Monthly Archives: October 2013

Don’t Let Clutter Get in the Way of Your Creativity

Guest Post by Julie Barnes

Nothing stresses me out more than clutter. The sight of paper piled high and folders stacked up are frankly a buzz-kill for my productivity. I would spend hours every few months reorganizing my office. I had to end the madness. So, I came up with a plan to finally get organized and more importantly to say organized. Here’s what I did…

1. Created a mobile file cabinet – I purchased a personal file tote, hanging files, and file folders from Staples. I then created hanging files for the current projects that I’m working on, along with individual file folders. I filed any projects that were completed in my archives box. I also included files for the business side and for upcoming projects and ideas. The great thing is… if I need a change of scenery and want to work from Starbucks, all I have to do is grab my laptop and my portable file cabinet and I have everything I need for an afternoon of work.

2. Stop printing – It’s pretty simple. The less you print the less paper you have to deal with. I must admit that I picked up a bad printing habit while working in corporate America. I had to print everything and then file it. Argh!! Now I only print what I absolutely need. This also saves me money in ink, gas, and time. Since I was always running to Staples for ink and paper.

3. Office Supplies – I organized three shelves in a closet my office supplies. The top shelf is for art supplies and stuff I do not use on a daily basis. The middle shelf is where my printer sits, so that it’s out of my way. And the bottom shelf is where I have trays for incoming mail, archived files, and copies of magazines for research. I also created a drawer that contains printer paper, file folders, etc. and a small drawer for pens, pencils, and other small supplies.  So when I’m done working for the day, I just close the drawers and cabinet doors and everything is neatly organized and put away. And that signals the office is closed for the day, which is great when you work from home. J

4.  Books ­-   I love books of all kind. I prefer the old school print, but I like the digital versions as well. I have books for reference, books for research, and books for fun. My bookshelves were busting at the seams. So I purged the books that I don’t use on a daily basis and put them in my storage area. Now I purchase most of books digitally, unless it’s a reference book. I like to flip through then and make notes.
Now I’m finally organized…how’s your clutter?

Julie Barnes is a California-based certified life coach and neuro-linguistic practitioner. She uses emotional freedom techniques to tesch women how to break free from fear in 30 days or less. Julie’s writing has been featured on Pick the Brain, What’s for Work, Identity Magazine, 12 Most and Tiny Buddha. Schedule your 15 Minute Fear Buster Session http://claimyourshine.acuityscheduling.com/schedule.php. Visit her website at http://www.claimyourshine.com/. Follow Julie on Twitter at www.twitter.com/juliebarnesusa.

Beyond Facebook – 5 Ways to Market Your Book that You’re Probably Missing

Book marketing is a major challenge.

Are you following the crowd and focusing on the “big 3” social media sites: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn? Are you trying to get your book into stores? Or are you sending out emails to friends and family asking them to buy your book?

If you’re doing any of these, are they working for you? If so, great! But if not, here are some other options to consider.

1. Blogs  – Social media did not diminish the importance of blogging, so don’t miss out on using a blog to build your readership. How? Start your own blog, guest post on other blogs, use virtual tours to promote your book on several blogs over a week or month.

I’ll give you an example of how effective blogs are. My Secrets of Success blog was created in 2008. I accept guest posts on topics of interest to women entrepreneurs. Due to the informative content I’ve featured over the years, my blog has been linked to from publications such as the NY Times, Entrepreneur magazine and Alltop.com. This “free” PR promotes me and my books to my ideal reader.

2. Amazon.com author pages – If your book is on Amazon, don’t neglect your author page. It’s another opportunity to promote your website, your book signings, other books and products, your blog and social media links. You can also track book sales down to the geographic location. My author page on Amazon.com has links to my Twitter feed and shows posts from this blog.

3. Classes – If you have experience to share, why not present classes online or in-person? Are you an expert on a specific topic, or do you have tips and tricks that other writers are looking for? If so, you can share your expertise while you promote yourself as an author. I’ve given a few fiction writing classes for a local library. It turned out to be a great experience because the class the participants enjoyed it so much that they ended up forming their own writing group. The group meets regularly at the library and has been going strong for over two years now.

4. Articles –  Find blogs that cater to the audience you want to reach, and query for their guidelines. Submitting articles is a way to increase your audience without having to physically be in multiple places at once. Include links to where your book can be found and a link back to your website. Trade blog posts with other writers who have blogs.

5. Podcasts – on my internet radio show, Women Entrepreneurs Radio, I interview many author entrepreneurs. It’s s great way to connect with a different audience. An added benefit is you get to talk about your book and discuss other topics you’re passionate about. It’s a quick way to form a lasting connection with listeners who may also become readers for your book.

Instead of following the crowd – and getting lost in the stampede – find a way to stand out by taking less-traveled marketing roads to get your books into the hands of your ideal readers.

“Hathor Legacy: Outcast” Available on Amazon.com

Hathor Legacy: OutcastHathor Legacy: Outcast is live today on Amazon.com. Click here to buy it for Kindle.

Here’s an excerpt:

Chapter 7 – Pursuit

Nadira lingered in the park after her meeting with Zina. Her next step was to track Jonathan Keel. Would he want her help? Most likely not. He thought he was smarter than everyone else. But it didn’t matter. Keel was on her planet now and her territory.

Drawing in a deep breath, she closed her eyes and focused, waiting for the pictures to form in her mind. She saw Keel riding in a transport with an older man. Both men exited the vehicle and walked into a building.

There was a name over the entrance in silver letters. What was it? The scene was fading. Wait–what was the name…she could still make out some of the letters…D…I…A…M…O…N…of course. It had to be the Diamond Star apartment tower. Keel was at one of the most expensive residences in the Palatine.

Fifteen minutes later Nadira was standing across the boulevard from the tower.
Transport traffic was becoming congested, as was the foot traffic along the marbled sidewalks. In front of her, passengers queued up for transport vehicles. Company workers in their somber suits jockeyed for position with festively attired tourists.

Nova City’s ground transport system covered the entire megalopolis. For pedestrians, wide sidewalks, automated people movers and footbridges traversed the various districts, easing the congestion of the traffic lanes.

Standing out of the way so she wouldn’t get jostled, Nadira scanned the tower. Each floor had tinted glass walls that kept her from seeing what was going on inside. Was Keel looking down at her right now from one of the apartments?

On Hathor being the son of a CEO was nothing special. The planet was filled with them. Nadira smiled to herself. Keel thought he was untouchable because of his father’s connections. Yet his emotions were so easy to read. Dealing with him wasn’t a challenge at all. If only he’d come out of that building right now. Seeing her there would wipe that arrogant smirk off his face.

“Hathor Legacy: Outcast” Cover Reveal

Big thanks to Steph’s Cover Design. She got the concept that I was going for and really produced a wonderful cover.

I’m so excited that I’ve already asked her to do the cover for the 2nd book in the Hathor Legacy series (I’m almost done with the 1st draft).

It’s been uploaded to Amazon and should be live on Kindle by tomorrow. I’ll add links when it’s officially up!

UPDATE: Hathor Legacy: Outcast is now available on Kindle! Visit the page on Amazon.com. 

Book description:

On the planet, Hathor, a powerful group called the Guardians serves as the security force for Novacorp, the corporation that runs Hathor with its ruthless monopoly. Nadira, as one of the most powerful Guardians, is expected to use her intuition and telekinetic powers to keep the capital city safe from thieves and intruders.

Jonathan Keel, son of a mine CEO on the nearby planet, Astarte, is wealthy, privileged and used to getting what he wants. When his father goes missing after a robbery and explosion at the mine, he defies the authorities and heads to Hathor to search for him and for the robbers.

Security is on high alert and Nadira is charged with protecting Jon. She rescues him from an vicious attack and discovers that the Guardians have another agenda that has nothing to do with solving the crime.

Jonathan finds evidence of his father’s possible involvement, while his attraction to Nadira forces her to confront all she has known about being a Guardian, especially the rule to put duty before her personal feelings.

Struggling with their growing desires, and chased by company security, Jon and Nadira flee the city. But solving the crime leads them to endure betrayals from the people closest to them, as secrets are revealed that not only link their pasts but also threaten to destroy Jon’s family and separate him from Nadira forever.

5 Fun Writing Tips for Anyone – Part 2

Guest Post By Kelli A. Wilkins, Romance Author

Hi everyone!
Here are the rest of my writing tips! To see tips #1 and #2, check out Part 1 of my post.
3. Do Your Homework:I once tossed a book across the room because the author had tulips blooming in October. (Nope, sorry. Didn’t work for me. On my planet, they bloom in spring.) Maybe it’s a small detail that a non-gardener wouldn’t notice (or care about) but a little research could have fixed that problem.
Whatever you’re writing, it pays to do your homework and research a topic. This is especially true if you’re writing historical fiction, and it is essential if you’re writing non-fiction. Research provides interesting details the reader might need to know for a part of the story, but in the very least, it lends itself to the believability of the setting, characters, and plot.

If you write historical fiction, find out about the time period where you’ve set your story. What did people eat, where did they work, and what did money look like? How did they live? What did they have around the house? (Wood-burning stoves, fireplaces, butter churns, cast iron skillets?) What was invented then? If you’re writing about a character living in the 1800s, you have to know everything about the time period and “live” through the character to show the reader what that person’s life was like. (For example, don’t surround your Revolutionary War-era fort with barbed wire – it wasn’t invented until the late 1800s.)

Sometimes you have to do research for contemporary stories. If you live in the Northeast and set your story in the spring in Arizona, you need to find out what the weather is like during that time of year, what flowers are blooming, etc. (It’ll be different from where you live.) Ditto if you’ve set a story in another country – find out all you can about the food, culture, housing, what time the sun sets, what kind of trees, flowers, they have, etc. The Internet is a great place to do some quick detail-related research. Personally, I like to wander through the library and check out books on the different states, or read some travel books/brochures to give me a good idea of setting and culture.
When I wrote my contemporary romance, Four Days with Jack, (http://amberquill.com/AmberAllure/FourDaysWithJack.html) I ordered several vacation brochures from all-inclusive resorts to get a feel for the setting, types of activities offered, layout of the resort, etc. You never know what will inspire you!
4. Gotta Have a Goal: No matter how grand or simple, everyone has a goal. When you’re writing a story, you have to know what your characters want most – at least for right now. Different characters will have different goals, and along the course of your story, goals may change, or a character will develop secondary goals.
Goals can, will, and should, vary depending on the type of story you’re writing, but they generally fall into two categories: emotional, or internal goals, and physical, or external goals. An internal goal is something the character needs or wants. (This can be meeting a soul mate and falling in love or healing grief after the loss of a loved one.)
An external goal is something the main character physically must do, such as steal a magic ring from a dragon or climb down into a cave to rescue his beloved. Sometimes goals start out simple (like buying a house or getting to a wedding on time), and your job as a writer is to make it hard for your character to achieve his or her goal by throwing in conflicts and obstacles that force your character to work harder.
Vinnie Valentine’s goal in A Perfect Match (http://amberquill.com/AmberHeat/PerfectMatch.html) was pretty simple – hide his knee injury from everyone and make it through the most grueling wrestling match of his career. He had a lot at stake both personally and professionally and needed to stay focused despite all the distractions around him. When he learns that Danni is involved in his match, his secondary goal of protecting her adds to his burden. (Remember, the worse you make things for your characters, the more they have to grow – and that adds drama and tension to your story!)
But writers don’t just give their characters goals, they also have to motivate them to reach those goals. Ask yourself “what’s at stake?” for the character. What if he or she doesn’t reach the goal, then what happens? If the answer is “nothing, he just moves on” then you need to up the stakes and get your character motivated. It will increase the action and keep the plot moving.
In Dalton’s Temptation, (http://amberquill.com/AmberHeat/DaltonsTemptation.html) Princess Elara starts off with a simple goal of spying on her husband while he’s at a pleasure palace. Over the course of the book, the stakes get higher for all the characters. Spying on Dalton while hiding her identity starts out as a game for Elara – but it soon becomes a matter of survival.
5. Sex is personal – for your characters!: No blog written by a romance author would be complete without talking about sex! Readers always ask me sex- (or love scene-) related questions. Some people want to know how to keep the sex fresh from story to story, or wonder how much graphic detail is the “right” amount, and others want to know “how hard” it is to write a love scene (pun perhaps intended!) Here’s the best advice I have:
My Amber Quill Press romances run the gamut from a heat level of 1 (mild) to a 3 (scorching hot). I let the characters in each story determine the sexual content, graphic details, and overall heat level. Every story is different, and so are the sexual lives of the characters.
Writing in different romance genres also influences the sexual content. In The Dark Lord,(http://amberquill.com/AmberHeat/DarkLord.html) Katarina is innocent, so I approached her character as curious, yet eager to learn. Lauren in The Sexy Stranger (http://amberquill.com/AmberHeat/SexyStranger.html) is a modern, sexually experienced woman. Writing for the different characters and their individual situations helps keep things interesting and fresh.
When I write love scenes, I stand back and let the characters do what comes natural. I generally know how far the scene will go ahead of time, but I let the characters take over and enjoy themselves. (After all, it’s their story, they deserve to have fun!) Later, when I edit/revise the story, I go back and cut anything that doesn’t work with the scene. I think love scenes have to flow naturally from the plot and the characters.
As for “how much to show” within a book or a scene, I think it depends on the book and the characters. Sometimes it’s nice to give the characters some “privacy” and imply what goes on; and yet, other times, readers want to see the passionate (fully detailed and repeatedly consummated) side of the relationship. I blend a little of each into my books.
No matter what kind of love scene I write, I try to keep most of the focus on the characters and what they’re thinking and feeling emotionally — how the experience makes them more connected to their lover — rather than focus on what their bodies are doing. In Four Days with Jack, (http://amberquill.com/AmberAllure/FourDaysWithJack.html) David and Jack discover their long-hidden attraction of each other and explore their sexual feelings while building a romantic relationship. (Want more examples? Check out all of my Amber Quill Press romances here: http://amberquill.com/AmberHeat/bio_Wilkins.html
I hope you’ve enjoyed this “inside look” at the writing process. It was fun sharing my thoughts with everyone, and I hope these writing tips help you with your next story!
Happy Reading!
Kelli A. Wilkins
Kelli A. Wilkins divides her time between writing romance and horror. Her romances vary in genre and range from sensual to super-sizzling hot. Kelli invites readers to visit her website www.KelliWilkins.com and blog http://kelliwilkinsauthor.blogspot.com to catch up on all her writings.

5 Fun Writing Tips for Anyone – Part 1


Guest Post By Kelli A. Wilkins, Romance Author

Hi everyone,
Whenever I do an interview, I’m always asked if I have any advice or tips for aspiring writers.  Well, I sure do! Today I’m sharing five writing tips. Writers will (hopefully) find them helpful, and readers will get an inside look at some “secrets” that go into making interesting and sexy stories. These writing tips are based on advice I received in my writing classes and discoveries I made as I wrote. I included brief examples from some of my Amber Quill Press romances to illustrate a few points.
So, let’s get started…
1. Lights, Camera, Action!: Always start your story with an interesting hook to capture the reader’s attention. Begin either 5 minutes before, during, or 5 minutes after “the big moment” that gives the character a problem and draws the reader into the character’s world. Keep the action going in the first few paragraphs. Don’t waste the first page describing ordinary events such as the weather or how a character got dressed. (You can add supporting details into the backstory later.) Jump into the story and take your readers with you.

For example, in my paranormal-comedy, Beauty & the Bigfoot, (http://www.amberquill.com/AmberHeat/BeautyBigfoot.html) I started the story about 5 minutes before Tara’s father brings home Bigfoot. (Yep, you read that right.) The reader is instantly absorbed into Tara’s experience as she meets (and falls in love with) Bigfoot, and then has to deal with her wacky father’s quest for fame.

In my historical/fantasy romance, The Pauper Prince, (http://www.amberquill.com/AmberHeat/PauperPrince.html) I started the story right after Prince Allan learns he’s been banished from the kingdom and must live as a pauper. It sets the stage for what’s to come and gives Allan a big problem from the outset of the story.
2. What’s Your Sign?:One of the keys to writing a good story is creating a believable cast of characters. But before your characters can step onto the page and come alive for readers, you have to create them. As the author, it’s your job to know your characters better than anyone. (After all, they’re your inventions.) Before you write your story, spend some time with your characters and learn everything you can about them so they come off well-rounded and “real” to readers. (And no, it’s not “cheating” if you write down the physical descriptions of your characters and keep them near your keyboard. It saves you from going back through the manuscript and hunting down a detail.) Some of the details you should know are:
·         Hair and eye color, general build/body shape
·         Left or right handed (great detail to know if there’s a gun involved in the story!)
·         Birthday and astrological sign. (You can develop character traits based on the sign. An astrology reference book is an excellent tool for this.)
·         Distinguishing marks (scars, missing limb, tattoos – and the backstory behind each)
·         Family life (brothers, sisters, adopted, parents together or divorced, raised by uncle, etc.)
·         Have children? Wants children or never even considered it?
·         Pets (cat or dog person? reptiles? raises bees? or no pets at all?)
·         Foods they like, dislike, any food allergies?
·         How much of a dark side does he/she have and how does it show?
·         Recreation (likes sports on TV, hates all sports, plays hockey, hikes, swims, surfs)
·         Fears and phobias (water, dolls, monkeys, wasps, falling, fire – and why!)
·         Wears glasses/contacts/braces, any medical conditions?
·         Where and how did they live/grow up? Poor, middle class, member of royal family?
·         What kind of car and house do they have? What are the furniture/decorations like?
·         Religion and general opinions about social issues/politics
·         What secrets do your characters have? What would happen if people found out about them?
·         Dreams, aspirations, goals, and regrets. Are they happy with their lives or do they wish they had done things differently?
·         Sexual history (straight, gay, experiments, virgin, non-virgin with regrets, loose, never been in love, had heart broken, etc.) Knowing this is VERY important for romances!
The more you know about the characters in your story, the more you can make the reader (and other characters) identify with them through details. You can also build on these details and/or use them to move the plot along, add conflict, build dramatic tension, or liven up a love scene. You don’t have to use every detail in the story, but knowing that your character has to overcome her fear of water to save a child trapped during a flood will bring her to life.
For example, in my contemporary romance, Trust with Hearts, (http://www.amberquill.com/AmberHeat/TrustWithHearts.html) Sherrie has recently left her abusive finance. Curtis notices her odd behavior and immediately identifies with her based on his own experiences with an abusive parent. Knowing these details about the characters helps them bond and adds to the plot.
Deb’s note: Kelli will be back tomorrow with Part 2!

Countdown to Publication for Hathor Legacy: Outcast

On Saturday I saw the book cover for my new novel, Hathor Legacy: Outcast. I’ll be posting it in a bit. But seeing it really brought home that the book is completed and almost ready to be published. After months of work, I’m about to let it go out into the world.

I’ll be posting a link to for a chapter download in a day or so. And I’ll post the cover too. The countdown to publication begins!

Update: Click here to download a book chapter excerpt!

Are You a Writer? Then Write!

So what inspires you to write? It doesn’t have to be a novel or a short story–it could be a journal or anything. For years I put writing last on my list of things to do. Everything else was much more important. When I worked in IT, I worked very long hours and my life was planned around being on-call or rolling out a new system. Writing? Who had time for that?

Since I love to write, why wasn’t I doing it? I was convinced it didn’t matter. That it wasn’t important because work was more important. And I don’t mean writing work, I mean work done in the workplace. You know, the work you do at a desk in a cube. That was real work. Writing was not. At least that’s what I told myself year after year.

Well, I was wrong. And I had to go through a lot of crap in order to realize it. After trying to fit myself into a mold that didn’t fit me, I finally accepted it. I’m a writer and I’m going to write.

Not that I didn’t enjoy working in IT for a time. I did. But even after I knew it was time to move on, I didn’t. Finally when I got tired of holding on, I let go. And after a few more twists and turns, I started writing again. Everyday. And now, my first novel is done (after about 3 previous attempts) and my next one is almost done.

Is it easy to let go and let it happen? Nope. But it was worth it.