Friday, November 13, 2015

Creating the Perfect Environment for Your Writing by Connie Vines

Do you know what you need from your environment in order to write?

If not, it is time to find out.

Our physical surroundings are immensely important to our writing process.
Far more important than most people think.

We cannot work if we are distracted, annoyed, or constantly interrupted.  We need to feel inspired and comfortable in our surroundings in order to be creative.

If your home office is cluttered with papers, laundry, and stacks of research materials, it is not the right place to write.

The mess might distract you and make you miserable, because it sends a signal about the kind of work environment you think you deserve.

It is just as bad if your office is empty. Writers work best in a creative atmosphere.
If inspiration disappears when you sit down to write you must reassess your surroundings.
Sometimes removing the clutter and reorganization of your work area will do the trick.  Other times, you need a more drastic approach.

Create a Place to Thrive.

I need privacy to work on big projects like a novel.  My Pandora app on my iPhone and my BOSE speaker create the perfect blend of music that centers me in my storyline. New Orleans Jazz now, but it was country and western when I was writing my rodeo romance. As a rule, I type or dictate to my computer while writing, but I keep a pen and composition book close by to make notes.

Do You Feel Inspired in Your Writing Place?

If not, what do you need to do to make your workspace inspirational?
Perhaps you are a writer who must have activity all around, all the time-- 24/7.  Since my day job is at a middle school, I am unable to relate to such a need.  However, the library cafĂ©, coffee shop, or park picnic table may be your perfect writing place.

Ditch the Distractions.

Television blasting, cell phone ‘pings’, Facebook alert messages, the must ‘do list’ at the corner of your desk, all must be out of sight.  I must have all other work in progress or notes on future projects in my filing cabinet.  If I have my notes visible, I am excessively tempted to work on this project too.

Make Your Writing Workspace Beautiful.  

Sit on a quality chair, fresh flowers (or display your roses from OCC), candles, a window, favorite mug, favorite pen.  Any item that makes you spend more time in your writing space.  What makes you happy?

Of course, a tailor-built writing space, or even a room dedicated as your office, is not always possible.  Be creative.  Find your personal writing space.

Remember the quickest way to writing success is sitting down and making it happen.

Happy Writing!

Connie Vines

Coming Soon
from BWL

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Cinderella's Holiday Deal: My Kindle Scout Experience Part 6

You can read my previous posts about my experience with the Kindle Scout program by clicking on Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5

And the Kindle Scout benefits just keep on coming...

Cinderella is a smart shopper and she loves a deal.

Especially from Amazon.

Amazon loves to promote their Kindle Scout winners (officially Kindle Press or KP Authors). I've seen my fellow authors show up on Kindle Daily Deals, as the lead book in emails, and earning that coveted "#1 Best Seller" Orange Banner.


This month until November 30th, my Kindle Scout book, LOVE ME FOREVER is an Amazon Holiday Deal! The discounted price is $1.99. Check out my video below:

Love Me Forever is on sale for $1.99 -- A Civil War time travel romance from Jina Bacarr on Vimeo.


Another benefit is the wonderful support you receive from the other authors.

I’m so proud to be a Kindle Scout Winner and Kindle Press Author — a big bonus for me was meeting and hanging out with the other winners.

Such a talented, witty group — and good cooks, too!

So a bunch of us decided to cook our books. We’ve just released a FREE anthology of recipes: 

KP Authors (Kindle Press Authors) Cook Their Books. 

I hope you enjoy our recipes. Mine are from LOVE ME FOREVER. 

KP Authors Cook Their Books: featuring Love Me Forever from Jina Bacarr on Vimeo.

You can read an excerpt from my book along with a fun chat with my heroines, Liberty and Pauletta Sue.



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:

Monday, November 09, 2015

Another KDP Select Ads Update - This Time Not So Great by Kitty Bucholtz

If, after reading my last two posts about advertising a KDP Select free book (the first one and the second one plus additional information here), you're thinking that this is a beautiful upward curve toward guaranteed results...well, we're both wrong.

Not that I thought the results would be guaranteed to continue their upward trajectory, but I didn't realize I could have such a terrible bomb when things were going well.

Using the same book, Little Miss Lovesick, I made my third 5-days-free promo during my third 90-day KDP Select period on October 21-25, 2015. I paid for three ads (fewer than before), but I forgot to sign up for all the free newsletters until after it was too late. (You need a 7-day lead time for the sites I've been using. I remembered 6 days before.)

In May 2015, my 5-days-free yielded 7312 downloads.

In August 2015, the same five days gave up 8108 copies.

Looking great, right? My October results came to only 662 copies. Did you see that - 662!!!

I honestly think there is a lot more owed to those free-to-list-in-our-free-book-newsletter emails than I realized. Forgetting to sign up with the 30 or so that I did all the other times was the only real difference in October.

Interesting, huh? Of course, there could be any number of other factors that I didn't realize. But I think not signing up for the free sites was a big factor.

So when you're thinking about how to advertise your free book, and wondering how much you can spend on paid ads, keep in mind that all of those free newsletters might be enough to get you a good start!

Friday, November 06, 2015

Year Going Fast

As I indicated in last month's blog, I wasn't able to attend the OCC Birthday Bash.  Sounds as if it was lots of fun even without me--as I anticipated.
The family-related stuff I mentioned then as the reason I had to miss the party was enjoyable.  It involved a short trip in which I got to visit six brick-and-mortar bookstores during a month that I had a new Superstition Mystery released--KNOCK ON WOOD.  It was enjoyable stopping in and seeing which stores carried copies that I could sign, and leaving bookmarks at them all.
Now, it's November, and the year is quickly drawing to an end.  I'm happy to say I'm planning on attending this month's OCC meeting.  I'd love to hear both speakers and attend PAW in the morning, too.  Guess I'll have to make a choice for the morning, but I really love how the OCC meetings are so versatile and have something for everyone.
So, hope to see you there this month.  Thanks, OCC!

Thursday, November 05, 2015


I have come to a crossroads with a set of characters and I can’t believe the angst I’m feeling or maybe it’s heart break?

Let me explain.

This past summer, I had the privilege of being in my first box set. YEAH! My contribution to the Fling box set was The Good Girl novella. I wrote this book knowing there would be more to the story. However, I didn’t expect to become as attached to the characters as I am. That fondness is supposed to be reserved for my characters in The Alex Chronicles. After all, we’ve been together for years…that’s not an exaggeration. [Read my previous posts for details on that series. And for the record, The Alex Chronicles is still my baby.]

Gabriella and Phillippe, my heroine and protagonist from The Good Girl, are infants compared to Alexandra [Alex] and Moses, the stars of The Alex Chronicles series. Alex and Moses and I have been through a lot. That’s not an exaggeration. I wrote three books, well four if you count the prequel that can testify to the longevity of our relationship.

When it came time to cause havoc between Alex and Moses, I had no problem doing it…yes, I cried inside when he…okay, I can’t tell you anymore because it might spoil it for you. But it was a difficult breakup. However, the possibility of Gabriella and Phillippe breaking up, is causing me great consternation and I don’t know why.

The difference in this proposed breakup might have something to do with the fact that I don’t know what will happen next. I guess that’s what happens when you’re a pantser. Maybe if I was a plotter, I’d feel different. In that respect, I’m like my readers, excited about the surprise outcome, sitting on the edge of my seat wondering what will happen next. Wondering if an HEA will exist for these two. If or when you read part two, an HEA seems inevitable. I think a breakup would be a shock to some readers and a given to others. Either way. I need a major shake up, otherwise the series will become a two hit wonder.

To prepare myself for the inevitable, I’ve started a new playlist complete with sad love songs. I’ve got some wine and popcorn, even reading books with devastating, heartbroken heroines, to get me in the right frame of mind. So far, I just can’t bring myself to break Gabriella and Phillippe up. I could write the breakup, but what if they don’t find their way back to each other. Yes, it would open the door to another book or would it? Another strike against being a pantser…know it all characters. It’s all Gabriella and Phillippe’s fault. Why can’t they be like Alex and Moses. Those two made it perfectly clear how their relationship was going to play out from the moment they met.

I’ve trusted Gabriella and Phillippe through two books. I have to admit, I was surprised at the story they told in Part Two. Trust is the key word here. I have to trust my ability to tell a story that will engage my readers, yet not be boring or predictable. Talk about a challenge. Like Carrie Underwood said, “Jesus take the wheel.”

In my quest to over think, I came up with a few reasons why they would breakup.
Have Phillippe realize he really can’t deal with a non sexual relationship. Which makes him look like the typical self-absorbed Alpha Billionaire in training with a slight French accent.

Then there’s the shocker that she doesn’t want to get married and she just considers this a great first love. Sounds good, but makes her look like a gold-digging whore, I mean tramp.

Or, I could go with the classic, she loses her virginity to him, gets pregnant and he doesn’t want to have anything to do with her or the baby. This would paint her as a naive single mother, with an uncertain future and a whole lot of anger.

Last but not least, a dreaded family secret preventing him from continuing the relationship. Problem with that one is it makes him look a little weak and that goes against the image I’ve created of him.

I would love to see a HEA, but these characters may not. Unlike Alex and Moses, I broke them up a couple of times. Oh crap! I wasn’t supposed to tell you that, but I didn’t tell you how their story plays out. I’ll just say this, I have a playlist loaded with sad love songs.

I also don’t think this angst would be such a big deal if the book hadn’t been as successful as it has. I’ll rephrase that. I hoped it would do well, but this is a surprise blessing. Yes, I called my book that’s packed with a few steamy innuendoes and a blessing.

About a month before the free promotion, while it was still at regular price, it got to #167 without any promotion. When I did my first KDP Five Free Days, it made it all the way to #2 in one of my categories on Amazon. I stopped trying to figure out why it’s being received so well. And to be honest, I don’t care. I’m just grateful and thankful to God that it is doing well. This little book, is a great gateway to my other books.

Back to my problem, how to deal with my broken heart. Sunday or maybe it was late Saturday night. Anyway, I really started feeling a sense of loss towards this book. Sunday I picked up The Good Girl Part Two and started on the revisions and the more I read, the clearer it became that I needed to do something drastic. I kicked around ideas, all of which caused me more grief than relief. It was well around one in the morning when I gave up fighting. prayed and went to sleep.

Later, when I woke up, during my prayer time, I got a revelation for a possible plot idea. I’m not going to share it, in case those two bossy characters decide they want to go in another direction. I will say this, it will be emotionally painful to write, however, I think it’s going to lead to the perfect next step.

Funny thing, long before the dread of the breakup popped up, another scene began to bounce around my head…and it’s good. At least I think it is. Only problem, once I write it, I think that’s when the real heart break will come, because it will be the end of Gabriella and Phillippe’s story as I see it. As writers you know a series never really ends, it just gives birth to a another baby.

So I have a few questions for you. How do you handle the breakup of your characters? Do you find it difficult to breakup your characters perfect relationship? Is the road to HEA easy or painful for you?

Tracy Reed

Sunday, November 01, 2015

November President's Message

Hello Again OCC!

Oh my god I can’t begin to explain how much fun the Birthday Bash was! The board and I couldn’t have been more thrilled to see how many attended as well as how many were in costume. There were certificates for Book in a Year passed out by Beth Yarnall along with some surprise gifts she had, Roses for our members getting contracts for books, BBB and Orange Rose certificates and pins passed out by Liz Scott, Joyce Ward, Tracy Red, Barb DeLong and Jann Ryan. Thank you everyone who made volunteered your time and for those who attended. The board is already planning the next Bash!

Our speakers were Lauren Dane and Deb Werksman. It was indeed a magical day and night of fun. Thank you so much OCC for being the great chapter that you are. Now this coming month in the morning we have Herb Williams-Dalgart, “Engaging Your Readers – The Tools and Tricks for Building Your Brand Online” and in the Afternoon: Amy Denim, “Taking Control of Your Writing Career”

Ballots for our election 2016 Board Election and Bylaws vote will be at the meeting or you can vote via online on the website. A copy of the approved bylaws (that need to be voted on by chapter members) will be available upon request at the meeting. The bylaws will also be online in the members section of the website and the newsletter. 

Voting will take place at the November 2015 meeting and elected members will be announced at the December 2015 meeting.

Please take the time to vote, remember this is your chapter and your vote counts.

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

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Make the best of it...

Make the best of it!

Don't settle...

Both are excellent pieces of advice.  They also are encouraging totally opposite behaviors.

There are some that need to have a clear and single answer.  They like to see issues in black and white—which is how most media portrays things, given the selling properties of polarization and conflict.  They may be averse to the necessity of having to think, to become informed or to have to use their judgment.  It always should be one side...or the other.

Though the “answer” is that sometimes it’s one.  Sometimes it’s the other.  It depends.

However many are unwilling, uninterested—whatever—to either think some things through deeply, personally, or they may not feel comfortable being individually accountable for their decisions and actions. So rather than make up their own mind, they select  a prefabricated off-the-rack package of attitudes and beliefs. Those packages carry a number of different labels, often the name of a religion, political party—or perhaps a broad blanket label (Conservative, Liberal), or a subset or sub-sect of any of the aforementioned.

These packages have the benefit of being brandedand that may convey whatever specialness or relative perceived status brands convey.  Or the brands appeal may just be the comfort of being part of the team, the confidence that many others agree with this version of reality.  Hey, if you can feel validated, differentiated and superior because you drink Miller Vs Budweiser, marketing’s ability to differentiate the almost undifferentiate-able clearly is compelling and effective with most humankind.

But it also must be acknowledged that most everybody is willing to think deeply, personally, passionately about some things.  They can spend significant time analyzing information, parsing commentary, making and defending their own decisions.  They may delight in judging the behavior of their friends or a celebrity. Or the quality of a meal or recipe. The relative merit of cars. Perhaps it’s their football team, or baseball, or hockey. The nuances can be the focus of endless hours of conversation: the coaching, the players, the commissioner, the rules, with statistics and actions lovingly referenced, often going back decades. Whatever.

Even someone with a clear black and white need for clarity in some areas can, without any trouble, have the ability to see infinite shades of gray in another.

So in many areas—often rather important ones (such as one’s immortal soul), we take an off-the-shelf externally validated and branded package, often without much examination.  

But in other areas (such as one’s sports team), we may be passionately individual, personally involved and accountable, not trusting anyone else’s opinion about something so important as who might make the playoffs. 

But also (usually) not damning to hell for all eternity anyone that does not agree with our beliefs in this area....

And we are all like that, accepting some things wholesale, others with far more skepticism and personal involvement. Tolerant of differences...or intolerant.

What things do you “wear” off-the-rack? And what do you design yourself?

Or do you agree with F. Scott Fitzgerald that: “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” and perhaps are able to move forward, sticking to your vision, but...making the best of it if circumstances indicate that an intransigent, uncompromising stance is not working.