Monday, February 25, 2013

Can’t Get Enough!

Have you ever come across a food or drink that you couldn’t get enough of? You can’t stop thinking about how great it is, and now you want to fill your cabinets and/or refrigerator with it? I have recently come across Barcelino wine and I want a cellar full of it. I’m not a wine connoisseur, but I know what I like ... and I already have a few bottles for my bottle tree.

Barcelino Criado en Barrica 2010 is a Spanish wine made in the Catalunya region. Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia and the central location for the Catalan wine industry. Lucky for me, my in-laws live in Spain and are a ½ hour from the Mediterranean Sea and about 2-1/2 hours from Barcelona. After several visits there, I think I appreciate the wine more knowing where the grapes are grown. With the beauty of the Pyrenees Mountains, the Mediterranean Sea, and the lifestyle of the Catalan people, it’s not a surprise such a great wine was produced in this region.

I hadn’t come across this wine prior to my first visit to Barcelona. The wonderful attraction and beauty of Barcelona captured my attention. I love this wine, which has a burst of fruits and tapers off into a soft finish. The wine was a surprise much like its capital. The first time we walked through the Gothic quarters of Barcelona, we came upon Catalan dancing outside a church. We had no idea they were there until we went up the steps of the church. I love witnessing local traditions and/or activities.

Another wonderful thing about finding this wine in Europe is the price; I believe we pay around $3.99 Euros. Wine and beer are not that expensive in Germany, except when you’re eating out. I searched for Barcelino Criado en Barrica 2010 in the U.S. but I couldn’t find it. Maybe I didn’t search correctly because it would be a shame not to share this with the world.

What have you fallen in love with and just can’t get enough of?

Spain and wine,

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Writer’s Guide to Marketing and Promotional Etiquette

I feel it’s as good a time as any to post a guide for writer’s etiquette. Like most writers, I’m connected to several social networking sites and groups to ‘expose’ myself, meet new and interesting people, and promote my works. For a short time, I even did ‘Pay It Forward’, where I featured an Indie author on my blog, and in return, they were to either feature an Indie author on their blog or read and review an Indie author on one of the large outlets, such as Amazon or Goodreads.

I recently searched for a writer’s guide to marketing and promoting etiquette, but I haven’t found one. Since I was unable to find anything, and I’ve come across some annoying behavior, I thought I’d start A Writer’s Guide to Marketing and Promotional Etiquette. All authors, traditionally and self-published, need to learn some etiquette when it comes to getting the word out in a way that can be digested instead of making us swallow whole (No, this is not an erotic post).

You wrote a book and you want everyone to know about it. It’s your mission to get the word out and put your book in the forefront of the hundreds of books published every day because, quite frankly, you’ve written the best book of the millennium, right? You join all the social network sites, such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Goodreads; join groups that are connected with these sites; and ask for reviews and author features on people’s blogs. Great! You’re headed in the right direction. These are all great ideas for online promotion, but with these promotions come some etiquette. The way you conduct yourself while promoting your book, can either make or break your sales.

1)  If you have a Facebook page, and you plan to ‘like’ everyone else’s page, you should ‘like’ their page and leave a nice message with a link to your page. We’re all busy, and it takes time to find someone’s Facebook page. Providing a direct link to your page with a simple, “Hello, I came across your page on Goodreads and thought I’d stop by to say hello” is a great start to a possible long friendship.

2)  If you only have a Facebook account to promote your works, then you’ll have problems receiving acceptances to your friend requests. Most people like their private life to remain private, and they don’t want a nameless, faceless person snooping around their Facebook digs. It’s important that you create a Facebook page for promotional purposes.

3) If you’re following people on Facebook, you should periodically respond to their posts, such as congratulating them on their successes or sharing their new publication. When people see your name pop up enough, and you’re spreading the word about their accomplishments, they’ll definitely remember you. Simply following someone isn’t scoring you points.

4)  If you’re on LinkedIn, and signed up to several writing groups to promote your work, promote your successes the right way. Don’t send out a mass email to everyone you’re following, letting them know you just published your book, and everyone who read it gave it a 5-star rating. Bull crap! We’ve all published or are in the process of publishing, and we know that you got the 5-star ratings from family and friends. Unsolicited emails are an intrusion, and quite frankly, when I receive them, I mark them as ‘pain-in-the-ass-newbie-author’ and most likely wouldn’t buy your book.

5)  If you’re on LinkedIn, get involved in group discussions. People are more apt to buying your book after having some conversations and learning about you than they are coming across your promotional link.

6)  If you have an author page on Goodreads, and you belong to groups, get involved by entering into discussions. Post your promotions in the appropriate places. Goodreads is an opportune place to connect with readers and writers. Don’t burn bridges ... or books.

7)  If you’re doing an author feature on a blog, it’s YOUR JOB to provide all the necessary information and to make sure it’s edited. When you do an interview, and there are several misspelled words, run-on sentences, fragments, anyone reading it will assume your book is a grammatical mess. How you write is a reflection of you and your books. We all have mistakes in our works, but keep it to a bare minimum. Also, provide all the information needed to promote you and your book, and that includes links to your website, blog, where they can buy the book, etc.

8)  If you’re doing an author feature on a blog, it’s YOUR JOB to promote that blog post. Don’t expect the author feature to post on the blog, and you’re going to get an influx of people swooning to know you and to buy your book. It doesn’t work that way. Promote the blog post on all your social network sites AND keep returning to the post to respond to comments. When an author can’t even take the time to thank the blogger for the post or respond to comments, then readers probably can’t find the time to buy the book.

9)  If you request a book review, and someone reads and reviews your book, thank them. I don’t care if they gave you a 1-star or 5-star rating. Send them an email, thanking them for their time and review. We all hate those low ratings and reviews, but when you ask for a review, you should expect nothing but an honest one.

The more people get to know you, the more they’re willing to buy your book. The more annoying you are, the more likely you’ll lose some readers.

Promoting is a lot of work, and we can’t put all of our time into it. I’ve been guilty of poor etiquette myself, but I plan to change it. It really helps to have family and friends spread the word. If you can concentrate on one social network at a time, move to the next, and then the next until you’re back at the first one, people will at least get a glimpse of you, and then you continue the circle. Remember, you’re trying to build an audience, like other writers, so reaching out and connecting with people is one of the best ways to do it.

Do you have any tips for marketing and promotional etiquette?

Writers and Etiquette,

Monday, February 18, 2013

Incredible aloud and extremely revised!

It wasn’t until the fourth revision of Net Switch when I started to read the book aloud, and it made all the difference in the world. For those writers who haven’t read your written words aloud, I suggest you start. As we read, our minds can already put in words that might be missing without us even catching it. It isn’t until you read aloud that you realize something doesn’t work.

With my newest manuscript, I have found so much in revisions when I read it aloud. I am able to catch missing words, notice where it stops flowing, awkward dialogue, and believe it or not, wrong word usage. The one thing I didn’t expect to happen in reading aloud was it bringing out more personality in my characters. When I’m reading it aloud, I change my voice a bit to reflect the characters’ personality. This helps me stay focused on my characters’ personalities. It’s a great way to enhance character development.

As writers, we take bits and pieces of our life and incorporate it into our novels. I believe this is what makes our characters and stories come alive. Don’t get me wrong, a serial killer in a novel doesn’t mean the author is a serial killer, but there are parts of the author’s personality that brings the character to life. Maybe the author has a temper or knows how to keep secrets. Whatever it is, our characters grow because we have lived. Reading aloud is another dimension to giving our characters life. I can hear my characters in my head, so when I read aloud, their attitude and personality comes out. I can tweak and show off my characters more through description or dialogue.

I’m not losing my mind when I say I can hear my characters’ voices in my head. We all do it at one time or another. I’ve heard many of people say, “I can now hear my mother, telling me to…” It’s part of life, just like it is part of creating authentic characters; flawed characters struggling from self or another kind of infliction.

Like anything else in life, practice is important. Practicing the art of writing and realizing your mistakes are key in becoming a good, if not great writer. I suggest you add reading your manuscript aloud during revisions. You’ll learn so much more about your writing, your characters, and the story.

Do you read your works aloud? Do you have another revisions tip?

Reading aloud and Characters,

P.S. The picture is of a fellow author, June Kramin.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I just got married this past weekend so I’m still trying to get back into the swing of things. I’ll be back soon.

A Valentine for My Mother

Upon the hour in which you’ve gone
I sit and cry until the breaking dawn

Memories of your life overflow within
Anger and sadness, sometime turn to sin

The curls you wore, as a child
Grew out, moved down, into a smile

You taught me love, you comforted pain
If I needed saving, you’d open a vein

I smile when thinking of your daily calls
How I wish I had them during my falls

Now you look down at me, full of bliss
When I close my eyes, I still feel your kiss
My favorite Valentine, who I dearly miss

Chocolates and Memories,