Interview with Elle D Hayes

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve enjoyed writing since my early teens but I didn’t decide that I wanted to be a working author until 2010.
What genre do you write and why?
Paranormal, contemporary and interracial erotic romance are my main genres.  I’d like to eventually do ménage and some traditional romance.  I write what I love to read.  I don’t think I would be successful trying to write something else just because it was the genre of the moment.
Tell us about your latest book.
Negotiating Love is an interracial romance that I wrote in answer to a challenge from my publisher Jayha Leigh at Beautiful Trouble Publishing.  It’s a short story about a couple dealing with commitment issues.  There’s also a scary hostage situation thrown in for those readers who like a little action/adventure in their romance. Like everything I write, this will be part of a series.
What marketing methods are you using to promote your book?
I’m harnessing the power of the internet through social networking sites, an active blog, and author pages on my publisher’s site ( as well as Amazon and GoodReads.
What formats is the book available in?
Adobe PDF, HTML and MobiPocket PDA.  Unfortunately, neither of my books are currently available in print format.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I absolutely love to READ!!!!  I also love going to basketball games and bowling with my husband but I have to tell you a secret…as long as I have my smartphone I can write.  I’ve been known to knock out a chapter right in the middle of a boring basketball game or if my hubby decides to bowl an extra round or two.
Who are your favorite authors?
That question is really too hard to answer completely because I have so many favorites. Some that immediately come to mind are J.R. Ward, Lora Leigh, Shelly Laurenston, Shiloh Walker, Maya Banks, Dana Marie Bell and Angela Knight. There're tons more than I can ever hope to list and I'm constantly finding new favorites.
What advice do you have for other writers?
Writing is an active art.  You should try to write every day.  It’s sounds tough, especially if you’re holding down a full time job but it’s doable. Get up an hour or two earlier than normal, write on your lunch hour or carry a voice recorder and dictate chapters as you drive.
What's your favorite quote about writing/for writers?
You can always edit crap but you can’t edit a blank page.
What's the best thing about being a writer?
The creative release.  I’ve always had an active imagination and now I have something to channel that into. The fact that I can make a living doing it is gravy.
Where can people find out more about you and your writing?
I’m also on Facebook and Twitter
Anything else you'd like to add?
I’d like to let your readers know that I also have a second book available called WYNTER’S BLOSSOM.  I plan to have 4-6 releases in 2012 so they should check my blog or Facebook page for updates.
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10 Tips for optimizing your blog

Blogging is an increasing popular form of social media. Here are a few tips to increase your blogs readership and traffic:

  1. Provide 'share this' buttons.
  2. Offer a variety of subscription options (RSS, email etc...)
  3. Promote and share your blog posts on other social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.
  4. Use SEO (Search Engine Optimization) when writing posts.
  5. Post frequently.
  6. Host guest posts.
  7. Use keywords and phrases important to your target audience.
  8. Make it readable by using bullet points, bold sub-titles etc...
  9. Include links to other sites in your posts.
  10. Use pictures and video in your posts.
Have you got more suggestions?

Image source: Thomas Hawk at
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How do you write?

Wondering how others settle down to write. Do you need a cozy corner off to yourself? Some place where you can think and put your thoughts in order? Do you sit in front of a laptop or some other form of electronic communicator? Or do you go the old route of pen and paper? 

Some people say they need activity around them in order for the thoughts to flow. Like writing in a coffee shop or even in a home where there are lots of others present. Personally I can't see how anyone can get one word down with all the chaos going on.

When I started writing there were only two forms of doing it. One was to take a pad and pen or pencil whichever you preferred and write. The second was to bang it out on a typewriter. The typewriter thing was not as convenient in my mind because I might get an idea when I was out on a walk, or even in the bathtub. So having the pad and pen always nearby was the best way for me at the time. Of course after collecting my thoughts on paper, if I thought it was worthwhile then all of those notes got typed up neatly on a typewriter. 

Oh yes, the typewriter. My first one was so large and so clumpy that it had to be set in one spot and never moved. It must have weighed two hundred pounds or felt like it. And be careful not to knock it because if it tipped over you could have a hole in your floor or a badly bruised floor at least. And the noise and the mess. Just when you thought you were getting somewhere and ideas were flowing freely, the ribbon got stuck, or it ran out and you had to replace it or wait until you got to a store to buy a new one. The frustrations of early typing. 

Then along came the little portable typewriters. Now these guys were way easier to manipulate. You could move them easily from room to room, or take them outside on a nice day if you were so inclined to write. After that the electric typewriter. Boy was that something to get used to. Where the old typewriter keys had spaces down between them, the electric keyboard did not and everything was so close together your fingers got all jumbled up on top of each other. And be careful if you typed too fast or hit the keys too hard, you were then in for a lot of mistakes. But the hardest part was going from an electric typewriter back to a manual. If you had not been on the old manual for awhile and had hopefully forgotten all of its barbaric ways, then you were in for a frustrating surprise. Your fingers did not plunk hard enough to even make a mark on the paper, your fingers also wanted to keep falling into the crevices between each key and if that happened you could sorely hurt that finger of yours. 

Then the word processor came along. Oh boy was that nice. You even actually had a screen, even though it was tiny. You could see the words that you typed, you could save it and you even had little discs to save your work on and that was a wonderful thing!

Finally we got the computer, for me that was 1997. At first I was afraid of it. Afraid if it went off accidentally I might not get it to come on again. Also I was told not to turn it off without shutting down. So if things got bad, and things got frozen and I could do no more, I didn't know what to do. I couldn't shut down properly and I was deathly afraid to just turn it off. What if it exploded or something? Then my little brain reasoned: what if the power goes off, then the computer shuts down, right? So that had happened before and it didn't blow up or get broken, so I finally calmed down and stopped being afraid of my computer. 

Even though I had typewriters and word processors and finally the computer, I still continued to write my articles and novels long hand. If I were to put a piece of paper in the typewriter, or turn on a blank screen for writing, I would just stare at it, any creative thoughts that had been in my head seemed to take a hike. But give me a comfortable couch or chair in a warm and quiet spot, a pad of paper and a pencil and I was all set. As soon as I put pencil to paper the words began to flow and they never stopped. I could erase, correct, whatever I needed to do and I was at ease. 

I wrote with pen/pencil and pad for many years then cleaned them up on the typewriter or computer later. It was only a few years ago that I got comfortable composing on my laptop. I can sit almost anywhere I want to, and I am officially weaned from the paper and pen. I sometimes wonder though, if I were to find a really comfortable and inspiring place and only had a pad and pen, what might come out of my fingertips. What might be lurking there behind the fingertips that gets frozen up when my fingers touch a keyboard?  Someday maybe I will try and find out. Happy Writing Everyone!

Copyright 2011 by Carol Marlene Smith

Carol Marlene Smith is an author and artist living in Nova Scotia, Canada. She has four published novels and a number of short stories. She loves to write about the positive power of writing!

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Are you part of the Blogosphere?

A blog is an excellent tool for a writer. It encourages you to write frequently and creates a platform for you to promote and network from. Blogging can also lead to job offers, speaking engagements and other media visibility.

"The Blogosphere is constantly changing and evolving. In 2011 we are seeing bloggers updating their blogs more frequently and spending more time blogging". 

This chart (taken from the State of the Blogosphere 2011 report at gives a nice summary of why people are blogging and it's benefits.

But with so many options available how do you decide which platform to use? I personally use Blogger. The fact that Blogger is owned by the internet giant Google is a major plus point in its favor. 

This infographic gives some nice statistics regarding blog platforms and their features:

Do you have a blog? Do you have multiple blogs? Which platform do you use? Share your views and the link to your blog in the comments section.

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6 Reasons to join the Facebook page

Did you know that Writers and Authors has a fan page on Facebook?

Here a few reasons why you should drop by and join it:

  1. You obviously like Writers and Authors and via the page you can be one of the first to find out about the latest news regarding the project.
  2. It's a great place to network with other members of the writing industry.
  3. You can promote your books, website, virtual tours, latest articles, interviews etc... on the wall and even upload your books cover art.
  4. Daily posts to the wall include quotes about writing, writing inspiration and prompts, useful articles and links to tools and applications.
  5. Be one of the first to hear about promotional opportunities.
  6. You can become 'fan of the week' and have the spotlight on you for a whole week.
Currently nearly 500 people have 'liked' the page and are regularly active commenting on posts, 'liking' and sharing content on the wall. 

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Interview with Rae Johnson

When did you know you wanted to be a writer? 
I knew I would be an author ever since the day I finished reading Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin. I lied across my bed thinking about how emotive the novel was and that’s when the thought of being an author enter my mind. From that day forward I knew I would be an author I just didn’t know during what phase of my life it would occur.

What genre do you write and why? 
I write urban fiction that focuses on social and domestic issues. I like to shed light on issues going on in urban families and communities that often go unspoken.

Tell us about your latest book
Abnormal Lives is about two cousins, Simone and Stefan, who are more like brother and sister, having been raised by their now deceased maternal grandmother. Both of their mothers abandoned them at various ages, leaving them to fend for themselves. The two turn to prostitution to make ends meet. Stefan, who is gay and also a cross-dresser, struggles with the stigma he faces because of his sexuality and Simone struggles with the task of being her own person and taking charge of her life. Although all Simone and Stefan have are each other there is constant conflict between them because Simone resents Stefan for consistently rubbing her shortcomings in her face while never admitting to his own and Stefan loathes Simone for being too weak to take responsibility for her own life.

 What marketing methods are you using to promote your book? I mostly promote my book through social networking and online interviews. I also pass out handouts with information about my book whenever I’m out and about to get the word out about Abnormal Lives.

What formats is the book available in? 
Abnormal Lives is available in trade paperback and e-book format

What do you like to do when you're not writing? 
I’m the true definition of the term homebody. I love nothing more than spending time with my loved ones and that’s what I do when I’m not writing.

Who are your favorite authors? 
Two of my favorite authors are James Baldwin and Iceberg Slim. I love James Baldwin’s stirring and provocative writing style and Iceberg Slim’s raw unadulterated voice

What advice do you have for other writers?
I’m new to this so the only advice I feel confident giving is don’t let self-criticism or the criticism of others prevent you from pursuing your dream.
What's your favorite quote about writing/for writers? 
I wrote my first novel because I wanted to read it –Toni Morrison.

What's the best thing about being a writer? 
The best thing about being a writer is the joy of creating a story that’s never been told before.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing? 
People can find out more about me and my writing by visiting me onfacebook at or by following me on twitter at!/Itsjust_Rae.

Anything else you'd like to add
I would like to thank everyone who has supported my venture. As a new author it really means a lot to me.
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Awards Are Publicity Gold

Awards Are Publicity Gold
By Carolyn Howard-Johnson,
author of the multi award-winning book,
The Frugal Book Promoter, now in its second edition

It is the time of year to make promotion plans for 2012.

I'm hoping that my author friends will include winning (or place or show) among their goals. A book doesn't have  to be a top winner for the success to be newsworthy. Media editors still see awards as anything from a sure-fire feature story to a filler. But I fear that many authors still don't utilize their awards to their fullest potential.

A list of things authors should do with their awards once they’ve won them appeared in the first edition of The Frugal Book Promoter and, because that information is so important, it appears in the just-released second edition ( , too. Here is the list authors (or folks in any business, really!) will want to keep for the day when they have an award they can use to help with their branding.

·       Add your new honor to the Awards page of your media kit. If it’s your first award, center it on a page of its own. Oh! And celebrate!
  • Write your media release announcing this coup. (See Chapter Eleven of the second edition of The Frugal Book Promoter to learn to build a targeted media list and Chapter Twelve to learn to write a professional media release.)
  • Post your news on media release distribution sites. Find a list of these sites at
  • Notify your professional organizations.
  • Notify bookstores where you hope to have a signing and those where you have had a signing.
  • Notify your college and high school. Some have press offices. Most publish magazines for alumni and their current students.
  • Add this information to the signature feature (see Chapter Twenty) of your e-mail program.
  • Add this honor to the biography template you use in future media releases—the part that gives an editor background information on you.
  • Use this information when you pitch TV or radio producers, editors of newsletters and newspapers. and bloggers. It sets you apart from others and defines you as an expert.
  • If your book wins an award, order embossed gold labels from a company like You or your distributor can apply them to your books’ covers. If you win an important award, ask your publisher to redesign your bookcover or dustcover to feature it a la the Caldecott medal given for beautifully illustrated children’s books. If you don’t know this medal, visit your local bookstore and ask to see books given this award. It’s one of the most famous and most beautifully designed.
  • If your book is published as an e-book only, ask for the contest's official badge or banner to use. If they don't have one, make one of your own using
  • Be sure your award is front and center on your blog, your Web site, your Twitter wallpaper, and your social network pages.
  • Your award should be evident on everything from your business card to your checks and invoices. I use the footer of my stationery to tout my major awards.
  • Don't forget to put your award in your e-mail signature.
  • Frame your award certificate and hang it in your office to impress visitors and to inspire yourself to soar even higher!

~This is just a blog-size excerpt from a complete chapter on awards in The Frugal Book Promoter (, including information on how to improve your chances of getting one. Carolyn brings her experience as a journalist, publicist, retailer, and author of her own books to the how-to books she writes for authors. D’vorah is helping her celebrate the release of the 2nd edition of this USA Book News and Irwin award-winning book. Learn more about the whole series at  

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Video: Google+, Explore Hangouts

Hang out with up to nine friends, in real-time video, from anywhere. Pop in and out as you want. Find out more at

A great way for writers to establish themselves as experts in their field. Get together to discuss writing tips, give information linked to the topic of your book or debate regarding the latest read from your book club.

How do you use hangouts? Share your view in the comments section.
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The art of book reviewing

As a regular reviewer, I often get asked about how to review a book so here's a look at some of the most frequently asked questions:

What should be included? 
Some reviewers take their role very seriously and will write a detailed summary of what happens in the book running a fine toothed comb over every character and twist of plot. These are commonly known as spoilers and I personally don't agree with this method. After all why bother reading the book when the review tells you everything?

The summary of what the book is about should read much like that of the text on the back cover. Describe what the story is about using around 4-5 sentences. It should be informative but without giving the whole story away. You don't want to ruin a surprise ending or spoil any major plot twists.

You should then include your reactions to the book. 100-200 words is enough. What did you like/ not like about it? Was it inspiring, amusing, romantic etc...

If it's non-fiction, was it useful? Did it make you think? Was it presented well and easy to read?

And finally, would you recommend this book to others? Who do you think it would be suitable for?

What do I do if I hate the book?
Some reviewers have a policy of only writing good reviews and refusing to write one for books they didn't like. Whilst I've read a few over the years that were hard going to finish I think something positive can be found in most. 

A book review must be honest. If it wasn't a great read, don't say it was or you'll just end up with people questioning your value as a reviewer. I think this quote sums it up nicely:

"A critic can only review the book he has read, 
not the one which the writer wrote".  
~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960

I always try to find something positive about the book to help balance my negative comments. If all else falls, did the cover look nice? Was the story idea good? (in some cases the actual idea is good it just needs to be written better).

If it really was so bad you can't find anything good about it, write the author a note explaining why you can't offer a review. Be nice and try to suggest ways it could be improved.

How long should a review be?
There is no fixed length but it's best to aim for a max of around 500 words. Long reviews tend to be either boring, give too much away or just take too long to read.

Try to include a sentence or two that can be used as a testimonial for the book. The sort of phrases you see on the back of books as endorsements. As an author I love it when I get a short comment I can pick out and use on the cover and in promotional material.

Writing reviews is an excellent way to give back to other writers and increase your own chances of being able to collect a few when you need them for your own projects. If they use your review they will include your name and should link back to your site where possible. A nice way to gain extra traffic and build a reputation.

Do you review the books you read? Where do you post your reviews? Have you ever had to tell a writer you can't write a review because the book was so bad?

Image source: fahid chowdhury at Getty images
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5 Tips for organizing a successful virtual tour

Virtual tours are an excellent way to drum up interest in both you and your work. It's a marketing strategy that I often use and find that the results aren't just linked to better book sales.

My last tour, which I did over November and December 2011, went really well and I can consider it a huge success for a number of reasons:

  • I sold more books. Not just the title I was touring either.
  • I got 6 new clients for my freelance writing and some were for multiple assignments.
  • Traffic increased to all my sites by over 380%
Here's a few tips to help you to tour success:
  1. Think about your tour goals. Knowing what you want to achieve with your tour will give you focus both for content and where you need to be hosted.
  2. Think about types of content. To keep a tour interesting you need to make the content of your posts varied. From my own experience I find that a few interviews, a couple of reviews and a lot of guest posts is the best combination. Why mainly guest posts? They create more discussion, appeal to a wider audience and normally get more attention.
  3. Create a banner for your tour. Not only does it make you look more professional, it also serves as an immediate publicity for you, your book, your website and your tour. Even if people don't read all the post they will have seen the most important information just by clicking on the page.
My tour banner:

As you can see, this is a very simple banner. It includes; my book cover (the item I was promoting with the tour), My photo (an 'on theme' shot of me at my computer. Putting your face allows people to feel more connected to you), Virtual tour and the dates (what I was doing and when) and lastly my website url (so people can find out more about me and my work). 

This banner took me about 5 minutes to make using the program 'paint'.

4. Target hosts. Whilst it's always good to send out a general appeal for tour hosts you need to hit sites where your target audience are going to be. Do some research and find sites that fit in some way with the topic of your book and drop them a message asking to be featured. Highlight why you are a suitable guest.

Also aim for sites with larger numbers of followers. The more traffic they get to their site the greater audience your post will have.

5. ALWAYS comment on your tour stops. A thank you to the host is a must. Checking back regularly can really help to get the conversation going too. Reply to all those who take the time to comment. 

Have you recently done a successful tour? Got some tips to share?

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Interview with Danielle Gavan

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I can't say I made a "conscious" decision to be a writer until late 2009 when I made the choice to submit a short story to a local contest. Things happened, choices were made and the story was never submitted. Instead, I chose to expand the 2,500 words into a full novel and pursue a career as an author.

Before that, I'd been writing short stories and other things for myself and friends since middle school. I filled dozens of spiral notebooks with stories of us married to our favourite actors, pop/rock stars and other celebrities. I can't tell you how many times I married Jon Bon Jovi and had a dozen kids with him, on paper anyway.

What genre do you write and why?

I write erotic romance and urban fantasy. Ardeur, my first novel, is urban fantasy and my favourite genre to write in. I love the world building involved. Creating new peoples, places and all of the details that go along with them is fun and lets my imagination flex its muscles.

Erotic romance is something I got into courtesy of my good friend, C.J. Ellisson. She put a call out in 2010 for any writers interesting in joining her with a new venture she was starting called Everything Erotic. I'm of the opinion that if you don't try it, you'll never know if you're any good at it. Of course, I jumped on the opportunity and never looked back. I've released four erotic romance novellas in the last year and have no plans to stop writing in that genre any time soon.

Tell us about your latest book.

My latest book is called, The Lists. It's an erotic romance novella with a holiday theme about one of Santa's elves, Crispin. Here's the blurb:

Ever wonder what Santa’s Elves do during the off-season? Some of them are the keepers of Santa’s infamous Naughty and Nice List.
Crispin Winters is one such elf and he’s been in love with Santa’s daughter, Rissa Claus, for longer than he can remember. He’s torn when assigned to watch a human woman, Anna, who could pass for Rissa’s twin. Pass up the opportunity to cure Anna’s naughtiness himself or go after who he really wants?
Risking everything he’s worked so hard to achieve—the cushy spot on the Naughty List night shift, his cozy apartment, and the respect of his peers—Crispin chooses his carnal path with care.

Where it leads him is more unexpected than he could ever have imagined.

What marketing methods are you using to promote your book?

My biggest marketing tool is Facebook. I have a fan page ( where fans can come to interact with me, find about new or upcoming releases, enjoy free reads and find out what's going on in my world. I do use Twitter (@DanielleGavan) but not as much as Facebook. I'm not a fan of text speak and getting a coherent thought out in under 140 characters can be difficult. Also, fans are welcome to visit my blog (, and my website (

Another fabulous tool that I used when relaunching my first novel, Ardeur, was Virtual Book Tours. I loved the experience so much that I've since started my own publicist company, Red Hot Promotions (

What formats is the book available in?

With the exception of Ardeur, which is also available in print, all of my books are available in eBook format. Readers can find my work on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords and other online retailers.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?

When I'm not writing I'm usually hard at work looking for bloggers to add to the list of Tour Hosts for Red Hot Promotions, researching other ways to promote myself and the authors who sign up for blog tours with my company, or indulging in some of my hobbies. I love to read, bake, listen to music and do other artsy things. I find that if one creative channel is blocked, engaging another form of creativity will help loosen things up and get the muses back on track.

Who are your favorite authors?

I'm glad the question says authors, plural. I have two favourite authors - Diana Gabaldon and Laurell K. Hamilton.

What advice do you have for other writers?

Keep writing, no matter what. Learn your craft, take classes, find yourself a wonderful critique partner (or a half, hire a professional editor (seriously) and cover designer (unless you've got weeks to waste perfecting your craft with photo editing software). The last two only apply if you're going the self-pub route.

What's the best thing about being a writer?

Being a writer, for me, is the best job in the world. I can be who, or whatever, I want to be. I can be when, or go wherever, I want to. A new universe, an alternate one? Nothing is off limits to my imagination and where it can take me.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing?

Fans and readers can find me on my website (, on my blog (, on Everything Erotic (, on Facebook ( and on Twitter (@DanielleGavan).
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