Monday, December 22, 2014

Don't let the holidays suck the lifeblood out of you!

Merry Christmas, et al. I have two gifts & a giveaway for you all!

First, I wanted to write you all a Christmas poem. It's not really about Christmas, but it's in there... so here you go!

Meet the Jones

To Mulberry Lane,
In Sycamore Square,
Moved a handsome new family
With skin oh, so fair.

Respected, adored,
Admired by many,
They had wealth to spare
And flaunted it plenty.

In the spring they threw parties,
They lit up the night,
A few lucky chosen
To stay until light.

In summer they vanished,
They left the harsh sun,
Facebooked from down under
To show off ski fun.

When weather turned cooler,
Guess who reappears,
In time for fall fests
And Halloween's spooky fears.

But as winter approached,
The neighborhood thinned.
Where's everyone gone?
Asked the lone, chilling wind.

The family laughed
So full and so jolly.
Christmas wishes were granted
By vain human folly.

When New Year arrives,
The Jones will be gone
To another quaint village,
Fresh blood to feed on.


The Second gift I have, is the lovely and talented, Sharon Bayliss! She has a fun, "You might be..." post to celebrate the coming of her next December People book, WATCH ME BURN!


Dark wizards living in the Mundane world have a lot of challenges. Here are some signs that you might be one of The December People...
  1. Your favorite football team really did lose because you forgot to wear your lucky socks.
  2. You have to move every year because your house keeps getting destroyed.
  3. You're on a first name basis with all of the nurses in your local ER.
  4. If all your kids are alive and safely inside your home, you think you're the greatest parent ever.
  5. You care way too much about the seasons.
  6. You're angry at J.K. Rowling for her unfair treatment of Slytherins.
  7. You celebrate Christmas either way too much or way too little.
  8. If you and your family members stand in a circle, the house might burn down.
  9. You have way too many children and they keep stealing your car.
  10. It's your fault that it's raining.
Begin the series with Destruction for only 99 cents (12/1-12/21 only)!
Semi-finalist in the Kindle Book Review Awards and #1 category bestseller in coming of age fantasy.

DESTRUCTION
David Vandergraff wants to be a good man. He goes to church every Sunday, keeps his lawn trim and green, and loves his wife and kids more than anything.

Unfortunately, being a dark wizard isn't a choice.

Eleven years ago, David's secret second family went missing. When his two lost children are finally found, he learns they suffered years of unthinkable abuse. Ready to make things right, David brings the kids home even though it could mean losing the wife he can’t imagine living without.

Keeping his life together becomes harder when the new children claim to be dark wizards. David believes they use this fantasy to cope with their trauma. Until, David's wife admits a secret of her own—she is a dark wizard too, as is David, and all of their children.

Now, David must parent two hurting children from a dark world he doesn’t understand and keep his family from falling apart. All while dealing with the realization that everyone he loves, including himself, may be evil.


WATCH ME BURN
David Vandergraff lost his home, his job, and contact with his oldest son, but remains determined to be a good husband and father despite being a dark winter wizard.

His resolve is tested when a flyer for a missing girl--who happens to be a summer witch--begins to haunt him. David believes a spell needs to use him to save her, so he follows the magic's command and looks into her disappearance. His teenage daughter Emmy resents him for caring so much about a random stranger. But when she uncovers some disturbing evidence close to home, she begins an investigation of her own.

David and Emmy quickly learn that the mystery is not only about a missing girl they barely know, but a deeply personal story that impacts everyone they care about. As their world crumbles, they fear the warning may be true—never mess with summer wizards, because the good guys always win.





And lastly, the GINORMOUS GIVEAWAY!

My good buddy, Andrew Buckley from Curiosity Quills put together a colossal Christmas giveaway. It's a chance to win one of 24 awesome books!

I'm helper elf, Twinkle Fluffenguff, offering POP TRAVEL and BROKEN BRANCH FALLS. Sharon, aka Giggles McJinglebell, has DESTRUCTION in it as well! Check it out!


MERRY CHRISTMAS
TO ALL!

AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Historical Romance Requires Endurance

Christmas is creeping (hmm, I might have to make that into a song!) I'm mostly ready... I find as I get older, I have less people to buy for. Yippee! And even though I was going to take December off from book events, I asked around and lucky me, I got to do a book signing at Half Price Books. They were awesome! I gave out some cookies and sold some books, it was great! Just goes to show, never hesitate to ask. And to top the night off, I brought some more Broken Branch Falls cookies to my neighborhood cookie exchange and won most creative cookies! Yay!


Now for the main feature.
I've been friends with Carrie Anne for a long time, you might say we are historic! (Sorry)

Carrie Anne writes historical romance, and her word count often triples or even quadruples mine! It's amazing! She is knowledgeable, descriptive, and romantic. Her scenes are picturesque and informative. In her latest novel, she blends historic Russia with emotional characters. Sometimes it's hard to find an audience, and don't we all know! But I'm pulling for her! And with that, I'll let her give you a fascinating "Behind the Book" post!


Sometime during my first major writing phase, I decided to have Lyuba fall in love with Ivan, her other best friend and the guy who’s stepped up to help to raise her daughter Tatyana after Boris abandoned her right before she went into labor.  Their latest romantic reunion in Chapter 7, “Lyuba’s Time of Troubles,” was originally written as the very first time they’d kissed or Lyuba had declared her romantic feelings.  Then I stumbled onto the idea of Lyuba having secretly been in love with Ivan since childhood.  Ivan no longer had an unrequited case of love for her.  During the second major phase of writing, I came up with the plot point of them having had a month-long clandestine romance which had ended right before the book started.

Lyuba and Ivan both became survivors of traumatic childhoods, with different types of abuse.  This did a lot to explain some of the behavior which hadn’t had any motivation or context, like Ivan’s volatile temper and why Lyuba doesn’t want to get married or have children.  They’re two wounded, scarred souls who instinctively understand one another.  They don’t know how to be normal, even though they know what normal is supposed to look like.  Their whole lives, abnormal has been normal, and Lyuba in particular doesn’t know how to make normal happen for herself.  She’s too used to being hurt and abused by men, and is scared of the thought of being forever with a nice guy who treats her with love and respect.

Lyuba’s former preference for Boris became a pretended preference, and I created the backstory about her mother having drilled into her the importance of marrying a man who can offer financial security and social status, even if he might be abusive or uncouth.  Over time, Boris became more and more of an antagonist, a far cry from the pretty decent guy he’d originally been written as.  Because of Lyuba’s psychological baggage, she lets their charade relationship continue and later goes back to him a number of times.  But all along, Ivan is always the only man in her heart.  She reminds me a lot of Scarlett O’Hara and Amber St. Clare.  They might appear bad on the surface, but when you take a deeper look, you understand what drives them and feel sympathy.

It was beautiful Divine Providence that I gave my female protagonist the name Amy, since the Russian equivalent is Lyubov, which literally means “love.”  It’s such a perfect, fitting name for a character who’s in desperate search of love and its healing power.  I also love the wordplay it creates in Russian when Ivan calls her “my love.”  Not only is she his love, but she’s also his Lyubov.

Had I been older than thirteen when I started the book all those years ago, I would’ve given my male protagonist anything but the most common male name in Russian history, but it really suits who he is.  He’s old-fashioned, solid, dependable, hard-working, with a quintessentially Russian soul. There’s also the frequent symbolic contrast between Ivan II, the Meek, and Tsar Ivan IV, Grozniy.  He was named for Tsar Ivan III, the Great (the first Russian ruler to call himself Tsar), yet he too often is either too meek or lets his volatile temper get the better of him, thanks to his traumatic childhood.


Available now at Amazon!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Sprucing up the blog

the US cover =)
Today I have Robin Houghton, applauded author and compiler of BLOGGING FOR WRITERS and BLOGGING FOR CREATIVES. In other words, she knows blogging! I was flabberghasted when she asked if she could use me in her book. And now, I'd like to share some more with you all about her and I twisted her ear to get some "free" advice, too...

TT: Now that I'm published, I have less and less time to blog, but I keep at it. How do you balance blogging and publishing with day-to-day life?

RH: I find planning ahead really helps to focus me and keeps me from feeling overwhelmed. This means having an editorial calendar and being realistic about what I can manage. If time is tight, I keep it short – short can be good – I love Seth Godin’s blog, and if he can find the time to blog every day, there’s no excuse for me not managing once a week!  I don’t always stick to the plan, but I think it’s important to stay flexible – my feeling is that life gets in the way and there’s no point beating up on yourself if you’ve missed a blog post.

TT: I've found marketing to be one of the hardest things about publishing. What is your best marketing advice?

RH: Ooh, that’s a big one! I think we can all debate the merits of the various marketing strategies and whether social media, speaking at conferences or mailshots work for selling books. But I think the one crucial essence of marketing is putting yourself in the shoes (and mindset) of your audience. For writers this means first of all your readers, but it also means the publishing industry – everyone from publishers, agents & editors to booksellers and books bloggers. Understanding a person’s viewpoint is the first step towards connecting with them. Dan Blank is someone I admire a lot, and he talks about building your author platform one reader at a time. I think social media makes this possible in a way that traditional broadcast methods alone can’t do.

TT: Blogging has been an awesome tool as a launching pad into writing for me. Now, I'm branching out. How do you feel about managing a website? or a newsletter? Would you recommend these additional formats for writers?

RH: I think if you start with a blog, then a separate website may be redundant – blogging platforms allow you to build static pages, so anything you’d put on a website could sit on your blog. Having said that, I know authors (and publishers) sometimes prefer to have separate website purely for publicity and promotion. Personally, I think if you’re starting out or self-publishing then keep it simple and stick with a blog. 

A newsletter is another thing – the advantage of building an email list is that you have a method of contacting your fans directly when you want to invite them to something, or have something to sell, or an exclusive offer, or want to survey them, or reward them. An email list is yours to build and nurture – if anything happened to your blog or website you’d still have your list of people who have opted-in to hearing from you. Mailchimp is free for up to 2,000 subscribers and it’s easy to put a sign-up box on your blog. If you’re thinking of monetising your list (for example, offering ebooks or courses) then take a look at Aweber.  A newsletter doesn’t have to be long. Minimise the work involved by re-using existing material (blog posts, articles or extracts) and supplement it with something topical or a brief update on a current project. Send something regularly to the list but don’t over-promise – better to say they’ll receive “regular updates” (which leaves it open) rather than “weekly news” which might become a burden.  A newsletter can work well alongside a blog – put it onto your editorial calendar, prepare and schedule ahead as much as you can and use a tool like Buffer to keep your social networks aware of the newsletter and encourage subscriptions.

TT: As for social media, do you have any tips for those of us who need to utilize Twitter more effectively (I'm a twitter twit!)

RH: Lots! Here’s a recent post on the subject – Seven Things to do on Twitter This Week
I suppose my number one tip would be to segment the people you follow into lists, then use a dashboard like Hootsuite and you can create columns for each list. For example, I’m following around 1,500 people which is impossible, really. So I have lists – which include things like ‘Poetry magazines’, ‘Poets’, ‘Publishers’ and ‘Twitter Buddies’ (those who I often chat with, or who retweet or favourite my tweets). By putting people into those smaller groups it makes it easier to follow their tweets.

TT: And finally, could you tell us a little about what's coming up next for you?

RH: Well 2015 is shaping up quite well – I have more guest blog appearances lined up and possibly some in-person events, I’ve another title launching in March called ‘The Golden Rules of Blogging (and When to Break Them)’ which will be fun to promote, as it’s a little different from my other blogging books – less instructional, more entertaining you might say! I’m also working on a new & updated edition of Blogging for Creatives which the publisher tells me is still very popular


the UK cover!
On the poetry front, I’m a founder member of a poets’ publishing collective called Telltale Press, And we’re expecting to have at least 3 more poets joining us, so I’ll be involved in publishing their chapbooks and publicising the Press with events and readings. It’s fun to be on both sides of the publishing process and I enjoy promoting other writers’ work. Alongside that, I’m hoping to see my poems in more magazines, but that’s in the lap of the gods...

Thanks so much for inviting me onto your blog, Tara, and for contributing to ‘Blogging for Writers’ – I was incredibly lucky to find so many great writers willing to share their blogging wit and wisdom!

I don't know about you all, but I learned some more great info today - and I love that! Thanks for opening up to us, Robin! And thanks again for the opportunity!


Robin Houghton has over two decades of experience in marketing and communications, formerly with Nike, then running her own business Eggbox Marketing since 2002 specialising in online. She now works primarily with writers and publishing industry professionals to help them make the best use of social media. Robin writes blogs on social media and poetry and has been a guest blogger for a number of sites including Social Media Today and MarketingProfs. She is a published poet and a commercial copywriter for web and print, and an experienced trainer and conference speaker. Her first book 'Blogging for Creatives' was a best-seller and resulted in two more commissions, 'Blogging for Writers' and forthcoming in 2015 'The Rules of Blogging (and How to Break Them)', both published by Ilex in the UK and Writers Digest Books in the US.


Buy the book:
or on Amazon UK