Thursday, October 31, 2013

Christmas stories from Main Street!

 11 books for just $4.99 (I'm #6)

Main Street once was where everyone in small towns and even large cities congregated. This holiday season, you'll find the Spirit of Main Street alive and well in a wonderful collection of eleven holiday romances, the Christmas on Main Street Box Set. The Authors of Main Street have poured their heart into these books, all with holiday themes. With the spirit of Christmas guiding them, they have priced Christmas on Main Street inexpensively as their holiday gift to you.

The Christmas Wish by Tori Scott. Merry is a long way from home and missing her family as Christmas approaches, until she falls right into Santa's lap. 

Christmas Wedding Muddle by Mona Risk. The perfect fiancĂ© is a cheater and the fabulous Christmas wedding is off. But the would-be honeymoon cruise may fulfill the dreams of Julia and her unexpected companion. 

A Snowy Christmas in Wyoming by E. Ayers. A Native American cowboy with his thirteen-month-old daughter and a national news anchorwoman have nothing in common, except for their pasts, but in this season of giving, will fate reach through time and give the gift of love? 

The Christmas Con by Jill James. Contemporary Romance. Two reformed jewel thieves, Robin and Ian, are on the job to retrieve a priceless necklace, but Santa has special plans for a reunion of the ex-lovers. 

Small Town Glamour Girl Christmas by Stephanie Queen. Small town girl Julie hates being an Audrey Hepburn look-alike. When the big city man of her dreams comes to town for Christmas will she sell out to model in the city or settle into small town life on his terms? 

The Christmas Gift by Pepper Phillips. When an opportunity to make money presents itself, eleven-year-old George faces the biggest decision of his life. Will he become a thief like his father or will he discover the fact that giving, rather than receiving, is the best gift of all? 

A Potters Wood Christmas by Leigh Morgan. A plot to steal an ancient artifact in the Bennett’s possession could be the key to opening an even greater prize. Will Cian find family and the spirit of Christmas again? 

A Baby for Christmas by Susan R. Hughes. When Ryan opens his home to Paige, a beautiful stranger who happens to be pregnant, will it take a Christmas miracle to make them realize where their hearts truly belong? 

A Light in the Christmas Cafe by Kristy Tate. A food thief, a haunted house, a matchmaking grandmother and a handsome stranger: Are the apron strings tying Deirdre to her grandmother’s cafĂ© tangling up her life plans or are they leading her to love? 

What if...this Christmas by Kelly Rae. Will a marriage proposal be the end of Katie and Chris' forever? 

A Smoky Mountain Christmas by Carol De Vaney. Falling in love wasn’t in Tina’s plans. She’d survived the snowstorm, but could she survive the love of recently divorced Hank Gordon who’s sworn off women? 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Book Trailers

Thinking about making a book trailer? Me, too. I asked some writer friends to share their trailers and tips.
Here are the tips:
Be short and sweet
Make sure you have the legal rights to the music and images
Give credit where credit is due
Provide buy links for your books
Here is a link to a video interview with some filmmakers doing book trailers:

And here are the trailers! (Can't wait until I can share a few of my own!)

Monday, October 21, 2013

Fail-Proof Your Plans

On Wednesday, I ran 3 miles with Nelly, went to Oceanside to clean our rental property, walked 4 miles with Janna, and made cookies for my writers' group that for some reason were flatter than a pancake and stuck to the bottom of the pan. In the morning when I realized that I was going to be running, walking 7 miles and cleaning the condo, I knew that by 6:30 I wouldn’t want to go to my writers’ group—even though it was my turn to read. I knew I would be too tired. The group meets in Orange, about an hour drive round trip and I’m usually not home until about 10:30.
(That's my friend,Terry, in the red shirt. See the expression on my face? Terry's a Mensa member and really smart and I have to do mental exercises to keep up with him. This is a picture from my book launch for Stealing Mercy.)

I did something incredibly smart—so smart that ever since I’ve been trying to recreate what I call the No-Fail plan. This is what I did. I asked a friend for a ride to Fictionaires. I told him to pick me up at the ARCO station. I gave him my cell number, but I didn’t take his. What this meant was at 6:30 when I was sooo tired I had two options—I could bail and leave Terry hanging at the ARCO station, wondering what had happened to me—or I could go. Knowing that I wouldn’t/couldn’t leave Terry hanging, I went to my meeting and I’m so glad I did.
Fictionaires meet in Old Town Orange

I was so impressed with myself that I tried to think of other ways to fail proof my life and I came up with a co-op diet.  I picked the 40-30-30 diet which is I think the most livable, easy to do for the rest of my life sort of diet and asked two friends to do it with me. So, following the diet, I cook and deliver dinner to my friends on Mondays, Tuesday is taco night, Nelly cooks Wednesdays and Janna has Thursday nights. We’re on our own on the weekends. So almost every day I’ll have a dieter friend stopping by—and if I don’t cook, two other families go hungry. Since it’s actually easier to make dinner for six than for two—I’m really excited about this.

This also works for exercise programs. When I was training for the marathon, umpteen years and double the pounds ago, I had a running partner and we met at 6 a.m. The rule was if the partner was more than 7 minutes late, we would go it alone.  I think we might have missed each other twice in ten months of training.
My straight A college student does something similar with study groups. Here’s what he said: I love your new fool-proof plan!  You know I actually do that all the time at school?  I'll set up a study group or a study date or something just so I am forced to study - because that's the purpose of the group.  Honestly some people think it's a good time to compare what you've already been studying (which is true) but for me the real value is in the fact that there are other people expecting me to be there and contributing to a group - especially if I'm the one who put it together.

Of course, there are more ways to fail proof your plans. You can:

Set up a reward system

Impose a penalty (I know a writer who gives a friend a $100 and tells her that if she doesn’t meet her goal she has to donate the money to an evil empire.)

I find that the reward/penalty system doesn’t work as well for me as social pressure. I can keep promises to friends much better than I can a promise to myself. (Sad, but true.)

Sometimes life happens and goals go unmet. Here’s a long ago blog post about such a time. How about you? How do fail proof your plans?

Undeserved Carrots.
I was what my swim teachers called a screamer--the little kid who sat on the beach during swim lessons and cried. My parents sent me to swim lessons for years and I still don’t swim. Not really. We have a boat and love spending our summers on a lake (sunny lakes.) My daughter was captain of her high school swim team. All my children took swim lessons and swam for the Rancho Santa Margarita Dolphins, but in my heart, I’m still the little kid, the screamer, sitting at the water’s edge. (To be fair, I grew up in Washington and the lessons were held at Lake Goodwin…in the rain. Anyone sane in a bathing suit, in the rain, at the beach has a perfectly good reason to cry.)

One particularly uninspired teacher threw me in the lake, giving me a motivation to swim (and an increased hatred of swimming lessons.) We all find our motivation differently. As an adult, I still don’t like being thrown in to anything. I’m more of a carrot and stick person. Actually, more of a carrot person. No one works well under a stick.

I like to make goals and promise myself rewards (carrots, although not actual carrots. Carrots themselves aren’t really all that incentivizing.) Doesn’t everyone do this? Are they one hundred percent successful? In October I made a writing goal—I would write 7-10 pages a day, six days a week. I couldn’t do it. Over long presidency meetings, dental appointments. Failing at my goal was sucking all the joy out of my writing and so I set my goals on the side of the road and just kept walking, enjoying the time I spent writing, loving my characters, being in thankful awe for the ideas.
Now it’s March. I’ve made lofty goals and I’m meeting every one of them. Blowing them out of the water, in fact. What’s the difference? I’m not sure.

October wasn’t the first time I’ve set a goal aside. (Not by any means. My life is littered with unmet goals.) Once when I was training for an upcoming race I went to Arlington to help celebrate my step-mother’s birthday. Visiting my parents is wonderful for many reasons, but not for training. For one thing, my dad’s favorite restaurant is an all you can eat buffet called Jumbos. (Real name.) So, I packed my work-out clothes and made myself a promise that if I could stay on schedule with my training over the dangerous weekend that I’d buy myself new exercise clothes when I returned home.

Friday night: an evening at Jumbos where I practiced moderation and iron clad restraint. Set my alarm for 5:30 am and went to bed.

Saturday morning, predawn: I woke to rain. No matter. I’d grown up running in the rain. I slipped from my bed and put on my running clothes. No shoes. I realized my sneakers must be in the trunk of my sister’s car. I dashed through the rain, barefoot. The car is locked. I returned to the house drenched. I searched for my sister’s purse and keys and then realized it must be in her room. Wake her up? There’s lightning and thunder and my sister is still snoring. I went to my room and promised myself that I’d run later.

Later never happened. Aunts, uncles, cousins, visiting—I could have excused myself, braved the rain and fulfilled my goal, but I didn’t. I didn’t feel badly about my choice, but I also knew that I didn’t deserve new exercise clothes. Unmet goal—no reward. Simple, really.

I returned home on a pink bag day. Pink bag days happen about once a month. In our neighborhood, a local charity places pink bags on our doorsteps and the neighbors fill the bags with donations to the charity. I love pink bag days and I was scouring the house for donations when I came across an unopened Christmas present in the back of a closet. I took it to my husband and asked if he knew anything about it.“I wondered where that went!” he said. “It’s for you.”

I opened it and found brand new exercise clothes. I took away many lessons from this experience, but the one I’m trying to keep in mind that sometimes, even if the goal isn’t met, the blessings can still come. I still write. I’m still in love with my characters. I’m still awestruck by the ideas that come. I can always run tomorrow.

But, sometimes it rains and sometimes visiting with aunts and uncles is the better choice. And that’s okay. No need to sit on the beach and cry.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Quotes from The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell

There are just so many gosh darn books out there. A lot of them are free. Everyday some bestselling author steps away from traditional publishing and joins the swelling ranks of the Indies. I can’t blame them, but I wish they would go back to their publishing houses. Who is going to pay for a book by an unheard of author when they can download an author with a household name for the same price?

Indies have lots of advantages over traditional published authors and the biggest and probably most powerful is the price point advantage. We can offer loss liters all over the place. Spread 'em around like fertilizer.

The second most powerful advantage is genre-bending. Indies can take risks, and the good indies do. Gone are the gate keepers and the bean counters. For most indies, if one book isn’t profitable that’s okay…they’ve got a million more stories in their heads and not a lot to lose.

But the most powerful tool in the traditional publishing tool shed is publicity. They know people. They hire people. They can hog the window at the book stores, and flood the Books section of the LA Times.

So what’s an indie to do?

M U S T   F I N D   T H E   T I P P I N G   P O I N T.
Thank you Mr. Gladwell for the inspiration.

The Tipping Point Quotes 

“The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.” 
“Emotion is contagious.” 
“To be someone's best friend requires a minimum investment of time. More than that, though, it takes emotional energy. Caring about someone deeply is exhausting.” 
“There are exceptional people out there who are capable of starting epidemics. All you have to do is find them.” 
“If you want to bring a fundamental change in people's belief and need to create a community around them, where those new beliefs can be practiced and expressed and nurtured.” 
“A study at the University of Utah found that if you ask someone why he is friendly with someone else, he’ll say it is because he and his friend share similar attitudes. But if you actually quiz the two of them on their attitudes, you’ll find out that what they actually share is similar activities. We’re friends with the people we do things with, as much as we are with the people we resemble. We don’t seek out friends, in other words. We associate with the people who occupy the same small, physical spaces that we do.” 
“That is the paradox of the epidemic: that in order to create one contagious movement, you often have to create many small movements first.” 
“There is a simple way to package information that, under the right circumstances, can make it irresistible. All you have to do is find it.” 
“A book, I was taught long ago in English class, is a living and breathing document that grows richer with each new reading.” 
“Economists often talk about the 80/20 Principle, which is the idea that in any situation roughly 80 percent of the “work” will be done by 20 percent of the participants. In most societies, 20 percent of criminals commit 80 percent of crimes. Twenty percent of motorists cause 80 percent of all accidents. Twenty percent of beer drinkers drink 80 percent of all beer. When it comes to epidemics, though, this disproportionality becomes even more extreme: a tiny percentage of people do the majority of the work.” 
“A critic looking at these tightly focused, targeted interventions might dismiss them as Band-Aid solutions. But that phrase should not be considered a term of disparagement. The Band-Aid is an inexpensive, convenient, and remarkably versatile solution to an astonishing array of problems. In their history, Band-Aids have probably allowed millions of people to keep working or playing tennis or cooking or walking when they would otherwise have had to stop. The Band-Aid solution is actually the best kind of solution because it involves solving a problem with the minimum amount of effort and time and cost.” 

  If you have found your tipping point, I would love to hear it.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Twitter for Tips for Tweebies

I’m a Twitter Twit, meaning that I’m not sure what to do with it. I usually tweet about my blog posts, book releases, etc, but to me it seems about as effective as driving down the freeway and throwing fliers out the window at passing cars. So, I did some online snooping and came up with some helpful twitter tips.

New users may not be aware but established twitter users who follow large numbers of tweeters usually hit a wall when they attempt to add follow number 2001.

So, how do you get past the twitter follower limit of 2,000?  Well the only way to do it is to grow your own follower list.

You don’t however have to have 2,000 followers; the magic number is in fact 1,819.  Twitter lets you follow the number of followers that you have plus 10%.  When you hit the figure of 1819 you are allowed to follow that number plus a further 182.  Your follower limit is now 2001 and you have broken through the barrier, just.

For every ten new followers you gain you can follow eleven new tweeters, and so on. Using that formula Ashton Kutcher would be allowed to follow over 5 million users, slightly more than the 320 currently on his radar.  So now you know.’s what you do to get up to that 2001 limit.

Go to Twitter and log on to your account.
In the Search box at the top of your screen, type in the name of an author who writes similar to you.
When that person’s name comes up you will see in the upper left hand screen, Followers, click on that.
All the followers will come up, they will have a blue following button if you already follow that person, or a white button with Follow, click on all those white buttons.
After that, click on the Following button in that upper left hand box.  Follow all those as well.
Try to add fifty to one hundred per day.  You can do this in a few minutes.
Then go to the next author and the next and the next.  You want your reach to be far and wide.
Later on....unfollow anyone who doesn’t follow you back.  Be sure that you follow back anyone who follows you (unless it’s someone you really don’t care about, but you need those follows in order to get over that 2001 limit that Twitter has.  When you’re on your Twitter account you can easily find those by clicking on your own Followers.

If you have any Twitter tips, please share. Here are some related articles:
 This Week On Twitter: 5 Retweet Tips, Top 50 Most Retweeted, 120 Marketing Tips For Blogs
10 Top Accounts To Follow On Twitter For Breaking News
5 Quick And Easy Twitter Tips To Get More Retweets
This Week On Twitter: 25 Awesome Social Media Tools, Classic Vs Social Marketing, Twitter Stats