Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Planting Your Flag (Author Web Presence) On the Web

 Image credit: NASA

“Where do I plant my flag (set up my author web presence)” is one of the questions I see come up again and again on author loops. What usually follows is a lively discussion about where to set up. Rarely do I see authors talking about what. What are the “must haves” for a solid author web presence?

Much of your web content will be decided by your goals as an author, by the needs of your writing business. An author that writes both fiction and non-fiction will have different content than authors who write only fiction or only non-fiction. The more diverse your writing, the more challenging it will be to clearly establish your author brand. Just like the covers of your book, your web layout and design should provide cues and clues to what you write. So that is the first question to ask yourself:

What do I want visitors to know when they arrive?

Beautifully designed websites that don’t answer this basic question can cause visitors to click away without exploring further. While my website isn’t the sassiest out there, visitors to my site will quickly discover that I’m an author who writes fiction. Because I write in several genres (a branding nightmare), my tagline is simple and brand-inclusive: Pauline’s Perilously Fun Fiction.

I tried doing fun things with my navigation and realized that confusing readers about where to find out more was not in my best interests. So my navigation is simple and based on this question:
How do I help readers find out more about me and my books?

I found this article on Dear Author to be very helpful. It was written in 2006, so all the information is not relevant in this fast-changing, internet world. I took what fitted into my business plan and brand and integrated it into my website. At the very least you should have:
  • A complete list of books (and I still maintain a printable list, in case a reader wants to carry it to the library or bookstore) 
  • Book order/availability/formats available 
  • Excerpts and/or extra or free content
  • Where to buy and what formats are available 
  • What’s next and sign-up for ezine (Mine is for release information only, but some authors do weekly or monthly ezines)
  • Bio (depending on your business goals, you should have 2-4 bios in varying lengths)
  • Contact info 
  • Social media/blog links
The second level of information, which also depends on your business goals, is your press area. In my press room I have:  
  • Two bios (should have more) 
  • Links to larger cover art files 
  • Links to photos of me that can be used 
  • Permissions information for cover art/photo usage by blogs and press 
  • Press kit (what this includes is dependent on your business goals. A good resource for a press kit is Joan Stewart)
One thing Dear Author mentions is that key information should be no more than two clicks away. They also hate sites that are too cute, too busy or use backgrounds that make the text hard to read.
And last, but hardly least, it’s better to have no site than one that is never up-to-date. Don’t be like the NASA moon mission and leave your flag alone and lonely. Like the worlds where we set our books, keep your web “world” well populated.

What content do you consider key for your website? As a reader? As an author?  Pet peeves and pet loves?

Pauline Baird Jones is the award-winning author of sixteen novels of science fiction romance, action-adventure, suspense, romantic suspense and comedy-mystery, as well as releasing several short story anthologies. Girl Gone Nova and Out of Time were EPIC Book Award winners. Her eighth novel, The Key won an Independent Book Award Bronze Medal (IPPY) for 2008 and is a 2007 Dream Realm Awards Winner. With the closing of L&L Dreamspell, Pauline has opted to independently publish. Core Punch is her latest release and the first book in her new Uneasy Future series. Originally from Wyoming, she and her family moved from New Orleans to Texas before Katrina.

You can find her at the following places: Website   Blog   Facebook   Twitter  Google+ LinkedIn Goodreads Amazon Author Page


Thursday, March 26, 2015

SFRB Recommends 36: The Key by Pauline Baird Jones #sfrom #scifi #romance

When Sara Donovan joins Project Enterprise she finds out that what doesn't kill her makes her stronger. An Air Force pilot - the best of the best to be assigned to this mission - Sara isn't afraid to travel far beyond the Milky Way on an assignment that takes her into a galaxy torn apart by a long and bitter warfare between the Dusan and the Gadi. After she's shot down and manages to land safely on an inhospitable planet, Sara encounters Kiernan Fyn - a seriously hot alien with a few secrets of his own - he's a member of a resistance group called the Ojemba, lead by the mysterious and ruthless Kalian. Together they must avoid capture, but can they avoid their growing attraction to each other? A mysterious, hidden city on the planet brings Sara closer to the answers she seeks - about her baffling abilities and her mother's past. She has no idea she's being pulled into the same danger her mother fled - the key to a secret left behind by a lost civilization, the Garradians. The Dusan and the Gadi want the key. So do the Ojemba. They think Sara has it. They are willing to do anything to get it. Sara will have to do anything to stop them

I read this while reading through the Nebula Nights collection. Having read an extract, I wished to read the whole book. I was not disappointed.

Pauline has a sense of humour I love, which comes through clearly in this story. Given some of the tough situations the main characters, and particularly Sara, find themselves in, the humour did much to lighten up what could have been a rather dismal read.

The romance is good, and I loved the SF side of the story too. It all worked together, and the worldbuilding (or civilisation deconstruction?) is fascinating. A tale with a relatively simple premise, but some feisty characters that flesh it out. Not to mention the creepy creeps (villains).

A good read, or as I've classified it in my head, space romp.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Lessons In Writing

by M T McGuire

Thinking about what to write for this post, I started wondering, why I write what I write and what big lessons I have learned, that I can share with you today, so that you don’t have to!

Plan the way that suits you.

Do what works for you: I tend not to plan in detail. I do sketch out scenes before I write them down but I don't usually write them in order, indeed, when I start I seldom know where a scene is going to go in the grand scheme of things. On the one hand, this approach works well for me because I don't have to plan, or think too far ahead. On the down side, I have to remember a long way behind. The solution is the timeline.

These days I draw complicated mind maps in the back of note books. Ideally, I'd have a huge spread across the drawing room wall, like a crime investigation office. However, for some reason, my husband seems to be very against that idea. I can’t think why.

Helpful Thing One then: Make a timeline. Even if I don't know where the events I've written are going to go, with a time line, I can, at least, start to understand where they might slot in and more importantly, if they can't.

Genre Mash without fear.

Yes, another traditional no-no this one. Well ... this is the Science Fiction Romance Brigade so that's a double right off. I think I can safely say we mash genre here. But, I've never understood why it's considered imperative a writer keep to one. It's so unrealistic for starters. Nobody in life does just one thing. That said, having written a series of four humorous science fiction fantasy action adventures - with a dash of clean romance in books 2, 3 and 4 - I do appreciate that can be quite difficult to track down such a wide market when you come to flog the thing afterwards. If you are an indie writer, you have to sell your work so targeting it is good, but failing that, if you can sell something you love with conviction that's got to help too.

Helpful Thing Two then: if writing for specific markets isn't working out, writing what you'd like to read is the second best thing.

Keep focused.

The last most important thing: avoid looking at others and comparing them to you! There are many folks doing exceedingly well by writing lots of books and bringing them out monthly. I am in awe of them but not everyone is such a literary titan. We all write at different speeds and we all have different circumstances. The speed I write, well ... glaciers overtake me and I eat a LOT of snail and tortoise dust. At first it got me down and I thought of giving up. Then I realized that I'd never finish if I waited for an opportune moment to start. I dived in but soon realized I needed to set realistic goals within my own personal circumstances.

So the third Useful Thing: writing has taught me to be realistic with myself about targets, measuring progress and deadlines If you set realistic deadlines, you’ll always meet them.

Thank you so much for letting me post here today!

M T McGuire writes books... very slowly. These include a complete series of four books: the K’Barthan Series and almost three quarters of another book due out in 2016. Her first book, Few Are Chosen, K'Barthan Trilogy: Part 1 is free, everywhere and her second book is free to anyone who signs up to her mailing list.

M T McGuire on the internet:

Website: www.hamgee.co.uk

List of books on her site: www.hamgee.co.uk/books (The science fiction romance ones are the K’Barthan Series.)

List of books/author pages on retail sites:

Amazon (wherever you are): http://Author.to/MTMcGuire

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/16oqU5K

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/24556

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


The SFR Brigade celebrated its Fifth Anniversary
on Wednesday, March 18th!

Thanks to those who joined us for our Facebook Event chat, games, quizzes, and giveaways from over 40 authors. We really enjoyed the opportunity to interact with our readers and fans.
A great time was had by all!

Here's to our next 5 years.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Getting A Custom Book Cover

by S.A. Hoag

With my first novel getting close to being online, I had to figure out a few things - the cover being an important issue. Having scrolled through hundreds of books in the same genre I noticed a lot of stock covers in use and knew I didn't want that. A fabulous internet friend (hi EJ!) who happens to be a couple books ahead of me on the internet learning curve has offer invaluable advice. She said a custom cover was the way to go.
After a bit of research I connected with an artist, Joe Kawano. We emailed, we did some PMs, and things got moving. This is the very first sketch.

Joe made sure to explain how the process progresses and that this was a mock-up for him to work from. The finished cover would look pretty much nothing like this.
Stage Two!

After some personal glitches on both ends and getting through the holidays, we got around to some more PMs and polishing the details.

This Monday, I received an email from Joe with this picture attached. He is taunting me!

So very close. In the meantime I've been lining up the other things I need to get this project finished. If I have any advice to offer as a first-time novelist or to anyone new to publishing online, I'd say do your research. Find out what's involved. Get ahead of yourself. Do the 'impossible'. I should have gotten to some of the details sooner, but I didn't know. You can learn something new every day.

'The Vista' is almost a reality now. While I've been concentrating on this, I've also got the rough draft of a prequel about half finished. It will be a novella and promises a few surprises. So, let me introduce you to the world of 'The Vista'.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Team Three has a secret, one they think they've kept from all but a select few colleagues. They couldn't be more wrong.

Allen, MacKenzie and Wade are Vista Security's top officers, part of the first generation post-WW3. Their secret - they are genetically enhanced and psychically connected. Hidden away in an enclave in the Rocky Mountains, they're also at the forefront of the movement to see what's left of the outside world.

As they attempt to learn the truth, their presence makes them targets of a vicious renegade with the means to destroy everything they know. Facing exile or worse, Team Three has short time to figure out who is enemy, who is friend and how to save their home and themselves.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Excerpt from 'The Vista'

A storm moved in after nightfall, the rain almost ice as it fell from a black sky. No thunder, sparse lightning and that was the worst part of it – the broken, eerie silence between downpours. Shannon didn’t like being in the city for any reason. Twice a week, four months a year she was anyway. It was her job. They might say ghosts weren’t real, but most of ‘them’ had never spent a night in the long dead place. Sometime after midnight, she gave in and headed for home.

Crossing the Continental Divide, the rain turned to snow, huge white flakes splattering on the windshield and not melting. The road was mostly clear. Static on Shannon’s radio was thick, but moments later, she understood two words. Code Seven. Active aggressive incident outside the outer perimeter, but active aggressive still. She kicked it into overdrive and came down the mountain full tilt, pushing the car and pushing her luck on a road known to devour Scouts.

Then the outer marker merely went ‘blip’ as she passed it. If there was an alert, proximity warnings would have gone off all over Security. Alarms should be sounding in Dispatch and her car. She stared at the radio for a moment, realizing what she had stumbled in to.

Wargames. The call-out wasn’t real.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


I knew before I got to high school that I wanted to write books. I did, too, dozens of short stories I thought someday I’d turn into novels. Oh, how I wish I had those spiral notebooks full of wild ideas and teenage musings.

I still have the ideas of many of those stories – some of them make me cringe. A few will become something more as I add books to my list of those that are published.

For now, I live in the desert and many nights, in between writing and sleep, you can find me out watching the stars. It’s dark, out here in the desert and I can see so many stars that weren’t there before. I make time to write now. The tiny seeds of stories demand that I write them down.

I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy creating them.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Everyone's Invited - The SFR Brigade House Party #scifi #romance #sfrb

Happening this Wednesday on Facebook - over 40 science fiction romance authors chatting, playing games and offering giveaways. Drop in, pull up a virtual chair and enjoy!

You're invited to the SFR Brigade House Party, a celebration of our 5th anniversary!

When: March 18, 2015
12 noon EST - 12 midnight EST
Where: Facebook

The party will be packed full of fun! Here are some of the festivities you can look forward to:
* Chat with authors
* Giveaways
* Meet 'n' greet with fellow readers
* Informative posts about sci-fi romance
* Topical discussions
* Interactive activities


SFR Brigade Bases of Operation