Sunday, April 27, 2014

Featured Author - J.C Valentine

I'm thrilled to welcome J.C, Valentine to Self Published Sunday!

Best selling author J.C. Valentine is the alter-ego of Brandi Salazar, whose enjoyment of tales of romance spurred her to branch out and create her own.

She lives in the Northwest with her husband, their wild children, and far too many pets. As a university student, she studies literature, which goes well with her dream of becoming an editor. Brandi entertains a number of hobbies including reading and photography, but her first love is writing fiction-in all its forms.

Guest Post:  Where does the inspiration come from?

Many people have asked me, where do you get these ideas from? And I always just shrug and smile and tell them, I don't know. They just...come to me. It's not something I can sit down and think about. It can't be forced. But I do get inspired from many things, and usually I find that it happens when I least expect it and am least prepared. My idea for Knockout came from watching UFC with my husband, and gained momentum when reading other fighter romances. Sometimes, a word or phrase, or scene will pop into my head while listening to music and cleaning the house. I've had some of the best ideas that way, and find myself dropping everything to race and write it all down before I forget. Many times, I find it's the music that gives me the most inspiration. It calls forth emotion in ways that can be hard to duplicate when staring at the flashing cursor on the computer screen. So, I listen to a variety of music, and when I need that little boost, I put in the earbuds and the words just flow. For all that music does for me, I really think it comes down to surroundings and having a quiet mind. When those two elements exist together, the mind opens up and everything just...clicks. Where do you get your inspiration from? 

From the wrong side of the tracks...

Alyson Blake had learned early on that the only one she could depend on was herself. The only light in her life was a boy whom everyone agreed was destined for prison; but with his first kiss, he had set her soul on fire. Since the day the police dragged him away in handcuffs, she had managed to lead a quiet life, but when she attends an event fraught with mayhem, trouble resurfaces.

The one person she can’t forget...

Jamison Weston is the kind of guy dads load their shotguns for; endowed with a hot temper and a rap sheet as long as both tattooed arms. Known as “The Judge,” Jami’s hot temper, lethal fists, and cocky attitude have earned him respect and admiration both in and out of the ring. But just when he thinks he’s pummeled his past to death, Alyson Blake reenters his life.

Two paths collide…

After years of separation, Alyson is eager to reexplore the man who’s never left her thoughts, but for Jamison, she’s both the distraction he wants, but doesn’t need. As the two embark on a relationship that neither of them expected or bargained for, an outside threat closes in. When Alyson crosses the line of professionalism and takes her work home with her, her life is put in danger, leaving Jamison with no choice but to once again step in and become her protector. 

Her eyes warmed as she studied him. Touching his face, she traced the line of his jaw from ear to chin. Then her fingers found his lips. He opened his mouth and licked the tips as she skimmed his bottom lip, and he committed the sultry look that flashed in her eyes to memory. “You don’t lie to me, do you?”

Jami held her head in his hands and looked into her eyes. “No, and I never will.” Jami couldn’t tear his eyes away. She smiled up at him, her expression soft, welcoming. Completely open to him. No one had ever looked at him quite like she did. As if she trusted him, and she did. He knew that. It wasn’t even a question.

He could fall in love with this girl. With this woman. This person who was his friend, and the only one who knew everything about his past—everything—and didn’t judge him for it. Even Coach didn’t know what he had done before they crossed paths. He knew he had a history with the cops and a bad home life, and that was the extent of it. Was she what people thought about when they thought of soul mates? The type of person they dreamed of when combing the world for The One?

How was a guy to know?

“If you keep looking at me like that, you’re face is going to freeze. All the guys at the gym will laugh at you, and then I’ll be forced to fight for your honor.”

Jami smirked, peeled her shirt up to expose her abdomen, and lowered his head. He glanced up at her. “You have a sassy mouth, Ally. I aim to fix that.”

“What—Jami!” Ally wheezed and squirmed beneath him in a futile attempt to escape his teasing tongue. Again and again, he swirled his tongue across her stomach, chuckling with each clench of her muscles, each lost breath, and squeal of delighted torture. When she grabbed two fistfuls of his hair and pulled, he decided to have mercy on her before she ripped a chunk of it from his scalp.

Somehow, he just didn’t think bald or patchy would be a good look for a guy his age.

“All right, okay,” he said, pulling her hands away gently. “Truce.”

Her laughter abated. When he let go of her hands, her arms fell out to the side. “You’re such an ass,” she panted. “My abs will hurt tomorrow, thanks to you.”

“No, thanks to you,” he corrected her. “It’s that sassy mouth getting you into trouble.” He was grinning, amusement, and true joy filling him up to the brink of overflowing. “You make me happy,” he blurted out.

Ally’s smile faltered and Jami wanted to punch himself. Why did he say that? Touching his face, Ally angled her head, studying him. “I’m glad. You’re always so serious. You need to smile more.”

“I smile all the time,” he protested.

She rolled her eyes. “Yes, you’re right. What was I thinking? You smile every day when you get to beat on poor Mike and whatshisname. You’re a very happy man then.”

“Hey, you gotta take it where you can get it.” Jami shrugged.

Silence fell between them, and they stared into each other’s eyes. This close, there was never any room for escape. It felt like he could see into her soul, and she into his. All the layers of bullshit were stripped away, cutting right to the heart. He’d never felt this way before. As a sliver of truth sat on his tongue, he opened his mouth to say what he knew she was waiting to hear. “Ally, I—” His throat closed up and no words came out.

Placing her finger over his lips, Ally hushed him. “Shh, you don’t have to say anything. I can see it every time I look at you.” She kissed him lightly on the mouth. “I feel it whenever you touch me.”

“But you want—”

She cut him off. “It doesn’t matter. I can wait. I don’t want you to say it unless you feel it in here.” She flattened her palm over his heart. “I don’t want you to choke on the words. I want you to say them because you can’t not say them. Okay?”

He stared down at her. Who was this girl? Hundreds of women would be lined up outside his door just to hear those words, and she was telling him to wait? Unbelievable.

“I see those wheels turning,” she teased, then grew serious again. “Jami, let me ask you a question. Out of all the women you’ve had sex with, how many of them have you stuck around for?” Zero. She saw the answer in his eyes right away. “That’s what I thought, and that right there is why I am okay with waiting. Your heart already knows what it wants. Now we just have to wait for your brain to catch up.”

Connect with the author:

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Lisa Becker - Author of the Click Series

In May, Lisa Becker will be releasing Right Click, the third novel in the Click series.  Knowing how busy the final weeks leading up to a launch can be, I'm thrilled she was able to make time to stop by and chat! 

Online Dating Inspired Click: An Online Love Story and Double Click
By Lisa Becker

I first met my husband while wearing my pajamas.  Really!  No, we weren't at some kinky singles party.  I was sitting comfortably in my apartment and he was hanging out in his.  But, I will never forget his email introduction via an online dating service, which invited me to check out his profile.  It was sweet, endearing and intriguing enough for me to log on to learn more about him.  After a week of emails, followed by a week of phone calls, we met for our first date - a traditional dinner and movie outing.  Even before I opened the door to greet him, I knew he was "the one."  Considering he lived 30 miles away, I'm not certain our paths would have typically crossed.  But after nearly 13 years together - including 10 years of marriage (which in Los Angeles is apparently no small feat!) and two beautiful daughters, I have no doubt he is my soul mate. 

After my now-husband and I met online, I was recalling some of the hilarious experiences that I had during the whole online dating experience.  How could I forget the guy who started every story (no joke!) with “My buddies and I were out drinking one night.”   I decided to capture some of them in writing and, from there and based loosely on my own experiences, my novel Click: An Online Love Story emerged.  The entire story is told in emails between our heroine, Renee Greene, her three best friends and the gentlemen suitors she meets online.  The format felt like a modern way to tell the story that fit the topic, and allowed readers to develop an intimate relationship with the characters.

Clearly, I’m a big fan of online dating and find it to be a useful tool for young professionals who are busy working and finding it difficult to make the right connection at the gym, bar, coffee shop or grocery aisle.  I say, people today are “married” to their cell phones and laptops, so why not use that technology to really get married, right?
While Click doesn’t end with a wedding (sorry for the spoiler!), during Renee’s road to happiness, we find many advantages to online dating.  My five favorite are:

·       On Your Own Terms – Online dating provides a relaxed, anytime and on your own terms experience.  Share as little or as much information as you want.  Avoid people you are not interested in.  Communicate at your convenience.   But, don’t send a message at 2:30 am.  Nothing smacks more of desperation than an email from someone trolling the Internet for a date in the wee hours of the morning. 

·       Multi-Tasking Enabled – Flirt while filing your taxes.  Chat and trim your nails.  Meet a mate while making breakfast.  It’s a well-known fact that women are great multi-taskers.  Take full advantage of that skill.  As Shelley, the over-sexed character in Click says to the about-to-try-online-dating Renee, “A whole host of hot and horny single men that I can review, chat with, judge and mock – all while sitting in my office looking very busy.  Maybe I should give it a try myself.”

·       Trade the “Meat Market” for the “Meet Market” – Now you can avoid the “meat market” scene of bars and clubs and instead enjoy a “meet market” – an international bazaar (but let’s hope not too bizarre) of prospective mates.  The Internet allows you to make an online introduction to thousands if not millions of people around the world.  So, if you want to meet someone in Katmandu, well then, can do!

·       Save Time, Money and Energy – Let’s face it.  Dating isn’t cheap.   It takes time, money and, likely your most valuable and scarce resource, energy.   With the “try before you buy” environment of online dating, you don’t have to meet for a drink, grab a coffee or sit through a long dinner only to discover there’s no physical attraction, you have nothing in common, conversation is lacking, etc.     

·       Rejection Made Easy – In Click, Renee gets an email from someone halfway across the world looking to meet someone willing to move for him.  After sending a polite and diplomatic “thanks but no thanks” email message, she proclaims to her friend, “It’s so much easier to reject someone over that Internet than in real life.  Score one for online dating!”   While rejection is easier for both parties when done online, it’s important to remember that people still have feelings.

As I've said many times before, if it happened for me, there's hope for you.  So log on and take a chance.   To purchase Click or Double Click, please click here.   To follow updates on the Click saga and share your stories about online dating, visit the Click Facebook fan page or follow Lisa on twitter @lisawbecker.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Self Published Sunday Welcomes K.C. Stewart

Busy - That's probably the best word to describe K.C. Stewart. She is the author of The Hailey Holloway Series and I'm pleased to introduce her to you.

K.C. Stewart 

I thought writing a book would be the hard part. Oh was I ever wrong. The hard part is what comes after the words have been put on the page, and the edits have been made, and the betas have read, and the editor has said it's crap. The hard part is when you’re holding a beautiful bundle of hard work and you have to package it with the right cover, format the hundreds of pages you just read over and over during the edits, and actually tell people that you wrote a book.

Out of everything the last part was hardest for me. Writing was my dirty little secret. Was being the operative word there. It was hard for me to talk about it with anyone other than my editor. But as time went on she told me I had to come out of the writer's closet and great the world. I did so, reluctantly. I've since spread out my arms and yelled from the top of the social media mountain that I am an author. 

Now that we have gotten that out of the way let me tell you a little about myself. I’ve lived in the same small Pennsylvania town all my life. I did take a shot at city living during college, but Philadelphia and I never really got along in the long run. I’m more of a rural girl than an urban one. I went to school for photography, ignoring all of those “job prospects are low” and “maybe you want to have a backup just in case…” from teachers and guidance counselors in high school. To be fair, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do back then. However, if my 18 year old self could see me now I’m sure she’d call me a nerd and question my sanity. (You read? Pffft. Freak.)

The best part about being a photographer is it introduced me to the world of books. In the winter, the studio is all but dead. It was suggested I bring a book to read. I ended up reading through them faster than I could buy them. It was a life changer. Then I got my first nook. Mind. Blown. Who knew I could read so fast? Reading became my escape from the world. I ditched my cable and invested in a big fuzzy blanket and a cat…or three.

I didn’t start writing until I was invited into the super secret world of Facebook Role Play. Ok, so it’s not so super secret if you know where to find it. But I had no idea that part of Facebook existed. I was positive that I couldn’t string along a sentence, let alone a scene, and I was right. My first few months of RP were shameful. I would not wish my early writing upon my nemesis. But like most things, the more I wrote the better I got. (You were right piano teacher whose name I don’t remember. Practice does make perfect.) Soon writing as an already developed character wasn’t enough. So I made my own. Then writing scenes just wasn’t doing it for me anymore. So I wrote longer, more in-depth scenes, which turned into chapters and into a book.

Now I’m going to be honest with all of you. I never thought I’d finish it. I started it and it kinda just sat there for a few months. In that time I decided that my life needed a change. You know when they say it’s not too late to go back to school. Well, they are right. I was accepted into Clarion University’s online Library Science program. Apparently working full-time and being a full-time student wasn’t enough for me. So I opened back up that word document and began to seriously write my manuscript.

And it flowed.

And it was beautiful.

Now I’m writing a series while taking classes and working. Somehow it all fits together in a complicated puzzle, even if some of those pieces are held together with gum and duct tape.


Copywriter by day, nerd by night, Hailey Holloway is living the post college dream. Her life may not be flashy and exciting but it’s enough for her. After a late night at work, Hailey stumbles upon two dragons brawling in the middle of Philadelphia. In an act of kindness and lapse of sanity, she comforts the dragon who was left behind to die. In doing so she inadvertently invited the soul of Dacea into herself for safe keeping. Hailey just wants to live her life as simply and quietly as possible but with the voice of a disembodied dragon in her head, she has little hope of achieving her goal.

Dacea will do anything to be free of Hailey, a human who is moments from checking herself into a psychiatric ward. He is grateful to be alive, but at what cost to his sanity? The dragon world is in upheaval. Green is at war with Red, and he is of no use to anyone while stuck with Hailey.

The solution to their problem is not without its risks. But just how far will Hailey go to be free of the dragon?

Spark Excerpt  

Hailey sat up in her bed and gasped for air. With its blaring alarm, her bedside clock announced that it was time to wake up. She hit the off button and because she couldn’t shake the dream she had been having, Hailey held out her arms and checked for any red marks, but she found only her porcelain skin. “Ugh.” She groaned as she rested her head in her palm. It had just been a horrible dream; one she had been having on a nightly basis. There was no fire, no smoke, and no dragons. “That’s the last time I eat Mexican before bed.”
“Not this again.” A deep voice grumbled in her head.
Hailey squeezed her eyes shut. “I will not talk to the voice in my head. It is not real.” She repeated her recently acquired mantra, punctuating each word.
“Every morning it is the same thing. Hailey, you need to get over this already.” He sounded frustrated, not that she cared. The voice had been with her ever since the unfortunate event in the nearby park three weeks prior. “The sooner you accept what has happened, the sooner we can figure out how to fix it.”
“LA LA LA LA LA.” Hands covered her ears as she crawled out of bed. “I can’t hear you.”
He sighed in her head. “Why don’t you believe what is right in front of you?”
Because what was right in front of her was a crazy person who had voices in her head, she answered mentally. Hailey turned on the shower, set in her ways of ignoring him. She dropped her shirt on the floor but quickly covered her breasts with her arms.
“Crap. Close your eyes.”
“Excuse me?”
“I said, close your eyes. I need to shower.”
“You are infuriating.” He bit out.
“Nonsense, I am delightful. You on the other hand have no manners. I need to shower and don’t want you to watch.” She shifted uncomfortably, unsure where she should look when she spoke to him.
“It’s nothing I haven’t seen before. In fact a little peek is the least you can do for the headaches you’ve caused me.”
“Headaches I’ve caused you? What about me Mister! Do you think I want to hear your critique of absolutely everything I do, have done, or will do in the future? Just close your eyes and leave me be.”
A moment of silence passed before he grunted out “fine.”
“Are your eyes closed?”
“How do I know that? You could just say they are but really be watching me shower like a creeper.” Hailey shuffled her weight back and forth as the cool air chilled her bottom.
“I guess you will just have to trust me.” He said amused. 

                              Connect with the author:

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Sunday, April 6, 2014

Self Published Sunday Welcomes Laurie WJN

Welcome and thanks for stopping by to meet this week's focus -author Laurie WJN.  

The Misadventures of Me and My Uterus is a self-published book that you won’t want to miss.  A hilarious personal story of health challenges and getting older, this book is for anyone with a uterus, or anyone who wants to understand what it’s like to have a uterus. From delivering babies to uterine biopsies, this book shares how being a woman can be tough, but laughter is always the best medicine. Topics ranging from Spring-Loaded Uterus (and other forms of birth control), Nothing says fun like a transvaginal ultrasound, and Ablation – its electric, share the personal struggle of one peri-menopausal woman through the maze of women’s health challenges. With humor and understanding, this book offers insight into the uniquely feminine perspective of women’s health care as you enter menopause. Readers will relate to the awkward moments in a doctor’s office during gynecological procedures or the desperate search for tampons while on a vacation. The Misadventures of Me and My Uterus is a book that all women can appreciate, especially if they have had any challenges with uterus health issues.

Written by Laurie WJN, a self-described writer, dreamer and child at heart.  Her unique insights on emotions and behavior come from her many roles as a wife, mother, sister and former recreational therapist and middle school teacher.  Laurie wrote her first book in 2001.  Laurie lives in Arizona with her incomparable husband and three unruly dogs.

Connect with the author:

Purchase Link:

Friday, April 4, 2014

Adventures in Marketing: My Latest Effort

There are times I wish that someone had told me that writing my book was the easy part - the hard stuff came with the marketing.  Obviously, some people are more adept at coming up with ways to sell their novels than others.  You can put me in the "others" category.   I can't say that I enjoy marketing. I'm one of those people who wish I could devote all my time to writing and leave the marketing to some sort of magical marketing minions.  But since that's not going to happen - I decided to try something a little different.

I published my novel (Of Dreams and Shadow: Forget Me Not) at the end of September, 2013.  Since that time, I have promoted my book with three virtual book tours and I have been pleased with the exposure.  In March, I decided to try something a little different. Instead of a virtual book tour - I choose to use a three prong approach.  

First, I did a little research.  There are a lot of sites that promote books.  I looked for sites that I felt were a good fit for my novel and then went to Alexa to check their ranking.  I considered the number of visitors to each site as well as the cost of their promotion packages. 

I chose:

1. eBook Soda  

I set the date to begin my attack:  Thursday,  March 27, 2014

I lowered the price of my book to 99 cents (Thursday - Sunday)

I asked my family and friends to help me get the word out by sharing links on facebook, etc.

The morning of the 27th arrived.  I went to my Author Central page and checked my ranking; it was humbling to say the least.  My novel was ranked 250,914 among all ebooks and 26,785 among teen ebooks.  

StoryFinds listed my book on their daily specials.  (This cost me $20.00)

At Young Adult Promo Central, I was the featured author. I shared a post, book trailer, book blurb, etc.  (I purchased their Gold Promotion - $25.00.  The normal price of this promo was $50 but they are running a sale.)

eBook Soda featured my book on the email list.  (This was free.)

I shared the links to StoryFinds and YA Promo Central as well as eBook Soda on twitter, Facebook and Google+ communities.  

By Friday morning, my novel had moved up in ranking.  Among all ebooks, mine was now ranked at 30,293 and among teen ebooks - it was ranked 1,551.  At lunch time, my book had peaked at just over 1,300 in teen ebooks.  

On Monday morning, I checked my Author Central page again.  My novel was ranked at 22,893 in all ebooks and 2,323 in teen ebooks.

Now, I will be honest - I don't know which site generated the most sales but I do know that people visiting YA Promo Central were actively engaged due to the stats I saw on my blog.  I also think  some sales came from people who saw the "shares" of my family and friends. 

Total Cost of the Promotion:  $45.00  

I wish I could say that this was the marketing effort that sent me to Amazon's top 100.  But even though it didn't, I was pleased with the results.

Beginning:    all ebooks  250,914   teens:  26,785
Ending:        all ebooks   22,893    teens:   2,323

I would think this approach would work with a variety of sites and genres.  It is important to find sites that are a good fit for your novel.  But you can't stop there - you have to enlist the help of others to spread the word.  I hope this is helpful.  Thanks for stopping by and Happy Marketing! 


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Guest Post by Carolyn Holland

Thanks for stopping by and meeting my guest  - author Carolyn Holland.  Carolyn and I grew up in the same small town, lost touch over the years and recently reconnected.  Neither of us had any clue that the other had published a novel. Obviously I was thrilled and couldn't wait to introduce her to everyone!  Carolyn has agreed to share the steps she took when developing/writing her novel:

5 Essential Steps to Writing Seeds of Transition

Ernest Hemingway once said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Well, we all know that Hemingway is acclaimed as one of the greatest authors of all times right? Everybody who had a high school English lit teacher worth their salt has not only heard of him but most of us have even read some of his work.
The truth of it is that this quote is not entirely true, in that there is more to writing than bleeding. Just about every aspect of our lives requires planning, especially if we hope to do something important, and planning is absolutely essential to writing anything from business letters, resumes, short stories to books.
For me, as an artist, my earliest attempts at fiction writing were carried out much like my paintings. My planning was limited only to setting up my work space with the proper paper or canvas. My paint brushes, tools and paints would lay askew atop my work table in no particular order, rags for wiping my hands would be scattered around. Numerous coffee cups and snack wrappers would litter the area. Often times I had no idea what I would paint until I started thinking about the colors I wanted to use that day.
Although this “fly by the seat of my pants” method seemed to be working for my art work, I came up with some really cool stuff that I could never duplicate; it proved to be not so effective at my writing desk. I would start a project and write until the ideas ran out and move those pages to a stack to be “revisited” when the ideas started to flow again. Later, instead of gaining creative insight as to where to take my story, I would most often just get another great idea for a new project, write til the well ran dry and add to the stack.
Planning just went against my creative grain. Art and writing were my escape and my release from everyday pressure, after all, every other aspect of my life required careful planning, and I certainly didn’t want to minimize my fun by planning my creations. Boy did I have a lot to learn.
This is a problem that a lot of writers with tremendous potential have. In recent years, when I decided that I wanted to get more serious about my writing, I started to look hard at the reasons why I had so many incomplete writing projects and identified the lack of planning as the culprit.
Last year, I started writing the first book in the Genesis Project trilogy, Seeds of Transition. This was an awesome opportunity, I had a publisher who was interested in publishing it and I had a science savvy co-author. It was time to get serious.
This is how I did it:
1)    Planning: The co-author, Kef Hollenbach and I spent a lot of time discussing the storyline. We devised a strategy together to cover all the important components of a fiction work.
2)    Research and Development::The research began. It was like a shark feeding frenzy. Because we were writing a science fiction work that surrounded a lot of complex issues like climate change, agriculture science, and extreme weather we had to know our stuff. Research hours were further compounded as we studied trends to give us ideas about how things might be in the year 2057, the setting for our book.
3)    Outlining: The outline was written. This was not a quick undertaking; it took days to compile and then weeks to revise.
4)    Writing: The writing process began and I quickly learned that I needed a writing schedule, so I devised one that I could stick to, allocating as much time as I could while still running a business, keeping up with the laundry and keeping the weeds pulled back in the garden.
5)    Letting Go: Although Kef was old hat at this, after all he was already published, it was and still is the hardest part for me. As soon as the last word was typed, my baby was ripped from my arms and placed in the capable hands of our editor.

Although the writing is far from over, we still have two more books to go in this series; we are still using the same principles that made Seeds of Transition possible. Although we have not “arrived”, we are getting better and better at our craft, and I attribute all of that to careful planning and am very excited to see where our efforts will take us in the future.