Thursday, December 18, 2014

Three Reasons To Bundle Books For Author Success! (One you'll never think of until you do it!)

Tis the season, when authors are working maniacally hard to promote/sell their titles. One useful instrument is the eBook boxed set or bundle. Why? Read on.

1. You will expand your readership.

Because they love to read, readers are always looking for a bargain. Book bundles provide that bargain. For example, the book bundle above provides the first two novels in my Mall Fairies series, plus a stand alone short story, for an estimated 602 pages of reading, all for $1.99!

They are also looking to discover new authors with little risk. Bundles provide that, whether with a single author as above or with several other authors as in another bundle I'm in, Sirens on Death Starke Blvd. 

With five authors and four mysteries, and 825 pages for $1.99, why not?

I know this is all true because as a reader, I often buy bundles.

2. You will add to your brand.

Book bundles are one strong way of promoting your brand, especially when you have a one author (you) bundle. It's another way of having the readers find you. It sends out the message that you are not a one book wonder and can be trusted to provide more reads, always important to readers.

If you are in a bundle with other authors, your brand is strengthened by association with those authors' brands. For example in Sirens on Death Starke Blvd., it is obviously a mystery genre bundle, and if you like one book, you'll like another. It brands me as a mystery author.

3. And least thought of: Oddly enough, bundling my books led me to more story ideas! I never expected that. But seeing three of my Mall Fairies books together reminded me of what the whole series was about...and what the next could be about, or wait, here's an idea for another short story. Sometimes revisiting the prior work provides inspiration.

So dear readers, do you buy book bundles? If you're an author who has a book bundle out? If so, provide a link in the comments!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Welcome author Joan C. Curtis with great writing tips for having pets in your stories!

Just released! The Clock Strikes Midnight by Joan C. Curtis

Tips for Using Animals in Your Stories

I love to read about characters who have pets. Whenever there is a cat or a dog in a book, my interest peaks. I do not, however, like it when animals do things that are superhuman. I don't like for the animals to talk nor do I like it when they solve crimes. The one exception for me was the fascinating book, The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. The author wrote the entire book from the dog's point of view. He did a great job of getting into the mind of the dog. The dog couldn't do super-dog things, but he did see things from a dog's perspective.
What I don't like is to see animals hurt. When an author uses an animal to demonstrate a character's cruelness, I consider that a cheap method. I loved The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo, but I hated when Stieg Larsson killed a cat. After experiencing what this killer did to women, why kill a cat? It was unnecessary.

 Joan's cat Caramella
To contrast this misuse of animals with a great demonstration of how to use an animal to show a character's humanity, William Boyd in Ordinary Thunderstorms created a sociopathic villain with a dog. As the book progressed, it became clear that the dog jeopardized the killer's life. He had to kill it. I skipped ahead because I couldn't experience him shooting the dog. I’m a total wimp as far as animals and children are concerned. Once I skipped ahead, however, I realized the dog was still alive. The villain couldn't kill the dog. He did abandon him, but at a home where he knew the dog would be cared for. What an amazing thing for Boyd to do! Although I disliked the killer, the author showed a bit of humanity that still remained in this villain--a multidimensional character. That's awesome writing.
In my own books, my characters have animals. In The Clock Strikes Midnight both main characters have pets. Janie has a yellow lab named Charlie and Marlene has a cat named Nellie. Neither play prominent parts, but both demonstrate each character’s compassion for their four-legged creatures.
To all the authors out there, I say, please don't kill your animals to make a point. Find a better way to do it!

Dr. Joan Curtis is an award winning writer who has published 5 books and numerous stories.

"There is a feeling of the great southern author, Fannie Flagg in The Clock Strikes Midnight," said the Rabid Reviewer. "Curtis beautifully highlights the complexity of relationships when mental illness is a player. She, in a move nothing short of brilliant, introduces us to the mother as a teen. Eloise's internal dialogue is fascinating. Her development shows how a young girl spirals out of control...

Thank you, Joan, for being on my blog today with your great post! Readers, any questions for Joan or tales of stories with animals gone horribly--or wonderfully? 

Monday, December 8, 2014


If you're like me, you get crazy enthusiastic about the holidays and holiday desserts and end up buying two or three of those big honking cans of pumpkin. No worries!  The Mall Fairies Sweet Tooth Cookbook to the rescue with several recipes for pumpkin, including the one below, as a pumpkin-y taste. One reviewer said, "What a delightful change from the usual cookbook genre! The author creates little vignettes to introduce a reason for the creation of each recipe." Plus The Mall Fairies Sweet Tooth Cookbook is free today only here.

(Conda's note: this story is about the pixies that are introduced in my new release, the second in my Mall Fairies' trilogy, The Mall Fairies: War, out now. Enjoy meeting Flit and the rest of the pixies!)


"What, in the Big Digger's name, are we going to do with an entire pumpkin?" Cheer, the leader of the pixie clan glared at Flit. Cheer sat straight on her rock—okay, throne, as she insisted it be called—and leaned forward.
Flit fingered the hem of her mouse skin cloak. She'd thought that Cheer would be pleased with what Flit and her friends had managed to find tucked away in a human's garden and haul home. There were times when she hated her part time job of scavenger—Dumpster diver—provider of foodstuffs for the pixie clan. She gestured at the human's fist-sized pumpkin. "It's a tiny pumpkin."
"For human's maybe, not for five-inch-tall pixies. For pixies, it's big enough for all of us to live on for a week."
Flit nodded. "Exactly."
Cheer slumped on her rock. "My fault for sending a healer out instead of a hunter."
"Pumpkin is very good for you," Flit the healer said.
Cheer sighed. "Right, but I'm sending all the complaints your way."
… Three days later …
"Roast pumpkin, pumpkin soup, cold pumpkin soup—no more!" Digger, Flit's best friend, stood in front of a large group of angry pixies confronting Flit.
"But—" Flit looked over at the pile of cooked pumpkin, the rather large pile of remaining cooked pumpkin.
Digger saw her looking. "Yeah, I hate to waste food too, especially food I helped you drag home and then cook, but we're making an exception this time." The other pixies nodded in agreement.
"But—" Flit cast her gaze around as she tried to think of a way to use up the pumpkin—her gaze fell on the stack of honeycomb freshly stolen from a hive. Aha.
"What if we had it for dessert instead?" Flit asked.
"You know, make up some pumpkin bread or bars with acorn flour and the honey—"
"Yeah, yeah, that sounds—delicious," Digger said. The other pixies nodded again.
"And it's healthy too," Flit had to add.



2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves (can be omitted, but why?)
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 eggs
1 and 2/3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil (I use canola)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 large can (15oz) pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)

Sift dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, salt & soda) and set aside. In a large bowl, combine eggs, sugar, oil, vanilla and pumpkin until light and fluffy. Add the dry ingredients, gradually. Mix well.

Spread batter in a greased 15x10x1 baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 – 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool completely.

For a richer dessert, frost with one of Grandma MacDougall's frostings (recipes follows Molasses Cake recipe in The Mall Fairies Sweet Tooth Cookbook).

Enjoy! And dear readers, do you have any recipes to share for this most glorious pumpkin season?