Posts tagged with: Free-For-All Friday

Free-For-All Friday: Crowd-sourced Promotion Insights

Readers of the Ruby blog may know that I’ve been waiting out a rights reversion timeline with my former publisher. I have good news and bad news.

The good news? I obtained publication rights back for my traditionally-published Underbelly Chronicles books in December! If my plans hold, I’ll be able to reissue those books sometime during the first quarter of 2017, and publish ENTHRALL ME, Tia and Wyland’s story, later this year. 

The bad news? I haven’t published a book in over three years – eep! – and what little insight I had into promoting indie books – any books – is woefully obsolete. It must be said, I suck at promotion. As a lifelong Minnesotan, and a massive introvert, I probably come by this honestly, but I loathe inflicting promotion on others, and I’m really good at ignoring promotion I might see or receive.  

/wincing/ Yeah, I know….    #PROMOFAIL

So that’s where you come in! I’d love to pick your brains. As authors, where and how you promote your books? As readers, how do you learn about new books in ways that don’t annoy you?

A few questions to kick things off:

  • Is “first book perma-free” still a thing?
  • Do you place ads? Notice others’ ads? If so, where?
  • Blog tours: Worth the time, or not?
  • Publicists: do they provide value?
  • Social media: what role does it play in your promo strategy?
  • Amazon-only, or wide release? Pros and cons
  • BookBub: still the Holy Grail of ad buys, but can you recommend alternatives?
  • Contests and giveaways: what,  if anything, do readers value?
  • SWAG: useful or not?
  • Signings and personal appearances: do readers actually care?

I hope this post kicks off a lively, wide-ranging discussion, and ultimately serves as a resource for others who might have some of the same questions I do.

Thanks in advance for your input!


What Are You Thankful For?

Thanksgiving is the time of year where the concept of thankfulness is visibly front and center.

By personality and profession, I’m a problem-solver, instinctively attuned to recognizing, and then correcting, problems, exceptions, deviations and anomalies. Sometimes I need a reminder to break out of problem-solving mode, and consciously acknowledge the things I’m thankful for. Thanksgiving gives me that reminder.

Things I’m Thankful For, in no particular order:

Good health: For those of us living with chronic illness, the concept of good health is sometimes a day-to-day thing, but all things considered? 2013 was a pretty great year. I barely met my insurance deductible! Speaking of which: I am thankful to have health insurance.

Modern medicine: Every time I grumble about how many sticks it takes for me to have blood taken, I try to remember that had I been born even a decade earlier, I likely would have died during my teen years. I’m thankful for butterfly syringes, with their small-gauge needles!

Employment: I survived yet another round of corporate layoffs – oh, excuse me – “limited restructuring.” In this economic climate, I feel so fortunate to have a job that challenges me, and a regular paycheck, when so many equally capable people don’t. And did I mention, yay health insurance! 😉

Family and Friends: They may not always understand me, but they always have my back.

Democracy: I feel fortunate to have been born to parents who live in a democratic society, where, within the scope of the laws of the land, I can say anything, do anything, be anything. As someone who lives some aspects of her life outside prevailing cultural norms, believe me I don’t take this for granted.

Last but not least…

TamaraHogan_TouchMe_200pxREADERS!! This year, I reconnected with the joy and exhilaration I felt when I TamaraHogan_TemptMe_200pxwrote my very first book – before I sold and writing became /gulp/ a job.

Thank you to READERS everywhere, who give writers yet one more reason to listen to these voices in our heads, and to push our words out into the world.

What are you thankful for this year?

TOUCH ME (6/13)   Kindle | Nook | Kobo | iBooks  | ARe | Smashwords
TEMPT ME (10/13)  Print | Kindle | Nook | Kobo | iBooks  | ARe | Smashwords | Createspace

Free-for-All Friday: What are you researching?

Thriller writer Chelsea Cain recently tweeted:

ChelseaCain Tweet


I see I’m not the only writer who has these concerns, especially given recent revelations about government data collection. Um…NSA? FBI? DoJ? LMNOP? You know that very specific research I did recently, with the body decomposition rates in a very specific geographic area under very specific weather conditions?

It was research. Really. Kthxbai.

Every story, regardless of its historical era and no matter how reality-based or speculative the world, requires research to maximize the story’s authenticity. My recent research forays have included hematology, twerking, theoretical physics, burner phones, the House of Draculesti, Tasers, and Justin Bieber’s latest unfortunate tattoo.

Any government agency trying to build a digital profile of any author is going to have a mighty hard time. 😉

What are you researching right now? Please share some of the weird, unexpected, notable, or interesting areas you’ve researched for a recent writing project. Did you learn anything that surprised you?


GIVEAWAYS! Today, Ruby Sister Hope Ramsay and I are two of the featured authors at Dear Author‘s August Giveaway Extravaganza, celebrating romance readers for the entire month! Pop on over to have a chance to win our books.

Psssst! You don’t have to go to Dear Author to learn that my self-published Underbelly Chronicles e-novella, TOUCH ME, is free at Amazon Aug. 9-11! Grab one, fast! 😉 And if you’re so inclined, I’d appreciate your honest review!



Tell my Why, Eye, Eye.

Warning.  This is silly and totally off topic from writing but here goes.

While editing an MS making sure I’d answered all the whys in the story I realized I had my own real life unanswered why questions. Like:

Why doesn’t someone make a riding vacuum cleaner?

Why do people going to the gym look for a close parking space?

Why do we press harder on a remote control when we know the batteries are about dead?

Why do banks charge a fee on ‘insufficient funds’ when they know there is insufficient money?

Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars, but they fricking have to check when you say the paint is wet?

Why doesn’t glue stick to the inside of the bottle?

Why doesn’t Tarzan have a beard?

Why does Superman stop bullets with his chest, but ducks when a revolver is thrown at him?

Why does a slight tax increase cost you $200.00 and a substantial tax cut saves you $30.00?

Why did people in the 60s take acid to make the world weird and now that the world is weird take Prozac to make it normal?

Why do dog food ads say they contain only the freshest most natural ingredients? People food ads talk about convenience and how much your kids will love yellow dye mixed with sugar.

Why are cereals, popular in the US, banned in the rest of the world?

If people evolved from apes, why are there still apes?

Why is it no matter what color bubble bath you use, the bubbles are always white?

Why is there never a day that mattresses are not on sale?

Why do people touch a pregnant woman’s belly and say congrats but never touch a guy’s penis and say good job?

Why do people constantly return to the refrigerator with hopes that something new to eat will have materialized?

Why do some people keep reading a bad book to the bitter end to see if it’s going to get better?

Why when you finally get time to watch TV there is nothing on the 10 million channels you want to watch?

Why did I get such pleasure naming my wifi connection FBIsurvan?

Why is it that whenever you attempt to catch something that’s falling off the table, you always manage to knock something else over?

Why do people in Canada want to sell me their medication?

Why does Windows IE think it’s necessary to tell me it blocked a pop up with a pop up?

Why does the internet think I’ll watch a 30 second ad to see a 20 second video?


Did you ever think that-

Someday health nuts are going to feel stupid dying of nothing.

All of us could take a lesson from the weather. It pays no attention to criticism.

Good health is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die.

Give a person a sandwich and you feed them for a day, teach a person to use the internet and they won’t bother you for weeks.

Men have two emotions:

Hungry and Horny. 😉  BTW if you see one without an erection, make him a sandwich.

Some people are like a Slinky … Not really good for anything, but you still can’t help but smile when you shove them down the stairs.

Life is like eating a jar of Jalapeno peppers. What you do today, might burn your ass tomorrow.

We know exactly where one cow with Mad-cow-disease or one chicken with bird flu is located among millions but we haven’t got a clue as to where criminals and terrorists are located. Maybe we should put the Department of Agriculture in charge of finding them.

The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four persons is suffering from some sort of mental illness. Think of three friends — if they’re okay, could it be you. That is unless I’m one of the friends you’re thinking about.

Can you answer my questions?  Do you have any unanswered why questions?

During her sane moments Rita writes sexy stories about Extraordinary Women and the Men they Love.


Ruby Holiday Survey Results

The results are in! I feel a little like Ryan Seacrest right now, holding the sealed envelope containing all the juicy info. Ha!

But before I reveal the responses, I want to say a BIG THANK YOU to everyone who took the Ruby Holiday Survey. We had 43 people participate. Not too shabby, considering how busy everybody is at this time of year.

Now…let’s have a look at the data, shall we?

1. Which December movie do you most want to see?

The Hobbit – 38%

Cirque du Soleil – 5%

Les Miserables – 57%

2. Which TV series do you anticipate most in 2013?

Downton Abbey – 42%

The Walking Dead – 8%

Castle – 50%

Write-ins: none (2), Once Upon a Time (2), Sherlock (2), Justified, Touch, Scandal, Smash, Supernatural, Fringe, Arrow, Deadliest Catch

 3. Best holiday pie?

apple – 38%

pumpkin – 31%

chocolate cheesecake – 31%

4. Best holiday drink?

egg nog – 35%

champagne – 30%

double whip mocha – 35%

5. Who would you most like to meet under the mistletoe?

Mr. Darcy – 64%

Christian Grey – 4%

Jamie Fraser – 32%

Write-ins: Roarke(3), hubby (2), Wolverine/Hugh Jackman (2), JL Mealer, James Bond, Hawke, Izzy Zanella, Nathan Fillion, Matt Foster, Dallas Beaudine, Blade Tyburn, no one

6. Most likely to:

cook a feast – 44%

order in – 19%

head out to family’s or friend’s house – 37%

7. Would you rather…

hit the slopes – 12%

hit the mall – 0%

stay at home in front of the fire (with a book!) – 88%


 8. When it comes to wrapping presents, you’re most likely to…

use festive paper and matching bows – 55%

stick them in gift bags – 28%

bribe someone else to do it for you – 17%

9. Best Christmas cookie?

gingerbread man – 35%

cut out sugar cookies with sprinkles – 35%

snowball – 9%

chocolate chip – 21%

10. Where I stand on holiday shopping:

Presents are wrapped and ready to go – 12%

Mostly done; still need to wrap a few – 57%

Starting to panic – 24%

Will be at the mall on Dec. 24th – 7%

Analysis: The data suggests that we are a mall-averse, book-loving people. We take our pies, cookies, and drinks seriously. Our mistletoe preferences tend to be specific, understandably so.

Your turn! What do you take away from the numbers? Did anything surprise you?

Ugly Ornament Party (plus bonus survey & giveaway!)

Grab some eggnog, friends, and gather ‘round! Today, we celebrate…the ugly ornament.

They’re the unsung heroes of the Christmas tree. The macaroni angel you made in kindergarten. The evil nutcracker Aunt Phyllis gave you as a housewarming gift. The “hand blown glass” football that your husband got free with a tank of gas. (The same one that, defying all odds, survived the tree crash of 1998 and the cat attack of 2005.)

They come in all shapes and sizes and have all sorts of juicy history behind them. You know what? We think they need a little love too. So here, for your viewing pleasure, are a few ugly ornaments—courtesy of the Rubies.

Free-For-All Friday: What Are Your Can’t-Live-Without Writing Supplies?

It’s almost the end of summer (sob), and as the days get shorter I inevitably develop the desperate desire to hoard writing supplies. I’m sure this comes from the annual pilgrimage to buy school supplies in my lost youth — even though I opened my last textbook almost a decade ago, I still feel like fall is a great time to stock up.

In honor of the end of summer, this Free-For-All Friday is all about your favorite school supplies — whether it’s something you had as a child, supplies for your adult life that you can’t live without, or that special something that’s on your wishlist. What writing supplies are you coveting? Anything goes — I’d love to hear what’s on your shopping list (and maybe steal some of your wishlist for myself!).

Free-for-All Friday – The Gift of Stories

I love the Christmas season.  I love singing carols, putting up the tree, driving around looking at lights, baking cookies, and dressing up for parties.

Yet, of all the things I adore about this season, I love Christmas stories the most.  I can’t get enough of them.  My floor is littered with Christmas books.  The big TV stays tuned to the Hallmark Movie Channel.  And family tradition demands a trek downtown to catch The Polar Express at the IMAX.

This year, I’m giving the gift of stories.

Free-For-All Friday: Reading Edition

It’s Friday (hooray!) and once again, the Rubies are here to answer your questions about writing. Or life. Whichever is more fun. 😉

I thought I’d mention something that for me has been a drawback to being a writer. (What? Negativity? How dare I!) Okay, hold on to your tomatoes and hear me out. Maybe it’ll spark a discussion.

I used to read a LOT of books. I’d go through several a week, easy peasy. Now it’s down to one every month or two. Absolutely pitiful!

Sure, I’m busier now than I used to be…but I’m also pickier. Now that I know more about what goes on behind the scenes (*snort*) in writing a book, it takes a really good one to pull me out of perma-analyze mode and hook my undivided attention as a reader. It’s not fair to the books that cross my path and it’s not good for my enjoyment level. I mean, how many of my favorite childhood classics—books I love and am completely nostalgic for even as I read them—would I still love if I were freshly introduced to them today? Yikes, I shudder to think. This problem happens to me with movies, too. It’s harder to sit back and just be entertained.

I love being an author and wouldn’t change that for anything, but when I started, I didn’t realize what I might be giving up by learning to write: much of my reading pleasure. I just don’t gobble books up the way I used to, with the sheer joy of discovery.

Or is it just me? LOL.

Feel free to add your $.02 on the pros and cons of the authorial life—or heck, on anything else. It’s a great big world out there. You got questions? We got yeh answehs right heah.

Free-for-All Friday: The Stocking Stuffer Edition

We’ve all been good little writers, haven’t we?

Oh my.  What’s this?  Some of the Rubies have been naughty?  Shocking!

No matter.  ‘Tis the season to stuff stockings!

I love stocking stuffers.  (In case my husband is reading this, big presents are fabulous too.  Laptops, J. Crew sweaters, and designer handbags would not be unwelcome.)  But there’s something extra sweet about finding a thoughtful, quirky gift hiding in the toe of your stocking.

Here are a few small-but-fun, writerly items to put on your list for Santa.

Eye Mask – perfect for writer’s conferences, retreats, and pajama parties.

Snoozies – more comfortable than slippers; warmer than socks.  They’ll make your feet happy.

Arm Warmers – keep your hands warm and leave your fingers free for typing.

Craft Books – check out the great recommendations by our Gwynlyn and the other Rubies.

Sticky notes and highlighters – great for plotting boards, revisions, and notes reminding one’s self to write a blog post.

Reading Light – the small clippable kind works great with hardbacks, paperbacks, and e-readers.

Chocolate – goes without saying.  Must finish this before New Year’s diet begins.

Ruby Charm – flaunt your Rubiness!

What are you hoping to find in your stocking?  Please share!  Three commenters, chosen at random, will receive a Ruby Charm like the one pictured!

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