Wednesday, March 30, 2016

10 Reasons Why Blog Comments Matter - #MicroWorkshop 2 #WriterWednesday

Yes! Comments on my Blog!
Do blog comments matter? It might depend upon the perspective, but yes, they definitely benefit your blog. However, I know with my own blogging experience, most visitors to my blog do not comment—but that doesn’t mean they don’t visit or read the post. (Or at least some of the post.) My stats show that the hits to individual posts are generally a lot higher than the number of comments left behind.

But do comments really matter? Besides the argument that regular, fresh content and comments can help the search engines find your blog—let’s talk a bit about why you want to invite comments. And why, if you are a blog visitor, you might want to leave a comment on other author’s blogs.

But first, let’s assume your blog is focused in the writing/author world, and the visitors to your blog are generally from that same world—other writers, bloggers, and hopefully, readers of your books. Making this assumption, we can safely say that your blog plays an important role in networking with other writers and readers—and is an important piece of your marketing plan.

Why you want comments on your blog.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Today's #MondayMashup -- Maddie's Manic Monday

Yes. Just another manic Monday, is right! Today is release day!


Wind Ridge has officially released! You can get your copy now, for only 99 cents -- so grab it while you can. The price goes up to $3.99 end of April.

NOW at IBOOKS | AMAZON | KOBO | ALL ROMANCE EBOOKS | GOOGLE PLAY |  BARNES & NOBLE SMASHWORDS | PAPERBACK


In other news, I've been working on getting all of my books, even the shorter novellas, into print. I just want to be able to provide as many formats as possible, so that readers have choice! Once print is conquered, then back to audiobooks...

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

To Blog or Not to Blog - #MicroWorkshop 1

Greetings and welcome to the first installment of my Maddie James' MicroWorkshops. I call them that because seriously, these are teeny, tiny, little workshops wrapped up in a blog post. Basically, I'll be offering a short article about a subject relevant to the writer's world, which can include writing/craft, marketing, publishing, and more. Often they are geared to the beginner, but some may be more advanced. Comments and questions are welcome and encouraged! Topics come generally from questions I've been asked. I will consider requested topics.

So let's get started... The first few topics will be about, eh, guess what? Blogging.

***

MicroWorkshop #1 - To Blog or Not to Blog

OMG! That was my question!
To blog or not to blog, is often the question. Authors are sometimes told, “You must blog.” And so, you set up a blog, and you post, and no one comes. What good is the blog then?

Blogging can be beneficial to authors in many ways. It can help make your website fresh and current. New content triggers new visitors, and new visitors often push your blog/website higher in search engines. It doesn’t happen overnight, so remember that baby blogs have to grow over time—just like your writing career.

Blogging can also keep you in the writing game -- giving you an excuse to keep up the habit of daily writing. Blog posts don't have to be super long. In fact, it's okay if they are super short. Just make them work for you, and write!

But sometimes having your own blog is not the best thing for you. You're not really into it, and it's not your thing. That's okay. Maybe you don’t want to waste words on a blog everyday—you need to be writing that book! In that case, try out a group blog. This is where several authors together “own” a blog, and each author is responsible for one or two posts a month. Keep in mind that with group blogs, you share in the other work, too, like helping design the site, keeping content current, uploading sidebar items, and so forth. It is a group effort, so expect to do your part. Be sure that on the group blog, there are opportunities for everyone to link back to their own websites, so that visitors to this group blog, know where they can find out more information about the blog authors.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

From PARKER - Today's #TeaserTuesday

Series: The Montana Ranchers, Book 4


AMAZON | IBOOKS | BARNES & NOBLE | KOBO | SMASHWORDS | PAPERBACK

People die, people change, and sometimes both happen and people fall in love.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Just another #MondayMashup with Maddie James

The view from here...


Waking up to a pretty Kentucky sunrise coming to you from Louisville suburbia. The picture doesn't do Mother Nature justice. But it's sun, and not rain, and birds are singing--and I have a full day of work ahead of me.


Friday, March 18, 2016

I'm at Wild & Wicked Cowboys today talking about, what else, cowboys!

Cowboys are Cowboys....

Hi everyone. Maddie James here, coming to you from Kentucky bluegrass horse country! Even though the Kentucky Derby is a couple of months away, we’re all gearing up here for the big horse race…


Source: Cowboys are Cowboys by Maddie James

Monday, March 14, 2016

Today's #MondayMashup - 3-14-2016

The view from here....

Good rainy, Monday morning! Spring has definitely sprung here in Kentucky and that means the monsoon has set in. We've banned the dog from the backyard due to mud, and we actually might try to grow some grass back there this year. Poor thing, she's perched on the back of the sofa in my office staring out the window like a child who can't go out and play. Well, same thing...  See?


Me? I'm here trying to get moving on my day, 2500 future words staring me in the face as soon as this blog post goes up. The Cowboy's Secret Baby is well on its way and I am loving this story! I hope you will too. Finally, Mack and Jillie will get their story told. (Did I mention there will be a snowstorm? Oh wait, I was going to keep that a secret. Anyway....)

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Evolution of a Book Cover - #ThrowbackThursday with Maddie James

If you were to ask me to list some of my favorite things, I would easily make the following list:
  • M&Ms
  • New Playdoh
  • New Crayons
  • New Paint
  • New cover art
Hm. Weird list huh? And actually, I have more favorite things--like lasagna and anything made with butter, chocolate and sugar--but the above 5 favorite things all have something very much in common.

They have pretty colors.

I love color. I could also add fabric to the list above but since I no longer sew like I used to, I forgot to add it. It can be a latent addition to the list, although not an insignificant one. But I digress and let's get on with it.

Color. I love the colors of M&Ms, new Playdoh, Crayons and paint. I love them when they are new and fresh, and I'm the first person to crack open the container or box and use them. Squeezing the new dough with my hands is pure heaven. Making that first stroke with a new Crayon nearly makes me giddy. Is it no wonder that one-upon-a-time I was a preschool teacher?

Nevertheless, color attracts me. It's why my bedroom walls are turquoise and my bathroom walls are about to be painted red. Color speaks to me.

And so does cover art. I've designed a bit of cover art over the years and I still do some occasional designs for a few regular clients. I love playing with photos and color. I'm self-taught and have no clue if I do things the conventional way -- I just do it  how it works best for me. It seems to work, so I go with it.

Which leads me to this #ThrowbackThursday theme. I change out my own cover art from time to time. Why? Mostly because I can. Sometimes because I want to see if different art will help boost sales. Sometimes I just get tired of the same art.

With the book Rawhide & Roses, part of it's cover art evolution has to do with the fact that it was first traditionally published. Back then, we had little say in cover art design but I have to say that I was pretty much thrilled with my very first cover. Then, the book published by Kensington was titled, The Wild West (and you see I was writing under another name). 

Later on, when I received the rights back to the book and self-published with additions and revisions, I designed this cover to the right. I liked it and R&R had this cover for several years. Then came Amazon....

And the offer to publish in Germany through their Amazon Crossing program. It had been a while since I'd had a foreign edition of any of my books and I was thrilled with the opportunity. I also loved the cover they designed for R&R. 


After a bit of time, however, I just wanted to change out the cover for the English version. So, I began looking at other cover art designs for westerns. Choices, choices. A kissing couple? Just a cowboy? Does he need a shirt, or not? This is not an erotic book. Is there sex? Yes, but this was "late 90s category romance sex," so not of the super-heat level variety. In the end, for this newest cover, I decided, yes, he needed a shirt and yes, he'd be the only person on the cover. So far, I'm liking the look. 

What do you think? 

What are your 5 favorite things? Comment below to be eligible to win a signed, print copy of Rawhide & Roses!

Rawhide and Roses can be found at these retailers:

Wind Ridge - Now on Pre-order at IBOOKS.

My latest romantic suspense release! Exclusive Pre-order at ‪#‎ibooks‬.
Official release date - March 28, 2016.

Buy Link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/wind-ridge/id1090681795?mt=11

Rebekah McCauley is back home after ten long years of living and working in New York City. She left the Big Apple under circumstances she’d rather not share with her family—not yet, anyway—and all she really wants is time to heal and recover from the mess she’d made of her life. Luckily, her grandparents’ Kentucky bluegrass farm, Wind Ridge, provides the safe haven she craves, and the solitude she needs to heal.

Collin Kramer, the fox hunter next door, seems determined to infiltrate that peace and quiet, and invade that safe haven—not only with his noisy hounds running amok over her land, but with his Alpha male, take-charge attitude running roughshod over her wounded heart.

But as Bekah softens to Collin’s conquest, he realizes his own toughened heart needs mending. And just when he thinks he has that conquered, as well, all hell breaks loose. Poisoned horses, gutted dogs, and a barn fire are only the beginning. When Bekah’s farmhouse burns to the ground too, they know someone means business. But who? And whose past, Bekah’s or Collin’s, has come back to haunt them?

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

It's #TeaserTuesday with Maddie James - CORPORATE COWBOY

From Corporate Cowboy, Chapter One. Emma Lavender's first week at work at her new job in Billings, Montana doesn't turn out quite as expected.

***

I always appreciate a good workout, and today is no exception.


Coming at the end of a grueling day, a hard and fast run on the treadmill is normally a godsend. My brain blank, my concentration targeted on one thing—watching the numbers roll by on the console. Heart rate. Calories burned. Miles ran.

Crappy day forgotten.

But I struggle to get through it, blowing out a breath, and hitting the button to lower the incline and speed. Time to cool down.

“Quitting already?”

Candy, my new friend from accounting, huffs out the words while she runs on the treadmill beside me. “Yeah. I’m beat. Cooling down.”

Out of shape.

My last semester of college was the culprit. Cramming. Finals. Too much junk food. No exercise. Yeah, Emma Sanders Lavender had a summer full of parties and lazy afternoons on the beach—that effectively slowed down my metabolism. Why am I surprised my clothes don’t fit this fall?
And why don’t I have the metabolism of a sixteen-year-old any longer?

Lord knows I can’t afford a new wardrobe. Thank God, the new job comes with some perks—like this gym.

Walking for a little while, my heart rate finally slows.

I hit the stop button and pull my towel off the handle, then jump off the belt to grab a bottle of spray disinfectant. Giving the console a good squirt, I wipe it and the handles down, and then turn to Candy. “I’ll meet you in the locker room.” We are going for drinks and appetizers somewhere.

I’m ready for a hot shower.

She nods, still running, and blowing out her cheeks.

I hang up the disinfectant, snatch my water, and toss the towel into a nearby hamper. As I head for the locker room, I pull another clean towel from the shelf, simultaneously dropping my water bottle on the floor.

It spews water in a small arc. “Jiminy Crickets,” I mutter.

Quickly, I swipe the towel over my sweaty face, shoulders and arms, and then reach for the bottle on the floor, intending to clean up the spill with my towel.

My fingers collide with someone else’s.

“Oh.”

Rising without the bottle, my gaze travels up the tall length of a man. His hair is ink-jet black and his complexion tan. This is a man who either works out a lot or works at a job that is purely physical. What captures me most, however, are his eyes—the color of coal, deep-set and fathomless—and they stare back at me with intent.

Intent for what, I’m not certain. His presence sucks the breath right out of me. I gasp and stagger a little.

My God, he is gorgeous. Fabulously striking. And dangerously sexy.

He is dressed for a workout but isn’t sweaty. His T-shirt is dry, his hair un-mussed. I kind of wish he was sweaty. Sweat reminds me of sex, and he reminds me of sex, and sex is something I’ve not partaken in of late.

“Your bottle.”

“Oh.” Right.

He thrusts it toward me, his stare pinned to my face, his voice deep and a little gravelly. I am easily drawn to him. My gaze drops to his hand—big, long fingers, a dusting of dark hair on the backs of his knuckles—and I take the bottle.

“Yes, thank you.” The intensity of his heat is palpable. I look up.

“My pleasure,” he says. No smile. No expression. Matter-of-fact. Then, as if forcing himself, he turns and walks away.

Pleasure. All mine.

I stand there, watching, mesmerized by the way his body moves across the floor. Shoulders back. Determined. Purposeful. He is fit, tight, and obviously strong, if the biceps peeking out from under his T-shirt sleeves are any indication. His ass is high and taut, a pleasurable sight to be sure. His broad shoulders triangle down to a narrow waist above that fine well-toned gluteus maximus.

Clearly, he is a regular.

The man steps up to an elliptical and positions his feet.

I find myself unable to tear my gaze away and then even more so, as he looks into the mirror in front of his machine and takes my eyes hostage again.

Crickets. My heart rate kicks back up from out of nowhere. I glance off.

“Welcome to hell,” Candy said, stepping up beside me.

“What?” I look at her.

“I said, ‘Welcome to hell.’”

“Hell?”

She nods. “Yeah. He’s pretty. That’s for sure. Dark, sexy, and dangerous. You’ll want him. We all do. But none of us will ever have him. He’s off limits. And that sure is hell.”

I slowly swivel my gaze back to Mr. Dark, Sexy & Dangerous. “Off limits?”

Candy chuckles and hooks her arm in mine, dragging me toward the hall and the locker room. “Yep. And you’re toast if you go anywhere near him. Braver women than you have tried and didn’t live to see the break of dawn.” She giggled. “In other words, they disappear by Monday morning, never to be heard from again.”

“Disappear? Oh my.” I stop outside the exercise room. “But I don’t get it.”

Candy grins. “You will. You just met Gage Parker. The owner of WestInn Enterprises. The guy signs your paycheck.”

Corporate Cowboy is available at the following retailers: