Thursday, February 29, 2024

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Kaitlyn Clarkson!

How does an Author find the Right Readers?
By Kaitlynn Clarkson

We’ve all been there. We eagerly await the latest offering from a favorite author or pick up a book that looks interesting, only to discover that it’s not to our tastes at all. We experience a moment of disappointment or distaste and might hesitate to try that author again. As a reader, this is perfectly normal and expected.

For an author, it can be disappointing that a potential reader didn’t like that book, but there is a lot more work that an author can do to ensure the right readers find their books.

So, how does an author connect with the right readership? Here are a few things authors can try:

1. Identify the ideal reader

This is a crucial early step when planning a book. Who is going to be reading your book? Are you creating a character or setting that resonates with certain people? Who is in your tribe of super-fans who just love what you do?

If your story is a family saga with romance, the ideal reader is going to be different from someone who would enjoy a sci-fi romance. One helpful hint is to think about your main character and begin by creating a similar reader persona for your ideal reader. Then, write with the picture of that person in mind. Many authors find it helpful to imagine writing their story for a specific person who will absolutely love their work.

Some authors gather data about their ideal readers from advertising, while others use organic (unpaid) methods such as building an email list, being active on social media, or teaming up with other authors to run promotions.

2. Hang out where the ideal reader spends time

One way to get to know ideal readers is to hang out where they are. It’s important to spend your time
Pixabay/Lubos Houska
wisely, so knowing where your ideal readers are on social media (and in the real world) helps to avoid wasting time on activities that don’t benefit your readers or you as the author.

When you find your readers’ favorite places to gather, spend time there too. Ask questions and get to know people and what matters to them.

3. Understand what’s important to an ideal reader

As you write, always keep your ideal readers in mind. What are their likes and dislikes? How do they choose what to read? Are you offering them something of value? Will they find it irresistible? Romance is an especially tricky genre for meeting reader expectations. An author must adhere to the (often unwritten) rules that govern sub-genres and tropes or risk alienating fans, so understanding reader expectations is critical for success.

4. Build connections

Readers love to connect with authors and are more likely to become loyal fans when authors make an effort to engage. Chatting in Facebook groups, answering reader emails promptly, and responding to reader comments on social media are all great ways to show your readers that you’re a real human.

5. Learn from other authors

Pixabay/Gerd Altmann
One of the best ways to learn more about your ideal readers is to network with other authors who share the same readership. They often have handy tips about what is working for them, and it’s also helpful to follow them on social media so you can see how their fans interact with them. Newer authors can learn a lot from other authors, and even established authors will pick up new ideas or ways of doing things by observing other authors.

There are many more things authors can do to find their ideal readers, but these tips are something everyone can implement and expect results. The perfect reader is out there waiting for your book to land in their hands!

Kaitlynn Clarkson has written over forty novels and novellas across several genres. Her latest offering includes Ezra’s Brides from the Double Trouble multi-author series.

Ezra’s Brides

Two brides. He makes his choice. And then the unthinkable happens …


When Ezra meets his mail-order bride at the station, he doesn’t expect a second woman to fall at his feet. Deeply shocked, he has no idea what to do until his mother steps in and takes the girls into her expert care. But he still has to make a choice, and each woman is worthy of his love. It’s an impossible situation.

He finally makes his choice … only to have the unthinkable happen. Saved from disaster at the last moment, Ezra is almost ready to give up on finding a bride as he questions his true identity. But even as he grapples with events of the past, love sneaks up. Will he allow his heart to receive it? Or will he forever be known as the man who couldn’t find a bride even when one fell at his feet? 

Ezra’s Brides is Book 6 of the multi-author series, Double Trouble. It is sweet and clean with hints of faith and is a standalone story that can be read in any order in the series. 

Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/4bfZ7MM

About Kaitlyn Clarkson:
Kaitlynn Clarkson loves writing sweet and clean, faith-friendly romance stories. She writes in contemporary and historical genres because she couldn’t decide which one she likes best! She’s dreamed of writing ever since she was a little girl when she would get into trouble for reading instead of doing her chores. These days, Kaitlynn lives on a farm with her husband and children and a herd of cows. She loves to play the piano and trombone in her spare time and is certain there will never be enough time to read all the books she wants to. You can follow Kaitlynn on:

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Traveling Tuesday: Life as a Military Family

Traveling Tuesday: 
Life as a Military Family

Pixabay/Military Material
I bit off a lot when I decided to write a story that featured a member of the U.S. armed forces. Interestingly, my college roommate attended school through the Army ROTC program and encouraged me often to consider applying. I replied with snarky comments such as “I don’t look good in green,” “I have problems with authority,” and my personal favorite, “I have too many phobias to qualify.” Can you see me trying to explain why I can’t scale a wall because of my acrophobia or refusing to crawl through a tunnel because of my claustrophobia? In actuality, I knew I didn’t have what it took.

When it came time to conduct research for Dial V for Valentine, I reached out to the writing
Amazon Author Photo
community through a newsgroup and almost immediately heard from USA Today and Publishers Weekly Bestselling Author Jodie Bailey. Her husband, 1SG(R) Paul Bailey, is apparently quite used to being a resource, and the two were a gold mine of information. I should have realized like any industry the army has its own vocabulary. Here are a few tidbits of what I learned:

  • Mission cycle: A soldier can be called in and have to report within two hours. They can’t be more than a certain distance from home and must be in reach at all times. When called they can be “wheels up” in less than 24-hours. Someone is always on a mission cycle.
  • Wheels up: Literally, in the airplane and on the way to your assignment. 
  • Rapid deployment: Doesn’t just happened to any old unit or soldier at any time. A rapid deployment typically happens to those on mission cycle. It’s unplanned and typically in response to a world event.
  • Regular deployment: Military members often know about these months or even a year in advance. Departure and return dates are well-known. These are rotational. However, a regular deployment can be extended. 
  • Transfers: If a soldier is transferred into a new unit, and that unit is deployed, he’s going along. It’s not like, oh, you’re new, you can wait until the next round. 😁

Pixabay/alavays
These few terms gave me a tiny inkling (is that redundant?) about the countless sacrifices members of the military and their families make every day. I can’t imagine having to report to a who-knows-how-long assignment or having my heart leap into my throat because I’ve just been tapped for a rapid deployment.

I loved writing this book, and the research gave me an even greater appreciation for those serving in the armed forces. There’s no way I have what it takes to be part of this special group of people. I hope Dial V for Valentine honors them and brings to light their daily sacrifices.

Thank a veteran or currently serving member of the military today!

________________

Dial V for Valentine

Valentine’s Day is perfect for a wedding. If only the bride will agree.


Being part of the military is not just a job for Fergus Rafferty, it’s a calling. He’s worked his way up the ranks and doing what he loves best: flying Apache helicopters. The only thing that will make his life complete is marrying Celeste. After he transfers to a unit scheduled to deploy in three months, he’s thrilled at the idea of marrying before he leaves so they can start their new life. Except Celeste wants to wait until he returns. Can he convince her to wed before he leaves?

Celeste Hardwicke has just opened her law practice when she finally accepts Fergus’s marriage proposal. Not to worry. She has plenty of time to set a date, then plan the wedding. Until she doesn’t. But a quickie wedding isn’t what she has in mind. Besides, why get married when the groom will ship out after the ceremony? When she stumbles on her great-grandmother’s diary from World War II, she discovers the two of them share the same predicament.

At an impasse, Celeste and Fergus agree to call into WDES’s program No Errin’ for Love. Will DJ Erin Orberg’s advice solve their dilemma or create a bigger divide? One they’ll both regret.

Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/4bicqfm

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Welcome back, Valerie Massey Goree!

The inspiration for: 
Meet Me Where the Windrush Flows
By Valerie Massey Goree

This is the first time the setting for a story has been my inspiration. In February last year, I was visiting with the woman who does my income taxes. She knows about my novels and my love of traveling. I mentioned that I’d like to return to England and stay in a cottage in a little village, something my husband and I didn’t do when we visited in 2019.

She replied, “Good idea. You can do research for a book you set there, and then use some expenses as a deduction on your taxes next year.”

Aha! That started the wheels turning. I immediately checked out villages online and found so many cute places. I chose Bourton-on-the-Water and then located a cottage that fit our needs. (A friend traveled with me.)

We also wanted to attend the Edinburgh Military Tattoo in Scotland which is only performed in August. Now, the month was set.

During the plotting stage of the story, I researched the history of the village and its location online. I had to have a reason for my hero and heroine, both Americans, to be in Bourton for more than a few days. The research provided the perfect reason for my heroine, and then I created one for my hero.

I began writing with the knowledge I’d have to make revisions after I stayed in the village. We spent 
Pixabay/PublicDomainPictures
eight wonderful days in the cottage and also enjoyed trips to other villages in the Cotswolds. Although Bourton-on-the-Water was inundated with tourists, it was still a magical place. I loved researching locations to use in my story while I absorbed the peaceful idyllic atmosphere after the crowds left for the day.

The owner of the cottage agreed for me to use it in my story. My hero stayed there for a week. But he left Bourton briefly and when he returned, he had to find a different cottage. So did I. The owner of the second cottage also agreed I could use the real place in my story. She asked for a signed copy of the book to keep in the cottage for her guests. Both cottages are great places to stay.

I know I will be able to use some deductions on my income taxes, but the benefit I derived from living in my cottage in my village far outweighs any monetary benefit. The Windrush River runs through the village, and I love that name. Before I ever left Texas, I’d decided to title the novel, Where the Windrush Flows. However, while doing research in the village library, I found a non-fiction book with that title. I didn’t want to risk alienating the local population by using the same title.

Hence my title: Meet Me Where the Windrush Flows.

About the book:

She’s an anthropologist working as a visiting professor in England. He’s a pediatric surgeon taking his ill mother on her bucket list trip to England.

Grace and Logan are instantly attracted when they meet in a small village in the Cotswolds. But will the threat to her life and accusations of malpractice against him encourage their romance or keep them apart?

Excerpt:


About to leave, he (Logan) couldn’t help but overhear the conversation at the table behind him.

“Do you think the bones I found might be Roman?”
 
Intrigue stopped him in his tracks. Roman as in Roman ruins? He had to ask. “Excuse me. I heard your question. What…where are these bones? I’m interested in Roman ruins of any kind. While we’ve been in England, I’ve visited many sites. Maybe I can help?”

“Are you an archeologist?” Grace asked.

“No, a doctor, a pediatric surgeon, but I’m taking a break to help my mother.”
 
“Why?”
 
If anyone but Grace had asked, he would have responded only with a shrug. “Staying in Bourton-on-the-Water is on her bucket list.”
 
“What a nice son.”

Debatable. Grace’s reply ruffled his usual calm. His trip to the UK and away from Texas was as much for his benefit as Mother’s.

Purchase link: https://amzn.to/48jE1KC

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Monday, February 19, 2024

Mystery Monday: Raymond Chandler

Mystery Monday: Raymond Chandler

Courtesy Britannica
I am always amazed when I read about authors from the past who turned to writing to earn a living during difficult circumstances. Grace Livingston Hill is one of those authors, and Raymond Chandler is another. As a way to immerse myself in the world of my characters, I read books they might have read. The “hard-boiled detective novel” was a popular choice during the 1940s, and Raymond Chandler published quite a few.

According to several sources, Chandler decided to become a writer after he lost his job as an oil company executive during the Great Depression. Another source indicated he was fired for his alcoholism, absenteeism, and “promiscuity with female employees.” Fortunately, he seemed to find success with his stories almost immediately. But he’d done his homework by teaching himself how to write in the manner of pulp fiction authors by studying and imitating Erle Stanley Gardner’s work (most famously his Perry Mason stories). Chandler’s first money-making story was “Blackmailers Don’t Shoot” published in Black Mask magazine in 1933.

By the mid-1930s, he began working on novels in addition to his short stories. Published in 1939, The
Big Sleep
, featured detective Philip Marlowe and was an almost instant best-seller. The second Marlowe book, Farewell, My Lovely, was published the following year and became the basis for three different movie versions. This led to a successful screenplay career in addition to his novels. Marlowe was his most famous character, and he went on to write seven of them.

Enamored with California (where he set most of his books), Chandler and his wife moved to La Jolla in 1946. Sadly, he lost his wife to illness in 1954 which exacerbated Chandler’s drinking and his depression. His writing suffered, and he traveled to England, but the trip didn’t seem to do much for him. He returned to La Jolla where he passed away in 1959. In 1988, on the hundredth anniversary of Chandler’s birth, Author Robert B. Parker completed Chandler’s unfinished manuscript Poodle Springs. The book was published in October 1989.

_____________

Dial V for Valentine

Valentine’s Day is perfect for a wedding. If only the bride will agree.


Being part of the military is not just a job for Fergus Rafferty, it’s a calling. He’s worked his way up the ranks and doing what he loves best: flying Apache helicopters. The only thing that will make his life complete is marrying Celeste. After he transfers to a unit scheduled to deploy in three months, he’s thrilled at the idea of marrying before he leaves so they can start their new life. Except Celeste wants to wait until he returns. Can he convince her to wed before he leaves?

Celeste Hardwicke has just opened her law practice when she finally accepts Fergus’s marriage proposal. Not to worry. She has plenty of time to set a date, then plan the wedding. Until she doesn’t. But a quickie wedding isn’t what she has in mind. Besides, why get married when the groom will ship out after the ceremony? When she stumbles on her great-grandmother’s diary from World War II, she discovers the two of them share the same predicament.

At an impasse, Celeste and Fergus agree to call into WDES’s program No Errin’ for Love. Will DJ Erin Orberg’s advice solve their dilemma or create a bigger divide? One they’ll both regret.

Purchase link: https://amzn.to/4bicqfm

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Back Barbara Britton!

The Delight and Dilemmas of Writing Biblical Fiction

By Barbara M. Britton


I love bringing little-known Bible stories to light. I spent many years teaching chapel where I taught stories from the Bible using drama and visuals. My teaching eventually morphed into writing Biblical Fiction.

When you write about history, sometimes you have to go against traditional writing rules.

Main characters should have names that are easy to pronounce, so the reader isn’t confused. Some of the heroes of the faith have names that are difficult to pronounce. Most readers are familiar with Noah and Abraham, but throw in Ittai and Micaiah, and readers are left wondering how to say the name of your character. Writers are also taught to avoid similar-sounding names. History is history, and families didn’t necessarily take writing rules into account when naming their kids.

When I wrote about the daughters of Zelophehad (Who?), all the sisters had names that ended in ‘ah.’ I tried to give the sisters personalities that eclipsed their similar names. Biblical Fiction readers deserve a star for wading through complicated names.

Romance is the bestselling genre of all time. But, in Biblical Fiction, the customs of the day prohibited men and women from casually associating with one another, let alone touching. Chaperones were plentiful to protect one’s reputation. There were no couples slipping off in the dark at a fancy ball. Biblical Fiction authors have to work extra hard to show a relationship budding without physical contact.

I’ve written contemporary romance stories, too. In a critique group, one of my friends asked me if I
Pixabay/
Ichigo121212
was writing a romance because my characters weren’t touching. Not even holding hands. I realized that I was staying in the Biblical Fiction groove, and I needed to change how I approached characters in the twenty-first century. For me, it was almost scandalous to have my characters kiss.

Research goes hand-in-hand with writing historical novels. While we have plenty of photographs and memorabilia from the WWII era, we have little, if anything from biblical times. Biblical Fiction writers have to cross-reference Bible passages and find relics near the time of their Bible story. Sometimes, we have to take an educated guess at how people in the Bible performed tasks.

You’ll find many writers delving into research to avoid getting words written on a page. That writing truth crosses every genre. Research can lead down rabbit trails and pretty soon the day has flown by. Writers of historical fiction work to bring a time period to life for the reader. I enjoy diving into the Bible and learning something new. The Living Word never ceases to amaze me. Authoring Old Testament, and even New Testament stories, makes my job a challenge, yet it’s a delight. I may break a few writing rules when crafting a story set in Bible Times, or about a Bible hero, but without brave authors, we wouldn’t have Biblical Fiction.

Who is your favorite person from the Bible? Have you read any Biblical Fiction about their life?

David is easy to pronounce, but Ittai?

About “Defending David” (Yes, there’s romance).

When a quiet journey to Jerusalem turns tragic, newly orphaned Rimona must flee a kinsman set on selling her as a slave. Racing into the rocky hills outside of Hebron, Rimona is rescued by a Philistine commander journeying to Jerusalem with six hundred warriors.

Exiled commander, Ittai the Gittite, is seeking refuge in the City of David. Protecting a frantic Hebrew woman is not in his leadership plan. Although, having a nobleman's niece in his caravan might prove useful for finding shelter in a foreign land.

Rimona and Ittai arrive in Jerusalem on the eve of a rebellion. In the chaos of an heir's betrayal, will they be separated forever, or can they defend King David and help the aging monarch control his rebellious son?

Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/4bAtzky

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Wayback Wednesday: In Memoriam

Wayback Wednesday: In Memoriam

This is a post from a couple of years ago in celebration of my mom whose birthday is today. It's been edited to reflect that she has since passed on, but I will always equate Valentine's Day with her instead of chocolates and flowers.

Today is Valentine's Day, and for most people that means candy and flowers. However, the day has never been about romance for me because it's my mother's birthday. I'm blessed that she lived close by for almost twenty years and was in good health, something I don't take for granted. She was an intriguing mix of her parents: shy and an avid reader like her mother, and tenacious and independent like her dad. Born in the middle of the Great Depression, she was raised on a farm in a small town in Maryland surrounded by lots of extended family where she was more comfortable with outside chores than being in the kitchen. As a result, she had an encyclopedic knowledge of plants and trees and could easily have had a career as a landscape architect. You should see her front yard! (Unfortunately, the new owners of her house aren't quite as gifted.)
 
By the time she started school, the country was at war, and several of her uncles and cousins went
Mom and her brother,
my Uncle Lawrence
overseas to serve, some of whom didn't return. Despite being fairly young during WWII, she had strong memories of collecting scrap metal and looking at the maps on the front of the newspapers. She recalled her mother saving fat and mending the family's clothes rather than making new ones. Because of living on the farm, rationing didn't affect Mom or the family as much as it did my dad who lived in Baltimore City, although she did talk about gas rationing and the fact the family rarely went anywhere. She was eleven years old when the war ended.

Her folks scrimped and saved to purchase a piano and arrange lessons for her. She took to the instrument like the proverbial duck to water and by early high school was playing for the church choir. Further saving allowed her to attend Western Maryland College where she obtained her bachelor's degree in music and met my father. They married, and she followed him to various locations first with the Army, then Citgo, and finally IBM. At each location, she got involved in their church's music program, often serving as church pianist. Her love of books prompted her to start libraries in several of her churches.

She had friends all over the country and faithfully corresponded with them using the postal system. That's right - no email for her. She'd much rather handwrite a letter - a lost art. And folks didn't have to be far away for her to bless them with a card or letter - I've received quite a few myself (many of which I still have.)

Happy birthday, Mom! I wish you were still here so I could say how much I love you!
_______________

Dial V for Valentine

Valentine’s Day is perfect for a wedding. If only the bride will agree.

Being part of the military is not just a job for Fergus Rafferty, it’s a calling. He’s worked his way up the ranks and doing what he loves best: flying Apache helicopters. The only thing that will make his life complete is marrying Celeste. After he transfers to a unit scheduled to deploy in three months, he’s thrilled at the idea of marrying before he leaves so they can start their new life. Except Celeste wants to wait until he returns. Can he convince her to wed before he leaves?

Celeste Hardwicke has just opened her law practice when she finally accepts Fergus’s marriage proposal. Not to worry. She has plenty of time to set a date, then plan the wedding. Until she doesn’t. But a quickie wedding isn’t what she has in mind. Besides, why get married when the groom will ship out after the ceremony? When she stumbles on her great-grandmother’s diary from World War II, she discovers the two of them share the same predicament.

At an impasse, Celeste and Fergus agree to call into WDES’s program No Errin’ for Love. Will DJ Erin Orberg’s advice solve their dilemma or create a bigger divide? One they’ll both regret.

Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/4bicqfm

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Traveling Tuesday: Military Bases

Traveling Tuesday: Military Bases

Pixabay/Military Material
My father served in the Army reserves when I was a small child, but I wouldn’t say I come from a military family. And despite having lots of friends who were part of the military and often driving past Fort Meade in Maryland and Fort Belvoir in Virginia, my knowledge of the life is limited, so when I decided to write Dial V for Valentine, I needed to do quite a bit of research. I was surprised at what I discovered and now have a great appreciation for those who serve in the armed forces and their families.

According to one source,1 the U.S. has approximately 750 bases in at least eighty countries. Just in Japan, there are 120 active bases, with 119 in Germany, and seventy-three in Korea. The article goes on to say that the actual number is unknown and probably higher, because the Pentagon doesn’t “release all data.”

Large bases are defined as military installations with an area of more than ten acres or have a value of
Courtesy Fort Meade
more than $10 million. Typically, two hundred or more servicemen and women are stationed at a base of this size. Small bases are called lily pads and with an area of four acres or less. Some bases are branch-specific such as Belvoir and Meade which are both army bases. Others are joint bases such as Joint Base Pearl Harbor – Hickham which houses the Air Force and the Navy. Other bases have specific roles such as boot camps and training centers.

To give you an idea of what a large base encompasses, Fort Meade, which is featured in Dial V for Valentine, consists of 5,400 acres (or approximately 8.5 square miles) with more than sixty-five miles of paved roads and about 1,300 buildings. Fort Belvoir consists of more than 8,600 acres. The smallest active U.S. military base in the U.S. is Ammunition Depot Indian Island in Port Hadlock, Washington, a naval base that is staffed by only a dozen or fewer personnel.

Pixabay/Ken Haines
During basic training, all enlisted service members are required to live in the barracks. When they move to their permanent duty station, only single members are required to live in unaccompanied housing or barracks. During dependent-restricted assignments, non-commissioned and commissioned officers may also be required to live in barracks. Generally, housing is provided for active-duty individuals whether they are living on or off base. Unless designated as key or essential personnel, single officers are authorized to reside off-base. Outside the U.S., officer quarters are usually made available on base.

Have you been part of a military family? Thank you for your service!

About Dial V for Valentine

Valentine’s Day is perfect for a wedding. If only the bride will agree.


Being part of the military is not just a job for Fergus Rafferty, it’s a calling. He’s worked his way up the ranks and doing what he loves best: flying Apache helicopters. The only thing that will make his life complete is marrying Celeste. After he transfers to a unit scheduled to deploy in three months, he’s thrilled at the idea of marrying before he leaves so they can start their new life. Except Celeste wants to wait until he returns. Can he convince her to wed before he leaves?

Celeste Hardwicke has just opened her law practice when she finally accepts Fergus’s marriage proposal. Not to worry. She has plenty of time to set a date, then plan the wedding. Until she doesn’t. But a quickie wedding isn’t what she has in mind. Besides, why get married when the groom will ship out after the ceremony? When she stumbles on her great-grandmother’s diary from World War II, she discovers the two of them share the same predicament.

At an impasse, Celeste and Fergus agree to call into WDES’s program No Errin’ for Love. Will DJ Erin Orberg’s advice solve their dilemma or create a bigger divide? One they’ll both regret.

Purchase link: https://amzn.to/3OIb8kv


https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/9/10/infographic-us-military-presence-around-the-world-interactive