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Monday, March 2, 2015

Author Spotlight + Cover Reveal--Me!!!

Welcome to Author Spotlights on Mondays! I'm running a little behind already this week because of other obligations, but give a warm welcome to ME! Life's been hectic with my son's tutoring schedule, trying to keep up with laundry and meals, writing, blogging, helping plan and pull off a couple awesome IRWA events (Making Magic Conference with Lani Diane Rich and Alastair Stephens/The Future of Self-Publishing with Liliana Hart), and squeezing in my IRWA board and website duties.

March isn't going to give me a break, either. Besides the usual, I'm a facilitator on the Chapter Leadership forum all month since I'm evidently well-versed in myRWA website creation and maintenance. Me, a techie??? LOL I never thought I'd see my name in the same context as knowing my way around anything involving technology. A monthly IRWA meeting, an out-of-state wedding, and several days of playing nursemaid to my daughter after minor surgery are also on the schedule.

I do have good news, though. The first three Writing Tip Wednesday handbooks will be available in a boxed set by the end of the month! My fabulous cover artist sent me this last night--
Book 1: Strong writing craft is the foundation of a good book. Punctuation, grammar, writing technique, and preparing for publication are all part of writing craft. This compilation of Mellanie Szereto’s Writing Tip Wednesday blog posts addresses these topics and encourages writers to learn and improve their craft along the road to publication.
From commas to hyphens and active vs. passive sentence structure to misplaced modifiers, review proper punctuation and grammar for clean narrative and dialogue. From character arc to POV and self-editing to identifying genre, learn writing technique and how to prepare a solid manuscript for any publishing path.

Book 2: A writing career consists of much more than the simple sit-in-the-chair-and-write approach. Knowing the ins and outs of contracts, social media, and author branding is vital to getting, being, and staying published, no matter the chosen path to publication. Education, writers’ block, and fear of failure—and success—all contribute to the delicate balance, along with the business aspects of writing and dealing with reviews and piracy.
This compilation of Mellanie Szereto’s Writing Tip Wednesday blog posts addresses these and many other topics related to creating, growing, and maintaining a healthy writing career.

Book 3: With all the choices in the publishing world today, many authors are self-publishing, either as the sole means of getting their work to readers or as hybrid authors with more than one publishing avenue. Writing books comes first and last, making it an ongoing and vital part of a successful career path.
While self-publishing offers writers another choice on the road to publication, it requires hard work and knowledge about topics like covers, ISBNs, and metadata. Education is essential for a creating a professional product. This compilation of Mellanie Szereto’s Writing Tip Wednesday blog posts on self-publishing guides authors through a comprehensive to-do list, including step-by-step instructions and images for formatting and conversion software.

Get all three e-books for $4.99! I'll post as soon as the set is available for purchase on my Facebook page and website, so like my page and check my website.

Bio:
When her fingers aren't attached to her keyboard, she enjoys hiking, Pilates, cooking, gardening, and researching for her stories. Many times, the research partners with her other hobbies, taking her from the Hocking Hills region in Ohio to the Colorado Rockies or the Adirondacks of New York. Sometimes, the trip is no farther than her garden for ingredients and her kitchen to test recipes for her latest steamy tale. She is multi-published with Siren-Bookstrand and is self-publishing her foodie contemporary series, Love on the Menu, in addition to her nonfiction handbooks, Writing Tip Wednesday: The Writing Craft Handbook, Writing Tip Wednesday: The Writing Career Handbook, and Writing Tip Wednesday: The Self-Publishing Handbook, based on her informational blog series. Mellanie makes her home in rural Indiana with her husband of twenty-eight years and their son. She is a PAN member of Romance Writers of America, Indiana Romance Writers of America, and PASIC. Visit her website at http://www.mellanieszereto.com.

Links:
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Mellanie-Szereto/e/B005FAKVWC/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1425306654&sr=1-2-ent
Facebook: www.facebook.com/authormellanieszereto
Twitter: www.twitter.com/mellanieszereto
Google+: www.plus.google.com/mellanieszereto
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/mellanie_szereto
E-mail: mellanieszereto@hotmail.com

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Writing Tip Wednesday: Writing Advice from Jim Cangany

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! Jim Cangany, IRWA's awesome Token Dude, is offering his advice to new writers today.

Hi, Jim! Great to have you visit again! What wise and wonderful words do you have to share?

Thanks so much for having me today, Mellanie. I'm thrilled to be here. You know, I spent days trying to figure out what knowledge I could possibly have that would be worth imparting to someone just getting into this writing game.

I was considering offering my take on writing truisms like "write what you know" and "do your research," when something happened with a book my agent is currently shopping. After a round of editing, she told me liked the characters and loved the story, but was concerned that the romance might be a little too quiet. Because of this, she sent my manuscript to a romance consultant with whom she works to get a fresh take on the story. I won't bore you with the details of what the romance consultant's comments were, but I will say that fresh set of eyes gave me some invaluable insight that helped make a better story.

The reason I share this story with you is to illustrate a point about writing that, I believe, all too often gets lost in the shuffle--writing a book is truly a collaborative process. I know, I know, we read things every day that reinforce the image of the solitary writer, alone at his or her keyboard, with the door shut, wearing sound dampening headphones…I'll grant you, there is quite a bit of truth in that scene.

But.

It you step back, the picture begins to change. Maybe the writer is fixing a problematic scene after talking about it with a friend or spouse. Possibly the writer is working on the manuscript after receiving feedback from a critique partner, or a beta reader, or an agent, or an editor. It's quite possible the writer just received the book cover from the publisher or a free-lance artist and is writing a blog about how gorgeous it is.

What I'm trying to say is this, when it comes to publishing a book, it really is a group effort. For an indie author, the group may be as small as a single critique partner and a cover artist. On the other hand, it could be as large as a small group of critique partners, a few beta readers, an agent, an editor, a personal assistant, and a publicist.

The thing to keep in mind, regardless of how big or small your support group may be, the members of it want one thing and one thing only. They want you to tell the best story you can. They want you to succeed. They are on your side.

So keep that in mind on those days when a critique partner questions your heroine's motivation, or your editor asks you to cut a scene you love, because those days will happen. On those days, it hurts to be a writer. But you know what? Being a writer is hard. As the saying goes, if it was easy, everybody would do it. It's the hard that makes writing great.

It's also those people in your corner who will help you reach that greatness. Yes, it will be your name on the cover of the book, and for that you should be quite proud. Just do me a favor, and when it's time to publish, be sure to thank all of those people who helped you along the way. After all, the more people you have to celebrate publication with, the better!

Bio:
Jim Cangany started writing when he could no longer ignore the persistent voices in his head who demanded to be let out. He was a hundred pages into his first manuscript when he realized he was writing was a love story. He went with it, and has found his niche writing sweet, contemporary romance novels.
He lives in Indianapolis with his saint of a wife, Nancy, sons Seamus and Aidan, and the princess of the house, kitty-cat Maria. You can find him on the web at http://jimcangany.com

More awesome advice, don't you think? I'm gathering quite a collection!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Author Spotlight + Giveaway--Siobhan Muir

Welcome to Author Spotlights on Mondays! The lovely and talented Siobhan Muir is visiting today with her latest release, A Centaur's Solstice Wish. Be sure to comment for a chance to win a copy!

Blurb:
When making wishes on the Hunter’s star...

It will take more than wishes to improve Sedgewick Icetrotter’s Solstice. After being sent to the infirmary, again, for dislocating his shoulder while stringing his bow, he figures he’s got a snowball’s chance in hell to impress the centaur he loves. Until Corporal Ronin Creekjumper brings in two injured centaurs suffering from unusual insect bites, and Sedgewick knows how to treat them.

Ronin can’t believe his good luck when Sedgewick saves his men. It also gives him a chance to do more than light candles for his injured friend. Ronin takes the chance and invites Sedgewick to spend the Solstice holiday together. Just the two of them.

And a pack of hungry dire wolves who’d like to put Sedgewick on the menu. Who says Solstice can’t be exciting?

Buy Links:
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/513978
All Romance Ebooks: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-acentaur039ssolsticewish-1732784-143.html
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Centaurs-Solstice-Wish-Rifts-Book-ebook/dp/B00SQFD5YY/
Barnes&Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-centaurs-solstice-wish-siobhan-muir/1121128128

Bio:
Siobhan Muir lives in Cheyenne, Wyoming, with her husband, two daughters, and a vegetarian cat she swears is a shape-shifter, though he's never shifted when she can see him. When not writing, she can be found looking down a microscope at fossil fox teeth, pursuing her other love, paleontology. An avid reader of science fiction/fantasy, her husband gave her a paranormal romance for Christmas one year, and she was hooked for good.

In previous lives, Siobhan has been an actor at the Colorado Renaissance Festival, a field geologist in the Aleutian Islands, and restored inter-planetary imagery at the USGS. She’s hiked to the top of Mount St. Helens and to the bottom of Meteor Crater.

Siobhan writes kick-ass adventure with hot sex for men and women to enjoy. She believes in happily ever after, redemption, and communication, all of which you will find in her paranormal romance stories.

Siobhan’s latest release, A Centaur’s Solstice Wish, is the second story in her new Rifts series. She has published A Hell Hound’s Fire (a free read), The Beltane Witch, and Cloudburst Ice Magic in the Cloudburst Colorado series. Siobhan has also published Bronco’s Rough Ride and The Navy’s Ghost in the Bad Boys of Beta Squad series, Not a Dragon’s Standard Virgin and Queen Bitch of the Callowwood Pack through Siren Publishing, and Her Devoted Vampire through Evernight Publishing.

Links:
Website: http://siobhanmuir.com
Blog: http://siobhanmuir.blogspot.com
Google Plus: http://plus.google.com/u/0/118081545120488658410/posts
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Official.Siobhan.Muir
Twitter: http://twitter.com/SiobhanMuir
Tsu.co: http://www.tsu.co/SiobhanMuir
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5760938.Siobhan_Muir
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/siobhanmuir35
All Romance: http://www.allromanceebooks.com/storeSearch.html?searchBy=author&qString=Siobhan+Muir
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Siobhan-Muir/e/B007CRB2F6/
Bookstrand: http://www.bookstrand.com/siobhan-muir

Thanks for sharing, Siobhan, and thank you, Readers, for stopping by! Remember to comment by midnight (EST) on Wednesday, February 25, for a chance to win a copy of A Centaur's Solstice Wish!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Writing Tip Wednesday: Writing Advice from Siobhan Muir

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! Siobhan Muir, one of my favorite online author friends, is visiting today to share her advice for writers.

Hi, Siobhan! Thanks for being here. What great advice to do you have to offer?

Release (Word) Weight with #flashfiction

Odd title, huh? But what’s the most common thing we have to do for our health? Release weight, extra pounds that impede our bodies over time. It comes from bad habits of eating too much and remaining too sedentary.

It’s the same thing with our writing health. Time to trim the fat. But how?

Four years ago a friend of mine came to me and asked if I’d be interested in writing #flashfiction. I didn’t even know what it was much less how to do it, but it sounded interesting. #flashfiction is the art of writing a clear, concise, and full story in a limited time and a limited word count. Sound impossible? It’s not, but it does take discipline and effort.
This is what’s needed for longer writing, too, and the same skills you use for #flashfiction can be applied to writing novellas and novels. So how do you do this? Here’s a handy dandy list you can take with you.

1. De-was-ify.
What does this mean? It means get rid of every version of “was” that you can. You don’t have time for lazy verbs. De-was-ifying makes the writing more active and interesting. Instead of: “The ladder was against the wall where he’d left it.” It could be: “The ladder sagged against the wall where he’d left it.” Sagged is far more interesting than was.
Instead of “She was blonde with blue eyes.” It could be: “She tilted her blonde head and narrowed her blue eyes.” Using more active verbs gives the reader more to hold in their minds and anchors them in the story.

2. Delete or decrease long descriptions
You don’t have time or space in #flashfiction for long narratives telling the reader about what something looks like, yet you need to make your setting and characters as clear as possible. The same can be done in a longer tale. Instead of a long wind-up describing the world in which you find your characters, you can use dialog and action to show the same thing.
For example: “It was the hottest part of the day and everyone who did not need to be outside was not. She dismounted and began to unload both her horse and the packhorse before the stable boy took them into the shade. The weight of the treasure was heavy and oppressive in the heat, but she bore it gamely as Brandon led the way into the foyer of the inn.”
Versus: “Brandon turned the bay into the courtyard of an inn at the edge of the marketplace and dismounted. Iliana looked around as she pulled Aristotle up. The courtyard sat empty until the stable boy came out to take the horses.
“This is a good inn and the innkeeper is fairly honest.” Brandon unhooked his saddle bags and slung them over his shoulder. “I’m going to see about a room.”
Make it interesting and give the characters a reason to be in the environment you’ve created.

3. Picking the right words to evoke an image.
You need to make the tale interesting and action/dialog is far more interesting to read than long drawn out narrative, even in science fiction or fantasy writing. You want your pacing to be good in longer tales, and you want it fast and tight in #flashfiction.
For example: “Inside, Brandon was deep in negotiating for their room. There was much haggling as Iliana took in the foyer, which was full of palm trees in pots, tapestries hanging from the walls, and richly dressed merchants sitting on cushions, smoking. She did not meet any of their eyes, but scanned the place as if she was just another male traveler come in from the sun.”
Versus: The scent of dry, hot stone mixed with the salty brine of the sea as the wind zipped through the courtyard. Despite the air movement, Iliana sighed with relief as she entered the cool shade of the inn. Potted palm trees filled the corners of the common room and tapestries hung from the walls around a few richly dressed men perched on cushions, smoking.”
Which is more interesting? Which tells you more of what’s going on? Which example brought you into the scene?

4. Don’t use dialog tags, use action to identify your characters.
He said, she said is all well and good, but it can sometimes jar the reader out of your tale, and in #flashfiction, you don’t have the space to name everyone each time. Instead, use action to tell the reader who’s saying what, and how.
“Brandon narrowed his eyes. “If you're an actress, what are you doing out here in the Karobis?”
“I have no idea.” She glanced up at the blue moon. Wow, the song wouldn’t be so poignant here. “I didn’t start out here. I was somewhere distinctly different a few days ago.”
“In the oasis with Kyra.”
“Yes. No.” Iliana shook her head. “No, I’d never been there before the moment I met you.”
Each action gives a sense of what they’re feeling and how they’re responding, and identifies who the speaker is. It’s especially important when you have characters of the same gender speaking. Then he said, he said gets confusing and boring to read. When you have little space and less time, using action sucks the reader in and keeps the pacing up.

Just changing these four things in your longer pieces will give you a leg-up on the typical writers out there. It strengthens your writing, pulling the reader in as if they’re part of the action, and makes your stories more memorable. Stronger stories is the goal. If you can make the reader feel it, you’ve succeeded. And #flashfiction is a great tool for tightening your writing skills.

Siobhan

Bio:
Siobhan Muir lives in Cheyenne, Wyoming, with her husband, two daughters, and a vegetarian cat she swears is a shape-shifter, though he's never shifted when she can see him. When not writing, she can be found looking down a microscope at fossil fox teeth, pursuing her other love, paleontology. An avid reader of science fiction/fantasy, her husband gave her a paranormal romance for Christmas one year, and she was hooked for good.

In previous lives, Siobhan has been an actor at the Colorado Renaissance Festival, a field geologist in the Aleutian Islands, and restored inter-planetary imagery at the USGS. She’s hiked to the top of Mount St. Helens and to the bottom of Meteor Crater.

Siobhan writes kick-ass adventure with hot sex for men and women to enjoy. She believes in happily ever after, redemption, and communication, all of which you will find in her paranormal romance stories.

Siobhan’s latest release, A Centaur’s Solstice Wish, is the second story in her new Rifts series. She has published A Hell Hound’s Fire (a free read), The Beltane Witch, and Cloudburst Ice Magic in the Cloudburst Colorado series. Siobhan has also published Bronco’s Rough Ride and The Navy’s Ghost in the Bad Boys of Beta Squad series, Not a Dragon’s Standard Virgin and Queen Bitch of the Callowwood Pack through Siren Publishing, and Her Devoted Vampire through Evernight Publishing.

Links:
Website: http://siobhanmuir.com
Blog: http://siobhanmuir.blogspot.com
Google Plus: http://plus.google.com/u/0/118081545120488658410/posts
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Official.Siobhan.Muir
Twitter: http://twitter.com/SiobhanMuir
Tsu.co: http://www.tsu.co/SiobhanMuir
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5760938.Siobhan_Muir
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/siobhanmuir35
All Romance: http://www.allromanceebooks.com/storeSearch.html?searchBy=author&qString=Siobhan+Muir
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Siobhan-Muir/e/B007CRB2F6/
Bookstrand: http://www.bookstrand.com/siobhan-muir

I love your analogy about releasing weight, Siobhan! Tight writing is essential for any length of story. Great pacing keeps the reader engaged and wanting the next book! Thanks so much for visiting and sharing!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Author Spotlight + Giveaway--R.L. Syme

Welcome to Author Spotlights on Mondays! R.L. Syme is my guest this week, and she's brought a hot Highlander with her!!! Be sure to check out her giveaway over on Goodreads! See the link below.

Blurb:
They took his family, they took his freedom...but he's back to reclaim it all...

Lachlan MacLeod survived an English dungeon. He held his own under torture and brutality. He survived the death of his wife and alienation from his family. He managed to take back his ancestral home and restore his son's inheritance. But the English threat has never truly abated. According to his nephew, invasion is imminent. Tired of being subject to the whims of the English, Lachlan will take control of his own destiny. By any means necessary.

Lady Evangeline, daughter of an invading English earl, has been raised to privilege and the expectation of an advantageous foreign marriage. She is as eager to escape her father's control as Lachlan is eager to kidnap her, though the wilds of the Scottish Highlands could be a tad more welcoming. The secret she holds could have deadly consequences--not only for Lachlan, but for his entire clan, not to mention the proud English lady and her companions. But this is one secret she cannot wait to spill...

"I liked it so much I read the whole book through. Grab this book." -Margaret S. (5 stars)
"I really enjoyed this series, it was action packed, filled with romance and adventure." -Nicole L. (5 stars)

Buy Links:
Amazon: http://amzn.to/1AAjAX6
iBooks: http://bit.ly/1KTNve1
Page Foundry: http://bit.ly/1AwDtOR
Scribd: http://bit.ly/1zSlmSK
Kobo: http://bit.ly/19hCkQI

Bio:
R.L. Syme is a best-selling, award-winning author of both contemporary and historical romance. After careers in youth work, musical theater, and non-profits, she writes about hot Highlanders and extreme Chefs. A member of RWA (Romance Writers of America) and SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators), Becca lives in Montana with her cat who drinks wine and does not answer back when she talks to him.

Links:
Website: http://bit.ly/1yMsOd0
Facebook: http://on.fb.me/1HsOtl9
Twitter: http://bit.ly/1vgjeEH
Pinterest: http://bit.ly/1KeFyj4
Fan Group: http://on.fb.me/1znxWYC
Newsletter: http://bit.ly/1yMsOd0

Goodreads Giveaway (until February 22): http://bit.ly/1zU11eH

Thanks for visiting, and good luck in the giveaway!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Writing Tip Wednesday: Writing Advice from Donya Lynne

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! We're on Week 6 of Writing Advice. Donya Lynne, another of my wonderful IRWA friends, is here to share some great tips!

Hi, Donya! Thanks for visiting with me today. What advice do you have for new writers?

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a magic formula to follow to achieve publishing success? Unfortunately, more often than not, what works ridiculously well for one author fails miserably for another. Some authors find success with blog tours. Some don’t. Some find that giveaways enhance reader traffic, while others find that giveaways are just a means to allow the crickets to sing. Alas, there is no magic button.

So, as I thought about this article and what advice I would give to new writers, I found myself rifling through three years of self-publishing experience in an effort to find that one grain of truth that all fledgling authors need to know before they embark on a writing career. Something they could latch onto for hope and inspiration while not sugarcoating the business and emotional upheaval it can cause.

I could preach the virtues of actually learning the craft of writing before publishing. I could warn you that you need to develop a skin thicker than an alligator’s. I could express that writing for publication is the hardest work you’ll ever do (and if you’re doing it right, it is).

Instead, I’ve chosen to emphasize that no matter what happens, you need to be true to you. You need to follow YOUR plan, not someone else’s.

I realize that sometimes you need to follow someone else’s plan (or a lot of other peoples’ plans) for a while as you figure out your own, but, ultimately, you need to find your own process and adhere to it. You need to figure out your own voice, your own method, what does and doesn’t work for you, and more importantly, what it is your heart wants. And then you need to shut out all the peripheral voices, including your inner voice that tells you that you should be doing this, that, or the other, and focus on your own path.

For over two years, I did what everyone said I needed to do. I did the blog tours. I did giveaways and bought swag and held release parties and signed up for some kind of writer event every weekend in October and November of last year (and ended up making myself sicker than I’ve ever been in my life, I might add, due to the stress). I thought that this was what I needed to do to be successful and find new readers. There was this voice in my head telling me that I was falling behind if I didn’t do these things.

All I did was spend a lot of money, overshoot my budget by an ungodly amount, and decimate my writing momentum in the process.

At the end of last year, as I recovered from the worst cold I’ve ever caught, I took a hard look at what I’d done for three years and what I wanted to achieve going forward. What I found is that my heart wants to write. I have stories to tell that aren’t getting told due to all the time, energy, and work I’m putting in on all that other stuff. Furthermore, I can’t afford to spend money that doesn’t produce results. No one can.

What I’ve found is that blog tours are a nice break, but I don’t need them for every single book release. Release parties are fun, but they are stressful and take a lot of time and work, so, like blog tours, I need to reserve them for special books. Swag is great for giveaways, but I don’t need to buy every trinket under the sun. Pens, desk calendars, keychains, and bookmarks are enough, and it seems that most readers like these items the best. Author events and book signings are a great way to network with other authors and meet readers, but I don’t have to attend every single one that comes along. Three to four a year is plenty. The message here is that everything is good in moderation. Don’t go overboard.

So, after reevaluating my goals at the end of last year, I decided this year was going to be all about the writing. I’m going to say no to things I’ve said yes to in the past. I’m not going to allow my inner voice to tell me, “You should do this.” No, I should be writing, because that’s my path, and it’s what my heart wants to do. I know that now. My focus will be on churning out manuscripts, not all that other stuff.

Your best marketing tool is your next book, not your bookmarks, not your appearances at signings, not your blog tours, not your giveaways. Your next book. Everything else comes after that. The more books you write, the more people will read them.

So, my advice is to let go of all that other stuff. Let go of doing all the peripheral mumbo-jumbo. Focus on your writing. And make it high quality writing. Learn the craft and write the books. If you haven’t published yet, the best thing you can do is to write, write, and write some more (while saving a money to hire an editor and a cover artist who can create awesome, high quality covers for you), until you have 6-12 completed books ready to go. Then publish one every couple of months as you continue to write more books. This will build momentum and a following.

Don’t get caught up in all the hype as you watch author after author doing huge promotions and giveaways. Plenty of authors hit the New York Times without ever doing a blog tour. But what they do is write. Write, and keep writing. Once you have a large body of published work, you can think about doing all the other stuff. It will benefit you more once you have several books published.

Best wishes!

Bio:
Donya Lynne is the author of the award winning All the King's Men Series and a member of Romance Writers of America. Making her home in a wooded suburb north of Indianapolis with her husband, Donya has lived in Indiana most of her life and knew at a young age that she was destined to be a writer. She started writing poetry in grade school and won her first short story contest in fourth grade. In junior high, she began writing romantic stories for her friends, and by her sophomore year, they had dubbed her Most Likely to Become a Romance Novelist. In 2012, she made that dream come true by publishing her first two novels and two novellas. Her work has earned her two IPPYs, one gold and one silver, as well as two eLit Awards, also one gold and one silver. Donya has many more novels and novellas planned for years to come.
Links:
Website: http://donyalynne.com/
Blog: http://donyalynne.com/blog/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorDonyaLynne
Twitter: https://twitter.com/DonyaLynne
Google+: https://plus.google.com/+DonyaLynneAuthor/posts

Thanks so much for sharing this great advice, Donya! Writing and the next book often get pushed aside for promotion, which defeats building a strong writing career. I'm off to work on the next book(s). See you next week!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Author Spotlight + Giveaway--Sandy James

Welcome to Author Spotlights on Wednesday! Sandy James is sharing her thoughts on writing series or single title, and she's having a great sale on Turning Thirty-Twelve to celebrate the upcoming release of her newest book from the Ladies Who Lunch series! Leave a comment for a chance to win your choice of one of Sandy's e-books!

Hi, Sandy! Thanks for visiting with me today!

Blurb:
Jackie Delgado didn't want a new man in her life until a dreaded blind date turns out to be more exciting than she'd ever imagined. When her youngest son leaves for college, Jackie is hit hard by empty nest syndrome and pours herself into her work as a teacher. Bowing to pressure from friends, Jackie agrees to a blind date. But when Mark Brennan calls, she realizes the date won't be "blind." He's the father of one of her students.

Widower Mark Brennan isn't looking for love. After only a few dates with Jackie, he realizes he's quickly forming deep feelings for her. Wracked with guilt that he's "abandoning" his late wife, Mark resists the pull toward dynamic Jackie. When Mark's daughter begins to date Jackie's son, things become more complicated.

Can Jackie and Mark find the courage to leave the past behind and embrace a new love? And how will a surprise pregnancy affect all their lives?

Buy Links: Only 99 cents for a limited time!
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DH0D80O/ref=pe_245070_24466410_M1T1DP
B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/turning-thirty-twelve-sandy-james/1100404238?ean=2940016682631
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/327558

Thanks for giving me a guest spot on your blog, Mellanie!

Today I’d like to talk about writing a series versus single title. Having written both styles, I can’t say I favor one over the other. Both have advantages and disadvantages.

When I choose to write a single title, it’s because I have a story in mind that has a deliberate beginning and end. Take, for example, Turning Thirty-Twelve. That was the first book I wrote with absolutely no notion of creating characters that I could use in subsequent stories. The heroine, Jackie, had friends and children, but none were targeted for a sequel. It was Jackie’s story, so I told it in first person and planned “The End” to be the true end.

Single title stories are great for new readers, who might avoid series books so that they don’t have to commit to the expense/time of reading several stories. It’s easier to know that one book is all there is. Of course, that can be a drawback if the reader falls in love with the author’s voice.

The other appeal of single title is that a writer can “stretch her wings.” Perhaps that title is a new genre for her, or perhaps she’s venturing into a first person point of view rather than her typical third. A single title gives her room to try something new.

All that being said, there are disadvantages of single titles. As I said earlier, if a reader truly enjoys the story and the characters, she might be disappointed that there are no more stories featuring people she “knows” well. I also think single titles are harder to sell to publishing houses, which might be more inclined to invest money in the form of advances and advertising into several books rather than banking on only one.

So what are the advantages of series? Readers seem drawn to them, and no wonder. If the author already won their loyalty, the readers will be happy to snap up any new story. The characters and locales are familiar, as is the author’s style and voice. People are ultimately creatures of habit, and series books are nothing more than a reading “habit.”

The problem comes when readers become disenchanted with a series. For example, I was a huge fan of the popular Dark Hunters series—for about five books. Then the stories began to seem formulaic to me. Writers of series have to be careful that the premise and characters don’t become stale, a huge danger of sticking with a series for too many books. That’s one of the reasons my series tend to be “closed”—limited in the total number of books. My Alliance of the Amazons and Ladies Who Lunch series are four books. No more, no less. With the Alliance of the Amazons, my readers seemed to appreciate that there was a distinct conclusion to the Amazons’ quest and a showdown with the series’ mega-villain.

The ultimate irony of all this advice is that I have now written a sequel to my single title, Turning Thirty-Twelve. It was something I did as a lark, a way to see if I could tie one of my older books into my Ladies Who Lunch. I aged Jackie’s son, Nate Ryan, and made him the hero for Fringe Benefits, the fourth Ladies book. I’m anxious to see if my readers embrace him as a hero and if my Turning Thirty-Twelve fans enjoy seeing Jackie and Mark again.

Thanks again, Mellanie! I had fun writing for your blog readers!

Bio:
Sandy James lives in a quiet suburb of Indianapolis with her husband of thirty years. She is a high school teacher of both psychology and U.S. history, and also teaches psychology on the college level. Sandy and her husband own a small stable of harness racehorses and enjoy spending time at the two Indiana racetracks. She’s also an Amazon.com bestselling author and the winner of two HOLT Medallions (Murphy's Law and Rules of the Game). Look for her popular series--Damaged Heroes, the Alliance of the Amazons, and The Ladies Who Lunch. Visit Sandy at www.sandy-james.com or find her as sandyjamesbooks on both Twitter and Facebook. Sandy is represented by Joanna MacKenzie of Browne & Miller Literary.

Every time I try to write a single title, a secondary character tries to tell me he/she needs his/her own story!

So, Readers, series or single title? Be sure to leave a comment by midnight (EST) on Wednesday, February 11, for a chance to win one e-book title from Sandy's long list of books! Thanks for stopping by!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!