Posted by: Susan Hanniford Crowley | April 24, 2014

The Last Post by Gerri Brousseau

As I sat down to write today’s blog, it dawned on me that this would be the last post I would be writing from my condo before I move into my new place. I started to think about the mixed feelings one always gets when leaving something behind and moving on to something new. It could be leaving an old job for a new one, leaving an old relationship for a new one, or leaving an old address for a new one; there are always mixed emotions. I’m thrilled to be going into a new chapter in my life and excited to discover what will be in store for me. I’m anxious to get back to writing and welcome the clear, clean energy the new living space has to offer. This past weekend while I was putting the patio furniture out, I noticed that I could hear the nearby waterfalls from my back door. Right now there are no leaves on the trees in the wood behind my new home and I can see the sunlight glistening on the water. I wonder if I will be able to see it once the trees fill in. I know sitting out and listening to the falls will bring me inner peace as the sound of water flowing always does. I’m anxious to unpack the boxes and get settled in, and to finally bring the dog down and let her sniff around our new home. I know it sounds strange, but I can’t wait to cook my first meal there.

I’m happy to be getting out of the old place as it has become burdensome and the energy there has grown negative. Still, I will be sad to move away from the friends I have made over the last 7 years I’ve lived there. Thinking of that made me wonder what friends I will make at the new location and I’m excited to have new people in my life. Who knows, maybe they will provide interesting characters for my upcoming novels!

So, the next time you hear from me, I will be writing from my new location. Spring has finally sprung and I’ll probably be sitting out on my patio with Mimi Sue (the pug) and the laptop. I’ll have to see how that goes because the last two times I was there bringing boxes in, I was visited by squirrels. How about that? The new place provides entertainment for Mimi and the cats at no extra charge.

Yes, moving sux, but the good news is that it’s nearly over now and hopefully the unpacking won’t be as much of a  pain. At least it won’t be frantic. So, as I said . . . moving does suck, but I think that focusing on the good, exciting, and happy side really makes  it suck less. Have you ever experienced the mixed emotions of leaving old for new? 

 

Posted by: Toni Kelly | April 23, 2014

The Elusive Vampire

With the recent release of my vampire paranormal romance Blood Eternal, I thought it only fitting to bloodeternalchat about vampires today and their appeal as well as share an excerpt. I know, vampires have been done before, but Blood Eternal gives them a bit of a twist and if you check it out, you’ll know what I mean—sorry, no spoilers.

I’ve gone over it in my head time and time again. The suck blood, they are slim and sometimes sickly pale (depending on the story teller), they’re dead and they have fangs. Gosh, I’m logically turning myself off just as I write all of this! And yet, vampires remain completely sexy and powerful to many of us, including myself. Why is that? For many, I believe the appeal is indescribable. Sure vampires are usually all the things I mentioned above but they also usually represent immense strength, sometimes supernatural powers, a wisdom and maturity that only comes with centuries of living, a talent for seduction and above all, we don’t quite understand them so they are a mystery.

And now for an example of exactly what I mean. Here is an excerpt from Blood Eternal. It is the first time Savannah admits to herself that there really is something different about Luke (the vampire who she doesn’t yet know is a vampire) and yet there is this inexplicable pull to him she clearly feels. Enjoy!

Savannah lied to herself. Technically it wasn’t a lie, simply a choice not to speak the truth

aloud. Her attackers had realized it too. Their eyes had widened with fear as they’d watched

Luke. He was different. Faster, stronger. His scent drifted to her nose as she buried her face

against his chest.

Right now, she didn’t care. Angel or demon, god or minion, he was her savior. He carried

her through the city back to his apartment building, refusing to let her walk.

“Please,” she said. “You can’t take the stairs. Eight flights of stairs is too much. Put me

down, we’ll take the elevator.”

“Not a chance. You asked me to carry you, did you not?”

“I didn’t mean for you to walk up eight flights. I’m fine. I didn’t hurt my legs.”

Luke sighed. “Look, I know you do not like the elevator. Let me carry you.”

She didn’t protest any further. Couldn’t, when his bottomless gaze held her captive. He

carried her up through the stairwell then down the hall to his front door. He shifted her in his

hands to open the lock, fingers shaking as he fumbled with the keys. The lines between his brows

grew pronounced. She’d never seen him this agitated.

“Please, Luke. Tell me what’s wrong.”

“Damn key.” Slipping his keychain into a pocket, he shoved the door back. As it swung

wide, he walked to the sofa and set her down.

“Your door. You broke it.” Perhaps concerning herself over his walk upstairs was

unnecessary, considering he’d done that and damaged his door without breaking a sweat.

“I can fix the lock tomorrow.” He seemed to move rigidly and with restraint, as he folded

several cubes of ice in a moist cloth. “Here, put this on your mouth, wipe away any blood.”

She did as asked and drew in a breath at the cold sting of ice on her cut lip. “It’s not

bleeding anymore.”

“Good.” He wouldn’t meet her gaze as he leaned back along the counter, gripping the

edge of the black and gold granite top. The ridges of his knuckles paled. Gone was his cool, calm

demeanor. “Forgive me.”

Forgive him, for what? She lifted her head. “You keep apologizing to me and I still have

no idea what I’m supposed to forgive you for.”

“I should have been there sooner.”

Thanks for joining me today. If you like what you read, you can check out more at www.authortonikelly.com. Blood Eternal is also available for purchase at Amazon and B&N. Thanks and Happy Writing this week!

Posted by: Susan Hanniford Crowley | April 22, 2014

Things I Learned from Self-publishing by Leia Shaw

Last week I talked about expanded my publishing choices to move beyond only self-publishing and look at traditional options as well. But because, as I said last week, I am still loyal to the self-publishing journey, I want to mention the things I learned by self-publishing most of my books in the last three years.

1. How to run a business. Writing is a business in itself, sure, but self-publishing even more so because you are in charge of paying yourself. The accounting is more complicated, the technical parts are more complicated, the distribution, the marketing, math and taxes and ugh. Let’s not go there. But honestly, if you’re self-publishing you have to go there. And you have to use that pesky left side of the brain. And you have to think beyond collecting a paycheck from your publisher. Most writers are running their own businesses, but especially self-publishers.

2. The value of quality. We’ve all heard around the water cooler (metaphorically speaking) that self-published books aren’t as good or professional as traditionally published books, who are the gatekeepers of quality blah blah blah, bullshit, bullshit, bullshit. Yeah. While I don’t believe that’s true in many many many cases, I certainly didn’t want to be one of the low quality ones that reinforced that prejudice. I didn’t want to bang out a book every few weeks, paste an amateur cover together, then slap it up on amazon. I work hard, I take pride in what I do, and I pay for good editing and good cover art so I can compete with traditionally published authors. My goal was for no one reading my books to guess that it was self-published.

3. Don’t judge. This doesn’t just go for self-published authors who are sometimes thought of as “less than,” but for traditionally published, small press published, or any other type of published authors. We all work hard. We all have different reasons for going the route we did and they’re valid reasons too. Don’t judge another person’s journey and choices.

4. Time is money. Words are money. Books are money. Sometimes it IS all about the money. Every time I put out a new book, it boosts the sales of my backlist. So more books equals more money, obviously. But for a self-publisher it’s especially true. We don’t get an advance. And we often put money in (on editing and cover art, and maybe formatting) before the book even releases. There is no best or worst time to publish a book. When you’re done, put it out there for the world to read. Not rush and slap it out there, that’s different. But when it’s ready, edited, formatted, etc, there’s no sense in dragging your feet. Wasted time equals loss. Finish a book, publish it, start writing again. That’s the way to make money and build your business.

5. Marketing sucks. In many ways. I think most writers agree, this is not our forte. We are the creative types. We wants to stare into space thinking up new characters and plot lines. We don’t want to research advertising, write stupid blog posts (except this one of course), calculate the cost of hiring a promoter versus doing our own, etc. Ugh. Math. We just want to sit in our nice cozy office and write the day away. Not only that but it’s hard. So hard to find what works. Especially when the world is ever changing. What was once hip and trendy, is old news just a few months later. Just when I got active on Pinterest someone told me no, Tumblr is big now. My Twitter is dead. So is my personal blog. I just can’t keep up! And quite honestly, when it comes to big sales, social media marketing doesn’t work. Release parties, blog tours, even ads don’t often pay off, at least not for me. But you can’t sit around and do nothing either. Marketing books is and has always been a mystery to me.

There are many many other things I can tell you I learned from self-publishing — confidence, self-assurance, math ;)  but this is all I have time for today. Anything you want to ask or add in the comments, I’ll try to check in later today.

 

Posted by: Susan Hanniford Crowley | April 21, 2014

Weekly Paranormal-Scope

While I’m not qualified in any way to read neither stars nor planets, I am intimately linked with the paranormal in the world. In many ways, so are you.

The Paranormal-Scope is for entertainment purposes only and is not meant to guide your life by. Let’s have a little fun.

The week ahead for:

Aries
Hobbits take family duties seriously. Take care of loved ones and be satisfied that you’re doing a good job.

Taurus
Shapeshifters are good at avoiding burnout. It’s time to carve out time for yourself and don’t change it.  You deserve this time to do something you love.

Gemini
Dragons know when it’s time to take chances. This week show your talent and surprise and delight your colleagues.

Cancer
Vampires live long undead lives.  They live past the time when they have regrets. Embrace the good things you have now.  Don’t regret the past.

Leo
Elves need a day to get offline and cuddle up in bed with a good book and take a soothing bath. Enjoy and restful and rejuvenating day.

Virgo
Goblins are weary of doing favors.  Consider the commitment a favor might entail before agreeing.

Libra
Hobbits are picky as to their home decor. Reorganize everything to see it better, and you’ll know what to replace or change.

Scorpio
Opportunities may be flowing your way. Whales know how to take advantage of a change of current.

Sagittarius
Gnomes love getting housework . Devote several days to laundry and cleaning and enjoy the rest of the week.

Capricorn
Faeries love surprises.  Enjoy those unplanned moments with family and friends.

Aquarius
Werewolves know that the pack values a hard worker.  Smile and show that you enjoy your work.

Pieces
Pixies love spending time with family and friends. Plan some outings and get-togethers.

-Susan

Susan Hanniford Crowley
Specializing in Vampires and Rare Supernaturals
Where love burns eternal and whispers in the dark
http://www.susanhannifordcrowley.com

P.S. VAMPIRE KING OF NEW YORK is now out in Print at Amazon and Barnes and Noble, in ebook  in KindleNook, and Kobo!

Posted by: Jenna Jaxon | April 20, 2014

Happy Easter!

This looks like our bunny, Cuddles.

This looks like our bunny, Cuddles.

Easter snuck up on me this year.  I just came off of a production at school last weekend and this week I’ve been playing catch-up both at home and at school.  So it suddenly occurred to me today, that Easter is tomorrow.   While Easter isn’t my favorite holiday, it’s still a fun time, especially for me and my kids. They’re pretty much grown, yet they still 502px-Eastereggs_ostereierexpect the Easter Bunny to drop off Easter baskets with plenty of chocolate.  Trust me, they won’t be disappointed. :)           Easter dinner is usually a big deal at our house.  Most years we eat out at a fancy restaurant.  This year, however, my husband is away for work, so the girls and I are eating in and maybe going to a movie tomorrow afternoon.  I’m getting up at 6am to bake a ham and make lots of our favorite side dishes.  It’s interesting that all holidays at my house seem to revolve around special foods. :) 800px-FW_Osterschinken How are you celebrating Easter (if you do) at your house?

Posted by: Susan Hanniford Crowley | April 19, 2014

What A Writer Needs – Part 2: Business Cards

Often when going to conferences, giving readings, workshops and talks, there is one piece of paper that makes an impression in addition to your books.  I’m going to show you a progression of business cards I’ve had so far as a romance author.  How does one get the right look for your cards?

Well, I reasoned that I was a paranormal romance author, so when I went to Vistaprint and looked through their templates, I chose one with a dark feel to it.  I left the back blank so I could add my phone number when I gave it to a publisher or agent.

Here’s Card #1.

1st romance author card

Dark! Ominous!  It was okay as a beginning.  It gave the important information and included my credential of SFWA membership.  It’s brutally hard to get into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of American, Inc., so people are usually impressed when they see that credential.  The card was darker and the white crisper.  The scan doesn’t show the dramatic effect of the card.

Now after talking brand with some of the romance authors, I supposed I should not be so dark. The card could be used for a series of mystery books. Was I sending the wrong message?  Now I’m not into pink.  I’m a paranormalist. Half of my wardrobe is black.  But  I thought maybe if the pink was really an aurora borealis, it would be okay.  It looks great on the blog.

Here’s Card #2, also scanned in.

2nd Romance author card

The actual card has sharper lettering.  Now I had a tag line and rearranged my information to benefit the lights within the pink color.  It was fun and I added the aurora borealis to my website and Twitter page.  This card was also blank on the back.

Now it’s been nice.  But deep inside I have a lot more to express, and I also have the Vampire King of New York!  I am wildly proud of this book and was determined to do King Max proud. I looked at the card templates at Vistaprint and played with a design in a way I hadn’t seen done before. As for the back, blank wasn’t doing anything for me.  Great is what I was aiming for.

Here’s Card #3.

Susan Hanniford Crowley Card

I was going for POW.  The lightning bolt is raised and shiny. It was also placed at the end of Susan on purpose.  This came from a proof, which I saved as a Jpeg.  Putting the book cover on the front was the right decision.  I changed the original design of this card a lot.

I didn’t ask for a proof of the back.  I just scanned it in so you can see it.  I really wanted the card to represent me.  That email always gets to me, and it’s named for “Ladyknight” the first character of the first fantasy novella I wrote all those years ago, which has been translated into five languages.  That’s where onlyladyknight came from.  Now back to the back of the card.

Back of Max card

The scanning doesn’t show that it has the same coloring as the front and the lettering is very crisp.  It is a teaser for Vampire King of New York telling a bit about the book and where to find my books.  That line “Imagine a Viking in a wolf skin loin cloth!” put my book on the Amazon Kindle’s Top 100 Best Selling Vampire Romance list for June, July and August 2013. People loved it and still do, and readers tell me it’s so Max.

What if someone needs my phone number?  I have a gold permanent marker that shines very well against the dark and I still have a space to write that number on the back.

I hope you’ve enjoyed and have learned something about making that important business card express you.  Please, let me know about your business card adventures.

-Susan
Susan Hanniford Crowley
http://www.susanhannifordcrowley.com

 

Posted by: malanouette | April 18, 2014

One More Week for the Name Game.

What are  you reading this week? I’m reading The Collector by Nora Roberts.

I’m on the last fifty pages on my edits for the Burn in Hell, A Jake Carrington Mystery print book and I’m getting very excited. Next Friday is the last week to enter.

Submit your suggestions for the female lead in my next book. The character will be similar to the model above. Put on your thinking caps. The contest will run through April 25th. On the 26th I’ll pick and announce the name and the winner in the comment section of this post. Don’t forget to add your email addresses so I can contact you. Or if you prefer your Facebook address and I’ll PM you.

I like unique names. My name I’m always correcting everyone on the spelling. It’s a familiar name but instead of an O mine is spelled with an A. Marian not Marion. I automatically spell my name for people so it’s correct. But you’d be surprised how many times it comes back on correspondences and emails wrong. For this very reason I tried my hardest to make sure I have everyone’s correct spelling before I send a letter.

The reason, I feel it shows the recipient I pay attention and I cared enough about them to get it right. Do you take the extra steps to find out how to spell a name?

Good luck! I can’t wait to discover who she’ll be. If you’re submitting your own name as the character, a release will have to be signed if the name is chosen.

Susan, I loved your post on names. I found it very inspiring.

Posted by: Susan Hanniford Crowley | April 17, 2014

What A Writer Needs – Part 1

I’m pitch hitting for Gerri tonight due to an illness.  Which brings me to one of the most important things a writer needs in his or her life–sleep.

Sleep restores us. It builds our energies. For some of us, sleep gives us dreams

Credited to CorkBilly on Flickr

Credited to CorkBilly on Flickr

which eventually become stories and books.  I have found that to optimize our sleep, we can do the following:

1. Take a bath not a shower.  Soak in the scented bath salts of your choice. I like sandlewood vanilla myself.  Some find lavender to be very restful.  Lavender is symbolic of magic, love, protection, healing, and vision like the fields of lavender in this photo.

2. Use a nice body lotion that you rub all over yourself including your face.  Make sure it’s not something you could be allergic too.

3. Wear loose pajamas.  The goal of tonight is to moisturize and relax to sleep deeper.

4. Before entering the bed spray in the air around you a fragrance. I always use lilacs or wisteria.

5. Now climb into bed and turn out the lights and stretch out over cool sheets and sleep.  You need it and it will give back more than you put in.  If you feel cold later in the night, have a blanket close to hand.  You’re going to wake up from a wonderfully restful sleep.

Now good night, everyone, and get well soon, Gerri!

-Susan
Susan Hanniford Crowley
http://www.susanhannifordcrowley.com
Where love burns eternal and whispers in the dark.
Specializing in vampires and rare supernaturals.
New Release: Vampire King of New York, available in Amazon Kindle and Print, Nook and Barnes and Noble, and Kobo.

Posted by: Toni Kelly | April 16, 2014

A Writer’s Stamina

I know I’ve written about running before and my enjoyment of it. These days, I don’t get to do much running, but I hope to get back to it later on in the year. This past weekend, as I watched my toddler run circles around me (literally), I couldn’t help but think about stamina, not just a runner’s stamina but more specifically, a writer’s stamina.

For those of us in the world who are writers or acquainted with one a more writers, it is easy to see that the art of writing takes quite a bit a stamina, among other qualities; however, I don’t think that is a trait that many think about.

We talk about story telling ability, creative mindsets, language skills and overall determination to write a book/article/short story/etc. and while it is important to have these traits as well, I’ve always found a writer’s stamina to sit in one place for hours upon hours for weeks or even months at a time fascinating. Of course we don’t literally sit for this entire time. We all have lives to live, but the truth of the matter is, the longer we do sit and dedicate the time, the more productive we will be. Simple logic as long as you don’t have writer’s block. I will also venture to say that a great majority of those who set out to write novels and don’t finish them usually fail when it comes to the stamina it takes to get the work done (just my opinion). Some may lack knowledge or skill, but to some degree these can be learned. Stamina, however, is a bit harder to gain. It requires strong will, discipline and endurance—not to mention a passion or love for what one is doing. Runners usually love running just as writers love to write.

For those writers out there, this is me from the side line cheering you on towards the finish of that work in progress. You can do it! For those of you who’ve tried writing and not succeeded toward finishing a work, try again; see if you have the stamina and passion to get it done. If not, no big deal, find something you love to do and work towards it. You’ll find the path less resistant when you aren’t forcing it.

Happy writing this week!

Posted by: Susan Hanniford Crowley | April 15, 2014

Paths to Publishing by Leia Shaw

It’s no secret that I’m self-published. I’m not ashamed. I don’t feel inferior to traditionally published authors. I consider myself successful by my own definition. I have no regrets. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished in a short period of time. Self-publishing was the right choice for me.

However, things change.

And they don’t always change because one path is better than the other. Sometimes it’s just about a different experience, new adventures, and making the most of opportunities.

I’m talking about going down the traditional publishing path. Three years ago, when I first started writing, traditional publishing wasn’t the right move for me. Now, I believe it is. Again, not because it’s better, more successful, or more legitimate. Only because it’s something new to try, another way to make income. And because writing is my day job, I have to entertain all avenues of making money.

So, being the type of person who is accustomed to deciding what I want and then getting it, I am eagerly awaiting the moment I can tell you more. For now, I leave you with a smirking goodbye ;)

 

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