Sunday, October 31, 2010

Blogging With a Purpose

I recently read an article proclaiming social media was changing publishing by putting power in the hands of individual authors for the marketing of their books. Is that true? I don’t feel powerful but increasingly I feel responsible. With the plethora of avenues open to writers to self-publish, what chance does a new author have to capture an audience while competing with the gazillion other books out there?

My favored hope of promoting my recent and upcoming releases is through blogging. Merriam-Webster defines a blog as “a web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks.”
The vague description fits what you find on blogs. They vary in length from a few sentences to lengths equal to multiple pages. Some are updated daily, weekly or even less often. Most ‘experts’ suggest a minimum of once per week.
The content varies as much as the frequency and length. I know some writers who use their blog only to promote their own works. Others do lots of interviews or have guest appearances to assist other writers in their promotion. Most blogs I frequent do promote their own works, works of others but also write numerous posts I find education and instructive in ways to help my writing career. Still others offer interesting tidbits on a wide variety of things such as ranch living, certain TV shows, herbs and green living, and some just make me laugh. Professional blogs can offer lots of clues and advice to help writers in their careers.
I love finding new blogs and picking up the occasional follower. Will it help sell my books? I’m not sure but links to other blogs, link to their readers also. If someone like Cate Master’s books, might they not take a look at my romance novels when they see my link on her site? If a reader enjoys Jon Sprunk’s fantasy novel and see on his blog we did a book signing together, might they not click over to my blog and consider my novel?
I have no doubts the world on the internet has already replaced a lot of traditional media and perhaps sometime in the future it will make all ‘dead-tree media’ obsolete. In the meantime, I’m going to keep doing what I know how to do and try to learn more. I’ll be doing my first blog tour ever in January to promote the release of my newest fantasy, Beyond the Gate. I’ll be searching for new ways to make my own blog work for me.
How often do you blog? How many different blogs do you visit on a regular basis? What type of blogs do you visit?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Susquehanna Writers out and about

Mike Silvestri and honorary Susquehanna Writer Peter Durantine at their signing table on Oct. 16 in Harrisburg, at The Midtown Scholar.

Pete signs a copy of his release, The Chocolate Assassin.

Dennis Royer manned the Mechanicsburg Mystery Book Shop's booth at Celebrate the Book on Oct. 23.

Me at my booth. Should have worn that mermaid costume, I guess.

Hope to see you at the next event!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Four-time EPIC finalist!

I'm dancing on air! I received the email this morning from EPIC notifying me that I'm a finalist in the 2011 competition - for these four stories!

I just made reservations for the conference in March. Can't miss that party!

One Soul for Sale - Paranormal Novella
BLURB: When Madelyn sells her soul on UBuy, she’s not ready for the hell that’s unleashed. All she really wants is to make a success of her art. But the gorgeous stranger who buys her soul for $666 asks her to perform a few tasks. Tests of her true worth, Madelyn thinks, as each brings her – and her cat Brutus – into greater danger. And closer to the frightening shadowy figure stalking her. On All Hallows Eve, her final test will open the gates of hell. Or is it heaven?

Going with Gravity - Contemporary
BLURB: Publicist Allison Morris plans her own life – what’s left of it – around the life of her boss Michelle McCarter, the ex-wife of a famous rock star. When Michelle needs emergency public relations patchwork in Hawaii pronto, Allison arranges a flight to the dream destination. At the airport, she meets Wes Hamilton, a six-foot-three sun-bleached blond whose blue eyes and dazzling smile rekindle her fizzled-out sizzle. A world-renowned surfer, Wes captivates her with his charm and wit, though his easy fame and on-the-edge lifestyle are the polar opposite of her own. When their jet loses its fuselage in mid-air, she takes advantage of what she thinks are her last minutes alive with Wes. The plane lands safely. Wes takes care of her when her carefully constructed life begins to unravel. When Michelle accuses Allison of using Wes to gain fame for herself, Allison’s world falls apart in an explosive confrontation. Wes is waiting with open arms when she has nowhere else to go, but can Allison learn to stop planning and go with gravity?

Picture This - Contemporary
BLURB: Harrisburg News reporter Sydney Welles writes award-winning, attention-getting news stories. Her career’s on track, but she’d like a little more attention in her personal life. A year ago, she shared a great kiss with Philadelphia Daily News photographer Ben Taylor. Since then, nothing but a string of one-hit wonders. Suddenly, Ben’s back in her life – well, in her newsroom, anyway – but he acts as if he’s meeting her for the first time. Their story assignments throw them into uncomfortably close quarters, but Claudia, her editor, reminds Sydney she’s a consummate professional. She can handle it. Sydney’s not so certain when she and Ben go undercover to expose the mayor for shady dealings and he kisses her again. To keep their cover, he says. The mayor resigns amid shame, and Sydney’s the toast of the town. Two other reporters take an interest in more than her journalistic talents, but Sydney can’t help picturing herself back in Ben’s arms. Will she still want to once she learns Ben’s secret?

Wilderness Girl - Contemporary humorous erotic
BLURB: When Dana’s boyfriend drags her to Wilderness Outfitters on a Friday night, she wonders why so many people find The Great Outdoors so great. Until she meets Hank— six feet of tanned muscle, wrapped in a faded black T-shirt and jean shorts loose on his hips. Eyes like wildfire burning in a sun-kissed face. Grinning like a fox.
After her boyfriend dumps her in the parking lot, humiliation becomes gratitude when Hank invites her to his favorite camping spot, and she seizes on the impulse to change her boring life.
A web programmer, Dana’s outdoor experience had consisted of walks to and from her car. Alone on a mountaintop, as she struggles to set up camp, a five-foot snake doesn’t seem a welcome sight: until Hank comes to her rescue.
He initiates her to the pleasures of hiking, campfires, and Harley rides down winding roads. Making love beneath a starry sky, Hank awakens a primal Wilderness Girl in Dana she never knew existed.
Their weekend feels like a fantasy, which proves all too true on their return to civilization. As the daily grind eats into their time together, their romance begins to come untethered.
Will her high-tech lifestyle clash with his low-tech one? Can she manage to recapture the passion of the wilderness in their city existence?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Never use your soul as a bargaining tool

Madelyn can tell you what a bad idea it is - especially near Halloween, the night when the veil between the two worlds fades, allowing souls to travel freely between. In my paranormal novella, One Soul for Sale, she posts her soul online at the bidding site UBuy, and all hell breaks loose. Literally.

This month, you have two opportunities to win One Soul for Sale. Join in the Night Owl Reviews Web Hunt all month for a chance to win one of three print copies. Next weekend, join the LASR Scavenger Hunt for a chance to win a PDF copy. Or you could buy your own copy now - One Soul for Sale is available digitally from Eternal Press or in print from Amazon.

Monday, October 18, 2010

French Ebook

Just received the contract for French rights to ebook versions of the Shadow trilogy.

Shadow's Son has been doing well on the Kindle here in the U.S.. For everyone who has asked, I'm still waiting for news about other e-format versions. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, October 11, 2010

8 Things to do at a Book Signing That Doesn't Draw a Crowd

I write books that target a niche market, so when I am fortunate enough to set up a book signing, I'm not necessarily fortunate enough to sell a lot of books. So, I keep the signings short and have developed a list of things to do when the crowds are, shall we say, underwhelming:

  1. Smile and look accessible.
  2. Resist the urge to follow people into the cafe, waving copies of your book. Instead, smile and say hello to anyone who goes by.
  3. Plan promos for the next book signing that will draw crowds that rival a John Grisham signing.
  4. Graciously thank the bookstore staff who made this signing possible, along with anyone who stops by the table, whether or not they buy a book.
  5. Jot down ideas for blogs, plot lines, setting and dialogues. Flesh them out if time permits.
  6. Create a shopping list so you're prepared when the signing is over. Try not to spend more than twice the cost of your book, particularly if you haven't sold any.
  7. Write said notes on memo-sized pieces of paper, and look up from time to time so you still look approachable.
  8. Relax! When is the last time you had an hour to yourself with no one bugging you?

    All joking aside, I'd like to extend my sincere thanks to all of my friends and family who inquired, attended, congratulated me or otherwise let me know they were thinking of me. I don't know a soul whose to-do list isn't daunting, and in this case, it truly is the thought that counts.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Meet Kelly Starling Lyons

Today we're hosting a former Pennsylvania author, who is heading back to the state to do a program in Pittsburgh. We were lucky enough to catch award-winning author Kelly Starling Lyons as part of her blog tour leading up to the 15th anniversary of the Million Man March. Kelly's book, One Million Men and Me, will be featured at several events in addition to the blog tour. Here are a few of them:

October 15 – 4:30 p.m. Reading & Meet the Author event at All Booked Up Used Books & Collectibles

October 16 – 15th ANNIVERSARY OF THE MILLION MAN MARCH — 11 a.m. Storytime & Reading Hour at International Civil Rights Center & Museum in Greensboro, NC.

October 18 – 6 p.m. Million Man March Anniversary Program at the August Wilson Center for African American Culture in Pittsburgh, PA.

To celebrate the Million Man March (October 16) and the National Day of Writing (October 20), the August Wilson Center for African American Culture, Reading is FUNdamental, and Just Us Books sponsored an essay contest for students in first through fifth grade. They were asked to write about a special moment with their father or father-figure.

Winners will be announced at 6 pm, Monday October 16, 2010. Award-winning author Kelly Starling Lyons will present a program about her picture book and the Million Man March. Event is free and open to the public.

For a great lineup of posts on interesting facts about the march, visit Kuumba, Kelly's blog. Get a sneak peek into her childhood and find out why she became a writer at Laurie Edwards blog.

Great to have you in PA, Kelly!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Mystery Writers' Day

Hi All: Elaine and I were at the Mid Town Scholar last night and talked to Catherine (the owner). She is hosting a Mystery Writers' Day next Saturday, October 16th from 1 - 4 pm. Any published mystery writer is welcome. Mike will be there. There's still space if anyone wants to join just email Catherine.
I didn't think to ask her, but I'm sure she'd be happy so help sponsor Tina's great idea for a teen writers contest. I can ask Debbie Beamer at the Mechanicsburg Mystery Book Store also.
Even if you don't sign, stop by and say hello to Catherine . We need to show support.
Hope to see you there.

Book Signing Sunday at 1 pm - A Happy Ending

Several months ago, a good friend and colleague chided me - gently, but with good reason - about letting my published books wither on the vine. Published in 1999 (Acting Assertively) and 2004 (Diverse Divorce) in the educational market, these books continue to pay small royalties and are sold primarily through the publisher's catalog. I did the press releases and post cards when they first came out, but for quite some time now, I've been content to sit back and let them sell - or not.

Fortunately, the wake-up call from my friend arose from opportune circumstances, not something catastrophic, like the threat of my book going out of print. My friend, who works at Borders, made it her personal quest to get my books into our local store.

Thanks to her nudge and persistence, along with the efforts of Cindy, the manager of my local Borders, my books are now in the store. And on Sunday, as part of their twice yearly event for educators, I'll be doing a book signing at 1:00.

If you live in the York area, stop by and say hi. If you'd like to buy a book, I'll be happy to sell you one, but I'll also be happy if you simply stop by to chat. And if Ann is working, I might even ask her to take a bow.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Celebrating a New Release

It's always exciting when a fellow author has a new book out. This week we're celebrating Elizabeth Dulemba's latest book, The Twelve Days of Christmas in Georgia. It may seem a bit early to celebrate the season, but there are only about 79 shopping days left, so here's a great gift for all the kiddies on your list.

You might also want to check out Elizabeth's other books. And her site has lots of kid-friendly activities. Also, her book, Lulu's Brew, available as an app, has had more than 9,000 downloads! Very cool!! After all Halloween's just around the corner.

Friday, October 1, 2010

October Events

This month I have a few book-related events:

Two book signings for Shadow's Son:

* Oct. 2 - Borders at Lycoming Mall. 2-4 pm.
* Oct. 17 - Barnes&Noble at State College, 12-3 pm., with uber-talented author Susan Kelley.

And a radio appearance! I'll be on The Hour of the Wolf out of NY on Oct. 16, 5-7 am.