#MKTG – Part 7 – In-Person Events #BookFestivals

Jan Sikes wrote a great blog on live author events for Story Empire. Thought I’d share it.

Story Empire

Hi, SE’ers! It’s Jan again to talk about another marketing opportunity for authors.

COVID put a halt to in-person events for authors for a full year, but things are now back in full swing. I did three this year with great results. People seem hungry to get out and about.

The first event was on Memorial Day weekend at the Lone Star Book Festival in Seguin, Texas. The location is about a five-hour drive for me, but Texas is a big state.

What I want to talk about here today is the nuts and bolts of doing an in-person event.

First and foremost is how your table appears.

Here is mine from the May event.

Photo by Jan Sikes May 30, 2021

You will notice I have two banners. One is a table runner and the other is a vinyl banner with grommets for hanging. Later, after this photo was…

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Okay, try, try again

The nice thing about having long time friends is that they can give honest opinions, and I know it’s because they want the best for me. The cover I shared didn’t cut it, so I went back to the drawing board. When Kensington designed the covers for my first six books, on most of them, they showed the setting where the murder took place. For my first book, Jazzi and Jerod found their aunt’s body in a trunk in an attic. In the second, the body was buried near a wetlands, etc. In this book, the body’s found in the trunk of a vintage Buick, but it’s near Jerod’s dad’s car repair shop. Not the background I wanted, so I left it plain. A mistake. So I decided to use the round barn that Jazzi, Ansel, and Jerod are flipping for a friend. And all of a sudden, I liked the combination. It combines enough different elements of the story, I’m happy with it. I hope this one’s a keeper.

Cover Reveal

I’m up to 45,000 words on Jazzi and Ansel #8. I’m still liking this book, which usually isn’t true at this point. Usually, I’ve hit my soggy middle, and I’m fussing. And sometimes, being happy with a book is good. And sometimes, it’s not. It worries me when I’m too happy with a book. I worry I’m missing things and being too complacent. I guess you can never please a writer:) I fuss when I’m struggling and I fuss when I’m too happy. What can I say? Anyway, I came up with a cover I like, so thought I’d share it. I still have a decent amount of words to put on paper, but having a cover gives me a lift. So here goes: George, the pug, loves being a star:)

One More Try

I’m a glutton for punishment. I want to give Vella one more try. I like the IDEA of a serialized story. I had fun loading one or two chapters on my weebly website when I had it, and my followers seemed to enjoy it, too. Vella is sort of the same concept, and this time, I’m going to write the story as I go. And I plan to enjoy myself.

My maybe not-so-brilliant idea is to work on Jazzi and Ansel during the week and to play with my Vella story on the weekend to post at least one chapter a week. If I can write a few chapters ahead, I should be fine. And if you’re shaking your head at me, I don’t blame you. But I have a story idea I like. Here’s a tiny tease.


Chapter 1

Sylwan rubbed sweat off her brow with her wrist.  She’d pulled her wavy, dark hair into a knot, to keep it off her neck.  It was early in the day and already hot.  She’d milked the goat and was getting ready to make cheese while Gudwif pickled vegetables from the garden.  Coblyr was adding more thatch to the hut’s roof when he called down, “Someone’s coming out of the woods.  He’s heading toward us.”

The two women stopped their work and stepped past the animal shed to see who was coming.  Someone young, not very tall, and he was swaying and stumbling as he neared them. 

“It’s Bronson!”  Coblyr scrambled down to them and rushed to his nephew before he fell.  The boy threw himself into his arms.  Sobs shook his body.

Sylwan and Gudwif ran behind Coblyr and stared at the smears of dirt and streaks of blood that covered him. 

“What happened?”  Sylwan stared at his bare feet and pajamas. 

“A monster.  It came from the water.  We ran outside to see who was screaming.”  His teeth chattered and he buried his face in Coblyr’s tunic. 

Voice gentle, Gudwif asked, “What kind of monster?”

“As tall as Sylwan, and three times as long, with a long tail.  Big jaws.  It snapped up people and ate them.”  He shivered.

“My brother?  Your family?”  Coblyr’s voice shook, but he held the boy close, trying to comfort him.

A tear made a trail down his cheek.  “Everyone was running, but no one was fast enough.  Mom made it inside the house.”

Gudwif’s expression looked hopeful.

“It broke down the door.” 

Ooh La La!

Grab a glass of ice water before you read any further, because we’re going to talk about SEX. No, not any favorite positions, but about WRITING it. It’s not my top skill. I manage, but just, and thankfully, it’s not allowed in cozies. But my friend, Julia Donner, writes Regency romances. And let me tell you, those aristocrats had no shame. And she writes steamy scenes REALLY WELL. So I invited her here to tell you about it. Her latest Regency comes out November 30, and I’ve had a chance to critique it, and I think it’s her best one yet!

Evelyn Archambeau, the Duchess du Fortier, doesn’t feel like a dowager. She’d been a child bride when her late husband had her spirited out of France to save her and their son from the guillotine. Preoccupied with the mysterious past of her companion, Daphne, Evelyn thinks herself content lavishing her affection on family and friends. She never considered remarriage or entanglement in sordid affairs. Then she’s introduced to the Marquis of Bellingham. 

When a series gets as long as 14 books, it’s time to start thinking about a change-up. I used to try to read or scan at least 10 books a week. Now, I just don’t have the time. With the exception of keeping up with history, my joy and the necessity of reading widely has become increasingly narrow. The business of taking care of 30 books of my own and writing more sucks up the four-letter T word.  

Nowadays, I still seek out the unusual plot, because, let’s face it, there is nothing new under the sun and the staggering numbers of digital books coming out every year lends itself to repetition. And there are lots of repetitive stories, partially due to reader preferences and forced sales in popular genres.  

To boil it down to a gob of grease, I’m gravitating to books that really capture my interest. I’m no spring chick and often seek stories in the vicinity of my age group. (Like Judi’s newest, Posed in Death.) Only the very young think that love and sex end after 40. It never ends. I learned that from working in nursing homes when I was in my late teens. And I don’t know if it’s still the case, but Florida retirement communities had some of the highest rates for STDs in the nation.  

 So, I’ve written a Regency with a “mature” couple. A subplot is connected to a younger couple, but mostly it’s about two people, set in their ways, resigned to being alone later in life. As it so often happens, and did happen to me, a soul mate shows up unexpectedly.  

When a Marquis Commands will be released on 11/30/21 and is available for pre-order. I love the cover Casegrfx created, which helped secure an ad on BookBub. And thanks to Judi Lynn/Judy Post for honest critiquing and suggestions. You’re always spot on, Judy! I’m not forgetting line edits by Connie Curwen Hay and Terri Ashton. (It does take a dang village to raise a book.) And a shout out to Mae Claire for her support of fellow writers. Looking forward to reading your Things Old and Forgotten. I can relate. I’m old but luckily not forgotten. Don’t know where I’d be, unless in front of the TV with a bag of chips, if not for Judy’s nagging and use of her blog. Thanks, friend. 

M.L Rigdon (aka Julia Donner)

Follow on Twitter @RigdonML

Blog: https://historyfanforever.wordpress.com/

Website http://www.MLRigdon.com



Hooray! It comes out November 2nd!

I met a new twitter friend, and I cheered when I read that she’d found a home for her book. A mystery. You know how I love those. And then it felt like I waited FOREVER before the book was going to come out. When she asked if I’d read it and give it a blurb if I liked it, I jumped at the chance. And yes, I liked it. A lot. So I invited her to my blog to share her wonderful news. Please welcome Jennifer Bee and help her spread the word about her first published book!, Congrats, Jennifer!

Hi. I’m Jennifer Bee and I couldn’t be more excited to be a guest here on Judi Lynn’s blog since I’m a longtime fan of all of Judi’s books.  

When I signed my first publishing contract, Judi graciously agreed to read an advanced copy of my debut novel, The Killing Carol, and after doing so, invited me to share my debut with all of you. It’s an honor to be welcomed.

My favorite books have always been mysteries, figuring out whodunit, the clues, the suspense, the unexpected twists & turns. Somewhere along the way an idea for a mystery novel hit me. “On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me, the reason your husband had to die.” That was it. That was the idea. And that is how my debut novel The Killing Carol begins.

The Killing Carol is the story of widow, Anna Greenan, who finds the cryptic lyric shoved against her front door:

Each day of Christmas brings Anna a new stanza with a new clue. Will this mysterious Christmas carol lead Anna to uncover her husband’s murderer or will the killer find Anna first?

The Killing Carol is the first novel in a series being published by Level Best Books. I’m so excited to be able to share this journey with all of you. Excited and nervous. No one tells you when you sell your first series just how nerve-wracking becoming a professional writer can be. Think back to when you were young and your teacher asked you to read something you wrote in front of the class. No matter how great you thought that piece was, you still probably got butterflies in your stomach and heat rising to your cheeks. Now, imagine having your story go out to the whole world, not just your sixth period English class. To say that I have butterflies in my stomach is an understatement—more like pterodactyls. But when writers like Judi tell you they really liked your book, that makes it all worthwhile.

If you’re interested in reading The Killing Carol, it is available in e-book and print on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever books are sold.

Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/Killing-Carol-Anna-Greenan-Mystery-ebook/dp/B09H3Q2YCR/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=jennifer+bee+the+killing+carol&qid=1635532275&sr=8-1

Barnes & Noble – https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-killing-carol-jennifer-bee/1140401176;jsessionid=3B9889F7143EC0707467C9A417BD246C.prodny_store01-atgap15?ean=9781685120405

Feel free to follow me and keep in touch on social media. Facebook – @authorjenniferbee, Instagram – @authorjenniferbee, Twitter – @authorjenniferb.

You can use the hashtag #JudiLynnFan so I know you have great taste. J 

Thank you for having me and wish me luck. Pterodactyls are not easy to live with.

The Killing Carol – A mystery/thriller with a satisfying romance and lots of twists and turns. The tension never lags. The song ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ becomes filled with menace as Anna receives one note a day with a twisted message.” — Judi Lynn, USA Today bestselling author of The Body in the Attic.

Time or Money or Both?

We all know how hard it is to find time to write. HH and I are retired, and I had visions of writing a chapter every week day–5 chapters a week, 20 chapters a month, a manuscript every other month, a finished product every three months. Sounds good, right? It looks great on paper. Well, that’s the thing. It LOOKS good. It hardly ever works that way. My daughter got a job as a traveling nurse in our town. On nights she works, she stays at our place. And instead of writing when she’s here, I spend time with her. A no brainer. When she moves to the next job, we won’t see her that much. We’d better enjoy it while we can..

My cousin went into a nursing home. I try to visit her once a week. I have my writers’ club twice a month. I could go on and on. We need groceries. It’s a good idea to pay bills. One day gets eaten up here, another there, and soon, I’m lucky if I can sneak in an hour or two of writing three times a week. Today, the flower beds needed prepped for the end of the season. Tomorrow, our grandson and his wife are coming to stay the weekend with us. There’s not one of these things that I’d miss. So… I write when and where I can. I have more time than I used to, but not nearly as much time as I thought I would.

But that’s just fussing about WRITING–the actual work of telling a story. But that’s not even close to all you need to do to be a writer. Yes, you write a book–somewhere between 45,000 to over 100,000 words. You have to include rewrites and polishing, editing and tweaks. And when you finally get it done? You need to decide what to do with it. An agent? Small publisher? Self-publishing? And don’t think that doesn’t take serious time. Research. Queries. Formatting. A cover? A blurb? Key words. Branding. Social media. Every step of the process has to be your best, because there are over a million other books on Amazon. How do you make yours stand out? How do you find readers?

My friends are divided into two camps. Some of them, like me, write blogs, connect with friends on twitter to support one another, and spread the word on social media when they put out a new book. Other friends don’t bother with social media at all. They pay for ads on BookBub, The Fussy Librarian, Written Word Media, and EReader News to promote their books. And if they have enough books in a series (and I think you need at least 5 to make it worthwhile), they do pretty darned well.

I repeat. My friends who are successful have AT LEAST 5 books in A series. When they put one of those books on sale for 99cents or for free, readers buy the OTHER books in the series, and they make money. The more books, the better. Which is my way of hinting to you to WRITE A SERIES or books that are similar enough in style to be considered a series. The sad truth is, though, that to promote a book these days isn’t cheap.

When I make a book free right now, when I only have the first book written in POSED IN DEATH or A CUT ABOVE, and only two books in my Lux series, I know I’m going to lose money. I’m only promoting the book to invest in finding new readers. I just paid $60 to The Fussy Librarian to make POSED IN DEATH free for five days. $60 gets me ONE day of promotion in The Fussy Librarian’s newsletter. But it also got me over 2500 downloads. For me, I lost money, but it was worth it. The next question. Out of 2500 downloads, how many people will actually READ the book? I’ll be thrilled if it hits 1,000, and I get a few good reviews, but let’s be honest. How many books have you downloaded and intended to read, but never did?

At this moment in time, it would be a waste for me to invest the BIG bucks it takes to get a book on BookBub, because I don’t have enough books in any of my new series. My friend just paid $410 to have BookBub (which is HARD to get into, but they accepted her book, hooray!) do a new book release for her 18th Regency romance. A SMART MOVE. And I hope she sells TONS of books! Both of us, though, have paid for advertisements that were total busts. Some sites do better jobs with romances than fantasies or mysteries rather than speculative fiction. You never know. You cross your fingers, pay your money, and hope for the best.

But if you don’t have the cash to invest in advertising for your book, then you have to invest TIME. Hopefully, you have blog friends who will promote your book and have you as a guest on their blogs. Some authors pay to have someone set up blog tours for them. The Goddess Fish did my early tours. And don’t even think that blog tours aren’t a lot of work. Because they are.. No one wants to follow a tour where they see the same information on each site. For most tours, the author has to write original material for each site he/she visits. My first blog tour had 25 bloggers sign up for it. And each one wanted something different. Which was great. But it took FOREVER to write unique material for each one. If you’re not up for that, you can design ads to put on twitter with canva.com. But you have to do SOMETHING to get readers to notice your book, or else it gets lost in the deluge of new books that come out All The Time anymore. At least, a million a year.

The question is this: WHAT CAN YOU AFFORD? TIME? MONEY? BOTH? Jan Sikes is doing a series of blogs on marketing for Story Empire. This is the first one. She’s up to six now, I think. I’ll add a link below.

There are all kinds of ways to market your books out there. Some have worked for me. Some haven’t. I can’t figure out how to do ads no matter if I bid low or high. So don’t ask. I can’t give you any good advice. My best luck, so far, has been paying for promotions, even though it’s been hit or miss. I have more luck on Twitter than on Facebook, but then, I spend more time on twitter, too. I don’t have any brilliant answers for anyone, but I know this. If you don’t do SOMETHING, or get a publisher who’ll do it for you, your book gets lost in the thousands of other books out there.

Debbie Macomber, who has a publisher and sells a kazillion books, wrote a great article on marketing your book. I’ve posted it before, but I’ll post it again, just in case you’re ready for it now. And happy writing!


I read a blog post by Ilona Andrews. Her readers often send her questions, (I’m jealous), and she often tries to answer them. This time, someone asked about talent. And her reply was thoughtful and insightful. https://ilona-andrews.com/2021/talent/ And it made me think.

If I had to define talent, I guess I think of it as a natural ability, something you might be better at than someone else, to begin with. But that’s the defining thing, isn’t it? “To begin with.” Because talent, on its own, doesn’t get you far.

If I’d have had to make it as a writer on only talent, I’d be doing something else right now. I had some talent. My teachers said so. Editors said so. But it wasn’t enough to propel me….much of anywhere. But it was enough to give me enough little trickles of success to keep going.

The sorry truth is that you might be really good at something, but if you don’t work at it, develop it, and THINK about it, you’ll do all right…maybe…but you probably won’t find big success. And everyone defines “big” differently. Success is one of those words that carries a lot of different baggage. Do you mean a New York Times bestseller? A USA Today bestseller? Making it into the top 100 on Amazon lists? So much money you can swim in it like Scrooge McDuck? Or enough to give you pocket money like a second job? Everyone hopes for something different. But I don’t think talent is enough to get you to where you probably want to be.

Writing takes work and dedication, and usually, time. A lot of time. You can put that time in, a little here and there, over the years–like I did. Or you can go for broke and write like a demon to hit success sooner. But there are no guarantees in writing. And that’s the worrisome part. I loved writing enough…and had enough success trickle in a little at a time… to keep me encouraged. I consider myself lucky. I had lots of failures but enough successes. And I don’t know what the answer is to when to call it quits and take a break. Because I have an awful feeling that once writing worms its way around your heart, you have a hard time turning away from it. I’ve known some people who have, though, but I think later in their lives, they might return to it.

Writing, for me, is a wonderful/terrible addiction. I haven’t learned how to say ‘no’ to it.

The Three Acts: Act2, Part 1

C.S. Boyack is giving a great explanation of the three act play for writing on Story Empire. Thought I’d share.

Story Empire

Hi, Gang. Craig with you again with a continuation of my series about Three Act Structure. Many of you enjoyed the post about Act 1, but if you missed it, here is a link.

By the end of Act 1, we should have the setting, main character(s), problem being faced, and stakes well defined.

I’m going to start today’s post with motion. While it isn’t completely required, making your character enter a strange environment adds tension and obstacles to the adventure. This happens somewhere late in Act 1, or early in Act 2. I milked the Godzilla mythos pretty heavily last time, but let’s visit it again. Your character has to deal with this issue in Japan, does not speak Japanese, and has no idea how to get around. He might be reduced to pointing at the distant destruction and yelling to go there. Might not be too productive…

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Need a Little Magic in Your Life?

It’s October, time to reach for stories with a little magic, and one of my favorite authors (both as a writer and as a blog friend) wrote a collection of short stories that I grabbed the minute the book came out. Mae Clair’s writing has a certain elegance I admire. I’m happy she agreed to visit my blog today to tell you about THINGS OLD AND FORGOTTEN. Take it away, Mae!

Hi, Judi! Many thanks for hosting me today and allowing me to share my newest release with your readers. Although my preferred genre as an author is mystery and suspense, most of my work includes an element of myth, the supernatural, or a beastie from urban legend. With Things Old and Forgotten, I’ve chosen to focus on magical realism, fantasy, and yes—creatures of myth and the paranormal.

The title relates to various elements of the book, including unique spins on the legends of King Arthur, Robin Hood, and Taliesin. Tales harken back to the day (erm, decade) when I wrote fantasy, speculative fiction, and magical realism almost exclusively. You’ll discover redemption in the desert, a man in need of a ghost confessor, courage when facing a deadly leviathan, and a sorcerer whose power wanes with the dawn.

The title of the book comes from a poem I wrote many years (erm, decades) ago which explored my love for things old and forgotten—a passion I’ve had since childhood. I won’t repeat the entire poem here, just these few verses.

If I build a mountain from memories alone,
there is no Phoenix to rise from the pyre,
no rebirth of vision on Icarus’s wings,
nothing to recall Camelot’s fire.

Taliesin sang in the halls of kings,
Tristan waited for a sail of white,
Merlin played our hearts like strings,
but Arthur held the candle’s light.

Beneath the moon the fen lies barren,
Taliesin’s ballads forever survive,
the bard weaves magic in ancient tales,
keeping things old and forgotten, forever alive.


A man keeping King Arthur’s dream of Camelot alive.
A Robin Hood battling in a drastically different Sherwood.
A young man facing eternity in the desert.
A genteel southern lady besting a powerful order of genies.
A woman meeting her father decades after his death.

These are but a few of the intriguing tales waiting to be discovered in Things Old and Forgotten. Prepare to be transported to realms of folklore and legend, where magic and wonder linger around every corner, and fantastic possibilities are limited only by imagination.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

As with any collection of short fiction, selecting a few stories here and there is perfect for a lunchbreak or coffee time. And don’t forget relaxing with a glass of wine in the evening or a short tale to wind down the day. 

Thanks again for hosting me Judi. In honor of my love for autumn—a fantastic time to curl up with a book—Things Old and Forgotten will be on sale for .99c through October 31st. Thank you again for helping me celebrate today.



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