Thoughts on Thunderclap #IWSG #AmMarketing

Thank you all for your feedback on last month's Insecure Writers Support Group Post in which I whined about wanting low-commitment marketing ideas for my book launch. So many of you suggested setting up a Thunderclap, that I decided to go for it.

I'd avoided setting up my own Thunderclap after watching other authors struggle to come up with the 100 supporter minimum. (If you don't know what a Thunderclap is, you can read more about it here.) No matter how big an author's following is, it's shockingly damn hard to get 100 people to sign up for an auto-post. Then I remembered the secret weapon author Cherie Colyer told me about...

There's a Facebook group called Thunderclap Campaigns - it's authors helping authors by supporting each other's Thunderclap campaigns. Everyone posts links to their open campaigns in a post and in comments, and we all clicketty clack to help each other get to 100 and beyond. It was so freeing to not feel like I needed to continually hound my followers for support. (One thing I'm absolutely DONE with is hounding people. The only thing it ever succeeds at is making me miserable.)
Benefits of Thunderclap

Besides the obvious - leveraging your social network reach with a boatload of posts going up around the webosphere at the exact same time - I noted these other benefits of doing a Thunderclap,

  • Drumming up support gives you a reason to post about your book without saying, "Hey, buy my book.". 
  • Supporting other authors in the Thunderclap Campaigns Facebook group is a quick and easy way to keep your Twitter feed active.
  • It's fun to watch the number of supporters and social reach go up! It's easy to get discouraged in today's glutted book market, so it's nice to have something positive to focus on during the tense days leading up to a release.
  • It was fun interacting with authors in the Facebook group. (Warning: if you participate in the group, your Facebook notifications will be out of control for a while because you'll get notified every time someone leaves their link in the same threads where you left yours.)

Thunderclapping Tips

  • If you're an author, join the Thunderclap Campaigns group on Facebook and actively support other authors and leave your link in the comments.
  • Really think about the message you want auto-Tweeted/posted. Don't waste the opportunity. Know what works with your audience. Simply shouting 'buy my book" does not work.
  • Take time to design an eye-catching graphic for the Thunderclap - it'll be visible whenever someone Tweets that they've supported your campaign and is another opportunity to get your book cover & tagline in front of people. 
  • Consider what time you select for your mass post. A lot of people seem to choose noon EST. Supporting lots of authors through the Facebook group means I've had a lot of Tweets piling right on top of each other at exactly noon EST. I'd imagine it's more effective to not be lost in a pile of other auto-Tweets.    

Did it do any good?

Meh. I don't know. Release day wasn't horrifying, and I didn't have many other marketing efforts going, so I'd say Thunderclap helped me do at least as well on release day as I've done with other books for which I'd put in a lot more marketing time and effort. Here are my results:

So, does 230 clicks mean that 230 people clicked on the link in my Thunderclapped post? If so, that's not bad for something that's free and easy. Yep, I'll definitely do it again - THANK YOU, fellow IWSGers, for giving me the nudge to try something new! 


This post is part of the monthly blog hop/therapy session known as Insecure Writers Support Group, founded by the one and clonely Alex J. Cavanaugh.


New Adult Scavenger Hunt, featuring exclusive excerpt from 738 Days by @StaceyKade #NewASH

April 28 - May 1

***The Hunt is now closed***

Welcome to Spring 2016 edition of the New Adult Scavenger Hunt!

The scavenger hunt includes exclusive content from fabulous New Adult authors. As you hop around, collect the lucky numbers on each post and add them up to enter to win one of three HUGE prize packs of paperback books. But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for 72 hours! If you're just getting started, go to the New Adult Scavenger Hunt website for instructions. 

There are three teams, each with its own prize pack. I'm excited to be a part of Team Purple, which means I get to feature exclusive content from Stacey Kade, one of the other Team Purple authors - I think you'll find her book quite intriguing. At the end of this post, I'll send you to Lisa Swallow, another awesome team member, for more good stuff. 

Just want to clarify that my book included in the Team Purple giveaway is a paper copy of the original version of Three Daves—the retro version when Jen and her boys were back in the 80s. In the new version, they’ve been transported to the new millennium and each Dave’s been given his own novella along with a host of other updates (including sexy new covers). 


Meet Stacey Kade

The daughter of a minister and a music teacher, Stacey Kade grew up reading Harlequin romances on the sly in the basement. Her obsession with IMDb and the entertainment industry in general means no one will play her in Scene It or Hollywood Game Night anymore. Her one brush with fame was possibly seeing Billy Crystal in an airport once.

Stacey's Website

Stacey's Blog


738 DAYS by Stacey Kade

At fifteen, Amanda Grace was abducted on her way home from school. 738 days later, she escaped. Her 20/20 interview is what everyone remembers—Amanda describing the room where she was kept, the torn poster of TV heartthrob Chase Henry on the wall. It reminded her of home and gave her the strength to keep fighting.

Now, years later, Amanda is struggling to live normally. Her friends have gone on to college, while she battles PTSD. She’s not getting any better, and she fears that if something doesn’t change soon she never will.

Six years ago, Chase Henry defied astronomical odds, won a coveted role on a new TV show, and was elevated to super-stardom. With it, came drugs, alcohol, arrests, and crazy spending sprees. Now he’s sober and a Hollywood pariah, washed up at twenty-four.

To revamp his image, Chase’s publicist comes up with a plan: surprise Amanda Grace with the chance to meet her hero, followed by a visit to the set of Chase’s new movie. The meeting is a disaster, but out of mutual desperation, Amanda and Chase strike a deal. What starts as a simple arrangement, though, rapidly becomes more complicated when they realize they need each other in more ways than one. But when the past resurfaces in a new threat, will they stand together or fall apart?

With charm and heart, Stacey Kade takes readers on a journey of redemption and love.

Pre-order 738 DAYS here.

I wasn't kidding when I said intriguing, right? For the Scavenger Hunt, Stacey treats us to the exclusive excerpt below. 


Exclusive Excerpt from 738 DAYS by Stacey Kade

But I make my way out of my room and into the hall, heading for the stairs, expecting to find my family gathered in the kitchen, or if there’s a guest, maybe the living room.
Instead, in a repeat of earlier today, they’re gathered at the base of the stairs in the foyer. Only this time, it’s not just my mom and sisters, but my dad as well. And they’re not facing off against each other, but standing in a single line of solidarity—Mia, Mom, Dad, and Liza—which is . . . unusual.

Then I see the only other person present.  

Their seeming opponent—the mutual enemy that has drawn them all together—is one guy, standing with his back against the door, his head ducked down, the brighter gold bits in his dark blond hair glinting in the foyer light, and his hands stuffed into the pockets of his jeans.

Chase Henry.

My breath catches in my chest, and I wait for the panic bees to swarm up and start stinging.
But my insides are strangely calm. My heart does a quick little skip, but that’s all. Instead, I feel that weird flicker of . . . what?

Connection, maybe. Which is ridiculous because this Chase Henry is not “my” Chase Henry, for lack of a better term. I know that.

He doesn’t look as he did in the poster or my memory. He is taller than I imagined. I can’t see much of his face, just the left side of his profile, which is mostly in shadow anyway, but he seems tired, older. There are lines by his mouth, as if he’s been unhappy lately or spent a lot of time frowning.      

He’s wearing a battered work jacket over his T-shirt now. Nothing like the slick leather coat he wore in the poster and, therefore, in the room with me.

And yet, I can’t shake that feeling of a link, a bond, when I look at him. And with it, the odd sensation of being able to breathe deeper, like part of me was somehow waiting for this and can now relax a little.

Also a completely ridiculous notion. But this one sort of makes sense, in a crazy way. Chase, my version of him, was my security blanket. I needed him, a representative of home and the hope I was too afraid to allow myself (again, according to therapists galore), so my brain created him.

The real Chase in the foyer below physically resembles the protector I created so I’m reacting to him in the same way.

As if sensing my scrutiny, Chase looks up at me, those familiar dark blue eyes taking me in. 


Bonus Prize
In addition to the HUGE prize packs of books, some of the authors are hosting their own individual giveaways. I'm one of those authors. ;) What're you gonna need with all those new paperback books in your prize pack? A bookmark, of course! My prize is a beaded leather corset-charm bookmark. Enter to win it in the Rafflecopter below - this giveaway will stay open until Midnight EST on May 1. 

 Sorry. The hunt is now closed. 
If this isn't your final Team Purple stop, visit author Lisa Swallow's site to continue reading (posts may start to disappear). Be sure to look for my exclusive excerpt from DAVID: SOPHOMORE YEAR along the way. Have fun!

Also visit Team Blue & Team Red (posts may disappear).
The New Adult Scavenger Hunt is open from 4/28- noonEST 5/1


Rain Rain Go Away Hop #AprilShowers #amreading

Welcome to my post for the Rain Rain Go Away Giveaway hop, hosted by The Kids Did It and The Mommy Island.

What's the best thing to do amidst April showers? Curl up with a good book, of course! My giveaway is a $5 Amazon gift card and your choice of a Kindle copy of either my chick-lit romance VIBRIZZIO or my women's fiction/love story DIVINE TEMPTATION.

The Prizes

On the last day of this hop, THREE DAVES parts 1-3 will be released to the world! Party on the campus of Central Illinois University with undergrad Jennifer Whitney as she learns about life and love through her adventures with three guys named Dave.

Special Pre-order Pricing through April 26

Jennifer Whitney always expected to save her virginity for that special someone. But the nineteen year old college sophomore is tired of waiting for the universe to bring him to her—especially while everyone around her is gaining valuable experience in the bedroom…and in the library stacks and in conversion vans…

Afraid of falling behind, she decides to lose her virginity to her friend David, someone she’d never ever risk a romantic relationship with after what he did to her. Trouble is, she’s been crushing on David since freshman year. Can she really take that step with him and not fall into the trap of hoping things will turn real?

“I asked my interior designer to give me something appropriate for defiling virgins.”

With solid sexual experience under her belt, Jennifer Whitney is determined to return to her good girl status until she meets the right guy. Sexy super-senior Dave is not the right guy. But his mesmerizing eyes and sensual swagger have a way of making up for that—especially when he gives Jen the kind of attention she never dreamed she’d get from someone like him.

Her roommate doesn’t like him. Her friend David isn’t his biggest fan, either. But neither of them understand the persuasive powers of Dave’s delicious tongue and his tiger-like growl. Jen’s proud of herself for resisting his many temptations, yet she knows Dave won’t stick around forever if she never gives him anything…

“Come on, good girl. Be bad.”

Big D is wonderful. Big D is perfect. Big D is taking way too long to make a freaking move. Self-proclaimed good girl Jennifer Whitney never thought she’d be the aggressive one in a relationship. But what choice does she have when her big, beefy hunk of a boyfriend treats her like fragile glass? She knows she can’t let him keep thinking she’s a virgin, but no way can she explain how she lost it, especially when D’s already suspicious of her friendship with David—the guy she lost it to.

By the end of senior year, Jen thought she’d have it all figured out. Instead, she’s forced to rethink who she is and what she wants during one crazy weekend when she has a close encounter with all three of her Daves.

“Of all the fraternity houses on campus, you had to walk into mine.”
~Big D

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: hosts & participating hop bloggers are not responsible for sponsors or self-sponsoring bloggers that do not fulfill prize obligations.

Thanks for stopping by. Now, hop on, my friends, and win many great things!



Leveraging Time #IWSG #amwriting

In the first IWSG post of the year, I vowed to spend more time on writing and less time on all the other stuff that goes along with being a published author. So far so good. I recently finished the first draft on a new novel---hooray! But now comes the true test of my focus on writing.

As you may notice in my sidebar, I've just had three new novellas go on pre-order (a reboot of my debut novel). I've got to do something to promote them, but I've also got to be a ton more efficient with my marketing time than I've been in the past. That's were you come in...

I'd love any tips you have on effective ways to get the word out on a book that don't suck up exorbitant amounts of time. What promotional efforts give authors the best bang for their buck and minutes.


This post is part of the monthly blog hop/therapy session known as Insecure Writers Support Group, founded by the one and clonely Alex J. Cavanaugh.


#London Inspirations for WHAT THE CLOCKS KNOW by @RumerHaven - Out Today!

Remember when I went to London last fall? I mentioned that I was staying with my favorite author in the whole wide world. That author is ... Rumer Haven! She also happens to be my sister - which is one reason she's my favorite author. The other reason is because she's a damn fine writer. I'm excited to have her here today to tell you about her latest release, which I can't wait to dig into this weekend.

Thanks so much for hosting me, Nicki! As you know from your own London travels, this city is loaded with hauntingly beautiful and beautifully haunted sites. I had always wanted to write a ghost story, but it wasn't until I moved here that I found myself surrounded with inspiration. It's the perfect setting, and I think the ghosts quite fancy it, too. :)

But that's the city in general. As for the settings within the setting, What the Clocks Know takes place in several London locations that I've frequented. Here are my top 5:

1. Brompton Cemetery

"Who is Charlotte? The name on a local gravestone could relate to Margot’s dreams and the grey woman weeping at the window," quoth the book summary, and yep, Charlotte is real. The life I've created for her is only a figment of my imagination, but I took my character's name directly off of a gravestone at Brompton cemetery and decided to send my protagonist Margot there, too, for a few key scenes. This was one of the first spots I visited on my first full day after moving to London. I stumbled upon it purely on accident, and it's been my favorite, most peaceful place ever since.

2. The Troubadour Cafe

The Troubadour is an iconic establishment renowned for its music scene. It's the first place where Bob Dylan ever performed in London and has also seen the likes of Paul Simon, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, and Elvis Costello. Founded in the 1950s as part of London's coffee house revival, one can only imagine the creative and intellectual minds that have converged here over the decades, and I personally find it a wonderfully cozy place to read and write with a cup of coffee or glass of wine. Hanging out there with author Nicki Elson is pretty awesome, too! I just had to send my Margot there as well for one of the book's scenes.

3. Ye Olde Cheschire Cheese

While not mentioned by name in the book, this is the old pub that Margot marvels was rebuilt in 1667 after London's Great Fire of 1666. With cellars dating back centuries even before that, this quintessential pub is tucked just off the beaten path of Sweeney Todd's Fleet Street. Charles Dickens was a regular there, and it'll always be one of my top London favorites. When Margot runs into a friend near St. Paul's Cathedral, I send them to Ye Olde Cheschire Cheese for warm lunch, ale, and shelter from the rain.

4. Camden Catacombs

Okay, so I've only seen pictures of these on the Internet, but I've visited the Camden Stables Market a few times. The "Catacombs" were actually underground stables, as horses were needed for the railways and towing barges along the canal. As they can easily flood, these subterranean tunnels are closed to the public, so I could only let my imagination wander down there with Margot. But if you go to the nearby Proud Camden club, you can have a private party in one of the stables there! An edgy art and music mecca, this neighborhood was home to Amy Winehouse and has a vibrant day and night scene. It's also the namesake of the fictional Camden Court apartment building in my debut novel, Seven for a Secret.

5. Churches: St. Paul's Cathedral, Chapel Royal, St. George's Chapel

I'm making this a three-in-one deal, as none of these churches are settings of actual scenes in the book. However, they all do appear in Margot's journal entries as she chronicles her experiences in and around London. St. Paul's readily becomes a beacon of sorts to her, standing tall and benevolently in the city's center. She writes about going to a debate there, which is based on a series of such that I attended myself soon after moving here. The cathedral reappears later in the story, too, as the backdrop to Margot's lunch with her flatmate.

The Chapel Royal is located within Hampton Court Palace, which itself is located just outside London near Wimbledon and was Henry VIII's favorite palace. Margot visits here early on and writes about the oval above the altar, a symbol of rebirth. St. George's Chapel is located at Windsor Castle, residence of the current Queen Elizabeth. Her parents and other royalty are buried in the chapel, including Princess Charlotte, whose 19th-century monument appears to Margot in a dream.

Welp, that's it for my little London tour today, but I hope you'll visit these places, too, someday--if not in person, then in What the Clocks Know!

~ * ~

About What the Clocks Know: Finding a ghost isn't what Margot had in mind when she went ‘soul searching’, but somehow her future may depend on Charlotte's past. Woven between 21st-century and Victorian London, What the Clocks Know is a haunting story of love and identity. A paranormal women's fiction, this title is available as of March 18, 2016 from Crooked Cat Publishing.

"A unique tale of the paranormal – as beautiful as it is haunting." ~ Shani Struthers, author of Jessamine and the Psychic Surveys series


** Add it! **
** Read it! **

~ * ~

Author Bio:
Rumer Haven is probably the most social recluse you could ever meet. When she’s not babbling her fool head off among friends and family, she’s pacified with a good story that she’s reading, writing, or revising—or binge-watching something on Netflix. A former teacher hailing from Chicago, she presently lives in London with her husband and probably a ghost or two. Rumer has always had a penchant for the past and paranormal, which inspires her writing to explore dimensions of time, love, and the soul. She debuted in 2014 with Seven for a Secret (in which a Jazz Age tragedy haunts a modern woman’s love life), and her award-winning short story “Four Somethings & a Sixpence” (about a bride who gets a little something she didn’t register for) was released in 2015. What the Clocks Know is her second novel.

Learn more about Rumer at:
Website * Facebook * Twitter: @RumerHaven


Writing What You DON"T Know #IWSG

"Write what you know" is common advice to writers, and for the most part, that's what I do---mostly out of sheer laziness. But there is a downside to it, at least in the romance genre where I play. I've learned that romance readers tend to have a zero tolerance policy toward anything in the story that isn't romance. When I give my characters jobs that I've worked or a faith that I practice, I have to be careful about over-informing the reader.

Significant paring back happens during my second and third drafts and then again during the editing process. And still I get complaints here and there about the bits I left in regarding investment analysis---in a story where two characters get to know each other through a business project---or Catholicism---in a story about a freaking angel.

So here's my brilliant solution for my current WIP---the main character is a lawyer. I know nothing about lawyering. I have no interest in ever knowing anything about lawyering. Therefore, I research only the bare minimum and run no risk of over-informing the reader on legal matters. This makes it easier to keep the focus on the MC and his romantic "journey" (as the producers of The Bachelor would have us all say).

I still think "write what you know" is good advice, but there's a definite upside to writing what you don't. Have you ever written what you don't know and purposely not done a ton of research?


This post is part of the monthly blog hop/therapy session known as Insecure Writers Support Group, founded by the one and clonely Alex J. Cavanaugh.


A Happily Never After by @Debra_Anastasia

Congrats to Debra Anastasia on the release of THE REVENGER! As you'll see, it's a different kind of superhero story. I dare you not to be intrigued after this blurb, trailer & a short excerpt...

The real hero of this story is dead. You should have met him. He was a beautiful man. The love of my life. I didn’t deserve him.

Now what’s left are the jagged edges of the person I am without him, and what I have to do to get by. This isn’t even a story about love. Not really. It’s a twisted tale of revenge and hate—a happily never after.

The only man in my life now is the one I have to kill.

I’m Savvy Raine.
I used to be a wife.
I used to be a mother.
Now I am the Revenger.


“What the hell are you?” He searched frantically for the door latch, his panic making him oblivious to the open top of the Jeep above him.

He didn’t deserve an answer, and he wouldn’t get one. Only in her head would she respond. She pulled him from the backseat and held him aloft, thinking, I’m a mom without a reason. I’m a person without a life. I’m dead with no escape.

Nook * Kobo * Tolino * Print 


Knowing Better - guest post with @AriaGlazki

Congrats to author Aria Glazki! Yesterday was the re-release of her debut novel, MENDING HEARTSTRINGS! Here she is to give us a little more insight into the book (you'll be positively shocked by the question I asked her ... or maybe not.)

Take it away, Aria...

When we were discussing my visit here on her site, the lovely Nicki Elson asked me to name one song that captures the essence of Mending Heartstrings. While I can't quite do that, because a book usually runs through far more emotions than one song does—especially a book with a musician!—there is one song that absolutely always brings to mind the first chapter and how these two first meet.

Sabella and Kane meet when she's on a research trip to Nashville. They literally bump into each other at a bar, and at first the brief introduction that follows seems like that will be that. But Kane's charm and a few drinks and the beauty of the city at night keep drawing out the time they spend together until they eventually, and reluctantly, say goodbye.

This song by the Civil Wars perfectly nails on the head the mantra going through Sabella's head as this is all happening. She is a firmly pragmatic character who tries to follow her head more than her heart, and yet spending this time with Kane is so tempting she wants to ignore all of that hard-learned practicality. By the end of their night together, Kane asks her an important question, but this mantra determines Sabella's answer despite her underlying desires.

"If I didn't know better... Dammit, I do."

Kane, of course, encourages Sabella to ignore all those practical issues, if only for one night. And if she hadn't know "better," everything could have worked out differently. But Sabella couldn't ignore her pragmatic side for any longer than her and Kane's few hours together, and so, for better or worse, they go their separate ways.

What do you think of this song? Have you ever wondered what could have happened if, for just one moment, you hadn't known "better"?

Buy Links: 


To Cringe or Celebrate? #IWSG

Holy schmoly, January's already over and we're barreling ahead straight through 2016. But my fear of time is more appropriate for a different kind of therapy group. Today we're talking writing.

Last fall I faced something that, upon reflection, I think very well had the potential to cripple me as a writer. I dug into my original novel with an aim to make a few changes (you can get the full scoop in my January newsletter), and while I was in there, I figured I'd clean out some adverbs & whatnot. But what I found inside was much, much worse.

I'm one of those writers who doesn't read her books once they're out in the world. I know it'll only cause itchy fingers to tweak more. After a whirlwind editing process on this particular novel, all I'd ever read were small excerpts pulled for promo. With the full manuscript cut open and once again in front of me, I saw not only excessive adverbage; I found way too many dialogue tags and repetition in the narrative of what had already been conveyed in dialogue. I found judgmental passages unfitting for the overall tone of the story. Worst of all, I found abundant amounts of telling not showing. *gasp*

It was enough to get the mantra "I suck; I suck; I suck," playing through my brain. But then I realized something---2015 me saw the things 2010 me hadn't. Part of that sight comes from simply having been away and coming back fresh, but the bigger part comes from five years of learning. Through writing more stories and having them critiqued, editing and critiquing others, and networking with other writers to share insecurities and tips (thank you!), I've become a better writer. And that's something to celebrate not cringe about.

How about you---do you notice differences in your writing now versus five years ago?


This post is part of the monthly blog hop/therapy session known as Insecure Writers Support Group, founded by the one and clonely Alex J. Cavanaugh.


Cover Reveal: Mending Heartstrings by @AriaGlazki

Congratulations to Aria Glazki on the upcoming re-release of MENDING HEARTSTRINGS. The fun begins with the reveal of the brand new cover.

Mending Heartstrings Cover Reveal

The long-awaited release of the gorgeous new cover for Mending Heartstrings is here! What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments, and don't forget to enter the giveaway!

Cover design: Christa Holland at Paper & Sage
Publication date: February 9, 2016

Kane’s a country singer who’s tangled with too many deceitful women. He’s learned his lesson: girls are for flirting and fun; emotions are for his music. But after spending a night with an earnest woman unlike any he’s known, he can’t force her out of his mind. So he goes in search of the woman he knows only as “Elle.” On her last night in Nashville, the staunchly pragmatic Sabella found herself in a situation more suited to a romance novel than reality. Swept away, she ignored her rigidly self-imposed rules, succumbing to the fantasy just this once. But she knows real-world relationships have nothing in common with their fictionalized portrayals. When Kane unexpectedly shows up at her Portland apartment, she must choose between the practical truths she has learned and the desire for a passionate love she has struggled to suppress. Despite the distance, Kane’s tour schedule, and their meddling friends, both are drawn to the chance for a romance neither quite believes is possible.

Preorder Your Copy!
Amazon US - UK - CAN |  Smashwords  |  iBooks

About Aria:

Aria’s writing story started when her seventh-grade English teacher encouraged her to submit a class assignment for publication. That piece was printed, and let’s just say, she was hooked!

Since then, Aria has run a literary magazine, earned her degree in Creative Writing (as well as in French and Russian literatures), and been published here and there. Though her first kiss technically came from a bear cub, and no fairytale transformation followed, Aria still believes magic can happen when the right people come together—if they don’t get in their own way, that is.

Other than all things literary, Aria loves spending time with her family, including her two unbearably adorable nieces. She also dabbles in painting, dancing, playing violin, and, given the opportunity, Epicureanism.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon


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Big Plans & Tempered Expectations #IWSG

I go into the new year with big plans and tempered expectations. It's quite nice to have reached this stage of maturity in the publishing biz. This year I'm finally, finally going to keep my writing life focused on where it should've been all along---on writing.

As I said in a previous IWSG post, I believe a book's commercial success all comes down to: 1) compelling story, 2) appealing cover/blurb/premise, 3) the right timing, and 4) magic. I only have control over the first two, so that's where I'll focus my efforts.

If 3 & 4 don't come through for me---or if I get 1 & 2 wrong---I'll no longer waste time and energy in a scramble to build a false fire under my books with a bevvy of online promotions as kindling. You know what I'll do, instead? I'll write something else. Not because I buy into the theory that  more books automatically lead to more success, but because I like writing. It makes me happy. And every time I do it, I get better at it.

My goal for 2016 is to always have an exciting new project waiting in the wings as I finish up on a current one. By the end of the year, I hope to have two new novels, a re-release of my debut novel, and possibly a new twisted fairy tale out in the world. There, I said it. Now I better get to doing it.

Happy 2016, everybody! Hope your year is off to a smashing start.


This post is part of the monthly blog hop/therapy session known as Insecure Writers Support Group, founded by the one and clonely Alex J. Cavanaugh.


#Survivor FINAL 7 Playlist & Predictions #SurvivorSecondChance: Cambodia

It's happened. My obsession with the 31st season of CBS's Survivor (Survivor Second Chance: Cambodia) has spilled into a playlist. This has to be my all-time favorite collection of final seven players. Below is my tribute to them---with a theme song for each player at this point in the game, plus a bonus for all those who've been voted out.   

(File this post under: What Happens When Nicki Cleans Her House. My imagination has too much time to play and usually ends up stuck somewhere completely unproductive...is how I became a writer in the first place.)

The order of songs isn't random, I've ranked the players by who I think has the best chance of making it to final tribal AND winning the whole shebang. I explan my choices below. Even if you don't watch Survivor, I hope you enjoy the playlist

#1 Spencer - "Levitate I've admittedly been in the young lad's corner since before he set foot on the beach, but he's playing a smart, independent game and has had to overcome many obstacles. The jury's gotta respect that. From my comfy sofa at home, he looks to be a big threat, but I'm not sure his fellow players see it the same way from their vantage point, so I think his chances are good of making it to final tribal. 

I know this song is about drugs, but it's got some great lyrics that reflect Spencer's gameplay: "F*** you, I'm by myself."  Survivor's Charlie Brown has learned the hard way how to play this game by himself. "Just when you think that true love's begun, It goes off at any second just like a loaded gun" 'Cuz he doesn't let friendship determine his vote. "Wondering how to fix these damages" His independent play calls for fancy footwork with the people he wants to keep trusting him. 

#2 Kelley - "Trouble is a Friend Girl's got game - and a hidden immunity idol! Every week I've thought the others were fools to keep her around as long as they have, but like with Spencer, she's playing a great manipulation game, and I think she's keeping her savvy masked better than he is.

In this song, Kelley is the trouble: "(S)he waits in the wings, (s)he's gotta play a part"  and I think the cute, spunky beat fits her personality.

#3 Jeremy - "The Gauntlet"  If the man makes it to final tribal, he's gonna win hands down, no matter who he's up against. The jury loves him. And what's not to love? The trouble is, everyone around him knows he'll win, so I can't see him making it all the way to final tribal. 'Course, he's also got a super secret hidden idol...

The determination reflected in this song is what makes me think of Jeremy's gameplay. And the chorus is so him: "Stand up and fight, and I'll stand up with you," especially when he played that idol on Stephen. When he's your friend, he's your friend to the end.

#4 Tasha - "Paper Planes"  The lyric I like most for her at this point in the game is "If you catch me at the border, I got visas in my name" because she's got options. I think she legitly wants to stick with Jeremy and Spencer, but she can always change her mind if something doesn't feel right and jump on with the all-girl alliance - doing so is the only way I can see her taking home the win.

She was a "bonafide hustler" makin' her name when she saved herself and Savage at Angkor by courting Abi. That alone ought to win her jury points.

#5 Keith - "Beat the Devil's Tattoo"  The emotionless tone of this song amid the unfavorable conditions it depicts feels very Keith to me. He doesn't let the elements or lack of food bother him, and he'll stick to the plan with zero weight given to his personal feelings. Yet I think it's his warm personality that'll win him votes over the two players below.

"You're body's aching. Every bone is breaking. Nothing seems to shake it. It just keeps holding on" is a testament to Keith's physical fortitude. He even stood strong in a situation where Joey Amazing went down. Come on! That should also win him some votes.

#6 Kimmi - "Misery Loves Company"  She's laid low through a lot of the season, but she came alive last episode. These lyrics seem to reflect her current attitude toward the Jeremy/Spencer alliance: "Do I need you? Yes and no" and "You're so easy to read, but the book is boring me."  And let's not forget her "I'm not for you; you're not for me. I'll kill you first; you wait and see" attitude toward Monica earlier on. If she can be that Kimmi through the next few votes, maybe the jury won't see her as the goat I'm afraid they've pegged her as.

Judging by some of her confessionals, "Hell is others" seems to be how Kimmi generally feels about coexisting with her tribemates, which I'm guessing doesn't help her chances of scoring votes at the final tribal.  

#7 Abi-Maria - "Psycho"  I mean psycho in the very best of ways. I admire passion, and she's full of it. She's definitely kept her opponents on their toes.

Her chances of making it into the final tribal council are excellent. Her chances of winning? Next to zero. She's too caustic to have made friends outside of a few, and the jury will likely see her as a goat, being led to the end as a weak opponent. I don't think that assessment's fair. She exercised an inordinate amount of power during many of the early votes, and she's 100% looked out for her own interests throughout the game - isn't that what Survivor's all about?

For everyone who's already been voted out - "Where's the Girl"  A song of betrayal and letting go. 


ACED Review Tour & Song Inspiration #IWSG

Today's meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group coincides with the release of a writer friend's book. Not just any writer friend---Jennifer Lane has become one of my best writer friends. Not only is she an invaluable critique partner, she's a safe place to vent and an infallible voice of reason. She's a big reason insecurity doesn't keep me down for long. My Christmas wish for all of you insecure writers out there is for you to have your very own Jennifer Lane. :)

The other thing about her is---she writes great books! Her new release. Aced, is the 2nd in her Blocked series, which I've found to be a fresh approach to New Adult. Below is my review at Goodreads. If you've already read Aced, get your review up on Amazon today and you'll automatically be entered to win a $25 gift card. Join today's Facebook Party with over 25 authors (including me from 5-5:30pm EST) and prizes.

Jennifer lets us in on the musical inspiration for ACED in this guest post:

ACED Song Inspiration
by Jennifer Lane

Music is quite a muse for me in my writing. I especially love going for a long walk as I listen to music and dream up plot bunnies.

New Adult sports romance ACED (Blocked #2) dives into race and ethnicity. I’m saddened America has become increasingly divided along racial lines in recent years. We are responsible to understand how our ethnic backgrounds affect ourselves and others. And, I yearn for strong leadership to help us find common ground.

When I wrote a presidential speech in ACED, following a tragedy involving racial discrimination, I found my inspiration in a song by MUSE. (Ironic, huh?)

These lyrics ARE my muse:

And no one thinks they are to blame
Why can’t they see
When we bleed, we bleed the same

There are also two current songs that make me think of ACED.

“Lay It All On Me” by Rudimental and Ed Sheeran is easily a song hero Alejandro would sing to heroine Maddie to help her through her emotional struggles.

And I adore this song “Hotline Bling” by Drake! I can picture hot wrestler Jaylon Hart sing this to his ex-girlfriend Maddie.

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This post is part of the monthly blog hop/therapy session known as Insecure Writers Support Group, founded by the one and clonely Alex J. Cavanaugh.


Insecure #Writers Support Group: Awesome Inspirations #IWSG

Thank you all so much for your encouraging words last month regarding my anxiety about leaving my laptop behind whilst I skipped across the pond. To be honest, I feel silly for having even given it a thought. As most of you said, it's good to step completely away once in a while. I returned re-energized and eager to attack writing projects that'd gotten buried under my giant stack of virtual papers.

Today, I simply want to share pictures of literary interest---because I know you writer types will find them fun. I took these during my most excellent adventure in London.

Shakespeare's Globe Theater
It's rebuilt with the only thatched roof in London, not on the exact spot as the original but darn close. (BTW it's AWESOME to have a sister who lives in London to be my personal tour guide. She's loaded with lots of interesting factoids.)

221b Baker Street
Home of...Sherlock Holmes! You almost forget he was a fictional character rather than a real person when you tour this meticulously detailed residence. 

Filming location for 221b Baker Street
Fans of BBC's Sherlock---a superbly written show---will recognize this as the door Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman frequently go in and out of.

Platform 9 3/4 at King's Cross
I didn't take this picture...because I'm IN this picture!. As a Hufflepuff. My sister's the Slytherin, and we've teamed up against my son, the Ravenclaw. Who wants to write the fanfic that brings this situation about, hm?

The Duchess Theatre
This is where we saw The Play that Goes Wrong. It's so good. It's SO good! Hilarious from beginning to end. If it ever comes to a theater near you, I highly recommend it. 

The British Library
It's really cool to look upon original manuscripts by Shakespeare, Austen, etc., etc., etc. and think about the magic they created with simple ink and paper.

Peter Pan Statue in Kensington Gardens
JM Barrie had this statue secretly installed in the middle of the night so that the next day children would come to play at the park and it would magically be there. What an incredibly cool guy. (My son played the Crocodile in his school's production of Peter Pan last spring, so he indulged his mother and assumed the Croc position for this photo.) 

The Home of Sir James Barrie
JM Barrie lived here, just off Kensington Gardens, from 1860-1937. Kensington Gardens provided him with much inspiration for writing Peter Pan.

Sir Alfred Hitchock's Home
Alfred Hitchock lived in Earl's Court from 1926-1939, the period when he made many of his early films, including The 39 Steps, the film that won him wide acclaim and made him a star in the US.

I'm including this one because it's really freakin' Poe, right? 


This post is part of the monthly blog hop/therapy session known as Insecure Writers Support Group, founded by the one and clonely Alex J. Cavanaugh.


Jennifer Lane has ACED it! #CoverReveal #Giveaway

I'm thrilled to take part in the cover reveal for the second book in the BLOCKED series by Jennifer Lane. Jennifer is my crit partner extraordinaire, which means I've gotten a sneak peek at the draft version of this story. 

Jealous? You should be, because as I've told Jennifer many times, she has such a great way of pulling me into her stories and making me feel like I'm right there alongside her characters. She also does an excellent job at covering potentially explosive issues with a steady, even hand.

But we'er not here to talk about the story quite yet. We're here to look at hot abs ... uh, I mean the fabulous new cover for ACED!  

ACED (Blocked #2) Cover Reveal

Title:  Aced
Series:  Blocked #2
Author:  Jennifer Lane
Genre:  New Adult Sports Romance
Cover Design:  Coreen Montagna (coreenm@gmail.com)
Release Date:  December 2, 2015


Volleyball wonder Lucia Ramirez found her love match in Blocked despite the glaring political spotlight aimed on her family. In Aced, the second book in Jennifer Lane’s Blocked series, it could be her brother Alejandro’s turn to get lucky in love.

Medical student Alejandro’s hot Latin looks get him plenty of attention, but his deep faith and admiration for his father keep him on a righteous path, with no time for something as frivolous as love. He strives to do the right thing—study diligently, take care of his siblings, represent the family well—so why does he feel so unfulfilled?

Enter Lucia’s friend and teammate Maddie Brooks, who shines at blocking the ball and acing the serve. Too bad this graduating senior isn’t so confident about her life off the court. Her longtime boyfriend has just bailed on her, and med school applications loom large. Oh, and a nerve-wracking tryout for Team USA also approaches.

Maddie meets Alejandro when he visits Lucia at school, and she’s soon drawn to his sharp mind. Alejandro is similarly intrigued by Maddie’s talent and strength. But will personal biases and family politics smother the slow burn of their attraction? Unless Maddie can learn to believe in herself, and Alejandro can become his own man, their kindling romance hardly stands a chance.

Will either of them be bold enough to try something new? Find out in this emotion-rich story that refuses to shy away from life’s hardest questions. Because love is worth the risk.

Book one BLOCKED on SALE for a limited time!

Excerpt from Aced

I’d only seen Alejandro on TV, but his presence seemed magnified in real life. He was Jaylon’s height but probably weighed thirty pounds less. He moved like a panther, sleek and long in a black suit “dressed down” with no tie. His short black hair shone in the arena lights, and he appeared freshly shaven. Hot damn! He sure looked more suave than any college boy I’d encountered. Was that the typical dress for medical school at Johns Hopkins? Probably not. Something told me Alex did things his own way.

As Alejandro approached, Lucia stood to hug him, shaking her head. “Hey, what’re you doing here? You didn’t tell me you were coming.”

He smiled. “Could we go somewhere to talk?”

She glanced at me. “I don’t want to leave Maddie. I dragged her here, so it’d be rude to abandon her.”

“So this is the famous Maddie.” When Alejandro reached across to shake my hand, his dark eyes burned into me. “I’ve seen you play, but it’s good to finally meet. I’ve heard great things about you.” His handshake was firm, but his hand was soft and warm, zinging a surprising thrill right through me. I realized that for at least a few moments, I hadn’t thought about Jaylon. Alejandro let go all too quickly.

His expression sobered as he looked back at Lucia. “I want to talk to you about something in private.”

She folded her arms across her chest as they both sat. “I already said no, thank you. I can’t right now.”

He frowned and squared his shoulders. Then he leaned in to Lucia’s ear and spoke to her in Spanish. She bristled next to me.

“How dare you?” she hissed.

I leaned back. What had just changed my sweet Rez into a pissy hellcat?

Sign up for ACED Review Tour HERE.

Author Bio

Get psyched for romance with psychologist/author (psycho author) Jennifer Lane! By day she’s a therapist, and by night she’s a writer. She can’t decide which is more fun.

Jen adores creating sporty heroines and hot heroes in her college sport romances. Volleyball wonder Lucia Ramirez found her love match in Blocked despite the glaring political spotlight aimed on her family. In Aced, the second book in the Blocked series, it’s her brother Alejandro’s turn to get lucky in love. Aced launches in December 2015.

A swimmer and volleyball player in college, Jen writes swimming-based romances as well: Streamline, a military mystery, and the free New Adult novella Swim Recruit.

Stories of redemption interest Jen the most, especially the healing power of love. She is also the author of The Conduct Series, a romantic-suspense trilogy that includes With Good Behavior, Bad Behavior, and On Best Behavior.

Ultimately, whether writing or reading, Jen loves stories that make her laugh and cry. In her spare time she enjoys exercising, attending book club, and visiting her sisters in Chicago and Hilton Head.

Author Links



Zexy and zilly with a zide of #Zombie at the Spooktacular #Giveaway Hop

I hope to have a brand new Twisted Fairy Tale novella to share with you at next year's Spooktacular Giveaway Hop (the beastie has been playing in my head and will soon be ready to put into words) but this year, it's all about Hans & Greta. Take a gander & spread the word - one of you word-spreaders will win a $10 Amazon gift card!

Thank you for stopping by. Visit the I Am a Reader blog for the full list of giveaway participants. Hope you win bunches!