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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Writing Tip Wednesday--Self-Publishing Terminology

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! Self-publishing offers writers another choice on the road to publication, whether they’re already traditionally published and/or e-press published, or unpublished. Although the author maintains control of the process, she also has a lot of hard work ahead of her. Education about self-publishing and the publishing industry is vital to a good product and creating a professional image.

Knowing Self-Publishing Terminology makes communication with editors, formatters, and other publishing professionals easier. This list varies slightly from the one included in Writing Tip Wednesday: The Writing Career Handbook, but numerous terms overlap and are important to traditional, e-press, and self-publishing platforms. Several are used in the formatting guidelines for the retail outlets and will make self formatting easier to understand.

Audio book – narrated version of a book
Back matter – information or pages included after the story content in a book
Blurb – short description of the book designed to hook the reader; usually 25-150 words; used for promo and back cover
Bookmark – a link within a document that connects to another location in the document
Calibre – software used to convert document files to other formats
Copy edits – checks for grammar, spelling, and punctuation; also verifies legal and usage questions and checks or questions facts
Copyright – the exclusive right to publish, sell, or reproduce an artistic work
Copyright page – front matter of a book that contains copyright information
CreateSpace – Amazon’s print self-publishing venue
Developmental edits – edits for plot and character development
Draft Layout – page view that shows the document with breaks
Draft2Digital – digital publishing venue with options to publish to other venues
DRM – digital rights management: technology that limits the use of digital media for users
epub – e-publishing file; type of digital format file
Front Matter – information or pages included before the story content in a book
Google Play/Google Books – digital publishing venue
Hyperlink – an active web address link within a document
iBooks – digital publishing venue for Mac users
ISBN – international standard book number
iTunes Producer – Mac software used in conjunction with the iBooks publishing venue
KDP – Kindle Direct Publishing
KDP Select – Kindle Direct Publishing exclusive
Kobo – digital publishing venue
Line edits – checks the pacing, story continuity, and content
lit – literature digital file with DRM; type of digital format file
Metadata – data about other data; keywords and terms that help identify books
mobi – type of digital format file
Nook Press – Barnes & Noble self-publishing venue
Page break – break used at the end of text to separate it from text on the following page
pbd – program database file; type of digital format file
pdf – portable document format; type of digital format file
POD – print on demand
Print layout – page view that shows the document as it would print
Producer – narrator or production organizer for audio books
rb – rocket e-book digital file; type of digital format file
Royalties – percentage of the sale price earned by the author on sold copies
Section break – break used at the end of text to separate if from text in a following section
Self-publishing – publishing in which the author is the publisher and is responsible for all aspects of book production, distribution, and marketing, including but not limited to editing, cover art, and formatting expenses. The author receives all royalties directly from the chosen distributors.
Smashwords - digital publishing venue with options to publish to other venues
Tagline – brief phrase meant to spark interest in the book
Title page – front matter of a book that contains the title and author
TOC – table of contents

Be sure to check out the writing craft series, Writing Tip Wednesday: The Writing Craft Handbook, in e-book at Amazon and B&N and in print at Amazon and CreateSpace, and the writing career series, Writing Tip Wednesday: The Writing Career Handbook, in e-book at Amazon and B&N and in print at Amazon and CreateSpace. Watch for Writing Tip Wednesday: The Self-Publishing Handbook in early January—with extra formatting and conversion content!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Author Spotlight + Giveaway--Jillian Jacobs

Welcome to the final Author Spotlight on Mondays for 2014! Jillian Jacobs is back with a new release! Check out Ember’s Center from The O-line series and be sure to comment for a chance to win a signed print copy of Ember’s Center and a Green Moose Productions fridge magnet!

Blurb: She spent her life fighting for middle ground, and now that she’s found it, she’ll fight for her life.

Ember Brooks yearns for an end to the dark chapters of her life—abusive mother, negligent father, teenage trauma, and sibling suicide. Determined to escape her traumatic past, Ember is finally headed for solid ground, gathering strength and balance with the help of her trusted counselor and friend, Xander Kane.
Still reeling from the death of her brother, Ember finds solace when Manchester Marauders center, Owen Killion goes on the offensive and barrels into her life. Both on the football field and off, Owen is sure-footed and confident. With his domineering presence and reliable nature, he alters her game-plan. But for a girl continually left on the sidelines, can she leave her heart on the line?
When Ember is the victim of increasingly dangerous incidents, and Xander changes the course of their relationship, once more her life spirals out of control.
Ember trusts Owen to guard their love, but when someone else is calling the shots, can they reach the end zone or will they fumble?

Short Excerpt:
Ember braced a hand against Xander’s chest. The blows kept coming, and too many questions whirled through her aching head. Where was Owen? Did he believe these lies?

Will I go to prison?

Xander wrapped her in his arms. “It’s going to be all right. I’ll take care of you.”

“I’m so confused.” Where had this stomach bug come from? Why was she standing in the women’s restroom speaking to two men? Perhaps, she was still dreaming. “I’m not feeling so well.”

“I know.” Xander dropped a kiss against her temple. “We’ll work things out.”

She sighed. Of course things would work out. Owen wouldn’t believe her capable of such a thing, would he? And what had Xander said about meds? What meds? She’d stopped taking drugs over two years ago. Trust her father to come back and create this whirl of chaos. And yet, deep down, hadn’t she always known something like this would happen? Fairy tales weren’t real. In real life, the heroine’s glass slipper splintered under pressure, and all she had left was a bloody foot.

Buy links:
http://bit.ly/EmbersCenteriBooks
http://bit.ly/EmbersCenterARE
http://bit.ly/EmbersCenterAMZ
http://bit.ly/EmbersCenterBNNook
http://bit.ly/EmbersCenterKobo

Interview:
Mellanie: Give us some insight into your main character, Ember Brooks. What makes her special?
Jillian: At the beginning of the story, Ember is suffering from the loss of her younger brother.
After moving beyond her troubled childhood, she focuses on becoming a model employee and healthy individual, both mentally and physically. Fighting past insecurities, she develops a relationship with a pro-football player, but various roadblocks interfere with her budding romance. Ember is a survivor, strong on her own. She doesn’t need anyone to complete her or provide her happiness. Every time she’s knocked down by life, she gets back up stronger than before. She represents a resilient, educated woman.

Mellanie: Is there a message in your novel you hope to convey to your readers?
Jillian: That not every home life is perfect, and trying to find your normal can be difficult. As a woman, believe yourself worthy of everything. Most importantly, even if you don’t like someone or something, try to love them anyway.

Mellanie: What draws your main characters to each other and keeps them apart?
Jillian: Owen is drawn by his need to shelter Ember. She, on the other hand, wants to finally take the reins in her own life. She also has to take credit for all her positive changes, and not get bogged down in the past. Owen helps her take each step forward, but a foe steps in, holding him back.

Mellanie: How did you come up with the title?
Jillian: It’s a bit of a play on words since Owen plays the center position for a pro-football team. But Ember also needs to find that one calm in the storm of her chaotic life. Her center.

Mellanie: What new stories are you working on?
Jillian: I’m in the final chapters of the second book in my paranormal Elementals series. This will feature Flint and Violet. Fire’s Field is the title.
In my head, I’ve also outlined the storyline for the second book in the O-line series.
I can only work on one story at a time, which makes my product a little slower, but keeps me from mixing up character names and storylines.

Bio:
In the spring of 2013, Jillian Jacobs changed her career path and became a romance writer. After reading for years, she figured writing a romance would be quick and easy. Nope! With the guidance of the Indiana Romance Writers of America chapter, she’s learned there are many "rules" to writing a proper romance. Being re-schooled has been an interesting journey, and she hopes the best trails are yet to be traveled.
Water’s Threshold, the first in Jillian’s Elementals series, was a finalist in Chicago-North’s 2014 Fire and Ice contest in the Women’s Fiction category.
Jillian is a: Tea Guzzler, Polish Pottery Hoarder, and lover of all things Moose.
The genres she writes under are: Paranormal and Contemporary with suspenseful elements.

Links:
Website: www.jillianjacobs.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/GreenMooseProd
Facebook: www.facebook.com/AuthorJillianJacobs
Tsu: https://www.tsu.co/JillianJacobsAuthor
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9833245.Jillian_Jacobs

Thanks for visiting, Jillian and readers! Remember to comment by midnight (EST) on Wednesday, December 31, for a chance to win a signed print copy of Ember's Center! See you next year!!!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Writing Tip Wednesday--Write the Next Book

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! Self-publishing offers writers another choice on the road to publication, whether they’re already traditionally published and/or e-press published, or unpublished. Although the author maintains control of the process, she also has a lot of hard work ahead of her. Education about self-publishing and the publishing industry is vital to a good product and creating a professional image.

Completing a book, going through the editing and publishing process, and seeing it out in the market gives a sense of great accomplishment. Whew!

Now take a deep breath and start again.

Yes. Butt in chair, fingers on keyboard, and thoughts on the screen, because the best and most effective marketing tool is to Write the Next Book.

It wasn’t easy the first time, and it likely won’t be easy again. However, each book teaches the author something new—whether craft-, editing-, formatting-, or marketing-related knowledge, or simply that she’s capable of writing (and finishing) a book.

Writing should improve over time. A great writer continues learning about writing and publishing through her career. Some stories will seem to write themselves, while others have to be pulled kicking and screaming out of the author’s mind. No matter the process, every one contains part of her and certain aspects will progress a little more smoothly the next time.

So, start plotting if you’re a plotter. Start writing if you’re a pantser. This plantser is making notes and writing, knowing the characters and plot will lead the way to another finish line. Don’t sacrifice your story to get it out to readers more quickly, though. Quality trumps quantity every time. Write a good story—and then write another one. Everyone writes at different speeds and has different methods, so try not to compare yourself to others. Do what works for you and avoid measuring your success based on someone else’s ruler.

Some suggestions for getting that book done:
-Set daily writing goals.
-Participate in #1K1H sprints with other writers.
-Discover your best time of day to write and set aside a portion of it for writing.
-Take a writer’s retreat.
-Brainstorm with other writers or friends.
-Designate a reward for each chapter you finish or a larger one for finishing the book.

Figure what motivates you to sit in that chair and write.

Check off #15 on the To-Do List and go back at #1.

The To-Do List
1) Finish the book. 
2) Polish and edit the book. 
3) Write taglines and blurbs. 
4) Create or purchase cover art. 
5) Purchase ISBNs, if using a single ISBN for all retailers using the same book format (print or e-book). 
6) Create front and back matter. 
7) Format for e-book and/or print. 
7.a.) Add images. 
7.b.) Create audio book. 
8) Update website, blog, and social media. 
9) Create metadata list.
10) Plan a marketing and promotion strategy.
11) Publish the book. 
12) File copyright paperwork, if registering. 
13) Add buy links to websites, blogs, and social media. 
14) Implement marketing and promotion strategies. 
15) Write the next book! 

Be sure to check out the writing craft series, Writing Tip Wednesday: The Writing Craft Handbook, in e-book at Amazon and B&N and in print at Amazon and CreateSpace, and the writing career series, Writing Tip Wednesday: The Writing Career Handbook, in e-book at Amazon and B&N and in print at Amazon and CreateSpace.
Writing Tip Wednesday: The Self-Publishing Handbook is available for purchase at Amazon due to a scheduling glitch and pre-orders at iBooks! Release date is January 2 for print and e-book for iBooks, B&N, Kobo, ARe/OmniLit, and CreateSpace—with extra formatting and conversion content!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Author Spotlight + Giveaway--L.A. Remenicky

Welcome to Author Spotlights on Mondays! Indiana author L.A. Remenicky is visiting this week with her book Ragan's Song. Check out my interview with her and leave a comment for a chance to win a swag pack (key chain, rack card, magnet)!

Blurb:
It only took one look into his eyes for her to know she was in trouble.
Adam Bricklin has heard the melody in his head for years, the melody that told him if a decision was right or wrong. When he met Ragan Newlin the song told him she was the one. He was devastated when circumstances tore them apart. It has taken three years for Adam to finally move past the heartbreak he suffered when Ragan left town in the middle of the night. No note, no email, no text. She was just gone. Now he has a new girlfriend, a new album in the works, and his daughter is doing well in school. Until the day Ragan returned to Fairfield Corners.
Ragan came home to celebrate her parent’s anniversary hoping they would forgive her for not telling them about her marriage or her son. When she discovered that Adam was still living in Fairfield Corners she hoped her secrets were safe; secrets that drove her away three years ago, secrets that could change their lives forever.

Excerpt:
He pulled open the back door and lowered himself into the car behind the driver’s seat, wincing as the freezing river water soaked through his boots. The water level had almost reached her face and it was still rising. The driver groaned and turned her head.

“Don’t move, I’ll get you out of here as fast as I can.”

The driver forced a yell, “Skylar, answer me, baby.”

Adam crouched down and reached between the front bucket seats to place his hand on her shoulder. “Shhh, he’s okay. He’s up the hill, inside my truck. He’s safe,” he said as he started cutting the seatbelt with his pocket knife. “Let’s get you out of this seatbelt. Then I’ll get you up to him in no time.”

“Adam?”

His heart stuttered in his chest when he heard her voice.

“Ragan? What the hell are you doing here?” Adam asked as he continued sawing at the seatbelt. Blood ran down her face and dripped into the water, making his heart race with fear. “Hold onto me. I’ll get you out of here,” he said, trying to maintain a calm voice.

He sawed harder at the seatbelt with his pocket knife as he tried to hold her out of the water as much as possible. Her lips were blue and she had stopped shivering, the cold water was taking its toll. She grabbed at his shoulders, trying to keep her face above water level.

The water continued to rise, forcing Ragan to turn her head towards Adam to keep her mouth out of the water. The car lurched, sliding farther into the river.

“Oh God, Adam. Hurry,” she screamed as the water inched up, her arms tightening around his neck. She spit out river water, gasping in air, afraid the water would soon cover her mouth and nose completely.

Adam dropped his pocket knife and wrapped his arms around her. That’s when he felt the seatbelt finally break. His heartbeat roared in his ears as he grabbed her with both hands and pulled her into the back seat, making sure her face was out of the water.

“C’mon Ragan, stay with me for a little longer, baby,” he said, his voice wavering with fear. “I need you to hold yourself up for just a minute until I can pull you out.”

She grabbed the back of the passenger seat and held on as Adam pulled himself out of the car. He reached back through the open car door and pulled her out, grunting with the effort. Her lips were blue as he wrapped the blanket around her; he knew he had to get her warmed up fast.

The feeling of her in his arms made his heart beat faster and his hands began to shake. He stopped for a moment… holding her, pushing the memories back before he raised her into his arms and started up the hill. It was difficult carrying her while using the rope to pull them up the muddy hillside. Maintaining traction wasn’t easy and they fell a few times.
When Ragan’s eyes started to roll back and her arm across his shoulders went limp, he gripped her tighter.

“Hold on, Ragan, we’re almost there.” Adrenaline coursed through his body as he climbed the hill, his one objective to get Ragan to safety.

Adam lowered her onto the back seat of his truck beside Skylar and brushed the hair out of her face.

“Dammit, why did you have to come back into my life?” he asked, as the elusive tune he’d been trying to get on paper for years started playing in his head. He thought it was gone for good when she had left three years ago. Was it a coincidence? She had come home to Fairfield Corners, and it was back.

Buy Links:
Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OX5EKFE
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00OX5EKFE
Createspace: https://www.createspace.com/5066849

Interview:
Me: What inspired you to write your first book?
L.A.: It actually goes back to high school (way back when)… Me and my two best friends made up a story about the three of us and our lives that we told through letters to each other – we loved famous people, had exciting lives, you get the idea. Anyway, in 2012 one of my friends told me she had continued the story and she let me read it. I thought, “how cool, I should do this too.” She introduced me to NaNoWriMo that year – we signed up and I actually did it! 50,000 words which eventually became my first novel, Saving Cassie.

Me: Do you see writing as a career?
L.A.: Someday I would love for writing to be my “main” career, currently it’s just a sideline but I am ever hopeful that my books will sell and allow me to pursue writing full-time. Until then, I will continue to be a payroll professional.

Me: This book is the second in a series. Do you prefer to write single title or series? Why?
L.A.: I love to read a series, I can really connect with the characters so it’s natural that I love to write series. A series gives me that chance to explore other connected stories.

Me: Is there a message in your novel you hope to convey to your readers?
L.A.: Never give up and sometimes fate has a wicked sense of humor.

Me: I love a good conflict. What draws your main characters to each other and keeps them apart?
L.A.: Ragan and Adam fell in love before Ragan left and broke his heart. When she returns they both realize their love never died but outside forces keep them apart. Can’t go into detail – don’t want to give away the twist!

Me: How did you come up with the title?
L.A.: Once I had the basic plot and character names it just made sense.

Me: I usually get plot ideas in the shower and while driving. When/where does inspiration strike you?
L.A.: Most of my plot ideas (so far) have come from music so inspiration can strike (and has!) any time I’m listening to music or just thinking about a song.

Me: What new stories are you working on?
L.A.: I am attempting NaNoWriMo again this year, my story is a sci-fi/fantasy romance. Here is blurb:
Ammica led a boring life until the summer she turned sixteen when Stone came to town and started working at her father's garage. When he left at the end of the summer he left Ammi with a broken heart and more questions than answers.
After her father is killed in an apparent robbery gone wrong, Ammi settles into life alone until that fateful day on the "haunted" side of the lake when she falls into the lake trying to escape from a would-be mugger. A hand reaches up from the depths of the lake and pulls her down into the darkness and into a world she never knew existed.

Bio:
L.A. Remenicky ~ Love Stories With A Twist
An avid reader all her life, she finally put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) during NaNoWriMo in 2012 and has never looked back.
Paranormal romance, romantic suspense, no romance genre is out of bounds!

Links:
Website: www.laremenicky.blogspot.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/laremenicky
Twitter: www.twitter.com/remenickywrites
Google+: www.google.com/+LARemenickyauthor
Amazon Author Page: http://amazon.com/author/laremenicky
Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1zANq9n

Remember to comment by midnight (EST) on Wednesday, Dec. 24, for a chance to win a swag pack!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Writing Tip Wednesday--Recordkeeping

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! Self-publishing offers writers another choice on the road to publication, whether they’re already traditionally published and/or e-press published, or unpublished. Although the author maintains control of the process, she also has a lot of hard work ahead of her. Education about self-publishing and the publishing industry is vital to a good product and creating a professional image.

Good Recordkeeping is as important as writing a good book. Along with recording expenses for editing, cover art, conference and convention fees, etc., every author needs to track her income.

Each retail platform allows authors to view sales and royalty statements. Each payment should be recorded for tax purposes. Remember that income is based on when it was received, not when it was earned. If December 2014’s earnings are paid in January 2015, those royalties are part of 2015 income.

While some authors prefer to track sales and royalties separately for each retail outlet, a detailed breakdown isn’t required when showing income.

A sometimes-overlooked source of income is hand sales, whether casual (to a friend) or organized (at a book signing). The author should record each purchase of print books, along with shipping costs, and calculate her cost per book. The royalties from hand-sold books equals the amount the author paid for the book plus any shipping/handling fees subtracted from the selling price. If the author purchased ten copies of her self-published print book from Createspace at $3.00 each and paid an additional $8.00 for shipping, her total cost would be $38.00. Her cost per book is $3.80. If she hand sells those copies for $5.00, her profit (royalty amount) is $1.20 per book or $12.00 for all ten books. The amount of profits is income. Giveaways are an expense.

Expense posting follows the same rules as income. If cover art was received in December 2014 but not paid for until January 2015, the expense goes in 2015 records. By the same logic, if cover art was paid for in December 2014 but not received until January 2015, the expense is added to 2014.

Microsoft Excel offers templates for recording income and expenses, as well the ability to create customized spreadsheets. QuickBooks or other financial/budgeting software is another option. Even a notebook is sufficient. Save all receipts and income records in digital or physical format, or both.

Tax filing depends on the author’s business status—sole proprietor (DBA), LLC, S-corporation. Consult a tax professional, if necessary.

Enough about the tax aspects of self-publishing. The last item on the To-Do List is up next!

The To-Do List
1) Finish the book. 
2) Polish and edit the book. 
3) Write taglines and blurbs. 
4) Create or purchase cover art. 
5) Purchase ISBNs, if using a single ISBN for all retailers using the same book format (print or e-book). 
6) Create front and back matter. 
7) Format for e-book and/or print. 
7.a.) Add images. 
7.b.) Create audio book. 
8) Update website, blog, and social media. 
9) Create metadata list. 
10) Plan a marketing and promotion strategy. 
11) Publish the book. 
12) File copyright paperwork, if registering. 
13) Add buy links to websites, blogs, and social media. 
14) Implement marketing and promotion strategies. 
15) Write the next book!

Be sure to check out the writing craft series, Writing Tip Wednesday: The Writing Craft Handbook, in e-book at Amazon and B&N and in print at Amazon and CreateSpace, and the writing career series, Writing Tip Wednesday: The Writing Career Handbook, in e-book at Amazon and B&N and in print at Amazon and CreateSpace. Writing Tip Wednesday: The Self-Publishing Handbook is now available for pre-orders at Amazon and iBooks!. Release date is January 2—with extra formatting and conversion content!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Author Spotlight + Giveaway--Valley Brown

Welcome to Author Spotlights on Mondays! IRWA friend Valley Brown is visiting this week and talking about the not-so-solitary part of being a writer. She's also sharing an excerpt from Rough Piece of Road, book two in The Rocky Road series. Be sure to comment for a chance to win signed print copies of Rough Piece of Road and Speeding Tickets, book one of the series (available only to the continental US because of shipping costs). Take it away, Valley!

Thanks for having me back, Mellanie. I’m always eager to spend time with those of us who obsess about language and storytelling. And speaking of that…

We’ve all heard how writing is such a solitary undertaking, and how lonely it is to be a writer. I disagree. Yes, there are times when being totally alone is needed to put a fine focus on your work. However, there are scads of times when you need feedback from others – especially other writers.

Only another writer has walked in your shoes, hit the same snags and bumps. Only another writer has experienced that profound connection to a set of characters that has you wallowing in sympathetic despair one moment and breathing hard with heart-thumping desire the next.

When two or more of us congregate to discuss our work, the benefits go far beyond suggestions and catching typos. Close examination of someone else’s WIP wakes up our brain cells, the ones glazed over from rehashing our own WIP ad infinitum. Revelations may be small at times, but they can have far-reaching effects, much like a cascading row of dominoes.

Right now, my brain cells are working overtime. I’m mentoring a writing friend, acting as her developmental editor, a new role for me. Usually, I’m on the receiving end of a “Devil Ed”!

My friend made the big decision to try writing a novel earlier this year. She has a great (and complicated) story line and characters, all of which are still evolving. She’s a dialogue-driven pantser, meaning she fixates on conversation to the exclusion of setting and physical/body language clues from the characters. My goal is to keep her thinking about her plot and characters.

We meet every weekend for coffee, and to go over what she’s written since our last meeting. I read her chapter(s) and scribble notes while she checks her phone emails. Then the fun begins.

We bat each comment back and forth. Is the story going where it needs to? Sometimes we argue amicably about the ramifications of a twist, or that something a character said is “out of character.” I ask my friend questions, try out “what if’s,” and try to stretch her thought process, because writing is, after all a process. Thinking so deeply about where she’s going with her story forces me to re-evaluate my own WIP, and that keeps me humble, for sure.

My friend is amazed at her word count so far, having written mainly short stories or articles. I try not to laugh. I have been in her shoes and know that right now she’s simply up-chucking on the page. She will add tens of thousands of more words, and hack away as many. It will take as long as it takes, and we’ll both have a terrific experience along the way.

Series Blurb:
The Rocky Road romantic suspense series is about one woman’s journey through trauma and tragedy, moving forward as she deals with invisible wounds that never heal and finds the strength and courage to love again.

Excerpt from Rough Piece of Road – Book Two of The Rocky Road Series:
We took the freight elevator down to the lowest level, where incoming shipments were unloaded and held for processing. Being confined in the small space with a known mobster messed with my blood pressure.

“I guess you didn’t have any paperwork go missing, eh, Chris?” Tony rocked back on the heels of his black leather shoes.

“Excuse me?”

“I know you catch my drift.” He narrowed his eyes. “Your ex-boss trusted you, with everything.”

He raised a hand as my mouth fell open. “Oh, I know all about you two. I also know he saved your ass so my boy wouldn’t find the dough that he managed to hide from everyone.”

“That’s not…There was no money,” I choked, pressing my back into the wall of the elevator.

“Don’t waste my time, Chris. Something of mine is missing, and I want it found.” The tendons in his thick neck stood out. “I suggest you look harder, and fast.”

The elevator stopped and opened up onto the lower level. Tony gestured for me to precede him.

With some difficulty, I swallowed and walked past him. The dock appeared to be empty of people other than ourselves. I strode anxiously to the stack of boxes that contained all the student work.

“Quite a pile of stuff. Should fill that big space nicely, don’t you think?”

“Yes. It should.” My head was reeling. He needs you alive, Christine, to find what happened to his money. He’s not going to beat you up or waste you down here.

“So, now I can go to my daughter and tell her I’ve seen her stuff. Family is what it’s all about, Chris. We all have family.” Tony pulled his gloves out of his pocket and focused his attention on them.

“Family takes care of each other. We do what we need to do to keep them safe. Yeah. It’s nice if you don’t have to worry about anybody. I imagine you worry a lot about your husband, what with him working around all those power tools and heavy pieces of sharp metal all the time. Not to mention him riding that big bike of his a lot. Those things can be dangerous, yes. Then again, I hear you ride one of those things, too. Extra reason to be careful, don’t you think? Makes me concerned for your future health. Your husband’s, too.”

The threats were so barely veiled, they were practically naked. Doug’s tire damage was no accident, and Tony had the resources to effect far greater – and deadlier, results. Doug was one hundred percent correct that Tony would come after us and everyone around us. How was I going to prevent that, when there was no money to find?

“I’ll talk to you soon, Chris. Maybe at the reception, if not before?” He chuckled to himself, and stepped back into the elevator.

The door slid closed and I slid to the floor, backed against a large carton. I had trouble breathing. The world darkened, with tiny specks of intense light, and the next thing I knew, George was squatting next to me, patting my face and calling my name.

“Miz Hartford? Miz Hartford. You okay? Say somethin’ to me.”

My stomach boiled with acid that tried to gush up my throat. I forced it back down, and inhaled erratically. “Doug. I have to talk to Doug.”

“Well, that’s all fine and good, but let’s see if we can get you on your feet first.”

George helped me stagger upright. I made bracing myself against that carton my first priority.

“What happened down here, Miz Hartford? I saw Mr. Turdanno come out of the elevator alone and leave the building. That left a bad taste in my mouth, so I came looking for you.”

“He was in a hurry to leave. I got dizzy after he got in the elevator, and, and I guess I passed out.”

“Miz Hartford, think about who you’re talkin’ to. My momma didn’t raise no fool. Now are you gonna spill the beans, or what?”

Tears burned my eyes. I shook my head and chewed my lower lip. “George, I can’t talk about it right now. I really wish I could, but right now I need to be in my office. Would you just help me up there, please?”

George scowled as if I were four years old, but he assisted me all the way into my office, sat me down, and then brought me a cup of coffee.

“I know you’re in some kind o’ trouble with that guy, and you don’t want to involve me. That’s fine, as long as it isn’t somethin’ that hurts this place. My job is to protect this place and everyone in it. Should I be worryin’ about a security breach here?”

“No, nothing like that, honest.” I took a sip of coffee. “It’s…personal, and I need to find a way to take care of it before I can talk to you about it. Just keep your eyes wide open for me, but don’t say anything to anyone else, not yet. Please?”

“I don’t like this, none of it, but I will be watchin’ things a lot closer until I know what this is all about.”

“That’s all I’m asking, George.”

~~~~~

The museum shut its doors at 4:00 p.m., but it was almost 5:00 by the time I made it down to my car. Taking a deep breath, I tossed my coat and purse onto the front seat, locked the doors and buckled up.

“Don’t turn around.” A raspy voice came from directly behind me, startling me into a high-pitched gasp.

A sharp, distinctive click assaulted my right ear, followed by cold steel pressed to my neck. I tried hard not to look straight into the rearview mirror, afraid to make eye contact with whomever was in here with me. A dark, knitted ski mask was visible in my peripheral vision, along with the blunt, finely machined tip of a handgun. It was a very compact weapon, short and as dark as the ski mask, like nothing I had ever seen before.

“Drive out of the lot, exactly like you normally would. When you get to the main road, turn right.”

Left would have taken me in the direction of the university. Right would take me to parts of town I would rather not be in. This late in the year, especially after the time change, it was dark enough outside that no one would ever notice someone in the car with me.

“Go straight until I say otherwise.”

I drove slowly for several blocks, wondering what was going to happen when we reached the destination my hijacker had in mind. Doug wouldn’t think to worry about me for at least an hour. I was off everyone’s radar for at least that long, and a lot can happen in an hour.

“Take a left at the next light, then keep straight. You take directions well, Mrs. Hartford. I suggest you remember that you have something you need to find, and the sooner you find it, the better off you and your husband will be. You have until the 24th to locate what’s missing. If it doesn’t show up, don’t be surprised if your husband has a little accident.”

Shivering, I gripped the steering wheel so hard I thought the bones in my hands would break.

God, please help me. Don’t let them go after Doug. Please. I really need some help here.

Doug was everything to me. How was I going to get us out of this mess in one piece?

“Stop here.” He pressed the muzzle into my neck muscle. “I’m going to get out now. You drive on and don’t attract any attention to you or me. Lives will depend on it.”

Sniffing hard, I nodded ever so subtly. The muzzle withdrew from my flesh, and a few seconds later, my passenger exited, walking casually into a crowd milling around a run-down corner tavern.

I saw his dark form in the side view mirror, but never saw his face. A car honked behind me. Startled, I pulled forward, not certain where I was. It was several blocks before I recognized a street name and turned in the direction of home.

How I managed to cover the distance without incident, I had no clue. Suddenly I was in the garage, getting out of the car, then walking unsteadily to the dark house. When I closed the front door behind me, Beebee jumped at my leg, and I screamed. She fled with a hiss, and I fled in the opposite direction, to the commode, to upchuck. I was still curled up there when Doug called my cell phone, worried. He blew a gasket when I told him what happened. I was too upset not to tell him. He ordered me to stay right where I was, to wait for him. Only fifteen minutes passed before he came in the door.

“Baby, are you okay?” he dropped down on his knees beside me, crushing me against him. “God, if anything had happened to you…” He trembled, as much with fear as with rage, and kissed the top of my head repeatedly…

Author Bio:
Author Valley Brown writes and lives in Southwestern Indiana. She is a member of Romance Writers of America – including the Indiana Chapter, ABATE, AQS, IQA, and the Raintree Quilters Guild.

Links:
Amazon Author page: http://amazon.com/author/valleybrown_romance
Facebook: https://facebook.com/pages/Valley-Brown/243539242332064?ref=hl
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5222461.Valley_Brown
Twitter: https://twitter.com/valley_brown
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/valley_brown/

Thanks for visiting, Valley and readers! Remember to comment by midnight on Wednesday, December 17, for a chance to win signed print copies of Rough Piece of Road and Speeding Tickets, book one of the series!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Writing Tip Wednesday--Marketing & Promo Push

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! Self-publishing offers writers another choice on the road to publication, whether they’re already traditionally published and/or e-press published, or unpublished. Although the author maintains control of the process, she also has a lot of hard work ahead of her. Education about self-publishing and the publishing industry is vital to a good product and creating a professional image.

One of the top priorities of the Marketing & Promo Push is adding buy links to the author’s website and/or blog and sharing links on social media. Posts on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, etc. disappear from view fairly quickly, but website and blog buy links offer a constant source of promotion. Remember to add new books to author profiles on sites like Goodreads, Author Central, Authorgraph, Manic Readers, and RWA’s Novel Engagement as well. Again, those links are always visible. Take advantage of the long-term exposure options! To better prepare for those additions, create a promo info document that includes the book title, series name, word count, release date, ISBNs, taglines and blurbs, an excerpt, and all links. This is a great place for a copy of the current author bio. That promo info document can also include sample tweets and posts.

A reminder about posting links to social media...
Even a once-a-day routine for several days around release time can be seen as spam if the posts aren’t intermixed with social updates. A continuous barrage of “buy my book” turns off most readers. Find a good balance.

Any release parties, giveaway events, blog tours, etc. should be scheduled and ready to begin. Guest posts should be written and submitted to bloggers when requested. Be “present” for promotional events and respond to readers’ comments and questions. That doesn’t necessarily mean spending every minute monitoring blogs and such. Time management is extremely important during this marketing push. Set aside part of the day to continue writing, even if it’s only a couple hours. Balance.

Book signings/personal appearances are uncomfortable for many writers, but they offer a chance to interact with fans and gain new readers. Introverts can choose small events at a local library, bookstore, coffee shop, etc. as way to get used to the social aspect of promotion. When authors handle the sales of their own books, they should have plenty of change available. Credit card readers, like Square, can be used as well. While guessing the number of sales ahead of time is nearly impossible, bringing more books than the anticipated need prevents a lost sale. Book signings are also the perfect place to give away swag (business cards, pens, magnets, etc.). Many signings provide only a table (or part of a table for a large event) and chair. Customize the space with a tablecloth and decorations that fit the theme of the book(s). Consider having a receipt book or paper and pencil handy for those wanting a receipt.

Advertising is often expensive, but it can provide wider exposure, especially when combined with special pricing. Promoting a price reduction usually boosts sales. However, as mentioned before, free is only effective for improving rankings unless the author has other books available for sale. Book signings are an excellent opportunity to offer special pricing on a single book or bundle-pricing on a series.

Creativity is what authors do best! Apply that to marketing and promotion.

Check off #13 and #14!

The To-Do List
1) Finish the book. 
2) Polish and edit the book. 
3) Write taglines and blurbs. 
4) Create or purchase cover art. 
5) Purchase ISBNs, if using a single ISBN for all retailers using the same book format (print or e-book). 
6) Create front and back matter. 
7) Format for e-book and/or print. 
7.a.) Add images. 
7.b.) Create audio book. 
8) Update website, blog, and social media. 
9) Create metadata list. 
10) Plan a marketing and promotion strategy. 
11) Publish the book. 
12) File copyright paperwork, if registering. 
13) Add buy links to websites, blogs, and social media. 
14) Implement marketing and promotion strategies. 
15) Write the next book!

Be sure to check out the writing craft series, Writing Tip Wednesday: The Writing Craft Handbook, in e-book at Amazon and B&N and in print at Amazon and CreateSpace, and the writing career series, Writing Tip Wednesday: The Writing Career Handbook, in e-book at Amazon and B&N and in print at Amazon and CreateSpace. Watch for Writing Tip Wednesday: The Self-Publishing Handbook in early January—with extra formatting and conversion content!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Author Spotlight + Giveaway--Amber Nation

Welcome to Author Spotlights on Mondays! This week my visitor is Amber Nation, another Indiana author. She's sharing a look at The Brown County Series and giveaway a boxed set of all 4 e-books!!! Be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win Not Alone, Runaway Love, How To Save A Life, and Unconditionally (M/M).

The Complete Series contains 3 full-length novels and 1 novella.

Buy Links:
Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/BrownCountySeries
B&N: http://tinyurl.com/mblmt5o

Interview:
Me: This book is part of a series. Do you prefer to write single title or series? Why?
Amber: This ebook is actually the complete Brown County series, consisting of 4 titles. When I set out to write Not Alone I didn’t foresee it being part of a series, but sometimes life throws you some amazing curveballs.

Me: Is there a message in your novel you hope to convey to your readers?
Amber: All of my novels revolve around love and sometimes having a second chance in life. Being yourself regardless of what anyone thinks or says about you.

Me: What’s your favorite sub-genre (contemporary, sci-fi, etc.) to write? To read?
Amber: I love to read and write contemporary romance. Something about the main characters finding love and their happy ever after.

Me: I usually get plot ideas in the shower and while driving. When/where does inspiration strike you?
Amber: Normally while driving. I have to keep a notepad handy so I can jot things down at a moments notice. The notes app in my phone is pretty full as well.

Me: What new stories are you working on?
Amber: I am working on a new contemporary romance, More Than A Memory which is due to be released on January 11th, 2015. It’s a second chance romance about two high school friends turned lovers who haven’t seen each other in over fifteen years due to circumstances out of their control. They set eyes on each other again in the days leading up to their 15 year high school reunion.

Bio:
Amber is a stay at home mom currently residing in Southern Indiana with her husband and two beautiful daughters. If she's not shopping, going to concerts or on road trips, or having her nose stuck in a book, you'll often find her at the ball field watching one of the numerous sports that her girls are involved in.

She is the author of the contemporary romance Brown County Series, titles include Not Alone, Runaway Love, How To Save A Life, and Unconditionally (M/M).

Links:
Website: www.ambernationauthor.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/ambernationauthor
Twitter: www.twitter.com/nation_amber
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Amber-Nation/e/B00GLAUKQ2/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Thanks for visiting, Amber! And thank you, readers, for stopping by! Remember to comment by midnight (EST) on Wednesday, Dec. 10, for a chance to win The Brown County Series boxed set!!!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Writing Tip Wednesday--Filing Copyrights

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! Self-publishing offers writers another choice on the road to publication, whether they’re already traditionally published and/or e-press published, or unpublished. Although the author maintains control of the process, she also has a lot of hard work ahead of her. Education about self-publishing and the publishing industry is vital to a good product and creating a professional image.

Filing Copyrights isn’t mandatory. Technically speaking, an original work is copyrighted as soon as it’s created. However, a registered copyright gives the author the ability to file a lawsuit for copyright infringement. The unfortunate fact is a lawsuit for copyright infringement is very costly. Attorney’s fees and statutory damages may be recovered in successful litigation if the work is registered within three months of publication. Registration within five years of publication allows an award of actual damages and profits.

Each author must decide whether the additional rights are worth the cost and effort of registering the copyright—currently $35 per title/collection/single author when registering online at the US Copyright Office/Library of Congress and $55 for all other registrations.

To file a copyright registration form online, visit www.copyright.gov. For a tutorial of the process, check out http://copyright.gov/eco/eco-tutorial.pdf. Be aware that registration requires a copy of the work be submitted to the Library of Congress, so plan on shipping costs for print books or CDs for e-books, if not submitting an electronic copy with the application. If the book is available in print, plan to send a print copy since the Library of Congress requires the “best edition” of the work.

Information included in a copyright document is available to the public. Authors using pseudonyms who wish to keep their real names private have the option of filing the registration under the pen name. All information on the form will be released, so the author should complete only those details that are required and that she’s comfortable having the general public know.

With piracy and plagiarism happening in epidemic proportions, copyrights can provide a way to fight these diseases. With the right evidence and a good lawyer, an author may be able to recover damages and profits—but a lost case means substantial legal fees.

Check off #12!

The To-Do List
1) Finish the book. 
2) Polish and edit the book. 
3) Write taglines and blurbs. 
4) Create or purchase cover art. 
5) Purchase ISBNs, if using a single ISBN for all retailers using the same book format (print or e-book). 
6) Create front and back matter. 
7) Format for e-book and/or print. 
7.a.) Add images. 
7.b.) Create audio book. 
8) Update website, blog, and social media. 
9) Create metadata list. 
10) Plan a marketing and promotion strategy. 
11) Publish the book. 
12) File copyright paperwork, if registering. 
13) Add buy links to websites, blogs, and social media.
14) Implement marketing and promotion strategies.
15) Write the next book!

Be sure to check out the writing craft series, Writing Tip Wednesday: The Writing Craft Handbook, in e-book at Amazon and B&N and in print at Amazon and CreateSpace, and the writing career series, Writing Tip Wednesday: The Writing Career Handbook, in e-book at Amazon and B&N and in print at Amazon and CreateSpace. Watch for Writing Tip Wednesday: The Self-Publishing Handbook in early January—with extra formatting and conversion content!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Author Spotlight + Giveaway--Brina Brady

Welcome to Author Spotlights on Mondays! This week my guest is fellow IRWA author Brina Brady, and she's sharing her latest release, Bend Over, with us. She's also giving away to one lucky commenter! Take it away, Brina!

Blurb:
Runaway 18-year-old Shane O'Rourke is living under the Huntington Beach Pier. He carries many secrets from his past. Shane wasn’t allowed to explore his sexuality when he lived home with his father, The Reverend. His submissive nature and desires had to remain fantasies.
Shane meets a dark stranger on the beach. Julien Callier is a Dom from Martinique and is sixteen years older than Shane. Bad boy Shane wants to win the heart of Julien Callier and become his sub. But does he really understand what Julien expects from his boy?
Julien's heart goes out to this gorgeous boy and he takes him under his wing, grooming him to be his sub. Julien is determined to let Shane experience the good life, even financing his education, but he’s challenged at every turn by Shane’s rebellious nature.
When Shane’s defiant behavior threatens to come between them for good, Julien has to act fast to teach Shane the meaning of real submission.
Can Julien tame the bad boy? Can Shane give up his old ways of stealing, lying, and using drugs? The playroom is open.

Excerpt:
“Did I do something wrong, Julien?” Shane asked, biting his lower lip.

“Do you have anything you want to tell me?” His dark eyes searched Shane’s face, then studied his eyes as if he were trying to find something hidden there.

“No, Sir.”

“I called you here to let you know I’m going to be training you myself for the back room tricks and we’ll begin today.”

“Oh.” Shane stared at a red door that had a padlock on it.

“That’s my private playroom, and you’re never to go in there. I keep it locked.”

“Oh, okay.” Shane wondered what was in a playroom that needed to be padlocked.

“You are going to learn from me only. I want to make sure you can do what I need you to do for this job.” Julien waited for a reaction from him, but there was none.

Shane didn’t know what to think or what this meant. His face remained expressionless because he was unsure if this was good or bad.

“This also means you’ll be living here with me.” Julien walked around him, looking over his body.

“Here with you?” Shane’s voice squeaked a bit in panic. His cheeks burned when Julien looked at him directly. What did living with Julien mean for him? What would the training entail? He was drowning in his own fears, so he looked down at the red patterned throw rug, feeling too insecure to look directly at Julien. But he wanted to live with Julien, so what was his problem? His hesitation surprised him.

“You don't know much about me or this job, but you will when I’m done with your training.” His expression turned grim.

“All your things were moved while you were at the gym. You’ll have your own room here, but you’ll be sleeping in my bed at night with me.”

Buy Links:
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00P2XO5YM
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/489425
All Romance Books: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-bendover-1659072-3.html

Interview:
Me: What inspired you to write your first book?
Brina: I suppose I was always fascinated with rent boys and Russian mobsters. I had to amp it down because I like to write taboo topics, but I had to restrain myself as not to be banned on arrival.
I read about Putin’s stand against gays in Russia and that disturbed me greatly. There goes my trip to Russia. I wanted to show how difficult it could be for a gay man to fight his desires and his culture. Dmitri loved Brennen but he had many cultural forces against his lifestyle with Brennen. I wanted to show that Dmitri, like any repressed person could grow and accept who they are regardless of the cost. In his case, Dmitri lost friends and family’s respect.

Me: Do you see writing as a career?
Brina: I do see writing as my second career because I work eight hours or more a day on my writing.

Me: Do you prefer to write single title or series? Why?
Brina: I prefer writing a novel with a sequel.

Me: Give us some insight into your main character. What makes him/her special?
Brina: Shane O’Rourke is eighteen years old. He left home because he carried many secrets. He was raised with a strict Christian upbringing with a pastor for a father. He has a twin sister named Shane, who he protects and loves. Shane sells drugs, uses drugs, smokes, and drinks. He dropped out of high school to run away from New Jersey to California. Shane lies and steals. He seeks love and approval but doesn’t understand he needs to change. This is the story of young man who sees his error and makes corrections. Shane is conflicted because he is bisexual.

Me: Is there a message in your novel you hope to convey to your readers?
Brina: My message is to love everyone regardless of their sexual preference.

Me: I love a good conflict. What draws your main characters to each other and keeps them apart?
Brina: Shane O’Rourke threatens his relationship with Julien Callier because he lies, steals and uses drugs. Shane signed a contract with Julien before he had moved into Julien’s condo to follow the house rules and he constantly breaks the rules. Shane wants Julien to be his Dom, and Julien wants Shane to be his sub. Shane needs to express his submissive nature while Julien needs to express his dominant nature.

Me: How did you come up with the title?
Brina: Shane O’Rourke wants to be Julien Callier’s sub. He has to bend over for spankings, often.

Me: What’s your favorite sub-genre (contemporary, sci-fi, etc.) to write? To read?
Brina: I love to read and write M/M Gay Erotica with BDSM fiction.

Me: What new stories are you working on?
Brina: I’m working on Own Me, which is Rent Me’s sequel. This will be about them as a married couple living the BDSM lifestyle. They will fight like cats and dogs but in the end, they still love each other.
I’m also working on Don’t Throw Me Away, which is Bend Over’s sequel. This will be about Julien and Shane in the Dom/sub lifestyle.

Bio:
I am from Huntington Beach, Ca. I taught various subjects at a Continuation High School in Los Angeles, California for 27 years. I obtained a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in history, Secondary Social Science Credential and a Master’s Degree in Secondary Reading and Secondary Education from California State University, Long Beach. I also enrolled in some creative writing classes at UCLA. I am currently taking classes from Romance Writers of America. (Author of Rent Me)

Links:
Email address: brinabrady@gmail.com
Blog: http://brinabrady.wordpress.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brina.brady.3
Twitter: https://twitter.com/BrinaBrady
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/brinabrady/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/+BrinaBrady/posts
Stumble Upon: http://www.stumbleupon.com/stumbler/brinabrady
Amazon Author Page: http://amazon.com/author/brinabrady

Be sure to comment by midnight (EST) on Wednesday, December 3, for a chance to win a copy of Bend Over!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Writing Tip Wednesday--Click Publish

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! Self-publishing offers writers another choice on the road to publication, whether they’re already traditionally published and/or e-press published, or unpublished. Although the author maintains control of the process, she also has a lot of hard work ahead of her. Education about self-publishing and the publishing industry is vital to a good product and creating a professional image.

The day to upload manuscripts and covers will arrive too soon and not soon enough. To prepare for that day, the author needs to set up accounts at the retail platforms she’ll be using for distribution. Some only require twenty-four hours or less for activation. Others take a week or longer.

Plan ahead. Decide which outlets to use (KDP, Nook Press, iBooks, Kobo, ARe, CreateSpace, etc.) and gather the necessary information to create accounts (tax ID number—SSN or EIN, routing number for bank account for direct deposit, publisher name, etc.). Also allow time to apply for LLC or corporation status and an EIN (employer identification number) for tax purposes, if choosing that business model.

Once the accounts are set up, the manuscript and cover can be uploaded and book information can be completed. Be sure to complete all mandatory information and check the required boxes.

For e-books: ALWAYS use the preview option to check formatting before clicking the publish button. Make corrections and adjustments, if necessary, and upload the corrected version. Spacing can be affected by conversion to the retailer’s format. Also be sure to follow the recommended formatting guidelines to avoid problems during the upload process.

For print: ALWAYS order a proof copy for print books. Colors often appear differently on-screen vs. on paper. Be certain the cover adheres to size specifications to avoid delays caused by an improperly designed cover. The interior content must be in the correct format and print-ready. Remember that the print version also must have a different ISBN from the e-book version.

Several retail platforms offer a pre-order option, which means the book may be purchased before the release date but is delivered on release day. Or simply click publish to make the book available for immediate purchase and delivery.

Some publishing platforms can be utilized through a third-party retailer—such as All Romance eBooks, which distributes to iBooks, and Smashwords, which distributes to iBooks, Kobo, and other global retailers. Author uploading to iBooks requires a Mac and iTunes Producer software, so those authors with PCs must either go through another retailer with iBooks distribution or find someone with a Mac to upload directly.

When all information fields are completed and the cover and content have been reviewed, the book can be published. The book will be available on the retail site after the retailer reviews the book. This process can take from less than half an hour to several days. Most, but not all, retailers send an email notification when the book is available for purchase.

Another step on the To-Do List is completed! Check off #11.

The To-Do List
1) Finish the book. 
2) Polish and edit the book. 
3) Write taglines and blurbs. 
4) Create or purchase cover art. 
5) Purchase ISBNs, if using a single ISBN for all retailers using the same book format (print or e-book). 
6) Create front and back matter. 
7) Format for e-book and/or print. 
7.a.) Add images. 
7.b.) Create audio book. 
8) Update website, blog, and social media. 
9) Create metadata list. 
10) Plan a marketing and promotion strategy. 
11) Publish the book. 
12) File copyright paperwork, if registering.
13) Add buy links to websites, blogs, and social media.
14) Implement marketing and promotion strategies.
15) Write the next book!

Be sure to check out the writing craft series, Writing Tip Wednesday: The Writing Craft Handbook, in e-book at Amazon, B&N, ARe/OmniLit, iBooks, and Kobo, and in print at Amazon and CreateSpace, and the writing career series, Writing Tip Wednesday: The Writing Career Handbook, in e-book at Amazon, B&N, ARe/OmniLit, iBooks, and Kobo, and in print at Amazon and CreateSpace.

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Recipe Time! Blueberry Pie

Thanksgiving is this week, and it's one of my favorite holidays. Good food, family time, and a reminder to be thankful. I'm contributing my usual pies and homemade noodles to the feast, so I thought I'd share the recipe for one of the pies I'm making. Enjoy!

I'm also visiting Jillian Jacobs' blog today, talking about Just Desserts, sharing a few secrets, and giving away an e-book copy here! Stop by and say hi! Comment below by Monday. Dec. 1, for a chance to win a copy of Just Desserts!

Blueberry Pie
4 cups fresh or frozen blueberries, washed and drained
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
double crust for 9-inch deep-dish pie plate

Combine blueberries, sugar, flour, lemon juice, and cinnamon. Pour into bottom crust. Dot with butter. Add top crust. Crimp and cut steam slits. Bake at 375° for 50-60 minutes until crust is nicely browned.

Never Fail Pie Crust
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/4 cups vegetable shortening
1 egg, beaten
4 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon cider vinegar

Combine flour, salt, and sugar. Cut in shortening. Combine egg, water, and vinegar. Pour liquid into flour mixture and blend with a fork. Form into a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least one hour. Divide dough into three parts. Roll on lightly floured surface to fit desired size. Fill and bake according to filling directions.
Makes 3 single crusts or 1 double crust and 1 single crust.

Enjoy, and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Author Spotlight + Giveaway--Nicki Rae

Welcome to Author Spotlights on Mondays! Another Indiana author is visiting today! Nicki Rae is here to share a peek at her book Damaged Perfection and tell us about her writing process. Be sure to comment for a chance to win a copy!

Blurb:
Guilt.
It rules my life.
I am riddled with it.
After fifteen years, you would think it would lessen.
It hasn’t.
Drugs numb it.
Women relieve it.
But it always comes back.
Always.
The light.
I keep reaching for it.
But it is always just out of my grasp.

Buy Links:
Amazon US: http://amzn.com/B00P6KULUI
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00P6KULUI
Amazon CA: http://www.amazon.ca/dp/B00P6KULUI
Amazon AU: http://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B00P6KULUI

Interview:
Me: What inspired you to write your first book?
Nicki: I have always loved books and have always wanted to write one of my own. It wasn’t until this year that I finally decided to just do it and I am so glad that I made that leap. With a tiny nudge from my aunt and the support of my family, I began writing my first novel, Lather, in January. On November 3rd, I released my second novel, Damaged Perfection. If you would have asked me this time last year if I would be a published author, I would probably have laughed at the idea. I love words and figuring out how to manipulate them into describing the scene that I see in my head.

Me: Do you see writing as a career?
Nicki: I can definitely see writing being a great career for me. I do have a day job, but whatever book I am working on at the time is constantly on my mind. Every new situation that I encounter is a potential story. Long story short, I am not a very good 9-5 employee as my mind is always going.

Me: This book is the first in a series. Do you prefer to write single title or series? Why?
Nicki: Damaged Perfection is Part One of The Perfection Series. Although I LOVE to read series, I have decided that after I finished this series and put an end to my Moore series (The first series I wrote) I will be concentrating more on single titles. I am not saying that I will never write a series again but they are a lot of commitment and at this point I believe I want to concentrate on a single book at a time.

Me: Give us some insight into your main character. What makes him/her special?
Nicki: Damaged Perfection is told from dual points of view; Piper and Fenton share the spotlight in this one. Piper is a strong female lead. While she is trying to find her way in her brand new career, she has strong morals and not much can make her stray. Fenton has some issues and doesn’t handle them very well. Although he wants to change, it is just too difficult for him. I believe he has good instincts about people; he reciprocates the treatment he is given. It is very evident from the moment you meet him that he has demons and I think throughout the book he grows with each new situation that he faces.

Me: Is there a message in your novel you hope to convey to your readers?
Nicki: There are a couple messages that I wanted to portray. I don’t want to give too much away but the main focus is how much drugs can not only affect the addict’s life but also their family. This brings me to my second message: family. It is important that each person in a family unit know their role and how devastating it can be if you do not follow through. You have to understand how quickly a bad situation can snowball if you sit back and just watch.

Me: I love a good conflict. What draws your main characters to each other and keeps them apart?
Nicki: Chemistry draws Piper and Fenton together, even when they both fight it. What keeps them together is how much they are able to help each other when one or both of them weren’t even aware they needed it.

Me: How did you come up with the title?
Nicki: Damaged Perfection was initially Flawed Perfection. I just happened to be searching Amazon one day and found another novel with the same title so I had to change it. Although at first I thought flawed fit Fenton better, once I finished the novel, it was very evident to me that he was much more damaged. Thus the title, Damaged Perfection, was born.

Me: I usually get plot ideas in the shower and while driving. When/where does inspiration strike you?
Nicki: I think the shower and driving are two very good places to think through your plots. I almost always have a notebook on my nightstand because I wake up at all hours of the night with a new plot twist or some new kind of drama that will make the read better.

Me: What new stories are you working on?
Nicki: Currently, I am working on Part Two in The Perfection Series. I also have a few stand-alone titles that I am anxious to get started. I love action along with my drama as I am a suspense junkie. So, I have been researching and plotting out a book about a super hot sniper. I cannot wait to get to that one!

Author Bio:
Nicki is the author of Lather, the first book in The Moore Series and Damaged Perfection Part One of the Perfection Series. She is a born Buckeye turned Hoosier who loves to spend time with her family. Along with being an avid reader, she also loves her animals and the Indianapolis Colts!



Links:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Nicki-Rae/513751432069691?ref=hl
Twitter: @authornickirae
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/102638192147361865899/posts
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Nicki-Rae/e/B00L776A9A/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416164658&sr=8-1

Thanks for visiting with me, Nicki, and thanks to the readers who stopped by! Be sure to comment by midnight (EST) on Wednesday, November 26, for a chance to win a copy of Damaged Perfection!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Writing Tip Wednesday--Book Pricing

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! Self-publishing offers writers another choice on the road to publication, whether they’re already traditionally published and/or e-press published, or unpublished. Although the author maintains control of the process, she also has a lot of hard work ahead of her. Education about self-publishing and the publishing industry is vital to a good product and creating a professional image.

Self-published authors choose their own Book Pricing, except for print, where a minimum price is required by CreateSpace. Some authors base their prices only on the length of the books. Others price according to similar length books at the retailers. Many set prices by the royalty rate. Whatever the method, over- and under-pricing books can have an adverse effect on sales.

Over-pricing...
Yes, authors should value their work. However, setting a book’s price higher than the average cost of similar works can mean lost sales, especially for new authors. Readers (buyers) are unlikely to take a chance on someone they have no experience with if the price is above what they normally pay for their auto-buy authors’ books.

Under-pricing...
The days of the free and ninety-nine-cent one-click are fading. Readers (buyers) have come to realize that many self-published books priced below average are often lacking in good writing craft and editing. A well-written and well-edited book is worth more. This strategy doesn’t include temporary sale prices and first-book-in-a series perma-free/perma-sale. When an author has published several books in a series, she may choose to make the first book free or a lower price than the rest to gain additional readers. She typically has an established following and can rely on reviews and word of mouth to attract new readers. The lower price is an enticement to buy more books in the series.

So, how does a new author know what price to charge for her book?

Research the formats. Find comparable length and genre books on retail platforms.

If the most common current selling price for a 90K self-published paranormal in e-book format is $4.99, that’s usually a good indication of an effective price point. Be sure to set the same e-book price for all retail outlets.

Compare trade paperback prices that are same word count and genre to set the print price. CreateSpace computes a minimum selling price for all print books on their platform, which translates to the minimum selling price on Amazon. Currently, $13.99 to $16.99 is the average price range for 80K to 100K trade paperbacks, but genre does influence the price, so be sure to research.

For multi-published authors with a loyal readership, a lower-priced or free first book (permanent or temporary) can be an effective marketing tool. A lower-priced or free book with no others in the series available means the author often gains nothing from the pricing strategy. The reader may love the first book, but she has no second book to buy. With today’s immediate gratification attitude, the reader may or may not be patient enough to wait for the next release. Timing and patience are very important.

Pricing for boxed sets should be set lower than the total cost of buying each book separately. The boxed set concept is based on the buyer getting a better price by buying more than one book at a time. Example: Each book in a three-book series costs $3.99. The total cost to buy them separately is $11.97. The boxed set price can be set from $1.00 to several dollars less than the separate-purchase price. A price of $9.99 is likely to achieve more sales than $11.97 to buy each book.

Do a little research before setting a selling price. The more a book fits the market, the better the chance for success.

Check off #10! The to-do list is getting shorter!

The To-Do List
1) Finish the book. 
2) Polish and edit the book. 
3) Write taglines and blurbs. 
4) Create or purchase cover art. 
5) Purchase ISBNs, if using a single ISBN for all retailers using the same book format (print or e-book). 
6) Create front and back matter. 
7) Format for e-book and/or print. 
7.a.) Add images. 
7.b.) Create audio book. 
8) Update website, blog, and social media. 
9) Create metadata list. 
10) Plan a marketing and promotion strategy. 
11) Publish the book.
12) File copyright paperwork, if registering.
13) Add buy links to websites, blogs, and social media.
14) Implement marketing and promotion strategies.
15) Write the next book!

Be sure to check out the writing craft series, Writing Tip Wednesday: The Writing Craft Handbook, in e-book at Amazon, B&N, ARe/OmniLit, iBooks, and Kobo, and in print at Amazon and CreateSpace, and the writing career series, Writing Tip Wednesday: The Writing Career Handbook, in e-book at Amazon, B&N, ARe/OmniLit, iBooks, and Kobo, and in print at Amazon and CreateSpace.

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Author Spotlight + Giveaway--A.D. Ellis

Welcome to Author Spotlights on Mondays! My guest this week is Indiana author A.D. Ellis. She's sharing a look at her Torey Hope series and giving away a e-book to one lucky commenter! Winner receives her choice of For Nicky, A Torey Hope Novel Book 1; Because of Beckett, A Torey Hope Novel Book 2; Christmas in Torey Hope, A Novella (release date Nov 19). Title will be sent directly to the winner's @Kindle.com address.

Blurb:
Elizabeth Decker views herself as shy, totally average, and pretty much insignificant. She’s nothing special, at least not compared to her little sister, Audrey. Elizabeth is content with her plain and lonely future; she’s too insecure to contemplate a relationship thanks to her sister. Audrey is a bombshell and uses this to get what she wants. She’s a girl who will stop at nothing to control anyone and everything around her. She craves power and doesn’t care if she has to hurt Elizabeth to get it.
Nathaniel Morgan has spent his whole life fighting for his twin brother, Nicholas. Somewhere along the way, he lost himself. Now he’s just getting by. He’s devoted to his family, but emotionally detached from the women he burns through like wildfire. He has no plans of getting into something as complicated and committed as a “relationship”.
Nicholas Morgan has placed the new librarian, Miss Elizabeth, on a pedestal and is begging her to meet his twin brother, Nathaniel. Elizabeth and Nathaniel agree to meet, for Nicky. Both are caught off-guard when unexpected sparks fly between them. This was not in their plans. Will Nathaniel and Elizabeth be able to escape a past that still plagues them? Or, will the past, suspicions, and insecurities come between them one too many times?

**This is a contemporary new adult romance. It should only be read by ages 18+ due to adult themes and situations. This book is a stand-alone but should be read before book 2 in the series.

Buy Link: bit.ly/NickyAmazon
Also available:
Because of Becket bit.ly/BeckettAmazon
A Christmas in Torey Hope Novella bit.ly/ChristmasAmazon

Interview:
Me: What inspired you to write your first book?
A.D.: I got a Kindle for Christmas in 2012 and I was amazed and thrilled with all of the ebooks available! I quickly found so many great indie authors to read. About this time my friend and hair stylist, Jodie, was also finding great indie books and she started telling me I should write a book. That idea grew in my mind for a while and I started seeing story inspiration all around me.
For Nicky, A Torey Hope Novel Book 1 was born from me watching a sibling pair at church. One of the siblings had special needs and I was fascinated by the love and devotion from the brother. I started wondering if that brother felt burdened or guilty; I wondered what a story about those siblings would look like.
Being a teacher, I see kids being made fun of daily and I work hard to stand up for them and also to teach others to stand up for them. I also focus on helping the offenders understand and maybe learn some empathy for those they are making fun of. Bullying is very real and very hurtful.

Me: Do you see writing as a career?
A.D.: Some days, those particularly rough days as a teacher, I’d LOVE to make this a A.D.: career. Then I have a great day at school and realize just how much I’d miss teaching. However, if I could make this a career, I would feel incredibly blessed and I think I would really enjoy having more time to write and focus on being an author.
Right now I sort of have the best of both worlds; I can write on breaks from school while still getting to spend days with my students. Teaching and writing are very similar; good days and bad days, rewarding moments and depressing moments, days when it’s all you can see yourself doing and days you’re ready to throw in the towel. I look at myself as being lucky to be able to do both for now and I feel blessed that I won’t ever be bored with either profession.

Me: This book is the first in a series. Do you prefer to write single title or series? Why?
A.D.: This book is the first in A Torey Hope Novel series. The series starts with For Nicky, A Torey Hope Novel Book 1 and Because of Beckett, A Torey Hope Novel Book 2. My brand new Christmas in Torey Hope, A Novella is coming on November 19. Loving Josie, A Torey Hope Novel Book 3 (projected release date early 2015) will round out the series.
I started writing For Nicky as a single title. About halfway through I realized that one of the characters (the bitchy sister everyone loves to hate, Audrey) needed her own story so I decided to write Because of Beckett.
When I typed the last word of Because of Beckett, I thought for sure I was done and ready to move on, but my readers said they wanted more so I created the Christmas novella
as a way to catch up with the readers’ favorite characters and to also lead into Loving Josie which is the third full-length novel in the series. I’m 99% sure that the series will end with book 3. None of these books have cliffhangers and they are all focused on different (but related) main characters. Because of Beckett link: bit.ly/BeckettAmazon
A Christmas in Torey Hope link: bit.ly/ChristmasAmazon

Me: Give us some insight into your main character. What makes him/her special?
A.D.: Well, the “main” characters as far as the romantic love story are Nate Morgan and Libby Decker. They are great characters. Nate has a history of just losing himself in sex and fighting anyone and everyone who bothers his brother, Nicky. Libby is super sweet but she’s been mistreated by her sister, Audrey, almost her whole life. Their love story is sweet and hot and I absolutely love them together.
But the other “main” character, Nicky, is the story’s namesake and he’s just so easy to love. Nicky is Nate’s twin brother. He was born with some special needs; he speaks his mind, even though his mind remains somewhat childlike in many ways. He’s a dear brother and a dear friend. Much of what Nate, Libby, (and later, even Audrey) do is all “for Nicky”.

Me: Is there a message in your novel you hope to convey to your readers?
A.D.: When I started this book, I didn’t have a message. When I finished the story, I didn’t think, “Wow, I hope the readers get this message.” But, 99% of my readers report feeling touched by the messages this story conveys. There are a lot of facets of love being explored in this story, in fact in the whole series. In For Nicky, we also learn about the positive and negative power of our words, the importance of standing up for others, and how doing what’s right is really hard sometimes.

Me: I love a good conflict. What draws your main characters to each other and keeps them apart?
A.D.: Nate and Libby only agree to meet “for Nicky” but they immediately feel drawn to each other even though they are an unlikely match based on their pasts. They are pushed apart by bitch of a sister; they are pushed apart by misunderstanding (which makes the reader so frustrated but it’s a very real-life type misunderstanding and helps to reiterate the importance of communication in a relationship); and they are pushed apart by the healing and growth they both go through. In the end, will what drew them together in the first place be enough to keep them together?

Me: How did you come up with the title?
A.D.: That was the easiest part, honestly. As soon as I had the story in my head, I kept having little scenes playing through my head and the phrase “for Nicky” kept popping up. I had the title long before I had the whole story.

Me: What’s your favorite sub-genre (contemporary, sci-fi, etc.) to write? To read?
A.D.: As a reader, I love contemporary romance. I also enjoy a good western/rancher romance. I like some new adult here and there. I know erotica is big and I have been known to read it from time to time, but it’s not my go-to sub-genre.
As a writer, it made sense to me that I’d start with contemporary romance. I NEVER in a million years thought I’d say this, but I’m dabbling a little bit with a paranormal twist in book 3 (coming soon!) I say NEVER because I don’t have a history of much paranormal romance in my reading repertoire. But, book 3 naturally lent itself to the paranormal twist so I let it take off. Once I realized the twist would be categorized as paranormal my first reaction was NO WAY! I sure never saw that one coming!

Me: I usually get plot ideas in the shower and while driving. When/where does inspiration strike you?
A.D.: It must be a writer thing! I come up with ideas in the shower, while driving, and while running. I also get ideas while just people watching, like at church.

Me: What new stories are you working on?
A.D.: At the time of this interview, I’m about halfway through Loving Josie, A Torey Hope Novel Book 3. I also have about 7 story ideas on the back burner. The next step will be to decide which one to start on next! I want to write unique and interesting stories; I love when readers tell me that my books aren’t the same-old tired storyline they are used to reading.

Bio:
A.D Ellis was born and raised in a small farming town in southern Indiana. An avid reader from the time she learned to read, A.D. could often be found curled up somewhere with her nose in a book. Most of her friends and family were not such book enthusiasts, so A.D. got used to dealing with snickers and joking comments about her constant reading habits.
A.D. had always dreamed of being a teacher. She earned her degree in Elementary Education from Indiana State University in 1999 and her Master’s Degree from Indiana Wesleyan in 2003. A.D. has been teaching in the inner city of Indianapolis for 15 years. While she’s taught several different grades, fourth grade is where she’s spent the most time; a move to third grade alternative education is on the horizon though. A.D. loves teaching fractions, variables, probability, and graphing in Math. She loves almost all aspects of English Language Arts. Figurative language, theme, making predictions, drawing conclusions, inference, context clues, making writing come to life, A.D. loves it all! Her students may not be as on board with that excitement.
A.D. met her husband in college in 1996 and they married in June of 2000. She lives in a south side suburb of Indianapolis, Indiana with her husband and two school-aged children. When she’s not reading or writing with music blaring, she can be found shopping at thrift stores, reading to her children, and running.
A.D. had always pondered the idea of writing a book, but until recently it was a far off dream. In today’s age of independently published authors, A.D. decided to take a chance and try her hand at writing. She has learned so much during this journey and is having a world of fun with it.

Links:
Website: http://www.adellisauthor.webs.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/adellisauthor
Twitter: @ADEllisAuthor
Google+: http://www.google.com/+ADEllis
Amazon Author Page: http://bit.ly/ADEllisAuthorAmazon

Thanks for stopping by, and remember to comment by midnight (EST) on Wednesday, November 19, for a chance to win a copy of one of A.D.'s books!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!