Secret Need Cover Reveal

Voila! The Secret Need cover! What do you think? Isn’t it purrrrty? Chrissy at Damonza did such an amazing job!

Liz may be forced to entrust her life to Alex, but can she trust him with her heart?

Liz Harper is a woman in control of her life. As the owner and mechanic of the best garage in town, she is strong, confident, and in demand. It’s a far cry from her high school days spent as the social outcast. Then she runs into the boy who harassed her as a kid, only now he’s the good-looking man who is showing interest in her. Despite the attraction, she’s determined to keep her distance.

When Alex Weston returns to Bath, Maine to care for his ailing father, the place feels exactly the same. Everything except the awkward girl he used to tease. Liz Harper is all grown up and her transformation is the most intriguing thing about this place. If only he could convince her to give him the time of day.

Then fate throws them together and they discover big secrets lurk in the shadows of this small town. Caught up in a world of drugs and murder, and accused of crimes they did not commit, they’re now on the run. They must learn to rely on each other if they’re going to survive.

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Subscribers See It First

This is just a quick reminder to join my newsletter for exclusive excerpts, fun, and news about special promotions and giveaways!
Not only that, but the Secret Need cover reveal is going out to subscribers TOMORROW! Have YOU signed up, yet? Satin Russell Newsletter

Secret Need Cover Tease

Squee! I get to show you this cover in just a few days, and I love it so much. Here is a sneak peek:

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Secret Need Pre-Orders are available on Amazon at a special low price of .99 cents. CLICK HERE to take advantage of this opportunity before August 22nd!

My interview for Katie Li’s blog series, Writers on Writing

Katie Li is the the author of Somewhere in Between.  I had the pleasure of meeting her at the New England Author Expo a couple of years back and have kept in touch ever since. At the time, we had both recently released our debut novels and it was fun to share our experiences and impressions of being able to publish our first books.

She also produces an e-zine called “The Beautiful Worst.” It is a bi-weekly newsletter that focuses on authors, writing, as well as all sorts of “strange, beautiful sundries” from around the internet. The next issue, being released March 28th, will feature an excerpt from Secret Hunger. Be sure to subscribe and check it out!

In the meantime, you can read her interview of me on her blog series: Writers on Writing.

Happy Halloween!

happyhalloween

Hope everybody has a safe and happy Halloween! I did something very scary today. I sent my Secret Need beta draft off to the beta readers.

I always get super nervous when I share my writing project for the first time. It’s easy to obsess endlessly over every single word, turn of phrase, and scene.

However, I know that If I let my fear get the best of me I’d never publish anything! As it is, I’ve probably allowed myself to spin my wheels for too long on this project. I can only hope the added time and effort will make for a better book.

Luckily, tomorrow is November 1st and marks the first day of NaNoWriMo. I won’t have long to bite my nails and worry about Secret Need before turning my attention to the next project.

How about you? What aspects of writing scare you?

Revision Trenches

revision-trenchesI’ve spent these last few months pushing hard to finish Secret Need, the second of the Harper Sisters Trilogy. I’ll admit, writing this second book has been a real struggle. It’s taken me twice as long to write and caused me four times as much mental anguish.

This is partly because I feel like I’ve learned just enough in this past year to realize how much I don’t know. It’s easy to get caught up in feelings of inadequacy. There have been many days where I’m convinced I’m a hack.

On the other hand, I know just enough that when someone asks me a question, I usually have an opinion. Then I think, I’m not credentialed, I don’t have a degree, what business do I have stating anything definitively? Why did they even ask me? I’m not an expert. I’ve only published one book! (Imposter syndrome – I haz it.)

Despite all of this, I’ve been making steady progress on Secret Need. I finished the rough/rough draft back in July, sent it to my alpha readers, received some great constructive feedback, and have been working on implementing those new ideas.

This last weekend, I had one of those moments that makes it all worth it for a writer. I was having difficulty with one of the subplots, it just wasn’t fitting quite right. It’s something that I’ve been mulling over for the last three months, easily. And, out of the blue, it clicked! Inspiration, clear and bright, revealed the answer to my problem. All the little pieces fell into place. I was once again inspired by my story.

This is why I love to write. For those fleeting moments of perfect clarity.

So for this Monday morning, if you’re reading this, I hope this post encourages you. I urge you to keep going. Make your way through the slog. Find that moment where you, too, can be the master of your universe.

12 Steps of Revision:

  • Stage 1 – This set-up isn’t bad. Does it read true enough? I’m not sure about this dialogue.
  • Stage 2 – Man, my protagonist is such a dynamic character. I hope I can do her justice.
  • Stage 3 – Is this dragging? Oh God, this book is doomed. Why am I doing this to myself?
  • Stage 4 – Holy shit, I just gave myself goosebumps. That’s not too shabby!
  • Stage 5 – Danger, danger! Gotta keep them running.
  • Stage 6 – Add a little chemistry…
  • Stage 7 – Is this too convenient? Am I being too easy on these guys? Aaah! I’m such a hack. Where’s the wine?
  • Stage 8 – What was that character’s last name? Didn’t I have another guy with a name that starts with ‘H?’
  • Stage 9 – I can’t believe my husband let me quit my job for this. I had a perfectly good career. What have I done?
  • Stage 10 – Wait, my alpha and beta readers can help. And this hasn’t even been seen by my editor yet. We may be able to salvage this.
  • Stage 11 – I hope this resolution isn’t too pat.
  • Stage 12- Actually, this isn’t too bad. I think it’s better than my last one. Or will be. I just have to fix this, this, this, and…

How about you? Do you have any great tips to get through the editing process? What has been your experience while revising your work?

Signal Boost!

10 Ways to Help an AuthorI’ll admit it, I’m a cheerleader. Not the kind you remember from high school with the short skirts and pom-poms. No, I’m more of a cheerleader at life.

I LOVE encouraging my friends in their endeavors. I’ll happily comment on their wedding photos, coo at their baby pictures, and congratulate their job promotion announcements.

When a friend in Alaska asked everybody to vote for her baby in a state-wide contest, I clicked and voted every day. One of my friends living clear across the country was hosting an art gallery showing and I made sure to pass along his news. Not because I would be able to attend, but because I was so happy and proud of what he’d achieved.

Recently, another author I follow had a book enrolled in a contest. The one with the most votes won. I was glad to click on that, too. Promotions, reviews, cover reveals, events…you name it, I’m happy to crow my friends’ achievements. It makes me feel like I can help support them in my own little way, and it feels good!

Last week I did a Kindle Countdown for Secret Hunger. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to run a small promotion leading up to the announcement of the Reader’s Favorite 2016 contest results. The idea was to layer the two events, build a bit of momentum, and maybe breathe some life back into my sales. (I haven’t done a promotion with Secret Hunger in a little over a year, and it was time.)

This wasn’t a big push. I spent five bucks on Fiverrr for a small newsletter blast with bknights, but other than that, didn’t spend anything. I’ve basically decided I’m not going to put a lot of resources into promoting Secret Hunger until I can get Secret Need published. No sense in chasing sales with money if I have nothing to follow-up it up with.

That being said, I had a lot of friends help me spread the word about the promotion. It got me to thinking about cheap, easy ways readers and fellow writers can help an author out.

Buy the book. – Ha! No-brainer, right? I wish I could say the love of writing was payment enough, but unfortunately real life forces me to have to do things like eat, clothe myself, and power my computer so I can keep writing. The good news is, most indie e-books don’t cost a lot. The average price tends to be $2.99 – $4.99, and that’s not including whether it’s on sale.

Leave a review. – I know, I know…another gimme. Hey, it’s an oldie but goodie for a reason! The fact is, most people trolling for a new book aren’t going to pick a book with only a few lonely reviews. But, wait! I’ll give you more to think about. If you’re a reader and have a Goodreads account, consider leaving your review both on Amazon and Goodreads. It doesn’t have to be two different reviews. Copy and paste that sucker and post it in both spots (or other points of sale.) Not everybody who is on Amazon is on Goodreads, and vice versa.

Best practice: If you happened to purchase your copy of the book at a book fair or author’s event, your review won’t have a “verified purchase” label on it. Be sure to mention where you came across your copy to help legitimize your review. There’s been a lot of talk and controversy about authors buying reviews. I’m against the practice (as I’m sure most authors are,) but the consequence of some people’s bad behavior is that Amazon has been actively pulling reviews that seem “suspect.” By including where you got the book, your review is less likely to be taken down.

Talk it up! – Did you like the book? Were you experiencing withdrawals by the time you got to “The End?” Then make sure to let others know about the great read you just finished. Talk it up with your barista while waiting in line. Tell the lady sitting next to you on the bus. Readers tend to be pretty open to good book suggestions. Who knows? Maybe you’ll meet someone new along the way.

Make a post on Facebook. – Granted, as an author I do this all the time, but as a reader you may not. Is it weird to write a post about the great book you just read? Personally, I don’t think so. If you do make a post, be sure to include a link to the book your talking about and tag the author! That way they’ll get a notification and know who to thank for spreading the word.

Share a Facebook post. – This is the easier sister of my two Facebook suggestions. Maybe you found an author that you love to read and have followed their page. If you see them make an announcement about a book promotion, cover reveal, or any other major news, consider sharing it! This is especially helpful for us little guys. My sphere of readers is only so big (and, let’s face it, is mainly comprised of friends and family.) I may not know your quirky Aunt Gertrude who loves romance novels, but you do. Sharing an author’s announcement may be all the introduction we need.

Best Practice: Mind you, I’m talking about sharing the post, not liking it. While liking a post does help prioritize it in the “top stories” news feed, it’s much less helpful. This is not to say you shouldn’t like a post, but if you really want to help your author friend out sharing is better.

Tweet! – Similar to the Facebook suggestions mentioned above. If you’re on twitter, make a tweet about it! Give it a few hashtags that you think would reach a wider audience. You can’t go wrong tagging the genre of the book. Or, keep it generic and use something well known like #amreading or #books.

Tweet! Tweet! – Retweeting the author helps in the same way that sharing a post on Facebook does. And, just like on FB, retweeting helps reach a wider range than simply liking it.

Best Practice: You can really make your retweets help by quoting it and writing a little response to the original tweet. That gives the author another way to retweet what you’ve said and create even more presence. Check to see what hashtags were originally used. Feel free to throw a couple of new ones in, where appropriate. This will help the message get listed in even more topics.

newburyportlibrary

Ask your local library to order it. – As a new indie author, I’ve pretty much resigned myself to the fact that my books are not going to be available in most brick and mortar stores. Imagine my surprise when I had a reader send me a photo of my book on the “New Books” shelf at the Newburyport Public Library. It was such a thrill! Most libraries are open to ordering a couple of copies of a book, as long as they are professionally produced. They’ll be more inclined if the author is from the local area or patrons are requesting it.

Blog about the book. – Reach out to your author friend and ask them if you can feature their book on your blog. Invite them to do an interview with you or write a guest post on your blog’s topic. I’m sure they’d be thrilled to hear from you.

Best Practice: Although an author may be happy to write a guest blog post, try to be flexible on the dates. They may be working under a deadline or have a lot on their plate.

Suggest it to your book club. – Last June I had the opportunity to speak about Secret Hunger to the “Mystery and a Cup of Tea” book group from Langley-Adams library. It was so much fun being able to hear what their impression of the book was! We talked about how I came up with the idea, character development, the setting, the steamy scenes, and everything in between. Not only that, but there were fourteen copies of my book sold in the process. That was huge for me! Obviously, as a reader, you’re not expected to buy fourteen copies of the same book, but suggesting it to a book club accomplishes pretty much the same thing.

Best Practice: Many authors are happy to speak to book clubs, especially smaller indie authors such as myself. Technology such as Google hangouts or Skype make it even easier to connect, even if you don’t live in the same region. I urge you to reach out! You never know who you might get a chance to talk to.

So, there you have it. Ten inexpensive and free ways to help an author friend. Most of these don’t take but a second to click a button. That may not seem like a big deal to you, but speaking from this past week’s experience, it means the world to the author. And to everybody who shared and re-tweeted my posts this past week – thank you for helping me boost my signal!

What ways do you support your favorite creatives? If you’re an author, what experiences have you had from readers helping to get your name out?

Why NaNo?

nanowrimo nano writeAhhh, Autumn! Don’t you just love the fall season? The air is crisp, the leaves begin to change, apples and pumpkins abound…and you’re reminded that NaNoWriMo is just around the corner.

What’s that? You don’t know what NaNoWriMo is? NaNoWriMo (or NaNo, for short) is an acronym that stands for National Novel Writing Month. It’s an international event where thousands of people commit to the goal of writing 50,000 words in 30 days. For those of you doing the math, that’s 1667 words per day.

Pretty awesome, right?

I first heard about NaNoWriMo back in 2011, but I didn’t actually attempt to participate until 2013. That was the year I was preparing to make the jump from being a stockbroker to becoming an author. I saw this challenge as the perfect way to get my feet wet. It was also an opportunity to see if I was able to write and work on a consistent basis, sort of like a litmus test.

I’m happy to say I made my goal that year, as well as the following two years. 2016 will be my fourth year participating, and every year I take something new from the experience. In my opinion, it’s one of the best things any writer can do, whether you have dreams of being published or not.

nanowrimo 2013

My first year participating in NaNoWriMo.

So, without further ado, here is my list of reasons why YOU should participate in NaNoWriMo 2016.

  • Prioritize Your Writing – That book idea that you’ve always wished you could write has been knocking around in the back of your head for ages, but who has the time? Well now, for one month out of the year, YOU DO! NaNo gives you a reason to carve out some time and feed your soul. To create! Talk to the people closest in your life. Tell them you want to do this. Come up with a plan to make it happen. Maybe that means you spend a few hours on a Sunday afternoon at your local library. Maybe that means you record your ideas during the commute from work and transcribe them when you get home. Perhaps you jot a few sentences down while you’re standing in line for your coffee. However you manage to find time, you’ll know you’re progressing towards your goal and creating something new and wonderful in the world.
  • Catch Momentum – I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time completing things. I’m great at getting an idea and starting something.  Sticking to it? Seeing it through to the finish line? Man, that’s tough. Usually I get about three-quarters of the way through and start to fizzle. Luckily, when you participate in NaNoWriMo, there is a slew of people, resources, and encouragement to keep you progressing. You realize that you’re a part of something bigger than yourself. It’s an event. It’s a movement. We’re not just talking about your immediate community either. This is happening around the world! And, you know what? They’re struggling, too. There’s something empowering about giving out and seeking support. You’re more likely to succeed by banding together.
  • Foster Discipline – Let’s face it, your life may be busy, but you still manage to find time to check Facebook, watch that crazy cat video on YouTube, or zone out for an hour in front of the television. If you’re like me, there are probably a few hours every day that you could be more productive. Heck, even with writing as my day job I struggle with this! Sometimes, it’s so much easier to procrastinate than to write. I sit down at my computer and next thing I know I’ve spent a couple of hours reading my Twitter feed, or blog posts, or any number of things. By committing to the NaNoWriMo goal, I’m forcing myself to write every day. They say it takes 21 days to form a habit. The thirty days in November could be your way of doing that.
  • Silence The Critic – Maybe finding the time to write isn’t your problem. Maybe you’re the kind of writer who can sit down and write pages and pages, no problem. Then, when you go back and read it, you’re just as quick to hit the delete button. Stop doing that! Think about it. Do you think potters throw their clay on a wheel and instantly have a beautiful pot? No! That vase or bowl first started out as a large lump of clay. They had to throw it onto the pottery wheel first. With NaNoWriMo the emphasis is on producing a first draft. In fact, you’re actively encouraged not to erase anything. You have to allow yourself the opportunity to grow your idea and shape it into a finished product. That means you have to actually have something to work with first. 50,000 words is a LOT to work with.
  • Find Your Community – When you go to the NaNoWriMo site and first set up your profile, you have the opportunity to designate your home region. Back in 2013, when I was first going through this process, I didn’t know anybody. I had moved to Massachusetts from Seattle a few years before, but I worked in an office with one other person. (Who was nice, but we didn’t have a lot in common.) All of a sudden, here was this group of people who shared a similar interest. These were readers, and writers, and do-ers, and thinkers…in other words, my kind of peeps. I’ve recently written about how important it is as a writer to foster a community of peers. NaNoWriMo gives you the opportunity to do just that. And between the kick-off party, the write-ins, and the online commiserating, you may find at the end of your 30 days that you have a new group of friends to write with year-round. (That’s what happened for me.)
  • Accomplish Something – This last point is a little harder to explain. Sometimes, it can be hard to be a creator. Many of us will never publish a book. Fewer will become best-selling authors. Heck, I know a lot of writers who struggle with even claiming that they ARE writers. Too often in our society, if you’re not getting paid then it doesn’t count. But, is that really fair? I write first and foremost because I LOVE writing. I love the way language can perfectly capture an emotion or convey an idea. I love the act of communicating and connecting with other people. I love the process of creating something out of nothing. People play sports for the love of sport all the time. Nobody stops and asks them why, since they’ll never go pro. Musicians regularly meet in basements and garages to play music together. Nobody asks why they bother since they’ll never win a Grammy. NaNoWriMo gives you a chance to create, participate, and at the end of the month, point to your 50,000 words and say, “I did that.” It’s a great achievement that you can take pride in. That sense of accomplishment has the power to encourage you to keep doing what you love.

If you’ve been on the fence about participating in NaNoWriMo this year, I hope these points have encouraged you to go for it. Starting a profile is FREE! You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Even if you only write 20,000 words, it will be more than you had before. So what’s stopping you?

I’d love to hear from you. Are you a writer who does NaNo? If so, what are YOUR reasons for doing it?

5 Ways to Build Your Writing Community

5-ways-to-build-your-writing-communityThis past weekend I had the pleasure of going to a book launch party for Last Goodbye by Laurel Ostiguy.

I met Laurel at the Newburyport Maritime Days festival when she and her family stopped by the Newburyport Writers booth back in May.

You know that feeling when you instantly connect with someone you’ve just met? As if they’re a kindred spirit and you should get to know them because, in some weird way, you already do? That was how it felt meeting Laurel.

Last Goodbye

Look at this gorgeous cover!

In a lot of ways, it felt like I was looking back on a version of me twelve months prior, right after I had released Secret Hunger. She had just published her book and was excited to meet other local authors. We got to talking about all things books and writing. At the end of our conversation, I handed her a bookmark (to go with a copy of my book that she bought,) a business card, and urged her to keep in touch.

“Oh, I should get bookmarks and business cards, too.”

Boom, epiphany! That moment, seeing her realize she needed something she could hand out when meeting people, illuminated all the reasons why I like connecting with fellow authors. It gives us the opportunity to learn from one another, bounce ideas off each other, and support people who are traveling a similar path.

lastgoodbyerelease1-2

And it works both ways. Just last week I received an e-mail from someone who had been a regular in my WriNoShores writing group. He had heard of this new website that was compiling a database of local authors in order to help spread the word and support them and he thought I might be interested.

He was right!

Hometown Reads is a new author platform that showcases books by location. It provides a way for local authors to network with each other and a database for readers to find hidden treasures from writers in their own community.

If you’re an author, it’s free to add a book to the database. (Only one now. In the future you can add more for a fee.) They currently have thirty-nine hometowns listed, with more planned for the future. In fact, the Boston hometown page has just opened up! You’ll find Secret Hunger is one of the first ten listed…all because I had someone reach out to me.

Which brings me back to my point. If you’re an author, or any creative for that matter, it’s important to make connections with your fellow writers. Not only because you get to meet and interact with amazing, interesting people, but because you’ll have the opportunity to help – and be helped – by your community.

Here’s a list of ideas on how you can find and build your community as an author.

  • Find a local writing group. – Not sure where to look? Start with your local libraries. Many libraries host author events and spotlight community talent, just ask the librarian or check the community events board.
  • Support your local bookstores. – There’s been a lot of talk about large chain bookstores going out of business. That just means independent bookstores are on the rise and many of them are holding author events and book signings. Search yours out today!
  • Connect on social media. – There are a ton of Facebook pages featuring indie authors and they’re free to join. Not only will you have access to some great advice, but you can also find authors from around your area, or in your genre.
  • Participate in NaNoWriMo.NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It’s held throughout the month of November and the goal is to write 50K works in 30 days. When you join, you can select your region and find a group of writers from your area.
  • Take a writing class. – Many local colleges offer continuing education courses for creative writing. This creates a great environment to find writers who are trying to improve their craft and take it seriously.

The hardest part is just getting started. Trust me. As an introverted extrovert, I know taking the first step can be difficult. However, it’s also worth it. You’ll have the opportunity to be inspired, learn a lot, and make lasting friendships. Give it a try!

How about you? Are you an author who has a great community of writers? How did you find them and what have been some of the benefits?

Reader’s Favorite Finalist!

secrethungerreadersfavoriteI’m happy to announce Secret Hunger was a finalist in the “Romance – Sizzle” category of the 2016 Reader’s Favorite international book awards contest!

Reader’s Favorite is known to review some of the biggest names in the literary industry, as well as first time independent authors (like me.) They have earned the respect of renowned publishers like Random House, Simon & Schuster, and Harper Collins, and have received the “Best Websites for Authors” and “Honoring Excellence” awards from the Association of Independent Authors.

Every year they host a respected award contest which features entries from new authors to NYT best-sellers, as well as celebrities like Jim Carrey and Henry Winkler. Hundreds of books are entered per category. So you can imagine I’m honored to be included as a finalist. If you’d like to see the full list of contest winners, you can check out their page here: 2016 Award Contest Winners

You can also see the Reader’s Favorite five-star review for Secret Hunger here: Secret Hunger Book Review