Sunday, October 25, 2015

Halloween Traditions - #SnarkologyHalloweenHop

If you're looking for the Snarkolology Halloween Hop, you've come to the right place. Make sure you enter the Rafflecopter contest below and comment here for a chance to win one of my books. Read on!

Ever wonder why we celebrate Halloween? Where did the tradition of carving pumpkins come from?

It all started long ago with the Celts. They lived in what is now the United Kingdom and western Europe. The Celts held a festival in the fall of the year to celebrate the end of summer. This festival was called Samhain. There seems to be a lot of different ways to pronounce Samhain - Sam-hane, Sow-in, sow-en, sow-an, soow-an, sow-ween. You pick your favorite pronunciation. 

The Celts believed that during Samhain, the line between this world and the next was at its very thinnest. Those who’d passed on could return, their souls often inhabiting the body of an animal, like a black cat. To this day, black cats are looked at with suspicion.

To celebrate the harvest, Celts would go door to door collecting food to give as an offering to the deities. Young Celts would collect wood and twigs from neighbors for the Samhain bonfires. Out of these traditions, the practice of trick or treating likely developed.

The Samhain bonfires were lit on the tops of hills. The Celts would take home embers of these fires in hollowed out gourds or turnips. But it was scary walking home on those dark fall nights. There could be a lot of evil spirits waiting to pounce on the innocent at this time of year. To frighten the evil spirits away, Celts carved scary faces into their gourds and pumpkins and wore costumes to fool the evil spirits. Hence the custom of wearing costumes began!

It’s amazing to me that these practices and old traditions are still with us today, and we still find joy in the celebration.

Nowhere is Halloween celebrated with more enthusiasm then in North America. Hallmark Cards reports that 65% of Americans will decorate their homes and offices for Halloween. Halloween is the holiday when the most candy is sold; it is second only to Christmas in total sales. North Americans spend over $20 million on Halloween candies yearly. Halloween is the third-largest party occasion next to Christmas and New Year's Eve, and the Number 1 season for selling humorous greeting cards. In North America, some 25 million cards are sold annually.

When I was a kid, we’d always have some kind of Halloween party at school. We’d get dressed up in our costumes and have a little parade around the school. I remember flimsy plastic costumes and terrible plastic masks that pinched my nose and were impossible to see out of. Then we usually had some treats, perhaps some candies or cake. It was always fun and a break from ordinary school work.

On Halloween night, the real fun started. My goal was always to hit every house in town (population 700), but I don’t think I ever achieved that feat. But my friends and I gave it a real good try. We’d come home with pillowcases full of candy and treats.

When I got older and couldn’t “treat” anymore, we turned to playing “tricks”. We’d throw eggs at houses (especially the houses of teachers), and wrap toilet paper in trees. I remember one year when somebody dragged hay bales into town and used them to block Main Street. Back in those days there were still some outhouses around, but most of them didn’t remain upright over Halloween! When I look back now, we were really bad!

So I’ve shared some of my juvenile delinquent Halloweens. What are your memories of Halloweens past? What about new traditions? What do you like to do for Halloween? Comment for a chance to win an ecopy of my romantic suspense SEEING THINGS. Make sure you leave your email address or I can't enter you in the contest! I'll pick a winner by November 2. Good luck!

When psychic Leah McKenna “sees” the abduction of a small boy, she knows she must help find him, no matter the danger to herself. David Logan, the boy’s uncle, doesn’t believe in psychic phenomenon. He believes Leah knows who kidnapped his nephew, and plans to stick close to her to discover the truth. As they search for Jeremy they uncover truths about themselves and the way they feel about each other. Can Leah convince him her visions, and her love for him, are real before time runs out for all of them?

Buy Links: Uncial Press | All Romance Ebooks | Amazon | B & N | Google Play | Kobo | Untreed Reads | Chapters/Indigo | iBooks

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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Story Behind the Story with E. Ayers

Today is Amazing Stories Wednesday! Just in time for Halloween, I'm featuring E. Ayers today with her sensual romance A SKELETON AT HER DOOR. She's here to tell us the story behind the story, but first here's a blurb:

Trick or Treat! Angie Robertson opens her door and finds a six-foot tall skeleton on her doorstep. Is it a trick or a treat?

Angie thought the man at her door was her neighbor. Except he wasn’t. Dressed for a charity event Tom Meyer winds up on the wrong doorstep and this just might be the best thing that ever happened to him.

What if the skeleton was a really nice guy who’d been burned by enough women that he’s lost faith in ever finding someone who could be faithful?

A Skeleton at Her Door is a sensual romance. It’s about trusting, putting the past away, and finding love when it’s least expected. It’s also about blending two households, parenting, three children, and sneaking off for some adult time.

 Amazon International Buy Links.

Or read for FREE as a Kindle Unlimited 

Thank you, Jana, for inviting me to be on your blog today. We were chatting one night and wound up talking about the story behind the story. Well, there's a saying in this business to write what you know. So often small bits of real life seem to filter into my stories. I just finished a story that involves the hero and a motorcycle accident. My own niece suffered through a similar injury, so yes, these tidbits of real life make their way into the things that I write.

But the biggest story behind the story is… Let's just say, looking back at it… It's enough to make me laugh. And it's one of those moments frozen in my mind. In fact, my children don't even remember it. How could they forget? Let me transport you all back to when my girls were still young.

Halloween was approaching and the community where I lived was concerned about Halloween and the children running amuck through the neighborhood. So I did what any sane parent would do, I volunteered to organize the biggest block party for children. (Okay, ignore the sane part.) I commandeered the clubhouse and began to plan the best party I could for the children. Fortunately, a few other moms helped me.

But that left out the older kids whom really weren't into costume parades, musical chairs (pumpkin-style), etc. Plus we had a surplus of teens in the neighborhood, and by city rules, they were not allowed to trick or treat. So what would this older crowd really enjoy? How about a haunted woods? Oh yeah!

I had a handful of young men and some dads who stepped up and said they wanted to help. Suddenly I had men planning to run cables through the treetops and a zipline. What? A zipline! Oh yeah, easy. You're joking, right? Not!

Several folks were involved in a local theatre group so what I thought might be a lame attempt at scaring a few preteens and young teens became the most amazing haunted woods imaginable. (As many adults as teens attended that event.)

One of my neighbors dated a woman who did the makeup for that local theatre group and had done big theatre. She wanted to do the makeup. I wasn't turning that offer down!

So from 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM the little ones had all sorts of age appropriate games and fun. Then by 7:30, we switched over to an older crowd of children that didn't want to do the haunted woods. So they had pumpkin decorating contests, etc. We fed everyone, and that was one scary menu! And what we thought would only last until 9 PM went until almost 11 PM. If anyone wants details, just contact me. The whole thing was a huge success.

But prior to that night, our makeup artist wanted to do everyone's makeup because she wouldn't have much time to even think. Her answer was to do everyone ahead of time and set up trays with peeling skin and open wounds. As folks came in Halloween afternoon, she could add the right colors and amounts of makeup to that person's tray and do that face, quickly and efficiently.

Starting about two weeks ahead of time, my doorbell started to ring and I'd open my door to the most amazing faces. From witches to zombies, I thought I'd seen everything. This gal had quite a talent in creating some very scary, sometimes gory faces.

But one night, I opened my door to a skeleton. It was one of those unseasonable cold nights. The kind of night that you cross your fingers and hope that Halloween will be much nicer! Anyway, instead of someone in jeans with half his face falling off, I had the most amazing skeleton in costume. I yanked that man into my house so fast and closed the door to the freezing cold temperature.

The black and white outfit was unlike anything I'd ever seen. Probably ordered from one of those catalog stores that specialize in costumes. Skin tight, it looked like something an Olympic speed skater would wear. The only bit of flesh visible was the face and that was covered in white and black makeup. The man wearing it was of average height. And there was no question that he was a man - broad shoulders, small waist and hips, nicely ripped… He was hot! And being an old married lady with an almost teen and one slightly younger, I knew not to drool over my single male neighbor!
So what did I do? I called my daughters to come see this wonderful creature standing in my living room. My oldest was just shy of her thirteenth birthday by a few days. She came downstairs first, and with wide-eyes, she circled the young man. This was mom's reality check that my little girl was no longer a little innocent girl. It was the way she said, "Oh, yeah!"

I fussed and finally the younger of the two girls came partially down the stairs and sat on the step. She looked at the skeleton silently standing there and then at me. I said something inane such as, "Doesn't Mike look super?"

I'll be honest, I'd never even seen my young neighbor in a pair of swim trunks, and he usually dressed in suits for work. I knew he was part of the haunted woods, but not what. And I assumed that if he were stripped of that suit, he'd cut a fine figure. Never assume!

My little one frowned and said, "That's not Mike. Mike has blue eyes and this guy has brown."

"You're not Mike?"

The skeleton shook his head.

"Are you part of the haunted woods?"

Again the skeleton shook his head.

"You're not talking because of the makeup?"

The skeleton nodded.

"Do I know you?"

He shook his head.

Panic, like Nordic ice water, ran through my system "Would you like a piece of paper?"
Who did I let into my house? I never found out his name or anything about him. He wanted the townhouse one court over from mine.

It took several weeks before I discovered that the incredible skeleton was there to pick up the daughter who had returned from college and that there was a charity event that night. I figure someday someone will read this story and say, honey, remember that skeleton costume you wore the night… Okay, they will have a good laugh, but I dragged a complete stranger into my house!

A few years ago, I was chatting with my girls about past events and that one came up. They didn't remember it. How could they possibly forget? They did, but I never did.

That crazy moment in time became the first chapter in my book, A Skeleton at Her Door. What if a divorced man with teenage children was dressed for a charity event, showed up on the wrong doorstep, and what if a divorced woman who thought she was opening the door to her neighbor discovered she didn't know the skeleton? My muse took over, and I wrote the story.

Autumn is my favorite time of the year, and this is definitely an autumn romance. But tucked in the pages, are some serious issues that face many women today, and anyone who has ever been trapped in an abusive marriage will understand Angie. Plus there's a father of two teens who is trying hard to raise them by himself, and in these times, trying to keep a couple of teens walking the line, is no easy feat! Oh, and let's toss in some body image concerns. Who hasn't peered in the mirror and been concerned about the way they look? We're not eighteen anymore!


"Zach, Emily, I'm home." Tom called as he came through the door. Sounds of a video game came from the direction of his son's room. "Emily?" He knocked on his daughter's bedroom door.

"Come in."

He opened the door. Emily had smeared some purple goop on her face and her hair was piled high on her head." Get ready for bed."

She rolled her eyes.

"Is your homework done?"

She nodded without removing the phone from her ear.

"Field hockey tomorrow?"

Another nod.

"Am I picking you and Ashley up?"

She shook her head.

"Emily, please. I do need to talk to you for a few minutes. Meet me in the kitchen without the phone."
He knew it was a lonesome life, but he'd lived this way for a long time. Lonesome was better than being greeted by a wife who nagged about everything. Angie came to mind and he smiled. She seemed a lot like him. Her world was her daughter and she did everything to give the child a good life.

He sorted through the mail and trashed most of it. He opened the letter from the orthodontist and read through it quickly before tossing it. Braces were nothing new and Emily was to get a mouthful after Christmas. The other envelope was the renewal notice from his car insurance. He filed it. "Emily!"
A few minutes later, she appeared with a towel wrapped around her long hair and the purple mask was missing.

"I have a dinner date tomorrow night and you guys are going with me. I want you on your best behavior."

Emily rolled her eyes at her father. "From that charity auction?"

"No, but I met her that night when I went to Matt's." He grinned. "You did a super job with the makeup, but I wasn't sure if I'd ever get all of it off."

Emily laughed. "Yeah, you did look good. How'd you do at the Halloween auction?"

"They liked me." He grinned back.

"What did they pay for you?"

He chuckled. "Eight hundred." He rocked his hand in front of him. "I was middle of the road."
"Was she pretty?"

"Old enough to be my mother, but we had a nice evening."

"So where did you find this date?" She pulled the towel off her head and rubbed her wet hair with it.

"I thought Matt was in 128 B. Matt's in D. Angie and her daughter live in B."

"You went to the wrong house? How embarrassing! What did you do?"

"I motioned for a piece of paper and pen." He wasn't about to say more. "So Ashley's mom is picking you guys up from practice?" He watched his daughter nod. "Okay, I want you coming straight home so you can grab a shower. It's going to be casual."


"I was considering something a little nicer - a real restaurant."

"Jimmy's Joint? Then Zach and I can play games while you guys ogle each other."

"That's not a bad idea. We're not ogling, but it would give us a chance to talk. She's got a daughter a little younger than you."

Emily raised her eyebrows.

"I don't know. I think Lissy's about eight or nine."

"Whatever. We'll be nice to her."

"Give me a kiss and go to bed."

He watched as Emily walked towards her room. At least he had well-behaved kids who received good grades. Zach wasn't into team athletics, but he loved his skateboard, and he could play almost any instrument in the band. Emily loved field hockey. He was proud of them. They weren't perfect, but for growing up without a mother, they were doing well.

He cleaned up the mess they had left in the kitchen, and then went to the den to clean up behind them in there. Five glasses, two half-eaten bags of popcorn, another vampire book from the library, and four nail polish bottles, Zach's cell phone, and two skateboarding magazines, he collected the junk. He'd read that older children were supposed to be responsible for their rooms, and they were supposed to be given freedom and privacy within them. His compromise was that every two months the rooms had to be spit shined, and he inspected them. The rest of the time he left a basket outside their doors and would deposit their stray things into the appropriate basket. He emptied what he had picked up into their baskets and went back to the den to finish straightening up.

You can buy A SKELETON AT HER DOOR  at 

E. Ayers can be found on Twitter at or at her blog,

Monday, October 19, 2015

Memorable Secondary Characters with Barbara Bettis

Historical author Barbara Bettis is with me today to talk about one of her favorite secondary characters. Thanks for joining me!

Thanks so much for having me here today, Jana, to talk about one of my secondary characters. I’m offering a $5 Amazon Gift Certificate to someone who shares one of their favorite secondary characters.

Authors love their heroes and heroines. We also love our secondary characters. Often, we love them so much, they get their own books.

Sometimes, though, those favorite characters will always be secondary—but they’ll appear in several books. One of those favorites for me is Davy. In my first book, SILVERHAWK, which has just been re-released by Amazon, Davy is peasant youth of about 14 who works as a stable lad for the elderly lord that Emelin, the heroine, is to wed.

Davy is mouthy as befits a youth that age, but he’s quick and he’s smart—and he’s wily. When he meets Sir Giles, the renowned Silverhawk, Davy finds an object for hero worship and sets out to follow when Giles kidnaps Emelin. In fact, he’s the only one observant enough to spot their hidden trail and shrewd enough to eventually track them down.

The character of Davy started out as a comic relief in a serious scene near the beginning. He just slipped into the action as someone cute that readers could identify with. But somehow the boy kept nudging into scene after scene, until I’d become very fond of him and hated to see him go when the story left that location.

Imagine my surprise when Davy popped up days later. Well, of course his being in the midst of the action had to serve a story purpose, so he became the means of revealing Giles’ identity and of informing Giles and Emelin of approaching trouble.

And, of course, he later lends a cunning hand to help Giles defeat the villain.

I’d grown so attached to Davy, that in the next book, THE HEART OF THE PHOENIX, he insisted on becoming a trusted squire (it was possible for that to happen in the late 1100s) and an important messenger for both the hero and the heroine.

He’s not the only secondary character I’ve grown attached to, and in my world, all the characters I love get happy endings. Davy will have his. I have no doubt we’ll see that in one book soon.

Thanks for sharing Davy’s story with me. Do you have a secondary character you like from a story you’ve read or written?

Here’s an excerpt from SILVERHAWK featuring Davy and Sir Giles not long after they meet.


In the stables, Nuit was in his former stall at the back, munching hay. The few lads tending other mounts ignored Giles. Except for one familiar, dirty face which popped out of a corner. Davy.

“Is it true you kill ever’one when a town don’t surrender?” Awe tinged the boy’s voice. “Even women and children?”

“Especially children.” Giles’ reply was a low grumble. “Inquisitive boys who beat horses.”

The remark was met by a snort. “I didn’t touch your devil ’orse, Silverhawk. It was m’brother.”

“What did you call me?”

The boy hopped back at the menacing whisper, wide-eyed, as if he’d stepped on a forest adder. “That’s what they been callin’ you. It’s your name, aren’t it? The famous Silverhawk, who can spot a’ enemy a mile away and bring ’im down in one swoop. Nobody escapes.” Davy demonstrated with a swing of his fist, as if he relished the idea.

“Bloodthirsty brat.”

“I am.” The boy strutted. “That’s what Lord Osbert always says. I can stand the sight a’ lots a’ blood. When Sir Karl slashed ’is arm and bled all over everywhere, I ’elped old Maggie wrap it. And I’m not afeard a’ nothin’.”

He crept closer as he told the tale, ending at Giles’ side. “You don’t have a page or a squire or nobody.” His voice notched up a note in excitement. “I could be your squire. The blood wouldn’t scare me at all.”

Giles considered for a moment, then couldn’t resist. “I could use someone to clean my bloody gear,” he allowed. “As my squire, your first duty is to care for my horses.”

Davy peered at Giles; the boy’s eyes rounded like moons. “You mean—’im, too?” He jerked his head at Nuit, who obligingly “thonked” a hoof on the floor and blew saliva-wet hay from his lips.

“Of course. The two of you will learn to get along. It’s my destrier back in Normandy I’m concerned about. He once took a finger off a page who tried to feed him an apple.”

Even in the dimness, Giles could see the boy pale. Unfortunately the story was true, although it was just the tip of the left forefinger. A rough lesson, but at least the boy learned not to tease a war horse. “If you don’t like horses, why do you work here?”

Davy screwed up his mouth and wrinkled his nose. “English ’orses are nicer. I’m not afeard a’ them.”

“Then you’d best apply to an English knight.”

“Nobody around here does anythin’. They’re not famous. I’m goin’ to be famous when I’m grown. I could learn from you.”


He’s everything a proper lady should never want; she’s everything a bastard mercenary can never have.

Sir Giles has come to England to kill his father, who seduced and betrayed his mother. First, however, he’ll seek sweet revenge—kidnap the old lord’s new betrothed. But when Giles uncovers a plot against King Richard, he faces a dilemma: take the lady or track the traitors. What’s a good mercenary to do? Both, of course.

Lady Emelin has had enough. Abandoned in a convent by her brother, she finally has a chance for home and family. Yet now she’s been abducted. Her kidnapper may be the image of her dream knight, but she won’t allow him to spoil this betrothal. Her only solution: escape

Rescuing the intrepid lady—while hunting traitors—is a challenge Giles couldn’t anticipate. But the greatest challenge to Giles and Emelin is the fire blazing between them. For he’s everything a proper lady should never want, and she’s everything a bastard mercenary can never have.


A former health insurance claims adjuster, a former journalist, a former journalism teacher, Barbara Bettis plans never to be a “former” author. Currently, Barb supports her writing habit as an adjunct English instructor at a community college near her home in Missouri.

Visit me at: and                                                                                               
Find the book on Amazon:

Don't forget! Barbara is offering a $5 Amazon Gift Certificate to someone who shares one of their favorite secondary characters. Comment here to enter!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Haunted Blog Tour with M.S. Kaye

I'm happy to be part of M.S. Kaye's Haunted Blog Tour. With Halloween coming, it's a great time to talk about ghosts! Take it away M.S.!

Born from Death series - Haunted Blog Tour

Ghost stories—what better inspiration for character names can there be? Follow this tour to learn the background for the character names of the Born from Death series.

Anne lived an exciting life in the twenties as a flapper, and she died with a slit to the throat. It doesn’t really matter who wielded the knife. She was loyal to Soll, and when Ilona deals with him, Anne haunts Ilona to punish her.

The inspiration of the name:
“The ghost of Queen Anne Boleyn is quite a unique phenomenon in the world of the paranormal. Unlike most ghost who haunt a certain locality, Queen Anne Boleyn's ghost is said to haunt a number of different locations throughout the UK.

“Her spirit seems to have left a permanent imprint on the fabric of her surroundings, which is perhaps down to the impact she made in life and her traumatic death as to why her ghost still persists more than 500 years after her execution.”

Awaken from Death
Book 2 of the Born from Death series

The only emotion Ilona can muster is anger for the death of her mother. Barely engaged in life, she focuses all of her energy on finding and punishing her mother’s killer.
Since Ilona can see ghosts, Archer has to find unique ways to hide while watching over her. When Ilona is in danger of being mauled by a dog, he desperately tries something that shouldn’t be possible. And yet he succeeds. This is just the beginning of his discovery of who—what—he truly is.
Lettie continues to interact with Ilona, her one friend, even when a Messenger warns her. Eventually, Lettie remembers the ancient connection Archer and Ilona share, as well as her part in the punishment Archer bore as a result of that connection.

Amazon   ~   Barnes&Noble   ~   Publisher (all formats)  ~  Smashwords   ~   Goodreads

Strong as Death
Book 1 in the Born from Death Series

Ilona runs from her sheltering mother in order to find the truth, why she’s seeing people who are invisible to everyone else. A mysterious boy named Archer guides her through Brooklyn and introduces her to Hendrick, the man who claims to be her father—though he died in 1890. Ilona must discover not only what she must do to rid the city of Soll, a sadistic and powerful spirit, but also what it means to be half ghost. She proves what her mother told her—love is stronger than death.

Publisher (all formats)  ~  Amazon  ~  Barnes and Noble  ~   Smashwords

Author Bio:

M.S. Kaye has several published books under her black belt. A transplant from Ohio, she resides with her husband Corey in Jacksonville, Florida, where she tries not to melt in the sun. Find suspense and the unusual at

Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Google+  ~  Goodreads  ~  Amazon  ~  TSU  ~  Pinterest

Sneak Peek at Awaken from Death:

The blond boy didn’t walk up to a urinal or into one of the stalls, or even up to the mirror. He stood in the middle of the room.

Invisible, Lettie watched curiously.

Something moved backward away from him. Out of him.

She recognized Archer’s shiny black hair and strong frame even before she could see his face.
She gasped. But ghosts can’t inhabit people.

The blond boy shook his head and looked around. “Fuck.”

“I’m sorry,” Archer murmured so the boy wouldn’t hear.

Lettie stared at both of them.

The blond boy turned, leaned his hands on the counter, and looked at himself in the mirror…not the way people usually looked at themselves. It was more like he was trying to see something more than was in the reflection.

Archer watched him, as if waiting for him to see something.

Then Lettie understood. Archer hadn’t merely inhabited the boy—he’d possessed him. But there were only a couple ways that’d be possible—if he were half ghost, or if he…

A memory struck Lettie like a horse galloping across a battlefield. An ancient memory. Lettie had been around since the beginning of time on Earth, but most of those thousands of years she let slink around the crevices of her mind. It was mostly just walking the bridge with the newly deceased. There were a few memories, though, that burned into her every time she let herself pull them forward. And burned was precisely the right word.

She knew—or rather, remembered—why Archer would never leave Ilona.

Haunted Blog Tour schedule:

10/1/15 - Anna Durand - haunted blog tour Hendrick  
10/5/15 - Colleen Laughlin - haunted blog tour Estes 
10/6/15 - JM Maurer - haunted blog tour Mary 
10/8/15 - Judy Reynolds - haunted blog tour 
10/9/15 - Calisa Selfridge - haunted blog tour Marwell Hall 
10/14/15 - Rachael Kosinski - haunted blog tour Balete 
10/16/15 - Jessica Cale - haunted blog tour Casper 
10/19/15 - James DiBenedetto - haunted blog tour Turner Ingersoll 
10/22/15 - Kimbra Kasch - haunted blog tour Kate Morgan 
10/24/15 - Angela Scavone - haunted blog tour Dorothy Walpole 
10/27/15 - Helena Fairfax - haunted blog tour Archer Lane 
10/29/16 - Alisha Robinson - haunted blog tour Mr. Clifton 
10/30/15 Tina Gayle - haunted blog tour non-ghost 

10/31/15 - Rosanna Leo - haunted blog tour Ilona Raynham 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Good Girls Don't Become Best-Sellers by Kristin Lamb

I am reblogging this post from Kristin Lamb's blog. I found it enlightening and inspiring and I wanted to share. And then I'm going to go out and kick some ass!

I am currently reading Kate White’s I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This: Success Secrets Every Gutsy Girl Should Know. There are bad books, okay books, good books and great books. But there is another kind of book and it’s the rarest.
The game-changer.
White has a witty, sassy style. She is seamlessly intelligent and down-to-earth in her fiction. And guess what? Her nonfiction delivers more of the same.
I’ve never recommended a book I haven’t finished, but this one has me far too excited. Even if Ms. White devolves into dirty limericks for the rest of the book? I still feel I have spent my money well. There are some points she makes which I feel are especially poignant and applicable to writers.
Part of the reason I’m referring to her book in this blog (even though I’m not yet finished) is that I might just chicken out unless I jump in. I have come to the conclusion that…

Good Girls Don’t Become Best-Sellers

Before you throw digital knives at me, please hear me out. I’ve been doing this social media thing since MySpace was big. I have three books under my belt, 900 blogs, and thousands of hours of teaching. So I’ve been around long enough to at least make a very unscientific study of human behavior and I can tell you that men almost always have the advantage in the new publishing paradigm. They have the edge for the same reasons they gain the advantage in the workplace.
Those lessons our mothers and grandmothers passed on could be the very behaviors that have us standing in our own way. I feel this is particularly true for the writing profession since it is largely comprised of women over 30.
Women over 30 have lived long enough to see this world change more than it ever has in the entire course of human history. Who would have imagined we’d say things like, “I want a picture. Hold on while I get my phone!”
We were born into a world where women became nurses, not doctors and now we are finding our way in a world where a woman can finally be bold enough to run for president (not vice-president).
Many of the writers I work with believe they are struggling with branding because of the technology, but I don’t agree. I think women are finally in a position where we must choose. It is live or die. If we listen to our rearing we will lose and lose BIG.
We don’t like the new paradigm because we can’t hide behind an agent and wait meekly for outside approval. The new publishing paradigm lands us smack dab in the place we are most terrified.
What I am going to address can help the men (the “Nice Guys”) and it does apply to younger women. But us older gals? I could kick myself for not seeing this earlier and it figures it would take a former Editor in Chief ofCosmopolitan Magazine to help me see the light. I’m going riff with some of the ideas presented in Ms. White’s book and apply them to women in the world of publishing. We are taught to be Good Girls and is this having a devastating impact on our careers.
Then, since I hate whining and love solutions, we will throw out the rule books and explore what it is to be a “Bad Girl.”

#1 Good Girls Are Modest

It is unbecoming to brag, so we are modest and humble and we are shooting ourselves in the foot.
In the corporate world, men are more likely to own their accomplishments, whereas women tend to minimize their achievements. To paraphrase White:
If a man has four years of college French, he has no problem stating he is fluent. Women, on the other hand, will downplay their abilities. We say we have a “conversational grasp” of the language.
When it comes to writing, the second a man even starts a novel, he has business cards with “Author” as his title and he is securing a website. Women, on the other hand? Let’s pause that thought for a little test.
How many of you are aspiring writers? Raise your hand. No one will see.
Now, use that hand to smack yourself soundly and never call yourself that again.

Writers write. There is no try. There is no aspire. Aspiring is for wimps. It takes guts and blood to be a writer.

No one will take us seriously unless we do it first.

#2 Good Girls Need Permission

I cannot count how many writers (usually female) have written a novel, numerous novels and yet still refer to themselves as “aspiring writers.” They are waiting for permission to even use the title even though they have a blog and have written hundreds of thousands of words.
Men don’t do this. At least not in the same numbers. I can attest to that. I’ve met men whose writing was so bad they should have been banned from downloading Word until they took some grammar classes, but that didn’t stop them from having a marketing plan or hiring a PR person. They don’t hesitate to secure a domain, build a blog, or hire the best person to design their cover and if they can’t get an agent? They are more likely to self-publish without needing outside approval to do so.

#3 Good Girls Don’t Have Desires

So many of us gals are afraid to want something. Why is it so hard for us to admit we want something? To claim a certain life? Why do we feel such shame and a need to hide who we are and what we desire?
It is okay for a man to want sex a promotion a raise to want to be a New York Times best-selling author, but for us? There is almost something dirty about wanting to write. Wanting to write and get PAID to write. Wanting to write and to…be famous for it.
Oh no! Kristen has gone TOO FAR! And there is only one punishment for lighting the grail-shaped beacon…
Dirty, naughty Zewt!
Spank us all!
If we are wives and mothers? The problem only compounds from there. I have a hard time expressing I want to go to the bathroom alone, how am I supposed to say I want to be published a LEGEND?

#4 Good Girls Are Demure

As a social media expert for writers, do you know one of the biggest mistakes writers make in branding? They fail to use their names. They tweet as @fairywriter or @ILuvBooks or @dragongirl. They do all of this wonderful networking for months and years and yet it is almost all wasted effort. Why? Because unless I am going to change my name to Fairy Writer and slap that on a cover, that twitter handle is doing zilch nada nothing to build a brand.
Remember what a brand is?

A brand is when our name alone is a bankable asset. It is when a name alone has the power to drive sales.

When I get on social media and see writers using monikers, by and large it is women. Men do this too, but not in the same numbers. And, even if men use a moniker, the second I point out the fallacy, they are far more likely to change it. Women on the other hand are terrified of using their name and take way more convincing.
Men are also far more likely to start a blog. Women?
They have to have three angelic visions, four miraculous encounters and a committee of family members to tell them it would be okay to BLOG. Why is blogging so scary? IT IS FREAKING WRITING. It plays to a writer’s strengths, but I might as well ask writers to perform brain surgery from space with a Chia Pet and an egg beater.
What if people find out I like to write? 
Don’t you think they should if you hope they will pay money to read your books?

#5 Good Girls Feel Comfortable Losing

Well, I tried and that’s all that counts. 
We women are notorious for placing ourselves in no-win situations. Out of one side of our mouth we say we can’t be on social media because we don’t yet have a book for sale, but when we do have a book for sale? Oh, well I feel so awkward talking to people because they might think I am selling my book.
*bangs head on keyboard*

When a man publishes a book, he is there to win. He isn’t there to see his name in print. He is there to see his name in lights.

But us gals? We are notorious for settling. We feel awkward admitting we maybe kind of sort of would like to be number one. Men have no problem admitting they are on social media because they would like to sell books.
Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 9.58.49 AM

Okay, enough of the “Good Girl” stuff.

I hope I’ve made my point. Now *rubs hands* it is time for me to help you cultivate that inner Bad Girl.
If you want this dream, the first step is to know it is okay to want it. Many of you are moms, wives, and caretakers. Maybe you already have a great career and it is “selfish” to want to write. And I am here to say, YES. It is. And sometimes a little selfishness goes a long way. Men outpace us because they are better at being selfish.
We must learn to stuff a sock in the inner Good Girl’s mouth and channel that inner Bad Girl because she is dying to get out more. Being a Bad Girl doesn’t mean we aren’t still kind and gracious, but it does mean things are going to change.

#1 Bad Girls Do It Afraid

Nothing remarkable happens in the comfort zone. You are going to have to suck it up and writer up. Only sociopaths don’t feel fear. Fear is natural and normal but it gets in the way of greatness. I feel women are far more afraid of failure than men. We wait to be “perfect.” We can’t say anything until we have the perfect book. But perfect is the enemy of the good. Do it afraid.
Yes. You might fail. Odds are you WILL fail and good! Keep failing. It’s how we learn.
My motto?

If we aren’t failing, we aren’t doing anything interesting.

So understand everything I am about to tell you is likely going to scare your pants off.
It’s okay, the erotica authors can lead the way :D .
Pay attention to that feeling because you will need to remember it. If something scares me (like writing this particular blog), likely I am onto something BIG. It is a sign I am heading in the right direction.

#2 Bad Girls OWN IT

Good, bad, ugly. We own what we do. I admit when I left sales and dreamed of becoming a writer, I wrote the world’s worst novel. It was being used in Guantanamo Bay to break terrorists until it was banned under the Hague Convention as torture.
But you know what? I finished a novel. I did something everyone says they want to do but then never actually do. I own the bad, but what’s been harder? Learning to own the GOOD.
It took weeks for me to put the emblem on this blog that I was named one of Writer’s Digest’s 100 Best Blogs. WHY? Because I am a work in progress, too :D .

#3 Bad Girls ASK FOR IT

How many writers are waiting for someone to deliver their big break into their lap? We go to conferences and practically throw up in our shoes at the thought of asking an agent if they’d like to hear about our book. WHY? It is their JOB. Agents don’t have a job without writers.
Ask for what you want. Guess what? All they can do is say no. But, they might just say, “Yes.”
When I wrote my second social media book, I had the terrifying task of finding blurbs. So, I took my own advice and did it afraid. I made a list of all my favorite authors and then…asked. Guess what? New York Times Best-Selling Author James Rollins said, “Yes.”
He already knew me and loved my book.
But I never would have known had I not dared to ASK. Bad girls don’t hear, “No.” We hear, “Not yet” ;) .

#4 Bad Girls DO IT

A lot.
We write. We blog. We tweet and by golly we slap our name on it while we are there. I get that the house is a mess, but guess what? It can wait. Most men aren’t waiting until the house is immaculate and all the laundry is done and the kids are all asleep to take time to write!
How many of us are getting up before dawn or staying up after midnight because our dream might just inconvenience someone else? Let them be inconvenienced for a change!
We ladies bend more than the karma sutra and that is okay, but if our husband actually has to watch the kids for an hour in the evening that is too much?

# Bad Girls Are In It to WIN IT

Again, I love, love, love Kate White’s book because it reminded me of so much I’d forgotten. Yes, I am a full-time author, blogger, and C.E.O. but I am also a mom and spend way too much time in yoga pants and covered in crumbs. It is easy to forget to be hungry. It is easy to lose our way unless we are vigilant to keep the path. It is easy to let other people’s opinions matter too much.

Lionesses do not lose sleep over the opinions of sheep.

Bad girls don’t whine. We don’t make excuses and we do not politely wait our turn. We understand life is short and we need to make our time here count.
Understand that this is an amazing world that is rich in bounty and there is enough to go around. Don’t let anyone diminish you. This is your dream. It isn’t your little hobby or your “thing” it is YOU. It is your dream and it is OKAY to WANT TO WIN.
This seems like such a simple thing, but I hope you see how pivotal this realization is. I can give you all the branding and blogging lessons in the world and it won’t help. We don’t have a technology problem, we have a confidence problem.
Vow today to make a change. Start by admitting you want the dream then, for the love of all that is chocolate, slap your NAME on it. No more hiding. I will find you on Twitter and pull your @FairyGurl wings off ;) .
What are your thoughts? Do you see any “Good Girl” behaviors that have been undermining you? Do you have a hard time calling yourself a…writer? Do you have a hard time with the notion of social media because the thought of admitting you have a dream scares you spit-less? Have you bothered to get a domain name, a website? Blog? Are you afraid to ask for what you want? Do you put everyone and everything ahead of your writing? Are you waiting for permission? Do you feel like you are a poseur or a fake? Do you struggle with perfectionism?

See You at Contemporary Romance Cafe!

I'm at my regular monthly gig at Contemporary Romance Cafe today talking about one of my favorite characters  --  Zane Martin from A LONG WAY FROM EDEN. I hope you'll come by and say hello!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Interview Friday with Devon McKay

      Today fellow Wild Rose Press author Devon McKay is my guest. She has generously agreed to answer a few questions. Let's get to know Devon better!

Where did you get the idea for your new novel? 
I lived in Alaska for 27 years but now resided in Ohio. The tourist season always makes most Alaskans cringe a little. Though the additional income and visitors are gratefully welcomed, the usually quiet state gets extremely busy and that can be unsettling at times. After listening to my sister, who still lives there, grumble about the upcoming summer, I got the idea for the story. I hung up the phone and started writing immediately.

Why did you choose this genre?
I’m one of those hopeless romantics. I love a happy ending. 

What genre have you never written that you’d like to write?
Horror. I’d like to give it a try. 

Horror? That really surprises me, but then I can't watch scary movies at all. When were you first published and how did that happen? Was it a long or short journey?
I was first published last year and my journey was like a whirl wind. I was signed to The Wild Rose Press fairly quickly. I still have to pinch myself. 

What is the hardest part of being a writer for you?
Promoting myself and all of the social media. I’m honestly quite bad at it. I have no problem talking about my books. That’s easy because I fall in love with my stories and love to have one-on-one conversations. But twittering and blogging are not my forte.

What do you hope readers gain from your stories?
Personally, I’d just like readers to be able to escape from the real world for a few hours. That’s how I like to feel when I read a good book. 

What book for you has been the hardest to write? 
My first book published was the hardest. I just didn’t know what to expect and learned so much along the way. 

How many books do you have under the proverbial bed? Will they ever see the light of day?
Currently I have about eight. All unfinished and works in progress. I hope to have them all published one day. 

Do you write in the same place every day or do you like to change it up?
I have two writing dens. One is at my barber shop and the other is at home. I find I actually get more writing done at work between haircuts. I can’t tell you how many times a client walks in and I hold them off for a few minutes until I finish my train of thought. It’s not good for business, but thankfully, I have understanding customers. 

That's really funny Devon! You must be a really good barber! What’s one thing that your readers would be surprised to learn about you? 
I am very shy and hate to be the center of attention. This becomes a real challenge when trying to promote my books. 

I think shyness among writers is pretty common, or maybe it's just me. Tell us a bit about you. Where do you live, and how long have you been writing?
I live in a small town in Ohio. When we moved from Alaska the dream was to own a small farm and so far we’ve achieved that goal. We raise long horn steers, chickens, goats, dogs and cats. This really is living the dream.

Do you have another occupation, other than writer? If so, what is it? Does it help you with your writing?
I’m a barber and own my own shop in a small town. I’ve been cutting hair since I was seventeen years old, so nearly thirty years now. I love it. And it definitely helps with the writing. I get so many ideas for a great story by talking to people every day.

Do you have any pets? Are you cat person or a dog person? Or are you into totally different pets, like goldfish? What do you like best about your pet?
This is a funny question to me because I just posted something about this on my facebook page. I have three dogs and a cat. Every one of them play a part in the writing process. 

What are your hobbies away from the computer?
I like to do stained glass projects in my spare time. Lately, I’ve been replacing the glass from old windows with clear, wavy glass and prisms. Though, I’m a writer, I’m not describing the pieces very well. They actually look quite lovely when I’m finished. Also, my husband and I spend a lot of time at our cabin where we like to fish and ride four wheelers. 

What did you want to be (occupation-wise) when you were a child?
A ballerina, but I have two left feet and happen to be as graceful as a newborn colt. I’ve always been a dreamer. 

What do you like best about your hero in Staking a Claim? 
Blake is so outdoorsy. He is completely at home in the feral wildness of the Alaska wilderness.  

What do you like best about Staking a Claim's heroine? 
Samantha Held is career orientated. In fact, she is so driven it becomes one of her downfalls, a character flaw which I believe makes her relatable. 

How can readers reach you or find you online?
Tell us a little about your current work in progress.
At the moment, I’m working on a story called Betting On Kincade where a woman loses her ranch in a drunken bet made by her stepfather. As if that’s not bad enough, she finds the new owner is her soon to be ex-husband. 

What’s your tagline? Why did you choose it?
I have two taglines. The first one simply ties the romance and the title together and the second one I chose because it’s the tag line my main character came up with to promote tourism in Alaska.
She staked a claim on his heart.
Live Alaska. If only it was so easy.

Do you have an event coming up you’d like to tell us about?
Yes. September’s been a huge month for me. I resigned my first book, Cowboy On The Run, with Amazon Encore and it made its debut on September 1st.  

Tell us about your current release.  
In Staking A Claim, my heroine, Samantha Held, goes to Alaska on a job assignment to promote tourism in the state in hopes to land a partnership position in the advertising company she works with. However, butting heads with Blake Strickland, a gruff Alaskan man, who happens to be quite territorial about the state wasn’t part of the plan. 

Devon McKay Bio:

Living in Alaska for 27 years, Devon McKay has many exciting stories to tell about the state. On several occasions, she was chased by a mother moose defending her young, stalked by a bear, endured temperatures of forty below and once was even trapped in an avalanche. She loved every minute of it! 

After writing her first novel, Cowboy On The Run, she now calls a small ranch in Ohio home with her loving husband and teenage son. Although the farm life is slightly more laid back then the perils of Alaska, Devon enjoys the slower pace of the country lifestyle which gives her plenty of time to follow her passion of writing.

Staking A Claim Blurb:

For most people, seeing Alaska is a dream come true. For Miami Beach resident, Samantha Held, it is merely a job assignment. Creating an advertisement for vacationing in the state gets her one step closer to achieving her career goal—partnership in Kolinsky’s Advertisement Agency. 
Blake Langford is not willing to accept any exploitation of his beloved state, no matter how desirable the striking, southern blonde bombshell with fiery green eyes is, and he’s determined to sabotage Sam’s goal in every way. Falling in love with the enemy, however, was never part of the plan.

Staking A Claim Excerpt:

Fuming, Sam held his gaze as she considered his offer. She couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity to be dropped into her lap. She could learn everything she needed to know about Alaska and have a handsome, but overly protective, guide of the state to show her. Not to mention what his knowledge could do for the brochure.

It would also mean more time in his temperamental company.

Sam considered her options. She had gotten lucky finding Carlton Landing, but what about locating her elusive hotel? As proven last night, it was more than evident she couldn’t even read a map correctly. So, what real choice did she have?

She pictured her new office…the view of the ocean…the partnership. She was willing to take the chance. Besides, she’d never been the kind of girl who shied away from a challenge. Hell, so far, her life had been a series of challenges.

“It’s a deal.” Her voice came off cool and professional despite the quickening of her heartbeat. She offered her hand to shake on the agreement. “We haven’t officially met. Samantha Held. I go by Sam.”

“Blake Langford.” He extended his, grasping her hand and repeating the name she already knew by heart. He held onto her grasp for a minute longer than necessary. “I go by Wolf.” 

Again, the breathtaking grin resurfaced, and an odd pulsation spiked through Sam, leaving her insides quivering like a bowl of gelatin as she second guessed her decision. 

What kind of fool makes a deal with a man called Wolf?

Release date is September 30, 2015

978-1-5092-0329-1 Paperback 
978-1-5092-0330-7 Digital 

Amazon Link