Tuesday, March 28, 2017

A Surefire Way for Writers to Fail at Social Media by DiAnn Mills

DiAnn Mills
A writer focuses his efforts on every task of this wonderful world of publishing. It’s a mix of the craft, social media, marketing, promotion, and meeting reader needs. For many, Social Media is met with groans, excuses, and do-I-have-to?

This blog post is to help you succeed not fail at social media.

Non-responsive is the biggest culprit that contributes to social media failure. The list below is short and simple. But if you’re guilty of any of the following, now is the time to mend your ways.

Writers who don’t take the time to thank, address, or value those who comment on our blog. These people are the ones who support us. They’ve taken the time to read our blog and type a response.

Writers who don’t respond to e-mails. I’m not talking about junk and spam. But I am referring to readers who contact you with a question. If the message is critical, then form a gracious response. If the sender is requesting for you to perform a service, then respond appropriately.

Writers who ignore comments on Facebook. No matter what is posted on your personal or author page, the sender deserves a “like” at a minimum. Be creative and allow that person to know you appreciate the time spent in composing a message.

Writers who don’t check Goodreads. If your blog is linked to your Goodreads Page, are you responding to those who comment?

Writers who ignore new Twitter followers. When you receive a new follower, do you take time to address them personally and thank them for the follow? Do you search for a post on the follower’s page that you can like or share? Do you read the new follower’s bio and make a comment?

Writers who fail to message and thank new followers on Instagram.

The one way to end your social media success is to do nothing when others are curious and inquisitive. Let’s help each other.

How do you manage your social media comments?
About the Author
DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels.

Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. Library Journal presented her with a Best Books 2014: Genre Fiction award in the Christian Fiction category for Firewall.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She is co-director of The Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference and The Author Roadmap with social media specialist Edie Melson where she continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country.

DiAnn has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans. She’s an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.

DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on any of the social media platforms listed at www.diannmills.com.
Deep Extraction
by DiAnn Mills

Deep Extraction


A pacemaker should have saved oil and gas magnate Nathan Moore’s life. Instead, it provided his killer with a perfect means of execution. Special Agent Tori Templeton teams up with US Marshall Cole Jeffers to investigate Nathan’s murder and whether it’s connected to a recent bombing at one of Nathan’s oil rigs. The closer they get to finding the killer, and to each other, the more intent someone is in silencing them for good.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Stay True to Your Writing Path by Mary Manners

Stay True to Your Writing Path

Authors learn early in the journey that writing rarely takes a vacation. Ideas churn. Deadlines loom. Sometimes (lots of times) it's difficult to fall asleep at night with all those storylines and plot twists warring for attention. It's easy to get carried away in our make believe worlds and neglect real life. Thus broaches one of the great mysteries of life: How do we optimize time management in order to facilitate a balance between writing and family time, so we can get it all done? 

I work great under pressure and time constraints. Decades as a teacher and school administrator taught me to expect the unexpected and quickly adapt. Tackling half-a-dozen tasks simultaneously was commonplace, and I managed with ease. So, giving up my day job for full-time writing was destined to be a cake-walk, right?
Wrong. Now that I've retired to full-time writing I've had to develop an entirely new writing routine. It's much too easy to squander time when there are ten hours in the writing day instead on one or two. It's easy to stretch a thirty minute lunch to an hour, or an hour reading one of my favorite books into two. Time-suckers lurk around every corner so organization and time-management become more important than ever. Developing good habits (while discouraging those that quickly become not so good) is paramount if I want to avoid cutting into family time to meet deadlines.
If time management is an issue I have found a simple, foolproof solution: Take a deep breath and write. Set a writing goal and stick to it. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. My goal is usually five for five. I must write 500 words before I break for a five-minute trek through the virtual world to see what’s going on, or before I indulge in a snack or a second cup of coffee. I set a timer and strictly limit myself to five minutes. This technique works very well to help tackle and tie up writing projects as deadlines close in. The promise of a snack or a walk through social media motivates me to get those words down on paper, yet I avoid getting carried away.

So, the next time poor time management threatens to snatch away writing time, step back, take a deep breath, and then dive back in to WRITE. Stay focused and enjoy the journey. Happy Writing!

Peyton Foster harbors a secret…from the day he first stepped into her life she’s loved Luke Maddox. Though she thought they’d developed a lasting friendship, events surrounding her mother’s death chased him away. It’s all for the best, since Peyton’s passion as proprietor of A Whisper in Time proves the perfect complement to her shyness—a much better fit than her former misguided schoolgirl attraction to Luke.

Luke Maddox feels a connection with Peyton Foster from the first moment their paths cross. But when he settles in Honeysuckle Cove, a past riddled by years traversing the foster care system leaves him longing to fit in, leading him to take part in a foolish school dare that costs him Peyton’s friendship. Haunted by the mistake, he searches for a way to mend the past and find a way back to Peyton’s heart. When a break-in at A Whisper in Time causes their paths to once again cross, Luke must make a choice—bare his heart and face the consequences, or allow the only woman he’s ever loved to slip away.

Mary Manners is a country girl at heart who has spent a lifetime exploring her joy of writing. She has two sons and a daughter, as well as three beautiful grandchildren. She currently lives along the sunny shores of Jacksonville Beach with her husband Tim.
A former teacher as well an intermediate school principal, Mary spent three decades sharing her love of learning with students from kindergarten through middle grades. While growing up in Chicago and as an undergraduate at the University of Illinois, Mary worked her way through a variety of jobs including paper girl, figure skating instructor, pizza chef, and nanny. Many of these enriching and challenging experiences led to adventures that bring laughs and insight to her stories. Mary loves long sunrise runs, ocean sunsets, and flavored coffee.
Connect with Mary at her website: www.MaryMannersRomance.com. “Like” her author page on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Where Imagination Meets Eternity by C. Kevin Thompson

C. Kevin Thompson
I recently came across two articles that spoke to different topics but had a similar message.

One article, from Mirror, in the UK, tells the tale of how a female author by the name of Enid Blyton apparently held a contest back in the day. The winner received a copy of George Elliot’s book, Silas Marner, with an inscription from Blyton congratulating the winner named Mary. The book was then acquired years later via some kind of estate sale by a bookstore in the UK and put on the shelves for one pound (£1). Someone bought the book, took it home, and found the famous author’s signature and note inside, instantly making the book worth several hundred pounds, much to the lament of the used bookstore owner.

The other article was about a Canadian pharmacist by the name of Dr. William Leslie who traveled to central Africa, spending 17 years of his life attempting to evangelize the region. He eventually left Africa believing his mission was a wretched failure. Now, 72 years later, what has developed into a thriving Christian community is nothing short of miraculous.

As writers, we often feel like Dr. Leslie, don’t we? We write stories. We write articles. We blog. We Facebook. We Twitter. We “pin” things of interest on Pinterest. We write more stories and articles, all the while seeing our work go largely unnoticed. It seems to “get noticed” in the exploding, noisy world of publishing requires something miraculous. It takes a great deal of faith and hope to keep after this writing deal we love so much when nothing miraculous is happening.

But who’s to say that one day, a book you signed for a reader or contest winner won’t be worth more than all your books combined? Or who’s to say a flourishing community of fans over the years won’t sprout up in little pockets, little dots on the globe, where you surely believed you had never penetrated?

We often limit ourselves. It’s not that God closes the doors. It’s rather that we do. “Oh ye of little faith” (Matthew 8:26). We sang the songs as kids. “My God is so big, so strong, and so mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do.” Yet, He has chosen NOT to use us and our writing abilities. That’s what we rationalize, anyway. Instead, we believe God’s chosen Author X or Author Y. “He’s blessing them. Look at their Amazon rankings and number of reviews!”

Could it be that they are selling tons of books but making no impact on society? I’ve never heard of Enid Blyton. She sold 600 million books (partially because she wrote about 300 million…J/K, but close). I’m sure she was an excellent author, but her books didn’t impact me, and I’m sure I’m not alone. Oh, and by the way, none of her books have been made into blockbuster movies, either. Interesting.

Yet, one author who did make an impact on me was Margaret Marshall Saunders. She didn’t write very many novels. I only counted a handful online. The one I read as a boy was Beautiful Joe. It impacted me because I was given this book shortly after our family dog passed away. The one I’d grown up with since being an infant.

I said all that to say this: You just never know who you may be impacting right now, or in the days ahead. So, keep writing. Keep getting better at it. Don’t lose hope. You just never know when somebody wanders into a used bookstore and finds your signature on the inside pages. Or maybe a reader gets inspired and does wondrous things for the kingdom of God in a remote place. Or maybe a little boy finds comfort in your words after a devastating loss.

None of these things can happen if you turn off your computer, toss your pen aside, and say, “I quit.”

Keep writing, my friend, and be faithful to God. He has plans for you (Jeremiah 29:11).

Book 2 of The Blake Meyer Thriller Series

A Looming Attack. A Loathsome Abduction. A Lethal Assassin.

Supervisory Special Agent Blake Meyer has an impossible choice to make. After thwarting a massive biological attack on the continental United States, the contagion is still missing and in the hands of the enemy. So is his family. Abducted as an act of revenge.

The clock is ticking, and the chances of finding his wife and children wane with every passing second. The assassin behind it holds all the answers.

Or does she?

Three demands. Three choices.

Blake Meyer knows what must be done...but can he accomplish it before its too late? Time is literally of the essence. And double time will not be fast enough.

C. KEVIN THOMPSON is an ordained minister with a B.A. In Bible (Houghton College, Houghton, NY), an M.A. in Christian Studies (Wesley Biblical Seminary, Jackson, MS), and an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership (National-Louis University, Wheeling, IL). He presently works as an assistant principal in a middle school.

His latest book, 30 Days Hath Revenge - A Blake Meyer Thriller: Book 1, is now available! Book 2 of the Blake Meyer Series, Triple Time, is now available for pre-order! Book 3, The Tide of Times, will be out in August 2017! Also, the second edition of The Serpent’s Grasp will be out in May 2017 through Hallway Publishing!

Kevin is a huge fan of the TV series 24, The Blacklist, Blue Bloods, and Criminal Minds, loves anything to do with Star Trek, and is a Sherlock Holmes fanatic, too.

To connect with Kevin and learn more, please visit:

Website:                                www.ckevinthompson.com/
Kevin’s Writer’s Blog:        www.ckevinthompson.blogspot.com/
Facebook:                              C. Kevin Thompson – Author Fan Page
Twitter:                                 @CKevinThompson 
Goodreads:                           C. Kevin Thompson

Thursday, March 23, 2017

How (not) to Build Your Social Media Platform by Susan Tuttle

Susan and I switched Thursdays this month. She normally posts on the first Thursday of each month, but in March she is graciously visiting with us on the fourth Thursday.
I’m in a couple different groups that are giving some great advice about social media platforms. The need for consistency and clarity across all devices is imperative. Your numbers and constant growth is even a larger concern. And as writers, we are brainstorming ways to reach the broadest audience in the most effective way. As I’ve listened to everyone chime in, I’ve learned a lot about what to do. More importantly, I’ve learned what not to do. Today I want to chat about that.

See, publishers want to see big numbers. We’ve heard that repeatedly. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s been rubber stamped across my forehead. But when you are unpublished, it feels like you’re peddling air and asking for gold. How do you market a product that is as-of-yet invisible? But it’s a necessary in this world, and so the work for numbers begins.

  • Push “friend request” on Facebook a hundred times and when someone accepts, our first message to them is, please like my author page.
  • We blindly follow on Twitter and when we receive a “follow” back, we send an automated reply to their inbox saying, if you follow me here, like my author page too!
  • We stalk hashtags on Instagram and blanket the popular users with requests so that they will follow us back.
  • We pay a source to increase our numbers for us.
I know there are far more ways people gain a skyrocketing number across their social media platforms, but do you know what is missing when it’s done this way? Authenticity. Without it, you’ve gained numbers but no relationship.

If we are not interacting with people, it doesn’t matter our numbers because they aren’t going to care what we have to say when we finally have a stage to say it on. Readers want to trust the voice that spins the story they are reading. They want to connect not only to our characters but to us. And as Christian writers, isn’t connecting what it’s all about? Because to share our message of faith, we first need their ear.

If you’re trying to build your social media numbers, I challenge you today to start by interacting with the people who are already there. Begin to build your content and connections. Let God worry about how big your reach is while you worry about authentically following that which he’s called you to do.

Susan L. Tuttle lives in Michigan where she’s happily married to her best friend and is a homeschooling mom of three. She’s firmly convinced that letters were meant for words, not math, and loves stringing them together into stories that inspire, encourage, and grow women into who God created them to be. Romance, laughter, and cookies are three of her favorite things, though not always in that order. You can connect with Susan at her blog, Steps, Facebook, or Twitter.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

When Inspiration Requires Assembly by Hillary Manton Lodge

Sometimes, the ideas just don't come and we're stuck. Panic time, right? Maybe not. Read Hillary Manton Lodge's advice for those times when those ideas stop flowing. -- Sandy

Hillary: As writers, we have a complicated relationship with inspiration.

If ideas didn’t come to us, we wouldn’t write – it’s as simple as that. But ideas don’t tend to arrive fully formed and realized. Instead, they show up on the doorstep in a series of boxes and without instructions. If you’re adapting a work, you’ve at least got instructions, but not in modern English, and at any rate, what’s the fun in following the rules?

All of this idea assembly is grand until you need to reach for the next piece of the puzzle and it’s nowhere to be found.

It’s a place I found myself last week, as I began working on a new project. I’d just wrapped up copy edits on my new release, Jane of Austin, and after hammering away at the nitpicky stuff, was ready to get back to making something new.

But the new idea was still a logistical puzzle, and when the answers didn’t pop instantaneously into my head, I began to flail. I need to schedule a brainstorming session, I thought at first. I wonder if Writer A would have an idea.

And then I stopped. And took a breath.

I’ve written seven books. Five have been released, a sixth out in June. This whole book idea thing? Not my first rodeo. And yet my brain is quick to hit the panic button.

Here’s the thing – these ideas? They’re mine. They show up on my brain’s doorstep. And sooner or later, I figure out what to do with them. Every time.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m deeply indebted to the brainstorming help I’ve received over the years. My second and fifth novels, in particular, benefited from story-loving people willing to come play make-believe with me. But right now, it’s early days. I have the time to let my brain relax and get back into the habit of making things.

So I took a walk, and rather than slip into panic that the pieces weren’t coming together, I looked at the trees and their baby leaves, and let my thought wander. I considered one idea, discarded it, and tried another, like a jigsaw puzzle of a big blue sky.

And after a while? The right pieces fit into place. I came up with solutions that I loved. And once I had the framework, I could chat about it with a friend who could see where I was going with it and spin it out just a little further.

So writers – here’s the challenge. Call in the reserves if you must, but see if you can hold out until the end of the process, when you’re tired. Enjoy the beginning, and hold it close. You’ve learned the craft, so trust your brain. Trust the creative mind the Lord has gifted to you. Give your mind a chance to play, and enjoy it when it takes you somewhere extraordinary.

Do you have a secret for opening those creative doors in your mind?


Hillary Manton Lodge is the author of the critically acclaimed Two Blue Doors series and the Plain and Simple duet. Jane of Austin is her sixth novel.

A storyteller at heart, in her free time she enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, graphic design, and finding new walking trails. She resides outside of Memphis, Tennessee with her husband and two pups.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Cool, Calm, and Connected by Zoe M. McCarthy

Because one of my accountability partners prayerfully chooses a guiding word each year, I decided that was a good idea. It didn’t take much prayer to discern my word.
Zoe M. McCarthy

I’m an insomniac. My teeth ache from grinding them together when I do sleep. My problem is not that I’m a big worrier. I’ve learned to respect God’s command not to worry. But I feel like I’m always behind and need more time, especially with three books in progress with three publishers and traveling to BSF Bible study two hours away and spending Monday nights in NC. I’ve asked God to help me be more efficient so I have time to chill. I’m tired of treating my teeth with the strongest version of Sensodyne.

So, my word for this year is calm. In January, I stopped asking God to help me be more efficient. I asked Him to help me learn how to be calm. I knew the answer had to be my next step in learning how to abide in Jesus. I wasn’t surprised when I sensed He called me to honor the Sabbath.

My Sabbath before I was called to calmness: Rise early and go up to my office, and after working on my personal Bible study and prayer, get an hour in on writing the Bible study I teach on Wednesdays and maybe fit in some writing tasks. Go to Sunday school and church. Fit in some blogging or writing work if John watches sports on TV in the afternoon. Plan my week and work while John attends the Sunday evening Bible study. Motive: make my workweek easier by getting ahead.

On my Sabbath now, I don’t do any of my writing, blogging, or platform work. I’ve joined John at the Sunday night Bible study. I decided to trust God and watch how he orchestrates my days so I get more work done in six days than I did in seven. Most of all, I’ve found honoring the Sabbath has been a learning process.

At first, I needed to implement an attitude change. I was also going through the motions without connecting much with God. I was enjoying the rest part too much! Then during my preparation to teach the Wednesday Bible study, God showed me that I could do good for others on the Sabbath as Jesus did. Now, during my Sabbath day, I write notes to people needing encouragement and enjoy activities that show others my love.

Next, I realized, besides intercessory prayer and completing my study questions for the BSF Bible study, I needed to sit with Jesus for a while. I now use a devotional to start the conversation.

So, in two and a half months, what has keeping a Sabbath done for my calmness? It’s still a work in progress, but I’ve been sleeping well, and my teeth don’t ache. I still sometimes feel I need more time, but in spending quality time with Jesus—time connecting with the Lord other than studying the Bible and praying intercessory prayers—I believe the pressure will decrease and calmness will be part of my new nature. And, my Sabbath day is becoming precious.

What might be your word for this year?

Prayerfully choose a word for the year to help you become the person God has called you to be. Click to Tweet.

About the Author

Zoe M. McCarthy believes the little-known fact that opposites distract. Thus, she spins Christian contemporary romances entangling extreme opposites. Her tagline is: Distraction to Attraction, Magnetic Romances Between Opposites. Her first novel is Calculated Risk. She has two more contemporary romances and a nonfiction book to help writers ready their manuscripts coming out soon. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She enjoys leading workshops on the craft of writing; speaking about her faith; planning fun events for her 5 grandchildren; and exploring the Blue Ridge Mountains, where she lives with her husband, John. 

Learn more about Zoe M. McCarthy at her website: http://zoemmccarthy.com

Calculated Risk

Calculated Risk
by Zoe M. McCarth
What happens when an analytical numbers man meets a mercurial marketing Rep? Romance is a calculated risk…

Jilted by the latest of her father’s choices of “real men,” Cisney Baldwin rashly accepts an invitation to spend Thanksgiving weekend with a sympathetic colleague and his family. Nick LeCrone is a man too much her opposite to interest her and too mild-mannered to make her overbearing father’s “list.” Now, Cisney fears Nick wants to take advantage of her vulnerable state over the holiday. Boy, is she wrong.

Nick wants little to do with Cisney. She drives him crazy with all her sticky notes and quirks. He extended an invitation because he felt sorry for her. Now he’s stuck, and to make matters worse, his family thinks she’s his perfect match. He’ll do what he can to keep his distance, but there’s just one problem—he’s starting to believe Cisney’s magnetism is stronger than he can resist.

Purchase links for Calculated Risk: http://zoemmccarthy.com/books

Monday, March 20, 2017

If You Build It, Will They Come? By Marianne Evans

Marianne Evans
The idea gained traction about four or five years ago: Publish books, then, revisit your back list and offer older titles at a discount, or for free, to better enable new readers to ‘take a chance’ on you as an author, to hopefully enjoy your work, and purchase new releases at full price.

Today the idea of free or deep-discounted books is becoming the norm rather than the exception to a degree that I’m starting to wonder if the CBA isn’t causing itself to implode. In a quest for interest/reach/reader loyalty are we giving away sustainability?

Like many others, I’m broken hearted by the news that Family Christian is closing its doors. I’m broken hearted by the fact that the Christian market—not just for books, but any variety of retail merchandise, is dying a slow, painful death. I’ve had four signings at my local Family Christian over the years and I treasured the store’s support. I couldn’t get my books on shelves, or even do signings, at Barnes and Noble or Books-A-Million. Meanwhile, Family Christian welcomed me with open arms and the results were mutually beneficial.

Now, that avenue has come to an end; yet another pathway closed to Christian authors (and retailers) who are being squeezed into non-existence.

The idea behind my post today? That we need to support one another. From the pocket book. For the record, I’m all about freebies. I’m all about sale prices on great merchandise, like Christian books for example. I’ve taken advantage of many a bargain and discovered awesome new authors at the result. However, I’ve concluded that I need to dig deeper than that and support our industry by purchasing goods at a price and in a manner which creates sustainability. I need to hold to the truth that the effort authors (in this case) and other Christian retailers put into their businesses is worthy of patronage and financial compensation. If not, these ministries will perish.

In Jesus’s day, his followers existed, and then survived, by banding together, by forming a community and supporting one another. Today is no different. If we want to survive, we must live in a spirit of mutual viability.

And so, I’m eager to know: What are your perceptions on the current ‘state of the Christian industry?’ Any thoughts about ways to stem the backward slide of store closures, lack of exposure and sinking sales? Blessings, friends, and see you next month!
Marianne Evans is an award-winning author of Christian romance and fiction. Her hope is to spread the faith-affirming message of God’s love through the stories He prompts her to create. Devotion, earned the Bookseller’s Best Award as well as the Heart of Excellence Award. Hearts Communion earned a win for Best Romance from the Christian Small Publisher's Association. She is also a two-time recipient of the Selah Award, Then & Now for Best Contemporary Romance and Finding Home for Best Novella. Marianne is a lifelong resident of Michigan and an active member of Romance Writers of America, most notably the Greater Detroit Chapter where she served two terms as President.

Amy Monarch is a tireless volunteer at the Dupont Rescue and Recovery Center, an establishment for the destitute founded by her mother. There, Amy has kept her identity a carefully guarded secret. She is actually Princess Amelia Marguerite Louise DeLaGrande of Remeth. Working at Dupont offers the opportunity to serve in blessed disguise.

Fresh into a promising career in commercial real estate brokerage, Patrick Sawyer returns to the picturesque isle of Remeth intending to reconnect with his collegiate study abroad friends and figure out 'what's next' in his life. Since his father's passing, the world he knows leaves him uninspired. He volunteers at Dupont during his visit and becomes enchanted by Amy.

But Amelia is trapped within a silken web. When she reveals who she is, Patrick pulls back. He's not interested in royalty--at all--but how can she ever break free? How can she find a way to service and God's plan for her life? Most of all, how can she reconcile the call she feels toward a remarkable man who may be 'common,' yet is 'uncommon' when it comes to matters of the heart?