Risking It All—In Life and Writing by C.D. Hersh

A few years ago we took a trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where we stayed at a 100+year-old light house at Big Bay Point.

The views were spectacular, the weather wonderfully cool (which was a big bonus after our record breaking heat wave at home), the innkeepers very accommodating, and the lighthouse charming. However, as it is with all writers, everything is fodder for a story … or in this case for a blog.

While at the lighthouse, curiosity overtook the guests and we wanted to know how our hosts, Jeff and Linda, ended up owning the lighthouse and running it as a B&B. As it turned out, our B&B hosts were once guests in the lighthouse themselves. For several years they, and a group of friends, rented out all seven rooms and loved it so much they just kept coming back. Then the owner told them he was planning to sell the lighthouse and the adjoining land. A condo developer, and another business, were interested in the property. Both businesses would tear down the lighthouse and destroy the beauty of the rural setting that had been part of the lighthouse since 1896.

Our hosts were preservationists, who were active in Frank Lloyd Wright homes in the Chicago area, where they lived before buying the lighthouse. They hated the thought that the lighthouse could be torn down. They also didn’t want to run a Bed and Breakfast, but they felt they had to do something to try and stop the destruction from happening.

“We made a ridiculously low offer,” said Jeff, “which we didn’t expect them to take. It was mainly so I could feel better about trying to save it (the lighthouse). We asked for the lighthouse and acreage on either side on the building, taking a section right out of the middle of the property.”

A few weeks later Jeff’s wife called him at work and said, “Cancel the trip to Africa and put the house on the market. We’ll talk about it when I get home.” Their ridiculously low offer—the one Jeff was sure would be rejected—had been accepted and a new chapter in their lives had begun.

Interesting, you say, but what does Jeff’s and Linda’s story have to do with a writing-themed blog?

We can think of several things:

  • Jeff and Linda took a risk by bidding on the lighthouse. Risks are what we need our characters to take. They can’t play it safe or there’s no story. If the heroine hears a noise in the dark basement, she MUST go down there. Even though we, as readers or movie viewers, are yelling, “Don’t! The ax murderer is waiting for you!”
  • The risk our characters have to take MUST be big. Jeff and Linda risked everything on something they didn’t expect to happen. Buying the lighthouse cost them financially. They had to sink everything they had into the purchase and repair. It cost them emotionally in time spent apart. Linda lived there alone for several years while Jeff commuted on weekends, and it cost them physically. They, and their friends, did the restoration work themselves. Their story would have been much different, and a lot less interesting and entertaining, if they’d had the finances to send someone to do the work and invest the time needed to bring the lighthouse back to all its former glory.
  • Taking a risk doesn’t always end the way you think it will. Jeff didn’t want to run a B&B, he just wanted to feel better about “trying” to save the lighthouse. Instead, he and Linda saved the lighthouse, which is a huge part of Lake Superior’s history, and have provided enjoyment to hundreds of guests who’ve crossed the threshold of the B&B lighthouse. The next time you have your character take a risk, consider turning the results into something unexpected that will set them on a new adventure.
  • And lastly, we, as writers, have to take risks. Does something scare you? Are you afraid of approaching an editor, starting a blog or website, or sending your “baby” out to get rejected … or accepted? If you have writing goals you haven’t conquered yet, take a chance and just do them. Maybe you’ll end up with a great story to tell too.

 

 

 

 

 

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BookBub Featured Deal Amplifier Strategy: A Follow Up by Rebecca Heflin

YySjh4QCLast blog post I wrote about amplifying the coveted BookBub Featured Deal for maximum effect. This post is a recap of my recent BookBub Featured Deal.

My Strategy

I applied for a Featured Deal for my three-novella series which I sell as a box set for $4.99. I put it on sale for $.99. I obtained the Featured Deal for Sunday, March 10. Sunday is not an ideal day if the goal is to hit the USA Today Bestseller List. Since the USA Today sales week runs from Monday to Sunday, you don’t enjoy the tail sales from your BookBub deal to boost your sales totals. Even so, I wasn’t about to pass up the opportunity. So, I immediately went to work signing up with other bargain book newsletters. Here’s how it shook out:

  • Reading Deals – March 4
  • Bargain Booksy – March 5
  • Booksend and eRNT – March 9
  • BookBub – March 10
  • eBook Discovery – March 15

The lag time between March 5th, when the Bargain Booksy ran, and March 9th, when both the Booksend and eRNT ran, hurt my momentum a little leading up to the Big Day. I had requested a Robin Reads deal on the 6th or 7th, but didn’t get it. eBook Discovery was a new one for me, but I had a nice little bump in sales with it.

I also scheduled BookBub PPC ads, Goodreads Ads, and Facebook Ads throughout the campaign, and included the sale in my monthly newsletter which went out on Thursday, March 7. In addition, I posted the deal in several Facebook promo groups, as well as scheduled posts on Facebook and Twitter.

I had everything arranged and completed so the week of the deal I could spend my time monitoring the progress. I created a spreadsheet (see below), which included the dates, the sales each day, the ranking (for those outlets that offer them), my royalties for each day, and the cost for each promo.

BookBub Promo Stats for Blog Post

The power of the BookBub Featured Deal is there in black and white. I was astonished at how many units I sold in that one day. Amazon being, by far, the most popular platform—no surprise there. Bottom line is I hit three lists:

  • Nook Books Top 100 (#12)
  • Amazon Top 100 Contemporary Romance (#56)
  • Kobo Top 10 (#6)

I’m also pleased that my Amazon ranking didn’t fall off a cliff after the sale ended, and I continue to sell a few units each day.

On a side note: I tried for several years to get a BookBub Featured Deal on a variety of books. When I kept getting passed over, I decided to run some BookBub PPC ads and I increased my author presence on the site. Not too long after, I was selected. I can’t say for sure if the ads and the author profile helped, but it sure didn’t hurt. I will continue to run BookBub ads, because, as I noted in my previous post, these are by far my most successful.

Keep in mind, BookBub won’t run a Featured Deal on the same book in a six month period, nor will they feature the same author more than once every 30 days, so be sure to space out your requests accordingly. I’m planning to submit another Featured Deal this summer for my latest book. Fingers crossed I’ll get another one, then I’ll roll up my sleeves and get to work on setting the amplification strategy in motion.

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A WRITER’S PROCESS – Michelle Jean Marie

I was recently asked how I come up with ideas for my books, and once I have an idea, how do I proceed? It took me a while to think about these questions. It’s always been such a natural process for me, that I never really thought about how it ‘happened.’

I will say that my first efforts in writing were done as a ‘fan fiction’ sort of project. My high school friends and I would write stories around television series. We’d cast ourselves against the leading men, of course. And we were always the heroes (or heroines) who saved the day.

TF300Fast forward to my more serious writing efforts where I created all my own characters and plot lines. How did they come to be? Oddly enough, my first book, TEMPTING FATE began with a dream. I took a seed from that dream, and created rough outlines of characters. But a story needs more than characters. Since I’ve always been fascinated with the Victorian Era, I began researching historical events that would fit these two people I created.

That led me to the Great Exhibition of London in 1851. The event eventually became a critical scene in the book. As I was researching more about the era – housing, food, clothing, etc., I also came across some information about industrial mills, and how children were ‘sold’ as apprentices. Many didn’t reach adulthood, or if they did, were seriously maimed. Thus was born the idea of my heroine, Lady Alanna, taking on the mission to save these children.

The characters grew from these key ideas. They needed to be opposites so there would be conflict. Alanna is compassionate, caring and gracious. The hero, on the other hand, has just returned from the Crimean War. Kellen Harrington is cynical, distrustful, and rough around the edges. Needless to say, they viewed life from very different angles.

TP-300Book two, TEMPTING PASSION, grew from the first book. It tells the story of Alanna’s brother, Marcus Clayton, Earl of Norbourne. He was rather straight forward in the first book. I knew he needed an ‘edge’ to make the reader engaged and want to read more. So I set the book several years later, during which time Marcus suffers a great tragedy.  He needed a heroine who would have the patience to understand his sufferings and help him heal. Christel Fitzwilliam was that woman, who has her own hardships to conquer also.

My process for writing is the same, despite how the story comes to me. I am a planner and a plotter, a person with attention to detail. (I’m a professional organizer by day.) I start with a synopsis, then outline each of the chapters, looking for character growth, theme, and pivotal story points that will move the story forward.

Each of my chapters usually has three scenes. I sometimes switch point of view during the chapter so the reader can experience the story from both sides. And each chapter has a hook at the end to make the reader want to keep reading.

Yes, it takes time to do all this. But to me it’s worth it so I don’t write myself into a corner three quarters of the way into a book. I also create settings, and find out what the weather could have been like. What did they eat for breakfast? When did they take tea? Was it proper for an unmarried woman to venture out alone unescorted? (The answer is ‘no’ by the way.) If the couple wanted to have spontaneous sex, could the hero really get through all that clothing in the ten minutes the couple had? After the first draft, there are several more, layering in details and checking for inconsistencies.

Once the book is completed, it’s ready to send off to my editor. And just when I think it’s done, I get the revision letter in my Inbox…

Such is a writer’s life. Challenging, but so very rewarding. And so very unpredictable! I’ve learned so much on this journey – about writing and about history. Are you ready to join me?

Where to find Michelle Jean: Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Getting It Right in Historical Novels

Years ago, I wrote history books and I tried to make them lively.

My philosophy was this: if history books are boring, nobody will read them. If they’re lively, maybe more historical buildings would be preserved instead of torn down.

Now I write historical novels and looking back, writing those history books was easier.

In a novel, you must have a story. In a romance novel, it has to be a love story with a happy ending. If you put that story in a historical setting, purists flay you if you get one fact wrong, even if your story is good.

Readers of non-fiction are more forgiving.

Misinformation gets thrown around a lot, requiring the researcher to delve deep, find the original source, determine if it is credible, then see who copied the source. Stories get carried from one book to another. Shoddy research sometimes becomes so deeply lodged that when the real fact emerges, nobody believes it.

Fake history may come from someone’s faulty memory or from a generally good historian relying on a source that passed on unreliable information. In a novel, it is sometimes necessary to fudge a fact, but if you do, you have to tell your readers what you did in a Note or Acknowledgment.

Or you should.

Here’s what I did. In Shadow of the Fox, my early California historical, I knew carriages weren’t present before a certain date, but I put one in earlier (and told the reader at the end of the book). Same with the hotel. The first fancy hotel in Los Angeles came in the 1850s, but I needed it in 1846 so I imagined one. Pico House, a very grand edifice indeed, wasn’t built until a few years after statehood.

I’m reasonably comfortable in California’s rancho period (think Zorro). Not so in Regency England, the other period I write in. Society was rigid. My characters are not. There were rules for everything and I know only a few. When my heroine in Scandal’s Child attended a funeral, it was a huge mistake. Ladies did not attend funerals. Of course, my heroine wasn’t a “lady” then so maybe I squeaked by. Readers didn’t note it in reviews. Purists probably curled their lips in disgust.

In my history books, I try to find three credible sources that agree before I claim something as fact. In my novels, the story comes first (and my apology comes after).

My second Regency, Scandal’s Bride, will be out July 10 and I’ve tried to be careful, but my characters are not proper (scandalous, actually), so I’m formulating my apology in advance.
I sincerely hope you’ll like it.

Pamela Gibson


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Location, Location, Location

I’ve just completed a four-book series and am in the process of writing the third book of a five book series, the first two books of which have already been published by Soul Mate Publishing. Both series are specific to a certain geographical locale. The four book series centers around a young woman’s travels in Europe, not unlike my own. The five book series, however, is contained within a specific fictional town, patterned after the small city in northwest Washington where my brother and his family live. This series, the Salmon Run Novels, seems to be a favorite among West Coast readers. Interestingly, my Millicent Winthrop series has had wide appeal among young women readers in Europe, specifically in Germany. Location-specific marketing corresponding to the each of the series’ locale was far from my intention when embarking on these novels. Yet now that they’ve been published and purchased, I notice an interesting trend. Readers like to read something they can relate to, whether that is because of the characters, the circumstances of the plot, or simply the locale.

Luckily, because of my travels I’m extremely familiar with Europe, as well as with northwest Washington. Long before I began writing, I had visited and stayed some length of time in different cities both in the United Kingdom and on the continent, as well as with my brother and his family in Washington. The last 25 years I’ve lived in southern Oregon, but now that my son lives in Berlin, my traveling has increased. With each visit I gained more insight into different cultures, the reading interests within those cultures, and how best to reach those readers.

Location matters on many different levels. First, as a writer I want to be both familiar and bewitched by where I set my stories. I’m not interested in merely Google-ing up information generic to a place. I want nosh on the details – the history, the topography, the cuisine, the current fashions, the political scene, and all the other specific human and environmental factors that go into understanding deeply how place matters.

It’s also interesting to me to know what readers find intriguing. I remember an episode of the British comedy, As Time Goes By, about when Lionel wrote a book about his military stay in a remote area of Africa as a young man. The book was not selling well, so his publisher suggested he go on a book signing tour. Lionel didn’t want to go on the tour, but he did so nonetheless. The humor rested on the fact that no matter where he went, only three people showed up – his girlfriend (played by Judi Dench), his publisher, and him. At first the three were rather embarrassed and were ultra-careful about what they said around for Lionel. But by the end of the tour, all three of the characters were laughing for Lionel finally got the message: as a writer it’s not enough to be entranced with a location, one’s readers must be as well. And how does one achieve that? It’s by gong deep into the details of the story’s setting. As the 17th century humorist Caspar Barlaeus said, “God hides in the smallest places.”

 

 

 

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Changing Your Outlook in Paris!

Audrey Hepburn, Schauspielerin

Courtesy of Comet Photo AG (Zürich) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D

“Paris isn’t for changing planes,” Audrey Hepburn says to Humphrey Bogart in Sabrina, “it’s for changing your outlook! For throwing open the windows and letting in…letting in la vie en rose.” Watching Hepburn’s films is one way to get a taste of the sweet life in Paris.  This quote is from https://untappedcities.com/2013/02/08/la-vie-en-rose-in-audrey-hepburns-paris/

So many authors, musicians, and artists have found joy, wonder, and inspiration in Paris. So many people have simply found a new viewpoint. A tip from a friend, if you want croissants in the morning, scope out your nearest bakery and be at their door at the crack of dawn or the croissants will be gone.

For me, Paris is the second home of my vampiress Noblesse. The book has two exciting settings: Manhattan and Paris. Going to Paris with Noblesse and her new husband is riveting, romantic, and fun. Is there danger and suspense? Always!

Vampire Princess of New York book card 3

To purchase at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Vampire-Princess-York-Arnhem-Knights-ebook/dp/B01LWXYX1G

To purchase at Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/vampire-princess-of-new-york-susan-hanniford-crowley/1125966996

If you buy any of the books and send me a self-addressed stamped envelope, I will send you a special autographed card. Please, include the name you want me to write to.

All the best for an adventure in Paris!
-Susan
Susan Hanniford Crowley
http://www.susanhannifordcrowley.com
Where love burns eternal and whispers in the dark!

 

 

Posted in Author, Books, Paranormal Romance, Romance, Soul Mate Publishing, Susan's Snippets!, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Let’s Get Audible.

One of the great things about writing for Soul Mate is the rights we retain as authors, which include movie and audio-book rights.

Now I won’t deny that I would love to see my stories on the big screen, but practically speaking it’s much more feasible to pursue making an audio book rather than a movie, so I started looking into it.

There are a number of options, but after researching I settled on having Findaway Voices (https://findawayvoices.com/) do the first book in my Xi Force Series, Z-Bot.

ZBotAudio.jpg

So far it’s been a very good experience. They connected me with a wonderful narrator named Larry Gorman.

Larry Gorman.png

Larry really brought my book to life. (You can hear samples of his amazing voice HERE, and a sample of my book on the Amazon page listed below.)

And just last week my new audio book started coming up on sites including Audible and iTunes. It will eventually be available from 31 different online sources.

And if you’re interested you can find the Amazon listing here: https://www.amazon.com/Z-Bot-Xi-Force-Book-1/dp/B07QGBF2W5/

I’m so happy with the results I’ve already contracted to have Phaze produced.

Yay!

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Adventure in Fantastic Worlds

Bio.jpg

S.C.Mitchell is a writer of paranormal, sci-fi, and fantasy romance, who crafts unique and wondrous worlds where characters explore, romp, and fall in love. Whether traveling through demon-filled dimensions, deep space, or ancient mythological heavens, heroes and heroines face fantastic challenges on their pathway to enduring love.

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