Friday, February 13, 2015

Friday Feature and Thoughts On the Meaning of Love

I normally don't post on Fridays so don't be surprised if this post is still up for next Monday!  But there was no way I would miss out on a chance to host Kelly Hashway's cover reveal for her hot new release, Looking For Love published under her other pen name Ashelyn Drake.  Kelly was part of the first group of people I met within this amazing community of authors.  She is a very talented and dedicated writer and I am looking forward to reading her new book!


Fans asked, and Ashelyn Drake agreed. Mike from the Campus Crush companion series needed another story. The final installment of the Campus Crush series, Looking For Love, will release on March 17th. Because this is a companion series, the books stand on their own and do not need to be read in order.

Right now, you can read the other books in the series for FREE. Find them on Kindle and Nook as individual books

or all together in one boxset. (The boxset does not include Looking For Love.)

And now for the cover of Looking For Love!

Mike Hannigan is looking for love in all the wrong places. Maybe that’s because having his heart torn to shreds by who he thought was the perfect girl left some emotional scarring. But that’s about to change. 

Summer Patterson isn’t like anyone Mike’s dated before, and he can’t help but be intrigued by her. Now if only he could keep his foot out of his mouth long enough to win her over. But when a secret involving Summer brings Mike’s past crashing back to the present, he’ll need some backup from his best friend and wingwoman, Mindy, to sort out the mess.

Will Mike find love before he leaves Timberland College for good?

Add it on Goodreads.

*This is a New Adult title and is not suitable for younger readers.*

Ashelyn Drake is a New Adult and Young Adult romance author. While it’s rare for her not to have either a book in hand or her fingers flying across a laptop, she also enjoys spending time with her family. She believes you are never too old to enjoy a good swing set and there’s never a bad time for some dark chocolate. She is represented by Sarah Negovetich of Corvisiero Literary Agency.

My Thoughts on Love

In celebration of Valentine's Day, I am sharing my thoughts and experience, so far, with love.

Ever since I was 15, I have been "in love" with the idea of "love."  Seriously.  This was also the same age I began my first relationship with a guy who not only was my lover, but became a kindred friend for years to come.  He was my high school sweetheart and I was infatuated with him.  This person was also four years older than me but his charm, wit, looks and humor won my parents over.  He also treated me like a princess. 

Sadly, I did what every young, frivolous girl did and left my high school sweetheart for the bad boy from Brooklyn, New York.  Yep, this born and bred South Jersey girl decided it would be a good idea to go AOL and meet up with a drop-dead-gorgeous Italian guy who's charm and lips could melt the panties off of any girl.  Remember those AOL days?  When our computers had to dial up and it took FOREVER to connect.  My, how the times have changed!

Needless to say, I was blinded by a lifestyle I had only read articles about in magazines like Vogue and watched on shows like Sex and the City.  My heart was in the wrong place and by the time I was a freshman in college, I was burned by this guy's temper and cheating ways.

Obviously, the two of us didn't work out so when I entered my freshman year of college, my self-worth was at an all-time low.  And I only wanted to be "loved" and "adored" by men so I let them take advantage of my most sacred gifts.  I didn't love myself back then so how in the hell could I expect someone to love me?

I had been abandoned by my biological father (still am) because he chose his new wife and kids over me.  I guess some people never really mature or learn how to love, even when they are almost 60 years old.  My other dad who was there for me until I was 17 was shot and killed.  I entered college a year later and no longer having him in my life left me broken, alone and damaged.

I believe something catastrophic happened to me which finally woke up my soul.  I had been in a tumultuous relationship with someone who actually did love and adore me for five years during my 20s.  However, since I didn't have much love or respect for myself, I often took advantage of this person.  I was empty inside and unable to give him the love he deserved. 

So when my old high school sweetheart died of a brain aneurism six years ago, I knew things had to change.  His birthday would have been last week on February 7th and he died on February 6th.

I had been estranged from home until this person died.  But his death brought me back to my hometown and friends I hadn't seen in years.  It also brought my sister and I closer because my high school beau was like a big brother to her.  She was there in the hospital, sitting next to me, while I held his hand on the very last night he took his last breath.  She was also there as I sobbed for hours that same night while we looked through my old photo albums of me and him.

Watching him die erupted chaos within my soul.  But it wasn't bad chaos.  It was like my soul was shifting in more ways than one and I didn't know how to control it.  And as silly as this sounds, deep down, I knew exactly how to control it.  I had to change.  I had to follow my heart.  I had to learn what the word "love" really meant before I was ready to love someone again.

This started with loving myself.  And by loving myself, I had to follow my passion of writing and becoming a children's book author.  For the first time, I put my career and studies ahead of anything else.  My mind became stronger because instead of constantly battling with my heart, the two were working together.  My mind was at ease because my heart started listening instead of being destructive and impulsive.

Fast forward to the present and learning how to love myself, I have finally found the love of my life.  We have been together for almost four years and our love grows stronger as each day passes.  He makes me want to work harder and push myself toward all of my dreams and goals.  When I am wrong, he doesn't let me get away with it.  We talk, compromise and don't let things go unsettled.  He holds me, warms up my car and shovels it out of the snow in the winter, cooks for me, buys me flowers, and makes sure to text me with an "I love you, XOXOXO" text every single morning.

We met on almost five years ago but were not romantic in the beginning.  He often pursued me but I still wasn't ready for a relationship because I wanted to continue on my publishing path first.  We were friends for a long time when suddenly, during a marathon we ran together, something sparked inside of me.  While we were running side by side, sweating out all of the sweat and glory, it suddenly dawned upon me.  He was the one.  My runner.. my lover.. my handsome man.. my rock.. my best friend.

Here we are running at the Long Branch marathon down the shore.

So my final thought on love this Valentine's Day is to love yourself before you try to love someone else.  And when we love ourselves, we have passion for success, family and our inner and outer skin.  Many years are wasted when we try to fill our empty voids with love.  Instead of doing this, fill it with dreams, goals and passion.  Fill it with love for who you are and what you do for this world.  Then, you will find the love.

And if you have been married for one, two, ten, thirty some years, congrats!!  You obviously know what you are doing.  Hugs to you all and have a safe and warm Valentine's Day!  And Liz, I hope you don't get anymore snow!

What are your thoughts on love?  What are you doing for Valentine's Day?
Don't forget to grab Kelly's new book, Looking For Love, once it is released.  I hope you all do! 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Lowering the Cost of Our E-Books to Boost Sales and One Lovely Blog Award

I use Twitter on a daily basis and I see many authors lower the normal cost of their E-books in order to possibly boost sales.  I've done this once last year for my children's book.  The Kindle copy of my picture book is always 2.99, however, last year I decided to lower the cost to NOTHING for one whole week.

"Does she mean, FREE?"

Yep, I sure do!

I know you are wondering if this helped generate more downloads from Amazon... 

Yep, it sure did.

Did I feel good about having to give my beloved children's book away for FREE?

No, I surely did not.

I understand this is a way to spread word about our work as authors but I have been thinking a lot about this lately.  Only because I was debating on doing another FREE promotion.  And when I saw my Twitter feed blowing up with fellow authors giving away their books at either a lower cost or for nothing, I changed my mind.


Because I don't think we should have to lower the bar when it comes to our most prized possessions.. our books.

I know some of my readers will disagree and that is absolutely fine.  But my reasoning for not wanting to engage in such promotions any longer lies within the hard work and dedication that is put into creating a picture book.  My sister, who illustrated my book, worked four months on the images to breathe life into them.  And it took many edits and time to make my story perfect before being published.

And then there is all of the time I dedicate to school author visits and volunteer work.  I think about the commitment I made to this industry and how far I have come.  I have built my brand from the ground up so why should some people get to download my book for free while others have to pay for?

I have written one novel but this is a far cry from being ready for publishing.  But once it is released, I am still unsure if I will ever lower the price from its original cost.  I think about the mornings I woke up at 5am so I could write before the day job.  I think about the weekends I spent indoors while people were out and about.  I think about the heartache, the ups and downs, the pulling of hair, the fights and chaos going on inside my head which my characters created.

Are these things worth being paid for once the final product is polished and released into the world?  I think so. 

Plus, I feel like there are tons of people on Twitter always looking for a handout.  When they see #FREE or #GIVEAWAY, they immediately click on the link.  So when authors tweet the actual cost of their books, I think those people who are always looking for FREE are less inclined to pay for something.

And asking readers to pay anywhere from 2.99 to 8.99 for a Kindle copy of our books isn't too much, is it?  We are providing them with entertainment, laughter, cries, and experiences, hopefully, they will never forget.  Should these gifts be offered at a lower price? 

What are your thoughts?  I'd love to hear them!

Last week, I was nominated by C. Lee for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award.  Thanks, Lee!  I'm honored.


Rules for this AWARD.

1. Thank the person who nominated you, and link to their blog. 
2. Display the award logo. 
3. Nominate at least 15 other blogs (more or less) and provide 
a link where they may be found.
4. Then, go to their blog, leave a comment to let them know they have been nominated, and where to find the information they need to accept (rules).
5. Mention three things that inspired you the most during the past few weeks.

My Three Inspiring Things for the Past Few Weeks.

1.  I attended the Celebrity Read Kick-off breakfast hosted by United Way.  There were big time people who were also there and it was nice to celebrate the fact we would all be participating in a shared goal... to inspire children, especially within low income schools, to read and write.  I'm visiting six schools this month!
2.  I gave a brand new pair of ski gloves to a stranger because he needed them more than I did.
3.  My muse is hounding me which is lovely!  I've finished two children's book manuscripts in just two weeks! 

My Nominations.

1.  JcCee Barney
2.  Joy Ezeka
3.  Sandra Cox
4.  Quanie Miller
5.  Kelly Hashway
6.  Claudine Gueh
7.  Paula Reed
8.  Christina Z
9.  Liz Blocker
10. Crystal Collier
11. Sarah Boucher
12. Meradeth Houston
13. Beth Ellyn Summer
14. Chrys Fey
15. Marc Kravets

Monday, February 2, 2015

Monday Feature and the Power of Unleashing a Positive Presence

Last week I featured C. Lee McKenzie's epic new release, Sudden Secrets on my blog.  I started reading Lee's book last night and I love it!  I'm halfway through and plan on finishing it today since the snowstorm has provided me time off from the day job. 

Today, I am celebrating Medeia Sharif's new book, 52 Likes.  I've added her book to my TBR list and from reading the blurb and seeing the cover, 52 Likes seems like an intriguing story.

You can enter below for a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card and a Kindle copy of 52 Likes!


52 LIKES by Medeia Sharif
Cover Reveal, Evernight Teen, 2015

After a brutal rape and near-murder, Valerie wants to get past feelings of victimhood from both the assault and her history of being bullied. She’s plagued by not knowing the identity of her rapist and by the nasty rumors in school about that night. Valerie follows clues from ghostly entities, past victims of the rapist-murderer, contacting her through a social media site—why do all of their eerie photos have 52 likes under them? Their messages are leading her to the mystery man, although he’ll put up a fight to remain hidden.

Find Medeia – YA and MG Author

Blog   |   Twitter   |   Goodreads   |   Instagram   |   Amazon

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I am also celebrating the power of doing positive things for others.  For instance, this morning, a man was shoveling around our building but wasn't wearing any gloves.  Even now, as I gaze out of my window, the snow and freezing rain continues to coat the bitterly cold ground.  This man was so grateful when I offered to give him a new pair of ski gloves.  He refused to take them at first, however, I insisted on him keeping them and he did. 

You should have seen the look on his face.  It was like he had won the lottery and my heart melted along with the icicles hanging from my front porch.  The gloves were very expensive but the only thing that mattered to me was this man's fingers to be kept warm as he carted away the boundless sea of heavy white.

Last week, I was invited to an event hosted by United Way.  I worked with them last year as an ambassador for literacy while volunteering to be a Celebrity Reader for low income and inner city schools.  Some of these elementary schools are located in the most feared neighborhoods in New Jersey. 

I am working with them again this year and will be visiting five schools for the month of February.  These children are searching for inspiration without even knowing it.  All they need is a seed planted in their minds that they are capable of following their dreams.  As I sit in front of them not only as a children's book author but also a mentor and friend, their faces light up with possibilities.

One of the senators who spoke at the United Way event last week revealed that children who have poor reading and writing skills by the time they reach 4th grade are more likely to be arrested or do drugs when they are older.  If these little ones had more positive role models in their lives to show them there is an endless wave of promise outside of their current surroundings, they CAN and WILL succeed by choosing the right path. 

When I was little and I wanted to escape from whatever was ailing my mind, I would dive into a book. Reading takes us to far away places and helps broaden and strengthen our own thoughts and ideas.  When you tell this to the kids, they agree and are more inclined to read and write books.

I am not getting paid for these visits nor will I be making any book sales.  I am volunteering and no amount of money can reward me with the feelings I am left within my heart after spending time with these children.

As authors and writers, we have the power to inspire others.  And for me, this is such a blessing.. a true gift.

Do you believe in the power of putting out positive energy by doing good things for others or your community?  What has inspired you lately?  Will you be adding 52 Likes to your TBR list? If so, don't forget to leave Medeia a review.  I am sure she will appreciate it!