Christmas Cards – Yes or No?

It’s that time of year again. If you want to do Christmas cards, you’d better get on it.

I thought for a few years that Christmas cards were dying out, but I’ve seen a resurgence lately. All of the young married couples I know are sending them, and that’s encouraging that perhaps the tradition will continue. I always thought Christmas cards were a great way to stay in touch. That has become less of an issue with social media, but there is still something about getting that card and displaying it for the weeks (or days) before Christmas.

I’m late this year. One year we cut way back on cards, and my family who live in Georgia wanted to know why they didn’t get their annual picture of our kids. So we continue.

We don’t use a professional photographer, but we do try to get a picture with the kids dressed in something other than shorts and a T-shirt. Preferably in front of the tree. This year it took forever to find a night when we actually had time for the kids to get dressed up and pose for a picture. IT turns out we took the picture the night of their Christmas band concert. They are both in white and black concert attire, so it worked.

I’ve found that the older I get, the more I like the photo cards. I know some people don’t like them, but I think it’s neat seeing how much my faraway friends’ kids have grown.

After all the sitcoms mocked the Christmas newsletters, no one really does that much anymore, but I wish that they did. It would be nice having a summary of the year. My husband mocked me the last time I tried one, so I quit.

We still haven’t uploaded our photo yet to print the cards. We ran out of time tonight. Tomorrow is it. If we don’t get them in the mail Saturday, we might as well not bother.

Curious who you should send cards to? I ran across this infographic from Grammarly that may help you. (Thank you to Grammarly, https://www.grammarly.com/grammar-check, for allowing me to pass this along.

GenX

 

What are your thoughts? Are you sending cards this year? Like the newsletters? Hate them? Weigh in.

 

Producing an Audiobook

I recently decided to have my first book, No Strings Attached, recorded as an audiobook through ACX, a subsidiary of Amazon. There are several options when you are thinking about audiobooks: read and produce the book yourself, hire a narrator / producer at a flat rate, usually an hourly rate, or offer the book for a royalty share.

Doing the production myself was not an option. I don’t have a “radio voice”, and I don’t have recording equipment. My understanding is that ACX has high-quality standards, and I would want my audiobook to be of the highest quality. Clearly, doing it myself was not an option.

The first step of the project is to input information about your book into ACX. They pull in reviews and other data on sales ranking, etc. from Amazon. You tell them how many words the book is, and they estimate the recorded time. I was skeptical that they would be close, but they estimated my book at 8.2 hours, and the full recorded time was just under 8. So they were pretty close. Sometimes if your project catches Amazon’s eye, they will offer a stipend on top of the royalty share, which is what they did for my friend’s book.

I first listed the book over a year ago, but I had no auditions. Zero. I offered a royalty share only, and couldn’t get anyone to audition. Keep in mind that I was asking them to commit a minimum of 24 hours, including editing and everything else. ACX told me the listing had been dormant for too long and they made it inactive. So I decided to wait a while.

My friend was having success, so I talked to her about the fact that no one had auditioned. She suggested I contact her narrator and ask him what rate he would charge. With x being the hourly rate I thought I could afford for 8 finished hours, he offered 4x. I had email exchanges with him, but I couldn’t afford his rate. I said I would be in touch after Christmas.

Meanwhile, I was talking to another author that I met online who does audio narrations by the name of Brian Schell. We started discussions, and he also said he would do it for 4x per hour. I told him I couldn’t afford it right now, but would be happy to talk to him later. He said he was interested in the project and submitted an audition anyway. Within the same week, a female narrator submitted an audition for my book based on the offer of royalty share only. I couldn’t leave her hanging, so I had to make a decision.

Most auditions last about five minutes. I listened to her reading and it just didn’t do much for me. Her phrasing felt odd and I just couldn’t relax into the reading. There was a section where I could hear her fumbling with something, and that undercut her professionalism.

I listened to Brian’s reading, and I was hooked. My book is told from Fox and Laura’s point of view, and Fox’s narration has a certain sarcastic feel to it, a certain dry wit. He captured that immediately. He was also able to differentiate between multiple voices in the dialog sections. I felt like he brought my words to life.

We discussed it, and he agreed to take the risk. I offered x for the 8 hours plus royalty share to start immediately, and we reached an agreement. I couldn’t hold back my excitement. Brian was going to bring my words to life!No Strings Attached Audiobook 2400x2400

When I received notification that he had uploaded my finished audiobook, I couldn’t wait. I downloaded it and listened over a Friday and Saturday. It was like Fox talking in my ear. Brian also reminded me that I had to reformat my cover (it had to be square) and offered to do that for me.

I chose to listen to the words without matching it to the text unless it came across confusing or I had a question. There were only a few places where I submitted minor changes to him. Now the book is live, and ready for listeners.

That, in a nutshell, is how audiobooks are made. Are you a audiobook fan? Do you have an Audible subscription? Download the sample and give it a listen. Here is the link to Audible.com. If you like the sample, I would be honored if you choose it as your selection this month. listen. Or, if you’ve been thinking about starting an audiobook subscription but haven’t taken the plunge, you can start your subscription and receive my audiobook for free. You can find details here.

I will be happy to answer any questions you may have about producing an audiobook. Ask them in the comments.

Writer Wednesday – Meet Sandra Dailey

Today I’d like you to take a minute to meet Sandra Dailey as she interviews two of her characters, who happen to be twins.  Sandra, take it away.


Hi Lily! Thanks for inviting me to your blog and letting me bring a couple of characters along, and I do mean characters in every way.

I’d like to introduce you and your visitors to Connor and Caleb McCrae, my heroes. Besides being twin brothers, they both work for their family’s law practice and have interesting stories to tell about their personal lives. As a matter-of-fact, I have a few questions to ask them.

href=”http://lilybishop.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/CommonEnemy_w8699_300.jpg”>CommonEnemy_w8699_300CloseEnemy_w10168_300

Sandy: Are the two of you identical twins?

Connor: We used to be as identical as two spoons from the same drawer. Now, you could say I’m the one that got caught in the garbage disposal. He touches the deep scars on one side of his face.

Caleb: That’s why he took off for so long, living like a gipsy in an old van. He couldn’t stand the sight of my pretty face. Caleb shoulder butts his brother with a sympathetic smile.

Sandy: I read about the incident in COMMON ENEMY. That man, Bobby Ray Butler, was one scary guy!

Connor: I would have done anything to protect my woman, Jordan, and her little girl from that psychopath. It was a hell of a way to meet the loves of my life, but I’ll never regret it.

Caleb: I suppose you’re going to take all the credit. As I recall, I came close to buying the farm when I went down to Mayville to help out.

Connor: There were a few casualties, but I’d rather not talk about it right now. Your friends will just have to read the book. Caleb grips his shoulder in a show of support.

Sandy: Caleb, I heard you had a hard time starting a relationship with your partner, Leah.

Caleb: I’ll say! It took me months to find her after our first meeting and when I did she was in jail with a bun in the oven. The guy who had framed her, Bogdan Petrov, even had someone working there. He was definitely another nut case.

Connor: Of course I showed up to help, which I’d say makes us even.

Caleb: Whatever. Anyway, we went through hell with him too and a baby on board didn’t make it easy. You can read about it in my new book, CLOSE ENEMY.

Conner: You’ll find out his biggest challenge was changing diapers. The man is pathetic.

Caleb: Get bent, Connor.

Sandy: I believe the two of you take pot shots at each other as much as my twin and I do.

Connor: It’s the best thing about being womb-mates. We may throw a few verbal punches now and then, but we always have each other’s back.

Caleb: And, heaven help the man who tries to bring harm to one of us. Butler and Petrov can both testify to that.

Common Enemy blurb ~

Jordan Holbrook is the single mother of a five-year-old daughter. She’s just inherited her grandmother’s house in South Florida where she’s hiding from an abusive ex-husband who’s been released from prison early. A new man in her life isn’t part of her plans.

Connor McCrae is a handyman who lives out of his van. He walked away from a privileged life and loving family after being badly scarred in a vicious attack. He doesn’t believe a woman’s love is in the cards for him.

They are brought together by a rundown house, a mutual attraction, and a common enemy: Bobby Ray Butler, who is cutting a path of murder and mayhem through south Florida in his quest for vengeance against his ex-wife.

Can Connor protect Jordan and her daughter from the enraged Bobby Ray? Can Jordan learn to trust men again? If anyone has a say in this—it’s Connor.

Buy links ~

The Wild Rose Press: http://www.wildrosepublishing.com/maincatalog_v151/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=195&products_id=5695

Amazon Print:

http://www.amazon.com/Common-Enemy-Sandra-Dailey-ebook/dp/B00ILYKD8G/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1402881991&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=common+enemy+by+sandra+dailey

Amazon Kindle (encore):

http://www.amazon.com/Common-Enemy-Sandra-Dailey-ebook/dp/B0145P8J4Y/ref=sr_1_1_twi_kin_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1440555249&sr=8-1&keywords=Common+Enemy

Close Enemy blurb ~

Caleb McCrae is a powerful man with a broken soul. In six years, Leah was the only person to help him forget the painful memories, but only for one night. Now she seems to have disappeared. A mysterious letter arrives, and she’s in trouble…in more ways than one.

Leah Fletcher’s life is complicated. To care for her drug and alcohol addicted mother she works at a sleazy men’s club…until she finds out she’s pregnant and is framed for a crime that lands her in jail. When a stranger visits, she learns her troubles have just begun.

Bogdan Petrov has waited eleven years to get back the money Leah’s father stole from him. Despite her denials, he knows she’s hiding it. He’s arranged to infiltrate every part of her life until he gets what he wants, but soon realizes that an unknown person is doing the same to him.

Buy link ~

The Wild Rose Press:

http://www.wildrosepublishing.com/maincatalog_v151/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=191&products_id=6515

Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0166SHQGU?keywords=Close%20Enemy&qid=1445482436&ref_=sr_1_6&sr=8-6

Barnes and Noble:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/close-enemy-sandra-dailey/1122767397?ean=2940150868960

Kobo:

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-ca/ebook/close-enemy

Author bio ~

Sandra Dailey

Sandra Dailey

Sandra Dailey lives with her husband and mother in a small town in North Florida, far from the maddening crowds. Her children and grandchildren all live close and keep her ridiculously busy and active. Her passions are reading, writing, and crafts. Her addictions are coffee, chocolate, and football. Her aversions are cooking, housework and negative people. She loves to hear from fellow readers and writers, so get in touch.

Contact info ~

Website/Blog: http://www.sandradailey.blogspot.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sandradailey.author

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/sdaileyauthor

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/author/sandradailey

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6551048.Sandra_Dailey

Remember: COMMON ENEMY and CLOSE ENEMY are a pair, but can be independent, like their heroes. Conner, Caleb and I would be happy to answer any questions or just chat. Feel free to leave comments and share this post.


It takes a good hero to make a good romance, and it sounds like you’ve got a couple of good ones there. Good luck with Conner and Caleb.

Anybody else intrigued with twin heroes in two books?

Thanksgiving — The In-Between Holiday

2014-11-28 15.35.19

Last year’s tree

I have found among my friends on social media that there are two camps of people: those who start their Christmas celebrations in early to mid-November, and those who wait until after Thanksgiving. Not only are there two different camps, the two groups have become openly contemptuous of the other side. Stores are running commercials now mocking other stores that are opening on thanksgiving, purporting that they are supporting family values by staying closed.

What are your thoughts? I sit on the fence. Some years we put up our tree a day or two before Thanksgiving, while other years we wait until the day after, also known as Black Friday. I refuse to listen to Christmas music before Thanksgiving, despite the fact that my regular radio station switches to all Christmas songs on November 1. I promptly switch stations until after Christmas.

Here are some of my favorite traditions for Thanksgiving:

This is the only holiday that my family comes up from Georgia, so I spend extra time on the table. I use my good china and my grandmother’s “grape glasses.”

This year, I’m making a cheeseball for an appetizer, homemade cranberry sauce, and corn. My amazing husband will make the turkey, ham, and cornbread dressing (not stuffing). My daughter will make the deviled eggs (her specialty). (When we first started hosting thanksgiving for my family seventeen years ago, I said I would do it but I would not touch the turkey. That stipulation continues today.)

My mother brings sweet potato casserole and pecan pies. My sister brings hash brown casserole and this year is bringing green beans. Our cousin Barbara will bring macaroni pie, Veg-All casserole and grape salad.

I love a good casserole. Yes, I was raised in the eighties in the South, and I love casseroles. I would make a green bean casserole but my husband doesn’t like them. Sigh.

Sometimes we might add a dish here or there, or swap a vegetable, but I’m not interested in trying new dishes on Thanksgiving. Everyone wants their tried and true favorites. My mom sighed when I confirmed this morning that she planned to bring the sweet potatoes and pecan pies. She may be tired of fixing it, and bored, but we don’t care. It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving for us without them.

What are your family traditions for Thanksgiving? Do you go shopping on Friday? or on Thursday night? I don’t like crowds, so I avoid all of that mess on Friday, but my mother and sister meet and hit the stores early. More power to them. Whatever your traditions, Happy thanksgiving!!

 

Writer Wednesday – M.S. Spencer

Triptych by M. S. Spencer 3 sisters potomac 1Welcome back to Writer Wednesday. Today I would like for you to meet M.S. Spencer. She is here to talk about her latest release.

In my latest romance, Triptych, my heroine Miranda wrestles with the question of true love. She also wrestles with recalcitrant sisters, mysterious machines and art thieves.

The Great Falls of the Potomac River, which separates Maryland and Virginia, slice through the Mather Gorge just fifteen miles north of Washington, DC. In less than a mile, the river goes from a thousand feet wide down to a hundred feet wide, creating twenty waterfalls and dropping 76 feet in elevation. It is, needless to say, a spectacular view and a whitewater rafter’s dream.

Miranda and her sisters live just south of the falls, near the Three Sisters, rocky islands in a bend of the river. It is on these rocks that Miranda watched her husband and his lover crash and die. She is thus not quite ready for the new love that awaits her.

Triptych, by M. S. Spencer

Ebook 67,300 words; Print-on-Demand 213 pp.

Romantic suspense/Adventure

M/F, 2 flames

 

Blurb:

Take lost masterpieces, brilliant inventors, and stolen prototypes. Add the Three Sisters, Indian spirits who guard the Potomac River. Stir in three sisters and their lovers. Result? Jealousy, sex, genius, larceny and love. Who will end up with whom, and will the Three Sisters take another life as the legend demands?

Buy Links:

Triptych is available in both eBook and Print-on-Demand.

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Triptych-M-S-Spencer/dp/1519142102/

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/591713

AllRomanceEBooks: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-triptych-1923917-149.html

Createspace: https://www.createspace.com/5846670

 

Excerpt (G): Miranda

Sybil dropped a pebble and listened to its clicks and clacks as it hit every crag and spur on the way down to the water. It took a long time, for she stood very high above the river. She waited, hand to ear, to catch the tinny, far-away splash, then gently tossed another pebble over the cliff.

“Sybil! Where are you?”

The girl turned swiftly, her simple white shift catching on the bark of an ancient elm tree. She pulled at it impatiently, tearing a bit of the delicate lace from the sleeve. “Here I am, Miranda! By the sun house!” She flew up the path.

A woman of about thirty-five, beautiful but stone-faced, waited on a flagstone patio wreathed in a thickly branched wisteria. To her right a large flower garden ambled down to a grassy verge. Behind her loomed a vast, Queen Anne-style mansion complete with tower. She crooked a finger at the girl. “Sybil, Honor needs you. She has to measure the hem.”

“I’m coming. It’s almost finished then?”

The woman began to smile, but then her thin lips tightened as though she’d caught herself just in time. The glow of the afternoon sun backlit a rivulet of well-worn grief seeping from the closed face. “Of course it is, Sybil. You need it for the tea dance tomorrow, don’t you? Honor has been working on it day and night.” A soft chestnut curl escaped from her severe French twist to graze the heart-shaped mouth. She raised a thin, ring-less hand and plucked the strands from her lips. “Do hurry in and help her.” As Sybil ran eagerly past her, she blinked a tear away.

Miranda gazed out over the cliff and down to the river. Directly below her, three small rock formations, known as the Three Sisters, reared out of the water like iceberg babies. When she was young, she loved to observe the intercourse of river and rocks from high atop her hill. In the spring the Potomac River, heavy with silt, rushed headlong past, shooting plumes of whitecaps up and over them. In the summer, the calm water filled with boats—canoes, punts, motorboats. A few months later, when the oaks and hickories turned the cliffs into a mass of scarlet and gold, the water would thin to a gentle trickle, and people forgot how strong the currents could surge, and grow unwary.

She shaded her eyes and looked north, where the steep canyons of Great Falls split the folded metagraywacke rock, the river slicing through it as easily as if it were paper. The Three Sisters marked the upper limit of the Potomac’s navigable waters. There, at a dangerous part of a dangerous river, Miranda and her sisters had helplessly watched many a hiker or kayaker flounder in the treacherous channels between Great Falls National Park and Teddy Roosevelt Island.

She no longer came out to watch the boaters, not after seeing Edward die when he crashed his Donzi 38 ZR on the rocks. He and the woman he left her for. The nightmare still haunted her though. In the dream she waited, hidden in the summer house on the edge of the cliff, as the sleek, sexy, Italian-made speed boat slammed into the half-submerged Sisters in the middle of the river. Alone in the dark she relived the sight of the flames as they shot up almost high enough to singe her bare toes. She heard again Wanda’s Banshee shriek as she died in agony. Her husband never appeared in the dream. True to form, Edward had disintegrated in the maelstrom, leaving nothing behind to remember or bury, not even a belt buckle.

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, one fabulous grandchild, and currently divides her time between the Gulf coast of Florida and a tiny village in Maine.

 

Contacts

Blog: http://msspencertalespinner.blogspot.com

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

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

About.me: http://about.me/msspencerauthor

Tsu.co : http://www.tsu.co/msspencerauthor

Linked in: www.linkedin.com/in/msspencerauthor

 

AUTHOR PAGES:

I Heart Book Publishing:

http://www.iheartbookpublishing.com/m-s-spencer.html

Romance Books 4 Us: http://romancebooks4us.com/Romance%20Author%20M.%20S.%20Spencer.html OR

http://bit.ly/1d6ehza

Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/M.S.-Spencer/e/B002ZOEUC8/

GoodReads:http://www.goodreads.com/msspencer

 

Found This Amazing Tool…

On Tuesdays I plan to talk about books, or travel. But today, I’m going to talk about the new tool that I bought: a simple 5 x 9 weekly planner.Planner

I know, I might as well buy a Rolodex, right? Paper planners are a wee bit out dated. I haven’t bought one in years. I have an iPhone and all sorts of apps, but decided yesterday on a lark that I really needed to see my blogging and writing schedule on paper.

You may have noticed I haven’t blogged much lately. I’ve been spending time writing more, and all of the other demands of being a wife, mother, and full-time worker-bee at my day job had me feeling overwhelmed. But here’s the other reason. When I would think of something I wanted to include in a blog, I wouldn’t have time to do it right then, so I would tell myself to remember it later.

Did I remember it later? Um… nope. I did not. Unless I had something scheduled with another author, I just let it slide.

My new calendar is helpful for keeping track of book promotions I’m running, blog posts I want to do, and little niggly tasks I need to take care of.

One perfect example is that our bank was bought out, and all of our account numbers have to change. As a result, my family is in the process of changing banks. I was getting overwhelmed trying to keep track of all of the different bills and automatic withdrawals that I had to change to the new bank accounts. I made a list in my new planner, and I feel much more on top of it.

This little planner is small enough to fit in my purse, so I can take it with me.

So… 1995, I’m back!!!!

What do you think? Has our modern world moved past the days of a paper calendar? Or do you still use one?

World Teacher Day!

Happy World Teacher Day! Without teachers, there would be no authors. I’m giving a great big shout out to Sheila Taylor, my ninth grade English teacher back in 1982 – no, you don’t need to do the math.

She always encouraged me, and after thirty-odd years and the tribe that is Facebook, we are in contact again. So thank you, Sheila Taylor!! I hope you are enjoying your retirement.

I’m back in contact with the teaching world again, since I have two middle-schoolers in my house. All I can say, is bless their hearts. I know that the bureaucracy that is teaching now can be overwhelming. Hang in there. You are reaching kids.

 

World Teacher Day

Thank you to Grammarly for the infographic (https://www.grammarly.com/plagiarism-checker).

Recipe Time — Apple Crisp

New feature: Monday Munchies!  (Recipes, meal ideas, munchies, and all around good food!) Whoo hoo!!!

It’s that time of year again, when apples are plentiful. I am absolutely in love with an apple called the Mutso, or the crispin. You can find out more about the Mutsu here.

We haven’t seen these apples in the grocery stores, but every fall we drive to an orchard about an hour from our house in Hendersonville, North Carolina and we buy a half-bushel of Mutsu apples.

I would describe the Mutsu as sweet, tart, and crisp. It’s not as sour as a granny smith apple, but not as mushy like a red delicious.

This year, we weren’t sure when we would go. One weekend we planned to make the drive, but the orchard’s Facebook page said they did not have any Mutsu in stock but they expected more that week. the second weekend we were planning to go, we thought about passing because it was raining, but we checked their Facebook page again. With the orchard urging  that they had very few Mutsu and they wouldn’t last through October, we decided to go ahead.

The trip was worth it. I still love the Mutsu.  Last night I made an apple crisp. It was quick and easy. Here’s the recipe:Apple crisp

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup quick-cooking oats

1 cup flour

1/2 cup butter, melted

3 cups apples (2 large or 3 small), peeled, cored, and chopped

1/2 cup white sugar

2 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray non-stick spray on an 8 x 8 pan.Combine everything except apples and place half of the mixture in pan. Spread apples on top. Top with the remainder of the topping.

Bake 40 – 45 minutes until golden brown.

Now, as you will notice, my topping looks a little bit dry. I used margarine and mixed it in without melting it, so I didn’t think it spread as well. Don’t make my mistake. Whether you use butter or margarine, melt it.

Having said that, the apple crisp was a big hit for three out of four at my house, and the fourth doesn’t much care for fruit. I consider that a win.

 

Writer Wednesday – Elaine Violette and Regal Reward

This morning as part of my Writer Wednesday feature I’m featuring Elaine Violette and her Regency novel Regal Reward.

If you follow this blog, you know I love romantic stories with a captor/captive plot. Here’s another one that I’ve found. This one has the flavor of a a traditional Regency. If you find yourself skimming racy scenes in other books, you won’t have to worry in this one, because the bedroom door stays closed.

Here’s the blurb from Amazon:

Marielle Henley, privileged and betrothed to Richard Craymore, has a EV Regal Rewardsecure future until her rebellion leads her into the path of the ruggedly handsome highwayman, York Blackstone. York, the first son of an Earl, turned thief, lives to avenge his family’s demise. His captive’s beauty and her sauciness makes it difficult for him to keep his focus on the prize, a hefty ransom for her return; that is, until she reveals the name of her betrothed. He discovers that she can bring him something money can’t buy, his birthright lost to him when his father was falsely accused of treason.

Marielle is unable to dismiss York’s contradictory behavior, one moment a tyrant, the next a gentleman, a much too attractive one. Is York Blackstone a fiendish rogue or the orphaned elder son of a once highly respected aristocrat? York’s cunning and invulnerable nature, hardened by life on the streets, is tested by Marielle’s alluring presence, but he will stop at nothing or allow anyone, including his lovely captive, to divert him from avenging his father’s disgrace.

York and his unlikely conspirators join together to bridge the gap between the power of the privileged and the determination of the discarded in society. York and Marielle’s passion for one another is seemingly lost in the web of conflicts. Could a meddling elderly aunt create the perfect plan to bring the two lovers back together?

I found the story fun, engaging, and full of twists and turns until the very end. You have to grab this book, if for no other reason than there’s also a sweet dog and puppies!

Elaine, tell my readers what appeals to you about the Regency period.

I love stories of aristocratic society, its customs and social seasons so different from our own; yet, the heroes and heroines of Regency novels share the same desires, emotions, virtues and vices that we can easily relate to since human nature rarely changes.  I am fascinated with the fashions, the elegant balls, the carriages, sporting events, and the expectation not only for women of the period but for titled men. The dashing hero, the lowly governess, the scoundrels, dukes and duchesses create a world that still values innocence, respect, and appropriate behavior, on the surface. It’s the novelist who digs deep into the hearts of the well mannered gentility and draws out the secrets, the desires and desperations of the debutantes and lords as well as the villains, the rogues and rapscallions. In my two eBooks, just released by Kindle, Regal Reward and A Convenient Pretense, I try to capture all the above.

What do you like most about these books and their characters?

In Regal Reward, I love the character of York Blackstone. He’s a man who began his life as the privileged first son of an Earl and ends up on the streets of London as a beggar. He turns to thievery to live and to care for his mother and younger brother. But, his inherited aristocratic bearing makes him a leader in his world of thieves. He’s obsessed with clearing his father’s name, reclaiming the title and lands lost, and making the villain who destroyed his family pay for his misdeeds. The younger brother, Martin, has his own story in A Kiss of Promise, Book Two of the Blackstone saga. Marielle, the heroine in Regal Reward, is spunky and defiant and never expects she’ll fall in love with the tyrant, York, who wants to use her as a pawn in his vengeance.

           I really should mention Aunt Cornelia since she was so much fun to write about. In a note to her niece Marielle, she writes, “My dear, I am an avid collector of the myths of the moment, relics of rogues and rapscallions and tales of meek mice, married to old bores, who give extravagant parties then scamper around at night in guest rooms, nipping on the tail of their newest catch.”

I love her perspicacity and her spirit! Regal Reward can be purchased on Amazon at  http://amzn.com/B013TRQ9C8.

 

In A Convenient Pretense, my second Regency, the heroine, Emily Grace, is a poetess, and one of my favorite female characters. I enjoyed being able to include a bit of fun poetry in the story. Emily observed her father and mother’s failed marriage and has chosen a single life much to her father’s dismay. Here’s a snippet of the opening poem which is a self-proclamation of her views on marriage.

Foolish is a maiden who sets her heart a flight   

with dreams of wedded bliss that surely lead to strife.

She might best consider a single life…

When her father forces her to go to London to find a husband, she must obey. That is, until she figures out a way to avoid the marriage mart. She devices a convenient pretense of courtship with the like thinking Lord Marcus Deming, only to fall in love with him.  Little does she know when she escapes London and returns home, a more sinister pretense is afoot, one that will destroy her family.  Only Marcus, the man she’s run from can untangle the deception. Are Emily and Marcus too much alike to realize they belong together?  A Convenient Pretense is available on Amazon at http://amzn.com/B014Q1EKU4

Fortunately, both these books were well received when traditionally published with excellent reviews. Regal Reward was a Golden Leaf finalist. When I chose to regain the rights and self-publish, it was to have more control over my writing and the business of writing.  I can choose better pricing and the covers that suited my characters and stories.  Regal Reward and A Convenient Pretense began my writing career. I will always be grateful to have begun with a traditional publisher. In the end, however, my books are products of my hard work and it’s a nice feeling to be in control of how my writing goes out into the world.

For more information on these and future books, I welcome readers to visit my website at www.elaineviolette.com and sign up for my newsletter, and “like” me on Facebook for more news at www.facebook.com/elaineviolette.author. I appreciate and reply to all comments.

Thank you, Lily, for celebrating with me on my new self-pub journey!

Thanks, Elaine, for stopping by! I wish you the best of luck in your publishing endeavors.

About Elaine

Elaine is a veteran English teacher and holds a BS in English Education from OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAthe University of CT and an MS in Educational Leadership from Central CT State University.  She presently teaches public speaking part time at a local community college. She is a PAN member of Romance Writers of America, CT Romance Writers (CTRWA) and Charter Oak Romance writers (CORW). She resides on the Connecticut shoreline and especially enjoys being a wife, mother, and grandmother.

 

What’s in a Blurb? Meet Carol – She knows!

I recently ran across Carol Ann Eastman, who writes as Angelisa Stone, on a Facebook group for authors, and it turns out she offers a blurb-writing service. Since I have struggled with writing catchy blurbs, I decided to give her a try.

Before I reveal the results of her magic (and I DO mean magic), Carol Ann, tell me how you got started offering this service for writers.

Fellow author, Christine Zolendz and I quickly became “author besties.”  We actually wrote a laugh-your-ass-off chick-lit book together.  It’s basically Thelma & Louise meets Bridesmaids.  It’s called #TripleX.  If you are annoyed by your husband, want to throttle your kids, and puke a little in your mouth when you see your naked body in the mirror as you chomp down on M&Ms, then #TripleX is the humorous story for you.

But anyway, while we spent the year working on the book together, Christine discovered that BLURBS were my forte.  She basically FORCED me into doing this.  She got my name out there in her writing groups and then BAM!  My email starts filling up with people who want help with their blurbs.  I am THRILLED and totally indebted to my lifelong writing friend, Christine Zolendz.

What elements do you focus on to create the perfect blurb? 

I actually think:  “What would make me want to read this book?”  I search for the hook that would drag a nonreader into wanting to read it.

Carol Ann markets herself under the moniker the Blurb Bitch, but she wasn’t bitchy at all. She was very professional and easy to work with. She gave me a sample and I liked it so much that I asked her to do all FOUR of my books.

Carol Ann is also a writer under several pen names. Why did you choose to go with separate pen names, and what would you tell readers who are interested in finding you? Where should they start? 

I am going to try to tell this story as quickly as I can in easy, bullet points!

  • I wrote an erotic, raunchy, vulgar novel, SCHOOLED as Deena Bright.  It is hot!
  • I was a high school teacher. It was about a high school teacher sleeping with TWO male students–who were   OUT OF COLLEGE.
  • My school district fired me.  SO TRUE.  Look it up!
  • I hired a BADASS federal attorney and got my job back.  THE FIRST AMENDMENT ROCKS!
  • I still wanted to write, but “Deena Bright” was sick of the yucky publicity.
  • I became Angelisa Stone.  (Such a sexy name!) I wrote three books as Angelisa.
  • I also wrote a book as me, Carol Eastman, about my mom dying of Cancer.  Total tear-jerker.
  • Then, I quit my stupid teaching job after they started screwing with my schedule and all kinds of other bull crap.
  • So Deena came back. Angelisa still lives on.  And Carol is who I love being!

If anyone is interested in reading my books or chatting with me, then all of my names have Facebook accounts.  If anyone is interested in getting some blurbs rewritten, then check out my website:  www.blurbbitch.com2556555

Thank you Lily for this opportunity.  It really means a lot to me.

Now, let me say that I have re-written the blurb for my first book, No Strings Attached, at least twenty times, and published at least five versions. This book was a lot of things to me, and it was rewritten so much, it was hard for me to summarize it. In fact, the summary that I gave Carol was very very long…

Here was my last attempt, we’ll call it BC, or before Carol…

A steamy story of a woman torn between duty and desire, truth and betrayal— After a summer fling in Vegas, now Fox Thornton and Laura Todd must work together. Unfortunately, the numbers don’t add up, and all signs point to embezzlement. Fox vows to bring the thief to justice, but Laura is his main suspect. Can he follow his heart while making sure that justice is served?

And this is what she gave me…

There’s a fine line between truth and deception.

When Laura Todd discovers that her new boss is Fox Thornton, the sexy, blue-eyed man that she wowed in Las Vegas, she realizes that there’s more at stake than a “no strings attached” fling. After all, strings can weave a tangled web of deceit and betrayal. Fox knows how crafty and clever Laura is, but he was hired to find out why her company is losing money. He can’t deny that all evidence points to Laura. Fox’s reputation as a fixer is on the line, and he vows to find the truth–even if it means taking down the one woman he’s wanted all along.

I fell in love all over again! So, authors, if you’re struggling, get in touch with Carol. I mean it. She’s a gem, and she’s reasonable.