Tuesday, April 30, 2013

AMANDA BERRY - Guest Author

My guest today is the amazingly talented Amanda Berry. My friendship with Amanda is case in point of how small the world really is - thanks to the internet. We first met on YIM as sprinting partners. As we talked we found out she and my husband grew up in the same small town. She was my rock and confident when my daughter's world fell apart... offering advice and a meet-up if I needed it. Oh yes.. and discovering we seem to crave chocolate when there isn't a bite to be found in the house anywhere!

I was ecstatic when Amanda sold her first book, L.A. Cinderella. It was her Nano book that first year we met. If you've not read it, you might want to add it to your cart when you pick up her new release... Father By Choice. Two different books that show her writing ability. 

Thanks for stopping by to meet... Amanda Berry!

You’re readers have waited three years for a new book from you. Father By Choice is nothing like L.A. Cinderella. Why veer from your first book?

L.A. Cinderella was more of a fantasy. A true Cinderella story. Father By Choice is more of a dramatic family story. I love the fantasy aspect of L.A. Cinderella, but family drama is something I have firsthand experience with ;) I grew up in a small town as well, so it speaks more to what I grew up with.

It sounds as if Amber may have captured Brady Ward’s heart. What is it with little girls and their daddy’s? And did you draw on a bit of personal experience for their relationship?

I think all little girls have their daddy wrapped around their finger. My own daughter is in awe of her father and while she won’t do something if I ask, if daddy asks she’s all over it. I think what makes their relationship more intense is that Maggie didn’t have that same experience with her father and it’s what she always wanted from her father.

You have a great premise for Father By Choice. What makes this story unique compared to similar plots?

The premise of the secret baby has been done over and over. What makes mine a little different is that Brady goes out of the country shortly after and leaves on bad terms with his brother. When his brother finds out about Maggie’s pregnancy, he “takes care of it” by sending money every month. Maggie is left believing that Brady is no better than her own father, which is easy for her to believe.

You and your family have moved in the past year. Is your awesome new location sparking future stories?

I’m surrounded by Live Oaks dripping with Spanish Moss, mosquitoes  the size of small birds, and palmetto bugs (a nice way to say cockroaches with wings). I love my new office and am trying to get back into a regular schedule for writing. No easy feat having moved for the first time in ten years from our house and we’had lived in St. Louis for twenty years. It’s a lot to adapt to, but we are coming up on a year of being here in August. There are stories hiding in the cedars out where we live and I’m sure that it will inspire many books in the future.

What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your books?

I hope that they come away fulfilled and happy with the book. I love when I read a romance and come away feeling filled with that love shared between the hero and heroine. 

Here's an excerpt from Father By Choice:

"I heard about your mom." Sam rubbed the back of his neck. His nervousness was starting to make her worry. What if something had happened to Brady? "I'm real sorry to hear she passed."

"It was the end of a long battle," Maggie said automatically. Even though it had been a different cancer that had taken Mrs. Ward, Maggie knew that in this respect Sam and she had something in common. Her gut clenched momentarily.

They stood there awkwardly for a moment. He looked around as if he wanted to be anywhere but here. The feeling was mutual. "I really need to.. " She gestured to the screen door.

He hesitantly stepped on the first step. Apparently, he wasn't going to leave until he'd had his say. "Would you mind if I came in? I need to talk to you."

She stared him down, trying to determine whether she was willing to listen to anything a Ward had to say. But he seemed open and sincere.

She shrugged and opened the screen door. "Is everyone okay?"

"Yeah. Fine as far as I know." Sam followed her into the small living room. Out of habit, she gestured to one of the worn recliners. Her furniture may be worn but it was clean and paid for.

"Would you like something to drink?" Manners won out over the burn of anger. Why now? After eight years of silence, why was Sam here? Was he coming to tell her that Brady was through sending money? She'd have to put in more hours as secretary at the furniture store if that were the case.

"No, thanks." He sat on the edge of the chair, leaned his elbows on his knees and clasped his hands. Then he sat upright and half stood. He gestured to the chair opposite. "This would be easier if you sat."

Her stomach knotted. She moved toward the chair but didn't sit. What would be easier?

"I've done some stupid things in the past, Maggie." Sam seemed to think she was in the mood for confessions.

"I'm sure you have, but I have work to do—"

"Sit down, Maggie Brown." His stern expression had her lowering to the edge of the seat. Obviously remembering where he was, he added, "Please."

"You have a lot of nerve—"

"Yes, I do." Sam ran a shaking hand through his shaggy hair. "You have no idea how much nerve I have." She crossed her arms over her chest and waited. "I've done some really stupid things—"

"You said that part already."

He looked up to the ceiling before returning his gaze to her. His eyes softened. "I know Amber is Brady's." She flushed and started to rise.

"But Brady doesn't."

About Amanda Berry:
After an exciting life as a CPA, Amanda Berry returned to writing when her husband swept the family off to England to live for a year. Now she's hooked, and since returning to the states spends her writing days concocting spicy contemporary romances while her cats try in vain to pry her hands off the keyboard. Her Marlene award-winning contemporary romance, L.A. Cinderella, debuted from Silhouette Special Edition in June 2010. One thing she requires of all her books is a happily ever after. Amanda grew up in the Midwest, but recently moved to the Southeast with her husband and two children. For more information, please visit www.amanda-berry.com.

You'll find Father By Choice where all your favorite romances are sold including this direct link:  Amazon.com

Monday, April 29, 2013


I have to admit, and I've said it before, fiction has not been my focus of late. My life for the first four months of 2013 has been all about music, mostly in the Texas music field. Last week, however I entered a different world. I took the opportunity to attend the symphony at the Arkansas Philharmonic at the Arend Center in Bentonville AR. I went for a multitude of reasons.

1) I'd always wanted to attend the symphony but felt I wouldn't fit in. I'm not the high-maintenance kind of person. Don't get me wrong... I love to dress up and do the Cinderella-going-to-the-ball/ enchanted evening trip.

2) I KNEW I'd fit in this time. How could I not when Maestro Steven Byess as well as two of the musicians (Katie Bowden and Dr. Dan Ross) are all my friends.

3) A writer's well of experiences should never run dry. We should empower ourselves by trying new things... even if they mean stepping out of our comfort zone.

4) I LOVE music of all styles, but classic instrumentals nurture the soul. Beautiful Instrumentals has become my favorite DirectTV Sirus channel as background music for just about anything I'm doing unless I need a specific theme for my current WIP.

Part of the experience last week set up all types of scenarios for future stories. There was the frustrating attempt at trying to find THE dress. Having never been to a symphony before, and being friends of the conductor, I was so afraid that what I'd choose would not be 'right'. The last thing I wanted to do was to embarrass my friends. Though deep down I KNOW this would never have been an issue with them. They are genuine and sweet people. But isn't it amazing the way our minds can blow things out of proportion? If you're ever stuck in your novel, have your character over-react to something and see what happens.

And trying something new always stirs up emotions that can apply to various situations such as fear, anxiety, doubt, frustration, not to mention the passion that floods your soul once the music begins.  My favorite piece was the opening... Night on Bald Mountain... which you can hear either by following the Arkansas Philharmonic link above or Here.

Try something new! Enjoy the experience! Live the writing life!
All my best

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


When you visit Annette Beecher's website - Jar O' Marbles - you are greeted with this important fact: 

Once upon a time, writers shut themselves in their offices, churned out their manuscripts and turned them in. Then, leaving the business of sales and publicity to their publishing houses, they went on to write their next masterpiece with nothing but the occasional book tour or store signing to pull them away from their creative process.Those times are long gone.

Another fact is that whether you go the traditional publishing route or choose to indie, the promotion sits on your shoulders even BEFORE you publish.

"But fear not. I'm Annette, your personal Virtual Author Assistant! I have a big jar o' marbles to share ­ so you can keep yours, and spend more of your time doing what you do best. Write!"

Annette is here today to share The Top Five Things Authors Should Know about Promo & Social Media

 Don’t be a telemarketer:  I see so many authors that spend all of their time sending out links to their books, newsletters, etc.  No one wants to deal with telemarketers on the phone, so don’t be one online either.  It’s important to be a real person online.  Talk about your day, your writing process, your dog, the song that you can’t get of your head, etc.  Promotional links should be only 30 – 40% of what you post.

 Plan Ahead:  If you know you have a book coming out, start thinking about the best way to promote it.  Giveaways seem to be really popular right now. Blog Tours are also popular; though pick the blogs or the tour company carefully. Once the book is out, post your favorite book lines with links to where readers can purchase.  It’s important to use a variety of lines, not the same one over and over.

 Do Your Research:  This could probably be 2.1.  The internet is an ever-changing environment. Blog hops, blog tours and newsletters are really “hot” right now, but in a month or two, there will be something else to come along.  So get online and do your homework, figure out what is working for other authors and pick promo ideas that work for you.  

 Mysterious does not work for authors: Readers, reviewers and bloggers are going to want to contact you.  Don’t make them hunt for your contact info.  Make sure there is an easy to find way to contact you whether it’s a contact form or email address on your website or blog. 

 The Good, The Bad & The Ugly: Or, don’t be “That” author.  If you get bad reviews, don’t go all medieval on the reviewer.  It just makes you look bad.  Books like music and art are a subjective medium.  Not everyone is going to love what you do.  If reading bad reviews bothers you that much, hire an assistant to read reviews for you and only send you the good ones.  This should be common sense, but don’t trash other authors, or your agent or anyone online.  The internet is like an elephant, its memory lasts forever.

Great tips!  Annette offers a variety of promotional assistance packages to choose from. Please stop by her website and have a look around. She is very approachable and personable so if you have questions, feel free to contact her. 


About Annette Beecher: 
Chihuahua minion, gamer, foodie, whovian, anglophile, book obsessed, slightly crazy person who also works as a virtual assistant to authors.