Friday, July 4, 2014

HBS Author’s Spotlight – Class of June 2014

This month we have a group of interesting writers with worlds of knowledge and expertise. The author interviews are a MUST read.

Be sure to check out what they have coming next for their readers. I try to pick authors who are interesting studies and ask them unique questions for our Q/A section.

Check out the Showcase feature of the HBS Author's Spotlight. I have included those authors in this class. Also, we have added the Author Bundles we have posted this month.

Thanks to the following outstanding authors for a great month. Here is a summary of our June 2014 crew.

Chuck Barrett

Author Genre: Mystery & Thrillers

Author's Blog: Chuck Barrett
Website: Chuck Barrett
Twitter: @Chuck_Barrett
Google+: Check Out Google+
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Next: A witness protection detail gone wrong - a witness’s identity has been breached

Social media: In the early years I found that my Twitter following and book sales were definitely connected. It isn’t as easy to draw that same nexus these days…

Book signings: Posted on my websites under ‘EVENTS’—here is the link:

Audio books: Audible approached me…Audible has been good at promoting my audiobooks, including giving me promotional codes for giveaways. It has helped my ebook and print book sales as well. I think new authors should let their best judgment guide them on audiobooks.

Ebooks: Ebooks has changed the volume of books I sell, not how I write the books. I don’t write FOR any particular format, I write the story for ALL formats. The boom of ebooks certainly helped with exposure and increased my readership exponentially above print format alone. The overwhelming majority of book I sell are ebooks and that popularity and success has connected me with so many wonderful people.

Giveaways: I see free giveaways of print books as a goodwill and promotional outlet. I do them with each book, but not many. Print books aren’t cheap and it can get costly very fast. Free ebook giveaways are a gamble these days. 3 years ago, I could do a giveaway and then for the next month or so, my ebook sales would be out of sight. These promotional tactics aren’t the boondoggle they used to be, but they still have an impact. They still increase sales.

Blog: I do like to reach out to authors who are struggling with the writing process or the publishing process. I strive to provide them with a little insight to help them through their crunch...whatever that might be.

Reviews: Now I let my readers supply them. My faithful followers will always leave a review and I pick up new readers with each new book. I ask for reviews in social media and newsletters but I don’t hound readers for them—if they like a book and want to leave a review then I’ll leave it up to them.

Author's Book List
Publishing Unchained
Breach of Power
The Toymaker
The Savannah Project

For the rest of the story...View Chuck Barrett - HBS Author's Spotlight

Damien Boyd

Author Genre: Crime, Thriller, Mystery

Author's Blog: Damien Boyd
Website: Damien Boyd
Twitter: @DamienBoydBooks
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Next: I have recently completed a short story that is being serialised in the local papers here in the UK. I am also working on Swansong, which is due out in the summer. I’m not committing to a release date yet but am aiming for the end of July at this stage.

Social media has been all important to me. I started with very little understanding of either Facebook or Twitter but both are the 21st Century ‘word of mouth’ so every author needs to get to grips with them. I started with Facebook and decided to make sure I understood how to use that site before moving on to Twitter. My first media coverage came via Facebook and then it went from there, so it’s fair to say that social media has been vital for me.

Book signings: …people can keep in touch either via Facebook or Twitter or on my blog at

Covers: The best piece of advice I was given when I started out was that people really do judge a book by its cover. It really is that important and so, for that reason, I turned to someone who knows what she’s doing, Rachel Urbanowski at Littera Book Designs. I give her a basic idea of what the book is about and the sort of thing I am looking for and Rachel does the rest!

The advent of ebooks is what inspired me to have a go at writing in the first place. The knowledge that I could write a novel and publish it myself in ebook form gave me the impetus to have a go, and I would encourage anyone who feels they have a book in them to do the same. What had always deterred me before was the ‘finding an agent/getting a publishing deal’ treadmill and all that entails. So, that short answer to this question, I suppose, is that the advent of ebooks changed everything for me!

Giveaways: The first book in the DI Nick Dixon Crime Series, As The Crow Flies, is available free on Amazon, iTunes, Nook and Kobo and for an unknown author like me it’s an ideal way of giving new readers the opportunity to try my work and see if they like it. Finding new readers is always the challenge!

Book launch: I like to trail in advance that it is coming and, again, Facebook and Twitter have been invaluable for that. The local media have also been very kind to me, which is an enormous help. The first thing I like to do is post the first few pages online and then a week or so later, the cover. Then on launch day I will do a short Facebook ad campaign to make sure everyone knows it’s out and then I get on with the next book!

Blog: I try to keep readers informed and involved. They have been kind enough to read my books and so it’s only fair! It’s also nice for new readers ‘checking me out’ to see a good website and an active Twitter and Facebook presence but it’s more about being available to readers who like to get in touch, as many do.

Reviews: I rely on readers to leave reviews as general rule, but I do include a polite note at the end of each book asking them if they would kindly do so. I also posted a note on Facebook giving the link to the review page but now I tend to let nature take its course.

Author's Book List
Head In The Sand
As The Crow Flies

For the rest of the story...View Damien Boyd - HBS Author's Spotlight

Gary Haynes

Author Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Crime

Author's Blog: Gary Haynes - Thriller Writer
Website: Gary Haynes - Thriller Writer
Twitter: @GaryHaynesNovel
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Next: The sequel (to State of Honour) will be out later in the year…The book deals with a massive terrorist threat targeted at military bases in the US. The threat is not what you would expect. There are no suicide bombers or the use of any conventional or biological weapons. My interest in the Middle East comes into play again…

Social media: First and foremost I believe that Twitter is a force for good in the world, disseminating valuable information in real time to a huge audience and I’m grateful to the founders for realizing their vision. Twitter has been very useful in giving me coverage in places that I’d otherwise find it difficult to penetrate…

Tom’s Photo Gallery, a unique feature of the author's website: I’m a visual person and a big film fan. I often go for long walks in the great outdoors and imagine scenes in my mind, both action scenes and dialogue. I will even act some of them out, which can be embarrassing if I don’t see someone coming up behind me. The picture gallery was put together for the reason you’ve stated, namely to give the reader an indication of Tom’s working environment and the threats he might face.

Time management: I try to be an organized person, but I’m far from perfect. I have set times for writing and will often utilize a couple of weeks to just concentrate on a book. But spending time with friends and family is important, as is personal downtime. I don’t see myself as an observer in my working or private life, since the world I write about is so different from everyday life. I have a capacity to switch on and switch off, which is a great stress reliever.

Giveaways: I haven’t given away books free apart from seeking reviews, which is standard. They can be substantially discounted but giveaways are not for me. If you’ve sweated over a novel of 100,000 words or more for a year I believe it has a value. I don’t mind that other people do, of course, but it isn’t something that I advocate.

Blog: Thank you, although I don’t blog as much as I used to. I post my interviews there and write about foreign policy and the Middle East. My blog is part of my website but it appears on my author page and on my Goodreads author page automatically, and I post it on Facebook and tweet it. All my social media sites are connected…

Reviews: I haven’t achieved great success by giving away a NetGalley widget for a review. I rely upon readers to post reviews and I’m always humbled by the fact that they’ve not only bought my book with their hard-earned cash but have also taken the time to post a review.

Author's Book List
State of Honour

For the rest of the story...View Gary Haynes - HBS Author's Spotlight

K. T. Roberts

Author Genre: Humor, Mystery & Thrillers, Romance

Author's Blog: Carolyn Hughey/K. T. Roberts
Website: Carolyn Hughey/K. T. Roberts ~ Romance and Mystery Writer ~
Twitter: @ScribBLINGDIVA
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Next: I'm currently working on Diamonds in the Ruff, the first in a cozy mystery series which takes place in Cape May, New Jersey, a favorite vacation spot for us. The story is about triplet sleuths who return home for their fifth year high school reunion. Awakened in the wee hours of the morning by a former classmate who has found a dead body shoved inside a clothes closet in her room at the B&B when she awakens after a night out on the town, and her jewels are missing…

Social media: I've met so many wonderful people on these venues, connected with long lost friends, and developed new ones. I've found it effective for building a readership. That's not to say it has pushed my sales to best seller status--at least, not yet, but I do find if I advertise, they will come.

Book signings: Since I started writing, I've moved two times. Book signings offer name recognition. I've done library panels as well. Anything I can do to get my name out there, I'm raising my hand. I'm currently organizing a few signings here in Arizona, mostly in a coffee house environment, and I will be signing at the 'Readers for Life' literacy signing at the next RWA conference in San Antonio.

Serials: Actually, I wrote two Kindle Serials. Gossip Girl: Lovers, Liars and Thou, which is a novella, and Murder and Mayhem.

Yes, I think they did have an impact.

Shorty's are not usually my style. I tend to write much longer stories, but my Kindle Worlds had a deadline with a specific wordcount and that's what I did.When Avalon Books was publishing my work, the editor would frequently delete anything over 60,000 words. However, Montlake Romance gives its authors carte blanche.

Support groups: I organized The Write Authors last year. We're a group of seven Indie published authors who attend the book signings all over the valley. The signing at the Women's Expo was the most elaborate signing we've done so far, and I believe I've made some new fans. I'm also a member of Sisters in Crime and attend monthly meetings at Desert Sleuths.

Book launch process: I typically start with the cover reveal on Facebook to get attention, and then I post scenes. I've joined about twenty online groups on Facebook where I advertise twice a week, and also on Twitter. Any more than that is overkill and people stop paying attention to your posts. I also do a blog with excerpts, and post excerpts of all my books on my website. Then, I'll arrange for a book signing and take it from there.

Reviews: As of late, I've been successful in getting reviews from the reading audience. One of the Indie groups I belong to provide a list of reviewers, but they're so inundated with submissions, they don't guarantee reviews.

Author's Book List
Deadly Obsessions
The Last Witness
Elusive Justice
Educating Daphne
Magnetic Attraction

For the rest of the story...View K. T. Roberts - HBS Author's Spotlight

Laurel A. Rockefeller

Author Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery

Website: The Peers of Beinan Series
Twitter: @laurelworlds
Google+: Check Out Google+
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Next: The rumors are correct and I am working on the story of Catherine de Valois, a biography that will challenge everything you think you know about the French princess, queen of England, and Tudor matriarch, especially if you are a devote, as I am, of Shakespeare.

Social media: Like most authors, I use a combination of social media platforms. Across 2013, I focused on GoodReads. But after giving away about 100 copies of my books and receiving only a handful of reviews in return, I found that GoodReads was not the best fit for me…In 2014 I discovered that Twitter gives me the best possible chance to talk to readers and network with other professionals. I know a lot of people prefer facebook for that, but I love how twitter gives me instant engagement without getting bogged down and buried like these other methods you mention.

Interviews: The online UK technology news radio program, TechBytes (produced by Tim Sparrow) will be featuring an interview with me in its next episode (see We will be recording that in the next seven days and it will be live a few days after that.

Covers: I do all my own artwork with my mentor, Tammie Clarke Gibbs, usually giving me feedback on my work before I release a new cover or book. I am completely self-taught on Photoshop (starting with version 1.0) and have used it since 1996 to create and administer over three dozen websites over the last 18 years. Generally I start by licensing one or more images from a major site like BigStockPhoto and work from there.

Book trailers: I actually do not know the impact of the trailers -- except that the music in them (that's me singing on every single one) is very well received. People love that they can hear a song that is part of the actual book or novella, especially in my own lovely soprano.

The four trailers up as of this date were all created with Windows Movie Maker (Windows 7 version). I am looking for a different program to do the next trailer as I do not find the Windows 8 version particularly user-friendly.

Novellas: The Peers of Beinan Series is structured as a series of trilogies, the first trilogy (in process) being "The Legacy of Princess Anlei." Peers of Beinan novellas feature stories that either do not fit into a given trilogy's timeline (but might in the next trilogy) or cover a time that is skipped over for the purposes of pacing -- much like a deleted scene in a movie…

Bundles: Lost Tales is a great companion book to the trilogy. It is filled with stories, deleted chapters, and songs that did not make it into the series in their purest, uncensored and unedited forms. Since it does not directly interlace, but shows more of an "alternate reality" side, I have not really seen impact on sales on the other books. Of course this is probably due to it being a new release; people just do not know about it yet.

Giveaways: In 2013 I gave away over 100 paperback copies of The Great Succession Crisis and Ghosts of the Past through Goodreads with very few reviews to show for the investment, so I cannot say I am particularly happy with the rate of return. By contrast, my free book days and individual gifts for reviews have resulted in far more reviews -- but far fewer than I hoped for. So I cannot say that book giveaways have really achieved much for me.

Software: My data files are all done in MS Word, actually. These were all created to be internal documents to help me keep track of my meticulous world building -- so I would know, for example, that arnile is the Beinarian term for "hydrogen" and that there are 197.26 beinors (Beinarian days) in a yen-ar (Beinarian year).

Supporting groups in need: The easiest way to get involved is to follow each of these wonderful organizations on twitter: @HinH05 for Health in Harmony, @FosterParrots for Foster Parrots, and @arborday. Each of these will take you to their respective websites where you can donate money if you are so inclined.

Author's Book List
Catherine de Valois
The Poisoned Ground
Boudicca: Britain's Queen of the Iceni
The Lost Tales of the Anlei's Legacy Trilogy
The Ghosts of the Past
The Great Succession Crisis

For the rest of the story...View Laurel A. Rockefeller - HBS Author's Spotlight

HBS Author's Spotlight Showcase

Stacy Eaton
Featured Book: Distorted Loyalty

Author Genre: Crime, Thriller and Mystery

Author's Blog: Stacy Eaton, Author
Website: Stacy Eaton
Twitter: @StacySEaton
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Author Description:
Stacy Eaton is a police officer by profession. Currently, she is working as the department investigator and enjoys digging into cases and putting the pieces of the puzzles together.

Stacy resides in southeastern Pennsylvania and is the wife to a police officer and the mother of two. She is very proud of her son who is currently serving in the United States Navy and equally proud of her nine year old daughter who works hard in her Tae Kwon Do studies.

When Stacy is not working her demanding job, or spending time with her family, she works on her business and volunteers with the World Literary Café. When there is time, she writes.

Author's Book List
Six Days of Memories
Distorted Loyalty
Second Shield
Liveon - No Evil
Garda – Welcome to The Realm
Blue Blood For Life
My Blood Runs Blue
Whether I'll Live or Die

For the rest of the story...View Stacy Eaton - HBS Author's Spotlight Showcase

Dawn Greenfield Ireland
Featured Book: Bitter Chocolate

Author Genre: Mystery Thrillers, Fantasy,Professional & Technical

Author's Blog: Dawn Ireland
Website: Dawn Ireland Writer
Twitter: @dawnireland
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Author Description:
Dawn Ireland is the CEO of Artistic Origins Inc, a 100% woman-owned publishing company that has been doing business since 1995. She's the award winning author of The Puppy Baby Book and Mastering Your Money.

Hot Chocolate her new wickedly funny cozy mystery novel is collecting 5-star reviews on Amazon. It is the first in the series, and her fifth novel. Stay tuned for Bitter Chocolate (she posts updates of her progress on Facebook).

Originally from Feeding Hills, MA, Dawn migrated to San Antonio in 1968, then when her first son was one year old (1971) her family moved to Houston where work was more plentiful.

Dawn is the co-author of the animated screenplay Memoirs of a Dog (with Barbara Mackey) which won the Spirit Award of the Moondance Film Festival (children's category) 9/2011. Her dark comedy Plan B was a finalist in the Table Read My Screenplay script competition in 2010. Mastering Your Money won the New England Book Festival eBook category in 12/2008. Melody, A Girl and Her Dog, and Passage were finalists in the Worldfest Int'l Film Festival Script Competition in 2005.

The Puppy Baby Book was proclaimed a finalist in the prestigious IPPY book competition (2001) less than 90 days after publication.

And years before any of these successes, Standing Dead won the Women in Film and Television (Houston Chapter) screenplay award in 12/99.

So many people have asked what she did to win the awards and get so many 5-star reviews on Amazon that she took action: like a good technical writer she wrote a set of instructions. Using PowerPoint creating 177 narrated slides titled How to Publish an Award-Winning Book. This is every writer's personal guide for creating the best book or report without overlooking critical details.

Dawn has been a member and benefactor of Women in Film and Television (Houston) for decades. Her day job is Sr. Technical Writer for an oil company.

Author's Book List
Bitter Chocolate
Hot Chocolate
Mastering Your Money

For the rest of the story...View Dawn Greenfield Ireland - HBS Author's Spotlight Showcase

J.A. Jance
Featured Book: The Old Blue Line

Author Genre: Mystery & Thrillers

Author's Blog: J.A. Jance - NYT Bestselling Author
Website: J.A. Jance
Twitter: @JAJance
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Author Description:
J.A. Jance is the top 10 New York Times bestselling author of the Joanna Brady series; the J. P. Beaumont series; four interrelated thrillers featuring the Walker family; and eight books featuring Ali Reynolds.

As a second-grader in Mrs. Spangler’s Greenway School class, I was introduced to Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz series. I read the first one and was hooked and knew, from that moment on, that I wanted to be a writer.

The third child in a large family, I was four years younger than my next older sister and four years older than the next younger sibling. Being both too young and too old left me alone in a crowd and helped turn me into an introspective reader and a top student. When I graduated from Bisbee High School in 1962, I received an academic scholarship that made me the first person in my family to attend a four year college. I graduated in 1966 with a degree in English and Secondary Education. In 1970 I received my M. Ed. In Library Science. I taught high school English at Tucson’s Pueblo High School for two years and was a K-12 librarian at Indian Oasis School District in Sells, Arizona for five years.

My ambitions to become a writer were frustrated in college and later, first because the professor who taught creative writing at the University of Arizona in those days thought girls "ought to be teachers or nurses" rather than writers. After he refused me admission to the program, I did the next best thing: I married a man who was allowed in the program that was closed to me. My first husband imitated Faulkner and Hemingway primarily by drinking too much and writing too little. Despite the fact that he was allowed in the creative writing program, he never had anything published either prior to or after his death from chronic alcoholism at age forty-two. That didn’t keep him from telling me, however, that there would be only one writer in our family, and he was it.

My husband made that statement in 1968 after I had received a favorable letter from an editor in New York who was interested in publishing a children’s story I had written. Because I was a newly wed wife who was interested in staying married, I put my writing ambitions on hold. Other than writing poetry in the dark of night when my husband was asleep (see After the Fire), I did nothing more about writing fiction until eleven years later when I was a single, divorced mother with two children and no child support as well as a full time job selling life insurance. My first three books were written between four a.m. and seven a.m.. At seven, I would wake my children and send them off to school. After that, I would get myself ready to go sell life insurance.

I started writing in the middle of March of 1982. The first book I wrote, a slightly fictionalized version of a series of murders that happened in Tucson in 1970, was never published. For one thing, it was twelve hundred pages long. Since I was never allowed in the creative writing classes, no one had ever told me there were some things I needed to leave out. For another, the editors who turned it down said that the parts that were real were totally unbelievable, and the parts that were fiction were fine. My agent finally sat me down and told me that she thought I was a better writer of fiction than I was of non-fiction. Why, she suggested, didn’t I try my hand at a novel?

The result of that conversation was the first Detective Beaumont book, Until Proven Guilty. Since 1985 when that was published, there have been 21 more Beau books. My work also includes 14 Joanna Brady books set in southeastern Arizona where I grew up, and seven Ali Reynolds books, set in Sedona, AZ. In addition there are four thrillers, starting with Hour of the Hunter and Kiss of the Bees, that reflect what I learned during the years when I was teaching on the Tohono O’Odham reservation west of Tucson, Arizona.

The week before Until Proven Guilty was published, I did a poetry reading of After the Fire at a widowed retreat sponsored by a group called WICS (Widowed Information Consultation Services) of King County. By June of 1985, it was five years after my divorce in 1980 and two years after my former husband’s death. I went to the retreat feeling as though I hadn’t quite had my ticket punched and didn’t deserve to be there. After all, the other people there were all still married when their spouses died. I was divorced. At the retreat I met a man whose wife had died of breast cancer two years to the day and within a matter of minutes of the time my husband died. We struck up a conversation based on that coincidence. Six months later, to the dismay of our five children, we told the kids they weren’t the Brady Bunch, but they'd do, and we got married. We now have four new in-laws as well as six grandchildren.

When my second husband and I first married, he supported all of us–his kids and mine as well as the two of us. It was a long time before my income from writing was anything more than fun money–the Improbable Cause trip to Walt Disney World; the Minor in Possession memorial powder room; the Payment in Kind memorial hot tub. Eventually, however, the worm turned. My husband was able to retire at age 54 and took up golf and oil painting.

One of the wonderful things about being a writer is that everything–even the bad stuff–is usable. The eighteen years I spent while married to an alcoholic have helped shape the experience and character of Detective J. P. Beaumont. My experiences as a single parent have gone into the background for Joanna Brady–including her first tentative steps toward a new life after the devastation of losing her husband in Desert Heat. And then there’s the evil creative writing professor in Hour of the Hunter and Kiss of the Bees, but that’s another story.

Another wonderful part of being a writer is hearing from fans. I learned on the reservation that the ancient, sacred charge of the storyteller is to beguile the time. I’m thrilled when I hear that someone has used my books to get through some particularly difficult illness either as a patient or as they sit on the sidelines while someone they love is terribly ill. It gratifies me to know that by immersing themselves in my stories, people are able to set their own lives aside and live and walk in someone else’s shoes. It tells me I’m doing a good job at the best job in the world.

Author's Book List
The Old Blue Line
Moving Target
After the Fire
Second Watch
Judgment Call
Deadly Stakes: A Novel
Left for Dead
Birds of Prey
Paradise Lost
Exit Wounds
Edge of Evil
Breach of Duty
Betrayal of Trust
Payment in Kind
Fatal Error: A Novel
A More Perfect Union
Minor in Possession
Improbable Cause
Dismissed with Prejudice
Justice Denied

For the rest of the story...View J.A. Jance - HBS Author's Spotlight Showcase

Laurel A. Rockefeller
Featured Book: Catherine de Valois - The Legendary Women of World History Book 2

Author Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery

Website: The Peers of Beinan Series
Twitter: @laurelworlds
Google+: Check Out Google+
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Author Description:
Laurel A. Rockefeller was born and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska where she received her bachelor of arts from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.

In August, 2012 Laurel launched the Peers of Beinan medieval science fiction Series with book one, "The Great Succession Crisis," book one of the Anlei's Legacy trilogy. In March, 2014 in honor of Women's History Month, she launched the Legendary Women of World History Series of biographical novellas for children, teens, and adults. She is also a regular contributor to Yahoo Voices.

Laurel currently lives in Pennsylvania where she is working on book three, "Princess Anyu Returns."

Laurel donates 10% of her earnings as an author to environmental charities focusing on planting trees, conserving wildlife, and ending animal abuse.

Author's Book List
Catherine de Valois
The Poisoned Ground
Boudicca: Britain's Queen of the Iceni
The Lost Tales of the Anlei's Legacy Trilogy
The Ghosts of the Past
The Great Succession Crisis

For the rest of the story...View Laurel A. Rockefeller - HBS Author's Spotlight Showcase

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