Doughnut Receipts and Book Reviews

 

Doughnut

By Angeldm (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

What do receipts and book reviews have in common?
First, remember the comedy bit about the doughnut receipt?

I bought a doughnut and they gave me a receipt for the doughnut. I don’t need a receipt for the doughnut. I’ll just give you the money, and you give me the doughnut, end of transaction. We don’t need to bring ink and paper into this. I just can’t imagine a scenario where I would have to prove that I bought a doughnut. Some skeptical friend: “Don’t even act like I didn’t get that doughnut! I got the documentation right here…oh, wait it’s at home…in the file…under “D”, for “doughnut.”    Mitch Hedberg (1968 – 2005)

This is how I feel some days about the paperwork at my house. I have too many doughnut receipts, things that I don’t need to save. I’m getting ready to do a big purge.

Have you heard? The spirit of Mitch Hedberg lives on in the receipts of a doughnut shop. His joke involving donuts and receipts is printed right on the receipts. So have a doughnut and a laugh, and remember a comedian  who .

 

Second, I don’t want to do a survey every time I go somewhere.

My grocery store’s receipts always have a survey code at the bottom. As I’m leaving, the employees practically beg me to go complete the survey and give them all fives.

Are we really this desperate for feedback? Let’s think about this again. Self-selection bias. The people more likely to do the survey are the ones who are unhappy, even with a promised entry into a drawing for some gift card. Taking ten or fifteen minutes to go online and do a survey isn’t worth my time. Why bother?

What is the grocery store going to do? Use the results to either encourage or browbeat their employees. My guess is the latter. Because only the irritated customers are going to bother. Hoping results from a biased survey will improve is a pipe dream.

 

So why should you do a review on Amazon?

Having said that, if you really enjoy an indie author’s books, go out and give them a review on Amazon. Reward their efforts with a 4* or 5*. Just write a few words sharing what you liked about the characters, or the setting. Let others know what kept you interested in the book.

Why? What’s in it for you? I firmly believe that in this new world of digital publishing, the good authors will rise to the top if enough readers speak out. If you encourage authors who are publishing things you like, then hopefully they will find the audience that will enable them to continue. While it’s free to publish on Amazon, book covers and editors are not free.

If you pick up a book for free or a cheap 99 cents, think about why that author would sell his or her work so cheaply. They are hoping that, if you like the book, you will buy their next one, and add give them a positive review. Share the love. Tell your friends.

 

Kindle Unlimited Readers beware

There are authors on Amazon who are releasing thousands of books of nothing but garbage. Short novels with 25 pages. Look at author Sam Enrico on Amazon and his “How to” series. Last I checked, he has 11,000 books listed in Kindle Unlimited. I’m hoping that Amazon catches his scam soon, but if someone downloads his books for free and looks at the first 10%, which in his case is usually two or three pages, he gets paid by Amazon around $1.50 a book at last check. Pay attention to the length when you are downloading books. If you don’t want to waste one of your free reads on a short story, don’t. Most of the time Amazon will tell you how long it is. He has probably made thousands because people click on the downloads and don’t even realize it. Be careful out there.

Art Imitating Life

Every writer gets asked this question from time to time, and it comes in different forms. How do you come up with all those stories? Where do you get your ideas?

For my embezzlement plot arc, I studied different cases online, looking at some of the techniques and Ponzi schemes that have been prosecuted lately. I’ve worked in offices for most of my adult life, and some of that is drawn from events I’ve seen.

Some of book three is taking place in Venezuela, and there were actually some big international crime rings busted from Venezuela, so I’m looking at some of that for inspiration.

There is one scene in No Strings Attached that was ripped from the headlines of my life, and that’s when an employee is let go near the end of the book. This particular employee is eating a muffin while she is being terminated, and its’ sticky, and she doesn’t know what to do with her hands. Awkward. I thought so.

Chocolate.jpg

“Chocolate” by André Karwath aka Aka – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.

Because it happened to me. I was in a terrible job, looking for another one, but nothing was panning out yet. I went to work every day telling my husband that I might quit soon. The kids were young, 3 and 4, and if I pulled them out of their preschool they would lose their slots. If I wasn’t working I couldn’t pay the preschool tuition. It was a Catch-22, so I had held on, looking but not ready to let go of the job that I had.

Right before Christmas, my boss’s boss called me into his office.  I had been there almost three months, and it was a bad fit. I knew it. They knew it. No one had made a move.

We had been working on a document all morning, and I thought he had more changes. I walked in his office carrying a gourmet chocolate bar imported from Greece that one of the drivers had given everyone in the office. The bar was a milk chocolate bar that was firm enough to eat, but still left chocolate all over everything. He proceeded to let me go – gently – right before Christmas. I had the presence of mind to ask for severance and got paid through the end of February. I had a new job by then, and all was right in the world. Seven years later, I’m still in the same job, and still love it, but I will never forget that moment of shock. My husband had tried to warn me, but I thought they didn’t have the guts to do it.

So, there you have it. I don’t usually use things that happen to me in my fiction, but in this case, I couldn’t pass it up.

Sometimes things happen in real life that are way too strange for fiction.

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Writer Wednesday – Meet M.S. Spencer

M.S.Spencer Author 200x300

What do pirates, princes, Puritans, and propaganda have in common? Lacey Delahaye, forager and jelly maker, finds out in M. S. Spencer’s new romantic suspense set in the western Caribbean.

Whirlwind Romance

Secret Cravings Publishing, 9/2/2014

89,000 words; M/F; 3 flames; Adventure/Romance

Paraiso, the island in Whirlwind Romance, is based on a real island in the western Caribbean that I discovered—how else?—mucking around on the internet. Called Providencia, it forms an archipelago with two other islands, San Andres and Santa Catalina, and five uninhabited atolls. Currently under the Colombian flag, it has been the ruled by an incredible variety of groups, from Henry Morgan the notorious buccaneer, to Spanish Conquistadors, Dutch traders, even English Puritans. Now part of the UN’s Seaflower Biosphere, it sports the third largest coral reef in the world. To reach it isn’t easy, which is why it’s not well known in tourist circles.

Its rich and odd history made it an intriguing backdrop for my story, but please be aware that most of the cultural and geographic description of Paraiso in Whirlwind Romance, not to mention the characters, is purely fictional.

Blurb:

In the aftermath of a hurricane, Lacey Delahaye finds herself marooned on the Gulf coast of Florida with a mysterious man. They are immediately drawn to each other, but before Armand can confess his identity, they are kidnapped and taken far from civilization to a tiny, remarkable island in the western Caribbean. With the help of her son Crispin, a small, but proud young boy named Inigo, and a cadre of extraordinary characters, Lacey and Armand must confront pirates, power-mad ideologues, and palace intrigue if they are to restore the once idyllic tropical paradise to its former serenity and find lasting happiness.

Excerpt (G): Tommy’s Tree House

She climbed quietly, hand over hand. As she reached the last board, a soft, but menacing voice purred, “Well, my sweet, you’ve found me.”

Okay, here’s where we find out if he’s a bad guy. “Give me a hand up, will you?”

Other than a slight intake of breath, he complied without a word. Lacey’s head rose up over the floor to find a cubicle lit by a small pencil torch and cluttered with toy guns, candy bar wrappers, and crushed Dr. Pepper cans. And Armand. Who took up most of the rest of the space. He still held her hand, but he had stopped pulling her. “Where did you plan to sit, on my lap?”

At least he’s toned down the threat level. “Or you could come down. I don’t think Tommy Forster allows uninvited guests in his palace.”

His jaw dropped. “Palace?” After a brief interval, he said, “Oh. I see. I can’t.”

“Can’t what?”

“Come down.”

“Why not?”

“I…I…think I reinjured the ankle. I can’t put any weight on it.”

Lacey toyed with the idea of leaving him there for little Tommy, but his mother would have been appalled. “All right, just a minute.” She climbed down and went back to her house, grabbed a coil of rope from the shed and sprinted back up the street. “Armand?”

“At your service.”

“I’m bringing up a rope. I want you to tie it to something, then you can shimmy down without using your feet.”

“Um, what about when I get to the ground?”

How much did he say he weighed? Twelve stone? Lacey calculated swiftly. Must be over a hundred sixty pounds. “I’ll try to ease you down.” She threw the coil into the darkness and backed down the tree.

A few minutes later the rope tumbled down and Armand emerged. “For the record, this was my worst event in public school.” He held on for dear life and inched down the rope.

Five minutes later he’d descended a foot. “Come on Armand—hurry it up.”

“I’m doing my best.” By dint of a lot of swearing and some wild swinging, Armand made it into Lacey’s waiting arms. He sat on the ground, legs splayed out in front, panting. “Now what?”

Lacey hadn’t really thought that far. If he’s a fugitive, I can’t trust him. And I have no way of contacting the police. Maybe this wasn’t such a great idea. “Er, I guess we’d better get you back home. Then you can tell me what this is all about.” He didn’t argue, but when he tried to stand, he fell over. She considered the situation. “What we need is some kind of transport. What was that thing the Indians used?” Lacey cast about for the word.

“Travois?”

“That’s it—aren’t you clever. A sort of triangular thingy to carry a wounded man. Made of logs and deerskins.” She stopped, not, as one might assume, due to the lack of readily available logs and skins, but because of the picture in her mind of an injured warrior lying spread-eagled—bare-chested, sexy, bravely enduring the pain. Wow.

Armand didn’t seem to notice her heightened color and pointed at the carport across the street. “Could we use that little red wagon?”

She followed his gaze. Story of my life—instead of Geronimo I get Ralphie. “That’ll do. Wait here.”

“Yes, I think I shall.” Armand kept a straight face. Lacey brought the little wagon to him, and he lay down in it, arms and legs hanging over the sides.

“You’ll have to lift up your extremities if this is going to work.”

And so, with Armand looking like an upside down turtle and Lacey with tears of laughter streaming down her face, they staggered along the road to her house.

***

Buy Links:

Secret Cravings:

http://store.secretcravingspublishing.com/index.php?main_page=book_info&cPath=4&products_id=934

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Whirlwind-Romance-M-S-Spencer-ebook/dp/B00N105I4E/

ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-whirlwindromance-1605591-153.html

Bookstrand: http://www.bookstrand.com/whirlwind-romance

 

About the Author

Although she has lived or traveled in every continent except Antarctica and Australia (bucket list), M. S. Spencer has spent the last thirty years mostly in Washington, D.C. as a librarian, Congressional staff assistant, speechwriter, editor, birdwatcher, kayaker, policy wonk, non-profit director and parent. She has two fabulous grown children, and currently divides her time between the Gulf coast of Florida and a tiny village in Maine.

Ms. Spencer has published nine romance novels. The first two, Lost in His Arms and Lost and Found, were published by Red Rose Publishing. The other six—Losers Keepers, Triptych, Artful Dodging: The Torpedo Factory Murders, Mai Tais and Mayhem: Murder at Mote Marine (a Sarasota Romance, Lapses of Memory, and the Mason’s Mark —were published by Secret Cravings. Whirlwind Romance, her ninth, was released September 2014.

Contacts:

Blog: http://msspencertalespinner.blogspot.com OR

http://bit.ly/1aBzraT

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/msspencertalespinner

Twitter: www.twitter.com/msspencerauthor
GoodReads:http://www.goodreads.com/msspencer
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/msspencerauthor/

 

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I hope you enjoyed meeting M.S. Spencer. Give her new book a look. I love the way her style of writing gets into her characters’ heads.

Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter here for a chance to win a $5.00 Starbucks gift card.  Every time I get ten new subscribers, everyone is entered into a drawing. You can sign up for new releases only (either once or twice a year) or for my newsletter that comes out monthly, give or take. In my newsletter I include updates on how the writing is going, sales, and sometimes I throw in a recipe or two.

I’m still running my reader survey here — tell over 200 romance authors what you are looking for in covers and heat level. The more responses I get, the more of a representative sample we will have.

 

When Characters Go Rogue: Meet Lindsey

You know Lindsey Todd as the younger sister of Laura. At the end of the first book, she is enrolling at Clemson University in Mathematics. At the end of the second book, she is still visiting with Ric Salzana-Toledo on his island paradise, enjoying a bit of a break before she goes back to school for her final semester.

Laura thinks her sister is a genius who must be protected at all cost.IMG_0396

Elizabeth just met her, but she thinks the girl has a good head on her shoulders.

Fox and Lee went off on a wild-goose chase in the first book to find her, but they look at her like a kid sister.

Lindsey just wants to be left alone so she can figure things out. She doesn’t think that she has as much to offer as her sister, and she sees herself as damaged goods. She has seen things that Laura has no idea about. The only time she ever felt sexy was when she dressed in tight sequined cocktail dresses and wore a platinum blonde wig that reached her waist. We know she was on the island with Ric for several days, and we know that the kissed at the airport, but we don’t know what happened. We know that when she returned to Miami, she left with Ben, a friend from college. If she felt such a connection with Ric, why would she turn around and move in with Ben?

That is the sum of what we know right now. As I spend time getting to know Lindsey better, she’s sharing some of her secrets, and I will tell you, she’s tougher than she looks.

Right now, she’s not impressed with the Tower Suite at the Castle, and she doesn’t care about the French chef that Ric swears is the best in the Caribbean. She ignores the fancy menu handwritten on parchment and orders a burger. She mocks the fact that every time she sees him, he’s in a suit. If Ric wants to keep her attention, he will have to do it some way other than the trappings of his money.

What really happened in her first trip to Calliope? And what happened the weekend of the wedding, after the two newlywed couples left? Can she set aside the logic that rules her life and let Ric into her heart? When danger comes–and you know it will–can she trust Ric enough to believe in them through it all?

I’ve got two working titles for this one. The first, No Ordinary Man, focuses on Ric. The second idea that I have for a title, No Stone Unturned, focuses on their journey. Or it may even be a third title not dreamed of yet.

What do you think? How innocent is Lindsey? Is she too young for the sophisticated Ric? I can’t wait to get to know her better, and dig into her story.

Romance Reader Survey

There are many puzzle pieces to putting together a book, including the genre, the cover, the sex scenes… I thought I would do a quick survey. Please take the time to answer a few questions. Help me get additional people to take the survey by sharing on twitter and facebook using the buttons below.

What type of romances do you like to read? Stand-alone? Connected books

What type of covers catch your eye?

All of these and more are covered in this quick survey. I’d love to hear your opinion, and I will share the results with my fellow writers.

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1Q9cT1AZAz6EeSp1hRmuxiSGqcH8fudxNMzy0q6z0ODc/viewform?usp=send_form

Thank you!  Did something in the survey strike a nerve? Feel free to tell me in the comments below.

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