Thursday, April 30, 2015

Writing Contests

There are many, many writing contests. Writer’s Digest offers a contest. RWA offers a pubbed (Rita) and a non-pubbed (Golden Heart) contest. Various writing chapters offer contests. Some publishers offer contests. Almost all of them charge a fee which varies. If it’s a writing chapter contest the price varies if you’re a member or non-member. Contests can give writers the chance to have their work reviewed by editors. Make sure the editors, or agents, who review the finalists, are from the genre you write. And remember the scores are all subjective on the part of the judges. Are the contests worth it?

There are dif­fer­ent kinds of con­tests, and it’s wise to know what you’re entering, and why. Is it to win? You’ll prob­a­bly be dis­ap­pointed. Is it to get a num­ber of copies of books into the hands of those who might oth­er­wise not find them. Make sure you know what you expect from the contest. Are you looking for feedback? Some contests give you a number score and no feedback. Are you hoping an agent or editor will read it and love it? Make sure the judging editor and agent are interested in your genre. Are you hoping for a cash prize? Are you hoping to add “Award winner” to a published book?

There’s also the “pop­u­lar­ity” con­tests. Authors ask for people to vote for their book. The people who vote often haven’t even read the book.
A good article on contests can be found at

What are your expe­ri­ences with con­tests? Do they influ­ence your book buying?hat are our expe­ri­ences with con­tests? Do they influ­ence your book buying?

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Tuesday's Tips and Tweaks Melissa

This week author Melissa Keir joins us with her tip. Melissa writes small town romance with heat. She loves to hear from readers and other authors at  Her latest book Cowboy Up 2 has been a part of two Thunderclap campaigns and numerous features on her blog.

Melissa’s Tip on Promotion
Do you want to connect with a bigger audience but aren’t sure how? Triberr and Thunderclap make it easy! But there’s some work on your part to make it feasible.

Triberr is a site where groups of people get together to help promote each other’s blog posts through twitter. By sharing your friends’ posts and them sharing yours, you increase your chances of someone coming across your blog and finding it interesting or engaging. There are many different tribes you can connect with. I’m in ones like Romance Beckons and True Love Romance. Each day I log on to Triberr and a list of blogs to share is posted. I click on the share button and it is posted to my twitter feed to share at 15 minute to 30 minute increments. But there’s a limit. You can only share 100 posts each day. Sometimes belonging to too many groups makes this happen. Also, another downside is that not everyone is as good about sharing. As I said, I share daily but most tribes have their own rules. You can find out more on Triberr at

Thunderclap is another great site for sharing. They help you spread the word about an upcoming sale or new release and also use Twitter, Facebook, or Tumbler to share. On Thunderclap, you have to complete a sign up form and create a tweet using the 140 character minimum. (Example: What's better than worn jeans, dusty boots and an unshaven jaw? 99c cowboy books! April 12-18 Once you are approved, you can share the Thunderclap tweet link with others. When each person clicks on your post and agrees to support it, they will share the tweet with all their followers on Twitter, Facebook or Tumbler on the set date. The set date is the date and time that the message will go out to all the people who supported you. The date is one you set. Most campaigns are active for 2-3 weeks but can be sooner, although they can’t be longer than 60 days from the start. Depending on how big of a reach you want (for example: if you choose a larger following, you will want the extra time. ).This allows you to reach even farther with your audience and hopefully attract attention to your book. There’s a catch though…you MUST get the minimum number of people to agree in order for your Thunderclap campaign to go through. Even one less and you’re post isn’t shared. Luckily, there are groups on Facebook which have people who agree to reciprocate Thunderclap campaign for Thunderclap campaign. For my last one, we had four days to gather the 100 minimum reach and were able to get that in about 3 hours using the Facebook group. Without the group, I probably wouldn’t have gotten the support. You can find out more about Thunderclap at

Excerpt from “Heartbroken Cowboy – from Cowboy Up 2”

“Weddings are a buzzkill.” A tall man wearing a tuxedo flopped down into the chair next to her, startling Debra Donahue who’d been silently tapping her foot to the music. Glad for the distraction from being single at a wedding, she smiled at the man.

“Most people use weddings as a reason to get their buzz on.” She studied him. The silver streaks in his hair flattered his chiseled jawline. His tugging at the neck of his shirt and the worn boots on his feet told her this man wasn’t used to big fancy shindigs. She smiled at his discomfort. Clothes make the man, and this one would be happier in jeans and a work shirt.

“I don’t drink, but could use a strong one, right now. Not this sissy stuff.” He lifted the glass to his lips, downed the contents, and shoved his now-empty champagne flute away before he leaned in toward her. The smell of alcohol on his breath hinted that he’d already had too much to drink. “Know anyone around here with some whiskey?” The dark sapphire of his eyes chilled her. This was a man used to getting what he wanted. “I’d even share.” His voice deepened and became husky with his offer and she shivered.

“I don’t drink with men I don’t know.” Debra stuck out her hand. “I’m Debra, and you are?”

The man grabbed another glass of champagne off a passing waiter’s tray and guzzled the drink in one swallow. “The name’s Johnson O’Neill. Now about that whiskey.” He reached out and drew her up to standing then tugged her in close to him. Wrapping his arm around her back, he moved her body in a slow two-step motion.

Buy Links:

You can find Melissa at:
(Amazon page)

Thanks Melissa, for dropping by and sharing that great marketing tip.
Don’t forget to check back next week for another tip or tweak.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Writing Reviews

Are you a reader? When you read a book, especially if you like it, do you write a review?
Are you also an author? Do you write a review?

As authors we know reviews are important. They may not sell a lot more books, but they trigger algorithms that may give you a better position in a book store (traditional or online). It may help the author to get better paid advertising. There are a lot of reasons we need reviews of our book. Me – I’d like to hear what the reader thought. Did she love it? Did she figure out the killer in the first chapter?

Why don’t you write a review? Maybe you don’t how or figure it will take too long.
You can write a short review. It may only take a few minutes. First, give it a rating, usually out of 5. Remember a review should be respectful and honest. Next, in a couple of sentences or less describe the book. Then explain what you liked – characters, plot, and/or setting and perhaps where you found a few challenges, specific to yourself as a reader. If you liked it, maybe recommend it to other readers. That’s it.

Yes, you can write a lengthy review and discuss the characters, motivation, plot, etc in detail which other readers will appreciate, but a short, quick review is always appreciated by the author.

Here’s a couple of references that might help you write a review:

And if you write a review for any of my books, I thank you in advance, as all other authors will also do, I’m sure.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Tuesday Tips and Tweaks

Sorry for posting a little late.

This week author Erica Ridley joins us with her tip. Erica Ridley is the USA Today bestselling author of the popular Dukes of War historical romance series, featuring roguish peers and dashing war heroes who return from battle only to be thrust into the splendor and madness of Regency England.

Erica’s Writing Tip is "Strategizing in Advance."

Before I got an agent and landed my first contract, I wrote what I liked, however and whenever I liked. That may be fine from a just-having-fun perspective, but terrible from a business perspective. 

Although no writer likes to be "pigeonholed" or stuck in a corner they can't escape, it is imperative that your book fit cleanly into a specific, reasonably popular genre, if your goal is for readers to not only find your book, but pay their hard earned money for it.

Think hard about what genre best describes your book. A paranormal, gothic, sci-fi Christian western romance featuring a talking cyber unicorn doesn't appeal to all readers--it appeals to no readers. It is far easier to give an existing group of readers what they already know they want, than it is to try and force people to buy something that they don't read or believe they'd enjoy.

Before embarking on a new story or series, ask yourself these questions:

 What is the best genre for your book?
How well does it follow established genre conventions?
Does it fit reader expectations enough not to turn them away?
Is it unique enough to stand out from the crowd?
What do readers expect from other authors/books in this genre?

For example, if you write fantasy, readers are willing to wait longer periods between books... but they expect a rich, complex, meaty book when you do release a title. On the other hand, if you're writing an erotic contemporary romance serial, readers are willing to accept a much shorter wordcount... but they also expect a new installment every 2-4 weeks, not one book per year. 

I cannot overstate the importance of this seemingly simple detail. When I finally stopped jumping all over the mat and picked a single, targeted genre to focus on, my readers (and my royalties) increased tenfold. My readers are much happier and so am I!
Buy Links:

Grab a FREE copy of the first Dukes of War book at:
Barnes & Noble:
Google Play: 
You can find Erica at:


Thanks Erica, for dropping by and sharing that great writing tip.

Don’t forget to check back next week for another tip or tweak. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

What Hooks You in a Book?

What glues you to a story start to finish? That’s a great question, Rhobin.

I’m presently judging a book contest of published publics in two categories; contemporary and mainstream. I have to score each book according to a standardized score sheet. It covers hooks, plot, characters, conflict and endings plus a few other things. Some of them have really grabbed me. First they have a great hook. Then they reveal just enough information about the characters and/or plot to keep me reading to find out a little more. They skillfully develop their characters so I want to know what happens to them and they hook me at the end of each chapter so I decide to read just a few more pages. The plot intensifies, the stakes are raised and the narrative and dialogue progress the story. There are twists and turns that keep me guessing – and reading right to the end.

I’d like to think my stories meet all those pints. I aim for it.
As for what hooks I use to capture my readers – usually I try for a hook at the beginning that will grab the reader and make them want to read a few more pages. I also try to have a hook at the end of each chapter so the reader will turn a few more pages.
I can hardly wait to see what the others in the group have to say. Join me. Here’s a list of the authors to check. 
Diane Bator
Ginger Simpson
Skye Taylor
Marci Baun
Margaret Fieland
Helena Fairfax
Anne Stenhouse
Fiona McGier
Connie Vines
Rachael Kosnski
Victoria Chatham
Lynn Crain
Rhobin Courtright

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Book Clubs

I don’t belong to a book club. I never have, but I have friends that do. Some even belong to more than one book club.

The book club is usually a group of people who meet to discuss a select book or books they have read. The book is usually a work of literary fiction. They may decide to choose new release titles, older books or a mixture of the two. They are often on best-seller or recommended read lists. This often means everyone buys a copy of the book. They meet regularly to discuss the designated book and express their opinions, likes, dislikes, etc. They may meet in private homes, libraries, bookstores, pubs, cafes or restaurants over meals or drinks.
They may be an opportunity for social contact or general conversation as compared to those that engage in serious literary analysis focused on the designated book.

If you can get a book club to read your book it could amount to a few sale or finding new readers. I don’t belong to book clubs because I prefer to choose my own books and I prefer fiction such as romance, mystery, murder, or many other genres over the literary fiction.
One book club has some of these titles on their list; Gold by Chris Cleave; Shelter by Francis Greenslade, The Uninvited Guest by Sadie Jones and Tell It To The Trees. Yes, I read literary fiction occasionally and I’m sure they’re well-written, but give me a J.D. Robb romantic suspense any day.

What about you? Do you belong to a book club? What are your thoughts on them?

Monday, April 13, 2015

Tuesday Tips and Tweaks

This week author Linda Hall joins us with her tip.Linda Hall is the award-winning author of more than 20 mystery novels and short stories

Linda’s Tip on Hooks and Crooks and Cliff Hangers

“I couldnt put your book down and stayed up until 2:30 reading it!” I am joyously happy when my books contribute to a readers’ insomnia.

Weve all had that experience—of becoming so totally engrossed in a book that the world around us fades.  A novel like that has something called suspense, or tension. Suspense is required in all novels, whether or not they fall into the genre normally labeled “suspense.” Romance novels need it—the sweet grandmotherly ones need it, along with the hot ones. Literary novels need it, and so do apocalyptics and SciFi. Nonfiction even needs it. Suspense is what keeps you turning the pages (or tapping the edge of your eReader) 

One way of adding suspense to your novels is through chapter hooks. These are sentences or paragraphs at the end of each chapter which ask a question, create a doubt or set up a the next scene. 

This is a rather simplistic example—but if a chapter has your good guy settling down in front of the TV with a bowl of popcorn, and in the next chapter you want to have your crook come through the door, dont end the first chapter with -
And she turned on the television to watch Jeopardy. 

Instead, end your chapter with something like -
Just as she switched on the television, she heard a noise coming from the kitchen. What was her cat into now? She stood up and spotted her cat curled up and sleeping under the coffee table. 

Could you put that down? 

A fun exercise for your local writers group is to take any book, any book at all, and flip to the end of any random chapter. Does the sentence make you want to turn to the next chapter? Why or why not? 

Television series are excellent at hooks. Even non-mysteries such as Nashville (my current addiction) ends each episode with a “hook”, so you will be sure to tune in next week. Watch for them next time. 

While a chapter hook is for each chapter, a cliff hanger ends the television “season” and creates expectation for the following year. (Downton Abbey is a good example of that. **Spoiler alert** remember at the end of Season 3 when Matthew died?) 

If you are writing a series, consider adding a cliff hanger to your book so that your reader will be sure to look for your next one. 

Excerpt from “Night Watch” 

I was going to give some examples of chapter hooks from my newest release, Night Watch, but couldnt find any which didnt spoil the story, and of course, I want you to go and read it for yourself. So instead Im going to excerpt the first page of Night Watch which, I think gives an example of a “hook.”
I was in the middle of a Jesse dream when Kricket disappeared. It was the best Jesse dream Id had in a long time, and I wanted to stay in that place forever.
We were sailing. We always sail, the two of us, in Jesse dreams. We were out in the middle of the bay on my old wooden catboat, the one I had before I knew Jesse, before he was such a part of my life. I sold that boat years ago to someone who trailered it to Lake Ontario. But dreams are like that, full of curiosities and strange chronologies, yet somehow making full sense at the time.
The wind was a steady ten knots, the sun warm on our necks. We moved effortlessly on the tops of the waves as if across silk. I leaned back, held the tiller with both hands and pressed my sandaled feet down onto the leeward side. The creaking of the pintles, the whoosh of the water beneath us, and the wind filling the sail were the only sounds. We didnt talk.
We don’t talk in Jesse dreams.
Down, almost at water level, Jesse was winching the sail in tighter, tighter, one beat-up boat shoe braced against the bulkhead. I looked with longing at the curve of his bare ankle. I wanted to reach out, trace my fingers along its bone, cradle it against my cheek. It had been so long. Too long. Almost two years gone. Yet, in some ways, it will always be yesterday.
I wanted to call out to him, but have learned not to in Jesse dreams. If he turned to look at me, would I see the face with the sun- ruddied grin? The mussed hair always in need of a cut? Or would he stare at me with cold, unseeing eyes, face streaked with blood? Would it be a strangers face even, which turned to gaze up at me?
Jesse dreams always hold a sharp edge of terror that leaves me breathless and gasping when I finally claw my way up toward waking. Yet, despite this, I crave them, hunger for them. I will take the horror —all of it—for one moment more with Jesse.
Buy Links:

Kindle -
Kobo -
Nook -
Ibooks -
Google -
Smashwords -

You can find Linda at:
Facebook -
Twitter - @writerhall
Goodreads -

Thanks Linda, for dropping by and sharing that great writing tip.

Don’t forget to check back next week for another tip or tweak.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Editing Your Book

I usually post something on the writing process or something for readers. Today it’s about editing. Whether you’re traditionally published or small press or do it yourself, you need an editor. If you’re a reader, you want a book that’s been edited and polished.

If you’re traditionally published or by a small press, you’ll have an editor assigned to you.
If you’re self-publishing you need to find your own proof reader and editor. There are lots out there and the costs vary.

Here’s a new one that’s just getting started. I haven’t used them – yet. So I’m not recommending them. I’m just posting the information on their company for you to check out if you’re interested..

Does Your Written Gem Need An Editor? How about Two? #WDWS #editors

You've finally typed the two most important words: "THE END", but your precious treasure of words needs one final polish before you usher it out on to the cruel world. Welcome to Wicked Dragon Writer Solutions, where you can get two editing beasts for one smoking price!

Between Amber and I, we have 13 hard-won years of word crafting experience, not just in published work, but in editing for other authors. While we've been doing this without gathering our fees, we decided it was time to put our pens to work for us. We know how vital editors are to Creators of the Written Word, and what's better than one editor? How about two editors putting their eyes to the jewelers loop to examine your precious treasure, and you'll only be out the gold for the price of one. Think of it as an Editorial BOGO (buy-one-get-one-free).

Feel free to come on over and check us over at Wicked Dragon Writer Solutions (!

In celebration of our grand opening, if you book your adventured during the month of April, we are offering 10% off your hoard of gold, just note code: WDWSOPEN when booking your spot!

If you're anxious to start your epic journey, feel free to reach out to and we'll get you set for your editing adventure.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Tuesday Tips and Tweaks

This week author Stephanie Queen joins us with her tip. USA Today bestselling author Stephanie Queen is a romantic by nature, a romance novelist by design.
Stephanie’s Marketing Design Tip for the DIY Author
Do you regularly post on Facebook to promote your books and wish you could make your posts look more professional? Do you see other authors posting with  banners and ads specially designed to promote a sale or a series and wonder how they did that or how much it cost?
Well I did, but I did NOT want to pay a graphic designer every time I had a sale or added a new book to my series to do a new ad or banner.

So what's an ambitious DIY author to do?
NOT buy expensive graphic design software like Photoshop
NOT use free but extremely confusing design software like Gimp.
Instead, I used a very simple, free (or very inexpensive) graphic design program called Canva. ( their Facebook post template, I added my book cover and some text to create a fabulous post for my boxed set sale - and it was FUN! And it cost $0!

(NO, I don't own stock in Canva and I'm not trying to promote them!)

You may know of another similar design program that's easy to use to help you create professional looking Facebook posts, and if you do, please feel free to share it here.

If you try Canva and create a graphic - feel free to share that here too!

That's my tip for Tuesday!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Happy Easter

Happy Easter!

Easter is a time to be thankful. I'm thankful to everyone who checks my blog and
those who post.

Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, described in the New Testament as having occurred on the third day of his burial after his crucifixion by Romans at Calvary c. 30 AD.

Easter and the holidays are related to it as a moveable feast in that they do not fall on a fixed date in the Gregorian or Julian calendars, rather .it’s date is determined on a lunic solar calendar, similar to the calendar.ebrew v It has come to be the first Sunday after the full moon that occurs on or soonest after March 21st.

Easter customs vary across the Christian world and include sunrise services and decorating Easter eggs. Additional customs associated with Easter and observed by Christians and non-Christians include egg hunting, the Easter Bunny, and Easter parade.  

Happy Easter everyone!