Jeanne: Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Magnolia blossom

Magnolia blossoms, seen in my neighborhood on Sunday

Forced proximity is a romance trope wherein the couple in question is forced by circumstance (blizzard, long-haul truck run, bodyguard, work assignment, etc.) to spend time together. I suspect there will be an influx of these stories in the coming months but I have to tell you: I’m already tire of this trope.

Because we’re older and fairly sensible by nature, Old Dog and I started self-isolating a couple of weeks ago. We are doing better cooped up together than I would have expected. Under normal circumstances we have a tendency to snipe at each other when we’re feeling irritable, but we’ve managed to curtail that almost completely, at least for the duration.

For now, I’m able to get out and walk in my neighborhood or head to the nature preserve about 10 miles north of my house when cabin fever threatens to get out of control. If you don’t have that option, here’s a video from my walk earlier this week that may give you a little vicarious out-of-doors time. Continue reading

Jeanne: Cover Me

Old wooden gate with lianasI’ve just finished drafting a short story titled “Original Sin.” It’s the origin story of Lilith, the demon who has been a minor character in every Touched by a Demon story so far. I’m planning to offer it as a freebie to all the subscribers to my newsletter.

Because I don’t plan to receive any revenue from this story, it’s really tempting to cheap out on the cover. (Likewise, to skip paying an editor.) But if the story’s purpose is to attract and keep readers, it needs to be shiny and polished—my best stuff.

Ergo, professional cover (and copy editor).

I was thinking about doing a cover depicting the Garden of Eden beneath the arc of fiery angel wings that are the hallmark of my first two covers but Eight Lady Jilly thought that was a mistake.

“I’m convinced,” she said, “that the most effective covers for romance depict the main character.” Her cover for The Seeds of Power, you may recall, features Princess Christal Hollin of Larrochar and it’s worked well for her. Continue reading

Jeanne: Using Instagram to Sell Books, Part 3

Today we come to the paper-pushing portion of this series: how to use the attractive, friendly Instagram account you’ve set up to actually sell books. There are several ways you can do this:

  1. The most direct method is to create a flatlay, an Instagram post that features your book cover with an attractive background and post it. You can include a quote from the book, either as text on the graphic or as comment, but remember that Instagram is primarily a visual, rather than a verbal, medium.

Here’s one for Eight Lady Jilly’s debut novel, The Seeds of Power, that I created back at Christmas:BookBrushImage-2020-2-15-11-1047

 

How, you ask, do you make a pretty picture like this if you don’t have a nice background available? Continue reading

Jeanne: Using Instagram to Sell Books, Part 2

Last week, we talked about how to set up your Instagram account for maximum attraction to book buyers:

  1. Limit yourself to three topics.
  2. Identify and adhere to an overall layout. Good article on that here.
  3. Choose a limited color palette.

This week we’ll add some more pointers and talk about how that may translate into book sales.

First: Build an attractive, friendly profile. Continue reading

Jeanne: Using Instagram to Sell Books, Part 1

IG logoOn Saturday I was asked to speak at a local workshop on the business side of being an author on the topic of Instagram. Although I’m no one’s idea of an Instagram Influencer, and I have no graphic arts skills, I was okay with talking about it because:

a)  I LOVE Instagram. It’s all pictures and no politics. From the first day I joined, back in April of 2016, it felt like a perfect fit.

b) Over the last year I’ve taken a couple of classes on IG, so I know some best practices.

Today I’m going to share some of those best practices with you.

BP#1: Pick a lane or, actually, 3 lanes. Instagram works best if you limit your range of topics. Mine are: my books, my flower photographs and things-I-see-when-I’m-out-walking. Continue reading

Jeanne: When the Going Gets Tough

Shell at KiawahMy elementary school gym teacher was fond of saying, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” I have a variation on that maxim: “When the writing gets tough, writers go on retreat.”

So here I am, very near the end of what has been a really long and painful road to The Demon Wore Stilettos, Book 3 of my Touched by a Demon series. What better way to cap this thing off than to hang out on Kiawah Island, off the coast of South Carolina, with three other writers? So that’s where I spent last week.

(Sadly, they weren’t Eight Ladies, but other writing friends I’ve made along the way.)

I was seriously, truly hoping to type “The End” before we left on Sunday, but that didn’t happen. What did happen was: Continue reading

Jeanne: Excerpt from My Work-in-Progress

Beautiful Woman With Black Short Hair. Haircut. Hairstyle. FringLast week I talked a little about my work-in-progress. This week, I thought I’d share a scene that I find really entertaining. I hope you do, too!

The characters are:

  • Megan Swensen, author of the Dak Whipsnake books, a bestselling series featuring a tough-as-nails private eye who never gives away her secrets. Seven years before the story opens, Megan sold her soul to Satan in exchange for making the New York Times Bestseller list.
  • James Magnusson, Megan’s old boyfriend from college who unwittingly helped her negotiate terms. When he found out what he’d done, he dumped her. He has gone on to become a lawyer.
  • Lilith, a she-demon tasked with collecting Megan’s soul when her deal with the devil expires in a few weeks.
  • Karriel, Megan’s guardian angel.
  • Samael, Lilith’s ex-husband.
  • Satan, Lord of the Underworld.

Lilith stepped off the elevator into the heat of Hell blessing under her breath. What bug did Satan have up his butt now?

She’d arranged to get a color refresh and a trim at her favorite little salon in Mayfair this afternoon. Rex had just finished painting on her custom raven tint when her cell buzzed. She’d been forced to ask him to wash it all out before it had time to process. Outraged, he’d called in his assistant to rinse her, and stalked away. She wasn’t sure who was a worse choice to piss off—Satan or her colorist. Continue reading