Sandra Danby – On adoption dynamics and work process (WIP interview)

Sandra Danby Author - photo Simon CooperWhen Sandra Danby contacted me for an interview, my first move was to check out her site and book covers. I ended up spending about an hour that I did not have there, drawn by the power of simplicity and her strong theme. Therefore, it’s with great pleasure, I feature Sandra and her work today.

Sandra Danby’s debut novel ‘Ignoring Gravity’ is just published and she is now writing the sequel ‘Connectedness’. Both novels examine how a person’s sense of identity is affected by adoption.

Sandra, thank you so much for being here. Before we talk about your WIP, why don’t you tell us a few things about yourself?  

If I could, I would write all day every day. And when not writing, I would be reading. It’s always been that way. I grew up on a small dairy farm at the bleak edge of East Yorkshire where England meets the North Sea. So I am a proud Yorkshire woman, tea drinker and tennis fan. When I am not writing, which I can do while drinking tea, I can be found reading a book or watching tennis on television.

Ignoring Gravity by Sandra DanbyExercise in lean writing: give us a synopsis of your current WIP in under 200 words.  

‘Connectedness’ – the second book in the series about ‘Rose Haldane: Identity Detective’ – features controversial artist Justine Tree. She is a Marmite artist: some love her emotional honesty, others say she is attention-seeking. Disapproving critics say her work could be done by primary school children with empty cereal boxes, fingertips and potato prints. Fans say her work has an emotional freedom that 21st century society could learn from, that she has unbuttoned the British stiff upper lip. But are the emotions Justine puts into her collages real? Truth or Lies: only Justine knows how and why she manipulates the truth.  So when she confronts her past and asks journalist Rose Haldane to find her lost baby, two strong personalities clash. Rose tries to untangle truth from lies in order to find Justine’s daughter who was given up for adoption when Justine was an art student. Justine, who has never told anyone she had a baby, is desperate to find her daughter but ashamed of the truth, desperate to have her daughter’s love but terrified she will find hate.

Connectedness will be published in late 2015.

This will make an interesting read! Are you happy with the pace of your work? Do you aim at a specific word count each day?

At the moment my writing has halted temporarily as I concentrate on promoting ‘Ignoring Gravity’, but I plan to return to ‘Connectedness’ in January 2015. I am a disciplined writer, which comes I think from 35+ years as a journalist. Writing is my job. I don’t have a specific daily word count and I don’t have a target word count for the book. My first draft of ‘Ignoring Gravity’ was 140,000! Through re-drafting and polishing, that finally came down to 99,000. I hadn’t targeted 99,000, I just polished the manuscript until it felt right.

Plotter, pantser or both?

Plotter, always a plotter. That’s the journalist in me again. But I have learned to plot loosely and let the story develop.

What’s your worst enemy in getting that first draft finished?

Easy, social media. Essential today for writers to promote their work. But it sucks the minutes out of a day.

Hear, hear. And if one is not as disciplined as you (that’s me!) then the writing time goes out the window. Have you ever experienced lack of inspiration or drive to write? If so, how do you motivate yourself?

Nope, never not wanted to write, never had writer’s block. I think my journalism training knocked that out of me years ago. When writing is your daily job, and you have a deadline and an empty page to fill, excuses don’t count.

Could we take a look at your workspace? Is there a particular place you find inspiring for writing?

Sandra Danby - where I writeThis is my desk in the attic of our house. I have no view as the loft windows are higher than my desk so all I can see is sky. I am the first in the house to know it is raining. My desk faces the wall and I have a huge whiteboard to which are stuck photos of my characters, inspirational notes and photos of locations. All my books are here, the bookcases are bulging and books are beginning to form piles on the floor. There is a sofabed as my study doubles as a bedroom for visitors, but I rarely sit on it. I did entertain ideas of sitting there, reading… but that has never happened. What else? A floor-standing fan as the room gets stifling hot in the summer, and a small electric radiator to keep me warm in winter. And my CD collection, I couldn’t do without my music. As I write this, Mozart is playing gently in the background. I always write to classical music – Mozart, Verdi, Karl Jenkins, Elgar, Holst – as I find lyrics too distracting.

Lots of wonderful light there! The concept whiteboard is a great idea! Now your workspace pic is pinned on my Featured Writers’ Workspace Board on Pinterest! Apart from Word and Google, do you use any other writing or research tools and apps?

I have read a lot of adoption/family history, books, mostly requested from my local library or in the Reading Room at the British Library. For ‘Connectedness’ I researched art, again lots of reading but also visits to art galleries in London. My favourites are Tate Modern, Tate Britain, The Royal Academy, and the Victoria & Albert Museum. I also watch specialist television programmes. Two key TV series for me are ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ and ‘Long Lost Family’ have been enormously helpful. And the BBC has excellent arts coverage.

How do you intend to celebrate writing “The End” on your draft?

No celebration planned, the end of the first draft is the beginning of the next stage of the writing process for me. I find it useful to take a break from the work in progress though, so at the end of the first draft I will write shorter fiction, perhaps some flash fiction, and get out more. Go to art galleries and the theatre! It’s also a great time to research the next book. I am always thinking ahead.

Which book publishing processes are you going to outsource and which are you confident enough to undertake yourself?

I am a writer, that is what I do best. I outsourced copy editing, manuscript formatting, front cover design, book trailer production, website design and e-mail marketing.

Do you have any marketing tips or favorite promotional sites you’d like to share?

Network like mad: blog, tweet, Facebook and share. Don’t bore people with constant requests to buy your book, social media is swamped by repetitive messages like that. And don’t just retweet other people’s original thoughts. Find an original way to communicate, tweet your own ideas and support other writers. There is a great network of mutually-supportive writers out there to tap into.

True words! Your blog can be found here. Do you follow a specific branding pattern with your posts or is it a free writing platform?

My writing blog has transferred in the last few weeks to a website promoting my books, but the content and purpose of my blog remains the same. I’ve been blogging on WordPress since February 2013, my new website is WordPress too. I blog about my thoughts on writing and the world of books. What other writers are saying and doing, I review books [new releases and classics] and publish some of my own short fiction. Writers’ BLOCKbusters is an occasional series offering solutions to get the creative juices started.

Is contemporary women’s fiction the genre you will stick to or do you see yourself branching out in the future?

Who knows what the future will bring. At the moment I am concentrating on the ‘Rose Haldane: Identity Detective’ series, with storylines planned for books three, four and five. Beyond that, I have ideas for two standalone novels set in Yorkshire.

Fun stuff now: Let’s do a rapid fire round.

  • Flavored sorbet or chocolate ice cream? Strawberry ice cream
  • Pizza or sushi? Sushi
  • Twilight or The Hunger Games? The Hunger Games
  • Ryan Gosling or Benedict Cumberbatch? BC of course.
  • Trek in the Andes or snorkeling in Tahiti? Trek in the Andes. I have flown over them, on the way to Santiago, Chile, and they look amazing.
  • Ugg boots or red-soled designer stilettos? Scruffy blue Converse

Finally, please share with us links where we can find you and your work.

Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ignoring-Gravity-Haldane-Identity-Detective-ebook/dp/B00O3D2PFI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1415632368&sr=8-1&keywords=sandra+danby

Website: http://www.sandradanby.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sandradanby

Facebook: www.facebook.com/sandradanbyauthor

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/sandradan1/

Watch the book trailer for ‘Ignoring Gravity’: http://youtu.be/jpzWKR4gx8I

Thank you, Sandra, and best of luck with your future projects!

 _____________

Fate Accompli is now out on Amazon in two heat versions. The links below will take you directly to your Amazon store.

Fait Accompli - Spicy version

Fate Accompli Spicy: getBook.at/FateSpicy

Fate Accompli Clean: getBook.at/FateClean

If you’d like to read the first chapters of Fate Accompli, they’re available on Wattpad. (Almost 2,000 views in one week!)

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Cherry and Almond cupcakes: a werewolf favorite by Kryssie Fortune

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and everyone’s mind (at least on the other side of the pond) are thinking about turkey, yams and all sorts of treats. Well, Kryssie Fortune, author of To Mate a Werewolf (Scattered Siblings Book 3)
wishes to add extra yumminess to your Thanksgiving table with her Cherry and Almond Cupcakes. Scroll down for an enticing excerpt of the book as well. Kryssie?

Hi, Kryssie Fortune here. I’ve popped over to share one of my latest heroine’s recipes. She’s spent the last two year running the Lykae armies’ mess, and she’s cooked her way into their werewolf hearts. I thought you might like a peak at one of their favorites.

Recipe for Cherry and Almond Cupcakes.

Cherry_and_almond_cupcakes

Ingredients (Makes 1 dozen)

For the cupcakes

5 oz softened butter
5 oz caster sugar
3oz self-raising flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
3 eggs – beaten with 1 teaspoon milk
2oz ground almonds
1 tablespoon milk at room temperature.

For the icing

8oz icing sugar
Strained lemon juice (Roughly 3 tablespoons)
12 glace cherries – rinsed and dried.

Muffin tray and lined with cup-cake cases.

Method

Preheat oven to 190C or gas mark 5
Beat the butter in an electric mixer until creamy
Add the other cupcake ingredients and mix again.
Once the mixture turns creamy, spoon into the case.
Bake for 15 to 20mins. V.
Once the cupcakes have cooled, mix the icing until smooth. Spread over the cupcakes and add a cherry to top of each.

While you are here, please take a look at my book.

Happy baking!

Kryssie Fortune

KF_to_mate_a_werewolf

 

Excerpt

She welcomed him with a smile and retied the turquoise ribbon in her hair. “I thought you were going to sponsor Ellie into the Tundra Tough pack. She might not be a shifter, but once the unattached males taste her cooking, she certainly won’t lack for suitors.”

Joel growled, angry at the thought of his pack mates pawing Ellie. His guilt hit him like a battering ram. He didn’t want her, but he hated the idea of other males—and most of them were all-right guys—courting her either.

Brotherly protectiveness, he supposed. Yeah, right. Who am I kidding?

Breathe. Smile. Get Pamela on my side. She’d make him a good lieutenant when she’d served her two-year stint in the forces. He shook his head. “She going to open a cake shop in the mundane world instead. She bribed a recruit with an apple pie, on condition he took her back to Whitby. I need someone to keep an eye on her, and it looks as though you’re it. Of course, I’ll pay you for your time.”

“Do I detect a guilty conscience, sir? I’ve been tight with Ellie. She’s got guts, and I certainly don’t need paying to be her friend.”

“Report to me as soon as you hear anything. Dismissed.” He saluted and returned to his quarters.

She grinned and flashed away. Whitby was a hotbed of otherworld connections, but without magic Ellie couldn’t use them. Much as Joel hated the new cook for pushing Ellie away, he hated himself more. If it wasn’t almost the new moon, and Ellie hadn’t run, he’d have kept his hands  to himself. . . maybe. They’d both enjoyed their steaming-hot sex, but he couldn’t sponsor one of his cast-off lovers into this pack. His unknown fiancée would be justifiably teed-off if he did.

Purchase Link: Amazon / Loose-id

Connect with the Author

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/kryssie.fortune

Twitter https://twitter.com/KryssieFortune

Thanks to Facebook book group https://www.facebook.com/foodcakesblogger for letting me raid their site for recipes.

________________________________________________

MM Jaye: Fate Accompli is now out on Amazon in two heat versions. The links below will take you directly to your Amazon store.

Fait Accompli - Spicy version

Fate Accompli Spicy: getBook.at/FateSpicy

Fate Accompli Clean: getBook.at/FateClean

If you’d like to read the first chapters of Fate Accompli, they’re available on Wattpad.

Time-saving Tips for using stockphoto sites (plus casting for Fate Accompli)

www.depositphotos.com - Picture by stockfoto-graf
http://www.depositphotos.com – Picture by stockfoto-graf

I’ll start with a fact: I’m a cover junkie. Whenever I’m browsing Amazon, and my eyes fall on a great-looking cover, I find my forefinger’s pad tingling to tap the “Buy with 1-click” button. And then I have to force myself to consider my monthly book budget; if it’s the beginning of the month, I’m toast!

When I decided to go down the self-publishing route, I knew that one of the perks was that I got to decide what my cover would look like. No generic stockphoto images that screamed “hot romance” would do for me—an established practice for the majority of romance imprints. I needed the characters I created, nourished and came to love to find the perfect casting, and the Casting Director job would be mine and mine alone. Plus, having no big publisher promoting me, I needed the resulting cover to stand out even in thumbnail size. The fact that ebook covers are seen by the majority of readers in a very small size, obscuring details should be seriously factored in when designing your cover.

Branding

Now, what makes a cover truly stand out? In my opinion, it’s a mix of originality and branding, or rather originality in branding.

Keywords

When branding a product, marketers say, the first thing you do is write down its keywords. Now, when we’re dealing with a genre-specific book, these keywords have to resonate the genre not the plot—think “small size”. For example, a major key concept of my novel is its location: Fate Accompli’s story has a Greek island backdrop so my keywords were “seascape”, “sunset”, “beach” and the general quality I went for was “stunning”—bold, striking colors.

Next step was to start browsing stockphoto sites, and, boy, there are a lot out there! You could try finding free images, and this is the best list of free image sources I’ve found, but I wanted a professional-looking cover, so I headed over to the pros. Here’s a list of the 18 top stock photo libraries which, however, does not include Depositphotos which, in the end, became my go-to site. (It offers a free photo or sometimes a free video to its subscribers every week!)

Tip Time: To save time, you can use Everystockphoto. It’s a search engine that will turn out both free and licensed images.

Stockphoto sites offer you different pricing plans: from daily or monthly subscriptions with varying downloading limits to pay-as-you-go credits or images on demand. Prices differ too. What’s common to all is the two types of licenses: standard and extended (or enhanced).

Tip Time: Any image used for a book cover requires a Standard License (the cheaper kind). Trust me, I got the info straight from the horse’s mouth.

So, coming back to my cover, my heroine’s red hair pointed me to a dawn or sunset color palette. It didn’t take me really long to locate this image, and it took my breath away.

Sunset Large

That image became Fate Accompli’s branding basis. I’ve created my Facebook and Twitter banners with that as a background as well as the header in my brand new YouTube channel.

Searching for characters

Introducing Monica

Monica is 24, holds an MBA, but she suffers from a type of emotional growth stunting. How else would you call the fact that the motive behind her determination to get an early degree with Honors stemmed from this crippling need to gain validation from a guy she barely knows? Her stepbrother’s (former) best friend? She hasn’t laid eyes on Alex in nine years, but he made such an impact on her in her teens, he became an omnipresent force in her life. And he doesn’t have a clue!

Monica is a redhead. Pleasant to look at but not a stunner. Young, fresh, likable, a young girl trying to find her identity while fighting traumas in a childhood that deprived her of her father and turned her mother into a trophy wife of a despot. The victim of incessant denigration, she’s naturally insecure but inherently optimistic. And strong.

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????
depositphotos.com Photo by khorzhevska

It took me hours upon hours of browsing to locate the right Monica. What I got when entering the basic keywords (young woman, redhead, portrait) were heavily made up women with a sultry look. I did locate her, however, on Shutterstock. And bought her in Large (sorry about the object reference, but I am referring to the image right now). Wrong move. The exact same image was available on Depositphotos for a cheaper price (or rather a cheaper plan). But, although I had searched there for hours, the same keywords hadn’t turned up that image.

Super Tip Time: If you find an image on a stockphoto site, and you want to check if the same image is available on other sites, possibly cheaper, you can right-click on the image, choose ‘Search Google for this image’ and bingo! You get all available locations of the same image.

Introducing Alex

On the outside, Alex Argiros is king. He runs a successful natural stone giant, he’s good looking, fit, healthy, a player … and miserable. Alex wanted to become a doctor. He never cared for corner offices with a view. But his father’s dying wish was to turn the company around after his business partner’s betrayal. And Greeks don’t take their father’s dying wish lightly. Alex dropped out of a promising residency in a New York hospital and became a success in an area that left him cold. Needless to say that the driving force behind his success was to see Stavros Chrissos, his father’s nemesis, ruined. If he knew that the girl he hired as his PA was that man’s stepdaughter, he would have thrown her out on the curb, no questions asked. He ends up loving her. Until he finds out…

depositphotos.com Photo by darkfreya
depositphotos.com Photo by darkfreya

Alex gave me an even harder time to locate. My keywords were “handsome”, “male model”, “dark hair”, but “handsome” is, well, a very subjective notion. I found a lot of passable guys, so I made good use of the Lightbox solution offered by most stock photo sites.

Tip Time: If you’re registered on a stockphoto site, hovering over an image will give you the option of storing it in a ‘Lightbox’. Lightboxes are essentially folders you create to store your potential downloads. Very useful!

This guy was my favorite. I find him objectively handsome plus his thick brows and hair are just as I had described Alex—the blue eyes could easily darken to suit my stereotypically Greek male—so I went for him … so to speak. My initial idea was to have only his portrait in the Spicy version, with Monica on the Clean, but when I tried this model on that backdrop, the result screamed “gay romance”. So I opted for Monica on both covers (stronger branding) and Alex accompanying Monica on the Spicy.

Tip Time: Tin Eye is a ‘reverse’ images search engine. You upload an image or add its URL, and it tells you where it came from plus if other resolutions exist! Plus it has a browser plug-in. How awesome is that?

My Casting Director job was now done! I sent the three photos to, George Saliaris a graphic artist I had connected with on Facebook and whose portfolio I had liked, gave him my concept and asked how much he would charge to put the whole thing together. His price was 25 Euros ($31.5) for each cover when a professional cover designer would charge even ten times as much. Of course, the images’ rights had already been purchased by me, so the overall cost for one cover would amount to $40.00. The two covers I did cost cheaper as I used the same images on both.

girlcover_152x228_final

The Clean and Spicy stamps used to further separate the two versions (Clean & Spicy) was an awesome suggestion by Nicholas Rossis, author of the epic fantasy series, Pearseus. They are barely discernible in the thumbnail size, but I have used the terms on the Amazon book title as well, so I think the distinction is clearly displayed on each book’s Amazon page.

And … voilà!

girlcover_152x228_finalI think my goal to create a simple but visually attracting romance book cover that references summer (a subtle notion of a Greek island setting) was achieved.

And today those covers are out for the world to see, and have on their tablet, phone or Kindle! Along with the book, of course!

If this article enhanced your knowledge on cover creation or working with stockphoto sites, I’d appreciate something in return:

Thanks for reading, and any ideas, questions or pointers you have feel free to share in the comments’ section.

_____________

Fate Accompli is now out on Amazon in two heat versions. The links below will take you directly to your Amazon store.

Fait Accompli - Spicy version

Fate Accompli Spicy: getBook.at/FateSpicy

Fate Accompli Clean: getBook.at/FateClean

If you’d like to read the first chapters of Fate Accompli, they’re available on Wattpad.

99c Sale on Effrosyni’s books on Nov 13-15 (Amazon US only)

I have reviewed both The Necklace of Goddess Athena
(here’s my Goodreads Review) and The Lady of the Pier: The Ebb
(GR Review) and I can vouch for their quality writing. If you want a first-hand experience, head over to my excerpts’ blog for enticing excerpts of both books: here and here.

This offer is not to be missed! Two days to go…

The Viscount Who Lived Down The Lane by Elizabeth Boyle (Review)

The-Viscount-who-Lived-Down-the-Lane-Elizabeth-Boyle

A charming take on The Beauty and The Beast, this historical romance, the fourth in New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Boyle’s “Rhymes with Love” series, will leave fans of the genre truly satisfied. Make sure you enter the rafflecopter giveaway below for a chance to win one of ten print copies of the book, courtesy of the author. Also, scroll down for a sample of Ms Boyle’s excellent writing.

The Viscount Who Lived Down the Lane

Rhymes with Love # 4
By: Elizabeth Doyle
Releasing October 28th, 2014
Avon Romance

Purchase Links:

Amazon | Barnes | iTunes | Kobo

Cover (1)

My Review

Laura Tempest is a disaster magnet. And Lavinia, her identical twin, is even worse! But when they are offered a sponsored Season in London full of social life among the best of the ton, Lavinia drags Louisa with her. While Lavinia is set on finding a respectable husband, Louisa’s practical mind knows that their family’s tarnish won’t be covered with pretty frocks and intricate hairdos. She’s not the marriage sort, anyway. So she brings Hannibal, her devilish one-eyed tomcat with her. With him at hand, no one will bother her.

All Viscount Wakefield wants is his thick drapes shut and his bottle of Madeira full. After the retreat to Corunna, amidst the Peninsular War, that shattered his leg and his heart, he resents still being among the living. But when a cat from hell wreaks havoc in his household and his tempestuous mistress (Miss Tempest, indeed!) decided she wants to put everything to rights, including his life, he bans both cat and lady from his house. So she starts working on his garden. And suddenly that demmed drape insists on letting sunshine creep in even when he’s sure he left it hermetically shut. Just like his heart.

This historical romance was a delight! The language was as authentic as it gets, the plot, although not highly original, delicious, but what made the difference for me were the characters. True to themselves down to the bone, they never falter, and that’s including pets! From the elderly butler and the impertinent new cook to the two kids that are hired as extra help, and Hannibal the cat (unforgettable Hannibal) they all get memorable, fast-paced scenes that often made me think that I’m watching a farse on stage.

The dialogues are witty, the settings well-rendered (although maybe a bit underdescribed) and the main characters set so many obstacles along the way, I really wondered how the HEA would come about. If I must complain about something that would be that the final reconciliation scene was too easy, and there are loose ends concerning other characters, but Ms Boyle has promised that everything will be sorted out in the next installment where we’ll learn what Lavinia is up to. I’m surely picking that one up!

All in all, I truly enjoyed this delightful historical romance. In terms of character development, I would say that Ms Boyle is among the best. This new version of The Beauty and The Beast put a smile on my face–not an easy task with a swollen cheek after a wisdom tooth extraction. 🙂

Excerpt

London, Hanover Square

November 1810

“What is it, Haley?” Lord Charleton asked, sparing a glance at the door of the breakfast room where his secretary stood, hovering about like a nervous sparrow. “Is it Rowland? Tell me he hasn’t landed in the suds yet again.”

“No, my lord.”

The man’s brow furrowed a bit. “Couldn’t be Wakefield.”

“Certainly not, my lord.”

The baron glanced up. “Wouldn’t mind if it was. Demmed waste having him mope about, locked up in that house of his.”

“Indeed,” the secretary replied, and if Charleton wasn’t mistaken, there was a note of irony to the man’s declaration—one he chose to ignore, instead pinning a glance on the impudent fellow.

Under the scrutiny, Haley’s jaw worked back and forth as if the words were stuck there in his craw.

“Well?” Lord Charleton prodded. “Out with it. Before my kippers grow cold.” As it was, the baron shoved his plate forward and set down the paper he’d been reading.

Mr. Haley cleared his throat and held out a letter. “I’ve come across a small debt your wife owed—”

There it was. That cold stillness that came every time someone had the nerve to mention Isobel’s name.  How  Lord  Charleton  wished  he  could forget her passing so this wrenching pain would fade from his heart. Yet, still, even a year after her loss, it was a sharp ache he woke up with, one that haunted him even after he closed his eyes at night.

Now here was his secretary bringing her up when he’d quite forbidden the matter.

“Pay it,” he ordered in a tone that said he wanted nothing further to do with any reminders of her.

“But, my lord—” Haley shuffled about.

Lord Charleton removed his glasses and slowly cleaned them. Then once they were perched back up on his nose he stared coldly at the fellow. He was a good man, Haley. An excellent secretary, but why the man continued to bring up Lady Charleton, the baron could not understand. Speaking slowly and deliberately, so there was no mistaking the matter, he said, “You know what to do. Take care of the matter and leave me be.”

“If you insist, my lord . . .” Haley’s voice trailed off tentatively. It wasn’t so much a reply as one last prod.

Truly? He was going to ask yet again? If he wasn’t the most thorough and honest fellow the baron had ever hired—well, actually Lady Charleton had found him and insisted he be hired, but that wasn’t the point. Haley had become rather cheeky of late and Charleton wanted nothing more than to fire him on the spot.

But Isobel wouldn’t have approved, and so Charlton inclined his head, reined back his ire and said with a final note, “Just see to it as Her Lady- ship would have wanted.” Then he went back to his paper and ignored Haley, who stood for a few more moments in the doorway.

And if the baron had looked up, he might have seen the wry, wily smile that had led Lady Char- leton to hire Mr. Haley in the first place.

CHAPTER 1

London

Six months later

Areowwwwww!  The unholy complaint filled the

carriage.

“You should have left that foul creature back in Kempton,  Miss  Tempest,”  Mrs.  Bagley-Butterton complained for about the hundredth time.

Which equaled the number of times Hannibal had let out that ear-piercing yowl from the basket in which he was trapped.

“He  doesn’t  like  being  penned  up  so,”  Miss Louisa Tempest said in defense of her cat. “And I couldn’t leave him behind.”

There  was  a  sigh  of  resignation  from  beside Louisa. Miss Lavinia Tempest, Louisa’s twin, made a very deliberate show of looking out the window. She wasn’t about to rise to Hannibal’s defense.

Never would.

Louisa suspected her sister shared Mrs. Bagley- Butterton’s exasperation and wished poor Hannibal back in Kempton as well.

“I only hope your godmother is an understanding sort,” the matron continued, shifting in her seat in the carriage and eyeing the large basket on Louisa’s lap with an air of disdain and suspicion. She had protested vehemently against the cat being brought along, but she could hardly prevent the matter when the carriage conveying them to London belonged to the girls’ father, Sir Ambrose Tempest. “I know I wouldn’t have that cat in my house.” She sniffed loudly.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Elizabeth BoyleAuthor Info

Elizabeth Boyle was an antipiracy paralegal for Microsoft before settling down to write full-time. Her first novel, Brazen Angel, which won Dell’s Diamond Debut Award in 1996, also won the Romance Writers of America’s RITA Award for Best First Book, and was a finalist for Best Long Historical Romance. She lives with her husband in Seattle, Washington. She is also the author of Brazen Heiress.

Author Links

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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BookBub Explained

This is the real lowdown on Bookbub. How much it costs to advertise there, what categories are favored, what your covers should look like plus the process, percentages, tips … everything you need to know in one place. A truly comprehensive article by Nancy Cohen about the mother lode of promotion sources.

Nancy's Notes From Florida

BookBub is a popular reader subscriber service where you can promote your book for a fee. They have four million subscribers. Its readers are 84% women, the majority over 40 years old. 37% are retired. 58% are empty-nesters. 59% read four or more books per month. The devices they read on? 49% Kindle, 26% Apple, 15% Nook, 10% Android. Most use tablets, then e-readers, and then cell phones. 29% read non-genre material. 32% read mysteries and thrillers; 25% read romance; 14% read science fiction and fantasy. 95% of readers have purchased a book from an unknown author because of an e-book promotion. 63% have gone on to order more books by an author due to a price promotion.

When a book goes from $.99 to $2.99, there is a 50% drop in sales. But 77% of subscribers will purchase full price books.

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Why feature a book on BookBub? Readers get…

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#Nerd by Cambria Hebert (Book Blitz)

NerdBlitzBannerRimmel and Romeo. The nerd and the jock. An awkward alliance that pushes them both way outside their comfort zone. How will love fit anywhere? #Nerd by Cambria Hebert is a New Adult contemporary romance that as of today is up for grabs on Amazon!

If you’re in the US, make sure you enter the rafflecopter for a #Nerd swag bag and a signed paperback copy of the book. Scroll down for more details on the book, a video of the author reading a chapter, as well as an awesome slow cooker #nerd apple cider recipe! Is that a loaded book blitz post or what? This tour was brought to you by Xpresso Book Tours.

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Book & Author Details:

 

Title: #Nerd (The Hashtag Series #1)
Author: Cambria Hebert
Genre: New Adult College / Contemporary Romance
Release Date: November 3, 2014
Format: Ebook + Print
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Synopsis:

Two people from completely different worlds are about to be thrown together…In more ways than one.

She wants to keep her scholarship. He wants to stay on the team. An awkward alliance doesn’t even begin to cover Rimmel and Romeo’s relationship.

But that’s about to change.

It starts with a dare. An initiation. A challenge.

Quickly, it turns into more. But when you’re a victim of your status, there is no room for anything real. The rules are clear and simple.

Stick to your circle.

And never fall in love with anyone on the outside.

Purchase: Amazon

Here’s Cambria Hebert reading the first chapter of #Nerd.

 

#nerdcider

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Cambria Hebert is a bestselling novelist of more than twenty books. She went to college for a bachelor’s degree, couldn’t pick a major, and ended up with a degree in cosmetology. So rest assured her characters will always have good hair. She currently resides in North Carolina with her children (human and furry) and her husband, who is a United States Marine.

Besides writing, Cambria loves a caramel latte, staying up late, sleeping in, and watching movies. She considers math human torture and has an irrational fear of chickens (yes, chickens). You can often find her running on the treadmill (she’d rather be eating a donut), painting her toenails (because she bites her fingernails), or walking her chorkie (the real boss of the house).

Cambria has written within the young adult and new adult genres, penning many paranormal and contemporary titles. Her favorite genre to read and write is romantic suspense. A few of her most recognized titles are: Text, Torch, Tryst, Masquerade, and Recalled.

Cambria Hebert owns and operates Cambria Hebert Books, LLC.

You can find out more about Cambria and her titles by visiting her website: http://www.cambriahebert.com.
Email: cambriahebert@rocketmail.com
Facebook: http://smarturl.co/CambriaHebertFanpage
Twitter: https://twitter.com/cambriahebert
Pinterest: https://pinterest.com/cambriahebert/pins/
GoodReads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5298677.Cambria_Hebert

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Believing in Bigfoot by JC Miller (Review)

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A never-too-late romance was this week’s read ‘n’ review. Believing in Bigfoot by JC Miller is a heartwarming story of a man and a woman who could have given up/fallen back to old ways and patterns, but they give love a chance. The tour is brought to you by Book Enthusiast Promotions.

My review

An art professor, Ruth has lost the drive both for her art and teaching. Just like her 28-year-old son who drifts in and out of her life, fun and thirst for new things also seem out of reach. Playing along her best friend’s whim to go trekking on the mountains, she has an acutely embarrassing encounter with “Bigfoot” turned rescuer. Shockingly, his fleeting presence becomes creative inspiration.

Isaac has fled his high profile life and his demons. Living like a hermit on the mountain, brings lucidity he never experienced while living on the fast track. But the woman whose friend he is forced to help out, affects him in ways he cannot explain, and she unwillingly forces him to re-enter the world. The catch is that his disappearance didn’t erase his problems and they instantly flood him to the point of choking him. How can he be what Ruth needs when he himself doesn’t know who he is?

Believing in Bigfoot is a lesson in believing in life and love regardless of the stage of life you’re in. Written with surprising attention to detail both in settings and emotions, this novel flows with naturalness as much as it flirts with nature. The author’s loving attention to the minutiae of every day life is charming, and her flexibility and ease in handling complex emotions of characters with huge emotional baggage (remember: this is the opposite of a YA romance) is amazing.

The story is well-paced, and the characters full-fleshed and totally relatable. I was drawn in the story from page one, and that was because the settings were rendered so vividly, I could picture them in amazing clarity! If I have to comment on one thing that would be the lack of a distinct point of reference. A center of gravity, if you may. It wasn’t the romance so much, as Ruth and Isaac share but a few scenes, or the challenges of friendship and motherhood, as the need to re-invent oneself, re-calibrate one’s life at an older age, or maybe the need to let go of excess baggage even when it’s become second skin. I’m having some trouble defining the true essence of the story.

Other than that, this was a book I enjoyed reading and finished in one (and a half) sitting. If you enjoy sweet romances about second chances, Believing in Bigfoot should be your next read.

Scroll down for more details on the book, purchase links and a chance to win two $5 Gift Cards.

Synopsis

Reeling from his failed comeback and ruined marriage, washed-out actor Ian James (née Isaac Janowitz) flees Los Angeles for a two-week respite in Northern California’s remote Marble Mountains—Bigfoot country. His time alone in the wilderness begins to peel away the layers of his Hollywood persona. After a fateful meeting with a beguiling woman, Ian begins to question his heart. In a moment of clarity, Isaac ditches his publicist and finds himself in Redding, living with invisibility at the Vagabond Motel.

Professor Ruth Hill is burnt out teaching photography at Redding’s Shasta College, eager for her upcoming retirement. But for unexplained reasons, despite weekly therapy sessions, her panic attacks have escalated. Her artistic slump persists. Looking back, she regrets a life without risk; looking forward, she dreads a meaningless future. Going over her proof sheets one morning, she stumbles upon a series of striking thumbnails, reigniting her passion and creativity.

Readers will root for Isaac and Ruth as they grapple with their chance encounter on the mountain and search for meaning in their repellent, yet intense attraction. Their paths do cross again, but when confronted with the possibility of enduring love, Ruth’s cynicism creeps in; Isaac’s self-defeating beliefs take hold. For these two damaged souls, it just may be too late.

Meet the Author

JC (Jeanne) Miller, M.A., is an educator and founding member of JAM, an editorial-consultation team. An avid reader, aspiring traveler and table tennis enthusiast, she resides in Northern California.

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Heather Hill writes: WIP Interview

This week I’m hosting a lady from the enchanting “land of the free, home of the brave”, who knows how to make people laugh. Heather, welcome aboard!

Hi all! I’m a mum of five (not the band) and recently became a grandmother for the first time. Four years ago, I began a quest to become a comedy writer after humble beginnings tweeting jokes and one-liners which seemed to get a great response. As my follower list and favstars increased, so did my need for that drug known as ‘the power to make people laugh’. What a high! I was hooked.

So, I wrote a sitcom and at the same time, joined the professional networking site, LinkedIn. Then things really got interesting.

I managed, just through making a conscious effort to chat to people rather than just ‘collect contacts’ to get my work read by several of the UK’s top producers. I didn’t get a commission for my work, but I did get some fantastic feedback. People thought my work was funny. But I couldn’t actually sell it. So, from there, I went to writing my comedy novel for women, “The New Mrs D”.

Before we talk about your WIP, can you clue us in some more about your life?

I’ve been someone’s mum for the past twenty three years and during that time, held down a pretty diverse collection of jobs, from barmaid, to nursing, to managing social housing stock and finally, to a half and half job of fixing computers and carrying out admin tasks for a HR department. The last one was the straw that broke the donkey’s back. One day, I was photocopying 400 job application forms for my employer – twice – whilst day dreaming about all the better things I could be doing with my life. I’d already started using Twitter by that time and was getting a buzz from the people liking and sharing my jokes. I even saw people pinch them and call them their own at time. That day, I literally looked at my life from standing over a photo-copier and said, ‘you know what? This isn’t what I’m supposed to be doing.’

That week I quit my job, in a recession, to find myself. And don’t get me wrong I did find myself, but I was a lot hungrier than the previous month when I had a monthly pay cheque.

Good for you! (Not the hungry bit, but managing to turn your life around.) What are you working on right now?

A comedy novel with a ‘working title’ I rather hope I get to keep. It’s called, ‘I Hate That You Bloody Left Me’ and it’s about three widows that meet in an online chatroom and decide to go together to see a famous psychic medium, who is doing his last ever show before retiring, in the hope that they might get a message from their husbands.  When none of them do, they follow him to his holiday home in the Scottish Highlands to beg him for a private sitting and end up accidentally kidnapping him. The rest of the novel is a series of hilarious misunderstandings and mishaps, but the magic in the ending is that the three women find they are linked in ways they never knew and that perhaps their meeting wasn’t by chance at all.

That sounds highly readable! Are you happy with the pace of your work? Do you aim at a specific word count each day?

My first novel, ‘The New Mrs D’ had to be self-published in the end, even though I managed to get an agent to represent it, so I have ended up spending more time on trying to market this novel than I am on writing, which is a shame. I know even published writers have to market, but when you have very little money to live on, you end up torn between dreaming up ways to sell the first book and that sense of urgency of getting the second book out. Plus, I have to be funny while the wolf is at the door! All of this has meant progress is much slower than I’d like! But every piece of advice I read from other authors screams, ‘get that next book out!’ So, I know I really have to pick up the pace.

I’m not a perfectionist when it comes to the first draft, because I now know that it is never perfect and is always going to need heaps of rewrites and changes. I think stopping to edit yourself is a big barrier to getting to the end. You just have to keep writing!

Say it so I can hear it. I have to learn to do this myself. Plotter, pantser or both?

Plotter. Most definitely. I have a beat sheet that someone gave me and I’ve used it to map out sections for the entire novel where certain things are supposed to happen. Things like, ‘in the beginning, life is like this for your protagonist…’ and then, ‘in the middle, you took her life and turned it upside down! Oh no, what will he/she do?’ It reminds me to keep it a page turner for the reader.

What’s your worst enemy in getting that first draft finished?

Time spent marketing when I wish I was writing! And, being self-published there is that awful, niggly naggly doubt of ‘is this going to work? Am I good enough?’ I spend a lot of time talking myself round from that last one, as I think a lot of writers do.

Could we take a look at your workspace? Is there a particular place you find inspiring for writing?

Haha! I am a fan of longhand and write lying on the floor, in front of the fire. This brings its own little problems…. Like battles for space…

I can see that! Now your photo is pinned on my Featured Writers’ Workspace board on Pinterest. Apart from Word and Google, do you use any other writing or research tools and apps?

Not at all. I just write and when a question on something arises, I Google. I have, however, contacted many professionals on particular issues like in The New Mrs D when I had to write a chapter about my protagonist setting off a mass volcanic eruption scare on a Greek Island. It’s funny, because I thought I was writing something quite far-fetched, but on speaking to a couple of volcanology professionals, I found that it had actually been done in some very amusing circumstances!

Was that the scene where you asked for help on Greek words from me? That’s how we connected on Twitter! How do you intend to celebrate writing “The End” on your draft?

Same as last time – with my favourite nip of Bruichladdich whisky. Sounds like hard liquor, but it really is lovely! You should try it!

Overlooking a loch? Most definitely! Which book publishing processes are you going to outsource and which are you confident enough to undertake yourself?

I’ve learned a huge lesson with this first book, as I went with Amazon owned Createspace and then found I couldn’t distribute the book to the UK or Australia – where my ebook charted at No1 overall bestseller for a time. It has really hampered my efforts as I contacted all the book stores over there, saying, ‘look, my ebook is riding high in the charts. Would you consider stocking the paperback?’ Then after getting a few positive responses I have had to backtrack and publish a second edition – with Ingramspark – who DO distribute to the UK and Australia. I will go straight to Ingrams next time. It is a little harder to format the book, but worth the effort.

Oh my! That must have been frustrating! Do you have any marketing tips or favorite promotional sites you’d like to share?

I’m not going to lie, marketing has been (and is) very, very difficult. I was lucky that my ebook was randomly chosen by Amazon for a one day Kindle Daily Deal which sent it soaring to the top of the humour and women’s fiction charts. But keeping it there is very hard when no one knows who you are.

I have contacted as many book bloggers as I could find and only manage to get reviews on a handful of sites. It is difficult, but there are some lovely folks out there who will review your book for you. You just have to persevere.

I don’t recommend paid adverts through social media. But I wholeheartedly recommend networking kindly and helpfully. Just be yourself. Don’t permanently send out ‘buy my book messages’. I don’t know ANYBODY who doesn’t hate that.

Your blog is hell4heather.com. Do you follow a specific branding pattern with your posts or is it a free writing platform?

My blog is a free platform where I write random thoughts, advice to writers, updates on my progress and post pictures of cows and sheep that have broken into my garden for the umpteenth time this year. I do have the occasional guest post, but they are few and very far between. It’s a platform for my own musings really. I’m not really a great sales person, (she says, with one blog post entitled, ‘BUY MY BOOK! BUY MY BOOK! BUY MY BOOK!’) so I don’t like to make it about selling – it’s about being me really. Just myself, reaching out to readers in the hope that maybe they’ll see something they’d like to read more of.

Is it comedy you intend to write more of?

For sure! My first novel was rejected by thirteen publishers, many of them offering a commonly themed feedback line: ‘the humour is too crude and close to the bone.’ So, I tried to discipline myself to write something more marketable and ended up with ten chapters of a really unfunny book that I don’t like at all. I’m not sure if I’ll ever go back and rework it, but I had to put it aside and be myself again to begin, ‘I Hate That You Bloody Left Me,’ which is definitely in my signature crude humour and chatty writing style.  Whatever you do, you can’t please everyone and comedy is subjective, there will always be people who don’t get the joke or hate your writing style. But then, I don’t know about you but I want to read something edgy and different. And you will never get edgy and different if everyone tried to conform to what is already out there.

Hear, hear! Fun stuff now: Let’s do a rapid fire round.

Flavored sorbet or chocolate ice cream? You said chocolate. If any of the options have chocolate in them, it’s always that. Chocolate toilet seat, Heather? YES PLEASE!

Pizza or sushi? WHY DO PEOPLE EAT RAW FISH?!? I once tasted oysters. Urgh.. like jellied sea. Don’t, just don’t…. PIZZA!

Twilight or The Hunger Games? I’m forty three and watch very little TV. So I’m thinking Twilight because that’s when it’s all lovely and sundownie in the sky.

Ryan Gosling or Benedict Cumberbatch? Colin Firth! Oh wait, that wasn’t one of the choices. Okay, Ryan Gosling played by Colin Firth. There is no room in my private fantasy life for anyone else. There, I said it.

You won’t find me arguing about Colin Firth! Trek in the Andes or snorkeling in Tahiti? I absolutely love hiking, so it’s trekking, hands down. My husband is always dragging me up Scottish munros and I swear at him all the way up because I’m exhausted and he bullies me like a drill seargent to get me there, but I feel a great sense of achievement when we get to the top and the views are always spectacular. It’s another world up there. Of course, a little break in Tahiti afterwards would be nice.

Ugg boots or red-soled designer stilettos? Ugg boots. I hate stilettos. I’m five foot nothing and a little – ahem – top heavy. So stilettos turn me in to the human Leaning Tower of Pisa. Ooh, pizza!

LOL! You’re funny! Finally, please share with us links where we can find you and your work.

Web  http://www.hell4heather.com

Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/HeatherHillComedy

Twitter & Instagram @hell4heather

Amazon http://www.amazon.co.uk/Heather-Hill/e/B00FF6G602/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Pinterest: http://uk.pinterest.com/hell4heather/

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+HeatherHill/

Thank you, Heather, for being here today, and good luck with “The New Mrs D”.