Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Book Bundles, Promo Cookbooks and Free Books: Author Marketing that Works

Now through October 14th, Book Bundles, 20 reads for under 5 bucks! Get Prodigies of Mystery II here at iBooks, 99 cents for three full length novels!

How are midlist and new authors going to stand out in today's overburdened publishing biz? Here's a few recent methods I've found successful.

First up: Book Bundles. My publisher is running a special on five bundles, one of which, Prodigies of Mysteries II, includes my cozy mystery Starke Naked Dead. As a reader, I've noticed that I often buy these bundles because there's a lot of reading for cheap and it's a great way to find new authors. As an author, I discovered that Starke Naked Dead is coming up in the rankings considerably while offered in Prodigies of Mystery II. A  great way to get noticed and to brand your author name and series.

Here's another great way to get your name out there, thank you, Lois Winston, for this great idea. Bake, Love, Write is a compilation of dessert recipes with authors' advice on love and writing, 105 authors in all. Lois Winston is donating the proceeds to a worthy cause. The eBook is for sale for 99 cents, that's less than a penny a recipe! My recipe is easy, cheap and delicious soda cracker pie. Again, I often find myself buying just this type of book because I love to cook, love inexpensive dessert cookbooks and love finding other authors to read. Plus, with 105 authors, there's oodles of cross-marketing going on!

There's a lot of controversy about whether to ever have anything free, even promo cookbooks. The detractors say that being free only means that you are giving away content to people who may never read it, much less review it. However, I think there is a place for free, especially if it's a certain sort of free book. I've downloaded free short stories about a series and then gone on to buy books from the series. With my promotional cookbooks, I have found that after they're free that I do get reviews, perhaps because a cookbook is something that people do read after downloading. Plus, if you have a lot of downloads of your free book, Amazon will heavily promote it once it's no longer free. So, here's one of my cookbooks that introduces my Starke Dead cozy mystery series, Starke Deadly Delicious, and it's FREE today, October 8th!

So dear readers, what do you think? Do you do the same with these promotions? Or not? Do you think they work? Or not? Let us know in the comments!

Saturday, September 27, 2014


I often get asked one of the Sisters In Crime bloghop questions, "If you were to mentor a new writer, what would you tell her about the writing business?"

There is one important concept that seems simple but is difficult to understand and accept: If you are serious about being an author, then writing is a business. This is separate from the creative work of writing. They are two very different things. The more a writer is able to keep the two distinct, the more successful she'll be in both.

Whether you are a well-established name or pre-published, you are having a writing career. The business aspects of the career are your job in which you are the boss, CEO, CFO, and employee. What does that mean, really? It means that you must work to be your best advocate in your business decisions. It means that you must work to keep yourself apprised of this new publishing world. It means that you must work to promote yourself as best as you can. What it mostly means is the writing comes first and foremost always. In business terms, you can't sell what you don't have. You need product. (With rejections, it's helpful to think of your finished manuscript in terms of being product. After all, no one sells all their product all the time.)

The writing business can be frustrating, annoying and even heart-rending. Remembering that the writing biz isn't writing often helps reduce the pain. And the rewards far outweigh the struggle. May all you new authors succeed!

This blog post was inspired and created for the Sisters In Crime bloghop. You can find out more here,

Last, but perhaps most important: my great friend and great author, Kathy McIntosh, is also participating in this bloghop. She's the author of the comic crime novel in which there is “plenty of laughs in this page turner and plenty of insights that keep the story fresh and memorable.” So hop on over to her post about what she says to someone who says "Nothing against women writers, but all of my favorite crime fiction authors happen to be men," on her website here.

And dear readers, what do you think? Are you successful in separating the two aspects of being a successful author? Any tips on how to do so?

Friday, September 5, 2014

Succeeding Writing, Plus a Happiness Recipe and My Favorite Recipe!

My Favorite Recipe: My Grandma's easy sugar cookies! Go to my interview on The Happiness Recipe for the recipe.

Today, I'm featured on the radio interview show, The Happiness Recipe, with lots of fun stories, my recipe for happiness and some writerly advice. Here's a taste: the main ingredient of my happiness recipe is to "follow my bliss." What I tell new writers when they ask how do I become a writer? Read, read, read, write, write, write, edit, edit, edit, submit, submit, submit, repeat, repeat, repeat. There's lots more, but you'll have to listen to the half hour show!

For the easy sugar cookie recipe, go to my post on The Happiness Recipe website and enjoy! Or, pick up a copy of my cookbook, The Mall Fairies Sweet Tooth Cookbook, which has this recipe and many other easy, delicious recipes, plus tales of my Mall Fairies.

And have a happy day!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

How to Make Bottle Cap Pin Jewelry. Easy, cheap, and fun!

(I hope to see you all at my FREE bottle cap workshop this Monday, July 14, at the Ada Victory Library at 4:30 pm to make bottle caps! Everyone takes a bottle cap pin home!)

 A selection of Christmas bottle cap pins, some with just the image, others with Christmas items. The trees, holly, gingerbread men, stars and snowflakes are in the scrapbook section of any craft store and inexpensive. The images are free downloads. Take a bottle cap with you to store for size. Next year, different images and inserts!

Bottle cap items can be wonderful as gifts for all sorts of occasions. A baby shower? Give a bottle cap pin with the photo of the new mom as a baby! Maybe pins for all the attendees! How about making a bunch of Christmas bottle cap ornaments? Give out a bottle cap magnet for a Halloween treat! A project for your child's class? The limit is your imagination.

It's possible to do bottle caps the old fashioned way, cut out the image with a pair of scissors, recycle used bottle caps if not bent, glue and then use clear varnish on the top, but most of these supplies are inexpensive and if you're like me you'll keep coming up with new uses.

Materials (check Beadaholique or Amazon, links are to Amazon, the punch and Glue Dots are available in office and craft stores too):
50Mixed Color Bottle Caps (or collect your own throughout the year and it's FREE)
EK Success Papers Shapers Nesting Punch 1" (or any brand, as long as 1")
Glue Dots Super Strength Multi-Use 1/2" dots (or use super glue, but you have to wait longer, however, sometimes the glue dots "let go" after a couple of years)

Images: use photos, images from magazines and greeting cards, draw your own, stencil, use stamps, stickers, glue small objects that fit within the 1" circle, there are inexpensive bottle cap images for sale, or use your imagination!

How to:
Take your 1" paper circle image and press it against a Glue Dot. Press the circle into the bottle cap. Place a 1" Circle Epoxy Sticker on top. DONE Then attach whatever to the back, whether it be a pin back, or hanger for pendants, or magnet. DONE.

Here's how to attach a pin back (so that the pin is on correctly): Take a piece of paper and line up your bottle caps on the paper with arrows pointing which way the image is up, like this:
Then flip over the bottle caps and glue the pins to the back--easy!

Do you have an idea for bottle caps to share?

Friday, July 4, 2014

Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Soy Free, Egg Free, Pumpkin Cake for July Fourth!

What could be more US of A than pumpkin?

Yes, it seems odd to have pumpkin cake for a Fourth of July celebration, but what is more American than pumpkin? And you'll never miss the eggs, wheat, dairy or soy, I promise! This is a recipe from my upcoming Conda's Healthy Cooking cookbook.


1/2 cup Gluten Free oatmeal flour (make your own oatmeal flour using Gluten Free oatmeal--check to make sure it's GF as oatmeal is grown/processed with wheat otherwise)
2 generous teaspoons baking powder
1 generous tablespoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 generous tablespoons Ener-g Egg Replacement powder
5 generous tablespoons of vegetable oil (I use canola)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 and 1/2 cups of pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 cup of rice or coconut milk (not hemp or flax seed, it won't come out right)
1 scant teaspoon of Xanthum Gum (may be omitted)

Stir dry ingredients except for Ener-g Egg Replacement powder. In a separate bowl, combine coconut milk and pumpkin puree, heat in microwave until warm, not hot, then add the egg replacement and whisk well until dissolved. Combine the dry and wet mixtures, add the oil and mix well. Let set for 5 minutes minimum, mixing occasionally. Batter will be fairly thick, if very thick add pumpkin and or milk.

Spread batter in a greased 8x8 baking pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 25 – 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Add nuts, walnuts and pecans work well.
Add chocolate bits (there are some that are dairy, soy and wheat free).
Add both chocolate bits and nuts.
Pictured:  I added pecans to the batter and then spread chocolate bits over the top of the cake when it was done and let them melt--instant frosting!

Any questions? Comment and I'll answer!

A "regular" version of this recipe can be found in my cookbook The Mall Fairies Sweet Tooth Cookbook. The new edition of this cookbook is just released with bonus recipes and short stories!

And everyone--


Monday, June 30, 2014

Free eBooks, free audio books, No eReader? No Problem!

The new edition with added bonus recipes and FREE today!

It has come to my attention that in this time of eBook prominence, there are a lot of people who still believe they can't participate in the wonderful world of FREE and cheap eBook promotions, including audio books, because they don't have an eReader. But these people usually have computers, cell phones and/or tablets and laptops (I know this because they complain to me that they can't get my books when they are free) and they can get all this and more! (EBooks are also usually cheaper to buy than print, just saying.)

Here's the secret: Download the apps to whichever device (or devices) to getting all sorts of great reads, for example go to Amazon and search for Kindle app (if they haven't already asked you if you'd like the Kindle app!) and Amazon will take you through the download step by easy step. Same for Barnes and Noble and Smashwords. They want it to be EASY to buy eBooks!

I've downloaded oodles of great stuff to my cell phone. I've got great reading wherever I go! AND when I'm doing a recipe from my cookbook I just set the screen to be on for the maximum time. It works great!

AND: if you visit The Cellophane Queen today and comment you'll be entered to win a copy of either The Mall Fairies: Exile or The Mall Fairies: War, the first and second in my Mall Fairies trilogy!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Welcome wonderful writer Marva Dasef with a great book for Dad!

HAPPY (Just in Time) FATHERS' DAY!
(see the end of the post for purchase links)

TALES OF A TEXAS BOY has been a best seller in the large print editions most of its published life. It really is a wonderful book for older fathers who recall the good old days in rural America. It's a series of related short stories loosely based on my father's stories about his boyhood in West Texas during the Depression.

It all started with a cattle drive. Yeah, right, pop. Nobody had cattle drives in the 1930's. Well, yeah, they did. My father, Eddie in the stories, got to ride herd when he was only eleven years old. That was sure the highlight of that year.

His father, Louis (my grandfather), had been a veterinarian with Blackjack Pershing's American Expeditionary Forces. That's what they called the army during WWI. In the service, he became friends with an interesting old guy who happened to have a bear. When Dad Boles brought Sophie to the annual fair, Eddie loved to sit by the campfire listening to some dandy whoppers.

Eddie had a pretty busy life for a boy who lived miles away from the nearest neighbors. He managed to find plenty of trouble to get into, but had a big heart to soften his bad boy image. No matter that he loved to aggravate his sister, he took care of her when she and her pony were almost swept away by a flood.

Photo of Cage McNatt and his sow

The boy cared about the rattlesnakes, the jackrabbits, the jack asses, even old Cage McNatt's prize sow. He went fishing with a special borrowed float, then proceeded to lose it, find it, then give it away.

These are simple tales without any big events, unless you consider the despair of the Great Depression hanging over everybody's lives.

Yes, I made up some aspects of the stories, and I even made up a few completely, but most of the book is as true as a Texas Tall Tale can be.

If these kind of stories appeal to your father, your mother, uncle, aunt, or even yourself, I think you'll be glad to read my father's stories. Since he died last August, I'm proud and relieved to have gotten around to writing the stories, having several published separately, then putting all of them together in one book. I decided to feature Large Print since my father's eyesight was failing.

Now to the excerpt. It's about my grandfather, so from Eddie's point of view, about his own father. I think it appropriate for a Father's Day post.


World War I took many young men away from their homes and sent them off to foreign shores. Eddie's Pa was one of those young men. He has his own tale to tell.

In 1916, I was still a young buck and not yet married, so I signed up with Black Jack Pershing to go after Pancho Villa. Ol' Pancho and his banditos came into US territory and killed a bunch of folks in Columbus, New Mexico.

I was real good with horses, so soon I was the veterinarian. This was just as well, as I didn't take well to using a gun. I'd never studied vetting in school, but I'd grown up on a farm in Nebraska and knew just about all there was to know about horses and mules. We chased Pancho and his gang just about all over Mexico, but never did catch up with him. A couple years later, I was still in the service, so I ended up goin' to France with Black Jack when he got to be a General. I could have decided not to go as I'd done my time, but I knew Black Jack could put me to good use.

We were on the troop ship for weeks. Everybody was seasick for the first few days. The horses seemed to fare fine in that regard, but I was worried we couldn't exercise them enough. We brought them up from the hold, a few at a time, and let them stretch their legs. We'd lead them in a quick walk around the deck. With the metal decks, we didn't want them to move very fast for fear they'd slip and fall.

I'd hate to have to put down a horse with a broken leg, so we took it real easy. As a result, the horses were not in good fightin' shape by the time we landed in France.

It took some time, but me and Joe, who got assigned to be my assistant, got them in shape again. Mostly the horses were used to pack gear, but a few officers still rode them. Black Jack Pershing liked to ride on occasion, as did Captain Patton. I thought we should only have mules, since they make better pack animals than horses, but there were never enough mules to go around.

We weren't in too many battles directly as we were the supply line for the army, but in 1918 it turned pretty bad when we went into the Argonne Forest. They called this an 'offensive.' I can see why as it offended me a lot. The fighting went on for nearly two months and only ended in November when the big guys signed the Treaty at Versailles.

In that short two months, it was hell on earth. Thousands of men died. One whole division, the 77th, was cut off for near a week and held out surrounded by the German forces. It was some battle, I can tell you. Almost all day long, I could hear the shells bursting and the sharp reports of rifle fire. And I heard the screams of dying men and horses.

The worst part for me was the horses being swept up in the middle of the battle. It broke my heart to go out on the fields after the fighting passed by and after the dead and wounded men were collected. Sometimes the ground was so soaked with blood that my boots were covered before I got back. A horse with an artery torn open bleeds gallons of blood; men only a few pints. It angered me when I thought how much the horses gave. They didn't even have a say in goin' to war. Men, at least, had a choice.

I carried a sidearm and had to shoot more horses than I can count. Those we could save, we'd bring back to the line and see if we could treat their wounds. It was a second heartbreak when they wouldn't heal proper and we'd take them out behind the tents to put them down. We dug a deep trench to bury them for health reasons and we kept digging every day to hold them all.

While we treated the horses, close by we could see the wounded men being brought back from the battlefield. Legs and arms were already gone or had to be cut off by the doctors right there in the field. From the history I'd read about the Civil War, this was just about as bad. If the choice was amputate or die, then they had to do what was necessary. We dug another trench to hold the arms and legs the doctors cut off; the dead soldiers we wrapped in oilcloth to be sent back behind the lines, where we hoped to send their bodies back home to their families.

All told I spent twenty months in France. It was the worst part of my life and I hoped and prayed we'd never see another war like this again.

Pa's story made me sad in a way, though I was proud of him for what he did in the war. It seemed to me people should learn to get along. I never was sure why Pa had to go to France. Later in my own life, I'd learn what it was to go to war. I was lucky to not go overseas, but somethin' in me wished I had.

* * *

Tales of a Texas Boy is available in Large Print and standard trade paperback on Amazon.. It's also in ebook format on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords. And if your father has vision issues beyond the help of large print (as my father did), the audio book is available at

CONDA'S NOTE: I've read and very much enjoyed Tales of a Texas Boy. I'd recommend this as a wonderful gift for any dad!