3 Questions Wednesday with PJ Roga

Welcome to 3 Questions Wednesday! Today Inspired Prompt welcomes author PJ Roga.  Thanks for taking the time to join us.

First question:
Who is your favorite author?
PJ: C. S. Lewis. I discovered Narnia as a college freshman. I think we read Screwtape Letters in high school. But Narnia is what got me hooked. I loved the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe from the first reading. (I wasn’t expecting to and was not aware of their popularity at that point. 1969-ish). So my favorite book would be all of the Narnia books (all of them!), and perhaps the space trilogy (go figure).

C.S. Lewis (Jack) was particularly insightful and had a way of communicating truths through story, even in non-fiction. His humor and gentle way of correction (ala Aslan) is far different from the experiences of many of us.

I want to convey truths in my writing in that same way without being “preachy”.

I love the layers of messaging the Narnia series offers readers. Next question…
If you could write about anyone or anything fiction/nonfiction who or what would you write about?

PJ: Probably what I am currently writing — a sci-fi adventure where a planned colonization goes slightly awry and the planners are cut off from their planned utopia.

Sounds interesting, and like a story that could take many twists and turns. Last question: If you could spend time with a character from your book or another book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?

PJ: Aslan. Who knows what might happen during a day with Him, if he isn’t called away? He’s not a tame lion, after all. But I suspect it will be good! “He’ll be coming and going” he had said. “One day you’ll see him and another you won’t. He doesn’t like being tied down–and of course he has other countries to attend to. It’s quite all right. He’ll often drop in. Only you mustn’t press him. He’s wild, you know. Not like a tame lion.” Mr. Tumnus

“Gone! And you and I quite crestfallen. It’s always like that, you can’t keep him; it’s not as if he were a tame lion.”

No doubt a day with Aslan would be an adventure. Thanks for stopping by.

Click to tweet: I discovered Narnia as a college freshman. I think we read Screwtape Letters in high school. But Narnia is what got me hooked.


About PJ Roga

PJ Roga is a  life-long reader of all kinds of stories. Her favorites are the Bible (so many great stories — and they are all true!), The Chronicles of Narnia as well as stories in mystery, science fiction, and fantasy.

In her “real life”, she teaches middle and high school math online. Her hobbies include creating stuff in SketchUp – basic animation and instructional videos on science/technology and history.

Widowed since the early 2000’s, she has five grown children, six adult grandchildren and three non-adult grandchildren. PJ currently lives in west Michigan with her youngest son, her very patient daughter-in-law and a handsome, talented and seemingly normal ten-year-old grandson.

The Most Important Book Release Marketing Secret

by Karen Sargent

When I signed my first publishing contract, I was elated…and petrified. My forever dream of seeing my name on a book cover was coming true!

What could be more exciting for a wanna-be author? The answer is easy. Nothing!

And what could be more terrifying? That answer is easy, too. What if no one buys my book? After all, why would they? I’m an invisible, no-name, insignificant author.

Then, two weeks after I signed my contract, I accidentally discovered the most important book marketing secret. I’m going to share it with you, but before I do, I must ask a few questions.

Let’s pretend your new book releases tomorrow. Who will buy it? Think of five people who will—without a doubt—pay money to read your book. Write down their names, or at least say their names aloud. This is important, so take a few seconds. I’ll wait…

(Don’t read on until you have your list!)

Now that you’ve identified your five people, let’s see who they are.

Is your mom on the list? How about your dad? Cross them off.

Did Grandma and Grandpa make the list? An aunt or an uncle? Cross them off, too.

How about your brother or sister or son or daughter or cousin? Yep. They have to go. In fact, let’s remove anyone related to you.

Mark off your best friend, your neighbor, and your co-worker. Delete anyone in your church or your writing group or your community.

Is anyone left? Do they know you by your first name? Then take them off the list, too.

And now your list is blank. But don’t worry. We’re getting to the good stuff.

Why are you certain those five people will purchase your new release? What is the common denominator?

Those people care about you. They have a connection with you, and they’d be happy to buy your book—even if it’s a bad book.

So here’s the important secret. Book marketing is not about selling books. It’s about building a relationship. Remember the famous line from the movie Field of Dreams? “If you build it, they will come.” If you build a relationship with readers, book sales will come. It’s a 100% guaranteed book marketing strategy. Here’s how I know.

When it was time to query agents, my online presence was lacking. I felt unqualified to start an author website or a writing blog. But, I had two decades of mom experience, and the target audience for my book included moms, so I started a mom blog instead.

By the time I signed my book contract, I’d been blogging for three months and had about 100 followers (who had no idea I had written a book). I couldn’t wait to share my news, so I made a video and posted it to my blog.

My blog followers went CRAZY! By the next day, the video had 1,500 views, my blog followers tripled, and I couldn’t keep up with Facebook friend requests.

What if I hadn’t started that mom blog three months before my contract offer? Who would have cared that a publisher wanted my book? (My mom, my husband, my best friend…) Instead, my publishing journey was crowded with friends who couldn’t wait for Waiting for Butterflies.

There’s more. I revealed my book cover the same day my book was available for pre-order on Amazon, and guess what? More CRAZY. That day is still my second highest book sale day. Once the book released, Facebook friends posted pictures with their copy of Butterflies, along with their reactions once they finished reading, and I hadn’t even asked them to! With each post, I watched Amazon sales increase.

Relationship. If you build it, sales will come. So how do you build it?

Obviously, my Mom blog was a serendipitous beginning (thanks to my severe case of imposter syndrome) that turned out to be a smart accident. If you’re thinking about starting a writing blog or a book review blog, is there a different approach that would target your audience more directly?

Blogging isn’t the only way to build relationships. I cherish the friends I’ve made by interacting on others’ websites, in Facebook groups, and on book launch teams. So if you’re in the habit of stalking those communities, introduce yourself. We’ve been waiting for you!

If building relationships is the most important secret about book marketing, here’s the most important secret about how to do it. You must be genuine. If you have an ulterior motive, it will show.

A rewarding relationship with readers is built just like every other meaningful relationship you have: Give more than is expected. Give without expecting anything in return. When the relationship comes first, book sales follow.

Click to Tweet: “Give without expecting anything in return. When relationship comes first, book sales follow.” ~ Karen Sargent @Inspired Prompt #writetip #marketing

Writing Prompt: Bree didn’t hear him walk up behind her, but she knew he was there.


Karen Sargent is an award-winning author whose debut novel, WAITING FOR BUTTERFLIES, was the 2017 IAN Book of the Year. She writes “stories that stir the soul” with characters whose imperfect faith collides with real-life conflicts. She also blogs at The MOM Journey, where moms aren’t perfect and that’s perfectly okay. Her writing has been featured in Guidepost’s Angels on Earth magazine and Chicken Soup for the Soul, as well as online at Writer’s Digest. A newly retired English teacher, Karen gets her “teaching fix” by coaching and encouraging new writers and presenting workshops at writer’s guilds and conferences. She is a member of ACFW, WFWA, the Missouri Writers’ Guild, and the SEMO Writers’ Guild. Visit her at KarenSargentBooks.com.


Waiting for Butterflies

Longing for her family after her sudden death, Maggie becomes a lingering spirit and returns home where she helplessly witnesses her family’s downward spiral in the aftermath of her passing. Her husband is haunted by past mistakes and struggles to redeem himself. Her teenage daughter silently drowns in her own guilt, secretly believing she caused her mother’s death. Only her five-year-old, full of innocence, can sense her presence. Although limited by their grief and lack of faith, Maggie is determined to keep a sacred promise and save her family before her second chance runs out. A tender portrait of a mother whose love reaches beyond possible, Waiting for Butterflies will embrace your heart and not let go.

LINKS:
Website: http://www.karensargentbooks.com
Blog: http://www.karensargentbooks.com/blog/
Facebook: www.Facebook.com/KarenSargentAuthor
Twitter: www.Twitter.com/KarenSargentBks

Blog Tours

by Harriet Michael

Sounds exciting, right? But what exactly are blog tours and how are they helpful to a writer?

What is a blog tour?

A blog tour is a collection of blogs that agree to write a post about you or information (often about your new book.) This usually happens in a set amount of time, like a week or two with each blog appearance scheduled for a different day. Ideally, you or your new book will be the focus of a blog post every day or every few days for 10-14 days. Often, bloggers willing to participate in blog tours agree to read your book and also post a review on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes and Noble, or some other site.

How is a blog tour beneficial?

The main benefit of a blog tour is online exposure, though a secondary benefit is attaining those much desired, hard to come by reviews of your book. The effect of blog tours on book sales is minimal but to me, the reviews are worth their weight in gold. Blog tours are often utilized as part of a book launch when an author has a new book, but older books can also benefit from tours.

Arranging a Blog Tour

So, this all sounds interesting, how do you get your book into a tour? There are many options available. If you do an internet search you may find organized tours that you can participate in. Or you might want to arrange a tour of your own by asking blogger friends if they would be willing to spotlight your book. Organized tours usually cost to participate in and I strongly suggest if you arrange your own blog tour that you offer some gift of gratitude to your blogger friends who agree to spotlight you—at the very least a free e-book copy to the blogger. This makes it easier for her to also review your book.

My Experience

I have participated in blog tours through Celebrate Lit. They are an organized tour where bloggers agree to participate. Fellow Inspired Prompt contributor, Shirley Crowder is a participating blogger with Celebrate Lit. I enjoyed my blog tour experience. The exposure was nice and the Amazon, Goodreads, and Barnes and Noble reviews priceless! It did have a cost, though. My publisher was able to get a discounted price and I was able to split the cost because my book had a co-writer. Given all of that, I felt it was well worth it but if I’d had to bear the whole cost myself, I probably would have tried to arrange my own blog tour rather than go the organized route.

Writing Prompt: Write a brief (1-2 paragraph) summary of a book you would like to have spotlighted on a blog tour.

Click-to-Tweet: The main benefit of a blog tour is online exposure, though a secondary benefit is attaining those much desired, hard to come by reviews of your book.

3 Questions Wednesday with Linda Rodante

Welcome to 3 Questions Wednesday! Today Inspired Prompt welcomes author and publisher, Linda Rodante.  Thanks for taking the time to join us.

First question:
Who is your favorite author?
Linda: Mary Stewart. She was one of the first to write romantic suspense in the 1950’s and 1960’s, and her word craft is just wonderful—as well as the romance and mystery! Her novels take place in different countries too, opening them up for the reader.

Mary Stewart, a new author to me. I’ll have to check out her books. Next question…
If you could write about anyone or anything fiction/nonfiction who or what would you write about?

Linda: I still love a good mystery—and it feels like adding dessert to a great meal when there is romance, too. Christian romantic suspense is my go-to for reading, and it’s what I write. Christ is all important in each book, and a book can be Christian and full of faith without being preachy.

It’s always good to read other books in your genre. Last question: If you could spend time with a character from your book or another book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?

Linda: I would love to fly into the Indonesian jungles with John Jergenson and spend some time in missionary work there. John is the male protagonist in my first three books. He’s struggling with tragedy in the first book, Amber Alert, but falls in love with Sharee Jones as they work through some misunderstandings and solve a baby’s kidnapping. He’s attracted to her unflinching faith and her get-in-his-face attitude.

In the second book, As Long As You Both Shall Live, John returns from a month-long mission trip to Indonesia determined to ask Sharee to marry him and then go back together as missionaries, but…things happen. Someone tries to kill them, and an old boyfriend of Sharee’s returns. John walks a tightrope as he tries to keep Sharee safe and find out who’s trying to kill them.

In the third book, Splashdown, John and Sharee are finally married but their spitfire romance still has its ups and downs. I don’t want to give too much away, but John is sent back to Indonesia after an earthquake wrecks havoc on the islands. He will need to do some fancy flying to avoid another tragedy in his life. In the States, Sharee weathers an attempted break-in, a tragedy of her own, and becomes involved in a murder investigation. To help solve the murder, I bring together Detective Rich Richards and one of the on-going characters. Lynn Stapleton, which creates a new romance. The book begins with a hurricane and ends with a high-speed chase.

Saying all this, my newest book, ROAR, will be out this month (November), and I am really looking forward to it.

Sounds great. Thanks for stopping by.

Click to tweet: I still love a good mystery—and it feels like adding dessert to a great meal when there is romance, too. Christian romantic suspense is my go-to for reading, and it’s what I write. 


Book Blurb: Amber Alert

Social worker Sharee Jones’ desire for a Christmas program brings her into weekly contact with the one man at church from whom she’s vowed to stay away. Former pilot John Jergenson is just as determined not to get involved with Sharee or her project, but her need for his expertise followed by a number of vicious pranks conspire to change his mind. Then a baby is kidnapped, and Sharee decides to play detective. The ante in life just went up, and John’s about to make a move he never saw coming…

Available on Amazon.


About Linda Rodante

Linda K. Rodante is a lover of sweet tea and lives in Tennessee—a Florida transplant, who loves the seasonal changes in her new state. Her work with crisis pregnancy centers and anti-trafficking groups has given her a heart for hurting women, as well as respect for the role God has given men. Her books wrap sweet romance in real-life issues then add an edge of mystery and suspense. She desires to entertain with a good story while encouraging others in their walk with God.

Connect with Linda here:

A Taxing Situation: Tax 101 for Authors

Let’s talk taxes. Come on, wake up!

I know this is a dry topic but it is one that is crucial to writers, artists, and other people with similar jobs. We like to concentrate on the creative aspects of our jobs and tend to lock the mundane tasks away in a dark cabinet. I would much rather describe the glint of sunlight on a mountain pond than try to figure out what percentage of my recapture on the depreciable property I can claim on my Schedule C or 8829!

I will say right here that I’m not an expert. While writing this article, I had much more technical details and jargon, but I stopped myself. I am not an accountant! I was confusing myself and I know I would confuse all of you. The best thing you can do is consult your tax professional. I don’t know how my air conditioner or car or computer work (other than press ‘On’ or turn the key), so I rely on experts to help me. It is the same with our taxes. Talk to your accountant and make sure you are taking all the steps necessary to protect yourself.

For tax purposes, you need to think of yourself as your own employee. Open a separate bank account from your own personal funds. Find the best organization method for you, whether it is file folders with paper copies of everything you do or a digital system. No one wants to be audited but if you are, you will save yourself the stress and worry by being prepared and having easy access to your information.

The downside to being self-employed – you are responsible for paying all taxes out of your income. With a steady employer, they pay part of your Social Security and Medicare taxes. (Remember the old joke – Who is FICA and why did he take all my money?) As a self-employed worker, you get pay as the boss and the employee! Yeah! This can throw you into higher tax brackets which means paying more money.

There is good news though. Deductions, deductions, deductions! They are a writer’s best friend. By keeping track of certain items, you can reduce the amount you owe Uncle Sam. So what is deductible?

  • One glory of the home office is writing in your pajamas. Another is you might be able to declare the office portion of your home as a deduction. Be honest. If you have a dedicated desk where you work for hours on your craft, you could deduct that. Even a small corner with a desk and chair can count. If you write an occasional article on your laptop sitting on the couch, the deck, or at the kitchen table, you probably cannot use the home office deduction. If you qualify, you can even deduct a portion of your utilities and mortgage payments.
  • Writing a piece on the Corn Cob Festival of Moulton, Alabama? (There is no such festival, but I am going to start a petition to get one!) Travel for research, including mileage, lodging, meals, gratuities, and tickets may be deducted. Keep track of all your receipts! Make notes if necessary. Today you’ll remember this lunch receipt is for an interview you did with an interesting artist or historian for research, but will you remember in three years if you are audited?
  • You will appreciate depreciation. We all have our trusted computers, laptops, phones, and printers. And they all cost us plenty. You can offset the cost of these items by ‘depreciating’ their value. If you buy an expensive new laptop, you can deduct portions of the cost over a period of years and not have to claim the whole expense in one year.
  • Remember I said you were responsible for paying all of your taxes out of your earnings? Here’s a little good news – you can claim 50% of that amount as an income tax deduction. You don’t even have to itemize to take this deduction. It goes on Form 1040 as an adjustment to income. This can save you a nice amount by reducing your taxable income.
  • Health insurance is a must. As a self-employed person, you are responsible for the costs of your own health care, vision care, and dental care. Luckily, health insurance is tax deductible if you are a self-employed worker. If the policy is in your name, these deductions could extend to your family members. This is a wonderful deduction – it could save you thousands of dollars.
  • Are you a member of a writing-related organization or group? Most genres have national organizations for writers, such as Romance Writers of America, The Author’s Guild, or the National Association of Writers. Membership dues and fees are deductible.
  • Do you host a website or use word processing programs or send emails? Silly question, right? As writers, we can deduct the cost and expense of software programs we use to run our business. You can even deduct cell phone usage, as long as it is for legitimate business purposes.

This information is just the tip of a Titanic-sized iceberg. There are so many resources out there for writers! Knowing what deductions are possible can save you money – hundreds, even thousands. So find yourself an accountant you like, track your expenses, and stay organized! Uncle Sam will appreciate it as much as you do!

Writing prompt – Caroline put her head down on her desk and squeezed her eyes shut. Adding the numbers again would not help. No matter how many times she refigured, the total was the same. How could she tell her boss she had lost $150,000.00?

Click-to-Tweet: The downside to being self-employed – you are responsible for paying all taxes out of your income. A Taxing Situation: Tax 101 for Authors by Cammi Woodall via @InspiredPrompt