All About the Podcast

I love podcasts.

I’m not sure why, but when I’m cleaning the house, making dinner, and walking the dog I love to listen to my favorite teachers, motivational speakers, business specialists, and short stories. Since the New Year started, I made a list of new-to-me podcasters, plus one I discovered last year, that I’m determined to listen to (or finish listening to) this year.

I’ve added my list below and have included the descriptions found on the corresponding websites. I hope you find these useful and if you have any favorite podcasts you’d like to share, I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

The Modern CEO with Amber McCue

~ “With pieces of your business flying every which way, your to-do list out of control (and possibly sprouting wings) and your brain is scattered across 1400 different tasks, priorities, reminders, emails, tweets, deliverables, marketing ideas, client conversations, customer inquiries AND that one person you were suppose to follow up with weeks ago (whoops), one thing is certain: If it is freedom you want it’s time for a change.”

Detail Therapy with Amy Landino

~ “Are your ready to go after the life you want? Are you looking for specifics on how to make it happen? Join award-winning YouTuber, best selling author, and entrepreneur Amy Landino as she seeks out successful people and digs into the details of their daily lives to find out what they did to better themselves.”

Buffering the Vampire Slayer by Jenny Owen Young & Kristin Russo

~”Buffering the Vampire Slayer is a weekly podcast in which your hosts Jenny Owen Youngs (professional musician and recreational Whedonverse aficionado) and Kristin Russo (professional writer and former goth teen) discuss Buffy the Vampire Slayer, one episode at a time. Every installment of the podcast also includes a new original song recapping each glorious Buffy episode! *wolf howl*”

TED Radio Hour by NPR

~ “A journey through fascinating ideas, astonishing inventions, and new ways to think and create. Based on riveting TEDTalks from the world’s most remarkable minds.”

The Story Studio Podcast: Writing, Storytelling, and Marketing Advice for Business and Writers by  Johnny B. Truant, Sean Platt, and David Wright

~ “Stories turn songs into symphonies, events into memories, and lives into legends. In our crowded world, “knowing your story” cuts through the noise so you can make your mark — whether you want to sell more books, increase profits, or just make a difference.”

The Creative Penn Podcast by Joanna Penn

~ “Writing, publishing, book marketing, making a living with your writing.”

Story Grid Podcast by Shawn Coyne and Tim  Grahl

~ “Resources and a step by step understanding of the Story Grid for beginning writers.”

Living Homegrown by Theresa Loe

~ “This weekly podcast is all about getting the best seasonal, fresh-picked flavor without having to buy the farm! Episodes alternate between instructional “how-to” and interviews with top authors & experts.”

The Minimalists by Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus

~ “Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus help over 20 million people live meaningful lives with less through their website, books, podcast, and documentary.”

Spark Joy by Kristyn Ivey & Karin Socci

~”Spark Joy is the podcast dedicated to celebrating the KonMari Method and the transformative power of surrounding yourself with joy; and letting go of the all the rest.”

Create Your Empowered Self by Jeannie Hall 

(Yes our very own SOS sister Jeannie! I’ve been listening to her podcasts for a while now and I love them!)

~ “This podcast is all about empowering you to live your best life! By incorporating the principles of Law of Attraction, NLP, meditation, and other spiritual teachings, Certified NLP Practitioner and Creative Empowerment Coach Jeannie Hall will show you the way!”

Like I mentioned above, I’d love to hear what podcasts you love to listen to! I’m always looking for more. 🙂

Sharon Wray is a librarian who once studied dress design in the couture houses of Paris and now writes about the men in her Deadly Force romantic suspense series where ex-Green Berets meet their match in smart, sexy heroines who teach these alpha males that Gracealways defeats Reckoning.

Her acclaimed debut book EVERY DEEP DESIRE, a sexy, action-packed retelling of Romeo and Juliet, is about an ex-Green Beret determined to regain his honor, his freedom, and his wife.

EVERY DEEP DESIRE is available on: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | iBooks | IndieBound| Kobo|  Google

 

And adding it to your Goodreads TBR lisis also always appreciated!

Celebrating a Milestone- Anniversary Edition #amwriting #Romance @jacqbiggar

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Celebrating a Milestone

Five years ago, I decided to quit feeling sorry for myself and do something about it. You see, I’d recently moved away from home and was lost and lonely.

But, I had a dream.

One I’d carried in the back of my mind for years. I wanted to write a book. Deciding the genre was the easy part. Romance. I was an avid reader of romance novels. They took me to faraway places, fed my spirit and thrilled my heart.

Yep, romance it was.

Okay, now what?

I had a computer that I used for my bookkeeping, but had no idea how to use it as a writing tool. I needed to learn though, my lefty handwriting was atrocious- that wouldn’t work.

I searched online and found RWA® Romance Writers of America, a group of thousands geared toward helping authors better their craft. I also managed to find a local writing group and gathered up the courage to go to one of their meetings where I immediately felt at home. I joined both and began to take classes to learn the art.

It took time (I’m still a work-in-progress) but finally, FINALLY I published my first book in September of 2014.

Pride.

I could barely contain the excitement blooming in my chest to see a book with MY name on it for sale. But then came the realization. People were going to read it. My heart and soul on those pages and they were all out there– I felt sick.

The reviews trickled in, some good, some not so much, but the addiction was born. I loved to write!

This week I’m celebrating that momentous moment by sharing my first book with you- free!

Jan 11-15

Click the picture to go to Amazon

Excerpt

Nick jogged through the early morning streets, Jake trotting by his side, enjoying the peace and quiet before the town woke for the day. Little songbirds greeted him as he passed a cedar hedge on his way to the park. The air was fresh and cool at this hour. He was glad his strength had returned, his breathing even and stride long. It’d been an uphill battle. For a while after the ambush he’d shut down. Closed everyone out. He wished now he’d made it his business to keep in touch with all his old teammates. The faint sounds of a dog’s bark had Nick looking down at Jake, loping alongside. He’d healed up well, and only flinched at sudden loud noises these days. His hip had taken the brunt of the damage. When the explosion had thrown them, Nick worried he’d need to put him down, but he’d pulled through. Tough mutt.

After his run, he would head over to Sara’s and have a look at those files, see what they were looking at here. Nick had a bad feeling that Tommy boy was into some heavy shit. They needed to solve that first, before there could be a chance for him and Sara.

A sudden sharp pain stabbed him behind the eyes, causing him to falter. Jake whined, sensing his distress. Squinting through slit eyes he spotted a nearby bench, and slumped onto the seat. He pushed a shaky hand through his hair, and then using his thumb and middle finger squeezed in towards his nose, relieving the pressure. “It’s okay, boy. I’m fine. Let’s just take a little break, hmm.” The doctor had explained in excruciating detail while he lay in that hospital in Germany, how lucky he was. The explosion had hit him and sent him flying right up against the stone wall of a nearby house. Shrapnel had gouged a deep line on his forehead, right above his old bullet wound. A centimeter farther to the left and it would have been lights out, of the forever kind. Unfortunately, it’d taken his short-term memory away from him. He’d been told it would come back in dribbles, or one big slam––or maybe not ever. Nice. It angered him that he couldn’t break through the fog to discover the truth of what happened to him and his team. There was something there he could feel it.

He supposed he should be grateful he could remember his childhood, though those memories he could have lived without. Years of mental and physical abuse at the hands of his old man had sent him down nothing but a path of trouble during his high school years. Alcohol, substance abuse, vagrancy, you name it he tried it. His motto had been if you’re not living on the edge, you’re just taking up space.

Then he’d met Kendra in one of the few classes he’d decided to show up for and they’d fallen in love. She’d been the only child of lawyer parents, sweet and innocent. The odds had gone against him when they’d had unprotected sex on a hot summer’s night. She’d gotten pregnant. At least he’d done the right thing and proposed. And though her parents of course hated him, they agreed the marriage should take place. Maybe if they’d stopped it, or if he’d just walked away, Kendra and his son would still be alive today.

They’d been too young, and in the end, it tore them apart. He couldn’t even recall what the fight had been about––no doubt his lack of a ‘respectable’ job. He’d been working at a local garage at the time––all he did remember was getting up to answer the door, only to see two uniforms on the other side. Devastated, blaming himself, he spent the next couple of months shit-faced drunk. Coming out of an alcohol-induced daze one day he saw a poster for enlisting in the marines. Not caring much whether he lived or died at that point, he’d signed up. They sent him to Lackland Airforce Base in San Antonio, where he met Jake. They’d been inseparable ever since.

The searing pressure eased enough for him to open his eyes. Jake sat with his head cocked to the side, his ears laid back in commiseration. Nick nudged him with his knee and gave his sides a good hard rub, Jake groaning his thanks. “Okay, big guy, what do you say to finishing our run?” He’d learned a long time ago that pushing through the pain was often the best medicine.

He had that in common with Sara. She’d gone through both a physical and a mental trauma that would have crushed most. She was doing great, but he bet a violation like that was something from which no woman ever fully recovered.

It humbled him that she had trusted him enough to allow him to make love to her last night. Nick would never hurt a hair on her head, but there was no real way for her to be sure of that. He hoped and prayed no one would ever crush her again, and swore to do everything in his power to make sure of that, starting with Sheridan. If those files contained half of what Sara had intimated they did, he’d need some help. Checking to make sure no one was around, he pulled his cell out of his sweats and made the call.

“Hey, Chief, how are you? It’s Nick, Nickolaus Kelley. Long time, sir, too long. Shit, I’ve missed the team. How’s the whizz kid?” A big grin split his face as he listened to Frank describing Jared’s latest and greatest.

“No kidding, trust Martin to take the term, Land of opportunity, to a whole new level, right?” He laughed. Man, it was good to talk to the chief again. Why did people always let the important ones in their lives fall to the wayside, while they went about the business of life?

He could well believe Jared had almost shut down the strip; the man was scary good with electronics. “I understand that you’re out of the loop these days, sir, but I was hoping I could ask you, and Jared if he’s still with you, for a helping hand. I have a situation here and could really use your input.”

Relief coursed through his veins at the quick response to his plea. “I’ll tell you all about it when you arrive. Tomorrow then, and thanks—Frank.”

How Much of Yourself is in Your Characters?

 

pexels-photo-260367.jpeg

My first book started as a journal of my experiences as a new EMT working on an ambulance. I wasn’t sure at first what I was going to do with those stories but I felt the need to save them. In a few years I went from EMT to Paramedic and the number of interesting experiences multiplied. I worked closely with a number of fire departments and worked in a firehouse for five years. During that time I became familiar with and close to many different firefighters, ER staff and co-workers who added color to the events. We celebrated our common successes and I was pained when one of them was sick or injured. The worst case, as you may expect, was when we would lose one, and that happened more than it should have. So, on it went through my career as it expanded to Paramedic Supervisor, Clinical Coordinator, ER tech and federal disaster worker. I’m not sure when it happened, but one day it occurred to me that these incidents and these people I cared so much about could be fictionalized in a novel. I realized I had an avid interest in letting readers know who these firefighter-paramedics really were and how the stresses of their work affected them. So, AJ Donovan was born along with his crew of colorful characters at Station 19 in Cedar Grove, California.

Sam Helo

Mitch, the Captain, is kind and patient even with guys like AJ who are trying at times. Mitch’s best friend, Barney, is the engineer. Barney is an old Southern boy who shares his experience and advice with younger firefighters. Kevin is a young Irish-born EMT-firefighter who is short in stature but large in passion. Then there is slovenly Craig, the epitome of laziness. His favorite game is pushing AJ’s buttons. Chris is AJ’s partner and best friend. Divorced and a father of two, Chris only wants peace and love in his life but keeping AJ out of trouble is a challenge. Then there’s AJ, a product of a Native American mother and a Scot/Irish father. His mother died suddenly when we was three then he was led to believe his father had abandoned him. He left the reservation at 18 to find his way to California where he became the best rescue technician the department had ever seen. He’s great at his job, but his personal life is a hot mess. All his relationships fail because he’s so emotionally unavailable. A third firefighter-paramedic joins the team. Quin is young, fit and naturally beautiful but her focus is to be accepted as a woman, a firefighter and a paramedic in a man’s world. Her crew is put on notice that her first rule is “no dating co-workers”. It doesn’t stop AJ or even Chris, from falling for her.

9781427799722_frontcover.jpg

Quin quickly impresses all of them with her confidence, talent and empathetic nature, especially Chris and AJ. Strong friendships are formed. The more she gets to know AJ, the more she discovers his issues: low self-esteem, a case of closet claustrophobia, undiagnosed PTSD and anger issues to name a few. After her first few weeks of employment a life-threatening incident puts AJ in the hospital. Quin not only saves him from a near drowning but stays by his side during a subsequent bout of pneumonia. That opens a door to trust that changes both their lives. Subsequent books follow their careers as AJ goes to medical school to become an ER doc and Quin climbs the ladder in the fire department. Later, AJ is introduced to disaster medicine and their first disaster deployment was, well, a disaster.

mc900438743

So, where do I come in? As the story followed its natural course, I began to realize how much of their lives paralleled mine. That was intentional in terms of their career experiences, but not so much in their personal traits. Quin honestly cares about the guys she works with. She took intensive training in critical incident stress management after her own experience left her with PTSD. Enough said on that. AJ prefers to eat whole foods and doesn’t eat sweets. Quin wears men’s style boxer briefs at work and will stay up at night feeding chicken soup to a sick partner. Chris is the kind of guy who never quits loving even after the relationship is gone. The state of people in a disaster situation tears AJ’s heart out. He’s an empath. Captain Mitch believes the team is what’s most important and discipline should come with respect. Kevin is as loyal as they come and there’s nothing he wouldn’t do for those he considers friends. AJ is his role model. Barney is the elder, the wise, and cares deeply about the young ones. Craig is an ass. I guess we all have that side of us. So, how many of these traits are mine? I’m not telling, but all of them to some degree. Oh, I’m Scottish with a bit of Irish and was raised by a Native American.

My writing is contemporary and based on real people. Would these parallels be the same for someone who writes paranormal? What do you have in common with a vampire or dragon? I’ll bet if you dig deep enough you’ll find yourself in there somewhere. Is this a natural habit for all writers? I’d love to hear your take on this. Think about it. You might surprise yourself.

 

still-life-school-retro-ink-159618.jpeg

Writing Process- as Individual as a You Are

by Veronica Forand

Quantity over quality. That is the debate. To write a million words or several brilliant words.

In this market, even the top authors who had been getting by with one book a year are feeling the cry of their readers for more. Some writers have mastered the art of writing fast. Their brains are wired to spew words onto the page with relative ease, or they have the discipline to sit their asses in their chairs for long stretches of time and meet their wordcount goals nearly every day. And the results are solid, and in some cases great.

Then there is me.

I can not spew. I obsess, cross-out, obsess some more, and then somewhere in the middle of the night gain inspiration and type three thousand words in one sitting. The next day, instead of forging forward, I obsess over the words I wrote and usually re-write them. My pace on a good week produces two thousand words per day. On bad weeks, about two hundred words. Overall, I need three months to create something I want my name on. For some, that schedule seems fast. For others, I’m driving in the slow lane. It doesn’t matter. That is my method. It may evolve over time, but for now. I’m content with that pace.

Last year, all writing stopped while I dealt with life issues. It left me with four weeks to draft an 80,000 word novel. I did it. I’m a total people pleaser and wouldn’t have missed the deadline for pretty much anything. The result? The worst book I ever wrote. As a thriller writer, logic needs to be immaculate in my books. This book, however, didn’t just defy logic, it mocked it. The result was confusing, and the language was basic, as there was no time to add complexity. Jane didn’t heave open the door, punching a perfect circle into the drywall from the doorknob. Jane opened the door.

The problem was not only that the story lost flavor and heart, but I had stopped enjoying the process when I rushed. I love spending an afternoon playing with words, placing the perfect verb in a sentence or rephrasing something that sounds ordinary and adding something special to it. A unique metaphor or one of those fancy literary devices I can never pronounce.

After a well-deserved rejection by my editor, I tried to fix the book with two rushed rewrites neither of which were much better than the original because again, I didn’t spend time on creativity and art. In fact, writing had become such a chore, that impatience was woven into my words. Readers, however, are adept at knowing when an author writes with heart, and when they aren’t.

My goal is to never create a story that lacks my passion for the story again, even if that means writing a few fewer books. I spent months fixing my story. The same characters are more fully developed and the plot is complex and intriguing. It’s a book I’m proud to send out into the world.

So the moral of the story? Try different methods, but when the story begins to suffer, go back to your own process, no matter how slow or crazy it may seem to others. Stories need heart and whatever your process, never lose that one key ingredient.

 

Veronica Forand … romantic  thrillers to keep you up at night.

 

Creating an #AudioBook #WriterTips @jacqbiggar

cropped-book-1014197_1280.jpg

It’s hard to express the feeling I had this week when Audible released Missing: The Lady Said No to audiobook. Hearing your hero speak for the very first time is indescribable.

I’ve been waiting for ACX- (Audible Creation Exchange) the company that produces audiobooks for leading suppliers such as Audible, Amazon, and I-tunes to allow Canadians into their marketplace and this June 1, 2017 it happened!

 

 

 

Here’s a little background info on the increasing popularity of audiobooks from the Publishers Weekly site:

A new report issued by the Audio Publishers Association found that 2016 was another good year for audiobooks. The findings show double-digit growth for both audiobook sales and title output.

Total sales rose 18.2% over 2015, to an estimated $2.1 billion, while unit sales did even better. According to the report, unit sales rose 33.9%, to 89.5 million. Sales are based on reports from about 20 audiobook publishers. The APA then extrapolates from those figures, to derive an estimate for the entire market. The title output from reporting companies was 50,937 in 2016, a 43.1% increase over 2015.

I think that’s cause for a celebration, don’t you? 🙂

 

The process is easy. ACX walked me through the steps of loading my book, choosing passages with a variety of characters for the auditions, and setting up my contract with them. You can choose to be exclusive to Audible for seven years (keep in mind they do upload to the three biggest suppliers in the industry) or you can buy your rights and load the book wherever you like.

 

There are also a variety of ways to pay your narrator.

  • You and your Producer can agree to a Pay for Production Fee (a one-time flat fee) or a Royalty Share Deal (in which case your Producer won’t earn money up front, but will instead share in the proceeds from the sale of your audiobook 50-50).
  • Want a higher royalty rate on sales of your audiobook? You can opt for a significantly higher ACX royalty rate by granting Audible exclusive distribution rights to your ACX-produced audiobook. If you want to keep more distribution options open, you can distribute your audiobook through ACX on a nonexclusive basis and receive the standard ACX royalty rate.

 

Then you wait for the auditions to pour in (wishful thinking :)) or you can search through the ACX database of narrators and place your offer with the one you like.

I was extremely lucky to have Daniel F. Purcell find me and agree to perform my books. He’s simply amazing! His vast repertoire of voices brought the characters to life.

I’m so impressed!

As he read the chapters, he loaded them onto the ACX site so that I could listen and give input on any areas I thought needed changing. There were very few 🙂

Next, there was a wait of about a week while ACX checked the files over to make sure it all sounded good, then they published!

Oh yeah, they also give the author and the narrator 25 codes each for review and promotional purposes so if you’d like to hear Gus’ story comment below and I’ll pick someone to receive a #Free copy!

This has been a positive experience from the start. I highly recommend ACX and Audible to any authors who have been on the fence about producing an audiobook.

Do it!

Start your #Free Audible Trial today with Missing: The Lady Said No!

 

Missing The Lady Said No audio cover

 

Missing: The Lady Said No

The Race is on to find a Killer in the heart of Kentucky horse country

Detective Augustus Grant is faced with his most baffling case to date. Well-respected race horse breeder, John Jorgenson, is murdered in his den days before the Kentucky Derby and the list of suspects is growing.

Complicating matters, Gus’ ex-girlfriend is the last person to have seen the victim alive.

Rebecca Hayes owes the Jorgenson family her loyalty. They gave her a new life after a disastrous affair leaves her alone and pregnant.

With all the evidence pointing in Becky’s direction, will Gus do his duty?

Or follow his heart?

 

http://books2read.com/u/3Lrqre

http://amzn.to/2jXEbAP

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34033805-missing

And Now on Audio Book!- http://a.co/23uX6b8

 

Sisterhood of Suspense

 

Enter Here

Painted Rocks, Joy, and Childhood Revisited

I grew up spending my summers at the beach, and one of our favorite pastimes was collecting rocks and shells, and painting them.

Well, imagine my surprise when I recently discovered adults all around the world have taken to painting rocks, and tucking them in fun spots for other folk to find. Rocks with messages, or not. Rocks with great artwork on them…or not.  The point is to spread a bit of love.

So last Tuesday, my besties and I on our “girls playday,” painted rocks, and on the weekend I took them to the beach where the Sea Festival was happening, and I left them here and there, in plain view.

I could only imagine the childlike joy of finding such a special gift—something another human being had created with love.

Guess what we’re doing this Tuesday? Yep, painting more rocks, and this time I might leave a couple at the hospital, or in odd spots around town. My goal in life is to make people smile, and I’m tickled to find this new way that will hopefully bring a moment of joy to a total stranger.

 

 


Kat loves crisp sunny days, the warm breath of a horse, cats with a sense of humor, the smell of the ocean, and her very own charming prince—in no particular order.   http://kathrynjane.com


 

Soul destroying questions and equally stunning answers have Dusty digging deeper than she ever thought possible, and when she discovers her Self, in an entirely foreign landscape, she begins anew, more determined than ever to achieve her lifelong dream.


Sisterhood of Suspense

ENTER HERE

Enter the Sisterhood of Suspense’s Rafflecopter #Giveaway for your chance at some page-turning reads!

 

 

Workshops For Writers

Hey there, I’m Kathryn Jane, and I have a passion for sharing information with other writers and authors.

How many times have you said, wow, I wish I’d known that going in. Or muttered, isn’t there an easier way to do this? Or, how was I supposed to know this already? Why didn’t somebody tell me? Or, how the heck did I miss that that extra word?  😉 (you caught that, right?)

Sucks, doesn’t it? Been there, done that, bought many T-shirts…

That’s why I started sharing what I’d learned the hard way, by creating online workshops for my fellow writers. Yes, it’s time consuming, and there’s not a great deal of money to be made, but it feels good! (Apparently, I love teaching, who knew?)

I’m constantly updating my lessons with the latest information, and always happy to answer questions. The workshops are also archive friendly for those on deadline without time to actively participate.

Added to that, because the feedback from writers has been quite wonderful, I’ve recently added more workshops to my roster.

Pop over to the workshop page on my website for class details and availability.

1. SELF-EDITING “HOW’D I MISS THAT?”  Embarrassment Prevention
2. SELF-PUBLISHING —  “WHERE THE HECK DO I START?”  An Introduction
3. marketing — BACK COVER COPY “SHOOT ME Now!”
4. marketing — PRESS KITS – BE READY WHEN OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS
5. research — WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN A HORSE SHOWS UP?
6. research — PTSD FOR FICTION WRITERS 
7. EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS for you and for your writing

 

Are there other workshops you wish someone would offer?  On what topics? Let me know and maybe I can help! 🙂

Hope you all have a great day, week and month. When I come back to visit in April, I’ll be sharing my brand new Women’s Fiction novel with you, and maybe some pics of my spring garden if Mother Nature cooperates.

Cheers!

Kat.



psst ….. check it out…

the Sisterhood of Suspense Rafflecopter #Giveaway

march-madnessENTER HERE

for your chance at some page-turning reads!

 

How Writing Is Like Hair Color #amwriting #Writertips #RSsos @jacqbiggar

girl-856924_640

 

This might get a little longwinded so bear with me 🙂

 

How many of you remember arguing with your parents when you were a teen and desperately wanted to color your hair?

My daughter used to drive me crazy with these requests.

“Please, Mom, Stephanie’s mom let her do it.”

Or my personal favorite.

“You just don’t understand.”

No amount of talking would persuade her that it was a fad and it would pass. And I refused to allow her to change that beautiful golden-brown she’d been blessed with at birth.

Stale-mate.

Years later she became a mom and when her son wanted his hair shaved on the sides and colored blue on the top, she bought removable dye and did it for him.

The lesson?

Times change. People change.

 

 

Aiden almost 7 yrs old-March 2014

 

What does this have to do with writing you say?

Maybe nothing, but recently I’ve been hearing lots about author branding and when I delved further into what this mysterious identity might mean, this is what I found.

From a Google search:

Branding is one of the most important aspects of any business, large or small, retail or B2B. An effective brand strategy gives you a major edge in increasingly competitive markets.

 

 

business – The Basics of Branding – Entrepreneur

Makes sense; we all want an edge right?
Except, it’s not that easy, is it?
How do we decide our ‘brand?’ What does it look like? How do we promote it? Does it mean we can only write in one genre?
Many professionals tell us this is the case. Pick one road and ride it to the top.
Sounds good, right?
Except the top is a very slippery slope. It changes almost as fast as those hair color fads.
rockfall-99146_640
When you pick up a story to read, what do you choose? Is it the same genre time after time? Is it the genre you write in, or something completely different?
How does this affect your writing?
One of my favorite posts on finding your voice/brand comes from Chuck Wendig, who is a master at getting his point across.
This is another great post from The Writer’s Digest:
I guess the point I’m trying to make is that voice is as unique as you are, so don’t try hiding behind the latest fad.
Be who you are, and people will follow.
 Jacquie Biggar

Jacquie Biggar

JACQUIE BIGGAR  is a bestselling author of Romantic Suspense who loves to write about tough, alpha males who know what they want, that is until they’re gob-smacked by heroines who are strong, contemporary women willing to show them what they really need is love. She is the author of the popular Wounded Hearts series and has just started a new series in paranormal suspense, Mended Souls.

She has been blessed with a long, happy marriage and enjoys writing romance novels that end with happily-ever-afters.

Jacquie lives in paradise along the west coast of Canada with her family and loves reading, writing, and flower gardening. She swears she can’t function without coffee, preferably at the beach with her sweetheart. 🙂

Free reads, excerpts, author news, and contests can be found on her web site:

http://jacqbiggar.com

You can follow her on at http://Facebook.com/jacqbiggar , http://Twitter.com/jacqbiggar

Or email her via her web site. Jacquie lives on Vancouver Island with her husband and loves to hear from readers all over the world!

You can also join her street team on Facebook: Biggar’s Book Buddies

And sign up for her newsletter-

http://eepurl.com/2MFvX

 

 

Colors of Fall Giveaway

 

Colors of Fall Giveawayby theSisterhoodofSuspense.com

 

ENTER HERE

Fall is perfect for kicking back with a great book. Enter the Sisterhood of Suspense’s Rafflecopter #Giveaway for your chance at some page-turning reads for your Kindle!

KISS your characters

I saw my first movie in 1979: The Black Hole. Due to a family thing (which is a very long story), we had to drive an hour one way and catch a ferry to make the show time. I was hooked from that night in a dark theater with my brother and my cousins.

The Black Hole (1979, Walt Disney)

The Black Hole (1979, Walt Disney)

I am a movie addict. There’s nothing better than the experience, and there’s no such thing as a bad movie.  There is always something redeemable.  I’m not a big fan of tear-jerkers (at least in public), and I draw the line at horror. My imagination about monsters in the closet is good enough without visual proof, thank you very much.

Strictly Ballroom, M & A Australian Film Finance Corporation (AFFC) Beyond Films

Strictly Ballroom, M & A
Australian Film Finance Corporation (AFFC)
Beyond Films

My favorites (other than rom-coms) are big ensemble movies. Dancing (Strictly Ballroom, anyone?), sports (hands up for Bull Durham), music (sing along with Pitch Perfect). I love watching the characters interact where they aren’t in a vacuum.

As you can guess, when I began writing, I wrote with a cast of characters in my head. I still do. It plays out like a movie. And, in the first drafts, those ensemble players all show up on the pages.  My critique partners constantly have to rein me in. I tease – there’s at least one Bollywood dance number and one “campfire/dinner table” scene. And they always get edited out.

Because I’ve learned that with any plot, characters get better with KISSing.

Keep it Simple, Silly.

Of course secondary characters are necessary. There are lists of the supporting players your protagonists needs: sidekick, mentor, skeptic, voice of reason … But here are few points to consider when creating them:

  1. Adding a bunch of people to a scene muddies what the hero is hearing, seeing, or learning about the heroine. She should be his main focus. Isn’t that the point of the story, at least in romance? That she’s his primary concern?
  2. The heroine can talk to her best friend, but any BIG revelations should be made to the hero. They are forming a partnership, and she needs to build that connection. Besides, if she confesses to her best friend, she has to do it later to the hero anyway. Save the words.
  3. And while we’re on the topic – as much as possible, save the words for the hero and heroine’s story. The first time I had to edit a scene to eliminate the crowd, I realized how much better it revealed the relationship between my main characters.

These are three really quick reasons, and I’m sure there are loads more. The whole point is to keep the hero and heroine as the focus of your story.  After all, when we tell friends about books (or movies, for that matter) we start with “So this girl … And then this guy …”

KISS your characters, and watch your story come to life.

Mia Kay - thumbnailMia 
Find me at:

A Lucky Eight: Thoughts on the Book Trailer

love-1560817_1280Do you have a trailer for your latest book? And what’s your opinion of the medium, in general? Seems there’s some controversy as to whether book trailers have a place in the market at all. Some sources even suggest that the very notion of a book trailer is in direct opposition to a book’s innate function, that is, to force the reader to use their imagination.

When you turn black and white words on a page into images, combine them with more words and music, does this lessen the value of reading? Is it cheating?

I don’t believe so. Ever since designing my first book trailer, for my debut novel, Phantom Traces published by Soul Mate Publishing, I’ve been hooked. Statistically, my YouTube link has had almost four times as many hits as has the Amazon page. I definitely believe the one-minute, four-second video has helped generate interest in that book, as well as others I have written since. And it’s also a fact that Facebook and Twitter posts with images get many more hits than those without. Adding a video increases that number even more.

Because let’s face it: in today’s visually oriented world, it sometimes takes more than a back-cover blurb to catch a new reader’s attention.

As an author, I must share with you what designing a book trailer does for me. Truth be told? I completed two of my trailers before the book was even finished. And the process of converting a story concept into images, a chosen few words, and adding mood-inspiring music has actually helped me finish writing those books.

To start, I am a visual learner. I absorb and assimilate ideas much more quickly if I’m shown illustrations of the concepts. So when I was having difficulty wallowing through the “mushy middle” of my latest work-in-progress, I decided to take a break and start working on the book trailer instead.

collage-1323417_1280What an amazing writer’s block buster! The same way a storyboard might work, as soon as I began choosing images to illustrate my general storyline, a natural progression emerged. Once I had a sequence of images in place in my iMovie project timeline, the next scene—one that had refused to reveal itself in words on the page—jumped out at me. The process led me to write the ending scene of the book, and once I knew where I was headed, the path to get there revealed itself clearly.

But, what if the book is done, you have your back cover blurb written, and your cover is finished and ready to go? It should be easy to design a book trailer at this stage of the game, right? In designing the trailer for my upcoming release, The Phoenix Syndrome, I discovered it’s not nearly as easy as I’d once thought.

The average book trailer is between one and one and a half minutes long. Much of the clues about the story are revealed in film or images, and it’s true, a picture is worth . . . yadda yadda. But there has to be some sort of script to go along with those images. You thought condensing your 96,000 word novel into a 200-word back cover blurb was hard? Hah! Try distilling it down to less than thirty.chemistry-161575_1280

One thing for sure: I now not only have a book trailer, but I also have that one-sentence elevator pitch we all struggle so hard to develop.

If you do decide to create a trailer for your novel, or hire someone to do so, here are some rules of thumb I have gleaned from watching dozens of trailers, good and bad. And also from designing four of my own, and one for a dear friend:

  1. Don’t make it too long. I have found book trailers that last longer than 90 seconds lose my attention. And if I don’t make it to the end of the trailer, what makes one think I will want to read the book?
  2. Search until you find pictures of your hero and heroine. I know this sounds ludicrous, since they only exist in your mind. But either on a royalty-free site like Pixabay, or on paid licensing sites such as Depositphotos, spend some time searching for your main characters. You will be amazed at how they will be there. And you’ll know, from the first time you set your eyes on their face—he or she is the one.
  3. It’s helpful if, once you identify your hero or heroine (whomever will be the main “star” of the trailer), there are multiple pictures available of this particular person. I haven’t been lucky finding these on free sites, but on Depositphotos you can actually choose an option to see other photos with the same model. This gives you the flexibility to show your character in a few different stages of the story, i.e., varying states of mind.
  4. A word about music—there are several royalty-free sites, like www.bensound.com or www.leefitzsimmons.com, where you can download and use music for your trailer free of charge as long as you make sure to provide a live link in the YouTube description crediting the source. I also mention the source in the last frame of the trailer.
  5. Don’t tell the whole story! What we’re after is breadcrumbs here, Hansel. Lead the viewer up to the point where they’re wondering, “what’s going to happen next?” and end the trailer there.
  6. Ditto for subplots. There’s no way you can cover every nuance of the plot in thirty words or less. Stick to the main conflict.
  7. Begin the trailer with the title and author name, but don’t bother with links—they won’t be clickable within the trailer itself anyway. You can place links in YouTube’s description screen.
  8. End with an image of your book cover, not a reiteration of the title and author. Visually oriented society, remember? If the last image your viewer sees is your cover, they will automatically link it in their minds with the “story” your trailer told, and the cover image will imprint on their brain. Their eye will be drawn to it when it shows up as a thumbnail on Amazon or wherever it’s posted for sale.

So whether you decide to create your own trailer or hire it done, keep these eight tips in mind. If you are a Mac user, iMovie has premade trailer templates as well as a very versatile project program, relatively user-friendly once you get the hang of the software. Should you be hiring someone else, be sure you go into the agreement with your 25-30 word “story nugget,” a main conflict plotline with a list of key scenes. Also, have at least one photo of your hero and/or heroine to provide to the “cinematographer.”clapper-board-152088_1280

And have fun bringing your story to life in a cinematic way!

~~~

Claire Gem writes intensely emotional contemporary romance novels, sometimes with a ghostly twist. You can find out more about her work at www.emotionalcontemporaryromance.com, and view some of her trailers here:

Phantom Traces

Hearts Unloched

A Taming Season

Indigo Sky (by fellow author/great friend, Gail Ingis)