A New Look and Changes

Three parrots are chatting under the header "Did you hear Mae's news?"Hi, friends. I usually reserve Tuesday for book reviews, but today is different for several reasons. As usual, I had my nose buried in a book last week, but it was a beta read for a friend, which means I can’t share my review just yet. Bummer, because I’m super excited about this novel. You’ll have to wait several months for the release, but rest assured, I’ll be dancing around and chanting “rah-rah” as I cheer my friend on!

Secondly, a few weeks ago, I made a change in how I keep up with the blogs I follow (if you’re reading this, that means you! 🙂 ). Because I follow so many blogs, my inbox balloons each day like a mushroom on steroids. A friend suggested I try Reader, something I’d avoided in the past. I have no idea why, because using Reader has made life so much easier. This means I no longer get a notification when you make a new blog post, but by scrolling through Reader I’m able to see it. Sounds good, right?

There is one downside. I have not been able to find a way to organize which blogs appear first in my Reader, which means I have a long list to scroll through. If I’ve missed any of your posts, please excuse my lapse. I’m still on a learning curve but getting better.

Finally, you may have noticed the look of my blog has changed. Also that all of my secondary pages have disappeared, replaced by a single new entry—VISIT MY WEBSITE.

Creating a website is something that has been on my to-do liist far longer than I want to admit. It’s embarrassing. Seriously.

I finally took the time over the long Labor Day weekend to cobble one together (if you’re a regular follower of my blog, you’ve probably noticed I like the word “cobble”).

I’d be seriously jazzed (that’s another favorite word), if you hopped over to MaeClair.com, poked around, then let me know what you think. The website supports everything that was previously on my blog with a link to this site. I’ve learned from others to keep the blog where it’s currently homed. There’s too much history involved to start over.

You’re currently visiting my blog home, which is MaeClair.net. My website is MaeClair.com. Each connects to the other. I hope you’ll use them both.

Next Tuesday, look for a return to book reviews which will continue to be a regular feature. I’m also hoping to introduce a few other regular weekly posts, returning to a habit I haven’t been able to maintain for years due to looming publisher deadlines. With those behind me, I’m excited by new prospects for expanding my blogging schedule.

In the meantime, I hope you’ll visit my new WEBSITE, bookmark it, and let me know what you think. How do you like the look? Does it work for my genre? Did I do a good job?

Research: How deep do you go?

Young woman holding magnifying glass like detective. Investigation concept on blackAs a writer, we’re all faced with various levels of research. Sometimes it’s something simple we have to investigate. Other times, it can involve days, weeks or even longer. If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you know I recently spent an exhaustive amount of time researching the spiritualist movement of the late nineteenth century for Cusp of Night

Today, I’m a guest at Romance University with a post about writers and research. Cusp of Night is mystery/suspense novel, not romance, but whatever your genre, we can all relate to the research that goes into bringing our characters and settings to life.

If you have a moment, pop over and share your thoughts about the hows and whys of your own investigative habits!

The Monday Buzz from Story Empire

Happy Monday, gang! Eh, I realize that’s kind of an oxymoron, but it is what it is.

One good thing about Mondays? You can always count on an informative blog post over on the Story Empire site.

old world type map with script writing laid over top and words Story Empire set off as a bold header

Today’s post by Craig Boyack is of special interest to me. You’ve got to hop over and check out his take on Flipboard. I’ve used Flipboard for a while but I had no clue you could create your own magazine or that it’s a unique way to drive traffic to your blog. Who doesn’t like more blog traffic? And hey, the idea of my own magazine (created very simply) is highly appealing to me. I’ve been after him for a while to share the deets on how this is done, and it looks sooo easy!

Check it out yourself with Craig’s post, By Popular Demand, Flipboard. Hope to see you there!

Welcome Teri Polen with Sarah and #WritingTechinques

I’m so happy to introduce new friend, Teri Polen, who writes YA fiction and has recently released her debut novel Sarah. Teri and I met when she hosted an October/Halloweenish promotion for multiple authors on her blog and was kind enough to include me.

Since then, I’ve come to realize we have many common friends in the blogosphere. In addition to that, she held me glued to the pages through Sarah, a spooky YA novel centered around a vengeful ghost. You can find my five star review for Sarah on Amazon, but before you go gallivanting off, check out Teri’s post on writing techniques. The character quirks section really made me stop and think!

~ooOOoo~

Epiphanies (for me) in Writing Techniques

I’ve never had any ‘formal’ training in writing – both of my degrees are in business, and learning how to interpret balance sheets was worthless when it came to crafting a story.  Over the years, I’ve taken advantage of the free writing workshops at the annual book festival where I live (and discovered how horribly wrong I’d been doing things), attended numerous webinars, and read Stephen King’s On Writing so many times I could probably recite some passages from memory.  Once my brain had been rewired with the basics, I had to sift through various techniques to discover what worked for me.

One of my online classes required me to complete an extensive questionnaire about my characters – things I’d never thought about, like boxers or briefs, nervous habits, did they like long walks on the beach, and fav flavor of pop-tarts.  Okay, maybe not exactly those questions, but they seemed just as obscure at the time.  All I saw were pages and pages of homework – but once I started interviewing my characters, everything changed.  The deeper your understanding of your characters, the easier it is to breathe life into them and make them come alive for your readers.

Outlining – your either love it or hate it, but it seemed like a waste of time when I already had the general plot direction in my head.  Then I’d wind up in places I’d never planned, wrote myself into corners, found minor characters leading the story, and had no idea how I’d gotten there – raise your hand if those surroundings look familiar.  But I wasn’t a complete pantser either, so when I came across the Basic Beat Sheet at http://jamigold.com/, I knew I’d struck gold (pun totally intended).  A beat sheet is the road map of a story broken down into three acts that include the inciting incident, pinch points, midpoint, crisis, climax and resolution.  After typing in the projected total word count for your book, it calculates the page count and word count where these plot points should occur – which also helps with pacing.  You can print it out and fill in the blanks from there.  Every writer has their own process, but this one helped me focus and stay on track.

It all comes down to personal preferences and motivations and can be trial and error, but researching, talking to other authors, and reading about the craft of writing will help you find your path – there’s no magic formula to writing a novel.  And keep in mind, the learning never stops – there’s always room for improvement.  Now head to your writing caves!

Author, Teri Polen, outdoors and smiling for cameraAuthor Bio:
Teri Polen reads and watches horror, sci-fi, and fantasy.  The Walking Dead, Harry Potter, and anything Marvel-related are likely to cause fangirl delirium.  She lives in Bowling Green, KY with her husband, sons, and black cat.  Sarah, a YA horror/thriller, is her first novel.  Visit her online at www.teripolen.com

Connect with Teri at the following haunts:
Website

Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads 

~ooOOoo~

Book cover for the novel SARAH shows girl with long black hair hiding her face crawling down steps from attic doorBook Blurb for SARAH:
Seventeen-year-old horror fan Cain Shannon thought helping a ghost find her killers would be the supernatural adventure of a lifetime. Now, he just hopes to survive long enough to protect his family and friends from her.

A bet between friends goes horribly wrong, resulting in Sarah’s death. When she returns to seek justice against those responsible, Cain agrees to help her. But when he discovers Sarah has been hijacking his body, he realizes she wants retribution instead of justice.

Terrified of what could have happened when he wasn’t in control, Cain commands Sarah to leave his house – but exorcising her isn’t that easy. She retaliates against her murderers in bloody, horrific ways, each death making her stronger, then sets her sights on Cain. With the help of friends, Cain fights to save himself and his loved ones and searches for a way to stop Sarah before she kills again.

Purchase SARAH from:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

 

Double Duty

Hi, Friends! I’m doing double duty today.

You can find me at Story Empire with a post about how to make the most of using Twitter in conjunction with Twitter Lists and Hootsuite. Hopefully, you’ll find a few tips or tricks that you didn’t know about. Hop over and check it out.

I’m also visiting with Don Massenzio today, answering a ten question interview about my writing habits. Curious? Join me at Don’s blog and see what we’re chatting about.

Also—FYI moment here—I suffered an email meltdown on Thursday evening that lasted through most of Saturday. Far too complicated to explain (and it will only raise my blood pressure). Let’s just say GoDaddy and I aren’t on the best speaking terms right now. I’m missing a lot of email, so if you tried to contact me, you might want to resend. I THINK things are back to normal now.

 

Announcing the Rave Reviews Writers’ Conference and Book Expo #RRBC

Hey, gang! If you’re a regular follower of my blog, you know I’m a member of the Rave Reviews Book Club, RRBC for short. I’ve written several posts in the past about this great community of indie and small press authors that have banned together to support each other through social media, networking and reviews. I’m coming up on a year membership renewal and I’m looking to another great year with RRBC. If you’re not familiar with how the book club works, please see my post Let’s Talk Book Clubs which is RRBC wrapped up in a nutshell.

What I really want to share with you today is something that RRBC founder, Nonnie Jules, and many dedicated members have been hard at work organizing—The Rave Reviews Writers’ Conference and Book Expo, taking place December 1-3, 2016.

Banner logo for the Rave Reviews Book Club Conference and Book Expo

Now before you start saying “Oh, I’d love to attend, but I’m not a member,” or “I’d love to attend but I’m sure it will be too far for me to travel,” you need to know two important facts:

  1. The RRBC Writer’s Conference and Book Expo IS OPEN TO EVERYONE! That’s right, you don’t have to be a member to attend, and,
  1. RRBC is hosting a virtual conference, so there’s no need to worry about expensive plane tickets, putting miles on your car, or dumpy hotel rooms.

What goodies can you expect? Check out this fabulous list:
Visit author booths
Attend conference sessions and workshops
Browse books for sale
Mingle and network with other writers and readers
Visit vendor booths
Have fun, enjoy yourself and learn at the same time

Some of the sessions being offered include:
Blogging for Success
Building your Author Platform
Formatting Made Easy
Book Blurbs Do’s and Don’ts
Marketing 101

There’s even a free bonus session on cover design! So grab your laptop, tablet, computer or smart phone and join in. 

closeup of laptop with RRBC conference logo displayed on screenTo see all of the workshops and sessions that are being offered, as well as to obtain pricing and register for the event, visit the official Rave Reviews Book Club Writers’ Conference and Book Expo website through the links above.

The registration deadline is November 23rd, so if you hadn’t gotten wind of this exciting event before, you’ve still got time to act.

And should you decide to join this uber-supportive group of authors (heck, I’m not sure why you wouldn’t), please tell them Mae Clair sent you. You can find the membership link here

Are you using Facebook’s Author App? by Mae Clair

I’m not usually a big fan of Facebook. Especially since the only way to realize any true benefit there as an author is to shell out $$$….but when I have paid for boosts or ads, I’ve always had good results. (Note to self: continue to use FB for ads).

On a side note—before I get to the main topic—if you are paying for boosts, make sure your next several posts don’t require a large reach. Rumor has it FB holds those posts back with the philosophy if you’ve paid once, you’ll pay again. Eventually, things will even out, but the posts that immediately follow any kind of paid ad or boost generally reach less of your fans. Time for filler and fluff.

But enough with FB bashing. I’m here to say they’ve done something pretty awesome for authors. Thanks to my dear friend Sandra Cox, I’ve discovered the Author App. Sandra has a fun website with daily posts that are sure to make you grin. She’s also got a wonderful collection of novels and novellas that range from mutants and vampires to cats, flower gardens and more. While you’re roaming the blogosphere, pop over and say hello. 🙂

And now back to the reason for this post:

I’m know I’m probably behind the times since Facebook and I co-exist as frenemies, but I wanted to share the Author App in the event some of you aren’t familiar with it either

It’s easy to install on your author page.

  • Click the link (provided below)
  • Select your page
  • Go to the app (it will most likely appear under the “More” tab at this point)
  • Add your profile
  • Add books
  • You can even add information on upcoming book signings!

screenshot of author app on Facebook page of Mae Clair, author

The screenshot above was captured from the app on my page.

Pretty nifty, huh? Each book gets its own little section, and the best part is all you have to do is add the AISN or ISBN and the app automatically grabs the related content. You can also arrange what order you want your books listed.

I did discover, however, that the app doesn’t like apostrophes or italics (basically anything that isn’t HTML compliant).

After my books uploaded, I went back and edited all of the apostrophes getting rid of the gobbly-gook. Now I’ve got a neatly streamlined page with books, purchase links, and star ratings. I added all seven of my novels, then rearranged the tabs on my author page so that the Author App is visible without click “more.”

screenshot of the Facebook fan page for author Mae Clair showing a spooky house with light streaming from the windows on a red background

See the Author App tab above? If you’d like to see how the whole thing works, visit my page and click on the Author App tab for the full effect of how your books appear. You also get an author profile. You can find my page at https://www.facebook.com/maeclairauthor/

If you haven’t visited my page before, I’d also be grateful for a “like.” 🙂 If you include the link to your page in the comments below, I will return the favor!

The whole thing is pretty cool, don’t you think? So where exactly can you get this awesome app? Just click this link, and you’ll be set to go: https://apps.facebook.com/authorapp/

Thanks again to Sandra Cox for sharing this with me. Authors, were you familiar with this app?