Visual Sells

In the last couple of months I’ve been trying to catch up on how to use social media. What’s hot, what’s not, and how to run fast enough to only fall a little behind — that’s how swiftly social media is changing. All of this reading has become jumbled in my mind, so I don’t have links, but a few themes really stood out.

First, you need images.

Second, why aren’t you on Pinterest if your target market is women? (I’m on Pinterest)

Facebook has ads. Love them, loathe them, you can’t really ignore them.

I’m more in love with Canva.com than ever. They have templates for creating things like Facebook ads.

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Moving beyond visuals alone, YouTube is huge. Call me daunted. I’m never going to be a video star and I can live with that.

Goodreads ads, those small side ones, don’t engage readers (I’ve tried).

Be super careful and respectful of copyright. A lot of work goes into creating images. Credit people and follow their guidelines on how or if they allow resharing.

Social media can chew up time. This is not a new thing to note, but I’m wondering how much of my social media time is now passive consumption as opposed to interaction. That seems to me to be worst of all, as if the TV has been pushed aside for a new idiot box. I’m being babysat by marketers!

So my final learning is to disengage. Turn off the electronics and walk away. Or in my case, because my writing schedule is so far behind, turn of the internet and type like a fiend!

PS how do you like my new website header? I think it’s really conveying who I am and what I write, along with my new tagline: A Hopeful Romantic. So true :)

 

 

A Bold Tulip Week

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Tulips make a big, bold splash of colour.

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It’s time for you to do the same.

Be daring! Be happy — and show people that happiness.

The world can be so depressing. The news on TV is awful. But really it’s the nature of our day-to-day encounters that colours our mood. Tulip Week is the time to kickstart everyone’s better mood by boldly declaring yourself happy — and no, I don’t care if you’re not happy!

Pretending that you’re happy can make you feel happier — there are scientific articles on the topic, but I’ll direct you to something easier to read, The Daily Mail! So being Tulip-bold and faking happiness can initiate an upward spiral for you. And you know yourself that being around happy people makes things better (unless you’re really down in which case (((hugs))) and keep fighting. You’re not alone).

Okay, so we’ve gotten a bit serious here. Back to the tulips!

There’s one last thing to remember about a Tulip Week: at some point in the next seven days you MUST wear that ridiculous piece of clothing you bought because you were feeling brave, but have never taken out of the cupboard because you’re not that brave. Yes, you are! Wear your orange polka dot purple shorts and be proud. Just don’t wear them with ugg boots ;)

*My sister and I have a running conversation re ugg boots. She thinks you can wear them in public. I don’t!

Enjoy your Tulip Week. And remember …

 

A Wandering Week

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This gorgeous little wildflower is called Happy Wanderer and that is so right for this week. Prepare to amble down some strange paths in the next few days.

Forget the old adage that curiosity killed the cat, and indulge yourself.  What is just over the horizon? at the end of the rainbow? around the corner of the curving path in the park? Stretch your world just a little and go and see.

Some people call it following your bliss.

We tend to be curious about things that we need to know or experience. That’s the wiser part of ourselves (the scary brave bit) pushing us to be everything we can be.

There’s no need to put yourself under pressure this week, but when the opportunity comes up to wander along a wilder path — take it! Your ordinary everyday world will still be there when you return. And you may appreciate it more :)

 

*Remember: Flower fortunes are fun, but common sense is probably a better guide when planning your week.

The Writer’s Craft

As a novelist attempting to carve out a public profile and establish my books as must-buys with readers I write both fiction (my novels and short stories) and non-fiction.KIB3

What sort of non-fiction? This kind. Blog posts, ezine articles, Facebook updates, twitterings and copy for promotional graphics to share on sites such as Pinterest.

I consider my fiction to be the product I’m aiming to sell, and my non-fiction to be a key element in reaching customers.

Both are part of the writer’s craft. A carpenter might have the luxury of outsourcing her marketing and promotional efforts. I don’t. Because writers’ tools are words, we don’t get to pick and choose which words customers judge us by. So every word we use must serve a purpose.

This is a high standard and one which tired, over-busy brains can’t always sustain, but there are ways of building our own safety nets and this is where talk about marketing strategies, social media strategies, audience identification, discoverability, etc explode.

For a long time this sort of talk baffled me. I was in Las Vegas mode: Write the book and they will come [please, there is no double entendre intended. I don't write erotica ;) ]

But the truth is all these strategies prop up an author’s day to day activities, especially when she is super-busy and distracted. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that they’re part of the writing craft – the next step after we’ve mastered how to tell a story and wrestled our grammar under control.

Because when you boil down the strategies, here’s what I think we have:

  • Who is your customer? Who reads your books?
  • What is your promise to them? What do they expect when they read your books?
  • How do you communicate your promise? This may be what is called ‘author brand’. It’s more than words.
  • How are your customers changing? Neither your readers, your books nor your strategy can stay the same.
  • How are you changing? You and your books do evolve – check that you’re evolving with your readers and/or clearly signalling to new ones.

If you can answer all of these questions, then your fiction and non-fiction will mesh in a coherent message (or author brand) and this is the heart of the writer’s craft: to tell a satisfying story. You are telling the story of YOU — and your books, of course.

Red Rose – Thorns & Passion

Steampunk inspired. Though obviously not steampunk, just an old flat iron with roses.

Red Rose Week and expect the unexpected — from yourself! Life gets a bit prickly and so does your mood.

Fantastic!

I don’t know about you, but sometimes the expectation from those around us that we’ll just get over our grumps is exasperating. Guys, I’m grumpy for a reason!

This is the week to look out for thorns, swear at them and then bleed creativity.

Oh yeah. This is a week filled with passion — and passion isn’t always “nice”. Pay close attention to what is most impacting you: fear, desire, anger, disappointment. There’s something there and it’s the door you can open to change things. You’ll find your passion in the thing that upsets you the most. Turn it upside down and inside out this week until you’ve shaken loose your own passion.

Tap the energy that is just waiting to explode. The energy that says to heck with being sensible, I’m going to do it! Whatever “it” is.

Quarter Life Crisis

Quarter Life Crises don’t get the media coverage of Mid Life Crises, but they should. Oh boy, should they!

A Quarter Life Crisis hits in your mid to late twenties as you come rocketing into life — relationships, kids, career twists, debts — and suddenly hit a wall.lip

Sometimes it’s a bouncy castle wall and you spring back up laughing. Count yourself incredibly lucky. You’re one of those people who are exactly where you need to be and your Quarter Life Crisis is more happy fluffy puppy than snarling attack dog. You have a look around and realise that you’re on the path that’s right for you.

For many of us, that’s not how it goes. Life drops us off a cliff and we don’t bounce. We hit every rock on the way down and wail loudly as we go. Landing hurts.

But this falling down — our expectations being thumped by reality — is a gift. We can take the time (from our moaning agony at the bottom of the cliff) to double check what it is we want from life, the chasm between our dreams and our reality, and what we’re going to do to build a bridge.

Talking to people about Quarter Life Crises I’ve had them lean across the coffee table and go “YES! When I was twenty seven…”. It seems we all experience the crisis of who are we and what value do we bring to the world. How we respond to the challenge is the fascinating bit — and that’s why I wrote Kiss It Better.

Romances work best — tap our shared experience and engage our emotions — when they take a key life change as their motivating conflict. So that’s what I did.

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Revisit gorgeous Jardin Bay with Jenny Schwartz’s fabulous new novel. The town may look like paradise, but for one nurse, it represents only broken dreams.

All Cassie Freedom wants to do is save the world, and she could, if only she were able to. But her dream of nursing in Africa is shattered, and she returns home to Jardin Bay, where familiarity, security, and a sense of her own failure threaten to drown her.

Dr. Theo Morrigan knows a thing or two about responsibility, leaving his own medical practice to take over a family business. He knows his mind, his future, and how he wants to live his life – until an old secret resurfaces and rocks his whole world.

Suddenly, the man who needed no one needs a broken-hearted nurse, and a nurse who thinks she’s too weak will find her own strength.

Release date: 1 October 2014

Cover Reveal, New Projects & Chaos

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Kiss It Better releases 1 October. You’re going to love this quarter life crisis romance. That time when we stop and think what we want from life, if we’re getting it and what to change. Seize the day!

Draft blurb:

When Cassie Freedom’s dream of nursing in Africa shatters, Jardin Bay welcomes her home to its familiar security. But Dr Theo Morrigan is about to change everything. Theo’s had to leave his medical practice to take over the family business, and now he’s thinking of a more personal takeover; that is, until his own life is rocked by revelation of an old secret and suddenly the man who needed no one, needs a broken-hearted nurse.

While you wait impatiently for Kiss It Better to release, I’ll be busy writing one novel and outlining a second. I am *gulp* starting two new series.

The first is Quest Guides, a loosely linked collection of stories that centres around an extreme tour guide company. Whatever your quest, they have the man (or woman!) to get you there. The first title will be Chasing Xanadu, my Kimberley romance that I’ve been talking about for ages.

Draft blurb:

Treasure hunt! To save her family, Jolene Dillon will trust herself and her dreams to a reckless adventurer called Scott Riordan. Larger than life and just as grumpy, Scott has little time for a city-girl hairdresser wasting her holidays chasing a legendary fortune through Australia’s wild North West.

But Jolene is used to doing it tough and as she battles saltwater crocodiles, treacherous whirlpools and her unwanted attraction to a man who makes legends seem dull, she knows one thing for sure: after chasing Xanadu, she’ll never ever settle for less than the impossible best.

Where Chasing Xanadu launches a series that leans towards romantic suspense, my second series leans towards romantic comedy and features fairytale retellings. I’m thinking of calling it Fairytales in Oz for the Australian settings. The first title is Butler to the Beast.

Draft blurb:

When a man employs a beautiful trouble magnet, he’s asking for everything he gets.

Brett Easton is the inventor of Beast Power Machines, a genius and a beleaguered man. Ever since the women’s magazines labelled him the Bachelor Billionaire women (and men) have been invading his privacy, wanting to woo him. And then there’s his extended, complicated and demanding family. What he needs is a gatekeeper, someone to keep the hordes at bay.

What he gets is Nancy Collins.

Nancy flunked butler school, but she’s not about to tell her new employer that. She needs the job, and she soon realises that Brett needs her. She’ll protect her beastly-tempered boss even if she has to sacrifice her reputation — and his — to do so.

I’ve set myself an ambitious schedule, but now that I’m slowly resurfacing from the chaos of moving house, I hope I can keep to it. I aim to release a novel every three months. With Kiss It Better coming out in October, that means I need to leap into self-publishing and get Butler to the Beast out in January. Then I have a secret project — announcement soon — and then it’ll be time *fingers crossed* to get Quest Guides out and wow’ing the world.

Wish me luck, I’m going to need it!

 

Contemporary Romance

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