Thursday, July 20, 2017

Being a guest on someone's blog can be a wonderful way to expand audience. But you won't get much traction with your posts if you can't give the visits proper attention.

I've had lots of guest bloggers here, some of whom did extraordinarily well in terms of page views and gaining new fans, and others who got little attention or engagement.

I've also been on the other side of the table, writing posts for others' blogs, in one-off visits, tours I organized for myself, and in a tour someone else organized. I could definitely see a difference in the experience based on how I behaved as a guest more than how the host did or didn't strive to drive traffic to my post.

Make no mistake, getting a post on a high-traffic blog can be very helpful in expanding your reach. However, "landing the gig" is only the first step. Additional follow up will make the difference in whether blog readers connect with or ignore you.

So how do you make the most of guest posting? Here are some helpful pointers:

1. Create value-added content. Clearly you want to excite potential readers about your new book. But if they only wanted to see a book description, they could simply go to Goodreads or a e-retailer.

So consider how you can share something of value to readers that will also entice them to read your story. Perhaps you tried out a new method of research that was really fruitful for understanding your characters' world. Perhaps you twisted a common trope or created a spectacular mash-up of genres. Share the lessons learned and insights gained, Share best practices, or simply something weird or funny, like how a personal life experience led to a particular plot element or choice of setting.

Give readers the story behind the story and they'll become naturally more invested in continuing to learn more about your work.

2. Think "evergreen" with your content. That is, share information that will be as useful to someone who finds it three years from now as those who find it today. Evergreen posts can be part of your long-term social media strategy--a way to continue delivering good content even when you don't have a new release, provided you re-share and revisit them over time. This method capitalizes on "the long tail" of sales, in which readership grows slowly over time.

OR think trendy, and strive to tap into a controversy-of-the-moment. This method is useful if your goal is to make immediate movement in the sales charts. You will need to do more work up front to keep the post alive within its news cycle, before the content becomes dated.

Either strategy will bring more readers to the blog post. You can probably see varying advantages to each approach.

3. Do your part to drive traffic. You need to be a team player with your host, rather than expecting them to automatically deliver readers. After all, you're an unknown quantity to your host's readers. So make sure you're sharing everywhere that you have great content that your existing connections will want to see.


  • Write a short post with a link on your own blog.
  • Create a series of tweets to post throughout the day, with a graphic if possible
  • Retweet your host's tweets about it
  • Share a link on your Facebook page
  • Share links in any Facebook group you're in that might be interested in your content
  • Include links in your newsletter
  • Visit some of your blogging buddies, and they'll likely return the visit


4. Be available. Don't just post and run, or post, tweet and run. Come back and comment.

Be sure to thank your host for hosting you, not only for the sake of your host, but because it shows blog readers that you value the opportunity of being there. Don't let shyness cause you to gain a reputation of seeming standoffish or even entitled. Not sure what to say? Try: "Thanks so much for having me, Host!" It's really that simple.

Interact with everyone who comments. This may be more difficult that you expect, because not all visitors will be lovely and easy to converse with. Some might throw you for a loop with an odd comment you aren't sure how to respond to.

Some will be itching for a fight, so tread carefully, especially if you chose to tap into a controversy. A helpful maxim from St. Paul: "as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone" (Rom. 12:18). Try to acknowledge their point of view, thank them for their time, even if they seem nutty. If they personally attack you, don't retaliate in kind. Try to be calm and de-escalate the situation. A helpful post on de-escalating arguments; 5 ways to stop an argument. If your de-escalation doesn't work, stop interacting with that individual. Others might more successfully defend you, but take care that you don't inspire or encourage a mean spirited pile-on. Our world needs good examples of how to have adult disagreements that don't devolve into character assassination. As far as it depends on you, be a peacemaker.

5. Remember that your ultimate goal is building new connections. If you happen to sell some books along the way, great. If not, that's okay because you've done something strategic--become a known quantity where you used to be anonymous. In a glutted marketplace, this is essential.

Seek to connect with those who comment well--follow and comment on their blogs, connect on Twitter and elsewhere. Send a brief message in any of these venues along the lines of "it was great to meet you through [host's] blog." Remember the currency of the Internet is attention. Letting visitors know you see them, that you appreciate their attention and plan to repay it, goes a long way in building goodwill for your author brand.

Those connections can also lead to further guest posting opportunities. If a commenter seems like they are part of your target audience and have a blog, too, it makes sense to reach out. Be sure to offer content that is similar in quality to the post they liked, but customized for them.

6. Don't burn bridges. If someone hosted you on their blog and no one commented at all, or worse, it was a troll-a-thon, don't give in to the temptation to cut ties with the blogger. Some or all of these problems may have been entirely out of their control. Emergencies can keep a blogger from being able to help you drive traffic; trollish behavior can be hard to rein in once it takes hold on a site. It's possible that this blogger can be helpful to your journey with a different book, perhaps if you choose a non-controversial topic to write about, their followers will be more receptive.

Learn what you can from the experience and use that knowledge to approach future guest posting opportunities differently.

Any other tips? What have your guest post experiences been, either as a host, guest, or visitor?
Thursday, July 20, 2017 Laurel Garver
Being a guest on someone's blog can be a wonderful way to expand audience. But you won't get much traction with your posts if you can't give the visits proper attention.

I've had lots of guest bloggers here, some of whom did extraordinarily well in terms of page views and gaining new fans, and others who got little attention or engagement.

I've also been on the other side of the table, writing posts for others' blogs, in one-off visits, tours I organized for myself, and in a tour someone else organized. I could definitely see a difference in the experience based on how I behaved as a guest more than how the host did or didn't strive to drive traffic to my post.

Make no mistake, getting a post on a high-traffic blog can be very helpful in expanding your reach. However, "landing the gig" is only the first step. Additional follow up will make the difference in whether blog readers connect with or ignore you.

So how do you make the most of guest posting? Here are some helpful pointers:

1. Create value-added content. Clearly you want to excite potential readers about your new book. But if they only wanted to see a book description, they could simply go to Goodreads or a e-retailer.

So consider how you can share something of value to readers that will also entice them to read your story. Perhaps you tried out a new method of research that was really fruitful for understanding your characters' world. Perhaps you twisted a common trope or created a spectacular mash-up of genres. Share the lessons learned and insights gained, Share best practices, or simply something weird or funny, like how a personal life experience led to a particular plot element or choice of setting.

Give readers the story behind the story and they'll become naturally more invested in continuing to learn more about your work.

2. Think "evergreen" with your content. That is, share information that will be as useful to someone who finds it three years from now as those who find it today. Evergreen posts can be part of your long-term social media strategy--a way to continue delivering good content even when you don't have a new release, provided you re-share and revisit them over time. This method capitalizes on "the long tail" of sales, in which readership grows slowly over time.

OR think trendy, and strive to tap into a controversy-of-the-moment. This method is useful if your goal is to make immediate movement in the sales charts. You will need to do more work up front to keep the post alive within its news cycle, before the content becomes dated.

Either strategy will bring more readers to the blog post. You can probably see varying advantages to each approach.

3. Do your part to drive traffic. You need to be a team player with your host, rather than expecting them to automatically deliver readers. After all, you're an unknown quantity to your host's readers. So make sure you're sharing everywhere that you have great content that your existing connections will want to see.


  • Write a short post with a link on your own blog.
  • Create a series of tweets to post throughout the day, with a graphic if possible
  • Retweet your host's tweets about it
  • Share a link on your Facebook page
  • Share links in any Facebook group you're in that might be interested in your content
  • Include links in your newsletter
  • Visit some of your blogging buddies, and they'll likely return the visit


4. Be available. Don't just post and run, or post, tweet and run. Come back and comment.

Be sure to thank your host for hosting you, not only for the sake of your host, but because it shows blog readers that you value the opportunity of being there. Don't let shyness cause you to gain a reputation of seeming standoffish or even entitled. Not sure what to say? Try: "Thanks so much for having me, Host!" It's really that simple.

Interact with everyone who comments. This may be more difficult that you expect, because not all visitors will be lovely and easy to converse with. Some might throw you for a loop with an odd comment you aren't sure how to respond to.

Some will be itching for a fight, so tread carefully, especially if you chose to tap into a controversy. A helpful maxim from St. Paul: "as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone" (Rom. 12:18). Try to acknowledge their point of view, thank them for their time, even if they seem nutty. If they personally attack you, don't retaliate in kind. Try to be calm and de-escalate the situation. A helpful post on de-escalating arguments; 5 ways to stop an argument. If your de-escalation doesn't work, stop interacting with that individual. Others might more successfully defend you, but take care that you don't inspire or encourage a mean spirited pile-on. Our world needs good examples of how to have adult disagreements that don't devolve into character assassination. As far as it depends on you, be a peacemaker.

5. Remember that your ultimate goal is building new connections. If you happen to sell some books along the way, great. If not, that's okay because you've done something strategic--become a known quantity where you used to be anonymous. In a glutted marketplace, this is essential.

Seek to connect with those who comment well--follow and comment on their blogs, connect on Twitter and elsewhere. Send a brief message in any of these venues along the lines of "it was great to meet you through [host's] blog." Remember the currency of the Internet is attention. Letting visitors know you see them, that you appreciate their attention and plan to repay it, goes a long way in building goodwill for your author brand.

Those connections can also lead to further guest posting opportunities. If a commenter seems like they are part of your target audience and have a blog, too, it makes sense to reach out. Be sure to offer content that is similar in quality to the post they liked, but customized for them.

6. Don't burn bridges. If someone hosted you on their blog and no one commented at all, or worse, it was a troll-a-thon, don't give in to the temptation to cut ties with the blogger. Some or all of these problems may have been entirely out of their control. Emergencies can keep a blogger from being able to help you drive traffic; trollish behavior can be hard to rein in once it takes hold on a site. It's possible that this blogger can be helpful to your journey with a different book, perhaps if you choose a non-controversial topic to write about, their followers will be more receptive.

Learn what you can from the experience and use that knowledge to approach future guest posting opportunities differently.

Any other tips? What have your guest post experiences been, either as a host, guest, or visitor?

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Interview with guest DiVoran Lites
Image credit: https://morguefile.com/creative/ranbud

Tell us a little about your story and the story world you've created.

Aldon and Ellie are the main characters of Go West. Aldon lives on a ranch in Colorado. Ellie works at her grandparents’ department store in Chicago. Both are veterans of the First World War, he as a pilot, and she as an ambulance driver. Ellie wants freedom and independence, so her grandfather helps her find a job on a ranch in Colorado. The story opens when Aldon drives the wagon to the train station to meet Ellie and take her back to the ranch. Ellie will have three bosses on the ranch, and Aldon is one of them. Working with him doesn’t seem like independence to her, but as she has little choice she must juggle her jobs and the people she meets the best she can.

Who are your main characters? Tell us a little about what makes them tick.

Aldon has been on the ranch all his life except for when he was in the war. He is a Christian man who has followed his mother’s teaching regarding his treatment of women. Ellie, also, kept to herself except for the young men and women with whom she went to high school. She recently joined the Suffragists who insist that women need more freedom.

What led you to write about the time period between the two world wars? 

My mother always told me stories of our family. They weren’t notable people in any way, except for the individual things they chose to become, but Mother’s stories always fascinated me. I liked the 1920s also, because of the changes from an agricultural, industrial era to a post war era when young people were "ready for anything." I like the music, the clothes, and the tent revivals. It’s an exciting decade.

What surprising things did you discover about this period while researching the story? 

I thought that the Italian family who live at Blue Spruce Ranch might have been mask-makers before they came to America. I discovered, though, that Mardi Gras was banned at the time when I needed to use it. Obviously, if there was no Mardi-Gras there would be no need for masks. I had to let them let them make frames instead.

How did you go about developing the setting(s) for this story?

Living in Colorado as a child, I had always before me the gorgeous Sangre de Cristo Mountains as well as the tiny town where there was no need to lock our doors and where everybody knew everybody else. I wanted Go West to reflect that beauty.

What research methods have been most fruitful for you?

The research I enjoyed most was being in touch with my life-long friend from second grade. She had a deeper knowledge and a better memory than I, and we always thought alike.

Are there particular themes or motifs you wrestle with or address in your story?

According to Siri, one meaning for the word theme is subject. My basic subject is love. First we have the love of God, then we love and are loved by our husbands and wives, then family, and then work, Taking care of ourselves, of course, figures into all of it.

What attracted you to the genre you write in? 

When I was twelve years old, my dad got a new job and we had to move to another state, I enjoy where I live now, but I never got over missing Colorado and my childhood, so in a way I was reliving good times in my life.

What aspects of your creative process do you enjoy most? Which are most challenging?

Because I’m one of those folks who need the mechanical act of writing things down before they can grasp them, I enjoy being at the computer or journaling. I like research, too but I learned early on that I could easily spend too much time on it. My biggest challenge to overcome is procrastination.

What advice would you give to other writers interested in writing historical fiction?

The best advice I ever heard was from a successful romance writer. She said, “Keep your two major characters in each other’s company (or thoughts) for most of the book.”

Laurel, thank you for your delightful questions and for introducing me to your friends.

About the Author


DiVoran Lites has been writing for most of her life. Her first attempt at a story was when she was seven years old and her mother got a new typewriter. DiVoran got to use it and when her dad saw her writing he asked what she was writing about. DiVoran answered that she was writing the story of her life. Her dad’s only comment was, “Well, it’s going to be a very short story.”

After most of a lifetime of writing and helping other writers, DiVoran finally launched her own dream which was to write a novel of her own. She now has her Florida Springs trilogy and her novel, a Christian Western Romance, Go West available on Amazon. When speaking about her road to publication, she gives thanks to the Lord for all the people who helped her grow and learn. She says, “I could never have done it by myself, but when I got going everything fell beautifully into place, and I was glad I had started on my dream.”

About the Book


Go West
Christian historic romance

After duty as an ambulance driver in World War I, Ellie Morgan returns to Chicago to take up her share of the work in her grandparents’ department store. Ellie doesn’t want to alienate her family or disappoint them, but despite a six year effort to settle in, she feels increasingly trapped in store routine. Meanwhile, her grandmother urges her to marry a local politician and help him succeed in his chosen field. Ellie’s grandfather, however, wants to see her happy and independent. “Go West, young woman, go west,” he advises paraphrasing a popular quotation of the day. So with Granddad’s help, Ellie secures a job on a ranch in Colorado and sets out to prove that she has the necessary character to succeed at a third vocation.

When Aldon Leitzinger meets Ellie’s train in Clifton Colorado, he introduces himself as the foreman of the ranch. But the more people Ellie meets in the community, the more apparent it becomes that she is in demand to fill a number of roles for which she is not prepared. Desperate to prove herself, she settles in to please everyone, a task that puts her at risk of failure in every attempt at finding a new and happier life.

Available from  Amazon.


Giveaway


DiVoran has five prizes for five people! First to go will be the beautiful art cards and then we’ll have the two eBooks.


Enter below: a Rafflecopter giveaway

What historic periods and places intrigue you? Any questions for DiVoran?
Thursday, July 13, 2017 Laurel Garver
Interview with guest DiVoran Lites
Image credit: https://morguefile.com/creative/ranbud

Tell us a little about your story and the story world you've created.

Aldon and Ellie are the main characters of Go West. Aldon lives on a ranch in Colorado. Ellie works at her grandparents’ department store in Chicago. Both are veterans of the First World War, he as a pilot, and she as an ambulance driver. Ellie wants freedom and independence, so her grandfather helps her find a job on a ranch in Colorado. The story opens when Aldon drives the wagon to the train station to meet Ellie and take her back to the ranch. Ellie will have three bosses on the ranch, and Aldon is one of them. Working with him doesn’t seem like independence to her, but as she has little choice she must juggle her jobs and the people she meets the best she can.

Who are your main characters? Tell us a little about what makes them tick.

Aldon has been on the ranch all his life except for when he was in the war. He is a Christian man who has followed his mother’s teaching regarding his treatment of women. Ellie, also, kept to herself except for the young men and women with whom she went to high school. She recently joined the Suffragists who insist that women need more freedom.

What led you to write about the time period between the two world wars? 

My mother always told me stories of our family. They weren’t notable people in any way, except for the individual things they chose to become, but Mother’s stories always fascinated me. I liked the 1920s also, because of the changes from an agricultural, industrial era to a post war era when young people were "ready for anything." I like the music, the clothes, and the tent revivals. It’s an exciting decade.

What surprising things did you discover about this period while researching the story? 

I thought that the Italian family who live at Blue Spruce Ranch might have been mask-makers before they came to America. I discovered, though, that Mardi Gras was banned at the time when I needed to use it. Obviously, if there was no Mardi-Gras there would be no need for masks. I had to let them let them make frames instead.

How did you go about developing the setting(s) for this story?

Living in Colorado as a child, I had always before me the gorgeous Sangre de Cristo Mountains as well as the tiny town where there was no need to lock our doors and where everybody knew everybody else. I wanted Go West to reflect that beauty.

What research methods have been most fruitful for you?

The research I enjoyed most was being in touch with my life-long friend from second grade. She had a deeper knowledge and a better memory than I, and we always thought alike.

Are there particular themes or motifs you wrestle with or address in your story?

According to Siri, one meaning for the word theme is subject. My basic subject is love. First we have the love of God, then we love and are loved by our husbands and wives, then family, and then work, Taking care of ourselves, of course, figures into all of it.

What attracted you to the genre you write in? 

When I was twelve years old, my dad got a new job and we had to move to another state, I enjoy where I live now, but I never got over missing Colorado and my childhood, so in a way I was reliving good times in my life.

What aspects of your creative process do you enjoy most? Which are most challenging?

Because I’m one of those folks who need the mechanical act of writing things down before they can grasp them, I enjoy being at the computer or journaling. I like research, too but I learned early on that I could easily spend too much time on it. My biggest challenge to overcome is procrastination.

What advice would you give to other writers interested in writing historical fiction?

The best advice I ever heard was from a successful romance writer. She said, “Keep your two major characters in each other’s company (or thoughts) for most of the book.”

Laurel, thank you for your delightful questions and for introducing me to your friends.

About the Author


DiVoran Lites has been writing for most of her life. Her first attempt at a story was when she was seven years old and her mother got a new typewriter. DiVoran got to use it and when her dad saw her writing he asked what she was writing about. DiVoran answered that she was writing the story of her life. Her dad’s only comment was, “Well, it’s going to be a very short story.”

After most of a lifetime of writing and helping other writers, DiVoran finally launched her own dream which was to write a novel of her own. She now has her Florida Springs trilogy and her novel, a Christian Western Romance, Go West available on Amazon. When speaking about her road to publication, she gives thanks to the Lord for all the people who helped her grow and learn. She says, “I could never have done it by myself, but when I got going everything fell beautifully into place, and I was glad I had started on my dream.”

About the Book


Go West
Christian historic romance

After duty as an ambulance driver in World War I, Ellie Morgan returns to Chicago to take up her share of the work in her grandparents’ department store. Ellie doesn’t want to alienate her family or disappoint them, but despite a six year effort to settle in, she feels increasingly trapped in store routine. Meanwhile, her grandmother urges her to marry a local politician and help him succeed in his chosen field. Ellie’s grandfather, however, wants to see her happy and independent. “Go West, young woman, go west,” he advises paraphrasing a popular quotation of the day. So with Granddad’s help, Ellie secures a job on a ranch in Colorado and sets out to prove that she has the necessary character to succeed at a third vocation.

When Aldon Leitzinger meets Ellie’s train in Clifton Colorado, he introduces himself as the foreman of the ranch. But the more people Ellie meets in the community, the more apparent it becomes that she is in demand to fill a number of roles for which she is not prepared. Desperate to prove herself, she settles in to please everyone, a task that puts her at risk of failure in every attempt at finding a new and happier life.

Available from  Amazon.


Giveaway


DiVoran has five prizes for five people! First to go will be the beautiful art cards and then we’ll have the two eBooks.


Enter below: a Rafflecopter giveaway

What historic periods and places intrigue you? Any questions for DiVoran?

Thursday, July 06, 2017

By guest author Elise Abram

Photo by Talesin for Morguefile
When I was a teenager, my family business had a booth at the Canadian National Exhibition in the Food Building. My brother and I ran the booth during the day and my cousins at night.

I was very insecure as a teenager. I wasn't popular, I didn't like the way I looked, I didn't like who I was, and I didn't date. So when a cute boy approached me to strike up a conversation at the counter one day, I was incredibly flattered. When he left, he said he'd come back a few days later to continue our conversation, which he did, only this time, he started spouting religious dogma in the middle of the conversation, which turned me off.

He told me the name of the organization he worked for and I went to the Coliseum Building to check it out. He wasn't there when I went, so I approached, questioned the people working there, and collected some flyers.

It turns out they were in the business of seeking out teens for the purpose of converting them to their way of thinking. I liken their organization to a cult, because in later years, a number of deprogramming stations for their organization and similar ones, popped up around the GTA.

I was worried, but we came up with a plan:  the next time he came around, if I was in the back, someone would tell him I was busy, and if I was at the counter, someone would call me into the back on some "urgent" business. It just so happened that when he next came, I was in the back room and my brother told him I no longer worked there. He never came back.

When I was brainstorming for THE NEW RECRUIT, I thought about this experience and what might have happened if I hadn't had the support system I did. What if I'd ignored the warning signs and went with the recruiter because I was lonely, or if he had something to offer me that I couldn't find on my own?

THE NEW RECRUIT explores this question. Judith, my protagonist, is sixteen-years-old and she feels like an outsider. She's lonely because her mother has passed away, her father is always at work, and she has only one friend. She desperately wants to find a job so she can help her father with the finances and so he will be around more often.

When she meets Cain at the mall, he strikes up a conversation with her, offers her a job, and eventually recruits her into his cult of ecoterrorists, which he is able to do because he makes her feel special, offers her something she can't find on her own, and she doesn't have a support system in place to protect her from going with him.

THE NEW RECRUIT is timely in that it deals with the question of how a child with a seemingly normal upbringing can easily separated from her family, brainwashed, and coerced into doing something that horrifies the majority of the population.

About the author

Elise Abram is high school teacher of English and Computer Studies, former archaeologist, editor, publisher, award winning author, avid reader of literary and science fiction, and student of the human condition. Everything she does, watches, reads and hears is fodder for her writing. She is passionate about writing and language, cooking, and ABC’s Once Upon a Time. In her spare time, she experiments with paleo cookery, knits badly, and writes. She also bakes. Most of the time it doesn’t burn. Her family doesn’t seem to mind.

Connect with Elise Abram:
Blog /  Facebook / Twitter / Amazon Author Page

About the book

The New Recruit
Genre: YA Contemporary
Pages: 214

Sixteen year old Judith Abraham feels like an outsider. She has just transferred to a new school, has only one friend, and suffers from social anxiety, but when recruiter Cain Barrett offers her a job, her whole life changes. Things are great at first, but the more she learns about Cain's world of climate crusaders, the more she questions his motives behind singling her out. Will Judith find a way out before it's too late?

THE NEW RECRUIT is the first book of a trilogy (followed by Indoctrination) by author Elise Abram, winner of the 2015 A Woman's Write competition for I WAS, AM, WILL BE ALICE. THE NEW RECRUIT is a young adult contemporary romance for the new millennium. In a time when jobs are scarce, politics are unstable, and the future is uncertain, millennials are ripe for recruitment by cults, groups offering a stable world view in exchange for total devotion. THE NEW RECRUIT is meant to be a cautionary tale exploring how, without love and support from those around them, our disenfranchised youth can be so easily misguided.

Buy Links:
Amazon / Google Play /  Apple iBooks / Kobo / Barnes & Noble

Giveaway


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Have you ever had a close scrape with danger and wondered "what if things had gone differently"?
Thursday, July 06, 2017 Laurel Garver
By guest author Elise Abram

Photo by Talesin for Morguefile
When I was a teenager, my family business had a booth at the Canadian National Exhibition in the Food Building. My brother and I ran the booth during the day and my cousins at night.

I was very insecure as a teenager. I wasn't popular, I didn't like the way I looked, I didn't like who I was, and I didn't date. So when a cute boy approached me to strike up a conversation at the counter one day, I was incredibly flattered. When he left, he said he'd come back a few days later to continue our conversation, which he did, only this time, he started spouting religious dogma in the middle of the conversation, which turned me off.

He told me the name of the organization he worked for and I went to the Coliseum Building to check it out. He wasn't there when I went, so I approached, questioned the people working there, and collected some flyers.

It turns out they were in the business of seeking out teens for the purpose of converting them to their way of thinking. I liken their organization to a cult, because in later years, a number of deprogramming stations for their organization and similar ones, popped up around the GTA.

I was worried, but we came up with a plan:  the next time he came around, if I was in the back, someone would tell him I was busy, and if I was at the counter, someone would call me into the back on some "urgent" business. It just so happened that when he next came, I was in the back room and my brother told him I no longer worked there. He never came back.

When I was brainstorming for THE NEW RECRUIT, I thought about this experience and what might have happened if I hadn't had the support system I did. What if I'd ignored the warning signs and went with the recruiter because I was lonely, or if he had something to offer me that I couldn't find on my own?

THE NEW RECRUIT explores this question. Judith, my protagonist, is sixteen-years-old and she feels like an outsider. She's lonely because her mother has passed away, her father is always at work, and she has only one friend. She desperately wants to find a job so she can help her father with the finances and so he will be around more often.

When she meets Cain at the mall, he strikes up a conversation with her, offers her a job, and eventually recruits her into his cult of ecoterrorists, which he is able to do because he makes her feel special, offers her something she can't find on her own, and she doesn't have a support system in place to protect her from going with him.

THE NEW RECRUIT is timely in that it deals with the question of how a child with a seemingly normal upbringing can easily separated from her family, brainwashed, and coerced into doing something that horrifies the majority of the population.

About the author

Elise Abram is high school teacher of English and Computer Studies, former archaeologist, editor, publisher, award winning author, avid reader of literary and science fiction, and student of the human condition. Everything she does, watches, reads and hears is fodder for her writing. She is passionate about writing and language, cooking, and ABC’s Once Upon a Time. In her spare time, she experiments with paleo cookery, knits badly, and writes. She also bakes. Most of the time it doesn’t burn. Her family doesn’t seem to mind.

Connect with Elise Abram:
Blog /  Facebook / Twitter / Amazon Author Page

About the book

The New Recruit
Genre: YA Contemporary
Pages: 214

Sixteen year old Judith Abraham feels like an outsider. She has just transferred to a new school, has only one friend, and suffers from social anxiety, but when recruiter Cain Barrett offers her a job, her whole life changes. Things are great at first, but the more she learns about Cain's world of climate crusaders, the more she questions his motives behind singling her out. Will Judith find a way out before it's too late?

THE NEW RECRUIT is the first book of a trilogy (followed by Indoctrination) by author Elise Abram, winner of the 2015 A Woman's Write competition for I WAS, AM, WILL BE ALICE. THE NEW RECRUIT is a young adult contemporary romance for the new millennium. In a time when jobs are scarce, politics are unstable, and the future is uncertain, millennials are ripe for recruitment by cults, groups offering a stable world view in exchange for total devotion. THE NEW RECRUIT is meant to be a cautionary tale exploring how, without love and support from those around them, our disenfranchised youth can be so easily misguided.

Buy Links:
Amazon / Google Play /  Apple iBooks / Kobo / Barnes & Noble

Giveaway


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Have you ever had a close scrape with danger and wondered "what if things had gone differently"?

Thursday, June 29, 2017

This week marks the 20th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (know in the US as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone because publishers assume American readers are too dumb to pick up anything with philosopher in the title, or know anything about medieval history or alchemy...but I digress).

Dumbledore's costume, WB studio tour, London (my photo)
I was first introduced to the series shortly after the first two books became available through Scholastic in the US. A reading specialist in my book group felt we just had to give them a try. She reads heaps of kidlit and knew these books were something special, bringing together tropes from fantasy, mythology, coming of age, and boarding school stories. They're fun and smart and got reluctant readers willing to work through their reading struggles to find out what happens next.

Having my husband read the series aloud to me, so we could enjoy the books together, became one of the defining bonding experiences of my early married years. He has gone on to develop college courses that suss out philosophical themes in the books, and has given a number of conference talks and published books chapters on epistemology and ethics in Rowling's work.

My contribution to Harry Potter fandom has been largely connected with this blog. I've participated in some blog hops, did a series of thematic character analyses, and eventually spun off a short-lived online fan 'zine.

So for your enjoyment, I offer links to my many Harry Potter-themed offerings.

Literary analyses

The Slow Growing Hero (Neville Longbottom)
What Makes a Villain? Part 1: The Dursleys and Malfoys
What Makes a Villain? Part 2: Umbridge and Voldemort
What Makes a Villain? Part 3: A Hero in Villain's Clothing (Severus Snape)

Thestral Gazette


I created this fan-fiction "underground newspaper" with a team, to provide muckraker-style "yellow journalism" pieces about "hidden Hogwarts revealed by those in the know." Pieces are cross-posted HERE.

Mrs. Norris's Secret Identity Revealed
Gilderoy Lockhart's Exciting New Book Release!
Snape's Secret Admirer
Fast, Loose, and Aria-Belting: Professors After Hours
Viktor Krum Reuintes with Former Girlfriend
Discovery: Mer-mating
Umbridge Unmasked
Ask Abby Gabby: Advice for Wizards and Witches (first feature)
Advice for Wizards and Witches (second feature)
Being Bullied? Weasel Your Way Out
Elves Gone Wild
Cauldron Chatter: Cloaked Items (gossip column)
Special Report from Hogwarts Florida Campus

Blog Hop posts

The Benefit of Books First (guest post by the hubs)
Wrock on! About the fandom creation "wizard rock"
Quidditch anyone? About collegiate "muggle quidditch" teams
Spinning New Yarns: Fan Fiction and Fan Art
Ravenclaw Heaven: Harry Potter meets Academia
Who Would Be Your Mates? Create a friend trio with two Hogwarts students

Miscellany

Harry Potter themed party ideas part I and part II
My photos from the Harry Potter WB Studio Tour near London and Hogwarts meme

And for fun, a quick list of my favorites:

Book in series: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Film: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Male character: Neville Longbottom
Female character: Hermione Granger
Professor: Remus Lupin
Scene: Escape from Gringott's in Deathly Hallows
Spell: Accio (summoning spell)
Method of transit: aparation
Magical creature: House elves
Magical event: Yule Ball

How long have you been a Harry Potter fan? What are your favorites from the list above?

Thursday, June 29, 2017 Laurel Garver
This week marks the 20th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (know in the US as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone because publishers assume American readers are too dumb to pick up anything with philosopher in the title, or know anything about medieval history or alchemy...but I digress).

Dumbledore's costume, WB studio tour, London (my photo)
I was first introduced to the series shortly after the first two books became available through Scholastic in the US. A reading specialist in my book group felt we just had to give them a try. She reads heaps of kidlit and knew these books were something special, bringing together tropes from fantasy, mythology, coming of age, and boarding school stories. They're fun and smart and got reluctant readers willing to work through their reading struggles to find out what happens next.

Having my husband read the series aloud to me, so we could enjoy the books together, became one of the defining bonding experiences of my early married years. He has gone on to develop college courses that suss out philosophical themes in the books, and has given a number of conference talks and published books chapters on epistemology and ethics in Rowling's work.

My contribution to Harry Potter fandom has been largely connected with this blog. I've participated in some blog hops, did a series of thematic character analyses, and eventually spun off a short-lived online fan 'zine.

So for your enjoyment, I offer links to my many Harry Potter-themed offerings.

Literary analyses

The Slow Growing Hero (Neville Longbottom)
What Makes a Villain? Part 1: The Dursleys and Malfoys
What Makes a Villain? Part 2: Umbridge and Voldemort
What Makes a Villain? Part 3: A Hero in Villain's Clothing (Severus Snape)

Thestral Gazette


I created this fan-fiction "underground newspaper" with a team, to provide muckraker-style "yellow journalism" pieces about "hidden Hogwarts revealed by those in the know." Pieces are cross-posted HERE.

Mrs. Norris's Secret Identity Revealed
Gilderoy Lockhart's Exciting New Book Release!
Snape's Secret Admirer
Fast, Loose, and Aria-Belting: Professors After Hours
Viktor Krum Reuintes with Former Girlfriend
Discovery: Mer-mating
Umbridge Unmasked
Ask Abby Gabby: Advice for Wizards and Witches (first feature)
Advice for Wizards and Witches (second feature)
Being Bullied? Weasel Your Way Out
Elves Gone Wild
Cauldron Chatter: Cloaked Items (gossip column)
Special Report from Hogwarts Florida Campus

Blog Hop posts

The Benefit of Books First (guest post by the hubs)
Wrock on! About the fandom creation "wizard rock"
Quidditch anyone? About collegiate "muggle quidditch" teams
Spinning New Yarns: Fan Fiction and Fan Art
Ravenclaw Heaven: Harry Potter meets Academia
Who Would Be Your Mates? Create a friend trio with two Hogwarts students

Miscellany

Harry Potter themed party ideas part I and part II
My photos from the Harry Potter WB Studio Tour near London and Hogwarts meme

And for fun, a quick list of my favorites:

Book in series: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Film: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Male character: Neville Longbottom
Female character: Hermione Granger
Professor: Remus Lupin
Scene: Escape from Gringott's in Deathly Hallows
Spell: Accio (summoning spell)
Method of transit: aparation
Magical creature: House elves
Magical event: Yule Ball

How long have you been a Harry Potter fan? What are your favorites from the list above?

Thursday, June 22, 2017

I write stories about teens facing real-world problems in a today-ish setting. I say today-ish, because the biggest dilemma of writing a contemporary story is this:

The world doesn't stand still while you write. Major changes happen every day, to cultures, to landmarks, to technology.

Those unanticipated changes can make your story absolutely laughable.

I'll give an example from one of my books. I started writing it after a trip to the UK in 2006, and had spent the weeks doing heavy on-the-ground research. But for various reasons I won't go into here, I didn't finally publish that book until 2012.

Guess what happened in the UK in 2012? The London Summer Olympics.

One of my scenes that takes place in a London train station, which I'd blocked out step by step in 2006, couldn't have happened the year I published. Big modifications were made to all rail stations in anticipation of the Olympics that upped the level of security. Yet I knew readers would expect my "contemporary" story published in 2012 to be set in 2012.

So what's a writer to do?

Backdate your story. It's that simple.

I now call my stories "near historical" because they are set in the late-2000s (Never Gone, 2007-08; Almost There, 2009). This enables me to "lock down" particular landmarks, technologies, and character interaction with world history (for example, my protagonist would be old enough to actually remember 9/11). It helped me make decisions about what tech would be available and most likely used, considering my characters' socio-economic backgrounds. The rapid change of tech and trends among teens alone makes "near historical" a good option for YA contemporary authors.

How you add in time markers depends on your story. Here are some ideas:

Dated chapter titles
Dated correspondence (snail mail, e-mail) within the story
News headlines or broadcasts (quoted or paraphrased)
Mentions of historic events
Mentions of time spans
Mentions of birth or death dates
Character participation (direct or indirect) in historic events

What do you think of the "contemporary fiction dilemma"? What other solutions besides writing "near historical" have you seen used effectively?


Thursday, June 22, 2017 Laurel Garver
I write stories about teens facing real-world problems in a today-ish setting. I say today-ish, because the biggest dilemma of writing a contemporary story is this:

The world doesn't stand still while you write. Major changes happen every day, to cultures, to landmarks, to technology.

Those unanticipated changes can make your story absolutely laughable.

I'll give an example from one of my books. I started writing it after a trip to the UK in 2006, and had spent the weeks doing heavy on-the-ground research. But for various reasons I won't go into here, I didn't finally publish that book until 2012.

Guess what happened in the UK in 2012? The London Summer Olympics.

One of my scenes that takes place in a London train station, which I'd blocked out step by step in 2006, couldn't have happened the year I published. Big modifications were made to all rail stations in anticipation of the Olympics that upped the level of security. Yet I knew readers would expect my "contemporary" story published in 2012 to be set in 2012.

So what's a writer to do?

Backdate your story. It's that simple.

I now call my stories "near historical" because they are set in the late-2000s (Never Gone, 2007-08; Almost There, 2009). This enables me to "lock down" particular landmarks, technologies, and character interaction with world history (for example, my protagonist would be old enough to actually remember 9/11). It helped me make decisions about what tech would be available and most likely used, considering my characters' socio-economic backgrounds. The rapid change of tech and trends among teens alone makes "near historical" a good option for YA contemporary authors.

How you add in time markers depends on your story. Here are some ideas:

Dated chapter titles
Dated correspondence (snail mail, e-mail) within the story
News headlines or broadcasts (quoted or paraphrased)
Mentions of historic events
Mentions of time spans
Mentions of birth or death dates
Character participation (direct or indirect) in historic events

What do you think of the "contemporary fiction dilemma"? What other solutions besides writing "near historical" have you seen used effectively?


Thursday, June 08, 2017

When I first started this blog in 2009, blog "awards" were all the rage. I think 2010-11 was a peak period, in which I received and passed along more than a dozen. By 2013 no one was doing them any more, and it made me a little sad. I can see how they might seem like public chain letters, but by golly they are fun. They give you something entertaining to blog about when all your creativity has gone into finishing a fantastic chapter the night before.

So I will not be joining the anti-blog-award brigade. Nope. I'll be having some fun. So here goes....

There are rules to this award, of course…
Rule 1: Put the award logo/image on your blog.

Rule 2: List the rules.

Rule 3: Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.

Big thanks for the nomination to awesome A-Z Blogging challenge co-host J. Lenni Dorner, who I knew on Twitter for some time before becoming blog buddies.

Rule 4: Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well.
About the creator: Okoto Enigma’s blog 
The creator’s name, Enigma, means mystery, thus the title of the award.

Rule 5: Tell your readers three things about yourself.

1) I can identify nearly any early 1980s pop song within five measures or less. I was obsessed with America's Top 40 in my misspent youth. (I could have been memorizing Pi to the 400th decimal place or all the world capitals or something a little less frivolous). My husband sometimes makes me demonstrate my skill for guests.

2) I did props management and set decoration for about a dozen college productions, as well as for some community theatre shows. Once I'm an empty nester, I will likely take it up again. It is so much fun to build the material culture for a play.

3) I'm convinced that one of my childhood homes was haunted. We often heard movement in distant rooms, and one of the bedrooms had a distinct cold spot. I sensed the presence of our ghost more than once, particularly in the daytime when playing alone. My sense was that it was a young woman who'd perhaps died in childbirth and continued going about the business of taking care of her family, as if unaware she was dead.

Rule 6: Nominate other bloggers. (I'm going to cheat a little on this one. Twenty is a bit much).

Faith Hough
Jean Davis
Nick Wilford
Samantha Dunaway Bryant
Tyrean Martinson

Rule 7: Notify those people.

Rule 8: Ask your nominee any five questions of your choice, plus one weird or funny question.

The questions I have for my nominees are:
1) What are three things on your "bucket list"?
2) Which authors have influenced you in terms of genre, style, or theme?
3) What book's milieu (place, time, culture) would you most like to live in?
4) What are your favorite writing resources?
5) What's the best book you've read recently?
Fun/weird bonus:  Have you ever developed a "book crush" on a fictional character? Who and why?


I was asked
1) What is the most memorable trait or visual oddity of a fictional book character you’ve read?

Anne Shirley's intense flights of fancy into imaginary worlds (Anne of Green Gables series). I didn't read the books until post-college and felt like L.M. Montgomery could have been writing my girlhood (minus the orphan thing, and living in the 1880s, obvs).

2) What most motivates you to buy a new book to read?

New printed books are a purchase I have to justify because of the space issue and the expense. I have to be convinced I will read it more than once, use it as a resource or model text, or will likely share it. A great sale might also convince me. I'm freer about picking up used books and ebooks--the former aren't as big an expense, the latter less a clutter creator.

3) How do YOU make an educated guess as to if a book by an author you haven’t read before will be “good” BEFORE you read any of it?

The description has to grab me. I can more quickly get past an ugly cover than this. And I never buy or download stuff--even freebies--without reading a sample. Because a great cover blurb of an interesting premise sometimes doesn't translate into style that draws me in. I'm a voice-driven writer and tend to be a voice-driven reader also.

4) What’s your favorite comfort food?

Mashed potatoes. My husband has a killer technique of boiling garlic cloves with the potatoes, then hand-mashing the cooked garlic into the cooked potatoes, along with sour cream, butter, and white pepper.

5) Where do you look for blogging inspiration?

My monthly critique group meetings often provide fodder, as does Twitter--sometimes a random post will catch my eye, sometimes a grammar or spelling error in a tweet will inspire an editing topic.

Weird/funny question: Do you have a celebrity encounter story you can share?

I am almost phobic about rubbing elbows with someone famous and doing something stupid, so I tend to go out of my way to avoid contact, even when given special access, like at comic conventions. So if there's a celebrity around, I will be trying to quietly creep away.


Rule 9: Share a link to my blog’s best post.
Rebel that I am, I'll share two. :-)

One of my analyses of Harry Potter characters continues to get the most hits. It's third in a series

What makes a villain? Part 3: Hero in Villain's Clothing

A newer post with nearly as many page views is this one on my revision process:

How I Do It: Identifying Story Weaknesses

Q4U: Do you miss the "good old days" of writing blogs (before 2012)? 
Answer any (or all) of my six questions listed under "rule 8."
Thursday, June 08, 2017 Laurel Garver
When I first started this blog in 2009, blog "awards" were all the rage. I think 2010-11 was a peak period, in which I received and passed along more than a dozen. By 2013 no one was doing them any more, and it made me a little sad. I can see how they might seem like public chain letters, but by golly they are fun. They give you something entertaining to blog about when all your creativity has gone into finishing a fantastic chapter the night before.

So I will not be joining the anti-blog-award brigade. Nope. I'll be having some fun. So here goes....

There are rules to this award, of course…
Rule 1: Put the award logo/image on your blog.

Rule 2: List the rules.

Rule 3: Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.

Big thanks for the nomination to awesome A-Z Blogging challenge co-host J. Lenni Dorner, who I knew on Twitter for some time before becoming blog buddies.

Rule 4: Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well.
About the creator: Okoto Enigma’s blog 
The creator’s name, Enigma, means mystery, thus the title of the award.

Rule 5: Tell your readers three things about yourself.

1) I can identify nearly any early 1980s pop song within five measures or less. I was obsessed with America's Top 40 in my misspent youth. (I could have been memorizing Pi to the 400th decimal place or all the world capitals or something a little less frivolous). My husband sometimes makes me demonstrate my skill for guests.

2) I did props management and set decoration for about a dozen college productions, as well as for some community theatre shows. Once I'm an empty nester, I will likely take it up again. It is so much fun to build the material culture for a play.

3) I'm convinced that one of my childhood homes was haunted. We often heard movement in distant rooms, and one of the bedrooms had a distinct cold spot. I sensed the presence of our ghost more than once, particularly in the daytime when playing alone. My sense was that it was a young woman who'd perhaps died in childbirth and continued going about the business of taking care of her family, as if unaware she was dead.

Rule 6: Nominate other bloggers. (I'm going to cheat a little on this one. Twenty is a bit much).

Faith Hough
Jean Davis
Nick Wilford
Samantha Dunaway Bryant
Tyrean Martinson

Rule 7: Notify those people.

Rule 8: Ask your nominee any five questions of your choice, plus one weird or funny question.

The questions I have for my nominees are:
1) What are three things on your "bucket list"?
2) Which authors have influenced you in terms of genre, style, or theme?
3) What book's milieu (place, time, culture) would you most like to live in?
4) What are your favorite writing resources?
5) What's the best book you've read recently?
Fun/weird bonus:  Have you ever developed a "book crush" on a fictional character? Who and why?


I was asked
1) What is the most memorable trait or visual oddity of a fictional book character you’ve read?

Anne Shirley's intense flights of fancy into imaginary worlds (Anne of Green Gables series). I didn't read the books until post-college and felt like L.M. Montgomery could have been writing my girlhood (minus the orphan thing, and living in the 1880s, obvs).

2) What most motivates you to buy a new book to read?

New printed books are a purchase I have to justify because of the space issue and the expense. I have to be convinced I will read it more than once, use it as a resource or model text, or will likely share it. A great sale might also convince me. I'm freer about picking up used books and ebooks--the former aren't as big an expense, the latter less a clutter creator.

3) How do YOU make an educated guess as to if a book by an author you haven’t read before will be “good” BEFORE you read any of it?

The description has to grab me. I can more quickly get past an ugly cover than this. And I never buy or download stuff--even freebies--without reading a sample. Because a great cover blurb of an interesting premise sometimes doesn't translate into style that draws me in. I'm a voice-driven writer and tend to be a voice-driven reader also.

4) What’s your favorite comfort food?

Mashed potatoes. My husband has a killer technique of boiling garlic cloves with the potatoes, then hand-mashing the cooked garlic into the cooked potatoes, along with sour cream, butter, and white pepper.

5) Where do you look for blogging inspiration?

My monthly critique group meetings often provide fodder, as does Twitter--sometimes a random post will catch my eye, sometimes a grammar or spelling error in a tweet will inspire an editing topic.

Weird/funny question: Do you have a celebrity encounter story you can share?

I am almost phobic about rubbing elbows with someone famous and doing something stupid, so I tend to go out of my way to avoid contact, even when given special access, like at comic conventions. So if there's a celebrity around, I will be trying to quietly creep away.


Rule 9: Share a link to my blog’s best post.
Rebel that I am, I'll share two. :-)

One of my analyses of Harry Potter characters continues to get the most hits. It's third in a series

What makes a villain? Part 3: Hero in Villain's Clothing

A newer post with nearly as many page views is this one on my revision process:

How I Do It: Identifying Story Weaknesses

Q4U: Do you miss the "good old days" of writing blogs (before 2012)? 
Answer any (or all) of my six questions listed under "rule 8."

Thursday, June 01, 2017

True confession. I feel like I ought to like reading romances. I generally prefer a happy ending to a sad one. But each time I've tried one--especially the Kindle First offerings to Prime members--I've been disappointed.

The romance plot model has become so entrenched, it no longer allows room for any genuine surprises. I know there will be some dumb thing that separates heroine and hero at roughly the midpoint and that dumb thing will clear up in a matter of chapters. I know the heroine will be beautiful, as will the hero, though one or both will be clueless about this or insecure in some way. If one of them has a deep, dark secret, the counterpart will have a corresponding one. Even in the hands of a great wordsmith, the formula clunks along as usual, boring me to tears.

I'd love to know if there are established writers out there who have earned a free pass to write plots that don't follow the predictable formula of boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl, boy-wins-girl-back-again. I'd like to see some heroines who aren't the usual healthy, educated, white, and beautiful. How about a blind protagonist, or one with a learning disability, or someone biracial or average looking but brainy, or even disfigured (say an amputee veteran)? You find characters like this in literary fiction, women's fiction, romantic comedy, YA and MG. It would be great to see their love stories, and have a departure from the same-old, same-old.


Is there a genre you've tried but just can't connect to? Why do you think that is? 

Is there a romance author doing something unique I might actually enjoy? Do tell. 


Thursday, June 01, 2017 Laurel Garver
True confession. I feel like I ought to like reading romances. I generally prefer a happy ending to a sad one. But each time I've tried one--especially the Kindle First offerings to Prime members--I've been disappointed.

The romance plot model has become so entrenched, it no longer allows room for any genuine surprises. I know there will be some dumb thing that separates heroine and hero at roughly the midpoint and that dumb thing will clear up in a matter of chapters. I know the heroine will be beautiful, as will the hero, though one or both will be clueless about this or insecure in some way. If one of them has a deep, dark secret, the counterpart will have a corresponding one. Even in the hands of a great wordsmith, the formula clunks along as usual, boring me to tears.

I'd love to know if there are established writers out there who have earned a free pass to write plots that don't follow the predictable formula of boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl, boy-wins-girl-back-again. I'd like to see some heroines who aren't the usual healthy, educated, white, and beautiful. How about a blind protagonist, or one with a learning disability, or someone biracial or average looking but brainy, or even disfigured (say an amputee veteran)? You find characters like this in literary fiction, women's fiction, romantic comedy, YA and MG. It would be great to see their love stories, and have a departure from the same-old, same-old.


Is there a genre you've tried but just can't connect to? Why do you think that is? 

Is there a romance author doing something unique I might actually enjoy? Do tell.