Friday, September 26, 2014

Learning More Stuff

I've nearly completed this year's whirlwind conference tour. Boy have I learned some stuff. I've met some wonderful people, and gotten acquainted with people I have known virtually, and now know physically. In the flesh. That means having a glass of wine with or shared a dinner or evening with. Don't let your mind stray to the gutter. I know, you're just like me, and you can't help yourself.

I'm looking at many of the things other authors are doing to market themselves. I'm fairly happy with what I've been doing in the past, but I'm not satisfied with my results yet. So, I keep striving.

A friend of mine, fellow colleague in Real Estate Sales Training, posted the picture above, and boy, did it bring memories to me. As frequently happens, my mind began to wander down a path of images of my previous life as a coach and trainer. A professional business woman. I still am that woman, but I do it now with words.

Everything in life is sales. The day I figured this out was the day I became a great salesperson in Real Estate. I became a great coach, a great mentor, and a great Realtor. One of the best, I'm proud to say. However, what I didn't expect was that now, after some 5 years of being a full time writer, I'm back to where I started in Real Estate. How do I let the public know about me? Unlike my former successful career, my fan base is ongoing and almost daily. I never did much with a newsletter because I felt it was intrusive. But now in my writing mode, it is essential. What I used to be able to do in person by phone (yes, I cold called on average 40 people a day for nearly 15 years, as well as contacted 5 past clients and customers) I now do with social media. While FB and Twitter and other modes may not be appropriate for a Realtor, it is a necessary evil in authorship.

I remember when I was coaching a lady who was unhappy in her marriage. She was unhappy because she felt she'd fallen out of love with her husband, and just "wanted a change" but had no specific reason for doing so. Though I was supposed to help her with her business, I suggested this to her (I've had to use this advice on myself when the fires need stoking, if you know what I mean):

When you wake up tomorrow, pretend that the man who is sleeping next to you is the sexiest, the most wonderful man in the world. Pretend that everything he does, from putting on his shorts, to making breakfast is sexy. That he is Prince Charming, and is and always has been the Man of Your Dreams. Pretend he loves and cherishes you beyond all measure of other things. That he would almost die for you. That he would protect you. And he wants to set your life on fire (in a good way). Pretend that of all the millions of men on the planet, God chose this one man to come into your life and rock your soul.

I'm paraphrasing, as I'm a much better writer now than I was then. It was incredible what she came back on the phone with the following week. It went something like this:

Agent A:  Sharon! I did what you said, and Oh Man was that an eye opener!
Sharon:    Okay. Tell me about it.
Agent A:  I woke up and thought to myself, this is stupid, and then I just tried it. I watched him in the                  shower, and darn it, he does have a wonderful body. His arms and shoulders are beautiful                    (her husband was a concert violinist) and he has a flat tummy. He turned around and                            caught me looking at him and he smiled. It went extremely well after that.

I won't go into the details of what she told me, but it involved a nice romantic dinner and a private serenade, naked, by candlelight.

She thought I was a genius. It was their love that was the main actor here, covered up with the "stuff" of life. She'd forgotten how to "sell" her husband and herself on the power of their love. How that love could transform their everyday lives into something miraculous.

Think of how we raise children. Ever done a sales job to get a little one to finish their carrots or go to bed on time? Ever negotiated with a five-year-old with some candy, or an ice cream. I used to tell agents all the time to watch their kids, because kids are better than their parents at negotiating things. They get away with murder, almost.

The bottom line is my job is to write, but to get it out there to the public. I have to be attractive in what I write, but I also have to make myself sticky, so that readers will want to come along. Just like I'd practice in front of the mirror in the mornings, shaking my head and winking and saying, "Come on, you know you want to do this," as I'd practice going on an appointment, I'm writing to give you all the flypaper to stick to me like glue.

I promise if you'll stick with me we both will have a good time. And we'll have all the violins and candlelight and wonderful sensual kisses, though virtually but nevertheless just as powerful, in abundance. Welcome to my world. Hope you find a home there.


Sharon Hamilton
Life is one fool thing after another.
Love is two fool things after each other.






Saturday, September 20, 2014

Historical Romance New Release Book Tour!

Happy September to all of our Romance Realm readers!

Big Giveaway
We have a fabulous Lost Colony series book tour taking place right now with a Rafflecopter giveaway. Up for grabs is a limited edition Lost Colony t-shirt, an autographed paperback copy of BREAKING TIES (book one in the series), a signed Lost Colony bookmark, and two packs of 6 free eBooks. :-) Please invite a friend and join the drawing:


New Release
Blurb
Jane Mannering can shoot a rifle and handle a knife as well as any Englishman. However, she is no match for the red-painted warriors who ambush her section of a Colonial caravan the moment she and her friends reach the shores of Virginia.

Jane plots their escape during a forced march inland, leaving a trail of maltese crosses carved on the trees -- their pre-agreed upon signal of distress. All the while, she fumes over what interest their captors could possibly have in a twenty-three-year-old spinster and a rugged band of brick masons, sawyer, and farmers.

When the ruthless Chief Wanchese intercepts them at the crossroads of the Great Trading Path, Jane is shaken to discover their greatest enemy plans to keep her for himself. It's a pity he's the only may on two continents who's ever stirred her heart. Alas, she has an entire colony to save, and capturing his attentions is not part of their escape plan.

Book Trailer


Excerpt
My eyes drank in the massive arms and broad chest that tapered down to a narrow torso. He was nothing like the slender dandies in London who paraded about in excessive amounts of clothing. Nay, this man required no starched shirts and ruffs or padded doublets to enhance his frame. Silk hosiery and buckled shoes would have made a mockery of such unfettered male strength. The sun-bleached buckskins and well-worn moccasins were the only adornments a man of his ilk would ever require. 
“You take pleasure in what you see, no?” He leaned towards me again. 
I backed up until the wall of the cavern pressed into my shoulder blades. Of course, I liked what I saw, but ‘twould be unladylike in the extreme to admit it and grossly conceited of him to question me in such a manner. I straightened and returned stare for stare. The intensity of his gaze unsettled me. Though unsmiling, a wealth of emotions radiated from him. Curiosity. Interest. Desire. And ironclad determination. “You mean to take me for yourself,” I stated in a dull voice. 
Wanchese placed his hands against the wall on either side of me. “When I am ready, aye.” 
I sniffed. “Then you are no better than the rest of those savages who —” 
“Heathen and savage,” he corrected tersely. “A phrase I’ve heard oft enough in your own Queen’s Court.” 
I scowled at the reference to his stint as a diplomat in my homeland. A fine time it was to rub my nose in his superior social status. Born into a life of servitude, ’twas ironic how my lot had not changed one whit on the other side of the world. My chest heaved with the effort to control my alarm. Too tired to fight him off, I searched his face for any sign of compassion beneath the hard outer shell.
Humor deepened the color of his eyes as he rolled to his back in one swift movement and cradled his head in clasped hands. “You will come to me.” 
“Indeed I will not,” I gasped, both relieved at the distance between us and puzzled by the game he played, a game for which I knew not the rules. “’Twould be unseemly.” 
“Aye, you will,” he retorted, clearly enjoying himself. “Beneath your…” He nodded at the remnants of my gown. “… finery…is a passionate woman who is accustomed to taking what she wants. ’Tis I, methinks, who will be taken by you and not the other way around.”
Remaining Tour Schedule

September 19 Interview

Darkest Cravings

September 22 Spotlight
Theresa Stillwagon

September 23 Character Interview
Author Karen Swart

September 25 Guest blog
Fang-tastic Books

September 26 Spotlight
FictionZeal.com 

September 29 Guest blog
More Romance Please

September 30 Guest blog
Roxanne’s Realm

October 1 Interview
Author Anita Cox

October 2 Spotlight
Sizzling Book Blog 

October 3 Spotlight
CBY Book Club

October 6 Guest Blog (review later)
Historical Fiction Obsession

October 7 Interview
Deal Sharing Aunt

October 8 Interview
Pembroke Sinclair.  

October 9 Spotlight
Booklover Sue 

October 10 Spotlight and review
Illuminite Caliginosus

October 13 Review
Brooke Blogs


Come join in the tour fun. Next week is a super fun never-before-seen Lost Colony game with a gift card up for grabs -- offered exclusively to players/commenters on the Fang-tastic blog stop. Hope to see you there!

Happy reading and best wishes on winning. :-)

Jo

Website: www.JoGrafford.com
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Friday, September 12, 2014

Keeping Track of Myself

I've had a magical few days here in North Carolina and Tennessee. I've been gone from home for approximately 10 days now, beginning my journey in Greensboro, North Carolina at the Writer's Police Academy. With a bit of an ache in my heart at missing the experience of my five grandchildren getting together, some for the first time, the precious gift of their little lives is being shared without me present.

I write romantic suspense and wanted to get some edgy details to use in some of my scenes and plots. While sitting through classes on blood spatter, domestic terrorism, SWAT techniques and evidence recovery (yes, including dead bodies), I learned about the psychology of police in deep undercover assignments. These are people who sometimes sacrificed the relationships with their kids, their wives and other family and friends, to do a job to help make us safer. True heroes. Not doing it for bragging rights, money, film deals or fame. They do it because it's their job, and they can do it.

On Monday I traveled to Nashville to meet and spend time with my fabulous narrator/storyteller, J.D. Hart and his wife, Cherokee. We began the journey with a horse and buggy ride down Broadway, where the above picture was taken, and ended with a whole day of watching country stars perform at Northstar Studios in a tribute to Lee Price. I got to shake hands with legendary performers, like Roy Clark, I'd seen on TV or heard on the radio ever since high school. I heard some great old stories about love, lost love and new love.

We later went to the Blue Bird Cafe and heard more music and indulged in buying memorabilia I'll be wearing around Santa Rosa when I tool around in my convertible. The Silver Fox will be adorned with a new tee shirt and hat as well.

Now I'm at the IRC, Indie Romance Convention in Lebanon Tennessee. We're learning from each other, and networking, even writing as we congregate. Getting together with other like-minded writers, and sharing our ideas and time with readers is one of the most enjoyable things to do. J.D. and I presented a class on audio books and basically got to ham it up in front of our peers. Met new writer friends who are doing fantastic things I've never thought of doing. Gave me new marketing ideas and some software I can use to make the editing process easier.

Saturday we're doing a book signing and I again get reunited with my storyteller, who will sign some posters for some of my reader fans, and probably some other authors as well.

After this conference, I have one more to go, in October, where I will be traveling to Florida. Next year I won't go to so many. But every one I've been to has given me information I can use. Some were better suited for me, some were a grave disappointment, but there were still lessons learned and bright spots even in the ones I wished I'd not spent the time and money to attend. I go home with a renewed conviction I am in the right business, and at the right time, and sharing it with the right people around me. I have truly the best readers and writer friends anyone would ever want. And I have the support and love of those I hold dear and precious.

My life prospers in so many ways it is difficult to count. Thank you for taking a little time from yours to spend it with me here.

Sharon Hamilton
Life is one fool thing after another.
Love is two fool things after each other.