years my daydreaming made me feel somewhat guilty. I had no problem imagining myself in other places, with other people, doing other things. One day I got the idea of channeling all my daydreaming into a manuscript. That was nine, maybe ten years ago, and since then I’ve been writing practically non-stop with only a few short sabbaticals due to a recalcitrant muse refusing to cooperate and give me a fresh spurt of inspiration.

What genre do you write? Did you choose it, or did it choose you?

I started writing romance, but I found an element of suspense slipped into the plot line every single time no matter how I manipulated my characters and their actions, so the suspense genre grabbed my imagination and wouldn’t let me go. I love suspense and that’s what I write.

I bend and blend genres. My stories are usually suspense and _________. My daughter tells me I can’t write anything without including at least one dead body in the story line. Well, I don’t know, maybe that’s true. Aside from traditional suspense plot lines, I find there’s an element of suspense in any conflict, a moment when the breath catches. I strive to portray that one thing in any situation that will affect the heart rate, tug at emotions, and make the reader anxiously turn the page to read what happens next.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

I have a part time accounting position, so my weekday mornings are spent crunching numbers, but once I get home I divide my time between taking care of my family and pursuing my career as a writer and editor. My evenings are split between writing, editing, and marketing. Lately, it’s been difficult to squeeze working on my current work in process between editing and promotion deadlines, but thankfully, the new manuscript is within 5,000 words of being complete. I’ve never been a scheduled writer, writing for a certain amount of time at the same time every day. Now, that I’ve also been hired as an editor, I’ve had to schedule chunks of time to get alone and write for several hours at a time. If I don’t do that, the editing and marketing pursuits will swallow all my free time. So it’s definitely become a balancing act.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

Hum…A writing quirk? Am I quirky? I’m not sure about that. Well, I don’t write in my polka dot pajamas, sip herbal tea, or listen to any particular style of music. I don’t have to have the house quiet either. I put on a pot of coffee and slip into my most comfortable jeans and a t-shirt. I might write on my bed or at my desk or on the sofa in the living room. Perhaps my biggest quirk is that I don’t do rough drafts. I’m probably obsessive compulsive or a raving perfectionist or something. I edit as I go because I can’t stand the thought of overlooking something that needs a tweak. I’ll write a few chapters and then edit. Write a few more and reread from the beginning, editing as I go. I find this gives me a greater sense of continuity and helps me fine-tune my plot and my characterization.

Are you a pantser or plotter?

I imagine the opening scene of the story and decide how the story will end. Between the beginning and the ending, I am a certified pantser. I let the plot evolve as it goes along, letting my characters and their developing personalities decide what to say and how to react in any given situation, as long as they get to the end of the story right where I want them to go.

Are your stories based on experiences of someone you know, or are events in your own life reflected in the characters/stories you write? Can you share an example?

No, I can’t think of any instance where I’ve based a plotline on my own experiences or the experiences of anyone I know personally. However, the underlying theme of all my stories is forgiveness and reconciliation. I heard someone say one time that unforgiveness is the poison one drinks with the hopes of injuring someone else. I believe this to be very true. I’ve experienced personally how destructive unforgiveness can be, not only to the offender, but to the offended.

Do you have any suggestions to help new authors become a better writer? If so, what are they?

I remember well my first rejection. I submitted a series of four stories to a publisher. He very kindly suggested I should continue to hone my skills by perhaps going to a writer’s workshop. It was an excellent piece of advice, because I did as he advised and realized how much I didn’t know about the craft of writing. That was years ago. An author should never believe he or she has learned all there is to know about the art and craft of writing.

Commonly accepted style evolves and changes over the years. Be aware of trends. The trends readers preferred ten years ago might not be what keeps a reader’s interest today. For instance, a common trend is to use as few he said/she said type dialogue tags as possible, replacing the tag with action beats.

When you finish writing your baby, after pouring all your heart and soul into plot and characterization, put the manuscript aside for a few days and then come back to it. Read it aloud with the critical ear of a reader, not the emotionally attached heart of a writer. The exercise often reveals glitches in the flow of the narrative.

There is an abundance of information and guidance available to aspiring writers on how to hone writing skills. Not all suggestions work for every writer. Research editing and writing. Read blogs and books on the subject of writing. Build relationships with other writers. A writer should test different approaches and find out what works best for her. For instance, I’ve read more than once that a writer should write straight through a rough draft, then go back and edit. This approach clearly doesn’t work for me.

Are you self-pubbed, indie pubbed, or traditionally pubbed?

I have been published or have been contracted by three wonderful indie publishers, Still Moments Publishing, 5 Prince Publishing, and Crooked Cat Publishing.

What are your current projects?

My last single tile release was Deceptions of the Heart, a full-length paranormal romance suspense novel from Still Moments Publishing. Crisis of Identity is romance suspense with a humorous bite, scheduled for release this week from 5 Prince Publishing. My current work in process is paranormal romance suspense set in the Pacific Northwest of the United States with the working title The Memory Catcher.

My full library at Still Moments Publishing, including Deceptions of the Heart, can be purchased at http://www.stillmomentspublishing.com/p/ebook-store.html, Amazon, Barnes and Noble Nook, Create Space, or Smashwords. My new release, Crisis of Identity, when it becomes available this week, can be purchased at http://www.5princebooks.com/buy.htm and Amazon.

CrisisOfIdentity

Tess Copeland is an operator. Her motto? Necessity is the mother of a good a con. When Hurricane Irving slams into the Texas Gulf coast, Tess seizes the opportunity to escape her past by hijacking a dead woman’s life, but Shelby Coleman’s was the wrong identity to steal. And the cop that trails her? He’s a U.S. Marshall with the Fugitive Task Force for the northern district of Illinois. Tess left Chicago because the criminal justice system gave her no choice. Now she’s on the run from ghosts of misdeeds past—both hers and Shelby’s.

Enter Trevor Smith, a pseudo-cowboy from Houston, Texas, with good looks, a quick tongue, and testosterone poisoning. Will Tess succumb to his questionable charms and become his damsel in distress? She doesn’t have to faint at his feet—she’s capable of handling just about anything. But will she choose to let Trevor be the man? When Tess kidnaps her niece, her life changes. She must make some hard decisions. Does she trust the lawman that promises her redemption, or does she trust the cowboy that promises her nothing but himself?

 Buy your copy today!!!

Author Bio:

Denise wrote her first story when she was in high school—seventeen hand-written pages on school-ruled paper and an obvious rip-off of the last romance novel she read. She earned a degree in accounting, giving her some nice skills to earn a little money, but her passion has always been writing. She has written numerous short stories and more than a few full-length novels. Her favorite pastimes when she’s not writing are spending time with her family, traveling, reading, and scrapbooking. She lives in Louisiana with her husband, two children, and one very chubby dog.

Connect with Denise on the following links:

Twitter   Facebook    Google+    Goodreads    Blog/Website   Amazon   Email   SmashWords