Monday, July 21, 2014

Book Blitz & Giveaway: Black Moon by F.M. Sherrill & Becca C. Smith

Black Moon
The Black Moon Saga
Book 1
Becca C. Smith & F.M. Sherrill

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Red Frog Publishing

Date of Publication: 07/07/14
ISBN: 9780985027698
Number of pages: 283
Word Count: 68,000

Cover Artist: Becca C. Smith & F.M. Sherrill

Book Description:

Shea Harper is forced to stay in boring, hot and dry Phoenix, Arizona for college. But once she meets the enigmatic yet positively egocentric Lucian, Shea’s life changes forever.

She finds out that she comes from a long line of descendants called Vessels. In her soul is the key to destroying an ancient prison protecting the world from darkness itself: Lucian’s father.

Up until now, Lucian has captured every descendant except Shea. With her powers awakening, all vampires want to drag her down to the pit. But Lucian is territorial. She’s the first female Vessel… and he’s convinced she belongs to him.

Saucy and tauntingly surprising, Black Moon captures the struggle between burning alive with desire and castrating the heart. This is a love story that will drain you dry.

Read the prologue here

Available on Amazon

About the Authors:

Becca C. Smith:
Becca C. Smith received her Film degree from Full Sail University and has worked in the Film and Television industry for most of her adult life. In 2010 Becca published her first novel, Riser followed by the sequel, Reaper, in 2011, and the finale, Ripper in 2013. In 2012 Becca wrote the children’s novel Alexis Tappendorf and the Search for Beale’s Treasure. She is also the co-author of the teen graphic novel Ghost Whisperer: The Haunted. Most recently Becca released Atlas, the first book in a new urban fantasy series. She currently lives in Los Angeles, CA with her husband, Stephan and their two cats Jack and Duke.

F.M. Sherrill:
Aren't author's bios boring? I always wanted to read one that went something like this:

F.M. Sherrill: recent citizen of earth. Plans on ruling the planet once she gets over the common cold. Or, F.M. Sherrill: time traveler. Decided to alter the space-time continuum by writing a novel, thus changing history slightly, which will eventually lead to the rise of a new human species.

But here it is. F.M. Sherrill is a novelist, A.K.A. an avid bullshitter; that's why she lives in L.A.. She's been writing for as long as her ancient mind can remember, devouring tales like an anemic vampire roaming the streets in hot pink heels, always thirsty for more. When she's not writing, she's making steampunk weapons, sewing giant plant-eater Mario plushes, making costumes for some film bloke or cosplayer, and sculpting/casting movie prop replicas while gardening in her urban apartment. Her favorite tools? A soldering iron, a blowtorch, a band saw, a sonic screwdriver, a replicator and an active imagination.

Blog: http://girlswritingcoffee.blogspot.com
Twitter: @therisersaga and @fmsherrill

Tour giveaway 

5 copies of Black Moon
Open to International Shipping

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Marketing Mondays: Facebook and Twitter Parties, and Why You Should Give Away Stuff

Week 5 of Marketing Mondays is here! We've covered author brands, Facebook, social media, and blogging. It's all about parties and free stuff today as we talk about the benefits of holding parties on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ and giving away stuff during these events and blog tours. Because who doesn't like a party, right? Especially one where pants are optional and it isn't that kind of party.
Image from Democratic Underground
To state the obvious: Facebook parties are virtual parties that happen on Facebook. You know how you get invited to Facebook events all the time? Well, if you click on that invite then it will take you to the event page, which is where the party goes down. Sometimes the party has a host, and sometimes there are several guest hosts. The host(s) create interactive posts like games and discussions. During the Souls of Indie party a few months ago, there were discussions topics related to new adult paranormal stories since that was the genre being celebrated in the release of the box set. We talked about television shows like Bitten and Beauty and the Beast, and mystical creatures. Contests varied depending on the host. For Krystal Wade's release party for Shattered Secrets, one of the games we played was to cast the main characters of the book. Guest hosts for parties can come in randomly or host for half hour or hour slots and host their own discussions and games.

Twitter parties are pretty much the same, only they work with a specific hashtag, much like the Twitter chats we talked about with social media. Sometimes Twitter parties happen alongside a Facebook party (the Souls of Indie celebration did this with the hashtag #SoulsofIndie). So if you open a tab with Twitter and run a search for the specific hashtag involved with the party (and then click All at the top of the feed so you see all of the tweets), you'll see the party tweets as they happen. Twitter can be overwhelming with something like this if there is a lot of activity, but keep in mind that you can read the tweets at your own pace and respond as you come across things you want to respond to. Don't feel like you have to comment on every tweet, and don't feel bad if it takes you a few minutes to narrow down your response to 140 characters or less (unless you want to split your response into parts, which I always forget you can do).

Google Hangouts is another great way to have a party. I haven't joined one yet, but I'm really looking forward to trying it out. From what I've seen on the How Hangouts Work page, it looks a lot like one giant instant messenger chat. You also have audio and video options, which can work alongside a Facebook or Twitter party. For #NALitChat, they usually have audio to accompany the chat, which is where the special guests talk about the particular topics for that week. So you can have a party with audio or video. But keep in mind that if you use video, people will be able to see your pantsless dance.
Image from Vulture
Now, I seriously doubt that I need to explain why you should have a virtual party, attend one, or guest host one. But I will anyway, just in case you are on the fence. How will having a party help your book sales? The same way social media will. Hanging out with potential readers is a great way to turn them into actual readers and even fans. I guest hosted for the Souls of Indie party I mentioned earlier, and not only was it a blast, but I gained some of the most loyal and excited readers yet from the experience. So you can have fun, meet people, build connections, and find readers at these parties. What's not to love?

So now that we've talked about the why, let's talk about the how. First, let me advise you not to be intimidated if you've never done one before. You have to start somewhere, right? If you're worried about it, attend one before hosting. If you haven't been invited to one, just ask an author friend (like me) to pass along any invites they've received. I can tell you from experience that attendance and activity can go either way. I've guest hosted for parties that were insanely busy, and ones where I swear virtual crickets should have popped up onto my screen. So if you decide to host for a party or throw one of your own, don't be discouraged if activity comes and goes. It might not have anything to do with you or the party, but more to do with the hour, the invites, and the day of the party.

Hosting is a blast! I'd definitely suggest coming up with posts before the party, even if you are only booked for a half an hour slot. There are several different things you can do. If you have the time, mix it up a little. Start some discussions related to your book. Is it a tear-jerker? Ask who has seen The Fault in Our Stars. A zombie book? The Walking Dead has a pretty big and rabid fanbase. Same for fantasy and Game of Thrones. But you aren't just limited to topics that are related to your books. Mine have nothing to do with time travel, but I'm not shy about bringing up the fact that I am a Whovian.

Games are another way to engage partiers. You can play a caption game, where you post a random funny picture and have people caption it, then choose a random winner, or choose the best caption. If you are going random, then random.org is a great way to pick one. If you want to play games related to your books, you can have partiers cast your main characters (always be sure to link to the Goodreads page for your book and give a brief description of the characters) and pick your favorite. You can talk about the love interests in your book and run a game for book crushes. You can do the same thing for quotes or anything else that comes to mind. Always try to tie the game back to your books though, to draw in interest without rubbing it in their faces. You can also give them tasks for games, like sharing a status about the book, sharing an image, or following you on social media. Technically, Facebook warns against sharing things on personal pages for games. It happens all the time, but be warned that it is against the rules of Facebook.

Don't be afraid to be creative with your games, or to do research to see what other people have done. As for how often you post, the key thing to keep in mind is that you don't want there to be too much time in between activities because that might bring on a lull. But you also don't want to overwhelm partiers with your posts, either. I recommend timing it around 15-20 minutes in between posts. I usually start with an introduction and pair it with a game to like my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter. I ask participants to post that they did so, and I try to ask a question too, just to keep them engaged and keep interacting with them. Then I'll either move to another game or a discussion post. I usually try to sandwich discussions between games.

Of course, if you are playing games, you are giving things away. So keep that in mind with planning how many games you play during the party. You can give away signed books or swag, gift cards, and e-books. I tend to give swag and e-books away since print books cost to send. I also give gift cards away, but I keep it around $5. I like to give stuff away, but I also keep it cost-effective. E-books are a great way to get more readers without breaking bank. I use Smashwords to give away e-books. You can create a coupon code there to pass along to winners, and they can use it to get whatever format they want.

If you decide to plan a party, don't be shy about asking for guest authors or donations for giveaways. Authors love promoting their books, so you'll probably be surprised by how many people sign up to help in one way or another. Heck, if you are looking for a party to get involved with, let me know. I've got a couple that I am planning this year. ;) The biggest thing to take away from this post is that virtual parties are a great way to have fun while promoting.
Image from Debra Kristi's Blog

Friday, July 18, 2014

Feature Friday: Review of Initiation by Rayna Noire

This book has been on my TBR list for a while, and I'm really glad it finally found its way to the number one spot!

Pagan Eyes, Book One

Leah Carpenter thought being the only witch in her local high school was hard. That was until she inexplicably found herself in the past running from an angry mob, which turned out to be much harder. Growing up comes fast as she wrestles with surviving in another century and mistaken identity. Fast thinking, luck, and whole lot of magick might get her out of her current dilemma; then again, it might not.

Add it to Goodreads
Purchase it for just 99 cents from:
(Also available in print)

Book two, Revelation, is now available!

Rayna Noire is an author and a historian. The desire to uncover the truth behind the original fear of witches led her to the surprising discovery that people believed in magick in some form up to 150 years ago. A world that believed the impossible could happen and often did must have been amazing. With this in mind, Ms. Noire taps into this dimension, shapes it into stories about Pagan families who really aren’t that different from most people. They do go on the occasional time travel adventures and magick happens.

Find her online:

Four out of Five Stargates: Definitely worth the read!

by Rayna Noire
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a great book, rich with details and vivid characters. Leah is the reluctant hero, uncertain as to why on earth she would be chosen to fulfill some destiny in the past. At the beginning, she can't comprehend solving the problems of her current life with the trio of Mean Girls taunting her at school or the crush she's too afraid to talk to. The idea of solving the problems of her past life self, Arabella, with witch hunters hot on her trail and a scorned former love now serving as a priest sending those hunters after her? Way too much for her to handle.

Watching Leah grow more confident and comfortable in her own skin (funny enough, this growth happens mostly while living in Arabella's skin) is a real treat. Her character development feels natural. Her family dynamic also feels natural. I LOVED that her family was so involved in everything that happened to her instead of it being a big secret and a burden she carried on her own. I really enjoyed how Leah traveling back in time almost felt like you were slipping into a historical fiction book. It all felt very well researched and this just added to the intrigue pulling me back to the book.

I really appreciated how Leah's journey to the past has just as much to do with what she needed to learn in the present as what she needed to do to help things in the past. My only let down was that the ending felt a bit anti-climatic. In some ways, that was really good since this book was a refreshing take on fantasy. But I didn't really feel an impact with her confrontation with Lionel, and it all happened really fast. I'm glad this is the first book in a series because I really feel like I'm not done with these characters yet. I'm looking forward to seeing more of Leah and her family.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Thursday Takeover & Giveaway: Interview with Jessa Russo, Author of Divide

Have I told you guys how much I love Jessa Russo? I probably have, but let me clarify just in case you missed it: I love Jessa Russo. I was over-the-moon impressed with Ever when I first read it not long after its release (so impressed that I am rereading it now before reading the sequel Evade), and my mind was absolutely blow by Divide. I jumped at the chance to be on her Street Team and was thrilled to see her book come through Bewitching Book Tours. So you can imagine how excited this fangirl was to get the chance to interview Jessa herself! Jessa is one of the single most open and honest authors I have ever had the fortune to interview, and I can't wait to share her answers with you. Before we get to the interview and I start flailing, let me remind you of how awesome Divide is and why you should go buy it now:

Jessa Russo
Genre: Young adult, fantasy, fairytale redux
Date of Publication: 4/17/14

ISBN: 149540899X
ASIN: 978-1495408991
Number of pages: 340
Word Count: 80K

Book Description:

From senior class president to dejected social outcast, with just the flick of a match.

After accusations of torching her ex-boyfriend’s home are followed by the mysterious poisoning of her ex-best friend, seventeen-year-old Holland Briggs assumes her life is over. And it is. But not in the way she thinks.

As Holland learns the truth about her cursed fate—that she is descended from the Beast most have only ever heard of in fairytales—she unites with an unlikely ally, good-looking newcomer Mick Stevenson.

Mick knows more about Holland’s twisted history than she does, and enlightening as it is to learn about, his suggestion for a cure is unsettling at best. Holland must fall in love with Mick in order to break the spell, and save their future generations from repeating her cursed fate. Having sworn off love after the betrayals of her ex-boyfriend and ex-best friend, this may be difficult to accomplish.

Complicating things further for Holland and Mick, time runs out, and Holland’s change begins way before schedule. With Holland quickly morphing into a dangerous mythical creature, Mick struggles to save her.

Should they fail, Holland will be lost to the beast inside her forever.

Amazon   BN  Kobo 

About the Author:

Jessa Russo believes in fairytales, ghosts, and Jake Ryan. She insists mimosas were created for Sundays, and that’s not up for discussion.  She’s obsessed with the great city of New Orleans—where she’s collected too many beads to count, eventually married her sweetheart, and visited graveyards they don’t include on maps.

She’s loud, painfully honest, and passionate about living life to the fullest, because she’s seen how abruptly it can be taken away.

What began as a desire for reading and writing young adult paranormal has bled into stories of all kinds. From fantasy to pre-dystopian to erotic contemporary, Jessa’s stories always include romance, though she’s given up on pigeonholing her work into a category or genre box.

Jessa was born and raised in Southern California, and remains there to this day with her husband (a classic car fanatic), their daughter (a Tim Burton superfan), and a Great Dane who thinks he’s the same size as his Chihuahua sister.
ENTWINED, the final installment of Russo’s Ever Trilogy, will be released later this year, as well as an erotic romance written under the pseudonym Parker Jameson, so please stay tuned!

If you'd like to connect with Jessa online, please visit the following pages:

Mara: Jessa! *tackle hugs* I’m really excited to get the chance to interview you! 
Jessa: *blushes* Mara! It’s still so weird to me that people want to know about me and my books! But I love you, and I’m so glad you asked me over to your blog! *tackle hugs you back* 

Mara: First of all, let me say once again that I loved Divide. It’s a brilliant reimagining of Beauty and the Beast with a really nice Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde twist. Where did you get your inspiration for Divide?
Jessa: Brilliant?! Aw, you flatter me!
But, um . . . I have NO idea. Lame, huh? I was driving. Idea hit me. Light bulb moment. Boom. Honestly, I was thinking about writing something different, then my brain wandered to cool covers I’d seen recently, which led to fairytale retellings that I wanted to read (CINDER comes to mind), and from there I pondered how I could make my fairytale redux different. And my brain said: What if your Beauty is also the Beast?
The Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde tie-in came later . . . I hadn’t even realized I’d meshed the two story concepts together until my critique partner pointed it out! So I ran with it. 

Mara: How do you relate to your main characters in Divide? Do you find that you have more in common with Holland or Mick, or is it an even balance with both?
Jessa: I definitely have more in common with Holland. I was fairly popular and pretty growing up, walking on cloud nine for a long time, then brought down a few pegs by some girls in high school, so Holland’s fall from grace is a bit familiar for me. I can also relate to the massive betrayal Holland had to go through, as I’ve been betrayed by boyfriends and ‘friends”. But I’m also the damsel in distress, like Holland, and the girl who loves and trusts too easily.
With Mick, I’d say I relate most to his “love conquers all” outlook on life. Love is what drives him. Like me! *cheesy grin*

Mara: Divide is your third published book, released after the first two books in the EVER trilogy. How did the process of writing Divide differ from writing Ever?
Jessa: For one thing, it was so much easier to write DIVIDE! I think this is partly due to the fact that I’d grown in my craft, but also in part because DIVIDE was a standalone, so I didn’t have to worry about setting things up to be discovered in future books. Stuff like that. Also, for whatever reason, DIVIDE just flowed from me. I needed to tell that story at that moment, you know? 

Mara: As a member of your Street Team, I know how involved you are directly with fans. What is that experience like for you, connecting directly with your readers?
Jessa: I love it! I’m an extremely insecure writer—hell, I’m insecure in real life, which is odd coming from someone so vain (though I’ve begun to realize the two are very much one in the same)—so connecting with fans and friends who love my stories is a constant boost. And one I desperately need. The praise is something I’ll never get used to, but I sure do love it. 

Mara: Social media is a really big tool for authors now. What is your favorite form? (Twitter, Tumblr, blog, etc) Why?
Jessa: Uh, I’d say Twitter, though I’ve really fallen off the face of the *online* planet these last few months. I’m quite busy with editing for Curiosity Quills, and fell a bit (read: a lot) behind, so my online interaction has suffered tremendously. Though I hope that won’t last forever—I adore my friends and fans, and the writing/reading community as a whole. We’re surrounded by some pretty amazing people! 

Mara: You are moving towards the goal of writing it all now that you have your adult projects with the pen name Parker Jameson. How do you balance it all, and do you find characters from other projects trying to sneak into new ones?
Jessa: Yay for the pen name plug! Thank you! <3 I’m not sure I balance it all very well, to be honest, seeing as how I’m constantly behind in one thing or another (or all things), but I do so enjoy writing all kinds of genres. I love the aspect of first loves and first heartbreak that comes with YA stories, but the freedom in adult writing is so . . . freeing. lol! There’s just some amazing stuff out there, and I want to write about all of it, so I’m just going to continue writing whatever story strikes me at that moment. It will likely have romance, and almost always break some rules. 

Mara: Your bio is very open and honest about your past and the hardships you’ve endured, particularly losing your father at a young age. How does your life experience impact your writing and your characters? Do you give a piece of yourself to your characters, or are they completely separate from you and your experiences?
Jessa: I want to be very real with my readers. I am who I am in real life, so I want to be that way online as well. I’m loud. I’m opinionated. I’m passionate. I’m honest to a fault, and I often say things I regret later. I make mistake after mistake after mistake. But I wake up every day with the goal of being just a bit better than yesterday. And you’ll never wonder who I am or question my motives. I’m right here, exposed for all to see. That definitely transfers into my characters . . . Ever especially. She was such a huge part of me. Her dad’s death and her behavior thereafter, especially, came under fire in quite a few reviews. People questioned why I even added the death of her father. It didn’t propel the story along. It wasn’t necessary. Um, forgive me for saying so, but, NO SHIT. Neither was it necessary when I lost my father—unexpectedly, and while he wasn’t even in the same state—at the young age of sixteen. And my behavior afterwards? Um, far from “appropriate”. FAR. But it’s who I was and how I handled things. It absolutely does not have to make sense to you, you know? That came across in my writing, in my character.
I think that everything about me will seep into my writing at one point or another, though not everything about my characters will be who I am. Does that make sense? For instance . . . Sage, from CHLORINE&CHAOS, is a cutter. I never did that, never even considered it. But I know all about self-abuse and self-medicating, so . . . it’s there, just not exactly. Maybe reading between the lines is how you can get to know your authors. Or maybe just this one. 

Mara: What was the last amazing book you read?
Jessa: All books are amazing in their own right. (Vague response is vague.) Honestly, the last book I couldn’t get enough of was one of the titles I edited for Curiosity Quills. It’s called TREASURE, DARKLY by Jordan Meirek and it is AMAZING. It’s a YA steampunk western with paranormal elements and I was captivated! Please watch for it!

Mara: Now that the last book in the EVER trilogy is set to be released (*happy flail* Can’t wait!) later this year, what is ahead for you as a writer? Do you have another series you are looking forward to?
Jessa: I’m really excited about CHLORINE&CHAOS (Parker Jameson), and after that, I have two YA books I’m working on, both very close to my heart, and both of them major pieces of me. The first, MEAN GIRL REDEEMED, is about a mean girl, obviously, but what I wanted to show you was the confusion, the motives, the fear. Many mean girls are mean only as a way to protect themselves from their mean girl friends. I wanted to tell the story of the mean girl, told by the mean girl. Written by a former mean girl.
The other YA project, MY ROMEO IS BLEEDING (Book One of The Defining Desi Series), is the hardest story for me to tell, thus far. It is based on the psychological and physical abuse I endured during my first major relationship, by a beautiful and tortured man, and includes my original poetry from that time. I wanted to show the side of abuse that no one really talks about . . . how it often creeps up on you. How it’s happening to teens. How it changes a vibrant girl into an empty husk. I was sixteen when I met him, and it wasn’t long after that that the mental mind-f*ckery began . . . and I still struggle with his abusive voice in my head. Telling this story exposes me. A lot. But I want to be honest, transparent. I want to honor that sixteen-year-old me. So it’s going to take a long time to complete it.
Damn. I’m really an open book today, aren’t I? *hides*

Mara: What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given as a writer, and what would you pass along to those aspiring to be published writers?

Jessa: Write what you love. People think this is so simple, but I’ve recently found more and more that you really need to stick with your soul on this one. I write what I love. I break rules. I bend genres. But this is me. This is my career. My husband once posed the question: “Do you want to write what you love, or do you want to write what sells?” I didn’t even have to think on it. Love wins EVERY time.

Thank you so much to Jessa for such a beautiful interview! It's always a pleasure chatting with her, and this has been no different. Want to read between the lines of Jessa's books and get to know her a bit better? Enter to win your copies below!
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Monday, July 14, 2014

Cover Reveal! Soulless by Crystal Collier

Have you met the Soulless and Passionate? In the world of 1770 where supernatural beings mix with humanity, Alexia is playing a deadly game.

SOULLESS, Book 2 in the Maiden of Time trilogy

Alexia manipulated time to save the man of her dreams, and lost her best friend to red-eyed wraiths. Still grieving, she struggles to reconcile her loss with what was gained: her impending marriage. But when her wedding is destroyed by the Soulless—who then steal the only protection her people have—she's forced to unleash her true power.

And risk losing everything.

What people are saying about this series: 

"With a completely unique plot that keeps you guessing and interested, it brings you close to the characters, sympathizing with them and understanding their trials and tribulations." --SC, Amazon reviewer

"It's clean, classy and supernaturally packed with suspense, longing, intrigue and magic." --Jill Jennings, TX

"SWOON." --Sherlyn, Mermaid with a Book Reviewer

Crystal Collier is a young adult author who pens dark fantasy, historical, and romance hybrids. She can be found practicing her brother-induced ninja skills while teaching children or madly typing about fantastic and impossible creatures. She has lived from coast to coast and now calls Florida home with her creative husband, three littles, and “friend†(a.k.a. the zombie locked in her closet). Secretly, she dreams of world domination and a bottomless supply of cheese. You can find her on her blog and Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.

COMING October 13, 2014

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

My Personal Fitness Challenge: Week 4 Summary

QUICK REVIEW: My workouts look a little different this week, and not just because I'll be seeing my personal trainer next week when I go visit SC. My editor, Kriscinda Everitt, invited me to join her in a 30 day arm challenge on Facebook. I decided to go for it since I already workout anyways. Doing a little something extra will be fun, and probably help me feel better about seeing no weight loss results. I'm seeing physical results, but still bummed that I haven't been dropping weight too. Ah well. This is about getting healthy, right? Right!
Or, as in my case, look at the scale and see no change.
Week 5 is going to be delayed since it is travel week. Though I am getting some exercise in during travel week (running around the airport with a heavy bookbag on and a cat carrier in tow totally counts since I was sore as hell the next day. More sore than any of my arm workouts. Crazy.) like swimming and shopping. I'll slip back into another routine once we check into the hotel and I'm not bouncing around my relatives' houses and have access to a gym.

DAY 10: JUNE 30th
Cardio: 15 minutes on the ellipti-stepper at 5 resistance and 5 cross ramp for a total of 1.28 miles

Strength training:
Leg extensions 4x12 60lbs
Bicep curl 3x12 10lbs
Dumbbell side bends 4x12 20lbs
Calf raises (machine) 4x12 110lbs
Bent over triceps extension 3x12 5lbs
Dumbbell rear delt row 3x12 5lbs
Decline sit ups 3x10
Leg press 4x12 110lbs
Dumbbell front raise 3x10 5lbs
Dumbbell lateral raise 3x10 5lbs

Summary: Pretty good day and still working out with the hubbins, which does help for the most part. I'm upping my weights and getting there with the reps too. Though my arms still feel very weak with the front and lateral raises. I didn't feel completely obliterated the day after, which is good since I am throwing more cardio in.

DAY 11: JULY 1st
Cardio: Cardio day! Well, and arm challenge. 15 minutes on the ellipt-stepper at 5 cross ramp and 5 resistance for a total of 1.25 miles.

Arm Challenge Day 1: Today we were supposed to do 10 bicep curls, 5 dips, 10 seconds of punches, and 5 push ups. I adjusted mine since I can't do normal push ups or do dips at all because of my wrist. There's something about bending it and putting pressure on it that really makes the injury worse. I also doubled up on bicep curls because the 10 lbs weights were taken at the gym.
Bicep curls 2x10 5lb
Wall push ups 10
Air boxing punches 20 sec

DAY 12: JULY 2nd

Cardio: 10 minutes on the ellipti-stepper at 5 resistance and 1 cross ramp for a total of .84 miles

Strength training: I honestly don't remember what all I did for the arm challenge, but I'm pretty sure I did it.
Bicep curls3x1210lbs
Leg press4x12110lbs
Dumbbell front raise3x105lbs
Dumbbell lateral raise3x105lbs
Standing chest flies3x105lbs
Leg extensions3x1260lbs
Dumbbell side bends4x1220lbs 
Leg curls3x1280lbs

Summary: Along with the arm challenge (10ish wall pushups, 45 seconds of air boxing, and something else that I can't remember. Meh.), a pretty good day. 

DAY 13: JULY 5th
Cardio: 10 minutes on the ellipti-stepper at 5 resistance and 1 cross ramp for a total of .84 miles

Strength training: 
Bicep curls3x1210lbs
Calf raises4x12110lbs
Bent over triceps extension3x125lbs
Dumbbell rear rows3x125lbs
Dumbbell side bends4x1220lbs
Summary: Overall, a very weak day. My energy levels are crap right now, which doesn't make much sense to me but maybe it's stress. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Marketing Mondays: What's in a Blog?

Marketing Mondays is here again! For those of you just tuning in, we've covered author brands, Facebook, and the rest of the social media world. Today I'm going to blog about blogging. Mind blowing, right?

So what's in a blog? Well, that depends on who you are and what you want to write about. You don't always have to write about writing. Sure, you can write about that. But I'm sure there's more to you than being a writer. Maybe you like to get crafty or love to workout. Are you aiming to be on the next Top Chef or just like to cook like you might? Maybe you're a super fangirl and want to squee about the latest episode of Teen Wolf or shake your fist about Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Image from DNAIndia
Whatever you choose to write about, let it be something that means something to you. I'm writing about marketing right now because it is a very big part of what I'm doing with my books right now, and something I am thrilled to still be learning about and expanding on. But I'm also writing about my journey to become physically fit, and I post blog tour stops and book reviews. Sometimes I participate in blog hops too, but we'll get to those later.

What should I write?
For now, let's focus on what you can write about and how often you should do it. I'd suggest making a list of the things you are interested in and deciding what you'd like to write about from there. Keep in mind that your posts don't have to be long, and try to be yourself as much as possible. In my opinion, the whole point of blogging as a writer is for people to get to know you and your voice. So don't be afraid to let the snark out, and if you think something is clever, then say it. Even if you think you're the only one snarfing at your jokes, make them. Because why not? It's your blog. Be you!

Just like with social media, you have to strike a balance. You don't need to blog every day or even every week. Writing up a blog can take time, and for a lot of authors, time to write is precious and you might not want to spend all of it blogging. I have two weekly features on my blog--my fitness challenge and Marketing Mondays. But that's because those two topics work well for a weekly blog. If you are blogging about new knitting designs you are working on, it might be more of a once a month or once every other month (Can you tell I don't knit anything more complicated than scarves?) kind of topic. New recipe? That could be every week, every other week, every month--whatever you choose. Don't let it get overwhelming and don't try juggling too many topics per week. I actually had to cut down on the amount of blog tours I host for this reason. Blogging was taking up too much time, and none of it was personal. Balance in all things, right?

Which brings me to the topic of blog tours and book reviews. First, let me say that I love hosting blog tours and reviewing books. I love it so much that I have a really hard time saying no when asked (please don't test this). I'm a lot more choosy now with books that I review or blog tours that I host stops for simply because I don't want my blog getting overrun by blog tours and because there aren't enough hours in the day for me to get through my To Be Read list as it is.
So many books, so little time...
Image from Drugs Called Books
What about blog tours?
First, you might be asking what a blog tour even is. When I first started out in the writerly world, I had no clue. The basic gist of a blog tour is that it is essentially a virtual book tour, where an author goes from blog to blog promoting their books and their work. There are different kinds of posts for tours, like author interviews, character interviews, guest posts where the author discusses a topic of their choosing or yours, review stops, excerpts, and promotional stops that simply have the cover, blurb, purchase links, and author info. Tours can last anywhere from a week to a month. I've never seen one longer than a month, but I guess it's possible. AToMR book tours actually has a great post about what blog tours are, and you can check that out here.

So how do you get involved with blog tours? Some tour companies might have criteria such as having a certain number of followers first, but others don't. Your best bet is to run a search for blog tours or blog tour companies and go through the list, picking out ones that seem like a good fit. You don't exactly want to sign up for a romance blog tour company if romance isn't even a genre that you read (Yes, I did that). I host for Bewitching Book Tours, and I can vouch for how excellent Roxanne is at running things. I've hosted for other companies before and it's been a bit chaotic, but Roxanne is very organized and gets everything to you in a timely manner. If Bewitching Book Tours doesn't look like a good fit for you, there are lots of others you can check out. I already mentioned AToMR, but there's also Xpresso Book Tours, Book Sniffer Review Tours, and New Adult Blog Tours just to name a few.

What's a blog hop?
Blog hops are themed blog posts, essentially. A group of bloggers all write about the same topic and link to the other bloggers posting about the same thing. It can be something like My Writing Process, Introduce Your Main Character, or What's Up Wednesdays, where you post about what you've been up to that week. I've also seen blog hops in the form of blog awards like The Next Big Thing and the Liebster Award, which are set up to have the blogger answer the same questions, thus giving the readers some insight into who the writer is.

So basically...
When deciding what you want to blog about, don't overbook yourself. If you want to do What's Up Wednesdays, don't feel like you have to join in every Wednesday. Especially if you don't have anything new to catch your readers up on. If you want to have a weekly feature, like a blog promotion or specific topic (like talking about marketing every Monday even if you feel like you've barely scratched the surface of what's out there...*ahem*), don't book blog tour stops for every other day of the week. And keep in mind that just because you want to blog about a topic doesn't mean it needs to be a weekly or monthly feature. It can just be a one-off type thing, or something you do when the topic comes up again (like new recipes). Having a feature is a great way to get people coming back to your blog to look for content, but it isn't a sure-fire way to gain followers, and it certainly isn't the only way either. In fact, I'd recommend that you don't even pay attention to how many followers you have because that's a good way to add pressure to something that should be easy and stress-free.

There are many things that you can do with your blog--some things you can do might not have even occurred to me. Get creative. Have fun with it. The point of a blog is to get to know you. And not to overwhelm you, which is the most important thing to keep in mind with all of these marketing tips and tools. They are just that--tools meant to help you, not to hurt you.

Next week is the cover reveal for Soulless by Crystal Collier, and then we'll be back for Marketing Mondays to talk about Facebook and Twitter parties and giveaways.