S is for Street Team

A2Z-BADGE-0002014-small_zps8300775cThis month, as I did last year, I’m participating in the AtoZ Blogging Challenge. The first post is A, the next is B and so on every day this month, except Sundays. Last year, my theme was Scotland. This year, my theme is The Writing Life. Check back here every day this month to follow along and find out what I’ve learned in the last year. For instance:

Big-Army-Street-Team-ClickS is for Street Team.  A street team can be many things, but most simply, it’s a group of readers – fans and friends – who love your books so much that they want to help you get the word out.  

On the plus side, they network, tell their friends, leave bookmarks at libraries and bookstores, flood Twitter with hashtags related to your writing, help publicize book launches, etc., etc., etc.  You give them challenges and reward them with incentives such as books, t-shirts, or deleted scenes that no one else gets to see.  

A street team, like any group of special friends, can take a lot of time to set up and run. If you’re very lucky, one or two members will be so enthusiastic, they’ll wind up running the team for you.  Planning ahead and creating incentives and swag are critical to having rewards in place for your team.  And you need rules – what is acceptable and what is not for interaction with you, among team members, and with the public.  

Some authors disband their street team and then rebuild it in time for each new book release.  Others keep the same team for as long as any member wants to belong and be active.  How you run yours is up to you.  But you must weigh the pros and cons before you set up a street team and decide if one is right for you.

R is for Research

A2Z-BADGE-0002014-small_zps8300775cThis month, as I did last year, I’m participating in the AtoZ Blogging Challenge. The first post is A, the next is B and so on every day this month, except Sundays. Last year, my theme was Scotland. This year, my theme is The Writing Life. Check back here every day this month to follow along and find out what I’ve learned in the last year. For instance:

R is for Research. If you write in almost any genre, but especially if you write historical, research is a fact of your writing life.  

earth_and_magnify_glassI used to dread it, but I’ve come to enjoy following virtual rabbit trails around the internet as one interesting fact or tidbit leads to another.  You never know where your next story idea will come from.  Sometimes it comes from something obscure you find while looking for something else. 

So enjoy the time you spend on research.  You never know where it will lead.

 

 

 

Check out the others participating in this month’s A to Z Challenge!

Not Exactly Easter Eggs, But…

We interrupt the A to Z Blog Tour to bring you Happy Easter wishes!  And just look what the Easter Bunny brought to my house this weekend!

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I think there’s a Goodreads Giveaway in our future!

Q is for Quotidian

A2Z-BADGE-0002014-small_zps8300775cThis month, as I did last year, I’m participating in the AtoZ Blogging Challenge. The first post is A, the next is B and so on every day this month, except Sundays. Last year, my theme was Scotland. This year, my theme is The Writing Life. Check back here every day this month to follow along and find out what I’ve learned in the last year. For instance:

20090226-calendarQ is for Quotidian.  There’s a word that doesn’t get used much these days.  It means recurring daily, which is what you should be doing as an author.  Writing, recurring daily.  

It’s a goal, one I admit I don’t achieve, either.  But it’s always in the back of my mind.  On days that I don’t write, I feel like I’ve wasted time that could have been used to accomplish something — word count, revisions, editing, any part of the process that leads to a finished, publish-ready book.  Yeah, I’ve got it bad.  I’ll bet you do, too.  

So remember this word:  quotidian.  It’s a good goal.

 

Check out the other authors doing the A to Z Challenge this month!

P is for Piracy

A2Z-BADGE-0002014-small_zps8300775cThis month, as I did last year, I’m participating in the AtoZ Blogging Challenge. The first post is A, the next is B and so on every day this month, except Sundays. Last year, my theme was Scotland. This year, my theme is The Writing Life. Check back here every day this month to follow along and find out what I’ve learned in the last year. For instance:

P is for Piracy.  There are few topics guaranteed to rile up a group of authors as much as this one.  Piracy is the illegal, unauthorized reproduction of an author’s work, usually for sale by the pirate, with none of the proceeds going to the author or legitimate publisher.  Piracy is so rampant, most publishers and authors cannot or will not do anything about it.

Let’s be clear.  It’s stealing.

Whether it’s a book, or an episode of a television show (an episode of Game of Thrones just broke the series’s own piracy record), movie or music, if it wasn’t bought from a legitimate source, it was stolen.  And no, I’m not talking about loaning a paperback copy of your favorite book to a friend.  I’m talking about large-scale, deliberate attempts to make money from someone else’s hard work, sweat, and probably even tears by putting a digital copy of their work up on an unauthorized website and selling it.  Or even giving it away.  Without the author’s or publisher’s permission, their copyright is violated and — again — it’s theft.

pirate_flag_skull_bones_patchWhy aren’t these pirates ashamed?  Turns out most are international, are in it for a quick buck or ruble or whatever, don’t recognize copyright laws and don’t give a rat’s a–…well, you get my drift. These are not nice people.

There are things that an author or publisher can do – send cease and desist form letters, notify the site host, warn their readers to avoid pirate sites and so forth.  But they’re only temporary solutions.  Take down one site and another pops up right behind it.

Some authors take the philosophical stance that people who get books from pirates wouldn’t have paid for them anyway.  And once read, the book might intrigue them enough to buy more of the author’s work through legitimate channels.  That might be true for some fraction of books acquired at a pirate site.  It might also be true that more of the author’s books will be pirated and those readers will just keep looking for the pirated copies that are cheap or free.

My bottom line is this: if you see my books on a pirate site — and you will — don’t download them.  It’s stealing.

 

Check out the other authors doing the A to Z Challenge this month!

 

O is for Opportunity

A2Z-BADGE-0002014-small_zps8300775cThis month, as I did last year, I’m participating in the AtoZ Blogging Challenge. The first post is A, the next is B and so on every day this month, except Sundays. Last year, my theme was Scotland. This year, my theme is The Writing Life. Check back here every day this month to follow along and find out what I’ve learned in the last year. For instance:

O is for Opportunity. As with any other profession, those who work hard prepare to take advantage of opportunities that come their way.  For authors, that means writing, writing, writing.  But it takes a lot more than writing to be a successful author these days.  For example:

Build a brand by having a website and being active on social media.

Practice your 20-second elevator speech (your bio, book description, whatever you need) until you can recite it in your sleep.

Rehearse your agent and editor pitch until you’re sure they’ll be so impressed, they’ll just have to buy your book.

Attend conferences and network with other authors.

Make sure your book is as close to perfectly edited and formatted as you can make it before it’s published.

Then, when the chance to pitch your book, meet an author you love to read, or collaborate with other authors on a promotion project comes along, you’ll be ready. 

Check out the other authors doing the A to Z Challenge this month!

N is for Newsletter

A2Z-BADGE-0002014-small_zps8300775cThis month, as I did last year, I’m participating in the AtoZ Blogging Challenge. The first post is A, the next is B and so on every day this month, except Sundays. Last year, my theme was Scotland. This year, my theme is The Writing Life. Check back here every day this month to follow along and find out what I’ve learned in the last year. For instance:

newsletterN is for Newsletter.  Yes, I have one.  I’d love for you to join my newsletter mailing list.  You’ll get first crack at contests, exclusive content, and cool developments I haven’t shared anywhere else.  I only publish once a month, so your inbox won’t be inundated – at least not by me.  But you will be in the know, which is a great place to be.  If you haven’t already clicked one of the links above, click here!

Why do authors write newsletters?  For a variety of reasons, but here are a few:

A newsletter lets us share exclusive content with readers who really want to know about us and our books.

A newsletter lets us reward readers who really want to know about us and our books with exclusive contests, book excerpts, previews, and news before anyone else gets access to them.

A newsletter mailing list tells us who our most devoted fans are – the people who love our books and who help us get the word out when we have a new release or an exciting development to share.

If that sounds like fun to you, join my newsletter mailing list!

To see who else is Blogging from A to Z this month, click here.

M is for Making It Up

A2Z-BADGE-0002014-small_zps8300775cThis month, as I did last year, I’m participating in the AtoZ Blogging Challenge. The first post is A, the next is B and so on every day this month, except Sundays. Last year, my theme was Scotland. This year, my theme is The Writing Life. Check back here every day this month to follow along and find out what I’ve learned in the last year. For instance:

M is for Making It Up.  We writers do a lot of that.  Some more, some less, depending on the genre we write in, and how historically or factually accurate we want a story to be.  Mystery, crime fiction, police procedural and courtroom drama writers spend hours on research because some readers love to catch an author in a mistake.   It’s part of the fun of reading those books.  I imagine the same is true for Regency historicals that are filled with period details of costume, customs and furnishings.  

Scottish historical writers have more freedom to incorporate fantasy elements, and to forego real locations in favor of places and events they create.  Irish historical romances go even further, as most of them incorporate some form of the Fae of Irish myth and legend.question-mark-112390_640

No matter what you write, you depend on your imagination.  But as Tom Clancy famously said, unlike real life, fiction has to make sense.  Your story has to have some logic to it, even if it’s only its own internal logic.  Worldbuilding is a science as well as an art.  What’s the geography?  Who are the people?  What are their customs?  Religion?  Politics?  You may not incorporate all of those elements in your story, but you’ll think about them as you make up the details of your world, if you want the story to make sense to you and your readers.

To find other authors participating in the AtoZ Blogging Challenge, click here!

J is for Judging

A2Z-BADGE-0002014-small_zps8300775cThis month, as I did last year, I’m participating in the AtoZ Blogging Challenge. The first post is A, the next is B and so on every day this month, except Sundays. Last year, my theme was Scotland. This year, my theme is The Writing Life. Check back here every day this month to follow along and find out what I’ve learned in the last year. For instance:

J is for judging.  Whether you participate in a critique partnership or critique group, write reviews, or judge contests, you’re called upon to judge the work of other authors.  Yes, it’s tough enough deciding if your own writing is good, bad or indifferent.  But we writers depend on honest feedback from our peers to help us sort through plot problems, identify word repetition and grammar mistakes, and on the plus side, to gain attention from agents, editors and readers.  

The old adage “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything” doesn’t serve us well when we’re called upon to help another author improve their writing.  Nor is it fair to anyone in a contest to give only positive feedback. Judging implies recognizing both positive and negative aspects of a work. But there’s no need to be mean, either.  Honesty can be couched in kind words, helpful suggestions, and critical feedback that leaves room for the other person to grow as an author while protecting their ego.  images

Judging another’s work is fun when they’ve done a great job, you enjoy their story, and you can easily give them positive reinforcement.  Most of us don’t enjoy the flip side of that coin, when we could not finish the book, when there are so many errors that it looks like we bled all over the page with our red pen, or when we have to score a contest entry so low that we know the entry has no chance of advancing.  But if we’re determined to help our fellow authors ensure that manuscripts are truly ready to be published, then we have no choice.  

 

Have you Voted for HIGHLAND SEER Yet?

HIGHLAND SEER is a nominee for InD’Tale Magazine’s 2014 RONE Award in the Historical: Medieval category.  You can help it become a finalist!  

Vote this week (between 24-30 March 2014) in the Romance, Historical: Medieval category  Every vote counts!  

RONE Award Final

You must be registered to vote online.  BUT: If you don’t want to sign in, you can vote by email.  Please include Genre (Historical: Medieval), book (HIGHLAND SEER) and author (Willa Blair) and send your vote to: anasmith@indtale.com

Thank you for supporting HIGHLAND SEER! 

Help! Please Vote!

HIGHLAND SEER is a nominee for InD’Tale Magazine’s 2014 RONE Award in the Historical: Medieval category.  You can help it become a finalist!  

Vote this week (between 24-30 March 2014) in the Romance, Historical: Medieval category 

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You must be registered to vote online.  BUT: If you don’t want to sign in, you can vote by email.  Please include Genre (Historical: Medieval), book (HIGHLAND SEER) and author (Willa Blair) and send your vote to: anasmith@indtale.com

Thank you for supporting HIGHLAND SEER and me!

The Doldrums

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Two hundred years ago, the doldrums referred to the area near the equator where the winds calmed, and sailing ships could be stuck for days or weeks until the trade winds resumed.

Nowadays, the term refers to feeling depressed, or to anything that gets us to that bleak state of mind.  The period from now until Spring arrives certainly qualifies.  The love/lust/chocolate of Valentine’s Day is behind us, and there’s little to look forward to for the next month or so except more of this harsh, snowy winter with its cloudy, short days. Oh, yes, and cabin fever.

For a writer, the doldrums can be a period of writer’s block, but it can also be a period of reflection, or a chance to gain some distance from what has been written.  In other words, a chance to approach the revision process with fresh eyes.  Now that I finally finished the first draft of the third book in my Highland Talents series, Highland Troth, I’m taking that kind of time over the next couple of weeks. What should I do to keep myself from going back to the manuscript too quickly?  I have a few ideas:

  • Clean out those insidious junk drawers.  I have them.  You do, too.  Mine are in need of a good purge.  What about yours?ID-100131568
  • Speaking of purge – my closet could use one of those, too.
  • And my desk? Definitely.  Things tend to stack up when I’m in the throes of writing.  My husband calls it my “functional filing system,” which translates to random stacks of papers.  I know what’s in them — or at least I think I do.

But that all sounds like work.  How about:

  • Take a trip?  A change of scenery, especially to a sunnier location this time of year, would provide a new perspective.ID-10086266
  • Play tourist locally?  We’re not snowed in like some (many!) of you are, and there are lots of places to go and things to see.
  • Develop a new hobby? Painting?  Gardening? Painting the garden?

I’ll be spending the next month doing several of these things.  What about you?  What do you have planned over the next month to combat the doldrums?

Photo credits: freedigitalphotos.net  Tim Seed, moggara12, Just2Shutter

Cover Reveal: Cowboys & Kisses

We’re going a long way from the Highlands again today, but another author friend of mine has a gorgeous cover to reveal and a new book coming out soon.  I’m tickled to show off Cowboys & Kisses by fellow San Antonio Romance Author, Sasha Summers!

Cowboys and Kisses

Allie had big plans for the future. Falling for a cowboy wasn’t part of it.

1.  Get out of Black Falls Texas – aka Redneck Hell

(Graduation was eight months away. After that, she was out of there.)

2.    Avoid Wyatt Holcomb at all costs.

(Except he was everywhere and kind of hard to ignore since he was hot—and a really nice guy.)

3.    Avoid her parents.

(Shouldn’t be too hard to do since her father hated her and her mother pretended nothing was wrong.)

4.    Stop thinking about Wyatt.

(Which would be a lot easier if he wasn’t so sweet… and he’d keep his shirt on.)

5.    Decide what she really wants.

(Instead of holding onto the past and the guilt.)

Maybe falling for a cowboy could work after all?

About The Author:

Sasha is part gypsy. Her passions have always been storytelling, history, romance, and travel. She writes lyrical romantic fantasy, steamy contemporary romance, sci-fi romance, and young adult romance. Her first play was written for her Girl Scout troupe. She’s been writing ever since. She loves getting lost in the worlds and characters she creates; even if she frequently forgets to run the dishwasher or wash socks when she’s doing so. Luckily, her family is super understanding and supportive.

http://www.sashasummers.com

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Twitter – @sashawrites

My Favorite Christmas Job

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI grew up working in a department store after school, and every summer and holiday break.  Eventually, I worked in all of the departments in the store except Shoes and Men’s.  My least favorite was a toss-up between Accessories, which included Jewelry where there were always broken chains that needed to be fixed, and Children’s.  Not because of the badly-behaved children, but because of the badly-behaved parents who let their kids run wild all over the store.  But that’s a topic for another day.

My favorite job in all the years I worked in the store was wrapping gifts during the Christmas season. Yes, I must be one bulb short of a full string of lights.

holidaywrappingAt the time, I probably would not have put gift-wrapping at number one, but in hindsight, it was the most fun.  Picture it: pretty papers, fancy ribbons, and package decorations everywhere!  Other than the occasional paper cut, gift wrapping was usually easy to do.  Most things people brought to be wrapped fit into one of several standard size boxes.  That’s not to say there weren’t the occasional challenges, such as luggage, a large stuffed animal, or drapery hardware (really).

On Christmas Eve, regular customers often brought Christmas cookies, or even eggnog, to share.  The  store’s PA system played upbeat holiday music to keep everyone in a shopping mood.  Christmas Eve in the store almost qualified as a party, except for the rushed periods when a line would form, and we’d scramble to wrap packages as fast and neatly as we could.  During those times, the office staff was called upon to help. They wrapped packages on the back counters, but getting to the paper, ribbons and decorations became a bumper-cars exercise in trying not to get stabbed by scissors or tangled in ribbon.

Shopping-bag-5-120x120The best part of the Christmas Eve rush was watching a man approach the window with a shopping bag in hand.  It was a safe bet that by Christmas Eve, romance had gone out the window, and desperation had set in.  The ladies in Lingerie could sell him anything, especially if it was black, sheer and lacy.  Of course, the wife or girlfriend would be back the day after Christmas to return the frothy lingerie and choose something more to her taste.  But that didn’t deter their men, though some of them were beet-faced-embarrassed to hand their selection to a high school girl to wrap.

When the store finally closed, I’d head home exhausted, but definitely full of Christmas spirit.  Or on a sugar high.  Either way, I’d had a great time.  After all, who besides Santa – and me - knew what everyone was getting for Christmas?free-adorable-old-santa-claus-picture-wallpaper_1366x768_88114

USAToday HEA Recommends HIGHLAND SEER!

In today’s USAToday HEA blog, Kathy Altman reviews and recommends HIGHLAND SEER!

FinalHighlandSeer_w7776I don’t want to give away the entire review since I’m sure you’ll want to read it for yourself.  Just click this link!

But to tease you, here are some of my favorites comments:

“Willa Blair’s latest Scottish Highlands historical is the deeply satisfying story of a desperate lady laird and an honor-driven master of arms.”

“16th-century intrigue, muscled men with claymores and a doomed romance — is it any wonder I was reluctant to leave the rich, riveting world of Highland Seer?  Good thing I can make my way back easily enough — all I have to do is treat myself to Blair’s celebrated debut, Highland Healer…”

“Blair has crafted layer upon layer of conflict so ironclad the story teems with tension and expectancy.”

 I’m thrilled!  And to celebrate, I’m going to announce another giveaway…so check back here tomorrow!  

Sunday Snippet #44

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Sunday Snippets are six- or eight-sentence glimpses into my best-selling, award-winning Scottish romance books.  If you enjoy Scottish romance, keep reading, because I love sharing mine.  Skim back through my blog to read previous snippets. 

FinalHighlandSeer_w7776Join my mailing list to get insider news and win prizes!

 

Here’s a short snippet from HIGHLAND SEER.  Ellie is a widow, and her marriage was brief before her husband was killed. Does she have the nerve to do what she must?   Enjoy!

She had little experience enticing a man. A few weeks with her husband were poor preparation if she meant to wage a battle for this man, but battle she must. If she failed to convince him to see her as a woman, then she must appeal to his sense of duty, though that would be a poor reflection of what she’d seen in her dream. The man had been reaching for her. The expression on his face, though dimly seen, had betrayed his longing. 

For more great snippets, check HERE for the Snippet Sunday group on Facebook.

 

Enter My Goodreads Giveaway!

For the next month, I’m celebrating the release of the second book in my Scottish historical Highland Talents series, HIGHLAND SEER.  Enter the Goodreads Giveaway to win a print copy!  I’ve put seven up for grabs.  One could be yours!

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Look What Just Arrived!

How exciting!  Print copies of Highland Seer arrived this week from my publisher, The Wild Rose Press.  

I’m looking forward to giving some of them away during Highland Seer’s Release Day party on 1 November!  Mark your calendars and join the fun!

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Sunday Snippet #43

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Sunday Snippets are six- or eight-sentence glimpses into my best-selling, award-winning Scottish romance books.  If you enjoy Scottish romance, keep reading, because I love sharing mine.  Skim back through my blog to read previous snippets.

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 HIGHLAND SEER‘s SALE on Amazon only lasts to the end of the month, so get your copy today!  

HIGHLAND SEER‘s official release date is coming up November 1st.  Like my Facebook Author Page to be eligible to win a Print copy of Highland Seer! (US Only)

Here’s another snippet from HIGHLAND SEER, skipping ahead a bit from last week’s.   Enjoy!

He remained still, watching her through slitted eyes as his chest rose and fell with his breath. He’d allowed her touch, though it was improper. She knew he could have removed her hand and thrown her bodily from his chamber with no effort at all. That he should have. The muscle jumping in his jaw gave the only indication her touch still affected him.

For more great snippets, check HERE for the Snippet Sunday group on Facebook.

 

Sunday Snippet #42

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Sunday Snippets are six- or eight-sentence glimpses into my best-selling, award-winning Scottish romance books.  If you enjoy Scottish romance, keep reading, because I love sharing mine.  Skim back through my blog to read previous snippets. 

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Both HIGHLAND HEALER and HIGHLAND SEER are ON SALE on Amazon!  

HIGHLAND SEER‘s official release date is coming up November 1st.  Like my Facebook Author Page to be eligible to win a Print copy of Highland Seer! (US Only)

Here’s another snippet from HIGHLAND SEER, continuing from last week’s.   Enjoy!

Lately, her dream had come three times, always the same. Within it a man, much like the man before her, dark blond hair falling into his eyes, but in her dream, his well-muscled arms had been reaching for her. Donal’s most assuredly were not. They formed a barrier across his impressive chest. Their message was clear: stay back.

“I’m sorry to disturb ye,” she began.

For more great snippets, check HERE for the Snippet Sunday group on Facebook.