Romancing the Smokies

Those who follow me know I write sci-fi and paranormal romance.

My first book, “The Abduction,” has been out since last April as an ebook and last July as a print book.  

My second book, “Revenge,” was supposed to debut this month but it looks more like April before it’s ready.

With that being said, I will bring my sci-fi adventure romance book to the “Romancing the Smokies” event this Friday-Saturday (March 17th-18th) at the Airport Hilton in Alcoa, TN.  I went last year as a reader and had a blast.  I met lots of authors and other readers at this event.  There were parties, networking opportunities, great food, an auction for a pet shelter in Newport, and many other things I can’t even remember.  I know I spent over $100 in great books (all autographed by the authors).  This year, I will be attending as an author for the first time.

I’m bringing some goodies for the “goodie bags,” a special gift for each attendee for Friday night’s “Gathering on the Emerald Isle,” special goodies for people at my luncheon table, and a special basket for the  “Baskets for Bebo” segment which donates the money to the Newport Animal Shelter.

All the lettering on the glasses were hand-done by Nastausha at The Chest and Chair. 

Inside the basket, I have AVON products like bubble bath, shower gel, body lotion, sun tan lotion, nail products, a credit card case, water bottle, jewelry, the special wine glass, wine from The Apple Barn Winery in Sevierville, TN, my book, “The Abduction,” and of course, chocolate.

I hope you can join us for a fun-filled event this weekend.  It’s not too late to get tickets.  Go to:  If you can’t make it, I will be posting some images to this blog and my Facebook page.  You can follow me at


Have you ever felt like getting even?  Have you ever been hurt enough by someone that you wanted them to suffer like you did?  Even though we are supposed to forgive one another, the thought of revenge has crossed my mind.  Not that I carried it out, but I had thought about it at least once.  Maybe everyone has, at least once.  Is it normal?  Maybe.

I based my second book on revenge.  When a reformed criminal decides to turn over a new leaf and fight on the side of the “law” instead against it, he feels like maybe his life would count for something.  Maybe he could make up for the bad things he did by doing good.  The only problem is he didn’t count on all the people who wanted revenge against him.

Here’s my back page blurb:

Living a life of crime to support himself and his baby sister, Berto takes the chance to turn his life around by working for the Interplanetary Space Patrol.

Keeping a dark secret and hiding his telekinetic powers, he manages to finally fit in.  Everything seems to be working out just fine until he discovers the woman he loves wants revenge against her brother’s murderer.  But she’s not the only one who wants him dead.

Sabotage and murder shake up the tiny Meta Base Station of the I.S.P., but the death of an agent and a compromised mission in space changes everything.

I would love to get some reviews for this book, “Revenge,” before it’s published, as well as for book number one, “The Abduction.”  Contact me at if you’re interested. Put “Review Revenge” in the subject area and I’ll send you the .doc file.  If you’d like to get a FREE copy of “The Abduction” and “Revenge,” join my launch team.  Start at and I’ll send you an email on how to join my launch team.

Screenwriting Advice

Looking over some older interviews, I thought I would share some advice from screenwriters I have met. Some of these insights have helped me.  I hope they help you.  Enjoy!


“The best advice, of course, is to write. Write all the time. Beyond that, get involved. Every community has their aspiring filmmakers and those filmmakers are generally always looking for scripts. Find out how you can work with them to get your name out there. With the opening up of the movie industry, there are so many possibilities. If you can’t find others to work with, make your own film. Just do it! Don’t let any mountain be an obstacle.” Screenwriter, Debra Doggett


“Two things stand out in my learning process. First, screenwriting is hard but exhilarating. Second, it pays to write both the book and the script as well. James Dalessendro who was one of the speakers at our San Francisco mini-conference told me he does the same thing and encouraged me to continue that process.” Screenwriter, Evelyn Morgan


“Identify your strengths and make those your mantras, and then persist.” Screenwriter Nancy Haddock


“It takes a long time to hone your craft. I’ve been writing scripts for only four years and with every script I write, my writing skills get stronger, my structural skills get stronger, and my confidence builds.  I script doctor a little on the side as well.  One of my clients was frustrated with his lack of progress since he began writing two years ago and asked me if he should give up.  My answer was ‘Hell, no!’  It takes years to hone your skills.  I’m not there yet.  Sure, I’ve had some success at this, but you can’t just throw your hands up in the air if you don’t place in a contest or no one ever reads your synopsis on Inktip.  You just have to write a better story, learn from your mistakes and move on.

Get yourself into a writers’ group or form one yourself with other writers, and by writers, I mean screen-writers.  Don’t think for a moment that your family members, friends, or even your fiction writers’ group can give you the type of feedback you need on scripts.  I’ve been with the same group for two years now.  We call ourselves ‘The Strivers’ – we’re all striving for success in this business.  We meet every three weeks religiously, have strict guidelines for critiquing, and really try to help each other move the ball forward.  We talk about our frustrations, we talk about screenwriting in general, we talk about the industry, we celebrate each members’ achievements, and we provide the type of moral support screenwriters need, knowing the odds that face us.  Get yourself a posse.  It’s worked wonders for me.

The other advice I’d give to other writers is that writing the script is only half the job.  Once you write FADE OUT, your job isn’t over.  Phase One is over.  Phase Two, the marketing Phase, is just beginning.  You need to keep in mind that with every script you have, you need to have a business plan for that script, to get it sold or produced.  That’s the end game.  This means time spent with the Hollywood Creative Directory.  This means investing in contest entries.  This means sending out a really well-crafted query letter to multiple contacts.  This means sitting down and putting pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) and creating a physical business plan for each script.”  Screenwriter, Karen Webb


Things I Would Do Differently

After launching my first book earlier this year, I’ve learned a few things along the way. Of course, I thought I knew all the steps before I took them, but I also knew I would learn something from this venture.

Even after self-editing, sending the book off to an editor, revising, and proof-reading, I still caught some things that I missed.

Lesson #1 – When self-editing, do a spell check, grammar check, eliminate passive words, check dialog by reading it out loud, then transfer the manuscript to something else (printed copy, ebook, PDF to proofread)

Lesson #2 – After self-editing, use a critique group or beta readers to catch extraneous or overused words, run-on sentences, redundancies, places to tighten dialog or paragraphs, unclear scenes or transitions, tonal shifts, or unnatural phrasing or pacing.

Lesson #3 – Make any corrections or revisions necessary.

Lesson #4 – Send to editor.

Lesson #5 – Revise, self-edit and let someone else proof-read.

Lesson #6 – Make any corrections necessary then send to different beta readers for content editing.

Lesson #7 – Self-edit one final time.

Lesson #8 – Create metadata (everything about your book that is not your book) and use this in the long blurb (back cover) and in the short blurb (used for marketing purposes). Create a text file of these keywords and update every 30 days.

Lesson #9 – Create finished document parts. This is something I wish I had done more thoroughly. I had some of this, but this list is more extensive. Some of these apply to non-fiction as well as fiction:
-about the author
-personal note
-reader’s guide
-translation key
-more books
-links/QR codes

Lesson #10 – Notify contractors
-cover artists
-interior graphic designer
-layout draftsman/final formatter
1.formatting – title graphics, scene breaks, cover, drop caps, bleed

Lesson #11 – Notify Influencers
-for testimonials and endorsements
-street team members

Lesson #12 – Line up Marketing Efforts
-Google +
-Press Releases
-Blog Tours
-Library Thing
-Online Launch Party
-Facebook live streaming parties with giveaways
-Pay for Ads on Release Day

Lesson #13 – Write or Produce something NEW every 90 days!

I’m sure I can learn something with each new book, but this is enough to keep me busy for now. A special thanks to Hallee Bridgeman and Greg Bridgeman for their detailed information in their “Seven Steps to Successful Self-Publishing.” I got a lot of new information on the self-editing process from listening to their talk. If you ever have the chance to take one of their classes, jump on it. You will learn a lot!

Getting the Word Out

The biggest problem in launching a new book is getting the word out. How can anyone buy a book if they don’t know it’s available? How can anyone buy anything if they don’t know it exists, right?

Well, I’ve started working with what I have: A Facebook page, a website, two blogs, an Author Page in Goodreads, and three stores:,, and Writing & Photographic Services, LLC.

Another way is to advertise. After telling everyone on my Facebook page, websites and Goodreads, I decided to get some help.

My book is available for review on Reading Alley ( You can click on the link and it will take you to a page where you can select “The Abduction” for review.

You can also enter my Goodreads Giveaway for a chance to win one of 25 autographed copies of the print book.
I’m also looking into a few other options. So, stay tuned for more updates.

If you haven’t already gotten your FREE companion book, The Vaedra Chronicles, go to my website: and get your FREE book. Once you receive it, you should get a second email with the FREE Preview Chapter of The Abduction.

If you like the book, please feel free to review it on,, or on my publishing website:, or on Goodreads.

Six Steps to a Successful Book Signing

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to meet with readers at the Thunder Road Author Rally in Maynardville, Tennessee.
This was my first book signing since my book was released. I learned six things that I can do to make my next book signing more successful.

1. Engage the reader – ask questions
a. What do you like to read?
b. What’s your favorite book?
c. Who’s your favorite Author?

2. Tie in my book to their responses, if possible, by giving comparisons to other books like mine

3. Thank them for their interest

4. Give them something to remember me and my book
a. Bookmark with my book’s title
b. Social Media contact info on back of bookmark
c. Promo pens with my website on it

5. Network with other authors
a. Get their take on book signings
b. Take notes on successful displays
c. Ask questions

6. Follow Up
a. Follow up with contacts I make at book signings
b. Take action on what I learned or apply new knowledge to what I do from here on out

After The Ebook Launch

Now that my book, “The Abduction,” is available on Smashwords and Amazon, my work as a published author is just beginning.

I found an article from Author Media which lists more than 89 book marketing tips.  The article was written by Caitlin Muir.

So, I begin with her first ten tips:

  1. Create a testimonial page on my website–I’m not sure I know how to do that, but I will be looking into it this week.
  2. Add the free “My Book Progress” plugin to my WordPress website to update my visitors about the status of my upcoming book–since I’ve already launched my book, I’ll add this to let people know about my next book, “Revenge.”
  3. Retweak the SEO on my website–now this is something I know nothing about.  Since I changed my website: to add a landing page for a FREE book giveaway (“The Vaedra Chronicles”), I haven’t figured out how to get people back to the regular website without going back to the landing page.  I have some work cut out for me here.
  4. Ask fans to post their reviews on my Facebook page–I will as soon as someone buys my book (unless I come up with another idea)
  5. Ask fans to post their reviews on Amazon–the same as above, however, Amazon is good at asking for reviews as well.  They ask me all the time what I think about a purchase I made.
  6. Ask fans to post their reviews on Goodreads–I definitely will do that!
  7. Sign up for Twitter–I have been tweeting for some time, so I guess I better get the word out about my book!
  8. Clean up my social footprint–I’m not sure what she meant by that, but I have been posting here about my journey as a writer, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.  I can see where I can do more for my journey by going through LinkedIn and Google+.
  9. Create an author Facebook page and use it instead of my profile page–I will definitely look into that.  I heard you can have more friends on an author page than on the regular Facebook page.
  10. Sign up for Google Authorship–now that is something new to me.  I will also look into this as well as the nine tips before.  Stay tuned for my report next week on how I did with all these improvements/tips.

Book Launch

Today is the day I upload my book to Smashwords and Amazon.  Once they approve everything, then the book will be available on their sites.

I’m giving away the companion book to “The Abduction” called “The Vaedra Chronicles.”  This book gives background information about the planetary system and some of the races living on those planets.  There’s information about the main characters, interviews, and graphics.  To get yours FREE, go to my website:  http// and sign up for my Readers Group.  You’ll get a PDF download of the book plus another FREE gift for signing up, a first chapter of “The Abduction.”

I’m looking forward to my debut as an author!


20 Steps to Publishing Your Book

While this is still a journey for me, there are many more things I will learn as I go.  Here are twenty things I’ve found helpful so far in the publishing end of it.  I’m sure I will have to tweak or add to this list later.  There was a lot of trial and error going into this and for me, the journey started 33 years ago with a lot of interruptions, but this is a simple list.  Use what you can.  Good luck!

20 Steps to Publishing Your Book

  1.  Write, eat, sleep, repeat
  2.  Join a writer’s group (local and national)
  3.  Go to conferences (attend workshops & network)
  4.  Take classes online or in person or at conferences
  5.  Write, eat, sleep, repeat
  6.  Find a critique partner/group and exchange critiques on a regular basis
  7.  Submit manuscript to contests for feedback
  8.  Re-write, edit, tweak that manuscript
  9.  Submit manuscript to publishers  OR
  10.  Find an independent editor (conferences are helpful for this) and submit work
  11.  Go over manuscript and fix/re-write/tweak whatever the editor suggests
  12.  Purchase “The Self-Publishers Ultimate Resource Guide” by Joel Friedlander and Betty Kelly Sargent and implement some of their suggestions:                             a.  hire editors                                                                     b.  hire proofreaders                                                           c.  get quotes from printers                                               d.  find distributors for Ebook & Print Book
  13.  Read/purchase Dan Poynter’s book, “The Self-Publishing Manual” (this is the Bible for Self-Publishing)                                                                         a.  make a plan                                                                   b.  set goals                                                                         c.  determine whether or not to form your own publishing company
  14.  Join IBPA (Independent Book Publishing Association) and absorb all the information you can on self-publishing  (they have workshops, marketing programs, and conferences)
  15.  Take Nick Stephenson’s First 10K Readers program and learn how to market your book — Implement his ideas
  16.  Build a website for your Publishing Company
  17.  Build your platform and web presence if you haven’t already started this
  18.  Get your ducks in a row (make sure your website is ready as well as your book)
  19.  Market, market, market and promote your book (this is where Nick Stephenson’s program really comes in handy)
  20.  Start writing book #2 and repeat