Status: Drafting the fourth book in the PERILOUS series!

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Put-Down

When I was in grade school, I always heard the advice to not compare myself to others. I didn't really understand at the time, but as an adult, I get it. My success is not measured by how much better I did than someone else. (Although when teachers graded on a curve in college, it felt like it sometimes.) If I must compare, I should compare myself to how I was.

I think we all understand this. So why, then, do politicians try to convince us to vote for them by putting down the competition?

Does this really convince anyone? I mean, do we even believe them?

It kind of makes me think of a girl trying to convince a guy that he should choose her. Just listen to this voice: "You should choose me because I wear designer perfume. I can parallel park. What do you see in her? She dyes her hair funny. Her shoes are out of style. She didn't even get an A in Geometry. It should be really obvious to you that my sparkling shoes and great grades make me the better option."

Um, whatever happened to just being yourself? Letting that sparkling personality or great campaign speak for you?

Or maybe the campaign is so bad that you hope to win by default? You've got nothing else to stand on?

Stop whining and quit putting people down. It's a total turn-off.

Oh, and I'm on my way to Florida as we speak, so posts might be a bit erratic this coming week.

Today's stop on the blog tour: Ann Best!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Dog Tired

I'm not sure what happened, but I sat down to write a blog post and GOT TIRED.

So, let me summarize things quickly:

1) Wednesday's blog tour is here. Check out the awesome T. Anne! Thursday's blog tour is Valerie Ipson. yay Valerie!

2) I met with the Border's manager yesterday, and she is super excited to order my books and have a book signing. Yay!

3) We had a Halloween party last night. I haven't done the dishes yet. It's 3pm.

4) We're leaving for Disney World on Friday. I probably should start packing.

5) My editor emailed me the final proof of my book. the one that's going to print. I CAN'T WAIT.

6) I'm going to take a nap now.

Don't forget! Blog tour contest, tab at top!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Seventh Time's the Charm

They say you have to hear something seven times before it finally sparks your interest.

Do you find that to be true for you? I confess I often don't pay attention, but when it comes to media, I think that's true.

For example: I really didn't pay any attention to Harry Potter when it came out. Only when I'd heard the name 6-7 times did I really notice it. And still it took several more times before I decided to read it. That also goes for Hunger Games. I joined the blogosphere right before Catching Fire came out. 6-7 reviews later, I decided to buy both books.

Very,very rarely do I hear something one time and decide to risk my money on it.

I hope that is the case with my book. One comment I'm seeing a lot on the blog tour is, "I'm hearing a lot about this book lately. I'll have to check it out." This comment makes my heart soar, because guess why they're hearing a lot? Because we are spreading the news! We are hyping it up, a good three weeks before it is released!

And that, folks, is why a blog tour is so important. Today is blog tour stop #7. I hope I'm influencing people.

Monday's stop: The excellent Mary Greathouse and her blog, here. And for Tuesday: The awesome RaShelle Workman! Be sure and check it out, as well as the contest details on the tab at the top of the page. At least, if you're interested in winning free copies of the book! :)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Strengths into Weaknesses

When I was at the Ozark Writers Conference a few weekends ago, one of the speakers talked about finding your character's strength and teasing it into a weakness.

I found this idea intriguing. Often, we talk about turning our weaknesses into strengths. So why not torture our characters into doing the opposite?

For example, let's take my character Jayne. Remember Jayne?

One of Jayne's greatest strengths is her compassion. She genuinely cares for people and wants to make their lives better.

Unfortunately for Jayne, her gift of Sight shows her the way people will die.

It only takes a little bit of teasing to turn this strength into a weakness. If she cares about people, it hurts her when she isn't able to prevent their death. So she stops caring. She shuts of her emotions and blocks out the rest of the world. This leaves me with a lot of character development to explore and we know we'll see a lot of changes in Jayne throughout the story.

The bottom line is, CHARACTERS MUST BE FLAWED. If they are not, then there is no room for growth and the story will be flat. We want to experience a change.

Do you see a correlation between your characters' strengths and flaws?

And in case you haven't been paying attention, we're just getting started with my blog tour. The full calendar and contest information is on a tab at the top of my blog. Today's post is here. I mean, come on. Don't you want to win a Kindle??? :)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Blogger's Cool Stats

Blogger has really come up in the world. Probably the rest of you already knew this, but I just noticed that at the top of screen where you make a new post, there's a new tab. This tab says 'Stats.'

If you haven't already explored this tab, let me share with you some of the neat things it has:

In the posts, I can see which pages of mine get the most hits. I can see the stats for today, for one week, for a month. This is quite funny. Guess which page of mine is the most popular? This one. Because I posted a picture of the haircut I wanted, and apparently when people Google haircuts, it gets pulled up. Total view on that page so far? 3,011. Random, huh? Today, 27 people have looked at that page.

Maybe I should drive traffic to my blog by posting more hair styling pictures.

Traffic sources is also cool. It tells me what site people were on before they linked over to mine. Today I owe Talli Roland for sending over 4 viewers. I can see that over the past month, Twitter has sent more than 20 people to my blog. My website is also doing a good job for me, having sent over almost 50 people. Very very interesting.

And finally, the audience one. Where are these people from? What countries are reading my blog? (DL, you might find this helpful. Now you can track down the people from different countries on your blog.) Today, I've had 21 people from Moldova (??? where???), 5 from Portugal (seja bemvindo!), 1 from Israel, and 68 from the US. I have an audience. Quite an extensive one. Of course, they are probably all trying to figure out what hair cut to get next, but still...

Anyway, I just thought that was really really cool. So look at your stats! Which page of yours gets the most visits? Share the link and we can all check it out!

And for the blog tour: Today we have the lovely Guinevere talking about my book, as well as a $10 contest! Check it out here! And for Thursday we have one of my dear friends, Mary Gray! For the rest of the tour and information on my giveaways, click the tab at the top of the blog!

Monday, October 18, 2010

What Can Goodreads do for you?

There's this wonderful community that I'm only just beginning to participate in-- it's the Goodreads community. I've often seen people talk about how they are addicted to Facebook and Goodreads. Which I just couldn't understand. What is so great about Goodreads?

A lot, apparently. Goodreads promotes their authors. Besides the fact that a quick skim of updates lets me know who added what book and who liked what, there are FREE services for Goodreads authors.

Are you aware of what Goodreads can do for you? Here are a few things.

1) A blog. What's great about this blog is I don't actually have to write a new blog every time. I just linked my Goodreads account to my Blogger account, and everytime I post a blog, presto! It goes live on Goodreads. Do I actually have any followers? No. And I never have comments. But hey! Maybe someday!

2) Giveaways. I just discovered this recently. Many of us offer free books during our blog tours, with the intention of garnering interest in our books. Well, Goodreads also has this service. They 'request' that if you enter a giveaway, you also put the book into your 'to-read' list. (Not everyone does this. I know because right now I have 352 people in my giveaway contest, but my book is on only 87 'to-read' lists.) But, that is 352 people who have heard of my book now that probably hadn't heard of it before. How neat is that??

3) Author Q&A. Few things can make a person feel like a celebrity than having a bunch of stranger discuss you. Goodreads provides the place for that discussion. The author simply chooses a time period--like for two weeks--starts the discussion with a question or two, and then let's it roll. I haven't done this yet. I want to get my name out there a little more. But again, what a neat way to garner interest.

So, if you haven't checked out Goodreads, you need to. There's a link on my sidebar.

On another note, today is day #2 of my blog tour!!! The post is up on Nichole's Star-crossed book review blog. I got that anxious pit in my stomach clicking on the post, but luckily she didn't flame me! Check out her blog to see the review. And for Tuesday, we have the famous Talli Roland. For information on the contest and the other blogs on the tour, click the tab at the top of my blog!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Creating a newsletter

There's a new gadget on the right-hand side of my blog. It's my newsletter sign-up form. Isn't pretty? I like it.

No, I don't have a newsletter yet. That's because I don't have anything to announce. And also because I don't have anyone to announce it to! :) But I will someday. And while most of you will get information about me from my blog, there will be people who's names and emails I collect through book signings and speaking engagements.

A newsletter is a great way to hold on to 'prospects.' Those people who looked at your book, blog, or website, but didn't buy. If they sign up for the newsletter, you know they are interested, but something held them back. So come up with a quarterly newsletter that details promotions, book signings, new releases, and maybe a few new favorable reviews.

Now I know what to put in my newsletter. I need readers.

There are many newsletter companies out there, but most of them aren't free. I found one that is. It's MailChimp. Mailchimp is free for the first 1,000 subscribers. So far, I've got 2, and one of them is me. If I ever get more than 1,000, I'll happily pay to upgrade my account! Chimpmail might be free, but it's got all the bells and whistles you could want. It gave me the coding for that sign up form on the right (and it works. Someone already used it). It creates your newsletter in pretty html designs. It--well, go check it out. It's pretty cool.

And in other news--my blog tour started today!!! You don't want to miss these contests. Not all of these reviews will be glowing, either, because I didn't pay these people. So hurry over to David J. West's blog and find out the good, the bad, and the ugly about Perilous.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Hook

September 20
Havre, Montana

Detective Carl Hamilton shielded his eyes against the blaring blue lights and flashed his badge at the police of-ficer. The man moved aside. Hamilton stepped off the paved, two-lane highway just outside of Havre, Montana. Orange tape blocked off the crime scene, hidden by the darkness of early morning. He ducked under the tape and pushed his way into the dry shrubbery.

A sergeant shone a flashlight on his face and asked, “Are you Detective Hamilton?”

He gave a short nod.

“I‟m Shirley White.” Pressing her hand to her nose, she turned her attention back to the ground.

The stench of rotting flesh was strong. “Ma‟am. What have we found?”

“It‟s a girl. We think it‟s one of the four you‟ve been looking for.”

Carl‟s stomach knotted. “Cause of death?”

“We‟ll have to perform an autopsy, of course, but it appears to be a gunshot wound. Is it one of them?”

“Where is she?”

“Under the bushes.”

He crouched down and moved the bushes aside, breathing through his mouth. This never got any easier. The branches parted to reveal a young girl, features distorted by death but still recognizable. The open eyes stared blankly up at him. He released the branches and stood up, giving a nod. “Yes. It‟s one of them.”

The case had just gone from a kidnapping to a homicide. And there were three girls still missing.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Marketing: We're all in this together!

I'm excited to present to you Lori Calabrese, a fellow debut author! Her book, The Bug that Plagued the Third Grade, just launched from Dragonfly Publishing. Today Lori is going to talk about the marketing battle--one we are all quite familiar with.

You can find Lori on her blog here.

And here she is!

Fighting an Uphill Battle
By: Lori Calabrese

As authors, we’re required to devise a web marketing platform—website, blog, email marketing and social media—that will help spread our message, grow our reputation and hopefully sell books. But, sometimes, it can feel as though we’re fighting an uphill battle. That’s why many authors are forming their own armies, so they can take on the marketing machine in numbers.

The first army formed was the "Class of 2k…,” the brainstorm of debut novelist Greg R. Fishbone. He thought a group of debut children's novelists could grab more media and industry attention together than on their own and boy, was he right. The Class of 2K7 was the first group of authors who banded together to make their publication journey a pleasant one, and the group has evolved to The Class of 2k10. Along the way, many other authors have used Fishbone’s thinking to their advantage and formed their own niche groups to strengthen their marketing message.

In 2010, because of a failing economy, we saw the rise of the small press. The odds of getting published by a "major" publishing house have been dwindling, but the odds of attracting a small publisher have been improving. However, as many small press authors are able to see their books in print, they also find themselves without the marketing muscle or resources of the larger houses. So what are small press authors to do? Innovate their own strategies, that’s what.

Small press authors have created alliances with like-minded independent bookstores, and have taken advantage of online marketing platforms such as social media, e-mail blasts and blogs. But, they’ve also utilized the thinking of Greg R. Fishbone. Author Amy Cook realized that if a group of small press authors banded together, they too could grab more attention for their books through a collective blog, forum, facebook group and flyer. Cook put out a general call on as many places as she could - Verla Kay's Website for Children's Writers and Illustrators, her blog, etc… and within a few short weeks, Indie Debut was born.

Indie Debut can be called the first army for small press authors. Indie Debut 2010 is a group of debut authors whose books are published by a spectrum of small presses across America and range from picture books to middle grade to young adult. Each member is proud to support small presses that are championing new voices, focusing on niche markets, creating whole businesses by reissuing out-of-print classics, and maintaining the tradition of printing literary fiction. Within the first week of forming, they utilized each member’s artillery to produce a group website, logo, press release and discussion forum. Since then, this amazing group of dedicated children’s/ YA authors have put loads of time and effort into making their website a source of small press information, setting up speaking engagements, planning contests and giveaways, and developing a very close sense of community with each other.

Because of the tough economy, the whole industry has been forced to navigate a new route and utilize new tools to build and maintain momentum behind a book. Indie Debut has been able to make a small press author’s reach national by creating relationships with each author’s fan base, reach out to new ones, and utilize a group blog that keeps content fresh and allows one to develop their platform, what many editors and agents are looking for these days.

Rather than face it alone, it’s smart for an author to develop relationships with other authors and
brainstorm ways to market his or her book. Writers spend much of their time working alone, so to have a network of writers who are going through the same thing as you is a great way to garner information, and offer the much-needed support we sometimes need.

So as you devise your web marketing platform, remember that although marketing can sometimes seem like an uphill battle, with an army of troops on your side, you’ll find the courage you need to forge ahead.

Indie Debut is currently looking for authors who are interested in joining the 2011 group. If you’re a debut author with a children’s- YA book published with a small press in 2011, please use the contact form on their website.

About the author:
Lori Calabrese is an award-winning children’s author. Her first picture book, The Bug That Plagued the Entire Third Grade, was awarded DFP’s Best Children’s Book Award. She writes
for various children’s magazines, is the National Children’s Books Examiner at Examiner.com and enjoys sharing her passion for children’s books at festivals, schools and events. Visit her
website to learn more, www.loricalabrese.com.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Ultimate Blog Tour

My blog tour launches on FRIDAY.

I can hardly believe it. My stomach twists up in knots every time I think about it. Because, here's the thing: Not everyone is going to like my book. I can't even guarantee that YOU will like it. But you won't know unless you read it, right? And you can read it for only $4.99 on your ebook reader, so what have you got to lose?

The bigger question is, what have you got to win? The answer: A Kindle.

So, here are the details to my ultimate blog tour contest.

1) There will be two book giveaways. Signed copies of Perilous, of course. All you have to do to get in on that action is make a comment anywhere in the blog tour. The drawing will be completely random. Of course, the more comments you make, the more chances you have of winning.

2) There will be a Kindle giveaway. This WON'T be random. Kindles are kind of a big thing, so I'm going to make you work for it. The giveaway will be point based, in other words, whoever has the most points at the end of the blog tour wins the Kindle. The contest will run until Dec. 15, at which point all hopeful winners will email me at tamara at tamarahartheiner dot com with their points and their proofs.

Here's how you get points:
+1 for each comment on the blog tour
+1 be a follower on my blog (old or new)
+1 retweet
+2 blog about the blog tour
(You prove all of those by emailing me the links.)
+5 purchase the book; ebook or paperback, doesn't matter
(Email me the confirmation number of your purchase.)

How many points will you get?

Oh, and if you've already bought the book, that counts too.

Don't want a Kindle? Already have one? I hear they make great Christmas presents. :)

Here are some helpful links:
paperback (I linked to my website, but you can also purchase through B&N and Amazon. I'm offering free shipping and handling and a lower price on preorders.)

Tomorrow I'm excited to announce that I'm hosting Lori Calabrese here on my blog! Her book, The Bug that Plagued the Third Grade, just came out from Dragonfly Publishing. It's so exciting to watch books come out!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Eureka Springs or Bust

I'm at the Ozark Creative Writer's Conference, hitting it off with DL!

Too bad the rest of you couldn't make it!

Next year, when I'm a famous author, you'll all come out to Arkansas to meet me, right? Great!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

I'll show you mine if you show me yours

When I was in grade school, I remember the propaganda every adult and parent preached at us: "Everyone is good at something. You just have find what it is."

This statement always woke up my cynical side. I was quite certain I had no talent, and I was fairly sure half of the kids around me didn't, either.

Just goes to show you that teenagers DON'T know everything.

The other day I sat around with a dozen of my girlfriends (isn't it wonderful to have friends?) and we admired the beautiful baby blanket that one of them had sewed. Someone else mentioned that her photography business was picking up. Another showed us the diaper covers and headbands she was crocheting for her Etsy site. And we talked about how beautifully so-and-so sang in church that Sunday. All of this while we munched on the delicious chocolate-caramel brownies someone had brought.

I sat there with these ladies and felt a bit overwhelmed. "Wow!" I thought. "I can't sew. I can't crochet. My singing's nothing to honk about. I'll just keep my mouth shut before they realize I don't have any talents and don't fit in here."

And then, like an epiphany, it hit me. I'm a WRITER. That's a talent. It's MY talent. I have a PUBLISHED BOOK.

And then I felt so good about myself, sitting there among my talented friends, feeling talented. Isn't it awesome that God gave us all such different gifts??? Turns out all that adult talk was right, after all.

What's your talent??? You know you have one. Share! Let's see how many diverse talents we can find!

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Spazz that is Me

Guess what launched today?

The Perilous ebook.

How exciting is that??

Here's the link.

Go ahead and buy it, you won't hurt my feelings.

Oh, but if you'd rather wait for the paperback, it's available for pre-order from here and here and here.

Get ready, gang, because my blog tour is quickly approaching, and we've got some great giveaways coming your way. Including :::cough::: a :::cough:::: KINDLE. Set your calendars. Tour starts Oct. 15. Details coming soon.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Blogging in 30 minutes a day

Today I'm feeling the anxious feeling (how's that for redundant? Wait, it gets better. I almost said "anxious anxiety") of someone who is launching a blog tour...even though it isn't launching today. It almost did, which means the time is coming very very soon.

And on Tuesday, the ebook launches. Folks! Things are getting hot here!

But that's not what I'm blogging about. I'm blogging about how blogging took over my world and how I recovered from it. I'm also blogging about how many times I can use repetitious words while blogging.

So, here's my secret. I cut my blogging back to 30 minutes a day.

The thing is, there are some awesome awesome blogs on my 200+ blogroll. And I could spend all day reading and commenting. And then all of you would come over to my blog, eager to return the favor, only to find I haven't blogged because after all that reading and commenting, I'm crashed out on the floor snoring. And my kids are still in pajamas, there are no dishes because nobody ate all day, and I certainly didn't do any writing.

Sound familiar?

Some of you manage to do it all, and I admire you far more than I can say. But I knew something had to change for me. So I sacrificed. I devote 30 minutes to blogging every day. That means not all of you are going to get your blog read by me, but I doubt Nathan Bransford goes through and comments on everyone's blogs, yet people still follow and comment on his blog. I just need to make my posts THAT GOOD.

Three days a week, I write a blog post. I'm on a schedule now. You can depend on me (usually). I have 30 minutes to write my post. If it takes less time, I can blog hop. It can't take more time. Not an option. The other days of the week, I can spend all 30 minutes reading and commenting. Way fun.

This is working for me. How do you manage it? What works for you?

And very soon folks, I'll give you all the details on my upcoming blog tour. (In case you're wondering, you can already preorder the book from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and my website.)
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