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I heard on the radio this morning that today is National Garage Sale Day. In addition to stirring up some memories, it also got me to thinking how writing–and its twin sister Promoting–are a lot like garage sales.

Actually, it can be garage sales, yard sales, rummage sales, any of the terms one uses to advertise what they are holding. Much like genres, they give us the first clue into what we can expect.

When I was a girl my mother and I spent many Saturday mornings from Memorial Day through Labor Day going “garage salin'” She lived for those months, those weekend mornings, to voyage into new and familiar neighborhoods. To scour for treasures; usually ones we never knew we needed.  We felt like modern-day pirates And I still have some of those items, many years later.

My mother has since passed on and I will probably never have time for proper garage salin’ like we used to do. Yet each time I pass a sign proclaiming garage sale, rummage sale, neighborhood sale, or yard sale, I still get a tug at the memories. And recently, the signs have got me to thinking how all those different sales resemble our writing and promotional efforts.

Branding– Whether we use a cardboard sign and black marker or we invest in a solid sign that’s easy to read, with clear directions and dates, we’re giving prospective buyers an initial impression of our set up. Branding for writing is rooted in consistency. Using similar fonts, designs, colors, and patterns on all our social media sites and covers if possible clues the reader into what kind of book you write. Dripping blood for horror or flower petals for romance, with short, catchy tag lines are as “first impression’ as the garage sale sigh on the corner. My mother would pass  up a sale if the sign looked like it had been tossed together with scraps from behind the garage. Likewise, inconstant branding can confuse readers with what genre you write.

Image– Is the yard mowed? Are the items for sale clean and well-arranged? If we made it past the initial sign and reached the driveway, here came my mother’s Test # 2. No one likes digging through mislabeled boxes or getting grass stains from kneeling in 4 inch high grass or worse, grease stains on the driveway. Likewise, how does our website treat visitors? Presentation is everything. Busy, crowded media sites are as bad as mismatched boxes on an overgrown lawn or  broken, dirty merchandise. It’s not going to impress anyone, most likely no one will buy anything, and it’s doubtful they will come back.

Location– Mom used to study the classified, mapping out her strategy like a general in battle.  She knew which neighborhoods to hit, and the best times to do so. Likewise, where are you? With so many media choices, it’s impossible to be everywhere. It’s usually recommended to pick a few that are manageable for your schedule and skill level, and stick with those. I would add this as well: mix it up. Do social med, do a personal blog or website. Join writer’s sites where you can keep a page.  (Like Goodreads, The Romance Reviews, or Amazon to name a few) Be accessible across as many sorts of locations as you can comfortably manage. Employ devices like Hootsuite to keep your content posted in a timely and fresh manner.

Timing– No one wants to show up at a garage sale, only to find the ad came out today, but the sale was yesterday. Bummer. What about when our own promotion starts running behind? Do you have a new release? Cover to showcase? Giveaway to share? Stunning review or award to brag about? Mom used to hit the best sales early in the morning wrap things up by lunchtime. Her thought was that by lunch, everything was picked over. The same applies to our schedules when it comes to launches. For writers, it’s good to have a pre-order option up while building interest in a new release. The pre-order sales count toward the release day sales ranking. People love getting a new hit while it’s hot and fresh, like cookies from the oven. Everyone wants to be first to the sale and first to read the next big best seller. Timing is about letting them know what you have, and when.

Groups–If there was a multi-family or neighborhood block rummage, mom would light up like she hit the jackpot.  I imagine her mind raced with the endless possibilities of what treasures she might find from all those pooled households. For writers, it means networking with groups. Join writer’s groups or online communities, mingle with people who share your genre or at least your passion in writing.  Where many are assembled is great wealth, whether it be excess household goods or combined experiences in writing, promo, marketing, and connections. Think of it like a jackpot.

Variety– If the sale just had baby stuff or just tools or just furniture, mom passed them by. She wanted variety. She might be in the market for those things too,  but she wanted more options to make her stop the car. In the writing realm, that might equate with offering loads of news, but also sharing personal photos, the story behind the story or cute pet pics. Share sample or deleted chapters or a short story or poem unrelated to your newest release. Got a new or favorite recipe? Share it! Just attended a cool writer’s retreat? Talk about it! Just remodeled your kitchen/garden/house? Show a couple of photos!  Learn a new craft? Pictures! You get the idea. Let people see who you are beyond the cover of your book. Buy the way, what was the inspiration behind that cover anyway?

In what other ways can you see similarities between garage sales and the work a writer does?

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This was received through Reading Alley in exchange for an honest review.

 

The entire story was told in first person, mostly through Candace’s POV. A portion of the book was devoted to Jack’s first person POV. This is book 1 in the ‘I Want Morrison’ series, so called because each book tells the story on one Morrison sibling. This is Jack’s story, the eldest Morrison child.

 

Candance Gleason…Candie to her dad and Jack…has finally achieved her dream. She is a new lawyer at a top firm, ready to work her way up the corporate ladder.  Just when she thinks she has it all figured out, she is assigned to…Jack Morrison.

Activist, devilishly handsome, reckless, he is the bane of his family’s empire. And a major thorn to Candance. Except now she is hired to keep him out of jail, trouble, and the media spotlight. Not an easy task for someone who delights in thumbing his nose at anything and anyone who gets in his way. Someone who seemingly lives to taunt and tease.

One the surface, this looks like a case of rich kid rebellion. It goes much deeper. Jack’s arrogance is actually a driving passion to make positive changes in other’s lives. Underprivileged people’s lives. He is not above using his privileges to aid in his quest, to help those less fortunate, those being beleaguered by his own ‘type of people’.

Ms. Harris does a fantastic job of creating Jack, a multi-layered character who has so much good to offer if one can see past what seems like obvious character flaws. What I did not care for, and what keeps my rating a little lower, is the constant use of the character’s names in dialogue. While I personally like the name Jack, and see the need to identify who is speaking to whom, I do not care to see their names each and every time they are spoken to. There are better literary tools to identify who is being talked to. This is truly a case of “less is more”.  IMHO.

Next, initially I found the whole premise of a family–specifically a wealthy, driven, family like the Morrison’s, hiring their newest firm lawyer to “babysit” their grown son a bit farfetched. If they waited, and gave him enough rope, he would surely hang himself, get jailed for a lengthy stay, and it would put an end to the activist activities that plague the family. It would be must cheaper, quicker, and easier than wasting a babysitter to keep him leashed. For that reason alone, I nearly stopped reading.

However, I am glad I kept on. The story goes much deeper than that summary. The Morrison family does not want Jack in jail, or in any trouble. To avoid spoilers, let me just say when I kept reading, and got to know the family, and Jack’s motivations, better, the loyalty and bonds between them–and the sibling rivalry–between them all became clear.

Lastly, the chemistry between Candace and Jack felt real. Their dialogue–sans the repetitive name usage–was witty and fun. The shift from irritation to attraction was gradual enough to make it believable. Candace’s move from realizing all her dreams to inheriting a pain in the butt to falling for him once she witnesses his motivations make her real as well. The pacing is great. Candace and Jack’s opposite personalities make a great mesh.

Overall, I enjoyed this book 1 in the I Want Morrison series. It is a stand alone book with no cliffhangers.

 

 

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Recently I lost my wallet. Inside it held my driver’s license, bank debit card, an assortment of credit cards, my business cards, about $25 in cash, as well as things like auto club card, library card, expired Dollywood season pass (don’t laugh. I used that as a second picture ID once), and a few store loyalty cards.

I mentally retraced my path of when I had last seen it. I’d last actually seen it around 9:30 that morning when I bought some groceries. It was now 11:30 p.m.  In between those hours I had dragged my purse (piece of luggage?) from car to house, from house back to car, and repeated that a few more times before finally taking it into work. At no time did I take my wallet out of my purse since purchasing the groceries at 9:30 a.m.

So I deduced my wallet was most likely in one of three probable places. First I thoroughly checked the car to make sure it hadn’t somehow tumbled out and landed on the floorboards or wedged between the passenger seat and door. Not finding it that way, I figured it had to be either 1) left behind at the store and turned in by a good Samaritan or carried off by a not-so-good opportunist. Naturally the store was long closed by 11:30 p.m. 2) it could be in my driveway at home. If so, there was a 50/ 50 shot it was still lying where it landed. Or 3) there was a slim chance it was inside the house, lying just inside the door by the pet’s water dish.  I have a raised, double dish diner with a food and water dish. I keep the water bowl on the right side and the left side is open. I have a tendency to leave my purse resting there when I am in and out of the house like I was today. There was a chance the bag tipped over (based on my hasty speed today), the wallet could have slipped out, and landed under the raised feeder. That would be so awesome if that was the case.

My concern was getting home without a wallet or ID. Plus, in the event it wasn’t at home, I still had a dog walk to do after work, plus one more in the morning before the store would open so I could check with them. That’s a lot of driving without my license. I took a mental stock of what was in my wallet. I’d need a debit card soon for gas too. I crossed my fingers it was safe somewhere.

In the meantime I started working out a plan on what to do just in case it wasn’t where I was hoping. How was I going to survive for a few days without wallet, ID, debit, and credit cards? It opened a whole new can of situations when I had a jam-packed schedule of activities ahead of me. How do we survive when our basic survival tools are suddenly just gone?

And the whole thing got me to thinking of how simple things used to be. Once upon a time, all we had was cash and people who actually knew who we were. Telling someone our name was good enough. We drove things that did not require a license to operate. Before that we had the barter system. Personally, I would love to see the barter system return en masse as a normal standard of doing business. After cash we developed checks. I still use those a few times a month too. And then came the advent of plastic, with credit cards and debit cards with enough PINS and codes to make anyone’s head spin.

Like many people, I have identity theft protection, and bank alerts for suspicious activity on all my plastic cards. I had even gone so far as to photocopy the front and back of each of my plastic cards and keep those copies stashed in a safe place should I ever need to call that lost and stolen 1-800 number in mini-type on the back.

Unfortunately, I had not kept up on the new, updated cards that gradually replaced the expired and obsolete cards. Shame on me. I really regretted that now. Actually, in the heady rush of not knowing where my wallet was, that was my only regret–not keeping up on current photo copies of updated cards.

All things considered, I could have other regrets I suppose.

So after work, I carefully drove home, scoured the driveway, and rushed inside. Moving the pet’s water dish aside, there was my wallet lying on the floor. I breathed a sigh of relief, snatched it up, and dashed out to do my next dog walk. No time to think of simpler times now, I had work to do!

 

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Disclaimer: I was given an ARC by the author’s publisher, Harlequin, in exchange for an honest review.

 

How can we expect a relationship to build and last? She was a thief and pickpocket, looking for a mark before skipping town.  He accidentally snagged her bracelet as she went for his wallet. She’s on the run from a husband she left on her wedding day. He hires her to work in the family bar.

Not exactly great attributes to lay a strong foundation in a relationship. Yet, through careful weaving of B.J. Daniels’ threads, Mariah Ayres and Darby Cahill do indeed lay that foundation. And over then next three hundred-odd pages, it grows.

Several sets of secondary characters add depth to Mariah and Darby’s story. It seems impossible that one could not care what happens to them as the threats move in.

There are plenty of strong emotions carried through the story. The characters are well fleshed out. The scenes are believable.

Lastly, the conclusion gave a whole new meaning to “It was a dark and stormy night”. It truly was a dark and stormy night when Mariah’s past came to be her very real and scary present, and threatened not only her future, but Darby’s and others as well. Meantime, other character’s lives that ran alongside Mariah and Darby now that their own futures jeopardized.

And with a flick of her mighty pen, B.J. Daniels ties up all the loose threads of her tapestry, leaving a satisfying end result.

Note, this is subtitled A Cahill Ranch Novel, which also includes ‘Renegade’s Pride’ as part of each stand-alone in the series.

 

 

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I am very pleased to have fellow author, Carole Ann Moleti, visit. I love the title and cover of her latest novel, “Storm Watch”, book three of the Unfinished Business series. The official genre is Light Paranormal Romance. It has some spice, open door sex scenes, but no erotic. The author tells me there is minimal foul language.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35436420-storm-watch

 

Welcome Carole Ann!  Tell us about your series.

Thanks so much for hosting me today. Storm Watch is the third book in the series, which I started writing as short story I called Unfinished Business, back in 2006. That initial piece was published in Haunted: Ten Tales of Ghosts. Truly unfinished, it was the middle of the story, and I was encouraged to “novelize” it by adding the backstory for Liz and Elisabeth, which became Breakwater Beach. Then I wrote forward to expand on Mike and Jared’s stories. Storm Watch brings all the characters and their ghosts back onstage together.

The Unfinished Business Series

I’m excited, but a little sad because this is the last book in the series, at least with Mike and Liz as the hero and heroine.  I’ve toyed with the idea of writing two more books, one focused on Mae and Kevin, and one based on Sandra.  Based on past experience, once I’m sitting on Breakwater or Paine’s Creek Beach this summer, or walking the Brewster Flats, I’ll be dictating scenes from Book Four into my Dragon app. Good thing I go walking alone early in the morning else people would think I was nuts.

Oh, I think we writers are entitled to talk to ourselves and not be declared officially insane. Don’t you agree? We can always refer to is as ‘research’. {wink, wink}

All these books have strong autobiographical themes, though most people will not pick up on those unless they know me very well. Sure, the birth scene harkens back to my work at the North Shore Birth Center. But the characters are composites of people I know, put into situations I’ve encountered when on the Cape or wandering around Boston, my adopted city where I lived during my midwifery internship. I’ve put up some of my favorite images on Pinterest boards for the Unfinished Business series https://www.pinterest.com/caroleannmoleti/the-unfinished-business-series/ , Storm Watch, https://www.pinterest.com/caroleannmoleti/storm-watch/   and Liz’s Boston https://www.pinterest.com/caroleannmoleti/lizs-boston/

 

There is so much I’d love to talk about, but I’d really rather answer questions readers might have about the series, or the individual books. So, read the blurbs and the excerpts on my website http://www.caroleannmoleti.com/the-unfinished-business-series/  to get a feel and ask away. {blurbs to each book and one excerpt are also given below} Better yet, subscribe to my newsletter http://eepurl.com/bfNver  All new subscribers get a free PDF of Haunted: Ten Tales of Ghosts, plus special announcements, bonus content, and all my tour information , including sales.

Amazon Order Link:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073DJZLD3

 

 

Social Media Links

Newsletter:  http://eepurl.com/bfNver

Twitter: http://Twitter.com/Cmoleti

Website: http://www.caroleannmoleti.com/the-unfinished-business-series/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/caroleannmoleti

Blog:  http://caroleannmoleti.blogspot.com

plus.google.com/103609323247390103301

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/goodreadscomCmoleti

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/caroleannmoleti/

BREAKWATER BEACH ➜➜ http://amzn.to/2spo5a9
THE WIDOW’S WALK ➜➜ http://amzn.to/2sZdi3v

Blurbs:

Breakwater Beach: Book One    

 

Liz Levine is convinced her recently deceased husband is engineering the sequence of events that propels her into a new life. But it’s sea captain Edward Barrett, the husband that died over a century ago, who has returned to complete their unfinished business. Edward’s lingering presence complicates all her plans and jeopardizes a new relationship that reawakens her passion for life and love. What are Captain Barrett’s plans for his wife, and for the man who is the new object of her affections?

 

The Widow’s Walk: Book Two     

 

Mike and Liz Keeny are newlyweds, new parents, and the proprietors of the Barrett Inn, an 1875 Victorian on Cape Cod, which just happens to be haunted. By their own ghosts. The Inn had become an annex of Purgatory, putting Mike, Liz, and their infant son in danger. Selling the historic seaside bed and breakfast was the only answer, one that Liz and her own tortured specter refused to consider. Were they doomed to follow the same path that led to disaster in their previous lives? Was getting out, getting away, enough?

Storm Watch: Book Three    

 

Mike and Liz thought they’d gotten control of the specters haunting the Barrett Inn. But things get very complicated when they’re the ghosts from your past life. The Category Five Hurricane bearing down on Cape Cod appears to be headed directly for them–or has it been spawned from inside them? Knowing it’s their last chance to end the hauntings, Mike and Liz must decide whether to run or to defy evacuation orders. Will they survive the storm?

 

Excerpt of “Storm Watch”–

 

Mike and Liz had survived the first round, and they’d remained hopeful the specters would settle down. But there was enough unfinished business for any cosmic disturbance to rile them up again. This storm watch was more than just a minor blip on the radar—or a coincidence.

Noisy seagulls hunted as the storm with enough power to blow them to Rhode Island threatened. Mike rolled his shoulders, flexing the stiff muscles in his back, trying to imagine he could shed his wife and his son to escape the gaping jaws of Captain Edward Barrett’s legacy. Normally a lingering vague threat, it rubbed him raw at moments like this when he had nothing to do but wait for the bay to come in around him so he could go out and make a living.

He rinsed his hands in a tide pool. The shadow sent hermit crabs scurrying. Brine stung his knuckles but stopped the oozing with that invisible layer of stickiness every saltwater fisherman learns to love. An incoming tide rolled across the flats as the storm clouds amassed.

The boat teeter-tottered on its keel as Mike climbed aboard and settled into a seat. Reassured by the glimmering water rippling in to release him from bondage, he readied his fishing gear. Chants of “ohmmmmm” from morning beach yoga carried in the breeze. At least that was connection with living spirits, as opposed to the dead, stale vestiges of lives ended too soon who were unable to give up and let go.

A woman out for an early morning walk grew larger and larger. Her broad-brimmed hat dipped so low over her eyes he couldn’t see her face, though her skinny legs, matchstick arms, and pigeon chest were unmistakable once she’d emerged from the glare. That, the jangling earrings, and the purple and pink broomstick skirt hitched up and secured with a silver belt.

“Good morning, Mike.” Always oppositional, Sandra was headed out when everyone was on their way back.

“Where’re you going, Sandra? Tide’s coming in.”

She flipped up the floppy brim and grinned. “I’m headed over to check on Harley.”

The Whaler rocked in the surf. “Should be ready to roll in about twenty minutes. I’ll give you a ride over.”

Sandra didn’t break stride. “That’s okay. I’ll be sitting on the beach with the old buzzard before you even pull up anchor.”

They were both oddballs: He, wearing a Red Sox cap, a scruffy beard, a black tee-shirt showing a bit of belly, while sitting like a bum in a beached boat. Sandra, like an escapee from a Harry Potter novel, headed over to check on a ninety-six-year-old hermit who lived on a dune that was cut off from the mainland at high tide.

 

 

 

 

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Depending on who you are, those words–an observation–is going to bring up different reactions.

Is it said by a pair or group of women berating another women, one they view as a competitor? Is it coming from a bunch of guys sitting around a twelve-pack or pool table, talking about a lady one of the just met? If so, pictures please.

Or are they words thrown out in anger and bitterness about me, either overheard or spat to my face? Ouch! That would really hurt.

The main thing is that to just hear the comment, without a setting or description of who is talking or listening, our minds can run pretty wild with those words.

So the truth is, I was in the shower, lamenting how my cat, Kryshnah, is frequently catching the curtain with her long tail and puling it back as she slinks along the tub’s edge. Kryshnah is lanky and sleek, with that slender tail that hooks everything it seems, especially the shower curtain. She is like a slinky with giraffe legs.

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I just stood out on my porch and watched the rain fall in heavy sheets. It was wholly refreshing and relaxing. It was perhaps the second time all year I have had such a pleasant experience. When I bought my home in 2014, the porch was one of the big selling points. Then, I could already see myself nestled under a throw, cradling a cuppa tea while either scribbling away at my latest literary work, journaling, or simply–like today–watching the rain drop.

The first couple of years I did just that in regular batches. This year, sadly, I have not had the time. Why? Because I have been caught up in a whirlwind.

A whirlwind is described as a vortex (vertically rotating column) of wind forms due to instabilities and turbulence made by heating (air temperature) and flow (current gradients). Okay, what that technical mouthful means to me is a whirlwind is what occurs when air and things heat up, creating instability and turbulence, which in turn forms a strong rotating column of wind that whirls around, creating havoc and damage.

Yup, that about sums it up. It is bearing down on me, growling like a mad bear, claws at the ready. And I just stand there, too busy, tired, fed up, etc… to do much of anything. Certainly not smart enough to take solace on a wicker sofa with a cup of coffee (and probably something chocolate) on a rainy day.

Sound familiar?  We get busy with this and that and more and still more, and before we know it, the simple pleasures of life have slipped by and we wonder why haven’t we done this more recently. Just look how fast the pages of the calendar turn. I know each calendar’s days are numbered, but come on now. I am still waiting for April to get here so I can tear up the brick in the courtyard and fix a sagging patch. April? Next week I’ll be facing July in the eyes.

We can probably all lament about what our own personal whirlwind is. Mine is responsibility. I have come to see that as a character flaw. I have a full-time job, usually cracking around 44-45 hours a week. I pet sit and dog walk around that, usually around 15-18 hours a week. And my time around those two are devoted to writing tasks.

My second release of the year just came out this week and I am in the middle of a virtual blogging tour. There is a giveaway I am posting about for my romantic suspense novel that just turned one-year-old. There are two more novels coming out in November so there is covers, blurbs, hooks, and tags to work on before edits begin. I am in the middle of first round edits for my first-ever self published non-fiction book, based on the journey with my PTSD dog. Let me just say the world between self-publishing and traditional house publishing is vast indeed. Vast. And should I tire of any of those endless tasks I can always update blog, website, media pages, newsletters,  ads, etc… And should I run out of ideas there, I can always work on my latest work-in-progress. Right now I am about 20,000 words into a time travel romance novel. Roughly a quarter of the way done with the first rough draft.

And any time beyond all of that above is spent doing what zillions of others do. Clean the house, do the laundry, pay the bills, go shopping, brush the dog, fill the bird feeders, visit friends, call family, plus cooking and somewhere in there, sleeping.  Admittedly, everyone’s list of whirlwind activities will look a little different, but we all have them. The point is, we get so caught up in where we have to be, doing what we have to do, seeing who we have to see, that we feel the whirlwind of life swirl around us, and pick us up, and whisk us away from the pleasurable things that we need to keep us grounded, stable, and sane.  Like sitting on the porch and watching the rain fall. Or sitting by the river watching the river bubble past. Or whatever restores your sanity and breath.

This past week, I was doing a drop in visit at a client’s house and was petting a cat on the chin. Kitty loved it so I lingered, chatting and scratching while kitty purred in bliss. A thought struck me and I said it to kitty: “I always thought I was slowly going insane. Now I realize I am on the express freight train instead.”

Kitty didn’t care. Kitty was in his own personal moment of comfortable bliss.

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