Marisa Makes Memories

Meet My Muse!

When you were a kid, “make believe” was easy. Even encouraged by your parents. An old bed sheet strung between chairs, surrounded by sofa cushions, was a castle, a sturdy fortress to protect you from the dreaded dragon. (Your dog, Tiny).

Somewhere between kindergarten and adolescence, your “make believe” became “make your bed,” and when adulthood dawned, your priority was to “make a living.” Time spent on the nonsensical was no longer practical.

But that’s not true! It’s time to “make believe” again. Because when you do, the artist in you will flourish and love you for it.

tumblr_static_chvjbvvll5sgkcg4ccoskgsw8Let me introduce you to my muse. She prefers to go to bed late and sleep til noon. She’ll wear a tutu to the grocery store because she likes to dance. She doesn’t want to be responsible and will disappear for days if she’s criticized. But she’s also the creative spirit that allows me to write from a place that my logical mind doesn’t understand. Those who are versed in this concept call the place where she lives the subconscious, the right side of the brain.

Steven King

Stephen King speaks of his muse in his book, On Writing, The Memoir of the Craft: “There’s a muse, but he’s not going to come fluttering down into your writing room and scatter creative fairy-dust all over your computer. He lives in the ground. He’s a basement kind of guy. You have to descend to his level, and once you get down there you have to furnish an apartment for him to live in. You have to do all the grunt labor, in other words, while the muse sits and smokes cigars and admires his bowling trophies and pretends to ignore you. Do you think it’s fair? I think it’s fair. He may not be much to look at, that muse-guy, and he may not be much of a conversationalist, but he’s got inspiration.”

However, you do need to be wary of the muse’s sister, the critic, the conscious mind. Where the muse can put down beautiful words and a compelling story, the critic checks the work for poor structure and unbelievable characterization. She lives in the left side of the brain and has no time for play. She has a ‘to do” list that must be meticulously checked off.

Conflict will arise between the two and everyone who seeks to tap into their creativity subconsciously will have to grapple with these opposing forces. A good example of this battle is explained by actor and film writer, Steve Martin, when he talks about his writing experiences: “The conscious mind is the editor, and the subconscious mind is the writer. And the joy of writing, when you’re writing from your subconscious, is beautiful—it’s thrilling. When you’re editing, which is your conscious mind, it’s like torture. And I’ve just kind of decided that anytime it’s torture, I want to stop. I’ll put it down and wait until becomes not torture.” (NY Times)

By now, you may want to invite your subconscious mind to come out and play. How do you make that happen when the conscious mind is guarding the door? The secret lies in getting your muse distracted, to work on a problem in the background while you’re doing something else.

Remember, my muse loves to dance. Not only does that get my “arse” out of the writer’s seat, it also gives me much needed time for my plot to thicken. This works best when I’ve been writing for a few hours and want to eat all the ice cream in the freezer. Instead, I dance. For you, it may be a repetitive activity like folding laundry, taking a shower, or meditating.

But sometimes, you must trick your subconscious to do the work. According to The Biology of Belief,  by Bruce Lipton, the subconscious mind can process 20,000,000 bits of info per second. The conscious mind, only 40 bits. That means your muse mind has the ability to process 500,000 times more what your editor mind can. When we push our bodies to move faster, like writing faster, the conscious mind yields.

Now it’s your turn. Set your unconscious mind free. If you are a writer, especially on the first draft, you’ll have the opportunity to creating something amazing. And if you haven’t tried it already, experiment with writing faster than you think. Faster than your critic can edit. I bet you’ll like how it turns out.

What The Subconscious is to every other man, in its creative aspect becomes, for writers, The Muse. ~ Ray Bradbury

WAF ' 17 Sword Balancing Red Me top half

When Marisa Dillon is not dancing or working her day job as a marketing consultant, she is writing with her muse. Marisa’s new release, The Golden Rose of Scotland, is book II in the Ladies of Lore Series from Soul Mate Publishing.




You can connect with Marisa through these channels:

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Pura Vida!

An important part of any writer’s life is refilling the creative well. Whether it’s diving into research, exploring a new hobby or binge watching a favorite show, we all have ways to recharge and keep those creative juices flowing. My favorite way to ignite my imagination is to travel. There is just something about being in a new place, full of new experiences that inspires me long after I have returned home.

Last year wecosta rica jaycee jarvis sloth took a family trip to Costa Rica, and it energized me in many ways. My current series is set in the tropics–otherworldly tropics since I write fantasy—and every humid lungful helped keep it real!

I was also enchanted by the culture and spirit of Costa Rica. Everyone was so friendly, welcoming and knowledgeable. From the hotel staff pointing out their resident baby armadillos to a nature guide who kept up his enthusiasm in a torrential downpour, everywhere we went people embodied pura vida. Pura vida means “the pure life” and is kind of a motto for enjoying life with an open heart.

costa rica jaycee jarvis cocoaWe stayed at the Tirimbina Biological Reserve for part of our trip which has an amazing blend of hospitality and natural beauty—ecotourism at it’s finest! My favorite part of Tirimbina was the cocao tour that walked us through the history and process of cocao production. I got to see–and taste–cocao from the bloom on the tree to the final traditional drink—sweetened for our modern palate so it wasn’t true xocoatl. I even took a turn grinding the roasted beans by hand.

Costa Rica is rich with life—it has one of the highest concentrations of biodiversity on the planet—and it shows. The nature guides were very generous with their time and expertise and made sure we noticed the little things—colorful grasshoppers smaller than a penny, a sleeping nighthawk blending in with a branch. Even wandering on my own, I spotted monkeys, macaws and so much more. You can bet some of those animals will find their way into my books!costa rica jaycee jarvis coati

It was a week of adventure and unexpected opportunities. This waterfall was a roadside attraction, and not our destination that day. But the driver was happy to impulsively stop, snap my picture and cheer, “Pura vida!” costa rica jaycee jarvis waterfall

I can’t wait to go back, but in the mean time I try to put a little pura vida into my busy life, and enjoy each day as a gift. What do you do to recharge or nourish your spirit?


Jaycee Jarvis has been an avid romance reader since devouring all the Sweet Dreams books her middle school library had to offer. Also a fantasy fan from an early age, she often wished those wondrous stories had just a bit more kissing. Now she writes stories with a romantic heart set against a magical backdrop, creating the kind of book she most likes to read.

When not lost in worlds of her own creation, she resides in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, three children and a menagerie of pets.

Jaycee is a Golden Heart® finalist and author of the Hands of Destin series. The first book in that series, Taxing Courtship, is set for a June 2018 release.

You can learn more about her and her books at her website or by following her on social media: Facebook, Twitter, or Goodreads.

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The Funnel Effect . . . for Authors


If you Google this term you will find there are multiple definitions depending on the subject area—from weather dynamics to attorney tactics to government practices. That’s not what I’m talking about. The Funnel Effect I’m referring to is a term coined by two authors, Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant (really?) in their 2013 book, Write. Publish. Repeat. This nifty little book, in addition to being entertaining and a quick lively read, is the best author’s advice I’ve encountered to date.

Here’s the scoop, and it’s really rather simple advice: the best way to sell more of the books you have published is to WRITE ANOTHER ONE. That’s it. Write another book, get it out there, and the sales on the books you have already published will feel a boost. I have personally experienced this phenomenon. Every time I release another book, I see a bump in sales and ratings of all my previous books, including my first SoulMate published title, Phantom Traces. I have even contacted Debby to see if she’d done any advertising during that time, and her answer was no. She agreed, it must be the Funnel Effect.


When a reader finds an book they enjoy, it’s only natural for them to go out and see what else that author has written. This doesn’t only apply to series, although it probably does have more effect within genres. A new fan who reads one of my paranormal romances will probably not look into buying one of my nonfiction titles–or vice versa.

I know personally I get very disappointed, and a little frustrated, if I really love a book by a new author, then find there isn’t anything else out there yet. There are authors I can say I’ve read every title they’ve written, and anxiously await the next book’s release. It’s just how we readers are wired.

So if you’ve published a book, or two or three, and you’re not happy with their ratings or your royalty earnings, here’s mine (and Mr.’s Platt and Truant) advice: Open up a new Word document and start typing!



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Making Merry At a Conference


I am second from the left on the panel “Paranormal Creatures and the People Who Love Them” at HELIOsphere, a science fiction and fantasy conference. Now you might be wondering why I am not at a romance convention. When you’re a paranormal author, you can cross over especially if you grew up in science fiction and fantasy. So I have twice the amount of conferences I can attend.

I love speaking on a large variety of subjects, but my expertise is the paranormal, especially vampires. I’ve studied vampires and rare supernaturals for over 20 years now.

Back to conference fun, there are parties. I went to two but sadly didn’t get photos. Also more panels, a tea party, a signing and a reading. Below is a photo of my setting up for my signing. My husband attended the conference with me and went to a film screening.


Conferences have so much on the schedule that you have to pick and choose your fun. I usually mark up my program with all the things I want to do.  And I  usually have a variety of festive and yes, I admit, vampirish type clothing for these events.

What made this conference unique is that my husband and I were celebrating our 39th wedding anniversary there. What made this conference challenging was having to dig ourselves out of the blizzard in order to attend.

But that’s life and it make the merry making that much sweeter.

Susan Hanniford Crowley, Amazon Kindle Bestselling Author of Vampire Romance
Where love burns eternal and whispers in the dark!

of New York

Vampire Princess of New York, Arnhem Knights of New York, Book 2 available in Kindle! In Amazon Print! In Barnes and Noble Print!
Vampire King of New York, Arnhem Knights of New York, Book 1 available in Kindle and Print and  Barnes and Noble Print






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First Radio Show is Done – Whew!!

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I’m not sure how many of you know that I’ve started a new adventure. Last year, after being on Authors on the Air Global Radio Network with some other authors, I was asked by the executive producer to host my own show. I could hardly breathe. What? Me? Host a show? At first I thought she meant just one show, but no, I was to have my own program.

Coming up with the title was interesting. Since I write in fiction and non-fiction, have books published in military, history, children’s and, of course, romantic mysteries, and love gardening, we decided to combine the two. Since gardens have a variety of flowers and food in them, we came up with “Your Book Garden.” The idea is to have authors on my show in various genres – both fiction and non-fiction.

AOTA logo

It took me a bit to get my act together and heal from surgery, but on Tuesday, March 13th at 2:00 Central, hands shaking, stomach rolling, heart pounding, my first show started.

char & cherylAnd who did I have on for my very first guests? Our very own Char Chaffin and Cheryl Yeko to discuss “The Soul Mate Tree.” While I was nervous to begin with, after the first minute or so, I think I forgot we were on the radio. They calmed me and were professional and fun.

The Soul Mate Tree Series LogoWe talked about each book in the series, how they came up with idea, and how they chose their authors. Char read the poem. The thirty-five minutes flew by, and before I knew it time was up. I hope to have them on again to talk about their experiences writing as CiCi Cordelia.

Thank you Char and Cheryl for a great first experience as a radio talk show host!! If you want to listen to the show here’s the link:

Tina Susedik is an award-winning, Amazon best-selling, multi-published author with books in both fiction and non-fiction, including history, children’s, military books, and romances. Her favorite is writing romance stories where her characters live happily ever after. She has three books and three anthologies with Soul Mate. Tina also writes spicier romance as Anita Kidesu. She lives in northwestern Wisconsin where winters are long, summers short, and spring and fall beautiful.

headshot-tina-susedik-fixed-with-jackie.jpgTina can be found at:



Twitter: @tinasusedik








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Marketing Methods By Authors

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Each time I’m faced with a new book release (or resurrecting an older release), I ponder the most effective ways of marketing my book. Over the years, I’ve learned by observing other authors and their methods.

For this blog, I’ve given a shout out to a handful of authors, mainly because a) I follow them and b) I find their marketing strategy informative and/or entertaining. There are plenty more authors who’ve proffered wonderful advice I’ve readily accepted and the authors included in this blog are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg!

  1. Newsletter

The easy part is setting up a newsletter (MailChimp). The hardest part is coming up with regularly scheduled, inspiring content. I find monthly newsletters best as they keep the authors (and their books) in my mind, yet the frequency of ‘once a month’ doesn’t flood my inbox. I’ve gained readers by having a newsletter, but I also know I need to put further effort and time into sending out newsletters more often.

What to put in a newsletter? You might want to hop over to Collette Cameron’s website and sign up. Her newsletters contain free e-book giveaways, free audible downloads, links to her street team, email communication and sometimes personal anecdotes. Her newsletters are a great framework for marketing and learning from.

  1. Facebook Launch Party

I have participated in a couple (with another one coming up at the end of the month for my latest release). For my first book, I hosted my own launch and on another occasion, I joined a group of authors promoting our anthology. For both launches, I enjoyed the process, gained readers, and had the chance to spread the word about my story/book. One author I’ve found does a fabulous job of hosting a Facebook launch is Beth Carter (

How to pull off a Facebook launch party? There are some things to plan ahead for a more successful book launch:

  • create your launch (about 2 weeks ahead of time) and tweet and share every day leading up.
  • pre-write your content and have it stored in one file so it’s easy to find on your computer (the pace can get hectic quickly).
  • include graphics (as many as possible) to gain interest.
  • plan your giveaways beforehand and how you plan on selecting your winner (rafflecopter, for example) and include any instructions and links for guests.
  • create a timeline – for example, the first 10 minutes can be spent introducing yourself and your book and welcoming guests, followed by an excerpt of your book and the cover, etc.
  • Toward the end, thank your guests and remind them of how to claim their prize – if they need to provide an email, time/location winner will be announced, etc.
  1. Blog

Feature other authors on your blog. Okay, my hand is raised. I’m guilty of finding my blog going dark these days as I’ve focused more on writing, editing (and my day job)! But again, I think regular communication is better and while I may be in the dog house with my blog, there are several author blogs I do follow and seeing their name regularly land in my inbox means they are on my mind (and so are their books). I know most authors love a free opportunity to have their books featured and would love the chance to be on your blog. Authors, take note: shoot me a message on Facebook or send me an email ( if you’d like to be on my blog. Likewise, I’m featuring a Facebook launch party for the release of Concealed Love on March 28, so follow me on Facebook and I’ll follow you back!

What to put in your blog? Aside from the above mentioned author interview, a blog can function similar to a newsletter and contain tips, book excerpts, personal anecdotes, announcements, and so on. I love how authors C.D. Hersh re-blog other blogs which often contain useful tips. Author Joanne Guidoccio, regularly includes cartoons (which brighten my week) and author Amy Deason offers witty movie critiques. My take away is that a blog doesn’t always have to be a brain drain, but can be light, fun and informative at the same time.

  1. Twitter

Ah, Twitter. My old friend. In the past, I tweeted daily. Then weekly. Then . . . well, it seems I need to re-visit this social media platform. Twitter is fast, easy and short. It doesn’t take a lot of time to send out a tweet. Author Steven Mitchell is a genius with Twitter (either creating a tweet or re-tweeting) and I need to refresh my Twitter feed. Twitter is great because it hits a different target audience than Facebook or your dedicated newsletter readers and the reach can be far.

What to tweet? Your book release, author interview, an image of your book cover or your favorite quote of the day, etc. Don’t forget to include those infamous hashtags #amwriting #newrelease #isn’tthisfun?

  1. Group Promotion

Aside from a joint Facebook launch, there are several joint promotional opportunities. What are some group promotional ideas/events?

  • Market your book with a group of authors for a seasonal promotion (often linked with a specific season or holiday such as Christmas or summer, for example).
  • Consider group marketing opportunities through established sites such as Night Owl Romance’s Book Club which provides your readers with digital goodie bags (think bookmarks, coaster, cards); or The Romance Review’s treasure hunts where readers can engage with authors and their books while having fun. Though these are paid promotions and generally require giveaways  (such as a free e-book) there are free promotional opportunities that come up each season.
  • Ensure your book in enrolled in Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Author Book Promotions
  • Consider employing a Thunderclap campaign.

These methods I’ve summarized cover the basics, but if you’ve experienced effective, creative methods that have worked well for your own marketing in the past, please comment below on this blog and we can all learn from what works – and what doesn’t!


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I have a label. Well, I have a lot of labels.

Daughter, sister, mother, wife, aunt, cousin, best friend, co-worker, bitch. Okay, just kidding about that last one. (I hope.)

In the publishing world, my label is “hybrid author.” Basically, it means I don’t keep all my eggs nestled in a single pretty wicker basket with a blue gingham ribbon. Actually, until Monday, those eggs were spread out amongst, um, let me see, one, two, three…six different baskets. Red, pink, purple, blue, green, and silver ribbons.

Damn, I take that hybrid label seriously, don’t I?

Actually, I don’t. I mean, I do, of course, but that wide variety just sort of happened. When I decided I wanted to dip my purple-painted big toe into the vast, murky publishing pool, I had not a clue what I was doing.

Let me reiterate: Not. A. Clue.

I’ve had a passion for writing pretty much since I learned cursive handwriting in third grade. (Yep, I’m that old – we had to learn cursive.) But beginning in college, writing took a backseat to life: partying and studying and changing my major half a dozen times, then working in the real world, then falling in love, then having babies, then figuring out that whole parenting thing.

Until I was laid off from an all-consuming sales job in 2010. All of a sudden, I had a lot of time on my hands. Cue the muses kicking in. All the muses. Criminy, there were so many voices in my head, I probably wrote ten full-length novels over the course of three months. They were all shit and I can’t even look at them without cringing now, but it was great practice.

(PS – don’t tell my husband about this; he thought I was job searching all that time I spent hunkered down in front of the computer.)

When the muses finally gave me a little breathing space, I started researching. Marketing. Social Media. Publishers. Agents.

Joined Twitter. Created a Facebook page. Took RWA online classes. Started submitting to various publishing houses.

Got a lot of rejection letters, some even encouraging.

In 2014, I participated in #pitmad. Got a like. Then another. And another. By the end of the day, I had a list of publishers to cull through, figure out who was “worthy” of my books. (Read: who offered the best royalty rate and sold decent numbers of books in the same genres I wrote.)

Ultimately, I sent my manuscripts to two different houses, plus at the same time continued to submit directly to other publishers, as I saw calls that interested me or read books I enjoyed and noted who published them (yes, I’m *that* reader who actually reads the front and back matter of a book).

Both of those #pitmad publishers accepted the manuscripts I sent, and ultimately I ended up publishing a series of three books with one and a series of five books with the other. And one of the houses I “cold-called” (as my former sales person self thought of it) was Soul Mates, and they offered me a contract too.

In the meantime, I started making friends in the indie community, started spending more time on that whole marketing aspect; managed to get a handful of reviews and win a few awards…Sold a couple books.

And started self-publishing.

Since then, I joined a boxed set that is published by one of the authors in the set, and was invited to participate in an anthology published by a smaller up-and-coming publishing house with quite the nice royalty share.

Hence the six.

Good thing I’m accidentally as hybrid as I am, because this industry takes the process of change seriously; like, it’s always doing it. A couple years ago, one of my publishers decided to shift their focus to sweet, inspirational romance (aka closed door sex, which is not at all what I write), and pretty much ignored the rest of us while hiking our book prices into the stratosphere. And while it’s flattering to think someone would pay the same amount for one of my books as they would for Nora Roberts, I’m not that niave. And I wanted people to actually read those books, so as soon as my contracts were up, I asked for my rights back.

And on Monday, another one of my publishers closed their doors, so abruptly the editors had a whole twenty minutes notice before the authors and subsequently the general public (those on Twitter, at any rate) found out.

That one was hard, because, like the atmosphere here at Soul Mates, that one was a family. And it felt like the family was getting split up, separated and being adopted out to strangers, and we might never see each other again. (Okay, it’s not quite that bad, courtesy of the handy-dandy internet, but still…)

Although, while closings are sad or sometimes make authors angry and definitely tend to send the publishing world into temporary upheaval, the hybrid author is generally able to take it in stride. I doubt acquiring my rights back for those books owned by that publisher will be difficult, but even if it is, it only affects 3 of the 22 books I currently have published. Wait – 23. Forgot about the freebie that’s only available on my website.

Holy crap, I have a lot of books out there for you to read. And more on the way.

I do still have four other baskets, after all.

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