Saturday, April 30, 2016

Contest for FREE book!

I am gifting five kindle copies of Bridge of Mist and Fog to the first five who tell me the name of the Norse god who is a character in the story--yes, I know you haven't read it, but make a guess--to play you need to e-mail your answer to nikkibroadwell@comcast.net--anyone who does NOT want to be added to my e-mail newsletter list please say so. And good luck!!!!

Thanks  for reading!!!!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Cupid's arrow

I put down the shears and stalked toward the house. Damn these daisies! Why couldn’t they just grow like everything else in my gorgeous garden? An envelope lay on the step in front of the door and I bent down to pick it up. When had that been delivered? I had been in the garden for most of the morning—surely I would have noticed. As I drew out the deckle-edged paper a familiar lemony scent wafted upward. My heart did a tiny flip-flop.

Diamonds are nothing
Compared to your beauty
I would come forward now
If ‘twas not for my duty

The paper slipped from my grasp and drifted toward the garden. When I went to retrieve it, it had landed in the middle of my forlorn daisies. Apropos, I thought, as I scanned into the distant past.  Duty, my ass! The last time I saw him was on another Valentine’s Day. At the time I thought his gift of daisies was sweet. If only I had known then what I knew now.
A distant shriek brought my attention to the street. “Watch out—it isn’t human!” I heard someone yell and then the sound of running feet. Ohmygod he was here! I ran into the house and slammed the door behind me and then stationed myself behind the sheer curtain in the picture window. When I saw the feathery white wings I was sure.

These silly people and their superstitions, he thought to himself as he approached her house. If it wasn’t for me who knows how unhappy everyone would be. Yes, he thought, I may not be that handsome from certain points of view, but I certainly have had my way with the ladies. And they like it, there is no doubt. Even this one, who I pretended to love so long ago. If only she really was my lost love, he thought sadly to himself, wiping his eyes.  He shook himself to get rid of the memory, making the  feathers on his wings fluff up. As he rounded the corner the garden came into view. The iris were full of ire this morning, he thought, watching their angry purple expressions as their stalks bent and twisted in the breeze. He smiled at the sunlit daffodils dancing in a wild riot from one side of the garden to the other. The lily’s, loquacious as always, all began to speak at the same time.
“Hello, my friends,” he said when their lilting voices had died down. He dug his bare into the soft earth as he turned to take in the garden, sudden horror replacing his smile. “But what has happened to the daisies?” he cried. “My gift has deteriorated and is close to death!” He bent to examine the blackened stalks, the white petals turned drab. A sudden warmth on his back brought his gaze toward the house and he glanced up to see her silhouette in the window. His eyes met hers and he stared until she turned away.  She looks the same, he thought, getting up off his knees and brushing away the mud.

A large knot took up residence in my solar plexus as I watched his approach. The sight of his well-proportioned naked body was nothing new, but I had to admit it had a certain effect on me. I did not want to open the door when I heard the knock but something propelled me there.  I swung it open, surprised as always by the languid expression in those angelic eyes of his.  He pulled the arrow from his quiver and aimed it at my heart. “No, not again,” I cried, but it was already too late. It had pierced the flesh and I was no longer able to resist him. He took me in his arms and I tasted his sweetness as his mouth met mine.
“I love you, Psyche,” he said as he picked me up and carried me toward the bedroom.
His wings brushed against my skin sending shivers up and down my spine. “My name is not Psyche, but if you want to call me that it’s fine with me,” I murmured into his neck. He cradled me against his well-muscled body before he placed me down on the bed. I lay helpless as he unbuttoned my blouse, his eyes staring into mine. He was methodical and careful, his fingers warm against my skin as he helped me out of my clothes. When I lay before him like an opened present, his eyes narrowed, a cat-like smile hovering around his full lips. A blush crept from my neck into my cheeks, the heat making me tingle with anticipation. And then Cupid, in his very adult form,  lay down beside me and I was lost, just as I had been fifteen years before.




Saturday, March 19, 2016

The Lord and his Lacky--a romance

Lord Lamborne looked up from the pile of papers on his desk. “I thought I told you to stay on it,” he said, frowning.
“I am ‘staying on it’, as you so aptly put it. I’ve been on her trail since last Wednesday. The russet beauty is elusive.”
Lord Lamborne pushed his leather chair back and stood. He was several inches taller than I was, and that coupled with the frown of displeasure on his handsome face made me cringe. I knew what this man was capable of, and I didn’t want to be the recipient of his wrath. Before I could back away he’d grabbed my arm.
“No more excuses, Reinette. If you haven’t found her by Monday you will be punished.”
“Yes, my lord,” I said, making the mistake of meeting his dark eyes. What I saw there chilled me to the bone.
“Get out of my sight.” He let me go and I backed away until I felt the door behind me. Turning, I fled through it.
My full name was Vonzuccalimaglios Reinette but since no one could pronounce it, I was simply known as Reinette. My grandmother, despite protestations from the entire family, had bestowed this moniker upon me. “It suits him,” she’d said looking down on my wizened baby face. Why she thought this I never found out, since she died before I reached one year of age.
I had worked for Lord Lamborne for over six months now, and wished I’d never applied for the job. I’d expected to be his secretary, since he did a lot of writing and needed someone to organize his papers. Unfortunately this was not to be. Instead he expected me to find people, women mostly, who had gone against him in some way. This latest russet beauty, as we referred to her since her hair was a flaming red color, had been his lover before she disappeared. Her full name was Maeve McDuff. I had enjoyed several pleasant conversations with this lovely lady, and understood completely why she did what she did. Lord Lamborne was a cruel man who when angered lashed out with riding whips or fists. I’d seen the bruises on Maeve’s face and neck.
I hurried to the stables to tack up my horse, my mind on several conflicting plans.  I knew where Maeve was, but I was caught in a moral dilemma. Should I let her remain and incur the lord’s wrath, or should I bring her back to him and watch her suffer? It was a hard decision since I was reluctant to undergo the physical punishment that came with displeasing his lordship.

As I rode into the forest I listened carefully for bandits. This hilly area outside the manor lands was a hard place, with hard men about, and although I was a good shot, I carried no gun. I did have a dagger on my belt, but this would not protect me from the roving thieves who thought nothing of killing for a few coins.
It was several hours before I came close to the small village where Maeve made her home. This was a poor place where disease was rampant and villagers scrabbled to stay alive. Many had succumbed to the afflictions that had taken up residence in the air and water, and because of this, thieves gave it a wide berth.
I found Maeve hanging out sheets from a hastily erected line. She wore a scarf to keep her wild hair back, her face red from exertion.
I dismounted and let my horse forage, approaching her carefully since she was known to throw heavy objects when startled. “Hello, Maeve,” I called.
She turned,  and when she saw me her eyes narrowed in irritation. “What are you doing here, Reinette?”
“I bet you can guess.”
“I’m not going back to that bastard. I’m needed here.”
I was well aware of her healing skills that caused people to call her a witch, a word that could be used as a compliment or a curse. “If I don’t bring you back he’ll have my hide.”
“Better yours than mine.”
When she reached up to wipe the sweat from her forehead her scarf fell, letting loose her red tangle. I sucked in my breath realizing how utterly beautiful she was. No wonder the lord wanted her back.  My breath quickened as her green eyes met mine. I was not as handsome as the lord, but women enjoyed my company often enough.
“I understand your dilemma, Reinette, but if you have any feeling for me you will leave this place.”
“If I don’t return with you he’ll find someone else to do his dirty work, and that person may not be as kind as I am.”
“I don’t care. I have duties here, and until that day I’ll continue to do them.”
“Could you entertain the idea of my company?” I asked before I could stop myself. Her beauty was unparalleled. and not only that, she was a kind and gentle woman I would gladly spend the rest of my life with.
A look of surprise moved across her features. “I…I’ve never thought of you in that way.” She seemed to assess me after that, her glance moving across my face and physique. I straightened my back, trying to appear taller than my six feet. “You’re not bad to look at,” she admitted, her head cocking to one side. “But what are your other attributes?”
I saw the little smile playing around her lips and had a moment of hope. “I can cook, I’m handy with tools, I'm good with a dagger, and with a gun, if I have one. I can dance quite nimbly. And traveling with me is a delight because I refuse to go without my creature comforts. In other words, I spend a lot of time setting up camp and finding the best herbs to go with my freshly caught rabbit.”
Maeve laughed, a tinkling sound that made my heart skip a beat. Would she? Could she…? I’d seen her gaze at me from time to time at the manor house, but I never dared interfere with his lordship and try and woo her for myself. I realized with a start that I’d loved her for a very long time.
She bent to pick up another sheet, throwing it over the line. Her bare ankle appeared beneath her skirt, the skin pale. I longed to bend down and take her foot in my hand and kiss every dirty toe. 
When she straightened her eyes were bright. “If I come with you then both of us can escape his punishments?”
“That’s correct, and I have a safe place in mind. But what about your duties here?”
“If it is within traveling distance I can come as I'm needed. Where is this safe place you speak of?"
I thought of my cave up in the hills far from the roads, what I'd done over the years to make it livable. Would Maeve be comfortable there? It was hidden by thicket and far from any beaten path. My bed was of soft heather covered in a sheepskin, another sheepskin as a blanket, my latrine, a hole dug far in the back and filled with sand and covered over with moss. My kitchen was a fire pit, my food the rabbits I trapped and the fish I caught. My water came from a stream at the bottom of the hill and that is where I bathed. The thought of bathing there with Maeve made my heart beat faster. 
Maeve stared at me for several long moments, her thorough perusal making the blood rise into my cheeks. “I’ve wondered about you, Reinette,” she finally said. “I’ve seen the way you looked at me, but you never said a word.”
“How could I? His lordship would have killed me on the spot.”
“I suppose that is true. Did you not see my interest?” she asked.
“You were interested in me?”
“I would have been had you made a sign.”
“Well, I am now,” I said strongly, taking hold of her hand.
She took one last look at her sheets and then picked up her long skirts and followed me back to where I’d left my mount. I took hold of the reins and swung into the saddle and then reached down to grab her hand, pulling her up behind me. Her arms went round my waist and I could feel the warmth of her body against my back. A thrill went through me as we rode toward the distant mountains.


Tuesday, March 8, 2016

giving up or letting go?

What do you as a writer love more than anything else? Is it the writing or is it compensation for the writing? I've had to ask myself this question many times during the past years. Yes, I love it when someone tells me how much they enjoyed one of my books and I also feel this pressing need for people to read my books! My books are at the local library now and knowing they will be checked out makes me feel good inside. So it isn't the money, although receiving money is a way to gage how much people like them--not a good way, but a way.

Everyone wants to be appreciated for what he or she does--it could be writing, it could managing a store, whatever it is, we humans need to know that others notice what we do. In the case of books we need to find our audience. How do we do that? We look for groups on Facebook that are interested in what our books are about--mystery groups, fantasy groups, historical fiction groups, readers who belong to book clubs--the list goes on. We can't spam them so how do we manage it? We can offer something for free or discounted, or make mention of our book in reference to another post, we can private message people. It's a game we all play and that's becoming a problem. Too many people in the marketplace all vying with each other! Better to share what we know--we're all in this together.

I do not give my books away--I think a dollar is a low enough price to pay for an e-book. Yes, I've had a zillion downloads when I have, but this has not translated into later sales. Maybe for you it has? If so, congrats. As I've mentioned in previous posts, FB ads has been my mainstay in recent months--however, when I go to KDP to see if the clicks have turned into sales, I've been sorely disappointed. I'm looking into how to do an e-mail list, but not faring very well--I thought perhaps people who 'like' my author page would be good subjects, but how do you get their e-mails? If you have an answer to this, please let me know. I've promoted on Bookdaily, Robin Reads and lately Fussy Librarian, if they accept my book. Bookbub is still a no-go for me...not sure why.

And so, as I hinted at in my last post, I am letting go of my worry about it all--I'll do things as they come up but I'm not going to spend hours banging my head against a wall for no reason--I have an affirmation up on my wall that reads: I KNOW MY BOOKS ARE WORTHY AND WILL FIND THEIR AUDIENCE. After all, they've been out in the marketplace for thirteen years! And if I don't pay such close attention I find that reviews role in despite whether or not I begged for them. I'm getting checks from Amazon--not large checks, but hey--at least I'm getting them!

Enough of this chit-chat--back to writing.

And thanks for reading!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

the writing life

I've become a nervous wreck in my scramble to promote my books! Of course there are other things going on in my life that contribute to my state of mind so can't blame it all on that...

I've embraced FB ads since they are fun to do, (I know, I mentioned this in my last post) and I also like doing videos, but people are not watching them. I've tried for a bookbub ad many times with no luck...it seems counterintuitive to pay so much money to give a book away! but everyone says they work so I will continue to try.

Here's what I've concluded for myself:

1. things that work for others don't necessarily work for me, but I'm still willing to give them a go.
2. I have to think outside the box when it comes to advertising.
3. my books don't fit into any clear genre--is this bad or good? I say good, since what I write is distinctly unique.
4. If certain types of marketing are taking up too much time and causing me to rip out my hair, they are not for me.
5. Find ways to market that are enjoyable and work!
6. find a way to promote that gels with my nature...this could be as simple as visualizing my books flying off the shelf, or in the case of e-books, being downloaded.
7. Focus on why I'm doing this and what I want from what I'm doing. Is it monetary gain or knowing that people are reading my books? For me it's the latter, since, luckily, I don't have to make a living with it.

I know that many people are making a living with their writing, and I know how hard they work to learn how to promote and figure out what works, and how quickly they need to get another book out. The realization that I am NOT in this group frees me up to let go of a lot of angst. Instead of trying to figure out what to write according to studying genre and other author's success or lack thereof, I can concentrate on what I want to say--and it can take me more than a month to write a book, and that's all right.

My books are meant for entertainment, although I always have some current social or environmental issue embedded within the story. But I am working on a WW2 story that I will treat differently. Instead of self-publishing I plan to try and get a publisher to pick it up. The story is historical fiction and it's very different from my other books.

If any of you reading this are just starting out, check out my earlier blogs for information regarding self-publishing. I've done a lot of research and detailed my experiences in this blog.

Thanks for reading!!
   



Tuesday, January 26, 2016

marketing--AGAIN

Here we go again as I fight and struggle to figure out the marketing game! And it is a game. Authors are all in the same boat and it is severely overcrowded!! I'm surprised it hasn't sunk.


Just this week I was informed on a site I belong to that my books don't fit into any genre, and that because of that, Facebook ads won't work for them. This comment was in response to me sharing an ad I'd recently created for one of my coyote books. I appreciate the candor and the criticism, because I don't know much about FB ads and how to do them properly. But on the other hand I still believe I can make a FB ad for each and every one of them, despite their oddity.

I actually love making FB ads almost as much as I enjoy making the little videos I've begun to post. I belong to a site called Animoto, where a complete idiot (me) can make a two minute video to advertise their books. I've tried to use these for FB ads but so far they have not worked well. But I do post them around and put them up on YouTube.

The best thing to do if you're considering FB ads, is to try various images and text and see which ones do the best. You can run them for a couple of days to avoid spending too much money and see what happens. The ads manager on FB will walk you through it and the stock images are full of great possibilities. Just type in what you're  looking for. (i.e.: detective) What I'm still confused about is the audience and what to put in for interests. I read an article that suggested using other books or authors as interests--books that are similar to the one you are trying to sell. I've been trying that, but since mine are in a genre of their own, it's proving difficult. (Hence the comment I mentioned earlier) Also, the suggestion was to avoid using the book's cover since the format is not the right size for ads. Check on the net for information--there is a ton of it out there.

And if, like me, you find yourself becoming discouraged about your sales, steer clear of the sites where people are bragging about their success. Take it all with a grain of salt and move on. Comparisons are odious, as my father used to say.

Lately I've come to the conclusion that I need to find some unique ways to market my books. So far I haven't discovered what these are, but when I do I'll be sure to share!

Thank you for reading and keep on writing!!!!





Monday, January 18, 2016

Sharing or not sharing, that is the question.

Did you ever do something that seemed foolhardy but you had to try? Did you ever tell yourself that whatever happens it's worth everything you risked or paid? Did you also tell yourself that you wouldn't be disappointed no matter what happened?

I think we've all done this at one time or another. And at a certain time in our lives, these things take on another meaning, like, what do we have to lose?

But still the superstitious part of us jumps forward when we decide to share this foolhardy idea, or hint at what we expect from our efforts.

I've learned the hard way that sharing something before it happens can hurt the chances of it happening--like talking about the seed of an idea before it's strong enough to stand in the light on its own. Sharing can diminish it, and make it shrink back to hide in the shadows. Why is this? Some things need to be kept close for a while, in order to protect them. But why, you ask? I have the sense that something happens to them when they're exposed to the collective unconscious, or just the scrutiny that comes form normal everyday people. It isn't their fault. It's what we all do.

Writing fits into this category. We need to be careful about what we reveal. It's hard to give over what you've drawn up from the depths and put onto the page. But when you're finished and satisfied that you've done your best, you can free it into the world and let it find its own way. It is a separate entity at that moment, and has wings of its own.

Writing is difficult and simple, excruciating and exhilarating, frightening and freeing. The process can take the writer to places he or she never dreamed they would go, and into a hell beyond our understanding. And it can raise us into the heavens.

Is this enough philosophical babble for one day? I think so.

Thanks for reading and keep on writing!