7 Ways to Get More Exposure on Social Media Daily

Picture of two teenage girls smiling and making funny faces while sitting on a couch.
“People do not buy goods and services. They buy relations, stories, and magic.” – Seth Godin

“I don’t know how to get people to see my [fill in the product] on social media.”

Nope. Sorry. I cut off anyone who starts a lament to social media with this phrase. Especially authors. There are dozens of ways daily to gain exposure on social media. Not just from fellow writers (although don’t discount them entirely, they read too) but from honest-Abe readers. Take Twitter.

To tweet or not to tweet

The question really is: To Twitter Chat or Not to Twitter Chat. And it is absolutely to Twitter Chat.

A quick exercise. Open another tab in your browser (don’t do this in this one or else you will lose all my beautiful pearls of wisdom and have to back click and that just sucks). Go to Google. Type in “book chats Twitter.” I don’t know about you but about six Twitter accounts revolving around ‘book chats’ or ‘book marketing’ or ‘book readers’ came up. To top it off, a link dedicated to List of Regularly Occurring Bookish Twitter Chats by Book.Blog.Bake. came up. Hint: those would be good places to start.

Seriously. Click in and follow those accounts. Scroll through their feed. See if they host or participate in a Twitter chat that seems to be somewhat stable, regularly occurring, and something you’re into.

On average, I know of and participate in at least four Twitter chats a week. I’m not always the most regular at participation since, well, life. But I make it an effort to pop in sometimes and be seen, build relationships, learn stuff.

The bottom line is there are Twitter chats being held every day of the week, multiple times a day. Hence the title of this article. There are seven ways to get more exposure on social media daily because there are seven days in a week. And that’s just Twitter. Facebook has groups for readers; even Google+ does.

If knowing there are seven days in a week isn’t enough for you, here is my list of seven ways to get more exposure on social media daily:

  1. Know your demographic. Do some research. Know who you want, and “readers” is too generic. Do better.
  2. Decide where to spend your effort. You can’t be every at once unless you decide to quit working, never write again, and just be online in your jimjams. And then nobody wants to talk to you anyway.
  3. Commit to it. Engaging on social media takes commitment. If you have issues with that, you might want to rethink a profession that requires engagement and consistency and social ability.
  4. Engage. And I’m not just talking Picard here. You have to actually want to talk to people, not just hock your product. Be real. Be authenticate. Don’t be a douche.
  5. Karma Reach-Arounds. Give props to the chat organizer, and not just during the chat. Don’t get all stalker-y or anything, but make sure to thank them for organizing/moderating the event. Chats take time and patience and dedication. Thank them for that, and while you’re at it give ’em a little reach around no and again when you aren’t getting somethin-somethin out of it.
  6. Know when to take a break. It’s the ‘you’ show. If you don’t know anything about a topic and really don’t have an interest in the topic, don’t participate in the chat that week. Doesn’t mean you can promote it a little and say “Hey, this is some good stuff over here.” But know when to take some time off.
  7. Don’t be a hog. Are there literally dozens of chats on Twitter alone seven days a week? Duh. I already said this. Point of reiteration is to mention that while you can participate in every single one of them all the time, you shouldn’t necessarily. This goes back to #6. It isn’t the ‘you’ show. Give your audience a break sometimes. Remember putting yourself out there on social media to engage readers and hopefully get them to like you well enough to care to read your book/blog/song lyrics/whatever. You won’t endear nobodies if you are the annoying song on the radio that plays on every channel non-stop (we’re looking at you Titanic Celine).

“Why, BC, what Twitter chats do you like?”

Well, I’m glad you asked. I like these following people:

  • #K8chat – Publishing-related chat for readers and authors. Every Thursday from 9-10pm Eastern. Host: @K8Tilton
  • #StoryDam – Come talk about writing stories! Held every Thursday from 8-9pm Eastern. Host: @StoryDam
  • #litchat – LitChat is for book lovers. All books. All the time. Mondays and Wednesdays from 4-5pm Eastern. Host: @LitChat
  • #indiechat – Indiechat is a Twitter chat designed for indie and self-published authors. Every Tuesday from 4-5pm Eastern. Host: @BiblioCrunch
  • #NextLitChat – If you are a new adult author, reader, or curious as to what new adult is, this is the chat for you! Held every Thursday from 9-10pm Eastern. Host: @NextLitChat

Image of a redheaded woman in a black leather jacket. She has her hands held up in the American Sign Language sign for 'I love you.'BC Brown is the author of three novels and has participated in multiple short story anthologies. Having committed almost every ‘bad deed’ in the book of ‘How to Be An Author’, she now strives to educate others through humor and simple instruction, and uses her celebrity to advocate for others.

Coming Soon: KARAOKE JANE

Books: A Touch of Darkness ◘ A Touch of Madness ◘ Sister Light (out of print)
Anthologies: Fracas: A Collection of Short Friction ◘ Quixotic: Not Everyday Love Stories ◘ A Chimerical World: Tales of the Seelie Court

 

Author’s Book Marketing Guide: Month 1 Pre-Release

One month to go. You are almost there with comprehensive pre-release strategy that will have your book come out of the proverbial gates a-swingin’! To date we have broken down what to do each month leading up to your book’s launch date, including media kits and contact procedures, arranging for public speaking events, internet presence with social media, organizational methods, graphic design and branding, and interpersonal relationships.

There is no easy way to say this, even with all the hard work you’ve put in so far, the months right before, during, and immediately after your launch are absolutely critical for your book success. History has shown in the traditional publishing industry that book sales are strongest in the first 90 days after release. It will be your measuring stick; and it has also proven to be the time when most books reach bestseller status. Even if that isn’t your goal, it certainly can’t hurt and, when dealing with traditional publishers, can show a strong presence enough to get your book on limited shelf space in stores.

In this section, to make sure you have as strong a start with your book release as possible, we will cover the following:

  • The media blitz
  • Tour scheduling
  • Street teams

The media blitz

You have a strong media list curated if you’ve followed Parts XXXXXXX on my blog. You have the press release polished and snazzy. You have your one-two punch media pitch. Now it’s time to put it all into action. Pitches and press releases should be sent out approximately four to six weeks before your launch date. While we know the world works in lightspeed paces, it takes real time for a reporter to cover a story, including working with their and your available schedules. If you start at the six week window, I recommend follow up reminders and additional releases weekly to keep on their radar.

Radio/Podcasts

Hosts often plan their guest appearances a few weeks in advance. This includes podcasts. They’re busy people, and they have their own marketing pre-release they have to account for. You will most likely need a combination effort with emails and phone calls to get a guest spot. I’ve found it often takes six or more contacts before you get the host’s attention without being too annoying.

The prep work for radio and podcasts is easy. Make sure your voice is well modulated; if you’re a heavy breather or throat-clearer, make sure to avoid doing so. It’s okay to have someone record you in advance like a mini-interview and then listen to yourself so you don’t sound awkward. Since I’m profoundly hearing impaired, I’ve had friends record me and listen to the recording on my behalf to make sure I don’t do things I might be missing. The same feedback can be helpful for normative hearing people too. Every little bit helps. The best audio tip to give about doing a radio/podcast interview is to remember to smile. It will make your host more comfortable with you (if you are in studio) and will make your voice sound open and friendly. The best preparation tip I can give is to have your top two or three points written down in front of you. Radio (and often podcasts) aren’t long, and they often have multiple guests. You may not get a lot of time to talk so make sure you get the most out of your time with the most important information.

TV

Television can seem daunting. The camera is terrifying to many. Especially writers who are often introverted by nature. But you can use the fact that television is visual to your advantage, even if you don’t like the spotlight.

Find visuals that relate to your book. Depending on your book’s nature, you might be able to do some sort of “show and tell,” have photos or illustrations. For instance, if I was to write and promote a book around my blog posts 8 Tips for Shopping Thrift Stores and 5 More Tips for Shopping Thrift Stores, I could have models demonstrate the “do’s” and “don’ts” of thrift store-found fashion. Just ensure that you clear everything in advance with the production team and host who will need prep time to set the stage and react.

Even if you don’t have anything more to go along with your book, being an engaged and enthusiastic guest is good TV. Read a little on how best to dress for the program (or ask the stage manager), and then just do what you do – tell a story, only the story is how entertaining or impactful to others’ lives you and your work will be.

Tour scheduling

Again, you’ve done the work: media lists and scheduled interviews, set book signings, and planned for live events – now it’s time to promote them! Check with radio stations/podcasts about advance promotion of events; many will. Most bookstores promote who is going to be there well in advance with in-store signage; maybe you can even get them to put you on their marquee out front along the roadside. In addition, many bookstores air or publish their own press releases, send newsletters, and do special promotion to VIP members. Conferences and conventions always promote on their websites, even if you’re not a big name celebrity, in the program, and on advance PR.

Let’s face it, like authors, some venues promote better than others. Some do virtual zero promotion. You must remember to ask what promotion efforts they have planned. If they don’t have press releases planned, offer one you’ve written. Tell them they’re welcome to use it on their website and social media as well. Do you have a blog following? Promote there. Keep your signing and speaking schedule posted on your website’s homepage, put it on social media, send it to relevant websites before, during, and after your events. Get your street team (that we’ll be discussing shortly) to get involved however they can.

Keep media releases of different lengths. You want one that covers your whole engagement schedule. You also want short announcements for each event. The media isn’t likely to pick up every event, unless you’ve made some sort of impression on them, but overall odds are good that many releases will get some level of coverage.

Friends who blog? Ask them to mention your upcoming events if their readers are in your target audience. Keep the upcoming events in front of your own readers by making them part of your regular newsletter. Keep it relevant on social media by updating frequently. Post it at places like Shelfari and Goodreads on your profile. Certainly have it available on your Amazon or Barnes and Noble profiles.

At every interview, mention where you’re going to be next. I always mention my next event and the one following that, especially if the first date is close to the interview air date. That way people have two chances, and someone who goes “Darn. I’m not available on such short notice” will have a second option that is further down the road to attend. Keep those interviews linked on social media, website, and blog. Helping to drive continual traffic to the host’s or reporter’s site by posting your interview links is an easy and good way to thank them.

Remember to set up Google Alerts to let you know when your name and book title are posted anywhere on the web. It will be important to know how your information is getting out there and beneficial to see who is the most effective at distributing it. Doing so will allow you to streamline your communications going into the future. That’s not to say to cut out traffickers that weren’t the best, but you can reach out to them later and prioritize your go-to promoters first.

Street teams

This is an older term that stems from radio. Radio stations used to have interns flood the market with flyers and promotional items. Don’t we just wish we had that kind of manpower and budgeting? Well, in part, you do. At least the manpower.

Do you have a handful of good friends and supportive family members that can be counted on? Who had read your manuscript before it was published? Often times an author can count on their beta readers as the basis for their street team. From there, you can build outward. But first you have to take a little bit of time to train your street team on what it means and how they can help you.

Establish willingness

“You must always ask; never assume.” Just because a beta reader had time to read and critique your manuscript prior to publication doesn’t mean they will have time to join your street team. But if you don’t ask, you’ll never know. To incentivize street team members you can always offer something: a signed, advance-review copy of the book is often appreciated, a small gift that relates to your book, even tee shirts. Sometimes the team members just likes be the “first to know.” Every team is different.

Establish tasks

This is what you need. Typically, it’s best to ask street teams to complete easy, inexpensive tasks like:

  1. Ask local stores to carry your book and contact you for a signing;
  2. Request their local library branches purchase your book;
  3. Write early, positive reviews of your book on Amazon or favorite online seller, submit reviews to relevant blogs, and post to social media;
  4. Put up advanced flyers and posters about upcoming events at coffee shops, universities, or other popular hangout places;
  5. Attend your events, often acting as a “plant” to ask questions, start conversations;
  6. Invite people, especially their friends, to your events;
  7. Call in during radio or podcasts with questions;
  8. Suggest your book to local book clubs;
  9. Provide a gift of your book (maybe one that you provide to them) to influential people they know;
  10. Talk your book up with people they know!

Some people balk at the concept of “plants” in an event’s audience, but there is nothing unethical about having people who genuinely enjoyed your book in the audience at events. Thinking of it from the big marketing point of view. Companies give out free samples and trial sizes all the time in hopes people will talk up and also buy more of their product. That is all a good street team does in essence: they talk up your product and get people buying!

 

Okay. So we have covered what to do in the month prior to your book launch. If you’ve followed the steps each month then you should have a comprehensive book marketing strategy that will blow the roof off your book release.

 

BC Brown is the author of three novels and has participated in multiple short story anthologies. Having committed almost every ‘bad deed’ in the book of ‘How to Be An Author’, she now strives to educate others through humor and simple instruction.

Step-By-Step Self Publishing on Kindle: Book Formatting

BC Brown Books Kindle Self Publishing Book Formatting

We’ve covered how to establish a Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) account and how to set your product pricing and royalties in the Getting Started post and we’ve talked in more detail about the individual product details in the Book Basics post. With all that great information, you’re ready to go, right? Except…wait, what is your product?

If you’re reading this I’m to assume you’ve written a book.The question remains: have you formatted it for upload? Book formatting isn’t as simple as uploading a Word document. Don’t despair however. It isn’t hard either. With a few easy steps you can make sure your book is professional quality when your reader opens their Kindle and sees your work.

Preparation for publication

Many writers choose to write in chapters which affords editing ease and also reorganization. Like many other authors, I don’t write in a linear fashion, instead relying on a mixture of plotting and scene “stitching” that often has me jumping from place to place in a novel. Doing so would be impossible to keep in one text document, no matter the format, so I keep each scene or chapter in separate documents that can be readily accessed.

When it comes to prepping your novel formatting, you need to put your edited document in a single file from start to finish, front cover to back cover. A lot of writers find that the successful conversion format is a Word document that has been saved as an HTML document. You can do that using the “Save As” command in Word. Doing this will keep any embedded files in the document fixed in their proper spot. No one wants a weird chapter heading illustration jumping about in the final document upload. In this same regard considering any columns or tables in the document formatted as text or graphic images. (Be advised: if you are unfamiliar with graphics programs, stick with the text format or work with someone who has design knowledge.)

Kindle books following their own page formatting, especially as readers come in different shapes and sizes, so be sure to remove any page numbers or references to page numbers. Footnotes (if necessary) should be replaced with hyperlinks that navigate readers to another section of your document like an End Notes page. If writing non-fiction, hyperlinks embedded directly in your text is very useful since Kindle includes basic web function. If you use this feature however I’d warn readers somewhere at the book’s front matter that navigating away to the websites may slow their device.

Acceptable formats

KDP accepts the following file formats for upload:

  • Microsoft Word (.doc)
  • Adobe (.pdf)
  • HTML (.htm or .html)
  • Plain text (.txt)
  • Zipped HTML (.zip) – useful for HTML documents with images
  • Mobi (.mobi or .prc) – Mobipocket file

Word and Adobe seem to be the most commonly used file formats, although Mac Pages is up and coming. Plain text (.txt) once uploaded allows you to preview the document before saving. Amazon does recommend you upload the work in a single HTML file. If unfamiliar with that process, you can use the “Save As” function and choose the HTML format. When using Plain Text, remember that Kindle will automatically re-size and re-order the text. Amazon recommends using little formatting in text files and even using as few hard returns, or hard line breaks, as possible. In my experience, I shy away from using PDF. Amazon does not guarantee the conversion quality of PDFs.

Graphics and images

For most writers this will primarily concern cover art and back cover art. However there are a number of authors who choose to include graphics within the book itself. Fantasy is a prime example. Many authors will upload a chapter heading graphic, such as a House coat of arms or a themed graphic.

Kindle will allow the following graphic formats:

  • Joint Photographic Experts Group or JPEG
  • Bitmap or BMP
  • Graphic Interchange Format or GIF
  • Portable Networks Graphic or PNG

Cover images however can only be in TIFF or JPEG format.

Always remember rights when selecting art and illustrations for your book. Some authors will use images found on the internet, but I caution against that. Unless you have downloaded the content with a full rights release from a reliable source, stick to images you’ve created or purchased (again examining the usage rights you are entitled to). Remember that just because you’ve purchased artwork does not mean you have full use of it.

Basic image formatting guidelines
  • Imagines larger than 450 by 550 pixels will be resized
  • Image files must be 64kb or smaller with aspect ratio of 9 to 11
  • Increase an image’s sharpness slightly but not too much
  • For a full-page image on Kindle, resize it to 450px by 550px

Book covers

Well, what is there to say about this except…your book needs one. Unless you have some considerable skill in graphic design, you should hire a professional cover designer. I know many of you are thinking But I can’t afford that! No fear, there are dozens of professional cover art sites with stock cover arts you can use. I particularly enjoy SelfPub Book Covers. Inexpensive, a large portfolio you can select by genre or surf by artist, and they pull the cover art out of rotation once it is purchased, guaranteeing you a unique cover.

Upload and preview

With these few tips you are well on your way to formatting your book properly and uploading it into Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). All that is left is to try the upload and preview the document, from start to finish, to make sure there aren’t any discernible issues. If there are, identify them and go back to your document to double check. Then simply repeat. Do this as many times as possible ensure your upload is a professional quality as possible. Keep in mind that people will not only judge you on your writing and marketing abilities, they will also judge your work on its quality of appearance.

BC Brown is the author of three novels and has participated in multiple short story anthologies. Having committed almost every ‘bad deed’ in the book of ‘How to Be An Author’, she now strives to educate others through humor and simple instruction.
Books: A Touch of Darkness ◘ A Touch of Madness ◘ Sister Light (out of print)
 

Upcoming: Karaoke Jane                           

5 Easy Ways to Support an Author

You love to read? You have a favorite author you just can’t wait until they publish their next book? Show ’em some love.
5 Tips to Support Authors
5 Ways to Support an Author

  1. Write a review. This seems simple but the truth is few readers take the time to review a book once they have read it. Reviews don’t have to be difficult. Writing a simple line or two is easy: “I read a lot of…and I enjoyed this story. The story was exciting and kept me reading to the end.” Seems basic but will encourage your favorite author to keep writing. Not to mention, if on Amazon, will increase that author’s visibility to other readers, leading to more writing by your favorite author. Win-win!
  2. Tell your friends. Bookworms tend to know a lot of other readers. Tell your friends about your favorite author and their books. Nothing helps support your favorite author like readers buying their books. We are fond of eating. 
  3. Share with your friends. There is nothing like the gift of a book. Have you ever finished a book and thought “I wish there were someone I could talk to about this book!” There could be. Buy a copy for a friend you think would enjoy it. Even if you only decide to gift your copy of the book to a friend, it’s still beneficial. Your friend may fall in love with your favorite author and buy more of their books, write reviews, etc.
  4. Use the public library request system. All authors, no matter how popular, need exposure to readers. Nothing gets a writer more exposure than being available in public places where the demographic is perfect: all readers (well, mostly). Putting a Request to Stock into your local library may give your favorite author access to a town they haven’t yet been found by readers. (I should also point out that it isn’t misleading to put in a request to stock even if you own the book. Just remember to rent it at least once, maybe twice, to be fair to library resources.)
  5. Share your author on social media. Like the book? Tell the world! Literally. Social media connects many of us with hundreds of thousands, even the potential of millions, of people a day. When you have a favorite author, find them on social media; follow their sites; and share stuff you find interesting on their sites with your own friends. Two things happen by following an author’s social media a) you are telling your friends online how much you like an author and helping them reach new readers, and b) you’re front and center for sneak peeks, new contests and releases, and goodies your author is giving away. It’s win-win!
There are five easy tips to show your support for your favorite authors. How do you show your support? Are there more ways not listed?
 
@BCBrownBooksBC Brown is the author of three novels and has participated in multiple short story anthologies. Having committed almost every bad deed in the book of ‘How to Be An Author’, she now strives to educate others through humor and simple instruction.
Books: A Touch of Darkness ◘ A Touch of Madness ◘ Sister Light (out of print)
 

Coming soon: Karaoke Jane       

Treading Twitter Tutorial

#this #that #???… Using social media is a great way to reach readers. But how do you know exactly how to reach the readers you’re looking for? #Hashtagging is a way of targeting the readers a writer wants. But, again, where do you start?

Every time you turn around it seems like there is a new Twitter #trend to follow. If it all seems a little confusing, I don’t blame you. Twitter, like so many social media outlets, has a natural evolution. Unlike Facebook or Google+ however Twitter evolves almost as fast as the feeds update – every second.

If you’re a writer looking to utilize Twitter as optimally as possible, knowing the right #hashtags to drop in is beneficial. Knowing where to start is a little dizzying though. Below is a short list of common Twitter #hashtags to help get your post into the right reader’s feeds.

  • #amwriting – Believe it or not, readers like to follow along with writers as they are working. It makes a reader feel like they are in the middle of the writing process. Plus it is a quick, easy way to show your readers that you are steadily working toward the next project release.
  • #blog – If you’re writing but not blogging, you are losing out on readers, old and new. Blogging is an easy way to keep new material constantly in front of readers. Plus blogging allows you to connect with other authors. Leading to the next hashtag.
  • #blogfest – Participation in blog tours and hosting or being hosted by other authors. Readers (and other authors) will follow this tag to find out about new stories or authors out and follow their work (or connect with in cross promotion purposes).
  • #writers and/or #authors and/or #poets – This one is fairly self explanatory. Readers use this to tag and follow writers.
  • #adviceforwriters – For authors wanting to write about tips or tricks for other authors, this little hashtag is phenomenal. Readers will use it as well to feel more like part of the writing process.
  • #reading – Good for posting reviews or maybe teaser snippets of work. Also good for following authors for your own entertainment. It has some great unknown authors.
  • #writetip – Good for promoting your posts/articles but also for your own research. There is a lot to learn here.
  • #mondayblogs – A great source to connect with other writers and promote your work through their various Twitter feeds.
These #hashtags are good places to start when dipping a toe into the deep water of Twitter. Remember that Twitter, like other sites, are ever evolving and changing. Active #hashtags in January may not be as relevant in May. Keep an eye on your #hashtags and monitor their effectiveness. It may not be something obvious, but you should receive some ReTweets or Favorites from each. Twitter is built on a community of sharing and information providing. That’s an important thing to remember – if you don’t ReTweet “RT” and share people’s Tweets, they will be less likely to share yours. Be polite and RT.

BC Brown is the author of three novels and has participated in multiple short story anthologies. Having committed almost every bad deed in the book of ‘How to Be An Author’, she now strives to educate other writers through humor and simple instruction.

Anthologies: Fracas: A Collection of Short FrictionQuixotic: Not Everyday Love Stories A Chimerical World: Tales of the Seelie Court

She can be found on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Blog Tour – MaryLynn Bast – No Remorse & One Bite to Passion

 

No Remorse Blurb:
Due to her unusual birth, Amber has abilities no other werewolf has ever possessed. On the run since childhood, the lone wolf avoids contact with other werewolves at all cost, continually moving, constantly looking over her shoulder and always alone. Everything changes when Amber saves a werewolf from the mere brink of death, Blake, the only werewolf to ever protect her. Love blossoms, but not without tribulations when Amber realizes she must help her new pack rescue a member who is being held hostage by a rival pack. Warring with emotions of going from lone wolf to the pack leader’s mate, Amber must decide if she is willing to risk Blake’s life to know true family and friendship despite the fact that the Council is hell bent on locating her and will stop at nothing until she is found. Will Amber’s special abilities be enough to keep everyone safe?
 
No Remorse

Excerpt:
Amber recalled the night vividly. She stayed in her room while her mother and Byron argued over them leaving. She had listened intently when her mother warned Byron that Tommy would not believe that Amber was his daughter.
At the time, it hadn’t made sense to Amber what she was hearing. Her mother had been raped by multiple werewolves and that any of them could be her father. Amber shook her head to clear her thoughts. Maybe her mother meant that he couldbe her father, not that he was.
Byron and Winona were still arguing about them leaving when Tommy returned later that night with reinforcements. Byron had called his brother Jason to come in for support, but that was not enough.
Amber listened as Tommy’s crew stormed the house behind the bar. Fists were flying while bodies hurtled through the air smashing furniture throughout the room. Winona screamed loudly as Tommy grabbed her. His men had knocked Jason unconscious and held Byron’s beaten and bloodied body to the floor.
Amber stood behind the closed and locked door of her room. She could hear everything. The words that Tommy snarled burned into her brain.
“By Council’s orders, I am here to return you, Winona Gray Hamilton, runaway pack member, back to the den. Council leader Isaac Whiting has ordered that your daughter be brought before the Council. You are a disgrace to your bloodline and your mutt will be dealt with by the Council.”
Amber heard her mother’s screams for her to run. She couldn’t let that man take her mother back to that place. Instead of running, she reached for the door to unlock and jerk it open when she was grabbed from behind. The arms were like a vice and the hand that slid around her mouth secured her scream. His grip didn’t falter when she struggled violently to escape, biting at the hand that was held firmly across her mouth. She hadn’t heard the man that had slipped into her room; she was so intent on listening to what was happening in the living room.
“Stop!” At the commanding sound of the voice Amber ceased struggling, but stood stiffly in his arms. The words didn’t make sense to her. “Don’t scream or they will come. You have to get out of here.”
At her nod in agreement to not scream, the large hand was removed slowly from her mouth. She whispered, “What do you want?” She was terrified but stood still.
“I want my granddaughter to be safe,” the big man whispered in a broken voice.
Amber gasped, realizing that this was her mother’s father. He slipped something into her pocket and turned her towards him. She stared into the chocolate brown, sad eyes of her grandfather.
Tears were streaming down her face. Amber shook her head and tried to speak, to say something, but nothing came out. This was her family and her grandfather was sending her away? Amber couldn’t wrap her brain around the fact that the pack wanted her mother to come back home, but they didn’t want her.The Council was going to deal with her. She shook her head in denial that this could be happening. She could still hear her mother screaming in the next room. Her grandfather rushed her towards the other door that led to the back hallway and to the back porch.
She pushed against him, to turn back to her mother.
“Don’t fight, little one; you will die if you go back there. You must get out now. Go and don’t look back,” he told her, hurrying her out through the darkness to the waiting car. He pushed her gently into the back seat, quickly and quietly pushed the door shut, tapping the top of the car. The driver didn’t say a word to her, but took off and left the small restaurant bar behind. She was leaving her mother and the only family she had ever known.

One Bite To Passion Blurb:
On a business trip to Japan, Paige has just found happiness with Casey, an exciting, young man with a passionate interest in Paige.  After a night of wild sex, she feels like a new woman. Drawn to Casey, Paige can’t refuse him even though he says he wants to possess her and she learns he is a vampire. Then Paige’s unfaithful husband, Dalton, shows up. He has supposedly broken off his affair, but Paige suspects he is still seeing his mistress. Soon, Paige begins to notice disturbing things happening around her and discovers she has become the center of a battle between covens who consider her The Chosen One. But when she faces the greatest peril of her life, and Casey shows up to help, Page realizes she is willing fight the covens side-by-side with him, if it means the chance of a future with this vampire she has come to love.
ONE BITE TO PASSION
Excerpt:
Leaning against the door, she took a deep breath to calm her pounding heart. Why was she having such a reaction to a man she had barely met, not even twenty four hours ago. “Yet you slept with him.”She grumbled to herself and released a sigh. Slipping quickly into her undergarments, she slipped on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt and headed back out to the living room.
Casey sat on the loveseat by the window, but Rosa was gone. He responded to her questioning look. “She went back to her room, said she had to get something for you.”
Paige remembered a package was supposed to be delivered. But that quickly left her mind when Casey patted the seat next to him. She shook her head no, deciding it wasn’t a good idea to snuggle with him. She leaned against the bar that separated the kitchen from the living area.
“I won’t bite.” He smiled and wiggled his eyebrows at her. “Too hard.”
Paige laughed nervously. “Uh, Casey, about last night.” She couldn’t bring herself to look at him.
“I told you Paige, I wanted you and I still do.” He lounged back on the seat, one arm thrown casually across the back.
“I, uh. I’m married. I shouldn’t have done that.” She inspected her manicured nail.
“I also remember telling you that your husband was a lucky man. So, yeah, I’m aware you are married and I don’t care.” He spoke softly. He patted the seat once again.
She heard the honesty in his words, and once again shook her head, but this time she stared at him. She had to end this. She was in Japan to work, not have an ongoing affair with a younger man. She opened her mouth to speak, before she could, the look on his face stopped her.
“Paige.” Casey stood and walked over to where she was. His hand rose up to her face, his fingers slid gently across her cheek, his eyes looked haunted. “I can’t stop thinking about you. I know you are married and I know I should feel bad about that, but I don’t. He should respect you and he doesn’t.”
How in the world would he know that! Paige stared at him, wondering if she had gotten herself into something she wouldn’t easily get out of.
“I want to be with you.” He continued staring at her, but he made no move to touch her any further than the caress on her cheek.
“But that’s impossible Casey. I can’t do this. I love my husband.”
“You love your husband because it’s the right thing to do. But how long has it been since he has told you he loved you and really meant it? How long has it been since he loved you the way I did last night? If ever?”
Closing her eyes she didn’t know what she was going to do. Dalton had never made her feel the way Casey had. But that had been about sex. She and Dalton had twenty years together and couldn’t throw that all away for one night of great sex.
“I…” She didn’t know what to say, His lips descended and grazed hers and she melted against him. Her brain screamed at her to stop, but her body said the exact opposite. The kiss deepened and he pulled her to him. Their tongues battled for a moment before she pulled away and buried her head in his chest.
“I know you are going to think I’m crazy, but Paige, I think I’m already in love with you.” He pulled her close, his voice barely above a whisper. 
 
  MaryLynn Bast moved to Las Vegas in 2012 from Texas, where she grew up. She works as a consultant with a contractor for the US Military, traveling from base to base across the US and around the world. Whenever possible, MaryLynn enjoys spending time with her husband, children and friends. In her free time she writes paranormal fantasies, loves to read and travel. 

Research = Pound Head Here

There are few words despised by writers.  I mean, we make our stock and trade in words. So how can we possibly dislike any of them, right?  Wrong.  Words are powerful creatures that can often times when used properly strike more mortal fear into people than any action ever could.  Writers are no different.  While we generally pride ourselves on wielding those words against others, there are several words that cause us to shudder, cringe, and, down right, cower.  A shudder-worthy word: EDIT – it makes all our shoulders slump and a quiver of dread creep up our spines; a cringe-worthy word: RE-WRITES – it makes just about every writer’s hands tremble; and a truly heinous word that is cower-worthy: RESEARCH – this is a word we hear and want to run and hide beneath the covers on our beds, praying the big, bad monster waiting doesn’t gobble us down.

Research is one of the hardest jobs of being a writer.  Ideas we generally have loads of.  Whether or not those ideas are cohesive, interesting, or important is another matter.  But we have the ideas is the important part.  Writing the ideas isn’t even hard.  (I know, I know, we writers bitch and moan complain frequently about how our jobs and, yes, they are jobs to all you fuckheads out there who think that writing isn’t a job because it doesn’t support us on a full-time basis are not easy and that, if they were, everyone would come out with novels every year, thus making “writing” somewhat less of an art form.)  Editing, while a serious pain in the ass undertaking is difficult, it isn’t all that hard either.  But research is knowing who to trust your precious, thousands of man hours spent, delicate baby to hold, cherish, and nurture as their own as well as yours.

In this increasingly growing market of scam publishers, shady agents, and capitalistic editors, knowing who a writer can trust is something akin to navigating one’s way through a landmine field.  Doing your own research, knowing how and where to look for motherfucker bad publishers and agents, and putting all the pieces of the million-piece jigsaw puzzle together is almost an overwhelming task for writers.  I, personally, know six writers who have, at minimum, one manuscript completed apiece, but they have those locked away in drawers, too frightened to get caught up in a scam deal with a royality-clenching publisher or a fee-gouging editing house.  Having been caught in a scam deal myself, I can say that I don’t blame them for this attitude.  I know I had the same thing after my first fucking tragic bad publishing contract.

The good news, however, about being a writer in the 21st century is the wealth of information available to us.  As writers we don’t shy away from popping on the ol’ internet to reference a thesaurus because we’ve used the word “throb” too many times in a single sex scene, and we don’t hesitate to cross check our spelling on dictionary.com either.  So why is it that when it comes to researching potential publishers or agents for our work that we are suddenly at a loss for using our technology?  Come on, we have a sea of information beneath our fingertips or, at least, we do as long as the government stays out of our business and upholds our Constituational right to free speech but that’s another rant entirely ripe for the picking.  Instead most writers sit there staring their choosen browser screen with a vacant but seriously confused look of panic on their faces.

If you read my blog and my ego is big enough to believe that EVERYONE reads my blog, hahaha, as everyone should, I’m reminding writers that we make our livings well, some of us rom putting our fingers to keys and using words.  There is nothing keeping us from using the same motion, utlizing our creative with words themselves, to locate and research ALL potential publishers or agents who come across your desktop/attention.  There are   simple ways to do this:

  1. Check www.pred-ed.com – this is a highly recommended site for getting agent and publisher information and checking their initial validity.
  2. Web search the name of the publisher or agent you’re looking at and then type words like: “lawsuits,” “issues,” “problems,” etc.  Come one, people, we know words! Think of some good ones to seek out and destroy those scammers with BEFORE you sign a contract with them. With my first contract, I sure wish I had!
  3. Find the authors of the publishing house or agent you’re looking at and ask.  Open your mouth and ask a question or twelve.  If the author is happy with who they’re working with, they’ll, more than likely, be happy to let you know what good people they are; if they aren’t…well, I’m sure they’ll be happy to let you know that, too.
  4. Follow book/publishing blogs.  There are a ton of these.  Most of them only offer reviews of books coming out, but some also feature “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” lists from time to time; or they give helpful insights and tips on how to find out more about a particular publisher/agent.

Now, I know there will be a lot of rumors circulating that, since I wrote this blog, I’m somehow dissatisfied with my current agent/editor/publisher.  I’ll state it plainly: I’m not.  I chose to write this article today because, in the last four months, I have been approached by eight writers all wearing the dumbfounded expression on their faces of “Where do I begin?”  I gave them these steps as I give them here to you. 

But the big thing I tell everyone who asks is this: Do you check up on a doctor, mechanic, hairstylist, dog groomer, etc. before you use them?  Then why aren’t you checking up on your publisher/agent?  The principle is just the same.  You care about your writing, don’t make the same mistake many of us do in the beginning get lax and entrust it to someone who is just out to make a quick buck.  Take care of your baby and, one day, maybe your baby will be taking care of you.

Keep reading; Keep dreaming. -b

B.C. Brown
A Touch of Madness (Spring 2012), A Touch of Darkness (Fall 2010), Sister Light, Book One: Of Shadows (Summer 2007), and contributing author, Fracas: A Collection of Short Friction (Fall 2011)

It’s the Final Countdown!!

Fuck me.  A deadline looms – omnipresent and depressing.  There is nothing quite like the act of completing a work in progress (hereby referred to as WIP).  Satiating, fulfilling, pretty much damn near orgasmic.  Then again, there is nothing else simultaneous to that fan-fucking-tastic sensation of completing the WIP like the soul-crushing oblivion that is THE DEADLINE.

Mommy!!

Writers the world around, throughout time and space, face this daunting giant with every project.  Some face it in a matter of weeks, some in a matter of months, and others in a matter of years, but, regardless of rank, every writer runs across THE DEADLINE.

Help me!

There are two types of deadlines:

1) the typically considered, Publisher Deadline. – This deadline can be particularly stressful to the writer.  As authors we as in most of us, that is challenge ourselves to start, work, and complete a project by a certain date.  We have a “time frame” in mind for publication of the book.  Sometimes this time frame is verbalized to others; often times, we keep our big fat mouths shut because we don’t want to worry about disappointing future/existing fans.  The Publisher’s Deadline, however, is scary because, on top of the pressure to complete a project and get it out there, we now have a contractual legal obligation to put down the fucking telly remote and pick up a pen, under penalty of – gulp – lawyers.

YIPES!

2) the less often considered – Personal Deadline. – This is the shittiest deadline any author can face.  For a first time author, this deadline can be a “non” issue.  Friends and families (while they continually support fledgling writers – well,most of the time), I believe, don’t actually expect a writer to come up with a finished product for publication.  The notion of their lil cousin or lil niece being “a writer” is quaint and, possibly, mention-worthy.  But, in actuality, they don’t anticipate anything to come of it.  THEN the lil cousin or lil niece does finish; they even publish!  That’s a whole new ballpark for the (still) fledgling writer.  However, this fledgling writer now has a book credit to their name.  Ppl (publishers, editors, agents, family, friends, and – gulp – fans) have expectations to be met.  The self-imposed Personal Deadline for “the next” WIP can be the worst for writers.  I mean, it sucks to be sued.  But you don’t live with lawyers every day.  You see your family, your friends, your – gulp – fans in your daily life.  And they are watching, waiting.

So what does a writer do when faced with THE DEADLINE?  You do what you always do as a writer: shut your mouth, stick your nose in the WIP, and write, dammit.  When friends are partying, you write; when family go on vacation, you write; when Medusa Women from Mars collect taxes at your front door, you write!  This is what we do.  Many fledgling idealistic, moronic, dreamer writers think that creativity is spontaneous, an act of kindness.  <—rolls eyes.  When in reality it is an act of sheer force, of determination, will, and (most importantly) effort to create a work of art.  The true writer depends on inspiration and creativity less than 10% of their entire career (and, I would say, this inspiration is 8% coming up with the idea, 1% directed inspiration, and 1% other shit possible divine intervention).  90%, however, that is left is the author working the idea of, plotting the outline, figuring out correct POV, determining alliteration, feeding/weaving subplots, grammar checking, spell checking, punctuation nazi-ing…and the list goes on.

The question then becomes: Is writing worth the headache of THE DEADLINE?  If you have to ask that then you’ve never had a toe-curling, back-arching, hair-raising, completely-satisified-to-the-balls-of-your-feet orgasm, and it can’t be explained to you or answered for you.  You. Just. Don’t. Get. It.  And you probably never will.  Me, on the otherhand?  Well, THE DEADLINE approacheth for my latest WIP soon.  And that all-too familiar and awaited ache has taken up residence in my soul again.  Am I going to make THE DEADLINE?  For that soul-refreshing, reality-skewing, make-me-feel-like-I’m-ten-feet-tall-and-made-of-ooey-gooey-squishy-stuff feeling…You bet your sweet ass I am. 😉 b

B.C. Brown
Author of A Touch of Darkness (available now), contributor of Fracas: A Collection of Short Friction (available now) and author of Sister Light, Book One: Of Shadows (under pen name B.B. Walter and available now)

Writing vs Talking

Me likey talky-talky. 🙂

There’s a common misconception that writers, since we’re so verbose and even know what words like ‘verbose’ are (and if you’re reading this blog and don’t know what verbose means, maybe you shouldn’t be following this particular blog, eh? Or buy a dictionary and actually use it – ha.), that we also must be great speakers.  In a lot of instances, writers are great communicators; in others, we fail – um, miserably.  I, myself, LOVE to speak.  Ask anyone who knows me, anyone who has ever known me, or anyone who has ever met me – briefly, in passing, for any reason.  I’m what my great-grandmother used to call a “chatty Cathy.”  I will talk to anyone, anytime, for probably any reason; and I might let them get a word in edgewise, too – at some point, maybe.  Face it, I have, I have a big ass mouth and abso-fucking-lutely love to hear the sound of my own voice.  I’ve never been the writer who was considered shy or introverted (look at me in the spotlight, baby!!); personally, I don’t understand people who are that way.  Probably because it isn’t my nature.  But I do know quite a few who are.

Today, in one of my classes (I’m working toward my degree in funeral services – yes, I want to play dress-up Barbie with dead people for a living), I came across another writer (short stories in varies anthologies) that could have been my polar opposite – shy, introverted, uneasy speaking in public situations.  Watching this woman as she gave her speech (and I thought it was an easy one because it was about ourselves, and who knows us better than, well, us?) was a bit fucking painful difficult to watch.

I watched this girl with visible nerves clutch the podium she hid stood behind, her hands clenching and unclenching, as she spoke rambled in a trembling voice about her family, her hobbies, and what she liked and didn’t like.  While certainly not the worst speech of the class (we won’t discuss the guy who had a story about his 3rd cousin who was also his 5th great-aunt, or some shit like that), the girl scatter-brained leapfrogged from unrelated subject to unrelated subject, her thoughts spinning spewing out in no order.  Afterward I felt dirty disgusted less than interested in this person’s life or this person – period.

While I don’t expect people to be the most profound speakers, I do expect those who, when given time to prepare and a step-by-step set of directions idiot’s guide by the instructor on how to go about talking about one’s self comfortably, to be able to organize a topic as well known as one’s self.  But maybe I expect more out of people than I should?  The gods know I’ve been chastised criticized for how much patience I have with some people because I see something in them and expect to, eventually, get wring it out of them.  With so much input from the teacher and the addition of a topic that is so easy for everyone, I had high hopes.  I shouldn’t have.  Bane of the optimist, I suppose.
I spend most of my time around writers.  Some are published, some are pursuing publication, and others just write for the enjoyment of writing, but they are all writers.  I think I have, like, 4 friends who I spend time with on a semi-regular basis that aren’t writers; conclusions: A) I need more friends, or B) these other people aren’t as cool they suck because they aren’t writers. *blink, blink*

  Moving on….  Out of these friends, maybe two of them could be considered shy or introverted; they are the ones most likely out of us to sit back and watch a conversation happening rather than join it.  This in no way, however, makes them poorly spoken in any way.  As a matter of fact, when they do choose to participate in conversation, they are two of the best spoken individuals I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to.  They simply aren’t outspoken have big ass mouths like me.  But, while they are introverted, they can perform acts of public speaking – especially when given lead-in time to prepare and have a topic they are knowledgeable in.  So watching this other awkward writer, I realized that maybe all writers aren’t like those I know and love.

So my choices at this point are: A) diversify the types of writers I spend time around, maybe I need to find a few of the quintessential writers that stutter when they have to speak, etc?, and/or B) grin and nod and blow my brains out clap politely but be utterly let down after all, and/or C) become a miserable, grumpy elitist and disdain from the company of anyone except for those I deem fit.  Hmmmm….sort of like option C. *blink, blink*  
If you’re wondering what was the abso-fucking-lutely magnificent speech I gave, I can paraphrase it quickly as follows: I sat on the edge of the table at the front of the room; I did not hide behind the podium.  My words were as follows because we all know you come here time after time for my words, don’t you? *wink*:
“A connoisseur of fine words, melodramatic thespian, karaoke fiend, and gun-toting, tree-hugging, dirt-worshipper (careful, the hippy is armed!),  I’m a non-smoking Gemini…oh, wait, that’s my eHarmony profile…
“My name is Billie Brown, a.k.a. BB, a.k.a. B.C. Brown, a.k.a. the weirdo who writes, I’m the youngest of three girls.  I can tell you my parents were shocked when I showed up.  I mean, I came home in a cowboy outfit, in a blue blanket, to a blue room with bears playing baseball.  Should I also mention the fact that I’m an avid Cubs fan? Hmm….bears playing baseball nursery….Might be a connection?  I began writing when I was eight years old.  A good thing I took up that hobby rather than, say, singing since we’re pretty sure I started losing my hearing in my pre-teen years.  
“I wear hearing aids but, if I were to take them out, I could hear about one-quarter of you about half the time.  Imagine your life underwater, and you have an idea of what it’s like to hear like me.
“My life after high school was typical.  I married my high school sweetheart and moved as far away from here [Vincennes] as possible as fast as I could.  After about ten years of marriage, I realized (had it shoved in my face actually) that my husband was a dick, got a divorce and moved home.  But two great things happened during my marriage and time away.  A) I was introduced to karaoke.  The great thing about this is that I can sing as badly as I want/do and it doesn’t matter because people think the deaf girl rocks! haha And, B) I became a published author.  I have three novels to date and three short stories in collective anthologies.  I write epic fantasy (think kings, queens, wizards, and war) and paranormal mystery or contemporary sci-fi (extraordinary abilities meets COPS), and my short fiction published tends to be transgressive fiction.  If you don’t know what that is, it is basically protagonists who are, pretty much, the worst people you can imagine; or it deals with controversial topics like rape, incest, abuse, etc.
“As you can probably tell, I’m not shy or introverted.  I’m active in community theater in Lawrenceville and enjoy my time on stage.  However, I can appreciate solitude (because, let’s face it, writers are the least social creatures on the face of the planet; even when we are being social, we are sitting in a group, hunched over our own laptops/notebooks etc.), and I can appreciate the importance of the non-spoken word as much as those said.
“That’s me in a nutshell.  Thanks for listening; you’ve been a great audience.  Good night!”  And I walked back to my seat.
There were several instances when, since I am not a person who specializes in public speaking, I was so nervous that I had to remember to slow down my speech and not sound so much like a chipmunk on speed.  I also had to keep my hands from fluttering around like hummingbirds, but those were things that I knew I had to do.  Now, I’ve never had a speaking class before; I didn’t take speech in high school but, I know, that there are things I find painful when I watch someone talking in public.  So, therefore, I try to eliminate those items when I speak to people.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.  But maybe there are many people who aren’t quite as observant as I am when it comes to their perceived/despised/repeated actions?  
Regardless, the point of this article today is just to point out the differences between being able to write and people who can speak.  Sometimes those writers and speakers are the same; other times, they are individuals who can write but choose to speak only infrequently; and lastly, there may be the stuttering, painful speakers who are brilliant writers but can’t make the connection of words that flow out of their fingertips to those that flow out of their mouths.  However, while there are many fantastic speakers out there, they do not, all of them, know how to write.  The awesome relationship between the two is, while there will always be speakers who can’t write, there will always be writers who can’t speak.  I, personally, don’t know what it’s like to be one of those writers, but now I do realize they are out there, whereas I thought they were the stereotype that didn’t actually exist.  Guess some do exist.  

Cracker Jack Prizes


I don’t like popcorn. In any of its forms – caramel, cheesy, white chocolate, etc., to me, popcorn is more of an annoyance than a practical food source. And unless I’m starving or totally broke, popcorn is not on my list of food selections. So why is it that most of my childhood memories include walking down to the convenience store down the street from my grandparent’s house in order to buy Cracker Jack boxes by the arm full? Well, looking back on those memories, I’ve searched for the answer, looking to see if I actually ate this food source in such abundance as a child that, perhaps, I burned myself out on it as an adult. But what I always remember is happily carting home my bundle of boxes, anticipation bubbling in my tummy; sitting down Indian-style in my grandma’s back bedroom, also known as the grand kid’s playroom; ripping into the boxes, tearing all the tops open one at a time prior to looking at their contents; and, finally, handing them off to my cousin whose convenience store loot consisted of chocolate and fruit-flavored sugar. So what was the purpose of me buying the caramel popcorn if I was going to hand it off to a family member to devour? Simple. I didn’t buy the snack for its multitude of contents. I bought it for one specific content – the prize.

Of course many people have the same memories – although a few, I’m sure, actually ate the sweet popcorn on the inside – so why is my story valuable? Well, it’s because, in the end, most of us were waiting for, and looking for, the prize at the bottom of that red, white, blue and caramel-colored box.

All right, B.C., what does this have to do with writing?

I promise I am getting to the point. The reason for my little trip down memory lane ties very closely with my current standpoint in my professional life. The elusive search for the legitimate publisher.

Ah.

And that, my friends, is where I am at in my professional life currently. Now that I am finally getting past my stumbling hurdle of e-publishing as an option thanks to professional and personal friends of mine (you know who you are!), I’m stuck with a multitude of publishers to add to the list of publishers I already had in my little notebook. The possibilities are overwhelming!

So where do you start?

A professional friend once gave me a formula for checking the legitimacy of a publisher. I’ve felt that its time to pass on this bit of information to others. And, I know, everything on the list seems like common sense but, trust me, when you are wading through the myriad of publishers and your eyes have crossed from the bright light of your lap top’s screen, common sense has long since decided to take a coffee break. Having a copy of these check-rules beside me when I begin the long hunt to finding a legitimate publisher helps me, and I want to pass on the good advice to others because, let’s face it, GOOD advice is few and far between a lot of the time.

THE LIST
1. Ask for Author references.
2. Ask for a local bank reference.
3. Look them up on Amazon.
4. Ask for samples of their printing / binding.
5. Look for an office you can go into.
6. Type their name into google followed by PROBLEMS.
7. Ask for samples of book cover designs.
8. Ask if they use template. If they do RUN AWAY.
9. Ask for store references where they have books at.

These are the basic rules I abide by when I start the hunt for a legitimate publisher. Since one of the most frequently asked questions I receive is “How Do I Find A Publisher?” I hope this list lets people know a little bit more about the process I have when researching for one. Also, one of the best tools I’ve come across for researching and finding a good publisher is to talk to people. Making contacts with people already in the writing industry is one of the sharpest tools a writer can have in their tool belt. So, remember, we’re good with the words flowing out of our mouths as well as the ones flowing from our fingertips.

As always, do any of my author friends who read and follow my blog have any recommendations or tips for aspiring authors searching for publication? Anything you think should be added to this list?

B.C. Brown