Book Beat Babes

Book Beat Babes

Friday, November 29, 2013

What's in a Word?

There are all kinds of techniques that we hear about at writers’ conferences and seminars about how to improve our writing and, sometimes more importantly, our appeal to readers.  One technique to determine if we over use a word is to highlight that word and see how often it pops out from the page.  With computers this has become much easier to do.  I remember seeing copies of manuscripts in the days before personal computers where writers would take different highlighters and work through their entire manuscript color coding different words.  It was colorful in so many ways.

Well, if you as a writer want to take this to a higher level, you can actually perform a textual analysis of your manuscript and better yet, of all your manuscripts if you so desire.  An article in the New York Times by Ben Blatt describes this process and how Mr. Blatt applied it to the Hunger Games Series, the Twilight Series, and the Harry Potter books.

Textual analysis is basically counting words and back in 1963 two statisticians used this process to deduce that James Madison was most likely the author of 10 Federalist Papers that had not previously been attributed to him.

This process can serve a number of purposes to include identifying repetitiveness in one’s writing but also the tone of one’s writing.  Mr. Blatt found that in the Hunger Games series the prevalence of words such as “intensely” and “electronic” gave the series a more technical dystopia tone whereas with the Twilight Series words such as “anxiously,” “unwilling,” and “unreadable” gave this series a more emotional tone.

The article by Mr. Blatt can be found at:

I found the matrices that he presented to demonstrate each authors most distinctive adjectives, adverbs and most common sentences used to be quite informative and I think you will too.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Turkey Day! by DL Larson

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

I just got home from a day with family! It was wonderful, rowdy and good to see relatives I see only a few times a year. Tomorrow, my family will be coming to my house and we will do the same thing all over again.

This time of year may be hectic, but my family does hectic pretty darn good. Most of my family will not be participating in Black Friday shopping. I decided long ago there isn't anything I need that badly to fight crowds or stand in long lines. I know, I know, bargains are falling off the shelves, coupons over-flow the newspapers and extra attendants are in place at the stores. Still, I prefer to stay home on Black Friday.

Now, on Saturday, I plan to venture out. It's "Small Business Day" on Saturday. It's a day to stop at your local stores and give them some business too! Business as in purchase something! Small businesses compete with the large super-chain stores all year long and I'm glad they have their own special day now. Small businesses built this great country and although prices may be cheaper elsewhere, I plan to shop at small businesses on Saturday. I enjoy the neighborhood atmosphere, unique gifts and friendly clerks.

Regardless where you shop this weekend, be safe, be wise, and may the shopping fairy always be close by to help you pick out exciting presents for your loved ones.

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Turkey or Not?

I'm happy to report we'll be going out for Thanksgiving dinner at the DH's cousin's place. Sorry, Mr. Turkey, but they will be serving turkey on a platter,

along with other delectable offerings, among which I'm hoping will be

fresh pumpkin pie.

I'm wondering if anyone here is having something unusual to eat for Thanksgiving, such as maybe chili?

Or, are you sticking to the usual, like we are?

Happy Thanksgiving, whatever you're eating!

If Rascal's lucky, I may bring
home some scraps for her.

Morgan Mandel - For Romance,
Mystery, Thrillers - Take Your Pick!
Twitter: @MorganMandel

Amazon Author Page:

Monday, November 25, 2013

Girl Z: Teenage Zombie Book Nominated for Lovey Award!

I wanted to share... I just saw this in the Love is Murder Mystery Conference newsletter -

   GIRL Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie is nominated for Best Paranormal-Sci Fi-Horror Novel for a 2014 Lovey Award!

The book was fun to write as it has a little bit of everything - murders, a little mystery,  breaking-and-entering, and yes, zombies. Oh, and a budding romance, too. Something for everyone!

It's not what you think, either. Sixteen-year-old Becca is part-zombie and now has to cope with a new life, new diet (no, not that!), and new attitudes like bullying and prejudice while she tries to protect her family and friends from the full Zs.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Why a Series is so Fun

Yesterday a long-anticipated box arrived in the mail. Print copies of my latest book: This Feels Like Home. It's been several years since I've had print copies of a book. My last three releases have been in e-format only. Home is the third in my Corral series which began with my debut novel from The Wild Rose Press, This Time for Always. Way back when I first wrote Always, I intended for the secondary characters to have stories of their own. The story centers around Sharlie and her road to happily ever after. A big part of Sharlie's life were her friends Zach and Jake, who one day would have stories of their own. Zach found his true love in This Can't Be Love, and now finally Jake's story is on the shelves and making its way into readers' hands. To say this is a dream come true is one huge giant understatement.

The books have done well. Always was a Champagne Rose bestseller at TWRP and Reader's Pick of the Month at Jennette Green's BlogSpot, and Love was Love Romance Cafe's Best of 2010 Contemporary winner. And it's so far so good for Home as well. It's been out on Kindle for several months now and just this past week had its freebie days there. It wound up in the number one spot on two western lists and make it into the 40s for overall 'sales'. It has also garnered four five star reader reviews.

The really great thing about a series is as an author, I don't have to let my characters go. After Sharlie and Logan got their happily ever after, I was able to share a bit more of their story in the next book. And when Zach and Jessica found their happy ending, I was able to give readers a peek into their future in the third book. Now I wonder if having written Jake and Amber's story, does it end there? The idea was always to have three books in the series.

But I'm not sure if I'm ready for it to end. I have a few ideas for some spin-off stories (novellas, not full-length) set at The Corral. I need to pick my editor's brain about one of them. So we'll see where that takes me.

And a series is a great way to keep those readers coming back for more. If they pick up one of the books and enjoy it, it's highly likely they'll pick up the others in the series as well, and will look forward to future installments. Amazon has the other titles cross referenced as part of the series, which is great. Soon the three books will be offered as a boxed set/single author anthology through TWRP: that's pretty cool!

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Saturday, November 23, 2013

What is a Street Team? How do they Work? To get the answers, I'd like to introduce Melissa Jolly, from Author RX.
Margot Justes

Street Teams for Authors: 11 Tips for Building a Rockstar Street Team

What is a Street Team?

A Street Team is an organized group of your SUPER FANS!  These are readers that put your books on their auto-buy list.  These are readers that love your books so much that they want to tell everyone they’ve ever met that your books are so amazing they’re like chocolate dipped in chocolate with a side a chocolate.  Sounds great, right?

How Do I Get a Street Team?

First and foremost, you need to wait until the right time.  You need to be able to answer “yes” to these questions:

·       Am I seeing positive comments, tweets, or emails from the same readers multiple times?

·       Do I have the time to build a team, interact with them on a semi-regular basis and still keep up with my writing?

·       Do I have at least a small budget for swag and prizes?

If you’ve answered “yes” to all of the above, then it’s time to rock and roll.  If you’re not quite there yet, don’t worry!  Keep writing and soon you’ll have some super fans ready to help you start your team!

Starting Your Team

There is a ton of information popping up about the logistics of starting a Street Team, so I’ll keep this part brief.  Here are the basic steps:

1.     Reach out to your fans through your newsletter, Facebook, twitter, etc. Tell them you’re starting a Street Team.  Be clear about your expectations for members as well as what awesome benefits they’ll get by being a member of your Street Team.

2.     Set up a way for fans to apply to be a team member.  I recommend using a Google Form, which will automatically generate a spreadsheet for you.

3.     People apply, you approve them, and now you have a Street Team!


Having Fun With Your Street Team

1.     Come up with a unique name.  Have you heard of Jenny Cruise’s “Cherries?”  What about Liliana Hart’s “Team Mackenzie?”  You’re a writer!  Let your creativity and personality shine! 

2.     Create some team spirit.  Set up a private Facebook group to give your team a place to chat and share ideas.  Most importantly, this is a place for you to get to know your team members privately and this is where they get a chance to know you better as well.

3.     Code names are entertaining.  Let’s say you write a series about assassins (I’m looking at you, Leslie Langtry), why not let everyone come up with their assassin code name?  This is a great icebreaker for when you’re starting the group and when new members come aboard.

4.     Everyone wants to feel like they’re in on a secret.  Make sure your Street Team members know that they are in your inner circle.  Give them an early look at chapter excerpts and cover photos.  Or, ask them questions that you don’t ask publicly like, “What do you think Bill and Jane should name their pet tarantula?” 

5.     Remember, it’s not about you.  Wait. What????  No, I mean it.  Your Street Teamers ARE there to support you, but they’re already paying attention to what you’re writing, when it’s releasing, how many books you have, etc. You don’t have to shout it from the rooftops.  Instead, make your group about building camaraderie and making personal connections.

6.     Accept help.  Street Teams can take up a lot of your time!  Consider hiring someone to help you run it.  Or see if one of your super fans wants to volunteer to be Team President or Chancellor or Prime Minister or whatever title you come up with!

7.     Assignments should be fun.  First tip: don’t call it an assignment.  Second tip: don’t make it mandatory or a chore.  Common assignments are asking for books to be added to shelves on Goodreads, reviews to be written, cover images to be shared on social media, bookmarks and other swag to be given to libraries and bookstores.  Those are all great, but don’t forget to think outside of the box.  Do contests and competitions and don’t forget a healthy dose of silliness. 

8.     Make your group exclusive.  Everyone wants to feel like they’re part of something that not just anyone can join, so make it that way.  Open your Street Team to new applicants several times a year instead of accepting applicants all year round.  This will also save you the headache of continually processing new applications.

9.     Quality is more important than quantity.  Don’t forget that members of your Street Team should be people who have actually read and ENJOYED your books!  It’s not a bad idea to make them prove it as part of the application process.  They can point to a review they’ve written, a Facebook post, a rating on Goodreads, or at least answer some questions about your books.  It’s better to have 10 dedicated Street Team members that want to help you than 100 that just want free stuff.

10.  Follow the rules.  It can be really tempting to ask your Street Team to do things that aren’t strictly appropriate like re-shelving your books to better locations in bookstores.  My recommendation would be to FOLLOW THE RULES.  Amazon and other booksellers have guidelines on who can post reviews.  Facebook has (and is constantly changing) their rules on contests and promotions.  Images have copyright restrictions.  Don’t risk your long-term career for a short-term boost in sales.  It’s better to be safe than sorry.

11.  Pay it forward.  Swag is a part of almost any Street Team. Think about sending out a welcome packet that has exclusive STREET TEAM ONLY swag.  Do contests.  Give away gift cards and books and other awesome stuff, but don’t break the bank!  Your Street Team members should be there for more than just the swag and giveaways.  Don’t forget about the prizes that you can use that are free to you.  Offer to put a winner’s name in your next book or thank someone personally in the acknowledgements or let your next contest winner choose the location of your character’s destination wedding.  Be creative.  It could save you a lot of money.

When it all comes down to it, your Street Team should be FUN!  It should not be more expensive than you can afford.  When you make it big and start earning a ton of money, then you can give away more stuff.  For most people starting out, you’re working with a small budget, so get creative, have some fun and always remember to thank the people who helped you get where you are today!

Melissa Jolly, Author's Assistant to multiple NYT and USA Today Bestselling authors and founder of Author Rx, has been "Keeping Authors Out of the Loony Bin Since 2009."  Melissa started out as a Library Assistant in Young Adult Services where she specialized in outreach to "at risk" teens at juvenile detention centers and inner-city schools. Melissa has always had a true passion for connecting readers (and non-readers) to books and now enjoys channeling that energy into connecting her authors with their fan bases through social media, newsletters, giveaways, street teams and more.  Melissa also holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Performance which means she’s not afraid of a challenge, a crowd, or a little drama!  You can find out more about her and Author Rx at and on Facebook and twitter. © 2013 Melissa Jolly

The Naked Truth about Self-Publishing by The Indie Voice:

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Friday, November 22, 2013

Tax Time Cometh - How's Your Record Keeping Going?

So, the end of the tax year is near, at least it is if you are using a calendar year for your taxes as most tax payers do, especially those filing their federal income taxes with a Schedule C (Form 1040); and, one of the more important aspects of the business side of being a writer is how well you keep your records to substantiate income and/or expenses related to your writing

Well, during an audit you will have to substantiate your income and/or expenses to the IRS.   Yes, it is actually possible, even legal, to start your writing business without any income and claim your expenses.  We’ll talk more about this in a later blog and why and when this would make sense.
Regardless the circumstances tax payers must always be prepared to justify what is listed on their federal (and even state) income tax return.   For most tax payers much of what is on their federal income tax return can be computer verified because the IRS requires entities such as employers and financial institutions to report their transactions that are listed with your Social Security Number (SSN) in advance of individuals submitting their income tax returns for processing.  This means that when a tax payer receives a Form W-2, the information contained on this form has already been electronically sent to the IRS.  The same is true for interest earned from banks, mortgage interest paid to banks, etc.  This is third-party verification so at the IRS has a greater level of confidence that the information is correct when any tax return is filed and the numbers match up.

With a Schedule C (Form 1040) this is not typically the case.  It is true that some income is reflected on Form 1099-Misc and indeed most published authors do receive Form 1099-Misc from their publishers or companies such as Amazon if they self-publish, but not all income received by writers is documented via this form.  There are cash transactions such as when writers receive money for speaking engagements, or the cost of attending a conference is waived in exchange for speaking, that are below the Form 1099-Misc reporting threshold.  Writers also sometimes sell copies of their books outside “normal” channels and may even receive cash when they do so and writers are obligated to report these cash transactions to the IRS when they prepare the federal income tax.  These transactions should also be reflected in their yearly record keeping of their writing business.

It’s critically important to keep thorough records of any writing business related expenses that occur throughout the year.  There is no third-party verification of expenses deducted on a Schedule C (Form 1040) that is sent to the IRS so the only way that the IRS can truly verify that your expenses are legitimate is to actually conduct an audit of your books – no not the ones you publish, but the ones you keep to record income and expenses.
The Burden of Proof is on the business owner to prove income and expenses.  To better understand what this means the following is included from the IRS website:

BURDEN OF PROOF:  The responsibility to prove entries, deductions, and statements made on your tax returns is known as the burden of proof. You must be able to prove (substantiate) certain elements of expenses to deduct them. Generally, taxpayers meet their burden of proof by having the information and receipts (where needed) for the expenses. You should keep adequate records to prove your expenses or have sufficient evidence that will support your own statement. You generally must have documentary evidence, such as receipts, canceled checks, or bills, to support your expenses. Additional evidence is required for travel, entertainment, gifts, and auto expenses.

For more information on record keeping refer to IRS Publication 583, Starting a Business and Keeping Records which is a must read for all writers who have started or will start their writing business to understand what the IRS requires when creating a record keeping system.
Just wait until we talk mileage records and what counts and what doesn’t as business miles!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A Visit with Denise Swanson, NYT Best Selling Author, by DL Larson

Please welcome New York Times Best Selling Author, Denise Swanson!

Denise Swanson is the New York Times bestselling author of the Scumble River and the Devereaux’s Dime Store mystery series. Denise writes from her experiences as a school psychologist, small town girl, and snoop. Her most recent book is Murder of a Stacked Librarian (September 2013) featuring Skye Denison, school psychologist. Up next, is Dead Between the Lines (March 2014) featuring Devereaux Sinclair financial advisor turned dime store owner and now reluctant hostess to the Stepping Out Book Club.

Denise lives in Illinois with her husband, classical composer David Stybr, and their cool black cat Boomerang.!/DeniseSwansonAuthor had the chance to interview Denise about her writing career ...

. What inspired you to become a writer?
I really don’t know that there was any one incident that inspired me. I’ve been a voracious reader all my life and I often ran out of books to read before the next trip to the library. (I lived in the country and only was able to go into town once a week) So I started writing my own stories, mostly to entertain myself.

2. What part of the writing process do you enjoy most?
Having written. Okay, really, I like the second draft. Once I get the bare bones of the story written in the first draft and have a beginning, middle, and end, I love adding the details, the emotions, the clues, and the humor.

3. You're a NYT best seller! Tell us about that ~ how did you celebrate ~ how did you find out ~ how did that change your life as an author?
~ The first time, editor called me, told me to sit down, and then told me that Murder of a Wedding Belle had made the NYT list. I thought she was joking since that book was number 12 in the series it was virtually unheard of for such a late book in a series to make the list. My husband was out of town on business and my mother was away on a day trip, so I had to wait nearly 24 hours before I could share the news with them, or anyone else since I wanted them to be the first to know. My husband and I celebrated by going out to dinner at a fancy restaurant. The biggest change is that both my publisher and my agent seem to take me more seriously. Moving up from a midlist author to an NYT bestselling author is a huge career boost.

4. What are you working on now? Another series? Please share what you can!
I’m currently writing two books a year—Murder of a Needled Knitter, #17 in the Scumble River, series comes out next September and Dead Between the Lines, #3 in the Devereaux’s Dime Store series, comes out in March. I’m working #4 in the Dime Store series right now. I’m also writing a contemporary romance with the intention of indie publishing it and two others, when all three are complete.

5. What is your writing regimen? Do you use an outline or let your characters take you on a journey?
I write seven days a week from 8AM until midafternoon. I use a loose outline, but sometimes the characters have other ideas, and I allow them to take over.

6. How do you reward yourself for your accomplishments?
This is going to sound corny, but being able to make a living doing what I love is really all the reward I need. Hearing from readers whose lives’ I’ve influenced is icing on the cake.

7. What are you reading right now?
No Easy Hope by James Cook, which is a zombie novel, and The Union Street Bakery by Mary Ellen Taylor, which is women’s fiction.

8. Who are some of your favorite authors?
Overall, Charlaine Harris. In mystery, Carolyn Hart, Margaret Maron, Heather Blake, Marcia Talley, Sara Rosett. In romance, Margaret Watson, Ann Macela, Adrienne Giordano, Bella Andre, Susan Mallery, Jenny Crusie, Rachel Gibson. In horror, Stephen King. In urban fantasy, Kim Harrison, Kelly Armstrong, Patricia Briggs, Rachel Cain. In women’s fiction Mary Kay Andrews.

9. What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
The slogan I have taped over my computer is: It’s not how good you are. It’s how bad you want it.

I love that! "It's not how good you are, it's how bad you want it!"

Thank you, Denise, for being with us today.

DL Larson

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Twitter Trick by Morgan Mandel

In my previous post about Twitter, I discussed how to Connect on Twitter by using their Connect button. If you missed it, click this link:
Connect on Twitter by Using Connect.

This time, I'm offering a trick I've learned to circumvent one obstacle Twitter puts in the way to prevent spam. You may have run into this problem and can put my suggestion to use.

Twitter won't allow you to leave the same post twice in a row. Here's how I circumvent this:

  • I add a space in the next post. 
  • I add a space in a different spot in the next post after that, and either leave the first one I added in also, or remove it. If you have enough room in the post, you can try endless variations of the add one space or more trick.
  • If the post is exactly the right amount of characters and a space can't be added, I look for a place I can take one out, such as after a period. 
  • I change the word, and, into the symbol, &, instead.
  • I change written numbers into characters; i.e., substituting one for 1, etc.
  • I add a punctuation mark or take one out. I've even been known to, horror of horrors, remove a quotation mark at the end of a quote, when I'm really desperate. I really don't like doing that, but like I said, sometimes I get desperate!
  • I change the order of phrases in a post, putting the second one first, or in the middle, etc. 
  • I change the order of hashtagged words in a post. This is a very simple trick. If you're not using hashtags, get with the system!  So, a hashtagged word at the end of a post can be moved to the front or the middle, and vice versa. You'll find many variations for this trick, especially if you have more than one hashtag.  
  • I substitute hashtags. Sometimes, I can't fit all the hashtags I want to anyway in a post, so taking one out and putting another in will vary the post enough for Twitter's liking. Just one substitute hashtag can lead to many more posts, if you move that hashtag around.   
Well, that's my Twitter Trick. Have you already tried it? Or will you now?

Connect with me on Twitter at
@Morgan Mandel


I love to write romantic comedies, romantic suspense, mysteries,
thrillers, and more. Find it all on my Amazon Author Page at: 
And on my Website:

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

And THE WRONG GIRL Goes to...

For those who commented here and on Hank Phillippi Ryan's Facebook Page in response to instructions in her post of Wednesday, November 13 -



Hank will be making arrangements to get THE WRONG GIRL to Kathleen!

Congratulations, Kathleen Kaska!!!

For everyone else, remember that Hank Phillippi Ryan's, THE WRONG GIRL, is still available for purchase through Hank's website at:

Thanks for all your wonderful comments!
Morgan Mandel

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Jennifer Wilck Joins us to Celebrate Skin Deep

Please help me in welcoming Jennifer Wilck to Book Beat Babes. Jennifer is a multi-published author and an internet friend. We've been blogging buddies for several years now over at Heroines with Hearts. Today Jennifer is celebrating the two year birthday of her book, Skin Deep, and at the same time bringing attention to a very important and often overlooked subject: domestic abuse. Her commitment to bringing awareness of and aid to victims of domestic abuse is just one example of the amazing generosity of her spirit. I am honored to call her friend

Thank you so much, Debra, for hosting my book birthday party today! Skin Deep, a contemporary romance published by Whiskey Creek Press ( ), is turning two this month and I’m very excited to celebrate with you.

First, here’s a blurb about it:

The last thing Valerie needs, after escaping an abusive marriage to an alcoholic and rebuilding her life, is a broody, secretive, standoffish man. But that’s exactly what she gets when she becomes a makeup artist on the set of a hit sitcom and draws the attention of the series’ star.
John Samuels hides a terrible past—a life of abuse and neglect. A successful acting career and the affection and support of cast, crew and friends, does nothing to convince him that he is anything other than an unlovable monster.
Will he learn that the life he’s been living has been built on a lie or will he be doomed to repeat the sins of his father?

Here’s an excerpt:

That night, after all the scenes had been shot, Valerie waited for everyone to leave. She didn’t want to answer questions or receive pity.
She arranged and rearranged drawers and tools. The trailer contained three stations, each with its own make-up chair. A long table ran down one wall, with plenty of drawers for storage space. Well-lit mirrors hung above the table. Un-able to find anything else to do, and convinced by the silence that everyone had to have left, she took out her keys to lock up. She jumped as a knock sounded at the door, the trailer rattled, and a head peeked in.
“Oh, hi, John.” She expelled a deep breath and willed her heart to slow its frantic beat. “Do you need something?”
“No.” He entered and stood by the door. John Samuels played the lead. At almost six-foot three, he dwarfed the trailer and had to tip his head to fit. He folded his muscular arms across his chest and spread his feet apart. “Michelle told me you were not joining us tonight. I thought I would see if I could change your mind.”
Valerie rolled her eyes. “She is persistent.”
“You noticed.” John’s dark eyes twinkled. His mouth widened with a ghost of a smile. Valerie tried not to gasp.
He reminded her of a rugged cowboy—broad-shouldered, with a prominent brow, dark piercing eyes, high cheekbones, and a cleft chin. When he smiled, even a slight trace of one, his eyes looked like liquid velvet and his dimples twinkled like stars in the night sky. A five-o’clock shadow covered his cheeks. Her fingers itched to brush against their rough texture, to tease his mouth into a full-blown grin.
“So, what can I say to make you join us?”
As he leaned against the wall in well-fitting jeans and a T-shirt that left nothing to the imagination, Valerie’s mind said, “Sleep with me.” Heat crept up her neck, over her cheeks, and continued to the roots of her hair. A thin sheen of sweat dampened the space between her breasts. She felt the sudden urge to fan herself, like a damsel in distress in an old B-movie. Instead, she ignored her traitorous thoughts. Her balled fist pressed into her tight stomach.
“Tonight, not even chocolate will change my mind.”
She didn’t exactly lie. She had no intention of going to the bar, or of sleeping with him, no matter how her thoughts might try to sabotage her good intentions. She’d been fooled by surface finery before, and it had almost killed her. She wouldn’t let it happen again.
“I will remember that,” he promised. “But next time you will not get off so easy.” His eyes bored into hers for a moment, and then he turned on his heel and left.
* * * *
True to his word, John arrived the following day prepared for battle. With a cursory knock on the door, he dangled a bag of M&Ms inside the trailer, but snatched it back be-fore she could grab them. “We are going out for pizza. I will pick you up in ten minutes.” Before she could answer, he walked out.
Valerie shrugged as she finished her work. The new Valerie never allowed other people to make decisions for her, but she’d practically handed John a permission slip. And, he had M&M’s. How could she refuse?
Ten minutes later, he returned, ushered her out the door and down the steps. Although he didn’t touch her, she could imagine the warmth of his hand on the small of her back, and feel the gentle puff of his breath against her hair. The angle of his body steered her toward the others in the parking lot as if he had taken her by the hand and dragged her with him. An invisible electric charge pulled her. Or maybe it was his Dial-soap scent. That scent—soap and man—made her stomach flip flop. Her uncontrollable reaction to him disturbed her, especially since he appeared unaffected.
He remained silent, strode toward their meeting place, and studied his surroundings as if he expected someone to pop out of the shadows and yell, “Boo!”
Then she saw the brown bag of M&Ms sticking out of his white shirt pocket. Before he could stop her, she reached around and grabbed them, opened the bag and popped three in her mouth.
“Hey, those are mine!” He reached for the bag, but not fast enough to retrieve them.
“Not anymore.” As she danced away from him, she stuck another handful in her mouth.
He brought his hand up to his heart, as if she had wounded him deeply, but the twinkle in his eye gave him away. Valerie had all she could do not to burst out laughing.
“You did not have to take them, you know. I was planning to give them to you later.” He pouted and his dark hair fell across his brow, but not before Valerie saw a flash of a smile turn the corners of his mouth up.
“Oh really? When?”
“After dinner, of course. I would not want to spoil your appetite.”
As if that were possible. Valerie laughed again and John grunted, a deep hoarse sound that climbed from the pit of his stomach and thrust its way out his mouth.

Skin Deep
was published in November 2011. I want to commemorate its publication, but I’d like the commemoration to mean a little bit more. Of course, I’d love for you to want to buy the book (you can find links at Whiskey Creek Press, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble ) and I’m also offering giveaways (described below), but in addition, I’d like the book birthday to benefit others.

Valerie, the heroine, is a survivor of domestic abuse. Her story has a happy ending. Not everyone, however, is so lucky. A portion of the royalties that I receive from each purchase of this book is donated to the Rachel Coalition, a local organization that helps victims of domestic violence. Here are some statistics that might interest you (from The Domestic Violence Resource Center

• One in four women (25%) has experienced domestic violence in her lifetime.
(The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and The National Institute of Justice, Extent, Nature, and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence, July 2000. The Commonwealth Fund, Health Concerns Across a Woman’s Lifespan: 1998 Survey of Women’s Health, 1999)
• Estimates range from 960,000 incidents of violence against a current or former spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend to 3 million women who are physically abused by their husband or boyfriend per year. 
(U.S. Department of Justice, Violence by Intimates: Analysis of Data on Crimes by Current or Former Spouses, Boyfriends, and Girlfriends, March 1998. The Commonwealth Fund, Health Concerns Across a Woman’s Lifespan: 1998 Survey of Women’s Health, 1999)
• Women accounted for 85% of the victims of intimate partner violence, men for approximately 15%.
(Bureau of Justice Statistics Crime Data Brief, Intimate Partner Violence, 1993-2001, February 2003)
• Between 600,000 and 6 million women are victims of domestic violence each year, and between 100,000 and 6 million men, depending on the type of survey used to obtain the data.
(Rennison, C. (2003, Feb). Intimate partner violence. Us. Dpt. of Justice/Office of Justice Programs. NXJ 197838. 
Straus, M. & Gelles, R. (1990). Physical violence in American families. New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers.
Tjaden, P., & Thoennes, N. (2000). Extent, nature, and consequences of intimate partner violence. National Institute of Justice, NCJ 181867.)
• Women ages 20-24 are at the greatest risk of nonfatal intimate partner violence.
(Bureau of Justice Statistics, Intimate Partner Violence in the U.S. 1993-2004, 2006.)
• Separated and divorced males and females are at a greater risk of nonfatal intimate partner violence.
(Bureau of Justice Statistics, Intimate Partner Violence in the U.S. 1993-2004, 2006.)
• Intimate partner violence affects people regardless of income. However, people with lower annual income (below $25K) are at a 3-times higher risk of intimate partner violence than people with higher annual income (over $50K).* 
(Bureau of Justice Statistics, Intimate Partner Violence in the U.S. 1993-2004, 2006.)
*Please note that those with less resources are more likely to report incidents of violence
• Studies show that access to shelter services leads to a 60-70% reduction in incidence and severity of re-assault during the 3-12 months’ follow up period compared to women who did not access shelter. Shelter services led to greater reduction in severe re-assault than did seeking court or law enforcement protection, or moving to a new location.
(Campbell, JC, PhD, RN, FAAN. Anna D. Wolf, Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, Protective Action and Re-assault: Findings from the RAVE study.)
For every comment I receive on this blog, as well as any other venue in which I celebrate the 2nd birthday of Skin Deep, I will donate $1 to The Rachel Coalition ( ).

The Rachel Coalition is a division of Jewish Family Service of MetroWest, and a partnership of nine northern New Jersey organizations working together to provide services and support programs for victims of domestic violence in Essex and Morris County. You can find more about them here.

Additionally, anyone who comments here between today and November 23 will be entered into a drawing. Prizes include: signed copy of Skin Deep, birthday gift pack or a Sephora gift card. For anyone who purchases Skin Deep, either in paperback or as an e-book and can show me proof of purchase (email copy of receipt to wilckjz @ yahoo dot com—no spaces and dot should be .), I will enter you into a special drawing for a massage gift card. Again, my goal is to help out victims of domestic violence while drawing attention to my book!

Good luck to everyone and thanks for celebrating with me!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Marketing by Margot Justes

The magic of the ‘www’ has huge potential marketability, but it needs to be harnessed.

I write about travel, art, mayhem and romance, mostly romance. Many people are interested in travel, art and many read romance novels. How do I reach them?

I’m in the process of doing just that. I’ll be the first to admit I’m lousy at promotion, but have learned a bit.  I’ve read Joe Konrath’s blogs, and that man is supreme in marketing and sales.  He is a master, and because of his blogs I’m getting there....slowly.  

Another author that knows how to market is Kallypso Masters, she’s indie and a USA Today bestseller. The one thing both Joe and Kallypso have in common, is their willingness to help other authors. I have a new editor because of Kallypso Masters.

Blog tours are popular, posting on Twitter and FB, and all the other social media outlets is also recommended. Learning how to use the social media is crucial. Simply by reading Morgan Mandel’s blog on how to use Twitter, I’ve made some headway.

Starting a newsletter is also recommended, but you have to build up the subscribers, and don’t want to inundate them with too many posts. Word of mouth seems to be the magic bullet, but again, it has to start somewhere and spread. I have read that a contest with offers of a couple of free books works well too.

Most of the sales are on line for the majority of the midlist authors, it is safe to say that books should be priced accordingly; that means reasonably. Give the readers a chance to take a peek at your work.  I priced A Hotel in Paris at $1.99, and my new releases, A Hotel in Bath and Blood Art at $2.99. Less than a cup of coffee at Starbucks.  That’s my magic number.

I have advertised with Affaire de Coeur, and for Blood Art, I have a World Lit Promo scheduled for November 21st and 22nd.  I work with Melissa at
She is slowly helping me build my name recognition.  

This recognition process is slow and tortuous, patience is required. It’s like sending query letters and waiting an eternity for a response.  We’ll see what results I get in the next couple of weeks, but in the meantime it’s a learning experience.

Margot  Justes
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
Hot Crimes Cool Chicks


Friday, November 15, 2013

Inspiration for writing comes in many forms

I’ve been going through quite a bit of upheaval in my life of late.  A dear friend passed away and even though she was elderly, the timing of it was a shock.  She went peacefully in her sleep, which is what she consistently said was the way she wanted to go, but I don’t think I was actually ready for it to happen even though I knew given her age and medical condition it could happen literally any day – and it did.

            The writer in me has been paying attention to all the emotions that I am experiencing as a result of this event and I am also paying attention to those around me.  I believe that this is what successful writers do – and remember successful is measured in more ways than just financial.  When I read stories that pull me in to the point that I can feel the characters and the emotions that they are experiencing I suspect that the author has either experienced those emotions him/herself or is one heck of a talented observer.

            I have often said that life provides writers with an incredible palette of interesting people to observe and mix from in creating their own fiction, but it’s not just people we experience in the here and now.  History is full of interesting characters from which to pull attributes when creating our own characters.  Scott Turow in an interview in the book section of USAToday makes reference to Greek Mythology as a source of inspiration for his writing.

            You can find the interview with Scott Turow at:

            Not only does he discuss character development but one of the questions asked by the interviewer delves into the best and worst things about being a writer and one of the worst mentioned involved re-writes, which I suspect won’t come as much of a surprise to most writers.  At conferences the discussion of re-writes and how we all feel about them is a common theme.

            Mr. Turow made another interesting observation in that he states that, “All authors really write only one book.”  I found this very interesting and it is causing me to reflect back to many conversations with established writers about having to write the same book (or at least the same type of book) over and over again and the challenge of coming up with unique characters and plot points to make their work fresh and appealing.  It’s an interesting issue and one that I think plays out in movies as well and perhaps any other artistic medium which essentially becomes entertainment.

            It’s a double-edged sword because often fans want more of the same because it’s what they enjoy and publishers (or movie studios) want more of the same because it made money.  So, for the successful writer who wants to remain successful, sources of inspiration are as important as anything else, if not more so.

            So, what are some of your sources of inspiration?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Welcome Tom Oestreicher, Civil War Historian and Author, by DL Larson

Tom Oestreicher has been an avid Civil War enthusiast and National Collector for over 40 years.
Tom has taught history at both the high school and collegiate levels. Oestreicher is currently teaching at Genoa-Kingston High School and will retire in May of 2014. Tom is near completion of his fifth novel titled Crown.  His first novel, Present and Accounted For, was a featured title in New York at the 2005 Book Expo America. Tom, his wife, Marilyn, and. his extended family reside in historic Sycamore, Illinois.

 Tom has hosted writing seminars and lectured on character and scene development.  I first met Tom in 2005 in Aurora IL during the Midwest Literary Festival.  Since then, Tom has continued to blend his love for history and a strong talent for telling a good story into his novels. 

Here is Tom to share his insight on developing a scene ...

I find it extremely frustrating when I' m reading a book by a popular author and just can't get into the plot. 

Setting the scene and starting your story with a "gripper" is best way to grab the readers attention. We see this practice all the time with television shows; think about the beginnings of Bones or NCIS. These shows have excellent writers and sustaining plots. Your writing should do likewise.

Whether at the beginning of your story or at a chapter, the more extreme the details the better. There is never too much.

When writing Present and Accounted For, one scene I had my lead character driving her car into a thick forest. I could have just mentioned that she was driving very cautiously into a thick dark forest that blotted out the sunlight. The reader would have understood the situation, but wouldn't it be more dramatic to include the crunching of the gravel under her tires as she slowing entered the forest, or the eerie silence with the only sound being the crunching of the leafs and gravel?

In my newest novel, Crown, the assassin enters the great room at Stratham Castle. He notices the rich burgundy draperies, the elaborate wall coverings, the solid oak wood inlaid table and hand carved chairs. The reading left pondering a picture of the scene. One can imagine that the character pauses to take it all in. He is not just walking through a room, he is overwhelmed by it. The history of the castle, and thus the importance of the person he is stalking, is better understood by the reader through these simple details. Notice that I never mentioned anything about who was being stalked, his name, rank, social importance, but it must be someone of importance or great wealth based on the details given. 

There are numerous books for writers that offer assistance for developing characters and scenes. I particularly enjoy developing my characters in great detail, from the shape a beautiful woman's eyes to the curl of her thin lips. 

If you are having trouble with scene or character development, you do not have to reinvent the wheel. I do a good deal of people watching at a mall or coffee shop. The good Lord put all the details you will ever need right in front of us. All a writer has to do is look for it, see it, and describe it. Close your eyes, put yourself in the scene, and tell the reader what you see.

Enjoy what you write. Treat it as a painting and imagine all the fine lines.

Tom Oestreicher

Other works by Tom are:
With Full Honors, sequel to Present & Accounted For
Sept 17th A Soldier's Story
Ghost Walkers

Visit Tom at

One of Tom's goals in life is to write a definitive history of The 105th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment.  This Regiment originated from the Sycamore-DeKalb IL area and was General Sherman's spear-head unit in his March to the Sea in 1864. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Special Guest Hank Phillippi Ryan Was Ready, Are You?

I'm thrilled to present today's guest, the multi-talented, award winning Hank Phillippi Ryan.  - Morgan Mandel

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN is the on-air investigative reporter for Boston’s NBC affiliate. She’s won 30 EMMYs, 12 Edward R. Murrow awards and dozens of other honors for her ground-breaking journalism. A bestselling author of six mystery novels, Ryan has won multiple prestigious awards for her crime fiction: the Agatha, Anthony, Macavity, and most recently, for THE OTHER WOMAN, the coveted Mary Higgins Clark Award. National reviews call her a "master at crafting suspenseful mysteries" and "a superb and gifted storyteller." 

Her newest thriller, THE WRONG GIRL, is a Boston Globe bestseller and was dubbed "Another winner" in a Booklist starred review. She’s on the national board of Mystery Writers of America and 2013 president of national Sisters in Crime.

Visit her online at
on Twitter @hank_phillippi

And now, some words of advice from Hank:

ASK THE UNIVERSE  By Hank Phillippi Ryan

Ask the universe. My darling and tough agent told me that, a few years ago, when I was having some kind of a wishing/hoping/yearning conversation with her. She stopped me, polite but firm, and said listen: there are many elements of the writing world we cannot control. All we can do, she said, is do the very best we can, put ourselves out there, and be ready. Ask the universe. And trust the universe.

I wrote that-- “Ask the Universe” “Trust the Universe”-- on a piece of paper, and posted it on my bulletin board, exactly where I would see it every morning and be reminded.

Now if there is any eye-rolling going on out there among you writers, hang on a minute. Here’s an example.  

The fabulous best-selling Meg Gardiner tells the story about her first US publishing contract.  She was a big deal in Europe (still is, of course) but could not crack the US Market. She could not get anything but rejected.

Her UK publisher also handled Stephen King. And that publisher sent King every book they published. One day, King needed a book to read on a trans-Atlantic flight. As the story goes, King stuck his hand into a box of those books, pulled out Meg’s paperback, and checked—the font size. Yes, he told her later, the words were large enough that it’d be comfortable reading on the plane. A random choice, one of many books he might have touched...but it was Meg’s, by the chance of the universe, that went into his hand.

Stephen King loved her book. Loved it so much he wrote a blog about it, and mentioned it in an article. Within days, Meg said, she had offers from 14 us publishers.

That was the universe, tapping Meg on the shoulder and saying, “Kiddo, it’s your turn.” 

Now. Meg had a terrific book—if King hadn’t loved it, we wouldn’t be having this conversation, right? So your job as an author is to be ready for the universe. Ready for that moment when
the universe taps you.

And it will. At the moment you never expect.

My husband and I don’t celebrate the anniversary of the day we met. We celebrate the anniversary of the day before we met. And we call it  “You Never Know Day.” Because you never know what wonderful thing is around the next corner.


So yes, we all worry about promotion and number and sales. We whine and wonder—what can we do? 

What we can do is write a terrific book. And be ready. Trust the universe.  It will all work if YOU work—and most likely in a way you cannot predict.

 Does a respected adoption agency have a frightening secret? Tipped off by a determined ex-colleague on a desperate quest to find her birth mother, Boston newspaper reporter Jane Ryland begins to suspect that the agency is engaging in the ultimate betrayal—reuniting birth parents with the wrong children.
It's a trail of twists and turns that takes them deep into the heart of a foster care system in crisis and threatens to blow the lid off an adoption agency scandal. With a killer at large and an infant missing, time is running out...
"...a crisp, fast-moving police procedural featuring reverberating illegalities, increasing danger and suspense and crackling sexual tension...Another winner from Ryan."    —Booklist, STARRED REVIEW 
Purchase at:

Please leave a comment to welcome Hank Phillippi Ryan to Book Beat Babes, then stop by her Facebook Page at HankPhillippiRyanAuthorPage to learn more about her and her great books.