Word Nerds Writers' Conference


Sign up here: http://www.gdrwa.org/conference-2017.html

Keynote Speaker: Beverly Jenkins
2017 Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Awardee
USA Today Bestselling Author
2013 NAACP Image Award Nominee

Ms. Jenkins is an American author of historical and contemporary romance novels with a particular focus on 19th century African-American life.

Workshop by Deb Dixon: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict 
Publisher for BelleBooks 
Vice President Emeritus RWA

Book pitches will be taken by agents and editors! 
Janna Bonikowski – The Knight Agency
Deb Dixon – BelleBooks
Tara Gelsomino – Crimson Romance (a division of Simon & Schuster)
Stephanie Doig – Carina Press

The Word Nerds Writers’ Conference Schedule
October 20th – 21st

Friday, October 20, 2017
6:30 pm – 8:00 pm: Registration
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm: Preglow: This includes write-in, group critiques, and pitch practice.

Saturday, October 21, 2017
7:30 am – 8:30 am: Registration

7:30 am – 9:00 am: Continental Breakfast Served

8:30 am – 9:00 am: Keynote Address and Conference Kick Off – Ms. Beverly Jenkins

9:00 am – 12:00 pm: Presentation: GMC – Goal Motivation Conflict – Ms. Deb Dixon 

10:30 am – 10:45 am: Morning Break

12:00 pm – 1:00 pm: Lunch Served

1:00 pm – 3:00 pm:
Session A: Deb Dixon: Integrating GMC with the Hero’s Journey
Session B: Agent/Editor panel

3:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Author Network & Mixer

3:30 pm – 5:30 pm
10 Minute Pitch Sessions (Author’s must sign up at registration)

Pricing Information:

Greater Detroit RWA member: $85
RWA member $110
Non-RWA member $120

Get $10 off with the early bird special if you sign up before July 31, 2017! 

Hotel Information

A block of rooms will be available at a discounted price. 
Conference space is limited, so make sure to register early!

Hotel Information:
Detroit Troy Marriott in Troy, Michigan
200 W Big Beaver Rd., Troy MI 48084
(248) 680-9797

LINK for block of rooms: http://goo.gl/9PrGmY

10 Historic Cocktails of New Orleans!

What do ten historic cocktails served in New Orleans have to do with tips & tools, you ask? Well, they’re the best kind of research out there. Live … up close … and personal. I should know because I tasted six of the ten. All in one afternoon. Who says research isn’t fun?

I’m not ashamed to admit that Google! is one of my best friends when it comes to researching time periods, locations and how long it takes for a corpse to rot. [That’s no joke. My search history is pretty scary.] But after taking a trip to New Orleans this past week in order to perform research for my next gothic romance novel, I’m hooked on the idea of traveling to the destination of my story. 

Let me tell you why …

  • You don’t know what you don’t know. I spent hours on a tour of the city’s haunted sites as well as two of the famous River Road plantations. During these tours I soaked up copious quantities of data, took countless pictures and wrote notes on all kinds of fascinating details that I would NEVER have thought to research or question. For example, did you know that kitchens in 19th century Louisiana were required by law to be detached buildings? This mandate was a result of two major fires that occurred in New Orleans in the late 1700’s which burned the city down. Cooking was done over an open fire … and where there is fire, there is danger. Or did you know that Absinthe was outlawed in the United States because it was deemed a dangerously additive psychoactive drug and hallucinogen? The stuff is 124 proof! I had no clue and wouldn’t have even thought to look into it, but now that I know it was a popular drink in the time period of my novel, I’ll be sure to slip it into the story for authenticity. Watching the drink being prepared and then tasting it makes for good story telling! Which brings me to my next point …
  • Reading about something and experiencing it firsthand are two entirely different ball games. Smell. Sound. Taste. Touch. All of your senses are engaged when you’re researching firsthand. One of the coolest things I experienced while in New Orleans was a Creole bone reading conducted by the wisest psychic in the city. She’s practiced her craft for over 50 years. And she was wonderful to observe. The tone of her voice … or the way she paused between revelations … and her body language. All of it added to the atmosphere and isn’t something you can truly learn by reading an article on Google! Even the chalice she used to store her bones was fascinating. Her voice held a certain gravelly quality, and I loved the rings and bangles she wore. I’m talking about the mood she set. I was also shocked by the depth of the reading and the minute details she went into regarding what I can expect to happen over the course of the next year in my life. She spoke with confidence and never faltered in her advice. My heroine is a Creole and practices Voodoo. Most people are familiar with the idea of Voodoo dolls or gris-gris. Tarot cards are also well-known. But Creole bone reading? Aaahhh… good stuff.
  • Local legends may only be local. I’m convinced that at least one quarter of what I learned cannot be found in books or on the internet. Some legends live in the people within the city and are shared by word of mouth, but never make it onto a written page. Or if you do find a morsel of information, it’s not enough to wet your appetite – but rather a trifling little bit of news. One thing I learned about the people of New Orleans is that they love to talk and entertain. I think it must be second nature. Bartenders. Hotel bellmen. Waiters. Store clerks. Everyone was friendly and loved to share stories and information. Simply interacting with the local folks offers wonderful fodder for shaping the personalities of the characters in our books.
  • The little things we never read about. One night we were walking back from dinner at a restaurant on the outskirts of the French Quarter to our hotel on Bourbon Street at the corner of Orleans. It wasn’t late. Maybe 9:30 p.m. or so. But the streets were quiet. The stars were sparkling above us. Soft light glowed from the street lamps, illuminating the colorful buildings. And only a few people passed by … until two streets later where the crowd of people thickened and noise levels increased with street entertainers. Another street and it was full-fledged chaos. One street was highly focused on shopping – Royal Street. Whereas Bourbon Street was all about the bars and drinking. Jackson Square offered every possible form of entertainment. I’m not sure you really understand what makes a place tick unless you’re there and you walk the streets at various times of day and night.

I could go on and on and on. After being submerged in the culture, I can’t help but believe my story will be so much richer for having been there. We can’t all afford to jet off to the wonderful settings of our stories every time. I get it. But try it once or twice and see for yourself if it makes a difference in your writing.  

Oh, and my favorite historic cocktail? Scarlet O’Hara: Southern Comfort, cranberry juice and a dash of lime. Yum.   

Gothic romance isn't dead!

Gothic romance isn’t dead…

But Victor Blackburn will be dead in less than two months unless he can convince the one witch capable of breaking the Blackburn curse to help him. There’s only one obstacle to gaining Mercy’s favor. Victor killed her mother. Still, he is desperate and motivated, enough to kidnap the beautiful witch and drag her to his castle in the Scottish Highlands.

Blackburn Castle is book two in the Tortured Souls saga but it can be read as a stand alone book. This new release comes out on April 10, 2017! Please help me share the news. Readers of dark paranormal romance, gothic romance and historical romance won’t want to miss out on this one.

I’ve created a Thunderclap campaign to get the word out. Won’t you consider helping me? It’s really simple. You follow the link and agree to participate. Thunderclap will do the rest to ensure a tweet is sent out on your Twitter account or a post is entered in Facebook on the release date. I’ve set a goal of 100 supporters. Thanks!

Follow this link: 


The Art of Ruining A Rake by Emma Locke


Where to start… I ran hot and cold with this story. The opening chapter had me laughing out loud. The situation was absolutely stunning and not funny at all for this time period. But I couldn’t help laughing. Roman certainly is a rake and he starts out as a horribly selfish person. These kinds of stories are always hard to pull off because I inevitably wonder what it is about this ‘hero’ that the heroine is so attracted to – other than the obvious – his looks. Gasp! Women aren’t allowed to pursue men for only their looks.

Only it turns out that some women do exactly that. I’ve never read a story about a male harlot – or cicisbeo as they were called. [I learned a new Regency term!] Roman sells his body to several young widows. A man’s got to make a living somehow… and when your father gambles away the family fortune, there are few options for carrying on the lifestyle expected of a marquis.

Oh… what a delicious beginning. This story gives a whole new meaning to the concept of a rake. Why can we forgive men who are only sating their loins but we cringe at the idea of a man offering sex for money? If sex is ‘just’ sex, then why does it matter that money or goods exchanged hands? This is one of the many questions Lucy must grapple with.

I will say my heart broke a little for Roman when Lucy treated him exactly like the whore he was. Because she was dear to him. He didn’t want ‘just sex’ between them. No, that wasn’t enough. He wanted her complete and utter surrender. He wanted her to love him. This story takes us on quite a ride. Both characters have moments when I didn’t like either of them. But in the end I was really happy they found their HEA. Still, after reading the entire story, I’m not sure I entirely understand why Lucy was so fascinated by Roman from the onset. A young girl’s silly infatuation, I guess.

On a side note, I began reading this series with “The Danger in Daring a Lady” which is book #6 in this series. Oh my god, am I glad I read that first. Lord Darius Alexander, the hero in book #6, is Roman’s brother. And I despised Darius in this book. He is a reckless gambler and a horrible person! Seriously, if I had read this book first, I don’t think I would have taken the time to read “The Danger in Daring a Lady”, which would’ve been a pity because I rated that book 5 stars. It is one thing to be told the hero was ‘a rake and bad person’ and quite another to be shown his character.

If you enjoy historical romances that take you down a dark and untrodden path, then I can highly recommend this one. This is not a story of young misses meeting their prince at the ball. An unconventional and delightful story.


Tips & Tools for Promoting eBook Deals

I’m a curious creature who loves to experiment. So while I’ve only been a published author since March 2014, I like to think I’ve accumulated a bit of knowledge on this topic. In the past three years I’ve self-published through Smashwords, Draft2Digital, and KDP. My eBooks have been exclusive through KU and also offered more broadly. And I’m a hybrid author so I’ve seen marketing from both sides of the fence. The one thing I can say with certainty is that no one cares more about how well your book sells than YOU.

Advertising your ebook deals isn’t always cheap, but it can be if you put a lot of sweat into looking for websites that will promote for free or a minimal charge. What I’m about to share is geared toward self-published books, but I’ve done many of the same things when my publishers offered my books at a special price.

Before I landed my first BookBub advertisement, I toyed with various methods to increase my *FREE* and *$0.99* offerings. My best ranking was #18 in the Amazon overall list when I offered FAIR GAME for free. Yes, you read that right – the overall top 100 – not in my subcategory. That equated to 14,000 downloads. Of my book. Yippee! Those are results most authors would be happy to achieve with BookBub (and have to pay $250 for that privilege). Believe it or not, I only paid $10. Three more of my books hit the top 100 as well. My book offer for $0.99 hit #207 for approximately 600 downloads. While I can’t promise you’ll achieve the same results, I’ll gladly share what I’ve tried in the past few years so you might try it as well. 

(1) Set a date for your promotion (Free or $0.99 – but I highly recommend Free) that is at least one month in the future. It’s best to offer your book free for at least two or three days in a row. 

(2) Contact promotional websites early and request that they feature your eBook on the dates you selected in (1) above. There are a lot of websites that don’t charge a single penny. BUT THIS TAKES A LOT OF TIME. When I hit #18 for FAIR GAME, it was promoted on 15 different websites but I reached out to a total of 34. Some will select your book, others will not. Don’t take it personally. Most sites require at least one week notice. Many sites fill up a month in advance. Some are free. Others charge a fee. Some require a minimum number of reviews. Others don’t. Below are some tools to help you with this task:

  (a) This website has a fantastic list of promotional websites you can start with: http://freediscountedbooks.com/free-book-promotion-sites/

  (b) KDROI software can be purchased for a one time fee. The program is easy to use and essentially fills out the form for these ‘promotional sites’. It takes 5 minutes of your time, and a push of the button. There are approximately 30 sites linked through the software right now, but the developer keeps adding more as time goes by. This is a huge time saver. If you plan to promote often, then it is worth the one time cost. 

  (c) Sharon Karaa created a list of promotional sites and offers great data / food for thought. She updates the list periodically. You can get a copy here: http://www.sharonkaraa.co.uk/#!for-authors/tst10

(3) Join as many FaceBook groups that promote Free or Discounted books. There are a ton of them out there. Search ‘free eBooks’, ‘free Kindle’, ‘free Nook’, etc. On the day of your promotion write a post about your offer and include a link. Post to your own FaceBook page. You can even consider ‘boosting’ your post for a nominal fee. 

(4) Tweet about your promotion on that day. Don’t forget to use appropriate hastags like #FREE, #ebooks, #rt, #romance, #IARTG (indie author retweet group), #EARTG (erotic author retweet group), #promotethisbook, etc. Be sure to research the best time of day to tweet. If you have a group of author friends, ask them to retweet for you. Consider paying a nominal fee for a tweeting service like BookTweeter. This was the only fee I paid during my promotion of FAIR GAME.

(5) If you’re signed up on Reader’s Gazette, don’t forget to go to their website at least a few days before your promotion and log in the days of your promotion so they’ll tweet for you.

(6) Blog about it on your Goodreads Author’s profile. Not on Goodreads? Well, you should be. And if you belong to any groups on Goodread, look to see if they have a place to post ‘book deals / promotions’. 

(7) Consider a headline ad on www.theromancereviews.com. If you put their banner on your website, they’ll give you one free headline ad per month. Make sure you put in your request one or two days before your promotion runs because it takes a day or two for the ad to be approved.

(8) Send out an author’s newsletter to your followers on the day of the deal.

That’s it!  

The best advertising for a book is word of mouth from the readers. But you first have to get your books into the hands of readers for them to spread the great word. That’s why I strongly suggest offering the book for free so readers are willing to take a chance on you. I’m sure only a fraction of the people who downloaded my book actually read it, still, I’m willing to bet it was at least 5%. That’s still a lot of reads. Yes, they’re getting your book for free, but they’re investing their time. My time is more precious than even my money. I saw a significant increase in sales of my other books for several weeks after the free promotion so it was well worth my time and effort.

Another interesting tidbit – FAIR GAME is book #2 in my Wish Come True series. Many sources suggest that you only promote the first book in a series for free, but my experience has been that any book in the series performs well if the book can be read as a stand alone story. This was part of my ‘experimentation’ phase. I’m such a rebel. And I had fantastic results. So forget what the best sources say and experiment a bit on your own to see what works best for you.

Another note of interest – promoting erotic romance is tough! Many of the promotional sites will not accept erotic romance, especially if the cover is overtly sexy. But there are some sites / tweeters out there who promote erotic romance. 

Don’t get me wrong. This is a LOT of work and a big time investment. However, if you really want your free promotion to be worthwhile, then put in the effort. Readers won’t know your book is offered for free unless you tell them! And we can’t all be on BookBub when less than 20% of their applicants are chosen for an advertisement. Still, that doesn’t mean we can’t achieve excellent results.

Thumbs up and good luck!

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