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She’s an expert on PR in your PJs: Meet Laurie Parish a Customer Champion at Hootsuite #amwriting #socialmedia #marketing

Laurie Parish, social media guru and baker extraordinaire.
Laurie Parish, social media guru and baker extraordinaire.

Laurie Parish is a Customer Centric Champion at Hootsuite. What does that mean? She offers support and guidance to customers who use the Hootsuite social media platform and she helps them get better results for their own businesses through the products that Hootsuite offers.

Click here for an article about the Top 7 Reasons to use Hootsuite.

What is HootsuiteHootsuite is a social relationship platform that empowers users to execute social media strategies across their organizations. Hootsuite‘s vision is to revolutionize communications; their mission is to empower our customers to transform messages into meaningful relationships.

Click here for an article explaining what good Customer Champions do.

Lachesis: Tell us about your background and how you came to Hootsuite?

hootsuite-logo1Laurie Parish: My background is in selling and supporting the printing process. I studied journalism after high school but fell in love with the way books are created instead. I went from setting type to selling million dollar software and hardware systems to printers.

When print started to wane I began to look for new places to move my career. Being at Hootsuite  is exciting and new. Today’s marketeers are embracing social media for not only increasing brand awareness but to decrease risk in their organizational activities.

Lachesis: Hootsuite has been around a long time – but for people who don’t know exactly what it is – tell us what Hootsuite offers.

Image: www.cartoonists.co.uk
Image: www.cartoonists.co.uk

Laurie Parish: I suppose it seems like a long time. Hootsuite was established in 2008 (yesterday for me) when our CEO Ryan Holmes was trying to manage all of his social networks and finding it too big a task. We now have 15 million users worldwide! Our vision is to help organizations and individuals create meaningful relationships from their social presence. I call it PR in your PJs. We offer a way to not only organize your social networks but to understand who is engaging with you via those channels. We provide tools and metrics that encourage collaboration within marketing teams. And most importantly we are one of the only social platforms to provide free education and training on social media.

Lachesis: Ten years ago – an author could post something on his/her facebook page or twitter once a day and that would have been enough to sell books – but that is no longer the case – how can Hootsuite help authors build their audiences online – in an effective way – so that they have plenty of time to write?

social-media-software-comparison-hootsuite-mark-f-simmons-mixed-digital-llc-7.png-7Laurie Parish: First of all let me say we are completely mobile. We even have a Chrome extension that let’s you post right from an interesting URL. Posting to all of your social networks from your mobile device with one click saves so much time because you can do it from wherever you are. Once you’ve published then you can sit back and monitor your Hootsuite dashboard streams to see the impact in real time. Monitoring your streams lets you find your main influencers/markets so you can target messaging directly to them in future posts. Every writer should take time to build their personal brand and then manage it. It’s not always about promotion, it’s also about thought leadership. Hootsuite has ways to help you curate content and show off that leadership to your audience. Be proactive, be creative, be passionate.

344021Lachesis: Tell us about some of the clients in the arts/creative field that Hootsuite has and how Hootsuite has helped them improve their social media outreach?

Laurie Parish: I work with our strategic accounts so only accounts over $100,000.00. Which means I don’t always get to hear the stories about how everyday people use us. But those stories are out there and here’s a link to a case study about how a little independent film used Hootsuite to grow an audience with almost no budget. They built brand awareness and “buzz” for an unreleased movie, created a network of fans for the film, sustained the campaign for over a year and implemented the entire strategy within a $1000 monthly budget.

Lachesis: Okay let’s talk about price. What does it cost for Hootsuite – and is it affordable for indie authors who are on a budget?

Laurie Parish: One of the main reasons for our success is our Freemium version. Yes, that’s right . . . getting started with us is absolutely free. That’s how I was introduced to Hootsuite. No credit card mambo either. Next tier is the Pro version which is about $10./mo. Then we move on to the larger scale plans for enterprise and small to medium sized businesses. But the best bang for no money is our Hootsuite Academy. Learn everything you need to know about social FOR FREE. Find that here: Hootsuite Education Courses

Check out this article for more info:  The Creative’s Guide to Launching a Project on Social Media.

161349648Lachesis: I know you’re an avid reader too – what are two amazing books you’ve read recently?

Laurie Parish: Right now I’m reading Ian Brown’s 60. It’s an incredibly interesting look at the Globe’s columnist life in his 60th year. Men think about really odd things. That’s all I’ll say.

Lachesis:  What are your favourite kinds of posts that you enjoy reading or seeing on social media?

14364681_10154554254656079_8421876277164615950_nLaurie Parish: I follow the Bangor Police on Facebook. Those posts are so funny and insightful that I never miss one. TC (the writer) is doing much for making Maine cops part of the community that they live and work in.

Lachesis: You are on social media a lot – but tell us what are some pet peeves you have about what you see on social media?

Laurie Parish: Can I just say that I’m so over the “# of way to do this or that” posts? I see that as a headline and I move on. Also, if a company or brand that I follow never posts about anything other than themselves I get very very bored. I hate boring.

Mmmm.... Pumpkin Spice!
Mmmm…. Pumpkin Spice!

Lachesis: BONUS QUESTION: I know you’re a baker extraordinaire and you also have a home-based bakery business – what is the most popular item that people order from you and what is YOUR favourite sweet indulgence? J

Laurie Parish: Scones. I make loads and loads of scones. Pumpkin spice, blueberry, raspberry, apple, chocolate chip… you name it. My not so secret passion is pie. My favourite thing to do is drive out into the country in search of home baked pie. Pie is one of the hardest baked goods to get right. My grandmother was a pastry chef so I’m spoiled.

 

Laurie also runs the Short but Sweet Cupcake Company
Laurie also runs the Short but Sweet Cupcake Company

Connect with Laurie Parish via Linkedin and on facebook. You can also contact Laurie Parish to order one of her custom-made baked delights from her bakery company: Short But Sweet Cupcakes

Like our Lachesis Publishing page on facebook.

Follow Lachesis Publishing on twitter.

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Five Free Things You Can Do To Promote Your Books by Joanna D’Angelo #amwriting #amreading #authorpromotion #socialmedia

32038_cartoons-comics-charlie-brown_200sOh, you say you know all about online promotion but have you really done AS MUCH as you can to promote your book and your author name? Dare I say it – your BRAND?

Here is a list of 5 things you can do that will only cost you TIME not money in order to promote your books.

1. Launch a facebook page – and invite all of your friends to like it. If you want to spend some money – you can run a sponsored ad promoting it. My advice – don’t set up a page for one book or series or for every book you release – that is tiresome and annoying to your friends and fans. Just set up a page with YOUR NAME AUTHOR X and use that page to promote YOU and any other author or book you want to talk about.

giphy2. Post REGULARLY on YOUR FACEBOOK PAGE. At least 3 times a week. Post interesting content – not just about your book being released – but talk about interesting aspects of your book – like a story about your research on the poison used as the murder weapon in your latest book.  Original content. That should be your goal. Invite other authors to your page – do exchanges with other authors – where you interview them on your page and they interview you on theirs. Why? To get more readers and likes and build your audience.

3. Start putting up videos. You can now go live on facebook with live videos – so you can set up a live “party” and invite your readers – have fun – do giveaways (okay you might have to spend some money there) but even if it’s just to play a game or chat with your readers- they will enjoy it and so will you! You can make it a Q and A live with your readers- they can ask anything they want about your books and characters.

4. When you post on twitter – don’t just post links to your books – or talk about a sale – post funny pics or engage in some fun hashtag games – that will broaden your scope and reach on twitter.

Little_red_haired_girl5. Set up a regular blog or newsletter and share “freebies” or more detailed in depth content that you can link on your facebook page.

Why is this necessary? Why should you put all of this effort in?

It increases your profile on google. When I google the name of an author – if I see current links and plenty of them – then- that author will stand out in my mind. Even if they are not a bestselling author. It is IMPRESSIVE to see a big google list of links about an author. Trust me on this.

When I go on twitter and see only “buy my book” links on an author’s page – I think “dullsville” – I want to see some fun engagement there to tell me that the author has a sense of humour and has something to offer other than asking me to buy her/his book.

imgresWhen I visit an author’s facebook page and they haven’t posted  in a month – I think that author isn’t serious about his/or her career and doesn’t really care about her/his readers.

These are all things that take time – yes – but if you establish a routine around doing them – they can all help you achieve your goal of building your audience reach and creating an online “footprint” that will enable potential readers to see YOU to see how interesting and fascinating you are. To see how much YOU engage with the world. So keep that in mind when you ponder why you should even bother with blogging or posting on facebook or twitter. Think about the “SOCIAL CURRENCY” that you are generating by your 892004_030PRESENCE online.

Think about how the public views you according to what YOU put out there. And if you only post once every six months – it won’t do you any good. You will be buried and forgotten. Think about every blog post you write or facebook video you post or funny story you relate on your facebook page – and think about how all of that adds up to create a rich and colourful quilt that keeps expanding. Think about the people who will be coming across even one of those “quilt squares” and then delving deeper into YOUR WORLD because they want to know more about you. I do that all the time! When I come across something interesting that an author has posted. And if I do that – you can bet other readers do it too.

Got it?  Good!

Joanna D’Angelo is Editor in Chief at Lachesis Publishing. She loves chai tea, social media, and good writing.

Connect with Joanna on twitter@JoannaDangelo, on facebook and on pinterest.

Her facebook page is: Love Romance Novels (on facebook)

Her other blogs are: thepopculturedivas and therevolvingbook

Like our Lachesis Publishing page on facebook. Follow Lachesis Publishing on twitter.

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The Three Cs of Promoting Your Books by Joanna D’Angelo #amwriting #bestseller

clip-art-snoopy-921342Something I’ve noticed over the years is the difference between successful authors and authors who sell only a handful of books a year. If you want to get an idea of how you’re selling – check your ranking on amazon and barnes and noble. But shouldn’t your publisher be doing all the work of selling your book? Nope. There isn’t a publisher IN EXISTENCE big or small who does that. Your publisher has to promote many different titles a month (both older and new releases). Whereas YOU just have to worry about YOUR books. Your publisher has to worry about many different authors. Whereas YOU just have to worry about YOURSELF. If you are consistently in the 1 million or higher ranking, you need to re-evaluate what you are doing (or not doing) to sell books. Here are a few key qualities that I have seen that successful authors have in common. I call them THE THREE Cs: COMMITMENT, CONSISTENCY, CLEVERNESS.

tumblr_miy082ZuYC1s0s30po1_1280COMMITMENT: Successful authors are committed, not only to their writing craft but to promoting their work. After they release a new title, they don’t just forget about it and move on to the next book. No way. They have a plan in place to promote that book. That plan – should be in place well BEFORE your book comes out. One year before. One year? But won’t people get tired of hearing about your book a year in advance of it coming out? You’re not LITERALLY talking about your book every single day. USE COMMON SENSE. You are BUILDING your identity on facebook so that when your book DOES come out, you will have lots of friends and followers who know you and (hopefully) like you. People that you have made a CONNECTION with.

Let’s say you plan on promoting your book on facebook. Terrific! BUT, now here’s the hard part: What is your commitment going to be? How often should you post? What should you post about? How can you engage your friends and followers? If you don’t have enough friends and followers, how can you get more? As an author, you have to be asking yourself these questions WELL IN ADVANCE and you have to answer them. Ask other authors. Read books or articles on social networking. Figure out what you want to say and say it. READ. OBSERVE. RESEARCH.

But isn’t that a lot of work? Sure it is. But if you want to sell books, then you have to do it. Or, hire someone who knows how to do it.

But isn’t this just common sense? Of course it is. But if you already know this then why aren’t you doing it? The answer is because YOU ARE NOT COMMITTED.

Screen Shot 2016-06-24 at 2.15.36 PMCONSISTENCY: The most successful authors are the authors who are consistent. They post on a regular basis  – not just once or twice a month. They ALWAYS have something to share. Some authors talk about their relationships, kids, even their health issues. While others like to share silly stuff about their pets or funny things they find online. The key is to share consistently but don’t bombard your followers with the same BUY MY BOOK post every day. Be creative. Have fun. Share who you truly are. But do it on a regular basis. Why? Because the key word in social networking is the word SOCIAL. It means “taking part”. Engaging with other people. Being sociable. Not hiding in an ivory tower.

A lot of authors have “regular” features on their facebook pages. What does that have to do with selling books you might ask? Well, social networking isn’t just “HEY MY BOOK IS ON SALE”. It’s about ENGAGING, COMMENTING, and SHARING. And you have to do it on a REGULAR BASIS. Some authors have a Question of the Week, Hunk of the Week, Cute Critter of the Week, Funny Video of the Week . . . You get the point right? Other authors run monthly contests where they give away a free signed copy of their book or some nifty “swag” that they got at various conferences. OR they go out and buy something really cool that has a connection to their book/series and they run a contest that way. How do you promote your contest? Some authors purchase sponsored ads on facebook. Or they ask their fellow author friends if they can share the post. They share the contest info on facebook group pages – spreading it out and posting on various groups every few hours, every. single. day. Some cross-promote on other blogs and on twitter to get the word out. The point is to SET UP A PLAN and STICK TO IT. If the plan isn’t getting you sales then re-evaluate every few weeks to see how you can improve/change that.

snoopy-profileCLEVERNESS: It’s hard to be clever. But the most successful authors are just that. They come up with fun and creative ways to engage their readers and they always keep it fresh. Whether it’s running contests, or posting fun content, or setting up newsletters that reward subscribers with free, original content, or making funny videos that go viral, or coming up with a fun way of branding themselves, or working with other authors on unique cross promotional contests or giveaways – they put their creativity to work – not just in their writing – but in selling. Don’t be afraid to spread your wings and think outside your box. Be a little daring. Take a chance on doing something different. Approach some other authors about setting up a YouTube channel and make regular videos that you can post online. Have fun and keep trying even if you flop the first few times. Just keep thinking and doing. Eventually you will hit your creative stride and come up with something that works really well for you. The point is – don’t just sit back and expect others to do it for you. Do it yourself. Motivate yourself. And if you find it overwhelming to go it alone – then team up with other authors and go for it. You have nothing to lose, and so very much to gain.

Joanna D’Angelo is Editor in Chief at Lachesis Publishing. She loves chai tea, social media, and good writing.

Connect with Joanna on twitter@JoannaDangelo, on facebook and on pinterest.

Her facebook page is: Love Romance Novels (on facebook)

Her other blogs are: thepopculturedivas and therevolvingbook

Like our Lachesis Publishing page on facebook. Follow Lachesis Publishing on twitter.

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Hot Cowboys and Sexy Navy Seals: Q&A with New York Times bestselling author Cat Johnson

61YDuWoxhYL._UX250_Cat Johnson not only has hit the New York Times bestseller list – she is a at Top 10 NYT bestseller! She is also a USA Today Bestselling author and the recipient of a Publishers Weekly starred review. Her contemporary romances focus on cowboys and Navy Seals. Cat’s books are so popular that Amazon invited her to create her own world on kindle. More on that later.

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 9.55.37 AMAn “out of the box” thinker when it comes to marketing, Cat has sponsored bull riding cowboys and promoted her books using bologna?!? Check it out on her website.

Cat is known as a hybrid author – that is she is both self-published and traditionally published. She joins us today to talk about her remarkable publishing career and some fun stuff too!

LP: You are both traditionally published and self-published – tell us when and why you began self-publishing

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 10.00.57 AMCJ: I had some backlist books I’d gotten rights back to when the small press I’d been with sold. This was about the time that KDP and Smashwords (which distributes to Barnes & Noble and iBooks) had opened to authors to self publish. So I uploaded a few backlist books but didn’t pay much attention to them. They were shorter romantic comedy stories I’d written years before, and they’d already been out with a publisher, so I figured any sales I made was money I didn’t have before and I basically ignored those stories. I was too busy writing new cowboy and military romance for my publisher . . . until I’d read an article about how much money Selena Kitt was earning self publishing erotic romance. That’s when I decided it would be worth writing something new to self publish and see what it could do. That was Educating Ansley, a cowboy ménage. I very quietly uploaded it in May of 2011 and that 40K word story sold 6,000 copies in the first 6 weeks at $2.99. After that I was hooked.

LP: What are the pros and cons of self-publishing versus traditional publishing?

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 10.02.44 AMCJ: Control is a huge pro self publishing offers that traditional does not. I can be quick on my feet. I can make changes on a moment’s notice. I can write a story this week and have it in readers’ hands next week, rather than 2 years from now after the genre is flooded and the reader interest has cooled. I have the freedom to change my price to take advantage of a special event or promotion at Kobo or iBooks. I can tweak my metadata to see if something else works better than what I’m doing. Today’s publishing landscape is changing at the speed of light. Publishers (and that includes self published authors) have to be ready, willing and able to change just as quickly. The problem is the systems in place at most big publishers are not set up to do that.

But there are cons to self publishing as well. Self publishing at my level still does not have the legitimacy or the distribution that I can get with a traditional publisher. There are still people who equate quality with big publishing. And it is still easier to get stocked on shelves in stores or in libraries or for a booksigning with a trad pub book.

LP: What are the expenses involved in publishing your own book? How long does it take you to get a book out?

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 10.03.57 AMCJ: The costs and the time are both minimal. I am a control freak, so I do everything I can myself. My USA Today bestselling Hot SEALs series covers are done by me in Photoshop where I can play for hours to get my vision for the cover just right. By my manipulating and combining stock art photos, my covers can cost a few dollars rather than hundreds. I format the files and upload them myself to each vendor, which means there is no additional cost other than my time. I have a couple of trusted people who beta read and then proof read for me and can usually turn the book around in a few days so the time from when I finish writing to release is usually less than 2 weeks.

LP: You have your very own KINDLE WORLD on Amazon for your Hot SEALS series. Tell us about how that came about and what it entails.

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 10.06.54 AMCJ: About 2 years ago, Amazon began expanding its Kindle Worlds program to include romance worlds. Bella Andre’s world was one of them and I was approached by Amazon to write a story within her world. The relationship I built with the KW team throughout that experience, and the level of my sales, prompted them to offer me my own world. I couldn’t license Amazon my traditionally published series without worrying about being in violation of my contract but my SEALs are self published. The Hot SEALs KindleWorld launched in August of 2015 and was a huge success. It’s basically fan fiction of my Hot SEALs series that is for sale. Anyone can write in the world, readers or authors, as long as they follow the guidelines outlined. They can write new characters into my world, or if they have an existing series, they can write their own characters doing things alongside mine. It’s a lot of fun for my readers who want more Hot SEALs stories. It’s nice for the authors too, since we all band together to help promote the world. Those interested in writing a story can check out the world guidelines at catjohnson.net/kindleworlds and those who want to read the stories can shop the titles at catjohnson.net/shopkindleworlds.

LP: Based on YOUR OWN experience. How much TIME do you spend each day doing marketing and promotion (over all and including social media, newsletter, booking ads etc . . .)

CJ: This is my fault, because I will choose promo and marketing over writing every day, but it’s probably 10% writing and 90% everything else, which includes keeping abreast of changes in the market, posting and reading on social media, handling email, newsletters, blogging and creating graphics. I try not to feel guilty about that ratio being so skewed because all that other stuff is important too. But I do need to learn to focus better and prioritize the writing.

LP: You’ve published several bestselling series including RED HOT AND BLUE, STUDS IN SPURS and OKLAHOMA NIGHTS. Why do you write series books? Tell us about your series. And what can an author—self-published (or otherwise) accomplish with a series?

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 10.11.11 AMCJ: Series are not only fun for authors to write but they are huge sellers. And I am NOT talking serials where there is basically a cliffhanger at the end of each installment and you have to get the next book. I’m talking about a connected series that shares a world, where there is an HEA or at least a HFN at the end, and the story is complete.

All of my series stories can standalone but readers love to read them all because it’s fun to catch up with the hero and heroine from the past books. Or to see the hero’s best friend you’ve come to know and love get his happy ending in the next book. Once I get to know the characters and the setting I like continuing with them, and series allow that. Red Hot & Blue and the Hot SEALs series are military romance. The Studs in Spurs, Oklahoma Nights and Midnight Cowboys series are about modern day cowboys. Visitors can find all my series listed at my site at CatJohnson.net, along with other fun stuff like quote graphics and recipes.

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 10.13.52 AMLP: You’re a Top 10 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. What are 3 KEY THINGS that newbie authors should do when they release a new title, whether they are indie or traditionally published?

CJ: 1-Write the next book! 2-And then write the next one after that. 3-And then release those books, steadily and predictably, promoted in advance so the readers know what to expect from you and when. Then do it all over again. Rare is the author who can make a living, or a career, on one or two or even three books. I’ve found the best way to sell the last book is to release the next one. Breakouts and anomalies aside, a career in publishing is a living thing. You don’t keep feeding it, it’s gonna waste away and eventually die.

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 10.16.09 AMLP: Tell us about an indie author YOU like and why?

CJ: I love Cristin Harber. Our genre and writing voices are very similar and I love how she approaches the business with a combined analytical savvy and creative enthusiasm that is rare.

LP: Bonus Round: Between your COWBOYS and SEALS: 


Who would take a gal out to dinner at a fancy restaurant and who would make her dinner at home?

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 10.19.10 AMCJ: My SEALs would take me out (they eat bad food so often, they’d want something nice from a restaurant) while my cowboys would definitely cook . . . probably steaks they raised themselves on the ranch.

LP: Who would pick up his lady’s dirty tissues from the floor when she’s sick in bed and who would give her a back rub instead?

CJ: SEALs fear no germs! And I’m thinking they’re neat freaks, at least judging by the way they clean their weapons. Cowboys are very hands on. They’d be using all that hand strength they’ve built fixing fences and such for a nice back rub.

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 10.20.53 AMLP: Who would seduce his lady with sweet words whispered in her ear and who would seduce with a sexy growl?

CJ: Cowboys are sweet talkers with their darlin’ and baby girl and even a well placed ma’am. SEALs aren’t going to waste time with words. A growl will do.

LP: Who would bake a birthday cake for his lady’s birthday and who would surprise her in his birthday suit?

Cat Johnson at one of her many book signings
Cat Johnson at one of her many book signings

CJ: I think SEALs can be overachievers at times, and I think going the extra mile to bake their lady a cake might be just the thing he’d do to show his prowess in all things. A cowboy would get right down to the business of delivering his gift—him. Naked.

LP: Thank you!

CJ: Thank you for inviting me!

Connect with Cat Johnson via her website, on facebook, twitter, pinterest and instagram.

 

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Bestselling Independent Authors: Q and A with S. E. Smith (Susan Smith) scifi and paranormal romance

51B+PB4lVCL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

Continuing our ongoing series featuring bestselling authors we chat with the talented and prolific New York Times, USA Today and Amazon bestselling author S.E. Smith. In case you didn’t know – S.E Smith is an indie author -which means she is self-published –  and she hit the bestseller lists as an indie author.

How many of your books have been bestsellers and what lists have you hit? How did you celebrate your first big bestseller?

SES: Wow! That is a loaded question. Off the top of my head, I’ve had as many as twelve at one time on a Bestseller list. I’ve had eight of my stories make the USA TODAY and three make the New York Times to date. I celebrated my first New York Times with four nights of hot fudge yogurt for dinner. My hubby twisted my arm, what can I say? I totally adore the guy.

You’re an indie author so hitting a bestseller list might be more of a challenge because you don’t have a publisher or agent backing you. How did you overcome that challenge and become a bestseller?

SES: Hard work . . . Lots of it! I work approximately 80+ hours a week. I also write unique stories that pull the readers, and myself, into the worlds of the characters. I care about my readers and spend time chatting with them. I always answer my emails, comments posted to my website, and FB posts. I enjoy communicating with my readers and find our conversations relaxing and invigorating.

2302845imgresTell us why you write science fiction and paranormal romance? Why are you passionate about these genres?

SES: I’ve always had a fascination with things that were different. I would lay out on the driveway when I was a child, gaze up at the stars, and wish that I could travel there. I’m also a sucker for any type of books that held a moment of magic in them. My favorites are The Secret Garden, The Black Stallion, The Forgotten Door, and Escape to Witch Mountain. I am totally a kid at heart. My favorite movies include The Princess Bride, Beauty and the Beast, Stardust, Guardians of the Galaxy, the original Star Wars, and the recent movie, The Age of Adeline.

Promotion is an important part of every author’s work routine. What do you think every author should do regardless of whether they are indie or traditionally published?

SES: I believe it is important to stay in touch with your readers. I care about them as an individual. I send out birthday wishes every day, see who has something going on, share pictures and ask them to share, and take the time to listen to what they want. Promotion comes from the heart and it should show that you care about the readers who are supporting you. After all, without them, I wouldn’t have a reason to share my wonderful worlds.

51RMxCFy1AL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_51W3WP1K2mL._UY250_You’re a prolific author – what does a typical workday for you consist of?

SES: Is crazy a good answer? LOL. Each day varies. Some days I’ll spend twelve hours in front of a computer with minor breaks and type thousands of words. Other days, I might not type a single one. If I feel like I need time out, I take it. I have to in order to be able to write. I usually get up around six in the morning, do paperwork until around eight-thirty, work out, then come back and do more work. I do some of my best writing in the late afternoon, early evening. I think it was because that was the only time I had to write when I was working full time.

You have a special jewelry collection that you offer to your readers on your website. Tell us about it and why you put it together?

S.E. Smith custom bookmark
S.E. Smith custom bookmark
S.E. Smith custom keychain
S.E. Smith custom keychain

SES: I enjoy being artistic. If you look at my book covers, you’ll see that. The jewelry emerged when I thought about what it would be like to make smaller versions of my books. I used to do things like this all the time when I was working. It is a natural extension of being in business, having merchandise to go along with the books. S.E. Smith Etsy Page.

What are some pros and cons to being an indie author?

SES: The Cons are the amount of work involved that takes away from writing. As an Indie Author you are the publishing company and every aspect of it. That means everything from the mail clerk to the graphic designer, accountant, marketing expert, fire handler, coffee maker, housekeeper, etc. The writing could easily get lost in all of that if you aren’t careful. You also have to remember to find balance. Without balance, it all comes crashing down. You have to have a family/life outside of everything you are doing and make sure you take care of yourself which is easy to push aside.

The Pros are being the boss of me. I make all of the decisions and can go as far as I want. I also like having the flexibility to branch out into other venues, including other genres, Audiobooks, and movies. Success is in the eye of the beholder, some only feel successful if they achieve a certain criteria, while others might be just happy paying the bills or seeing their name in print. I enjoy the challenge and have to admit, I am learning a tremendous amount.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000037_00029]riseoftheshadowwarriorsfinal-200x300The-Warrior-WomanNot every book can be a bestseller. Heck, some authors only sell a handful of copies – tell us about one book (or author) that you’ve read recently that is a true gem waiting to be discovered.

SES: I could name a dozen in a dozen different genres: Geri Foster, Sylvia McDaniel, Evelyn Lederman, H.D. Smith (no relation), Paula Gruber, Michelle Howard, and M.K. Eidem . . . the list goes on and on! All of these authors write great books and work hard at providing a story that will captivate readers.

What is the coolest/nicest thing a fan/reader has done for you or said to you?

SES: There are so many it is hard to pick just one. The copy of The Secret Garden that I received had me bawling like a baby, the special handmade birthday card that came from the Netherlands was magnificent, the young girl that asked me to include her beloved dog in one of my books was heartwarming, and the fan that reached out to let me know that my stories gave her the strength to fight back after a devastating injury are just a handful of emails, notes, and gifts that I have received. They are the ones I reach for when I get a negative review or am so tired I wonder what I’m doing. I am definitely a giver and for someone to give me a beautiful gift, including an email that says your stories touched me, is something that I hold dear to my heart.

Tell us about your latest release. And what do you have coming down the road?51XzQQpLyRL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_51YgVkDfSCL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

SES: My newest release is called Voyage of the Defiance. It is a young adult story with heart. The story had been pushing at me to write it for the last five years. I’ve had many readers asking me to write a story they can share with their children/grandchildren and I listened. I love writing, whether it is adult romance, young adult action/adventure, or children’s fantasy. A great story is not limited to age or genre, but to the imagination of the reader. It would be a travesty if I were to ignore the other stories I have to share because they did not fit into a certain category. I hope those that read my stories understand and respect that I am a storyteller who has many stories to share – across all genres/ages.

I have quite a few stories I am working on at the moment. Challenging Saber: The Alliance Book 4; Jaguin’s Love: The Dragon Lords of Valdier Book 8; The Dark Prince’s Prize: Curizan Warriors Book 2; Roarrk’s Revenge: Zion Warriors Book 3; Core’s Attack: Cosmos’ Gateway Book 6; and my Gliese 581g Science Fiction series to name just a few. Yes, I have a few others, but out of respect for the list and my sanity, I’ll just name a few.

Bestselling author S.E. Smith
Bestselling author S.E. Smith

BONUS: What do you do to “de-stress” or relax and re-energize yourself?

SES: I love going to the movies and camping. I’m also beginning to get back into my drawing and I want to work with clay and do some sculpting. Also, every Friday night I go out on a date with my hero who helps me find the balance I need to continue living whatever new dream I might have.

Find out more about S.E. Smith and connect with her online:
Website
facebook
twitter @sesmithfl
pinterest
tumblr

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Dos and Don’ts for submitting your Manuscript by Joanna D’Angelo (Editor, Lachesis Publishing)

www.micksilva.com
www.micksilva.com

Oh, the stories I could tell you about some of the submissions I’ve received at Lachesis Publishing. Some funny, some weird, and some down right scary! The thing is – making a submission isn’t rocket science – it just requires some common sense and a good manuscript of course. So here are my DOs and DON’Ts when making a submission or a cold query.

Um . . . you don't need to mention your mom in your query. (The Simpsons)
Um . . . you don’t need to mention your mom in your query. (The Simpsons)

Do: Introduce yourself in your e-mail query. Tell me a bit about yourself, your work, and where you’re from, and your educational background. Some editors may not care to know this right off the bat, but I do. I want to get a good sense of you as a person. But don’t tell me your entire life story in a grand sweeping saga. And don’t write your query as the heroine or hero of your book. And don’t tell me what you had for breakfast. Just make it to the point but include something that could grab my attention. Let’s say you’re submitting a military romance and you have a background in the military. That would definitely interest me. And guess what? It could give you that “edge” (aside from your wonderful book) that convinces us to sign you up. Why does it matter? Because, if you have something unique about you that can help you stand out – then I want to know about it.

topyaps.com
topyaps.com

Do: Include your social media links in your signature line or in an attached bio. I want to know if you have a blog, a website, a facebook account, a twitter account. Etc . . . Why? Because it tells me that you are already out there in the social media universe. And you have a presence, a foundation, to attract readers, fans. It tells me you are building relationships with fellow authors. It tells me that you already have contacts, friends, people you’ve connected with who could be potential readers. It tells me you are thinking like a pro who is serious about his or her career.

Stay current when it comes to social media.
Stay current when it comes to social media.

Do: Make sure you actually have at least one social media account. I’ve received submissions from people who have NOTHING! All they have is their email account. What is this – 1992?

Do: Attach at least the first three or four chapters of your book. The synopsis is a no-brainer. That’s a must of course! But you can send me the entire manuscript if you like, as long as it’s formatted properly. For details on formatting click here. The first few chapters will help me figure out if I want to read the rest of it.

Advertising sign on wooden post --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis
Advertising sign on wooden post — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Do: Attach a brief marketing plan (2-3 pages) with your submission. Why do such a thing? Isn’t that what the publisher is for? In today’s marketplace you can’t rely solely on your publisher to sell your book. The publisher will focus on the book, but you must focus on your own career. Do your research. There is a lot of info out there about how to market yourself and your books. Every successful author who is making a living full time at their craft, is involved in their own careers. From social media, to newsletters, to savvy websites, to street teams, to book signings, to giveaways, to buying advertising, to attending reading events and conferences–you need to be thinking pro-actively instead of re-actively. You need to be thinking long term and big picture, not just in terms of a new release and you need to put that all down in a nice, well-written marketing plan.

Before you hit send and celebrate - check your query - or seal your fate! http://www.elle.com/
Before you hit send and celebrate – check your query – or seal your fate! http://www.elle.com/

Do: Make sure you spell check your email. I cannot tell you the number of times that I’ve received an email loaded with spelling errors. We all know mistakes happen. And sometimes typos slip by us. But a query letter should be polished. So make sure you spell check or have a friend read it.

Do your homework! www.clipartof.com
Do your homework! www.clipartof.com

Now fasten your seatbelt for some DOOZY DONT’s:

Don’t: Just send me your book with one line that says: “Hi I’ve attached my book for you to consider.” Guess what?  I don’t have time to chase you down and ask you for everything I need from you. That is your job! You need to figure that out. Be professional. Do your research ahead of time. You need to find out what to send me, so don’t act like you’re in elementary school, hoping for the teacher to tell you.

Try not to throw out comparisons to authors like Stephen King. It could backfire on you.
Try not to throw out comparisons to authors like Stephen King. It could backfire on you.

Don’t: Please don’t write some “clever” intro where you tell me why your book is so amazing. Or why it’s going to appeal to EVERYONE. Really? Stephen King is one of the biggest selling authors of all time and he still doesn’t appeal to EVERYONE.  If you think your book is amazing – great! I’m happy for you. But I may not agree. I don’t like cocky or aggressive emails.

Don’t: I don’t want to see your cover art ideas. And I certainly don’t want you to submit a cover design to go with your book. So don’t attach any images to go with your manuscript. All I want is the book. There is plenty of time to think about the cover later. That’s if we decide to take you on.

Don’t: Don’t miss an opportunity to connect. I once received a query from a writer who was a fan of one of our authors and made a point of mentioning it in her query. Guess what? I took notice of that. I like it that writers pay attention to our books at Lachesis Publishing, and our facebook page, and our website. That’s being savvy. That means you are thinking about the world outside the pages of your book. It means you are open and aware and understand that to sell a book you have to interact and connect.

genius at work title written with chalk on blackboardDon’t: Don’t be a jerk. Don’t send me some vile story about a woman having sex with her son and try to pass it off as “erotica” or “erotic fantasy”. Whackos need not apply. If you’re a serious writer then you need to visit a publisher’s website to see what they already have on their roster, before you even think of making a submission.

Don’t: Don’t send out a mass email to a bunch of editors and agents and then forget to BCC all the emails. Unprofessional to the nth degree. I will hit the delete button before you even have a chance to send your next mass email out.

So that’s my list of Dos and Don’ts. See? It’s all about common sense. And good sense. And a little bit of a “sixth sense”. 🙂 Write a good story. Be true to yourself. Don’t give up. Be nice. Have fun.

Joanna D’Angelo is Editor in Chief at Lachesis Publishing. She loves chai tea, social media, and good writing. Connect with Joanna on twitter@JoannaDangelo, on facebook and on pinterest.

Her facebook page is: Love Romance Novels (on facebook)

Her other blogs are: thepopculturedivas and therevolvingbook

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Q and A Tuesday: Round 2 with Alison Bruce (light romantic suspense author)

alices-adventures-in-wonderland-978144727999001-1Round 2 with Alison Bruce. Alison is the author of  A Bodyguard to Remember, a romantic suspense with a light touch. This is Book 1 in the Men in Uniform Series for Lachesis Publishing.

 

What was your favourite book as a child and why?

Don’t make me chose one book. I can’t do it. I loved listening to my dad read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass and I still have the edition he used. I also have a colour-illustrated edition, an annotated edition, and a book of art by the various Alice illustrators. The first art I bought with my own money was a poster of a Rackham illustration. The second piece was a Rackham illustration from Wind in the Willows, another favourite of mine that my father read me as a child.

Eloise at the Plaza (print)
Eloise at the Plaza (print)

I loved and still love the Eloise books by Kay Thompson. My first copy of Eloise and Christmas, complete with shredded binding and crayon annotations, is still on my shelf along with the special edition of Eloise that is sold at the Plaza Hotel, NYC. In 1993, I dragged my friends into Plaza to see the place Eloise lived. Her portrait is just outside the Palm Court, where Eloise and Nanny take tea.

I could go on and on . . . but I’ll save something for a future interviews, perhaps involving my introduction to mysteries through Freddy the Pig.

Who was your favourite teacher growing up and why?

You really ask tough questions. I should say Miss Steven in Grade 2 because she saved me the academic harm done by my Grade 1 teacher. I can’t say I really appreciated her at the time, however.

fantastic_fox_000I will always have a soft spot for the exchange teacher from New Zealand I had in Grade 5. He introduced me to Paddington Bear, Roald Dahl and Finn Family Moomintroll. Unfortunately, I was having chronic ear problems at the time and I kept being taken out of school all the time RIGHT WHEN THE BOOKS WERE ENDING. Worse, none of these books were readily available in Canada at the time. It wasn’t until I was in my teens that I finally was able to buy and read the books myself.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer? Why?

At first I didn’t really think in terms of being a writer. I loved telling stories, so I was a storyteller. I still think of myself that way. I started writing down my stories when I was twelve. I haven’t stopped since.

Who in the writing/publishing world do you admire and why?

4-janet-evanovich-22-millionI admire different people for different reasons. For instance, I respect Janet Evanovich’s professionalism as an author. I’ve read her How I Write and listened to her interviews on her audio books. When I was sticking my courage to the sticking place, to butcher Shakespeare, I found her practical advice helped me put my work out in the market place.

treasure_mountain_9780553276893Reading the author introductions to Louis L’Amour’s books inspired me to put myself out there in a different way. That man had a rich and varied life, but he didn’t rely on his own experiences along. He talked to old men who had lived in the west when it was wild. He read old letters, journals and newspapers to make sure that what he wrote about was authentic. Thanks to him, I reached out to women veterans from World War II in order to have primary accounts for my undergraduate thesis. Now, I take every opportunity to talk to police officers, soldiers, and other men and women in uniform.

Tell us about your daily writing routine – what do you typically do every day?

I’m not a routine sort of person. I usually find it easier to get out of bed and start working on days when I don’t have to. My day jobs are . . . let’s just say scheduling my day can get a bit problematic. Leave us say that I write when I can (often in the wee hours).

spicy!
spicy!

What is your favourite snack or guilty pleasure food that you (may or may not 😉 indulge in when writing?

Coffee is a must. Otherwise I’m a creature of whim. Sometimes I crave salty foods. Then Jalapeno Popper chips are my downfall. Sometimes I NEED chocolate. I really do. Only Cadbury or Lindt chocolate will do. (Sorry Godiva lovers. I find it too sweet.) More often than not, I turn to cheese, crackers and olives.

What does “writing voice” mean to you? Describe your own writing voice.

To me writing voice is similar to a musical voice or artist’s brush. When painting is being authenticated, you can test the paints and canvas and degree of aging scientifically, but someone who really knows their business can also spot a fake because the brush stroke isn’t right. A really good forger may be able to imitate the artist’s technique, but they’ll know the difference even if the examining expert doesn’t. The same thing goes for music. I’m terrible at remembering names, but I can identify a Mozart or Beethoven piece. I’m pretty good at Chopin, Carol King and Beatles.

ghMy writing voice has been influenced by the authors I emulate. They are the masters I learned from, just as artists followed in the footsteps of Michelangelo, Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci and Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi, (better known as Donatello). In my case, the team would be Georgette Heyer, Donald Jack, Janet Evanovich and Terry Pratchett (none of which have been used as the names of hero turtles). But my voice is my own.

What do you want to accomplish in the next five years in your writing career?

Is this a test? Honestly, this is a hard question for me to answer. The best I can say is every year I want to get better and better and have more and more fans. I’m all about the adoration. 😉

What are three important things that a writer needs to do to promote himself/herself?

You have to have a well-established social media platform. It doesn’t have to be all-inclusive. Better to do a few really well than try to do all of them and spread yourself too thin.

You have to leave your ego at the door. Your balloon is going to get popped from time to time. Then someone will come along and you’ll be lifted up again. But you have to do some lifting too. It’s not all about you . . . or me. Someone else might need a lift, and you’ll be glad you provided it.

A Bodyguard to Remember by Alison BruceDon’t get discouraged. I did that once and kept my writing to myself for a couple of decades. Admittedly, those decades were also filled with university, jobs, travel and relationships. Not a total loss.

Ice cream or popsicles?

Ice cream! Hmm . . . I wonder if we have any left for dessert?

You can get your copy of  A Bodyguard to Remember at Lachesis Publishing as well as amazon, Barnes and Noble, kobo, and iBooks.

You can connect with Alison on her website and on facebook and twitter.

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“The Bestsellers” – Round 3: Q and A with Jennifer Ashley (romance author)

JenniferAshley360x500This is the third Q and A in our series at the Lachesis Publishing Daily Blog – featuring interviews with bestselling authors. Today we feature the dynamic New York Times Bestselling author Jennifer AshleyJennifer  writes historical, paranormal, and contemporary romance as Jennifer Ashley; mysteries as Ashley Gardner; and paranormal romance and urban fantasy as Allyson James.

MateBondFinal390JenniferAshley_Grant350Jennifer Ashley’s latest release is MATE BOND, book 7 in her SHIFTERS UNBOUND series.

Jennifer Ashley’s latest release is RIDING HARD: GRANT (book 2 in the RIDING HARD series)

Welcome Jennifer Ashley!

JD: What was your first book that hit a bestseller list? What was the list, where did the book rank when it first hit, and how high did your book get?

cover-feral-heat cover-wild-wolfJA: The first book I hit a bestseller list with on my own (I had been in I think two anthologies that hit before, but not because of me!) was Immortals: The Calling in 2007. That hit the USA Today list at I think around 127. The book that first hit New York Times was Pride Mates (Shifters Unbound, Book 1). That hit both USA Today and NYT; NYT was I think number 26 or something. The first time I hit the big bestseller lists was with Wild Wolf and Feral Heat last year—which each hit in the top 10 NYT Ebook, top 10 Ebook plus print, and Wild Wolf hit top 10 NYT in paperback. Both of these also hit in the top 50 of USA Today. These were all milestones for me.

What were you doing when you found out you hit the bestseller list? And how did you celebrate or mark the occasion?

JA: For my very first time, Immortals: The Calling in 2007, I had gone to bed the night before knowing the USA Today list would be posted the next morning. I couldn’t sleep all night! I kept dreaming that I’d hit the list, then waking up, knowing it was only a dream. It wouldn’t hit. I knew it in my heart. 

My husband woke me in the morning with, “I saw that The Calling made USA Today. Saw that in the middle of the night.”

Me: “Why didn’t you wake me up????

Him: “I didn’t want to disturb you.”

Me: Ahhhhh!!!!!!!!!!

We had a nice dinner out. 🙂 When I made NYT for the first time, I got so many bouquets of flowers sent to me my neighbors started to worry!

JD: What does being a “successful author” mean to you? 

JA: My idea of “success” has changed over the years. At first it meant getting more than one publishing contract. Then it was making bestseller lists and/or being offered a certain level of advance from a publisher. Now it’s more about connecting with readers. I want to write books that readers love and want to read over and over again, regardless of whether it sells a squillion copies or 125. More sales just means I can pay my rent. 🙂 Bestseller lists are calculated by statistics, weighing numbers, and secret arithmetic formulas, so who knows what’s truly “bestselling?” But a book that connects with readers lasts forever. I have books that have sold an enormous number of copies over time but never made a bestseller list—in fact these books have sold more copies thus far than those that did make the lists. So it’s all relative.

JD: Some authors are great at it, while others can’t find the right formula, but in order to be a success in today’s market, you have to do promotion. So, what are the top three things that you do consistently when it comes to promotion?

JA: For promotion, my top three things are my email newsletter, posting on FB (whether I pay for boosting the posts or not), and being available to answer questions about the books, on email, FB, Twitter, or wherever.

JD: What is one thing you absolutely LOVE about being an author and one thing that makes you BONKERS?

JA: The very best thing about being an author—I write full-time—is making my own schedule. I can work all weekend and take Tuesday off. I can work from 5 am to midnight if I want. Or 10 am to noon and then knock off for the day. I work to the projects I need to finish, not to a clock. I LOVE that. I completely suck at working to set hours! That said, it can also make me crazy. Scheduling is tricky—you can overfill your schedule (which I tend to do) then have to work your butt off to not fall behind. I both self-publish and traditionally publish, so I have to coordinate those schedules and not let down the publisher who offered me a contract and advance. But I think the number one thing that makes me crazy is interruptions! People think that because I’m at home, it means I’m available. Friends, family, agent, and publisher all demand my attention – – and to write, you have to shut all that out. It’s hard, and they’re not always understanding.

JD: Who are some of your favourite authors and why?

Screen Shot 2015-06-19 at 11.29.04 AMJA: Elmore Leonard: He created the most wonderful villains, who are human beings, but very flawed. Often these villains are trying to do the right thing, but just can’t. You think they’re going to make it, turn out to be good, and then . . . no. He was a master.

Donna Leon: She has painted Venice, Italy, in her Brunetti mystery series so well I feel like I’ve lived there (I’ve never been).

ladyx_450Eloisa James: She is excellent at writing romance with not-so-stock romance characters.

Raising-Steam-PaperbackTerry Pratchett: His Discworld series is full of great characters and humor, but it’s very thoughtful at the same time.

TheRake2012_150Mary Jo Putney: I read her historical romances back in the 90s, and she proved that an author could write a well-plotted, character rich story without resorting to “formula.” (She’s still writing and still does that). She very much inspired me to try to write historical romance.

JD: What are you currently working on?

AshleyGardner_MurderMostHistorical350JA: About seven things at once.

  • Shifters Unbound novella. It’s called Lion Eyes and will come out in a multi-authored boxed set in June.
  • An anthology of short historical murder mysteries (Murder Most Historical, as Ashley Gardner, also out in June);
  • White Tiger—Shifters Unbound book 8, which will be out next spring—must turn it in to my trad publisher soon (they want books way in advance);
  • Bad Wolf, another Shifters Unbound short book, out in July.
  • Dreamwalker (Stormwalker, book 5, contemporary (‘urban”) fantasy by Allyson James)
  • Thames River Murders (book 10 in the Capt. Lacey Regency Mysteries I write as Ashley Gardner), and
  • Carter, book 3 of the new Western series, Riding Hard. That should take me up to August.

JD: In your daily work routine what do you do first and why?

  • write/plot/creative
  • social media/promotion
  • email/admin

JA: First is a) write/plot/creative. I write first thing in the morning. I am very productive between the hours of about 7:30 and 10. No idea why, but I’m not going to question it. I do all my social media promotion and my email business right after that (like I’m doing right now :-)) then I take a break for lunch. The afternoon / evening is filled depending on what and how much I have to do. Yesterday I did a lot of what I call “publishing business”–I was in contact with audio book narrators, paid people, ordered audio book covers from my designer, finished page proofs of another project. Today I will spend all afternoon and evening writing a novella, to try to finish it up.

DeskJenniferAshley(600x800)JD: What would I find on your desk at this very moment? (Could you take a picture and attach it? –– just think it might be fun).

JA: A big mess! I don’t write at a desk—it’s for business. I write at a coffee house (in a booth), on my laptop in a bungee cord chair (really it’s made of bungee cords; very comfortable!) or on my laptop on my couch. Writing at a desk gives me too many neck, shoulder, and back problems, so I abandoned it long ago . . .

JD: Finish this sentence: I’m a writer because . . .

JA: I love to tell stories. Stories well up in my head and must come out! (Sorry, that was two sentences)

tmfullNew York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Jennifer Ashley has lived and traveled all over the world, and now lives in the Southwest. She writes historical, paranormal, and contemporary romance as Jennifer Ashley; mysteries as Ashley Gardner; and paranormal romance and urban fantasy as Allyson James.

Jennifer’s/Allyson’s/Ashley’s more than 83 novels and novellas have won RWA’s RITA award, the Golden Quill, RT Reviewer’s Choice awards, and the Prism award, among others. Jennifer’s novels have been also been translated into French, German, Spanish, Dutch, Japanese, Norwegian, Hungarian, Italian, Thai, and other languages.

Jennifer enjoys writing and reading above all else, but her hobbies include cooking, hiking, playing flute and guitar, painting, and building miniature rooms and dollhouses.

Connect with Jennifer on her website and on facebook and twitter, pinterest and goodreads.

tumblr_nnkni9diM61qd7yjyo1_1280Joanna D’Angelo is Editor in Chief at Lachesis Publishing. She loves chai tea, writing in coffee shops, social media and romance novels.

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Q and A Tuesday: Round 3 with J.M. Griffin (cozy mystery author)

Focaccia fatality 453x680Today’s Q and A Round 3 features mystery author J.M. Griffin. J.M. is the author of two cozy mystery series for Lachesis Publishing. The popular (and sxy) Vinnie Esposito series and the fun (and yummy) Deadly Bakery series . . .

If you couldn’t be a writer, what other kind of artistic medium would you like to attempt and why?

I’m already an artist as well, but if I was to attempt something else, I might enjoy being a film maker. It’s not as if I know anything about that end of creating, but it is an adventurous notion, and I’m all about walking on the edge and bringing characters to life!

513H0tH7t-L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_stephen_king_salems_lot_01Tell us about one book that you’ve read that had an impact on you?

While I’m not an avid Stephen King fan, I’ve read some of his work and found The Stand left me with a great sense of the war between good and evil. His other books, such as Salem’s Lot, scared the pants right off me and that’s never a pretty sight.

What do you love about writing? And what do you hate about it?

Getting a story out of my head and on paper (computer screen, lol) is very enjoyable, but what I like best about the process is knowing the story will make people smile, (or cry) and that they’ll escape their everyday life, even for a few hours. What totally annoys me is just when I think I’ve got the story line down to a fine science, one of the characters breaks free, takes a sudden left, and I have to rework the story because it’s a good left turn.

9780440244400If you could meet any character from a book – who would it be and why?

I think I’d like to meet Barron from Karen Marie Moning‘s Fever series. He’s a true Billy Badass.

Happy endings or cliff-hangers? Why?

Happy endings can make or break a story. They can also leave you wanting more. I prefer a cliff-hanger that makes me think hard about how I want the story to end. In The Blacklist TV series, you’re always left wanting more, wishing the show hadn’t ended at that moment and then you realize the writers for that show are the best there are. Karen Marie Moning does the same thing in her Fever series. She brings readers to the edge of the cliff and leaves them teetering. Way to go!

What is the best/coolest/funniest/sweetest thing a reader/fan ever said/wrote to you or did for you?

At a book signing in RI, I was approached by a family. Not knowing what to expect, I was totally surprised       when the woman in the group said, “I’ve read your books and came all the way from North Carolina to see you.” OMG! She bought my latest book and I gave her a couple more. What a treat for both of us, I cherish those moments when fans come by and say stuff like that.

163c7c_d802b4ee003c14a01cdd1ec5a2cbd6ab.jpg_srb_p_600_541_75_22_0.50_1.20_0Which book or series by another author do you think would make a great movie or TV series? Why?

I think The Heart Sees by Jeanine Duval Spikes would make a terrific movie. If the screenplay stuck to the story line (which many don’t) it would portray Jeanine’s characters with the depth she instilled in them. A wonderful book like that is well deserving of the big screen.
A CROUTON MURDER COVERHow do you try to boost sales of your books?

I post on Facebook, Twitter, do guest blogs, and make an occasional online book tour part of my routine. I find the most important part of touring online is to fit into blogs of people who read books in my genre. Contests now and again helps keep my fan base active and introduces my stories to new readers.

When you’re stressed out on a deadline – what is your favourite comfort food and why?

Ice cream and cupcakes. Yeah, I know, they’re bad for my butt. There you have it, I’m a cupcake freak. No word of a lie.

What do you love to sing in the shower?

SEASON FOR MURDER COVERI can’t carry a tune and don’t try, not even in the shower. When I used to sing, my husband would tell me not to quit my day job. He is so right about that. LOL

J.M. Griffin. is the author of two cozy mystery series for Lachesis Publishing. The popular (and sexy) Vinnie Esposito series and the fun (and yummy) Deadly Bakery series.

Connect with J.M. Griffin on social media: twitter, web site, facebook

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“The Bestsellers” – Round 1: Q and A With VK Sykes (contemporary romance and romantic suspense authors)

We’re launching a new series here at the Lachesis Publishing Daily Blog – featuring interviews with bestselling authors. It takes a lot to hit a bestseller list. It ain’t just dumb luck. It takes determination, hustle, and damn good writing. We have some great authors lined up so sit back, enjoy, and have fun reading and learning from these talented writers!

Vanessa Kelly and Randy Sykes
Vanessa Kelly and Randy Sykes

Our first Bestsellers Q and A is with V.K. Sykes – which is actually the husband and wife writing team of Randy Sykes and Vanessa Kelly. How fun is that? They write contemporary romance and romantic suspense. Randy is great at plotting and characterization and Vanessa handles the emotion. Together they’ve written nine books and one novella. Vanessa also writes sexy historical (Regency romance) under her own name Vanessa Kelly. She’s penned eleven historical novels and four novellas.

This is definitely a dynamic duo.

Welcome V.K. Sykes!

patriots2-coverWhat was your first book that hit a bestseller list? What was the list, where did the book rank when it first hit, and how high did your book get?

Hi, Jo—thanks for hosting us! Vanessa reporting in for V.K. Sykes. I actually don’t remember the exact numbers – LOL! The first major list we hit was USA Today, and we did that with our sports anthology, The Philadelphia Patriots. It was between 120–130 (I think 127). And we also hit the top 50 on both Kindle and Nook.

images-1What were you doing when you found out you hit the bestseller list? And how did you celebrate or mark the occasion?

I was just browsing the USA Today list because friends of mine who were in a joint anthology had just posted on social media that they made the list. I went to look, and there we were! It was quite a surprise. As to what we did to celebrate . . . I think we just got a bottle of champagne and had a few glasses of bubbly. We tend to be pretty low key when it comes to celebrating.

What does being a “successful author” mean to both of you?

Not to be crass, but it partly means not spending more than you make. It’s always a temptation to put too much money (and time) into promo in the hopes that you’ll somehow find the winning formula for the next book. To me, being a successful author also means having the time to write the books you want, finding readers who “get” you, and having a good work/life balance. It means finding people you like to work with, and who help you to be a better writer. Would we like to sell more books and hit more bestseller lists? We sure would. But we also want to have a life that we can enjoy, without being absolute slaves to deadlines.

Some authors are great at it, while others can’t find the right formula, but in order to be a success in today’s market, you have to do promotion. So, what are the top three things that you both do consistently when it comes to promotion?

My newsletter is the most important thing, and I’ve worked hard to build that up. I also engage with my readers on facebook and Twitter; mostly that’s social interaction, but I do use it to promote our books. I’m also a big believer in running giveaways on Goodreads. Very little effort with a pretty big bang for the buck. But the most important thing any author can do is to write more good books.

What is one thing you absolutely LOVE about being authors and one thing that makes you BONKERS?

I love that we’ve made so many new friends, both readers and other authors. And it’s fabulous when a reader writes to tell you how much she loves one of your books. What makes me crazy is how much promotion there is in the industry. There is just an insane amount of promoting going on, especially on social media. And if you’re not careful, you can start comparing yourself to other writers and feeling like you’re not good enough, or smart enough, or successful enough. It’s very debilitating and absolutely not the way to nurture creativity.

544583877f83d_ctytriver_bigACB-2002015-royally-ever-afterthedeath-coverWho are some of your 23664710tkk-compiled-400x600favourite authors 20454672and loveinafternooncoverwhy?

Right now I’m on a Karen Rose binge—she writes the most amazingly smart, suspenseful, and emotional romantic suspense. So satisfying! I also love Elizabeth Peters and the books in her Amelia Peabody Series, which are insanely fun.

Those books also feature my favorite romance hero, Amelia’s grown son, Ramses Emerson. Other favorite authors are Deanna Raybourn (Lady Julia Grey is probably my fave romance heroines), Loretta Chase, Lisa Kleypas, and Meljean Brooke. All of them are talented storytellers and amazing wordsmiths. Randy is a big fan of the Jack Reacher novels by Lee Child. He also likes Sandra Brown and would probably list Pat Conroy as his all-time favorite author.

cover_highlanderWhat are you currently working on? We just submitted SEE YOU AT SUNSET, the 3rd book in our Seashell Bay Series of small town romances, so we have to get started on a new proposal for VK Sykes. I’m also starting work on a new historical romance series for Kensington, which is a spin-off of my current bestselling series, The Renegade Royals.

In your daily work routine what do you do first and why?

write/plot/creative: I do this in the afternoon, which tends to be the quietest time of the day for me. It also takes several hours for my brain to kick into creative gear. I am NOT a morning person. Randy, however, does do a lot of his best writing in the morning, so our schedules tend to be reversed

 social media/promotion: morning.

 email/admin: morning

Where the magic happens.
Where the magic happens.

What would I find on your desk(s) at this very moment?

Not much. Lots of scraps of papers and my computer. And my headphones, which are essential for eliminating outside noises. I can’t write when it’s noisy!

Finish this sentence: I’m a writer because . . . I (we) enjoy it!


beach-cover-lgV.K. Sykes is really two people – Vanessa Kelly and Randy Sykes, a husband and wife team who write USA Today Bestselling contemporary romance. The second book in their Philadelphia Patriots Series of sports romances won the Kindle Book Review Best Indie Books of 2012 Contest, in the romance category. MEET ME AT THE BEACH, the first book in their new series of small town romances set in Maine, released in February, 2015. Vanessa also writes award-winning, Regency-set historical romance for Kensington Zebra and was named by Booklist as one of the “new stars of historical romance.” Her current series,The Renegade Royals, is a national bestseller. You can find them on the web at vksykes.com or vanessakellyauthor.com. Follow them on facebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

tumblr_nnkni9diM61qd7yjyo1_1280Joanna D’Angelo is Editor in Chief at Lachesis Publishing. She loves chai tea, writing in coffee shops, social media and romance novels.

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