Thursday, July 18, 2013

Oh, The Little Things

What makes me a happy writer? Other than when a writing session goes well and actually results in a few thousand new words being added to my word count, I mean.

When I open my door and discover a small package on my stoop. You know, the best gifts really do come in small packages. My new business cards came in! Never mind the fact that exactly half of the 100 cards I ordered were flawed in a multitude of ways. The half that were right are gorgeous and I love them. 

Can't wait to start passing them out at the next conference I go to! Does a teaching conference count? Oh, who cares! 

Update #1 - The company reprinted the cards for free (as they should) and they are gorgeous! 
Update #2 - Networking at a conference is a total blast! People love the cards. Let's hope that translates to sales in November. #keepingmyfingerscrossed

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Sometimes Research Is Just Downright Fun

Until recently, I never realized, or at least never spent much time contemplating, how much research authors do. Like most people I assumed their storyline and details came straight from their demented little minds. And for the most part, I suppose they do. But to truly make a story come to life, there has to be some grain of truth sprinkled throughout.

Redemption For Liars is set in Texas, a state I have only passed through while on a summer road trip to Illinois when I was 18. Cowboys, lax gun laws, and summer heat was the extent of my knowledge of the Lone Star state. Pretty soon I found myself in a real pickle where I was trying to describe a landscape I had never set eyes on before. What kind of trees were commonplace? Just how do you mount and dismount a horse? My memories are rusty at best, and non-existent at worst.

To help fortify my story with details you could actually believe, I googled details, read up on the rankings of FBI agents, watched youtube videos, picked my husband's brain for dusty memories, and made phone calls to my friend who really does live in the wonderful state of Texas. Tedious? Absolutely. Fun? Not so much, unless you count chatting with a friend.

But sometimes research can be fun.

Some authors take trips and call it research. Other authors explore new hobbies in the name of research. Last night I went to a Vintage Bombshell make-up class held by the fabulous Makeupgrlz.


Research, of course! My new work-in-progress has a vintage noir feel to it. Think 1940's detective genre. My hero is a jaded private eye and my heroine is a burlesque dancer. Hence, I needed a better grasp of all things bombshell. Makes sense, right?

The make-up artist walked us through the stylings of the 20's, 30's, 40's, and 50's. Sixty bucks later, I came home dolled up in lush lips and fake lashes armed with knowledge and new make-up to play with. While I may still not be an expert at applying eyeshadow or the perfect winged eyeliner - and I probably never will be - at least my character can be simply gorgeous!

See? Sometimes research really is just downright fun!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Tiptoeing Down the Path to Publication

Now that I have successfully landed a publisher and have a tentative release date, I'm starting to look at ways author's promote their books. And let me tell ya, it's all just a little bit daunting right now. According to all the websites and books I've read, here's what I know.

Establish A Social Media Presence
It's all about being accessible to your readers. Authors today absolutely have to have a website, preferably one that's easy to find and user friendly. I finally settled on a webpage name (using my pen name) and design. After half a day, my brand spanking new website was up and running. I have no idea if I'm getting hits yet, or how to increase my search engine visibility yet, but at least my site is awfully pretty!

Since most of the people I know are on FaceBook, it made sense to also create an author page on FB. Creating the page wasn't too difficult. Figuring out how to make my page look nifty and neat is going to take an act of God. Or at least someone with better computer skills than I have.

And then there's this blog. I have one. You're reading it, though for the life of me, I can't figure out how you actually found it. Actually, to be truthful, I have three blogs, but I'm a terrible blogger. I blog a lot during the summer months when I'm not teaching. But then school starts again and I fall off the blogging wagon. I tend to go months on end without writing a single post. *holds up three fingers and says solemnly* I promise to be a better blogger in the future. Starting now.

There are dozens of other ways I can connect with my future and current readers as well as other writers, but for the moment, I think it might be best if I just try to juggle the plates I already have up in the air. Twitter can wait.

Purchase business cards and give out to random readers
I gotta say, I love designing things. Creating cute business cards is right up my ally. Actually passing them out, not so much.

So a month or so ago, I started looking into business card designs. It's easy to get overwhelmed in the thousands of designs I found online. Should I go simple with a black card? Or should I go with something sensual to show that I write romance? It's all very confusing. And then it occurred to me. What in the world should I put on these new cards I was expected to pass out to every person I passed? I don't have a book cover to proudly display just yet. Until yesterday, I didn't even have an author website, email, or FB page to announce.

So what did I do? Created a business card . . . for my teaching career.

Buy Swag for Readers
Here's the part that makes me all tingly inside. Swag. I get to create bookmarks and postcards and . . . and . . . actually I'm not sure what readers enjoy getting from their authors.

Last Spring I attended the SoCalRWA Writer's Conference. Every writer I met had a business card to pass out and some sort of swag to give. Bookmarks and postcards were the most popular items, however I did snag a compact mirror, pens, booklets, and a cloth to buff my glasses with. Did any of those novelty items encourage me to buy a book? Nope.

What do you think? What swag items should I purchase to give to my readers? Or should I save my money and instead invest my time on building a strong web presence?