Thursday, January 28, 2010

The $6 Haircut - Creative Thinking in an Ever-Changing Marketplace

Most TV commercials make my eyes glaze over. But there's a commercial running right now for Office Depot that's not only funny, it's pretty darn perceptive.

"This is Dan," the announcer says. Dan owns a neighborhood barber shop. When a new chain-salon opens across the street offering $6 haircuts, Dan is distressed. He can't compete with that price. But Dan is not a man who gives up. Dan is smart. Dan is innovative. Dan shops at Office Depot, which is where he goes to buy everything he needs to make a banner proclaiming "WE FIX $6 HAIRCUTS." Six months later, the chain is out of business, and Dan is sitting pretty.

While the ad didn't make we want to run out and buy office supplies, it did get me thinking about how business owners react to changing trends. Which in turn got me thinking about how I react. As a writer, I'm really a small business owner. My books are my products, and all around me the publishing industry is changing.

Audio books, e-books, Kindle, iPad, Nook, web sites, book trailers, blog tours, social networking... Mark Twain didn't have to deal with any of this stuff! It can be overwhelming to be sure, but it's also invigorating. Today's Authors have more ways to connect with readers than ever before. The challenge is to grow, adapt, find what works for you and your peeps (or Tweets, if you're into that, as I am).

Here are some of the things I've done in my quest to publicize my new book, The Pastor's Wife (did I mention I have a new book coming out?)
  • I put together a blog tour
  • I created a book trailer
  • I blog (obviously)
  • I've got a web site (which isn't really new, but it's updated)
  • I did an audio interview on (a completely new experience for me)
  • I've made myself available for speaking engagements and book club visits
At this point, I feel like I've done everything I can do to promote the book, short of visiting Oprah (and if she call, I'm there!) Now, it's time for the readers to decide. Ultimately, they're the ones in charge of the most powerful marketing tool of all: word of mouth buzz.

Writers, what are you doing to market yourself that you never thought you'd do?
Readers, what was the last book you just had to tell your friends about? What made it so special?

Lightbulb photo -

Saturday, January 23, 2010

"The Pastor's Wife" is Ready to Roll!

It's been a long road, but my new book, The Pastor's Wife, is finally hitting shelves (both virtual and physical) on February 1st! My blog tour starts off a few days earlier and is full of interviews, reviews, and quite a few giveaways. I hope you can stop by a few of these fine blogs and share in the fun.


January 30 - Dina Sleiman/Inkwell Inspirations -
January 31 - Lisa Richardson/Inspired Adventures -
February 1 - Camy Tang/Camy's Loft -
February 1 - Janalyn Voight/Book Reader's Central -
February 2 - Cathy Bryant/Word Vessel -
February 3 - Rose McCauley -
February 4 - Rel Mollet/Relz Reviews -
February 6 - Delia Latham/My Book Bag -
February 6 - Teresa Slack -
February 8 - Trish Perry -
February 9 - Jodie Bailey -
February 10 - Tiffany Stockton/Amber Stockton -
February 11 - Sarah Varland/Espresso in a Latte World - February 12 - Mary Connealy/Seekerville -
February 13 - Therese Travis -
February 14 - Brenda Anderson/Spire Reviews -
February 15 - Sherri Ashcraft/The Mother Blog -
February 16 - Christine Cain -
February 17 - D'Ann Mateer/Five Bazillion and One -
February 19 - Miralee Ferrell/Miralee's Desk -
February 20 - Edwina Cowgill/Musings of Edwina -
February 22 - Pam Meyers/A Writer’s Journey -
February 23 - Debra Vogts/Country at Heart -
February 24 - Ane Mulligan/Novel Journey -
February 25 - Christa Allan -
February 26 - Peg Phifer/Sips 'n' Cups Cafe -
February 27 - Jeannie Campbell/Where Romance Meets Therapy -
March ? - Tina Dee/The Homestead Heart -

Thursday, January 21, 2010

CFBA Presents A LADY LIKE SARAH by Margaret Brownley

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
A Lady Like Sarah
(Thomas Nelson; Original edition - December 22, 2009)
Margaret Brownley


Thrills, mystery, suspense, romance: Margaret penned it all. Nothing wrong with this, except Margaret happened to be writing for the church newsletter. After making the church picnic read like a Grisham novel, her former pastor took her aside and said, "Maybe God's calling you to write fiction."

It turns out God was and Margaret did. She now has more than 20 novels to her credit. In addition, she's written many Christian articles and a non-fiction book. Still, it took a lot of prodding from God before Margaret tried her hand at writing inspirational fiction which led to her Rocky Creek series. "I love writing about characters at different stages of faith," she says of the new direction her writing career has taken, "and I'm here to stay."

Happily married to her real-life hero, Margaret and her husband live in Southern California.


Sarah Prescott has never known a respectable life; just a hardscrabble childhood and brothers who taught her to shoot straight.

Justin Wells left Boston in disgrace, heading out alone on the dusty trail to Texas. But when the once-respected clergyman encounters a feisty redhead in handcuffs with a dying US Marshall at her side, their journey takes a dramatic turn.

His high society expectations and Sarah's outlaw habits clash from the start. With a price on her head and a sweet orphan in tow, Justin and Sarah make the difficult journey toward Rocky Creek. There justice will be meted out hopefully with a portion of grace.

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Lady Like Sarah, go HERE

Watch the Book Trailer:


What does it take for a woman to be a real lady? Is it the way she speaks? The clothes she wears? Or is it the depth of her character? When Pastor Justin Wells first meets Sarah Prescott, there's nothing ladylike about her. Her language is coarse, she dresses like a man, and she's in handcuffs with an injured US Marshall. Forced to travel together, Sarah and Justin forge a strong friendship, despite the initial friction between them. When friendship turns to love, Sarah must trust God for a miracle, because that's the only way she and Justin can be together.

Margaret Brownley has crafted a charming, entertaining novel of life, love, and survival in the American West. In Sarah, she gives us a woman who's been running so long, she believes that's her lot in life. And Justin is leaving his former Boston congregation in shame, his only choice to start a new life in far off Texas. Both have been judged for actions that were not their own, and both must trust God to show them their true selves. A Lady Like Sarah is funny, touching, and a great start to the new Rocky Creek series.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

THICKER THAN BLOOD by C.J. Darlington Blog Tours Presents:

Thicker than Blood
by C.J. Darlington
Published by Tyndale House

Winner of the
2008 Christian Writers Guild
Operation First Novel Contest!

Christy Williams finally has her life on track. She’s putting her past behind her and working hard to build a career as an antiquarian book buyer. But things begin to unravel when a stolen Hemingway first edition is found in her possession, framing her for a crime she didn’t commit. With no one to turn to, she yearns for her estranged younger sister, May, whom she abandoned after their parents’ untimely deaths. Soon, Christy’s fleeing from her shattered dreams, her ex-boyfriend, and God. Could May’s Triple Cross Ranch be the safe haven she’s searching for? Will the sisters realize that each possesses what the other desperately needs before it’s too late?


CJ Darlington has worked for years to promote the work of Christian artists through the TitleTrakk website, so it's especially gratifying to see her experience a personal moment in the spotlight. In her debut novel, Darlington creates characters who burrow right into your heart. There's Christy, damaged by personal tragedy and strangling guilt. As an antiquarian book buyer, she sees value where others might only see dusty old volumes. Yet she can't find the value in herself. Meanwhile, her younger sister, May, has found a place where she's surrounded by the love of God and caring friends. The two sisters couldn't be more different, yet they're connected by bonds too strong to break.

Darlington moves the story along with realistic dialogue and lots of suspense. The supporting characters are fully formed and add to the tension. If you like suspenseful stories with heart, you might want to give Thicker Than Blood a try. I think you'll enjoy it.


With careful attention to detail, emotion, and scene-setting, C.J. Darlington scores with her debut effort. Here is a special writer you won’t want to miss.
--Jerry B. Jenkins, New York Times best selling author

If you love a good read filled with adventure and ultimately redemption, I encourage you to brew the tea, settle into your favorite chair and pick up the page turner that is C.J. Darlington’s imaginative new novel of a modern day sisterhood that triumphs over separation and the raw challenges of life to find the real endurance of both family ties and God’s amazing grace.
--Rebecca St. James, Grammy award winning Christian singer and bestselling author

With Thicker than Blood, C.J. Darlington proves she's a novelist for the long-haul, a strong new voice in Christian fiction. This book speaks to the heart, from the heart, about the heart. Readers will not soon forget it.
--Sibella Giorello, Christy award-winning author of The Rivers Run Dry & The Clouds Roll Away

Watch the book trailer:

About the Author:
C. J. began writing the story that would become Thicker than Blood (her first novel) when she was a fifteen-year-old homeschool student. She has been in the antiquarian bookselling business for over a decade, scouting for stores similar to the one described in the novel before cofounding her own online bookstore. Thicker than Blood was the winner of the 2008 Christian Writers Guild Operation First Novel.

C. J. co-founded the Christian entertainment Web site with her sister, Tracy, and has been actively promoting Christian fiction through book reviews and author interviews. She makes her home in Pennsylvania with her family and their menagerie of dogs and cats. Visit her website for more info.


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Leno in 2004: "Conan, it's yours"

The folks at have posted the clip from Jay Leno's 2004 announcement about his future with The Tonight Show. It speaks for itself.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Why Not Fly in the First Responders FIRST?

As I was watching NBC Nightly News, something started to bother me. Brian Williams and at least four other reporters (including Ann Curry and Al Roker) are in Haiti right now. Over and over again, Williams commented on how difficult it is to get aid to the people. How it's so difficult to get into the city of Port-Au-Prince. How there are still no rescue to dogs to help search for people who may still be alive under the rubble. How the first American volunteer doctors had just arrived today.

"Where is all the help?" he asked. And all I could think was, All you reporters sure got there fast.

Let me be clear... I have no beef with Brian Williams. In fact, he's probably my favorite anchor. I've got no beef with any of the folks who have gone to Haiti to report on the disaster. They have a job to do and they are doing it admirably. But the reporters were arriving on Wednesday, just one day after the earthquake. Why were they able to get into the city before most of the rescue workers?

Perhaps I'm being a bit too simplistic. Perhaps I'm extremely naive and just don't get how things work. But why couldn't the search and rescue dogs, the volunteer doctors, etc. have been flown in with the reporters? It seems that the most important people to get on a plane bound for an earthquake ravaged city would be those who could physically help the injured and destitute.

 Below is the opening of tonight's NBC Nightly News.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

How to Safely Contribute to Haiti Aid Efforts

Disasters bring out the best in good people and the worst in scam artists. While we all want to do what we can to help the people of Haiti, it's imperative that you know who you're giving your money to. To make things easier, here's a list of legitimate charitable organizations. (Many thanks to MSNBC for compiling this list.)


Text "HAITI" to 90999 and a donation of $10 will be given automatically to the Red Cross

Text "YELE" to 501 501 to donate $5 to Wyclef Jean's grassroots organization


Action Against Hunger, 877-777-1420

Agape Flights, 941-584-8078

American Red Cross, 800-733-2767

American Jewish World Service, 212-792-2900

AmeriCares, 800-486-4357

Beyond Borders, 866-424-8403

CARE, 800-521-2273


Catholic Relief Services, 800-736-3467

Childcare Worldwide, 800-553-2328

Concern Worldwide, 212-557-8000

Cross International, 800-391-8545

Direct Relief International, 805-964-4767

Doctors Without Borders, 888-392-0392

Feed My Starving Children, 763-504-2919

Food for the Poor, 800-427-9104

Friends of WFP, 866-929-1694

Haiti Children, 877-424-8454

Haiti Foundation Against Poverty

Haiti Marycare, 203-675-4770

Haitian Health Foundation, 860-886-4357

Hope for Haiti, 239-434-7183

International Medical Corps, 800-481-4462

International Rescue Committee, 877-733-8433

International Relief Teams, 619-284-7979

Lutheran World Relief, 800-597-5972

Medical Teams International, 800-959-4325

Meds and Food for Kids, 314-420-1634

Mennonite Central Committee, 888-563-4676

Mercy Corps, 888-256-1900

Operation Blessing, 800-730-2537

Operation USA, 800-678-7255

Oxfam, 800-776-9326

Partners in Health, 617-432-5298

Rural Haiti Project, 347-405-5552

The Salvation Army, 800-725-2769

Samaritan's Purse, 828-262-1980

Save the Children, 800-728-3843

UN Central Emergency Response Fund

UNICEF, 800-367-5437

World Concern, 800-755-5022

World Hope International, 888-466-4673

World Relief, 800-535-5433

World Vision, 888-511-6548

Yele Haiti, 212-352-0552

The U.S. State Department Operations Center said Americans seeking information about family members in Haiti should call 1-888-407-4747.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Breaking News - Simon Says So Long

I'm sure you've heard the news by now. No, we haven't yet achieved peace in the Middle East. A cure has not been found for the common cold. And global warming remains a point of "hot" contention. Today, what's the news that everyone's talking about?

Simon is leaving American Idol.

Yep, this is his last season. In Fall 2011 he'll bring UK sensation X-Factor, which he produces, to Fox. Since he's also a judge on the show, he has chosen to bid a fond farewell to Idol.

This might be a good time to take a look at the state of American Idol:

Paula Abdul has left the building - Her sometimes saccharin-sweet, often meandering commentary was a perfect counter to Simon's acerbic critiques. At heart, she's a music industry professional, and she knew what she was talking about... even if it didn't always come out the way she intended. I'm sorry she won't be around this season. Still, it's not a deal breaker. The show will go on.

Ellen DeGeneres is the fourth judge - I like Ellen. She's a funny gal. And that's the problem. Ellen is a comedian. She knows nothing about the music industry except what she likes. If you saw her stint as a guest host on So You Think You Can Dance, then you know what I mean. Most of her comments will probably be meant to elicit laughs. Which is going to get old pretty quickly. I hope I'm wrong, but that's how I see it. Still, Ellen's not a deal breaker, either. The show will go on.

Randy and Kara haven't gone anywhere - Randy's always been pretty solid, although he needs to find a synonym for "pitchy." And Kara, while she has a tendency to monologue and take herself a bit too seriously, brings mostly positives to the table. (Just don't let her pen the song again for this year's winning contestant.) Randy and Kara provide a little continuity from last year, which is good. The show will go on.

Simon leaves at the end of this season - Uh oh. Simon is probably the most unique component of this program. Yes, he can be rude, but most of the time, he's right. And when he does honor a contestant with a compliment, it means so much more than if it came from anybody else. This one could not only be a deal breaker, but a show killer.

Come 2011, it will be interesting to see how the ratings are affected by the overhauled judges' table. I'll be watching... how about you?

Thursday, January 7, 2010


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Love Finds You in Holiday, Florida
(Summerside Press - November 1, 2009)
Sandra D. Bricker


For more than a decade, Author Sandra D. Bricker lived in Los Angeles. While writing in every spare moment, she worked as a personal assistant and publicist to some of daytime television's hottest stars. When her mother became ill in Florida, she walked away from that segment of her life and moved across the country to take on a new role: Caregiver.

One of Sandie's passions revolves around the rights of animals. She's been involved in fundraising for Lost Angels Animal Rescue for several years now; in fact, a portion of the proceeds of Love Finds You in Holiday, Florida will go to help the non-profit group with their expenses. And Lost Angels paid her back in a big way: They brought a free-spirited Collie named Sophie into her life after the loss of her 15-year companion, Caleb.

It was her 8th novel that opened the door to finding her way as a writer.

In Sandie's words: "I guess most people would see my career as a publicist as a sort of dream job. But giving it up turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to me! Not only was I given the gift of getting to know my mother as an adult woman before she passed away, but I was also afforded the blessing of being able to focus completely on my dream of a writing career. I'm a Christian woman, first and foremost, so it was a bit of a dream-come-true when Summerside Press chose me as one of two authors to launch their new Love Finds You line."


Lawyer Cassie Constantine has no plans to stay in Florida. She's here just long enough to sell her late husbands vacation house, a tacky bungalow she's always despised then she'll hightail it back to her gracious Boston brownstone.

But the place needs more work than Cassie bargained for. What's more, her widow status is like a target on her back and the elderly matchmakers around town manage to sidetrack her mission at every turn.

Holiday is a landmine of golf tournaments, ballroom dancing competitions, shuffleboard and day trips. But the biggest obstacle of all? Richard Dillon, the stuffed shirt she's paired with on the dance floor.

Cassie had always considered herself uptight but Richard won't take a walk on the beach without his socks and shoes! There's one little problem he makes her heart beat faster than the rhythm of the quickstep. Can Cassie and Richard let loose long enough to have a little fun?

If you would like to read the prologue and first chapter of Love Finds You in Holiday, Florida, go HERE.

Watch the trailer:

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Beginning the Annual Battle of the Bulge

There's a reason why stores promote fitness equipment at the first of the year. It's because we're all looking forward to a new year full of new possibilities. And those of us who struggle with weight issues ALWAYS vow that this will be the year we get our bodies under control.

I've got a confession to make... I had it licked. About two years ago, I made it. I reached my goal weight. I wasn't Sports Illustrated swimsuit model material, but I was happy. More importantly, I felt healthy. It was awesome.

Then I threw it all away.

Even though I knew exactly how to eat and how to maintain my weight, I let myself go. I'm an emotional eater, which means every emotion elicits a "go eat" response. I eat to celebrate. I eat when I'm bored. I eat when I'm depressed. Frankly, "fun food" is my addiction.

I find myself starting off the year facing a sobering fact: I'm 28 pounds over my goal weight. Worse than that, I'm eating food that I know makes me feel bad. Over the years, I've learned that too many carbohydrates (especially refined sugar) affect me in a bad way, emotionally as well as physically.

So here I go, joining the masses in a vow to make this the year I lose that weight and actually keep it off. For me, it's more about changing my mindset than the food itself. How about you? Anybody out there in the same boat? What's your plan? And if you've battle with weight and been victorious, do you have any tips for us? Our ears are alert and ready!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Bring on the Bifocals!

Yesterday, I received my first pair of bifocals. People warned me it would be hard to make the adjustment, but I've found it surprisingly easy. The thing that's the hardest is working on the computer (of course). I find myself moving my head around to find that sweet spot where the print is crisp and not wiggly. So if there are typos in this post, just blame it on the bi's.

A lot of people see bifocals as a sign of getting old. But I don't care. I say, bring on the bifocals! Do you know how awesome it is to be able to walk into a store and read a box label without doing facial contortions? Before, I had to pull my glasses all the way to the tip of my nose and try to read it. And if that didn't work, I'd have to look over the top of the lenses and put the box practically against my face. Ah yes, I'm sure the sight of me brought smiles to the faces of many a Target shopper. But all that is behind me now... I'm sportin' BFs!

As for my new WIP... Success! I finally made some progress on Come Together. I didn't quite make my hoped-for goal of 1000 words, but I got far enough that I'm quite happy. And now I've got a good place to pick things up tomorrow. This book is going to take a bit more pre-planning than what I'm used to, so I may have to dedicate a day or two to outlining. We shall see...

Monday, January 4, 2010

Bookmark Creation Via a Parade of File Extensions

Well, the new year is starting off at a crawl. I hoped to have a lot of work done on my WIP by now. Not so much. Of course, today is the first day of the first full week of the year, so it's a good time to get started. I'm not beat yet!

One thing I did accomplish this weekend was ordering bookmarks to promote my new novel, The Pastor's Wife. I'm sure that sounds simple, but it's not. My insanely talented friend designed a bookmark for me, so I thought I had it licked. But every time I tried to upload it to the printer website, I got a message that the resolution was too low. Not wanting to bug my buddy yet again, I decided to create my own bookmark image.

Long ago in the techy-stone-age, I learned how to do desktop publishing on Microsoft Publisher, a program which is regarded as something of a joke by professional graphics folk. But I like it. It's easy for me. And I haven't mastered the learning curve of Adobe Photoshop yet. Problem is, most printers refuse to work with Publisher files.

Now I was in a pickle. But I figured out a work around.

I designed my bookmark in Publisher. I then converted it to a PDF. Then I opened that up in Adobe where I was able to save it as the proper file type.


So, while I didn't get any new writing done, I did expand my mind and complete a task that was at the top of my To Do list. And I did it all without cursing. Ten points for me!

And how was your day?

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Goal #1 - Announcing the New Work-In-Progress

Okay, folks. After much consideration, I've decided what the next book will be...

Come Together - a futuristic medical thriller.

From a business standpoint, this may not seem like the best choice. After all, my first two published books are both contemporary romantic fiction, so I'm kind of stepping out of that genre. However, I do have my reasons:

  • I want to push myself - By writing something so different, I'm going to need to stretch and go beyond what I'm comfortable with. I think that's a good thing.
  • I love weird stuff - I read just about everything, but when it comes to TV, my favorite shows tend to be those with sci-fi tendencies: LOST, V, Flash Forward, Stargate SG-1... Need I go on?
  • I'm already working on another book - Yes, it's true. My buddy, Lisa, and I decided to take a stab at co-writing a book. It's a historical romantic mystery. So I want my solo book to be completely on the other end of the fiction spectrum.
  • I can always adapt - If I get a nibble or an actual bite from an editor who wants a different story, I will happily switch horses. That's the nice thing about not having a contract for the story you're working on. (Truthfully, that's the only nice thing about it.)
There you have it. My thought process, scattered though it may be. And here, for your enjoyment (hopefully) is a short blurb for my new work-in-progress, Come Together

In 2063 the Inmate Organ Donor Program is in full swing thanks to the success of a breakthrough anti-rejection drug created by DNA therapy expert Dr. Stella Ramirez. But something's gone wrong. Within the span of two weeks, seven people report odd side effects. They’re doing things they didn’t know how to do before, going places they’ve never been yet knowing exactly how to get there, and having flashes of memory that don’t belong to them. After some digging, Dr. Ramirez makes a troubling discovery. They all have one thing in common. They all received transplants from the same donor: Bart Myers.

As Stella searches for an answer to this medical mystery, she uncovers even more disturbing information about the donor program. An investigative reporter, Myers was convicted of a murder he claimed he didn’t commit just days before it was made public that his brother, Franklin, founder of the IODP, needed a bone marrow transplant.

Stella knows she’s being followed, but it’s not until someone close to the investigation disappears that she realizes the danger she’s in. Stella and the affected transplant recipients must come together to save each other, avenge the death of an innocent man, and expose the corruption that snakes its way to the highest levels of the government

Yowza. This one's definitely going to stretch me... an ensemble cast, multiple storylines, and politics. Well, there's only one way to write it. One word at a time. To that end, here's goal #2 for the year: Write 1000 words a day at least five days a week. I'll let you know how that goes.

Now, what about you? What's your goal this year? Is there something that you need some accountability help with? Maybe we can help each other.

Happy New Year to you all!

Photo credit: - Dusipuffi