Monday, November 28, 2016

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, 2016

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, 2016

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, 2016

100 Marketing Tips


NOTE: Since this post is the longest one I've ever done and packed with the most information I've ever shared, I made a downloadable PDF. All you have to do is download it by clicking the link. Then save it to your computer for later use.



I am not a marketing guru or pro. I’ve done a lot of research on what I can do to promote my books, and I give them a try. Although I give a lot of advice on my blog about how to market books, I struggle with this part of publishing. There are no right answers. All you can do is try and see what works for you.


Below are 100 marketing options you can try. 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.


Image from Pixabay

1. Build Your Platform




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. Newsletter

Lure people to sign up for your email list/newsletter with an incentive, such as a free book or gift. Then create good, interesting content that 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! So why not set one up? You can give them a special badge (image) to put on their blog/website, and create a Facebook group for everyone to go to and chat. Also, give it a cool name!

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 on 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 of your book’s Amazon page.

12. Give Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs) to anyone interested in reviewing your story before its release day.

13. Also look for snippets of reviews to put on a “Testimonial” page on your website. This is good because it shows that you have cred. You can have testimonials for specific books, for your overall writing, or even your blog. I have one on my website.

14. Mail galley copies to major magazines for review. Most need these copies 3 - 4 months in advance of the release date.

15. Approach local book clubs/reading groups and see if they’d be interested in reading your book. Most do buy the books they want to read. This will result in quite a few reviews.

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 book’s page on Amazon.


Goodreads:

20. Join Goodreads Groups. There are many groups for many different genres. Follow the rules set out for authors in each genre before you post about your books.

21. Use Goodreads groups to get reviews. Many groups have discussions to help authors get reviewers. You will need to provide the necessary info 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. Connect with other authors on Goodreads.


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 them clickable, so visitors can buy that book!

25. Use your website/blog to make announcements, and then send people there using social media to get 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. On my website, I offer a weekly tip. Put something new on your website and advertise it on social media.


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 book.


30. Create quote images with your tagline, logline, dialogue, lines from your blurb, and your 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 get 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 lists of your books. Everyone you send an email to will see it.

36. You can use Google+ in nearly the same way as any other social media platform. Join writing groups, follow the rules, link to your blog posts, website, etc.

37. Make announcements on Google+ and share it with EVERYONE by selecting “Extensive Groups,” which is everyone in your groups and everyone in their groups.


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 now accepting author interviews. Have a list of questions already prepared to eliminate the time you spend doing this.

40. Do a cover reveal.

Use Google Docs to set up a form so people who want to help can choose 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. The worst it gets is 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. Don’t just share excerpts, but 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 previous published books in them. You can create a list such as “Other books published by Chrys Fey:” and even share an excerpt for one.

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! Select wants you to publish exclusively with them for 3 months.

47. Turn your books into audiobooks.

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. Set up a Thunderclap Campaign to get 100 supporters to post or tweet about your book on release day.

51. Do a Facebook Release Party. Make sure it’s set as Public.


52. Add your books to book websites such as Manic Reads, Book Goodies, Book Pinning, Book Buzzr, The Book Breeze, Awesome Gang, Story Finds, and Addicted to eBooks.

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 as you, ask them if they’d like to be part of a big promo opportunity. Every author can share promos for everyone on their blog.

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.

57. Contact a few famous authors and ask them if they’d like to read your book and give an endorsement. The worse they can say is “no” or not respond at all. You won’t know what’ll come out of it if you don’t try.

58. Get on your local radio and TV shows.
  

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.

61.  Offer your readers sample chapters or short stories for free.

62. Create unique SWAG for giveaways. I’ve seen people make pendants and charms with their cover images on it. You can do anything related to your stories.

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 (Hurricane Crimes) 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. Donate copies of your book to women's shelter, hospitals, etc.


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 a book as free so Amazon will (most likely) price match it and set it as free also. You can even notify them of a price change through the book’s page and insert retailer links as proof.

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.

73. Buy a $10 Goodreads ad. Create several ads under one campaign and DON’T target specific readers, target them all. It's more useful that way, and encourage readers to click to read the full blurb either in the ad's title or description. If they click, they may add your book, and clicks mean your ad is working.

74. Advertise in Publisher’s Weekly and other major publications.

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. I once did a book signing at a park with just family.

78. Record a video of yourself reading an excerpt of your book and post it everywhere. This is perfect for people afraid of doing a live reading.

79. Do a book reading at a local library, book store, 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 desk 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 books 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.

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 it!


Go to Your Local Community:

88. Look for speaking opportunities at schools, conventions, etc.

89. Teach a class or workshop.

90. Go on a physical book tour to local libraries, coffee shops, and bookstores.

91. Email the directors of your local libraries and pitch them your book to be added to their collection.

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, and they may do an article about you!


Video:

96. Create a book trailer. Put it on your website, blog, FB page, Goodreads, everywhere.

97. Ask fans to make a book trailer.

98. Get on webcasts and/or podcasts created by established authors/promoters.


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.



FINAL MESSAGE: There may be more things that authors can do to promote their books, but these are all the ones I have come up with so far.

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





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