Audience Building Via Contests and Giveaways

This week, I am a guest at Molly Greene’s awesome blog, sharing all I know about promotion and audience building through social media contests and giveaways. As a host for two virtual book tour companies, I get to see first-hand the methods both traditionally published and indie authors use to promote their books and gain more followers and fans. In the post, I talk about:

  • Why you should host a giveaway
  • Where you could host it
  • What you could offer as a prize
  • The code of conduct
  • Free and paid tools to help you with the process

Read the post in its entirety, here.

Thank you, and if you don’t follow Molly’s blog already, look around her site. I’m sure you’ll find plenty of reasons to do so.

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For a sensual romance story set on a beautiful Greek island, pick up Fate Accompli, free through Kindle Unlimited. Read in its entirety on the same day by whoever picks it up (according to Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count stats).

Fate Accompli - Clean Version
Fate Accompli – Clean Version

Fait Accompli - Spicy version
Fait Accompli – Spicy version
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Complication Cards: a must-read guest by Ines Johnson, author of The Loyal Steed

Ines Johnson has become a regular on this blog. Whenever she has a new release (and this girl is prolific!) she sends such tantalizing guest posts, I’d make space for them even if my schedule was full–which is not (mental note to blog more 🙂 ).

This time Ines’ guest post is about digging deep into your characters to define their inner needs as opposed to their wants, and how to structure your story based on that. Really worth your time. But before you get there, here are the details on Ines’ latest release The Loyal Steed: A Pleasure Hound, a serialized erotic dystopian story. The first part was released on May 12.

The Loyal Steed: A Pleasure Hound novel

by Ines Johnson
Release date: May 12
Genres: Erotic romance, dystopian
Purchase Link: Part 1 | Part 2 (Pre-order) | Part 3 (Pre-order)

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TheLoyalSteednotext

Synopsis

Jaspir has been in love with Lady Merlyn since they were children, but she has always been out of his reach. Trained as a Pleasure Hound and now surviving by selling his body to rich women, his heart has always remained loyal to his true love.

Liam was promised to Merlyn in their youth, but he’s always known that he’s not the man in her heart. With their betrothal approaching, Liam seeks out Jaspir for help. Eager to ensure the happiness of the woman they both love, Jaspir agrees to train Liam in the pleasure arts.

What starts as rivals in an uneasy truce, soon turns carnal when Merlyn learns of their secret lessons. In a society where men are second class citizens, Merlyn is torn between the attentions of two men who would do anything to rule her heart.

GUEST POST

Complication Cards

THE HOLE CHARACTER

All characters have holes (notice it rhymes with goals). You open the first chapter and find a human being who believes they are lacking something crucial in their lives. Perhaps it’s the dream job, or the right social circle, or their mother’s approval, or maybe it’s love.

Rarely do you enter the world of a character who finds themselves whole. A part is usually missing. For the next tens of thousands of words you will embark upon a journey with that character to fill that void.

Characters fill these holes in one of two ways; with either a want or need.

Remember when you were young and you wanted the fancy pair of jeans? Think Brenda in 90210. Fresh from the Midwest, thrown into the dangerous waters of the Beverly Hills elite, and her working class parents couldn’t afford the patchwork, ripped jeans that cost the same as a car payment. But Brenda wanted those holey jeans so that she could fit in with Kelly and Donna. In Carol’s, her mother’s eyes, there was a need for a new pair of pants for Brenda to wear to school and that’s what Brenda got. Now if we watched that 20-year old episode we know what Brenda did to those new pair of jeans; she made holes in her jeans to fill her social void.

You might want a pair of Louis Vuitton, but in the end you need a pair of functioning heels to go with that cute dress.

A want is a false goal, a red herring that throws both the reader and the character off the true course that will fill the character’s hole. It takes some time and some bumps in the road before the character realizes their want is not likely what they need. The need perfectly fills the void the character has been experiencing.

Exercise

Take a look at your main character(s). What is it that they need in order to be whole again? Now consider if it would serve your story for your character to have a false goal that keeps them from seeing their true need for a good portion of the story?

THE OBSTACLE COURSE

Before a character can see their need, they have to yearn after a want, which takes them on a bumpy ride to nowhere.

This obstacle course consists of four physical and/or internal complications that force the hero or heroine to make decisions that produce dramatic action.

The four kinds of obstacles are:

The Antagonist (Bad Guy)

A specific antagonist lends clarity and power to the dramatic structure because his primary function is to oppose the protagonist. He doesn’t necessarily have to be evil, but he should personify the protagonist’s obstacles.

Example: Cinderella’s Wicked Step Mother

Physical Obstructions

Physical obstructions are just what they seem –material barriers standing in the way of the protagonist. These can be rivers, deserts, mountains, a dead-end street, or a car causing a crash –anything that presents a substantial obstacle for the protagonist.

Example: Arielle’s fin

Inner/Psychological Problems

Inner obstacles are intellectual, emotional, or psychological problems the protagonist must overcome before being able to achieve his goal. For example, dealing with fear, pride, jealousy, or the need to mature fall into this category.

Example: Fiona’s (from Shrek) appearance

Mystic Forces

Mystic forces enter most stories as accidents or chance but they can be expressed as moral choices or ethical codes, which present obstacles. They can also be personified as gods or supernatural forces, which the characters have to content with.

Example: Tiana’s (from The Frog Prince) magical transformation into a frog

Exercise

Which of these obstacles will your character face? Will they face more than one type of obstacle during the course of the story?

THE SCENE

You’ve discovered your character’s need, and potentially their want, which is a false goal. You’ve learned about the four types of obstacles that can obstruct your character on the way to achieving their goals and filling their need. Now, to build a heart-pounding story where you send your character through the toughest obstacle course you can imagine, you should map out a blueprint for the course.

Four Elements of a Story

  1. HERO/HEROINE

Primary character looking to fill the void in their life.

  1. WANT

A false goal that the hero/heroine initially believes is their path to wholeness.

  1. OBSTACLE

One of the four obstacles opposing the hero/heroine.

  1. NEED

The true goal of the hero/heroine which will satisfy their void.

OBSTACLE COURSE CARD

EXAMPLES

Antagonist example

In the Cinderella adaptation Ever After, Danielle (heroine) works tirelessly to gain acceptance (want) from her stepmother (antagonist) until she realizes her family of friends, including the Prince, love her unconditionally (need).

Physical example

In The Little Mermaid adaptation Splash, yes I went there!, Madison (heroine) leaves the sea to be with Allen (want) but when her legs get wet and her fins come back (obstacle) she’s forced to tell Allen the truth of her existence in the hopes that he’ll come and spend forever with her under the sea (need).

Inner/Psychological example

In the unconventional fairy tale Shrek, Princess Fiona (heroine) hopes to be rescued by a knight in shining armor (want) who will break her curse (obstacle) until she realizes that true love is “color” blind (need).

Mystic Forces example

In The Frog Prince, Tiana (heroine) dreams of opening a restaurant (want) but her dream takes a slight detour when she’s turned into a frog (obstacle) along with Prince Naveen and learns to seek and take help from others (need).

Exercise

Now its your turn. Fill out your own obstacle card for you story. If you want to take it a step farther, fill out a card for each scene!

About the Author

Ines writes books for strong women who suck at love. If you rocked out to the twisted triangle of Jem, Jericha, and Rio as a girl; if you were slayed by vampires with souls alongside Buffy; if you need your scandalous fix from Olivia Pope each week, then you’ll love her books!

Aside from being a writer, professional reader, and teacher, Ines is a very bad Buddhist. She sits in sangha each week, and while others are meditating and getting their zen on, she’s contemplating how to use the teachings to strengthen her plots and character motivations.

Ines lives outside Washington, DC with her two little sidekicks who are growing up way too fast.

Connect with the Author

Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Publisher

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Great post, Ines! Thank you so much for sharing, and best of luck with The Loyal Steed!

Seven steps to the Darcy Act – Guest post by Ines Johnson

I interacted with Ines Johnson through Marketing For Romance Writers, a very active and giving group. When she pitched her article about The Darcy Arc I was seriously intrigued and asked to host it. So, here’s Ines’ 7 steps to The Darcy Arc. Make sure you scroll down for more on Ines and her current release, The Pleasure Hound, Part 1. And don’t skip on reading Ines’ author bio. One of the best, I’ve recently read.

ThePleasureHoundPart1

PURCHASE LINKS

AMAZON LINK

http://www.amazon.com/Pleasure-Hound-Part-One-ebook/dp/B00OYU2CYO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1415638043&sr=8-1&keywords=pleasure+hound

THE DARCY ACT by Ines Johnson

In Jane Austen’s timeless classic, Pride and Prejudice, we all detest the dashingly handsome, but stuck up, Mr. Darcy in the beginning. After a poorly-contrived declaration of love at Rosings Park and a secret act of kindness, we all realize we’ve misjudged Mr. Darcy and fall madly in love with the sensitive, lovestruck gentleman. This is what I affectionately call The Darcy Arc. It has worked in The Twilight Saga with Edward and Bella, The Hunger Games with Peeta and Katniss, and even Sex in the City with Mr. Big and Carrie.

A successful Darcy Arc can be accomplished in seven steps.

  1. First, have your Darcy-hero enter the scene with a bad attitude.

When we meet Fitzwilliam Darcy its clear he doesn’t like Austen’s heroine, Lizzie, Lizzie’s family, or the whole town, for that matter.

In Twilight, the whole Cullen clan keeps to themselves, including Edward. Edward literally puts his nose in the air when he meets Bella.

In The Hunger Games, Peeta’s family owns a bakery and is considered well-to-do. Katniss’s memories of Peeta show him tossing burnt bread at her as though she’s a beggar.

After trying to get along to no avail, both our heroines decide that these guys are jerks and they move along. But not so quick!

2  Next, our hero and heroine are thrown together for some reason.

Darcy and Lizzie dance at a ball. Edward and Bella are lab partners in school. Peeta and Katniss are selected as tributes in the games.

While spending time with one another our Darcy-hero begins making statements or moves that suggest he may be interested in our lovely lady. She begins to question her original opinion of him, but not for long. After a moment, his walls go back up and his bad attitude returns.

3   Then some danger befalls her that only he is aware of.

In Pride and Prejudice, Darcy’s old nemesis, Wickham, takes an interest in Lizzie. In Twilight, Edward saves Bella from street thugs. And in The Hunger Games, Peeta tries to help Katniss win allies in the training arena.

4.   After this danger, he confesses his love, in an unromantic or suspicious way, but she rejects him.

At Rosings, Darcy delivers that gawd-awful proposal. Edward can’t decide if he wants to kill or kiss our girl Bella. Katniss isn’t sure that Peeta’s overtures or genuine or gameplay.

5.  Its not until they all have time to process a bit more that they come to see that they were indeed wrong about these prickly men.

While visiting Pemberley, Lizzie sees a different side of Darcy. Edward keeps his fangs to himself and watches her sleep. After he saves her life in the games, Katniss is now certain of Peeta’s affections.

6.   As our heroine’s hearts are softening, the hero comes to her aide again, expecting nothing in return.

Lizzie finds out that Darcy saved his sister in secret. Edwards sucks the poisonous blood out of Bella’s wrist without killing her. Peeta proves his love when he’s ready to swallow those poisonous berries for Katniss.

Each of our heroines realizes she definitely was wrong about her hero. She misunderstood this prince among men.

7.  Finally, our Darcy-hero sees a glimmer of a chance in her eyes. When he confesses his love again, she accepts him.

This time when Darcy proposes, Lizzie accepts. Edward pledges his love forever, which is a long time in vampire speak. And Katniss accepts Peeta’s love…eventually.

I followed this seven part plan when I crafted my hero, Khial, in my Pleasure Hound serial. Khial doesn’t hide his distaste for my heroine, Chanyn, when he first meets her. After many ups and downs in the plot, will Khial follow the Darcy Arc and admit his true feelings? And if he does, will Chanyn come to see Khial for the prince he is?

BOOK BLURB

A young monk is given the chance to redeem himself from scandal when he is called upon to train a young woman and her two bonded mates in the orgasmic arts. But what starts as a simple ritual soon turns carnal when the monk’s heart begins to yearn for the woman, and hers for his.

AUTHOR BIO

Ines writes books for strong women who suck at love. If you rocked out to the twisted triangle of Jem, Jericha, and Rio as a girl; if you were slayed by vampires with souls alongside Buffy; if you need your scandalous fix from Olivia Pope each week, then you’ll love her books!

Aside from being a writer, professional reader, and teacher, Ines is a very bad Buddhist. She sits in sangha each week, and while others are meditating and getting their zen on, she’s contemplating how to use the teachings to strengthen her plots and character motivations.

Ines lives outside Washington, DC with her two little sidekicks who are growing up way too fast.

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS

GOOD READS LINK

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23480179-the-pleasure-hound?from_search=true

FACEBOOK

https://www.facebook.com/ineswrites

TWITTER

https://twitter.com/ineswrites

BOOK TRAILER

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CbU9r0ArEkY

WEBSITE

https://inesjohnson.wordpress.com/