Friday, June 28, 2013

Fun Friday!

It's been a little while since I posted a Fun Friday entry, so here are two stories to start your weekend with a smile...

For all of us who feel only the deepest love and affection for the way computers have enhanced our lives, read on.
 
At a recent computer expo (COMDEX), Bill Gates reportedly compared the computer industry with the auto industry and stated,

“If Ford had kept up with technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving $25 cars that got 1,000 miles to the gallon!”

In response to Bill's comments, Ford issued a press release stating:

If Ford had developed technology like Microsoft, we would all be driving cars with the following characteristics (and I just love this part):

1. For no reason whatsoever, your car would crash.........Twice a day.

2. Every time they repainted the lines in the road, you would have to buy a new car.

3. Occasionally your car would die on the freeway for no reason. You would have to pull to the side of the road, close all of the windows, shut off the car, restart it, and reopen the windows before you could continue. For some reason you would simply accept this.

4. Occasionally, executing a maneuver such as a left turn would cause your car to shut down and refuse to restart, in which case you would have to reinstall the engine.

5. Macintosh would make a car that was powered by the sun, was reliable, five times as fast and twice as easy to drive - but would run on only five percent of the roads.

6. The oil, water temperature, and alternator warning lights would all be replaced by a single 'This Car Has Performed An Illegal Operation' warning light.

I love the next one!!!

7. The airbag system would ask 'Are you sure?' before deploying.

8. Occasionally, for no reason whatsoever, your car would lock you out and refuse to let you in until you simultaneously lifted the door handle, turned the key and grabbed hold of the radio antenna.

9. Every time a new car was introduced car buyers would have to learn how to drive all over again because none of the controls would operate in the same manner as the old car.

10. You'd have to press the 'Start' button to turn the engine off.



Lawyers should never ask a Georgia grandma a question if they aren't prepared for the answer.In a trial, a Southern small-town prosecuting attorney called his ...first witness, a grand motherly, elderly woman to the stand.

He approached her and asked, 'Mrs. Jones, do you know me?' She responded, 'Why, yes, I do know you, Mr. Williams. I've known you since you were a boy, and frankly, you've been a big disappointment to me. You lie, you cheat on your wife, and you manipulate people and talk about them behind their backs. You
think you're a big shot when you haven't the brains to realize you'll never amount to anything more than a two-bit paper pusher. Yes, I know you.'

The lawyer was stunned. Not knowing what else to do, he pointed across the room and asked, 'Mrs. Jones, do you know the defense attorney?'
She again replied, 'Why yes, I do. I've known Mr. Bradley since he was a youngster, too. He's lazy, bigoted, and he has a drinking problem. He can't build a normal relationship with anyone, and his law practice is one of the worst in the entire state. Not to mention he cheated on his wife with three different women. One of them was your wife. Yes, I know him.'

The defense attorney nearly died.

The judge asked both counselors to approach the bench and, in a very quiet voice, said, 'If either of you idiots asks her if she knows me, I'll send you both to the electric chair.

 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Split Decisions by Carmen DeSousa

New Romantic-Suspense SPLIT DECISIONS by bestselling author Carmen DeSousa is now available!


Split Decisions is a follow-up novel to the romantic-suspense bestseller She Belongs to Me. While you do not have to read the first book to enjoy the second, we believe you should have the option, so click here to avoid spoilers.

If you’re still here, read on for a first peek at Split Decisions and a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card.
 
Book Description:

Sometimes you want something so badly you are willing to abandon everything you’ve ever known—including yourself.

Eighteen years ago, Jaynee Monroe married the man of her dreams, became the mother of four, and fulfilled her career goals. About to turn forty, she senses something is missing from her idyllic life. While Googling her name in an attempt to find herself, she unearths something so impossible, she contemplates her own sanity. Seeking answers, she embarks on a journey to discover the truth, only to end up abducted by a deranged stranger who insists on calling her Caycee.

Caycee took the road less traveled. Rejecting a marriage proposal from the only decent man she ever knew, she ventures to California to become famous. Eighteen years later, success has left her alone and miserable. Attempting to locate her lost love on Facebook, she discovers his infatuation with her. Not only does his presumed-dead wife have Caycee’s uncommon middle name, it appears he has photo-shopped her face over hers.
 
Never could Caycee and Jaynee have imagined decisions they made years earlier would threaten not only their lives but also their loved ones. Caycee must now reunite with the southern gent she dismissed eighteen years ago and convince him to accompany her to New York to locate his wife, the most important person in both their lives.

Download Split Decisions here:






Now all you have to do to register to win the $10 Amazon Gift Card is share this page via Raffle Copter. Contest ends 7/1/13 at 12:00 a.m. EST and you can share daily if you want. Good luck!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Happy anniversary to me!



Today marks the three years since I published my first novel, Have You Seen Her? on Kindle.  I have since published five other novels and one novelette, and all except the novelette have made category bestseller lists on Amazon!


Have You Seen Her? is still my best seller with Ain't Too Proud to Beg running a close second. I just wanted to take this moment to thank all of my readers. You have helped to make my dream come true, and I appreciate your support more than I can ever explain.

Readers are special people. They are fiercely loyal when you give them something they like, and I am trying my best to continue do just that.

Right now I'm closing in on the end of A Woman's Worth, the first in a six-book series about (from left to right) Marcus, Greg, Nick, Charles Jesse and Vic - the Stafford Brothers.


In the next few months, I will be sharing more about this fascinating family here, on Facebook and Twitter. I hope you will buy the book and get to know these gorgeous guys and the women who love them.
 

Friday, June 21, 2013

It's the first day of summer!

 
If you haven't read my "summer book," make sure you pick up a copy of Hot Fun in the Summertime. It's a great beach read!
 


Kindle - http://amzn.to/dWZSxA Nook - http://bit.ly/k4Z172 & Kobo - http://bit.ly/NYvBgn Smashwords - http://bit.ly/10zzuQl
 
 


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Ten Lethal Marketing Mistakes Almost Everyone is Making

Here is another wonderful article by marketing maven, Penny C. Sansevieri! Take heed, authors. All of us are guilty of at least one of these...




Ten Lethal Marketing Mistakes Almost Everyone is Making


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
People always ask me what's the single biggest mistake authors make. I'm not sure it's just one mistake, though the truth is that one mistake can sink your entire book. Often when I tell a group of authors what I'm about to share with you they shake their heads in disgust, yet so many authors continue to make mistakes that can be fatal to their book's success. Most of the time, though authors know that publishing a book is like starting a business, they're still shocked when their book is a failure, despite the fact that they didn't market it.
"I don't have the time," they'll say. Well, guess what? If you don't have the time to market then don't spend the time to publish it. Unless it's just a "thing" you wanted to do, then fine. Publish away, but don't expect success beyond your immediate family and close friends. Most authors, however, seek to publish for other reasons, most of them tied to their platform, business, or speaking. If you fall into this category, here are ten things you should avoid like the plague:

1. Waiting to see what happens: Often authors will put stuff out there and wait. They'll wait to see if it works, wait to see what comes back, or wait to see what kind of sales they make. Authors often tell me this, too when they hire us. "I'm going to wait till your work is done before I market." Why do they do this? Sometimes they want to measure the effectiveness of what we've done which I totally get. But it's just not a good idea to wait, at least not in this climate. You should keep working, whatever you can do.

2. Feeling like you have to do everything: You don't. Yes, I know it often feels like you need to do everything. There are social media sites calling your name, blog posts to be written, book events to attend, blogs to read. There's a lot that you can be doing but focus on what you should be doing and, to that end, make sure you're doing the right things. Spend your time wisely. Don't get distracted by the latest big social media craze. If you can't be on both Goodreads and Library Thing then pick one. You're better off being in one place and having a solid presence there than just dabbling in networks. Dabblers typically don't make sales.

3. Not putting out enough content: The reason that it's important to pick your battles in social media and marketing is not just because of the "dabbling factor" but also because you have to create content. Lots of it. Blog posts, Twitter updates, YouTube videos, engaging pins on Pinterest, and the list goes on. Creating content can be a full time job if you let it, but there are hundreds of articles out there that can teach you simple ways to create helpful, engaging content for your readers. Good content is the single biggest driver of audience attention. Don't have time to create content? I was listening to a talk by Gary Vaynerchuk on social media and content. Someone asked him, "But what if someone doesn't have time to create a lot of content?" He smiled and said, "Then you shouldn't be doing this." I couldn't agree more.

4. These rules don't apply to me: I was doing a series of speaking events recently and after I was done, an author came up to me and told me about his book. I asked him what he was doing to promote it, he said: nothing, really. Not because he didn't have the time, but he felt that his topic was such a hot trend, he didn't need to. This might be the worst mistake authors make and the most frequent. The basic rules of marketing today do apply to you. I don't care if you are somehow connected to someone who is famous, writing about someone who is famous, or slightly famous yourself. If you don't work for it, the results will still be the same: crickets.

5. Not staying on top of trends in your industry: The basic idea here is that you stay on top of not just your industry, but the industry you're in, too. That is: publishing. Why should you stay on top of what's going on in publishing? Because the trends might affect you. Let's say you have a book you want to put out and because it's short, you figure it's not substantial enough to warrant publication. Guess what? If you'd been staying up on trends you'd know that for a variety of reasons short is the new long. Thanks to consumers who want quick bites of information and things like Kindle Singles, consumers love short. I just published a book called How to Sell Your Books by the Truckload on Amazon.com. Every single email I've gotten back from readers is that they love it because it's packed with information, no frills and, most of all, short.

6. Lack of engagement: If someone (a reader) writes you a note or an email, are you responding to them? Often times the answer to this is no, which surprises me. Reader engagement is crucial, not because you need to be polite (didn't your mother teach you that?) but because in an age where bloggers are inundated with review copies and review space is shrinking, guess who will be your next best ally? Yes, your reader. Engage with them, thank them but most of all, respond to them.

7. Waiting till the book is done to launch the website: This is one of my favorites actually. Well, not really. I speak with authors all the time who are a week away from having a book and have no website. "It's coming," they tell me. When? I ask. The answer is often, "Oh, when the book is out." That's about three months too late. Now, granted, sometimes this can't be avoided, I totally get that. Delays happen. But in 90% of the cases when I hear this, it's because the author didn't know that it can take months (and in some cases years) to get traffic to a website. Start early and the minute the site is up, start blogging, too.

8. Being in a rush: A few weeks ago I got an email from an author who asked me for my recommendations on a publisher. I told her and the next day she emailed back and said, "I got so excited that I just uploaded it. I didn't have it edited but that's ok, I still have a book!" Well, I'm not sure of that. Ok, yes, you still have a book but in the long run, did this really benefit you? She said she was using this book to promote herself. Let me ask you this: would you send a potential employer a resume that wasn't edited? Likely not, right? Yet many authors have published books that aren't edited, either. While I know there are a lot of options for publishing and a lot of very quick ways to get your book "out there" fast is not always good, sometimes it's just fast. If you just want a book for family and they won't judge you on your horrible editing, then go ahead and rush to publish. But if you want something that you can be proud of, that's going to help you build your platform, don't rush. Just because you can publish quickly, doesn't mean you should.

9. Ask for what you want: I was speaking with a group of authors recently and there was an author in the crowd who said that every book event she does always has a great turnout (lucky her!). I asked her how she was using these events and she looked at me sort of confused. "What do you mean?" she asked. I told her that with that kind of a turnout, she should be signing folks up for her mailing list and then following up with them (think reader engagement). I asked her what she really, really needed for her book. She said she needed more reviews. I told her to ask her readers for help. "You can do that?" she asked. You bet you can. Readers really do want to help authors they love so let them and tell them. Whether you're doing live events, online promotion or whatever. If you want reviews for a book ask your readers. I have an author who, every time someone writes her about her book, she will thank them and ask them to review it. Almost all of them do this. It's a fantastic way to build your reviews on Amazon. Because of this she now has hundreds of reviews on Amazon. Wouldn't you like to have that? Just ask.

10. Wanting to make a fast buck: With all the news around eBooks and the money some authors are making in this industry, it's tempting to think, "Hey, I need some cash, let me publish something." But as with any industry, these stories are the exception, not the rule. Yes, many authors are doing very well but they're also working on it every day. This isn't a "set it and forget it" type of market. You can't just throw content out there and wait for the sales to roll in but you'd be surprised how many people do this.

I often find myself telling authors that "publishing is a business" so much I feel like I should get it tattooed to my forehead (and what a conversation piece that would be!). But the reality is that it is and, though many who are reading this will feel like this article is written for beginners, that's not true. I've seen authors who have spent years in this industry, struggling for success because they keep making the same mistakes over and over.

Many mega-bestselling authors are turning to self-publishing as a way to get content to market quicker. I heard a formerly traditionally published author speak about this recently and during the talk she said, "I don't have time to do anything other than write the book. I just can't do anything else." I was sort of surprised that she said this, but coming from the traditional world and having been published for years that way I can see how she might have lived a somewhat sheltered life. Even for traditionally published folks the world is a different place and no one, even the biggest names, are immune to this. As to point #4, the rules apply to everyone. Yes, that means you.

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

Monday, June 17, 2013

The best author story I've heard in a long time!

I couldn't figure out how to embed this video, but you can just click on it to watch this inspiring story.

http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=50149108n%3Ftag%3Dfacebook

Saturday, June 15, 2013

My Tribute


(Daddy and me on the beach in Atlantic City, circa 1955)
Little Big Man

Back in the 70’s Dustin Hoffman starred in a western called “Little Big Man.” I don’t really know what the movie was about, but as soon as I started to write this essay, the title came to mind, because my father, Thomas Franklin Brown stood only five feet two inches tall, yet he commanded more respect than any man I’ve ever known personally.  He was an entrepreneur and a church leader, but it’s not the public man I want to tell you about. I want to tell you about Tommy Brown, my daddy.

One of my earliest memories is sitting with my cousins by the side of a dusty dirt road in Millville, New Jersey in front of my grandparent’s house watching him play softball with my aunts and uncles. Family was his top priority.  We worshipped together as a family, we vacationed as a family and often worked together in the business he started when I was five years old.

Contrary to the well-meaning advice of friends and relatives, he started his own part-time printing business in our basement while he worked days as a pressman at a large printing company. Two years later he left the job and never looked back.  When his business outgrew the house, he moved it to the first of a series of progressively larger rented buildings.  Though he never had more than three full-time employees at any given time, he supported a wife, four children and, from time to time, assorted relatives on the income this business produced.  I need to give my mother credit right here, because part of the reason he was able to do this was because she made a lot of our clothes and knew how to shop to save money. He never worked another outside job again, which was an amazing accomplishment for a black man in the 1950’s.

By today’s standards he would probably be considered strict in the sense that he expected us to be obedient. And we obeyed, not because we were afraid of him, but because the last thing we ever wanted to do was disappoint him. I’ll never forget the time when I was in seventh grade and got into a fight with the neighborhood bully.  Embarrassed and humiliated by having his daughter involved in a street brawl, he made arrangements with the Chief of Police in our small town and the other girl’s mother for us to be given a lecture and personal guided tour of the township jail by a uniformed officer in an effort to scare us straight.  I don’t know about her, but the experience sure did the trick for me. As a result of his ‘style,’ not one of his four children (now all over the age of fifty) has ever been arrested.

We weren’t rich by any stretch of the imagination, but Tommy Brown was a giver from his heart.  He never failed to go overboard at Christmas and on birthdays, but when we wanted something in between those special occasions, his mantra was, ‘you save half and I’ll give you the other half.  Of course, we usually earned the money by working in his print shop folding, stapling, and collating and sweeping.  He definitely got his money’s worth out of us.

A jazz fanatic who had an impressive collection of 78’s and 33’s, he always worked with his music playing.  I believe his children all grew up to be avid music lovers because, prior to moving the business out of the house, he built speakers into the walls of the basement in order to hear the music over the hum of the presses.  When he cranked it up, we could feel the floors upstairs vibrate beneath our feet. Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Dinah Washington, Earl Grant, Jimmy Smith and Ray Charles provided the soundtrack for our childhood.  

Even though he worked ridiculously long hours, he knew how to have fun. In his younger days, he loved to host big backyard barbecues for which, of course, my mother did all of the work.  And those summertime gatherings usually ended with the kids toasting marshmallows over the fire on the grill while the grown-ups played rowdy games of badminton and horseshoes. I’m hard pressed to recall a time when our back yard wasn’t much more than two huge bare spots on either side of the net at the end of the summer.

Never one to put vacations on the back burner in favor of the business. he and my mother always came up with fun outings for us.  When money was low, we did local excursions to the early amusement parks -- Olympic Park and Palisades Park -- which have long since disappeared. With air fares being out of their financial reach back then, we traveled everywhere we went by car -- Atlantic City, Freedomland, Bear Mountain, Sebego Lake in New York and Hershey Park, Pennyslvania.  Once we grew up, he and my mother were finally able to fly to Bermuda, Puerto Rico and Canada, and took my daughter, Crystal along with them when she was little.

Sadly, in telling this story to people over the years, I’ve often received looks of disbelief.  That’s when I realized just how uncommon my story is and how blessed we were.  Tommy Brown’s name will never be written in any hall of fame, but he was a man of incredible pride, faith and integrity. He didn’t go to bars or hang out with his buddies. His idea of relaxation was to stretch out in his recliner and watch the Mets at Shea Stadium on television. He went to work, to church, to Chamber of Commerce meetings and spent his free time with his family, which included his nine brothers and sisters and their children.

During times that I only vaguely recall as stressful, his mother moved in to live with us when she became too sick to care for herself.  Years later, after her passing, another hospital bed was delivered for one of his brothers who came to live with us when he succumbed to the deterioration of advanced diabetes.

At my father’s seventieth birthday party, my sister, who lived in Atlanta, was unable to attend.  She sent a taped message thanking him for being the man he was.  As she spoke through tears, she told him how grateful she was that we never had those stories to tell like so many children unfortunately do - the ones about eating mayonnaise sandwiches because there wasn’t any food in the house, or having to do their homework by candlelight because the electricity was turned off, or watching their mother go down to the local bar to drag their father out.

My father went home to be with the Lord in 1995.  His funeral was a testament to the greatness of an “everyday” man.  My brothers, sister and I were overwhelmed by the turnout of not only friends and neighbors, but also of township officials, former business associates and even the ninety-year-old doctor who had delivered all of us into the world.

Today’s fathers could learn a lot from the lives of men like Tommy Brown.  He stood only five feet two inches tall, but to me he was a giant.

Thank you, Daddy!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Juneteenth Sale! Coming At You Live!


If you haven't guessed it, yes, it's time to break open your Kindles or Nooks and get to buying.
From June 13th to June 19th you can pick up these titles on discount from new to you or your favorite IR/MC authors:

$1.79 to $0.99
Bad Boy Next Door by Melissa Blue
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

$2.99 to $0.99
Fifty Shades of Jungle Fever by LV Lewis
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

 $3.99 to $1.99
A Kiss of a Different Color by Bettye Griffin
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

$2.99 to $1.49
Framing Felipe Holley Trent
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

$2.99 to $0.99
Donor by Ambrielle Kirk

$3.99 to $0.99
Jaded Hearts by Olivia Linden

$3.90 to $2.50
Abandoned But Not Alone by Theresa Henry
Amazon

 $3.99 to $2.99
Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing by Chicki Brown
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

$2.99 to 1.99
D.N.A. -Nothing Would Ever be the Same Again by Ey Wade
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Juneteenth Sale!

It's June and you know what that means? It's hotter than hades outside. It  also means Juneteenth is right around a corner. And THAT means it's almost time for the Juneteenth sale I'm a part of it.

Why Juneteenth?

The simple fact is there was a time in America's history where folks would get fined, punished or thrown in jail for teaching people of color to read. More specifically, teaching slaves to read. The general fear was if you taught slaves how to write they might, you know, think about their lot in life. They may not be happy about it. They just might educate themselves. And then the nightmare would begin: they might educate others.

What I do every day as a passion, for a living was illegal in the United States. Took some time for the word to get out that slavery had been abolished and that was just one step closer to where I'm sitting now. I don't know about you, but I think that's cause for a celebration. It's worthy of taking a moment.

 
From June 13th to June 19th you can pick up these titles on discount from new to you or your favorite IR/MC authors:
 

$1.79 to $0.99
Bad Boy Next Door by Melissa Blue
Website


$2.99 to $0.99
Fifty Shades of Jungle Fever by LV Lewis
Website

$3.99 to $1.99
A Kiss of a Different Color by Bettye Griffin
Website


$2.99 to $1.49
Framing Felipe by Holley Trent
Website

$2.99 to $0.99
Donor by Ambrielle Kirk
Website

$3.99 to $0.99
Jaded Hearts by Olivia Linden
Website

$3.90 to $2.50
Abandoned But Not Alone by Theresa Henry
Facebook Page

$3.99 to $2.99
Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing by Chicki Brown
Website

 
$2.99 to 1.99
D.N.A. - Nothing Would Ever be the Same Again by Ey Wade



Stay tuned for more information...

Monday, June 10, 2013

Facebook overload!

Happy Monday! Hope everyone had a fantastic weekend.

I had to turn off the notifications on all of my groups. Yesterday I was away from the computer from 9 AM-4 PM, and when I got home, I had 1,100+ messages! I can't handle that kind of volume, so from now on I'll just visit each page to look at the posts and say hello...

 
Authors, how do you handle being a member of multiple reading/writing groups?

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Are you done?


I read this quote below this morning, and it really impressed me. No matter what your age, are you still learning? Think about it...
 
 


”For every man, education should be a process which continues all his life. We have to abandon, as swiftly as possible, the idea that schooling is something restricted to youth. How can it be, in a world where half the things a man knows at 20 are no longer true at 40—and half the things he knows at 40 hadn’t been discovered when he was 20?” - author and inventor, Arthur C. Clarke

Monday, June 3, 2013

A tribute to the pioneers

A great article from Michelle Monkou in USA Today. It's a wonderful reminder for those of us who already know, and a fine lesson for those who don't.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/happyeverafter/2013/06/03/michelle-monkou-african-american-romance-pioneers/2383373/
If you love romance, please check it out, and also check out here latest release: