Month: July 2016

Need a Shot of Inspiration? You Can’t Beat Lakeside Ohio

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Our cottage this week at Lakeside.

My happy spot is a gated community on the shores of Lake Erie called Lakeside. My family and I have rented a cottage this week and are busy taking in the sights and sounds of the summer season.

Like its more famous cousin in New York, Lakeside is a Chautauqua-style vacation spot dating back to the late 1800’s. Visitors breathe in its history and shroud of vacationing happiness from the moment they pass through the gate. Writers draw inspiration from the ivy crawling up the sides of the quaint, and sometimes creepy, Victorian cottages. At least I do.

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Vines grow up the sides of this old cottage. Could it be haunted? If so, they’re happy ghosts.

Something for everyone
Lakeside has entertainment galore for young and old alike. The kiddies can run and shout in the splash pool, collect sand in their bottoms on the beach, or jump and climb on one of the many playgrounds sprinkled throughout the grounds.

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Felix Cavalieri’s Rascals at Lakeside, Ohio

Teens can play video games, ping-pong, foosball or good old-fashioned board games in the teen center by the lake. And people of all ages can compete in shuffleboard, miniature golf, tennis, and basketball or enjoy nightly entertainment in Hoover Auditorium. On Saturday, we were entertained by Felix Cavalieri’s Rascals.

If games aren’t your thing, well then, you may want to sign up for an art class at the Rhein Center, take a yoga or cooking class, set sail on a sailboat or enjoy a walk by the lake. This week, I’ll turn hammered silverware into plant markers and make a lighted glass block. I’ll also connect with fellow author, Jena Henry, who teaches a class on self-publishing each week during the season.

There’s ice-cream and shopping, too — half the fun is moving around by bike or golf cart from store to store.

To have and to hold
This is our twenty-third year for Lakeside. (Don’t I feel old.) My husband and I first drove through the gate to celebrate our one-year anniversary in 1993. Lakeside grabbed a hold of my heart on that visit, and we’ve returned every year since, eventually bringing our children, friends and extended family with us.

From time to time, I try to articulate what makes Lakeside unique in this day and age of exotic vacations and four-star hotels. The accommodations are not fancy. You bring your own sheets and towels in most of the cottage rentals. It’s not uncommon to sit on mismatched furniture or sleep in beds with patchwork quilts. In the cottage where we are staying, family photos decorate the walls in the dining room, along with a collection of teacups. Harmless bugs, called Mayflies, swarm in from off the lake and roost in the rafters on the outside patio. The houses are built so close together, the smell of the neighbor’s dinner on the grill drifts into the yard, making my mouth water.

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Family photos on the walls of our cottage rental.

 

Mayflies cling to the roof on our patio.

Mayflies cling to the roof on our patio.

 

Tea for two or more...Lakeside have its own tea room but these teacups are on display in our rental.

Tea for two or more…Lakeside does have its own tea room, but these teacups are on display in our rental.

No the accommodations are less than desirable, and yet, I find myself relaxing into the cushions on the wicker chairs and soaking in the ambience of the place, like the air plant on my kitchen window at home after a long period without water. Today, I churn out 1,000 words on my current manuscript, and I write this blog.

One of the many beautiful flower displays, which grace the grounds of Lakeside.

One of the many beautiful flower displays, which grace the grounds of Lakeside.

Indefinable
“Smell that?” My mother-in-law asks, peering into the window of the cottage across the street, which is for sale.

I dutifully take a whiff. The musty smell of old wood and damp, like a thousand storms off the lake, assaults my nostrils.

“That’s the smell of old houses.”

“I love that smell,” I say. Even as the words leave my mouth, I realize I do love that smell.

“You do?” she asks.

“Yeah,” I say, but I find myself at a loss for words to explain why.

Perhaps that is Lakeside’s magic. One hundred years from now, you and I won’t be here, but Lakeside will still welcome tired vacationers to its shores — to be rejuvenated, to soak in its history, and to try and put words to its mystique and charm, which has us returning year after year.

A step back in time. My husband and I pose by the inn we stayed at 23 years ago.

A step back in time. My husband and I pose by the inn we stayed at 23 years ago.

Need a Shot of Inspiration? You Can't Beat Lakeside Ohio #TWRP #Lakesideoh #NEORWA Click To Tweet

How I Plan to Promote My First Book (And Other Scary Tales)


The closer I get to the release of my first novel, the more anxious I grow thinking about how best to promote it.

Ironically, I have an MBA in Marketing. I’m also responsible for running campaigns and events on my day job, so you would think I would have some idea about how to approach a book launch. But no amount of classes or business experiences have prepared me for this next step in my journey to publication.

Writing a book is personal. It’s much easier to suggest creative ideas when someone else will be doing the presenting. Knowing I must be the front woman in this campaign has me waking up in the middle of the night, pulse racing, thoughts spinning and panic flooding my body.

How the heck do I do this?
“Isn’t there a template for this?” I asked this question recently of some of my critique partners. “I mean, millions of books are published every year. Hasn’t some smart author figured this out already?”

“Nope,” they said. “Not that we know of.”

“So what are you going to do when your time comes?”

“We’ll just watch what you do.”

Uh-oh. Now we’re all in trouble.

Why is it so hard?
The more I explore ideas and collect information, the more I realize that there are SO MANY ways to promote a book, even the “industry experts” can’t agree. And the market is shifting, so tried and true methods don’t necessarily work anymore. Here today and gone tomorrow, as the saying goes.

For instance, more readers than ever before are reading their books online. This is much different than say, twenty years ago, when print sales still had the largest market share. And recent reports talk about the popularity of audio books. How the heck do I make one of those?

And what about blogs? I still remember the first time a writer friend explained the concept to me. That was many years ago, when the popularity of blogs was exploding. Last year at a writer’s conference, the speaker stated that blogs don’t generate traffic like they used to, and she wouldn’t recommend spending time on them. Every time I post mine, I question its relevance. Who am I reaching with this post? Will they buy my book when it comes out?

Although I can see by my stats that I tend to have some readership, the number of visitors stays about the same from post to post. What does that mean? Should I quit?

If I had a million dollars…
I don’t. But I recently asked this question on a marketing expert’s site: If you had $1,000 to spend on promotion, what would you spend it on?

The answer I got back? “I wouldn’t spend a cent. Save your money.”

Hmmm. I’d like to that’s for sure. But I can’t imagine I’ll get away with it entirely, can you?

What to do?
Any day now, I’ll be getting my preorder link for Mind Waves from the publisher. While I don’t have a solid plan on paper, I do have a few ideas:

  • Write the Next Book — I know, seems contrary. But the faster I write the next book and the next one after that, the faster I build a following. So I can’t slow down on the writing, even while I’m promoting book one.
  • Do a Cover Reveal — This one is a no-brainer. It seems natural to want to share my cover and a pre-order link in a big reveal. I’ll set up a Headtalker or Thunderclap and ask my friends on social media to participate. I’ll purchase Facebook ads to spread the news far and wide and build my profile on Goodreads. I’ll blog, and maybe I’ll ask a few other writer friends to feature me in their blog. I’ll experiment by commenting on a beach glass site I belong to — since beach glass is featured heavily in this story, it seems like a good idea.
  • Introduce a Newsletter — I’ve been slowly building an email list. Those folks will get my news first. And something special to make them glad they’ve subscribed.
  • Create a Book Trailer — Think movie trailer but for a book. I’d like to do several versions, featuring sites and sounds from Cleveland, and then share them over time via social media. Sounds fun, right?
  • Launch a Street Team — This is a group of supporters who want me to succeed. These folks will help me spread the word and be rewarded with free copies of my books and other special deals. If that sounds like you, let me know! A lot of authors use a private Facebook group for this, but I may use email, since not all my supporters use Facebook.
  • Ask for Reviews — I’m told reviews are hard to acquire. But I’ve already had a few friends commit to doing one. Anyone on my street team who does a review will receive a FREE e-copy of my book. This is a non-shareable copy but is a great deal for anyone willing to post a review. I also have a list of review sites I’ll email. And I’ve purchased a Net Galley membership for September. This is a site that provides the book free to readers willing to post a review.
  • Get Out and About — This one gets me all tingly with excitement. Nothing makes me happier than meeting new people and talking about my book! I have three Cleveland locations lined up to host book signing parties, but I’ll work to host a whole lot more this year and next. I’ll discuss what motivated me to write a paranormal romance, tell a few ghost stories, and describe my journey to publication. There will be prizes, of course, some fun beach glass giveaways, and anything else I can think of to make this a not-to-be-missed party.

    This seemed to be a hit at my first book reading, so perhaps I'll make some more.

    Beach glass candy seemed to be a hit at my first book reading, so perhaps I’ll make some more.

  • Stock Local Stores — Okay, I’ll admit. This one is more ego than anything and will probably end up costing me money. A printed book purchased through a small publisher like mine is not cheap. They don’t distribute to book stores, so I’ll have to purchase the book myself and then mark them up to make any sort of profit. Although I receive a discount, I’m told the shipping cost is astronomical. But I do plan to invest some money into purchasing printed copies for book signings and to stock a few around town, especially in small book stores and gift shops that sell beach glass. If those sell well, I’ll stock a few more.
  • Donate a Copy to the Local Library — This is a great way to give back to the community and make sure readers can find my book. Hopefully, they’ll like what they read and want more.
  • Donate to Charity — I’m looking for a local, Cleveland charity to donate a portion of sales from each book. I’m interested in donating to food banks and hunger centers, so if you know a worthy organization, let me know.
  • Pitching the Press — I’m hoping to garner articles in local newspapers and alumni publications from my alma maters. This is when it helps to have a sister who runs a newspaper and a friend who’s a reporter. And there are some great websites, like Cool Cleveland, I might approach.

What won’t I do initially?
Pay for blog tours or other advertisements. I’m going to wait a bit before considering anything costly. The marketing guru may be right. After all, this is a business. It would be smart to understand my revenue before shelling out big bucks for promotions.

So there you have it. What am I missing? I’m sure there’s something…scratches her head and tries to calm her racing heart

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