Monday, May 18, 2015

Amazon's Kindle Scout Program

Dear Readers,

My guest blogger today is fellow author Katie Mettner who is going to educate us on the Kindle Scout program. I'm not very familiar with it myself, so thought it would be helpful for us to hear from an author who is giving it a try. She would also love your support!
Till next time,


About the Author

Katie Mettner is the author of three inspirational and contemporary romance series: The Snowberry Series, The Sugar Series and The Northern Lights series. When not writing she’s busy being a band mom for her three kids. Katie’s stories are about empowering people with special circumstances to find the one person who will love them no matter what. She has a slight addiction to Twitter and blogging, with a lessening aversion to Pinterest now that she quit trying to make the things she pinned



Have you heard of Kindle Scout? Some of you may be familiar with it already, but for those who aren't let me tell you the basic idea behind it. Kindle Scout is a program where READERS get to pick the BOOKS that get published by Amazon! Sound too good to be true? It's not, and this is how it works. If you have an Amazon US account you click the link that says Kindle Scout nomination and it takes you to the book's nomination page. It will go on your nominations bar and as long as you leave it on there until the nomination period is over, if Liberty Belle wins, you get an early reader's copy before Amazon publishes it! Simple AND cool, right? If you click the nomination link you can read an excerpt and a Q&A with the author.

The categories for Kindle Scout include: Literature and Fiction, Mystery, Thriller and Suspense,
Romance, Science Fiction, and Fantasy.Those may seem like broad categories, but essentially they accept every subgenre of those major categories. The author has a chance to pick four categories that book fits into, and Amazon will list those on the nomination page, so the reader is well informed to the kind of book it is. The reader gets a free book and a chance to find new authors they may not otherwise know about.

What does the author get out of it? A publishing contract with Kindle Press, which is owned by Amazon. Along with the publishing contract comes the opportunity for a greater audience with the force of Amazon and Kindle behind his book, and they also publish the book in foreign and audio book formats.

Kindle Scout Nomination Link for my submitted book.

Photographer Bram Alexander has his viewfinder focused on the only sweet thing in Snowberry, Minnesota - the beautiful Liberty Belle. Handed the reins to her family’s bakery early in life, Liberty works nonstop to protect their legacy. When Bram finds her on the bakery floor injured and alone, Liberty must decide if her tattered heart can trust him with her secret. Armed with small town determination, and a heart of gold, Bram shows Liberty frame-by-frame how falling for him is as easy as pie.

Living in a small town myself, and knowing Katie well, I asked her where she got the idea for the Liberty Belle bakery and how she pictures it in her mind. This is what she told me.

Great question, Marla! As you know I lived for several years in the very town you are from and they have the best little bakery there. There is a little green awning that hangs over a window with the name centered across the front. There's a bench under that awning where a person can sit and rest while walking the Main Street and enjoy the smells coming from within. There's a glass door that when you push it open the aroma of fresh baked bread, apple pie and homemade cake tickle your nostrils. Laid out before you are dozens of different kinds of pastries and donuts to choose from, and there is always a line of people waiting on Saturday morning when they straggle into town from the campgrounds.

I worked in several bakeries in my hometown of Eau Claire, Wisconsin before I moved north. I can do every job in a bakery from front of the house work, bread slicing, cake decorating, baker, donut fryer and even making homemade bagels! Have you ever seen an industrial sized batch of Rice Krispie bars made? Let me tell ya, it's a LOT of Rice Krispies!

All of those experiences were the reason I wanted to write a book about a bakery. Bakery work isn't just about the pastries and the bread, it's about the people who come in day after day for the same type of pastry or loaf of bread, and the stories they have to share. It's about the relationships you make with people who come to the counter every morning before work for that apple fritter, or the little old lady who comes in once a week for her loaf of unsliced Pullman bread. You become like a family, and when that little old lady doesn't show up one week you worry about if she's okay. It's about creating a new donut because 'you know this guy who would just love a new twist on an old favorite', and it's about providing the memories for graduation and baby showers, and the comfort for grieving families.

Liberty Belle isn't about the quaint little storefront with the red and white striped awning that blows lightly in the breeze. It's not about the cute wrought iron tables and chairs where Liberty's patrons can sit a spell and enjoy a roll with a friend. It's about when the person who usually holds the pyramid up, falls, that the people of Snowberry are there to raise her to the top of the pyramid. It's there that Liberty Belle looks out and sees the landscape of the rest of her life.

The Snowberry Series on Amazon

Monday, April 27, 2015

Publishing an Audiobook

             To Have An Audiobook Made - Or Not!

After deliberating for a long time, I signed up to have one of my books done as an audio book on I added the book to their site and waited for narrators to sign up for an audition. And waited. And waited.  ACX recommended I listen to samples from various narrators and ask the ones whose work I liked if they would be interested in recording my book. 
           There are two ways of paying a narrator. The first is by a percent of the royalties received, which is 20%, (the author also receives 20%) or pay them an hourly wage rather than a royalty. Narrators who only work for an hourly fee specify that in their information. If you pay the narrator an hourly rate, then you will receive the entire 40% royalty. 
Narrators who only work on a PFH rate, per finished hour, charge anywhere from $50 to $200 or more PFH. So the longer your book, the more expensive to pay by PFH.
            After making two separate attempts to get my book narrated by splitting the royalties, both narrators fizzled out after a few chapters! Then, by surprise, I got a message from ACX that my book had been awarded a stipend. I knew about stipends as one of the narrators I’d tried to work with had asked me if my book had one. I applied to ACX for a stipend at that time and was turned down.
            Suddenly, I had dozens of narrators asking to audition for my book. A stipend, paid by ACX to the narrator, gives them a salary of $1,000 for narrating the book and they also get paid the royalties. So for a narrator, a good deal. For the author, it is an opportunity to have a really great narrator record your book.
            I listened to dozens of voices before selecting a narrator, and oddly enough, I chose the very first one who responded, KC Cowan.              
KC did a lot of theater acting in the 90’s and believes that her acting talent really helps her do all the voices in a novel. It’s quite different from the “instructional” voice she uses for animated training videos. KC says, “No matter HOW GOOD an audition I do, if my voice doesn’t match the one in the author’s head, I won’t get the gig! But when I do get hired, invariably, the author will at some point say, ‘your voice is JUST how I hear my heroine in my head.’” 

              I can certainly confirm KC’s quote. Her voice was perfect for my main character, Lisa Rayburn, who is a psychologist and in her early forties. The book has another main character who speaks with an unusual dialect, and KC did a super job with it. And with male characters! I was thrilled with her abilities for narrating my novel, She’s Not There, which was my first suspense novel, and first in the TJ Peacock & Lisa Rayburn series.

A few tips on using ACX

-       I didn’t find their site to be very user-friendly. But they do give their phone number and their customer service is excellent.

-       When you contract with a narrator to do your book, get an agreement on when the book will be finished. Don’t lose touch with your narrator, check on the progress regularly.

-       ACX lists the requirements for a book being considered for a stipend. Check them to see if your book is eligible.

-       I highly recommend picking up a copy of the eBook, Audiobooks for INDIES, by Simon Whistler. He explains in great detail all the steps involved in doing an audiobook on ACX.

Dear Readers,

A lot more could be said here about doing audiobooks, but I didn’t want to bore you with too much information. Please comment if you have a question or an opinion. Again, download a copy of Whistler’s book if you’re considering doing one. It has a wealth of information on the subject.

Thanks for stopping by,


Sunday, April 19, 2015

My second-in-series suspense book, ICED MALICE

New, Second in the Detective Kendall Halsrud Series, suspense book, ICED MALICE!

ICED MALICE is the second book of my suspense series that stars Detective Kendall Halsrud. I enjoyed writing about Kendall so much that I decided to continue her as a series. The story again takes place in Eau Claire, Wisconsin where Kendall is a police detective and is backgrounded by the winter of 2014, the coldest and longest-lasting winter in the area since the early 1890s. Although the book is the second in the series, the story can easily be read as a stand-alone. I hope you enjoy the first chapter!


Sunday, 2:30 a.m.

Amazing that the below-zero temperature coupled with high winds and icy snowflakes hadn’t kept the drinkers home tonight. Cabin Fever Night at the bar had exceeded Nick’s expectations, and even the cost of the taco buffet and that of bringing in a DJ from Menomonie, Wisconsin, wouldn’t take much of the profit. Almost twenty minutes from closing and the crowd hadn’t even dwindled. Nick would have to give them a last call soon.
Crap. He had a drunk to drive home. Ever since opening night, he vowed to make anyone who overindulged give up their keys. If they didn’t have a ride, Nick drove them home after closing. So far, it was working. Chuck Wetzel, a regular and a known alkie, had tossed Nick his keys tonight after ordering his third drink. Unfortunately for Nick, Chuck lived with his parents in a subdivision south of town—about as far from Nick’s place near Lake Hallie as possible.
Nick couldn’t wait to get home, crawl into his warm bed with Sara and give her the good news; tonight’s take was the best since opening night. Nick and Sara had owned the bar on the northern edge of Eau Claire for seven months, and the finances were just starting to edge into the black. This freaking cold winter hadn’t helped.
He saw that Chuck had managed to get off his bar stool and take a trip to the john. At least he was walking; Nick was weary of dragging Chuck’s sorry ass out of the bar and driving him to his front door. When Chuck came out, he walked back to his barstool and pulled on his coat.
“Hey, Chuck,” Nick called, “ease up a minute. I can’t leave yet.”
“No prob, Nick,” he called back. “Keep the keys for me. I’ve got a ride.”
Relieved, Nick flipped on the Last Call sign and announced, “That’s it, folks!”
A few people ordered their one for the road, as most of the crowd wandered out into the night, the open door letting in a blast of frigid air. The icy draft hit Nick’s nostrils when he inhaled, and for about the hundredth time during the long stretch of below-zero days, he thought about adding an entryway to keep the cold air at bay.
Next year.

3:00 a.m.

Shortly after midnight the snow made its first appearance, and the wind picked up, spreading mournful howls into the frigid night.
Patti Olson edged over to the window. Snow had drifted across the front of the house, accumulating nearly to the windows. The weatherman on the TV said this was the worst winter in twenty-five years.
Patti had begged to be able to stay alone all night. After all, she was eighteen now, an adult. And Mommy kept saying she wanted Patti to be able to do things that “normal” girls did. Patti knew she wasn’t normal. One time she heard someone call her a “downs,” whatever that was. She never got to do half the things other kids did.
Normal girls could stay home alone when they were over sixteen. Patti knew that, because her cousin Emma, who was fifteen, told her that at her last birthday party.
Patti hated that scary noise the wind was making, and the rattling windows set her teeth on edge. She ground them, nervously. Mommy always told her not to do that, but who would know? Mommy wasn’t here. Patti’s palms were sweating and she couldn’t sit still; she even wished Mommy hadn’t given in and let her stay home alone. Her little brother Keithy—he hated when Patti called him that—went to bed a long time ago and nothing ever woke him up.
She thought about calling Mommy. The telephone number of Mommy’s friend was on a little pink note stuck to the desk by the phone. But Patti had called her three times already, and Mommy said not to call again unless it was an emergency. She said that after the third call, when Patti called to ask her if she should wash the dishes she used to make popcorn for her and Keithy. The list Mommy left for her said what she could and couldn’t do tonight, and the list hadn’t included washing the dishes. So Patti had to call and ask her.
Taking care of her little brother was a big responsibility. Patti thought she shouldn’t go to bed when everything was so scary, so she stayed in the living room and watched TV. After turning up the volume to drown out the noisy wind, Patti leaned back on the sofa and covered herself with the afghan grandma had made for her. It was crocheted in her favorite colors, red and blue. Keithy said it was ugly. But he was only eight, and he was a boy. Everyone knew that boys didn’t know about what was pretty or not, and Patti loved the afghan—took it to bed with her at night, too.
When the first knock sounded at the front door, Patti thought it had to be coming from the program she was watching. It wasn’t, though, because she was watching her favorite show, Friends, and right now the friends were all sitting on the couch in the coffee shop and no one had to knock to come in there.
The second knock was louder. Patti’s heart pounded. She thought she heard a voice, a man’s voice, but that was impossible. No one ever came to visit in the middle of the night.
She looked at the clock and saw that it was after three in the morning. Maybe she should call Mommy. Was this an emergency? No, she didn’t think so. Emergencies were when someone was hurt, or got shot, like they did on the TV programs Keithy watched. If the house was on fire, that would be an emergency, but the house wasn’t on fire.
Another knock.
The voice again, louder this time, but Patti couldn’t hear what the man was saying, not over the wind’s dreadful screaming and the loud commercials. She covered her ears. Mommy said to never, ever, open the door to a stranger, no matter what. She counted to ten to keep from crying like a little baby. Then to twenty-five.
Patti knew how to count all the way to a hundred, so she kept going. After reaching thirty, her fear caused her to stumble on some of the numbers, taking her nearly five minutes to get to a hundred. When she did, she uncovered her ears and turned off the TV. She listened.
The only thing she heard was the sound of the wind. Patti listened for another five minutes. No more noises.
Good. She wouldn’t have to call Mommy again. 

8:10 a.m.

After sunrise, bitterly cold air embraced the Chippewa Valley with icy arms. The snow had drifted as high as six feet in some spots, and then stopped after spreading a thick layer across the yard of a small bungalow in a blue-collar neighborhood west of downtown Eau Claire.
The house, a modest two-story like many others on the block, had a police car out front and an ambulance in the driveway, and behind it an old black Town Car belonging to the medical examiner, Franklyn Teed. The frigid weather had discouraged onlookers, and the only people stirring about the neighborhood peered out at the scene through hoods, scarves, and multiple layers of protective clothing as they struggled with snow throwers.
Detective Kendall Halsrud, and her partner, Detective Ross Alverson, pulled up in front and put the dark sedan into park, hesitant to leave the warm air from the car’s heater and step into the cold.
“I still don’t see why they called us in on this,” her partner griped. “The guy was drunk. He froze in front of the wrong house, end of story.”
“Have a little respect for the dead,” Kendall said. “The poor guy has a mother and maybe a wife and kids. You know it’s routine for us to be in on any death that’s by anything but natural causes. And someone will have to talk to the man’s family, tell them what happened to their son.”
“Yeah, you do that,” he said as he stepped out of the car.
Kendall hated breaking tragic news, too, but better the parents hear it from her, a person at least sympathetic to their loss. Alverson must have had a bad night. Though never someone you would call a warm and fuzzy kind of guy, he usually wasn’t this callous. The two had been partners for only a few weeks, a pairing appointed by their boss when Kendall’s previous partner retired after having a heart attack. Despite a raunchy attitude toward women, Alverson happened to be a good detective—a fact Kendall discovered a couple of months ago when they worked a case together.
Kendall donned a scarf and gloves before she left the car and joined Teed on the small, cement porch. Teed knelt over the body, grunting a hello through a Marquette University scarf that was wrapped around his neck and pulled up in front to protect his face from frostbite.
“What do you think?” Kendall asked. “Can we get him out of here?”
“Yes, right away. I was waiting for you before giving him the send-off. There’s nothing here to indicate anything other than what it looks like—an accident. I can’t check his blood alcohol yet, but there are no signs of a struggle or any kind of violence. His fingers and hands have some scrapes, probably from pounding on the door. It looks like an alcohol-related death right now, but I’ll know more after I do the autopsy. He’ll have to thaw out, so don’t expect quick results.”
Kendall trusted Teed’s opinion; they’d always had a good working relationship. “Then go ahead and take him away. We need to talk to the first responder.”
“He’s inside with the family.”
After Kendall rang the doorbell, a short, burly cop opened the door.
“Hey, Kenny, Ross, good to see you,” he said. “This is really a mess.”
“Why? I thought it was pretty cut and dried.”
“Or fast-frozen,” Alverson quipped, walking in behind her. Kendall shot him a look.
“A divorced mom, a Merilee Olson, lives here with her two kids. The daughter is eighteen, but she’s a Downs—oh, sorry, I mean she has Down Syndrome—I can never keep all this PC stuff straight. The son is eight.
“Mom left the daughter here alone last night babysitting the boy. They’re out in the kitchen now. The daughter—her name is Patti—was afraid to open the door when she heard the guy knocking. Thought that was what she was supposed to do in order to keep the kid brother safe. The mom blames herself for the guy dying. She says she knew she shouldn’t have left the kids alone, but Patti begged her for a chance to take care of her brother all night. This is the first time she didn’t have someone stay with the kids when she was gone overnight.”
“Wow, that’s tragic, all right,” Kendall said. “We’ll talk to them. You can leave if you want, we’ll take over from here. Teed’s removing the body now. We need the name and address of the deceased, then we’ll notify his family.”
The cop handed her a sheet of paper torn from his notebook and left.
As Kendall and Alverson entered the kitchen, the mother, a short, brown-haired woman with a curvy figure poured into a pair of black leggings and a long turquoise sweater, stood at the stove stirring a pan of scrambled eggs. When she looked up at their entrance, her face blotchy and tear-stained, Kendall introduced herself and Ross.
“I’m Merilee Olson.” She dumped the eggs onto a plate that held two pieces of buttered toast, and brought the food to a table where a heavy-set girl with typical Down Syndrome features sat staring at the empty place setting in front of her. “This is my daughter Patti. My son Keith is in his room.” She set the plate in front of Patti and led them to the living room.
“I knew better than to leave Patti alone all night, but she kept pleading for a chance to prove to me she could do it.” Merilee pulled a tissue from her pocket and wiped her eyes.
Kendall didn’t blame her for feeling responsible. “Don’t be so hard on yourself. What happened isn’t your fault.”
“I don’t know why that man was here. Why would he come to our door at that time of night?”
“We don’t know yet,” Kendall replied, “but he might have been intoxicated. It’s possible someone dropped him off at the wrong house, or if he was under the influence, he could have directed his driver to the wrong place. Many of the homes in this neighborhood are similar, and at night, with so much snow blowing around, it would be hard to tell them apart.”
Kendall glanced at Alverson, relieved he was letting her do the talking. The woman didn’t need any sarcastic commentary. But Ross appeared lost in his own thoughts; he wasn’t even eyeballing Olson’s attractive body.
“Patti thought she was doing the right thing,” Olson continued. “I’ve told her not to open the door to a stranger under any circumstances. I knew she was nervous about being alone last night; she kept calling me at my boyfriend’s house. I would have come home, but the weather was so awful and neither of us have a vehicle that could handle the drifting.
“After the first three calls, I told Patti not to call me again unless it was an emergency.” Her admission brought on another round of tears.
“What time did you come home?” Kendall asked.
“I came home this morning as soon as the roads were cleared. It was about nine o’clock. A service had plowed the driveway—I do the sidewalks myself—so I pulled in and parked in the garage. I came in through the back door like I usually do.
“Patti hadn’t slept all night. When she saw me, she nearly became hysterical trying to tell me what happened. I opened the front door and saw him—well, only part of his shoe, really—and I knew she hadn’t imagined the knocking. The snowdrift on the porch made it impossible to see him except for that one foot. Anyone passing by wouldn’t have noticed him. I called the police right away.”

Dear Readers,
Thank you for letting me share the beginning of my fourth novel with you. As you know, I have two series going now, and am now working on the third in the TJ Peacock & Lisa Rayburn series. I hoped to have that one ready by the beginning of summer, but have been learning to format my own books, and that has taken up a lot of my time. Undone, the one I’m working on now, will probably not be done now until the end of the summer.
Hope you are all having a wonderful spring season,


Saturday, March 7, 2015

What's Luck Got to Do With Writing?



March, the month of four-leaf clovers and little green leprechauns, is right around the corner, bringing visions of green beer and that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. We are all Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, and we all hope to be showered with that famous luck of the Irish.

The word luck, beaten and bastardized, gets tossed around like a day-old doughnut whenever Indie authors discuss success (or lack thereof) of their book sales.

The first time I ran a KDP free book promotion, and placed my suspense eBook, She’s Not There, free on, I only had 8,202 downloads at the end of my two days. This result was disappointing compared to those of an author friend, who had 26, 000 using the same promotion. When I asked her about it, she said that her huge number of downloads were a matter of luck. A popular eBook site noticed her promotion and highlighted it for their readers. I know firsthand that her success is not all due to luck. She is a devoted marketer and spends every available moment working to maintain her book’s sales momentum. Me, I’m addicted to things like playing bridge, reading, and watching soap operas; my marketing ethic is not nearly as fierce!

Here is a universal truth: Luck is more likely to happen to those who go after it, especially us writers. 

I know you don’t want to hear that. We would all prefer to cling to magical thinking: I’ll get rich when I win the lottery, the perfect man will come knocking at my door, a stroke of fate will send my book sales through the roof.

   It ain’t gonna happen!

Secrets of Lucky People

1.    They believe they will be successful.
Research shows that if you believer you’ll succeed, your odds of hitting a lucky streak go up. There is no magic involved—expectancy is a real driver of results. Expecting something as opposed to wanting or hoping for it, will affect your decision–making and you’ll put in more of an effort than you normally would have. Find ways to stay positive and expect success—it works!

2.    They Notice What Others Miss.
Lucky people are more open to random opportunities. They notice chance situations and act on them. They are flexible in their thinking, and it’s that relaxed, open attitude that allows them to see what others don’t.
Keep your eyes open for opportunities—they’re out there!

3.    They Say “Yes”
Lucky people do not remain passive. Instead, they seize opportunities as they come without endless second-guessing.
When chance encounters occur, don’t over-think them, act on them!

4.    They Switch Things Up
 Lucky people increase their chances of getting opportunities by meeting new people and trying new things. Luck won’t come looking for you or call on you on your Smartphone.
The more you put yourself out there, and try new things, the more likely it is you will find luck.

5.    They Practice Bouncing Back 
Lucky people don’t let one failure sidetrack their road to success. When you let a bad break get you down, you close the door on new situations that could lead to a lucky break. Closely linked to the first trait, expecting the best, bouncing back means you will have a greater chance of success with each failure, because you’ll be trying more often.
Regard every bad break as an opportunity to find the right course for you!

Dear Readers,
         So many of us, myself included, wait for that magical break that will mean success for our writing. But magical thinking delays success. Practice these habits of lucky people and reap the rewards.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day,

Note: I seldom repeat a blog, but this one on luck has been so popular that I repeat it every March when the luck of the Irish is on our minds.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Discouragement and the Older Writer

Discouragement and the Older Writer

Is discouragement with writing any different for the older writer? The older writer has the same pitfalls as any author in addition to a whole other field of sinkholes.

A lot has been written by and for writers about not giving up. Advice pours forth like rain in April and nervous writers drink it up. For the older writer, many distractions, problems, and setbacks have their own unique characteristics. A different group of life events causes them to have serious setbacks. Some of the most troublesome for their writing careers are not things like school starting, getting married, a new career, or a demanding job. They are painful interferences, like the death of a friend or loved one, being diagnosed with a serious illness, caring for a sick parent or loved one, or even taking the grandkids in for a week. It is understandable that these things can cause an author to set their writing aside and even give up on it entirely.

How to keep writing no matter what

1.    Find ways to stay positive.

Life is too precious to waste days being anxious or depressed. Find a good book on how to stay positive. If you’re pressed for time, keep it in the bathroom and never sit down without reading a page.
Being happy and being positive are decisions we make. Choose to be happy.

2.    Keep in touch with friends.

Relatives are wonderful, but it’s friends who listen to you vent and cheer you up when all is grim. Take time out for lunch with a friend, see a movie, or just chat over tea and coffee.

3.    Establish ties with other authors.

This one not only got me to be a writer, but my author friends have kept me writing every time I was ready to give up. Find other authors in your area; your local library is a good place to do this. If that doesn’t work, they are easy to find online.

4.    Keep writing every day despite what life throws at you.

Joe Konrath, (if you aren’t familiar with him, check out his blog) one of the most successful eBook authors, writes 3.000 words a day, every day, and he will stay up into the wee hours to maintain that word rate on days that he is busy with other activities.
We don’t have to write 3.000 words a day like Joe, but try to dedicate even 30 minutes a day for writing. Every week I write a list of about five, to-dos for my writing. The first one on the list is the number of pages I will write that week. Rather than a daily amount, I keep it weekly, to about 14 or more pages a week. I seldom skip a day and try to do even a page or a beginning of a chapter. Find a method that works for you.

5.    Look into helpful tools.

Try a mini recorder, carry a small laptop, an iPad, even a small notebook to take advantage of any downtime when you’re away from home. I have a friend (much more technically advanced than myself!) who uses a voice activation tool to record her writing directly to her computer. Don’t let an opportunity to write pass you by.

Dear Readers,

The months after the holidays can be a good time to write, but unfortunately, these are the time of colds, flu and other illnesses. Or on the brighter side, you go south for part or all of the winter. My distraction was a two-month struggle to get over the flu, and during that time, I didn’t care about much of anything except how miserable I felt. I fell behind on my writing and I gained six pounds.
Criticizing myself for that indulgence got me nowhere. It took time, but I finally got back on track. The best way not to get into that state is to stay on track in the first place. That thought inspired this blog.

Hope you find it helpful,


Some suggested reading:
Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life, by Martin E.P. Seligman

Happy for No Reason, by Marci Shimoff

Saturday, December 27, 2014

To Pay or Not to Pay… Should you pay for book reviews?


Should you pay for book reviews?

James Ventrillo is the president of, the fastest growing book review and book award contest on the internet:

"I have read and heard many arguments regarding paid reviews, most of which revolve around the honesty of the review. But that argument does not belong in this debate. Paying or not paying for a review is about turnaround time and name recognition, integrity is not relevant to the discussion. Why, you ask? Because you should not be dealing with a disreputable review company in the first place. If you can’t definitively say the company is reputable then there is no point in getting any review from them, paid or otherwise. So once you pass this hurdle then paying for a review is no longer about the integrity of the review, just its cost/value ratio: how much you are paying for the review vs. the value it will have to you and your marketing.
"Remember, negative reviews can be just as beneficial to an author as a positive one, as long as they are not posted publicly. So before you request any review, make sure you can decide if it will be made public, or at the very least, whether the reviewer will post negative reviews. Reputable review companies who offer review services for a fee fall into two categories: companies that provide free reviews but offer to expedite those reviews for a fee, and companies who only provide their reviews for a fee. With the first company you are not paying for a review, you are paying to expedite it (although some companies offer added features for expedited reviews). In most cases, the same reviewer who would be reviewing your book for free will also be the one reviewing it for a fee, only faster. So your only decision should be if you really need the review back quickly. 
"I always recommend you try for free reviews whenever possible. For those instances when you must have reviews back quickly for a launch or book cover, etc, then the issue is simply the cost/value ratio. 
"In regards to companies that only have fee-based reviews, you are essentially paying a premium for their name. The best example is Kirkus, in my opinion the big Kahuna of book review names. I say names, because although Kirkus writes good reviews, their highly recognizable name is what really commands their $400 price tag. Due to that high cost I recommend you DO NOT go straight to Kirkus, no matter how much confidence you have in your book. Instead, you should get as many reviews as you can first (free if possible). If all of your reviews come back great, then you can be reasonably sure your Kirkus review will be positive as well. Used correctly, a positive Kirkus review should be worth far more than its $400 cost. I am often asked why I recommend Kirkus or other competing review and book contest companies. 
"The simple answer is that book reviews and book award contests should not be a competitive industry. You should be getting as many reviews and entering as many contests as you can, ours is just one potential stop on that journey. I hope this article is of some help to you in your pursuit of reviews and whether to include paid reviews in your marketing budget."
James Ventrillo,

Dear readers,

It is so difficult for Indie writers to get those important first reviews! When I wrote Relative Malice I used Book Rooster and paid them to submit my reviews to thier reviewers. I got at least ten reviews in the following month and was happy with their service. My latest book, Trespass, was not so fortunate. This time, for my fee of $67, I only got one review from Book Rooster, and they would not compensate me because they do not promise you reviews, just promise to submit your book to their reviewers. So be careful when you pay. Be sure you know exactly what you are paying for.

Be aware that Amazon does not allow professional review companies to post to the Customer Reviews section on their site. Instead, they have created an Editorial Reviews section in your Amazon Author Central account where you can post excerpts from your professional reviews. This section appears before all your other reviews because they are considered more valuable. In addition, you can control what part of the review you post.

Readers Favorites, will, for a fee, guarantee you a defined number of expedited reviews and if you aren't in a hurry, free reviews. I have found them to have excellent service. Check out the website, they have a lot of services for authors.

Mr. Ventrillo has great advice about paid reviews. Hope you found his words helpful!

Have a wonderful and successful new year!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

My New Book Trailer and Its Creator, Kathy Golden

Dear Readers,
My guest today is Kathy Golden. Kathy creates persuasive and engaging book trailers at affordable prices. I was fortunate to meet her through Goodreads and she has produced my new trailer for Trespass. Today I’m introducing the new trailer and the woman who created it.
To find out more about Kathy and her work, visit: for complete details. In addition, her new services include Paid Book Reviews, and soon she’ll offer Manuscript Evaluations.
Kathy writes in multiple genres: family dramas, romance, and Christian fiction. She also writes non-fiction articles and reviews. For more articles and information, visit her website at Don’t forget to subscribe for updates. Email her at 
Thanks for stopping by, 


Book Trailers

- and Reasons to Have One

If ever there were a time to have a book trailer, that time is now. Video-infos and video-advertisements are everywhere. When I visit sites looking for information, more and more, I find myself expecting to acquire that knowledge through video.  I don’t mind saying, I avoid any sites where the videos are auto-start, but even those kinds of sites abound. I don’t think anyone surfing the net today can deny the prevalence of YouTubes and Vimeos sharing practically anything that’s worth investigating.

How does this video-hunger affect authors?  It conditions readers to be on the lookout for your book trailer: for that mini-glimpse that will draw them into your book in about 90 seconds or less.

A big question concerning trailers used to be: where am I going to post it, so that people will see it?  Your first stops would be YouTube, of course; Vimeo; your Amazon Author Page and your Goodreads Author page.  Regarding YouTube, search for channels focusing on books in your genre; then contact the owners to see if they would be interested in adding your book trailer. The owners you’d contact are those whose channels have a variety of trailers by different authors and different creators.

In addition, I did a Google-search using the keywords: upload your book trailer. The search returned some good ideas and suggestions for promoting your trailer, as well as sites that let you upload and promote your trailer for free. Another good keyword search is: share your book trailer. There are Facebook groups out there that only want book trailers. 

Plus don’t miss out on uploading your trailer on Book Reels at You must have a trailer to submit your book to this site because readers view your trailer as part of their method of evaluating your book. The site is totally free. What makes it exceptional is that subscribers can view trailers by genre. Make no mistake: the best kind of promotion for your book is when you are showing it to your targeted audience. Book Reels lets you include a book blurb, and a large cover of your book is a must. This targeted-promotion is completely free.

Indie author, G.M. Barlean, has started a site that only accepts trailers featuring books by indie authors Her site is new but will grow as more indies add their trailers. Most importantly, as her site’s popularity grows, it will rank higher in the search engines, thus providing more exposure for the trailers on it.    

Another option is Pinterest, which allows viewers to search for trailers by genre.  For romance writers, The Romance Novel Center lets you create a profile and upload your books and your trailers. I also came across a site that featured mystery-book trailers. Plus there’s room for you to hunt for other places that accept trailers in your book’s genre. If you are invited to give interviews on your book, ask the host about sharing your trailer on his/her site.

I also like what Amazon has done to author’s profile pages. Amazon has all the books and videos at the top of the page as well as in a column below. Your trailer looms large and entices viewers to click on it.

The question of whether or not book trailers sell books has no definite answer. What is the trigger that prompts a person to buy a book? It’s varied and hard to pinpoint. But exposure is key in helping to sell your book. Books never or seldom seen are books never or seldom purchased. A book trailer gives you another way to make people aware of your novel, and it takes advantage of this current wave of searchers who would rather consume their information through a video as opposed to just reading.

You can buy your trailer or make one yourself. If you opt to make it, you can find video tutorials on YouTube that will teach you how to create a trailer using Windows Movie Maker, or you can use software by Adobe or Sony Vegas.
If you’d like to buy one, I sell book trailers at what I consider to be a great price for the product delivered. My trailers start at $15 for a 15-second teaser; next up is The Spotlight-On-Your-Cover-Trailer for $45, and then the Your Story in Pictures  trailer that sells for $65. Marla’s book-cover trailer has some extras and would costs $50. I’ve seen some of the trailers that sell for several hundred dollars or more.  My product is easily competitive with those.

Whichever route you choose, I encourage you to take advantage of this tool as a way to promote your book. Most sites accepting book trailers charge authors nothing to add their trailer. Don’t miss this opportunity to expose your book and possible garner new followers.

To thank Marla for featuring me on her blog, I’m offering a 15% discount off the regular price of my trailer-creations. In addition, I also provide paid book reviews for $35, and you’ll receive a 15% discount off your review. Purchase both a trailer and a book review and receive a 20% discount off each item. This early Black Friday special is good through December 10th. I generally create trailers in two to three weeks. If I’m not able to meet this schedule, I’ll let you know when you submit your order. 

If you’re looking for a unique Christmas gift for fellow authors, a book trailer is a great choice I’m sure will take them by surprise. I do need authors’ involvement in creating a trailer, so if you want to purchase some as gifts, after you pay for the trailers, I’ll present you with vouchers that you give as your gifts. When the authors are ready, they contact me, and we begin creating their trailers.To get your discount, just visit my website at; let me know that Marla’s site referred you, place your order, and I’ll send you an invoice with the appropriate discount applied.
 Even if you’re not ready to order, stop by my site and opt in for updates on the addition of new trailers and other informative news. My site is new, and Marla’s trailer has absolute reign right now, but other trailers are on the way.
Feel free to ask questions and offer comments. My thanks to Marla for sharing this post, and thanks to you all for reading it.  Happy Holidays.