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How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Welcome friends! Casey here.

Technically, I don’t get a summer vacation but I do have a boat load of vacation time (thanks to twenty-five years with the same employer).

So guess what?  Have you ever been cornered by someone eager to share their vacation photos?

Yes? No?

Well, I’m about to do that to you right now! Seriously, it’s hard to believe another summer has come and gone. While I did find time to pen another novel (see #2), I also made sure to have plenty of fun too! Without further ado, I present – my summer in pictures.

1. May – Sheep shearing at Old Sturbridge Village! Yes, May is not technically summer yet, but my kids college classes were over so close enough. Sheep Shearing2. JuneOver Easy was well underway thanks to a helping hand from Scrivener. I’m happy to report that I finished the first draft by the end of July and it’s currently in the hands of my beta readers. The photo below is from a night at Muse Paint Bar with my writer friends. The painting on the left is mine.Muse Paint Bar3. JulyConnectiCon 2014 KICKED ASS. For three glorious days, my family was knee-deep in geeky heaven. The highlights for me and Hubby – meeting Rob Paulsen and Maurice LaMarche. You may recognize their voices from Pinky & the Brain. They were personable and during their panels – freaking hysterical.Pinky & the BrainThe boys were enamored of Lauren Landa – famous for voicing Annie in Attack on Titan. Look at her. She’s gorgeous.Lauren LandaAnd once again the costumes were amazing. These are some of my favorites.Fro- ZoneToothlessClassic CybermanSeriously – attend this convention! There is so much to do and the Connecticut Convention Center is a great venue.

4. AugustRedcoats & Rebels. Another fun year even though it was a big soggy in the morning. The rain made for light crowds at first but we still had fun. By day’s end, the sun appeared and we captured some awesome battles pictures.IMG_0639IMG_0504IMG_0379Ahh. So much fun. Well, back to writing. I have another book to plot and a few to edit. For more photos, check out my Pinterst page. Thanks for stopping by. I hope everyone had a great summer too.

If you have a moment, please share your favorite summer time moment.

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5 REASONS WHY WRITERS SHOULD ATTEND CONVENTIONS

Happy Thor’s Day, everyone! Casey here.

Hard to believe, but a whole year has gone by since I attended my first convention. During the past year, I did manage to complete two novels – Mystic Hero (and sold it!) and Lachlan’s Curse (still editing it). And I’m in the home stretch of my first contemporary romance – Over Easy.

IMG_4786And while I wasn’t always sure I’d get any of these novel completed, I knew with certainty that I’d be going to ConnectiCon 2014. So this year we pre-purchased weekend passes so we could come and go as we please. This year’s roster includes amazing voice actors from shows my family enjoys: Pinky & the Brain! Legend of Korra! Fullmetal Alchemist just to name few.

In May, me and my guys attended the first ever Hartford Comic Con. While not as big in scale and scope as ConnectiCon, it has the makings of a bigger event in the future.

As a writer, nothing beats attending an event loaded with other fantasy/anime/gaming/sci-fi/you name it/ enthusiasts. Even if you don’t love any of these things, consider attending at least one convention in your area at least once. Here are some reasons why:

1. They’re fun! The crowd alone is worth the price of admission. At last year’s ConnectiCon the vibe was one of pure fun. People were there to have a good time and celebrate the love of things fantastical and fun. Writers tend to be people watchers (and if you aren’t observing, consider doing so). And if you just want to get in tune with your inner geek, this is the place to do it. ConnectiCon also has a squillion different panels and workshops (and, yes, some are for writers).

2. Costumes! The costumes are incredible. Thanks to SyFy’s Heroes of Cosplay, I’ve gained a new appreciation for how much work goes into Cosplay. As someone who can only stitch straight lines on a sewing machine, I am in double-awe of all the hand fabrication and planning that goes into the costumes.

3. Networking! It’s a chance to meet other authors and artists. Last year, I was able to meet and spend time with Michael J. Sullivan and I also met Dan Dos Santos. He’s the cover artist for Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thomas books and Diana Rowland’s White

It's the dude who draws Archer!!
It’s the dude who draws Archer!!

Trash Zombie series. He was generous with his time and was happy to answer my questions. He also asked to see one of my book covers (unprompted). He liked  Mystic Ink so much he kept my post card. While standing there talking to Dan, I realized I was rubbing elbows with none other than Brandon Sanderson. Total geek out moment!

4. Vendors! There are so many types of artists: web, comics, graphic novels, television. At Hartford ComiCon – we even saw the lead artist for Archer. If you are a fan of merchandise, you won’t be disappointed. Hartford ComicCon had TeeTurtle on sight (love their shirts) and numerous vendors selling everything from unique dolls to long-lost action figures.

5. Inspiration! Last summer, I was writing Mystic Hero and fell into a bit of a creative rut. As a result of attending ConnectiCon 2013, I was inspired to locate a scene during a convention. Devlin and his cohorts find themselves in hot water with a bunch of goblin baddies, and what better place to have a showdown, then a convention filled with costume wearing mortals. Am I right? Yeah. Trust me. I am.

So who else has attended a local convention? And if you haven’t, what’s holding you back?

 

Bad movie, but awesome car!!
Bad movie, but awesome car!!

Facebook Parties-Fab of Fad?

Good May Day, Scribe’s fans. PJ Sharon here. I won’t likely be dancing around a May pole today, but I will be celebrating Spring with over fifty of my author pals from the Book Lovers Buffet who are having a party over on Facebook this afternoon.

POL Music Cover Every fifteen minutes between 3-10 pm, EST, another romance author will be available to live chat with anyone who wants to stop by for a visit. I’ll be there from 7-7:15 pm. sharing favorite cruise destinations and giving away e-books and an i-Tunes download of the single, PIECES of LOVE, the theme song from my upcoming release.

Lest you think this is a silly waste of time, there will be oodles of giveaways and some enticing questions to draw a crowd throughout the day. Favorite paranormal creatures? Vacation destinations? Favorite perfume or men’s fragrance? Fashion, dance, Texas hunks…topics for everyone. There will be gift cards, e-books, audiobook giveaways and more!

So what’s with all the Facebook parties lately? Is it just the latest trend in author promotion? Or is it a savvy way to use the platform that so many of us have worked to build? Since connecting to readers is an all important part of our job as authors, hopping on the FB train seems like a good idea…at least for now. As with any new promotional trend, I suspect this one will burn itself out fairly quickly, but for now, I’m having fun with it and plan to use it for my book launch in June.

Here’s how it works (to the best of my knowledge and limited experience). To create a FB event:

  1. Click Events in the left menu of your homepage.
  2. Click Create Event in the top right.
  3. Fill in the event name, details, location and time, and then choose your privacy settings. Keep in mind that you must include an event name and time. (TIP: Keep the time limited to just a few hours if you are doing this on your own. It can be quite hectic and draining!)
  4. Click Invite Friends to add friends to the guest list. Check the names of the people you want to invite and then click Save.
  5. Click Create.

You’ll be taken to your event where you can share posts, upload photos, invite more guests, and edit event details.

That’s it!

Of course, you’ll want to create a theme for your party, upload a flashy new banner, offer incentives for people to stop by, create engaging content ahead of time so you can keep momentum going throughout the party, and maybe even have a famous guest or two stop by at a scheduled time so readers can pop in and live chat for a few minutes with your celebrity guest. You may want to enlist some help spreading the word via Twitter, Google+, Goodreads or other social media outlets.

Be creative and think outside the box. What do your readers love about your books? If you write cozy mysteries maybe share some recipes or craft ideas. If you write romantic suspense, maybe ask about favorite suspense movies, creepiest actors to play villains, etc. Consider your audience, make it fun and entertaining, and have some prizes to encourage reader engagement. Use Random.org to choose your winners. The way I use it for free is to keep a numbered list of commenters and then plug in the range of numbers (1-10 for instance if I have ten folks who have left comments) and let Random pick the winner’s number.

The bottom line, as always is that it’s not so much about “buy my book” as it is “hey, I’m a human just like you…let’s hang out.” Readers are much more likely to want to chat about books in general, life’s little entertainments, and what they can get for free than they are to respond to “buy” messages, so keep it real, keep it fun,  and keep it friendly.

I hope to see you all later over at the party!

What do you think of FB Parties? Fab or Fad?

 

 

Do you listen to BTR?

For those who haven’t heard of it, BTR stands for Blog Talk Radio, the latest in on-line entertainment and informational programming. Everyday professionals, experts, and entertainers are hosting their own radio shows and being heard by millions. These topic-driven programs allow listeners to hone in on their interests and hear the latest news in whatever industry that floats their boat. So what does that mean for readers and writers? So glad you asked! PJ Sharon here with the latest scoop on how to help writers find their audience and readers connect with their favorite authors.

Writers can share their books and talk about their writing process with interviewers while sitting behind their computer or on their phones, feet up and fuzzy slippers gracing their desks. All while sipping tea and chatting about their favorite things with whomever decides to tune in. Fans or readers can type in questions to be asked and answered in real time, or a link to the show can be used later for promotion and advertising purposes.

For readers who love romance, it’s a chance to hear your favorite authors dish about their characters, read excerpts, and maybe even share a few spoilers about upcoming books. Basically, it’s another way for readers and writers to connect in a fun, user-friendly format.

The really cool thing is that anyone can host their own show. Of course, that means adding consistent content, being entertaining and engaging, and building an audience over time. It’s not for everyone, but those that are doing it appear to be enjoying the up close and personal interaction and sharing it with listeners.

I’ve done several such interviews over the past year or so and I have to say, I love doing them. It means not having to actually be on camera, but being able to hang out as if I’m conversing with a pal on the phone. It’s very non-threatening. My most recent BTR interview was in February with Linda Mooney from Other Worlds of Romance, who hosts mostly sci-fi/fantasy writers and has a decent following.

She asked me to come on the show and read a steamy excerpt from WESTERN DESERT, book two in the Chronicles of Lily Carmichael trilogy. Several listeners showed up to ask questions and I had a blast sharing my story with them, including behind the scenes insights into the third book, the title of which I’ll reveal at the end of this post as promised last month!

After the show, Linda sent me the link to embed into my website so readers can refer to it and listen at any time. What a great promotional tool and something I can definitely add to my press kit. I’m sure if I use it properly it could lead to TV/radio interviews in the future. It’s a way for media types to hear how well you speak about your books and interact with the interview process. You can find a list of hundreds of shows that might be willing to host romance authors here. Or you can go in and search categories for more specific shows that focus on your genre.

Just one more way to connect readers and writers in the digital age!

Now, to reveal the title of the third book in the trilogy…drum roll, please… we had WANING MOON, WESTERN DESERT, and coming this fall…HEALING WATERS, the continuing adventure of Lily Carmichael and friends as they make their way back home to warn the good folks of Stanton of a coming doom. Will they reach them in time…or is it already too late? Can Lily and Will overcome their differences and find their way back to each other as they race against time to save the human race from certain destruction?

Don’t forget to join me on my PJ Sharon Books FB page as I roll out the cover reveal for my next Contemporary YA novel, PIECES of LOVE, set to release June 21st. POL Picture4The big reveal will take place on April 18th, but pop over and “like’ my page now so you don’t miss out on the fun as I reveal a new “piece” of the cover each week along with an excerpt. Leave a comment on my FB post and be entered to win an ARC of the book, winners to be drawn on reveal day, April 18th, when you’ll also be privy to links for the release of my single, PIECES of Love, the theme song to the book.

Tell me, have you ever listened to BTR?

Meet Me in Milwaukee, by Katy Lee

Hello Readers!  On April 26, 2014 I am heading to Milwaukee for a fun day out with romanceVey logo readers.  The event is put on by the fabulous and beautiful Barbara Vey, a blogger for Publishers Weekly.  Each year she holds an event called Barbara Vey’s Reader Appreciation Luncheon, and boy, do readers get appreciated!  If you love romance of any and all sub-genres, you don’t want to miss this day made just for you.  There will be gifts and favors and books and conversations and books and…well you get the idea.  But if you want the details, click on Barbara’s site here.

There will be 40+ awesome and talented authors, each with their own table, and readers get to choose the author they want to hang with for lunch.  Seats are limited on a first come first serve basis, which is why I am getting this message out to you now.  I don’t want you to miss your opportunity to sit with your favorite author…or perhaps, you want to meet new-to-you authors.  Go for it!  Head to Barbara’s website to check the author list and scroll down to sign up.

Me and Barbara at RWA
Me and Barbara at RWA

And if you’re still not sure, let me tell you about the Keynote Speaker.  Perhaps you’ve heard of her?  She’s goes by the name of Debbie Macomber.

Debbie Macomber is a #1 New York Times bestselling author and one of today’s most popular writers with more than 170 million copies of her books in print worldwide. Macomber brings to life the compelling relationships that embrace family, community and enduring friendships, filling her readers with a sense of love and hope.

Macomber is the author of more than 100 novels, most recently the instant #1 New York Times bestseller Starting Now, and The Inn at Rose Harbor; two bestselling cookbooks; numerous inspirational and nonfiction works; two acclaimed children’s books and the Mrs. Miracle Christmas novels.  She is also the author of beloved and bestselling series of novels set in Cedar Cove, Washington on which Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove, Hallmark Channel’s first dramatic scripted television series, is based. She is the recipient of a RITA® award; an RT Book Reviews Lifetime Achievement Award, and is a multiple winner of both the Holt Medallion and the B. Dalton Award. In 2010, the Romance Writers of America presented Macomber with their prestigious Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award.

And she taught me how to knit!  Seriously.  I owe all this fine handy work to her.

Katy Lee Books' Sock Monkeys
Katy Lee Books’ Sock Monkeys

She is a wealth of knowledge.  You will be so glad you came to hear her, and I will be so glad to meet you, either at my table or during the meet and greet!  Start planning today!  And stay tuned to see what my table favors will look like.  Oh, the possibilities!  And if you have any questions, feel free to ask. 

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Pin it, Baby!

Hey everyone! Casey here.

PinterestOkay, I’m a bit late to the Pinterest party. For the last few years, I’ve actively avoided joining anymore social media sites that would siphon away from my writing time.

It all started out innocently enough.  While I was updating the appearance of my blog, I re-checked some of WordPress’ settings and noticed a Pinterest option.  In order to take advantage of the option I needed an account.

It was easy enough to create one. Then I made the mistake of looking around.

And – whammo – I was hooked. Because now that I had an account, I should add some boards because what if someone found me and I had nothing there? I would look pretty lame.

And where else could I post my cool Oogles the Owl photo collection?

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Oh, and while I was doing that, I figured I might as well start trying out the little red Pinterest button found on many websites too. So off I went, messing around with my favorites sites to see who had the red button.

Hear that sucking noise?

That was my writing time going down the drain. But the end result – I created some pretty cool boards (see them here) and I’ve been enjoying my friends’ boards (who are years ahead of me).

Honestly, Pinterest reminds me of a giant, web-based scrapbook. The only thing missing is fancy borders, colored backgrounds, and 3-D doo-dads.

The big question I have, what is Pinterest for? How does everyone use it?

As a photo album? For inspiration? To drool over food porn (or hunky men)?

If you’re on Pinterest, please share. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

10 Things I Wish I Could Say on Social Media

How many of you scroll through Facebook and find yourself rolling your eyes. I know I do. I know freedom of speech is one of our God given rights but I find myself wanting to tell some of these people to shut up.

Here are some of the things I find myself wanting to say, but can’t.

1. Your boyfriend is NEVER going to make it as a musician. He’s forty, cannot sing and is using this music thing as an excuse not to get his lazy ass a job.

2. Stop complaining about your job ALL THE TIME. Everybody’s job sucks sometimes. EVERYBODYS. That’s why they call it work. You’re not special. If it’s that bad quit. If you’re being dramatic, stop.

3. If everybody you know has a problem with you, then it’s you. Not them. Stop being so negative.

4. You claim to be a devout Christian and yet you KEEP having children out of wedlock. With different men. Really?  Don’t be such a hypocrite.

5. Stop telling us how happy you are with your life. Truly happy people don’t have to tell the world all the time how happy they are. They are out being happy. Not posting it on Facebook.

6. And on the same note, nobody needs to hear how much you love your kids. You should love your kids. You should take care of them. YOU’RE A PARENT. Show your kids you love them. Don’t tell us.

7. Stop bragging about getting drunk. You’re thirty. It’s not cute. You look like a loser.

8. Don’t air your dirty laundry in public. Not classy. I don’t care what your boyfriend/husband did. Be an adult. Talk to him. Make it work, because both are you are so crazy nobody else is going to want either of you.

9. No more political ranting please. You sound bitter and uneducated.

10. Vaugebooking. Either tell us what the problem is or don’t. If you’re attention seeking go see a therapist. Facebook is not therapy.

But despite all of that I love Facebook. I love cute animal pictures. Cute kid pictures. I like to see what people are watching. What people are listening to. What people are reading. I like to see the changes in people I knew from long ago. Where they want to go, where they have been.I even love food pictures. Facebook is how I keep up with my family members. It’s where I see their happy news, it’s sometimes how I learn of their tragedies. I’m probably never going to give it up.

So what are some of the things you wish you could say to certain people on Facebook?