Tag Archives: Twitter

Hashtags to live by….maybe.

The other day I as talking about marketing with one of my non-writing fringe friends and she asked me why I always insert hashtags with random words after them on my social media sites. I have to tell you, it made me feel good knowing I knew the answer to this question. My ego also went up a few notches because I knew something about social media that she didn’t – and she has young kids. I add that part because we all know anyone born after the millennials have media stuff encoded into their DNA!

But I digress…

I answered her question and after I did she said, “I still don’t get it. If people are following  you anyway, why keep putting those tags on things?” I had to then explain the theory of GETTING MORE FOLLOWERS AND WHY I NEED THEM/WANT THEM.

Okay, the reason I put that in capitals is because this fringe friend doesn’t use social media in a business sense, but strictly for personal reasons. She finally “got” why I use hashtags with my postings, instagram pix, tweets, etc. People follow certain hashtags across their social sites and even pre-program their sites to upload ( Download? I always get these two confused!!!) any new postings that feature these tags when they are put up. I used the #amwriting hashtag on an instagram post a few weeks ago and the next day I had 25 new follows based on that one alone!

Since I was born waaaaaaaaaay before the millennials ruled the world, I had to learn all this stuff the old fashioned way: by reading about it and asking tons of questions to people who knew what the heck they were doing as far as marketing, branding, and making their businesses grow. One of the best blogs ( and nicest people!)I’ve found is Stacy Nachajski and her blog Great Brook Media .   You can click on the previous link and find some absolutely fab articles/blogs she’s written and posted, along with tutorials about all things media related. Frog around on her website. You’re sure to find something you didn’t think you needed to know!

SO, most of my hashtags are writing related. I mean, duh! What else would they be?? Hee Hee.Some of my favorite hashtags to add when I’ve written blog posts or put up instagram pix are the following:

These are all for Twitter:

#5amwritersclub

#behonestin4words

#tagabookbloggerTuesday

#tagyourfavauthorthursday

#worstsadviceeverin5words

#worstpickuplines

#amwriting

These are for blog posts and Instagram posts:

#amwriting

#amediting

#readromance

#romancewriter

#romance #contemporaryromance

#goodreadsreaders

#romancereaders

Every day on Instagram I do a positive, spiritual, or self affirming quote using these hashtags:

#morningmotivation  #Personalgrowth #believeinyourself

One thing I always try to do when I post to Instagram and Twitter is to include an actual person if I’ve referenced them. For instance, when I post this blog I will make sure I cite @greatbrookmedia   in the posting so people who follow Stacy can see the post and share, like or retweet it. This helps her by having some new people see her site through my contacts, and it helps me by potentially garnering new viewers to me via her link.

Got it??
So that’s why the right hashtags mean so much when you want to grow your followers, business, and on-line presence.

When you finish reading this, look down below at the section marked: categories and tags. You’ll see all the hashtags I assigned to this post.

Here’s another great post I found just as I was writing this post on what to do and not do with hashtags.

And as always, you can find me – with and without hashtags – here:Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triber// BookMe

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Filed under Author Branding, branding

Social Media and the Quest for Name Recognition…

That’s a wordy title, but it’s an accurate one for what I’ve been mulling over lately.

I’m a household name. In MY household…no other. This is tantamount to the Kiss of Death for a writer, because no one is going to read your books if they don’t know who the heck you are.

True ‘dat, right?

In the past, publishers have had entire teams of people who diligently took steps to make sure their writers’ names were recognized easily. Marketing campaigns, publicity tours, multi-city book signings. Any and every effort the team could get the author’s name to be recognized by the general book reading public was made. With the advent of less traditional publishing avenues, most of the tried and true publishers now are only moving their advertising dollars toward their already recognizable, big-name, authors.

What’s the relatively unknown writer to do?

I’m traditionally published by two presses, Kensington/Lyrical Shine and The Wild Rose Press. Both love their authors, make no mistake about that. They are in the business of selling books and they need authors to  achieve their goal. But taking a chance on a relatively new author  – and by chance I mean throwing advertising and marketing dollars  behind them to promote them – is something both of them are reluctant to do. In the WRP case, they do minimal to no marketing for their authors – the authors and the other writers associated with the company do the bulk share of getting the word out  about a new book release. Lyrical Shine has a marketing department, but with so many authors on their docket, those dollars are stretched thin.

So, what’s an author like me – unknown, no advertising or marketing background – to do, you ask?
Well, of course I’ll tell ya.

When my first book was scheduled for publication I frantically tried to learn whatever I could about marketing and how to promote myself on a nearly non-existent budget. It was hard, peeps. Real hard.

I joined TWITTER, had my best friend set-up my WEBSITE, and made a Facebook Professional Page. I didn’t go out and employ any book-tour companies via the web because I didn’t know they existed back then!!! I garnered several hundred new followers from all this, but it wasn’t enough to make me more well known as an author ( and you know that ultimately means – no sales!)

When the second and third books rolled around and were ready to be published, I had discovered on-line book tours, PINTEREST, and INSTAGRAM, and Goodreads.

I got even more followers and saw a tiny uptick in sales, so a good thing, but still, my name is not showing up on any bestseller lists, or on any “Watch for the next book from this fab author” lists.

By the time I got my Lyrical contract, I had joined Triberr, BookBub,  and  Google + and started entering more and more contests. My thought was if I finaled in any of them, that will introduce my name to more people. If I, GOD-PLEASE! – won any of them,  my name and my work would be more accessible and known.

Haven’t won any yet, but have finaled in a bunch, so that’s a positive thing, right?

My first book was published in 2015. Since then, 3 years later, I’ve got 2,260 Twitter followers, 1343 people on my FB author account, on Triberr I have a personal reach of 183K and on BookBub I have 281 followers.

Now, those numbers are…okay. But they need to be waaaaaaaaaaay more to have any kind of impact on the romance reading world.

So…

I have a favor to ask ( you saw that coming, didn’t you?!)

If you aren’t already following me across my media, please take this opportunity to do so. At the end of most of my blog pieces I usually list all my Social Media sites and beg, er, ask you to find me. Well, please continue to do that, but could you also please follow me? Here’s the list:Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triber// BookMe

And if you are already following me across my SM sites – #BLESSYOU and #ILOVEYOU

It’s so humbling to beg!

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Filed under Author, Author Branding, author promotion, Kensington Publishers, Lyrical Author, Romance, Romance Books, The Wild Rose Press

My current #SocialMedia obsession…

So you can probably guess the answer to the blog title today. I discovered TRIBERR a little over a year ago when author (and good friend) Marianne Rice spoke to my NHRWA chapter about using social media to build a target audience. It was a great workshop overall, but when she told us about TRIBERR, I immediately looked into securing a spot on the media site.

So, what is Triberr and why is it such a worthwhile Social media site to be a part of? Here’s a great article on exactly what it is and does, link, but in a nutshell, Triberr hooks you up with other bloggers on  the web who will share your content to their sites, blogs, social media posts, etc. When I first joined the social media world I had a world wide web “reach” of maybe ( on a good day) 100 people. That included Twitter, FB, and Instagram.

After one week of joining Triberr, I saw a 10 percent increase in traffic across my sites and within a month, that had risen ten fold. My Triberr reach as of today is 171,ooo. I don’t even know 100 people, much less 171,000!! My Twitter followers increase daily ( this morning they number 2,220) and my FB author page is up to 1,301, up nine since  last Monday. I know those numbers may not seem impressive, but when you’re a virtual nobody like I am, getting your name out there so poeple can buy your books is hard. The fact that when I started writing for publication I had 1 follower on Twitter ( my darling daughter) and now I number 2k+ is amazeballs!

How I increased those numbers is no secret: I joined TRIBERR and then started following other TRIBES devoted to writing, marketing, and author branding. This is my own site (called a TRIBE) Strong Women. Loving Men

where my blog postings get listed daily, and where other authors/bloggers/readers ask to join my tribe. I’m a member of about a dozen other tribes where I read and post those bloggers’ content daily, thereby increasing my own web reach. It’s a win/win situation as far as I am concerned.

Since I’ve limited the type of tribes I want to be associated with – all romance writing, marketing, and review sites – I can target my reach to those individuals who read and write and review romance books. If I wanted to really expand my reach, and I probably will in the next year or so, I’d include book bloggers, readers, and reviewers of all book genres, not only romance. But even if you wanted to narrow down your scope to, say, just romance readers/bloggers/reviewers who only read/review/blog about Paranormal Romance, or historical romance, you could do that as well.

The site is free, the only cost – the time you take to share the posts you want to each day. And you don’t even have to do it every day. I do because I typically blog every day, but if you’re a once a week blogger, that’s fine. As long as you share other posts in your tribe, you’re fine.

If you’re looking to grow your on-line and social media presence, Triberr is a great way to do so with very little every and a whole lotta reach! I’ve even included it in my search engine sites.

And when I’m not on Triberr, you can usually find me here:

Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triber// Book Me

 

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Filed under Author, Author Branding, Contemporary Romance, Romance, Romance Books

Social Media is here to stay…. #MFRWauthor

Another Friday, another blog challenge topic from MFRWauthor. Heehee. This one’s another easy peasy one to write.

Up until I had my first book published, the only Social Media platform I used was Facebook. It kept me in touch with my daughter who’d been in college, and I had fun seeing the posts from all her friends.

Fast forward to June 2014. I signed my first book contract and was told by the publisher that I needed to have a social media presence in order to garner readers and followers. I think the first thing I said was “no.” All I wanted to do was write, not be on-line with strangers all the time talking myself and my book up. That thought went the way of the dinosaur when I found out how effective a marketing tool being on social media sites can be, and in reality, is.

With my daughter’s and my best friend’s help – both of whom are techy and marketing gurus, I started this website, joined Twitter, found Pinterest and Instagram, and became a Goodreads “author.” In addition, I developed a FB following on my author page.

By the time my second book was released, I was proficient in all these sites.

And every time I thought I was done, another “must be seen on” social media site emerged. Book Bub, Triberr, Tumbler, Linked-In came along and with them, my participation.

But this is a blog about our favorite SM platforms, so to be true to the challenge, my absolute favorite it TRIBERR. The reasons vary, but the main one is REACH,  a term that gives new meaning to what you really think it mean.

On TRIBERR I follow many book-, romance-book, and writing web-blogs. Each site has at least a reach of a minimum of 2000 readers. A few have hundreds of thousands. What that means is, if I a member of that TRIBE, ( and yes, that’s what it’s called!) and I post a new blog, the potential for people who don’t know me from Adam to see it is huge. Really huge. Of course, there is reciprocity involved in all this. If I want my blog posts to be seen, I need to publicize other blogs as well. Tit for tat; or in this case, blog for blog. Every morning I log onto my Triberr account and then scroll through the Tribes I am a member of. When I see interesting posts, or posts I feel will be beneficial for my followers, I schedule them on my Twitter feed. That way, my 2000+ Twitter followers, get to read things by people whom they do not ordinarily follow.

Get it?

If you’re a blogger, Triberr is a great place to garner new readership, so that’s why it is my current favorite SM site.

And you can follow me on Tribber ( and all my other sites) here:Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triber// Book Me

Now, since this is a blog challenge and hop, visit the other authors here to find out what their favorite social media platforms are and why.

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Filed under #Mfrwauthors, Author, Author Branding, branding, Romance, Romance Books

Facebook….turns out, it’s a good thing

Yesterday I extolled some of the wisdom Jane Friedman imparted last weekend at Fiction Fest 2017 in her master class. One of the biggest takeaways from the workshop for me was how powerful Facebook can be for an author.

When I first began my journey as a published author in 2015 I had the typical Facebook page where I trolled the news feed for posted info on family and friends. It was my then-editor who suggested I make myself a professional FB page for my author career. The thought of now having to manage and keep track of 2 things on FB, not to mention Twitter, Pinterest, my website, my Amazon page,  yada yada yada was a little daunting and a whole lot of nauseating.

But I heeded her advice and did it. The one thing I was adamant about though, was that the professional author page was  going to be for anybody who wanted to follow me as an author. I was going to keep my personal page just that – private. The reason was an easy one for me because I have small children in my family and friends circle and their parents post pictures of them frequently. I didn’t want some wackjob creepy person to see those pictures. There are a lot of undesirables on the Internet, hunting for innocent prey. And I know that sounds dramatic, but have you read the news lately??? Not dramatic at all.. simply proactive.

So. Two pages. Two separate entities. Double the work. More to keep track of. But you know what? it was a good thing. I have waaaaaaay more “friends” on my professional page than my personal one. I don’t post anything on the professional page I wouldn’t want everyone in the cyber world to see, but I’m able to keep private what needs to be kept private on the personal page. One of the good things about Facebook is that you can set up protection and privacy settings on posts.

Jane is a big proponent of reader and follower engagement on her FB page. She uses her page as a tool to interact with readers, answer questions, make announcements, show her blog postings. She feels authors should use the Professional page as their number one tool for marketing and acquiring new followers who then become readers. I always felt that Twitter gave me my biggest bang for engagement, and in reality, I have more twitter followers than I do FB followers (not many more, but a few). One of the drawbacks, Jane says about Twitter, is that it is very much a right here- right now thing. In other words, once you post something you have about 17 minutes or so for people to see it. After that, it gets lost in the quagmire of a hundred billion other tweets and the scroll shoves you waaaaaaay down low. Makes sense. On Facebook, your postings get added to the newsfeed, your followers get notified you’ve posted something, and if you come back to the post a few hours later and simply “like” it, it brings it back up in the current scroll. That’s genius in my mind. Plus, everytime someone likes or comments on your post you get a notification and respond in kind.

Facebook parties are a fabulous markteting tool for new readers and engagement as well. Facebook ads can be a tool to drive people to your page, but be careful. Don’t go crazy and spend more than you think you really need on an ad.

So. Facebook. I will now be using it a great deal more than Twitter. Still love to tweet though!

When I’m not Facebook-ing or Tweeting, you can find me here:Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triberr

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Filed under Author, Author Branding, branding, Contemporary Romance, Life challenges, research, Romance Books

Where I hangout when I want to be #social; #MFRWauthors

Until I became a professional writer ( and by that I mean, one who writes full time and actually gets paid! Yippie!) the biggest social media presence I had was on Facebook, and then it was only because my daughter was away at college and on it, and I wanted to ensure she was okay. And of course by okay I mean that I stalked her posts! She knows this so I’m not worried she’ll be mad at me.

But when my first book was contracted, the publisher suggested – heavily and often! – that all their authors needed to have a very visible social media presence to garner sales and book promo, since they did relatively little in the way of book promotion. It was all on my back. If I wanted my books to sell, I had to get the word out there, so I became a social media junkie.

I joined Twitter, Goodreads, Tumblr, Google+, LInkedIn, and of course I made my own Facebook author page in addition to my personal page I use for friends and family. In addition to Instagram and Snapchat. Oh, and how could I forget? My own website that I use for announcements and blogging 4-5 times per week.

And with the arrival of Tribber, well, I’m there, too.

Keeping these sites updated takes a lot of time… a lot of  time. Let’s read that again so you get it: A LOT OF TIME.

Time I could spending, well, writing!

One of these days I’m going to be rich and successful enough to hire a publicist and let her take care of all the updating. Ahhh….. to dream.

Here’s where you can find me most of the time when I should be writing books and not updating you on my life:

Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triberr

and since this is week 15 of the #MFRWauthors 52 week blog challenge, click on some of the names below and see how they’re faring with all this social media stuff.


 

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Filed under #Mfrwauthors, Author, Contemporary Romance, Life challenges, research

Social Media, Rules….

Magnified illustration with the word Social Media on white background.

 

And I don’t mean it like “rules for behavior.” No, I mean social media RULES the universe these days.

Let me ‘splain it you, Lucy…..

A little over a year ago I was an unknown, about-to-be-first-time-published author who had 15 Twitter followers on a good day. They were all friends and family who knew me and thought it was cute we were Tweeting one another inane things. My publisher recommended I increase my online presence to find more new readers for my books and to help promote those books through the free marketing Twitter encompasses with every tweet you send. I said, “okay” because, really, what was I going to say, NO? They were the experts. I was just a little unknown romance writer looking- hoping-praying- someone ( anyone) would buy a book from me.

I asked my daughter – the techy maven – how to go about finding new followers and she gave me a sage bit of advice. In order to get more followers, you have to…wait for it.…follow more people.

social-media1

Really? Could it be that easy?
Well, I’m here to tell you that, yes, it is that easy.

I found people who liked the same things I did: writers, romance readers and writers, and book lovers, and started following them, retweeting posts I liked, and interacting with complete strangers. In one month I increased my followers from 15 to 150.

When my book came out, I started tweeting about it, using those infamous and oh-so-beneficial-hashtags, and my following soared to 300.

With the next book, I did the same thing, finding trending hashtags that compared to what I was sharing and hastag-jumped onto those tweets. This brought me even more followers. At one point I was tweeting all my new followers every time I got one, thanking them for joining and following me. This got old pretty quickly when I spent almost an hour of each day doing it, so I stopped. I thought I might lose some followers by not pointing them out, and I did lose a few. But in the world of twitter math, for every 2-3 followers I lost, 10 more came on board. Today, I woke up to 811 followers.

 

Folks, I don’t even know 811 people!!!

social-media2

Now that I’m with a new publisher, I’ll be following more authors, and in turn, will increase my own followers even more. You can take everything I just wrote and apply it to Facebook, Google, and Pinterest as well. The more social media sights you troll on, the more “people” you will “meet.”

So, this is what I mean when I say Social Media rules. Because  it does. Really. Go ahead and Tweet this and you’ll see what  I mean!

And if you want to find me on Social Media, here’s where I am…ALL THE TIME!!! le Sigh!

Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me// Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me//

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Filed under Author, community advocacy, Contemporary Romance, Kensington Publishers, love, Lyrical Author, New Hampshire, research, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women, WIld Rose Press AUthor

Lessons I’ve learned about being a published author.

I found out my first book, SKATER’S WALTZ, had been contracted for publication while I was attending the 2014 RWA conference in San Antonio, TX. Shocked, thrilled, and terrified, I thought the hard part – finding someone willing to publish my novel – was over.

Yeah, not so much.

Lesson one: it’s not over when you type THE END. It’s just the beginning…

the end

After I signed on the dotted line, the real work began. I’d been published for years in literary fiction anthologies and in non-fiction magazines and periodicals. The literary magazines accepted the work as is, the non-fiction articles were sometimes reworked and refined by editors to allow for spacing considerations. My point is that it was someone else’s job to get the piece publishing presentable.

Not anymore. Welcome to the world of book fiction.

Lesson two : the hard work starts after you contract for publication…

the end2

My first book went through 3 rounds of edits between my editor and myself before it was sent to galleys for actual publication. And even after it went out to the copy editor, there were still some changes that needed to be made. I was ready to rip my hair out at one point. All I kept thinking as more and more edit suggestions came my way was, “Why the heck did they want this if it needs so much work??”

Lesson three: Editors are the most underrated and undervalued people on the publishing food chain…

the end3

All editors are good at their job – they have to be. But the ones who are truly great make a good book even better. They find the little twists and turns of a phrase, or a word change, or a sentence deletion that is key to making the reader want to read more.

My editor is one of the great ones.

Lesson four: you should have taken marketing classes in college…

I will admit this freely – I was unbelievably naïve when I signed that first contract. I thought the publisher was going to do all the marketing necessary to promote my book, get it on a best-seller list, and generally skyrocket me to fame.

Yeah, AGAIN, not so much!

The minute your book is contracted and the editing begins, you need to start promoting it. Often and everywhere. FaceBook, Twitter, Pinterest, your website, blog tours, newspaper press releases, your Aunt Maimie’s bridge club. Anywhere, everywhere, and as often as you can, so that when you finally have a release date, the buzz about the book will have started, grown to fever pitch and resulted in so many pre-orders your head spins.

Lesson five: before the first book hits the shelves you’d better be working on, or done with, book #2…the end5

As a writer you can never – NEVER – rest on your laurels. It is a true axiom of publishing: you are only as good as your next book. So while you are doing all that dreaded marketing, take time each day and write…write…write. I had book two on my editor’s desk before book one was released. Same for book 3. Keep ‘em coming.

Lesson six: you need to take time to breathe and enjoy…

 Yes, I was overwhelmed, naïve, frustrated and generally anxious with the release of my first book. But I was also thrilled at having my dream – finally – come true. It was a long road for me to book publication. I was 54 years old when the first one came out, a time when most people are starting to look toward the end of their working life. Not me. Mine was just beginning and I wanted to savor every moment of how it felt to hold my first book in my hands; see my name in print on the cover of a book I’d penned; sign my first autograph on a copy someone had actually paid cash-money for! Don’t let anything ever take away or overwhelm you from that sense of wonderful, soul-soaring achievement you’ve accomplished.

the end 4

My fourth book, THE VOICES OF ANGELS was released on March 11. I didn’t feel as overwhelmed this time because I knew the basics. Promotion and marketing were all lined up and ready to go, I pre-ordered by print copies so I had them ready, and a book signing was waiting for me.

But the anticipation, the soul-empowering elation of having a book actually published was as spine tingling and heart-stopping as with that first one. And I think it will continue to be that way each and every time.

THE VOICES OF ANGELS

perf5.000x8.000.indd

Love is the last thing Carly Lennox is looking for when she sets out on her new book tour. The independent, widowed author is content with a life spent writing and in raising her daughter. When newscaster Mike Woodard suggests they work on a television magazine profile based on her book, Carly’s thrilled, but guarded. His obvious desire to turn their relationship into something other than just a working one is more than she bargained for.

Mike Woodard is ambitious, and not only in his chosen profession. He wants Carly, maybe more than he’s ever wanted anything or anyone else. As he tells her, he’s a patient man. But the more they’re together, Mike realizes it isn’t simply desire beating within him. Carly Lennox is the missing piece in his life. Getting her to accept it-and him-may just be the toughest assignment he’s ever taken on.

Buy Links: Amazon /// TWRP /// Kobo /// Nook

If you need to find me, you can:  Tweet Me// Read Me// Visit Me// Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me//

 

 

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Filed under 3 Wishes, Author, Contemporary Romance, Editors, Family Saga, First Impressions, Life challenges, love, MacQuire Women, Romance, Romance Books, RWA, Skater's Waltz, Strong Women, The Voices of Angels, The Wild Rose Press, There's No Place Like Home, Uncategorized, WIld Rose Press AUthor

Release-Eve thoughts….

Tomorrow, Skater’s Waltz is released into the world. Last week I admitted how fretful – well, terrified really – I am about this for a  number of reasons. I’ve had a few days to sit back and, while biting my nails, reflect on this. So here goes.

I am a truly private person. I know that sounds ridiculous since I have this blog, Facebook account, Twitter handle, am a Pinterest follower am LinkedIn, and Google plus-ed, but it’s true. As much as is “out there” in the cyber-verse about me, I keep a great deal of my emotions, thoughts ( yes, believe it!), and musings locked in my head. So when I tell you I’m terrified of this book failing, it is a huge admission for me to give a voice to.

I fail all the time. It’s true. I fail at weight loss, I fail to keep up with my exercise regimen, I fail people…enough about that one. So, you can see, failure is familiar to me and I usually don’t dwell on it, just get back on my proverbial horse and push on.

But this… this is soooooo different in every aspect. This book represents everything about me. My hopes, my dreams, my thoughts, my words, my loves. To have it fail – and by fail I mean, no one likes it, derides it, and makes fun of it – would, quite simply, be devastating.

I know I shouldn’t dwell on failure, because it can be a self fulfilling prophecy. Obviously, someone liked it because it’s being published. So there’s that. People will say “don’t worry about it. Everything will be fine.” And that’s nice to hear. But it’s so easy for someone else to say. Unless you have been in this position, as any writer has, it is impossible to empathize with what this feels like in your heart, soul and mind. As a writer, you put yourself out there on a ledge by asking people to read what you have to say. You love what you’ve written. It represents something that came from deep inside you, something that you gave your all to in order to bring forth. Discovering that people don’t like it, or worse – think it’s silly or stupid, or (the ultimate worst) badly written, is heartstoppingly traumatizing. I can hear how dramatic this sounds but believe me, from a writer’s viewpoint, it’s true.

As for the rest, I guess tomorrow will tell. I’ve done everything I could to promote it, market it, spread the word, and try to drum up some excitement from the people I know. I guess, as always, time will tell.

For now though, I’m going to go have a cookie…or several. And then try to exercise.

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Filed under Author, Contemporary Romance, Family Saga, MacQuire Women, Romance, Romance Books, Skater's Waltz, Strong Women

In a relationship? That’s fodder for a great story…really!

It’s kinda difficult to be in a relationship with yourself. Usually, you need 2 or more in the relationship to define it as such. Now before you get on Twitter and tell me the most important relationship is with yourself, hear me out.

I write romantic stories about men and women who find each other, suffer through hardships, and wind up living their happily ever after.  I was asked once, how do I think up the people I write about?  Well, here’s my dirty little secret concerning my writing: I don’t make my characters up completely from my imagination. I actually incorporate nuances, characteristics, speaking patterns, etc, from people I know, have met, or have seen.  I’m a huge observer. Part of my scientific educational background is in observation and methodology.  In lay terms, I’m a watcher. Voyeur is too skanky a word to use because there’s nothing sexually based about my people watching. And the people I watch the most are couples.

When I’m out at a restaurant, I’ll discreetly glance around me and see who’s together, what they’re doing, how they’re acting towards one another. I may see an older man and woman holding hands across a table, waiting for their drinks to arrive. Or, I may observe a younger couple each glancing down at their cell phones and not at each other as they wait for theirs. I’ve seen couples seated at a square table for four sitting opposite one another or next to each other. If they’re seated in a booth, same thing. Either across the table, or together in the same seat, the guy’s arm draped around the girl.

All of these behaviors tell me something about the relationship that I can use for my own characterizations.

Ever go shopping with your significant other? It’s a trip, that’s for sure. In malls, I make it a strategic habit to watch men and women shop together. Body language is a huge component of my writing, especially in a non-love scene. You can learn so much about a character by how one non-verbally responds to the other. Next time you’re in a shopping mall, check out the couples you see milling about. Are they holding hands? Arms draped over shoulders as they amble along? Are they talking? Is one person the main talker, with the partner nodding every so often giving the illusion of listening? Or is it a real dialogue where the two of them are responding verbally to one another? In a store, does the partner simply wait in a chair while the other shops or do they shop together, giving opinions, etc? Are opinions valued or poo-pooed away? Are complements given? Watch a man’s face the next time you see his woman modeling something sexy for him in a store and you’ll know exactly what I mean.

I was at a professional baseball game once and “listened” to a couple seated in front of me. They were on a first date – how do I know? The girl mentioned it as she and the guy were talking. She had never been to a pro-game before and he was explaining who was who on the home team.  Remember I said body language is key? Well, he was leaning into her as he spoke, and she to him as she listened, their shoulders touching often. He didn’t need to raise his voice to be heard because the noise level was good – not overbearing as it can be – so there was no reason for him to be so close to her just to be heard. They maintained eye contact throughout speaking. At one point during the game the home boys earned three runs on a single pitch. The entire stadium was on it’s feet, including the first daters. He grabbed her and hugged her in his exuberance and I swear I could see her fall in love with him before my eyes. The stadium could have been empty except for the two of them at that moment. I used that scene in an upcoming book of mine, First Impressions,  and I was giddy when I was writing it because I’d actually seen it played out in front of me.

If you’re a writer, your every  day experiences, the people you meet – even the people you know – are all fodder for you to use when you create your characters. Of course you never want to copycat a real person into a character – you’re setting yourself up for some serious legal action if you do! But there’s nothing wrong with a little cut and paste between people you know or have interacted with and your characters.

One final caveat: friends, loved ones, and family – please do not now LOOK for yourself in my characters when you read my books! You will never recognize yourselves if I’ve “used” you.

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Filed under Characters, Dialogue