What’s New–and Free–Wednesday

I’m trying to turn over a new leaf and blog more regularly, so since Wednesday is usually when the unexpected happens I’m starting here with a new feature on anything I find New or Free. Yeah, I know that sounds oxymoronic to start something on the day of the week I can usually control the least, but I’m always up for a challenge. So, here’s a potpourri of things I found interesting and/or free that I thought y’all might be interested in seeing, too.

Make Your Own Pallet BookshelfThis first idea is one that involves repurposing items with a little ingenuity and creativity. So items get recycled instead of ending up in landfills. I love projects like this–especially when you can get the materials cheaply or for just the cost of hauling it away for someone who doesn’t want the stuff anymore. This is a “Make Your Own Pallet Bookshelf” and a mini-tutorial can be found online–just Click Here

Adult Coloring PagesAre you a little stressed, and feel you need to let your inner child out to play? Well, go to Zen Downloadable Color Pages for Adults to not only find intricate color pages to make you forget your stress as you fill in the spaces with crayons, colored pencils or ink–but the site also gives a bit of information about why these kinds of designs help calm the soul.

If you want more coloring options, Mum in the Madhouse has a whole blog page full of downloadable coloring page options for every kind of taste and talent. Check it out and see 🙂

Carina Press is Celebrating their 5th Anniversary with a Giveaway on their blog. Check out the great books on offer and sign up for your own chance to win.

And if you’re looking for Free Mysteries to read over your summer vacation, Amazon’s Free Mystery Pages offer hundreds of great choices right now. Just click Next Page to get to the next set of books in the list.

I’m going to be looking for new things to send out next week. Let me know if you know about something you think I should include in a coming post.


Great Day Today for Blog Giveaways!

I’ve noticed several great blog posts today that also offer wonderful giveaways. If you have a few minutes, give these blogs a read and if you like the authors’ books sign up for the giveaways 🙂

Sparkle Abbey writes terrific humorous cozies that throw a spotlight on some fabulous dogs and cats who play key roles in the story lines. The authors (the books are written by a two-woman team) are at The Seekers Blog today, speaking to unpublished and wannabee authors about voice, and giving away a copy of one of their books to a lucky commenter.

Krista Davis is over at the Escape With Dollycas blog and not only talking about THE DIVA STEALS A CHOCOLATE KISS, but how one of her characters came to life on the page. This is one of my favorite series, and I always love the entertaining tips and recipes Davis shares within the story. Her publisher is also giving away two copies of the book to a couple of lucky fans–go check out the blog and scroll down for the entry info.

At Lori’s Reading Corner, Alexandra Forry talks about the importance of book covers and offers a brief beginning excerpted from her latest book TIMELESS ENDINGS. Also, there’s a Rafflecopter drawing to enter, and the winner will win a signed copy of this new book. Read the Blog and Enter Here:

Okay! That should make everyone’s coffee breaks more interesting today. Have a good one, folks!

More Great Reads, Contest Fun and Prizes

A lot of great new contests and giveaways have started up lately, and this is the third blog I’ve written on this subject in the past week. If you didn’t read the other blog posts, scroll down to look them over as some of the contests mentioned have long entry periods, and the book blogs mentioned have new contests all the time. But in the spirit of new opportunity, here are a few more sites to check out, and these links are the kind that have giveaways pretty regularly.

Dru’s Book Musing is a great reading site that offers unique and fun info for fans, and giveaways as well. Features include A Day in the Life, that lets secondary characters in books take the spotlight to reveal more of their personality and voice, cover reveals of new and upcoming books, book reviews, and giveaways provided by authors and/or publishers. All you need to do to enter is leave a comment on the blog page–but these contests are quick to close, only open until noon the following day, so move quickly to get your chance at a favorite author’s book.

Shelley Giusti  started her blog almost two years ago, and she’s ready to celebrate. She posted first thing Monday, March 10th saying, “I will be promoting this early — On Saturday Lorna Barrett will be hosting the Book Trivia on my blog. Guess what book she is talking about and you will receive an ARC copy of the book!”  Here’s the link to that blog if you want to check it out  www.shelleyreadsandreviews.blogspot.com Shelly also schedules a Saturday Book Trivia, with last week’s contest hosted by Joyce Lavene. Don’t miss it!


There are a number of other bloggers who host blog tours, and not only give readers opportunities to learn more about favorite authors and their books but also win new books by those favorite authors. Most of the contests are quick, however, to get your entry in as soon as you can, and the best way to do that is to subscribe to your favorite blogs. Here are a few more to check out:

Cozy Up with Kathy , Melina’s Book Blog , Thoughts in Progress , and Socrates Book Review

And don’t forget group author pages like The Stiletto Gang and Jungle Red Writers. You win with great blogs to read several times each week, plus know right away when one or more of the authors decides to run a new contest for fans.

Happy Reading!

More Ongoing Giveaways

I love when the seasons start to change, and new books come out, and new contests crop up on the horizon. Here are just a few contests going on right now. Some of these sites, like Lori’s Reading Corner, have book giveaways almost every day of every week, so keep these web addresses in mind when you want to check back later.

From March 7-21 to Nancy Cohen is offering chances to win one of four signed ARCs of Hanging By A Hair in her Goodreads Giveaway. Here’s the link for that giveaway, http://bit.ly/15SmIi0 or you can to the contest page on her website at  http://nancyjcohen.com/fun-stuff/contest/ and click the Enter To Win button there.

Lori’s Reading Corner offers a great place for readers to read guest posts by their favorite authors, and get the chance to win a copy of a new release, too. I guest posted on this site last week and offered a giveaway of my latest book Organized for Murder with the contest giveaway running until March 18th  Organized for Murder giveaway ). But I’m far from the only author who does this. Right now, on the main page at  http://www.lorisreadingcorner.com/  are links for guest posts with giveaways to Laura Bradford’s newest Amish mystery, Peg Cochran’s gourmet cozy, a new fantasy by Barbara Kloss, and a frightening new tale, Above by Isla Morley.

Regency author Ella Quinn is offering a terrific prize today on her blog — but you only have today and tomorrow to enter. Win a ticket for a seat at Eileen Dryer’s table at the Barbara Vey Luncheon and a copy of Quinn’s The Temptation of Lady Serena. All you have to do is leave a comment on the contest page  http://ellaquinnauthor.wordpress.com/2014/03/09/sunday-news-36/ saying why you want this prize. Easy, huh?

The Escape with Dollycas site also offers regular guest posts and giveaways. The current is The Winter Ghosts by Kate Moss, but that’s not the only book promotion going on right now. This site offers a wonderful assortment of blog tours, with schedules posted, so readers can not only follow favorite authors from one blog stop to the next, but enter to win copies of newly released books all along the way. Check out this link  Great Escapes Book Blog Tours  for all current and upcoming book/blog tours. Page down to find interesting blog tours and click the book cover to get more details.

Finally, Wendy H. Jones is giving away a Kindle Fire preloaded with 26 books at her blog site. The URL on this site does show it’s a U.K. site, so this may be just for British readers, but you never know. Check it out yourself and enter at  http://wendyhjones-bookaholic.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/kindle-fire-giveaway.html.

Good Luck, and Happy Reading!

Why Two is Better Than One–And a Giveaway

I’m over at Lori’s Reading Corner today, blogging about books and authors that shaped the way I write. I also give the evidence behind the title I used for this brief post. So if you’re curious, or have a couple of minutes to spare, check out the blog post at Lori’s. There’s a Book Giveaway, too–a copy of ORGANIZED FOR MURDER–so be sure to leave a comment at the Lori’s Reading Corner blog to enter!

Here’s the link to the blog:

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Reviewing December–Diary of a Debut Fiction Author

If you follow me on Twitter https://twitter.com/RitterAmes or FaceBook  https://www.facebook.com/ritter.ames or subscribe to this blog (go ahead, it’s free, and I tell you about authors giving away free and discounted stuff when I learn about it), then you know that my first fiction novel COUNTERFEIT CONSPIRACIES was released December 1, 2013. This isn’t going to be a sales pitch, I promise, but it is going to be kind of a recap on some of the things I learned about marketing a new novel.

FIRST: Everything every author says about having to spend as much or more time marketing your book is absolutely true. In the month of December I worked pretty much ten hour days because I had so many things to do all at the same time–and none of it involved Christmas tasks. I’d started building my name’s presence on FB this fall, but now I spent time each day posting and sharing other authors’ info because they were so good to post and share about my new release.

Reciprocating is everything, people. When a couple of authors needed book reviews fast to get up to the magic 10 reviews on Amazon, so they could attempt to get PR on any of the many daily newsletters on ebooks, I read and reviewed their books. One did the same for me. That author also became a great friend for sharing other PR info, and I shared with her. This is the best way to get the word out about a novel, folks. So reciprocate, even if it seems time-consuming, because it also helps you build a kind of PR posse to help keep you on track and act as a sounding board when if feels like too much time is spent for too little gain. Good profile shot of Tower Bridge

Yes, you will feel like you waste time, sometimes, but you have to keep going because you never know what will be the thing that gives you some much needed press you didn’t expect. I blogged a lot on London, for example, and used pics of our last trip there to give visuals to what I wrote.

counterfeit conspiracies giveawaysRight before the book launch, my publisher held a couple of weeks of contests to introduce all of us new authors, and bring out the latest releases of established authors signed with the line. I wrote a blog post for my book’s day for that contest to introduce readers to both me and my novel, and got a lot of new FB friends that way. I also gave away a handmade bracelet with charms that tied back to the places and events in the novel and a fun NanoBlock of Big Ben.

In the days following the launch I gave away a lot of books. I gave away review copies to get some buzz started just ahead of release, and after I sent ebook copies to bloggers who were interested in giving me an opportunity to post on their blogs. I sent print copies of books to people who helped in the writing and brainstorming process, and I gave away copies to some of my nonfiction writing clients to thank them for keeping me in food and utilities while I also pursued my fiction dreams after writing their contracted material each day.

I contacted bookstores and had a couple of great signings. I didn’t realize how good the first one was until I talked about it later. Besides spending a few hours getting to talk to good people and connect with good readers, I made a nice chunk of change that covered my travel expenses, too. I also connected with local schools, to volunteer to come in to talk about writing as a career, and was contacted by the local university after they’d heard about me. When I received the spring calendar for my local Vo-Tech, and noticed they were advertising for people to teach their craft, and also noticed there was nothing scheduled for mystery writing or freelance writing, I made a successful call there, too.

All the time I was doing all of this, I was 1) doing final edits/revisions from my editor on the first book in a second series that was originally due out at the end of January, 2) actually writing the sequel to the book mentioned in 1) that is also due by the end of January, and 3) writing and brainstorming snips and pieces, as well as researching locations and ideas for the sequel to Counterfeit Conspiracies, as said sequel manuscript is due mid-summer 2014. If you bought an ebook copy of Counterfeit Conspiracies you probably saw the first scene of that book added as a teaser at the end. It’s titled Marked Masters, and will take our favorite characters to a couple of places in Florida, more than a few in Italy, and also back to London. Fun to plan and research and write, but time consuming and not great on the focusing abilities when so many other things are on my to-do list at the same time.

As an after-Christmas deal, my publisher ran a special on eight books in the line–mine included–and I had a whole new marketing model to work from. Of course, the problem with all those daily “get this discounted book now” e-newsletters is that too many are already booked up way in advance. Still the kind people at ReadCheaply liked that my debut novel hit in the low 30s with readers in the International Mystery & Crime category (the book even went as close as 7700 from #1 Kindle Book–that’s really better than it might sound), so shoehorned me in for a spot on their Dec. 28th listing and newsletter.

Around the same time, I was lucky enough to gain a blog post opportunity from Dru Ann Love to do a Day in the Life twist on one of my secondary characters who doesn’t usually get her point-of-view heard in my novel  http://drusbookmusing.com/2013/12/24/cassie-dean/ . Blog posts are crucial to getting the message out about your book, and I can’t thank people like Dru Ann enough, as well as Lori’s Reading Corner http://www.lorisreadingcorner.com/?s=Counterfeit+Conspiracies , RP Dahlke’s  http://allmysteryenewsletter.com/ and an opportunity soon by Lori Caswell in her blog http://www.escapewithdollycas.com/ . These bloggers don’t just post blogs about the books, they also tweet on the novels and post on FB about the new reads. All that cross-posting is critical, and allows authors to share and retweet the information, too.

While I only had to write a blog post for Dru Ann, part of my marketing tasks each day was looking for blogs that already addressed the audience I expected would like Counterfeit Conspiracies. That can be tough if you don’t already subscribe to blogs in your genre. Luckily, I already anticipated this, and get daily blogs from a lot of wonderful bloggers. I’ve not only found great new authors this way, but it helped me narrow down my marketing when I had to do this myself last month.

I also learned from other authors how a little blatant self-promotion goes a long way (I reeeeeealllllyyyy don’t like to do this, and have to make myself). One author I follow on FB & Twitter, JB Lynn, is a great model. I stole ideas for contests from her, and followed her example about posting reader reviews on FB. She also regularly puts her sales stats up, so readers can know how they’re helping keep her books in the rankings. I couldn’t bring myself to do that as often as she did, but on the last day of December I did a thank you to fans on my FB page by posting:

This was better a second ago, but then I let the page go before I went back and grabbed the stats–silly me. Still, I’m pretty jazzed about ending the year (and my very first month of fiction sales) still in the top 100 for Amazon rankings in “International Mystery and Crime”. The novel even went to the low-30s ranking in this category. And It Was All Because Of You Great Readers Out There! THANK YOU! Amazon Best Sellers Rank:      #25,326 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)      #87 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Mystery > International Mystery & Crime      #96 in Books > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense> Mystery > International Mystery & Crime

And I was surprised to see that sales jumped again after that post. It’s like people were waiting to see if the book was a winner, despite the contests and the blogs and the 5-star reviews.

Now, I’m cruising a little because I have to get the sequel finished to the second series, the Organized Mysteries, I have with this publisher. The first book in this Organized series, ORGANIZED FOR MURDER, is set for a late-February release. It was originally set as a January release (as I mentioned above), but my publisher agreed it was better to go with it later to put it nearer to Spring Cleaning season. I’ll give a big reveal on the cover (so cool!) soon, and start blogging soon on great organizational tips and give some excerpts of the book ahead of the release.

Since it’s a cozy mystery series, I’ll also have the opportunity to do a blog tour for this one, so that’s more excitement, meeting more great readers, and more PR writing to look forward to in the last week of February and March.

So, when you meet authors and think they may not sound as excited about all the hoopla as you think they should, please understand–we are, but we’re really tired. New book releases are kind of like life with new babies–sleep becomes something we vaguely remember, but there’s always so much to do before we can nap.

CONTEST! This weekend only!

All the posting I’ve done recently about contests makes me want to do a giveaway myself. I wanted to do one where I could hear everyone’s stories, and make it tie to the good feelings of the holiday season. The recent kindness of a friend helped me determine exactly what to do.

 Maria Grazia Swan is an author with an absolutely beautiful soul. I recently needed “almost immediate” copy editing for a writing project. Despite the fact that she’s just as busy (if not more) than the rest of us this time of year, Maria stepped up in my hour of need. She not only noted specific problems, but found someone in Belgium to quickly review and vet the revision.

Besides being a wonderful friend, Maria is a fabulous author. Her recent release Gemini Moon is the first in a new series featuring Lella York. This is a wonderful suspense ride that starts in Italy, then takes us to Lella’s home in Southern California. The descriptions are marvelous, the characters believable, and you’ll feel you’re right there looking over Lella’s shoulder.

And you can be there if you win! I’m giving away two print copies of Gemini Moon. One here, and one on my FB page at https://www.facebook.com/ritter.ames. All you have to do to enter is tell of a time, recently or in the past, when someone did something especially nice for you. It can be a huge thing or small, but it was something meaningful to you and your situation. I’m not looking to embarrass anyone, so you can keep the details sketchy and use only first name(s) of your benefactor(s)–or no names at all. I simply want to give everyone a chance to spread joy and get the opportunity to win a terrific novel at the same time.

The contest will run from today until noon PST on Sunday, December 22, 2013. I’ll post the two winners’ names here and on my Facebook page Sunday afternoon. All you have to do is post your story in the comments section of this blog.

And yes, you can enter here and on my Facebook page to have an even better chance of winning!  Just leave an FB comment telling your story there, too.