Monday, July 31, 2017

"Classic Ginger" It Goes On and On and On - Rerun #multitasking

I used to consider myself successful at multi-tasking, but now I'm beginning to question my capabilities. The more I do, the more I have left to do.  How does that work?

This morning I awoke to 300 emails, even though I'm on digest.  I skim the digests, but all I see in the subject line are: excerpt, promo, contest, new release.  OMG, it seems that everyone who was a "reader" when I first started this venture is now an author.  I spent several hours yesterday on Facebook and anything I posted was lost in the avalanche of book promos.  I pictured authors everywhere huddled at their computers, vying desperately for the attention of a "reader."  Yes, I know authors read, too.  I do, but I'm looking to tap into someone who isn't competition.  Is that selfish?  I don't think so. All who have books available are hoping to find the mother lode of readers and achieve a best-selling status.  Honestly, it's more like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack.

When I got to my individual emails, I found the usual few word posts: Thank you, I'm sorry, I forgot, I'd like to blog, put me down, happy birthday, happy holidays, condolences, and of course, I'm blogging at ______today, please stop by.

As much as I want to support my fellow authors, if I visited every blog or attend every FB event to which I've been invited, I would never get anything else done. So how logical am I if I expect my fellow authors to visit mine?

I've already given up Farmville and most other games on Facebook, taken a leave of absence from my critique group, gone  digest on most of my yahoo loops, and tried to find a new avenue of promotion on the Amazon Communities, only to be beaten to a pulp by some of the folks there who are very territorial.  It seems there are those who don't like authors who talk about their own work.  What's up with that?  If I don't, who will?  I still crave Farmville, but I'm staying strong.  I imagine my crops have all withered and died, and I've probably been reported for cruelty to my animals.  I'm sure my farm is generally in  bad repair, but there's no way I can have a look without wanting to fix everything.  At least I kicked the habit on my own and didn't even need counseling.

Honestly, the towel is looking pretty good lately.  I've considered throwing it in a few times, or at least waving a white flag, but I'm too invested in my love of writing to quit.  I keep visiting shared links and viewing success stories written by authors who had sold hundreds if not thousands of copies on Kindle. I want to post that announcement just once.

I have several works out now, so maybe one of them will be my ticket to stardom... or at least a few sales.  :)  You can find them all on my Amazon page, and I'm always working on something new.  Coming soon, The Pendant from Books We Love, Sarah's Soul from Books we Love (as soon as I finish it), and I'm working now on Desperation's Bride.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Connie's Kitchen by Connie Vines

Happy Sunday!

This Sunday I'd like to share a scone recipe I prepare as a special treat for a family brunch.  Or, I must confess,  for an afternoon accompaniment to a cup of hot tea--just for me :-).  I am not a purest.  I will freeze and rewarm scones in a toaster oven or my upper open/warmer of my stove.  I do not, however, recommend reheating any type of bread in a microwave.



Real English Scones


YIELD
12 scones

2 cups flour, preferably cake flour
4 teaspoons baking powder (not soda)
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter, room temp
1 egg, lightly beaten
milk, enough to add up to 3/4 cup with the egg added
1 egg, extra

(If you prefer a sweet scone you may add a bit of sugar to the recipe or dried fruit).

Directions

Heat oven to 400 deg F.

Mix flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.

Add butter and rub in with fingers until it resembles crumbs.

Beat egg lightly, pour into a measuring cup, and add milk -- you can use buttermilk instead -- to make up 3/4 cup liquid.

Add liquid slowly to dry ingredients while mixing. You should have a soft dough, but not wet or very sticky.

Sprinkle flour on a wooden board or working surface. Turn dough out on that. Pat out lightly with fingers until about 1 1/2 inch flat, or a little less.

Press out rounds about 2 1/2 inches across.

Gather excess dough and repeat process.
Beat extra egg well.

Put the scones on a greased tin, use a pastry brush and brush with the beaten egg.
Bake for about 13 minutes until well risen and golden.

To serve, best use them quickly. Coffee shops keep making up batches, so as to serve them almost hot from the oven.

To eat, break open while hot or warm, and eat with cream and different jams.




Do you have a favorite Scone recipe?
Please share.  

Do you have Scone Tales--misadventures in backing, you'd lie to share?

Remember, scones are the perfect snack while reading one of my novels!

Connie






Thursday, July 27, 2017

Author Branding—Don’t Muddy the Waters (Part 1) by Connie Vines

Since this is my wedding anniversary, I'm posting a previous Bog Post.

I have been researching this topic via workshops, online chats, and discussion with other authors for several years.

The workshop I attended recently wrapped up the final meeting with: author branding was totally unnecessary.  (Well, that was a total waste of my money!)

So, does Connie have a brand?

No.

Does Connie still think she needs a brand?

Yes.  And no.

I know I need a memorable brand for each series that I write.  However, since I write in multiple genres, I don’t know if an all-encompassing brand is possible.  Or even practical.

We all know how much Connie loves to do research, enroll in online workshops, and conduct impromptu interviews with total strangers (to quote my husband, while we are in line at Souplantation, “why were you asking that man about the cost of a sleeve of tattoos?  You are not going there for the sake of research).  I handed him a napkin and smiled.  Now was not, I decided, the time to remind him that I had my eyebrows and eyeliner enhanced with “wake-up with make-up” tasteful, but still permanent ink.

How to Design Your Author Brand

Okay, it’s scramble time.  Find a piece of paper and something to write with.  You can use the note app in your phone, but I think pen to paper works better in this case. (If you write under more than one pen name, just select one.)


Ready?



Write down what your author brand is.  You have 10 seconds. Go!
Time’s up.

Were you able to write down your band?  Did you use 6 words or less?

Good for you.  You probably have a good idea of what your brand is.
If you didn’t (you are with me) don’t worry.  We will go about fixing the problem.

Brands Need to Be Specific

If you failed, the above test the reasons are likely because:

1. You don’t really know what your brand is yet.
2. You are over-describing your brand and couldn’t write it all down fast/concisely enough.

Now is the time to sit and ponder.  Strip away the contradictions, muddiness, superfluous.
What does a brand do?  A brand is a signal to customers to know what to expect when they see it.
Once they have had experience with a brand, they (hopefully) know what to expect.  Ideally this is a favorable expectation that encourages them to purchase your product, talk to their friends, and take chances on your next release.

How about a brand like this?

“Daring, Thrilling, Romantic, Action Packed.”

What if we change it to…

“Daring, Thrilling, Sexy, Action Packed”

A big difference isn’t it?

I selected very genre-esque words.  This was my intention because genres play a big role in branding. Brands are also about trust.

Remember genres and sub-genres are their own brands.

This is really important.    We already have a mind-set/expectations when we select a genre to read.  If you select a “Historical” novel (unless it is a sub-genre) you do not expect or probably appreciate elements of Urban Fantasy in the story-line.  Riding in stage coach, you prim-and-so proper heroine isn’t going to mesh with a hidden magical world featuring Fae, Vampires, and Werewolves.    So, unless you plan on inventing your own sub-genre (SteamPunk/StoneagePunk) with a limited readership, consider what you are inheriting from your genre.

Following these guidelines, I will attempt to come up with a brand for my current Rodeo Romance Series (BLW, BooksWeLove, Publsihing.).

Genre:  Contemporary Romance (Lynx), Romantic Suspense (Brede), Contemporary Romance/Humor (Rand), Romantic Suspense (TBT).

I’ll go with Romance as a genre.

Now to the dictionary and thesaurus.

For part 2, stop by next week.

(Feel free to post idea :-))

Connie 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Learning to Lie - by Roseanne Dowell "Replay Day"


From my blog a while back, we know  ideas are all around us - From our workplace to our neighbors. From getting stuck in traffic to grocery shopping and thumbing through magazines to reading the classified, so let’s put it all together.
 You overhear a conversation in a restaurant. The woman is crying. You can’t hear the whole conversation. But, your writer mind begins
to ask questions - Is she breaking up
with her date? Is he breaking up with her?
Or maybe those are happy tears?  It’s not necessary to know the truth. Your writer’s mind starts working and you imagine what you want. You begin to formulate a story about it.  You begin to build a character in your mind. You can see her clearly. Can even hear his/her voice.
You don’t even need to describe the characters in your story as the same description of the people you see. In fact, if it’s someone you know, its better not to.  We don’t want to write about our cranky aunt and have her recognize herself through description.  Change her into the complete opposite of what she looks like. Age her, make her younger, but what ever you do don’t use her description. You should create your own characters. Certainly, I use people I know.  In fact, I have a list of friends and relatives with character traits - make a list of your own.  I add special character traits, like my husband and son have a habit of touching everything on the table and moving it from place to place while you’re having a conversation. (Truthfully, it drives me up a wall and I often grab their hands to stop them – they don’t even realize they're doing it)  But that’s a trait to add, it makes your characters believable. We all have habits. Some people twirl their hair, some chew on nails. Write them down; use them in your stories.
So, back to our original character, maybe this lady has jet black hair.  Your character may have gray hair or blonde. Short, long, straight, curly it doesn’t matter.  What matters is that you create her. Maybe she’s young, old, middle-aged. Again, it doesn’t matter. What matters is to visualize your character in your mind. And make notes!!!  As I said previously I use index cards.  I list the name of my character, age, color of their hair, height, character traits, who in their family they look like (especially if it’s important).
List everything you can to know your character better, even if you aren’t going to use it in the story.  The more you know about your characters the better and more believable they will be. Nothing is worse than reading about a blonde who suddenly has dark hair half way through the story.   And be careful with names too.  I wrote a story using the character’s name, Daniel Stephens.  Half way through I changed it to Stephen Daniels.  Fortunately, I always ask people to read my stories before I submit them and someone caught it.   I also use character work sheets; they include everything from my character’s descriptions to their favorite foods and colors. A lot of the information I never use, but it helps me know my character better. By time I’m done, I feel like she/he’s my best friend (or enemy).
And, of course, the senses, not just what we see, but what we taste, smell, touch, and hear.  These senses help your story come alive.  Take notes on them too. Become observant.  Touch that wood, feel the smooth finish, or the rough texture of a statue.  Listen to the sounds around you. Not the everyday sounds of traffic, although those are important too and sometimes we become so used to them that we don’t notice them.  But out of the ordinary sounds.  Listen to the birds early in the morning or the children playing in a park.
 These sounds and senses help make your story come alive. Use them.
All of these things combined contribute to good story ideas.  Sometimes we come up with an idea from something we touch or smell.  Something soft and smooth or maybe a bakery provokes a memory from the past. Use it.
Maybe it’s a restaurant,  a deli, or even a car dealership.  Take notes on all the places you visit.  Settings are often as important as our characters. Write down these settings, keep a notebook.  If a particular restaurant strikes your fancy, take notes. Who knows you may use it someday.  I wrote a scene in a restaurant we visited on vacation.  It was a quaint little place and I really liked
it, so I jotted down some notes and it didn’t take long for me to use it.  I visited another restaurant with friends and loved the place. It was a typical tearoom type restaurant, definitely for women.  It was also an antique store and quilt shop.  I just used it in a novel.   Even hospitals or doctor’s office, you never know when you’ll have call to use such a setting. Beauty shops and health spas, too.  Take notes every place you visit.
Which brings me to the last point, find a writing buddy!  Someone you can exchange stories with or someone whose judgment you know and trust. Someone you can brainstorm with and toss ideas around. Sometimes we get stuck and just
need to discuss the story. They may give us ideas but just talking about it with someone, sometimes gives you the idea on your own.
I strongly suggest finding someone who writes.  Only a writer can understand your frustration of a blocked mind or enjoy the feeling of an acceptance. And only another writer is honest enough to tell you what's wrong and right with your story. Often times, family and friends are afraid to criticize your work, afraid they’ll hurt your feelings. You want someone honest enough to tell you the strong points in the story as well as the weak points. Trust me, sometimes these critiques  hurt, after all you worked for hours to put these words to paper and you love this story, it’s a part of you.
 I often ask three people to read my stories.  If two of the three comment on the same thing, I know it needs to be changed. If only one comments on it and the others think its fine, then I leave it.  But the end decision is mine to make.  It is my story, after all.
But you want it to be the best you can do.  So DO keep an open mind. If you ask for someone’s opinion, respect it.  You don’t have to take all of their advice.  I once had an editor tell me to cut a whole scene. A scene I felt was critical to the story.  I had several writer friends read the story. After they were done, I asked if they thought I should cut the scene. They all said no, it was too important to the story.  Alas, I didn’t get the story published at that time, but it remained intact, and I’ve submitted it elsewhere and it was accepted.

Monday, July 24, 2017

"Classic Ginger" Life Behind Bars .

As I sit in the dank prison visitor's room, with a smudged pane of class between Carrie, my heroine from First Degree Innocence, and myself, I'm struck by the cold gray walls, the steel folding chairs on the visitor's side, and the lack of any hint of color to brighten the mood.  Nothing about this prison is inviting.  The smell of bleach mingles with food from past meals served, and instead of a sprig of parsley, I envision a individually-wrapped vitamin on each plate to keep the assorted germs at bay.  I wish I'd worn a plastic glove to handle the old black receiver I hold to my ear so I can hear Carrie's answers to my interview questions.  Lord knows who fondled the thing before me.

I turn my attention back to the wide eyes and cute face on the other side of the marred pane.  Under different circumstances, she'd be my next door neighbor's daughter.  Today, I decided to interview her in the early part of her story.  I'm not sure she knows I'm the author of First Degree Innocence or not.

Me:  "So, Carrie, what was your first thought when you arrived here?"

Carrie: "Holy shit, this isn't a nightmare.  It's real."

Me:  "You still claim your innocence?"

Carrie: "For what good it does.  No one believes me except..."

Me:  "Except who?"

Carrie:  "I'm not saying.  I don't want to get anyone into trouble, and I'm hoping that I'll get out of this hellhole pretty soon."

Me:  "I understand you were deemed guilty because there was an eye-witness who placed you at the bank the day it was robbed."

Carrie:  "That's the only reason they convicted me.  I didn't have an alibi.  They day they arrested me , I had called in sick from work, in fact, hadn't moved off the couch all day.  The detective didn't care what I had to say.  With the witness' ID of me supported by fuzzy bank surveillance, I suppose his word was stronger than mine, but trust me, I didn't have anything to do with the robbery.

Me:  "They identified your car, didn't they?"

Carrie:  "So, I have the same make and model car.  I'm sure I'm not the only one in the world.  My problem was I didn't have anyone to vouch for me.  Coincidence is a word for a reason and I got screwed by it."

Me:  "How has prison life been so far?"

Carrie:  *sits forward in her chair*  "How you do expect life is behind bars?  Take a look around.  It doesn't get any cheerier than this, and you're my first visitor."

Me:  "Have you made any friends on the inside."

Carrie: *chuckles*  "I guess you could call my cellmate a friend, although you can't ever be sure anyone in this place is being honest.  Suzanna sort of got railroaded too, and she's been a great comfort to me, but you always have doubts about everyone.  Jet especially."

Me:  "And who is Jet?"

Carrie:  "You know how you always hear about bullies in life?  Well, Jet is the bully that runs roughshod over everyone in here.  She seems to have found favor with the guards, and they look the other way where she's concerned.  For some reason, she's taken an interest in me...one that makes me very nervous."

Me:  "I feel a little responsible for the predicament you're in. You probably know I wrote your story, if not, I'll fess up.  Although I wish I could tell you how things will end, I can't give away the books ending.  I just wanted to meet with you today to give the readers a glimpse of where you are and how you're feeling.  I can tell you there's a light at the end of the tunnel."

Carrie:  "With my luck, it'll be a train."  *She leans back and sighs.  "I don't hold you responsible.  You're just telling...oh, excuse me, showing my story to your readers, and I can't fault you for that.  You get your inspiration where you can.  Just tell me one thing...is Jet a lesbian?  I'm a little worried about that...you know with this being all women..."

Me:  "That really the least of your worries as far as Jet's concerned.  Just stay strong."

Carrie:  "Gee, thanks for that bit of advice."

The sound of a buzzer echoes through the room and a voice booms over a loud-speaker, announcing that visiting hours are over.  Carrie rises, receiver in hand and looks at me with sad eyes.

"Just get me out of here,  please."

As I hang up the phone and scrub my hands down my pant legs, I feel a pang of guilt for the situation Carrie faces.  I know the ending to the book, but what happens between now and then isn't going to be easy for her.  I hope she can stay strong...and if you want to know more, too bad, you have to buy First Degree Innocence to find out.

The novel is published by Books We Love, and you can purchase it on Amazon for a ridiculously low price.







Saturday, July 22, 2017

What Do I Read?




What do I read?  This is the topic for this month's Round Robin discussion.

In my case, the questions should be, "What don't I read?

I read anything and everything within my line of sight.  If you show be a book, magazine article, odds are, I will ask if I can 'see' (meaning hold it so I can see the print).  If it is interesting, I will probably walk away absorbed.  Later, I will return the item.  I will apologize and offer you something  (pen, pencil, bookmark, perhaps a cookie).

However, this is not what Robin had in mind, I assume, when this topic was posted :-).

I never read a novel in the genre I'm currently writing.  This is because I read for enjoyment.  When I am working on a historical novel, I'm researching--therefore working.  This is way I do not read historical fiction during that time frame.

Right now I'm working on a contemporary novel and a fantasy novella.  So, I'll probably re-read Jane Eyre, or some historical time period via the Internet.  Victorian era, is likely or my personal fave, Ancient Egypt.

I enjoy print books and ebooks.  I can't quite get into the audio books.  I do have an old Kindle that does text-to-voice.  It is a robotic sound, but I do not find it distracting.  If I wish for sound effects, I'll turn in a movie or television show.  I do enjoy Podcasts--though this probably doesn't fall under the topic of reading :-).

I did peek at Dr. Bob's post and amended mine.  Dr. Bob doesn't write romance because of the 'romantic myth'.

I plot by the rules of "The Hero's Journey". (Dr. Joseph Campbell).  I can't say I believe in the Cinderella and the happily ever after, in a true sense, either.  What I do like is the 'magical' emotional world of a romance.  The need for emotional fulfillment is what a romance novel offers (though mine often deal with social issues).  When a woman works full-time while raising her family, married or unmarried, she is often emotionally worn-out.  Reading a romance or gentle fantasy novel (unlike an action/suspense/horror novel) will refill her emotional cup (fill and emotional void).  Providing her with the emotional re-charge to face the world the next day/ after a 30-lunch, etc.

Positive thoughts.

Sometimes we need to believe the world is/will be a kinder place, a simpler place, or a place with beautiful book covers (had to toss in my personal pet-peeve), to get us through a rough-spot, or give us a moment of inner piece.

I believe reading fiction provides a recharge.  Life can be so draining, physically and emotionally.

What harm is there in enjoying a happily-ever-after?  After all, you have spent several hours with your new-found friends, and you wish them well.

Happy Reading,

Connie

Please Blog Hop down the list and read what these wonderful authors have to say!


Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
A.J. Maguire  http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/
Marci Baun  http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/
Anne de Gruchy https://annedegruchy.co.uk/category/blog/
Heather Haven http://heatherhavenstories.com/blog/
Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com/blog 
Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/
Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com
Heather Haven http://heatherhavenstories.com/blog/
Fiona Mcgier http://www.fionamcgier.com/
Dr. Bob http://wp.me/p3Xihq-11v
Kay Sisk http://www.kaysisk.com/blog
Skay Taylor http://www.askyetaylor.com/blogging_by_the_sea/view/542
Rachel Kosinki http://rachaelkosinski.weebly.com/
Anne de gruchy https://annedegruchy.co.uk/category/blog/https://annedegruchy.co.uk/category/blog/

Friday, July 21, 2017

Lucky 7 and Me



Everyone I'm Baaaack!
Due to a crashed PC and no wifi or internet I've been out of touch for a bit.

I'm back online and I'm sharing today's event!  I'm being feature in a Lucky 7 interview.

Lucky 7.
What is it?
What does it mean?
Stop by and find out.  I'm here with USA Bestselling author, Joan Reeves!

https://gemsintheattic.blogspot.com/2017/06/joanreeves-and-lucky-7.html

Hope to see you there!

Connie
#Lucky7
#BWL
#JoanReeves







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