Wednesday, October 31, 2012

My NaNoWriMo Suvival Kit

 It's that time of year again. NaNoWriMo is about to go into full swing. I'm girding myself and preparing like a person ready to survive a zombie apocalypse.

Why would I participate in something like this? I average 3k words a day, 5 days a week, anyway (I never write on the weekends). Why not? By my reckoning, I should have 66k words by the end of November just by doing what I do.

But demanding 3k words and flowing 3k words are two very different things. Goodbye blog post comments and Facebook updates for the month. Toodles to Tweeps! I'm going to be a very busy lady! All you'll get are my buffered posts.

I am pre-writing my blog posts for the month so I can have that time to write. Good stuff coming at you either way! And when I'm done for the day, perhaps you'll see me poke in here or there.

On to my survival kit! If you're doing NaNo, you should consider a survival kit. Mine includes:

Coffee (lots of coffee).
Pre-made dinners that I can throw into the oven out of the freezer (my kids will get sick of roast, I'm sure).
Sugar (to sweeten the coffee, duh!).
My Laptop.
My iPad with Evernote installed (in case I have to go somewhere).
A pen and notepad (for fact check notes).
MS Word and all the goodies I've prepared open and on the screen.
Pre-written blog posts for the month.
A strict schedule by which I will stick.
An out of town response on my e-mail (KIDDING).
Quick stuff to eat for lunch like sandwiches.
Nail clippers and a nail file nearby (ever try to type with long nails or a burr?).
Glasses (because I'm getting old).
Dance Central (for those moments when I don't know what else to do/write).

Hmmmmm... Have I forgotten anything? I don't think so... I'm sure I'll figure it out quickly if I did.

If you're a NaNo participant, add me as a writing buddy! Let's kick this thing's booty!!

Don't forget, go get your copy of the first book in the Mystic series FREE today. It's the LAST DAY!

The Amazon linky.

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Mystic ~ Lily Released Today

 Women Save The World!

Today is the day you've all been waiting for! Book two of the Mystic series, Lily, is now available as both an e-book and a print book. Digital copies are $3.99 and a print copy will only set you back $8.99. Get one now! On Amazon or On CreateSpace.

IF you haven't yet read book one, Bronya, go get it now. On Amazon or On CreateSpace. It's FREE until tomorrow night at midnight. A little paranormal activity for you on Halloween!

Here are a few snippets from the reviews Bronya has gotten so far:

"Bronya is the first novella from the Mystic series, in this story we meet Markaza, a blue hair tattooed teenager and Bronya, a physically strong teenager living in a small town in Louisiana.

Markaza has the ability to see into the future and knows that she needs to recruit specific women from all over the US by befriending them...
" ~ E. Mendez - 5 stars There's also a great interview over on Ms. Mendez's blog about the series. Check it out!


"I really found this book to be such an easy read that was quick and fast paced. Yet not so fast that nothing was ever not explained fully. Each of the characters presented were so rich and full of life as well as having flaws that made them so very likable. Characters that were judged by other people's standards and beliefs that made you want to root for the underdog to win out over all the haters, cheaters, losers, and liars of the world. Paranormal aspects of this story were cleverly woven in such a way that was just perfect blending into the background of the story and characters too." ~ Angie - 4 stars

"Congrats to Jo for writing a great novella. The characters are unique, and aren't often found in fantasy/paranormal stories. The writing and editing are both well done. It's a quick read, which is a bit disappointing - but only because I want more. Thankfully more are on the way!" ~ J. Chatfield 4 stars

Lily has also received a wonderful review over on Goodreads:

"The story of Lily picks up where Bronya left off. We see the main character Lily struggle with a big change in her life that left her unsure of where her place was in the world. We also find that people are not always what they seem to be such as fake friends who would rather laugh, ridicule, belittle, and be hateful of a person they claim to be friends with. In this book, we see a turning point for not only Lily but for Markaza and Bronya too." ~ Angie - 4 stars

Now for the synopsis of Lily:

Lily Conyers is a twenty-year-old who had it all going for her until a car crash left her with terrible scars, no modeling job, and an addiction to pain killers. When she meets a strange young woman named Markaza, Lily begins to re-build her life with encouragement from her new friend.

Problems arise when Lily leaves the safety of her apartment for the first time since her accident to venture back into the world she used to know. Her so-called friends shun her and her boyfriend recoils at the sight of her face. She rushes home with thoughts of suicide only to find a letter on her step from a company called WSTW; promising her a new life.

Lily packs her bags, bids Markaza goodbye, and sets off for the city. But going to New York is only the first hurdle Lily must jump. She must learn to use the power inside herself to help defeat an evil that is threatening to destroy the world. Once there, she meets a girl named Bronya and the two help one another re-build what was so negligently broken.

As Lily is boarding the plane bound for New York, Markaza boards another headed to Tennessee so she can collect the next young woman on her list: Shelia.


You can pick up a digital copy of Lily at Amazon or a print copy over on CreateSpace. You do not want to miss this second installment of the Mystic series.

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Monday, October 29, 2012

Who Where Why

Good Monday, people of the blogosphere! Glad to have you back. Today, I'll be talking about 3 Ws of writing: Who, Where, and Why.

I do hope you'll take a little trip with me down the road of lessons. Let's address these Ws in order. As you all must know, I'm releasing Lily tomorrow so I'll use the Mystic series when giving comparisons. Nothing like a good tie-in eh? Grab your pencil and paper and let's get going.

Who
This is usually your protagonist. There's always a who. Whether it's a person, animal, or insect. This is the person you build your story around. But let's look at it from another angle, shall we? Who is also the supporting cast, the antagonist, and any creature in the book that helps the plot along. In Mystic, the primary who is Markaza. Supporting whos are: Bronya, Lily, Shelia, Melody, Coralie, Johanna, and the monster. These aren't folks that make an appearance and go away. Those, I like to call: Whonots. In Mystic, they would be: Cecilia, Grammy, Uncle Melvin, Aunt Ivy, Wilhelm, the other models, and folks I don't build well because I don't want them to be remembered when the book is done. I've been asked why I didn't name Cecilia's boyfriend. So you would forget him. I only want you to remember the main characters; those that pull the story along throughout the entire series. Good tip: Don't name someone you want people to forget.

Where
Every character is on a journey. They must start somewhere and end somewhere. Markaza is traveling all over the U.S. but she ends up right back where she began - in New York. Every supporting who also ends up in New York. They travel from their homes to join Markaza in her quest to save the world. So, New York is our main setting. Other places are secondary but equally as important. I've been to every state I write about and it's helped me describe the landscapes and scenery. If you can't visit, look at a ton of photos and read weather reports to get the gist.

Why
This is the whole reason you're writing a book. There's some compelling reason your protagonist must begin their journey. In Markaza's case, she must round up other women to help save the world (as only women can do). Her visions are a result of something that happened to her when she was young. But it's that occurrence which drives the whole series. Without her visions, she would never have embarked upon her journey the series is written around. You must have a why and a journey to resolution.

As a reminder, Lily releases tomorrow and Bronya is still free today! If you'd like to help a fellow indie out, tweet this:

#freekindlebook through Wed! http://amzn.to/PhxwdW 4star avg rating on #Amazon #paranormal Share with friends and go get one today!

or share this on your FB wall:

Lily releases tomorrow! Preview in the back of Bronya http://amzn.to/PhxwdW Free through Wednesday on Amazon. Please like and share this great beginning to the Mystic series by Jo Michaels. 4 Star average rating!

If you want a copy for yourself, go grab one here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009015NVQ

Come on back tomorrow for news on the release of Lily!

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Winners Cover Reveal and FREEBIE

Welcome to the Saturday Blog Party Winner Announcement!

Before we get to the winners, I have two announcements.

First, enjoy a cover reveal for the second book in the Soul Sisters series written by Janiera Eldridge. Janiera does a lot of great things for my blog and my books; so help me thank her by taking a minute to check out her series and see if it's something you may enjoy reading. Clicking on the title will take you to the book's Goodreads page.

Dark Expectations by Janiera Eldridge

Synopsis:
With Ani taking her place as queen, there are some enemies lurking she could never imagine! There's a secret compound in California that wants to know the secrets to making a vampire or werewolf.

When they kidnap Ani during a trip back to California they might actually get what they want. Her sister Dana, her lover Diego and other vampires do everything they can to get her back. If they don't succeed, they face being controlled completely by the human race forever!

Dark Expectations is the exciting sequel to Soul Sisters that's full of adventure, danger and what it means to be queen!


This cover was designed by: Strong Image Editing

Second, the next book in my Mystic series, Lily, releases on Tuesday. In honor of the release, I'm offering the first book, Bronya, for free on Amazon for the next five days. If you haven't read it, go grab one and get to it. Here's a cover image and synopsis for each:

Synopsis:
Bronya Thibodeaux is a senior at Houma High School whose life is about to be changed forever. She's always felt like an outcast, but thinks she may have found a friend when a strange, new girl named Markaza who has blue hair, a number of tattoos, and a strange way of dressing appears. She accepts Bronya for who she is and the two hit it off.

Markaza isn’t around long before she moves away. Bronya goes back to feeling lonely and different. Trouble arises when Bronya's love interest - a girl named Cecilia - is accidentally revealed to the entire student body. Bronya’s life choices make her a pariah in her small town. After getting thrown out of school, not being able to find a job, and being subjected to ridicule and cruel treatment, Bronya chooses to leave her old life behind forever when she receives a compelling invitation from a mysterious company named WSTW.

What Bronya doesn't know, is the mysterious company is owned by Markaza; a mystic who knows the end of the world is coming and is gathering together the only people who can stop the evil that's threatening to take over. Bronya is just the first. But going to New York is only a baby step toward her true journey. As Bronya races against the clock to unlock a power she never knew she had, Markaza races to collect the others: Lily, Shelia, Melody, and Coralie.

Synopsis:
Lily Conyers is a twenty-year-old who had it all going for her until a car crash left her with terrible scars, no modeling job, and an addiction to pain killers. When she meets a strange young woman named Markaza, Lily begins to re-build her life with encouragement from her new friend.

Problems arise when Lily leaves the safety of her apartment for the first time since her accident to venture back into the world she used to know. Her so-called friends shun her and her boyfriend recoils at the sight of her face. She rushes home with thoughts of suicide only to find a letter on her step from a company called WSTW; promising her a new life.

Lily packs her bags, bids Markaza goodbye, and sets off for the city. But going to New York is only the first hurdle Lily must jump. She must learn to use the power inside herself to help defeat an evil that is threatening to destroy the world. Once there, she meets a girl named Bronya and the two help one another re-build what was so negligently broken.

As Lily is boarding the plane bound for New York, Markaza boards another headed to Tennessee so she can collect the next young woman on her list: Shelia.

There's a preview of Lily inside Bronya so grab that booger and get to reading. WOMEN WILL SAVE THE WORLD!

Now for the moment you've all been waiting for!! The winners of the huge giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Congratulations to you eighteen lucky folks!! The authors from the party and I will be in touch to find out where to send your prizes.

Winner C.E. Hart gets a copy of Depression Cookies by Tia Silverthorne Bach
Winner C.E. Hart gets one of Sandi Tuttle's mugs with the "If I have wings" artwork
Sandi Tuttle gets the WSTW mug - how apropos...
C.E. Hart and Sandi Tuttle both get printed, signed copies of The Indie Author's Guide to: Building a Great Book
Tia Silverthorne Bach and Alana M each get a copy of Sex, Death,  & Mind Control (for fun and profit)
C.E. Hart wins $10 Amazon gift card, printed, signed copy of Yassa, and a digital copy of each of the following: The Abigale Chronicles Bundle Pack (books 1-3), Mystic ~ Bronya, Mystic ~ Lily, and The Indie Author's Guide to: Building a Great Book.
And these 10 people win a signed Mystic bookmark!!
Entry #150Becky F.
Entry #241Charlene T.
Entry #263Ashley
Entry #165C.E. H.
Entry #121Alana M.
Entry #74Heather B.
Entry #110Heather W.
Entry #115Ellie M.
Entry #18Beth J.
Entry #50Sandi T.

C.E. Hart, you certainly got a lion's share of the prizes!! Congratulations to everyone that won!!

Me or the author will be in touch with everyone on Monday to find out where to send the prizes!!

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Friday, October 26, 2012

lOOk at YoUr bUsiNeSS CaRd

Hello, lovely people of the blogosphere! This week will be a designer's look at what you're doing on different platforms and will be called lOOk at YoUr xXx. Follow along and learn! Today I'd like to talk to you all about your business card(s).

A business card might not seem very important. After all, it's just a tiny piece of card stock folks either file away, throw away (yikes!), or stick in a Rolodex, right? Wrong. A business card is oftentimes your one chance to make an awesome first impression. By now you know the drill, so get out your pencils and paper and follow along. Read carefully because I'm going to be giving you tips you may not have ever heard.

Get out your card (either printed or a digital version) and let's start with what you're doing now.
Observations:
  1. Is your phone number prevalent?
  2. Is your name or pen name easy to read?
  3. How big is your card?
  4. How many pieces of information are on it (name, phone number(s), url, blog, twitter, book title(s), etc...)?
  5. What are your images?
  6. How many colors are you using?
  7. Can someone tell at a glance that your card matches your site/blog/twitter?
  8. Are all elements aligned the same (left, right, center)?
  9. Does your card have a die-cut?
  10. Rounded corners?
Now, let's see how your answers measure up and how we can fix some common issues:
  1. What can you do to fix the readability of your card?
  2. Can you add your real name in addition to your pen name?
  3. Does your card really need to be bigger than a standard size?
  4. How many pieces of information do you need? Write down the ones you cannot live without.
  5. What images can you add/change for better branding?
  6. Do you really need fifty colors? Remember your branding and try to stick with one or two plus black.
  7. Consider a couple of ways you can make your card fit your brand.
  8. How can you make that info/image line up?
  9. Do you really need a die-cut or rounded corners?

Here's some tips and tricks to building a better business card:
  1. Make your phone number obvious and a good point size (I recommend 11pt or up for a phone number). After all, if you're giving someone your card, you generally want a phone call, right? Think about using . instead of - in your phone number because it takes up less room. Example: (800) 435-6817 as compared to 800.435.6817 and you can Kern those together.
  2. Look at your fonts. If you branded and chose a font back from Monday's post, make sure your name appears in the one that's easiest to read.
  3. I know you'll tell me I'm crazy, but a lot of people still use a standard Rolodex. They punch cards and stick them in there. If your card doesn't fit, it's going in the garbage. 3.5"x2", please.
  4. While more information may seem better, sometimes it's just not and can cause a cluttered look on your card. Choose that which you cannot live without and ditch the rest. I suggest name, phone number (really just need one here), website, and Twitter @. If you can't live without your cell phone number, fax number, amazon author page, blog, and twenty other URLs, you may want to hand out posters instead. Just sayin'.
  5. Is your logo or headshot on there? If not, add it. Use a black and white photo to keep printing costs down.
  6. Use your brand color(s). Keep in mind you can use 50% opacity on those and get a whole new range of options for the same price!
  7. If you don't need a die-cut or rounded corners (you don't), get rid of them. They invade your printable area and make your print job more expensive.
  8. Think about being unique. What about a business card on the end of a bookmark (for authors) or on a magnet for the fridge? It's all in the little things you do. The bookmarks don't even have to be perforated, just have a line where folks should cut it away. BRILLIANT!
Now on to a tip not a lot of folks know about. There's an app for many smartphones that allows you to scan a QR code containing contact information and adds it right to your contacts. Might it not be a good idea to have that QR code printed somewhere on your card? Then, someone can scan your card and have all your information in their phone as well.

Check out this nifty little site: http://www.qrstuff.com/

Then, if you have the app, scan my code below to see how it works. **NOTE** phone number and address have been changed to protect the innocent!!

Now that's just cool. I don't care who you are.

Find more tips like these in my book The Indie Author's Guide to: Building a Great Book and take your future to new heights. It's just $2.99 on Amazon. Don't want to buy one? Enter my great giveaway to win one! Three are available. Today is the last day to enter.

Did you enjoy my five day's worth of lessons? Download a free PDF and keep them forever! Follow the link: Give me the PDF!!!!

No e-mail address or login required. Enjoy!

Question of the day: Have you learned anything this week?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Thursday, October 25, 2012

lOOk at YoUr tWitTeR

Hello, lovely people of the blogosphere! This week will be a designer's look at what you're doing on different platforms and will be called lOOk at YoUr xXx. Follow along and learn! Today I'd like to talk to you all about your Twitter page. It's just as important as everything else you use.

Grab those pencils and paper and let's get going. As usual, we'll begin by looking at what you DO, then we'll get into how to FIX it. Let's begin...

Observations:
  1. What is your background?
  2. When you open the page, do you go, "Oooooooooh! Nice!"?
  3. Do you have consistency with your blog, website, and Facebook?
  4. Have you begun to use the new layout? If yes, what's your header background?
  5. What's your icon?
  6. What colors do your links and tweets appear in?
  7. Do you do a lot of promotion for others as well as yourself?
  8. What does your description say?
  9. What is your @handle? 
Answer these for insight to the Q&A above:
  1. How can you change your background to give that wow factor?
  2. What can you do to increase consistency?
  3. How might you use your logo or branding image with Twitter?
  4. Can you change your icon to your branding image (logo/face/etc...)?
  5. Come up with a color scheme if you haven't already.
  6. Is it feasible to prowl Twitter a couple of times a day and re-tweet a couple of people?
  7. Can you simplify your description and lead folks to your books at the same time?
  8. Is your @handle the title of your book?
Tips on implementing some of your ideas:
  1. Build your own Twitter background with image software that allows you to specify size. Be sure to include your logo or name somewhere. I've seen a few that do a collage of book covers and it looked pretty awesome. The only drawback I can see there is folks getting overwhelmed with imagery.
  2. Update your icon with either your logo or your face.
  3. Update your badge with a nifty background or color scheme that matches your brand.
  4. Be consistent with your colors. Customize whatever you can here. You can specify what colors your tweets and links appear in.
  5. Promote other people as well as yourself.
  6. Rewrite your description as many times as you need to in order to say as much as you can in as few words/characters as possible.
  7. Your @handle should be your pen name or business name. Not a product or book title. After all, what happens when you write another book or expand your Twitter to include something else? Worried you'll lose all your followers? If they love you, they'll appreciate a DM (direct message) telling them what name you're changing to. Those that don't heed the advice aren't worth it anyway.
Find more tips like these in my book The Indie Author's Guide to: Building a Great Book and take your future to new heights. It's just $2.99 on Amazon. Don't want to buy one? Enter my great giveaway to win one! Three are available.

Question of the day: Are you finding these tips and tricks easy to follow? Are you feeling more put-together?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

lOOk at YoUr fAceBoOk

Hello, lovely people of the blogosphere! This week will be a designer's look at what you're doing on different platforms and will be called lOOk at YoUr xXx. Follow along and learn! Today I'd like to talk to you all about FaceBook pages. No, not your personal page that you add your best high-school buds to. Your business or fan page.

Go grab those pencils and paper and let's dive right in. You know the drill, right? First, let's see how you measure up.

Answer these questions about your FaceBook page:
  1. Is your cover image all about you or your titles?
  2. Are your links easy to find?
  3. Do you know who you are at a glance (without clicking around)?
  4. If a visitor leaves FaceBook after a glance, do they know what you're selling?
  5. How many posts do you make per day?
  6. Where can visitors find your promotions?
  7. Does your cover image fit or is it cropped?
  8. Is your FaceBook page branded to match your blog/website/twitter? 
  9. Are you using Timeline?
Based on your observations, answer the following:
  1. Can you rebrand your cover image and icon(s) so people know more about what you do?
  2. Where can you put your links so they're easy to find?
  3. How many places can your name go?
  4. What kind of content could you include to let visitors know what your products are?
  5. How many posts could you make per day?
  6. Are your images the best quality they can be?
  7. Why aren't you using Timeline?
Now, go check out this post by Liberty on how to add things like cover images for your tabs, install apps, and size requirements. Then come on back and let's implement those ideas.

A few tips on fixing the above:
  1. Upgrade to Timeline. Please. It will give you a million more options.
  2. Design your cover image in some kind of software (Liberty mentions Gimp and it's a good alternative) that allows you to specify size. Create a new image per the requirements and brand that puppy. On a side note, I've heard authors say their book covers are their brand and they couldn't be more correct. However, what happens when you have more than one book? I strongly suggest branding yourself with either: your face, a logo, your name in a specific font, or a font + a color scheme. If you use your face, have a professional photograph taken, please!
  3. Put your links on your about page or add your url to your cover image in a way that's not annoying. For example: If you use YourName in large letters, you can add .com in smaller letters on the end.
  4. Make sure your name either appears in your cover image OR your icon. Even if your icon is your face, add your name to it. Won't hurt, will help.
  5. Make sure folks know what books you've written or what you're selling at a glance. You have ten seconds to make an impression. Please make one that lasts.
  6. How can you add valuable content via posts to your timeline? When you see something you like while browsing with your personal page, share it on your business page as well.
  7. Add apps or icons with your promotions. This can be as simple as a rafflecopter embed. Trust me, just do eet!
  8. Make sure your images are at least 72dpi. No one wants to look at a blurry photograph.
  9. Once you have your name, book covers, and logo or image on there, consider your branded color scheme and add elements of those as well. Remember your icon will overlap your cover image a bit on the lower, left-hand side. Design accordingly.
Remember, you can get tips like these in my book The Indie Author's Guide to: Building a Great Book. For just $2.99 I talk branding, formatting, and design for indies.

Don't forget to enter the blog party giveaway! There's three copies of The Indie Author's Guide in there just waiting for you to win!

If anyone noticed, I added ten signed Mystic/WSTW bookmarks to the giveaway! Enjoy and good luck!

Question of the day: Did you know everything above? Are you interested in learning more about branding?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

lOOk at YoUr wEbSitE

Hello, lovely people of the blogosphere! This week will be a designer's look at what you're doing on different platforms and will be called lOOk at YoUr xXx. Follow along and learn! Today I'd like to talk to you all about your website. If you don't own yourname.com, you should. There are a lot of easy and free website building platforms out there, just Google it.

If you have a website, let's look at things that you're currently doing you might want to change. Grab that pencil and paper and let's get going! If you don't, read through anyway and take notes on what to do and what not to do when you design one.

Examine the following:
  1. How long does it take your page to load?
  2. Do you have obnoxious music blaring?
  3. Would someone who didn't know what your site was about be able to tell in just a few seconds?
  4. Is your page interactive or nicely colored?
  5. Is your page easy to read?
  6. Can anyone navigate easily?
  7. Contact information easy to find?
  8. What is your ultimate goal?
  9. More than two fonts?
  10. Do you know what page of your site you're on at a glance?
  11. Can you get to another page without back-browsing?
  12. Does your visitor have to scroll at all? 
Now answer these with your observations:
  1. Can you remove clutter or downsize items so they load faster?
  2. Is that Beethoven's 9th really necessary?
  3. If no tagline, where can you put one to tell a visitor why they're on your page?
  4. What interactivity can you add or colors can you change?
  5. Do you really need a blue, purple, or red font on a black background?
  6. Are visitors hitting a splash page or your main site when they click (do they have to click again to get to the actual site)?
  7. Can you add dynamic links to make navigation easier? Where?
  8. If someone wanted to contact you, how would they? Can you make it easier?
  9. Ultimate goal is a sale or a return visit?
  10. What two fonts are your favorite (one serif and one sans serif, please)?
  11. Think about highlighting the page the person is on in the menu.
  12. Can you resize elements to eliminate the scroll?
Try these tips to fix those common errors:
  1. Resize your images to 72dpi. All of them. Use thumbnails when you can.
  2. Delete the music track. A lot of people listen to music as they browse and will shut your page down quickly if it interferes with their mojo.
  3. Change the title and add a tagline. If you're an author, tell folks this is your official author site and who you are or why they should poke around/buy your books.
  4. Change your fonts so they are either all the same or there are only TWO. More than one in the same family looks like a mistake. So, choose either a serif and a sans serif, a script and a serif, or a script and a sans serif. But be consistent!
  5. Watch your colors. Try for no more than three plus black (headline color, text color, link color, visited link color). Be consistent. If links are in blue, make them all appear in blue.
  6. Highlight the page title in the menu when a person is on that page of your site. If they're on the contact page, it should be showing up a different color than the other page links.
  7. You'll have page links that either take you to a splash page for additional content or directly to the first page of the additional content. Add some dynamic links here so folks can navigate easily. I'll go into the difference of static and dynamic elements and how to use them in a post next week.
  8. Is your ultimate goal a book purchase? Make it easy for folks to get from point A to point B and buy your book. A follow? Give them an easy way to follow with only a click or two. 
  9. Everything should show up without scrolling. Resize everything you can and leave nothing hanging off the edges of sidebars or content areas.
  10. One bonus tip: Use the X and Y axis numbers so things line up. You'll be surprised how much better it makes your site look. 
Overall, your site should be clean, not need ten minutes to load your content, state clearly who you are, not blare music at your visitor, and be easy to navigate without the use of the back button. KISS (Keep it Simple, Stupid) your visitor every time and they'll be happy as larks and want to return often.

Find more tips like these in my book The Indie Author's Guide to: Building a Great Book and take your future to new heights. It's just $2.99 on Amazon. Don't want to buy one? Enter my great giveaway to win one! Three are available.

Question of the day: Did you find any of these common errors on your site? Did you take steps to change your content in some way?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Monday, October 22, 2012

lOOk at YoUr bLog

Hello, lovely people of the blogosphere! This week will be a designer's look at what you're doing on different platforms and will be called lOOk at YoUr xXx. Follow along and learn! Today I'd like to talk to you all about a scary trend I'm seeing in blogs: too much CLUTTER and not enough Legibility.

Do you visit your own blog? Do you pay attention to the clutter/continuity/legibility? If I click on your blog, do I know instantly who you are and where I am? Is your blog well organized? These are questions we're going over today so grab that pencil and paper and let's get going!

Go take a look now and write down the following:
  1. Number of Ads (count them)
  2. Size of Font (large, small, decent?)
  3. Contrast (red on black? purple on black? yellow on white?) of both posts AND sidebar matter.
  4. Legibility (how many spelling errors do you spot?)
  5. Ease of Navigation (search box or link list?)
  6. Recognition of Name (is your blog title and url the same?)
  7. Busyness (how many elements do you see before you scroll?)
  8. Ways to Follow (how many, and how far must you scroll before finding one?)
  9. Easy Links (count them and where do they point?)
  10. Imagery (does it match your content?)
  11. How many other blogs are you linking to?
  12. Can I contact you or connect with you in an obvious way?
  13. Does your blog title match your URL?
Got all that? Excellent! Let's really take a look at your design and work on making it user/reader friendly. Answer these questions based on your observations:
  1. What do those ads do for you?
  2. Can a large number of people read your blog easily?
  3. How's your contrast? Contrast is how well your type shows up on the background.
  4. How can you reduce spelling errors?
  5. What links or content can you ad to help your readers find what they're looking for?
  6. If you didn't know who you were, would others if they found you from an outside link?
  7. Do you see your name right away or a way to find/follow you? How does that impact your readers?
  8. Can you improve upon letting interested readers find you elsewhere?
  9. Think about your photo for a minute. Is it relevant?
  10. Of those blogs you link to, how many link back?
  11. Where do your contact links lead me?
  12. How can you fix the consistency?
Now, take these steps to improve your blog:
  1. DELETE 9/10 of the ads. I don't need to scroll longer than your post. Bottom matter does not get my attention and clutters up your blog. Keep your ads relevant. If you want to promote your book, GREAT! Make a new page and link me to it. If I find your writing interesting, I'll click it and buy.
  2. If your font is small or curly or grungy, go to a larger font size and do away with the "cutesy" elements. You don't need them and it irritates readers.
  3. Please, for the love of all that's good in the world, make your font black and your background white or some other color combo that's high in contrast (no purple or red on black, PLEASE). Make sure there's a background for other elements, as well. I hate it when I can't read what you've posted.
  4. Give me easy to find ways to follow you on every platform you appear on. Make it easy to find. Don't hide it in a barrage of ads or other crap I'm gonna have to sift through.
  5. Be consistent. If your blog doesn't match your FB, Twitter, LinkedIN, and website, change it to match, please. Your readers and fans need to be able to identify you at a glance.
  6. Break your blog down into topics and give me a handy link list or go tag your posts with relevant key words and provide me with a search box.
  7. If your picture is your book cover, that's great and all, but what happens when you have fifty books out there? Are you gonna use them all? No. Make a decision. Either brand with your face or a logo along with your color scheme and font choices, please.
  8. Are you promoting other people more than you're promoting yourself? Yes? Well, if they don't return the favor, STOP. Work with people that work with you.
  9. Change either your blog title or the URL that goes with it. They should be the same.
I hope this helps in some small way. If you look at my myriad of sites, you'll see consistency of imagery, colors, and style. You won't see a ton of ads to distract you, the urls and usernames are synonymous, and you'll have a pleasant experience overall. Check them out:
writejomichaels.com
facebook.com/writejomichaels
twitter.com/writejomichaels
https://plus.google.com/u/0/114811793830742823838
http://www.amazon.com/Jo-Michaels/e/B0088XK8JE
http://pinterest.com/writejomichaels/

Note the URLs of all are either jomichaels or writejomichaels. You'll know, by the consistency, that you have the write one when you find me.

Remember, you can get tips like these in my book The Indie Author's Guide to: Building a Great Book. For just $2.99 I talk branding, formatting, and design for indies.

Don't forget to enter the blog party giveaway! There's three copies of The Indie Author's Guide in there just waiting for you to win!

Question of the day: Did you find your blog needing a lot of changes? Did you implement them as you went?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Friday, October 19, 2012

Blog Party - Day Five

Welcome to day five, the final day of my October blog party! I know you're all sad to see it end, but you can still keep entering to win one of the great prizes until Friday, October 26, at midnight! Sadly, we all turn into pumpkins again at that time.

You all know what's up for grabs today if you read last Friday's post. If you forgot, here's a reminder:

ONE person will win: a $10 Amazon gift card, a digital copy of Mystic~Bronya, Mystic~Lily, The Abigale Chronicles Bundle Pack (books 1-3), The Indie Author's Guide to: Building a Great Book, and a printed, signed copy of Yassa in the new size and format. Rafflecopter entry form is at the bottom of the post.

If you missed day one, with my awesome interview with Ms. Tia Bach, go check it out. Day two featured Ms. Sandi Tuttle and was amazing. Day three was all about a blog called Indie Author Anonymous. And day four was quick wit and humor brought to you by Mr. Robert Chazz Chute. Go check out those posts and leave my guests some love as a thank you for their donations to this awesome giveaway!

Today, I decided to do a spotlight of an indie service that is run by an indie author. Many of you know this indie author through his Indie Review Group on Facebook. Many of you have read his novel 50 Shades of Silver Hair and Socks. That's right, it's Phil Torciva and his service for indies over at The eBook Daily Deal.

The setup over at the KDD is they will list your book on their site and do other promotions for you if you have a sale or freebie going on. They don't demand pay but they gently request you purchase the 50 Shades parody from Amazon when you sign up. There's no verification process, and they kinda go on the honor system.

If you pop over to their Contact page, you'll see the easy to follow instructions to get your book listed and ways to follow them. Like: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google +.

If you choose not to click my nifty link above, that's fine. But you'll need to follow KDD in some way to enter the giveaway below. I know, I know, I'm sneaky!

So, without futher ado, the rafflecopter widget. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now, my great frikkin blog list! Check them out. These are to die for!!

The Book Designer
On Twitter: @JFbookman

eBook Formatting
Book and Author Events Page
On Twitter: @JoHarris0n
On Facebook: Writer's Block Admin Services

Passionate Ramblings
On Twitter: @_LisaCherry
On Facebook: Lisa Cherry Author

The Hungry Freelancer
On Twitter: @bethythewriter

and

If you happen to be a designer, or just want to know more about Photoshop, check out this awesome page:

TutsPlus

Well, that's all for today, folks! Remember to come back every day and enter again until next Friday, October 26! Winners will be announced in a special Saturday post on the 27th! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Blog Party - Day Four

Welcome to day four of the blog party! I love giving things to my readers and followers. Halloween just around the corner makes it all more personal. I look forward to the knocks and screams of, "Trick-or-Treat!" that will be coming the end of this month. Candy makes us all happy (just like prizes do) and I'm glad to be able to share some 'happy' with you all.

If you missed Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday, pop on back to see what great goodies were added to the giveaway and leave my lovely guests a little bit of love!

Today, I'm happy to announce my guest, Mr. Robert Chazz Chute. For the giveaway today, Mr. Chute has offered up two digital copies of Sex, Death, & Mind Control (for fun and profit) from Smashwords. Pull up a chair and get to know more about Chazz. Don't forget to enter the rafflecopter at the end of this post!

Jo: Hello, Chazz! Welcome to the blog party. I’d like to start off by thanking you for your donation to the cause and giving away two copies of your book Sex, Death, and Mind Control to a couple of lucky winners! But we can talk about that after the interview!

Instead of the usual, boring diatribe, let’s have some fun with this interview. I’m gonna start with questions about you and end with questions about your new book, Higher than Jesus.

You have two websites right now All That Chazz and Chazz Writes Do you find it difficult keeping up with both of them?
Chazz: No. I added a Tumblr account recently, too, because there was still time to sleep. Each website serves a different audience. ChazzWrites is for writers; AllThatChazz.com is my author site and the platform for my podcast; The Tumblr  is for another audience (who tend to be very creative and younger). I wouldn’t reach new audiences without spreading myself around. Add three Twitter accounts, Facebook, Google Plus, Pinterest and Triberr, and I’m way outside my inner circle. We have to shout outside our echo chambers. The key is time management. Some people find social media overwhelming, but I’m social (at a safe remove, anyway) and, except for ChazzWrites, I keep my posts short. You have to enjoy it for it to work and it must never cut into writing time. Write books first. Blog later.

Jo: What inspired you to do podcasts of Bigger Than Jesus and has it helped traffic or sales?

Chazz: If you’d asked me earlier this year, I would have said narcissism, director Kevin Smith, Joe Rogan and a wild goose chase got me podcasting. However, the podcast has caught on. I love podcasts! SF author Scott Sigler pioneered podcasting his books as a marketing tool and I followed that model. My numbers are trending up as more people discover the program (All That Chazz). Best of all, the podcast reaches people all over the world. I have a big following around Berkley, California for instance, and the original name of the podcast was Self-help for Stoners (named after my first book.) Way to hold up the brand, Berkley!

Jo: Have you taken a ton of flak for the name of the book?

Chazz: I thought I’d have more resistance. I had several rapier-sharp ripostes at the ready. However, most readers have a sense of humor (at least all of my audience does.) I heard some concerns, but even some hard core Christians told me they loved the title. I have a penchant for titles I have to explain (i.e. bad titles.) For the rest of my life I get to say each day to someone, “It’s pronounced Hay-soose,” and “Sex, Death & Mind Control isn’t porn, it’s suspense,” and “No, you don’t have to be a stoner to enjoy it. It’s all suspense!”

Jo: Your ninja monkeys are easily distracted by bananas; have you found that to be a deterrent in sending them on really important missions?

Chazz: Oh, great. You’ve exposed their weakness. If not for Dracula, no one would know how to slay vampires and if Superman had shut up about his origin, we’d never know kryptonite made him pee blood. Now you tipped over the banana cart on my ninja clone army. Way to go. Thanks a lot.

Jo: Oops! Is there a dream you have concerning publishing?

Chazz: Endless adulation would be good, and definitely more orgies. Mainly, I want to get to the point where my publishing success is an objective fact strangers point to. When people I don’t know take the time to tell me, “Hey, loved your book!” besides the dopamine high I get from writing? That’s the big pay off.

Jo: Do you think your journalism degree and background of being a proofreader, editor, and all around ninja monkey trainer give you tools other people could only dream of acquiring?

Chazz: There are lots of ways to acquire those skills. After I attended the Banff Publishing Workshop years ago, I read through The Chicago Manual of Style and it occurred to me that most of what I learned at the Banff School of Fine Arts was hidden in those pages. It is nice to have the context and background that working in traditional publishing gave me, if only to appreciate my independence more. I’m happier than I’ve ever been right now. Add an almond milk latte and I might pass out from sheer elation.

Jo: I see you promote your graphic designer, Kit, pretty often. What’s his secret formula for capturing your heart and soul (and patronage)?

Chazz: My readers at ChazzWrites.com need him, so, yes, I promote him as much as I can. Kit Foster (of KitFosterDesign.com) is a great graphic designer and author who creates all my covers, Quote Art, web art and even the image I use for my business cards. We exchange emails so much we have become friends and we agree on a lot of things. Step one to being declared a genius: hang out with people who agree with you. Actually, Kit is one of those great people who can objectively be declared a success. He’s a genius who’s also really nice. Who can resist a mold breaker like that?

Jo: Okay, enough about you, let’s talk about your books Higher Than Jesus and Bigger Than Jesus. I read the first in the series and I loved it. I found the 2nd person style to be engaging and different and the twists and turns that start from page one to be delightful. Is the second book written that way as well?

Chazz: You bet! The unusual POV is integral to the character and, as you’ll see in Higher Than Jesus when my hit man ends up in group therapy, we delve deeper into Jesus’ history, psychology and pathology. (Hint: hit men do not play well with others, particularly in psychotherapeutic settings. I think that’s my favorite chapter in the book and it’s referenced throughout.) I have a lot of fun exploring the dichotomy of the character. Jesus Diaz does bad things but, like all bad guys, he doesn’t see himself as evil. He’s a pragmatic, funny guy with an obsession for movies through which he idealizes the life he thinks he deserves. In many ways, he’s a sensitive liar who’s clever in a particular skill set. In Higher than Jesus, his pragmatism evolves to become a mission. All my books are twisty stories of Bad versus Evil, so Jesus fits.

Jo: What kind of adventures can we expect to live through Jesus’ eyes in the second book?

Chazz: Jesus has fled New York for Chicago and he accepts a job for the money. Then things get complicated when he has to solve a dispute in an arms deal for his employer. It’s a two dogs, one bone story, plus the object of his affection is his client’s daughter, Willow. I listened carefully to feedback, so expect a little less swearing, a little more sex and more jokes. For me, it’s all about the jokes and surprises that play out as revenge fantasies go awry.

Jo: I loved the surprises. I hate predictable. What kind of promotions are you doing or do you intend to do?

Chazz: I want to do a couple of especially creative things. For Higher Than Jesus, I ran the Six Words or Less Contest so a character got named after a reader. That was a lot of fun, so I’ll do that concurrently as I write the next in the series. Higher Than is also packed with movie references. For instance, all but the last two chapters are named after movie titles (mostly my tribute to film noir.) Once I release the book, anyone who counts the number of movie titles used throughout correctly and tells me that number at AllThatChazz.com will get a bonus ebook for free.

I’ll also be reading Higher Than Jesus on the podcast as soon as I’m done with Bigger Than. It’s a chapter by chapter, week by week sort of thing, so I’m sure quite a few people will want to jump ahead because they don’t want to wait to get past the next cliffhanger. I’m doing some guest posts, too.

My main focus is to have three books up before Christmas. Crack the Indie Author Code is next (my first non-fiction book on Amazon) and This Plague of Days, a dystopian thriller in which we follow the exodus of a boy with Aspergers Syndrome through a North America brought down by the plague we’re all expecting any minute. Mm. Maybe that’s just me. I have a pessimistic worldview but I sublimate the rage and terror with humor.

Jo: I see you have some issues subscriptions with bland Twitter posts. How many did you have to see before your eyeballs began to boil in your skull?

Chazz: We have to provide value to readers if they’re going to take a chance on us. There’s a little too much telling people to buy our books (I know, I’ve done it) and not enough showing them why they should be interested. There’s plenty of room for promotion and I’m not some tweet narc telling everyone how to behave. I do prefer to send people to my blog posts and podcasts instead of only sending them straight to Amazon, though. Too many tweets are generic and sound alike. It’s not spam that bothers me. I don’t label any promotion I don’t want to see “spam.” However, it is ineffective and we have to be funnier, more clever, sexier and attend more orgies to get anyone’s attention.

You can read more of Chazz’s taunting of the Twitterati here: ChazzWrites

Jo: To finish up, when is Higher than Jesus due to release?

Chazz: Mid-October. I’m just finalizing some things now because I want the paperback and the ebook to have launch dates that are close together. That will be more effective, so right now, it’s a soft launch date.

Jo: Where will we be able to procure a copy?

Chazz: I’ve debated publicly about how long to stay exclusive with Amazon. It’s not the advantage it once was. Since I’m launching so many books close together, I’m sticking with an Amazon-only policy for now. I expect that will change, but there are some variables that don’t depend on me, so I can’t say when I’ll make them available across all platforms, including skywriting. Eventually they’ll be everywhere, including the Oval Office. And yes, that’s a clue.

Jo: Oval Office...? Wow! Well, thanks for your time today, Chazz, it’s been fun! May your bananas be ever plentiful!

Chazz: I am bananas.

If you'd like to follow Robert Chazz Chute, you may do so via the links below.

AllThatChazz
ChazzWrites
On Twitter: @rchazzchute
On Facebook: Ex Parte Press

Enter to win below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now on to the great list of blogs for you to check out and follow today!

A great review website along with an author blog:

Stitch Says
Ghostnapped!
On Twitter: @AshleyHowland

Another few review websites:

Books and Beauty
On Twitter: @LazenBeauty

Kayla's Reads and Reviews

Now some indie must-read blogs:

The Bookshelf Muse
On Twitter: @AngelaAckerman AND @WriterThesaurus
On Facebook: Angela Ackerman

Catherine, Caffeinated
On Twitter: @catheryanhoward

Remember, tomorrow comes the super big prize pack! Come on back to enter again tomorrow!

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Blog Party - Day Three

Welcome to day three of the blog party! Today, I'm happy to be doing a blog spotlight of Indie Author Anonymous!

If you missed day one, go take a look and show the author, Ms. Tia Silverthorne Bach, some love! If you missed day two, go show Ms. Sandi Tuttle some love!

Now, on to day three! The prize: Two people have a chance to win a printed, signed copy of The Indie Author's Guide to: Building a Great Book (5 stars on Amazon). Every indie needs a copy of this book!

The feature: Indie Author Anonymous is one of those blogs that does free book reviews. But it's also so much more! Not only does the lady there write eloquent reviews, she also loves indie authors! That makes her one of my heroes!



From her What Is This Blog? page:

"This blog is dedicated to Indie or Self Published writers.
I am an AVID reader and I never knew there were so many awesome authors out there getting almost NO recognition!
I am here for YOU! I know there are many many awesome writers and I KNOW there are MANY readers who want to read your masterpieces!
Having a link to send out that has no affiliation to YOU is indispensable. Promoting yourself gets old. With a promotion on this blog YOU can link to it for YEARS to come.
Seeing how this can work to your benefit?
Awesome! Just click the “My Services” link to get your book on this blog ASAP!"

She also offers services that will feature your indie book or you, the author, on her blog for a small fee (we all have to make money somehow).

You have many ways in which you can connect with this lovely lady:
Twitter: @IndieAuthorAnon
Facebook
or on her blog: Indie Author Anonymous

Give her some love and let her know how much you appreciate all she does for Indies! Now, enter the contest below to WIN!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

On to the great blog list for today!

I found this one by venturing into the .com world and searching for some of the best blogs for writers.

Wordplay: Helping Writers Become Authors
On Twitter: @KMWieland

Here's one you should all already know about. You don't? FOR SHAME! Check her out for great writing tips:

The Creative Penn
On Twitter: @thecreativepenn

How about another reviewer to add to our great list?

Heather's Book Chatter
On Twitter: @WoodTop255

And for today's author:

A.M. Hargrove
On Twitter: @Amhargrove1

Well, that's all for today, folks! Come on back tomorrow and help me welcome another great author! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Blog Party - Day Two

Welcome to day two of the blog party! Today, I welcome Sandi Tuttle from the blog An Average Woman in a Superwoman World.

If you missed day one, pop on back and take a peek. It was a great interview with Ms. Tia Silverthorne Bach, author of the book Depression Cookies. Today, we add to the giveaway some really cool prizes! A couple of coffee mugs! See the photos after the post to get an idea of what you'll be winning!

Without futher ado, may I present Ms. Sandi Tuttle, coffee lover, blogger, radio show host, and designer of fine wraps for women. Ms. Tuttle is also writing a book on finding the perfect dress. Read on to find out more...

Jo: Today, I’d like to welcome Ms. Sandi Tuttle from the Average Woman in a Superwoman World blog and radio show. We’re gonna do a giveaway in honor of Ms. Tuttle but that’ll come at the end of the post. Let’s get started!

Hi, Sandi! Nice to have you! I’m gonna lead in with questions about you, then we’ll get going on your blog, clothing, radio show, and works you may have in progress. Tell us a little about your family. Where did you meet your husband?


Sandi: It’s great to talk with you, Jo! You're one of my fav people! OK, I met my husband in Orientation when we both started a new job on the same day. I had the shortest hair of the women, and he had the longest hair of the guys. I thought he was cute. We found out we were working on the same project, for the same boss. We even had cubicles next to each other. Kind of like Karma was giving me a hand… We found out we had daughters the same age, liked the same music, and ended up liking each other a lot!

Jo: I'd say you did! You married him! Ha! What were some of the difficulties of blending your existing families together?

Sandi: Wow. OK, I'm a Catholic. I was raised a Presbyterian. He's Jewish, but converted when his daughters were born. He was raised Protestant also. We had to make sure that I didn’t do too many ‘Catholic’ things, since this upset his ex. Kind of tough when your kid is in Catholic school, but we managed. We also had to make sure that we kept up with his twins’ religious instruction. So the whole religion thing was touchy.

My ex lives in Connecticut. My family lived in Illinois. Rich’s family lived in Massachusetts. So, whenever his ex and her family had events, we were expected to give up visitation. Driving my daughter to Connecticut for visitation was a problem if it was a weekend when we had the twins. Juggling school events, etc., sometimes got challenging.

The biggest issues surrounded what I guess would be called ‘life values.' On the one side, we were considered far too strict. On the other, far too liberal. We tried to manage this by saying that the girls had to listen to their other parents when they were with them. They had to listen to us when they were with us. When they were 18, they could decide for themselves what they thought was the right way to go forward. It worked a fair amount of the time.

Jo: Your recent radio show about life happening really spawned a response with some of our mutual friends. Where did you get your outlook on life?

Sandi: Not an easy question. I used to be an angry, confused person. Everybody thinks they had a rotten childhood, so I’m not going to bother outlining mine. I just got tired of myself. Got tired of being angry. Realized that if I changed how I looked at things, dealt with things, the whole situation improved. It’s like that song by Sister Hazel: “If you want to be somebody else, if you’re tired of losing battles with yourself, if you want to be somebody else, change your mind…” I wanted to like ME. So I had to learn how to do that. Then, I had to learn how to live and not drive myself crazy. The more I read, learn and share with other people, the more I realize that life really is chaos, with occasional moments of clarity. And the only way you enjoy the ride is to just get off your own back and deal with what you CAN control. You.

Jo: Never were truer words spoken! Why do people call you homebadger?

Sandi: Ha. Evil woman. OK. I can have a temper. I don’t like that side of my personality, but it’s there. One thing that really irks me is when people give my family a hard time. When the girls were younger, they knew that if they came home and complained that there was something ‘done to them’, I would ask them what happened, and then ask them if they wanted me to get involved, or if they wanted to handle it. If they left it to me, I tended to approach things with a ‘scorched earth – take no prisoners’ attitude. Since I worked from home, they started calling me their Home Badger… The name stuck, even if I stopped going nuclear. Now we laugh about it; but they still know if the chips are down, I'll be there. Of course, if I find out they lied to me, they get the full Badger treatment.  All’s fair…

Jo: I'd hate to be on the receiving end of one of those rants! On a happier note, did you know that when you’re Googled, you dominate the first three pages of results? How did you manage to do that?

Sandi: No. I've never Googled myself until you mentioned it. I have no idea how I did that. If I did, I'd schedule a webinar and train other people. Just dumb luck, I’m afraid.

Jo: Okay, I’ll quit digging into your personal life now. It's really neat that you make wraps for women and sell them on your website via Etsy. Tell me, how did you decide on a logo for your brand and do you have it on all the labels?

Sandi: I used to have a logo of a ‘home badger’. Actually, it was a logo I came up with for doing artwork from old album covers, and it was a visual play on my initials and my husband’s initials. So, it started out as a rat. I figured I already had it, and how many people know the difference between a rat and a badger anyway?  When I got my new website, I decided I needed something to brand “Average Woman,” so I asked my good friend Julie Basello-Holt to help. She owns Creative Genius Gallery in Medford, NJ, and knows all about marketing and branding and art and stuff. I asked her to take a crack at it, sent her some things I was trying (and failing) to do, and she came up with my logo. I had my wonderful mentor, Janet Powers, take a look, and the new logo was a ‘go.' I do have labels with the new logo, and am in the process of sewing them into the products I have on hand.

Jo: You have some of the most interesting guests on your radio show. Where do you meet these people that are so full of character and how do you get them on your show?

Sandi: Thank you! I'm so incredibly lucky! I've just kind of lucked-onto so many of them. One of my favorites, Nikki Johnson-Huston, was introduced to me via email from a friend in the eWomens Network. Another super lady, Kim Harvey, was mentioned in a blog entry by Jackie Bledsoe, and I was intrigued enough to follow up. One woman I met when she came to the store I work at, Fashions by Penina in Marlton, NJ, to pick up a bunch of clothes to put in her consignment shop. Turns out, for the past 18 years, they have funded a 24/7 help line from the proceeds of this consignment shop. I just stay open to the excitement of what other people do, and I have learned not to be afraid to ask. Some people don’t get back to me, but that just means that I have time for the next fun person who comes along.

Jo: It's awesome how you can let it roll off you like that. What do you hope to accomplish with your blog?

Sandi: I would like to say I could find a way to accomplish World Peace. But, if that's a little ambitious, I would like to think that I give other people out there a way to feel good about who they are and what they see in the world. I'd like to show people how to find the fun and whimsy in even the grimmest of days, and hang onto it like a flashlight to get them through the dark times. I hope to show people they can do marvelous things, just like the people I find in my own backyard. They just have to believe it and start putting one foot in front of the other.

Jo: That's an amazing goal. Now for a topic I’m super excited about! Tell us about your upcoming book.

Sandi: As I said, I work in a dress shop. It's actually a specialty dress shop. Mother of the bride, etc. type clothes. We have some really cool casual wear, but we're primarily a specialty dress shop. Shopping stopped being fun for most women I know a long time ago. Between the whole atmosphere at the mall, never being able to find a salesperson in the big stores, and the ravages of time on our bodies, most women I meet hate shopping almost as much as getting root canal. That’s a shame when you're shopping for one of the most exciting days in your life.

So many times, I have heard women say, “I never knew that… why didn’t I know that…” when I explain some of the hints and tips for finding a perfect dress. So, one day I decided to tell them. It’s kind of that simple. I work with amazing people who have a wealth of experience to draw on, and I have a few stories that can make even the worst situation funny, if you're willing to see the humor.

So, I'm thinking of calling it Cinderella’s Closet: Tips to Finding the Perfect Dress. It won’t be quite as long as War and Peace, but sometimes being in the middle of a bridal party fight over dresses can seem as bloody. It’s my job to diffuse the situation, and help each woman look in the mirror and have that, “Ah Hah” moment when she feels beautiful. That’s what it’s all about.

Jo: Do you plan to self-publish or seek a traditional publisher?

Sandi: I don’t know. I have all the wonderful tips from the ABC participants bookmarked, but I haven’t had the time to really get down and dirty and absorb the pros and cons. I can be bought, but since I don’t think some big publisher is going to just trip over me, I'm more than happy to explore self-publishing.

Jo: If you do, let me know! Well, that’s all the time we have for today. Thank you so much, Sandi, for agreeing to talk with me. I’ll be keeping an eye on you!

Sandi: It’s been my pleasure, Jo. As you always say: “Keep Writing”!

As a recap, you may find and connect with Sandi the following ways:
An Average Woman in a Superwoman World blog
An Average Woman in a Superwoman World radio show
On Twitter: @AverageWomanSJ
On Facebook: AverageWomanSJ
Home Badger Creations

Now, enter to win these great mugs! Sandi and I both love coffee, so we decided to do these instead of the usual, hum-drum stuff. I hope you enjoy!

Sandi's mug will feature this image:



And the link to view mine is here: WSTW mug.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

On to today's great blogs to follow and read!

The first two are book reviewers. You all know how much I love them!

Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer
On Facebook: Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer
On Twitter: @kimbacaffeinate

One More Chapter Reviews
On Facebook: One More Chapter Reviews

And today's author is:

Danielle Bannister
On Twitter: @getpulled

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Monday, October 15, 2012

Blog Party - Day One

WELCOME TO THE PARTY!! 

Man, do I have some great stuff going on this week. Lots of giveaways, courtesy of my guests, and tons of great blogs and authors for you all to check out and follow.

If you missed it, check out Friday's post for a list of guests and prizes and to get an idea of how this contest will go. My guest today, Tia, has graciously offered up a printed, signed copy of Depression Cookies! I have to tell you, this is a book I've been dying to sink my teeth into. Entry form is after the interview!

Please help me welcome our first author: Ms. Tia Silverthorne Bach!

Jo: A big HELLO to you, Tia! Thanks for taking the time out of your day to visit with us and talk a little bit about you and your book Depression Cookies.

I’m that rare interviewer that enjoys digging into things about you, personally, before I get to the meat and potatoes of what you’ve written. So, let’s get going.

Jo: I found a neat interview with you and your mom via The Balancing Act on YouTube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1Rk5alF020 Tell me how you got noticed by them and how you felt on stage.

Tia: I came home one day to a phone message from Lifetime TV, and I was dubious at first. The coordinator noticed our press release for Depression Cookies and loved the concept, especially as a mom of daughters. She invited us on, and it was a wonderful experience. Although I have to be honest, I felt like puking when I walked onto the set. Luckily, we had the questions beforehand and only did two takes. I honestly didn’t know how I’d handle live TV.

Jo: Tell us a little about your WIP concerning the young girl and the accident. I’m intrigued because I’m releasing Lily later this month and it’s along those same lines. I’ve said this before, but I think you’re my long-lost twin! Our thinking is very parallel.

Tia: In addition to writing the follow up to Depression Cookies with Mom, I am writing my first young adult novel. It’s about a young girl who loses her brother in a horrible accident, one she barely survives herself. She’s left questioning how it has changed her, and those who care about her. There’s a paranormal twist as well, because I wanted to explore how obsessed this generation of teenagers is with vampires, werewolves, and other creatures.

Jo: You’ve moved a lot (three daughters born in three different states). How has that impacted your writing?

Tia: Loss is an inevitable part of moving, and I think we can all relate to loss. The flip side is that I’ve met many different kinds of people, potential characters, in my moving adventures. Every single one had their own story. Plus, with every move, I was an actor in a new movie. I had to learn how to fit into that new culture. By wearing so many different hats, I learned how to create. All of this led to a love of stories.

Jo: I know my mom is my rock and, without her, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Tell me about your relationship with your mom. Was it strengthened at all with the writing of the book?

Tia: People ask me all the time how I survived writing a book with my mom. It was never a hardship for us. We’ve always had a very open and honest relationship, so writing about a mother and daughter came very naturally. No feelings or topics were off limits, because we trust each other. She is amazing, and I am blessed. (Although, I did skim some chapters where her “mom” character was getting amorous with my character’s dad.)

Jo: I know you’re on Twitter and FaceBook; do you feel it’s helped you or hindered you?

Tia: Social media is a wonderful tool for writers. But it’s also an alluring distraction. I liken it to my sugar addiction. I crave sugar and its quick fix, but I know too much of it is bad for me and my waistline. Same for social media. I have to keep it in balance. If it takes away from writing time, then it’s counterproductive.



Synopsis:
Two distinct voices, two stories interwoven within the walls of family and love.

Depression Cookies is a coming of age story woven around the heart of family triumph. It is told from two distinct vantage points, middle-aged mother, Abby, and her teenage daughter, Krista.

Abby is buckling under the weight of a husband who is climbing the corporate ladder, three daughters each with their own unique needs, a mother who is going off the deep end and family health issues. As she is meeting everyone else's needs, her own keep surfacing. She feels she is losing parts of herself daily and doesn't know how to handle the stress and conflict. All she truly wants is a little magic in her life.

Krista is thirteen, battling acne and low self-esteem, when her father waltzes in and announces the family is moving again. Instead of letting fear and anxiety rule her life, she is determined to survive the trenches of teenage cruelty and family issues without completely losing herself in the process.

What neither expects to find is the true essence of magic in the strength, friendship, power and energy of the female spirit.

Jo: Now, on to questions about Depression Cookies! You’ve won some great awards. Tell me about how you got them.

Tia: I searched for contests on the Internet that accepted self-published entries and then entered the ones where our book was a fit. We ended up receiving a Silver award in Realistic Fiction in the 2011 Readers Favorite Book Awards (and a Finalist in Chick Lit) as well as a Finalist in the 2011 Next Generation Indie Book Awards (Chick Lit). Mom and I are heading to Miami in November to officially accept the Readers Favorite award. Both award programs were well run, and I would highly recommend them to self-published authors.

Jo: I read your recounting of how your initial publishing house’s owner died six months from your publication date, how did that impact you mentally?

Tia: At first, we were stunned and unsure which direction to take. There were moments of self-doubt, and we wondered if we should just go to Kinkos and print some copies for friends and family. We didn’t know much then about other publishing options. I wish we had. But, we also knew he had believed in us and our book. Thankfully, he also gave us professional editing and lots of advice on cover and format. We decided to publish it ourselves. Now, I would do the same, but with a different company and strategy. But I do not regret all the lessons we learned along the way.

Jo: Why write a book like Depression Cookies? What was the driving force behind it?

Tia: We knew we had a story to tell. Since my family did move a lot, sometimes all we had was each other. I am the oldest of three girls, and I don’t know what I would do without the women in my life. But, women can also be their own worst enemy. Women are at the core of some of my best moments, and some of my worst. We hoped a book with two distinct, but interconnected, female perspectives would open up a dialogue between women about the choices we have and the ones we make.

Jo: You manage to keep up with two blogs: Depression Cookies and Mom in Love with Fiction How do you find the time?

Tia: I don’t sleep. No, really, I juggle like we all do. I wish I had a magic answer to share. Sometimes, I rob Peter to pay Paul. Other times, I am blessed with a calm, get-it-done kind of day.

Jo: I know I hate doing this because it seems pretentious of me to assume I have mad skillz like those of some authors, but what novel would you compare to Depression Cookies?

Tia: Let me preface this by saying that I am a Judy Blume fan. She was a huge influence over my teenage years. Depression Cookies is Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret with the mom’s perspective thrown in. My dream… Judy Blume will read it and agree.

Jo: Do you have any trinkets or words of wisdom to leave us with today?

Tia: Don’t be afraid to share pieces of yourself in whatever you do. We all have unique talents and experiences. Own who you are, and don’t try to be a copy of someone else. I learned this from creating different versions of myself through the years. Now, at 40, I’m finally finding me. Not everyone is going to like what I find, but that’s okay. Those that do will be my reward.

Thank you so much, Jo, for hosting me on your blog today. It’s become one of my favorite places to go for insight. Plus, I agree, we do seem to be separated at birth.

Jo: Thanks for giving me your time, Tia! As a recap, here are the links to follow Tia:

Depression Cookies blog
Mom in Love with Fiction
Follow @Tia_Bach_Author
Depression Cookies on Facebook
Buy Depression Cookies for Kindle ($3.03)
Buy the paperback ($23.99)

Enter below and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


As you all know, I include a couple of great blogs other than my feature. After all, this is a party! Here are today's great blogs:

If you're looking for a reviewer who knows how to review a book, give these blogs a visit:

Tana Rae Reads
On Twitter: @TanaRaeReads

Shut Up and Read

The Educated Book Review
On Twitter: @educatedbookrev

Looking for a new author to read? Check out this one:

Megan Curd
On Twitter:  @MeganCurd

Well, I don't want to inundate you with a billion blogs and authors, so that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Friday, October 12, 2012

Blog Party Overview and Prize List

The week you've all been waiting for is finally here!! The October Indie Blog Party!

Here's a list of the FAB prizes I have in store for you all:
  • Day One: You'll enjoy the chance at a printed, signed copy of Depression Cookies by Tia Silverthorne Bach.
  • Day Two: Enter to win coffee mugs! One winner will get an a coffee mug with "If I have wings, why can't I fly?" artwork, and one will get a Women Save the World (WSTW) coffee mug, featuring the Mystic title and all the names from the novels (Bronya, Lily, Shelia, Melody, Coralie, and Markaza). Images of the mugs will be shown on Tuesday.
  • Day Three: Two people will win printed, signed copies of The Indie Author's Guide to: Building a Great Book written by me.
  • Day Four: Two people will win digital copies of Sex, Death, and Mind Control by Robert Chazz Chute.
  • Day Five: A huge pile of prizes! A $10 Amazon gift card, a printed, signed copy of Yassa, and a digital copy of each of the following: The Abigale Chronicles Bundle Pack (books 1-3), Mystic ~ Bronya, Mystic ~ Lily, and The Indie Author's Guide to: Building a Great Book. It's a $32 value.
Here's how it will work:

Each day, a prize will be added to the rafflecopter widget with new ways to enter. You'll want to check every day to enter again.

There will be eight winners total, your chance to win something is very good. In total, we're giving away over $100 worth of prizes. You can win more than once!

I will start the entries on Monday, October 15, and run the contest through Friday, October 26. A special Saturday post on October 27 will announce the winners.

Remember to share with your friends (no one likes a prize hog) and come back to see if you won!

Winners will also be notified by e-mail. Good luck to you all!

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo