Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Happy Birthday, OCC!

I'm very sorry to say that I won't be able to attend the OCC Birthday Bash next weekend. Some family-related stuff has come up, so I've had to cancel my reservation.

But that doesn't mean I'll fail to wish OCC a Happy Birthday. In fact, consider this blog my birthday wish!

I gather, from the OCC website, that this will be the chapter's 34th birthday. That's really exciting, especially considering that it has been, and remains, an especially dynamic chapter. We've got lots of published authors as well as many romance writers who are heading that direction. The chapter, and its members, have helped every one of us at whatever writing level we are. We've all watched and participated in how much the industry has changed over time. It's wonderful!

I've been a member for over twenty years and have always loved it. I intend to remain a member for years to come, and to continue to attend as many meetings as possible. Unfortunately, it won't include this one.

So, again, Happy Birthday, OCC. Have a wonderful celebration... without me.

Linda O! Johnston
BITE THE BISCUIT, A Barkery & Biscuits Mystery
KNOCK ON WOOD, a Superstition Mystery, October 2015
CANADIAN WOLF, an Alpha Force Harlequin Nocturne

Monday, October 05, 2015


I have been researching marketing ideas as I prepare to release my next couple of books. I’ve talked about my series The Alex Chronicles in past posts. As I prepare to launch the prequel and the first full-length book in the series, I’m thinking about the marketing plan. Ask any writer and they’ll tell you, writing the book was easy…promoting it is something altogether different.

I’m finishing up minor edits on Alex one and decided to start researching the follow up to Generational Curse, which means I’ve been reading, a lot. I got the first book in Pepper Winter’s series,  Indebted  for free and got hooked. It’s a romantic suspense with a lot of heat. Anyway, I wanted to know more about the series and visited her website and Pinterest page. What I found on Pinterest was rather intriguing. There seemed to be these cards or images with dialogue dropped on top. The images were meant to represent the hero and heroine of the series.

This marketing concept may not seem new to everyone, but to me, it was a brilliant way to market a book or anything for that matter. Use basic stock images that represent scenes, characters, locations, objects or whatever and drop dialogue on top. You can take it one step further and add an excerpt for a pin or blog post. It’s an easy way to grab readers attention on a book or series.


This simple idea really stuck with me, so I made a few Promo Cards for my books Generational Curse and The Good Girl. These promo cards come in handy. If I’m stuck or behind on posting on my blog, I post one of these cards along with an excerpt. Or if I’m running a special price on a book, these are great for posting about a special price without being too pushy. Plus, they’re perfect for my social media outlets. It’s a great way to get the word out for your book when you have limited space.

The good thing about this marketing idea, is all you need is a stock image and an excerpt or a couple of lines from your book. These are definitely my favorite digital marketing tool. If you want to go old school, print them and use as post cards or book markers. I also use mine for the home page flash on my website. The possibilities for use are unlimited.

Here are some of the promo cards I did for my books.



Tracy Reed


Fiction for Women Who Love God, Couture and Cute Guys
Available at
Barnes and Noble
All Romance eBooks

Thursday, October 01, 2015

October President's Message

Hello Again OCC!

September was a fun filled meeting with lots of roses and a pin being given out. It is always a pleasure to see members receive recognition for their hard work. Now we are looking forward to our October meeting which is our annual birthday bash! We will have Lauren Dane and Deb Werksman as our speakers. Deb will also be taking pitches after the bash from 3:30-5:00 pm in the conference room, while we have a book signing at the same time 3:30-5:00 pm in the Tut area of the hotel. Remember the birthday bash theme is Once Upon a Time so come up dressed as your favorite fairytale character! It starts on Friday night with the Write In that will be in the conference room from 8-whenever and then the Bash all day on Saturday with the PJ parties later in the evening starting at 7:30. It will be wicked fun for all and promises to be a great weekend.

It’s almost time for our annual elections. If you’re interested in running here are the following available positions:

  •  President
  • Vice President of Communications
  • Vice President of Programs
  • Treasurer
  • Secretary

A nomination form is included in this newsletter and hard copies will be available at the October meeting. Deadline to submit your nomination is October 10, 2015 at the Birthday Bash. Please give it to Kathy Rowland the secretary for our chapter. It can also be emailed to secretary@occrwa.org

  • The next step after that would be for the nominees to submit their bios and pictures to Tyree Pace at newlesster@occrwa.org for the November Orange Blossom Newsletter. These pictures and bios need to be submitted no later than October 26, 2015.
  •  A copy of the approved bylaws (that need to be voted on by chapter members) will be available upon request at the meeting. They will also be posted online in the members section of the www.occrwa.org website and the newsletter. 
  •  Voting will take place at the November 2015 meeting and elected members will be announced at the December 2015 meeting.

Once again, my fellow authors thank you for all that you do and your commitment to OCC RWA where our motto is: “One hand reaching forward, one hand reaching back, in a continuing chain.”


Nichelle Scott-Williams

Aka Nikki Prince

Thursday, September 24, 2015

How do you read?

I was discussing a book with a friend and commented that I still read like a 12-year-old. Then realized that comment might need a bit of explanation!

For me, that means that my reading experience—even after all these years and all the books—is one of total immersion, utter commitment to the characters and story.  I believe in the characters—they are people to me—and I enter the space they inhabit for the duration of the story.

I see authors and their work—or really any creator/creative act, whether it's creating a story, a painting, a piece of music, a song—as having a similar relationship as a parent might have in creating a child.

Sure, you've created it. And yes, you have significant responsibilities towards it, and a deep connection with it. But it is not you. You do not own it. It has the right to self actualize in the best way it can.

Your job as a creator is to enable it to be the best it can be. Not just on your terms—though your role is a significant one—but to achieve the three part balance: of what you have to offer, what the creation itself needs, and what is needed to enable it to survive in "the world."

So to all the author/creators that incorporate helpful feedback—sometimes painful to hear—a giant thank you for your dedication to making your "child" the best it can be. For setting aside your ego for the sake of the work. And the same in my experience goes for editors: for not bringing personal preferences and agendas to the experience, but appreciating that your shared role is to enable that "child" to be the best it can be and face a challenging world with strength, self confidence, and the ability to withstand "The Heart-ache, and the thousand Natural shocks That Flesh is heir to" (to quote Hamlet). There should be a balance that is ego free for parent/creator, for editor/teacher, to be open to delivering, hearing and incorporating what is best for the child/work.

This perception has helped me understand and believe in the value of the role of an intelligent external opinion in the development of a work, and thus the external party's 'right' to challenge the creator's vision if it doesn't feel right, doesn't feel like it is best serving the work.

But my understanding of my reading style has also has helped me understand my own often quite passionate dislike of a story! Yes, I am sorry to say the offending work is often a very well reviewed, award-winning literary 'masterpiece.'

I realize that in 'literary' or groundbreaking stories authors can have a goal, a point of view, something they wish to illustrate or challenge.  And they have chosen the compelling medium of storytelling to express that point. Their characters and plot serve the author's vision.  The character's lives, their actions and reactions, the events that occur in the story may at any point in time be subordinated to that Vision.  Manipulated to do their creator's bidding.  The character's integrity, consistency, their very selves are just a pawn to the author's desire to present an idea, to illustrate a point, to surprise, to break new ground.

I know my horror and sense of betrayal is...well, perhaps naive. One could argue that the author created these characters; surely he or she can do whatever she likes to them?  But for me, those characters are real, and they are not being respected. It's like watching parents force their musical child to play competitive sports, or harp on marriage for career minded one—or vice versa!

Luckily some stories deliver on both—offering profound insights, breaking new ground, opening minds and hearts to a new perception though the humanity and vivid evocation of their characters and the believability of their story. Those are the stories I treasure.

So just saying my recent foray into Pulitzer prize-winning fiction has not been a very successful reading experience for me! But this realization has also helped me understand why a good friend can totally adore a story that I have found emotionally bankrupt—and enabled me to stop thinking that my friend is an idiot!  I now realize that we read differently and derive sustenance and delight from different things. 

And that's not a bad thing.

Isabel Swift

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Pets and Assorted Animals in Stories. Love ‘um or Not? By Connie Vines

This month’s Topic: Pets or other animals in your stories? What function do they perform in the story? Do they need to have a function? Can they be a character? 

Since I am an animal lover and owner of a multitude of pets (exotic, barnyard, and typical suburban) at various times during my life, it only goes to reason that I will have them peppering my short stories, novellas, and novels.  

My Rodeo Romance Series (understandably) incorporates a cast of horses, sheep, cattle, dogs, cats, etc.  Some of these animals only have Cameo roles, while others are characters in their own right.  My Fun & Sassy Fantasy Series also features a pet as a main character in each story line.  Gertie, a pet Teddy-Bear Hamster, is Zombie Meredith’s BF in “Here Today, Zombie Tomorrow”.  “Brede” Rodeo Romance, Book 2 features a horse and cattle dog.  “Lynx” Rodeo Romance, Book 1, features the hero’s horse named Texas. The next book in my series, “Rand” Rodeo Romance, Book 3 features a poodle who belongs to the heroine.  Rand’s interaction with this very unrodeo-like dog is priceless!

For realistic purposes I select animals/breeds that I either have owned, or have working personal knowledge (chickens, turkeys, quail, pheasant, pigs, sheep— bred for. . .well, dinner during my rural days).  My dogs: Greyhound (my favorite & a rescue) Poodle (AKC champion pedigree), and– my husband’s dog, a Chi-wienie (Chihuahua Dachshund mix). I also like to add my horses (Quarter horse, Arabian) into the mix. 

 Due to my allergies to cats, my info in developing feline characters comes mostly via friends and the Animal Channel.  Now the unconventional pet experiences, were discovered firsthand (I did raise sons and have three younger brothers).  Iguanas, horned toads & hamsters, parakeets, an Amazon parrot, a runaway (flyaway?) cocktail, all have a way of finding a place in my life and my stories. 

Future adventure with pets?  


Right now I seem to be fixated on goats--pygmy goats to be exact.

I simply adore baby pygmy goats.  Mind you, I reside in the suburbs of Southern California.  Frequently, my husband reminds me,  “You cannot raise a goat in our backyard, there are zoning laws.” 

Of course I know there are zoning laws J.  I also know goats are herd animals.  “We will need to have two goats,” I remind him. 

“We?” He grunts and goes back to his ‘man-cave’.

If you look at a YouTube video and read the mentioned online article titled: Pygmy Goats. The opening hook states: You should reconsider your choice in pets if you want an animal to stay indoors with you.

Well, sugar.  I really don't relish those cute little darling's chewing my maple furniture.

I did find one particular fact of interest while websurfing —(probably only humorous if you're the sole female in male household)  ‘Goats are messy eaters too, pulling feed out of buckets and leaving it on the floor.  Once it’s trampled, they really don’t want to touch it.’  Ah, the bygone days of life with teenage sons and team members.

While my characters do not always have pet, my characters have often had a pet during childhood, interact with an animal, or (YA stories) would like a pet. 

Why, do I believe animals are important to a story line?

It is a way to show character, good and bad.

How people treat animals will give a reader insight into my main character, or my villain.  I believe treatment of an animal hints at how he/she will treat a vulnerable person (child/spouse).  If the hero seems uncaring and selfish to outsiders, give the heroine a view into an unguarded moment he shares with an injured puppy, or his care of his horse.  His truck may be battered and dirty, but his horse is well groomed, fed, and sheltered each night.

However, my animals need to have a purpose.  Sometimes it may only be comic relief, or a confidant in a YA novel, but unless it is a Cameo role (or red herring), my animals have a personality and a place in the storyline.

Who doesn’t remember, “Call of the Wild”, “Old Yeller”, “Misty of Chincoteague”?

I believe pets, can enrich a story—my novels, as are (in my opinion) as most genre novels, a story about life and the human need for love and companionship.

Not every novel calls for an animal to part of the story. 

Not every person wishes to be responsible for a pet.

I did a bit of research and discovered these stats (the info about fish surprised me).
*Stats: 2014, 83.2 million dogs live in U.S. households, 95.5 million freshwater fish live in U.S. household, and 85.8 million cats live in U.S. households.
* Statista.com

So, what do you think?  Do animals add depth to a story?  Do you love un, or not?

Happy Reading,


Friday, September 11, 2015

Cinderella turns Video Belle: My Kindle Scout Experience Part 5 by Jina Bacarr

(You can read my previous posts about my experience with the Kindle Scout program by clicking on Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.)

Do your characters keep you awake at nights?

Mine do.

First, they wanted to be Kindle Scout winners...

Now they want to be video stars.

And it's all Cinderella's fault.

Cindy had so much fun at the ball and then meeting the queen and getting her picture taken everywhere she went, she didn't want to give it up and spend her days sitting in the castle watching old movies.

So she riled up the characters in my Kindle Scout winner, LOVE ME FOREVER, and convinced them they could be stars.

Cindy went Hollywood on me.

She's now producing a bunch of short videos with highlights from LOVE ME FOREVER and yes, she even convinced me to do the voiceovers.

How could I refuse? You want to shout your book to the rooftops and do your very best to promote it, so I've been slaving behind a hot microphone, and guess what, I've got some videos for you.

I hope you enjoy them...

Civil War: "Love Me Forever" time travel romance from Jina Bacarr on Vimeo.

Civil War Sister against Sister: "Love Me Forever" Time Travel Romance from Jina Bacarr on Vimeo.

Women Soldiers in the Civil War from "Love Me Forever" from Jina Bacarr on Vimeo.

So what's the next step in the Kindle Scout experience? I've received tons of support from other Kindle Scout winners with retweeting, blogging, YouTubing, etc. It's been an extraordinary experience, kinda like joining a sorority or fraternity. A sense of having each other's back and always being there if someone has a question.

And we've started our own Facebook page: KP Authors. Check it out!

More exciting news: Ken Burns’ Civil War has been remastered and is being shown in high definition on PBS. This is the last night, so be sure to tune in! It's been thrilling to see the battles in my romance novel come alive...

Thanks for coming along on my journey with me...and come back next month for more on my Kindle Scout experience as the program grows...I wouldn't be surprised if I have more videos for you.

Website: www.jinabacarr.com
Blog: www.jinabacarr.wordpress.com

She wore gray.
He wore blue.
But their love defied the boundaries of war.
And time.
I'd love to hear from you. You can find me on social media:


And on Vimeo you'll find my videos--all 74 of them covering my books, poems, etc.:

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

KDP Select Ad Results August 2015 by Kitty Bucholtz

Bringing you another episode of "What Might Be Working in Book Ads." ;)

You may remember, I added my chick-lit book, Little Miss Lovesick, to KDP Select in March 2015. The book wasn’t really selling, so I figured it would be a good time to do some experimentation. After all, you can’t sell fewer than zero books, right?

I took advantage of the five free days at the end of May 2015 and shared my results with you here. Things went so well that I wanted to continue my experiment, so I left the book in KDP Select and did another five free days August 18-22, 2015. I am happy to report that the sale went even better the second time! Here are the details…

Before the sale:

I applied for the same ads that I purchased in May since they did so well. I didn’t get all of them, but I also asked other writer friends what worked for them and picked up a couple of new ads on recommendation (Ereader News Today and Robin Reads).

In May I paid $14.99 to use Book Marketing Tools’ ebook submission tool to somewhat-automatically apply to 32 websites at once that accept submissions to advertise your free book. (During a promotion last year, I used Ebook Booster, which submits your free book to 45+ sites for $35.) In August, I decided to try the free membership tool at Author Marketing Club to manually apply to about a dozen sites by clicking through from buttons on AMC’s web page.

It’s difficult to know which sites are going to list your book as they don’t all reply back to you. And in the past, I haven’t been able to find my book on all the sites that did reply back. In any case, I’m pretty sure the book was advertised on DigitalBook Today and FreeBooksy, and probably others, but I didn’t double-check any of the sites during the free period.

I applied for the “free ebook of the day” ad at Indie AuthorNews, which appeared to be a good ad for me last time, but I didn’t get it this time. I also wrote down that I used a pre-paid ad credit at The Romance Studio blog page for one day, but I forgot to follow-up and see if the ad appeared and on which day. So I don’t know if I got any traffic from there.

What I did during the sale days:

Tuesday, August 18: 2645 free downloads today
* KENP = 0
* Free ad on ReadCheaply.com
* $45 premium ad in Choosy Bookworm email newsletter to 40,000+ subscribers, on their website all week

Wednesday, August 19: 1963 free downloads
* KENP = 470
* $21 to BKnights on Fiverr to 4800+ active Facebook users for 7 days, “extra” promotion with viral Facebook post for 7 days, promote on website with 2000 visitors/day for 1 day, promote in email newsletter to over 2500 subscribers for 1 day
* Julie Kenner’s Hump Day feature, no charge – promoted with other books on a blog post
* $25 Ereader News Today ad in email newsletter

Thursday, August 20: 850 free downloads
* KENP = 515
* $25 InD’tale Bargain Book ad to 10,000+ email newsletter subscribers

Friday, August 21: 2080 free downloads
* KENP = 1131
* $20 ad in Robin Reads email newsletter
* Blog post on Tracy Reed site

Saturday, August 22: 561 free downloads
* KENP = 2066
* Blog post on Alina K. Field site

On the last day of the freebie sale, there are always a few copies that get downloaded early the next day before the price goes back to normal, and 9 free copies were downloaded on Sunday. The grand total of free ebooks downloaded in this 6-day period was 8108. In May, the total was 7312, so I’m quite happy with the 11% increase.

Comparison of KENP pages read in Kindle Unlimited:

In May, Kindle Unlimited still counted each title as one borrow rather than counting the number of pages read (KENP) as has been the case since July 1. It also took me six weeks to get my results to you last time, and it’s only been 16 days since my most recent sale. So the comparison here is going to be a bit shaky.

In my prior post, I reported “about 138 borrows” over 6 1/2 weeks. Little Miss Lovesick has 402 KENP pages, so that’s approximately 55,476 KENP pages if every person read every single page (unlikely).

The above numbers include part of July as well, but the July total alone was 2381 KENP pages read (with a payout of about half a cent per page, which is very close to what I got paid for a “borrow” in the past). In the 17 days of August before the book went free, there were 697 KENP pages read. But from the day the book was free to the end of August, there were 24,899 KENP pages read in 14 days. In the first seven days of September, the daily average dropped 40% with 7831 pages read.

Totals are:
July KENP = 2381
August 1-17 KENP = 697
August 18-31 KENP = 24899
September 1-7 KENP = 7831

Total book sales:
In addition to wanting to get more people reading Lovesick for free, as a borrow through Kindle Unlimited, and as a sale, I also wanted to get people trying my other books. (I have four titles total.)

There are three titles in the Adventures of Lewis and Clarke superhero urban fantasy series – the first is a free short story, the second is a long novella (45,000 words), and the third is officially the first book in the series at 100,000 words.

At the beginning and end of Lovesick, and the beginning and end of the free short story, there is a note to join my newsletter and get the novella for free. That means that if someone downloaded Lovesick for free, and followed up to see what else I had, and read the note about how to get the novella for free, they could’ve gotten three of my four titles for free. If they do that, I think I’ve got them as a reader. And they’re on my newsletter list. :)

So total book sales are:

July = 12 (0 for Lovesick)
August = 24 (9 for Lovesick)
September 1-7 = 8 (0 for Lovesick)

Total spent on ads to get to this point was $136 in August. I’m estimating that I’ve earned more than twice that so far in the last three weeks. Excellent! Compare that to the first time I used a KDP Select free period when I spent less than $100 and didn't break even, the second time when I spent less than $100 but did break even, and now this time I've made about a 100% or more return on investment (ROI).

This is by far the best result I’ve had so far with any kind of advertising, any kind of freebie/sale. I’ve let Little Miss Lovesick stay in KDP Select for a third period. I’ll let you know what I decide to do this next time. 

Meanwhile, I'm going to put Unexpected Superhero on sale for $2.99 (down from $3.99) October 1-10 and use the same Choosy Bookworm feature ad to see how it works on bargain-priced books. I chose to discount it only $1 because anecdotal evidence shows few books sell at $1.99, and the number of books (104) I'd have to sell at 99c with only a 35% royalty is more than my sales history says I can expect to get to cover the cost of the ad. (I only need to sell 17 books to break even at $2.99. I'll try the 99c test later when overall book sales have increased.)

I hope this has been useful in helping you decide what you might want to try in your own advertising and promotion. Good luck!

Kitty Bucholtz decided to combine her undergraduate degree in business, her years of experience in accounting and finance, and her graduate degree in creative writing to become a writer-turned-independent-publisher. Her novels, Little Miss Lovesick, A Very Merry Superhero Wedding and Unexpected Superhero, and the free short story, "Superhero in Disguise," are now available at most online retail sites. You can also find out about her upcoming self-publishing course as well as more advice on self-publishing and time management for writers at her new website Writer Entrepreneur Guides.