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Cover Make-over: DIY or Not?

January 15, 2022 by in category The Write Life by Rebecca Forster, Writing tagged as , , , ,

Like so many people, I told myself ‘when Covid ends I’ll finish (fill in your WIP)’. As Covid dragged on, I became sluggish and uninspired when it came to writing, so I decided to give my most popular series, The Josie Bates Thrillers, a cover make-over.

I was going to have my wonderful graphic designer tackle the project, but found myself indecisive regarding the direction I wanted take. Without constructive input, her job would be impossible, so I decided to do a few rough drafts to clarify my thinking. Instead, I became obsessed with the process of redefining my work. This is what I learned when I went all in on DIY cover design.

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The Secret Babies of Dachau by Jina Bacarr

January 11, 2022 by in category Holocaust, Jina’s Book Chat, Paris, Paris novels, perfume, Reading, Writing tagged as , , , ,

(The video above takes place on a train in 1944 Germany — my heroine, Angeline, is very pregnant and on her way back to Auschwitz with two SS guards…)

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Nothing is more heartbreaking than holding a newborn baby in your arms and it doesn’t cry.

The anguish, holding your breath while you wait for that first sign of life, the tears that fall upon your cheeks as you pray for that lovely, beautiful cry.

Then… a burst from the baby’s lungs and a heart-swelling joy overcomes you when the infant’s wail fills the air like an angels’ choir.

But what if you’re pregnant and imprisoned in a concentration camp in Southern Germany? A place where American soldiers were so devastated by the horror they found when they neared the camp, they wept when they liberated Dachau on April 29, 1945.

They discovered more than thirty railroad cars filled with dead bodies.

What if you were imprisoned there? Would you have lived? The odds were against you if you were a soon-to-be-mother.

It’s well documented the chances for survival for pregnant women and their babies in the camps was practically zero. They were immediately singled out for execution when they arrived.

It pains me to write this, but Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS, was determined to exterminate all Jewish children (he proclaimed his policy in a secret speech in Poland on October 6, 1943).

As many as 1.5 million Jewish children died in the Holocaust.

Thanks to survivors’ stories and seven Jewish mothers from Hungary, we have the miracle of the Dachau babies. How for reasons never made clear, these mothers were allowed to live and brought to a sub-camp of Dachau in the waning days of the war known as Kaufering I.

And how under horrific conditions (no hot water, no instruments for the prisoner/doctor), they delivered seven healthy babies from December 1944 to April 1945 when fate stepped in and dealt them a cruel blow… I shan’t spoil it for you, but I promise you, I followed these events as they happened in ‘The Lost Girl in Paris’.

My heroine, Angéline de Cadieux, was there and very pregnant.

How did this Frenchwoman born Roma find herself in a concentration camp with Hungarian mothers-to-be? It was a challenge to orchestrate the series of events that bring her there… counting the days of her pregnancy in Paris, being honest to the unsanitary, degrading conditions found in the camps, the treatment of Roma by the Third Reich. Few have written about the Roma Holocaust and how anywhere from 220,000 to half a million Romani people died at the hands of the Nazis.

I admit it was a tremendous undertaking bringing all this to my story. I spent many sleepless nights trying to bring justice to these unbelievable women who not only survived the camps, but had the courage to tell their stories.

I have tried to tell one woman’s story albeit fiction, but everything Angéline de Cadieux experiences in the camps is based on truth.

So, my friends, cry as I did, become angry these events ever happened, but most of all, never forget.

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THE LOST GIRL IN PARIS is now available across all platforms.

Available in e-book, print and audio

The Lost Girl in Paris universal link: https://books2read.com/u/3LyrdN

It’s the story of woman who survived both Auschwitz and Dachau, but never spoke about it until she meets a young reporter named Emma Keane who touches a nerve in her that now is the time to speak about those times. Her memories are as vivid to this eighty-year-old as if she were the seventeen-year-old girl who ran away to Paris to become a parfumier after losing her mother to the Nazi war machine.

I wrote THE LOST GIRL IN PARIS to pay tribute to the strong women who survived the Holocaust and willingly shared their stories with us. The horror of Nazi brutality, the loss of family, their dignity… but also about their strength just to ‘survive another day’.

And the strong bonds with their sisters-in-arms they formed with fellow prisoners. How they learned to trust each other and stood up against the enemy to save each other.

We must never forget.

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Here is a second short excerpt from THE LOST GIRL IN PARIS:

 

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 The LOST GIRL IN PARIS is part of the ‘Get Inspired’ promotion in UK, AU, and NZ

New Zealand: https://www.kobo.com/nz/en/ebook/the-lost-girl-in-paris-1

UK: https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/the-lost-girl-in-paris-1

AU: https://www.kobo.com/au/en/ebook/the-lost-girl-in-paris-1

 

 

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New Year…New Goals

January 5, 2022 by in category Writing

Happy New Year!  I hope you had a wonderful holiday season.  

I have a very important question for you.  Are you ready to make this year your best writing year?  I hope you answered, yes.  If so, then I challenge you to take this year long journey with me.

I spent a good portion of last year getting schooled in self-publishing.  I have been a self-published author since December 2014, but there are some things I didn’t know.  Like some authors, I have yet to reach all of my writing goals.  Today, I’m going out on a limb announcing this is the year I work on making some those goals a reality.  I know it sounds like a resolution, but it isn’t.  It’s a statement of faith and a declaration that I’m ready to take my writing to the next level.

So what are the self-publishing goals I’m going to attack this year? 

Get my letters (make a list)I know it really doesn’t matter to readers if their favorite author is a bestseller, but it means a lot to the author.  At least it does to me.  In the past, I didn’t care if I ever made a list or had the title of Best Selling Author.  Over the course of time I realized, I did.  It’s not an ego thing, it’s a validation thing.  I know I’m not Nora Roberts, Terry McMillian, E L James or Sylvia Day, but it sure would be nice to be known as a best seller like them.

Triple my income…This is a big one.  I’m not sharing numbers yet.  We’ll see how this year long challenge ends before discussing numbers.  All I’ll say on the matter is if I fulfill this goal, it will be the first time I’ve earned that much money.  Last year I did two major conferences, gained a lot of knowledge and some tools on how to push my sales and exposure up a few levels.  This is the year I put all of those tools to work.  

Triple my mailing listThis is almost as daunting as tripling my income.  I have a decent mailing list of 3200+.  However, I want to push that number up.  A larger list will allow me or make me more attractive for swaps with other writers.  I was surprised how many authors are open to swaps, but size matters and I can understand.  You don’t want your swaps to be one sided.  Swaps will allow me to increase my list.  It will also allow give me some clout when seeking out anthologies to join.  Bringing more readers to the table makes me an asset and not a liability. 

Master Facebook ads…I did Skye Warren’s Facebook ads class last year and saw significant growth in my sales.  I’m doing it again this year and expect the results to be even better.  Here’s what I learned about Facebook ads…the system is constantly changing so you always need a refresher.  I did Mark Dawson’s class, which was good.  However, Skye’s class was a lot easier to understand.  Within the first month I saw results.  I was surprised how much could  be achieved with five dollars a day.  This year, I’m going to kick it up a few dollars and see what happens.  FYI, this will also help with me tripling my income goal.

Update Covers…This is one of those areas I think is constantly changing.  I am about to embark on the third iteration of covers for my series A Southern Gentleman.  Why you ask?  Because I didn’t know manchest equaled or implied sex.  I thought you used a shirtless guy to sell a book.  I didn’t realize it implied a certain heat level.  Book one in the series is sex free.  Book two is a completely different story.  

I learned a little about covers which has caused me to review all of my books and see if the covers match the heat content.  Unfortunately there are a few that need to be changed.  The other reason for the cover change is, Facebook.  They don’t like manchest…it’s too hot.  I hear you saying, “how is that possible when manchest covers are constantly popping up in my Facebook feed.”  Simple answer…the bot.  The Facebook bot randomly picks and chooses covers it likes.  Unfortunately for me, the bot doesn’t like my manchest cover making it impossible to use in ads.  I found a work around, but I don’t want to have to use it constantly.  The real solution is new covers.  To prove their dislike for my cover, they shut my account down for a moment.  Lesson learned.  So now I’m working on new covers with a clothed man.  The other thing I learned about covers in my genres (African American Contemporary and Billionaire Romance) is a woman only cover doesn’t sell as well as a man only or a couple cover.

Learn how to write a sellable blurb…What is it about authors and blurbs?  We can write a hundred thousand word book, but can’t sum it up in three short lines.  I’m not going to stress about this. I was introduced to a service that could help me.  But first I really need to figure this out.  

Use Ingram Spark…I did a little experiment last year.  I ordered a set of proofs from Ingram Spark and a set from KDP.  I loved the proofs from Ingram.  Everything I heard about Ingram was true, the quality was far superior.  I loved the books.  As much as I want to use Ingram exclusively, I can’t.  KDP doesn’t really like to share, so here’s my work around.  Set up ebook, print, large print and hardcover at KDP and likewise at Ingram.  This move with will allow   expanded distribution.  More outlets…more money.  Another step towards that increased income goal.  Another added pro to use Ingram, the proofs don’t have that ugly proof strip on the cover like KDP. 

Direct Distribution…I’m a wide author, but I use a third party for Nook and some international outlets.  I just found out doing this, has kept me from participating in Nook promotions.  Going direct will allow me to participate in some NOOK promos.  More promotions equals more exposure…more sales…increased income.

Increase my prices…I was at a conference a few months ago and this came up.  I was a little hesitant about doing this, because some of my books are less than ten thousand words.  So in a bold move…except for a couple of preorders, I made all of my books the same price $4.99.  Amazon still hasn’t updated all of the prices, but I’ve seen sales at the other outlets with the new prices.  This move taught me to get out of my way.

I have a few more goals, but these are the ones I’m going to focus on this year.  What about you?  What are your author goals for the year?

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‘TIS THE SEASON: Gifts for Readers and Writers

December 15, 2021 by in category The Write Life by Rebecca Forster, Writing tagged as , , , ,

I adore the holidays. Trees. Decorations. Carols. Searching for the perfect gifts. Okay, maybe I’m not so crazy about the last one. Finding the perfect gift can be crazy-making—until now. Here are a few of my favorite out-of-the-ordinary ideas that will please  the readers and writers in your life.

THE ASPIRING WRITER

What better way to say “I believe in your dream” than a gift certificate for a writing class or conference, or a no-cost-to-you offer to read their manuscript for typos?

THE SUPER FAN

Scan the cover of their favorite book, photoshop them into it, print, and frame. (Make sure this is personal use only because covers are copyrighted). How about genre bling? I give thriller-loving fans and friends a Morse Code bead bracelet that spells out Partners in Crime.

THE TRAVEL-READING-WRITING FANATIC

If money’s no object, send your reader/writer to a favorite literary destination. Include a map with places mentioned in the book and marked them with a big heart. You will be the best Santa ever.

THE BEST GIFT OF ALL

Contact your reader/writer’s favorite author for a signed copy of a book, request a personalized Christmas card, or invite the author to have a cup of coffee with their fan if the author is local. (If you’re asking for a book or coffee make sure you offer to pay). They can only say no, and if they say yes you will have hit the gift ball out of the park.

So ’tis the season to think outside the box because there’s nothing a reader/writer loves more than a happy ending.

A Finn O'Brien Thriller

SEVERED RELATIONS

Buy now!
SEVERED RELATIONS

FOREIGN RELATIONS

Buy now!
FOREIGN RELATIONS

SECRET RELATIONS

Buy now!
SECRET RELATIONS
INTIMATE RELATIONS
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Happy Virtual Holiday! by Carol L. Wright

December 13, 2021 by in category Writing

Each year, until 2020, our writers’ group has enjoyed getting together toward the end of every year to simply enjoy food, games, and each other’s company. But of course, that hasn’t been possible during the pandemic. What’s more, several of our members have moved to be closer to family in other parts of the country since Covid-19 made it harder to travel.

Fortunately, technology has allowed our group to continue to hold our regular meetings virtually. There’s very little we cannot do on Zoom that we could do in person. We still read each other’s work and offer critiques. We still root for each other as we submit our work. We still plan group projects and publish our quarterly literary journal, Bethlehem Writers Roundtable. We still run our annual Short Story Award competition. (In fact, our 2022 contest opens on January 1 with the theme “An Element of Mystery.” Get your stories of 2000 words or fewer ready to win cash and publication.)

But these are all things we can do from our separate locations without having to be face-to-face. Can we really have a fun holiday party that way? How would we play games? How could we exchange gifts?

There’s a reason holiday parties are so popular. Neighbors, businesses, and yes, writers’ groups have them for much the same reasons. They are a way of marking the progress of time. Another year has passed, and we can take a moment to sit back and relax, socialize, and reflect on all we have accomplished over the past twelve months. Friendship, loyalty, and trust are important for productive and fruitful relationships, and each is enhanced by having social relationships—not just work relationships. We rejoice with each other when things go well, help each other where we can, and care for each other during the tougher days when just being there is all we can do.

So, this year, we’re going to have our holiday party again—despite being spread over eight states and four time zones. How? you ask. Well, we’ve figured out a way.

We will meet on Zoom, but each wear our party clothes—or ugly sweaters—and instead of bringing food to share, we’ll bring snacks to enjoy.

We have traditionally had a game or two at our parties. One has usually been a trivia game, but that’s hard in a virtual setting. Fortunately, I found a PowerPoint or Google Slides template for a Jeopardy-style game at: https://www.slidescarnival.com/jeopardy-free-presentation-template/11277. You can easily create the categories that are right for your group. A reading group might want questions about literature—or even the books read over the previous year. A writers’ group might have columns such as Grammar Goofs or Copyeditor’s Marks. A knitters’ group could include Tell Me a Yarn. (Actually, a storytellers’ group could do that, too.) For a group with members who observe many different holidays this time of year, there can be a category for each one. All the emcee needs to do is run an internet search for trivia about needlework or grammar or Shakespeare or Kwanzaa and write the questions. Then, with a shared screen, everyone should have a chance to play along. No buzzers—especially for a large group, but each person who comes up with the right “question” can credit themselves with the appropriate number of points. Then whoever amasses the most points can win the honor of going first in the gift exchange. (Here’s where that mutual trust thing kicks in.)

The most problematic aspect of a virtual party, of course is a long-distance gift exchange. In other years we did a round-robin exchange where each memer drew a number from a hat. The one with #1 selects a gift from the pile and opens it. Then #2 goes next and has the option of taking the gift #1 opened or opening a new one. If #2 takes the first gift, #1 gets to open a new gift. Then #3 can steal either of the opened gifts or unwrap one that is still in the pile. And so on. Then, after everyone has a gift, #1 has a last chance to swap with anyone they choose. It’s nice being #1.

Well, with no central location, no pile of gifts, this year we’re not only randomly handing out numbers, each gift is assigned a letter. This year, we lowered the total value of the gifts for the exchange to allow us to ship items to each other without it all costing more than previous years.

Our party is tomorrow, and we hope it will be a worthy substitute for our prior celebrations—just as we hope, whether you’re able to come together in person or just virtually with your friends, colleagues, and family, that you and yours have a festive and healthy holiday season and a productive and happy new year.

Carol L. Wright escaped a career in law and academia for one in writing. She loves creating her Gracie McIntyre mysteries where, unlike in life, justice always prevails. The first in the series, DEATH IN GLENVILLE FALLS, was a finalist for both a 2018 Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award and a 2018 Next Generation Indie Book Award. She also writes short stories in many genres that have been published in a variety of literary journals and award-winning anthologies. She has compiled some of her favorites in A CHRISTMAS ON NANTUCKET and other stories, published in 2019. To find out more , visit her website at: http://CarolLWright.com.


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