Friday, January 24, 2014

Friday Fun Facts: Thanking my Awesome Beta Readers

As I promised, today I wanted to thank the beta readers who've been invaluable in reading over my Works-in-Progress over the last few years. As any writer knows, bouncing ideas off other writers, and sharing your baby with them before it goes out into the publishing world, can help improve the work incredibly. Outside readers have the ability to see things you can't, to ask questions that never occurred to you, and to point out all those "oops" in your stories, whether it's missing words or comma errors or huge plot holes.

A big THANK YOU to my faithful readers (please visit their website and support them too!)

Liz Matis, spicy sports romance author and indie publishing whiz

Janet Walters, founding member of my local RWA chapter and an incredibly prolific writer in almost every romance sub-genre

Cynthia Borris, who writes great romantic humor and who I "met" virtually years ago. We live on opposite coasts and have met in person exactly once :)

And dear friends Yolanda Sly and Tamara D., who unfailingly read my manuscripts, work full-time jobs, and still find time to meet for Starbucks or pedicures.

Writers, who's in your support network?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Writers' Wednesday: A Shout-Out to my Writing Support System

Writing is a pretty solitary pursuit. At the heart of it, it's you and the pen (or the keyboard). It's you sitting down by yourself to muddle through the story line and shape the plot and the characters.

But publishing requires a great deal of support, and while that journey is yours alone too, it is usually helped along the way by a variety of people. Today, a shout-out to the people who have supported me and been my resources along the way. If you're looking for any professional services, I recommend all of these:

Jo at Glass Slipper Web Design, who's currently in the process of re-creating a brand new website and "look" for me. She's been terrific to work with these last 5 years, reasonably priced and always doing whatever updates I needed within 24-48 hours.

Karen Dale Harris, my editor for Inferno of Love. She does terrific free-lance editing and, to my pleasant surprise, drops me emails every now and again to see how my writing is going and to share news about the industry. Highly recommended if you need an editor!

Amy Gamet, who designed my cover for Inferno of Love. Also easy and friendly to work with, with very competitive cover design rates.

Jesse Gordon, my e-book formatter. If you need something formatted into ANY file at all, with a quick turn-around and great rates, contact him.

Maria @ My Author Concierge - This is going to be a preemptive shout-out, because we just started working together. But I'm excited to have a virtual assistant who's going to help me organize my promo calendar, help with my releases, and be my all-around go-to person for professional contacts!

And my beta readers...but that thank-you comes on Friday. They get a blog post all to themselves, for being such terrific friends and support systems throughout my writing journey. Here's to 2014!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Monday Mentionables: Working on Author Brand

One of my goals for 2014 is to sharpen, and perhaps recreate, my author brand.

Your what?

Branding is a key component to any successful business. We all recognize McDonald's golden arches, or the Starbucks lady inside the green circle, or the silver Jaguar hood ornament. We know in an instant what we'll get for our money. Author branding does the same thing. It makes a promise to the reader about what kind of story you'll get if you pick up a title by any particular author. It's necessary for success - and it's also bloody challenging.

When I first started writing, I just wanted to write. I wanted to tell stories. I had a vague sense of what kinds of characters and settings drew me in: contemporary, male-female, PG-13 or maybe R rated. My first 3 "One Night" books had the added instant brand of being "24-hour romances" which was kind of unique at the time. But beyond that, I'm painfully aware that I do not have a precise brand associated with my name. That is one of my goals this year, to try and address that.

Branding requires you to take a close look at what you write, what you offer the reading public and how you want to be known. And in this world of online everything, your social media presence has to reinforce that brand as well. I'm still in the early stages of trying to figure this process out, but one thing I know that I love to write is small-town romance. With the exception of my "One Night" novels (and honestly, One Night in Napa would probably fall into this small-town genre as well), all my stories are set in small towns. This, of course, is no coincidence. I grew up in a small town. I currently live in a small town. I've lived in big cities, and I've traveled all over the world, but I always come back to the comfort and safety and sense of community that a small town offers. I love writing about those quirkish characters, the secrets a town can hold and the way the people there know you and your family almost better than you know yourself.

So I'm thinking that perhaps the idea of spicy small town romances might be my brand. If you've read my books, what do you think? I'm trying to come up with a tagline that will play into this idea. Here are a few I'm tossing around...please throw in your suggestions as well!

Allie Boniface:

Where small town meets spice...

Soul mates...secrets...spice...welcome to Small Town, USA!

Explore the secrets of small town life...

Small towns...full of secrets and spice!

Where small towns are full of secrets and spice...