Romance Novel Convention 2014

After sleeping for ten hours, I’m finally awake from my four days in Vegas at the Romance Novel Convention 2014! I had a blast, met some amazing writers, cover artists, readers, cover models and learned some stuff too!

I attended a class by Anne Perry, author of the William Monk series, and wonderful speaker. Her class was supposed to focus on weaving the back story throughout the piece so as not to create a historical laundry list. Instead it grew into something more. And this afternoon, I’ll be writing out my back story and then writing the outline for a new piece! Ms. Perry just added to my to do list.

Another class that has added to my to do list was the Twitter: Dos and Don’ts presented by Cheryl Bradshaw, author of the Sloane Monroe series. I have to clean up my twitter act and really take advantage of this free marketing tool. At some point today, I’m going to come up with what I’m going to regularly tweet about and go from there – slowly and steadily.

Then there was fun for the sake of fun!

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Swoon! Fitness Guru and Model – Mike O’Hearn

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The Rone Awards

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Sharks by the pool

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Music/Light show on Fremont Street

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Love this sign

Typed The End…Part 2

Cocktail partyAllergies have slowed the work down this week and I didn’t accomplish as much on my second week, but I did accomplish some things. Here’s the wrap up:

The first thing, that I’ve done is to create a writing schedule that will take me to the end of the year. Along with that came a promise to myself that I was going to complete it. Here’s schedule and where I am:

  1. Anthology Submission to Hot Ink Press for an upcoming project called Naughty Bedtime Stories – Received an email that it was received and is under review.
  2. Holiday Short Story – The second draft is going very slowly. I’m trying a new technique and while I think it will produce a better work, it’s taking a lot longer.
  3. Second Shifter Novella – The first draft stalled on Wednesday and I haven’t gotten back to it. Must work on this this weekend.

I also know that I have to get back out there and start connecting with readers and other writers, so I have a few blog hops coming up and some writers lined up to visit the blog very soon.

Happy Reading!

How to Make a Simple Book Trailer for Cheap

I’m an indie author on a budget and there are some things, I’ll have to do for myself. I’ve learned that editing and covers are super important and I can’t skimp on those. So what I can do for myself is some advertising, formatting for e-publication and making a simple book trailer!

I have these crazy ideas sometimes, that I can do anything. Back in April of this year, I had one such idea and downloaded Microsoft Movie Maker (free). I was going to make a book trailer.

The Concept – I wanted moving video with words that acted as a tease for Déjà Vu, my contemporary interracial romance. I was feeling very artsy that weekend and wanted something more abstract than concrete.

The Videos – I used www.pond5.com for the video snippets. ($30.00)

The Music – I used www.incompetech.com for the music. (free, must credit the artist)

Putting It Together – So easy. I dropped everything into a standard template and uploaded to YouTube!

Here’s the result:

 

Now for The Beginning of Forever, I went a little more concrete. The artsy wasn’t really resonating. There are no moving videos this time. I used static photographs from www.pond5.com and www.fololia.com for a total of about $14.00. I got the music for free from www.incompetech.com.

 

I had to work a little harder this time with timing and syncing the music, but it was worth it from the smiles I have gotten from my audiences forced to watch it.

Happy Writing…Trailer Producing!

~Val

 

An Indie Author’s Marketing Plan

I’m terrible at marketing. I think it boils down to the fact that I don’t like intruding.

That being said, I still have to promote my upcoming release, The Beginning of Forever. So I’m tossing around some ideas.

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Here’s what I have:

***Paid Services***

Schedule a Blog Tour: I’ve found a tour site that I believe caters to my genre and will be contacting them shortly to set up a tour. I’ve used this method before and wasn’t very happy with the results, but the fault was my own. I didn’t do my research. When paying for a blog tour, authors should read the blogs of the participating hosts. If the majority of the blogs focus on YA and you write Erotica, then it’s not a good match. Lesson learned.

Giveaways: My first giveaway is scheduled right here on the Vallory V blog during my September Hero Worship Week. I came up with Hero Worship Week last year and it was a lot of fun so I’m incorporating a giveaway with it this year. There will be three prizes all having a connection to Amber and Kevin’s story. I’ll also do one at the end of the year.

Facebook Party: I had one of these for Cheers and it was hilarious. My family and friends participated and made me laugh so hard. And my brother was asked to model for a romance cover. Thankfully, he works for the school district and couldn’t do it. I couldn’t have dealt with him if his photo was up on Amazon.  Don’t know that I got any sales from it but awareness was definitely created. I may do this later in the year around the holidays.

YouTube: Again sales, not so sure, but awareness! I’m busily working on a video to introduce with the book’s release.

***Free Stuff***

Tweet Schedule: I’ll be tweeting from September 6th to the end of year about The Beginning of Forever. If you follow me on Twitter, know that these messages are on a loop!

Forum Posting: Same as above!

Email Signature: Once I have a live link, I’ll add the book to my email signature.

Press Release: I’m in the process of creating a press release and will send to my local newspaper as well as any digital outlets I can find such as Yahoo! and Examiner.com

Update the Blog and Facebook Page: Have to change the headers and add photos.

Ask for Help!: I’m also compiling a list of authors who have appeared on this site and asking them if I can appear on theirs to promote my new release. Eek! This is goes back to my intrusion phobia, but I’ll do it!

It’s pretty skimpy and if anyone wants to share other ideas, I’m listening!

Deja Vu and Youtube.com

BookCoverImageAmazonI’m trying all sorts of things to get the word out about my work:

Goodreads giveaway of five print copies (available in the US, GB and CA)

Upcoming Blog Hops

Guest posts hosted by some wonderful bloggers

Facebook Event – May 11, 2013 – I’ll be giving away gift bags and print copies of books. (If you don’t have your invite, please let me know I’ll send you one along!)

And I posted a trailer to YouTube!

Let me know what you think.

Really, let me know before I start promoting this thing and find out it sucks!

 

The New Year Approaches – 2013

I hope your holiday went well. Mine was spent in South Carolina with my brother and his family and we had a great time. I often complain that my three kids are too loud. However after spending a week with five excited children, there’ll be no complaining from me for a while!

Because there were the grandparents who wanted to spend time with their grandkids, I also got some time alone to write and reflect.

I enjoying writing – bringing characters to life from a snippet of an overheard conversation or song verse and creating a world for them to inhabit. I enjoy working on my craft so that someday I can become a very good (dare I say great?) writer.

I’ve come to enjoy marketing. It has lead me to some very good reads and I’ve virtually met some awesome writers! That has been so cool for me.

HMMM?

HUH?

Publishing? Lately, that has left a sour taste in my mouth. I don’t mind criticism. As I said, I want to be good at this. But I’ve seen some things that my gut tells me don’t fall into constructive criticism. And as a published writer, I can’t call people on their suspected BS even here in my own little corner of the blogosphere.

So I’m seriously considering not publishing beyond my 2013 commitments. While I complete my projects in the next four to six months, I won’t be around much. But know that you can always drop me a line at t(dot)mailhes(at)yahoo(dot)com, I’m still an avid reader and honest feedback good or bad is always appreciated about my writing!

Happy New Year ~Val

Rethinking A Night at the Wesley

After getting my Nook, I discovered the many wonderful short stories out there. I love these quick little books and I can get through about five to seven every week. They are perfect for my daily train commute. Of course, the money I used to save on gas is now spent on books. But those are the woes of a reader!

Short stories are also a way for me to introduce my writing style to new readers for less than a cup of coffee.  My latest short, previously published in the KDP program at Amazon has been reworked (just a little) and republished on Smashwords.

I have enjoyed publishing on Smashwords but wanted to try another platform. After some research, I chose the KDP program. My thinking was that Amazon would provide more exposure for the story because of the lending program, the Amazon Prime program and the email recommendations. (I often get these and they recommend my books to me! LOL!). However after three months, I just didn’t see the results compared to similar works published on Smashwords in the same timeframe.

So I’ve moved back to Smashwords and will look at the results in the next three months. Since I’m in data analysis, I love this kind of stuff!

In this short story, Connie Atkinson is on vacation and ready to embrace her inner seductress in a five-star resort in Vail. However, a late deposition and a freak snowstorm derail her plans and she is forced to spend the night at the lackluster Wesley Hotel in downtown Detroit. 
In a gloomy mood, her spirits are lifted with the offering of a salaciously named cocktail and the appearance of her former college study partner, who didn’t think of her in that way. Since her divorce, Connie is opening herself up to new possibilities and a night with Noah Cohen has just made the top of her list.

 

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/248604

Indie Authors And Book Covers

As an indie author, I write freely. However, I publish on a budget.

Now, I don’t know if this is the right way to do it or not. But I look at each work and  decide where my publishing dollars will go. Will I have a piece professionally edited? Will I  pay for marketing services? Will I have a cover designed?

Editing – After working with an editor for my historical romance project, I must say that this will always be at the top of my list of must-haves. It was more than just making sure that my commas weren’t spliced. It was about finding those things that draw a reader out of the story. Things I couldn’t see. (And Devin, I’m fixing those!)

Marketing – How much free marketing can you do? Lots! I’m not very good at free marketing yet, but I’m learning. Then there is paying for a marketing service, whether a banner on a website or a tweeting service. All good ways to get your name out there.  And who wouldn’t like to reach more readers?

Cover Designs – I must admit that I love book covers and I am drawn to interesting visuals. One of my latest favorite covers is Let Me In by John Lindqvist which shows two kids in the snow with one set of footprints. So very cool!

My first short stories were published on Smashwords with covers I put together before I had an inkling of an idea of what I was producing. Those covers are horrible! I see them on the web and cringe! Then I chose a cover artist and loved, loved her cover for In The Moment! (Thank you, Tatiana!)

So with everything so important, where does that leave my short story budget? During the day, part of my job is looking at the ROI, the return on investment so…

For A Night At The Wesley, which I will publish on Smashwords later this week, I’m relying on a group of readers to help with the editing and…my brother for the cover art. My readers are great and I think they have done a wonderful job! Then there’s my brother. You have to know him.

After two weeks, here are his two concepts:

Concept One

Concept Two

The jury is still out on both…I’ll let you know how it goes.

Happy Writing!

And thanks to Devin Govaere at www.romanceeditor.com and Tatiana Villa at Vila Design

 

Pinot Grigio For Inspiration

Writer’s Block! I’ve had it for two weeks.

Here is what is not done:

Holiday Novella WIP – Chapters and scenes have been outlined. A total of 523 words have been written. I stalled out.

Betrothed – My historical romance came back from the editor and I have work to do.  It seems I’m a bit more of a history nut than I realized. Do you actually have to know that the city of New Orleans was captured by the North in 1862 without shots being fired in the city? For the purposes of the romance, I guess not. I have yet to edit that out.

Short Story – I’ve been searching for new places to submit my work and came across Mocha Memoirs Press. They accept short stories in the Steamy Mocha Shots Series. I thought that’s for me. I love short stories. I wrote a plot summary. That was all.

As to the Pinot Grigio, I enjoyed a few glasses this weekend with friends and relaxed. I didn’t think about writing or not writing. When I went to bed, the ideas were back and I could hardly sleep. I think today is going to be a great writing day.

Happy Writing! 

Betrothed – An Update

Inspiration for Abby Jacobs of Betrothed

Here is a very raw snippet of Betrothed, an interracial historical romance short story:

The smell of hard liquor assaulted him at once. It was barely past noon.  A few men had ventured out, locked inside for too long after the heavy rains and in need of the relief that only the dimly lit rooms could provide. Some were kissing women on the various settees throughout the parlor. Anna Belle was entertaining the rest in a card game near the bar. Bastille had begun playing his revelry. And she was nowhere in sight.

He had brought her here – to this place that had once sheltered him when his longing had become unbearable. Armed with the knowledge that he had betrayed her countless times throughout the years while she had waited patiently for him, he had brought her here. He had been a fool.

“Monsieur McDaniel, give her un moment. Hmm? A little time? She will come home. And Jacques is watching her.” Though dulled by a life in the sporting houses, the old man’s faded gray eyes still danced against his pale skin. Honoré had been a good friend over the years, drinking late into the night as he talked of Dover and Abby. Clancy took the tumbler from his hand and downed the fiery liquid, wishing to the heavens above that it would still the tumultuous beat of his heart.

Un moment. And should she not return? As a free woman of color, she was no longer bond to him.

“Another, mon ami.” He held the empty glass out to Honoré, who smiled like the sage of sporting houses.

First of all, I’m very excited about combining my love of genealogy and my love of writing.

Then there is the business aspects of this venture. I have  read a lot lately about valuing your worth. So I will have to decide the worth of this piece and that is not an easy decision.

I really like the story. I really like the characters. I’m as much in love with Clancy as Abby. So I don’t think paying less two dollars to read a novella is a lot to ask.

On the other hand, I really like this story. I want to share it with everyone. So free comes to mind.

Then there’s my hubby who says that I only sleep five hours a night when I’m writing  and I say – Yes! I will charge.

And fewer people will get to know about Clancy and Abby. So then I say – No! It will be free.

Are you seeing my turmoil? In any case, I’m editing and looking for a cover artist. If you know any cover artists you like, let me know.

Happy Writing!