Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Interview & Giveaway with Author Lauren Clark

As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the Stay Tuned eBook edition has dropped to just 99 cents this week.

What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes, including lots of Amazon gift cards (up to $100 in amount) and 5 autographed copies of the book. Be sure to enter before the end of the day on Friday, December 2nd, so you don’t miss out.

To Win the Prizes:

1. Purchase your copy of Stay Tuned for just 99 cents on Amazon or Barnes & Noble (You’ll need it for the big contest on Friday)

2. Fill-out the form on Novel Publicity to enter for the prizes

3. Visit today’s featured event; you may win an autographed copy of the book or a $50 gift card!

...And I can win too!

Over 100 bloggers are participating in this gigantic event, and there are plenty of prizes for us too. The blogger who receives the most votes in the traffic-breaker poll will win a $100 gift card as well. So when you visit Novel Publicity’s site to fill-out the contest entry form, don’t forget to say that I referred you, so I can get a point in the poll.

The Featured Events include:

Monday, Radio Interview with Novel Publicity! We’re kicking-off on the Novel Publicity Free Advice blog. We interviewed Lauren on our radio show Sunday night and have embedded the full podcast and blogged about its highlights. Give it a listen and then leave a comment on the blog post. This is a great chance to get to know more about this fun and bubbly author. One commenter will win an autographed copy of Stay Tuned. Don’t forget to enter for the other contest prizes while you’re over there!

Tuesday, Twitter sharing contest! A tweet is tiny, only 140 characters. But on Tuesday, it could win you $50. Send the following tweet across the twittersphere, and you just may win a $50 Amazon gift card. An autographed copy of Stay Tuned is also up for grabs. The winners will be announced Wednesday morning. Here’s the tweet: Take a break from the holiday frenzy, and read Stay Tuned. It's fast, fun, and reduced to just 99 cents! http://ow.ly/7zA1e #whirlwind

Wednesday, Google+ sharing contest! Yup, there’s yet another awesome opportunity to win a $50 Amazon gift card, and this time it just takes a single click! Visit Google+ and share Emlyn Chand’s most recent post (you’ll see the Stay Tuned book cover included with it). On Thursday morning, one lucky sharer will be $50 richer. An autographed copy of Stay Tuned is also up for grabs. Two chances to win with just one click! How about that?

Thursday, Facebook sharing contest! Stop by Novel Publicity’s Facebook page and share their latest post (you’ll see the Stay Tuned book cover included with it). It’s ridiculously easy to win! On Friday morning, one lucky sharer will be $50 richer. An autographed copy of Stay Tuned is also up for grabs.

Friday, special contest on the author’s site! Are you ready for some more fun? Take a picture of yourself with your copy of Stay Tuned either in paperback or on an eReading device, tag Lauren Clark’s Facebook page, and you can enter to win one of three Amazon gift cards! A $100 prize will go to the most creative photo, $50 to the best BFF photo, and $50 to the photo with the most people in it. An autographed copy of Stay Tuned is also up for grabs. If you need help learning how to tag a photo, you can visit Lauren’s Facebook page for detailed instructions.

Remember, it’s all about the books!

About Stay Tuned: What happens when a #1 news team becomes the top story instead of reporting it? For TV producer Melissa Moore, crisis management comes with the job. From employee disputes to her high-maintenance boss, there’s not much she hasn’t seen or can’t handle. But no one—including Melissa—expects a fistfight during the ten o’clock news. When sexy-but-crazy Alyssa Andrews lands a punch on her co-anchor’s face, Melissa jumps on set to help. She’s determined that WSGA’s reputation won’t be destroyed on her watch. Both anchors are fired and Melissa agrees to fill in—but not before polishing her look from haircut to heels. While the new Melissa wows WSGA viewers, her personal life starts fraying at the edges. Melissa’s husband is away more than he’s home, leaving cryptic Post-it notes in his wake. Her mother’s antics spiral out of control at the nursing home and a stalker decides Melissa is her next target. What happens next? Stay Tuned to find out… Get it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

About the Author: Lauren Clark has been a voracious reader since the age of four and would rather be stranded at the library than on a desert island. In her former life, she worked as an anchor and producer for CBS affiliates in Upstate New York and Alabama. Lauren adores her family, yoga, her new Electra bike, and flavored coffee. She lives near the Florida Gulf Coast. Visit her on her website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.

Let's get to know Lauren better through a rousing Q&A...

Did you always want to be a writer?

Yes. For as long as I can remember. Of course, my parents always remind that I also wanted to be an Indian princess named Tiger Lily, but that dream was more short-lived. On a serious note, I do have fond memories of spending my summer days toting stacks of books back and forth from my house to our town’s library. It always seemed like a magical place, with endless stories to get lost in.

You worked as both an anchor and producer after graduate school. How did that influence the writing of Stay Tuned?

So much! It was an accident, really, getting into broadcast journalism. I always thought of myself as a behind the scenes kind of girl, but after my first day on the job, I loved it and stuck with it for the next 6 years. Working in television is never boring. There’s always a story, always the next show. The camaraderie in the newsroom is like nothing else I’ve ever experienced. It’s like living in a big, loud, mostly happy, very dysfunctional family every day.

What gave you the idea for Stay Tuned?

True story: A few months before I took my first television job as a part-time health reporter, the two main anchors at one of the local television stations (who were romantically involved) got into a fistfight. They were outside the building, in the station parking lot. Shortly thereafter, they were both fired. In the months that followed, the two of them bantered back and forth in newspaper editorials, threatened lawsuits, and fueled all sorts of crazy retaliation stories. I never forgot about that incident and always thought about what might happen if such a fistfight happened on air, during a newscast. What would happen? How would it be handled? Who would fix this kind of mess?

What did you learn from being on air?

It’s very humbling, really. As a producer, especially, you are in charge of what’s being put out there—the news stories people watch and talk about each day. It’s a big responsibility to get it right. Not just sometimes, but all of the time. There were many sobering days—car accidents, house fires, school shootings—and those stories should be told with sensitivity and care. It’s someone’s son or daughter or parent. Everyone matters.

What was your most memorable experience as an anchor or reporter?

I was on set during 9-11. I remember sitting there with our weatherman and waiting to be cued to go back on air after the commercial. CBS cut in and showed footage from a plane crashing into the Twin Towers. It was surreal and awful. We were all in shock. It didn’t seem possible. All I wanted to do was go home and hug my son.

Was it a difficult decision to leave television?

Yes and no. I loved so many parts of broadcasting. I was able to meet fascinating people – Vice Presidential Candidate Geraldine Ferraro, then-New York Attorney General Eliott Spitzer among many others. I adored the people I worked with, especially the folks behind the scenes. I was also fortunate enough to win several AP awards for anchoring and reporting.

On the flip side, I worked crazy hours (2 am – 10 am) and, as is typical in the industry, I received very little vacation time. I anchored every holiday (Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, you name it) and wasn’t able to spend much time with my young son. After more than six years, I “retired” from TV news. It was then that I really started to get serious about writing fiction.

How long did it take to write Stay Tuned?

About five years, all said and done. I wrote several other novels before that—and those manuscripts will never see the light of day! When I began Stay Tuned, I had just given birth to my second son, so my writing time was very limited. After putting it away for several years, I picked it back up about 12 months ago, brushed it off, and had an editor-friend look it over. We made some changes, tweaked the story, and fine-tuned the plot. A few months back, I was offered a contract with a small publishing company. Another friend introduced me to the talented and fabulous Emlyn Chand at Novel Publicity, who helped guide me through the entire publishing process. It’s been a wonderful journey!

What’s next? A sequel or a stand-alone novel?

Dancing Naked in Dixie is next (stand alone title) and I’m so excited to share that it’s been selected as a finalist for the 2011 Chick Lit Writers “Get Your Stiletto in the Door” Contest (Winner will be announced December 20, 2011).

Dancing Naked follows the story of a talented but scattered travel magazine writer who returns from overseas only to find out she’s on the verge of getting fired. To save her job, she reluctantly accepts an assignment in the Deep South. She’ll be writing an article about Eufaula, Alabama's annual Pilgrimage event, which is a long-standing spring tour of antebellum mansions (the location is featured in the Reese Witherspoon’s movie, Sweet Home Alabama). Upon arriving in Eufaula, Julia falls in love with the area, its cast of charming characters, and her handsome tour guide. When she discovers that a developer has big plans to buy up many of the historic homes and turn the area into a tourist site, it’s up to Julia to save the day.

What is your writing schedule like?

With two growing, active boys and a busy husband, finding time to write is like looking for a missing Lego piece in a houseful of toys (Moms should appreciate that!) I often get up very early and write while everyone else is asleep or go to the lovely campus of our local university and shut myself in a study room. I love it there because I have to shut off my phone and I don’t have the password for an internet connection! No distractions! Of course, I do frequent two or three local coffee shops and draw inspiration from my daily dose of caffeine and good friends!

Who are your favorite writers? Favorite books?

Gosh, there are so many! My all-time favorites include Emily Giffin, Sophie Kinsella, Jodi Picoult, Alice Hoffman, Jennifer Weiner, Chris Bohjalian, John Grisham, Amanda Eyre Ward, and Lisa See. I also love Lisa Scottoline, Janet Evanovich, and James Patterson. Favorite books include: Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees, Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper, and Stellaluna by Janell Cannon (this is a children’s book that I’ve read over and over to my two boys).

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Read. A lot. Write. A lot. Revise. A lot. I’m not joking.

Anyone can write. Writing well is different. It takes focus and tenacity and determination. I've heard Stephen King quoted as saying, "The first million words are practice. Malcolm Gladwell, in Outliers, says, "It takes 10,000 hours of purposeful practice to become expert at anything." Just to be clear, at 4 hours a day (28 hours a week), that’s 7 years. I’m not quoting the experts to scare anyone or be a harbinger of doom. It’s the truth.

Pick up a copy of Stephen King’s On Writing. It’s brilliant and so true and funny in so many sections. If you’re serious about becoming an author, learn as much as you can. Read blogs and books about the craft, network with other writers, or go to a writer’s conference. Above all, write!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Interview with Author Mahalia Levey

Today I welcome Author Mahalia Levey to the L.O.V.E. blog. Mahalia is a best-selling author of red hot romance, but she also delves into paranormal and fantasy writing. With 20 novels already under her belt, Mahalia continues to write and shares some useful advice to writers looking for a career as an author. Here's what she had to say:

When did you first start writing?
My first story was about a pencil in first grade. I wrote some poetry and teenage angst in Junior High and High School and some fanfic where I was the heroine in the local shows back then. I fell out of writing and picked it back up in 2007 on a few forums. In 2009, I submitted to Phaze and got a rejection but revised and resubmitted and entered into the Publishing industry.

Since 2009, I’ve published 20 works. I write in many genres. Contemporary, Interracial, African American, Military, Paranormal Shifters, Paranormal Demons and romance based on cosmic laws of nature…not sure where that falls! I enjoy paranormal because I love to build worlds and realms.

How did you get inspired to write?
I sat down one day and the words began flowing. I created characters and bios and from there, I formulated how I’d do my premise, blurb and titles. Music and art inspire me a lot. So do street signs, billboards and any other observation I can make.

Who is your favorite author to read?
Sherrilyn Kenyon is my favorite author to read. I love the way she built the Dark Hunter series and her other works co-written.

What do you like to do in your free time?
I don’t know what free time is! I do make time to read though. I find it relaxing to sit back and relax. At home on game nights, we do nothing but board games. Balderdash is this month’s game. The teens, my fiancĂ© and I will play for hours - no cell phones, computers, or any other electronic is allowed.

E-books or paperbacks?
Both! I love e-books and can’t wait for my Kindle Fire! I also love print books but only have one bookshelf. I plan on keeping it that way and just buying the rest of the series I have and love in print.

What advice would you give someone considering a career as an author?
Research. Do tons of research. Piers Anthony has a Q&A site on the web that encompasses many e-book and print houses. He has quarterly reports on there. P and E also has some great feedback. Ask around when shopping. Check royalty rates and ask other authors if they’re willing to share their personal experiences. Find out how the publishers pay - direct deposit, paypal, check, visa pay card. It’s important to know what works best for you going in.

If you’re new to writing, it’s very important to get into a great critique group or to find one. The net has a lot of low or free classes available to brush up on technique. There’s no such thing as a stupid question. Authors love to pay it forward so make sure you ask away. Learn your audience and figure out what your brand is going to be before you begin. Promoting is time consuming. Find out where you can promote and look for great deals. Find out if your publishers help promote or if it all falls on you. Some smaller publishers don’t help promote.

Finally, coffee or tea? Which flavor(s)?
Neither. Both have stimulant properties in them and I have SVT aka a racy heart so no stimulants for me. I do go to Panera Bread Co and Starbucks for their decaf latte’s that taste the same. Last month was Pumpkin Spice!

 As a thank you to her readers, Mahalia is giving away a free e-book! To enter for a chance to win, please leave a comment below with your VALID e-mail address. The winner will be randomly drawn on November 30 and notified by e-mail. Here are the e-books up for grabs:
E-book Choice #1

E-book Choice #2
E-book Choice #3


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Is the Future “Indie” or is it a Fad?

Before I even get started, let me make a disclaimer. I am an Indie-loving Indie writer who loves Indie books, bands, films… you name it. That being the case, perhaps I am a bit partial toward one side of the question that is the topic for this post. I won’t argue with anyone over that point. However, I do believe that even the most impartial reader, writer, or reviewer can agree that the works of independent artists and creators are here to stay, particularly in the world of self-published authors.

Anyone currently involved in the self-publishing world could make a long list of the benefits of opting for the “do-it-yourself” method. In fact, the long list of benefits has everything to do with why self-pub is growing in popularity and is quickly becoming the publishing path of choice for unknown and well-known authors alike. I believe, though, that if one was to group those benefits into categories, there would be three main ones: control, profitability, and flexibility.

Control, in relation to Indie authors, means having the ultimate “say so” on every aspect of the writing and publishing process. From subject matter to font size to book cover, it is the author who makes the choices and declares them as final decisions. This freedom fosters a perfect environment for creativity to form a boundless union with entrepreneurship, which ultimately leads to the next category: profitability.

It is very easy to understand how cutting out the “middle man” (in this case, a third party publishing house) leaves more money on the table for an author and with retail outlets such as Amazon offering up to 80% royalty pay outs, it’s no surprise that authors are choosing to be the only ones at the publishing table. Even taking into consideration fees for professional services such as editing and promotions, large sales numbers could very easily and most likely equal large pay outs.

Finally, there is flexibility in Indie branding. An author is free to, and is almost expected to explore writing in different genres, in different mediums, through different outlets, etc.. It is very common to find an Indie author who has published books, an active blog, and perhaps a cause that they support that have nothing in common with each other but the author themselves! At the heart of all these things, though, is what I believe to be the desire of all creative people: the need to express freely with no boundaries, no limitations, and no need for approval. This is what being Indie means and why it has never been, and will never be, a fad.