Wednesday, September 26, 2012

#WWoW Reviews:The Good, Bad, and the Ugly

Welcome back this week for the next installment of Writer's Words of Wisdom. I wasn't sure what I wanted to talk about this week, but as with most things in my life, the idea hit me while I was working on another project helping another author with some promotions.

After posting a few updates to my Facebook pages, I came across a post from another author a little upset over a run of "bad" reviews she had received on Amazon. She had the best attitude about it and chose to read them quickly, learn what she could and forget about them. Unfortunately, her friends and fans wouldn't let them go. Instead of just offering her words of encouragement and congratulating her for her attitude about the reviews, some of them commented on a particularly bad one. 


Unfortunately, the comments and arguments that played out really didn't help matters. Not only did the reviewer get slammed for not agreeing with all the five star reviews, she was attacked personally for what she found lacking in that particular book. Now, if readers are going to be attacked for giving an honest review of something they read in it's entirety or just a portion, then why should they even try?



Reviews: Are they all that?


For those of you who are just starting out and have your first release coming up within the next few months, let me give you one bit of very important advice. Don't freak out if your book isn't reviewed right off the bat. Review sites are swamped with requests each and every day. It's just not possible for every book to get picked for review. In some cases it can actually be several months or even a year or more before your first book gets a review from a review site. 

I'm sure you've noticed that some brand new books will have multiple 5 star reviews simply raving about the author's command of the language, how well they tell a tale, and that the reviewer can't wait for the next book to come out.  Yeah, you can stop snorting with laughter now. We all know that most of those reviews tend to be from our friends and family thrilled we're out there and published. A few of those fantastic reviews may actually be legitimate, but most folks who look at the ratings will take those with a grain of salt. In fact, if they get the book and find they don't like it, they are more apt to go and leave a negative review simply to show the multiple fantastic reviews were misleading.

Reviews can give you a snapshot into what readers like and don't like about your work. They can also help you become a better writer if they give honest and helpful criticism. The reader who takes the time to point out what they enjoyed about the book and what they feel could use some work is an opinion you want to take heed. You may not agree with them, but if you see multiple reviews with the same critiques and recommendations, maybe it's time to change things up a bit.

Opinions will vary. Just because a reader isn't absolutely in love with your hero and heroine doesn't make them idiots or on crack. They didn't like the book. They are entitled to voice their views in the form of a written review, word of mouth, or other social media. 

Should You Answer A Bad Review?


No. Neither you nor your fans should answer or comment on a review on the site where it's posted. If you comment and try to argue your point of view with the reviewer, you will only earn yourself a spot in the "another author behaving badly" category. Same goes for fans leaving comments defending you. It's just poor form and should be kept to private conversations. If you wish to share with your friends on your Facebook page how badly the review made you feel, then do so but keep those comments off the site with the review.

Now in the case of malicious reviews that are attacking you personally and have nothing whatsoever to do with the book, those should be reported to the site where they are posted so that they can be removed. It's just not worth it getting into a virtual shouting match over this childish behavior. No matter what you do, there will be people out there who make it their personal mission in life to go around leaving bad reviews and 1 star ratings for as many books as they can. Do yourself a favor and try to ignore these. Don't let them get you down.

Five Star Reviews Mean Better Sales, Right?


Not always. Take a look at a few of the best selling books over the last several years. The Twilight Series and the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy are really not written very well. The editors I've worked with so far would have absolute FIELD DAYS with all of them. The writing may be terrible, but the subject matter of both sets of books hit home with a large audience. Just because they're not literary works of art, doesn't mean they can't be popular and sell. For Fifty Shades of Grey alone there are over 5000 five star reviews and over 4000 one star reviews on Amazon. 

In most cases, even low ratings/negative reviews mean that person bought your book.  A sale is a sale people. Yes, you want your work to be liked by as many people as possible. Your goal is to build up a fan base so these same people will follow you as you publish more books. 

How To Use Reviews To Help Build Your Following


Take all CONSTRUCTIVE criticism to heart and learn from it. Be the best writer you can be. Don't keep making the same mistakes over and over again that were complained about with your first book. If you were dinged for poor editing, then by all means invest in a professional editor. Don't rely on family and friends to read through your manuscript unless they are actual editors. ;) 

Take any good points in the "bad" reviews and use those in your promotions. Those one line plugs for your book can catch the eye of a new reader. 

Take the high road whenever possible. Don't get sucked into arguing with anyone who has given you a negative review. Respect their right to voice their opinion and move on. 

And above all, keep writing!


Other writers participating this week






Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Promoting Yourself and Your Work Without Breaking the Bank

I Have to Do WHAT???


Ah, the one thing many authors hate the most, promoting themselves and their work. It's dreaded by seasoned veterans as well as the not yet published novices. Why? If you sent out those query letters to perspective publishers, you had to sell yourself and your manuscript. Who better to sell YOU than you?

I know, I know. I was right there with you a little over a year ago. My very first erotic romance was accepted by Siren Bookstrand and was set for a September 2011 release. I didn't have a clue where to start telling people about me and my novel. I had my own personal Facebook page, but that was it. I was invited to join my publisher's yahoo groups. One was for authors only and the other was for both readers and authors to get together and share new releases and basically get to know each other. Reading through some of the posts I immediately found I was already so far behind.

I didn't have my own website or blog. Nor did I have a Twitter account, author page on my publishers site, Facebook Page (not to be confused with my personal page), Google+ or any other way to connect with potential readers. I was scared out of my mind. What the hell did I get myself into here?

Lucky for me and many other "newbies," several Siren authors took us under their wings and never tired of answering the same questions over and over again. They cheered us on through each step of the publishing process from getting our contracts signed to seeing our book covers for the first time. They were there when we freaked out getting our first edits back and the manuscript looked like an explosion of technicolor with all the comments and balloons from the editors. All of it to make our "babies" grow up and be the best they can be. 

It was from this group of people I found the light at the end of the tunnel. I learned how to get my blogs and website up and running. I friended many on Facebook and learned how to set up different pages. I started using Twitter on a regular basis. I "met" even more authors like me just starting out and those who have many titles under their belts. Each and every single one of them willing to lend an ear and a retweet when needed. 

So here I am, one year later with TWO books published and another due to be released in November. Now it's my turn to pay it forward. I've set up not one, but FOUR blogs now. Two of them for my pen name Tammy Dennings Maggy, and the other two for my alter ego Lia Michaels. I have a third pen name that will soon get her own blog too. Why do I need all of these? To promote the hell out of myself, the pen names, "our" work and showcase other authors. 

Many of you have stopped in for the spots of my fellow authors here and on my sister blogs. Not only do we all get to learn more about these writers and their works, we get to chat and "mingle" a bit with other fans. Todays feature "Writer's Words of Wisdom" is yet another way I can share what I've learned on my journey with those who are just starting out and to thank those who have come before me and taught me so much already.

What follows is based on the advice from one of my fellow Siren authors, Tymber Dalton. She's blogged about promoting many times and has even written a book about it. Pimp Yourself: Easy, Painless & Cheap Self-Promotion for Writers. It's a great book to have on your Kindle and it reminds you that you don't have to have a fancy schmancy big named company to get your name out there. You can do it all on a shoe string budget and most of it for free. When first starting out, who has the extra money to pay a stranger to put YOUR best foot forward? 

Where Do I Start?


Get a Gmail address to use exclusively for whatever you publish using the pen name you wish to promote. Only use this email address for your fan mail and any correspondence/promotions for this pen name.  I didn't do this last year, but when I set up Lia Michaels, I got that Gmail account right away. Things are so much easier with that pen name and correspondence than with Tammy Dennings Maggy. I have two email accounts with that one and at times even I get confused! Don't make that rookie mistake and you will save yourself a lot of time having to wade through emails!

If you have enough in your budget, get yourself a website with your pen name in the .com, .net, and .org formats. There are many sites to register your domain, but the most common and highly recommened on is Godaddy.com. I haven't done this yet, but plan on doing it very soon. Until then, I have a website combined with my blog on Behind Closed Doors.

Now for my favorite. Set up your blog. I've used WorldPress.com and Blogger and have to say the latter is my favorite. I'm sure you've guessed that by now since three of my blogs are all done through Blogger! ;) I found with WorldPress, the fonts and templates are pretty limiting, even though many are appealing to the eye. With Blogger, I can change up the font sizes and styles a bit and of course I get to change the colors! On The House of Taboo, I use a lot of the hot pink/purple font color that matches the back ground purple smoke so well. Go ahead and take a peek at it to see what I mean.

There are tons of free Blogger templates to choose from and when you have the budget, you can customize one of your very own. Don't worry about that now. There are some beautiful templates that will appeal to you. Go ahead and look through them. Try one out for a week or two. Switch it around until you have the one and the layout that fits you and your personality.

Another thing I love about Blogger is that you can set it up to have an "adult content" warning. When you first went to The House of Taboo you were taken to a page with two buttons. The warning there tells you the site contains materials that some may find offensive. You have the choice to click to proceed, or opt out. In this day and age, it's best to have your adults only warnings up front and personal then to have someone try to say they didn't know and were "assaulted" by pictures that offended them. Trust me. CYA people!

Once you are all set up, blog, blog and blog some more. Talk about anything and everything. Start promoting yourself even BEFORE you even have a release day yet. The idea is to get your NAME out there so when your book is released, you will have the start of a network of fans who will want to check it out.

Now don't freak out if you are already "behind." You will catch up in no time. Now that you have your website/blog up and running, it's time to dive into social media.

But...Do I have to set up a Facebook Page and Tweet About It?


Do you want your name and books to get out there? Do you? Then yes, you have to use social media to help you build up your network of industry contacts, fellow authors, readers, bloggers and yeah some famous folks in there too. Why? You never know who will click on your page or see one of your tweets and be interested enough to check out your book. Word of mouth will get you everywhere these days. Have you heard of a little book called Fifty Shades of Grey? It's all in who you know and getting your name noticed by the right people.

You already have your Gmail account set up in your pen name, now you can get rolling on Google+. It's newer than Facebook, but you will find some features a lot easier to use. It's also another social media branch you need to tap into. Take the time to explore it and learn about setting up different circles of friends. Don't be alarmed if complete strangers add you to their circles. You don't have to add them back and you can set up your posting settings to include just certain circles. Best thing is to just keep in mind that whatever you post there will be about your work and you/your pen name. Try to keep your personal stuff out of it if you can. 

Facebook is your next stop. You need to set up your own personal page in order to set up fan pages, so you might as well start that up now. You will only be allowed 5000 friends on your personal page, so don't use that for your active promotions. You want to set up an actual FACEBOOK PAGE. This used to be called a Fan Page. People "like" the page and then are able to follow the posts. You can even set up these pages to allow another person or two to act as admins. They can help keep up on the posts for you. Something to think about!

Once you have both Facebook and Google+ set up, you will be able to link them to your blogs. Just with a click of a button, you can automatically post from your blog to your social media. Folks following you on the social media can then click on the links and be taken to your blog. They in turn can click on the buttons around our  blog post and spread the word about you through their own social media sites. Get the picture?


Twitter is our next project. If you haven't already immersed yourself in the land of Tweet or be Retweeted, then you need to set up an account in your pen name. As with all the suggestions so far, this is free. Twitter buttons can be used in your blogs so people can tell others about you just by clicking the button alone. The program does the rest. If you want to post to Twitter and Facebook pages at the same time, you can use TweetDeck (another freebie). Just entering your post one time, will then set it up on two social media sites at once. As an added bonus, you can even set up tweets/posts in advance on TweetDeck so even while you sleep, messages can be sent to your contacts.

My book is out. Now what?

Keep going! Now you can set up our author pages on Amazon.com and Amazon UK.com.  During the set up you can link it so your blog and Twitter feeds will post to your author pages automatically. Another time saver in the promotions department!

Set up a Goodreads.com account and author page. You can upload your own books as well as those of others you have read. Rating and reviewing those books will help you connect to other readers who will in turn check out your books simply because you are interested in the sort of books they read. 

YahooGroups is also a great place to find other writers, readers and publishers. Check them out and read their member and posting guidelines. Many have specific days for promotions of your book, your blog, blog hops, chats, etc. Find those that fit you. Don't do what I did and join too many at one time. Your email box will be filled to the brim with updates from them. 

Since I write erotic romance, I've gravitated toward the YahooGroups that welcome that. One I skim through daily is Marketing For Romance Writers. Tons of great tips and workshops available in that group. There are other sites out there too such as All Romance ebooks (ARe), Coffee Time Romance and Manic Readers.com. The Manic Readers site is a great one for finding places to submit your book for reviews. They have a Review Depot where several review sites are listed in one spot. You only have to upload one copy of your book and submit a request for review. Then it's up to the individual reviewers to "check out" the book to review.

Reviews...now that's a whole other ball of wax! LOL

So you see? Promoting really isn't that hard and once you get your system down, you can do promotions for as little as a few hours a week by linking your blogs/websites to your social media and your author pages on sites like Amazon. 

So get out there! Set up you accounts and just have fun!


Two other authors have shared their Words of Wisdom with us this week. Please click on their names below to visit their sites. Happy reading, writing and promoting!






Saturday, September 15, 2012

Today's Spotlight is on author and poet R. Jane Hess

Hello again and welcome to Not Enough Time in the Day. I'm very excited to have an author and poet who's just getting started in our business. She writes short stories and poems and is working on collections of both. Hopefully she will have her first book out for us to enjoy very soon. Until then, I've invited her to share a bit of her work with us today. She would love it if you took a moment to let her know what you think about her work. 

But before we get to that, Let's bring her out so we can chat with her a bit and learn more about her. Grab some snacks and your favorite beverage and join Jane and me here on the patio. It's such a beautiful day, I thought it would help take away some of Jane's nerves. ;)


What inspires you to write? 
The simplest thing can touch me and bring to mind an idea that starts the process of imagination. Today for example: There was one blooming dandilion on the lawn. Only one! Watching it sway back and forth in the breeze sent my imagination soaring. I put a few ideas down on paper about that dandilion so I can work up a poem around it. It is not always the big events of life that impact a writers thoughts or ideas.

I know what you mean. That's why I always keep a notebook with me at all times. You never know when an idea will pop in your head and you have to get some of the details down before they disappear. Sort of on that same line, are you a plotter,  panster or a little of both? 
I would have to call myself a panster. I never think a story or poem through before I put it to page. The story creates itself. When I write poetry I never look at what I have written until it is complete. That has worked well for me! My thoughts are truly what is on the paper exactly how I see it, because I don't let myself correct it or change it several times or allow self-doubt to stop me from finishing the rhyme of the work. I am always surprised by what I have  written when I go back at a later date and look at what's on the page.

Do your stories tend to be character driven or plot driven? I find I'm a bit of both depending on the project. 
Definitely character driven. When I pen a story I already have developed the main character and her/his personality. But I never know when I start to write what that character is going to do or who he/she will interact with. It is all left up to the moment the story unfolds on the page.


In what ways are your characters like you? In what ways are your characters not like you? 
Like a lot of writers I use my own life experiences in my stories. I draw from the people I know and mix the characters personality with a bit of several people. I always want a positive ending to the story. A feel good ending. That's not always real life, I know. It doesn't always end with they lived happily ever after, but I want my reader to feel happy at the end of the story. Feel good about the ending. They might want to read it again  and again. At least that's my goal for the reader.

That's the basic rule of writing romance novels too. You have to have a happily ever after ending or at least a happy for now. I guess that's why we love to write and read them. Real life can be hard and we need an escape. Even with that in mind, some authors love to weave in specific issues or lessons in their work. What about you? What are there recurring core issues in your stories? 
Fairness, forgiveness, friends and of course family ties. Family is for me the glue that holds us together. Having friends who stand behind you and look out for you. The good parts of human nature is what I aim for in my writing.

Why do you think you are drawn to these types of characters/plots again and again? 
I always feel for the underdog. You know, the one that is hurting. Bringing that person to life, I hope it helps the reader feel a deep sense of compassion because it gives a little insight into how that character is feeling and why. When  we are rooting for the underdog and it turns out good for him/her, I like the effect it has on me and hopefully my readers. 

What are your favorite fiction genres to read from?
I love the classics like Jane Eyre, Woman in White and Rebecca. All these books are must reads in my world. The characters are so colorful and rich. 

Those are wonderful books. What kinds of stories are your comfort reads when you are sick or feeling low? 
I like to read a good historical romance novel with earls and ladies and a bit of scandal. I really enjoy the back ground information as well. It’s fun to read but you’re getting a history lesson at the same time. I love a good ending!

Ooooohhh, you love historical romances? I may have an author friend or two I think you would love to meet. ;) Who inspires you in life and in your writing and why? (loved ones, friends, authors, public figures, historical figures, actors, teachers etc) 
My family and friends have always encouraged me to write. A good friend of mine told me to start taking it all to the next level by putting it out there for people to read and enjoy if they so choose too. I took his advice and here I am enjoying this time on this blog sharing some of my work with you. 

And I am so happy you decided to use this forum to share some of your work! What are you working on now? 
I'm working on a few different projects right now. One in particular is a book set in London England. It's about a family in the textile business in the mid 1800's. I'm also working on a few more short stories. So there will be more to come! One long time project I've been working on will take me at least two years to complete. It's a book about prejudice. 

What’s coming soon?
My pet project right now is a story about a logging camp in northern British Columbia. The main character is a saucy lady who runs the camp. I'm enjoying this piece of work very much. She's the kind of lady I would love to be friends with. I am looking forward to finishing this project!

Thank you so much for joining us today, Jane. Now let's take a look at the two short stories and the poem you brought to share with us today.  

The Price You Pay                           

courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Blake slumped in the chair exhausted from the long night behind him. Mud crusted his boots as he looked down in distress. He had lost the battle tonight, and wondered about the next course of action. Removing his cap showed a small trickle of blood from the experience he had just encountered. Oh he knew it was there alright, as his head throbbed all over. He hoped that the damage was minimal as the dust rose above him from the slapping of his cap on his knee. Could he even move from this spot now that he was here in safety?


A better man then he would have finished it tonight. He would have ended the fight that had been going on night after night for the last week or so. How could he let this happen? He had been warned over and over again not to leave the stall door unlatched. An oversight on his part had cost him hours of sleep and the prize of his one mare that promised to yield a winner in some future race which he had placed all his hopes and his dreams. Not to mention the financial burden that he carried to cover this one shot at making a go of it. 


He just had to get her back. A small breath escaped his lungs as he reflected on the job ahead of him.


He thought of Sally upstairs sleeping soundly, not knowing what was going on around her. She had no idea of the situation and the strain he had put on himself over this foolish idea of his. It was a pipe dream yes, but one that had the payoff if he had done all the calculations right. Now this! He would not be able to tell her how their life savings was running with the wild stallion that he had once had in his hands so long ago. Why just two weeks ago he had the chance to put him down. One shot from a well-aimed rifle would have solved everything. Instead he helped the animal by removing a rope from its neck that tied him securely to a pole. He had argued that the golden beast had the right to be free to roam the hills beyond his Ranch and everyone's for that matter. Now he thought better of it as he wiped his face with his sweaty palm. 


He remembered the stallion so long ago, untamed, a spirited animal that few had ever seen in these parts. He remembered the day he looked deep into his eyes as he opened the gate himself to free him from certain death. His dad had given the order to put him down as he was more trouble than he was worth. Tapping his fingers on the table, he focused on his weakness for this animal, after all the stallion was given to him. He had the right to decide its fate. He did! Now years later he sat here knowing that decision was a mistake. 


Oh well, the past was in the past he thought as he began to ponder his next move. He would try again tomorrow night as he felt the strain of tonight getting the best of him. Pushing himself up off the chair and getting upstairs for some much needed sleep, seemed to be the order of business now. He slowly moved into a standing position and felt the dull aches from the saddle and the hard ground that he encountered earlier. Nothing was broken but his pride. His determination to fix this was still intact. He would get the mare back and leave the stallion in peace. Shaking his head he knew that this incredible animal sired the colt deep inside the protection of the mare. He knew the risks when he put his plan into action. Now this turn of events would test his endurance and his intelligence.


The fact that the stallion let him live tonight was a sign that he was getting close. Taking a second to ponder why the stallion did not bite him or even worse trample him was a question he could not answer. There was hope, a lot of hope to fix this mess. He would do that tomorrow for sure. 


There was always tomorrow. Tonight he tasted the bitterness of defeat. Tomorrow the war would continue. That was a fact!



Cindy's First 


courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Cindy closed her eyes in anticipation of what was about to happen. Part of the reason she went on this date was because she longed to know what the other girls had been talking about. Even Amber and Christie her best friends were open and yet shy when they talked about Brian. Amber had hoped that there would be a second date with Brian, but it had never happened. He was so smooth and had all the moves down to perfection. She had not heard of any girl who had been disappointed just to be seen with him. 

Cindy felt her heart beat hard against her chest, feeling it in her temples as if it was the distant call of a maiden to a great warrior. Her mind was racing. Moments seemed like hours as she waited for what would be the best part. Knowing what she did about him made it even more exciting! 

Brian was the star quarter-back of  the football team and the captain of the debate team. Along with that he found academics a sinch! His father was a respected member of the faculty and his mother a well known author of children's books. What was even more amazing was that Brian was nice. He talked to anyone and everyone and was adored by all. He was all wrapped up in a totally gorgeous package. Brian was everything any girl would want. He had never had a steady girlfriend but he had countless dates.

His reputation was well established. It was his thing to take a girl out only once. As it was, he had gone out with just about every girl in school. His team members snickered amongst themselves when ever they saw him with a new conquest. Now, it was finally her turn to feel the way all the other girls felt at his touch knowing full well that it was just for one time, one date, one moment!

The evening was nice. Brian was the perfect gentlemen. When they went to the movies, they sat close together and she could feel his eyes looking at her now and then. What was he wondering? Could he see how nervous and yet how excited she was to finally be here with him. It was no accident that she dropped her books in front of him on the school steps. As he bent down to pick them up she saw the glint in those incredible blue eyes. Dark curls framed his face as one fell from his perfectly combed hair and slid down to the middle of his forehead. She found herself staring as he looked perfect with that loose curl there. Oh.....then the voice. 

“Here you go,” he said with no emotion, but Cindy could tell he meant it. He smiled with such perfection as he gave the books back to her in a neat little stack. Cindy missed that altogether. She never saw him pick them up at all. Did he notice her staring at him in such wonderment and awe? Was she being so transparent? She could not help herself if he saw it. Cindy was never one to hide her feelings. She didn't even know how.

Dinner was okay, wasting time she thought, scolding herself for even thinking that way. The diner was packed and some of his buddies joined them at their table until Brian gave them the nod. They all knew what the nod meant and acted on it immediately. Yes he ruled that team. He was their quarter-back. The star player! The one the school was putting their reputation on to win the season this year. He could do it. Cindy felt a sense of pride as she sat there watching him eat his third burger without taking a breath. Wow, he was amazing all the way around. As they chatted about nothing really, she found herself absorbed in his tales of victory over neighborhood kids in a game of basketball. She even smiled when he talked about one of his dates that had played one night. To his total surprise the girl walked out onto the court and grabbed the ball. Dribbled it down center court and tossed it in the basket without even so much as a bead of sweat on her forehead. He admired this girl she could tell. But, she was not here tonight. No Cindy was, and that was all that mattered.

Now as they were parked outside of her house Cindy knew it was about to happen. Brian turned the motor off and lifted his right hand off of the steering wheel, slowly reaching for her. He traced his finger along her jaw line and settled on her chin. Pausing he smiled as he tilted her face ever so gently upward. Cindy could feel the sheer excitement of  his touch. Yes this was the way it was supposed to feel when you were about to experience your first kiss. 

Everything that happened was a first for Cindy. First date, first movie and dinner with a boy, not just any boy either. No, it was Brian. Her mind wondered back to the moment he asked her out. It was by the water fountain in the main hall of the school. Everyone would have seen him leaning down and asking her what she was doing Friday night. Cindy was so startled that her head came up and water went everywhere. Not one of her most glamorous moments. As she quickly wiped the water from her lips, Brian smiled again and repeated the question. She was sure  she had answered with complete control. Any grown up would have been proud of how she mastered her shock! So with quivering lips she announced that as far as she knew she was free on Friday night. She was so transfixed on his face that she  did not hear him ask her out. Instead she stared at him in a desperate attempt to try to force her mind to remember what he had just said to her. “Well,” he said “what is your answer?” Heat rose to her face as she nodded yes in agreement. “See you then,” was all she heard in the distance as she tried desperately to pull herself together.

Now here they were, together, alone, just the two of them as she had dreamed it would be. The moment, she would  mark as one of the most life changing events that had ever occurred in her short history. 

Her mind quickly returned to the events of the present as Brian was looking deep into her eyes. “Cindy” he said, “can I kiss you.” “Yes “ was the only reply she could muster as she moved toward his lips. His mouth touched hers gently as he brushed her lips and moved back . Cindy thought she might never recover. She could feel his breath on her face as he looked at her again. “You looked very nice tonight” he whispered. Finding her voice she weakly replied “thank you,” as her eyes shifted back to his full moistened mouth. Their lips found each other again and in a soft but strong embrace they matched each other perfectly in the rhythm of the kiss. Cindy's mind was whirling as she felt his response to her or was it she to him. It did not matter, this was heaven itself. It was a moment she wanted to go on forever and ever. 

Brian pulled himself away and stared in disbelief. This could not happen to him. He was affected by this girl. He could tell she liked him, but the idea that he might have some feelings for her was foreign to him. Neither one spoke, they just looked at each other in silence which seemed to last for hours. After a while Brian's lips started to curve into a smile. Cindy followed close behind. Smiling, they knew they had shared a special moment, one, that you watched in a movie or read about in a novel. Only difference was this was real. 

Cindy caught a glimpse of the porch light being turned on and knew this was her cue to go. Her parents would be at a safe distance watching, making sure all went well. “Brian,” she whispered “I had a wonderful time tonight. Thank you for everything”  She took one last glance at those incredible lips and those eyes and that dark curly hair storing them away in her memory for a day when she would have the time to explore the emotions and feelings she felt tonight. Like so many other girls, it was a one date policy with him. But that was fine. She knew that when she dropped her books on the steps.

Cindy reached for the door handle and slid out of the car. The cool breeze could not erase the heat she felt inside. Her first kiss. The kiss she would measure all others by. It would be hard to beat this one for sure, she thought as she turned to walk up the sidewalk to her door. She would turn and wave him on so he would not think she was disappointed in the fact that she would not see him again. Other than on the football field and in the two classes they shared of course. This would be her life now. She knew it, she just knew it.

Reaching the front door Cindy turned around to wave Brian on, only to find him standing behind her on the step. She did not hear him get out of the car or   walk up behind her. She was so busy thinking about the end of the evening she never even felt his hand brush her sleeve or hear him call her name. Startled she gasped and leaned against the door for support. “Whats wrong” she mumbled as she was still trying to recover herself. Brian looked at her and did not utter a word. “Are you okay Brian” Cindy asked. Brian looked up and said “yes”. But Cindy was not so sure. 
“Cindy,” Brian said, “will you go out with me again.” Puzzled, Cindy looked at him in disbelief. “Sure Brian sure” she said. Cindy was surprised, and Brian saw that she was aware of his reputation. Brian was just as surprised as she was. They would go out again and he would explore this strange new feeling that overpowered his mind tonight. This girl was different and he had to know why. 

Yes it was Cindy's first kiss and it was all that she imagined it would be. She had a personal appointment with her diary tonight, she giggled to herself.

It was Cindy's first kiss. But to Brian it was his first real kiss, one that moved him inside and left him heated and nervous. No one had ever made him feel like that before. This was something he wanted to explore. “So next Friday it is,” he said to no one in particular.  “Wow,” he thought as he got into his car and drove off. Wow!


Free the Lion


courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Pacing back and forth in my small cage,
As each moment passes I feel a deep rage.
Was it an accident that put me in here,
Or was it greed and arrogance I fear.

King of the jungle in a cage that's so small,
People looking at me in a zoo or a mall.
What are you thinking as I die in this place,
Getting weaker and weaker in strength I face.

I was meant to be free, not caged in a box,
There is no respect here, no care, just locks.
I look out over the crowd that has gathered,
To see the king of the beasts, does this matter.

I am king of the beasts, that's what you called me, 
I'm trapped like a rat or rabbit, I need to be free, let me be.
Does time pass for me, as it does for mankind, 
As I am watched here, getting thinner, I am racing the time.

My inner strength is not what its been,
I feel myself fading, being locked in this pen.
My eyes are dimmer, I'm starting to fail,
Someone save me quick, this is a sad tale.

The cost of getting me was high no doubt,
The cost of losing me will bring a great shout.
In the wild my numbers are dwindling fast,
In captivity I am threatened, I'm sure I won't last.

Treated with a whip, respect to be gained,
From the one who was supposed to care for me, I am ashamed.
You think you can break me, maybe you can,
That is such a feat, a great honor for men.

                                                                                                                                 

I had a home, a country, a place where I lived,

Roamed free, had a pride, stood my ground, lots to give.
In a moment I felt a pain in the back of my thigh,
And now I am here, earning pennies for you, I sigh.

All I wanted was to be left alone, untouched.
To work out the problems of nature I clutch.
Our numbers dwindle and you wonder why,
You put us in small cages and let us die.

Take me back where I am from, as soon as you can,
Leave me alone, go away, let nature fix it not man.
Have respect for me as I am king of the beasts,
For me to survive, I must be left in peace.







Photos used in this post were provided by FreeDigitalPhotos.net by the following artists
The Lion by artist James Barker
Wild Horse by artist Evgeni Dinev
Caucasian Couple Kissing by artist imagerymajestic

By clicking on the above images, you will directed to the page where you can download your own copy or search through thousands of photos and illustrations.






Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Writer's Words of Wisdom: Should You Use a Pen Name?

Nom de Plume or Not?

This is one question many authors have to struggle with when they are getting ready to publish. Funny thing is, there is no right or wrong answer. It truly is an individual preference. There are many established authors who will be ADAMANT you use a pen name, especially in the romance genres. Some may even call you an idiot if you don't have one. Yes, I was called that when one author found out that Tammy Dennings Maggy was my real name at the time. (I've since remarried). It ticked me off to have someone call me stupid because I chose to stick with my own name, but then I had to put myself in the other author's shoes. She wasn't saying it to belittle me. She was trying, in her very rude and crass way, to protect me. Why? To keep my private life separate from my writer life? Maybe. The main reason was to protect me from potential stalkers.

Now while this may be a very valid concern and a very big one for romance writers in the 80's, I'm here to tell you from personal experience, stalkers come in all shapes, sizes and varieties. They don't just go after those in the spotlight. They stalk every day people. I have been a victim of such a person. He grew very attached to me as his dog's veterinarian. It got to the point he was sending me flowers almost daily and flipping out if I was on my day off and not there at his beck and call. 

He decided to take matters into his own hands and followed me home one afternoon. I had stopped into the veterinary hospital for a staff meeting. He once again brought flowers for me. Unfortunately one of the staff mistakenly told him I would be there that afternoon,  and she would be sure I got his gift.

Instead of being happy with that, he waited in the parking lot until the meeting was over and followed me home. Lucky for me, two of my neighbors were home when I pulled in my driveway and he was scared off.  Needless to say, I had a police escort for a bit until my stalker moved out of state.  I was not a published author then, just a veterinarian.

Like myself, many of my author friends write erotica and erotic romance...what their friends and family refer to as smut. If I had a dollar for every time a member of my own family said that, I would be able to retire as a veterinarian and devote all of my time to writing. Sigh. A girl can dream can't she?

If you don't want your family, friends, members of your church or PTA find out what you write, then create that alternate personality and let the words flow. The most important thing here is that you follow your dream. If it means you create  another name for yourself, DO IT! 

Will you write in more than one genre?

The advice of many publishers these days, is to keep separate pen names for each genre you decide to explore in your writing. I can see the questions forming in your minds already. "Wouldn't that make it harder to build up a following and market my name?" Not really.

When you are first starting out, you want your name to be associated with your work. If you write young adult fiction, you want your new fans to be able to find you easily and not pick up books written by you in other genres. Quite a few readers are very fickle. If they like your style, they will expect more books from you in that particular genre. If you zip around and try first sweet romance and then your next book using the same pen name is say a horror novel, you are going to turn off some of those readers you fought hard for in the beginning.

Readers aren't stupid. They will read the covers and descriptions of your books...usually. More often than not, once they get hooked on you, they will grab anything and everything you write under that name, BUT...and that's a big but, if you give them something that turns them off they just may stay away from any more new material from you. For example, quite a few readers who love M/M romances are completely turned off if they find their favorite author has written a M/F romance. I had one such person tag my book For the Love of Quinn as "no thanks" simply because it was M/F and she only read M/M. Why even bother to tag the book you ask? Because she can and it's her way of making it known that she would try my work if it fell into the genres she enjoyed.

So do yourself a favor and use a separate pen name for each genre you wish to explore. I currently have three pen names. As Tammy Dennings Maggy I wrote M/F and F/F erotic romances and poetry. Within those genres I've dabbled in contemporary, paranormal and vampire subgenres. I write M/M and menage erotic romances in those same subgenres as Lia Michaels. Stephanie Ryan is my chosen pen name to write mainstream sweet romances, young adult fiction, and mainstream fiction. Stephanie has control of a few of my old works in progress and a new one called The Do Over where the heroine gets a chance to go back in time, knowing what she knows now, to relive part of her past. I could easily use this same idea and turn it into an erotic romance, but that's not the way my muse is directing me. 

Would I want someone under 18 years of age to pick up something written by Lia? Hell no! Would I want to face the wrath of their parents? No frickin' way! It's bad enough under aged kids get their hands on explicit adult materials. I'll be damned if I'm going to make it any easier for those inquiring minds.  If you are known for writing young adult fiction and suddenly turn out a GLBT erotic romance, will you be willing to take the backlash? 

Remember the hoopla over Judy Blume's coming of age novel Forever and then her adults only book Wifey? No? Look into that when you get the chance and you'll know what I mean. Ms. Blume was well-known for her children's books so when the new ones came out, many parents automatically allowed their kids to read them just because of name recognition. Get the picture now?

Isn't it too much work?

It's all in how you look at it. Yes it means more work for you overall. Nowadays, authors are expected to do the majority of their own promotions. Next week I'll talk more about that, but let's just say in order to get your name out there and be seen, this takes the form of Twitter, Facebook, Google+, websites and blogs just to name a few.  For each pen name you should have these things. The more times your pen name is out there, the more likely someone will find you and your work.

Now once you have an established following, if you wish to combine some of those things, then by all means do so. Personally, I'm finding keeping those all separate works best for me right now. I don't keep it a secret I use multiple pen names (obviously), but it helps me, and those who follow me, keep each group of story lines separate.

Again, it's all up to you and your muse. 

Take home message

As a writer, it's more important that you stay true to yourself then take one person's advice as gospel. Listen to those who've come before you. Take their advice to heart, and do what works best for you. Pen name or not, your work is your own. Stand up and be proud of it. Work at it daily. Listen to the constructive criticism. Learn from it all so you can be the best storyteller you can be.

Let your Muse be your guide. After all, it's not the name that's on the cover of the book that's important, it's what fills the pages inside that will grab the reader and take them on a wild ride.

See you next week!

Two other authors are participating with me this week. Here are the links to their websites. Go ahead and stop in and find out what they have to say. 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

New Feature for Wednesdays!

Hello my friends! I'm excited to announce a new feature that I will be hosting on my blog along with several other authors. Every Wednesday at least one of us will write about something that has to do with writing whether it's publishing, promoting, editing, or submitting your very first manuscript. Basically we wanted to share our experiences as brand new and seasoned published authors. 

Between us I'm sure we have a lot to share. What works for some of us, may not work for others, but the point is we are sharing what happened to us along the way so those that come after us, don't feel so overwhelmed with the whole process. Thanks to one of my new author friends, Paloma Beck, Writer's Words of Wisdom was borne. 

So make sure you stop in each week to see what we have to offer. I may not have a specific post for you myself, but I will post the links to the blogs of the other authors participating that week.

My first post will be up this Wednesday September 12th and will focus on whether or not you should use a pen name and what all goes into having one or more of them.

Until then, I'll leave you with a video of one of my favorite songs. I think it applies to anything that's your heart's desire. It doesn't have to be a person you love, but also a call to follow your dreams wherever they may lead.



Thursday, September 6, 2012

Thursday Thirteen from Manipulating the List

Welcome back my friends! Author K.B. Lever joins us today on Not Enough Time in the Day and shares the first thirteen lines from the first book in her Immortal Companion Series. Manipulating the List follows Katherine Sheppard as she befriends a being she calls The Collector. Like Death, he must travel from place to place collecting the souls of people on his list. At some point in time, Katherine has to help him collect those souls in order to push her own name further down the list. 

Blurb

At age six, Katherine Sheppard meets the person who will become her best friend - a friend she chooses to call the Collector. Their friendship will flourish for 16 years until the day comes when that friendship transforms into a game of manipulation and survival - with no escape. 

Desperately trying to keep from losing her own life, she finds she must now assist in the deaths of others. She cleverly stays one step ahead of the law, but soon discovers she must also stay one heart-pounding step ahead of the Collector…to keep her name from becoming first on his list.

Video Trailer



First Thirteen Lines from Manipulating the List

I was six years old at the time, but I remember it like it was yesterday.  So amazing; so enchanting; so exciting; it felt as if I had been riding a death-defying rollercoaster at the world’s most popular amusement park; or marveling at a rare, once in a lifetime comet, flying across the star-filled night sky.

I don’t know why I was able to see him or why I was allowed to watch as he performed the sacred transition of souls from this world to the next, but it was one of the most intense and amazing things I’d ever witnessed. The Collector, as I chose to call him, hunted with methods of stalking that reminded me of my childhood cat, Leo. He would patiently wait, remaining motionless as he lurked in the view of only the unseen eye, waiting for the exact minute of the victim’s predicted death to pounce and collect their soul.

The entire transition was an entrancing dance where the partner had no choice but to follow the deadly lead. A beautiful, fully choreographed dance that mesmerized the victim and every step was in time with the quickened heartbeat.

The Collector would reveal himself in a physical form just before locking eyes with his victim and temporarily send them into a fear-driven state of paralysis, which in turn allowed him to perform the collection. Only at that precise moment, as they are under a spell of lucidity, are they able to see the Collector for what he truly is – a collector of souls, the entity Death. I’d never seen anything like him, and he’d never seen anything like me.

Recalling those days, I’d watched him collect three souls in a matter of a few short months. The first two collections were comparable to a raindrop lost in a thunderstorm, random people out of thousands with no significance to me.

About the Author

K.B. Lever strives to become one of North Carolina’s most beloved storytellers and is busy working on the next books in her Immortal Companions series.

A life full of love, laughter, and curious twists and turns has brought her success, happiness, and fulfillment of her many passions!

The author lives in North Carolina with her daughter and family and works as a Paramedic for a large municipality.


Where to find the author



Just a reminder, Karen's (K.B) Saturday Spotlight on my sister blog Behind Closed Doors will not be accessible until midnight September 8th Pacific Standard Time. If you click on the link above, it will take you to the blog. 

So until next time...Blessed Be!

~Tammy