Friday, March 29, 2013

Fun Friday!

School Answering Machine
 
 
Office Visit



A man went to the doctor's office to ask for a triple dose of Viagra.

The doctor told him that he couldn't allow him a triple dose.

'Why not?' asked the man.

'Because it's not safe,' replied the doctor.

'But I need it really bad,' said the man.

'Well, why do you need it so badly?' asked the doctor.

The man said, 'My girlfriend is coming into town on Friday, my ex-wife will be here on Saturday and my wife is coming home on Sunday.

Can't you see? I've got to have a triple dose.

The doctor finally relented saying, 'All right, I'll give it to you, but you have to come in Monday morning so that I can check you to see if there are any side effects.'

On Monday afternoon the man dragged himself into the doctor's office...his right arm in a sling.

The doctor asked, 'Good gawd! What happened to you?'

The man said, 'No one showed up.' .....

Thursday, March 28, 2013

What Happens if Bookstores Go Away?

The following article was taken from the wonderful newsletter I receive from marketing maven, Penny C. Sansevieri and is used with her permission.

Most of you that read this blog regularly know I am a "gadget girl" and I love technology, but I started out as a bookstore geek. Yes, I do have my issues with B&N, but in general bookstores have held a fond spot in my heart for as long as I can remember.

The possibility of these havens of literature eventually disappearing is real, and Penny talks about here...

***
 
 
 
What happens if bookstore go away?

That sentence alone is enough to send chills down my spine. No bookstores? I can't imagine a world without them. Yet the fact of the matter is, that's likely where we are headed.

I don't often share this, but you know that term "bucket list"? One of my bucket list items is to get locked in a bookstore overnight - with a fully-functioning Starbucks of course because a girl needs her caffeine to stay up all night and dig through the thousands of titles on the shelves. Truth is, that one bucket list dream may never come true (and I suspect, neither will the dinner date with Bradley Cooper, either). Let's face it, the world is changing rapidly. Amazon is making book access so much easier and without having to get in your car and, you know, drive somewhere. Look, I do love Amazon and what they've done for indie authors is tremendous, but the opposite side to all of this good is that bookstores are desperately trying to find a market. Ironically, in the mix of all of this, the independents, once proclaimed to be dead, are not fairing as badly as the chains. Well, the chain: Barnes & Noble.

My prediction, though perhaps wild and seemingly out there, is that we're going to start seeing more niche stores, so children's bookstores, all-fiction, etc. because at the end of the day, we are catering to an audience who doesn't want to have to sift through hundreds of books to find the niche they are looking for. We live in the custom society: custom coffee, custom cars, custom pretty much everything. Would the same go for bookstores? Sure, why not? I also think that we're going to start seeing a lot more book departments expand within stores. Hallmark has been experimenting with this for years, though granted their book section is small compared to everything else they offer, they could expand this, too. I don't think you'll see airport bookstores go away anytime soon. There's a need there, gotta have something to read on the plane, though the surge of eBook purchases may change the need for those too.

Let's face it, the structure is changing. Ironically it's not going in the direction we once thought. A few years ago many bloggers said that libraries were a thing of the past, sweet but ancient dinosaurs. However, libraries have seen a resurgence in a down economy and librarians are eager to keep step with technology, offering eBook lending, etc.

The biggest challenge we face as authors and book promoters is that if, in fact, bookstores go away that takes away a huge chunk of those trusted book connoisseurs who would otherwise be out, on the frontlines, recommending books. Also, the shelf space, which for most of us isn't really a factor since our books won't be in bookstores anyway. But for those publishers and titles that depend on bookstores, how will they gain exposure? The answer is, of course, online.

I think as we see the market changing, we're going to see things like niche social media sites, which despite Facebook's online real estate could pull in more readers because, again, we want what we want. We don't want to sift through tons of data to find that great, new read.

Free books and excerpts will become a must. I've spoken with a lot of authors who feel this is just something they don't want to do. The numbers would, however, encourage a second look. Whenever we've run freebie campaigns we see a huge uptick in sales after the freebie is over.

Book bloggers: As time progresses, we'll need more voices out there. As we do now, we'll start seeing a lot of niche blog communities popping up and, I dare say, that if the bookstore demise happens we're going to see a lot more paid reviews.

Paid placement: Yes I think you'll start seeing much more of this. Though not through ads but through paid content online. Some call it advertorial, and perhaps that's a better term for it, but I think as we progress content generation to drive sales will become a huge factor.

What can you do now, this far ahead of the curve? Candidly, I think we'll start seeing the downturn of the bookstore right after Christmas. We're seeing it now already but as 2013 continues, more and more of the sales numbers are going to be facing a decline. What you can do now is stake your claim. Make friends with bloggers, network, put out good content. Don't wait for the bookstore rug to be ripped out from under you before you act. Do it now. And when the eventual demise of bookstores happens, you'll be ready to face that challenge.

Many of us ignore the library market because it's not glamorous, but guess what? Librarians are a fantastic group of book lovers who could really help your book succeed. Been ignoring the library market in lieu of something more glamorous? You may want to rethink that approach.

No one wants to see bookstores go away, least of all me. But the writing has been on the wall for a while and even if I'm wrong, which would be great, I still think that the online world will become more and more significant in all of the ways I've described. Let's face it. With all of the books published each day in the US, the market has been expanding on one side and shrinking on the other for a while.

So, head to your local bookstore and support them, but make sure you keep an eye on the future.

Reprinted from "The Book Marketing Expert newsletter," a free ezine offering book promotion and publicity tips and techniques. http://www.amarketingexpert.com

Monday, March 25, 2013

Best birthday present ever!

OMG!!! I got a message from Michelle Monkou this morning wishing me a happy birthday, but I didn't realize she put it in her USA Today column with my book info! This is my first mention in a major newspaper. :)

Tried to include a screenshot here, but Blogspot wouldn't let me.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/happyeverafter/2013/03/25/michelle-monkou-stacy-deanne-devon-vaughn-archer-chicki-brown/2015359/

Michelle and I don't even know each other. She was the national president of RWA for a couple of years, and she writes a weekly column for the paper.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Fun Friday

Happy birthday to me!
 
 
 
Tomorrow is my birthday, and you know what I want more than anything? For everyone to pick up one of my books they haven’t read yet. They are available on Kindle, Nook, Kobo and Smashwords.
 
Make this birthday the best one I’ve ever had!

 
 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Fun Friday!

This was a pretty good week for me. I added another 3,166 words to A Woman's Worth and got the cover done! I know it's early, but I wanted to have the cover ready for when I start posting sneak peeks online. Here's what it looks like.



I think it really really reflects the theme of the book. Many thanks to Adrienne of Pink Cashmere Publishing for doing a great job.

Also, I found out this week that I will be doing a Facebook chat with the Urban Ink Book Club on April  5th and I have been asked to be a panel member for a workshop on April 20th on self-publishing with


What a difference two and a half years make...

Now, for your weekend laugh.
 


The First Time
 
A girl asks her boyfriend to come over Friday night to meet, and have a dinner with her parents.

Since this is such a big event, the girl announces to her boyfriend that after dinner, she would like to go out and make love for the first time.

The boy is ecstatic, but he has never had sex before, so he takes a trip to the pharmacist to get some condoms.. He tells the pharmacist it's his first time and the pharmacist helps the boy for about an hour. He tells the boy everything there is to know about condoms and sex.

At the register, the pharmacist asks the boy how many condoms he'd like to buy, a 3-pack, 10-pack, or family pack.

The boy insists on the family pack because he thinks he will be rather busy, it being his first time and all.

That night, the boy shows up at the girl's parents’ house and meets his girlfriend at the door.

 "Oh, I'm so excited for you to meet my parents, come on in!"

The boy goes inside and is taken to the dinner table where the girl's parents are seated.

The boy quickly offers to say grace and bows his head. A minute passes, and the boy is still deep in prayer, with his head down.

Ten minutes pass, and still no movement from the boy.

Finally, after twenty minutes with his head down, the girlfriend leans over and whispers to the boyfriend, 'I had no idea you were this religious.'

The boy turns, and whispers back,

'I had no idea your father was a pharmacist.'


 
 
 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Writer Wednesday - Tools

Since I started writing in 2001, I have created my manuscripts in Microsoft Word. As a former administrative assistant who came up using WordPerfect, I was thrilled when Microsoft released the first version of Word, and I use Word to this day. It's the best word processing program out there. All of my manuscripts have been created in Word
 
Even though I love technology, it isn’t in my nature to immediately embrace new programs until I’ve heard a good number of people endorsing them. So when I first started hearing buzz about Scrivener, a software program that makes the creation of a manuscript easier, I intentionally ignored the hoopla. A few months ago, someone posted this video on Facebook, and after I watched it, I was sold. If you’re a writer, and you’re not aware of Scrivener, you don’t know what you’re missing! It’s an all-inclusive writing program you can buy for forty dollars that makes it possible to have everything pertaining to your project in one place.
 
 

I downloaded Scrivener to my laptop, and last week, I spent time fooling around with it. Once I felt comfortable with it, I imported the manuscript for A Woman's Worth, added all of my character photos, the storyboard, story notes and research documents into the program.

No more switching back and forth from Word to Excel, Google, Wikipedia, Dictionary/Thesaurus.com, Brainy Quotes, etc., every time you need to look up something. I can click into any of my documents on the left side of the screen.
 
So far, I’m loving it!

If you’d like more information on Scrivener here are two good articles:
 
http://writerunboxed.com/2011/08/31/test-driving-scrivener-software-for-writers/

http://www.rubyslipperedsisterhood.com/using-scrivener-for-plotting/

Scrivener site:


 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

#SampleSunday - R-rated



This is an R-rated excerpt from Ain't Too Proud To Beg. While Vaughn is recovering from the accident, he sends his best friend and his wife on a mission...

***

Shontae reluctantly agreed to go with me on Saturday to purge Vaughn’s condo of anything incriminating before the temporary tenants moved in. She tried her best to get me to handle the search and recover mission alone, but I refused. I couldn’t imagine doing that alone. It just seemed too nasty.

We got off the elevator on the eighteenth floor of The Grand condominiums, which had been V’s home for the past two years. “I can’t believe I let him talk me into this,” I grumbled, opening the front door with the extra key he’d given me then disarmed the security system on the wall in the foyer.

“Every time I see this place, it takes my breath away,” Shontae said with tangible envy as we entered the living room. “Vaughn has such great taste.” She gave the room an admiring scan then plopped down on the white leather sectional and spread her arms along the back of the sofa.

“You know he didn’t do this himself. He hired a decorator.”

“I know, but the final result is definitely him. This room alone screams Vaughn. Understated flashiness. Modern style, lean lines, and shades of chocolate. Hard in some places and soft in others,” she said, tapping the black octagonal table with her toe and hugging a fur pillow. And those could be his dimples.” She pointed up at the twin circular chandeliers from which fine crystal strands cascaded.

Her gift for description always blew me away. ”Baby, you are definitely a writer, and you know a little too much about my boy.” Shontae was right though. The place was off the chain. The floor-to-ceiling windows in each room offered a spectacular view of L.A. That’s how I knew the real estate agent wouldn’t have a problem renting it.

We entered the master bedroom, and I walked over to the bed and opened one of the drawers in the base of his king-size platform bed. “Well, you might take that back once you see that the good taste ends here.”  I’d laughed when she insisted we bring disposable rubber gloves, but once we saw with our own eyes the nature of his collection, I changed my mind.

She edged up beside me and peered down into the abyss. “Oh, my God. What is all that? I’ve never even seen some of those things before.”

“From the way V explained it, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

“There’s more?”

I nodded. “A lot more. What do you think the guest room is for?”

Shontae wrinkled her nose and shuddered. “It’s glove time. I’ll hold the bag, and you can put this stuff in. Just don’t let it touch me.”

I took the larger pair of opaque disposable gloves she extended in my direction, and then she put on the smaller pair.

My wife and I shared a few questioning looks and a couple of astounded laughs while I dropped what seemed to be an endless array of gadgets and toys into the heavy gauge black trash bag.

“What is that? It looks like a mini-fire extinguisher.” Shontae gave the fluorescent glow-in-the-dark gadget a long visual examination.

“It’s a penis pump. Using it is supposed to make you bigger and harder.”

“Ohh.” She poked at a double dildo with a gloved finger as if it were a dead animal. What the heck is this thing used for?” She tilted her head to the left and then to the right to see if looking at it from a different angle might give her a clue.

“I think you both use it at the same time.”

“So one end goes in…eew!” The device dropped from her gloved hands. “Let’s hurry up and get out of here. I’m having visions that might keep me awake for days.”

Imagining the scenarios during which V used these devices had given me a monstrous hard-on, and I knew Shontae wasn’t going to give me any here in the middle of the Breland Circus of Sexual Delights. “Since you’re going to be awake, maybe I’ll keep you company.” I placed the last items into the bag. “Come on, let’s get this over with.” We approached the closed guest room door with trepidation and opened it as if it might be wired for explosives and stood open-mouthed once the door was fully open.

“Oh, my God! Fifty Shades of Breland,” Shontae whispered. “This looks like some kind of gymnastic training facility. Did you know he had all of this?”

“Not to this extent. You know V, he mentions things in passing. To him sex is just a sport, and he’s training for the gold.”

Shontae glanced around at the colorful array of satin blindfolds, fur handcuffs, and fringed leather whips then tiptoed up to a harness-type swing suspended from the ceiling. I could almost see the wheels turning in her head while she made a slow circle around the apparatus.

“Could be fun, don’t you think, baby?” The wink I sent her brought a devious smile to her face.

“Wanna try it?”

Her expression quickly changed to a scowl. “I’d love to try it, but I can only imagine who’s been in that thing.”

“We could test it out with our clothes on, just to see how it works.”

“It has great possibilities, but don’t you think we should wait until I don’t have this belly anymore? It could be dangerous, and we don’t want to end up having a Khloe and Lamar moment,” she said, referring to the unintentionally comical viral video of the K sister and her NBA star now ex-husband’s sex swing mishap.

“I’d better get started taking these things apart.”

I completed my handyman duties in a little less than an hour. “Let me call V and find out if there’s anything else we need to liberate.”

Shontae studied the view while I made the call. “Bad news,” I said once I put the phone back into my pocket. “V said I should check the bathroom too.”

“Are you kidding? Oh, Devon, he needs an intervention.”

“I hate to admit it, but I think you’re right.” She followed me into the bathroom, which had a sunken tub big enough to hold four adults and glanced down at the dozen candles in clear glass containers around the perimeter of the circular tub.” This must be fabulous at night when all of these are lit.”

Vaughn’s water toys were in the closet where he said they’d be. I tossed them into the goody bag, which Shontae carried while I lugged two boxes of dismantled parts to the elevator then to the curb. I waited there for her to bring the car around from the garage.

“Vaughn had better realize what a good friend you are. Not everyone would’ve done this.”

I leaned over and kissed her. “Let’s get out of here and go have some lunch.”

“Good idea. I feel like I need a shower first.” She shuddered. After we’d ridden for a few minutes, she asked, “Do you think Vaughn will ever settle down?”

I shrugged. “Who knows? She’d have to be one extraordinary woman. His whole life has been about the numbers. I don’t know if he could handle monogamy.”

“He needs a strong sister; somebody who’ll love him unconditionally but won’t take his crap. Vaughn’s really a good guy. He’s just been wandering for too long."

I hoped she was right.


Friday, March 8, 2013

Fun Friday!


 
 

The Shoe Box
A man and woman had been married for more than 60 years. They had shared everything. They had talked about everything. They had kept no secrets from each other except that the little old woman had a shoebox in the top of her closet that she had cautioned her husband never to open or ask her about.

For all of these years, he had never thought about the box, but one day the little old woman got very sick and the doctor said she would not recover.

In trying to sort out their affairs, the little old man took down the shoe box and took it to his wife's bedside.

She agreed that it was time that he should know what was in the box. When he opened it, he found two crocheted dolls and a stack of money totaling $95,000.




He asked her about the contents. 'When we were to be married,' she said, my grandmother told me the secret of a happy marriage was to never argue. She told me that if I ever got angry with you, I should just keep quiet and crochet a doll.'

The little old man was so moved; he had to fight back tears. Only two precious dolls were in the box. She had only been angry with him two times in all those years of living and loving. He almost burst with happiness.

'Honey,' he said, 'that explains the doll, but what about all of this money? Where did it come from?'

'Oh,' she said, 'that's the money I made from selling the dolls.'


***


Dear Tide:

I am writing to say what an excellent product you have! I've used it all of my married life, as my Mom always told me it was the best. Now that I am in my fifties I find it even better! In fact, about a month ago, I spilled some red wine on my new white blouse. My inconsiderate and uncaring husband started to belittle me about how clumsy I was, and generally started becoming a pain in the neck.


One thing led to another and somehow I ended up with his blood on my new white blouse! I grabbed my bottle of Tide with bleach alternative, to my surprise and satisfaction, all of the stains came out!
In fact, the stains came out so well the detectives who came by yesterday told me that the DNA tests on my blouse were negative and then my attorney called and said that I was no longer considered a suspect in the disappearance of my husband.

What a relief! Going through menopause is bad enough without being a murder suspect! I thank you, once again, for having a great product.

Well, gotta go, have to write to the Hefty bag people.

 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Writer Wednesday - Author Spotlight:

I haven't posted an Author Spotlight for a while, and today I have a great one for you! Since I started writing and interacting with other authors online, I have met some wonderful and fascinating people. Author Christine Steendam is one of them. Today, I invited her to talk about her new release, Heart Like an Ocean.

But first, here's a little bit about Christine.
She has been writing stories since she could put pen to paper and form words. Now, fifteen years later, her debut novel is released and her second book is in the works.
Christine has spent the better half of her life owning and working with horses, and these four legged companions often find their way into her stories. After all, no work of women’s fiction would be complete without a horse or two--In her opinion at least ;)
She currently makes her home in the center of the world—no, really. Look at an atlas.
Here is where you can connect with Christine online:
Blurb:
In a society where she doesn't belong, Senona Montez, a strong-willed and free-spirited woman refuses to follow the path expected of a Don's only child.

On the eve of her marriage to a stranger, she saddles her horse and flees everything she knows, only to discover the petty concerns of society did not prepare her for the harsh life on the open sea. She finds an unlikely protector in a reckless privateer, Brant Foxton.

Straddling the worlds of independence and privilege in 1600's Europe, this captivating man challenges her in ways she never thought possible, shows her what living to the fullest really means, and allows her to follow her heart
wherever it leads.
And, now, and excerpt from Heart Like an Ocean:

Spain-1666
Senona looked around the room full of swirling dresses of so many shapes and colors. It was like a dream and left her overwhelmed and unable to tear her eyes away. Tonight she was a princess in her new dress with her hair curled, cascading in loose waves down her back. Tonight she was perfect.
Browsing the room, this time in search of familiar faces, Senona spotted Caton Amador, and Isidro Amato. The boys, although older, were her friends and a welcome relief to the overwhelming nature of her surroundings. She made her way around the perimeter of the room in their general direction.
 
“Senona, my Chica! You are a picture of beauty, as always,” boomed Isidro’s obnoxious and teasing voicIsidro was never very serious about anything and enjoyed teasing Senona, which annoyed her to no end. Caton was much more subdued and quiet, at least around her. Although they were not as close as they once had been, the families remained good friends, and the three of them spent many hours riding around the countryside or playing games in the garden. When they were younger, Isidro and Caton had been her constant companions, helping her sneak out of tea with their Madres or rescuing her from lessons with her tutor. Now they never voluntarily saw each other, but due to their families’ relationship, they found themselves together often enough.
Caton turned to look at the young girl. “Leave her alone, Isidro.”
“Come on, Caton. She’s glad to see us.”
Caton frowned but said nothing, turning his attention back to the pretty girl standing next to him. Isidro seemed to accept that as permission to continue, and he smirked mockingly at Senona, beckoning her. The small flock of girls that surrounded the two boys giggled, causing her to blush and become hesitant and uncomfortable. She had never seen the boys in this environment, and she quickly questioned her decision that she belonged with them.
“It’s okay, Isidro. I just wanted to say hello.”
“Well then, run along. There must be some of your friends around.”
Senona forced a smile and turned to Caton. “Hello, Caton.”
He barely acknowledged her with a brief glance and nod in her direction, and then returned to ignoring her. Unsure of how to deal with Caton’s rejection, she walked away, her eyes burning with angry tears that threatened to spill over. Why was he being so rude? Not even so much as a hello, as if he were embarrassed to be associated with her.
As she pushed her way through the crowd, she heard one of the girls laugh. “Caton, I do believe you hurt her feelings.”
Caton’s deep, unmistakable chuckle cut through the din and his voice was all she heard. “She’s a silly, strange girl. I would rather not encourage her.”
Senona expected this behavior from Isidro, but from Caton? She had always thought he was honest and simple, but his actions tonight had shown her otherwise. She had been a fool to think that these older boys were her friends.
Escaping into the shadows, she hid from the sneering glances and mocking laughter that seemed to follow her wherever she went. She had thought that tonight would be different, but nothing had changed. She was just a strange little girl.
The night was a blur, a blur of swirling skirts and obnoxious voices. To nearly everyone she was invisible. Even her Madre and Padre, who had never been overly affectionate towards their daughter, seemed to have completely forgotten her existence. But that wasn’t so different from normal. They weren’t very affectionate people ever, even towards each other.
 
At the end of the night, Senona lay in bed, her new dress hanging in her wardrobe, mocking her. She had realised tonight how far she fell from society’s standards, her own parents’ standards. Any illusion she had of being a princess, of being perfect for one night had been shattered. But that didn't really bother her. The truly odd thing was that she felt a weight lifted from her shoulders. Perhaps she didn’t have to be that way. Perhaps now she had the freedom to do as she wanted. It wasn’t as if anyone cared about her anyway. She was just a strange little girl.

 

Friday, March 1, 2013

On the road again...


Whew! Busy day today...

There's a provocative new blog called KCPink, and they asked me to post a sexy excerpt from Ain't Too Proud To Beg. It's up today! Check it out here: http://www.kcpink.com/an-excerpt-from-aint-too-proud-to-beg/

I'm also in Grove Street Magazine answering the question, "Does complexion matter when it comes to book covers?" http://issuu.com/bloggertime/docs/blackhistorypagesgrovestreet-1?mode=window