Monday, November 28

Homemade Dog Treats Recipe



James Scott Bell is our guest today at IWSG. He's discussing high stakes. 


Last year for Christmas, I made dog treats for all of my families’ four-legged friends. It was easy and fun. My nephews loved that they were making “Christmas Cookies” for their dogs.

This recipe was approved by my nephews’ dog, Troy.

NOTE: I understand some pet owners are especially careful of the foods their pets consume. You don't have to make these for your dog if you don't like the ingredients, but all of the dogs who tried the batch I made loved it.

The dog treats we made.

Homemade Dog Treats

Need:
- 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup cornmeal
- ½ cup rolled oats
- ½ cup of water (more if needed)
- ½ cup of vegetable oil (or whatever you prefer)
- 2 eggs
- 3 tablespoons peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- Cookie cutters

TIP #1: If you don’t want to use cornmeal, add more whole wheat flour.
TIP #2: You can leave out the vanilla extract, if you want. 
TIP #3: You want the dough to be tough enough to roll out and make cutouts.

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Mix together whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, cornmeal, and rolled oats.

3. Make a well in the dry ingredients and gradually pour in water, oil, eggs, peanut butter and vanilla extract. Mix well.

4. Dust clean surface with whole wheat flour. Roll out dough to about ¼ inch thick.
TIP #4: Dust the rolling pin with whole wheat flour as well. Repeat as needed.
5. Place cookies on cookie sheets. Bake for 20 minutes. Turn off oven and let cookies sit inside it to harden.

6. Let cool then serve to your furry friends.


Wednesday, November 23

My Thanksgiving Letter to YOU!


Dear Friends and Readers,

This year has been a crazy one with highs and lows. Thanksgiving is all about thinking about the highs, so I’m going to let the lows go. Some of those lovely highs were being asked to join the Insecure Writer’s Support Group to head the newsletter, starting my editing business, publishing Seismic Crimes and 30 Seconds Before, and signing a contract for Tsunami Crimes.

I have all of you to thank for getting me through the craziness of these highs (and especially the lows, but we’re not talking about those).

As a writer, you helped me to realize the amazing feeling of having people interested in my books. Something I had always dreamed about but wasn’t sure if I’d be blessed with. As a blogger, you made me feel as though my thoughts, words, and ideas were valuable and interesting. When I started writing at twelve, and created my blog five years ago, I had craved these things, hoped and wished for them, and now I am so very grateful you have given them to me; a gift I’ll always treasure.

For your selfless support, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You sure know how to make a girl feel loved, supported, understood, and appreciated.

If I could give everyone a cookie (or a hunk of cheese to Crystal Collier), I would. Since I can’t, I hope this letter adequately shows my gratitude for these priceless gifts you’ve given me. I’m also giving everyone virtual hugs and sending wishes of success, health, and happiness.

Happy Thanksgiving!


XOXO,


Chrys Fey



Monday, November 21

Writing About: Thanksgiving



Thanksgiving is a holiday that doesn’t get a lot of play in stories, because there’s not much build-up to it like there is with Halloween or Christmas that have decorations and fun activities. Since Thanksgiving is smack dab between these holidays, it gets even less attention. But this holiday can get fair play in your story if your character stresses about cooking a turkey dinner, traveling, or having the family together.

Since this holiday is all about food and family, you need to utilize both.

1. Food

Cooking Thanksgiving dinner is an all-day thing. The wife (usually) has to get up early to start the turkey. Then you have to prep the dressing and mashed potatoes. As the day goes on, more food needs to be prepared. Your character can dish our orders to her kids and husband to help her. Or she can stress over the turkey, have a meltdown in the kitchen, or even burn something.

Image from Pixabay

Foods – Turkey, ham, Tofurkey, salmon, stuffing, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, collard greens, green bean casserole, candied yams/sweet potatoes, crescent rolls, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, brisket


2. Entertainment

The Thanksgiving Day parade, National Dog Show, and football games are the three main sources of entertainment on Thanksgiving. You can describe the kids anxiously waiting for Santa at the end of the parade, and the guys cheering over the game while your heroine slaves in the kitchen.

Image from Pixabay

Or maybe your characters have a tradition to watch a movie on this day like Gone with the Wind (couples) or The Santa Clause (a family).


3. Family

This day is all about family coming together. Let your MC spend time with his/her loved ones. You can even add in some family drama. We all know every family has plenty of drama to go around, and on Thanksgiving things can get heated.

Or you can use this opportunity to show a happy family truly thankful to have each other after the obstacles you (as the writer) put them through.

***

Thanksgiving got a little blimp in Seismic Crimes, but I think I did a good job including the highlights of this holiday while making it fit my characters.


EXCERPT:

Thanksgiving morning, Donovan woke to the smell of coffee and French toast, the aroma of vanilla and cinnamon was having a love affair with the fragrance of Colombian coffee beans. Beth made breakfast in his high school basketball jersey with the Thanksgiving Day parade on in the background.

Since neither of them had to slave over a feast, Donovan watched the football game with Beth, and he was pleased to learn she was fluent in the ways of football. She knew what first down meant, understood a referee’s call, and knew the main players by name.
“I had no idea you were a fan,” he said during halftime.

“Yup,” she said as she took a swig of soda. “I had to find some way to bond with my dad, being an only child and all. I wasn’t interested in fixing up cars, which in hindsight would’ve saved me a lot of money on my piece of crap car. So, I started to watch football with him when I was eight. I fell in love with the game.” She shrugged as if it didn’t matter, but Donovan thought it was amazing.

When it was time to eat, they put together a simple meal and sat down to eat. In the middle of the table were two cornish hens, a box of turkey dressing, a can of cranberry sauce, and instant potatoes with a glob of garlic butter to make up for the bland taste. It might’ve been simple, but it was better than what Donovan did last year when he ordered Chinese takeout.

***

Later in this scene, they even share what they are thankful for. 


To read more:


QUESTION: What do you eat on Thanksgiving? I’ll add it to my list. :)


Monday, November 14

100 Marketing Tips





NOTE: This post has been revised since publication due to marketing/social media/website changes. 



Marketing is all a game of chance. There are no right answers. All you can do is try and see what works for you.
Below are 100 marketing options. I’ve tried many of them and know they are useful. The things I’ve tried that didn’t work for me have worked wonders for other authors. You just never know until you give it a shot.

1. Build your brand.
2. Write a great book.
3. Have a standout cover image that reflects your story and the genre.
4. Write a prequel to get more readers interested in the first book.
5. Create a newsletter. Lure people to opt-in for your email list/newsletter with an incentive, such as a free book or gift. Then create good, interesting content they will find useful. When the time is right, promote one of your books. Put a note in your books/eBooks (beginning and end if possible) asking your readers to sign up for your newsletter.
6. Start a street team. A street team helps you get the word out about your books. And they want to do it, too. So why not set one up? You can give them a special badge (image) to put on their blog/website, and you can also create a Facebook group for everyone to go to and chat.
7. Make business cards and give them to everyone you talk to about your books. You can even leave them places.
8. Look for award opportunities. Do some research on yearly book awards and check the guidelines to see if your book(s) qualify. If you don’t win an award, no harm, no foul. (Most do ask for a fee, though.)

REVIEWS:
9. Approach reviewers. There are many book bloggers out there—use the Internet to find them.
10. Encourage fans to post reviews. You can put a polite note at the end of your book/eBook asking your readers to post an honest review of the story they just read on Amazon.
11. When you get reviews for your books, pick the best ones by authors and professional book reviewers. Search those reviews for a sentence or two that you can add to the Editorial Reviews section on your books’ Amazon page.
12. Give Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs) to anyone interested in reviewing your book before release day.
13. Also look for snippets of reviews to put on a testimonial page on your website. This is good because it shows you have cred. You can have testimonials for specific books, your overall writing, your services, or even your blog.
14. Mail galley copies to pre-publication reviewers and major magazines. Most need these copies 3–5 months in advance of the release date.
15. Approach local book clubs/reading groups to see if they’d be interested in reading your book. Most members buy the books they want to read. This will result in quite a few reviews and sales.
16. When you post a review, start it (or sign off) with “[Your name] Author of XYZ.”

Amazon:
17. Narrow down your book’s categories on Amazon. Instead of “paranormal,” think “paranormal detective mystery.” Use Amazon’s search bar to find popular searches for your book’s genre. Click on it and check out the number of books under that category. You can find this in the top left-hand corner. The smaller this number is the better. Think 1,000 or less. Under 500 is awesome because it’s less competition. Use these categories when you pick the categories for your books.
18. You can also put a list of categories in the “Product Description” under the blurb and pick one to include in the title.
Example: Ghost of Death – A Paranormal Detective Mystery. Try to get that on the cover, too, if possible.
19. Add author interview questions to the “From the Author” section on your Amazon book page.

Goodreads:
20. Join Goodreads Groups. There are many groups for many different genres. Follow the rules set out for authors in each group before you post promo. While you are there, connect to readers and other authors.
21. Use Goodreads groups to get reviews. Many groups have discussions to help authors get reviewers. You will need to provide the necessary info as a comment or separate post and interested people will email you asking for a copy. Make sure to specify a timeframe.
22. Do a Goodreads Event whenever a new book comes out and invite EVERYONE.
23. “Friend” other authors by clicking the down arrow next to “Follow Author” and selecting “Add as a Friend.”

Website:
24. Add all of your books to your website/blog. You can do this on the sidebar and/or create a page. And make the images clickable with a URL to your books’ Amazon pages, so visitors can buy your books.
25. Use your website/blog to make announcements, and then send people there using social media to see that announcement.
26. Create a “Special Features” page on your website for deleted scenes, facts, soundtracks, book/character tidbits, etc.
27. Update your bio as necessary.
28. Find unique ways to promote your website daily or weekly.

Social Media:
29. Post fun things about your books to social media instead of pestering fans to buy, buy, buy. These fun things could be one-sentence teasers, dialogue, short excerpts (Facebook), facts, and odd tidbits your readers won’t know by reading your books.
30. Create quote images with your tagline, logline, dialogue, and lines from your blurb and story.
31. Take advantage of Instagram. Share cover teasers before a big reveal and even images of your computer as you work on your current WIP.
32. Join Twitter Chats such as #1LineWed. You can’t share buy links, but you can still generate interest in your writing if you share awesome lines from your books.
33. Host your own Twitter chat with a unique hashtag.
Pick a date, a time, and tell everyone about it. You can talk about your books, writing, share snippets, anything.
34. Update your profiles on all social media websites at least once a year.
35. Utilize your email signature. Add links to your social media platforms and even list your books. Everyone you send an email to will see it.
36. Do Live videos on Facebook to connect with your readers.
37. Create videos related to your books and upload them to YouTube. Then upload them to your Goodreads author page and your Amazon author profile.

Blog:
38. Do a blog tour.
39. Interview authors on your blog. This is as easy as asking them or putting an announcement out there that you are accepting author interviews. To save time, have a list of questions already prepared.
40. Do a cover reveal. Use a Google Form so people who want to help can sign up to post your new cover on their blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Send them everything they need a few days before and stress the date so no one posts too soon.
41. Guest blog and have guests on your blog. It’s as simple as asking authors/bloggers. Don’t be afraid. At the worst, they won’t respond or will say they don’t have a spot available. That’s it.
42. Join the April Blogging from A to Z Challenge.
TIP: Don’t just share excerpts from your book, though. Dig into topics related to your book that starts with each letter. I once did a disaster theme for my Disaster Crimes series.
43. Get interviewed. Many bloggers interview authors. When you’re setting up your blog tour, see if the blogger offers author interviews and tell them you’re interested in one.
44. Do a blogfest instead of a blog tour. A blogfest is more engaging for the people who want to participate, each post will be unique, and you’ll be blasted on many blogs on a single day. Make sure to ask a fun question or offer a unique prompt for the blogfest.

Publishing:
45. Publish more books and advertise your previously published books in them. You can create a list of books in the beginning or share an excerpt for a book or two at the end.
46. Use more than one book distributor (self-published authors) to reach more readers. Smashwords links to Barnes & Noble, KOBO, Apple iBooks, and more. Then upload to Amazon Direct Publishing. Not Select (unless you really want those 5 free days). Select wants you to publish exclusively with them for 3 months.
47. Turn your books into audiobooks with ACX.com.
48. Have a series? Put them together in a box set.
49. Look for anthology opportunities and submit a short story for consideration. Anthologies are a great way to find new readers.

Release Promo:
50. Ask your supporters to share a release day announcement on their blog, Facebook page, and/or Twitter feed.
51. Do a Facebook Release Party. Make sure it’s set as “public.”
52. Add your books to book websites such as Manic Readers, BookLikes, Book Goodies, Book Buzzr, and Awesome Gang.
53. Look for major book newsletters and email them to see if they would like to promote your book. Make sure to include all of your book’s info and the blurb in the email when you ask.

Writing Community:
54. Join Yahoo Groups, websites, organizations, writing groups, etc. When your book comes out, you can spread the news to all of these places.
55. Cross promote with other authors. If you know authors who have books in your genre or who are coming out with books around the same time, ask if they’d like to be part of a big promo opportunity. Every author can share promos for everyone on their blogs. You can do the same locally with a group of authors for a signing/event. Or you can contact other authors signed with your publisher to cross promote.
56. Ask an author to write an introduction, forward, or testimonial for your book. This doesn’t have to be a best-selling author but an author you know and respect.
57. Contact a few famous authors and ask if they’d like to read your book and give an endorsement. The worst they could say is “no” or not respond at all. You won’t know what’ll come out of it until you try.
58. Get on your local radio and TV shows, such as Public-Access Television.

Contests and Giveaways:
59. Do a contest. This can be big or small. I’ve often asked fans to help me name characters.
60. Hold a giveaway. Rafflecopter lets you use “like my FB page” and “follow me on Twitter” as things for people to do to get points in the giveaway. Always offer a Free Entry.
61. Offer your readers sample chapters or short stories for free.
62. Create unique SWAG for giveaways.
63. Put together a baggie with promo stuff and deliver it to houses in nearby neighborhoods. I did this once with Ziploc bags, a postcard, and a business card. I even alternated by including a white tea candle and a green gemstone for weight and a little extra something.
64. Leave promo items (postcards, business cards, etc.) and/or a copy of your book in doctor’s offices and airports. People get bored and may become curious.
65. Carry a couple of copies of your book wherever you go. If you happen to strike a conversation with someone and they become interested in your book, you can give them a copy for free or sell it to them with a discount.

Sales and Free Books:
66. Put the first book in a series on sale whenever a new book comes out.
67. Make a book free for a short time or forever. You can use Smashwords to set an eBook as free, if you’ve self-published. If you do this, Barnes & Noble and Kobo will also follow suit. Then you can notify Amazon and they will price match your eBook.
68. Use Kindle Direct Publishing’s (KDP’s) 5 free days.
69. Add your books to discount/free sites if your book is on sale or free. A simple Google search will help you find them.

Advertisements:
70. Pay to advertise on Facebook. Out of all the social media ads, this one has been the most effective for me. I don’t recommend Twitter ads.
71. Pay to advertise on book blogs/websites/newsletters. But do your research first to see if your ad will get lost in a slew of ads, and stay in budget.
72. Advertise in newspapers and magazines, even digital ones like InD’tale.
73. Buy a $10 Goodreads ad and target all readers.
74. Make fliers and pass them around or ask your local libraries if you can pin your flier to a bulletin board.
75. Put an ad on a bus bench. Yes, really.

Book Signings, Readings, and Events:
76. Go to book fairs/festivals and set up a table.
77. Do a book signing at a local spot. Big or small.
78. Record a video of yourself reading an excerpt of your book and post it everywhere, even add it to your Goodreads and Amazon profiles. This is perfect for people afraid of doing a live reading.
79. Do a book reading at a local library, book store, independent coffee shop, community college/school, etc.
80. Wear a badge with the cover art for your book or with your name and “Author of XYZ.”
81. Put a review packet on your table so interested readers can check out the best reviews for your book.
82. Create an atmosphere with your space. Bring a colored tablecloth, table decorations, and even props to go up behind your table.
83. Invest in a tabletop easel with your book’s cover on it to catch people’s attention, or a bigger banner to stand behind your table.
84. Put a newsletter signup sheet on your table and ask everyone who stops to sign up. When you get home, send them an opt-in email so they can confirm subscription. Or have a tablet on your table and have them sign up at the event.
85. Sell your book at an event for a cause and donate part of the proceeds to that cause.

Books in Stores:
86. If your books are stocked in local bookstores, purchase “Local Author” stickers and ask the manager if you can put them on your books.
87. Also ask if you can sign them. Then you can put “Signed Copy” stickers on them!

Go to Your Local Community:
88. Look for speaking opportunities at schools, conventions, libraries, etc.
89. Teach a class or workshop.
90. Go to local schools for career day, do classroom or media center readings/presentations, have a table at the school’s spring fling or other fests, and donate a copy of your children’s book to their media center.
91. Email the directors of your local libraries and pitch them your book to be added to their collection. Providing a copy is the easiest way to get your book in their system.
92. Pass out flyers at book stores, book events, libraries, community events, flea markets, etc.
93. Tack a flyer on bulletin boards in libraries, book stores, coffee shops, etc.

Press:
94. Create a press kit. Make it available on your blog and website.
95. Hosting an event? Going to an event? Let your local newspaper(s) know about it, and they may do an article about you.

Video:
96. Create a book trailer. Put it on your website, blog, Facebook page, Goodreads, Amazon profile, everywhere.
97. Ask fans to make a book trailer.
98. Get on podcasts created by established authors.

Magazines:
99. If you are knowledgeable about a certain subject that relates to your book, write an article on it and submit it to niche magazines.
100. Submit excerpts to literary magazines.

There are many more things that authors can do to promote their books, but these will get you started.

Now that you’ve gone through this information, make a plan to start doing one of these. Then after you do that, try another. And then another. And... well, you get it.

Friday, November 11

Blogger Interview with Roland Yeomans (and Mark Twain?) + Don't Buy My Book! Blog Tour



I am happy to welcome Roland Yeomans from Writing in the Crosshairs (and any ghostly friends who might be hanging around him) to Write with Fey for a Blogger Interview. Coincidentally, this is also a part of his Don’t Buy my Book! Blog Tour. He certainly knows how to gain attention by trying not to get attention. ;)


Thanks, Chrys, for having me on your blog.  It is quite an honor. 

See?  I didn’t even bring one of my trusty ghosts with me. Though I wouldn’t be surprised if the ghost of Mark Twain is lurking about somewhere.

You asked me some very interesting questions:

1. WHAT DOES WRITING IN THE CROSSHAIRS MEAN?


I wrote a whole post on that very question: WHY WRITING IN THE CROSSHAIRS?

The Cliff Notes version is that all writers write in the crosshairs. Take the imagery of the hunter sighting in on his target.

We writers start out the same way:

At first our goal is blurry, but slowly we fine-tune our words to sharpen the focus for our reader until each detail, each emotional nuance stands out.

We tighten the focus with revealing dialogue, vibrant characters, engaging crises, and creative descriptions.

Pacing and plot tighten the image even more. Sometimes we get it with dead-on clarity. Most times we don't.  Only Shakespeare got it right most of the time.

Take flames:

They look like objects but are actually processes.

Humans are like that.  No human is actually complete.  We are in a constant state of process, of becoming.

If our words are focused in the crosshairs, each of our characters become more real, more distinct with each page.


2. WHAT WAS YOUR VERY FIRST POST ON YOUR BLOG?


It was posted on February 15, 2010

The Title fittingly FIRST GREETINGS:

The Second fittingly was on Mardi Gras, MARDI GRA MUSINGS:

Since that Mardi Gras, I have often posted on masks:

The ones we wear in public, at work, even among our friends – and saddest, the one we wear when we look in the mirror of our thoughts …

For which of us could stand the sheer truth of our lives with no embellishments?

Each of us lives a myth of how we view ourselves; a myth we create in order to stay the course of our lives.


3. SOMETIMES THE GHOST OF MARK TWAIN TAKES OVER YOUR BLOG.  CAN YOU EXPLAIN WHY?


(The ghost of Mark Twain pushes me from the chair to wink at Chrys)

Why, Missy, didn’t you know?  The boy here bought an autographed picture of me, and a bit of my spirit was attached to it.

‘Course that wouldn’t have been enough to bring me over, don’t you know? 

But the first time I met old DreamSinger here, I was still alive, a boy in fact, and he t’weren’t even awake but dreaming!

You can read about it for yourself here, and dang if Marlene Dietrich wasn’t strolling about, too: GHOST OF MARK TWAIN HERE_OF LAST RITES AND FIRST MEETINGS

It’s a prelude of sorts for GHOST OF A CHANCE where me and old Marlene help the boy after his being framed for the murder of the ghost of Ernest Hemingway.

Once it looked like the poor boy had died, so I took over his blog for a time.  This is my first official-like article for his electronic journal: MARK TWAIN_KEYS TO SUCCESS

I am mighty proud of my critique of that there FIFTY SHADES OF GREY.


4. DO ANY OTHER DEAD AUTHORS TAKE OVER YOUR BLOG FROM TIME TO TIME?

(Taking back my chair from an amused Mark Twain)

As a matter of fact, they do.  In fact, Samuel McCord had me exchange personal letters with John Steinbeck in the 1930’s for a time! LETTERS FROM JOHN

William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, Raymond Chandler, Robert E. Howard, Roger Zelazny, Tennessee Williams, Dorothy Parker, Emily Dickinson, even the ghost of Bruce Lee wrote a post on how to write well. BRUCE LEE_GHOST_THE WAY OF THE WRITER

(I emailed his daughter for permission to use her father, and she graciously allowed me to do so.)

The first time the ghost of Ernest Hemingway visited my blog was quite an event: THE WORLD BREAKS EVERYONE


5. WHAT ARE YOUR TOP FIVE MOST-VISITED POSTS?

(Not many visits.  I am just a minnow in the ocean of the blog-verse!)

THE HIDDEN SECRETS OF THE KINDLE FIRE: (Nov. 11, 2011) – 10,723

WHEN LIFE KNOCKS YOU DOWN: (May 3, 2016)    2,125 visits

WHY FRIENDSHIP?  (Sept. 11, 2011)   1,966 visits

DON’T MISS THIS POST! (May 11, 2016)   1,796 visits

TIME’S CURRENCY.   (Sept. 4, 2016)   1,567 visits



Oh, you want to know my bio?

Roland Yeomans was born in Detroit, Michigan.  But his last memories of that city are hub-caps and kneecaps since, at the age of seven, he followed the free food when his parents moved to Lafayette, Louisiana.  The hitch-hiking after their speeding car from state to state was a real adventure.  Once in Louisiana, Roland learned strange new ways of pronouncing David and Richard when they were last names.  And it was not a pleasant sight when he pronounced Comeaux for the first time.

So far he has written thirty-four books.  You can find Roland at his web page: www.rolandyeomans.blogspot.com  or at his private table in Meilori’s.  The web page is safer to visit.  But if you insist on visiting Meilori’s, bring a friend who runs slower than you.

LINKS:


You knew it was coming, didn’t you?


Don’t Cringe!  It will be mercifully short.


What does the Sidhe kidnapping Princess Victoria, the werewolves of Paris, the vampires, Abigail Adams & Benjamin Franklin, an insane Abraham Lincoln, and Dragons attacking the Eiffel Tower all have in common?



There is illicit love, Red Weddings, Betrayal, Revenge, and Star-Crossed Lovers – all for 99 cents!  What are you waiting for?  Oh, yes: an honest review will get you a FREE audio book by Neil Gaiman.

Who knew he liked my novels?  I don’t.  I’m just hoping!

The Sky Is Not The Limit; It Is Only The Beginning!



Thanks Roland...and Mark Twain.

Please leave a comment for Roland. Or Mark. Maybe he'll stop by again. :)




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