Friday, July 29, 2016

Chapter 1 Excerpt – 2016 Love, Christmas – Grown Up Christmas List by @DonnaFaz #mgtab






Welcome to Authors’ Billboard and the Sneak Peek at my contribution to the Love, Christmas bundle. Love, Christmas will launch this fall, just a few short months from now. Grown Up Christmas List will be dedicated to reader Leann Griffiths. Congrats, Leann, for winning the Authors’ Billboard Love, Christmas Rafflecopter! I want to send out a huge thank you to the thousands of readers who entered. And now, on to the Sneak Peek:


 
Love, Christmas Box Collection

 
Coming Oct 2016







GROWN UP CHRISTMAS LIST
Excerpt from Chapter One
Lively strains of Christmas music floated from somewhere in the rafters as Dina Griffin let her gaze rove over the rows of shampoo bottles lining the shelf. Lemon yellow, bright purple, jarring chartreuse, the plastic containers came in a rainbow of colors, each competing to catch the eye of shoppers. There were products that guaranteed help for damaged split ends; others promising shine and curl; and still others offering to clarify, volumize, or medicate. The abundance of choices astonished her. And to think, all she’d ever expected from her shampoo was clean hair. It wasn’t as if she’d never been shopping, but her busy life usually had her running in, snapping up her tried-and-true bargain brand, and going on her way. Studying the bottles closer, she read phrases like moisture milkherbal escapesessential oils,vitamin-laced, and tea therapy.
Tea therapy?
A few steps further brought her to the matching conditioners, also in a mind-boggling, kaleidoscopic variety. Then came the specialty shampoos for dandruff and hair loss and itchy, scaly scalp conditions. And nits.
Lice. Ew.
Dina shivered inside her bulky winter coat as she ambled along, feigning great interest in the items on display.
She reached the end of the aisle, and just as she stepped out to make her way around the shelving unit, the electronic doors at the front of the store slid open, drawing her attention.
A cop entered the pharmacy, and adrenaline shot through Dina like a high voltage jolt. Perspiration broke out on the back of her neck and her heart began to thud. She turned her head away, dipping both her chin and her gaze as she sunk back as far as possible into her wide-brimmed hood. Mustering a calm nonchalance she certainly did not feel, she skirted the tall, end cap display of hard pretzels and slipped into the neighboring aisle. She stopped halfway down and perused the first-aid section with enough focus to lead anyone who might notice her to think her life depended on finding the perfect band-aid.
The officer wasn’t here for her. He wasn’t. He couldn’t possibly know she’d run from the police in Baltimore. He couldn’t.
Dina dared not chance looking behind her, but her stomach sank when she sensed someone approaching. As the person got closer, she could feel the mass of him. It was the cop. Had to be. And the man must be built as solid as a brick wall.
He wasn’t here for her. He wasn’t. She repeated the silent mantra, bending at the waist and grasping the first package within reach. Tweezers, she realized. Silver. Pointy-tipped.
Her fingers were trembling, so she released the plastic and cardboard container. However, when she pulled her hand back, her coat sleeve caught the edge of several packages and tweezers went tumbling like inept circus acrobats. Dina scrambled, snatching them up, and hurrying to re-hang them on the metal display hook.
The cop stopped directly behind her. She straightened, closed her eyes, and drew in a breath in an effort to calm her anxiety. And that’s when she smelled him.
The scent of fresh cut sandalwood tickled her nose. Warm and slightly spicy.
He cleared his throat and her eyes flew open.
Could he have picked up a splinter on the job somehow? Be in dire need of a pair of pointy-tipped tweezers? Maybe he’d cut himself shaving and needed one of those small circular band-aids. That would be her luck, all right. A splinter-laden, razor-nicked cop in need of first-aid supplies, and she just happened to be standing right in front of the display.
Her only goal in walking around the pharmacy had been to warm up a little. Although the day was sunny and the outside temperatures on the mild side this morning, it was still winter, and the damp concrete she’d slept on had left her chilled to the bone. Her hips had been aching and her feet had felt like brittle bricks of ice when she’d arrived, and she’d just wanted to limber up, work the cold out of her joints and toes in a heated environment.
“Miss? I need you to come with me.”
How could he possibly have known…
Dina hesitated, nerves forcing her to swallow even though her mouth had gone as dry as course sand. She was not going back to Baltimore. Not until she absolutely had to. What compelled her next action, she had no idea—fear, panic, sheer survival instinct—but she spun on her heel and glared into his face.
“I’m not going anywhere with you. This is a free country, and I’ve got rights. I’m staying right here, and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.”
An instant of shock registered on his face. But his jaw quickly set, his lips flattened, and he seemed to grow three inches when he squared his shoulders and straightened his spine.
Oh, Lord, save her. Had she really just gone all rebel on an officer of the law?
“Yeah,” he said, his tone soft but firm, “this is a free country. And you do have rights. Just so long as you don’t take things that don’t belong to you.” He pinched the sleeve of her coat between his fingers. “So put back whatever it is you’ve stolen, and come up to the front counter with me. We need to have a chat with the manager.”
“Wait. What are you talking about?”
He muttered under his breath, then said loud enough for her to hear, “Being uncooperative is only going to make matters worse for you. Your parents are already going to be upset when I call them. It’s bad enough you’re cutting school. Shoplifting is a serious offence.”
Cutting… What?
Shoplifting?
She looked at him as if he’d suddenly sprouted a grotesque, green beard.
“All right.” He sighed. “We can play this any way you want.”
Her bravado withered like a sycamore leaf in the dead of winter when she felt herself being propelled toward the front of the store. There must have been only an inch of her coat fabric in his grip, but it was enough to force her to toddle along beside his long-legged stride like a twelve-year-old.


~*~


USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR DONNA FASANO is a three-time winner of the HOLT Medallion, a CataRomance Reviewers Choice Award winner for Best Single Title, a Desert Rose Golden Quill Award finalist, a Golden Heart finalist, and a two-time winner of Best Romance of the Year given by BigAl's Books & Pals Review Blog. Her books have sold 4 million copies worldwide and have been published in two dozen languages. Her novels have made the Kindle Top 100 Paid List numerous times, climbing as high as #5.

**Visit her blog at www.DonnaFasano.com.

**Sign up for her monthly newsletter at http://mad.ly/signups/110899/join.

**Follow Donna on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/DonnaFasanoAuthor . She loves to chat with readers.

**Follow her on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/DonnaFaz

What others are saying about Donna's books:

"...complex, funny, and realistic..." ~Wilmington News Journal

"Excellent!" ~Bookreview.com

"Could not help myself from reading excerpts to my husband and friends. This book is well written, the characters are real, everyday folks. It is very easy to identify with them. Donna Fasano is a talented author." ~Elizabeth M. Caldwell on Amazon

"...a fast paced riotous look at family life today. Donna Fasano is right on target!" ~Donna Zapf, SingleTitles.com                


~**~






Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Best and Worst Times and Days to Post on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr #mgtab #eNovAaw





Original post from MarketingHire.com


So you don’t like Mondays? Well, actually, there’s a good reason to change that perspective. Mondays between 1 - 3 PM E.T. are the best times to tweet that latest post. A recent study by bit.ly of click behavior using their service found the best and worst times to make Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr posts. Their recent post revealed the following findings. (Note: All times are EST.)

Twitter

Best Days and Times to Post a Tweet: Monday through Thursday from 1-3pm. The peak time of the week was Wednesday at 3PM.
Worst Days and Times to Post a Tweet: Friday after 3PM and any day of the week after 8 PM and before 8AM. Weekends are the worst days to post.

Note: bit.ly noted in their blog post that, “the half-life of a link on Twitter is 2.8 hours.”

Facebook

Best Days and Times to Post on Facebook: Links posted during the week from 1PM - 4PM have the highest click throughs. The peak time was Wednesday 3pm. bit.ly finds that traffic starts to pick up around 9am, but recommends waiting to post until 11am.

Worst Days and Times to Post on Facebook: Weekday traffic starts to die out after 4pm. Post get less clicks before 8am and after 8pm. Weekends are the worst days to post.

Tumblr

Tumbler users respond significantly different than Twitter and Facebook users.
Best Days and Times to Post on Tumbler: 4PM. Postings after 7PM receive more clicks over a 24 hour period than content posted mid-day during the week. Traffic peaks between 7pm-10pm on Monday and Tuesday and Sunday.


Best Day of the Week Post on Tumblr: Tumblr users operate quite different than Facebook and Twitter users. The best time to post on Tumblr is Friday.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

CHAPTER ONE excerpt-2016, Love, Christmas Collection–”I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” by Nancy Radke #mgtab



****



Independent authors often collaborate to write stories with a theme. The collection is then sold as a boxed set. This year a group of 20 authors I am with picked the theme of Christmas Songs. Each story uses the title of a Christmas song taken from reader’s suggestions. My song was, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” Since I write the Trahern series, I thought at first that I would write it as a Civil War era story, of a soldier trying to get home, who keeps stopping to help strangers as he goes. One of the people he helps is a woman he falls in love with, and when he does get home he brings her, too.

But that was very close to the plot of a story I had already written, “The Quietest Woman in the South.” In that book, young Cade Trahern heads home at the end of the war, riding a cantankerous mule, General Wheezer, who becomes part of the story. While helping people, Cade falls for a woman who doesn’t say much, but when she does, she makes it count.

So I switched to modern times with our dangerous world, and put Lee Trahern in a rowboat in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. He has told his family that he would be home for Christmas, but he gave up his seat on the last plane out of the country being invaded, so is rowing back. Now all he has to do is row hard. All I have to do is get a young woman in the boat with him.

 

I’ll Be Home for Christmas
by Nancy Radke
Dedicated to Delene Yochum

 

CHAPTER ONE

The ship, an old steamer, almost a derelict, looked like it was about to swamp, joining the many others at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea. Paralee Trahern could see people everywhere, covering it in the same manner in which they piled on top of the cars and other vehicles in the third world countries, not considering that a boat was different, and overloading it could cause it to capsize. If there was any room at all, they climbed aboard.

He watched as it approached him, then rowed closer.  “I can take a few of you here,” he called, first in Aramaic, then French, and then in English. “Send three over.” It would almost swamp him, but if just a few came…
About forty jumped off the sinking ship and swam towards him. He hastily turned his rowboat around and started rowing like he was at Henley. If he let them come aboard, or even grab hold, he would be capsized and sunk along with them.
He rowed hard and fast, making the little boat jump. If he hadn’t rowed so close to start with, he might have made it. But the first one to reach his boat acted like an anchor. Then the rest came, flailing their way through the water.
Several grabbed the stern, their faces desperate. They were the ones who had rid themselves of their heavy clothing, enabling them to catch him, at the same time slowing his boat enough that the others reached it. Seeing the inevitable, he yanked both oars out of the oarlocks and stood up, holding them.
They tipped it sideways, trying to get in. As it filled with water, Lee simply walked over their bodies and out into the Mediterranean. Then he swam away from the rowboat a short distance and turned around.
Placing the oars under his arms, he waited, patience being one of the things a SEAL learns early on. The saltwater wouldn’t do his prosthetic leg any good, but he couldn’t take it off and maybe lose it. He felt thankful that he was in the warm Mediterranean and not the North Sea.
He watched while his rowboat went completely under. When they realized the boat was gone, the men swam back toward the steamer, which wasn’t doing much better, but which had not slowed down.
With their weight gone, the rowboat was still submerged, while his group of plastic water containers, tied by a rope to one of the thwarts, floated next to it.
The men paid it no attention, as they were intent on getting back. Some did, most didn’t. Those on the ship ignored them, leaving them in the water. They waved and screamed, but the ship continued on, and soon there were none.
It was growing dark and he kicked underwater to keep his movements hidden, while he maneuvered himself back to where they had sunk his rowboat. For a few minutes he couldn’t see it, then he stuck his head under and looked around.  He had passed it on the right, its shadowy form suspended just below the surface.
He swam up to the boat and over it, then rested his body on the seat, which was about a foot underwater. Once the other ship steamed far enough off into the distance, he let go of the oars and laid sideways across the boat, his legs hanging over one side. In position, he reached across and grabbed the other side of the rowboat, and turned it on edge, letting it drain as much as possible while shoving it up into the air. Then he dropped it right side up.
It wasn’t completely void of water, but enough had gone out that the bow and stern were clear, and the gunwales a few inches above it. He retrieved his oars, flipped himself over the side and reentered the boat.
He worked for a while to get more water out, bailing with a small can he had kept for that purpose. Thankfully, the desperate men hadn’t tried to untie his bag of provisions, as they were too intent on keeping afloat. Once he had the water down to a few inches, he turned his back to the north and started rowing again.

Sofia Morgan stiffened as she hit the cool water, going down in a swirl of bubbles and clothing. After the searing heat of the sun, increased by the pressure of too many bodies jammed close together on the deck, the water shocked her, making her gasp for air.
Her friend’s husband hadn’t even allowed her to take her enveloping cloak off, before pushing her over the rail to join the men in the sea. His hand had thrust hard between her shoulder blades, sending her out into the air, as well as over the side. Did he want to get rid of her, that much?
She knew he hadn’t been happy, having her around, with her American ways. She was too independent, and made her college friend want to do things that were forbidden.
Once in the water, the cloak tangled around her, and she had to fight against a rising panic. She held her breath and pulled it off, one sleeve at a time. It was overly large, and she held it away from herself as she resurfaced.
The side of the steamer loomed over her, and men were thrashing all around in the water. They turned, almost as one, and started swimming toward the lone rowboat.
     Too many!
She looked up at the side of the ship and realized there were no ladders or anything hanging from the side. No way to climb back on unless someone lowered a rope. It was moving away from her. It hadn’t stopped when the men jumped off.  She swam hard to make sure she was clear of the propellers.
Once at a safe distance, she looked around to where the rowboat had been. It would soon be sunk, unless the man rowing it got away in time. She swam back to where her cloak still floated on the surface, and grabbed it. Tying the arms together at the wrists, she whipped the wet garment through the air, catching enough air to create a small bubble that she could rest against.
When she looked again, the rowboat was turning on its side as the men tried to climb aboard. She watched as it sunk beneath them and they frantically tried to climb on top of one another.
What had become of the Good Samaritan? She figured he hadn’t expected such a reaction.
Then the men turned and started to swim back toward the ship. Not toward Sofia, as the ship had moved on, so the swimmers swam toward it and not to where she was, but she remained quiet in the water, not making so much as a splash. Desperate swimmers would try to climb on top of anything, so they mustn’t see her.
That had looked like a wooden rowboat. It should still be there, even if underwater. The men had all left it by now, swimming hard to catch the boat. Most were swimming with their robes still on, and the weight was pulling them under, causing them to grab their companions and pull them under too. A few had shed their clothes, and actually were catching up to the steamer, but no rope was thrown to them and they were left in the middle of the sea.  Soon all but two were gone and she could no longer see the ship from her position in the water.
     Would they try to get back to the rowboat? Then they too disappeared from sight, below the sparkling waves. Everything took on a serene, unreal quality, as if never disturbed by the floundering men.
She had tried to picture the location of the rowboat in her mind. It would be hard to judge distances, and she might swim right on past it, but there was no stopping. Nowhere to go but toward where she had seen the boat sink.
Now Sofia kicked hard for the rowboat, hanging onto her improvised flotation device. As she got nearer, she saw it flip on its side out of the water, and realized that the man must have gotten away from the mob, and had returned to claim his boat. He had invited a few, and probably hadn’t expected what happened. Maybe he would still be willing to take on an extra passenger. It wasn’t like she had an option.
She adjusted her direction. She would have missed it by ten feet or more, the way she was headed. She could see the man bailing out the water and kicked harder. She had to reach him before he started up again.
The stranger was her only hope. It wasn’t like there were ships aplenty around, for although the Mediterranean did have a lot of traffic, it was sporadic.  She couldn’t count on another boat coming by before she drowned.
The man occasionally glanced toward the departing steamer, but he wasn’t looking her way. Even as she decided to leave her cloak behind so that she could go faster, he picked up the oars and started to row. “Help!”
He didn’t hear her. The noise of rowing must have covered her cries. Why hadn’t she yelled sooner?
“Help. Help!” The boat moved sluggishly, but way too fast for her to reach.
“Help!” She screamed, then waved her hand and hit the water, making as large a splash as she could. No use.
Still, it was not in her to give up. She yelled again and started swimming.


Love, Christmas Box Collection

Coming Oct 2016






Nancy Radke grew up on a wheat and cattle ranch in SE Washinton State. She attended a one-room country school through the eighth grade. She learned to ride bareback at age 3 (Really! It was a common practice.) and when she got off or fell off, she would pull her horse’s nose to the ground, get on behind its ears, and the horse would lift its head so she could scoot down onto its back. She spent most of her childhood exploring the Blue Mountain trails that bordered the ranchlands. She and a friend once took a trail that turned out to be a two day trip. They always rode with matches and pocket knives, so made camp and returned the next day. These long rides worried her parents, but provided plenty of time to make up stories. Her first novel was set in the Blues, and is entitled APPALOOSA BLUES. TURNAGAIN LOVE was the first one published. It rated a four star review from Affaire de Coeur. Scribes World said “Turnagain Love has some fascinating twists and turns, unexpected complications, and charming scenes.” It is light and humorous.
 View website


****



 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Why the heck do I always make things harder than they have to be? #upgrade #windows #mgtab






I’m sorry I haven’t blogged for the last few days but I’ve been locked out of my Word program ever since we upgraded my Windows 7 to Windows 10.

Remember - they will charge you for the upgrade after the end of the month… or at least, that’s what’s been threatened.

So – not wanting to pay for something I knew I needed to do anyway, I decided to go ahead and make the change. I had held off because of pure comfort – what I mean is – I’m so blasted comfortable with the old I didn’t want to have to deal with the new. My bad but also dumb!!

Of course, my thrifty nature ended up forcing me to just go for it!

Now this is where it got interesting. Once the change was made, every time I went to my documents in Word, a message appeared – annoyingly consistent. It didn’t make a lot of sense to me – something about my referral key. I just cleared it off each time and decided to ask my techie hubby about it later.

Well later never came.

Then one day shortly after, I found myself completely locked out of Word altogether. I couldn’t copy and paste, save anything or even write on a document. The top tab-bar area was dead….useless……sob!

Beep, beep-beep, BEEPPP! Is what I felt, thought and okay – so I said a bit of it too!

Why I hadn’t taken the time to actually deal with their message rather than ignore it, I’ll never know. Thankfully, hubby did manage to recover the program but only after he called their long-distance line and explained we were on holidays, the info they wanted was back at home and… I needed to have the site restored.

They did reset it but trust me - it was a pain in the patodie!

So… if you’re intending on upgrading before the end of the month, please don’t ignore their request.

Don’t pull a Mimi!!! LOL!


Saturday, July 16, 2016

Chapter One excerpt – 2016 Love, Christmas Collection – Merry, Did You Know? by Jennifer St. Giles #mgtab

  
Merry, Did You Know?


By Jennifer St. Giles


Your heart is free, have the courage to follow it. ~ Braveheart

Chapter One


December 1st


St. Simons Island, Georgia


MC Love listened as her sister, Summer Love, relayed the latest dysfunctional drama to riddle her family. Her stepfather, whom she called Steppy (because she couldn’t remember his name or what number he was, fifth, sixth, seventh?) and her mother, True Love, owner and CEO of Love International Resorts, had relationship issues.


Actually, all the Loves did.


“Steppy passed out drunk at NeNe’s wedding,” Summer said. NeNe was short for Never Ending. MC had seven sisters, one full the others half, all with the last name Love. Besides Summer and Never Ending, there was, Sweet, Timeless, Pure, Forever, and Madly Inn. That was another dysfunctional story.


Summer continued. “He didn’t just slouch over in his chair, mind you. He face-planted into the groom’s cake!”


MC made an appropriate noise of shock.


“The groom freaked out over his cake being destroyed and threw drunk-Steppy into the fountain. NeNe took issue with her new husband’s lack of respect for Steppy and threw cake at him. He then dropped her, wedding dress and all, into the fountain as well. That’s what you get with a hot-headed New York Italian! I kept telling NeNe that if she wanted the real thing, she had to go to Italy and find a younger version of Gianluca. Long story short, NeNe has filed for an annulment. She will now hold the Love record for the shortest marriage. Mother isn’t too happy.”


Summer had been in lust with Italian Rockstar Gianluca Grignani since the age of thirteen. No man Summer dated ever matched up to her idol. MC had often told her to go to Italy and find her own Italian. It ran in the family though. No man matched their mother’s ideal, so True changed husbands as often as she changed shoes. MC knew what would happen next. “Mother will now divorce Steppy, marry again, and annul after a minute of wedded bliss just so she can reign queen again.”


“I thought you said you haven’t spoken with her today?”


“I haven’t. Just a guess.”


“She mentioned something along those lines a few hours ago. So all in all, we missed seeing you but you didn’t miss much of a wedding. How is the French Riviera?”


MC gazed out over the Atlantic kissing the Georgia coast with wave after gentle wave. “Delightful.”
“Any deliciousness in sight?”


Code for hot male. “I haven’t been looking. Still recovering from he who shall remain unnamed.”
“Well, you know the Love motto. Can’t let a bad man keep you down. You’ve got to get back in the saddle and ride again.”


Looking down at her very pregnant stomach, MC grimaced. She wouldn’t be riding any time soon. A Grand Prix racer from Monaco, Mr. Unnamed’s only response to her, “I’m Pregnant” bomb had been, “Take care of it.” He’d then raced out the door and on to more fast cars and faster women.


MC had been relieved. Mr. Unnamed would make more of a lousy father than she a mother. She was sure his old-school, old-money family wouldn’t agree, but that wasn’t her problem.


“—I’m flying over.”


MC jerked to attention back to Summer. “What?”


“I said, either you find a man or I’m flying over and help you do it. Where are you exactly?”


“Oh…in a villa outside Cannes. The view is perfect for painting. Honestly, no need to fly over. If you must know, I heard a singer last night who intrigued me. As soon as I-uh-finish with my current project. I plan to check him out.”


That wasn’t exactly a lie.


Since she moved in a month ago, she had heard her neighbor singing most nights. Usually about two or three in the morning on his balcony. Lately, she’d set her alarm and would wake up and read until she heard him. Then she’d sneak downstairs onto her porch to hear him more clearly.


“Do that. I will call you next week. Hopefully we won’t have another Steppy by then.”


“Tell Mom I will not be coming to any weddings until I get this project done.”


“It must be spectacular. You’ve been working on it for months.”


MC frowned. “I don’t know. Art is art. We’ll have to see.”


“Okay. I want a full descript and name of your singer or I am coming. Bye.”


Summer hung up before MC could reply. She groaned. Now she’d have to get on the internet and hunt down a man performing somewhere near Cannes that Summer would believe MC had an interest in. Oh, the tangled web…


She hadn’t wanted anyone to know she was pregnant. Once the father bowed out, MC had made the wise decision not to bring an innocent child into the Love family’s mess. Her oldest sister, Timeless, had divorced. She had two boys, Chance and Lucky. Yes, their last name was Love, too. It was True Love’s crusade that any child born into the Love Resort dynasty had to bear the name Love or they’d forfeit their inheritance.


She would now have to make up a lover for Summer to believe in.


Everything MC needed, she ordered on line. The only time she left the condo was for her pre-natal checkups. She currently didn’t even have the heart to say hello to anyone, much less have another Love misadventure.


She just needed to survive the next month, see the adoption through, and then reassess her life. At twenty-six, most of life apart from her art had lost any appeal. Lovers were never true. Friends were shallow. Family was screwed. At least she found beauty and purpose in art.


Cannes is where her old self would go to relax and have fun. She’d come to Georgia to hide. No paparazzi would be camping out anywhere, anytime soon. Once she’d made the delivery then she’d—


The phone rang, but not hers. She moved to the French Doors that led to her private patio and walkway to the beach. She’d left the doors cracked to bring some fresh air in during the warmth of the day. A man dressed in plain black sweats and worn running shoes stood with his back to her at the edge of the sand dunes. The breeze from the ocean carried the sound of his voice to her as he held up his phone and faced his caller. She recognized the man’s deep, and somewhat haunting tone. Her midnight singer.


His brown hair rustled in the breeze. He had broad shoulders and a trim muscular shape. She’d only need a few more details to satisfy Summer for a bit. Pressing her ear to the crack, she gleaned what she could.


***


Three years had passed, and Doug Warren still had to force himself to breathe sometimes. Usually it happened in the middle of the night, in the dark, whenever the rushing wind from the ocean made a sharp cry. He’d sit up in bed, his heart racing as he threw back the covers.


He’d then see the moonlit ocean beyond the glass doors and know he no longer lived in the mountains. His wife Lucy no longer lay by his side and his daughter Annie didn’t sleep in the next room. The crushing blow of reality always stole the air from his lungs, the spirit from his heart. Sleep after the flood of memories was impossible.


Last night had been no different. He’d gotten up, grabbed his guitar, and headed for the balcony. There, he’d huddled in the cold, with the waves crashing to the shore somewhere below, and sang. He hoped the wind would carry his love and spirit to their home in heaven.


Today he had played until the sun rose and the bright light of a new day burned his eyes. Then he had crawled back into his room and slept for an hour or two more. Most of the year, he had handyman projects lined up to fill a nine-to-five work week. But, not much happened in the winter on the island. Vacationers followed the warmth south like flocking geese and islanders hibernated for the most part.
This year—like last year—he planned to finish recording his first CD during the seasonal downtime. And this year—like last year—he couldn’t seem to pull it all together. So, once he pried his eyes open with a pot of coffee, he dressed in sweats and headed out for a run on the beach.


Before he slogged through the dry sand, his cell rang. His brother Brad had FaceTimed him. Doug hesitated answering. He didn’t feel like talking to anyone this morning. And he sure didn’t want to look anyone in the eye either. But guilt hit him and he answered, holding up the phone to see his brother’s mug—the poster man for badass State Trooper. Make that commander of field operations Major Brad Warren. “Yo, bro.”


“I see you’re already bumming the beach.”


“Catching the rays. You?”


“Catching the bad guys as usual. Thought I’d give you the heads up. Overheard Mom and Aunt Betty talking on the porch last night.”


“And?”


“Christmas planning. Seems that if Mohammed—you—won’t come to the mountain—here. Then the mountain—us—are coming to Mohammed—there—for Christmas.


“Seriously?” Doug exhaled as his stomach clenched. He couldn’t go there. Not yet. Too many reminders haunted every corner he turned. Here he’d reached a level of survival.


“I’m afraid so. They’re really worried about you. And in all honesty, I can’t blame them. I’m worried, too.”


“I’m hanging in there. Really, I am. I’m just different now. After losing Lucy and Annie, I won’t ever be who I used to be, but I’m finding my way. A day at a time.”


Brad stayed silent a moment. “Nobody is expecting you be anything.  They just want to see you. Put their arms around you and let you know how much they love you. It’s time. You missed last Christmas.”


Doug exhaled hard. He knew his brother was right. “Here,” he said, forcing the words past the tightness in his chest. He feared all of his family’s well-meaning empathy would sink him. He did better when folks didn’t know about Lucy and Annie. “Y’all come here. We’ll do the works. Bonfire. Smores. Christmas Tree. Fish fry.”


“I’ll let them know.”


Doug winced. “Tell them, I’ve got all bases covered. They don’t need to do or plan a thing, but just show up and cook, okay?”


“Will do.” Brad rolled his eyes. “Hope that works for you, bro. I can already hear the multiple calls you’ll get as they worry about every detail.”


“Joy,” Doug said dryly. “Anything else you want to tell me before I go run off my frustration?”
Brad hesitated then shook his head. “Nah. It will be good to see you in person. Technology makes distance way too easy these days. But it can’t replace real face time. Catch you later.”


Doug disconnected, wishing he hadn’t answered. He could have at least had his morning run in peace. Now as he raced along the beach, memories chased him. Smiles. Laughter. His fire truck rolling up to the head-on collision. The moment he recognized the mangled car crushed by the truck, he knew their lives had been taken in an instant.


Breathing hard and heavy, he ran three times his usual distance before heading back to the condo.


***


MC paced the floor, her pregnant laden back ached a bit, but she couldn’t sit still. She couldn’t paint either. She’d eavesdropped on her neighbor’s FaceTime conversation with his brother and couldn’t get the words out of her head…or her heart.


Every song he’d sung in the night, now had heart-wrenching meaning put to it, and she didn’t know what to do about it.


I’m hanging in there. Really, I am. I’m just different now. After losing Lucy and Annie, I won’t ever be who I used to be, but I’m finding my way. A day at a time.


She couldn’t seem to let it go.

***

Love, Christmas Box Collection

Coming Oct 2016







USA Today Bestselling author, Jennifer St. Giles, aka Jennifer Saints, J.L. Saint is no ordinary Georgia Peach. She’s a Golden Heart, three-time Maggie, two-time National Reader’s Choice, Marlene, RT Reviewer’s Choice and Daphne du Maurier award-winning author. Jenni writes in multiple genres, including: romance, paranormal, contemporary, historical and military and time travel. She is a passionate patriot, event planner and the Vice-President of a charitable foundation which helps women and children’s causes. Jenni believes fervently in following your dreams and never giving up.
 View website







Thursday, July 14, 2016

What works best for a writer to find new readers? #Hybrid #mgtab










Putting your books in a lot of different places could do the trick. That makes a lot of sense, right?

 

I tried that a few years ago when I scattered my books over all the various venues like Kobo and Apple and sat back thinking, okay – now I’ll have a bunch more sales, things will take off and I’ll be rich…maybe star on the Oprah show.

 

Yeah… Not so.

 

I didn’t take into consideration that it takes time.

 

Just like it did when I first joined Amazon and worked my butt off to get the readers to take a chance with me. I put in the effort and spent scads of money with numerous promoters and then got busy with self-advertising on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.

 

And you know what? It paid off. Things were going well. I could see my sales bloom and every month, I made more than the month before.

 

Then along came Amazon Unlimited and poof!! My bubble burst.

 

Within a month, my sales were cut in half. All that work and struggle was lost. Readers flocked to pay their $9.99 and get free books – as many as they could read.

 

I did stick it out for the next few months but I knew the change was there to stay  and so like many other authors, I decided to try a few of my books on Amazon Select and see what happened. In no time, I transferred them all to Select and watched the ‘pages-read’ start to climb.

 

Slowly, I built back the profit to where I had been over a year earlier.



But – I learned something from that bump in the road. I learned that I had no control over what Amazon or the other publishers might chose to do in the future. I was at their mercy.

 

Okay… what's the next step?

 

I had been involved in a lot of box collections; some did really well, while others barely paid back their initial investment. When we decided to try the collections in Select, the sales were much better. But again, nothing’s for certain. Some sets do really well yet others flop.

 

Join a group and work with a lot of other authors with the goal of building the group so in the end, it serves everyone. Yeah, well it’s a good concept, might be the perfect answer if everyone in the group worked as hard as the next guy. I began Authors’ Billboard over a year ago. Some of the ladies started off being very generous with their time and found that others weren’t so generous. It’s to be expected – many are in different circumstances and have that time to share while others are stretched with young families, full-time jobs and deadlines. But… eventually, the workers spent less time too.

 

So… what’s an author to do?

 

Getting a BookBub placement would be nice, especially if you could rely on doing so every few months. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to want to accept my work. Not sure why, but it’s been months since they accepted one of my books….yuk!! So, can’t rely on finding my new readers that way.

 

It's true, I could pay for other promotions and I do - often - but the benefits are short-lived. And those advertisements can add up where the ROI isn't always obvious.

 

People say you need your own newsletter. Done that! I have a lovely group of friends/readers who are very supportive. But how many times can you rely on the same people to come to your aid unless you have a new book to plug for every newsletter. I tend to only write newsletters for that reason so I’m already doing that.

 

I’m active on most social media platforms. Have stretched myself past where it’s comfortable and my working hours are ridiculous. Is it paying off?? I’m not sure I want to find out. It would break my heart to discover that all those hours were just a waste of time.

 

Then I got to thinking, maybe it’s a good idea to find an agent who likes my work, believes in me and will find me a contract with a publisher. Become a Hybrid author... hummm!! 

 

Who knows whether what I write will be accepted? I mean, face it, as an Indie author, I take a lot of liberties with the rules… make my own. Will that be a problem? Can I overcome it? Do I want to? I don’t know. What I do know is that there are a lot of readers out there who don’t know about me and I’m determined to get to them if it’s possible.

 

On the other hand, if you check these mind-blowing stats on Amazon, is it such a great idea? Look how well Indie authors have done so far…

 

Do you have any suggestions?

Have you found avenues that have worked for you and not for just as a short time gain?

 

Please share…