Posts tagged with: giveaway

Flash Fiction Friday!

It’s FRIDAY, y’all!


Hi, all! *waves madly*  I’m joining Darynda in hosting Flash Fiction Fridays. But I’m going to do things a little differently. Yeah, I march to the beat of a slightly out of tune drum. Once a month, I’ll give you a writing prompt, dialogue prompt, or idea prompt. I’ll even give you multiple directions you might go with the prompt. Your word counts can be as little as a line or two up to 300 words. No pressure! This is supposed to be a fun way to get those creative juices flowing. Who knows, maybe a quickie exercise will form into a short story, poem, song, or novel.

Can I get a drum roll, please? *badbadabada* Here’s your prompt.

This begs the question, what flavor ice cream? Priorities, people. The right flavor makes all the difference.

So what is the crime and what prompted her to want to commit such a deed? Is she desperate? Angry? Hormonal? What has made her that way? Money? Love? Betrayal? Revenge? The relentless summer heat?

Share your ideas and/or post your creations and I’ll give away one digital copy of The Righteous Side of Wicked.










Remember, this is all in fun and a no-judgment zone. The Rubies would love to hear from you! 




Welcome to another episode of Flash Fiction Friday! We have a special bribe incentive for those participating in today’s exercise.

We are giving away a critique!

That’s right, boys and girls. One participant will win a 5-page critique from yours truly, chosen using, so get those brain cells ready.

I thought I’d make today’s challenge super fun with a visual prompt. So let’s hone our skills and sharpen our creative minds by writing about this foreboding picture (it IS October, after all) in 50 words or less:

To enter today’s giveaway, tell us a story using this picture as your creative muse in 50 WORDS OR LESS and post it in the comments below. That’s it! That’s all there is to it. There’ nothing more…

OOPS! Wait, there IS more.

Have fun with this!

Don’t stress over perfection. I’m convinced there is no such thing. And read the other entries! Comments and encouragement are welcome!

Good luck!  

Ruby Cookie Exchange Hop!

**AND WE HAVE A WINNER!!!!!!**  Kay Pflueger, congratulations!! And thanks to everyone who joined us. We hope it made your holiday season just a little brighter!


Happy Holidays! In this season of parties and festive treats, the Rubies would like to share our fabulous cookies with you! So start hopping through our Holiday Cookie Exchange for recipes and a chance to win a $100 gift card!

Thank you for all your support over the year! Reading, reviewing, telling us that you love our characters and worlds… Thank you! You are the delicious, melty cookies in our tall glasses of cold milk!

To thank you, we are sharing our favorite recipes, which will help you win every neighborhood cookie exchange that you enter!


 To hop along, just click on each of the links in the list below to jump to a Ruby’s web site, blog or FB page for that Ruby’s favorite cookie recipe. Keep track of the cookies and e-mail your complete list of Rubies favorite cookies to (include “Cookie Exchange List” in the subject) to enter the grand prize. The winner of the $100 gift card will be drawn on December 12, in time for more holiday shopping!

While hopping, remember to sign up for Ruby newsletters or Like/Follow their FB pages to keep up to date on book releases and author events.

Enjoy and we hope you have a delicious holiday season! Ruby Slippered Sisters


Diana Layne –

Heather McCollum –

Lizzie Shane –

Julia Day –

Jennifer Bray Weber –

Katie Graykowski –

Lara Archer 

Hope Ramsay –

Liz Talley –

Elizabeth Essex –


Trick-or-Treat Halloween Hop with the Rubies!

Happy Halloween! To celebrate this spooky-fun season, we have treats and tricks for all of you (and they’re calorie free)!

Just click on each of the links below to hop to a Ruby’s web site, blog or FB page for Halloween fun. Rubies will have giveaways or fun tricks and treats waiting for you.

“Collect” the candy from each Ruby. When you’ve filled your virtual trick-or-treat bag with all the candy, e-mail your list of each Ruby’s favorite candy to to enter the drawing for the $100 grand prize! Please put Ruby HH Candy Entry in the subject line. The winner will be announced on November 1!

While visiting door-to-door, remember to sign up for author newsletters or Follow and Like their FB pages to keep up-to-date on book releases and author events.


Enjoy and have fun!

Time to Trick-or-Treat!

Heather McCollum –

Tamara Hogan-

Autumn Jordon –

Shelley Coriell –

Julia Day –

Jennifer Bray Weber –

Jacie Floyd –

Rita Henuber –

Kate Parker –

Katie Graykowski –

Lara Archer 

Hope Ramsay –

Kim Law –

Vivi Andrews –

Diana Layne –…od-halloween-hop/

Darynda Jones –

Ruby Cookie Exchange Hop


Happy Holidays Everyone! Thank you so much for joining us for our Ruby Cookie Exchange. Sixteen Ruby Sisters are sharing their fabulous, homemade cookie recipes with you. Try some out and become the star of the next neighborhood cookie exchange, holiday open house or festive party. And while you are having fun with the cookies, one lucky hopper will win a $150 gift card to Amazon! Just in time for last minute holiday shopping.

Follow these four easy steps:

1. Hop to each link below, which will take you to a Ruby Slippered Sister’s FB page, web site or blog. While you’re there please like, follow or sign up for a newsletter if you would like to stay up to date on new releases and Ruby author happenings.

2. Discover a new cookie recipe on each site.

3. Collect the name of the cookies from each Ruby sister, and e-mail the total list to when you are complete. Please use the subject line “COOKIE LIST.” The list must be turned in by midnight EST on December 12th.

4. A grand prize winner of a $150 gift card to Amazon will be selected randomly from those who collected and turned in the name of all the cookies. The winner must respond within 24 hours to claim prize and we will announce the winner hopefully by December 14th.

Easy, delicious and fun! Thanks so much for hopping along!


Readers start your ovens. Three … two … one … start cookie collecting! And have a fantastic holiday!

Hugs, Ruby Slippered Sisters


Ruby Cookie Exchange

Autumn Jordon –

Lizzie Shane  –

Rita Henuber –

Elizabeth Langston –

Heather McCollum –

Shelley Coriell –

Laurie Kellogg – 

Liz Talley –

AnneMarie Becker –,_Author/Home.html

Jeannie Lin –

Diana Layne –…-cookie-exchange/ 

Lara Archer –

Jennifer Bray-Weber –

Kate Parker –

Katie Graykowski –

Jacie Floyd – 

A Writer’s Little Helpers

Twenty years ago, the only tools I needed for a productive writing session were a sharp pencil and a fresh notepad. But that was before the internet. Now my already short attention span gets pulled in every direction. So to increase my word count or to even get a single word on the page, I need help from high- and low-tech writing tools. These are a few of my favourites:


I’ve raved on about this internet-blocking software before, and for good reason—it’s simple and it works. Activate Freedom and it’ll become impossible to connect to the internet or email from five minutes to 12 whole hours. The only way to override it is to shut down your computer. Honestly, it’s the best $10 I ever spent. If I have 15 minutes spare, I will switch on Freedom and write at least 250 words. The same developer created another app called Anti-Social ($15). This doesn’t cut you off entirely — you can block specific sites that are most likely to drag you into a cyber black hole. (Hello, Pinterest! Or should I say goodbye?)


Write or Die

If you need a good scare to get you working, the web-based Write or Die is perfect for you. Set a word-count target and the time in which you want to achieve it. Fail to meet your target and the app will emit a poisonous substance that will kill you in three seconds display a consequence, like a disturbing image or an annoying alarm. It’s not all dire — select Reward mode and ye shall receive pleasing sights and sounds when you reach your goal. This app is $20, and there’s an option to try before you buy.



I no longer use plain old MS Word to write my manuscripts. Instead, I work with Scrivener. It allows me to keep plotting and revision notes, critiques, synopses, images, research, and the manuscript in one file. I haven’t explored every function of the software; I’m learning new things all the time. Ruby sis Anne Marie Becker alerted me to a target tracker, which is great if you’re a visual person and like to see your word count grow in chart form. (In Scrivener, go to the Project menu —> Show Project Targets.) I also love the random name generator in Scrivener (Edit menu —>Writing Tools —> Name Generator). Prior to that discovery, I used Name Dice for iPhone to come up with first and last name combinations.

 For great advice on using Scrivener, check out these past Ruby posts:



This alternative to virtual and paper sticky notes allows you to float ideas and images on your virtual desktop in one handy document. I use Scapple when brainstorming or working through a synopsis. It’s made by the people who devised Scrivener and can be yours for $14.99. Free trial available.



Dragon Dictation

Note to self: Use a voice recognition app when weary hands demand a break. Dragon Dictation is a freakishly accurate app for iPhone and iPad as well as Android. A desktop version is available, but it’s considerably more expensive.


Writing Prompts

The Amazing Story Generator by Jason Sacher is a fun flipbook designed to spark thousands of plot ideas. The spiral-bound pages are horizontally divided into three elements – an introductory clause, a subject, and predicate. For instance, In a post-apocalyptic world, a computer hacker is transported to a new galaxy. Flip just one of those elements — say, the subject — and you could find a more comical direction: In a post-apocalyptic world, a clown in training is transported to a new galaxy.


Here’s my cat being very unhelpful indeed:

 ’Tis the season for giving, so I’m *giving away* a copy of Freedom for your Mac or PC! All you have to do is tell me what makes you more productive or what sucks your time away. Who’s game to write a story about a trainee clown in a new galaxy?


Prelim ASTR 2014-01-10 at 2.25.56 PMHuzzah!  Today is my release day celebration of my 9th book, A SCANDAL TO REMEMBER, the 5th book in my Reckless Brides series.

I am both excited and happy to final bring this book to you. Why ‘finally’? Because writing this book nearly killed me. Actually, it was appendicitis that nearly killed me, but it was because I was deep in the process of writing this book, and hard up against a deadline, that I ignored my body’s rather strenuous objections and warning signs until it was nearly too late. 

In the aftermath I realized that I had written my own drama into the book: I had created two characters who fail to recognize their own warning signs of impending disaster until it is very nearly too late for them. 

Interested? Here’s an excerpt:

Isle of Wight, and the whole of the coast of England, was slipping away to the stern. Nothing could stop Jane Burke now. Not Sir Richard, nor the snide derision of the crew. Nor even Lieutenant Dance’s strange ability to soothe and discompose her all at the same time. 

Perhaps the Bible verse had it wrong—it was not the truth, but her lie that had set her free. The irony could only make her laugh. 

“You seem well entertained this morning, Miss Burke.” While she had been watching the isle, Lieutenant Charles Dance had been watching her. 

Jane tried to combat the rising heat in her face by turning into the wind. “It has been a most instructional morning.”

A twisted-up half-smile threatened to steal across his face. “And have all your—what did you call them?—collecting expeditions been as instructive?”

“If only.” But Jane thought it best to say no more on the subject of instruction, and what she had learned this morning. And so she instructed herself to smile more serenely while she prayed that her face did not color with betraying heat. “But I am very much looking forward to learning more.”

The lieutenant’s sharp, all-seeing glance slid across her face so fast she was surprised it didn’t cut her.

Oh, Lord. And there was the suffocating heat. It was a good thing the wind was chilling, or she would be as overheated as a boiled turnip. “I mean, I am very much looking forward to this overseas expedition. I have never collected outside of Britain, nor taken such a long expedition before. Two months is hardly the same as two years.”

“Yes, hardly the same.” His green, green gaze, which had moved on in a constant inspection of all the various and different parts of the ship, came again to rest upon hers. She could feel the pressing weight of his regard as if it were a stack of books sitting upon her chest. 

“You do know, Miss Burke, that the Admiralty’s estimation of two years is based upon a sort of minimum requirement for getting to the other side of the earth and back?” His gaze spared her for a moment as it swept up the bowsprit. “Two years is the least amount of time it could take, barring bad weather and unforeseen circumstances, which, I will scruple to tell you, can be counted upon to plague us every sea mile of the way. The truth is, it will undoubtedly take far longer than two years.”

The news jarred the breath from her. She had not known, though clearly she should have. She had planned both her stores and her funds for reprovisioning at the standard stops of Madeira, Salvador de Bahia, Rio de Janeiro and Valparaiso—just saying the exotic names had made her giddy with delight—to last only those two allotted years. 

No, she had been careful in her preparation and generous in her funds. And besides, she had provisioned for two people—Papa and her, before he had changed his mind and decided they were not to go—when she would be only one. And those provisions had been a keepsafe—something to go along with the meals she would take sharing the captain’s table along with the rest of the expedition, as had been arranged. She would be fine—although she was certainly hesitant, as well as curious, to meet the captain after the lieutenant’s cryptic but descriptive comments upon her arrival. 

“And if you were asked instead of the Admiralty, Lieutenant, how long would you have said the voyage was to last?”

“I would have said that we will be lucky to see England’s shores within five years, Miss Burke, not two. That is, if Tenacious lives up to her name, and doesn’t sink us all long before that.”

Jane absorbed the second blow in silence. She had thought only of what she might accomplish on such a journey, and not of the passage of time. In five years’ time she would be one and thirty. She would be the thing she had not wanted to admit to being, the thing that she told herself was not important. Being recognized as a talented, dedicated, scholarly conchologist had been what mattered. But the inescapable truth was that in five years’ time, after having taken herself across the globe and back, she would be irrevocably ruined for marriage. She would be a spinster set firmly upon the shelf.

It was a bitter tonic to swallow at the very start of her triumph. It was almost frightening.

Oh. This time it was she who looked more closely at the grim pleasure on the lieutenant’s face. “I see. You mean to frighten me, Lieutenant Dance.”

He nodded, all purposeful admittance. “I do, ma’am, I do. I mean for all of you, from Sir Richard on down the Royal Society’s muster roll to you, J. E. Burke, conchologist, to be frightened into understanding what might come. Sir Richard spoke of hardships. Make no mistake, Miss Burke, there will undoubtedly be hardships, but there will also be danger—very real, threatening danger. The dislike of the crew, and the resistance of Sir Richard will seem like nothing compared to it.”

He meant it, this sharp-eyed, grim-faced man. He believed the truth of every word he spoke. “You’re a cynic.”

He laughed into the wind. “Assuredly, Miss Burke. But at least I am not a worthless drunk.”


I don’t think it will be too much of a spoiler to tell you this is a ripping good yarn of a shipwreck story. And things will most assuredly heat up on the beach for our hero and heroine, and for one lucky commenter who will win a copy of A SCANDAL TO REMEMBER. Just leave a comment to enter!

Got to have it now? Links to all major retailers can be found on my website:


My Un-scandalous Life (and the Scandalous Portrait Generator)

10/31/13 Update: Thanks to everyone for stopping by! Our randomly selected winners are: Autumn and Amanda! I’ll be in touch, ladies! 🙂

True story: Last summer at the RWA conference, just as I was about to leave the hotel room for my first ever Literacy Signing, my lovely and talented cousin, Cara Connelly, proudly took a photo of me and sent it to family back home. Our dear aunt—who’s my biggest supporter and unfailingly honest—immediately texted Cara back.

Something along the lines of: “Tell Annie she needs to amp it up a little if she wants to make it as a romance writer. Good grief, she looks like a schoolteacher. She’s got to WORK IT.”

Cara jumped to my defense—sort of: “LOL, I know. But I think she might be showing a *little* cleavage. Will try to get her to put on some red lipstick at least.”

Me (grabbing Cara’s phone): “Will everybody please stop hating on my classic cardigan and sensible heels?!”

Geez, you’d think I was dressed like a nun or something. Wait, never mind.

I guess the point is, I seem to be missing the risqué romance writer gene. I don’t like drawing attention to myself or taking risks. My life, in general, is distinctly un-scandalous—and I like it that way.

But when I’m writing (or reading), it’s a completely different story. In books, the more scandal, the better—and my second book, ONCE SHE WAS TEMPTED, has plenty!

Everyone thinks Miss Daphne Honeycote is the sweet, innocent younger sister, but it turns out that she’s been hiding a shameful secret. Two, actually. Because she once posed for a pair of risqué portraits, and if they fall into the wrong hands it will mean ruin for her and, worse, for her beloved family. (You see, kids, this kind of risky behavior can get you in trouble!)

Anyway, I thought it would be fun if there was a way for risk-averse people like me to experience the thrill of posing for a scandalous portrait without actually, you know, getting naked. So, I created Daphne’s Scandalous Portrait Generator. Just answer the five completely innocuous questions below to find out what your portrait would look like. I dare you to give it a try!

Also, since my book releases today, I’m going to give away two copies of ONCE SHE WAS TEMPTED to random commenters (U.S. only, please). Now, go get your portrait!

Barnes & Noble * Amazon * Indiebound

Anne’s website * Anne’s Facebook page * Anne’s Twitter


The Emerald City Conference & Giveaway

I took my Ruby Slippers up to the Emerald City last weekend…the Emerald City RWA conference in Seattle that is!

And yes, my shoes were red. That’s the end of that metaphor, but I managed to “catch” a bit of good luck that I must pass on to you.

First of, I ended up going to this conference on a lark. I knew that I had a book releasing in September and my writing schedule had me finishing up the next manuscript right before this conference. (Just made it–phew!)

I’d had no events yet on the West Coast this year other than a reading at Lady Jane’s Salon in San Diego, so I figured why not? I submitted my workshop: “The Review Game: A Shy Girl’s Guide to Getting Noticed” on the very last day possible. On a stroke of luck, it was accepted. So off to the Emerald City I went!

First let me say that ECWC is a wonderful local conference. It was the very first conference I went to as an “official” author and the very first booksigning I ever did. It was 2010 and Butterfly Swords had just been released. I was so happy to be among friends to celebrate my debut. *sigh* I dug up a picture and I looked so shiny then!

My very first booksigning in 2010

My very first booksigning in 2010

Flash forward four years and I was back again. A little bit older, maybe a little wiser. I hoped I had a little something to give back to the writerly community with the talk my critique partner Shawntelle Madison and I had put together about what we learned about how us shy girls who are not mega-bestsellers can get reviews.

Shawntelle and I were not alone in our focus how to navigate the review space and get noticed. There was a lot of talk now on social media, publicity, how to reach readers and discoverability.

“‘Discoverability’ is the new word,” said Bob Mayer in his workshop on said buzz word with his partner in crime, Jennifer Talty. “It used to be distribution. Now it’s discoverability.”

And then he and Ms. Talty went on to list a gazillion different things they’ve tried and continued to try to build an online presence and sell a gadzillion books. The prevailing theme was that you can only do so much so just do what you can. Take what works. So I’ll just take the one thing that I really want to take from Mayer’s talk. “I always say at the end of it all to get back to writing another book. You can’t sell what you don’t have.” He credits his success by always staying ahead by a book. “If I had three books a year on contract, then I wrote four. Always have that extra manuscript.”

You can’t discover an author’s books if they don’t have any….

Robyn Carr brought me to blinky try-not-to-cry stage as she told the story of her thirty-year “overnight” success. She admitted to not knowing what it took to succeed, other than that she believed it helped to stay positive. Because thinking the other way, that you suck and you can’t write certainly ISN’T the answer.

The wild CherryAdair presented her inspirational “Finish the Damn Book” awards to aspiring authors who took her yearly challenge to well, finish the damn book! Nine people received the award this year and eleven were disqualified because they sold in the midst of the challenge. It inspired me to watch this presentation.

Can it really be so simple as that? Finishing the book? I don’t know, but roomie Gwen Hayes rallied us upstairs to do some work before the booksigning that night. I added new words to my Opium War steampunk and Shawntelle penned an epic battle scene. Monica Murphy joined us to finish edits on a novella. What? Is this shameless braggery because we actually got some writing done at a writer’s conference? Maybe a little.

At the ECWC bookfair, the coordinators set co-speakers together so Shawntelle and I were able to sit together in the lunch room. We truly are joined at the hip now. I was able to speak with some readers who already knew my books and many were were new to my books. I even sold a couple of my little red beauties.

Signing at ECWC 2013 with Shawntelle Madison

And of course I went fan girl and picked up copies from two of my favorite authors who happened to be at the conference. Tiffany Reisz was rather gracious as I confessed about being obsessed about her first book, The Siren. I received a print copy of A Lady Awakened by Cecilia Grant. I already have it on my e-reader, but I have all her other books too, so I had to pick my favorite one. If you haven’t checked it out, I highly recommend it! A heart-wrenching and wonderfully crafted romance. Cecilia and I even were able to talk shop a bit on our favorite historicals.


These are not giveaways. They’re mine, mine, mine!!!

BUT…I talked about catching a stroke of luck, right? Guess who won a raffle basket from the 2011 GH class, The Starcatchers?

Me with Starcatcher Anna Richland

Me with Starcatcher Anna Richland

And I spotted a couple of Rubies in there as well: Sara Ramsey and Anne Barton! This beautiful basket was put together by Starcatcher Anna Richland who is also offering a critique. I regret that I couldn’t bring the entire basket home. So I left it with a good friend who lives in the area.  But the books packed nicely in my suitcase and are fair game.

So here’s the fabulous giveaway: One of 3 book bundles, one of which includes a Golden Heart critique. If you wish to have the critique done by November 12, it MUST be turned in by November 1. Otherwise, the winner can still redeem the critique, but it won’t be done in time for this year’s Golden Heart.

starcatcher_giveawayWait…what happened to the champagne and chocolates you ask? That lovely, delicious bottle of champagne was…um… confiscated by TSA…yeah.  And the chocolate too. *Licks fingers. Wipes keyboard*

Enter using the Rafflecopter below. I’ll be drawing and shipping out books next Monday. Good luck from The Rubies and The Starcatchers! Drawing will take palce next Monday.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Joys (and Perils!) of Keeping a Diary

Hello Rubies and friends! My novella, TO ALL THE RAKES I’VE LOVED BEFORE, releases today, and to celebrate, I’m giving away three Kindle copies! Just leave a comment and you’re entered in the drawing.

9/6/13 UPDATE: The randomly selected winners are: Vanessa B., June L., and Kathy! Congrats, and I’ll be in touch. 🙂

And since the heroine of RAKES keeps a journal, I thought perhaps we could discuss the joys and perils of writing down—or typing, as the case may be—your innermost thoughts in a diary.

Let’s start with the JOYS:

1)      Writing about your day is a lot like therapy—but cheaper! You can pour all your pent-up emotion onto the page without worrying that your voice will crack. You can write all the clever things you would have said to your boss/significant other/secret crush if you’d had an hour to prepare your comments beforehand. You can write down the secrets that you wouldn’t even whisper to your best friend.

2)      No one’s going to fact check your diary. This means you’re free to embellish (i.e., the cute guy in Starbucks was TOTALLY checking you out!) You can downplay other events (i.e., the margaritas were a little strong but you were only buzzed—LOTS of people were dancing on the bar!) Your journal = your world. YOU own it.

3)      You’re preserving a little piece of history. And one day, you will probably get a really big laugh out of all the things you worried about. But you’ll also remember what it felt like to not make the cheerleading squad or to get accepted to your first choice of colleges or to find out you’re having a baby. And that is pretty special.

And now, for the PERILS:

1)      If you happen to live with other people (and brothers in particular), THEY WILL FIND YOUR DIARY. And they will gleefully READ every personal, tear-stained, emotion-laden page.

2)      You may not even be AWARE that they’ve read your diary because they’ll probably put it right back in the very safe hiding spot at the back of your underwear drawer beneath your dog-eared copy of Pride and Prejudice.

3)      The diary snatchers will bide their time and wait to reveal the most scandalous contents at the most INOPPORTUNE time. Think: Thanksgiving dinner, right after grandma has led grace.

So, while journal writing has many rewards, I thought you should know some of the pitfalls as well.

What about you? Have you ever kept a journal or diary? And did it fall into enemy hands? Don’t forget, three random commenters will win a copy of my brand new novella.

Thanks so much for stopping by today and helping me celebrate the release of TO ALL THE RAKES I’VE LOVED BEFORE!

Barton_ToAlltheRakesIveLovedBefore_Ebook[1] (2)I’d love to chat with you Facebook and Twitter too!












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The Latest Comments

  • Autumn Jordon: You’re very welcome. I learned a lot.
  • Bev Pettersen: Such a helpful post, Thanks Autumn. And also thanks to Vivi, Rae and Judy!
  • Autumn Jordon: Everyone of these cover designers is so talented. I wish I had their eye for detail.
  • Autumn Jordon: I totally agree, Kate. I think it takes a certain eye to make an awesome cover.
  • Autumn Jordon: They did a amazing job answering my questions, didn’t they. I also learned a lot.