Thursday, August 27, 2015

Cover Reveal: Dream Wedding by J. J. DiBenedetto

J. J. DiBenedetto is the author of the Dream Series, a delightful set of stories based on dreams. He says that Dream Weddings is the final book of the series - but who knows? I'll let him tell you more:
After ten books and nearly a million words, the Dream Series will be complete on October 20th. Book number ten, DREAM WEDDING, will be released, along with DREAM FRAGMENTS, a collection of short stories that fill in some of the gaps between the novels of the series. And here is the brand new cover for DREAM WEDDING, designed by Emma Michaels ( Dream Wedding4   What's it about?
It ought to be a joyful time for Dr. Sara Alderson. Her daughter, Lizzie, is about to graduate college, and marry her longtime boyfriend. But the family’s happiness is shattered when a drunk driver seriously injures her teenage son in a hit-and-run accident. Now, instead of planning her daughter’s wedding, Sara must fight to save her son’s life. And when she discovers who the drunk driver was – someone she thought was a colleague and a friend – she has to fight her desire for revenge. Because Sara knows she has the power to visit the driver’s dreams, and in those dreams, she holds the power of life and death. Dream Wedding is the tenth and final book of the Dream Series
And you can pre-order it on Amazon right now!   The DREAM FRAGMENTS collection also has a brand-new cover, also designed by the wonderful Emma Michaels: SeriesTitle_Dream Fragments_V2   You can also pre-order it on Amazon! If you can't wait for October 20th (and I don't blame you if you can't!), all nine of the previous Dream Series books are available on Amazon, as well as many other eBook retailers (visit my website to see the full list of where to buy them!). You can also check out my website (listed above), as well as Facebook and Twitter for the latest Dream Series news. Or you can click here to download a quick guide to the Dream Series and me! You can also check out the Dream Series on Audiobook. The first seven books are currently available on Audible, and book number eight, DREAM VACATION, will be available within the next two weeks. You can hear samples from all the audiobooks at my website, too!  

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Protector by Diane Burton: Blog Tour and Review

I am so pleased to host another new release announcement for my friend and fellow Michigander, Diane Burton! Diane writes romance in sci-fi settings, yet they don't overwhelm the reader with technical jargon. I loved reading her Switched series as well as her detective book. This time she's promoting the third book in her Outer Rim series, The Protector.

The Protector (An Outer Rim Novel)
by Diane Burton
Amazon | Barnes & Noble Kobo Books | Smashwords
Genre: Romantic Adventure/Science Fiction
Release Date: July 24, 2015
Length: 370 Pages

After tavern owner Rissa Dix rescues two girls from a slave ship, she must rally the townsfolk to prevent traffickers from raiding the frontier colony. She’s met with apathy and disbelief. Because she lost her own baby to traffickers, she’s determined that no other mother will suffer the same heartache. 

Industrialist heir Dillan Rusteran aids her in rescuing more children. Little do they know they’re about to tangle with a trafficking ring that puts Rissa in danger. Dillan’s loved her for years despite her claim she’s too old for him. As they fight the traffickers, will she finally see him in a new light?

I asked Diane to share a bit about how she came to write Sci-fi romance, and she was gracious enough to respond. So here's Diane:

Why Do I Write...
By Diane Burton

A question I’m often asked is why I write science fiction romance. It’s not the most popular genre. There’s more money in romantic suspense. I write what I like to read. I fell in love with space adventures when I saw my first Star Wars movie. Actually, I heard the music on the radio first and knew I had to see it. Action. Adventure. Romance. And it was in space. Even better.

My love affair with space exploration started with Sputnik and the Space Race. President John Kennedy proclaimed the U.S. would put a man on the moon in “this” decade (the 1960’s). We did, but he wasn’t there to see it. At the time, I knew the names of all the astronauts. I watched every launch broadcast. And like millions of Americans, I saw Neil Armstrong step onto the moon’s surface.

As space is explored (too slowly in my opinion) I often wonder if there is sentient life “out there.” And why not? Aren't we being arrogant to think we're the only creatures capable of thought in this vast universe? To paraphrase a character in the movie Contact, wouldn't that be an awful waste of space?

I write about adventure. Yes, we can have adventures in the here and now. For me, it’s more fun to think about adventure in space. Call it escapism, if you will. Who doesn't need an escape—from dirty dishes, weeds in the flowerbeds, a nasty coworker, homework, loss of a job (or the fear of losing one), a dying relative?

So I write about adventures in space. What’s an adventure without romance? Granted, some sci-fi stories don’t have romance. Again, I’ll say I write what I like to read. I love reading romances—especially romances with something different. An unusual locale, suspense, bad guys.

In the end, I hope my stories give readers a fun journey, hours of escape, and that “ahh” feeling of a satisfying ending.

The Protector can be purchased here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble Kobo Books | Smashwords
You can find Diane at these links: Website | Blog | Twitter Facebook | Goodreads Amazon Author Page


Patty's thoughts:
Since I was busy with final edits for The Partridge and the Peartree I didn't get a chance to finish the entire novel. The last time I checked my Kindle app I was at 75 percent through. But what I did read is full of action and adventure! I'm always assured of a great story with Diane, and this one didn't disappoint. 

I am always drawn to strong heroines, and Rissa Dix is a super-heroine! She's learned to be tough because she had to. After several life experiences that would have destroyed a weaker woman, she's built a life for herself. What she doesn't realize is that she's also built strong connections with the community, and they rally behind her in her time of need.

Dillan Rusteran is an absolutely yummy hero. He's strong and capable, and it doesn't hurt that he's wealthy and generous. Yet he's not intimidated by Rissa's strength or the fact that she's older than him. He's there to help her - and more. 

Once I finish reading, I need to get caught up with my writing projects. And then I'm going to have to go back and read the first two books in this series: The Pilot (published in 2012) and The Chameleon (published in 2014)!


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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Civil War Swag

Authors often try to find unique swag items that relate to our books. I sometimes give away Asian-themed items to promote The Samurai’s Garden or quilted items to plug the two books in The Stitching Post series. Last month Mysti Parker released her Civil War historical A Time for Everything and I offered to help supply some of the gifts for her release party.

In Mysti’s book, the heroine has a cameo locket she got from her husband, who was killed in the war. The locket hangs on a piece of lavender ribbon around her neck. It plays an important part in the story, and Mysti thought it would be nice to have a replica to give away. I have LOTS of ribbon, so I told her I’d look for some inexpensive cameo pendants. I found some online, but she’d have to buy several to get a decent price. Fortunately, my local grocery/department store had several packs of these vintage-looking buttons in their craft department, and included in the package were two cameos! I brought them home and had the necklaces made in no time.

I also thought it would be cute to make some drawstring purses with lace on them, reminiscent of the little purses women carried back then. I happened to find a bag of silky fabric remnants from my daughter’s wedding eight years ago. I added some lace and ribbon and put together a red one and a yellow one in time for her release party. Mysti liked them so well she asked for eight more! If I have time I might make several in off-white to celebrate the re-release of The Partridge and the Peartree, my regency Christmas novella!

You can find A Time for Everything at AmazonBarnes and NobleSmashwords, and other ebook outlets.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Tara Mayoros: Turning Manuscript Pages Into Art

I consider myself fairly crafty, but I don’t pretend to be an artist. Give me something to copy and I can usually do pretty well, but to paint something from scratch, well, that’s best left to others. But Tara Mayoros, one of my fellow Clean Reads authors recently showed how she turned some of her old manuscript pages into beautiful works of art! She sometimes gives them away at author events, but this lovely painting here is displayed in her home.
I asked Tara for permission to re-blog, but since Blogger doesn’t have that option I copied some pictures from her original post. This lovely tree graces her mantle. Isn’t it gorgeous? If you want to know how she did it, click on the picture to go to Tara’s blog. She's got detailed instructions there.

Here are some more beautiful projects Tara has made from her manuscript pages:

I’m sure you’ll agree that Tara is as talented at art as she is at writing! Her novel Broken Smiles was released at Clean Reads last year.

About Tara’s book Broken Smiles:
One fateful night while performing at the Grammys, the pressure from the music industry becomes too much for Laidan. She is quickly carried off the stage, leaving the world audience stunned and amazed by her emotional performance. Accompanying her are a trusted bodyguard and a close childhood friend. Together they make for the jungles of China where she meets Doctor Rafe Watkins, a humanitarian who has reasons of his own for why he has chosen to live deep within the bamboo forests.
The handsome doctor is building an orphanage and runs a clinic that fixes children’s broken smiles or cleft palets. Watching him perform his many acts of kind service, Laidan’s “broken smile” is also healing and she begins to fall deeply in love with him. She has finally found a place where she belongs. One problem – because of Rafe’s intentional seclusion from society for the past seven years, he does not know Laidan’s true identity. What will he do when he finds out? Can love conquer all, or is Laidan’s rock star fame too big for his quiet life?

Broken Smiles is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and other ebook retailers.

Tara can be found on Facebook, her blog, Twitter, Pinterest, Google +, and Instagram.

About Tara Mayoros:

As a child, Tara Mayoros moved to Asia with her family where her love of different cultures and travel began. In college she satisfied her wanderlust by moving to back to China, filling her head with countless stories, and occasionally writing them down. Years, marriage, children, and many adventures later, she picked up her dusty pen and paper and realized that writing took her to different worlds and gave her the experiences that she yearned for. As an artist, musician, and nature lover, she sees the beauty in the process, and the miracle, of creation. The mountains are her home and they call to her whenever she finds herself in need of inspiration.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Heather Gray: Marketing on a Skinny, Tiny, Little, Shoestring Budget

Marketing on a Skinny, Tiny, Little, Shoestring Budget
by Heather Gray

Selling a kazillion books.
Happy sigh.  Isn't that what most authors dream about as they slave over that first novel?  By the time novel number two comes along, it's a determined sigh.  With novel number three, it's a gritty sigh.  With novel number four, there's not even a sigh anymore.  Reality has set in.
If writing is fun and editing is work, then what is marketing?  Hard work – painfully hard.  At least, that's what I used to think.
I've known authors who have spent over a thousand marketing dollars to launch their debut novel only to wait six months before earning a paycheck with more than two digits to the left of the decimal.  I've also known authors who have spent little on marketing and who have seen their books take off like wildfire.
Personally, I'm not very good at spending big.  It's part of that whole being-an-adult and putting-my-family-first thing.  I know, I know.  It might sound crazy to some people, but I'm not willing to starve my family's budget in order to feed my writing career.
I'm also not a big gambler, so you won't find me buying tickets and sitting around anxiously waiting for my number to be called in the book-success-lottery.
Work hard with integrity and consistency.  You could say that's my motto when it comes to my writing.  When it comes to marketing?  Work smart, not hard.
I keep a marketing calendar, and I plan my marketing in advance.  Because I'm organized, I end up spending less than an hour each month scheduling all my marketing for the following month.  I also plan my marketing all together in a single 5-7 day time period.  While I pay attention to marketing during that time, I'm not anxious about it because I've already done the work.  The biggest perk to this system as far as I'm concerned is that I get to concentrate on writing for most of each month.  Didn't I say it above?  Writing is fun.   It's important to writers – and to their careers – to make time for writing.
I also incorporate several free promotional sites into my monthly marketing plan.  Some free sites offer fantastic results.  Others – eh.  But even those sites that provide so-so-mediocre sales results still offer links to your book and often to your website on their site and in their social media promotions.  Those links back to you (called backlinks) and your book help increase your chance of discoverability.  In the world of search engine algorithms, having other sites linking to your webpage is an awesome thing.  Those backlinks might not result in immediate sales, but they do feed into your long-term success.
Here are some of the free sites that I use for book promotion (always double-check as prices are subject to change at any time, etc.):

There are a lot of other book promotion sites out there that don't charge.  Sometimes it's because they're new and are still trying to build their following, and sometimes it's because they make all their money from affiliate links with the booksellers.  Just remember, some will pay off with immediate sales, and some won't.  A balanced approach between your short and long-term goals is always a good idea.
By the way – if your budget allows it, and you want to use paid sites, too, go for it!

Whether using paid or free sites, though, keep track.  Know where you've advertised and what the results have been.  Having that knowledge will make planning next month's marketing that much easier.  Seriously.  Plan ahead so you can spend your time writing, not stressing out about marketing.  After all, if you don't make time to write, you won't have anything to market.
Thanks, Heather! 
You will love her historical romances. Here's the blurb from her book Queen:

You can't hide from the past.

Queen's world was shattered, and she was banished to a foreign land. Years pass before she dares to return, but what she finds is of little comfort. Greed and dishonesty have festered and grown in her absence. Embittered and cynical, Queen trusts few people.

Owen pursues a clandestine investigation and finds himself working side-by-side with a veritable ghost, an agent few have seen, a master of disguise known simply as Queen. He craves her trust…but then uncovers a secret from his family's past that could destroy her.

Queen once sought refuge in America and now seeks it in disguise. Owen has always found his refuge in God, but will his faith be strong enough for the challenges ahead? Can he convince her to stop hiding, or is he doomed to become her most hated enemy?

Heather Gray can be found at her website, blog, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Queen can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and other ebook outlets.