Category Archives: Contests

Dolly: Winner of the Ebook Double Dipping

Congratulations Dollyj007!

You’ve won a pdf copy of Double Dipping by Marilyn Brant! I’ve sent an email to you. Please send back an email of acknowledgment to receive your prize! If for some reason you did not receive the email, simply comment below and I will resend it. Thank you so much for your comment and for your support of this website! A HUGE thanks to everyone who commented!

Ebook Giveaway + Why Do Traditional Authors Self-Publish?

There’s something incredibly surprising going on. For starters, according to the recent data collected on the reading habits of Americans, people are reading more books now that Ebooks are available. As a result, Ebooks and self-publishing have come together to create the perfect climate for writers. It’s now very easy for writers to publish books and short stories by themselves. And because more people are reading Ebooks, they’re self-published books are reaching more people than ever before.

But it’s not just aspiring authors who are self-publishing, many authors whom already have an agent and several books published traditionally, are also self-publishing their additional stories and books. So the big question I have is why? Why would a traditional author choose to self-publish?

Award-wining women’s fiction author and avid member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, Marilyn Brant is here to answer that question!

Marilyn has three novels under her belt including her debut novel, According to Jane, which won the Romance Writers of American’s prestigious Golden Heart® Award. Every year since she became an author (check out her story into becoming an author here) she’s been churning out fabulous book (Friday Mornings at Nine) after fabulous book (A Summer in Europe)! But what surprised me the most was when I noticed she self-published 2 novels as a series of fun and flirty contemporary romantic comedies: On Any Given Sundae and Double Dipping.

These two novels made Marilyn into a #1 Kindle bestseller and she’s here today to give us the scoop on why she chose to self-publish:

 1. As a best-selling published author, why did you choose to self-publish 2 Ebooks?

There are a number of reasons. In part, it was because it’s a long time between my print books (14 months, in my case, between Friday Mornings at Nine and A Summer in Europe), and I wanted to give my readers something fun to read in the interim. My self-pubbed romance books both touched on some of the themes I wrote about in my print/women’s fiction novels, particularly with A Summer in Europe, but in a shorter, lighter way. I hoped if new readers found me digitally first, they’d get to enjoy an inexpensive sample of my writing and, perhaps, they’d be interested in reading more.

Aside from all of that, though, my very first love was romantic comedy. I wrote several purely lighthearted romances prior to getting my first traditional book contract, and a few of those novels were quite close to being published in their own right. In the case of On Any Given Sundae, an editor really liked it, but the line she was considering it for was discontinued just two weeks after I finished writing the book and a new line was never created to replace it. So, for six years, I waited in hopes that a print publisher would appear, looking for books of that tone and length, but one never did.

I try to bring a fair amount of both romance and humor into my longer books but—as a reader myself—sometimes I’m just in the mood for a story that’s a short, entertaining read. Like wanting to watch a half-hour sitcom one night rather than a two-hour feature film. If both the sitcom and the film were written and directed by the same person, there would certainly be similarities in writing style and favored camera angles. But the sitcom has to be less complicated and faster paced than the film, and it has to be structured in a way that delivers the humor and the closure the viewers have come to expect from a half-hour comedy. The movie, of course, has different rules and more flexibility, needs to be longer and have multiple layers or subplots. For me, writing romantic comedies vs. women’s fiction is a lot like that. Different lengths, different expectations, but it’s all still in my voice.

2. How did you do it? What did you do for editing? And how to you get such fabulous covers?!

I’m thrilled you like the covers! Kim Killion at Hot Damn Designs was the one who helped create both of mine. Kim and I have known each other for several years and, after I saw the lovely work she did for several other authors, I knew I’d want her to design covers for me when I was ready to self-publish my romantic comedies. We emailed back and forth about ideas until we had the images that I thought best represented each story, and she worked quickly and efficiently in bringing them to life. I couldn’t have been more pleased with the result.

As for the other details involved in formatting and uploading the manuscript, I did all that work myself. I followed Mark Coker’s excellent guide for Smashwords and made sure to pay attention to every step. Initially, it was time consuming because I hadn’t had any background in formatting ebooks before this, but the directions were straightforward and, I think, anyone interested would be able to learn the process as painlessly as I did.

3. What did you like about self-publishing?

On the macro level, the challenges a writer faces between publishing traditionally and publishing on one’s own are exactly the same: Getting noticed by readers and staying noticed by them. On the micro level, however, there are some differences. With a self-published project, you have to learn how to handle wearing all the hats. You’re the one in charge of editing, proof reading, back cover copy, front cover design, marketing, advertising, pricing and distribution. You can hire people to help with all of these, but you’re still the one that needs to research a great cover artist, for instance, and you still have to be prepared to give a lot of input to your designer so he/she can craft just the right image for your story. The autonomy, however, is wonderful. With traditional titles, there’s a publishing staff in place to help you do all of those things, but having less responsibility also means having less control. You’re on the publishing house’s timetable and you can’t really move things along faster—or slow them down overly much—without it creating a problem.

On the financial side, there are no cash advances when you self-publish a book—it’s a pure leap of faith. One benefit to a traditional contract is that you’ll get some (typically small) amount of money upfront. But, with self-publishing, you do get a larger share of the royalties on what you sell and you can check your sales record at any time, day or night. (Still not sure if I should call this a “good” thing or not, LOL. The ease with which an author can become obsessed with his/her indie sales numbers is frightening!) With a traditional house, you usually don’t get a good picture of your opening month’s sales for six months to a year. I do think gaining the attention of readers and reviewers remains the biggest challenge for self-pubbed novels, but that’s a struggle with print titles as well. The thing I keep telling everyone is that BOTH methods are a lot of work. There aren’t any shortcuts to publishing a well-written novel. Period.

4. Do you have any tips?

The advice I’d give to ALL writers, whether planning to release digitally or submit to print publishers or do both, is actually the same:

1. Write what you love.

2. Polish it.

3. Figure out how to market it as effectively as you can.

4. Be as considerate and supportive of other writers as you’d like them to be toward you—online and off.

5. Make sure your inner circle is populated with people you trust and who genuinely care about you because this industry is full of a lot of ups and downs, and you need to know there will be friends and family who’ll be there, both to lean on when you need it and to celebrate with you.

5. Wow! Those are probably the best tips I’ve heard! So tell me all about On Any Given Sundae and Double Dipping:

I’d be happy to do that! On Any Given Sundae is a light romantic comedy about a shy dessert cookbook writer and the talkative ex-football star she once had a crush on as a teen. The unlikely pair find themselves left in charge of a small-town ice cream parlor for the summer, but can two people—who may have grown up practically next door to each other but who have next to nothing in common—create the perfect recipe for love? Maybe with a little help from their friends and a few sweet toppings…

As for Double Dipping, it’s a new contemporary romance that was inspired by my years as an elementary school teacher. Opposites collide when a dedicated second-grade teacher fights the school’s new financial director in order to reinstate a much-beloved autumn festival. But secrets, ambition, attraction and meddling family members complicate matters in this small Midwestern town. The book is part light mystery, part romantic comedy and entirely packed with delectable sweets—including a step-by-step recipe for making homemade chocolate-cherry ice cream!

6. What’s your favorite all-time dessert?

I have MANY favorites (I love sweets, too much, actually…), but I particularly adore gelato! There is nothing like the flavorful creaminess of Italian ice cream. YUM!

Thanks, again, for asking me to visit, Brittany! It was a pleasure to be here. ~Marilyn

You’re very welcome Marilyn! Thanks for stopping by The Write Stuff!

*To Enter for a chance to Win a Digital (pdf) Copy of Double Dipping:

Simply leave a comment answering the following bolded question!

Rules for this contest:

*You can enter anytime from right now up to Sunday (May 27th)Those who comment will be entered to win. When you comment, you will be asked for your email address. This information will not be made public. It will only be used to contact the winner. You must provide your name.

For additional entries and chances to win:

*Subscribe to this blog!

*Become a member on Facebook: The Write Stuff

*Follow me on Twitter

*Twitter, Facebook, or Blog about the contest (you must provide a separate comment that you did this with a link).

Every name is assigned a random number. The more you enter, the more numbers are assigned to your name. The range of numbers is put into a Random Number Calculator and the winning number is chosen! I’ll announce the winner on May 28th! Once contacted, the winner will have three days to respond to me as an acknowledgment of being a winner. If I do not receive a reply within the allotted time, I will pick another winner. Good luck!

*What’s your favorite dessert?

For Example: Mine’s cheesecake! Chocolate-covered ANYTHING ties in at second place though. P.S. The picture to the right is a slice of Maple Sugar Cream pie (click here for the recipe)! 

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

The Winner of Downward Dog, Upward Fog

Congratulations Krista!

You’ve won a copy of Downward Dog, Upward Fog! I’ve sent an email to you. Please send back an email with your address to receive your prize! If for some reason you did not receive the email, simply comment below and I will resend it. Thank you so much for your comment and for your support of this website! A HUGE thanks to everyone who commented!

Review of Downward Dog, Upward Fog + Giveaway

*We’re giving away the debut novel of award-wining writer, Meryl Davids Landau, whose work has appeared in Glamour, O The Oprah Magazine, and Reader’s Digest.

*Read on for the review and your chance to win a copy of her novel, Downward Dog, Upward Fog.

–Giveaway ends March 18th– 

When someone cuts in front of you while you’re driving, do you feel a touch of anger bubbling up beneath the surface?

Do you feel like something is missing from your life? I’m not just talking about marriage, children, or a career. It’s more of a general state of unease. An inability to be more optimistic, a wish to feel more content, or simply a desire to be less irritated.

Then you and Lorna have a lot in common. Lorna Crawford is the star in a truly unique novel by Meryl Davids Landau.

Lorna almost has it all. She has a longtime boyfriend, fabulous friends, and a well-paying job. But if you dig a little deeper, you begin to learn that Lorna feels a void in her heart. She’s not as happy as she feels she should be. In search of something more, she dives into a silent yoga retreat.

Lorna comes home enlightened but that’s when the real struggle begins. She must face the looming uncertainty of her relationship’s true future, judgmental girlfriends, and of course, her critical mother. Can she face the problems in her life and stay on the spiritual path she’s seeking? How can meditation help?

Downward Dog, Upward Fog is made for women who are searching for a deeper meaning to life. If you’re a fan of Sophie Kinsella or Eat, Pray, Love, you’re in luck. This novel is the combination of the two. It’s also perfect if you’re looking for a fresh piece of fiction that doesn’t fall into tiresome-old themes.

While reading this book, I felt like I was able to travel down Lorna’s spiritual path with her. You can tell that the author isn’t just a yoga fan. She’s a huge yoga fan. This wasn’t too surprising once I discovered that she studied yoga, meditation, and Hindu Philosophy at the Integral Yoga Institute in New York and Buckingham, Virginia. The level of detail in this book as a result of Meryl’s own personal journey into the practice was educational and inspiring to say the least.

If you’re on your own personal path to dig deeper in your own sense of well-being, this novel is for you. If you’re looking to be enticed to do so, this will make you crave mediation!

*To Enter for a chance to Win a Copy of Downward Dog, Upward Fog:

Simply leave a comment answering the following bolded question!

Rules for this contest:

*You can enter anytime from right now up to Sunday (March 18th). Those who comment will be entered to win. This giveaway is U.S. only–sorry! When you comment, you will be asked for your email address. This information will not be made public. It will only be used to contact the winner. You must provide your name.

For additional entries and chances to win:

*Subscribe to this blog!

*Become a member on Facebook: The Write Stuff

*Follow me on Twitter

*Twitter, Facebook, or Blog about the contest (you must provide a separate comment that you did this with a link).

Every name is assigned a random number. The more you enter, the more numbers are assigned to your name. The range of numbers is put into a Random Number Calculator and the winning number is chosen! I’ll announce the winner on March 19th! Once contacted, the winner will have three days to email me their mailing addresses. If I do not receive a reply within the allotted time, I will pick another winner. Good luck!

*Do you have any plans for Saint Patrick’s Day?

For Example: Typically, I actually don’t celebrate it. This year though, I’m going to use temporary hair-streakers to get green highlights. Then my husband and I will be tracking down green drinks….and I’ll also tell anyone who asks, “I’m Irish.” 😉 

Tagged ,

Monday Updates + New Contests + Simple Yoga Tips

*For the next two weeks, we’re giving away the debut novel of award-wining writer, Meryl Davids Landau, whose work has appeared in GlamourO The Oprah Magazine, and Reader’s Digest. Check back later today to read the review and enter for your chance to win a copy of her novel, Downward Dog, Upward Fog.

In spirt of her novel which is based on yoga, meditation, and spiritual growth, I have a few how-to articles of mine that are perfect for beginners:

Stress-Reducing One-Minute Yoga: 3 Techniques you can do in three minutes or less.

Reduce Tension in Your Neck and Shoulders: Tips to alleviate back and neck pain for good.

Video: Five Ways to Reenergize Yourself

Staying Mindful in our Daily Communications: There is one thing we all want as we live our lives: to love and to be loved.

Tips to Help You Keep Calm: When all else fails, you need to step out of the box!

Tagged , , ,

The Winner of the $25 Beauty Giveaway!

Congratulations Faith Wafford!

You’ve won the $25 Prize Pack Beauty Giveaway! I’ve sent an email to you. Please send back an email with your address to receive your prize! If for some reason you did not receive the email, simply comment below and I will resend it. Thank you so much for your comment and for your support of this website! A HUGE thanks to everyone who commented!

Winner of The Wicked Wit of Jane Austen

Congratulations Jane Cook!

You’ve won a copy of The Wicked Wit of Jane Austen by Dominique Enright! I’ve sent an email to you. Please send back an email with your address to receive your prize! If for some reason you did not receive the email, simply comment below and I will resend it. Thank you so much for your comment and for your support of this website! A HUGE thanks to everyone who commented!

Review + Giveaway: The Wicked Wit of Jane Austen

*Santa’s already here! Read my review and check out your chance to win your very own copy!

The Wicked Wit of Jane Austen (set to be released in January 2012) is collection of Jane’s wittiest observations and musings from her novels to personal letters she sent to those closest to her. In addition to her classic novels such as Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, you’re given a glimpse into the many thoughts she sent to her sister, Cassandra, and a whole host of family members.

To give you an idea of how the book is laid out:

*Here are the chapters: In a Manner Truly Heroick: Early Exuberances, A Great Deal of It Must be Invention: History, Another Stupid Party: Balls, Gowns and Other Fashions, In a Fine Burst of Literary Enthusiasm: Books and Writing, The Rich are Always Respectable, A Truth Universally Acknowledged: The Marriage Market, The Nature of their Attachments: Men and Women, Jane Austen in Love–and Not, A Neighborhood of Voluntary Spies, Vanity Working on a Weak Head: The Absurdity of Self-Regard and Affectation, The Dissipations of London, the Luxuries of Bath, A Fine Family, Of Sterling Insignificance, One Half Cannot Understand the Other: Observations General and Particular, and I am a Very Good Housekeeper.

*Under each chapter are a collection of hilarious quotes. Quotes such as this one sent from Jane to her sister in June of 1799, “My hair was at least tidy, which was all my ambition.” And that just so happens to be my exact ambition today!

I enjoyed reading the chapters and seeing the best of Jane from her novels and a new insight into her thoughts and events that took place off the fiction pages and in her daily life. I think that author, Dominique Enright, compiled a truly masterful list that allows Jane Austen fans to continue to muse over her writing, ideas, and thoughts. While I’m not a die-hard Jane Austen fan, I’m quickly becoming one with this book and its making me more interested in her novels just by reading it. With that I leave you with another favorite quote from Emma, “One cannot have too large a party. A large party secures its own amusement.”

*To Enter for a chance to Win a Copy of The Wicked Wit of Jane Austen:

Simply leave a comment answering the following bolded question!

Rules for this contest:

*You can enter anytime from right now up to Friday (Dec. 23rd). Those who comment will be entered to win. This giveaway is U.S. only–sorry! When you comment, you will be asked for your email address. This information will not be made public. It will only be used to contact the winner. You must provide your name.

For additional entries and chances to win:

*Subscribe to this blog!

*Become a member on Facebook: The Write Stuff

*Follow me on Twitter

*Twitter, Facebook, or Blog about the contest (you must provide a separate comment that you did this with a link).

Every name is assigned a random number. The more you enter, the more numbers are assigned to your name. The range of numbers is put into a Random Number Calculator and the winning number is chosen! I’ll announce the winner on Dec. 26th! Once contacted, the winners will have three days to email me their mailing addresses. If I do not receive a reply within the allotted time, I will pick another winner. Good luck!

*What are your Christmas traditions? 

For Example: As part of a German tradition, my family has always opened gifts on Christmas Eve which I’ve always cherished! 

Tagged ,

Winner of the Query Letter-Critique Giveaway!

Congratulations KimberlyFDR!

You’ve won the Query Letter Crtique Giveaway by Mindy McGinnis! I’ve sent an email to you. Please send back an email with your address to receive your prize! If for some reason you did not receive the email, simply comment below and I will resend it. Thank you so much for your comment and for your support of this website! A HUGE thanks to everyone who commented!

Interview with Author Mindy McGinnis + Query Letter Critique Giveaway!

Mindy McGinnis from Writer, Writer, Pants on Fire is represented by Adriann Ranta of Wolf Literary, and her novel, which just sold to a publisher, is a YA dystopian titled NOT A DROP TO DRINK!

Mindy’s been in the business of seriously pursuing book publishing for ten years. She wrote a few books and had her share of rejections before writing her YA novel, Not a Drop to Drink and signing with an agent. She’s here to tell us all about what she learned!

*For a giveaway, read on for your chance to be one of the lucky writers to have their query letter for a book critiqued by Mindy herself!

1) When and why did you decide to write a novel?

Long and short of it is that I’ve always known I wanted to be a writer. Also, I double majored in English Literature and Religion in college, yet never went for a teaching license. So other than deciphering LOST episodes, I’m kinda unemployable.

2) Lol! Love LOST. So how did you get your agent? What was the query process like?

I landed Adriann Ranta through the good old traditional query process. Yes, it really does work sometimes. I did conferences, blog contests, all the things that are non-traditional. And yet, the query is what got me in. If you’d like to read the query itself, it’s up on my blog.

Um, the query process was like having your teeth pulled everyday only to have them grow back again overnight. Very Prometheus-ish.

3) Astute description…seriously perfect! How long did it take you to write your novel?

I’ve been writing for ten years, and querying on and off for the same period of time. I’d decided that if this wasn’t the ms that got me in, nothing would. So, I told myself 1k a day, and then I made that happen. I think I wrote NOT A DROP TO DRINK in about a month and a half, that’s not including edits.

4) Wow. Now that your book sold, what advice would you give to aspiring writers?

My first bit of clichéd advice is to never, never give up. Churchill style. My second piece of advice is that if you can see yourself doing anything else for a career, do that instead. Also, grow a thick skin. Like maybe even some kind of exoskeleton.

5) Tell me about your debut novel, Not a Drop to Drink

DRINK is set in the not-so-distant future when freshwater is incredibly scarce. My main character, Lynn, has spent her entire life on a Midwestern farm defending the small pond in the backyard. She’s basically been sniping people without questioning the morality of the situation since she was nine years old. After she loses her Mother – the only person she’s ever spoken to in her life – she has to decide whether she is going to reach out to some distant neighbors for  assistance to get through the winter, or if she’s going to stick to her upbringing and tough it out alone.

6) How did you come up with the idea?

I’m a fan of documentaries and I watched one called “Blue Gold” about freshwater shortages. Then I went to sleep and dreamed the novel. I happen to have a pond in my backyard, btw.

7) Are you working on a new novel…and can you give us any hints??!

I’m ¾’s of the way through the sequel to DRINK. It can stand on its own if needs be, but there was more story to tell, and it’s finding its way to paper.

8 ) Congrats! What else are you working on or do you in your spare time?

Blah. Everything. I work full time as a YA librarian in the public school system. I adore my job, and so few people can say that. I also blog at Writer, Writer, Pants on Fire where I have a few ongoing series of interviews with writers, agents, and industry bloggers, as well as book reviews. I contribute to a group blog at From the Write Angle, serve as a site moderator at AgentQuery Connect (which I credit with my landing an agent in the first place), and you can usually find me hanging out in the #yalitchat on Twitter most Wednesday evenings under the name @bigblackcat97.

So yeah in my spare time, I network.

I tried sleeping once. It didn’t go so well.

9) If you could meet any author (dead or alive) who would it be and why?

Great frackin’ question. I’m going to surprise you and say Charles Dickens, because that dude was funny. The classics are so not boring. Dickens is hilarious in a dry sort of way, which is very me.

**Mindy just sold her book, Not a Drop to Drink and it’s sequel, to a publishing house! CONGRATULATIONS Mindy!! We can’t wait to read it!

*To Enter for a chance to Win a the Query Letter Critique:

Simply leave a comment answering the following bolded question!

Rules for this contest:

*You can enter anytime from right now up to Sunday (Nov. 20th). Those who comment will be entered to win. This giveaway is open to everyone! When you comment, you will be asked for your email address. This information will not be made public. It will only be used to contact the winner. You must provide your name.

For additional entries and chances to win:

*Subscribe to this blog!

*Become a member on Facebook: The Write Stuff

*Follow me on Twitter

*Twitter, Facebook, or Blog about the contest (you must provide a separate comment that you did this with a link).

Every name is assigned a random number. The more you enter, the more numbers are assigned to your name. The range of numbers is put into a Random Number Calculator and the winning number is chosen! I’ll announce the winners on Nov. 14th! Once contacted, the winners will have three days to email me their mailing addresses. If I do not receive a reply within the allotted time, I will pick another winner. Good luck!

*When did you realize you wanted to write be an author?

For Example: I’ve always wanted to be one but it wasn’t until a year ago that I wrote my 1st YA novel. I’m just realizing I have a lot to learn! The Road to Publishing is a long one but it’s worth it. It’s my biggest dream 🙂

Tagged , , , ,