Monday 30 March 2015

Building Book Sales using the Reverse Engineering Method…

Remember that kid who decided to take apart a toy just to see how it worked? And then, surprise…that same kid couldn’t figure out how to put it back together again. We authors can sure learn something from that one kid. We can learn how to use reverse engineering to figure out why readers buy our books. Think about it. Kids take something (computer, radio controlled car, Barbie dolls) apart to see how it works, get to the guts of what makes that thing go, run, fly, burp. So why shouldn’t authors be able to take apart the sale that lured readers to buy the book in the first place?

The first question you should ask yourself is: Why did you purchase insert name of book? Was it because it was your friend’s book? Perhaps a suggestion? Or a book you learned about through a review? Was it an emotional purchase? A New York Times Bestseller? Or was the book part of Oprah’s book club? I want you to chase down the sale and figure out what made you buy that certain book. Got it? Good.

Now once you do this kind of reverse engineering you can build a profile for the sale. You get to see how a sale is built. You get to know how the book market works. That’s when you can develop a marketing strategy for your own books. Get it? Great.

A lot of times you’ll find the answer is word of mouth via the social media, or a friend suggested the book (or wrote it), or they passed by a bookstore window and the cover caught their eye. Even Oprah has the golden touch. Dig deep, and find the reason for that sale.

While doing my own reverse engineering, I suddenly saw this quote from Bill Gates in my Twitter feed: “You’re most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” That’s when it hit me. Book reviews. Not the one-star reviews you get from trolls, but those reviews that seem sincere, yet only give you a 3 star. Those are gold. Use these kinds of reviews to fine tune your writing. Listen, really listen to what the reader/reviewer is conveying to you, and apply their advice in your next book if it rings true with you. I know you can’t please everyone, but you can certainly make changes in your writing that will help boost your book sales and reach new readers.

Thanks a heap for reading my blog. Authors, if you have time, please leave a comment and share what you do to track down your book sales. If you’re a reader, please share what leads you to buy a certain book? I’d appreciate your input. Cheers!

Monday 23 March 2015

9 Things to Make Your Life a Little Better…

Happy Spring everyone! Since this season is all about new growth, renewal, and fertility it’s only fitting that I share a post that reflects the promise of better (and brighter) days ahead. The following is taken from a Hallmark® birthday card I received from my mom this year. Trust me it’s worth the read, and guaranteed to put a smile on your face…

Trust your instincts. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t…fun, tempting…maybe, but not right.

Remember your manners. It doesn’t cost you anything, but speaks volumes about who you are. Having CLASS starts with this.

Never let possessions “own” you. It’s just STUFF! The most valuable things in life—friends, respect, love, knowledge—don’t cost money… Hokey, but true.

Nurture your friendships. The investment you make in true friends will pay huge dividends all your life—remember, you can’t make an old friend.

Keep your hands clean. This is meant both literally and figuratively… It will save you a lot of regrets later…

Believe in yourself. Another hokey one, but you DO happen to be the only YOU in existence, and you’re also the only person in the world who can TRULY hold you back in life…

Be grateful. Don’t waste all your todays in anticipation of some grand tomorrow. NOW is all we’ve got. Live in it!

Treat others the way you want to be treated. Just because you’re smarter or richer or prettier than someone else doesn’t mean you’re BETTER. It just means you’ve been more blessed.

Always keep playing. Who says adults have to give up toys? Keep the little kid inside you alive… it keeps your imagination primed. Silly is good. 

I’m kind of partial to the last one! Thanks a heap for reading my blog. If you have time, please leave a comment and share some of the things that have made your life a little better. Cheers and have a great week!

Monday 16 March 2015

Guest Post: Top 10 Foods to Improve Your Memory by Sara Daniel...

Most of us are probably not going to end up with amnesia so severe our memory of the past ten months is completely wiped out as happened to my heroine Gwen in Loving the Amnesia Bride. However, if you’re anything like me, you walk into a room intending to do something, which had to be important since you went there with a purpose. But now you’re standing inside the doorway with no earthly idea what you walked all the way across the house to do.

Or you’re all ready to run some errands…if you could just find where you left your darn car keys. Really, how far away could they have disappeared in the two hours since you last drove the car??? Clearly, it’s time to address the problem. And the problem is not the keys.

Below are ten foods which have been scientifically proven to deliver health benefits to your brain—improving memory, focus and concentration. So, let’s start eating!
1. Blueberries – All berries are good options, but blueberries are the superhero food choice! Blueberries protect the brain from oxidative stress and may reduce the effects of Alzheimer’s, dementia, and premature aging.

2. Salmon – Salmon is high in Omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for brain function.

3. Broccoli – Broccoli has nutrients for healthy blood flow, protection against free radicals, and removes heavy metals that can damage the brain.

4. Beans/Legumes – These excellent sources of complex carbs and fiber provide a steady supply of glucose for the brain without the risks of sugar spikes. They are also packed with folate, a B vitamin critical to brain function.

5. Avocados – Although high in fat, the avocado is a monounsaturated fat, which promotes healthy blood flow to the brain. Their antioxidants protect the brain from free radical damage. They also contain potassium and vitamin K, which protect the brain from the risk of stroke.

6. Pomegranates – Either the seeds or the juice will do, protecting the brain from free radicals with their strong antioxidants.

7. Sunflower Seeds – These, along with other seeds, are packed with protein, omega fatty acids, B vitamins, and tryptophan, which the brain uses to boost mood and combat depression.

8. Whole grains – If you’ve ever bought whole grain bread, the advertising on the package probably shouted that whole grains reduce the risk of heart disease. And if your heart’s healthy, that’s good news for your brain.

9. Almonds and other nuts – Nuts are extremely good for the brain and nervous system. High levels of vitamin E protect against dementia and cognitive decline by protecting the brain against free radicals and improving brain power.

10. Chocolate – Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, has strong antioxidants and can improve concentration and focus. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, putting you in a good mood. 

Now, excuse me while I munch on some chocolate-covered almonds and look for my car keys!

  Sara Daniel writes what she loves to read—irresistible romance, from sweet to erotic and everything in between. She battles a serious NASCAR addiction and was once a landlord of two uninvited squirrels. She lives her own happily-ever-after romance with her hero husband, and she gets amnesia at least three times a day because she can never remember where she left her keys!

Learn more about Sara on her website and blog. Subscribe to Sara’s newsletter. Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Thursday 12 March 2015

Come Celebrate MG author S.J. Henderson's New Release: DANIEL THE CAMP-ER

DTC cover
Let's give a big Camp Bigfoot hello to S. J. Henderson's brand new Middle Grade novel, DANIEL THE CAMP-ER! Stick around the bonfire, here, to learn more about this deliciously fantastic tale, and be sure to enter the giveaway below for your chance to win a $10 Amazon card or your very own copy of DANIEL THE CAMP-ER.

Now grab a S'more and let's get this party started...

Ten Facts about DANIEL THE CAMP-ER and S. J. Henderson

1.      Daniel doesn’t have a last name, just a last initial.“A.”This is a nod to my grandparents, who have been called “Mr. and Mrs. A” my entire life. Someday I will give Daniel a last name, but today is not that day.

2.      Daniel’s best friend, Annie, was inspired by a girl my ten-year-old son has been friends with since kindergarten.I once read part of DANIEL THE DRAW-ER for her class then told them Annie was based on their classmate. I had to backtrack and make sure her class knew she doesn’t enjoy eating worms, like Annie.She does, however, love peanut butter.

3.      I have never eaten a worm or an insect (not on purpose, at least).My older sister once ate a palmetto bug, though.Palmetto bugs are super icky.

4.      When I was little, my friend and I used to pretend we ran a radio station. We tape recorded our conversations and made-up commercials.Our station’s call letters?WBUG.

5.      Unlike Daniel, I really like Shepherd’s Pie and meatloaf.

6.      If Sap was real, he would have mistaken me for one of Doctor Short Shorts evil cohorts.Someday I will be fashionable again.

7.      If I was in a talent show and given the choice between singing and dancing, I would sing. I have two left feet.

8.      When I was writing the part about the spider dropping from the ceiling of the Chipmunk cabin, a spider actually dropped down from my ceiling.

9.      Glitter Pony and I have one thing in common: I wanted to be a pony until I was about eleven years old.I insisted people call me “Crazy Horse” and galloped around the house.

10.  I have never done a Trust Fall.We were supposed to do them at sixth grade camp, but my mom wouldn’t let me stay overnight there, so I missed out.I’m super sad about that (not really).


a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Series

DANIEL THE CAMP-ER is the second book in the DANIEL THE DRAW-ER series. The first book in the series, DANIEL THE DRAW-ER, is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and as an audiobook on Audible and iTunes.

Although Daniel’s adventures were written for boys and girls between 6 and 12, readers of all ages have found themselves swept up in these silly and imaginative stories. Fans of Captain Underpants and Diary of a Wimpy Kid will appreciate the humor in the DANIEL THE DRAW-ER books, and parents and teachers will appreciate the lack of potty humor and themes of friendship and loyalty. And fun. Can’t forget fun.


There are a few simple rules Daniel follows.

Rule One: never let an adult see your weakness. Daniel made that mistake and look where he ended up—summer camp.

Rule Two: never make fun of the person who feeds you, unless you like Miss Gunderson’s peppery pancakes and green hamburgers.

Rule Three: stay away from girls who love Glitter Ponies. They have cooties, after all.

And Rule Four: never, ever lose your magic pencil.

But Daniel has broken all of his own rules. Now he’s stuck and starving at Camp Bigfoot with the school bully as his bunkmate and an ooey-gooey girl who won’t leave him alone. If all of that wasn’t bad enough, his prized possession, a pencil that brings his drawings to life, has gone missing and wacky creatures are popping up all over camp.

Can Daniel survive Camp Bigfoot and find his magic pencil before it’s too late?


Annie catches up with me as I creep closer to the edge of the forest. Her eyes grow wide. “Why is there a moose wearing a cowboy hat here?”

“He likes soccer?” I shrug. “And that’s a sombrero, not a cowboy hat.”

“Whatever it is, I know you did this, Daniel. Are you crazy?”

“I didn’t mean to, but I must’ve grabbed the wrong pencil when I was getting my things ready. Oops.”

“Yeah, oops.” She rubs her face with her hands. “At least he looks friendly and doesn’t shoot laser beams from his eyes.”

I cringe. “Oops.”

“What do you mean, ‘oops’?” Annie latches onto me with her fingers and squeezes so tight my arm goes numb for a second. I wish people would hurt me in other places besides just my arms. There are lots of other parts of my body they could pick, but no. Everyone picks the arm, which gets super-sore, and then I start drawing stuff like a-moose-that-should-be-a-bear. So, if you ask me, this isn’t my fault.

The moose lifts up his head and snorts, sending balls of green flame into the dirt.

“Oops,” I say again, flashing a guilty smile.

Annie ducks behind me to protect herself from the moose’s attack. “Erase it, Daniel.”

Which is what I mean to do, really. I have the eraser on the pencil line making up the moose’s right nostril when he looks me right in the eye and says, “Stop! Please!”

Get the Book



Meet S. J. Henderson


S. J. Henderson is the author of the DANIEL THE DRAW-ER series, as well as several not-yet-published Young Adult novels.

S. J. lives in Michigan with her husband and four wild boys. When she is not writing about talking cats and magic pencils, S. J. can usually be found riding one of her family’s horses or drinking a little bit of coffee with her creamer.

Connect with S. J.







Monday 9 March 2015

Spotlight on a Book Series: Darlene Foster and the Amanda Travel Adventure Series…

I want to thank and welcome wonderful (and well-traveled) MG author, Darlene Foster for sharing her personal experiences on writing a book series and showcasing her middle grade adventure series the Amanda Travel Adventure series with us on my blog today.

BONUS: One lucky reader will win an Amanda Travel Adventure ebook of their choice just by leaving a comment! Don’t forget to leave your contact info for a chance to win, and good luck! So let’s get this interview rolling…
Where did you get your idea and inspiration to write the Amanda Travel Adventure series, Darlene?

I was inspired by an amazing trip I took to the United Arab Emirates. While I was there, I felt as excited as a twelve year old. I decided it would be a great setting for a children´s book. I created the character of Amanda, an average girl who wishes for travel and adventure as she blows out the candles on her twelfth birthday. The next day an airplane ticket arrives in the mail for her to visit her aunt and uncle who live in the UAE. What follows is an adventure of a life time. Once Amanda got the travel bug, she had to see more interesting places. I suppose I created Amanda because as a child, I wanted to see the world.

Seems like you made your dreams a reality! How many books are you planning to write in this middle grade travel adventure series?

I was only going to write three but I keep getting new ideas. So I guess I will write as many books as there are interesting places for Amanda to visit. My readers keep asking, “Where will Amanda go next?” Her adventures are based on my travels. I just don´t get into as much trouble as she does.

Keep’em coming, Darlene! What sets the Amanda Travel Adventures series apart from other series in the same genre?

Amanda considers herself a regular girl leading a boring life, but tends to get caught up in other people´s problems. She is braver and more curious than she thinks she is. She also has a good friend, Leah, who lives in England and is quite different from her. This friendship evolves in the series. I believe these books provide an opportunity for children (and adults) to learn about another country while following Amanda and Leah. I try to include details kids would find interesting and often amusing. Maybe something they wouldn´t necessarily learn in school. Teachers who have introduced these books to their classrooms, tell me the children love learning about the places Amanda visits. It entices them to look up more information about the sites on the internet.

How long did it take for you to start and finish each book from the Amanda Travel Adventure series?

The first book took me three years to write but the last two took about eighteen months. I guess you get faster once you know what you are doing. (As if you ever really do!)

I wish I could say the same thing. LOL! What are some of your favorite book series, Darlene?

Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, Little Women, Pollyanna and Anne of Green Gables (all with unique and strong female characters!)

Little Women was one of my favorites too. Loved Jo! Do you have any advice for other writers striving to write a series?

Get to know your characters well and then have them evolve. The characters should always learn something new about themselves. Each book should be able to stand on its own. My books don´t have to be read in order.

Excellent! Readers need someone to route for, and watching characters evolve keeps them begging for more books. What’s next for Darlene Foster the author?

I have a bi-lingual book coming out called Pig on Trial/Cerdito a juicio. One page will be in English and the other in Spanish. It is a medieval tale about a young boy who tries to save his pig who is on trial. I am also working on Amanda on the Danube-The Sounds of Music

Sounds like you’ll be one busy author, Darlene! Okay, here’s one for me, since I’m writing a time travel series—IF you could time travel into Earth’s past, WHO would you love to meet, and WHY?

I love time travel and your books are great. I would love to travel back to the time of Jane Austen so I could have a chat with her about her writing. I would so enjoy listening to her wonderful words and terrific wit. I love her books and her characters are delightful.

Thank you so much for this opportunity to be a guest on your blog Sharon!

You’re very welcome, Darlene! And readers please don’t forget to leave a comment and your contact info for a chance to WIN an Amanda Travel Adventure ebook of your choice! Darlene will draw the lucky winner at the end of this week! Cheers!

Amanda Travel Adventure Books:

Amanda in Arabia-The Perfume Flask
 Amanda Ross is an average twelve year old Canadian girl. So what is she doing half way around the world in the United Arab Emirates? It's her own fault really, she wished for adventure and travel when she blew out those candles on her last birthday cake. Little did she know that a whole different world awaited her on the other side of the globe full of intrigue, mystery and folklore. A world with a beautiful princess, a dangerous desert and a loyal camel called Ali Baba. Join Amanda on her first adventure as she discovers the secrets behind The Perfume Flask.

Amanda in Spain-The Girl in The Painting
 Amanda Jane Ross is certainly becoming a world traveller; she's now in sunny Spain on vacation with her friend Leah. While there, she encounters a mysterious young girl who looks eerily like the girl in a famous painting she saw in a Madrid museum. Even weirder, the girl keeps showing up wherever Amanda finds herself - Madrid, the remote mountains of rural Spain, the beaches on the Mediterranean Sea, a lively fiesta and the busy streets of Barcelona. Amanda wants to help this sweet, young girl and her beloved pony escape the clutches of a mean horse-dealer. Come with Amanda on her next adventure as she attempts to unravel the mystery behind the Girl in the Painting while she treks across Spain - always one step ahead of danger!

Amanda in England-The Missing Novel
Amanda Ross is visiting England and taking in all the sights. She gets lost in the maze at Hampton Court, does some shopping at Harrods, meets the ravens in the Tower of London, explores Windsor Castle, and rides the London Eye. When she discovers a vintage book is missing from a collection, she is determined to find out who stole it. Amanda befriends a pair of tough teenagers from the streets of London, an elderly bookshop owner, and a big, friendly, clever, Maine Coon cat named Rupert. Follow Amanda through cobblestone streets, medieval castles, and underground tunnels in her quest to find the missing novel!

Amanda in Alberta-The Writing on the Stone
Amanda is delighted to show Leah around Alberta during her visit from England. They take in the Calgary Stampede, go on a cattle drive, visit Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, spend time with the dinosaurs at the Royal Tyrrell Museum and explore the crazy Hoodoos. When Amanda finds a stone with a unique mark on it, she doesn't think it's important until everyone seems to want it - including a very ornery cowboy. Is this stone worth ruining Leah's holiday and placing them both in danger? Spend time with Amanda as she explores her own country while attempting to decipher the mysterious writing on the stone and keep it from those determined to take it from her.

Amazon Buy Links:

Darlene Foster is a writer of children’s stories, an employment counsellor, an ESL tutor, a wife, mother and grandmother. She loves travel, reading, shoes, cooking, sewing, music, chocolate, walking on the beach and making new friends. Her grandson calls her “super-mega-woman-supreme”. She was brought up on a ranch near Medicine Hat, Alberta, where she dreamt of traveling the world and meeting interesting people. Children from seven to seventy enjoy her Amanda travel adventure series. She believes everyone is capable of making their dreams come true! Her and her husband divide their time between the west coast of  BC, Canada and the Costa Blanca in Spain.

Wednesday 4 March 2015

10 Ways to Grow a Blog by Susan Gourley...

Thanks Sharon for having me as a guest on your blog. I’d like to share ideas that have worked for me in growing my blog audience. I’m not an expert, but these things have worked for me.

10 Ways to Grow a Blog

1.      Follow a variety of blogs, not just other writers. It will expose your name to an entirely different audience
2.      Always provide links to help others find some interesting content.
3.      Return comments. If some comments on your blog, visit theirs in return. They were interested in you so show you feel the same way.
4.      Keep your posts short. Most bloggers are looking for quick, interesting posts. They will skim your long post and not really get the point you were trying to make.
5.      Do more than shout, ‘buy my books.’ That leaves them no reason to comment or come back for the next post.
6.      Be yourself so people actually get to know you. If they know you, hopefully, they will like you. I’ve made some true friends through blogging.
7.      Add pictures to your posts. Book covers, the snow-covered tree, your cat or dog, make it a little bit personal.
8.      Host guest on your blog and hope their friends follow them to your blog. (Thanks, Sharon).
9.      Promote your posts on other media such as Twitter and Facebook.
10.  Participate in blog hops. I’m administrator in two big blog hops. Insecure Writer’s Support Group had been around for more than three years. We blog the first Wednesday of every month and share our woes, successes and offer support and advise. The even bigger blog hop I help run is the Blogging From A to Z Challenge. Last year over 2,000 bloggers participated. For 26 days in April, we post blogs where the content starts with a letter of the alphabet. Letter A on April first, you get the picture. I highly recommend both.

These are a few ideas that have helped me. Can you add a few more ideas in your comment? Any blog hops you recommend.

Susan Gourley writes high fantasy and also writes science fiction romance as Susan Kelley. She is the author of the bestselling science fiction romance series, The Warriors of Gaviron and The Recon Marines series. Her latest release is The Warrior and the Governor. You can find her at Susan Says or follow her on Twitter and like her page on Facebook.

Monday 2 March 2015

Clear the Chess Board…

There are times when we just gotta clear the chess board and begin the game again with new and improved strategies. Whether it’s in your life or in your work, sometimes you need to shake things up, see what’s left standing, and bulldoze the rest.

If you haven’t already found out through the social media or other blog announcements, Musa Publishing—my publisher of 3½ years—decided to close their virtual doors for good on February 28th, 2015. It was truly a sad day indeed, not only for the scores of authors who had their books published through Musa, but for the editors, book formatters, promotion specialists, and the five owners who put their blood, sweats, and tears into the company. I will always be grateful for Musa Publishing kick-starting my writing career. ALWAYS.

Thankfully, The Last Timekeepers time travel series was picked up immediately by another publisher. Again, I’m on the ground floor of a young publishing company who will bring my books to the next level, and a wider audience. Last week I signed two contracts with Mirror World Publishing for The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis, and the prequel to the series, Legend of the Timekeepers. Both books will be available for purchase worldwide in paperback and ebook format this summer. I’m so excited about this opportunity to reach new readers, continue on with my series, and create something of value to make people of all ages smile.

The chess board has been reset. The game has begun.