Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Writing Wednesday: Ten Tips for Book Signings and Guest Appearances

Tonight  - Wednesday, March 30, from 5-8:30 p.m. - I'll be at the 13th annual GIRLS NIGHT OUT, sponsored by Puritan Clothing of Cape Cod and Cape Cod media group. The evening benefits WE CAN, the local Women's Empowerment network here on the Cape, and features fun food and drink, three local authors, and shopping for a cause.

I'm one of the featured authors, as I write for and about women, especially strong women looking for second chances, much like the women who utilize the services at WE CAN. I'll be signing and selling copies of all my Wild Rose Press romances, and my YA mermaid series. It should be a wonderful night, and I'm told there are almost 400 people signed up to attend the event.

I don't have nearly enough books.

But here's the thing I've learned from previous book signings. Not everyone is going to buy a book. Not everyone is even - gasp - a reader. And of those who are readers, many wouldn't buy a paperback romance. Which is fine - I have postcards to hand out and they can go home and download the Kindle or epub versions. In fact, SAY YES is only available as an ebook anyway.

What are the important things to remember for a book signing?

1. Bring Books. Okay,  already covered that and know I don't have enough. But I have at least a few dozen of each and if I sell out, I'll be over the moon.

2. Bring your Sense of Humor and a Smile. Yes, you probably thought that would be at the end of the list, but no, it's gotta go right up front because it's one of the most important things. Whether people buy your book or not, you need to be friendly. Smile. Chat. Just as if it were a cocktail party in your brand new neighborhood and you're trying to make a great first impression on everyone. True, at a book signing you may never see any of these people again, except perhaps your friends who come to support you. On the other hand, you never know. And you never know who they know. Making a good impression on everyone makes good sense in any business setting. Smiling goes a long, long way.

3. Pack Pens. More than One. This might seem like a no-brainer for a signing. But trust me, put it on the master list. I once arrived at a signing without my favorite pens... luckily I carry one of those beach-bag sized purses, and happened to find something suitable floating at the bottom. Now I put it on the list to cross off.

4. Order SWAG with your book cover(s) and name on it. Face it, many people won't buy the book on the spot. Either they won't have the cash, or they won't be able to make a decision, or any number of reasons. But if you chat and give them a postcard or bookmark with your book cover and info on it, they'll find it in their purse later and follow up.

SWAG also includes any little giveaways you might want to hand out. I have a bowl of conversation candy hearts and little drawstring takeaway bags of them to give away to promote SAY YES. Candy is usually a good draw. I also have some other mints and candies to promote the other romance novels, and black rubber bracelets that promote the YA series (for this event, it'll be like take one home for the kids. For events with kids, I have a series of color-your-own mermaid bookmarks that seem to be a hit with younger readers.) Don't break the bank, but have something people can take away and remember you with.

5. Post Pricing Signage. This one I still need to work on for this week's event. My last several signings have been in stores, where they scan the barcode and charge at the register. Except when I went to Winterfest in Eastham last year, where I had my own table. And forgot to make a price sign. I find a lot of people are afraid to ask, and don't even get into the conversation because they don't want to make it seem like their decision is based on price. Make it easy on both of you. Post your prices.

6. Bring a Water bottle. All that smiling and chatting may leave you parched. Eat beforehand, and/or plan to eat after, but for the event itself, just have water handy.

7. Wear something you feel comfortable in. If you want to dress up and you're comfortable in high heels, go for it. But you can be stylish and authorly without a black cocktail dress or Talbots power suit. Jeans can work just fine for most occasions. On the other hand, don't get too comfortable. If you're in yoga pants and a t-shirt, people might not take you seriously - unless your book is about yoga and you plan on demonstrating during the signing. I know one local author who always looks like she's dressed to clean out her garage, and another who writes historical fiction and dresses in a velvet Elizabethan gown. Guess which one more people stop to chat with? Find what you're happy with, but make an effort.

8. Don't sit behind a table and wait for people to come to you. Unless you're Nora Roberts or J.K.Rowling, you're going to have to work a little more to engage readers. I'm not saying literally grab people as they walk by, but proactive chat is always a good thing. It's what I always taught my Girl Scouts. Smile and engage people. Interesting fact: the number one reason people don't buy Girl Scout cookies is because no one asked them.

9. Spend time before the event deciding how to sign your name. Silly, right? Until you're sitting there frozen with pen in hand. Take a few moments to think over your options. Do you want to just write your whole name? If it's a pen name, I really suggest practicing so you don't sign your real name by mistake. Do you have a tag line to include? Are you going to personalize the books for people? I even suggest deciding which page has room for what you want to sign, so it's a more fluid and automatic process once you're in the moment. Maybe it's just me, but at my very first signing, I was so excited I was shaking a little each time I wrote my name. It's easier now. But it doesn't hurt to plan ahead.

10. Smile and Be Gracious. Yeah, I'm saying it again because I truly believe it's the most important thing to remember. Even if no one buys a single book, remember to thank your host.

And even more important... HAVE FUN. Because, really. Why do it if it's not fun?

Now, if I missed anything important PLEASE leave a comment and let me know. Because this signing tonight is really, really important to me. I don't want to mess it up!

Wish me luck!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Monday Book Review: DEMON KISSED by Karilyn Bentley

Demon Kissed by Karilyn Bentley
Book Two of the Demon Huntress series
Published 2016 by The Wild Rose Press

About the Book:
Gin Crawford, the world's latest demon huntress, has no time to mourn her dead lover as she's called in to determine why a demon attack occurred at the local medical school. And not just any demon, but the one demon that gives her demon-killing bracelet the shivers. A dead professor, a lab full of missing anthrax, and a demon who turns good people into minions complicate her life. Can Gin and her mentor Aidan Smythe solve the mystery of the missing anthrax and the identity of the demon before someone else dies?
My Take:
I fell in love with this series from the very beginning, but have to warn you: if you haven't read the first book, Demon Lore, you won't understand this second book. In fact, don't even read this review. Go find yourself Book One and start there.

Okay. So everyone left reading this review has already read the first book, right? Good. You totally need to go get a copy of the second book as so many of those dangling loose end questions get answered in this one. Not all of them, not exactly, but enough that it's so satisfying to slap your forehead and say aha! I knew it! Which of course I'm not going to give away here cuz that would be a spoiler and we all hate spoilers. Back to the review.

Gin Crawford is a demon huntress... The demon huntress of the series subtitle. She's gone from an abused and crazy childhood to her current vaguely twenty-something semi-stable existence as an emergency room nurse. And empath. And the twin of a ghost whisperer with whom she shares a close psychic connection.

And, oh yeah, now a Justinian which is a fancy name for demon hunter, and with an officially assigned Guardian to watch over her and heal her. A Guardian who is sizzling hot and who's every touch sends waves of desire shooting every which way. But of course she has to try and ignore the obvious connection between them because, after all, she has to work with him.

Complications abound beyond her growing attraction to her guardian, Smythe. Like the fact that there's a Fear demon on the loose that seems hell bent on not only killing Gin but wreaking havoc on the entire city. And the fact that some of the other Guardians in the Agency aren't in the Gin Crawford fan club.

But do they hate her enough to actually try to kill her?

Told in first person narration from Gin's perspective, the story is a snarky, fast-paced romp that kept me reading straight through the afternoon  until my family complained that dinner was hours late. Oops. Karilyn Bentley has a masterful way of keeping the reader hooked and reading, needing just one more question answered. One more chance at catching the bad guy. One more chance for Gin to look deep into Smythe's eyes and... Ahem, yeah, still hoping for that one.

If you like your paranormal adventures with a little sizzle, a side of snark and a big dose of sass, check out Karilyn Bentley's Demon Huntress series.

Book One is Demon Lore (although I have to say I don't really like the cover of that one, I'm still trying to figure it out. So not in character for Gin.) and Book Two is Demon Kissed, and yes, the title is prophetic, but Gins story is not over, not by a long shot. Here's hoping Book Three doesn't take more than a year to come out!

Buy it on AMAZON

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Happy Easter... and oops, forgot to schedule posts last week!

Happy Easter Sunday to all, and a big apology for disappearing for an entire week without excuse.

Well, I had an excuse. My oldest was home for Spring Break, my second child is in teh midst of college acceptance angst... and I forgot to schedule a week of posts in advance.

Took son #1 back to the airport this morning and plan to get back on track today for the coming week and month... but it also shows me I'm not prepared to participate in A to Z this year. Nope. Not until I'm a wee bit more organized. (yeah, right, in this lifetime? ha!)

As my mea culpa, I'm including a few of my favorite shots from the week - including my son's brand new tattoo, and the command uniform appearance at his grandmother's retirement community (with all the cousins, too.)

Happy Easter!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Writing Wednesday: To Blog or Not to Blog

I enjoy blogging, and I enjoy supporting my fellow authors with reviews, cover reveals, interviews, etc. This is not about whether blogging is a good thing.

Blogging is a good thing.

This is specifically about the April A to Z Blogging Challenge.
What is the A to Z Challenge, you ask? As it goes into it's sixth year, it's hard to imaging bloggers haven't heard of it, but then again... the internet is a pretty big place.

From the A to Z website: 

    " Most of the time if you subtract Sundays from April, you then have 26 days--one day for each letter of the alphabet.  When April 1st lands on a Sunday you begin on that day which will be the only Sunday you would post during that month's challenge. 

        Using this premise, you would start beginning April First with a topic themed on something with the letterA, then on April second another topic with the letter B as the theme, and so on until you finish on April thirtieth with the theme based on the letter Z.  It doesn't even have to be a word--it can be a proper noun, the letter used as a symbol, or the letter itself.  The theme of the day is the letter scheduled for that day."

I've participated in the Challenge a few times in the past, like the first few years when I was new to blogging and didn't have a day job to speak of, and it was challenging and a lot of fun. I met some incredible bloggers along the way and increased visibility of my own blog. But...

It's stressful. Having to blog EVERY DAY for a month. I feel like I just went through that with the Candy Hearts series, and reviewing and posting reviews for every book in the series. THAT was a challenge. Like another day job almost. Blogging is supposed to be fun, right?

To blog or not to blog for the month of April? Let's rephrase that... to blog ALPHABETICALLY EVERY DAY or not to blog... that is certainly a question. Here's the official schedule, if anyone is interested in participating:

Up for the challenge? Here's the spot to sign up for the seventh annual April Challenge:

As I write this, there are already 1,179 blogs participating. So many that they've instituted categories to help you find like minded bloggers to visit (you're encouraged to visit and comment on at least 5 blogs a day. It's a great way to find new bloggers you like, and new followers for yourself.)

I'm still trying to decide. I have a few weeks to make up my mind.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Monday Book Review: DEMON LORE by Karilyn Bentley

Demon Lore by Karilyn Bentley
Published 2014 by The Wild Rose Press

About the Book:

Gin Crawford has enough problems dealing with her empath abilities. Finding out she's the world's newest demon-slayer is the last thing she needs. Unfortunately, when she slips on a mysterious bracelet she is given no other choice. On the plus side, her new gig comes with Tall, Dark and Handsome, a mage who may or may not have her best interests at heart. Thrust into a power-play between good and evil, Gin must choose a side before she becomes the next victim in the ongoing battle.

My Take:

The second book of this series recently released and the excerpts I read on the author's blog tour sounded intriguing.  I realized I'd never read the first book and didn't know the backstory of what sounded like a whole new take on demon hunting... So I purchased book one to catch up and see what the deal was.

Oh. My. God.

I whipped through this book and had the urge to start over at the beginning and read it again more slowly just to make it last longer. And then I remembered book two is already available. Happy dance over to Amazon!

Back to my review of Book One.

Gin Champagne Crawford sounds a lot like your average twenty-something (her exact age isn't ever made clear) who works as an emergency room nurse. The twist is that she's also an empath, with a psychic connection to her twin brother, named Tonic, who's a ghost whisperer. Okay, not so average after all. And the names? Gin and Tonic, so named by their alcoholic parents? Hilarious.

In the very first chapter,  Gin's  life gets even more strange, if that's possible, when a coworker somehow gifts her a silver bracelet after being shot in the chest.  The silver bracelet connects her with a whole new group that hunts demons and minions, protecting the Earth from evil for centuries. She finds out about all this in bits and pieces, after one of those said minions follows her home from the hospital and tries to kill her. Talk about a bad day at work.

The saving grace is her handler, or Guardian, who's a hot hunk of muscle named Aidan Smythe. The sizzle between the pair is instantaneous and ever present, but both of them are way deep in denial. Here's to hoping that relationship gets explored a lot more fully as the series continues! (Did I mention I already bought Book Two?)

Why did I love this so much? First person narration is never my favorite... Except, for some reason, when it comes to these types of paranormal adventures. I loved Gin's snarky narration and self-deprecation. Okay, so there were a lot of questions left unanswered as I reached the end of the story, but somehow they didn't leave me frustrated.

I have total faith that the story will unfold naturally over the course of the series, and all secrets will be revealed. The story was too fast paced to allow for a lot or backstory or wallowing in the past,  which was probably why I was okay with it being unanswered. Well, that and I already have Book Two downloaded.

So yeah, I can totally Totally recommend this book as a fast paced nonstop paranormal romp that will leave you wanting more, but in a good way.


Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Writing Wednesday: Okay, This isn't about Writing

Excuse me if I rant just a little. I figure it's my blog, so I'm allowed.

My youngest child, still in high school, dreams of Broadway and Hollywood. College (a few years down the road still) will mean a BA or MFA in drama. He loves musicals, and follows actors like some kids follow baseball players. If there were trading cards, we'd be knee deep.

So when the director pulled him aside after auditions to let him know she loves him onstage, but had to give the leads to students who could actually sing, he was understandably hurt, but understood. The knife twisted a bit when the teacher told him he should look into singing lessons.

"But I've been taking singing lessons," he said. Just like he'd said on stage during the audition.

"Yes, I think singing lessons would definitely help," she repeated, ignoring his statement.

I came home last night to find my kid wallowing on the couch, obsessing over whether drama was the right choice or not. Or whether to bother continuing with the voice coach.

Not all actors need to be able to sing. For a kid obsessed with musical theatre it's a deep blow, but plenty of Hollywood actors can't carry a tune. The first one that comes to mind is Leonardo DiCaprio, although he's been smart enough to stay away from being cast in any role that requires singing. And now he's got the Oscar to prove you don't need to be able to sing.

Other big names haven't been as honest with themselves or their fans, and taken parts in musicals that maybe they should have avoided. Can you think of any off the top of your head? Or did you block them out (like I tend to do) A quick Google search led me to a great blog by Nicki Swift where she named off the top contenders for the "What were they thinking?" prize (which would most certainly NOT be an Oscar.) Here are the ones I've seen and agree with, in no exact order (except that Russell Crowe does win this prize):

Russell Crowe, in Les Miserables
Cameron Diaz, in Annie
Helena Bonham Carter, in Sweenie Todd
Pierce Brosnan, in Mama Mia
Alec Baldwin, in Rock of Ages
Gerard Butler, in Phantom of the Opera

I love all these actors. Just not their singing voices. And although I never saw his film version of Guys and Dolls, I guess even Marlon Brando couldn't carry a tune.
I'm pissed at the teacher. My kid was fine with the ensemble role until she pulled him aside. Although, maybe it's like a bandaid and best to pull it off quickly. I'm not sure what my role as a parent should be, except to encourage my kids not to give up their dreams.

Any advice welcome.

Friday, March 4, 2016

New Release Review: VIOLATION OF FAITH by Jeannie Hall

Violation of Faith by Jeannie Hall
Published March 2016 by The Wild Rose Press

About the Book:
Lynea Kreig has spent the past three years being invisible. After running with her little sister halfway across the country–away from her abusive cult leader husband–she seeks nothing but safety and anonymity.

When she’s offered a job which would keep her close to her sister, Lynea can’t refuse. But the job puts her in close quarters with Professor Brennan Gage, a man bent on exposing cult leaders to the public. If he discovers her secret, he could destroy the life she’s worked so hard to build. Over time, she finds herself drawn to Brennan’s klutzy kindness. He tells her he loves her, but happiness for Lynea could never be so simple–especially once her husband appears at the front door…

My Take:
Jeannie Hall's debut novel takes readers on a chilling thrill ride, detailing one woman's harrowing escape from the clutches of a megalomaniacal cult leader.

The book begins with Lynea and her sister Cori literally running for their lives to escape the Oklahoma cult they were raised in, but the story starts three years later in Virginia. The girls have settled in a college town and made friends with their elderly neighbors, but Lynea still fears repercussions. After all, the crazed cult leader claimed her for his wife, and doesn't give up easily.

She's determined to keep alert for danger, so falling for the professor she works with is totally a bad idea and not in her game plan. Especially a professor who specializes in debunking cult mythology. How could he ever understand that she'd been an unwilling participant in it all? And what if her husband ever finds her? Because judging by the cover, he's not happy and he's gonna find her!

Jeannie Hall kept me on the edge of my seat through some gripping scenes, staying up way too late while trying and find a break in the tension where I could safely put the book down to get some rest.

Engaging writing and believable characters make this a thoroughly interesting read, with a ton of insight into the minds of both cult followers and former victims. My heart ached for Lynea, hoping against hope that she'd be able to find peace and happiness, but the author kept me guessing right up until the end whether this was a romance or a tragedy.

Want to know which? Read it for yourself.

If you like edge-of-your-seat romantic suspense, you won't be disappointed.

Grab your copy on AMAZON

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Writing Wednesday: Chatting with debut author Jeannie Hall

Hi, Jeannie, and welcome to my blog! Can you tell us a bit about yourself, and what kind of books you like to read and write?

I’m a Southern girl originally from Arkansas, but I now live in Virginia. I’m married to my soulmate and have two extremely spoiled cats. I love to read anything with an edge to it as long as it has a happy ending. I write Romantic Suspense that’s dark, gritty, and full of intensity.

What's your favorite part of being an author?

The ability to share stories with others and see their reactions. One time I wrote something a friend of mine hated so much she tossed my chapter – on typing paper – across her table. I loved that! I loved that she had such a visceral response to some words I wrote. Then I changed the scene to something much better.

What's your approach to writing? Do you plot or go with the flow?

I’m a mixture of plotter and pantser. I have to have some idea where I’m going – I use the notecard feature on Scrivener – but I don’t do a 20 page outline or anything. I know the beginning and how I want it to end, but writing it always provides surprises.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?

To heal others of disease and injury. I like everyone happy, healthy and whole.

Tell us about your new release!

Violation of Faith is my debut novel and the first in my Cult Wife series. It’s a romantic suspense about a young woman who travels with her sister across the country to escape her psychopathic cult leader husband. She meets and falls for a professor who just happens to moonlight as a public speaker against cults. There’s immediate attraction, but my heroine has grown up in horrible isolation and fear, so she’s cautious. She fears the professor will hate her if he finds out who she used to be. The story is full of intensity, darkness, and even a little heartbreak, but I promise a happy ending.

I've already read this book and LOVED it, and you're right. It gets pretty dark at times. But onto something lighter - Okay, you’re casting the movie version of your novel – who would you choose for the main characters?

A younger version of Bradley Cooper for my hero with his hair just a little long, and Nina Dobrev (Vampire Diaries) for my heroine with auburn highlights.

I love Bradley Cooper! Great choice for the professor! Where can readers find your book and where can they find you online?

Violation of Faith will be available on The Wild Rose Press website and Amazon March 2, 2016. I’m online at,,, and

Thank you so much, Katie, for hosting me!

Thank You for being my guest, Jeannie! Best of luck with your debut, and I'll be posting my review very soon! Grab a copy of VIOLATION OF FAITH on AMAZON