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Excerpt: The Star in the Meadow by Carla Kelly

Excerpt: The Star in the Meadow by Carla Kelly

Title: The Star in the Meadow
Author: Carla Kelly
Series: The Spanish Brand, Book 4
Book Type: Fiction
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Camel Press
Publication Date: February 14, 2017

Excerpt: The Star in the Meadow by Carla Kelly
About the Book:

Marco Mondragón and his wife Paloma are living hectic but happy lives at the Double Cross, on the edge of Comanchería. Five years after the death of Comanche leader Cuerno Verde, cautious diplomacy between the tribe and the colonists is underway to end Comanche raids into New Mexico. Paloma's time has been fully consumed by her two toddlers and newborn son and Marco's by spring planting.

The Seven Year Audit of 1784 arrives and with it comes auditor Fernando Ygnacio. After years of incarceration for a crime he did not commit, Señor Ygnacio is a broken man. Although his daughter Catalina is bitter about his mistreatment by his superiors, her storytelling abilities captivate the household, including a frequent visitor from the nearby presidio, El Teniente Joaquim Gasca, who has been undergoing his own reformation from rascal to leader.

Unknown to him, Marco has peculiar enemies plotting his downfall. When Paloma and Catalina set out on a visit to Marco's sister, meant to give Paloma relief from her busy life, the women are kidnapped. Devastated, Marco is torn between love and duty. He yearns to search for his wife, but feels bound by colonial duties to accompany his friend Toshua to Río Napestle, where Comanches have gathered to debate the region's fragile peace. In his absence from the Double Cross, will Joaquim Gasca and Toshua's wife Eckapeta be able to find the missing women?


Excerpt from Chapter Thirty-five – “In which a husband redeems himself”

            She woke to a darkened room and a quiet house, as though everyone had deserted her. She took several deep breaths to remind her she was breathing the sweet sage and rosemary of her pillow. It was late; everyone must be asleep.
            She breathed deeper and smell another familiar odor of wood smoke and leather. She sat up in surprise and woke up completely when she realized her husband knelt by the bed.
            With a cry of relight, Paloma touched in familiar face, wondering how a man could sleep on his knees like that, especially with his bed right there, with clean sheets and blankets and her.
            “Marco?” she asked, her voice hesitant. “Marco?”
            He opened his eyes and she saw the tears in them. She came closer until she had wrapped herself around him as he knelt there. She smelled the dust of the trail on this clothes, his unwashed state, not unlike her own mere days ago, and held him close.
            “Please forgive me,” he whispered.
            Forgive him? What was he talking about? “Marco, let me help you into bed,” she said, tugging on him, wanting him next to her.
            “I failed you so badly,” he said, the words tumbling out. “I didn’t know if you would even want me in the same room, let alone in our bed, but I had to find out. Please tell me you understand. I did it for the colony.” 


Buy Links:

Book Unleashed Link:

About the Author:

A well-known veteran of the romance writing field, Carla Kelly is the author of thirty-seven novels and three non-fiction works, as well as numerous short stories and articles for various publications. Carla’s interest in historical fiction is a byproduct of her lifelong study of history. She has a BA in Latin American History from Brigham Young University and an MA in Indian Wars History from University of Louisiana-Monroe.

Social Media Links:


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How Book Reviews Influence Book Sales

How Book Reviews Influence Book Sales, guest post by Anne Marie Citro

I am fairly new to this industry so I am learning on the fly as I go. The first thing I was told you have to get reviews. I understand this philosophy because I am an avid reader. I read about three books a week and I hate to spend my hard-earned money on junk.

How Book Reviews Influence Book Sales, guest post by Anne Marie Citro
I want to know that the book I am purchasing is a complete story with a beginning, a middle, and a conclusive ending. I hate when I invest my time only to find out this is just the beginning of the story and you have to purchase the next three books to get the whole story.

This is where the reviews become so important to me. I want someone to give me a heads up and say this is only part of the story. If the author or the publishing house does not clearly state that the book is a continuation then it makes me angry and I don’t read that author again.

I have also learned to go on a book tour if you want reviews from people unsolicited. I made the mistake of giving a review for a book in order to receive the next book for free. Big mistake the publishing house now sends me lots of books and not necessarily in my genre and I have to unsubscribe to something I didn’t subscribe to because they are bombarding my email. Now lots of publishing houses mysteriously have my email. I want to review a book because I really enjoyed. I also question how honest are the reviews if people are trying to get something free from it. The one and only time I did it I know it tainted my review but I guess the publishing house is betting on that.

I stand behind the books I write. Is it for everyone? No. It is for people who love a good contemporary love story with content besides sex. Yes, it has sex because sex is part of a loving relationship, but it also has a story of overcoming life struggles in one form or another.

The hard part about reviews is they are spread all over the board. People leave reviews from the place the purchased the book and on Goodreads. I am from Canada and if you purchase my books in the United States you can’t see the reviews from Amazon.ca on Amazon.com. Sad really because I could have lots of good reviews but you will never see it.

Be very careful of companies that claim to give you reviews or travel on site like Amazon because I have been taken twice by companies like that. You give them a reviewer’s copy and you never get what they promise.

It is so hard to sell a book. I know I am a grain of sand in a beach. I just want people to read my books so I can continue to write them. I know I am never going to be a millionaire by writing books, there is just too much competition. I would love to get discovered but the likelihood of it happening is slim to none. So, I do what I love and pray that someone somehow finds my books and reads them and loves them enough to write a review.

Everyone keeps telling me reviews are so important to sell books. As a reader I agree, but as an author my experience and sales tell me differently. First and foremost, they have find your book, that is by far the hardest part. If I ever discover the magical recipe to get noticed when you are an independent author without a huge advertising budget. I will let you know. I might have written the best book you have ever read but without exposure it lost in cyber space.

Reviews are important because of the validation that it gives the author for your books content and is greatly appreciated but I would also love some validation in sales.

How Book Reviews Influence Book Sales, guest post by Anne Marie Citro
Anne Marie Citro grew born and raised in the greater Toronto area of Ontario, Canada. She grew up in a large, loving family. Anne Marie is married to a very patient man. He is the love of her life. They have four very cool sons, and the girls they brought into their family that have become daughters of her heart. She has been blessed enough to finally have a beautiful granddaughter after four sons. She has her own personal gaggle of girlfriends, who enrich her life on a daily basis and make her laugh. Caesar Friday is her favorite day of the week. Caesars with the girls and date night with her hubby. She works with special-needs teenagers, that have taught her how to appreciate life and see it through gentler eyes.

Anne Marie was encouraged by her husband to follow her lifelong dream to write. She loves the characters that take over imagination and haunts her dreams. She loves the arts and she has tried her hand at painting, wood sculpting, chainsaw carving, wood burning, metal and wire sculptures. Yes, her husband is a very patient man! Anne Marie is an avid reader and enjoys about three books per week. But nothing makes her happier then riding on the back of her husband's Harley and throwing her arms out and feeling the wind race by. Anne Marie and her husband take a few weeks every year to travel to spectacular destination around the world. Anne Marie is excited and can't wait to see what the next chapter holds for her life.

How Book Reviews Influence Book Sales, guest post by Anne Marie Citro


From Zero to Done in Record Time

From Zero to Done in Record Time, guest post by Michael D Ditton

Dreams, Goals and Adventure was written to inspire others to never lose sight of their dreams. When I first started to transfer the wealth of knowledge and life experiences out of my brain and on to paper, I had no idea what I was getting in to. I did what I have always done in the past, I began to do research and called upon others who have much more knowledge in this area than me. I call it utilizing your resources. And that I did.

One story I share often is how Mark Victor Hansen and Jack Canfield who wrote Chicken Soup for the Soul, were rejected 144 times before being picked up. Even though that was quite alarming and helped me with my decision to self-publish, I finish the story by saying I’m glad I was not one of those 144 because I would be kicking myself….

From Zero to Done in Record Time, guest post by Michael D Ditton
I’m getting ahead of myself here. There was a tad bit of work that was involved before reaching the “figure out” the publishing industry. Yes, I need to know the mechanics of it but I need to make sure I had the material first.

After writing 10’s of thousands of words on to paper, I figured I’m almost done. Not quite.

Have you ever had a 5-minute job take 5 hours???? Well it was kind of like that.

Between life getting in the way, help from editors, the endless edits and some words disappeared where new ones appeared, year after year kept passing by.

My first phase of editing was with my partner at the time. Her English and grammar far exceeded mine and we went through page by page making ALL of the corrections. It was a bit painful and it’s a wonder she didn’t divorce me right then, but she didn’t. I have to give her credit where credit is due.

Second phase was a friend of mine across the Pacific, the Philippines to be exact, where he teaches English and he knows my story well. Many time zones apart, we would email each other in the evening or morning and not expect to hear from the other until that night or the next day. On a rare occasion we were both available at the same time and we could talk in person. We would batt the ball back and forth until we reached a point we mutually agreed upon. It was one of those rare moments when we were able to talk in person he drove a point home to me on a chapter I was not going to budge on. On that day he had plugged in his MagicJack and dialed my number. Reaching me he said, “Michael, I’ve heard you tell that story over and over. You tell it from your heart. When you tell it, if people don’t have tears in their eyes they for certain have goosebumps.”

The story he was referring to was the one where I am on burial detail during Desert Storm. To this day, I still have trouble telling it without tears in my eyes or goosebumps on top of goosebumps. The point he was making was that I needed to have even more of that emotion in the written word to have the same effect. Of course, he was a little overboard with defining the color, shape and size of each leaf on every single tree, but I got it. To this day I am so very thankful for his guidance.

Then came my gal on the East Coast…. I love her. She was so instrumental on the true meaning of the story. My story. That she told me long before I asked, it was important that the story was in my voice, my tone and she adapted right to it. She helped with some chronological issues, formatting, wording, missed grammar and made some wonderful suggestions. Once again, another HUGE thanks.

Next came the request of another friend who said the words, “I would love to be a part of the editing process”. He is an editor of many talents and I could not refuse his opinion. One of the major benefits I thought he could bring to the table is he is also a fellow boater, cruiser and yacht Captain. He could relate to a big section of my story and would know if I was not spelling things out well enough for the boating and landlubber, (a person unfamiliar with the sea or sailing), target market I was pursuing. Again, another job well done and another huge debt of gratitude.

There has to come a time when you say enough is enough. Six years had come and gone and I still had not published my book that I was almost finished with after that first six months.

It was in the final year and a half of this process I had started to dig in to see just how I was going to reach Millions of readers.  This is another story in itself.

After countless hours of research and me at a point of, I’M NOT EDITING THIS BOOK ANYMORE, I decided to publish with Balboa. They seemed to be in between self-publishing and being published by a big name company. In fact, they are a division of Hay House Publishing and they have programs for any author’s needs. I call it assisted self-publishing.

It was time, I pressed the button on my trusty Toshiba and it was off. My manuscript, ready for their review and approval.

After some time I got the green light but with some “suggestions”. They stated that I did not have enough meat in the book to make a self-help reader completely satisfied. With that they suggested either changing genre or make some changes to my book. Maybe something they could sink their teeth into after each chapter.

I wasn’t all the way back to the drawing board but I was left scratching my head. There was no way I wanted to change genres. My odds of readership would go from 9 out of 10 to 1 out of 10. I had to come up with that little something extra.

Just so happened at the time I was back in Mexico where I was part of a writers group that met every Saturday. One of the gals in the group was an editor and I scheduled a meet.

Sitting at her dining room table, side by side, we began to brainstorm. It wasn’t long we had a plan. I left there that day feeling accomplished.

In just a short time, she with the assistance of her husband, made some nice addition recommendations for the end of each chapter. Some ah ha moments. I was thrilled. It was time to resubmit.

Proudly published November 2015, I have had GREAT reviews from those that have read it. It has been a challenge, one I have accepted, but I want to have an impact on as many people as I can. With this, I drive on.

Although from the first written word to publication was under 7 years, if has been a lifetime of adventure. Let the next adventure begin…

From Zero to Done in Record Time, guest post by Michael D Ditton
I was a dreamer from an early age. To this day I believe anyone can do whatever they choose to put their mind to.

I didn’t go from eight years old to semi-retired in the length of one sentence. Nor was it easy. But I did follow a simple, time-honored process.

I was in my twenties before I fully understood the true importance of goal setting. After that, I was able to be more focused, see where I wanted to be, how I was going to get there, notice when I needed to make adjustments, and had the satisfaction of reaching goals. I enjoyed the benefits of reaching a goal and putting a big, fat check mark on my list.

Here’s how those goals paid off:
At 8, sold vegetables door to door from my little red wagon
Age 13, supervisor, World’s Fare Hamburgers
Age 15, assistant manager trainee, Pizza Hut
Age 16, assistant manager, Round Table Pizza
Age 18, began a 20-year commitment with the U.S. Army and Army Reserve, retiring in 2005 as a staff sergeant and Desert Storm veteran. Over my service career I became a leader and was recognized and awarded for my achievements and outstanding service.
Age 20, found my true calling as a sales professional
Age 31, began a successful career in real estate and real estate investments
Age 36, semi-retired
Age 37, owned and operated several companies
Age 41, semi-retired, sold everything and sailed south on his 45’ sailboat

Although I found success at a very early age, I became painfully aware of how quickly it can all be taken away. In 1991, after I returned from Desert Storm, I found myself bankrupt, mentally, physically and financially and divorced.

It was the lowest point in my life. Four years later, I had clawed my way back to even, and started to build from there. Two years after that, following my roadmap of goals, I reached my first level of financial independence. The rest is history.

For more on Michael, you can connect with him at the following sites:

For those following his tour, Michael is offering a special price on the Kindle eBook format of DREAMS, GOALS, AND ADVENTURE at a reduced cost of just 99 cents! Readers can also get a FREE copy of Michael’s GOAL SETTING BASICS in the eBook format. For one or both of these special offers just CLICK HERE!

From Zero to Done in Record Time, guest post by Michael D Ditton

Book Showcase: Beneath the Silver Rose by T.S. Adrian

Book Showcase: Beneath the Silver Rose by T.S. Adrian

Title: Beneath the Silver Rose (Shadyia Ascendant Book 1)

Author: T.S. Adrian

Book Showcase: Beneath the Silver Rose by T.S. Adrian

About the Book:

Forbidden Romance in an Age of Veiled Magic!
When Shadyia, a courtesan of the Silver Rose, violates the tenets of the Sisterhood, she is commanded by her madam to appease an order of vicious crusaders by seducing a powerful magician masquerading as a wealthy scholar.
Caught between an ancient conflict of Order and Chaos, Shadyia and her companions must descend beneath the Silver Rose into a labyrinth of deadly traps and shadowy guardians. For only there can she defy the crusaders who threaten her sorority and avert the prophecy of a darkness that returns to consume the world.

Purchasing link: http://amzn.to/2oTakdr

Book Showcase: Beneath the Silver Rose by T.S. Adrian

Audiobooks: Not a New, but a Growing, Market for Authors

Audiobooks: Not a New, but a Growing, Market for Authors, guest post by Lauren Carr

Thirteen years ago, my first book, A Small Case of Murder, came out. That wasn’t so long ago. Believe me! Thirteen years is not that long ago—not when you compare it to when the dinosaurs were lazily grazing in Yellowstone National Park.

Anyway, back to what we want to talk about …

At that time, one of my friends instantly asked when my book would be available in audio. My eyes glazed over and I stammered out, “Eventually.”

This friend only listened to her books in audio. She had a long commute to work and that was when she would listen to her books. She would go through a couple books a week.

Not long after that, I discovered that another friend only did audiobooks. She loved to read, but couldn’t due to extremely bad eyesight. While she wasn’t legally blind, her eyesight was so poor that the only way she could enjoy a book was if it was available in audio.

Yet, back then, audiobooks were available on cassette or compact discs. I considered myself lucky when a traditional audiobook publisher picked up my first three books to be produced in audio (compact disc and digital download)—until I started receiving my royalty checks. I was lucky if I made over two hundred dollars a year! I would take a few copies of the compact discs to book events—only to have them gather dust. Eventually, I tossed them into the back of my closet, where they still rest.

Flash forward.

Occasionally, but not very often, readers would request that I make my books available in audio. Since, based on my own experience, I didn’t see much of a market for them, I would say eventually they would be available.

Then, Amazon suggested I make my books available through their company ACX. They also pointed out that Audible, a very successful audiobook dealer fell under their umbrella. Audible is lie the leading seller of audiobooks.

By going through ACX, I would essentially be self-publishing my own books—thus, keeping all of my rights. Over the years, I had seen on my royalty statements how many thousands of dollars my audio publisher was making annually on the sales of my books. So, this was quite appealing to me. However, knowing that the market was slow, I didn’t want to invest a lot of money into the venture. Frankly, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to invest any at all.

With ACX, authors have a choice of options for having their books produced:

1.      Share your royalties with the narrator/audio producer. This costs the author nothing, because the audio producer invests the time and expense into producing the book. In exchange, the author agrees to split their royalties for the book’s sales fifty-fifty with the producer. If the book ends up being a flop, then the producer loses out on their investment in the project. However, if the book ends up making thousands of dollars a month in audiobook sales, then the author could end up wondering about what could have been.

2.      Hire an audio producer to produce your book. This option means the author hires the narrator/producer on contract (and pay!) to produce the book. With this option, the author gets to keep all of the royalties for their audio sales. So, if your book makes a million bucks in royalties, it’s all yours! The downside of this option is that you have to pay out a lot of money up front—money that it could take a while to earn back. We are talking thousands of dollars. A friend of mine found a narrator she liked, who refused to work for shared royalties. (Many established narrators won’t share royalties. More about this later on.) He would only work on contract with the cost starting at $5000.

3.      Narrate and Produce the Book Yourself. This is not as easy as it sounds. The author has to make sure there is no background noise and the final product does have to pass ACX’s quality control regulations. As the author, I have proofed some of my audio books, thinking they were perfect—only to have ACX pick up a flaw that I had not noticed. Once I read an interview with John Grisham in which he said one of his biggest regrets was narrating one of his books for audio. He though the end product was awful. As with anything—I prefer to leave it up to the pros. (Since I hate my voice, that was not an option!)

I opted to share the royalties and let the producers take the financial risk.

As I had mentioned previously, many high-quality narrators refuse to work for royalty share. There’s a reason for that.

Audiobooks: Not a New, but a Growing, Market for Authors, guest post by Lauren Carr
When I opened my books for auditions to find a narrator, I immediately found Dan Lawson—first audition, first day! His audition was exactly what I was looking for to set the tone for the Mac Faraday mysteries. He was an Audible Approved Narrator, which means Audible endorsed his work! Within a matter of days, we had struck a deal for royalty share for two books: The Murders at Astaire Castle and Blast from the Past.

I found out later that his agent (I had no idea he had an agent!) had thrown a fit upon learning about our deal for royalty share. The reason: most narrators and audio producers don’t make back the money invested in producing audiobooks through royalties. After a few months, sales will level out and the narrator will only make a few dollars a month.

Having worked as a book publisher, I can see exactly what Dan’s agent was talking about. Many authors have difficulty in promoting their own books. Authors who don’t invest time or money in promoting their books in print and e-book, are not likely to invest it for the audiobook version.

So, if you are an author whose sales in print and ebook are less than impressive, and you are wondering if you’ll hit the jackpot by having your book produced in audio, then my guess is no, you won’t. As with book sales in print and ebook, the author needs to work their tail to promote their book in order to enjoy good sales—in any format.

I have been blessed in finding four excellent audiobook producers who have helped me to bring my whole backlist to audiobook fans—a base that I have seen grow steadily over the last few years.

I have discovered that for many readers, who have been unable to enjoy reading in print or ebook format for whatever reasons—whether it be lifestyle or medical disability—are discovering audiobooks and returning to reading (listening) to enjoy their favorite books.

For example, my sister listens to my books during her commute to work. With her busy lifestyle that is the only time she can read my books. So I gave them to her in digital format and she listens to them through her SUV’s speakers.

Since my books have been coming out in Audible, I have found that I am enjoying audiobooks more and more. Many book enthusiasts, like myself, will read books in both e-book and audio. (For just a few bucks more, readers can include the audio version of a book with their ebook purchase.) I love to read in bed in the evening. After spending the whole day writing on my laptop, my eyes will be tired. So, I’ll switch to the audio version of whatever book I am currently reading to listen to a great book until I fall asleep. With Whispersync, my tablet will pick up my ebook in audio where I have left off in reading.

I believe that the audiobook market is where the e-book market was about seven years ago. When my books first came out in e-book, it was a big deal for me to sell any. Now, the lion’s book of my books sales are in e-book, but I see a gradual increase in sales in audiobooks. Currently, I make more in monthly royalties for my audiobook sales than I do for my print books. Note, that is after splitting my royalties with the producers!

Here's the way I look at it: If it weren’t for my readers, I would not be living my dream of being a mystery writer. My readers want my mysteries to be in all formats: e-book, print, and audiobooks. Even if fans of one format are a smaller number than another—they are still my fans and deserve the reading experience they enjoy the most!

Audiobooks: Not a New, but a Growing, Market for Authors, guest post by Lauren Carr

Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!

Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr’s seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, romance, and humor.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband and three dogs (including the real Gnarly’s klutzy nephew Sterling) on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

Connect with LaurenWebsite  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook

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