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Friday, March 6, 2015

Honey, I'm home #CastleDreams

For the moment, let's pretend this place is mine.


I'd like to imagine the wonderful days I'd spend walking (or riding) the grounds, roaming through the nicely appointed rooms - hey, if there isn't Louis XIV furniture in this place, I'm not staying there - being waited on hand and foot by servants.

Ah, the life.

Let's be realistic though. It probably costs a couple of million just to heat the place in winter, tend to the grounds and fix all those crumbling old stones, but one can dream, can't they?

Unless I can wave my magic wand or cast a spell, a place like that isn't in my future. However, for one of my newest characters, Becca Salt, it might happen.

Note, I said might. You see, Becca's a bit of a lousy witch even though she owns and operates a makeover service for supernatural beings called From Crud to Stud. When the going gets tough, she usually has to ask her mom for a little advice when it comes to potions or spells that work. Just ask Eric, a descendant of Cupid who comes to Becca's place for a makeover - not to suppress his beast - to release it. Seems Eric's just too nice of a guy when the ladies want bad boys.

Not Becca. She thinks Eric's great just as he is - hot, funny, tall, and built for action.

Freeing the Beast, book one of my Taming the Beast series is out March 10. Here's the cover art and a blurb to give you an idea of the story. 



Blurb:

No more Mr. Nice Guy.
Taming the Beast, Book 1
Magic is Becca Salt’s business, but it ain’t happening in her bedroom. The half-witch proprietress of From Crud to Stud performs miracle makeovers for paranormal creatures. Once she’s done with them, they’re out the door hunting for hot babes, not hanging around for a too-curvy, plain Jane like her.
Her newest client is hot, hung, mouthwatering perfection. What could she possibly improve upon?
Eric Diletto. Descendant of Cupid, bred for courtship, courtesy, and all that other gentlemanly junk. What has it gotten him? Dumped time and again for bad boys. He needs Becca’s help for an entirely different reason—regression therapy to release his inner beast. Grrrr.
Two potions later, they’re crawling all over each other. Becca aches for a man who loves her as she is, not because he’s under the influence. But Eric isn’t as impaired as she thinks. And he intends to take Becca here, there, and everywhere—anything to convince her his desire isn’t just the potions talking.
Product Warnings
 
A witchdoctor’s nightmare. Contains potions with weird side effects, a sorceress with limited magical skills and a yearning heart, plus a minor god who wants to get down and dirty. Bad, bad boy!

About Me (You know you want to know!):

I’m an award-winning, bestselling novelist in erotic, paranormal, contemporary and historical romance for Samhain Publishing, Ellora’s Cave, Siren Publishing, Booktrope, and Kensington. Yay! Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly, Romantic Times and numerous online sites have praised my work, and trust me, I’m forever grateful for that. I’ve had my books reach finals in the EPIC competition, one title was named Book of the Year at a review site, and others have won awards in RWA-sponsored contests. I’m actually featured in the 2012 Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market. Talk about feeling like a freaking star. Before my writing career, I was the editor of an award–winning Midwestern newspaper and worked in Story Direction for a Hollywood production company. Outside of being an admitted and unrepentant chocoholic, I’ve flown a single-engine plane (scary stuff), rewired an old house using an electricity for dummies book, and have been known to moan like Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally whenever I’m eating anything Mexican or Italian. Yeah, I like to eat (burp).

You can check me out here – yes, I am everywhere!  J

Amazon author page: http://amzn.to/1ChWFkO
My page at TRR: http://bit.ly/1vb7eEc
EC Author Page: http://bit.ly/1Dh9wor
Samhain Author Page: http://bit.ly/1Bvw6mL
Sweet ‘n Sexy Divas: http://bit.ly/1ChWN3K
Romance Books 4 US: http://bit.ly/1JPtfeS



Thursday, March 5, 2015

Spring Rituals...



This month, the sun will pass across the Earth’s equator on March 20 at 6:45 EDT and in the Northern Hemisphere, the moment will be known as the Vernal Equinox. Literally translated, equinox means equal night but most people mark it as the beginning of spring and a time when the days will start becoming longer. More sunshine; hallelujah!

I start planning what to buy for my flower and herb gardens long before the first daffodils are peeking through the snow. Invariably, I will have whole clusters of the little yellow beauties pop up, only to be covered by a couple of inches of snow but I don't mind. They are the first glimpse of what is in store for the coming months and I couldn't be happier.

This year, lavender and rosemary are at the top of my list along with some basil for the pesto we enjoy all summer and there’s nothing like fresh mint. If you’ve never grown mint before, be forewarned, you need to contain it or it will take over your garden.

As much as I enjoy my gardens, it’s also time to go through the closets and cull clothes, books and whatever else I thought I couldn’t live without last year but haven’t used since I made that decision. Most of the time, my house-cleaning efforts are laughable. I have been known to name the dust bunnies but for some reason spring brings forth a bout of cleaning that has my husband scratching his head and planning a fishing trip.

I enjoy my little rituals; my familiar touchstones that give me a sense of accomplishment and a new beginning. The old ones celebrated the Vernal Equinox with rituals that some call magic and some just describe as the old ways. Before they welcomed the new they banished the old with a ritual that said good-bye to winter and welcomed the spring with wine and honey cake and a blessing for the work to be done and the strength to do it.

Maybe I’ll start a new ritual and end my cleaning and planting with a little reading vacation. A good book, a glass of wine and a little honey cake sounds like a fabulous reward for all of the work I have planned.
What about you? Do you have any seasonal rituals that usher in the coming season? I’ll leave you today with a delicious recipe for little honey cakes that are made in muffin tins. Just in case you feel like celebrating.

Honey Cakes

½ cup honey (fresh local honey is best)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup brown sugar packed
½ cup butter (real butter is best)
1 egg
2 cups flour (I prefer the unbleached)
½ teaspoon baking soda
Approximately 2 Tablespoons milk

Sift flour, cinnamon, and soda together in small bowl. In large bowl cream butter and sugar. Separate egg. Add yolk to butter and sugar mix and set white aside for later. Add honey gradually to butter mix. Stirring until blended. Fold in flour mix slowly. Add milk as needed so that the batter is stirable but thick. Whisk the remaining egg white to a stiff froth and fold gently into the batter. Fill muffin tins ½ full. Sprinkle a little sugar on the tops. Natural brown sugar works wonderful. Bake at 425 for 15 -20 minutes.

***I used a dark muffin tin in an electric oven and the result was not wonderful. If you use dark pans I recommend knocking the temperature down to at least 400 and check them after 10 minutes.

Have a glorious spring, whatever you have planned!

Happy Reading…
Paris Brandon

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Reflections & Springtime by Rose Anderson

We have a broad theme this month that spans castles, flowers, and gems. Readers are sure to enjoy our different spins!

Because I'm sitting here with a howling snowstorm out my window, my offering today will touch upon springtime.

In Greek mythology the forces of nature were usually overseen by some god or goddess or some monster or the other. Forces of nature were also personified by a different sort of being -- the Nymph. 

Technically, nymphs were not gods, nor were they immortal like the gods. They did eventually die, but in their death, they most often went through a transformation.
The myths are filled with nymphs giving up their lives to transform into trees, plants, water and stone. Nymphs were the embodied aspect of earth, their essence and being tied to the water, air, and trees, etc. in which they lived. When I think about their transformation, Newton's First Law of Thermodynamics comes to mind -- energy only changes form, it never disappears.

Allow me to paint you a picture with words.

Long ago in the wooded mountain glades of Greece there lived a Nymph named Echo. Echo was as lovely as the other Nymphs who lived their lives in the foothills below Mount Olympus, but she had one undesirable trait. You see, nothing pleased Echo more than the sound of her own voice. Worse, when others managed to get a word in edgewise she had to have the last word.

The goddess Hera, busy as she was overseeing the sanctity of marriage, often appreciated Echo's distracting chatter and found the chatty Nymph quite amusing with
her endless stream of gossip and anecdotes. It didn't take long for Hera's philandering husband Zeus to use this distraction to his advantage. The moment Echo began her chatter, he knew his wife's attention wouldn't be on him, so he took himself to earth to seduce mortals and ravish Nymphs.
 
Of course, Hera eventually became aware of his new round of infidelity. Needless to say, she was furious. It was useless to vent her anger on her husband. As ruler of Mount Olympus, he was pretty much above reproach. What's a goddess to do? Pass the buck. Convinced Echo intentionally created a diversion for Zeus, Hera focused her wrath on the Nymph by ripping the voice from Echo's throat. Hera told her, "You shall forfeit the use of that tongue with which you have cheated me, though you shall still have the last word." From that day on, all Echo could do was repeat another's last word.

Years before Echo's fateful punishment, a boy was born to Leirope, a water Nymph who had been seduced by the river god Cephisus. She named her especially beautiful son Narcissus. Concerned by the fact he grew more handsome by the day, Leirope went to the oracle to inquire about her son's future and was told he would live long provided he never knew himself. Vague answer that. Coming to know oneself occurs whether we want it or not. At age sixteen, Narcissus was loved and desired by all men and women who set eyes upon him. This he knew, and knowing it made him vain. In his vanity he rejected all those who loved and desired him, and as a result, many hearts were broken.

Echo, like so many others, had fallen desperately in love with Narcissus. Helplessly obsessed, she followed him everywhere hoping for the opportunity to tell him how she felt. 


One day Narcissus heard footsteps behind him but turned and saw no one. Walking on, he heard it again. This time he said, "Who is here?"

"Here." came Echo's reply. 

"Show yourself!" He demanded.

"Self" was all he heard.

And so it went throughout the day. Echo, frustrated by the fact she was unable to declare her love, rushed forward and threw her arms around the beautiful object of her obsession.
Repulsed, Narcissus shoved her away and demanded she leave him be.
Echo was devastated.

She wasn't the only one suffering from unrequited love for Narcissus. One day, a shunned maiden uttered a prayer that he might feel what it was like to love helplessly with no return of affection. The goddess Artemis heard the plea and answered. If there was one thing the gods enjoyed more than anything, it was exacting revenge on a whim. She caused Narcissus to fall in love -- with himself.

To set her revenge in motion, Artemis saw to it that Narcissus grew thirsty.
To quench this thirst he sought a clear pond and bent to drink from the water's edge. There in the water he saw a most beauteous sight and instantly fell in love. Over and over he tried to touch the object of his longing not realizing it was his own reflection he saw. Each time the image poured through his fingers. Enraptured, he couldn't tear himself away and the oracle's warning came to fruition. Thoughts of food and rest forgotten, Narcissus longingly gazed on his reflection until at last he perished. There was nothing Echo could do but watch.

But the story wasn't over.
When the Nymphs heard Narcissus had died, they came to place him on a funeral pyre. But all that remained of Narcissus was a patch of beautiful flowers as lovely as he had been in life.

As for Echo... Brokenhearted, she wandered the mountain glades until she faded away. To this day all that remains is the echo.

~۞~

Thomas Bulfinch was my early introduction to the myths and I just loved it. Read about Echo and Narcissus in his The Age of Fable or Stories of Gods and Heroes. Download Bulfinch's fantastic works for free at Project Gutenberg:
http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/search/?query=Thomas+Bulfinch

What about springtime? According to the myth, Narcissus gave his name to those spring flowers we all love so well. The family of Narcissi (the amaryllis family) includes jonquils, narcissus, and showy daffodils of all shapes, sizes, and colors.  The ancient Greeks and Romans favored Narcissi in all their varieties and filled their gardens with them. The Romans took them along as they conquered the known world.

The American Daffodil Society
http://daffseek.org/

I love spring flowers.
To me they represent the end of winter. Snowdrops will bloom first and I planted them right outside my door so I will be sure to see it. To me this means spring is on my doorstep. I've grown giant amaryllis, pots of small paper whites and an assortment of daffodils over the years, both indoors and out. I just love bulbs of all kinds. In fact, I have a house full of blooming hyacinths right now. (The heady perfume is a little cloying at this stage). In the upper Midwest, bringing a little springtime indoors does much to chase winter blahs.  What flowers do you enjoy? What brings thoughts of springtime to you?


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About Rose
Rose is a multi-published, award-winning author and dilettante who loves great conversation and discovering interesting things to weave into stories. She lives with her family and small menagerie amid oak groves and prairie in the rolling glacial hills of the upper Midwest.



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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Interview of Author D'Ann Lindun

Today I'm pleased to present an interview of romance author D'Ann Lindun.

Latest Book: Cowboy Up
Buy Link: Amazon

Video Link: http://youtu.be/rx_7yEPql0U


BIO:
Falling in love with romance novels the summer before sixth grade, D’Ann Lindun never thought about writing one until many years later when she took a how-to class at her local college. She was hooked! She began writing and never looked back. Romance appeals to her because there's just something so satisfying about writing a book guaranteed to have a happy ending. D’Ann’s particular favorites usually feature cowboys and the women who love them. This is probably because she draws inspiration from the area where she lives, Western Colorado, her husband of twenty-nine years and their daughter. Composites of their small farm, herd of horses, five Australian shepherds, a Queensland heeler, two ducks and cats of every shape and color often show up in her stories!

Q: How did you celebrate publishing your first book?
A: My daughter took me to Red Lobster. She’s always been my biggest supporter. It meant a lot to celebrate with her.

Q: What’s your writing schedule like? Do you strive for a certain amount of words each day?
A: No. It’s all over the place. One day I’ll write all, day. The next not at all.

Q: How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?
A: A lot. My characters are almost always horse riders and western women.

Q: Of all your characters, who’s your favorite, and why?
A: I don’t have a favorite. That would be like picking a favorite child—impossible.

Q: Do you eat comfort food/listen to music when writing?
A: Of course! I listen to Kid Rock every day! LOL

Q: Give one advice tip to an aspiring author.
A: Learn the business. Don’t just jump in and hope for the best!

Q: If you could give a younger version of yourself advice, what would it be?
A: Don’t be afraid to take chances. That fear held me back from chances I now wish I would have taken.

Q: What genre would you like to try writing that you haven’t yet tried?
A: Western historical. I grew up in the heart of the old west. I have at least on historical in me, maybe more!

Q: Out of your entire backlist, which book has the best opening line? What's the line?
A: This one won the Authonomy contest last year out of almost 800 entries. It’s not backlist though. It’s an unreleased manuscript.

Confluence, Colorado.
Tiny. Beautiful. Safe.
Not the kind of place where women vanished into thin air.

Q: How many stories are swirling around in your head? Do you keep a mental list, a computer file, or a spiral notebook filled with the ideas?
A: A million! They’re in my head!

Fun Stuff:
Q: What is your favorite holiday and why?
A: Christmas. I just love everything about it.

Q: What are two things people might be surprised to know about you?
A: I coached national level horse knowledge bowl for 16 years! I’ve always wanted my cattle ranch.

Q: As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A: A fashion photographer. A journalist.

Q: Favorite food.
A: Supreme pizza.

Q: Favorite happy memory.
A: Riding horses with my pop!

Q: Favorite drink.
A: Diet Cherry 7-Up.

Q: Hot summer days or chilly winter nights?
A: Hot summer days!

Q: What is the top thing on your bucket list?
A: To see Kid Rock in concert.

Q: If you could have a super power, what would it be?
A: To be able to make people fall in love!

Tell us where to find you: website(s), publisher’s page(s), blog(s), Facebook page(s), etc. List them all!
dldauthor@frontier.net
http://dlindunauthor.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/DLindunAuthor
https://twitter.com/DLindun
http://www.amazon.com/DAnn-Lindun/e/B008DKL9TU

BLURB:
Freedom or family? Only love can make the choice.

Photographer Alannah Murphy refuses to be tied down. She watched her parents struggle to hold onto their dairy farm until it killed them. The mere thought of the same fate makes her shudder. When she meets rancher Sterling Gentry she has to face her fears, or lose him.

Sterling Gentry longs for someone to hand his ranch down to. Like his father before him, he has sacrificed everything to hold onto the land his ancestors settled. But finding Ms. Right proves harder than he imagined. Then he meets Alannah Murphy with her big city ways. How he can ever take a chance with a woman exactly like his mother, who abandoned him when he was a child?

Despite their determination to stay the course they’ve each chosen, attraction pulls them together as steadily as a nail to a magnet. Can these two find a way to mesh Alannah’s need for freedom and Gentry’s desire to hold onto his land?

EXCERPT:
Still snapping photos, the woman approached him. When she came within speaking distance, she waved. “Hello.”

“Who the hell are you? And what are you doing in the middle of the road? Don’t you know better than to stand in the way when somebody’s herding stock?”

Her mouth opened and closed a couple times. “I didn’t think—”

“Hell no, you didn’t think,” Gentry shouted. “Damn it anyway.”

“I’m sorry,” she said in a small voice. “The shot was just so good…”

The shot? She’d ruined hours upon hours of exhausting work because she’d wanted a picture? Who the hell would do something so stupid?

Only a damn greenhorn.

For the first time he noticed her get-up. A straw hat only a city girl would wear, floaty pink top with tiny straps that left her bare shoulders exposed to the unforgiving Arizona sun, cut-off jean shorts and red cowboy boots. Daisy Duke personified. He shook his head in disgust.

Reality crashed over him.

The New York photographer his mother had enticed out here, hoping an article in The Cowboy magazine would bring attention to the Santa Gertrudis cattle they raised.

Damn.

Monday, March 2, 2015

If You've Never Seen a Castle...

Happy day two of March! Seeing Saint Patrick's Day on the calendar brings to mind the color green, four-leaf clovers, fairy folklore and castles. I haven't visited Ireland so have seen none of the castles there, but I came pretty darn close back in 2011 when my husband and I spent two weeks traveling through Scotland and Wales.

From London we traveled by train to Edinburgh and stayed there for three days. 
View of Edinburgh Castle from Prince Street
View over a cannon from Half Moon Battery
 
The rest of our two weeks we spent driving from eastern to western Scotland and down the length of Wales back to London with no defined route in mind. Our goal was to see the countries, meet people, traipse through as many castles as we could fit into two weeks AND not forget what side of the road we had to drive on! 


A surprising result of all this traipsing is that no story ideas popped into my head. I wasn't thinking like a writer; I just took in the sights, amazed that I was traveling through countries with centuries of history. When we visited a castle my thoughts always went to what it must have been like to live there, trudging up hundreds of stairs, inching across narrow battlements and trying to stay warm!
 
                      Loch Lomond, Scotland's Midlands 

So today, as a nod to the castles of Ireland and Scotland, I'm going to share pictures and whereabouts of those we visited.

                    Beaumaris Castle, Northwest Wales, on the Isle of Anglesey
              

Ava Fychon, the female protagonist in Almost Taken, the first book in my historical romance Almost series, hails from Wales, (I had to say that!), specifically, the Isle of Anglesey. So when I saw Beaumaris Castle (beau marais, fair marsh), I felt a connection to it because of the research I'd done about this northern area of Wales. 

The English monarch, Edward I, ordered this castle to be built. Begun in 1295 it was never completed because of dwindling funds and supplies. But even unfinished it is quite remarkable and the only castle we saw that had a moat.


Dumbarton Castle, Scotland, WNW of Glasgow was a stronghold from the 5th century until 1018 and an important refuge for royalty.
It's built on volcanic rock....
 and overlooks the Firth of Clyde

More than 200 steps gets you to its highest vantage point. As I walked those steps I thought about the men who had to do this day in, day out. They must have had some awesome thighs! They were climbing on the original Stairmaster machine.

                                                                  
This is Caenarfron Castle, Northern Wales. A military stronghold, seat of government and a royal palace.


Caenarfron houses the Regimental Museum of the Royal Welch Fusiliers, Wales's oldest regiment, and in my husband's opinion, the castle's star attraction



Conwy Castle, Wales, (pronounced Conway) is built on a rock. Its towers are only 8 of the 22 that surround the city of Conwy, known as The City of Walls.

Inner Ward












Harlech Castle, Wales 
Another with 150+ steps to get to the top. Well worth the effort to see this view!


Stirling Castle, Scotland
 famous for its statue of Robert the Bruce...
and view of the William Wallace monument (on the center hill)

Below is a photo en route to Cardiff Castle, southern Wales. The white dots aren't specks on the camera lens - they're sheep



Cardiff Castle


me on the castle's walkway - I have no idea why  I look so goofy!


the Royal quarters





And one more. We almost overlooked the tiny sign for this one as we were leaving Scotland and entering Wales. Muncaster Castle and Gardens is a privately owned castle in Cumbria England. Muncaster boasts the World Owl Centre, one of the largest owl refuges in the world. Of all the castles we visited, I was most surprised by this one. 



Scotland is a country my father always wanted to visit but never did. His birthday is the 19th of this month and will be the first in my life that he's not here to celebrate. I dedicate this post and his love for Scottish bagpipe music to my dad, Walter.

Street musician, Edinburgh


Any castle sightings of your own? Stories inspired by those sightings and visits?

Polly posts on RB4U's blog on the second of every month. You can find out more about her and her books at her website: www.pollymccrillis.com
Check in on Tuesdays for a new blog post every week: http://pollymccrillis.com/blog.html

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Welcome, Cris Brashear from Samhain Publishing

Please say Hi! to Christina Brashear, the powerful force behind Samhain Publishing. 

Bio:     I came, I saw, I conquered. Or was conquered. It’s a toss up.”
Christina Brashear, as the President and Publisher, is the driving force behind the inception and growth of Samhain Publishing, Ltd. She can be reached by email through: publisher@samhainpublishing.com
Blog: http://www.samhainpublishing.com/news (I’ll be launching in the coming months a personal blog the url will be: www.betterthanphychotherapy.com. It’s for fun.)


What made you decide that you wanted to start your own publishing company and what motivated you to get involved in the romance industry?

I loved my job. When my time at the previous company for which I worked was over I realized I didn’t want to leave this industry and all the wonderful authors with which I worked and played. I just couldn’t see going back into the corporate world of an IT department or computer operations. When your job makes you happy, do what you need to do to keep doing it! Also, I didn’t have a choice; the authors said I had to start a publishing company.

As for the romance industry specifically, who doesn’t love romance! Romantic fiction is about emotion, a kind of study of our society and how we live in our time. If you want an idea of what was like for the merchant class in the Victorian age, read a Jane Austin book. Of course, with all fiction, you take it with a grain of salt as we write how we want things to be not always the way they are, that’s why it is fiction. Reality can be harsh and when I read fiction, ninety percent of the time I’m going to go for a romance book because I want to read about how people feel and how they come to a happy conclusion as their lives together are launched.

For me, it’s also a study of the human condition through entertaining means. How does this slightly broken person overcome the adversity they suffered to connect with another slightly broken person and reach a point where they accept who they are and can move forward. I love reading a well crafted characterization and the journey from alone to a pairbond.

Can you describe what you do as part of being the owner/publisher of Samhain?

I answer a lot of questions. The buck stops with me, so I have to be available to all departments for decision-making or assisting with their deciding what direction to take. I like to hire people who are smarter than me, give them the tools they need to do their job and then be their sounding board and provide direction as needed.

Really, when I think about it my job mainly consists of looking out for the interests of the authors who have entrusted their work with Samhain. What are the best deals for marketing, advertising, audio rights, translation rights, print production, digital and print retailers and distributors? I have to look at everything and make judgments on the viability of a new relationship or evaluate an existing one to make sure it’s still the best for the authors’ works. I review our publication contract and make adjustments every few years so that we are keeping up with legal language the changes in the industry bring. We have to make sure that the copyright for the works are as protected as they can be. I also am the oversight for distribution of money. Samhain pours the majority of its minor share back into the company and my job is to make sure that it is spent in the most effect way to bring in more sales and new customers.

I also travel. A lot! I love hanging out with authors and some seem to like to hang out with me, too. ;) I tend to vent aloud what-if concepts that spark storyline and plot ideas. I also feel compelled to feed authors, so you can usually count on a meal if it’s that time and you’re orbiting me.

Since I’m from an IT background, I tend to lean heavily toward the latest and greatest in software. I believe computers should work for me and not me for them. I like to find software that does as much of the routine work as possible, so that the team has time to focus on more important matters, like connecting with customers, developing strategies to expand sales, and how to make the authors happy.

Also, I am usually the one who heads up the new website development. I’m really excited about the new site that launched in October. While it’s a little bare-bones at the moment, it’s a powerful platform that we can build out a fabulous system that will be like an iceberg; so little seen up top, but so much down below. I’d wax on about the plans, but I think people just get bored. Kind of like when I start explaining the royalties process, eyes glaze over. :-/

What's one important thing you've learned about your job as you became more 
 involved in it?

The same thing that I’ve learned with every job: it’s all about the customer service. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about a “real” customer, the type from whom you are hoping to receive money or the type that’s the concept of treating your coworker like a customer. If you treat everyone you encounter as if they are a customer, you get what you give. You get what you give—if you’re dismissive and rude, you are going to get that in return and who wants to do something for someone like that? I look for a way to say yes when ever possible. If it can’t be yes, then I look for an alternative solution. I don’t like to say no, no is a stop and you can’t grow and expand when you’re constantly stopping.

How do you handle complaints/negative feedback from readers/authors?

I have a really deep pond. :-O

Seriously, I take their complaint into consideration, after culling away the emotion usually accompanying the feedback. What can I do to fix this or make it more palatable? How can I make this situation better for all parties? Where are we failing the reader or the author and how can I make it right for them and Samhain both?

The hardest thing for anyone in customer support to do is learn how to ignore the emotion that comes through from the frustration the customer is experiencing. It can come in the form of passive aggressiveness to outright belligerence. Learning to really understand it’s not personal, it’s not about you, can time some effort, but once you reach that nirvana, you’re like Teflon and can wade into any situation and find a way to resolve it.

What do you consider the best way for an author to do promos?

It varies from author to author, from genre to genre. And it’s yet to be discovered. There is always something new on the horizon. The next great thing, way to connect to another human being, is just around the corner.

I can say that more paper is thrown away after conferences than tchotchkes give-aways. All the money authors spend on cards and bookmarks and whatnot just makes me sad. I think it’s better to spend the money on one good item that someone is going to keep with them and have in their line of sight long after the event is over than it is to spread it out over cardstock and paper items which are sacrificed for room in the suitcase for books and get left behind for the hotel room service person to discard. Also, all the dead trees make Samhain …er me sad.

I’m still trying to learn how to make to-do lists. And to actually check them. I have to accept I am not going to remember all the things I have to do and I have to be more diligent about making lists and looking at them. That’s a recent realization about my job.

Chats. How important do you feel it is for authors to take part in chats on loops or at other romance sites?

I can only answer in concepts and theories as I haven’t interacted in social online settings in years and am not up on how well attending these types of events are. If they are well attended by a base of readers, it’s great. If it’s just buddies or fellow authors supporting each other then it’s a waste of time. Your time is more valuable than money, spend it wisely. Authors do need to connect with the readers who enjoy their work and who want to learn more about them. Authors also need to connect with new readers who are looking for the style books they write to expand their reader base.

I do advise be aware of how you might be perceived, as it has been my experience from observing poor behavior and the consequences that follow, it’s best to maintain an online personality, an author persona, that is benign and fun but doesn’t hit any hot buttons. It goes back to the treat-everyone-as-a-customer philosophy: don’t argue and don’t engage in a no-win. No-wins are debates that could alienate simply because your position isn’t inline with their position on any given topic.

Don’t give you away, keep the up a mystique like the fantasy life people dream authors live, you know the bon-bon-eating, feather-boa-wearing, writing-from-a-huge-canopied bed, castle-dwelling author persona for the public. Keep the real you private for your own sanity and safety. Most author write under a penname so they can have that level of distance, but I have seen so many crossing those lines in my years in the business and it frequently does not end well. Leave them wanting more.

If you can do that, and find sites that have people who want to engage with authors, it’s a great way to introduce your work to new readers and to interact with the loyal readers.

Please add anything else you feel is important.

Write because you love it. Write to please yourself. Don’t be afraid to fail, it’s how we learn and grow. Speak well of yourself, shut down the negative voices in your head. Take a walk. Drink more water. Smile, we’re only here for a little while.

Pleased add your bio and the place online where people can find you:

Christina Brashear is a veteran of digital publishing, having begun working in the industry at the turn of the century. As President and Publisher, Christina is the driving force behind the inception and growth of Samhain Publishing, Ltd.

Christina’s goal when founding Samhain Publishing was to establish an author-friendly publishing company where literary artists can express their creativity in a safe environment where they receive professional editing, help from a supportive marketing and promotions team, and a business-oriented operations team to handle mundane tasks. This allows authors to flourish by focusing on what they do best: writing.

As a voracious reader herself, this was not done out of altruism, but so these wonderful stories concocted in the fertile minds of creative people would come to fruition and be available to Christina and others like her who enjoy non-standard takes on traditional tropes.

Christina is always open to ideas and suggestions and can be reached by:
Twitter @crissyb65
Visit SamhainPublishing.com and find something great to read!

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