Sunday, November 30, 2008
Not so fast---Before you think I'm a mad shopaholic, I'll qualify what I just called myself. I look at an item, examine it carefully, and think hard about whether or not I really can use or I really want that item. Sometimes my want overtakes my common sense, but most of the time I know my prices and know if I can afford to make that purchase, or if I should wait for a better bargain to come along. When I do find something I care for, like a pair of slacks or shoes with a perfect fit, I usually buy more than one. That's because I know that if I really like something it will never be found on the face of the earth again once the original is worn out.
Today, I examined the Sunday ads. Strangely enough I found something at Walgreens that both my husband and I wanted to buy. I don't know anyone who's watched TV in the last year who hasn't seen the commercial for Pedi Paws.
Since Rascal is a real baby when it comes to getting her nails done, we decided to try the product. We zoomed into Walgreens and wonder of wonders, there were massive quantities of Pedi Paws to be had. How strange, a sales item in stock and in plain view! We grabbed one, paid for it and rushed out, before I could look around for StickNClick, which was also on sale,but not as much of interest to the DH.
Of course, hubbie wanted to test the product right away, so Rascal got her nails filed a few hours later. I must say the product worked quite well. Although she wasn't exactly pleased with the sensation of the rotating filer, the process appeared painless and didn't take long.
Afterward, I read the instructions - why read them beforehand? They suggested to get the animal acclimated to the product in short dosages first and use treats to associate good stuff with the Pedi Paws system. It may be too late, but maybe we'll try that before her next session to make it a more pleasing experience for her.
So, Pedi Paws was my find for the day. Has anyone else run into a great find they were happy with, or maybe disappointed in? Did anyone get any good bargains lately? Please share.
Oh, if you get a great find or bargain later on, feel free to add it as a comment on whatever blog I've got up that day. I do want to encourage bargain hunting!
Friday, November 28, 2008
With hubbie working part time, we're now paying real money for his insurance. Not as many dollars are coming in as going out. Also, his 401 k is way down, and I have no idea how much money is left in my profit sharing plan. I may not know for months.
Every year we send out Christmas cards. This year I'll try something a little different. I'm sending out poscards ordered from Vistaprint where I downloaded a photo from the local park, and one of Rascal. At least this way we'll save on postage.
Fortunately, the nieces and nephews are now of a convenient older age, so they've all been added to the Christmas grab bag, and we won't have as much to worry about for presents. However, I just realized today I'd missed one nephew's birthday on November 23, we've got hubby's step-mom's birthday on December 9, plus brother and sister-in-law birthdays also in December. Then there are special friends to buy for. In other words, Christmas will still be a bit costly, but with the help of credit cards and careful planning, we should make it through all right.
I've already decided to check my closet and dresser for sweaters I bought last year to make sure I wear them. It's so much more tempting to buy new, but I think I'll be more practical this year. That's not only for everyday wear, but also for Christmas. This year I will get my Christmas sweatshirts and sweaters out early and wear them and not wonder afterwards why I didn't remember I had them.
What about you? Are you cutting back this season? Or maybe you've never sent out cards or done individual presents. What are your thoughts and plans?
Thursday, November 27, 2008
I'm not going to fall for as many rebate offers as I did last year. It takes forever to fill out the forms. Then you have to keep track to see if you get your money back again later. If I'm doing the rebate thing, I hope to find a store with online rebates, like Staples, where I don't have to get every little required item together and staple it and address the envelope and spend money on a stamp. At least, with an online rebate I've got half a chance of getting my money back because I can keep track of what's going on.
I also will be thinking twice about exactly what I purchase. If I don't need an item, I won't buy it just because it's at a good price.
Another thing - The time shoppers are asked to get up is turning way too ridiculous! Now doors open at many stores at 4:00 a.m. That means people will probably want to line up at last at 3:00. The way things are going, soon gun-ho shoppers won't be able to go to bed at all! In fact, I've already heard of someone who was in line as early as Tuesday for Best Buy. That is absurd or desperate.
I dislike stores that advertise special buys for Black Friday and don't have many of that item. It's way too disappointing to wait in line and not get what you really came for. Although I don't make it a habit to shop at Meier much, I do remember that that store did carry the sales items in a goodly amount. Unfortunately, I checked their ad and couldn't find anything I wanted to buy.
What does any of this have to do with writing? Well, when you create a character, little things like going to Black Friday sales, rummage sales, garage sales, or clipping coupons can be one way to describe that person's station in life. You can tell that person probably isn't loaded, that is, unless you're describing a scrooge. If you are, wait a little longer and mention the after-Christmas sales instead. (G)
Have a Happy Thanksgiving & a Frantic Black Friday!
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Here are just a few ideas:
• Several romance authors I know also sell Mary Kay or Avon. Put your bath salts, lotions and other non-cosmetic items into a nice basket or tin case, along with one or two of your titles, and send as gifts or use as Christmas giveaways at your site.
• Work with coffee shops to sell your books in baskets. Grab some java, flavored creamers and cups and put them into a nice arrangement. It is great promotion for both you and the coffee vendor.
• Don't forget Mom. Many organizations give toys to children of needy families and gifts for Mom as well. Put your books together with a few pamper items for the woman of the house to make her feel special this holiday season. It not only brings joy to that person, it helps agencies, who in turn remember your generosity. Non-profits are fabulous at word-of-mouth marketing.
• Arrange signings. Christmas signings are extremely popular. To make yours even more effective, create a stunning basket of goodies to giveaway to one of your buyers that day. Do NOT include your books in this giveaway. Some people will just put their names in the drawing and not buy, hoping they will get it free.
• Create a special gift or gift basket with your books for your library and ask them to give it away during a holiday event.
• Get auction fever by donating a creative, fun basket that includes your books for silent auctions. These are popular during the holidays and event organizers are always searching for free stuff to present to buyers who want to support a charity.
Check your local community calendar for events where you may be able to use a giveaway to your advantage. Don't be afraid to approach vendors about coordinating sales - like at coffeeshops or stores that carry unique items. Gift baskets are incredibly popular and can easily be created specifically for any event or family. If you are not basket-savvy, ask a friend for help.
Angela Wilson is a social media consultant. Her site, http://askangelawilson.com/offers marketing, PR and promotions advice to authors.
Find Angela Wilson at:http://www.linkedin.com/in/angelawilson
Here's a link to a video from the Ministry of Silly Walks, for the uninitiated or those who'd like to reminisce.
Anyway, an incident that happened twice last week reminded me of Monty Python's Ministry of Silly Walks. After exiting my commuter train at Ogilvie Transportation Centre and beginning to walk the platform toward the main portion of the station, I saw something very strange. This happened not once, but twice. There's the platform, then there are stairs leading downward to another area where you can connect to the underground portion to catch a cab, bus or other transportation.
I'm usually one of the last ones off the train, because I'm busy on my laptop computer during the train ride and then I wait for it to go through the Windows machinations to close out properly. That area of the platform is pretty well cleared of commuters when I step off the train, except for the engineer making his way to the other side of the train, a few stragglers, and the conductors.
Okay, here's what saw. I saw a man head down the stairs to the underground portion of the station. He only took a few steps, then he turned around and walked the remaining stairs backwards! Twice in the same week I saw the same guy do this. I'm not sure if it will happen again next week or not.
I have no idea why he does this. I know that in aerobics class we sometimes walk backwards with the purpose of strengthening the back of our knees. But to walk down stairs backwards, that seems absurd. In my way of thinking, any benefits from strengthening muscles would certainly be obliviated by the possibility of a nasty fall. It's easy enough to fall when you're walking straight. I've done it.
Maybe I'll figure out why someone would do this. Then I can create a character in one of my books who happens to walks backwards down stairs. At any rate, it did get me to thinking about including walking mannerisms and gait for the characters in my books. There are terrific possibilies along these lines. There's a person with a limp. How did it happen? Arthritis, a war wound? Or, there's the way a child skips, a confident guy lopes into a room, or a pregnant woman balances herself.
There are many other possibilites. I invite you to name any you think of. Also, if you've sited an unusual walker or just someone who did something out of the ordinary, please share.
Monday, November 24, 2008
You can have lots of fun with germs in books. Some ways are to be mean to your characters and give them germs, then let their significant others coddle them. Or, you can let your characters be alone with no one to care for them. Or, why not have a cad in the house who diregards an ill person.
Then, again, you can create characters who are germ-a-holics, kind of like me. They dislike shaking people's hands. They don't like touching faucets in public places without using a tissue as a barrier. They even hate touching bathroom doorknobs.
Some of these seemingly harmful germs can turn into deadly ones, like pneumonia. What an opportunity to create suspense! Will your character pull through?
Can you think of instances in either your book or someone else's where germs play a role? I invite you to leave a comment.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
For many years, my husband and I have volunteered for the Festival Committee in Arlington Heights at Frontier Days in various capacities such as Disability Day preparations, the 4th of July parade, marshalling the gates and the fire lanes during the concerts, doing all sorts of things to help with the annual event.
In the photo above, I'm wearing my red volunteer gear because I was doing double duty that day, putting hot dogs in buns for Disability Day, then coming back to our tent to sell books. While I was gone, Lenore Stevens, Chairman of Prospect Heights Book Review Club, just happened to come along and just happened to ask Margot and June if our crew would like to do a presentation for their club on November 19 at Rolling Green Country Club in Arlington Heights, Illinois. Of course, they agreed for themselves and for me.
It seemed like a long way away, but we marked our calendars. Before we knew it, the day was upon us. The funny thing was we thought our audience would be perhaps 10-15 members. When I arrived, there were about 100 gathered, which was a pleasant surprise.
We were made to feel welcome and our program went on without a hitch. Many of the book club members asked great questions afterwards and also lined up to buy our books.
As a special treat, we were also invited to stay for lunch. All in all, it was a pleasant way to spend a Wednesday morning.
Do any of you belong to book clubs? Have any of you done programs at book clubs? What were your experiences?
Saturday, November 22, 2008
The name, Morgan, does not lend itself easily to nicknames. The only one that comes to mind is Morgie, which no one calls me. Sounds kind of like a dog's name. In fact, I called my old dog that, but that's a story for a later date.
Anyway, when circumstances lent me to starting up another blogspot featuring mysteries and mystery authors, the name, Make Mine Mystery, came to my mind for the blogspot.
I invited gun-ho, dedicated bloggers, who know the mystery genre and also the ins and outs of blogging. One of them, whom I'm happy to say accepted my invitation, was Marvin Wilson, a spiritualist author who happens to also write mysteries.
Marvin Wilson of the quick mind nicknamed the Make Mine Mystery blogspot Triple M.
Not only that, he called me Double M.
I like that nickname, so, this blogspot has a new title with my Double M nickname added, thanks to Marvin.
Do any of you have nicknames you like or dislike? Do you nickname things? Or maybe use code words? I invite you to share.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Real estate taxes are going up, despite the bad market. Utility bills still arrive. Health insurance bills are way too high. The stock market is swinging up and down, too much down and not enough up, actually.
We're constantly bombarded by reminders that everyone is after our money. Not only that, it seems that everyone else is running out of money, also. I don't understand how this could have happened suddenly. It would make a good book plot to blame it on a secret cartel out to gain supremacy over the US and the world by manipulating stocks and companies. Who knows, that might be true. We'll never really know. (Please don't make any comments disparaging either political party, please, or I'll delete them in the interest of fairness.)
Why I'm mentioning all of these downers is because we do an option. There is still a refuge left, a place where we can dwell for maybe a few hours or more, a place where we can forget the real world and inhabit another one.
There are so many books waiting for us to read either on the printed page or electronically, which can take us away from our worries. Or, if you prefer to be worried about someone other than yourself, there are many books to that effect also.
Most romances have happy endings, so if that's what you want, I recommend reading one.
Mysteries can be gripping and sometimes scary, but often, unlike the real world, they tie up all the loose ends when they're through.
Science fiction gives you a complete fabricated world to explore.
Humor books are great medicine to forget your troubles.
Tell me. Why do you read? What do you read?
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Q: Cool site....I am going to use this as my marketing inspiration page. Saw the reference on Murder Must Advertise.
I just started up (finally) on WordPress and wondering if you can suggest your top five ways to draw traffic there. I already do MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. but wondering what your thoughts are for making sure that your WordPress page stays clean and uncluttered but also builds a presence.
Here is my Wordpress site: http://markhstevens.wordpress.com/
Congratulations on starting your blog! These online journals are key to netting fans, who enjoy reading tidbits about their favorite authors' lives.
On blog traffic:
My good friend, Wade Lowrey, is the King of Wordpress. I asked Wade for his own ultimate traffic tips for the site. Find out what he has to say in Top Five Ways To Drive Targeted Traffic To A Blog.
On blog design:
KISS. The cleaner the design, the easier the navigation and greater appeal. Use pages for blogrolls, bios, photographs, novel information and more. It is much easier to navigate a few page links than to scroll through hundreds of links in the navigation bar. Always remember to Keep It Simple. (And remind me to do the same!) YouTube now offers a video widget, but it is distracting and doesn't always provide the right content. Avoid busy widgets when you can. Be sure to add a ShareThis button and Feedburner RSS to the site.
Don't mix business with pleasure. Keep your links and posts professional. Don't share your political or religious views, unless they are the focus of your work. Steer clear of super personal information, unless you are comfortable with the world knowing about surgeries, births, or diseases. A good rule of thumb: If you don't discuss it over the dinner table, don't share it on your blog. Create a personal connection without TMI. Remember, publishers will look at your blogs, too. Drunken wedding photographs might not net you that major deal.
Search it well. Lijit offers a search widget that allows your readers to search all of your sites. Simply create an account and list all of the RSS fees from Facebook, Myspace, LinkedIn and other sites. This broadens your search appeal and sends fans to your other networks.
One of my favorite sites is Web Pages That Suck... and the accompanying books. You can use the information there to help create a clean blog. Google Worst Blog Design and see what people don't like in this Web 2.0 environment. It varies based on personal preference, so follow what your gut tells you to, and disregard the rest. Here is a link to some blog designs: http://elliottback.com/wp/top-ten-best-designed-blogs/
What is RSS and How Do I Use It?
Q: I really don't know what that means, or how one goes about using it. Could you explain?
A: Visit http://www.askangelawilson.com/ for the answer!
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Eccentric Olivia Chatham has found her life's calling. Crime buster.
Tucker Monroe, the small Wisconsin town's mysterious new resident, discovers he, too, has a mission...Keeping up with her.
Here's her post on some of her pet peeves. Do you share any of them?
I’m pretty sure we all have a book peeve or two. Here are some of mine. I’d love to hear yours!
Coincidence-Coincidence happens in life. But to paraphrase what someone, I think Mark Twain, said, “The difference between life and fiction is that fiction has to make sense.” How true. If something happens in a book, there better be a reason for it. Two egregious examples of far too much leap to mind. In one a medical examiner was consulting in a distant city. Not the next county, but thousands of miles from her home. While there a body turned up, which just happened to be someone from her town. Someone she knew. That was a bit much, but I kept reading. The coincidences kept piling up. Instead of taking the novel seriously, I finished it wondering when the next unbelievable event would occur, and laughing when it did. That was the last book I read by that author.
Another had a medical examiner (they do seem to pop up often, don’t they?) happen to drive by a river where police and rescue people happened to have discovered a body. It was December, in a cold climate, but the ME happened to have scuba gear in the trunk and naturally was able to save the day and help with the body. Then she went home and made lasagna, clear down to preparing her own mozzarella. I couldn’t finish that book, and never bought another by the author. Both these writers are wildly popular, so I’m sure it’s a ‘me’ thing. But I gave up on them.
Editing-Once an author is popular, they sometimes get more free rein from editors. This can badly. One recent novel read more as a travelogue than fiction. The writer had been to Italy, and clearly loved it. Readers were going to get the detailed tour whether they wanted it or not. I didn’t. Just because your books sell doesn’t mean everything you write is a pearl. Listen to editors. Please.
Loose Ends-Several recent novels just ended. Like the authors were in a contest and the buzzer went off. What about Aunt Sue? Did they ever find Jim’s missing money? Did Lulu get her operation? If you throw something out there, something to add to the tension, resolve it. Loose ends make me nuts.
Repetition-I read a book with a hero and heroine falling in love. However, their families had been feuding for years. That was repeated over and over and over and over….Readers aren’t dumb. Don’t talk down to us by repeating something we know. It irritates us.
Dialect-Another recent book had young people in London speaking in dialect to the point it was hard to understand. I’d rather the author establish their way of talking, then go back to ‘normal’ dialog. I hear the accent once I know it’s part of the character. And I don’t waste time and get pulled out of the story by strange phrases. The same is true with a Southern accent. It’s lovely to hear. I adore Paula Deen’s ‘Y’all’. But I just can’t read it in every line. I hear it anyway, so leave it out. Again, this is all just my taste.
Ignored Pets-If you have a character with a pet, don’t forget the poor animal. Feed it. Hug it. Exercise it. Don’t stick it in the kitchen with a bowl of water and another of kibble. Once I see an animal in a story, I worry about it. Same with kids. If they’re in the novel, make sure they’re taken care of.
That’s my list. How about you?
Monday, November 17, 2008
The other day I noticed one of the other women in the office closing her phone conversation with, "Thank you so much." Here I'd thought I was the only one coining that phrase, but apparently not. I must have picked it up myself from somewhere and started using it.
Here are some words and/or phrases popular now and before:
Thank you so much - This year's phrase
Perfect - This one has lasted about 3 years, but is starting to die down.
Whatever - Using this word drives a person crazy. It's also dying out, but great for emphasis on occasion.
Icky - This one I remember from when I was a child.
Give it up for - Great concert cliche
Went missing - newscasters love this one
Speaking in Diagrams - I hate this one - People say, "Number one..." and then forget to give the rest of the numbers.
Do you use these buzzwords? Do you know of others to add to the collection? Please leave a comment.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
I have so few words I'm ashamed to even post how many I've gotten done. I would have to go and change the plot, which made me delete some of my precious word count.
I just went over to the NaNoWriMo website and I'm getting inspired again. They're like cheerleaders over there. I'm going to apply myself today and see how much I can get done. Now it's becoming even more of a challenge!
Is anyone else in the same boat as I am?
Saturday, November 15, 2008
I get everything emailed to me and set it up. Then on the day of the appearance, I welcome my guest with a comment, tweet at Twitter, and spread the word on my listservs and MySpace. I also feature them on my network, Book Place, on the main page. My guest has already been instructed to also spread the word.
I check back frequently to make sure comments are coming in. If not, I do more tweets and more e-mails to generate attention.
By this teamwork method, I generate traffic to my blog and interest in my guests. That still leaves me to wonder. How effective are my efforts in establishing my own brand and identity? I've done so in the past, but maybe I should start guesting again at various blogspots. How many of people that visit for my guests actually stick around long enough to read other posts and learn more about me?
What's your opininion? Which is better? Hosting or Guesting? Or a Combination? I'd appreciate your spin. Please leave a comment below.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
I'm happy to welcome Mayra Calvani to my blogspot today. Multi-genre author Mayra Calvani has been a reviewer for ten years. She's the author of the supernatural thrillers, Embraced by the Shadows and Dark Lullaby.
A regular contributor to Blogcritics Magazine, she's also a member of Broad Universe, Authors Coalition, and The Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators.
You can visit her website at: http://www.mayracalvani.com/.
For her children's books, see: http://www.mayrassecretbookcase.com/.
To Learn about Mayra's book, The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing, go to: http://www.slipperybookreview.wordpress.com/.
Mayra also keeps a blog, The Dark Phantom Review, where she regularly posts reviews and author interviews. Today, she touches on what is a hot topic among Reviewers and Bloggers.
Here's what Mayra Has to Say:
Reviewers vs. Bloggers: The Controversy
Reviewing was a hot subject among kidlit bloggers last year, ever since the magazine n+1 came up with an article which criticized—though not in such direct terms—bloggers of not being objective, honest enough with their reviews, of not posting enough negative reviews and of lacing their positive reviews with facile praise.
The main question seems to be: is it possible to be impartial in a snug environment where the people who post friendly comments under the bloggers’ posts are often the same people who request reviews from these bloggers?
In other words, is it possible to be objective in the blogosphere, where authors, publishers, publicists, reviewers and librarians are in sociable terms with each other in such blog communities as Live Journal, Blogger and Wordpress?
In a perfect world a reviewer should never review a book by a person he/she knows. But, as usual, more often than not, what is ideal in theory is not realistic in the real world, and this ‘sin’ is not only committed by bloggers, but also by legitimate reviewers who write for online and print review publications.
Another issue seems to be the lack of format which many (maybe most?) bloggers have when writing reviews. Unlike the ‘legitimate’ reviewers who seem to have a preference for a ‘standard’ structure—an interesting lead/opening sentence, a short summary of the plot without ever giving away spoilers or the ending, and an intelligent, fair, tactful evaluation—the bloggers write about books anyway they want. They have the freedom to write in any length or style without a thought to format—even to the point of giving away spoilers or relating the ending of a book.
This freedom comes with the territory of being a blogger. But then, the questions arise… Are bloggers ‘real’ reviewers? What defines a review? After all, there are many types of reviews—academic and long, light and short, and snippets like those in such publications as Library Journal. Different review sites and publications have different guidelines. Are blogger reviews a new, different type of review? Should we draw a distinction between bloggers who are simply readers and post ‘reader reviews’ and ‘legitimate’ reviewers who post ‘real’ ones on their blogs? After all, just like on Amazon, there are reader reviews and reviewer reviews. Are bloggers the lowly counterparts of legitimate reviewers? Is this an elitist attitude?
I find these questions fascinating because I think there are no easy answers. As usual, opening a discussion about what is right and wrong is like opening a can of worms.
A couple of years ago, this dilemma started with the emerging online review sites... I remember how librarians and bookstores often dismissed them as ‘not legitimate’. Online review sites have come a long way. Now it's the bloggers who are being attacked.
Ultimately, I think we're not giving enough credit to the discerning reader of reviews. It's so easy to tell a good review from a cheesy one guilty of facile praise! There are good and bad reviewers everywhere. Serious blogger reviewers aren't going to be stupid enough to post overly positive reviews because if the reader buys a book based on that review and then finds that book to be poorly written, that blogger will lose all credibility and that reader won't come back to this blogger for more reviews. Honesty and fairness go with our job as reviewers, without it, we're nothing but weak, cheap publicity. That is not to say we should be nasty or mean... which brings me to the writing of negative reviews...
I personally think there are too many good books out there to be spending time writing about the bad ones (even negative reviews are a type of publicity!). Unless it's a book that has been written by a famous author and/or heavily hyped, I won't bother posting negative reviews on my blog and newsletters (this wouldn't be the case, however, if the book was assigned by a review site/publication, in which case I wouldn’t have a choice but to write the negative review).
One thing the blogging technology has done is bring books and literature closer to the public and, let’s face it, the average person is so busy and/or has such a short attention span that long, insightful reviews are not the most practical thing in the world. Blogger reviews are like quick tasty treats of information for people on the run who enjoy reading about books. In the end, and in spite of the ‘slippery’ questions mentioned above, I’m all for anything that brings literature closer to the public.
Don't Go Away, Now Mayra will share what her book, The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing, is all about.
Are you passionate about books? Do you have the desire to share your thoughts about a book with readers, yet are unsure about what makes a good review? Are you curious about the influence reviews have on readers, booksellers, and librarians?
If you're an experienced reviewer, The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing will serve as an excellent reference tool and amalgam of resources. If you're a beginner, this book will show you how to write a well-written, honest, objective and professional book review.
It will also teach you:
• How to read critically
• How to differentiate the various types of reviews
• How to rate books
• How to prevent amateurish mistakes
• How to deal with the ethics and legalities of reviewin
• How to tell the difference between a review, a book report, and a critique
• How to start your own review site
• How to publish your reviews on dozens of sites and even make money while you're at it, and much more
If you're an author, publisher, publicist, bookseller, librarian, or reader, this book will also bring to light the importance and influence of book reviews within a wider spectrum.
To read an excerpt and reviews, visit: http://slipperybookreview.wordpress.com/
Thanks, Mayra, for this great information. I invite the readers to comment below about any of the topics Mayra discussed, or if you want, just say hello to Mayra.
MORGAN MANDEL: I'm holding a contest to win a book at my blog. Anyone who comments is automatically entered that day. What's the best way to do this? Should I ask visitors to leave their e-mail addresses with their comments, or perhaps e-mail me separately with their addresses?
Girl of My Dreams, A Cinderella Story
Morgan - Contests are a great way to drive traffic to your site and expand your brand - especially during a virtual tour. Many authors ask their fans to leave comments at sites. If they register properly, most sites will give accurate emails, from which a winner is chosen. Others ask fans to email them directly, or sign their Web site guest book for the duration of their tours.
Some use microblogs for contests. One company, Hooray Quick & Easy Photo Sharing, Tweeted that it would give Twitter follower No. 500 a free product from its site. The Tweeter says that contest alone equaled several direct messages from prospective buyers.
The best way to conduct an online contest is to use a free form, similar to the one here at Ask Angela. Simply visit EmailMeForm.com, or Google "Free Web Forms" to find a service that suits your needs.
Ask them to submit their full name, snail mail and email addresses, and give them an opportunity to leave a comment. Pick a winner, but keep all of the entrants at the end. Add them to your promotional mailing list, both email and USPS. This will help you develop a fan base you can keep in touch with. Send an email to everyone, listing the winner's name, then invite everyone to your social networks.
Submission forms are clean, easy to create, use and manage, and will keep the headaches to a minimum.
Find Angela Wilson at:http://www.linkedin.com/in/angelawilson
How Do You Handle Your Contests? What do you like or dislike about some contests?
We invite you to leave a comment.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Brad Paisley and Keith Urban started the night singing Start a Band.
Brad and Carrie Underwood are the official hosts, with other guests hosts popping up, the likes of none other than Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman. She didn't look like she had a kid recently, that's for sure.
They announced that George Strait won Single of the Year for I Saw God Today. When I first heard him sing it, I figured he'd win, and sure enough he did. I'd been hoping Trace Adkins would win, since I love his song, You're Gonna Miss This, but both songs are great.
Billy Ray and Miley Cyrus announced Song of the Year, which went to its singer and songwriter, Jennifer Nettles, for Stay. She wore a lovely white Roman kind of long gown with silver trim.
One of my faves, Rodney Atkins, sang It's America.
Vocal Group of the Year - Rascal Flatts again - My dog, Rascal, was hoping they'd win. (Her full name is Our Little Rascal Flatts)
Kid Rock came on, making my husband ask, "Since when did he have a country song?" I told him it's been months.
George Strait sang a song about Rollin on the River of Love - okay song, but not as good as some of his other ones.
Then everybody got down with Jason Aldean, as he sang She's Country.
New Artist of the Year Award presented by Taylor Swift, wearing a short black gown, that makes three different outfits unless I missed one - went to Lady AnteBellum.
More Happening after the commercials
Cowgirls Don't Cry - Brooks and Dunn and Reba - Great rendition - One sang better than the other, couldn't tell which voice I liked best.
Vocal Duo of the Year - Sugarland - Jennifer was very happy and wearing a different outfit than before.
Don't Think I Don't Think About it - Darius Rucker sang this tongue twister
Brad Paisley sang Waitin on a Woman - loved it. He's such a great singer.
George Strait won Album of the Year - Does this guy ever stop winning?
Music Video for the Year went to Waitin' on a Woman with Brad Paisley
Keith Urban sang a new great song, Sweet Thing, and he got a standing ovation!
Carrie Underwood sang the sad song, Just a Dream, after being introduced by Leslie Ponder, widow of a soldier killed in the line of duty.
Carrie Underwood then went on to win Female Vocalist of the Year
Sugarland - Jennifer as usual sounded great - It's Love - I think that was the name of the song. The graphics on the stage matched her top kind of, but the top looked pretty on the top, but strange on the bottom.
James Otto sang his Just Got Started Lovin You, the most played song of the year
They announced the Radio Station winners, but US 99.5 didn't win, which bums me out.
More To come
All right - Trace Adkins - You're Gonna Miss This - My all time favorite - he got a standing ovation
Male vocalist of the year - Brad Paisley - Such a nice guy and great singer - but that white hat's got to go!
The Eagles - They sure cleaned up good - suits and everything - You were just too busy being fabulous - I can't help singing along
Entertainer of the Year goes to - "the lucky and the deserving, Kenny Chesney," to quote Shania Twain.
He told her, "You look really good."
(Did she get a boob job?)
Carrie's got another dress on, some gold layered thing - How many was it? Maybe someone can tell me.
Great show. Great singers. Great stage and technics. Loved it.
6000 members of the Country Music Association chose the winners.
Wanted to watch Jay Leno last night, but fell asleep before he came on. Hope it doesn't happen again tonight, but I have a feeling it will. I still can't get used to this new Standard Time.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Once upon a time, many years ago, a boy and a girl went to kindergarden together, and grade school in Chicago. The boy's and girl's Mom were good friends. Since the boy was born on the Guardian Angel Feast Day, his Mom bought a picture from the girl's Mom at her shop. It was that of a Guardian Angel watching over a small boy and girl as they cross a rickety bridge over rushing water.
When he was in fifth grade, the boy's family moved to the suburbs, while the girl's remained in the City. The boy and girl grew into a young man and woman, entered high school and lived separate lives.
The young man went to college and dated throughout freshman year, as did the young woman. Then one day in sophomore year, the young woman's roommate introduced her to a friend in the school cafeteria. It turned out to be the same boy she'd known years before.
They went steady. Then, over four years later, on Veterans Day in 1972 they got married.
All these years later, 36 to be exact, that same picture, a little faded by now, hangs in the hallway of my home. I was that young woman and my husband was that young man.
Now we're a bit faded also, but still living our love story.
Sunday, November 09, 2008
If you have an upcoming tour or an ongoing one, come on over to include yours at Blog Tour Update, http://blogtourupdate.blogspot.com
Saturday, November 08, 2008
Thanks to everyone who entered the contest. I hope you all enjoyed Michele Cameron's great post. She did a wonderful job.
Thursday, November 06, 2008
Contest for Michele's Book, Moments of Clarity - Comment & follow instructions at the bottom of this post to get a chance to win.
Why Black Women Read Romance Novels
Black women read romance novels because we have to. It is a way for us to escape from the daily pressures of being a strong black woman and sometimes a strong black man and woman. Romance novels are a way for us to connect with sisters that are going through the struggles that we are. Running a household, raising children, often working more than a nine to five, keeping up our physical appearances, and trying to get, or maintain that all elusive everlasting love is a lot of wear and tear on our nerves. But we deal with it. Why? The history of black women is having that ability to juggle and cope with it all. But that gets old… sometimes we need the fantasy. The hope that one day, everything we want, we will have and everything that we need will someday be provided for us.
As we flip through the pages of books that features African American women, it is a way for us to commiserate with our own and feel in the sometimes cruel world that there is a rainbow at the end of the yellow bricked road that we travel. Reading romance that features the sisters is a great thing. It certainly beats channel surfing for a television program that is sprinkled with a sister or brother here or there. Or trying to identify with a television show that supposedly models our families and their lives are only a minor semblance of the world we live in.
I’m the author of two published novels and there are two more on the way. In every book that I write, I have one main goal and that is to make my readers feel a kinship with the heroine as she goes through her trials and tribulations. All of my heroines have great sex. They have the kind of sex that once you have it, you never forget it, and after each and every time you have some not so good sex, you remember the good old days with nostalgia. In every novel that I write, my main characters have flaws and they grow from the inside out. I would love one day for some good looking millionaire with high standards to save me, but in the meantime, I’ll make my own way and live vicariously through books about people that like me do the best they can with what they have.
In Never Say Never, the heroine, Desiree Diamond is tired of being taken for granted by her man. Who isn’t? She had a set image of what her future husband would look like and how their life would be. Who doesn’t? But then she got her heart broken. Who hasn’t? She’s totally taken off guard when she realizes that she is deeply in love with … A White Man! Who wouldn’t be? But the novel deals with other issues because one of the characters in the novels was sexually harassed. Who hasn’t been?
My second novel , Moments of Clarity…is about Sasha Diamond, Desiree’s sister who readers met in Never Say Never. Sasha is totally disillusioned by men when she finds out her long time relationship is a complete sham and she doesn’t even really know the man she’s been sleeping with. Then she meets real true love, but her best friend is jealous and tries to mess it up for her. Has that ever happened to any of you? Even though I can’t see your raised hands I know they’re out there. But this novel has a lot more than that. It deals with foster care and the adoption system in America and having faith in yourself and your man when it appears that you have no choice but to let him go.
My third novel is titled When Lightning Strike! will be released August 2009. Grace Foxfire is in love with two men and they are both deeply in love with her. Now if that’s not lightning striking, I don’t know what is. The social issues in this novel give background to the civil rights movement in a small town, Lake City South Carolina. It also deals with forgiving your parents when they weren’t the best because if you truly do that, you can move on and ultimately be the winner as you make better choices than they did.
My fourth novel titled Unclear and Present Danger will be released February 2010. The main character, Solange Montgomery has a stalker. Have you ever had a stalker? Loosely translated, that’s an ex that shows up where you are and at first you think that it’s a coincidence. How about the hanging up phone calls that you get in the middle of the night or the animosity you encounter when you bump into your ex because you left when he obliquely insinuated while you were dating that, ‘you are not the one.’ This novel also deals with racism in America. The heroine is black and the male lead is an Arab-American and even before the war in Iraq, there was an undercurrent of fear or suspicion when people were forced to interface with those people.
As an author, my goal is to give lovers of romance some enjoyable hours of pleasure and once you turn the last page of one of my books, you feel crestfallen because you’ve finished the novel. If I can accomplish that, then I’ll feel a personal satisfaction that no one or nothing can take away from me.
Michele Cameron, a native of Bridgeport Connecticut is a graduate of the Danbury High School Connecticut school system.
She is a graduate of North Carolina A & T State University in Greensboro with a B.S. degree in professional writing and English Education.
Michele Cameron’s first novel, given a 4 star rating, Never Say Never, was published in January, 2008 and earned her the prestigious title of New Face among African-American writers for the month of January by Romanceincolor.
Her second novel titled Moments of Clarity, received a 5 star rating from Affaire de Coeur and was released October 7, 2008 through Genesis-Press, Inc.
Ms. Cameron’s third novel When Lightning Strikes! will be released August, 2009.
Her fourth novel titled, Unclear and Present Danger will be released February 2010.
Cameron currently teaches Language Arts in Central Florida.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Learn the ins and outs of Facebook right here in Angela Wilson's special interview of Facebook Pro, Mary Smith (Photo to the left)
Angela's Comments about Facebook:
Social networking is the key to your writing success. And Facebook is the hottest social network around. Without the clutter of MySpace, Facebook offers easy navigation to help you find fans old and new through friends, groups and fan pages. Through Facebook, you can promote yourself to a more mature demographic - one that reads and has cash to spend. Limiting the number of friends each user can have forces users to target their demographic - a key component to any successful marketing strategy.
Today, I chat it up with Mari Smith, relationship coach and Facebook expert. She has great tips on how to utilize this important social network.
Mari, how did you become a Facebook expert?
My background is as a Relationship Coach. I have certifications in relationship coaching, success coaching and developmental coaching. I've always been fascinating by people and relationships and I have much expertise with many personality assessments. At the same time, since 1999 I've been an internet marketer and have created many successful information products.
I felt I was running a "two-hat" business!
So when I became active on Facebook in July 2007, it was such a natural fit for my personality and skillset because my two worlds merged perfectly: relationships + the internet. I quickly immersed myself in Facebook and before long my peers started asking me to teach them how to get started with the platform.
What are the advantages to using Facebook over other social networking sites?
In addition, Facebook's feeds enable members to create consistent visibility among their friends. Plus, members tend to be more responsive when you reach out to connect via a wall post or email, for example.
What are the disadvantages?
If not approached properly, Facebook can be a huge time-drainer. It's vitally important to have a strategic plan, a way to measure your results, limit your time and delegate some of the activities to a trusted assistant.
Applications are a PAIN, but many feel if they ignore a request, or block an application, that it will hurt their social networking savvy on Facebook. Is that true?
Gosh, not at all. I recommend to my students and clients they make best friends with the "ignore all" button! There are simply way too many applications to worry about using/testing them all. When you ignore a request to add an app, the friend who sent you the request doesn't receive a notification. You can block apps, ignore all app requests from specific friends or just use the ignore all button which seems easiest.
Every day, I get three to five emails from the same groups, or individuals on Facebook. I've finally started deleting without opening, because I simply don't have time to read them all. What should Facebook users know about using the email option in the site?
I'd love to see improvements made to Facebook email. It's possible to email any other member on Facebook unless (a) you've blocked them/they've blocked you or (b) they've set their privacy settings to not receive emails from non-friends. So, you could find yourself receiving a LOT of email the more active and visible you are.
Responding to email is one of the primary tasks my Virtual Assistant helps me with.
Many group members send out excessive emails to the point it feels like spam. The simple solution there is to leave the group. If you're a group owner, keep in mind once a week is probably sufficient – and/or be sure to survey your members and ask them what they want to receive.
Is there a way to send a mass email out to everyone in your Facebook network without typing in each name?
No. This is one of the most popular questions I get. Many marketers want to be able to build a "list" and message them all at once. Facebook wasn't designed to be used this way. You can message up to twenty friends at once – but there's no BCC and the default is "reply all." So, often you may find yourself on the receiving end of an email thread that has no relevance to you.
My recommendation with emailing lists of friends is to only message people who (a) have a pre-existing relationship or (b) the purpose of the email is to introduce them.
The good news, however, is there are workarounds to reaching your friends en masse. Building out your own group is a popular way as is creating a fan Page. Other workarounds, include staying active to maintain a presence in the News Feeds of your friends.
Facebook offers Fan Page and Group options. Tell us about these and how they work.
A Fan Page is one of Facebook's solutions for business. The idea is you build up fans (as opposed to friends on your personal Profile). Everyone in business should for sure create at least one Page for two primary reasons: (1) the Page gets indexed so can be found on search engines and (2) you'll need another place on Facebook to direct people once you hit the 5000 friend limit. With Pages, you can have unlimited fans.
Groups are also a must-have for business owners. I recommend setting one up for a special interest or particular focus of your business, as opposed to a Group just for your business. The nice thing about groups is they are more informal and members tend to be more active than on a page. However, I do recommend having both at least one Group and one Page for starters.
Facebook ads are becoming more frequent. Do they really work?
It depends. I have read stats that show the click through rate is lower on social network ads because members are not in the mode of searching, unlike on Google. However, Facebook's Social Ads can be a powerful way to increase visibility and notoriety. And, with consistent use, over time you may see a significant increase in click throughs. Ads are also good for promoting a one-time event, for example.
How can you make Facebook ads work for you?
Advertise something that is inside Facebook, not outside. For example, your Page, Event or Group. That way, members don't feel like you're trying to sell them something. So, you can use ads to simply build more awareness of your presence on Facebook and then use the Page, Event and/or Group to further build your relationship with your friends.
Can using Facebook mean better sales?
Absolutely. More and more business members are discovering the power of Facebook to reach targeted clients, set up profitable joint venture partnerships, and deepen relationships with key influencers in their industry. All this leads to an increase in sales.
Are contests effective on Facebook? Can they really drive traffic to your site, or increase your number of friends?
It depends on how well executed the contest is. If a contest also includes promotion on your blog, Twitter, YouTube, press releases, ads, interviews etc. then for sure you could increase your friends. However, would they be key targeted individuals? I'm a huge advocate of building out your friends organically, deliberately and strategically. With over 110 million active users and you can only be friends with 5000 of them, why not choose your friends very, very carefully!
How should you consider working your Facebook presence into your marketing campaign?
I would start with a solid blog with a design that reflects your brand. Import your blog into Facebook using the Notes application. Set up an account on FriendFeed – import every site you're on with an RSS feed. Add the FriendFeed Facebook application.
Give us your top 5 tips to using Facebook.
Focus on quality relationships, not quantity.
Import your blog using the Notes application.
Be active daily, if only for five minutes.
Include Facebook as part of your overall marketing plan.
Start a Facebook Page to represent your business, along with your Profile.
Special thanks to Mari Smith, Facebook diva.
Mari offers free Facebook advice on her YouTube channel. You can also find her on Twitter, WhyFacebook.com and her Web site, MariSmith.com.
If you have a marketing question for Angela Wilson, visit http://www.askangelawilson.com/ and use the Contact Angela form.
Find Angela Wilson at:http://www.linkedin.com/in/angelawilson
I'm off to another book signing today, this time revisiting Barnes and Noble, at DePaul Center, State and Jackson, Chicago, IL from 12-2pm, maybe longer, depending on the foot traffic.
When I set up the book signing, I didn't realize it would be the day after Election Day, so I'm not sure how many people will be coming through the store, or how many will be awake enough to even think about looking at books.
Anyway, it's a great store in a great spot and I'm honored to be able to come back again to provide autographed copies of Two Wrongs and Girl of My Dreams.
If anyone reads this beforehand and is in the area, please stop by and say hello or tell a friend.
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
So, here I am, following the rules, which are:
1. Link to the person who tagged you, and post the rules on your blog
2. Share 7 random bookish and/or weird facts about yourself
3. Tag 7 random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs
4. Let each person know that they've been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog
So, here goes about the random or weird facts about Morgan Mandel:
1. On the way to work in Downtown Chicago, I eavesdrop on people's conversations. When they turn the corner to go the other way, I wonder about the rest of the story.
2. I talk to my deaf dog, Rascal, as if she can hear me.
3. I love just about every country singer there is and can listen to GAC, Great American Country TV, for hours while I'm writing.
4. Now that I'm old, I swear a lot more than I used to when I was young.
5. Everyone probably already knows this, but for those who don't, I'm a slots fanatic. That's why I only play on vacation. Otherwise, I'd go broke.
6. I'm a sloppy housekeeper. Because of that, I rarely have people over. I've got more interesting things to do, such as play on the Internet or write books.
7. I know how to do shorthand, which is almost like a secret language since dictaphones came into being.
There, I've done it. I've shared some weird/random bookish pieces about myself. Now I'm tagging the bloggers below with their links so you can check out their great blogs:
Monday, November 03, 2008
I confess. I'm a saver. Why is it so hard for me to get rid of things?
My boss asked me to look for whatever file cabinet receipts I'd saved, because he wanted to order some new ones. He was surprised when I pulled out one from 1989 and another from 1994. The guarantees had long since expired.
I suscribe to magazines, put them aside, forget to look at them, but vow that some day I will, especially the ones about writing. I print out stuff from e-mails and websites about promo or writing, but can't always find it when I need it.
My inbox is filled with unopened messages. The ones I have opened, I usually keep. I thought that's how most people did it, but then I learned that a lot of people delete their messages after they've read them. How strange.
The Sunday paper is always a challenge. Not so much the part with the news, since I barely glance at that. It's all the ads that I have to go through and decide if I feel like buying any of the products, or maybe keeping the ads to compare prices later for when I actually will do my buying.
I do have a bright pink clothlike container with a neat zipper and two brass handles on the side which I got from Kohls. That's my dumping ground for all my writing receipts to save for the IRS each year. It can hold a lot, but it's surprising how many receipts I accumulate to go in there.
My regular purchase receipts I put in a rubbermaid drawer thingee.
In a way I'm organized, but not really. It doesn't come naturally. How could it, when I'm a saver?
What about you? Are you a saver? Or not?
Saturday, November 01, 2008
Just wondering what to do with my extra hour. It's around the same time I usually go to bed, right about now. I could stay up for another hour, but I'm kind of tired. Plus the DH is already in bed and the dog is in the hallway waiting for me to go upstairs to bed. She won't go to her spot until I do.
So, maybe I'll go up to bed now. But what to do with that extra hour?
I could sleep away that extra time. I could read a book. I could work on my NaNoWriMo novel. I've got 855 words done so far. Maybe I could get ahead of the game and do an extra 855 words.
I could go for a walk with the dog, but we'll probably go on one anyway. I could watch a DVD. I could clean the house. That's no fun, but it really needs it.
Or, I could clean out my inboxes. I've got over 5000 messages I'm behind on in just one of them. Whatever is in them is old news and not that important or I would have opened those messages sooner.
I could get my website updated, maybe even do another first page. I've got these many pages of optimization suggestions to implement, but haven't gotten around to following them.
I've got the Library Bulletin to work on for Midwest Mystery Writers of America. I've got some authors to add in the Author section at my network, Book Place.
I could do more networking. Or, I could get my blogs all lined up for the week so I can do my NaNoWriMo without interruption.
I've got lots of choices. Hmm, lots of these things should get done. I'm afraid it will take way longer than that extra hour to finish them, but it's nice to have it anyway.
Here's the Youtube video I made of the pics from the Doggie Halloween Party Rascal went to at Bentley's Corner Barkery. No, she didn't win any prizes, but she had a really great time! So did her Mom and Dad. The place was mobbed, with over 50 dog entries, plus their owners.
Everyone had to file through the store so the judges could see all the dogs. There were some really great costumes, so I'm sure it was hard for Giovanni and Lisa, the store's owners, to judge.
The final decision was Brando. I have to admit his costume was a lot better than Rascal's. She was dressed as a DePaul basketball fan, as was her Daddy. He never gives up, but keeps buying season's tickets every year. Kind of like a Cub fan.
Enjoy the video.