A Few Historical Romance Picks

 

If you recall I mentioned in my Ten Points to Consider Before signing a Book Contract that I read books from the publishing house before signing. Today I’d like to introduce you to the rest of the novels  in the Smitten Imprint that share space my novel Secrets & Charades. Because I adore historical fiction I continued to read the rest of the Smitten imprints even after I was contracted. Reading all the novels helps me understand the imprint better. I am more aware of what might be of interest in the future. I have a better idea who I want to follow and interview. Yeah, I’m a fan, not just a reader. The rest of this post is showcasing these delightful stories.

This first novel In A Pirates Debt, by Elva Cobb Martin, has a wonderful setting of the Barbary Coast in 1700s Colonial times. Haven’t seen this setting in an Inspirational romance before. Lots of swashbuckling sword fights, explosions and privateering. Not to mention a strong damsel in distress.Pirates Debt

Saving her can land him in a hangman’s noose at low tide in Charles Town Harbor. Repaying her debt to him will consign her to a life worse than death.

When confronted with a forced marriage, Travay Allston flees her stepfather’s Jamaica plantation and dives into the sea. Death would be preferable to life with Sir Roger Poole, a drinking, gambling, scoundrel whose advances make her skin crawl.

Lucas sails the high seas as the dreaded Captain Bloodstone. He is on a quest to find his mother, a woman last seen clapped in irons by the Spanish. As his ship slips past Jamaica, he spies a young woman plunge into the sea. A prize of such beauty must be saved and Lucas dives in to rescue her. The last thing Lucas needs is to get involved with Travay, a childhood friend who caused him nothing but trouble. Especially now that she’s become a stubborn, alluring young woman.

Lucas delivers Travay to her aunt in Charles Town and washes his hands of the affair. Or so he thinks. But when Sir Roger shows up demanding that Travay marry him or face the wrath of Charles Town’s newest council member, Lucas feels that familiar boyhood tug on his heart. Will this wanted pirate of the crown risk his life to save Travay a second time? Betrothed to a man she hates, will Travay repay her debt to a pirate by marrying Sir Roger in exchange for his promise to pardon Lucas? And if she does, will such a rascal keep his word? Falling in love with the pirate was never part of her plan …

I’m listing them by dates.

This 1770 novel A Heart Set Free by Janet S Grunst focuses on the subject of indentured servants. The truth- ugly indeed. Love the premise and the historical realism. Winning an award is one of the things I list as a consideration in the ten points post.

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2017 Selah Awards Winner for Historical Romance

In 1770, Heather Douglas is desperate to escape a brewing scandal in her native Scotland. Penniless and hoping for a fresh start far away, she signs a seven-year indenture and boards a British merchant vessel headed to Virginia.

Widowed planter Matthew Stewart needs someone to help raise his two young children. The tall blond standing on the Alexandria quay doesn’t look like much after her harrowing sea voyage, but there’s a refinement about her that her filthy clothing cannot hide. Could God be leading him to take this unknown indentured servant as his wife?

When Matthew purchases Heather’s indenture, marries her, and takes her to his farm, she is faced with new and constant challenges. And Matthew wonders if they can ever bridge their differences and make a life together.

But in the Virginia countryside, Heather begins her greatest journey, one of self-discovery and of maturing faith. Here, she discovers that her emotional and spiritual scars bind her far more than her indenture . . . and love will finally set her heart free.

Saratoga Letters, by Elaine Cooper takes you between two worlds, the Revelotionary War and modern day. As you can see it was considered for an award. Thorough research makes this novel exceptional.

Saratoga Letters2017 Selah Awards Finalist

It is 1777. The Battle of Saratoga, a turning point of the Revolutionary War, encourages the American Continental Army with their first great victory. But there seems little to celebrate for one patriotic woman forced to nurse wounded British soldiers right in their war camp. Thrust into deception by a cruel Loyalist uncle, Abigail lies in order to survive, all the while dealing with doubts that challenge her faith.

Then …

Two hundred years later, on the anniversary of the Battle of Saratoga, thousands arrive from Europe and the United States to celebrate the event—including descendants from the war. One young American, Abby, meets the offspring of a British soldier. When she is threatened, Abby turns to the only person she knows at the event—her British ally. Can she trust him with her life? Or will he betray her in the same way loyalist spies betrayed her ancestors? Perhaps letters from long ago will reveal the truth.

The Planter’s Daughter by Michelle Shocklee is Pre-Civil War. Again I love the honest portrayal of life on a plantation and the struggle for the characters to realize slavery is horrible.

Planter's DaughterAdella Rose Ellis knows her father has plans for her future, but she longs for the freedom to forge her own destiny. When the son of Luther Ellis’s longtime friend arrives on the plantation to work as the new overseer, Adella can’t help but fall for his charm and captivating hazel eyes. But a surprise betrothal to an older man, followed by a devastating revelation, forces Adella to choose the path that will either save her family’s future or endanger the lives of the people most dear to her heart.

Seth Brantley never wanted to be an overseer. After a runaway slave shot him, ending his career as a Texas Ranger and leaving him with a painful limp, a job on the plantation owned by his father’s friend is just what he needs to bide his time before heading to Oregon where a man can start over. What he hadn’t bargained on was falling in love with the planter’s daughter or finding that everything he once believed about Negroes wasn’t true. Amid secrets unraveling and the hatching of a dangerous plan, Seth must become the very thing he’d spent the past four years chasing down: an outlaw.

A Rebel In My House By Sandra Merville Hart is set during on of the hardest fought battles of the Civil War, Gettysburg.  Lots of historical detail adds to the realism of the setting.

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Sarah Hubbard makes her living as a seamstress in her solitary home beside Willoughby Run, a creek near Gettysburg. Her loyalties are firmly on the side of the North so when Confederate soldier, Jesse Mitchell, seeks refuge at her home she cautiously agrees to help him.

Jesse promised his sister-in-law to bring her husband, Jonas, home safely. With all the death he’s witnessed fighting for “The Cause,” protecting Jonas has become a matter of honor. He is prepared to die for his brother and his country. He appreciates his luck in finding a caring woman behind enemy lines.

When Union soldiers spill onto their property, Sarah’s compassionate decision to conceal Jesse’s presence in her home leads to more hardships than she can imagine.

More than borders separate the couple. Can a Southern soldier and a Northern seamstress overcome the bitterness of loss and find the love amidst the horrors of war?

In keeping with the timeline let me offer my novel, Secrets & Charades set on a ranch in 1872. Post-war trauma and lots of other secrets pepper this plot. Loved all the research to bring these characters to life. I feel honored to be part of the quality authors published in the  Smitten Imprint.

secret-charades-front-coverJake Marcum’s busy ranch leaves him no time for courting, and his wounded heart has no place for love. When battlefield nightmares disturb his peace and his tomboy niece, Juliet, needs taming, somehow a mail-order bride seems like a logical solution.

Dr. Evangeline Olson has no idea her niece is writing to a rancher on her behalf, and she sure isn’t interested in abandoning her medical practice for a stranger. But when an inheritance threatens to reveal a long-buried secret, she travels west to become Jake’s wife.

Jake soon realizes Evangeline is more than he bargained for, especially when her arrival causes a stir in the community. As the two try to find their way in a marriage of convenience, their fragile relationship is further tested by cattle rustling and kidnapping. Can their hearts overcome past hurts to create a real marriage?

Secrets & Wishes by Kathleen Rouser is a turn of the century romance. Pharmacist as a profession and the pharmacy were new in the early 1900s. This is a new offering with Smitten and the characters are well-crafted and the setting so believable.

Secrets & WishesStone Creek, Michigan, April, 1901 Maggie Galloway and Thomas Harper clash after their sons collide in a fistfight. Both widowed, they’re each doing their best as single-parents. Outgoing Maggie has dreams for a home of her own and a business to provide for her son as she searches for God’s path for her life as a widow. Reserved Thomas struggles to establish his new pharmacy and take care of his four rambunctious children, while wondering how a loving God could take his beloved wife.

When Thomas becomes deathly ill, Maggie is recruited to nurse him back to health. Taking the children in hand, as well, is more than she bargained for, but she is drawn to help the grieving family. Both nurse and patient find themselves drawn to each other but promptly deny their feelings.

A baking contest sponsored by the Silver Leaf Flour Company brings former beau, Giles Prescott, back into Maggie’s life. When Giles offers Maggie a position at their test kitchen in Chicago, he hints that, along with assuring her a good job, it will allow them to possibly rekindle their relationship.

But then a charlatan comes to town, and tragedy soon follows. Maggie and Thomas discover the miracle potions he hawks aren’t so harmless when an epidemic hits Stone Creek. Thomas and Maggie realize they must work together to save lives.

Maggie finds herself caught up in battles within and without—the battle to help the townsfolk in the midst of illness and chicanery, and the battle to know which man—Thomas or Giles—deserves to win her heart.

This final offering You’re the Cream in My Coffee by Jennifer Lamont Leo takes place during prohibition. The research was spot on. The mysterious twists made this an award winning gem.

Your The CreamWinner of the 2017 ACFW Carol Award for Debut Novel
Winner of the 2016 Grace Award for Women’s Fiction

2017 Selah Awards Nominee

In 1928, Chicago rocks to the rhythm of the Jazz Age, and Prohibition is in full swing. Small-town girl Marjorie Corrigan, visiting the city for the first time, has sworn that coffee’s the strongest drink that will pass her lips. But her quiet, orderly life turns topsy-turvy when she spots her high school sweetheart–presumed killed in the Great War–alive and well in a train station. Suddenly everything is up for grabs.

Although the stranger insists he’s not who she thinks he is, Marjorie becomes obsessed with finding out the truth. To the dismay of her fiancé and family, she moves to the city and takes a job at a department store so she can spy on him. Meanwhile, the glittering world of her roommate, Dot, begins to look awfully enticing–especially when the object of her obsession seems to be part of that world. Is it really so terrible to bob her hair and shorten her skirt? To visit a speakeasy? Just for a cup of coffee, of course.

But what about her scruples? What about the successful young doctor to whom she’s engaged, who keeps begging her to come back home where she belongs? And what, exactly, is going on at the store’s loading dock so late at night?

Amid a whirlwind of trials and temptations, Marjorie must make a choice. Will the mystery man prove to be the cream in her coffee–the missing ingredient to the life she yearns for? Or will he leave only bitterness in her heart?

I’m confident my novel is at a great house. These stories are so well written you can’t go wrong. If you enjoy historical romance or historical settings in your novels they are available at lpc.

You can find them on Amazon and Barnes & Noble in paperback and e-book.  Thanks for indulging me as I shared some wonderful books from my fellow-authors with Smitten. There are more coming and I can’t wait to read them.

Who are some authors you love to follow and why?

 

 

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Three Boredom-Busting Tips

I’m preparing to write my fourth novel. Before digging in I like to read blogs and craft books to refresh me. This post is one of those. I’m sharing this great fine with my readers. Linda always has practical things to encourage her followers. Hope you find it as helpful as I did.

Linda W. Yezak

If writers already follow this maxim, they must have a higher level of boredom tolerance than I do. And if you’re like me, flipping pages to see when the action starts or where the next interesting tidbit of character insight is revealed, you have a low tolerance for boredom too.

And it’s for that reason, I’d amend the honorable Mr. Mortimer’s rule to don’t bore your reader.

How do you make certain you keep your reader hooked throughout your novel? The basic answer is to have a great plot with intriguing characters and high stakes. You must have at least that much to begin with, there’s no other way around it.

But to fine-tune it, add these three tips:

  • Provide action that is relevant to the plot.

Everything in your scenes should have a purpose, and the primary purpose is to move the plot forward. So if you’re describing…

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If I Ran An Author Fair

I attended my first author event at a public library last Saturday as an author. I’ve attended them as a reader before and always enjoyed them. This one not so much.

It was in a neighboring town. When I signed up I didn’t realize that the time an author could display and sell their books was one hour only. Such a disappointment. The reason, the entire event took place in only one room. After a speaker, the room was set up for the author’s signings, then the room was cleared and set up for a workshop and so on. I’ve attended a similar event in the past at my local library that gave the authors a room to vend their wares through the entire event. Had I understood exactly how the event was set up I wouldn’t have signed up.20171014_104949

Statistically, people purchase more stuff near the end of an event. I think, the room of 20 authors had all total 2 or 3 books sold in that hour. (I suspect it was author purchases.) It was poorly attended by the public, partly the horrid weather that day and partly being in the basement. I imagine most of these authors may not return. I know if it is run this way again next year I won’t.20171014_111812

Well planned library author events have separate rooms for author workshops and classes so books are available for sale all day. This way authors can interact with library visitors who happen to walk by the event. Library patrons are more likely to stop by and discover new authors with a more visual set-up.

If I were running this sort of event here’s what I would do.

A room with great visibility for the author fair. Clear signs with times of various workshops.

Door prizes provided by the authors to help engage the public in the event.

Lots and lots of promotion on social media, in the newspaper, radio, podcasts and signs all over town.

Two positives to this approach.

  • Great exposure for local writers. Providing them with a chance to get their books in front of a new audience. People are fascinated to know local authors. This provides a great opportunity for writers to expand their fan base.

 

  • Readers who purchase books on-line might be surprised at what they find at the library as they attend to discover new authors. Libraries need patrons and the next generation isn’t as drawn to the library as their parents and grandparents. A successful event creates more patrons.

 

That said, would I attend more of these events?

Absolutely.

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Carmela Martino and I discuss historical romance. Hers are set in Europe in the 1700s.

During the time before the doors were open to the public I networked with the other writers. I found out lots of helpful information. Discovered writers to interview on my blog. And made connections that will grow my author career. One woman paid me a high compliment. “The one good thing about today was meeting you.”

I want to do more of these events next year. Now I’ll be more discerning and ask questions before I sign up for an event. I’ll seek feedback from others who have attended. Then I’ll go prepared to sell books but expect to meet people and network.  It’s a win win. And BTW my expenses for the event are tax deductible.

 

What has been your experience at library author events or book fairs? Any other events you found worth-while attending where you had good book sales?

 

Part 2: Ten points to consider before signing a book contract

 

Last week I shared the first half. Click here if you missed it.

Today we will finish the second half. A brief recap. Before signing a book contract there are ten things I like to do before I sign. The first five points which you can review from the previous post are : What is the royalty percentage,  the number of titles in  the publishing house,  how attractive are the book covers,  are there best-selling authors on board, what are the sales rankings of books in your genre.

Now on to the final five.

reading-books

  1. Reviews What is the average number of reviews for the same books you investigated for sales rankings? I’ve read some wonderful book that had less than ten reviews. Their ranking wasn’t where I felt it deserved to be. (side note: write a review for books you enjoy it helps the author.) Some publishers have a network of bloggers and authors who do reviews. If you have your own network of followers who are waiting for your book and  willing to review it ,this may not be an issue.

 

  1. Marketing Another important thing to understand is the publisher’s marketing strategy. All authors must market their books—no exceptions. Whether a large or small publishing company you must invest in your marketing. The question you need to ask is what part does the publisher take on and are you good with it.

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I’d ask seasoned authors about their marketing and knew going it I would need to invest money. Writing is a business not an employer/employee relationship. It’ss helpful to figure out what your marketing budget  might be out the gate. Yes, you can market for free. But free cost time. So, consider all your marketing investments. This way you have a realistic view before you sign.

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  1. Rights- What rights are you surrendering to the publisher? This is where you need a contract lawyer or an agent to read the contract. Publishers may keep rights you are not aware of. For example: audio books, international rights or movie rights. Professionals can check the wording and advise you on what you are giving up or might consider negotiating. If you are afraid the publisher will take back the contract if you don’t sign it as is, don’t be. They are in the business of negotiating. Be sure to ask questions. Know whether you will regain the rights to your book if the company folds. Consult your agent, a lawyer or at least contact other established authors for what questions to ask. Again, this is a business, treat it as such. Before I had an agent, I ask lots of questions before signing. After I got an agent, he asked questions I never even considered.

 

  1. Ethics of the company. Research the company. Have there been lawsuits filed for breach of contract? This often comes up when you confuse a vanity press with a small publisher. A vanity press wants money up front for cover design, editing and marketing. Best practice is for publishers to pay for cover design, printing and editing and give you a clear vision of their part in marketing. As you check this out trust authors you know who have worked with the publisher to be honest. Some things you find on the internet are disgruntled authors complaining. Fro example: the mission statement of the company doesn’t match your own this could be red flag for you. If you write Christian fiction and the publisher has an erotica line because they market to the general public you may be conflicted.  This  association makes you uncomfortable, it might be best to  decline the contract.

 

This last one is an after I sign the contract tip. It helps  you build relationships and networking possibilities as you become a part of that publisher’s family.

10. Familiarize yourself with the authors. Friend them on Facebook and other social media. Join the publisher’s author pages on FB or through their website.(if neither exists I’d declare it a red flag.) Keep yourself informed and engaged. It takes months after the initial contract to get your book released. This interaction helps you plan your strategy for your debut and gives you an opportunity to reach out to other authors.

Final thought

This list is merely my own method. Others may see things differently. The bottom line: don’t put your name on a contract blindly. Be comfortable and understand what the agreement you are entering entails. It can make or break your career.

This is my method. You may have other ideas. I’d love to hear them. I love learning new things from my readers.

If you find my post valuable you can subscribe to receive them in the mail.

Ten points to consider before signing a book contract Part 1

Meme for contract blog

You’ve worked hard and now a contract offer looms before you. The first book contract is the most exciting. So much so you might even sign it for free. But please, don’t.

I’ve signed two so far and I did my research first. Both contracts were with reputable small publishing houses. That helped me feel more comfortable. Before the first contract was offered I got to know the editors from the house through conferences and became a fan of authors they published. I was confident when I signed with them and pleased with their author care. The second one I got through my agent and he negotiated the contract. But I still did some homework myself.

Below are ten things I feel are important before you sign not only the first but any contract. Especially with small publishing companies because they come and go. But traditional house should still get the same scrutiny. Small publishers are a great way to start your author career. They are usually more open to debut authors. And new authors can get so excited and in a hurry to see their name on a cover. Here are some things to consider before signing on the dotted line.

  1. What percentage do you receive as the author for each sale? (royalties) Those percentages can range from 10% to 50%. Most small publishers don’t give advances and often the first royalty check doesn’t come for 90 days. Any paperbacks you wish to sell you purchase for an author’s discount.  If your goal is to get your first book out there, the royalty amount may not matter. The smaller the company the smaller the royalty. (There may be exceptions.)
  2. Number of titles the publisher has? Go to their website and check out their volume. A brand- new publisher may have ten. A more established will have hundreds.

While you’re on the website check out a few other things.

  1. Cover designs Are the covers appealing. Are you drawn to the covers? The first thing a potential reader notices is the cover.secret-charades-front-cover

 

  1. Do they have any best-selling or award-winning authors under contract? This is not a red flag, merely a hopeful consideration. They look for quality and if they are offering you a contract, you can feel comfortable they consider your work quality.
  2. Sales ranking Choose a book in your genre and search for them on Amazon. What do the sales rankings look like? Do this with a few or all the books in your genre. There are millions of books on Amazon so if their numbers are over 500 in specific categories or over 50,000 in the whole pool of books that is a good thing. These numbers give you a good idea of sales. However, some some authors refuse to market and their numbers reflect that.

Next week I’ll share the second half of my list. If you have any questions I’ll do my best to answer them. These tips are things I find helpful. You may have some other ideas.

 

 

A Visit With YA Author Tamar Sloan

This is a longer than normal post for me. But it’s well-worth the time to read. Today is the release date for Australian author Tamar Sloan’s YA novel Make it Count. YA readers are going to want to add this novel to their must-read list.

Welcome to Jubilee Writer, Tamar. Congratulations on your new release.  Let me introduce you to my readers before we get started on my questions.

A school psychologist by day, Tamar channels her passion for books into creating young adult stories about discovering life and love beyond our comfort zones. She is the award-winning author of the Prime Prophecy and Touched by Love Series. Tamar is also the author of PsychWriter: where psychology meets writing, a blog that supports and extends writers.

When not reading, writing or working with teens, Tamar can be found with her ever-patient husband and two beautiful sons enjoying country life on their small acreage in the Australian bush.

Tamar finds it deeply rewarding to share her stories and she loves to hear from her readers and fellow lovers of all things book related.

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Tamar, you’re the first Australian author to appear on my blog. And you share my heart for helping other writers. I don’t write YA but I enjoy reading it. Tell my readers a little about your writing journey.

Interestingly, I never considered I’d be a writer. As a child I loved to read (I devoured romance novels from the moment I discovered them), but it NEVER occurred to me that I could write one myself. My first book came to me in a dream (so cliché, right?). But it was an idea that wouldn’t go away, which meant I had to go learn how to write… Several months later, with a healthy dose of muttered curse words, my first book of the Prime Prophecy series, was born.

I get the dream revelation. I think a lot of writers can relate. Now, tell us about your latest published project Make it Count.

Make it Count is a young adult contemporary romance, admittedly fueled by a touch of the impossible. It tells the story of impulsive, fun-loving Casey and the ability she was born with – if she touches another person she sees the number of days they have left to live. Casey fakes a phobia to avoid touch, and she convinces herself she’s happy in her isolated, safe little bubble. Until irresistible, motorcycle riding PJ comes along. The chemistry is hot, the sparks fly. And Casey is about to learn how to live a life that counts.

I love the premise. What kind of research was involved in making this story come to life?

Google and I became besties. I had to learn some motocross lingo, explore the theme of ‘you only live once’ and nail the most appropriate group therapy strategies for Make it Count. Google allowed me to do most of that. Apart from that, being a psychologist really helps. I work with young adults every day and get to walk alongside their struggles and triumphs. Those moments weave their way into my books all the time.

A writing what you know experience as a psychologist but so much more. Wonderful. What other inspiration came to you as you formulated this story in your mind.

Make it Count is one of those books that comes to you at 4am and you just know it’s going to be a special story. It started with the seed – what if with one touch, a girl could see how many days a person has to live? Apart from all the heart-wrenching considerations like touching your loved ones, I knew she’s avoid touch at whatever cost. But then PJ arrived, and he was hot, and irresistible. I had to capture their chemistry, and their story.

Now, let’s talk a little about you.

When did you realize your calling to create words on paper to share with the world?

This question has made me pause the most. I’m not sure I ever considered my decision to write as a calling. But I suppose the moment you commit the amount of time writers do to their passion it would have to be considered a calling. I think my realization evolved slowly. It was only once I’d published my first book and readers wrote to me of how the story had touched them that I realized I had a talent that was worth sharing with the world.

Do you have a favorite verse that resonates with you?

I have a framed timbre board in my writing room with Gandhi’s famous quote – ‘be the change you wish to see in the world.’ My dad made it for me, and I aspire to that sentiment every day.

If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice for your younger self about writing what would that be?

Be prepared for a fabulous roller coaster ride. There will be lows, there will be twists you thought you knew were coming but you really didn’t, and there will be exhilarating highs. How do you prepare for something like that? In some ways you can’t, in other ways you pack your fortitude and resilience, and open yourself up to the joy of the ride.

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Here’s the back-cover copy. Oh so compelling

He’s irresistible…but she’s the one person who knows his days are numbered.

Casey’s touch can reveal the one thing a person would never want to know — the number of days they have left to live.

By the time Casey turns seventeen she’s learnt to withdraw. But the phobia she fakes in order to avoid human contact is sorely tested by hot, persistent, motorcycle riding PJ. For a girl who craves contact, maple eyed PJ is impossible to resist. When the inevitable happens, when hands, bodies and lips collide, Casey sees PJ’s number, one that can only be seen as a cruel twist of fate.

Now she must decide. Will she continue counting the days of her life, or start living a life that counts?

With the memorable writing and humor of writers such as Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun blended with the attitude, chemistry and unexpected plot twists of Katie McGarry’s best sellers, Make it Count is a romance that will leave you swooning and smiling.

Make it Count (ISBN: 978-1-62135-708-7, Clean Reads Publishing) is now available at www.tamarsloan.com and on Amazon,  Barnes & Noble and iBooks.

Because this is the release date for Make it Count let’s share an excerpt for my readers to enjoy.

A few steps down the path I slip the brownie from my sleeve. There’s no way I can wait to get out of the front yard before I taste this square of temptation. I should be sainted right alongside Ari’s grandson for not wolfing down the whole platter.

There’s a mega-sized tree in the front yard, so I head around it, lean back against its bark watching the brownie’s slow approach to my mouth, savouring the moment. I smell the chocolate, the sugar, the awesomeness. I bite down and my eyes flutter closed. Oh. My. Heaven-loving-tastebuds. Galaxies of spun sugar dissolve in my mouth, symphonies drowned out by the roaring in my ears. My body mirrors what’s happening in my mouth; I’m slowly, deliciously melting into a gooey, thick puddle.

The roaring stops.

“If you like my cooking, you’d love how I make breakfast.”

Everything stops. Every cell goes from puddly and quivery to upright and alert. I know that chocolately voice. I’ll never forget that warm, rich timbre.

I open one eye, then two.

PJ is sitting on his motorbike, helmet on his lap, that grin glinting in the sun. He hangs the helmet on a handlebar, swings a long denim leg over and swaggers towards me. And I mean a hip swaying, shoulder swinging swagger that evokes images of yellow-striped, denim-clad butts.

The moment he’s close enough for me to focus on his eyes the brownie turns to bread in my mouth. It could never compete with the symphonies and stars in those molten maple pools.

“They’re a family recipe.”

My brain clicks out of brownie-PJ heaven and into gear. Hang on a sec. I look over my shoulder at the door, the door that was just closed by a woman the colour of brown sugar. I look back to the very white, hot guy in front of me.

“Family?”

The moment PJ stops I take a step back, out of arm’s length, and out of smell’s reach. His eyes narrow ever so slightly as he notes my movement. He crosses his arm. “Yeah, family.”

I wait, but it seems someone else in this town took the course on stubborn silence. Instead he grins again. Man, I wish he’d stop doing that. Here, in the sun, it’s blinding. “I’m flattered.”

I raise a brow.

PJ shrugs, and somehow the movement seems to bring him a millimetre closer. Moving again would be rude and weirdo-whacky so I stay put, choosing to breathe through my mouth.

“It takes some effort to find out where a guy lives.”

My jaw slackens. Ego much?

“Hmmm.” I step to the side and head to his motorbike. “I’m glad you brought a second helmet.”

PJ turns and follows me, I step around the bike, using it as a barrier.

He places a hand on the leather seat. “You wanted to come for a ride?”

Eyes wide with mock shock connect with molten maple. “Don’t you need it for your ego?”

Instead of looking insulted, PJ grins. A wide, teeth-glinting, eye-wrinkling grin. “I think I might; it just got one heck of a hit.”

I cross my arms, glad I can do it safely this time thanks to my Personal Protective Equipment.

PJ brings one hand up to stroke his chin. “So you’re not here to see me.”

“Difficult to imagine, isn’t it?”

“What else would bring you here?”

Those delicious lips twitch. He knows exactly why I’m here. I’m not much of a blusher, but being here, for a therapy group for a phobia I don’t have, wearing the freaky lengths I have to go to avoid touch seems like a pretty good time to blush.

But I didn’t wear a balaclava, so instead, I own it. “I have ablutophobia.”

PJ’s eyes stray to my lips. “Well, it’s not a fear of brownies.”

I resist the urge to lick their suddenly dry surface. “Or the repeated use of pick-up lines.”

PJ chuckles, and it’s a sound that reminds me of crème brûlée, smooth and moreish. “Maybe it’s a phobia of stepping up to a challenge.”

That has me straightening. Everything in my impulsive but necessarily inhibited personality loves a challenge. PJ quirks a brow, and leans forward, placing both hands on the seat. The position pushes his shoulders forward, focuses my attention on those biceps. Mr. Sexy-Comes-Naturally is waiting for me to pick up the gauntlet.

Sensations and sights sharpen. Those molten maple pools watching me. The heat pressing against my body. Those Adonis lips parting on an inhale. The bead of sweat raking down my spine.

I lean forward, and my eyes widen the moment my next sense registers something. A scent, the kind of scent that has your head tilting reflexively, your mouth opening just a touch to see if it will land on your tongue.

I don’t know what amber smells like, but I think this could be it. Woodsy, spicy…tempting…moreish. It’s the kind of smell that makes you wish you could spend more time breathing in than out. One hand reaches out to the red plastic fender rising from the back of the bike. The moment woven cotton presses into my fingertips, rather than smooth plastic warmed by the sun, I stop. It’s all I need to return me to reality.

I take a step back, having to mentally force my nose to follow. PJ was never meant get close enough to smell, because exactly what I thought would happen just happened.

He smells as good as he looks, and I don’t need any more temptation to fight.

I take another step back. “You’ve got the wrong girl, PJ.”

PJ exhales, possibly because of the pent-up tension, but probably out of frustration. “It seems we have one thing in common, Casey.”

With another step back I decide it’s safe to ask. “What’s that?”

PJ straightens, his eyes twinkling. “We both love a challenge.”

I start to walk backwards, shaking my head. “The difference is I can pick a lost cause.”

I turn and start creating even more distance between us. I walk away from hot, sexy, available maple, knowing this is what I need to do. Telling PJ, with everything I can, he’s wasting his time.

“See you at mini motos.”

I keep walking. The tenacity is admirable and flattering, but wasted. “I’m not going.” I call over my shoulder.

“Don’t forget to bring your little brother.”

I shake my head, glad PJ can see that and not my smile. Sure, I love to look, I like the flirting, and I’d love to be someone that could go there.

But PJ is the last person I plan on touching.

 

Alright readers now that you’re hooked here are some links.

Purchase links: https://books2read.com/MakeitCount

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Make-Count-Touched-Love-Book-ebook/dp/B07647LY9W/

Want to visit Tamar and get to know her better?

You can find her at www.tamarsloan.com or on Facebook www.facebook.com.au/tamarsloanwriter or Twitter www.twitter.com/sloantamar. Good reads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36284190-make-it-count

 Thanks so much for stopping by today, Tamar. Hope your release date is everything you hoped it would be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time Saver: Make A Proposal Template

Proposal cloudI’m done. I finished my proposal for the sequel to my Historical Romance Secrets & Charades. This is the fourth book I’ve written a proposal for, but probably the twentieth proposal I’ve completed.  Every publisher has specific things they want to see in a proposal. So, when I submitted S & C I had to rewrite my proposal a few different ways. Now that I have an agent, I need to write a longer proposal. He can then cut and paste the components for each publisher he pitches to on my behalf, meeting their requirements.

I saved a lot of time by creating a generic proposal template. Back in the day when we made paper submissions, compiling a proposal required more time to put the information in the correct sequential order. Now I can open my template and cut and paste my personal info and other unchanging portions, It still takes time and may require some reformatting. But that is minutes rather than hours.

The basic components of every proposal are the cover sheet, author bio, back cover copy, comparables, marketing strategy, endorsements, synopsis and writing sample.

First two sections are easy to adjust without recreating

The cover sheet has information the publisher needs. My contact information is in the upper left. It includes my address, phone, email, genre and word count. The lower right has all my agents contact information and the center is where the words Book Proposal, the title and my byline go. Some publishers want a tagline just under the byline. Others want it before the synopsis in the body of your proposal. The cover sheet has a particular format for spacing. Once I created one all I need to do is change a few things for the next book proposal. I don’t have to go back and double check what the format should be for each new proposal.

The table of content is the next page it lists all the components by page number. Some publishers don’t want a table of content. I adjust the page numbers accordingly with each new book. And if they want less information, I delete those items from the table of content.

The body of the proposal

Next you would have the tagline, synopsis and back cover copy. (These would be new with each new book but once you’ve written them they stay the same for every submission for that book.) Synopsis is a summary of your story. I’ll explain more later.

A tagline is a sentence that grabs the reader. For my contemporary romance New Duet coming out May 1st with Clean Reads (Shameless promotion. LOL) I wrote: “Love is never needing to be someone you’re not.” It took several tries to come up with one that grabbed the theme. The tagline often appears on your book’s cover.

Your biography comes next. Submission guidelines may have a word count for that. Now that I have a novel in print and another coming out I needed to tweak my bio. Additional awards or speaking platforms might need to be added in the future. Keep your bio current. The one in the proposal may be different from what goes on your book cover or any other published work.

Next comes writing credentials. Post your most recent at the top and descend to older things. List any awards, degrees and writing classes completed. Be sure to mention organization memberships. This is especially important if you are an unpublished writer. By organizations I mean writer groups or something that relates to the topic of your novel or non-fiction book. Being part of a writing organization shows you are serious about the craft. And if you are, for example, a lawyer proposing a legal thriller that information would be important.

The next portion is endorsements. You may already have individuals and authors willing to endorse your book. These endorsers need to have credentials. Your mother or friend (unless they are an author or an expert in their field relating to your novel) are not the endorsers you want. You can list all those who are willing to endorse or you are willing to ask for an endorse. Because I know a lot of authors I listed all of them as potential endorsers in my first two novel proposals. It was a long list. This showed the editor that I had people willing to support me I got seven endorsements for my first book. I didn’t actually ask everyone on my list because some authors don’t write in my genre. A recommendation from a Sci-fi author for a historical romance isn’t that impressive. Those who endorse you often promote you on their social media. So be sure the people you ask fit the genre you write. Endorsers don’t have to be fiction writers. A friend is writing a novel that addresses human trafficking; she plans on getting endorsements from organization that rescues these people. Once you have your list of endorsers, you can pick those that relate to the novel you’re proposing and don’t have to recreate the list every time. If you have a written endorsement from someone who read your draft, add it here. This shows you’re a go-getter. List all the social media you actively use.

Marketing Strategy is a tough one whether you are published or not. My first proposal listed things I was willing to do. Be honest in what you know others have done that you feel comfortable doing. Authors must help market. Even traditionally published authors market. Now I merely tweak my list adding what worked for me and deleting things that didn’t.

Parts that are new

Your target market may change if you change genres. This is the readers you are focusing on. Do not say everyone. Those words show you have not done your research. Be more specific. Teens are not the target market for my historical romance. Teen girls might read it because their mom bought the book. And some men read romance. Statistically women over 30 read historical romance. While millennials often read fantasy, dystopic and sci-fi. Know your market. Don’t assume because family and friends of all ages read your draft and loved it that this is your market.  You are not a marketing expert. Trust the experts.

The back-cover copy, and synopsis will be fresh copy. The back copy is a short couple of paragraphs describing the story. A marketing tool to get the readers’ interest. Don’t explain it all. Leave the reader hungry.

The synopsis is retelling the entire story with all the twists in 6 pages or less. Focus on the main character’s story. The editor must know the surprise bits and who-done it.

Some publishers want character descriptions. The two main characters are usually enough. But if you have created a fantasy world, then introducing each character is expected. Some authors include drawings of characters and maps of their world.

Unless a full manuscript is requested, you send the first three chapters and only the first three chapters. Make those first three chapters your very best work. Even if your think chapter five is the most exciting, send the first three. Only non-fiction submissions allow you to send chapters out of order. A few publishers may not require a writing sample if they know your work. Again, follow guidelines.

Proposals can be as short as ten pages or up to 50. (excluding full manuscript). Each of the basics I mentioned previously can be broken down into sub categories. Be sure to read the submission guidelines.

The proposal is how you sell your story idea. For me it is a painful process. I’d rather be crafting a story. Having a template of the basic information saves me time and reduces the pain to the synopsis and back cover copy. So, take extra time to make each section shine. If your proposal doesn’t grab the editors they will relegate your submission to the circular file.

What tips do you have for making proposal creation less painful?

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